Familiars and skill ranks


Rules Questions


ive seen feats and class features that give fake skill ranks. I cant remember most of them (its been a while). Someone mind helping me out?

my character has improved improvisation so he can make any check with like +6 or so. that doesnt carry over to the familiar because they arent 'ranks'. Meaning my familiar is damn near as super-specialized in skills as me (cool s$&!, but I wanna see if I can get that extra extra).

3.5 has jack of all trades, but that says 'as if you had' meaning you dont even get a quasi half skill rank. Its basically 3.5 version of improved improvisation.

Spiritualist gets a phantom skill rank, if I recall, but im not level dipping.

spells, one or two feats, and items only please.


Fake skill ranks? Dunno what you mean.

A familiar with the sage archetype has 100% real skill ranks which don't have to be in the same skills you took. It loses the ability to share your skill ranks.

Various traits give skill bonuses (not ranks of any kind) and the additional traits feat lets you take more of them. Or, the cunning feat gives you an additional 1 skill point per level/HD.

There are a lot of spells which give skill bonuses. Some notable ones are heightened awareness, Aram Zey's focus, and tears to wine.

Magic items are many and varied. A couple of notable ones are eyes of the eagle (perception) and a headband of vast intellect (bonus to Int gives skills).

If you could narrow down what you're after exactly it'd be easier to give advice.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Building a 'skill monkey' familiar (Note: No need for the familiar to be an actual monkey, though it could help with some skills) is going to be similar to building a skill monkey character except that many skill adjusting abilities will not carry over.

For example, a bard with a familiar would share the effects of Versatile Performance, but not Bardic Knowledge, Lore Master, or Jack of all Trades.

Thus, your best bet might be something like a high intelligence Rogue.


The witch has a favored class bonus for half-orcs that can give your familiar skill ranks.


Other suggestions:

1. Familiar archetype: Sage - this constantly increases the familiar's Int score and will greatly increase their utility in these skills

2. Borrow Skill spell: a Bard 1 spell, only lasts 1 round/level unfortunately, but you cast it, touch any creature, then borrow all of their ranks in a skill and use your key ability bonus to the skill. Since the target is "creature touched" and at 3rd level you can designate your familiar to deliver Touch spells along with the Share Spells ability, you could have your familiar deliver the touch, share the effect to it, and have it borrow skill ranks from another PC in the party

3. Extra Traits: any familiar can swap out it's starting feat(s) for others they qualify for. Since familiars are no long Animals and have greater than a 2 Int, they can take Extra Traits. This in turn can possibly give them a couple skills as Class skills with a +1 Trait bonus. While this doesn't grant ranks it can increase their odds at successfully using skills you put a couple random ranks into

4. Enhanced Familiar (Skilled): this feat, chosen by you (so long as you have a 13 Cha) grants a +8 bonus to a skill. Choose an untrained skill and bam; it's like the familiar has 5 ranks in a new class skill

5. Greater Harrowing (Books): get a level 11 wizard to cast Greater Harrowing and include your familiar, shooting for the Books suit. This will give your familiar +3 on all skills it has no ranks in and the familiar can use skills untrained even if the skill could normally NOT be used untrained

6. Harvest Knowledge: 4th level Bard spell that lets you (or your familiar through Share Spells) make Knowledge checks by touching someone and using THEIR full bonus with said knowledge skill

7. Headbands of Intellect or Ioun Stones: boosts of +2 or more from these items will impart skill ranks; pop them on your familiar

8. A Brain Cylinder: this magic item allows you to preserve a brain and keep it alive; in this state it retains all the Knowledge skills plus a few other intellectual skills it had while alive. Get a brain with ranks in skills you don't have, then have the familiar tap the brain's skill ranks through that Harvest Knowledge spell above

There's also plenty of magic items that grant bonuses to individual skills or allow you to use those untrained. The last thing I'll say is to second what C to the BDunkers said above: best way to give your familiar ranks is to just be super intelligent yourself.

A human rogue with an 18 Int has a potential 14 skill ranks at a given level. They also have a total of 21 skills as Class skills; another 2 could come from Traits as mentioned in Extra Traits above. Being able to distribute all of those ranks amid so many useful skills, then transmitting all of those ranks to your familiar should keep the both of you in most of the skills needed for levels to come.

Incidentally, what is it you want your familiar to DO? I mean, you might only need the Knowledge skills (Sage familiar), Use Magic Device, Perception, and maybe Survival and Stealth to cover the generic uses for most familiars.

If you're looking for a familiar that makes you money in Downtime, having one with high Int or Wis and taking ranks in Craft or Profession skills could come in handy. If you hit level 7 and want a familiar making money for you with a Perform skill, think about the Improved Familiar and take the Lyrakien Azata - Tiny sized but a 20 Charisma.

Then again if you want a familiar helping you disarm traps... yikes! That could get REAL scary. Still it's likely that if you want them to do that then you've thought that out ahead of time and you can probably guarantee some ranks on your own PC with your familiar as either a backup or an Aid Another bonus or something.


The headband brings up the old question of familiar hit dice.

Quote:
Hit Dice: For the purpose of effects related to number of Hit Dice, use the master's character level or the familiar's normal HD total, whichever is higher.
Quote:
A headband of vast intelligence has one skill associated with it per +2 bonus it grants. After being worn for 24 hours, the headband grants a number of skill ranks in those skills equal to the wearer’s total Hit Dice.


Melkiador wrote:

The headband brings up the old question of familiar hit dice.

Quote:
Hit Dice: For the purpose of effects related to number of Hit Dice, use the master's character level or the familiar's normal HD total, whichever is higher.
Quote:
A headband of vast intelligence has one skill associated with it per +2 bonus it grants. After being worn for 24 hours, the headband grants a number of skill ranks in those skills equal to the wearer’s total Hit Dice.

If you're looking at going the headband route, just invest in Scarlet and Blue Sphere Ioun stones. Get one for each skill you want the familiar to have max ranks in. Sure, the int bonus doesn't stack, but at high levels 8k for each skill you want max ranks in is cheap.

Silver Crusade

Mark Hoover 330 wrote:

3. Extra Traits: any familiar can swap out it's starting feat(s) for others they qualify for. Since familiars are no long Animals and have greater than a 2 Int, they can take Extra Traits. This in turn can possibly give them a couple skills as Class skills with a +1 Trait bonus. While this doesn't grant ranks it can increase their odds at successfully using skills you put a couple random ranks into

4. Enhanced Familiar (Skilled): this feat, chosen by you (so long as you have a 13 Cha) grants a +8 bonus to a skill. Choose an untrained skill and bam; it's like the familiar has 5 ranks in a new class skill

Familiars cannot swap their initial feat for any other feat they qualify for, except for specific familiar feats, such as Spell Sponge. In fact, RAW:

Familiar Basics wrote:
It retains the appearance, Hit Dice, base attack bonus, base save bonuses, skills, and feats of the normal animal it once was

Enhanced Familiar does not exist in PF1. What you mean is Evolved Familiar, which requires both Int and Cha 13.


im playing an intrigue game, ive been asking rule questions to help figure out the best way to build my char for it.

so far, I have a rogue with archetypes. it gets 4+int and has 16 base int. but I have spells (not from rogue talents), I can cast a lot of stat spells to allow me to improve things like int if need/want be.

my char has improved improvisation, allowing him to make any check. my char also has a familiar, im still shuffling around some feats to help set it up with changeling familiar.

there may be times the familiar is posed as my char, or put up in a 'shop' or caretaking animals.... or, who knows. I like options.
Sage familiar is not ideal, as stated I get more skill points.

Granted, not needing a skill point in any knowledges kind of counts as if there are skill points there. but as stated, there's spells for things like that too (damn, wizard spells really do cover nearly everything).

I also have access to druid spells up to level 4 (that special spellcaster book preparation ritual thing).

I have enough free skill points to spend to give UMD over 10.

The gm has given us a lot of feats, a team work feat per level, a non combat feat every even level, and I also get rogue talents ive spent on feats.


Couldn't the Familiar, after achieving the Int bonus and Type change of becoming a Familiar, under the direction of the master/mistress, use the Retraining rules and change out, say, Fly-By Attack for Extra Traits?


I am hoping someone with an answer to this will post something.


Mark Hoover did post a suggestion. Also taking the cunning feat or getting a headband of vast intellect yourself increases the number of skill points you have, which increases the number your familiar has.

But fake skill ranks aren't a thing. A spiritualists phantom is a pet not a source of skill ranks directly, BTW, though it can give you (not any familiar of yours) skill focus feats.


but is that suggestion allowed per RAW?
Are familiars a type of character that is allowed to use the retraining mechanics? Mark was asking this and thats what im saying i hope someone can answer.

im pretty sure I've seen something that says 'you count as having 1 skill rank in x skills" then it either says they dont stack or they go away when you purchase ranks in a skill.

basically giving a phantom skill rank.

Granted, ive been in a lot of systems (wod, pathfinder, 3.5, 5e, battletech, startrek, and a plethora of so many more) so there is an extremely mild chance im mistaken something in one system for something in pathfinder.

I know jack of all trade in 3.5 doesnt actually give a quasi skill. you are considered to have half a skill for certain purposes, that wouldnt carry over. Improved improvisation also doesnt have the right termonology to carry over either.


He mentioned a lot of options. The headband one should work almost everywhere. Worst case, the familiar has to take the extra item slot feat to wear a headband.


"Are familiars a type of character that is allowed to use the retraining mechanics? Mark was asking this and thats what im saying i hope someone can answer. "


retraining, feats wrote:
You may change one feat to another through retraining. Retraining a feat takes 5 days with a character who has the feat you want. The old feat can’t be one you used as a prerequisite for a feat, class feature, archetype, prestige class, or other ability. If the old feat is a bonus feat granted by a class feature, you must replace it with a feat that you could choose using that class feature.
retraining, cost wrote:
Unless stated otherwise, retraining costs gp equal to 10 × your level × the number of days required to retrain.
approximating familiars (familiar folio) wrote:
Feats: You can easily exchange a pre-built familiar’s starting feats with different feats that better match your concept, such as the familiar feats. There are also new feats relating to familiars, allowing a great deal of customization and sometimes adding unusual mystical qualities and abilities.


Still doesnt quite answer the question, but the approximating familiar's familiar folio negates the whole issue anyways.


THAT's where it is, thanks AVR! I couldn't find the line about familiars and feats that I've used to swap out level 1 feats in the past, but there it is under Approximating Familiars.

I've also looked at animal companions. With an AC you pick ALL Of their feats from level 1 on and while I know under Familiar Basics it suggests that they start off as the normal animal with all that comes with that, including starting feats, I feel like if you can retrain an Int 2 Animal type to take on feats different from the ones they had as wild beasts, you should be able to with Int 6 Magical Beasts as well.

Still these are my opinions or a stretch of the RAW. Technically they begin with the feats they had as animals. If however the retraining rules are RAW and your GM will allow you to spend GP and time, you can by RAW swap out a familiar's starting feat for Extra Traits.


Thank you all for helping me here.

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