Is a familiar worth it?


Advice

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The more I look into it and see discussions about it, the more it seems like having a familiar in 2E is utterly pointless. A simple comparison with the animal companion says it all:

- The animal companion generally remains what it was in 1E, a combat buddy with limited intelligence but a few interesting features. Animal companions come in varying types, having their own stats, attacks and skills and even some special abilities, starting with their support actions and later special maneuvers and branching evolution paths become available with more feats. They're relatively fragile compared to a PC but can also be equipped with magic barding and a small selection of magic items.
- Familiars have lost nearly every ability they had in 1E, only keeping the empathic link. There is no choosing a type of familiar anymore, they're all the same, with the bare minimum for HP and movement, no stats, attack or training in any skill, simply using their master's level as a modifier, only receiving an additional bonus in Perception, Stealth and Acrobatics (the importance of Perception on a creature that cannot communicate at all without an extra ability is debatable), all of tiny size and gaining no benefit from it (even squeezing through tight spaces is impossible without Acrobatics training) and unable to equip any item. It's still a good thing that familiars use their master's AC and saves modifiers as their own, including item bonuses, but this is their only positive aspect.

Familiars used to have the advantage of being intelligent creatures to compensate for being vulnerable and non-combative, had Improved Evasion by default to avoid dying immediatly to area damage, came with different advantages and drawbacks depending on their species and were also considered as a part of their master for the use of certain spells like teleportations, avoiding a lot of hassle. Now everything is gone. Familiars can barely be considered intelligent creatures anymore, their chances of surviving a single encounter at high level are close to zero if there is any form of area damage, there are no mechanical differences between two different familiars and they rapidly become a load when certain spells are considered. Is there anything a familiar is still good for?


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Quote:
Is a familiar worth it?

No.


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The abilities that the familiar grant are useful, extra cantrip, spellslot, focus, alchemical reagent and quick alchemy.

They are not combat buddies, but they grant the master a lot of small advantages that you can change each day, it's basically a floating feat.


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You have to recalibrate your expectations -- familiars are not assumed to be used in combat anymore, unless it's under very special circumstances. I feel their big draw are the master abilities they provide: an extra cantrip, a quickened refocus, eventually an extra low-level spell slot.

In that respect, it might be better to see them as special magic items that enhance your caster.

And regarding their defensive abilities, I feel they actually gained options; Damage Avoidance and Lifelink means they won't die to a stray cone of cold or chain lightning.

One important note: If you get a familiar, you absolutely should take Improved Familiar as soon as you can. Having only 2 daily abilities is very restrictive, 4 is much more flexible.


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Kyrone wrote:
The abilities that the familiar grant are useful, extra cantrip, spellslot, focus, alchemical reagent and quick alchemy.

So, what you're saying is, that there are a total of 4 abilities that are worthwhile (two for casters and two for alchemists)?

coriolis wrote:

And regarding their defensive abilities, I feel they actually gained options; Damage Avoidance and Lifelink means they won't die to a stray cone of cold or chain lightning.

One important note: If you get a familiar, you absolutely should take Improved Familiar as soon as you can. Having only 2 daily abilities is very restrictive, 4 is much more flexible.

So what you're saying is that you NEED four abilities so you can spend two of them getting features that they used to get for free and still have some left over to get a minor benefit?

Horizon Hunters

Draco18s wrote:
Kyrone wrote:
The abilities that the familiar grant are useful, extra cantrip, spellslot, focus, alchemical reagent and quick alchemy.

So, what you're saying is, that there are a total of 4 abilities that are worthwhile (two for casters and two for alchemists)?

Well he listed five there.


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From a pure technical point of view familiars can seem a bit lackluster but lets take another look at it from an rp perspective

your familiar can communicate empathically with you over a mile distance (as mentioned this they had before but I'm just considering thoughts here to see if an familiar is worth it)
since they can have their movement adjusted every day they can be spies for basically every enviroment

they can have sccent and potentially notice enemies and dangers none of the players would notice

In the same manner darkvision can be helpful

they can have speech and communicate more complex information, either after spying on someone or after moving from one part of the group to the other

and spell delivery can be very useful, either for damaging enemies or helping your allies

and if you are fine with your companion just sitting around looking cute, just pick 2 master abilities and you're golden

Some familiar abilities are a bit situational, but they can be adjusted every day and be potentially very helpful

If they are worth it is up for you to decide


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Draco18s wrote:
used to get for free

This is not the same game as Pathfinder First Edition.

You are not even vaguely comparing like to like.

I personally don't see familiar's as particularly worth-while, though I suspect there are ways and tables that would change that.

Comparing them to other feats of the same level is useful, and they may well fall short for many people.

Comparing them to First edition is, at best, a waste of time.


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Familiars are very important to Alchemists. Nearly a feat tax to me.
For casters, they give very nice abilities. Familiar Focus is extremely useful.
They also keep their function as scout if you give them flier for example.

It's a first level feat, after all, they can't give you too many good abilities.

Compared to Animal Companion, the main difference for me is that Familiars only need one feat. If you don't improve your Animal Companion, it becomes very quickly useless in combat.


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Familiars are Swiss Army knives, plain and simple. The breadth of possibility for one feat is impressive.

Familiars are not Bowie knives. They can’t do the heavy lifting work.

I think familiars suffer most when looked at from a raw power perspective. Can a familiar help you take down a Minotaur faster/better/stronger? No. It’s not a Bowie knife.

But, can the familiar help you avoid the Minotaur entirely? Or get you eyes inside the Prince's war council? Can it enhance itself or its master in different ways each day depending on what the master anticipates needing? Yes, because it is a Swiss Army knife.


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They are worthwhile because they are cute and cuddly.


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Gisher wrote:
They are worthwhile because they are cute and cuddly.

It's comments like these that make me giggle because all I can do is imagine your avatar saying this.


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the question is, are you better off with sinking the required investments into a familiar or choosing other feats?

people can talk about the little things, but some of the stuff a familiar gives you you already have with base features like wizards drain focus just becomes drain familiar, i view that as a liability even.f

so what does a familiar get you, that you cannot get without?


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Quote:
so what does a familiar get you, that you cannot get without?

Nothing because it would be a feat that everybody has to take and they want to avoid that

It still gives flexibility


Seisho wrote:
Quote:
so what does a familiar get you, that you cannot get without?

Nothing because it would be a feat that everybody has to take and they want to avoid that

It still gives flexibility

flexibility is something a famliar would give you that you cannot get without then.

so flexible in what way?

thus far the only thing ive seen is the ability to apply touch spells at a range of the familiars movement speed in exchange for it to being 3 actions.

extra cantrip? there are a lot of ways to get this already, and its impact is welcome but negligble.

spell slot and focus? from what i understand this isnt even a benefit, id rather have it via drain focus for my wizard.

bit more benefit for an alchemist as extra reagents is nice.

for scouting and being at range, i view that as a liability as well because that means i wont be able to regain focus/spell slots.

so for me, the only benefit i see is delivering touch spells. or extra reagents for alchemist.


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DomHeroEllis wrote:
Well he listed five there.

One of which doesn't kick in until 7th level.

But you're right, I did miscount. But it isn't something that makes you go "oh boy! A familiar!" at level 1.

Martialmasters wrote:
so for me, the only benefit i see is delivering touch spells. or extra reagents for alchemist.

That one is also a good way to get your familiar killed.

So, tomato-potato.


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Draco18s wrote:
DomHeroEllis wrote:
Well he listed five there.

One of which doesn't kick in until 7th level.

But you're right, I did miscount. But it isn't something that makes you go "oh boy! A familiar!" at level 1.

Martialmasters wrote:
so for me, the only benefit i see is delivering touch spells. or extra reagents for alchemist.

That one is also a good way to get your familiar killed.

So, tomato-potato.

thats true, if famliars didnt gain the drain item/focus features so id keep my focus item, id be more for famliars.


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Martialmasters wrote:
so what does a familiar get you, that you cannot get without?

Love. Unconditional love.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Fly/burrow and manipulate at level one let's a caster do things otherwise impossible at early levels if you are imaginative.


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I think you're also failing to appreciate that, unlike say Dangerous Sorcery or Reach Spell, the familiar feat is only going to get more powerful over time. Frankly, the familiars here are already more flexible and impactful to alchemist and caster characters than many 1E familiars were before we had familiar archetypes, improved familiars, etc.

The APG play test made a note that there will probably be even more familiar abilities released in the APG. Other books can do the same. And frankly, they absolutely shouldn't be like the familiars of 1E which became a little too much like a second party member in sheer terms of what it let another player do.


DomHeroEllis wrote:
Draco18s wrote:
Kyrone wrote:
The abilities that the familiar grant are useful, extra cantrip, spellslot, focus, alchemical reagent and quick alchemy.

So, what you're saying is, that there are a total of 4 abilities that are worthwhile (two for casters and two for alchemists)?

Well he listed five there.

And even with the class split there... the familiar classes generally use int, which makes alchemist dedication fairly easy to grab. It is not hard to grab all of the relevant abilities by level 4.

While some people might question the effectiveness of the alchemist as a class, it is hard to argue that getting the extra 'spell slots' from the dedication wouldn't be useful for a caster character. It just gives you more to work with without touching your main spells. And for a wizard or witch, it wouldn't even take them far from their main character concept.


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cavernshark wrote:

I think you're also failing to appreciate that, unlike say Dangerous Sorcery or Reach Spell, the familiar feat is only going to get more powerful over time. Frankly, the familiars here are already more flexible and impactful to alchemist and caster characters than many 1E familiars were before we had familiar archetypes, improved familiars, etc.

The APG play test made a note that there will probably be even more familiar abilities released in the APG. Other books can do the same. And frankly, they absolutely shouldn't be like the familiars of 1E which became a little too much like a second party member in sheer terms of what it let another player do.

gonna be honest, if they die (and they will) they are a liability.

famliars are a liability, ill take my extra focus/spell slots from my drain item ability over that liability.

yes i know i said liability a lot.


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Gisher wrote:
They are worthwhile because they are cute and cuddly.

Then why am I not getting a +4 Circumstance Bonus to my Diplomacy checks to avoid combats with my Familiar on my shoulder?

I mean, we can make up these excuses of them being useless in combat, that's fine, but the fact that their cute and cuddly-ness isn't making my Diplomacy checks more efficient makes them just as useless out of combat too. And that's a problem.

Short of some roleplay shenanigans (as you've demonstrated), they don't provide much.


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SuperBidi wrote:

Familiars are very important to Alchemists. Nearly a feat tax to me.

For casters, they give very nice abilities. Familiar Focus is extremely useful.
They also keep their function as scout if you give them flier for example.

It's a first level feat, after all, they can't give you too many good abilities.

Compared to Animal Companion, the main difference for me is that Familiars only need one feat. If you don't improve your Animal Companion, it becomes very quickly useless in combat.

I have a Cavern Elf Wizard with a Bat familiar (took the Familiar thesis), and having to spend 3 of my 4 abilities just to make the Bat actually work is silly, especially with the rule of "You must take abilities that the creature shares with its original creature." It must take Darkvision (can't otherwise function in a cave), it must take Flight (can't be a bat that can't fly), it must take Fast Movement (otherwise it's actually slower than a normal bat), which leaves me with gaining either moar Cantrips (which are meh when I already have all of the base ones I need), moar low level spells (useful when I'm like 13th level and want a free Haste, useless for blasting though), or moar Focus Points (useless as most Wizard school abilities are garbage).

And before anyone says "Alchemist Dedication," I need to be more self-sufficient when spellcasting is fairly clunky as it is.


Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:

Familiars are very important to Alchemists. Nearly a feat tax to me.

For casters, they give very nice abilities. Familiar Focus is extremely useful.
They also keep their function as scout if you give them flier for example.

It's a first level feat, after all, they can't give you too many good abilities.

Compared to Animal Companion, the main difference for me is that Familiars only need one feat. If you don't improve your Animal Companion, it becomes very quickly useless in combat.

I have a Cavern Elf Wizard with a Bat familiar (took the Familiar thesis), and having to spend 3 of my 4 abilities just to make the Bat actually work is silly, especially with the rule of "You must take abilities that the creature shares with its original creature." It must take Darkvision (can't otherwise function in a cave), it must take Flight (can't be a bat that can't fly), it must take Fast Movement (otherwise it's actually slower than a normal bat), which leaves me with gaining either moar Cantrips (which are meh when I already have all of the base ones I need), moar low level spells (useful when I'm like 13th level and want a free Haste, useless for blasting though), or moar Focus Points (useless as most Wizard school abilities are garbage).

And before anyone says "Alchemist Dedication," I need to be more self-sufficient when spellcasting is fairly clunky as it is.

i just wanted to say. while evocation wizard focus is not powerful, its reliable, nothing in the bestiary resists force damage. it auto hits. and is a 3rd action use.

in short, getting my focus back is a priority enough that i made my character a gnome just so i can use my focus ability 5 times before needing to refocus by level 14.


Draco18s wrote:
But it isn't something that makes you go "oh boy! A familiar!" at level 1.

I mean, it's a first level feat that gives me an extra focus point per day and eventually more spell slots when I reach a higher level (and something like an extra cantrip in the meantime) along with a host of various miscellaneous benefits depending on how much I leverage it.

That already blows stuff like Eschew Materials and Widen Spell out of the water. I don't think there's much room TO make it more powerful.


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Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
I have a Cavern Elf Wizard with a Bat familiar (took the Familiar thesis), and having to spend 3 of my 4 abilities just to make the Bat actually work is silly...

You should've gone with a pet rock.


Draco18s wrote:
You should've gone with a pet rock.

I know you're joking but you can't!

Probably the dumbest thing about familiars in PF2 are that it is required to be a specific type of animal, even though they have no inherent stats whatsoever.

No weird amorphous familiars. No imp familiars. Just an animal... and be sure not to pick a bird or something because that actually makes your familiar worse by restricting your ability choices. Honestly a pretty terrible design choice.


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It is pretty weird that you can give your cat familiar flying as needed so it's more versatile than an owl familiar has one fewer choice because it has flying every day. A cat that can gain the ability to fly one day and lose it the next kind of is a weird amorphous familiar.

Though the leshy familiars give you a lot more creative space, because it can be any plant. My leaf leshy leaf druid has a leshy familiar who is an epiphytic orchid that just lives on them.


I allow players to choose the familiar's base form but then allow them to give or take ability's on the daily prep basis

Your bat for example:
I'd allow for not taking flight or night vision and just say that the "power" required for the other abilities weakens it so it can't do those things. I dislike that they have no such limits on one familiar eg leshy or humuloclus wile animals are locked into what they can take or do.

These are no longer "animals" once they become familiars so they are just spirits that can grow wings or flippers or gain dark vision or speak or grow reagents from their back whatever.

I also allow for more intelligence for familiars than animal companions as they are a shard of the caster's will or soul. So for example if the caster is ko'd I's allow a familiar to do more intelligent things than an animal companion who I would limit to mostly guarding/protecting it's master without any outside direction. Of course this is my opinion and is no way an actual rule.


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Kyrone wrote:

The abilities that the familiar grant are useful, extra cantrip, spellslot, focus, alchemical reagent and quick alchemy.

They are not combat buddies, but they grant the master a lot of small advantages that you can change each day, it's basically a floating feat.

coriolis wrote:

You have to recalibrate your expectations -- familiars are not assumed to be used in combat anymore, unless it's under very special circumstances. I feel their big draw are the master abilities they provide: an extra cantrip, a quickened refocus, eventually an extra low-level spell slot.

In that respect, it might be better to see them as special magic items that enhance your caster.

And regarding their defensive abilities, I feel they actually gained options; Damage Avoidance and Lifelink means they won't die to a stray cone of cold or chain lightning.

One important note: If you get a familiar, you absolutely should take Improved Familiar as soon as you can. Having only 2 daily abilities is very restrictive, 4 is much more flexible.

I never expected familiars to be combat buddies, I expected familiars to be useful at something other than staying in my pocket to passively give extra spell slots..

Flexibility is meaningless without interesting abilities in the first place. I had fun in First Edition with my hedgehog familiar, clearly the furthest thing you can have to a combat buddy considering it has no natural attack and is Diminutive, because it was an extremly good infiltrator with the magic barding I got crafted for its protection and extra bonuses to Stealth. The sage archetype was awesome, it was akin to a living library.

Their durability is also terrible, with Damage Avoidance only doing half the job Improved Evasion did and needing a famliliar ability slot, and what remains if I have to use Lifelink as well? The answer: a complete liability of a creature that does a lot of things very badly and nothing decently (even its Perception, Stealth and Acrobatics checks rapidly become laughable).

Seisho wrote:
From a pure technical point of view familiars can seem a bit lackluster but lets take another look at it from an rp perspective

You already lost my interest right there.

Seisho wrote:

your familiar can communicate empathically with you over a mile distance (as mentioned this they had before but I'm just considering thoughts here to see if an familiar is worth it)

since they can have their movement adjusted every day they can be spies for basically every enviroment

they can have sccent and potentially notice enemies and dangers none of the players would notice

In the same manner darkvision can be helpful

they can have speech and communicate more complex information, either after spying on someone or after moving from one part of the group to the other

and spell delivery can be very useful, either for damaging enemies or helping your allies

and if you are fine with your companion just sitting around looking cute, just pick 2 master abilities and you're golden

Some familiar abilities are a bit situational, but they can be adjusted every day and be potentially very helpful

This last bit sums up everything: it looks awesome when you see all the range of familiar abilities, then you remember that you can get 4 of them at most if you're not a specialist and this thing can die from a monster sneezing on it. If I need spying to be done, better invest training in Stealth, ability boosts in Dexterity and do it myself rather than suffer this utter piece of garbage that cannot do a single good check to save its life.

Seisho wrote:
If they are worth it is up for you to decide

I decided then.

vagrant-poet wrote:
Draco18 wrote:
used to get for free
This is not the same game as Pathfinder First Edition.

How does it make the familiar less terrible for getting cornerstone abilities stripped away? Some aren't even available as familiar abilities anymore. Forget about familiars being an extension of their masters, it's not even the case anymore.

SuperBidi wrote:
Familiars are very important to Alchemists. Nearly a feat tax to me.

Considering how alchemists are terrible in general and have no other good level 1 feat, no surprise there.

SuperBidi wrote:
For casters, they give very nice abilities. Familiar Focus is extremely useful.

Until your focus pool grows above 1. Anyone needing this is a big user of focus spells, and as such they naturally grow out of needing such a crutch of an ability.

SuperBidi wrote:
They also keep their function as scout if you give them flier for example.

If you consider then expandable, that is.

SuperBidi wrote:
It's a first level feat, after all, they can't give you too many good abilities.

They give you a companion that can neither do any physical tasks not communicate with its master, and can die in any encounter. Even for 1st level feat standards, this is a trap feat.

SuperBidi wrote:
Compared to Animal Companion, the main difference for me is that Familiars only need one feat. If you don't improve your Animal Companion, it becomes very quickly useless in combat.

Are you soure we're talking about the same thing? Familiars don't even have the option to evolve the same way a companion does. From level 1 to level 20 it remains a complete liability, above all for casters themselves ironically. Animal companions are better in nearly every aspect from the get-go except they're more specialized. Familiars aren't specialized in anything and this is why they suck.

jdripley wrote:

Familiars are Swiss Army knives, plain and simple. The breadth of possibility for one feat is impressive.

Familiars are not Bowie knives. They can’t do the heavy lifting work.

I think familiars suffer most when looked at from a raw power perspective. Can a familiar help you take down a Minotaur faster/better/stronger? No. It’s not a Bowie knife.

But, can the familiar help you avoid the Minotaur entirely? Or get you eyes inside the Prince's war council? Can it enhance itself or its master in different ways each day depending on what the master anticipates needing? Yes, because it is a Swiss Army knife.

Yeah, a Swiss Army Knife that consists entirely of dull and broken blades. Forget immediatly about scouting missions since anything with the minion trait will start wandering off after 1 minute left to their own devices. And even then, the familiar's extremly lame skill modifiers, above all at higher levels, would make such missions suicidal anyway. The fact that you have to waste your time commanding a creature that can do nothing decently, not even some pretty basic tasks, makes it a complete liability.

Seisho wrote:
Damiel wrote:
so what does a familiar get you, that you cannot get without?

Nothing because it would be a feat that everybody has to take and they want to avoid that

It still gives flexibility

Being good at nothing is not flexiblility, it's uselessness

cavernshar wrote:
I think you're also failing to appreciate that, unlike say Dangerous Sorcery or Reach Spell, the familiar feat is only going to get more powerful over time.

Citation needed.

cavernshar wrote:
Frankly, the familiars here are already more flexible and impactful to alchemist and caster characters than many 1E familiars were before we had familiar archetypes, improved familiars, etc.

Is that a joke? 2E familiars don't even have the most basic features 1E familiars had, some didn't even make it as optional familiar abilities.

cavernshar wrote:
The APG play test made a note that there will probably be even more familiar abilities released in the APG. Other books can do the same. And frankly, they absolutely shouldn't be like the familiars of 1E which became a little too much like a second party member in sheer terms of what it let another player do.

Did you even play the game? Familiars had their uses but would clearly never replace a party member. No amount of extra gold and achetype combinations can make a familiar as powerful as a PC.


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Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I honestly never want to play in game where familiars weren't useful. Sounds like a boring group.

Not everything has to have numerical values attached to be worthwhile, and the non-combat capabilities of familiars (which are changeable on a day to day basis) are significant.

In my game, familiars are extremely worthwhile. If they're not in yours, chuck it on the pile of other options that your group likely can ignore due to table variation.


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WatersLethe wrote:
In my game, familiars are extremely worthwhile. If they're not in yours, chuck it on the pile of other options that your group likely can ignore due to table variation.

What re some of the things familiars have done im your game? I'm interested to hear the stories.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I'm sincerely confused as to how spell battery and the focus master abilities don't singlehandedly justify a familiar.


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The-Magic-Sword wrote:
I'm sincerely confused as to how spell battery and the focus master abilities don't singlehandedly justify a familiar.

For one, because the focus power is completely replicated by Drain Focus and having a focus doesn't subject you to losing it in a stray fireball.

Spell Battery takes a while before you can select it and grants a relatively small benefit. You're right that it's non-zero, but its hardly worth writing home about.


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WatersLethe wrote:

I honestly never want to play in game where familiars weren't useful. Sounds like a boring group.

Not everything has to have numerical values attached to be worthwhile, and the non-combat capabilities of familiars (which are changeable on a day to day basis) are significant.

In my game, familiars are extremely worthwhile. If they're not in yours, chuck it on the pile of other options that your group likely can ignore due to table variation.

What capabilities? Failing at every skill checks because of poor modifiers across the board? That's the problem: the familiar has no capabilities to speak of. Small sizes no longer having tangible benefits and the minion trait just finish to kill it.


Unless you throw your familiar into harms way it's not gonna get killed unless the enemy has a specific reason or ability to do so. Your example of AOE's murdering familiars is correct RAW maby but EVERY GM I have spoken to will not have a passive familiar take damage unless it is ether put in danger by it's owner, specifically targeted by an enemy for some reason or the player is in a situation where everything on him is destroyed and even then I'd give the familiar a chance if the player said they were willing to take more risk to protect it.


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Draco18s wrote:
The-Magic-Sword wrote:
I'm sincerely confused as to how spell battery and the focus master abilities don't singlehandedly justify a familiar.

For one, because the focus power is completely replicated by Drain Focus and having a focus doesn't subject you to losing it in a stray fireball.

Spell Battery takes a while before you can select it and grants a relatively small benefit. You're right that it's non-zero, but its hardly worth writing home about.

So by Drain Focus you probably mean Linked Focus?

I'm not sure why "having a Familiar" is inherently subject to "losing it in a stray fireball" since you can keep it stored within a spellpouch or backpack or something. Spell Battery/Cantrip Connection don't even directly involve the Familiar, so even if Familiar dies there is nothing to prevent you from using them (and if Familiar does die, the next day you can shift abilities to Battery/Cantrip even if not normally using them). Familiar Focus does require the Familiar to take action, but I don't see anything preventing it from doing this while inside spell pouch or whatever: the Familiar can literally be a Snail or something that doesn't move much normally, and Command being Auditory just requires them to be able to hear you, which seems possible from within pouch etc. While Bonded Item at least implies open usage of the item and therefore potential vulnerability of it.

Regardless, Linked Focus still doesn't completely replicate Familiar Focus because the latter can STACK with Linked Focus and also doesn't require using Drain Bond: which is irrelevant unless you already cast same spell you want to re-cast (they seem equivalent action-wise), not to mention sometimes you want to use Drain Bond WITHOUT having already cast a Focus spell which you want to immediately Refocus. Since you raised concept of "taking a while before you can select it" as implicitly reducing value/relevance of Spell Battery, it seems incredulous that you didn't also note the fact Familiar Focus is able to be gained earlier than Linked Focus, and without a higher level Feat.

One can actually compare Spell Battery to 10th level Wizard Feat Scroll Savant. Those also potentially stack, but Battery is gained at earlier level and without any high level Feat. While Scroll Savant offers additional spell which may also be one level higher, these are scrolls not real slots, which impedes compatibility with many mechanics that require real slot spells (as Spell Battery grants). As example: Spell Blending should let you use Battery's bonus slot to combine with other slot for a higher level slot, as well as re-casting with Bonded Item.

I think there is some subtle nuances in how Spell Delivery can partially stand in for Reach spell re: Touch->Short Range (with same action for Metamagic as Commanding Familiar). Now, the normal move speed of 25' is slightly below Reach's 30' (which won't make difference much of the time), but one can also increase that with Fast Movement Ability to 40' i.e. MORE than Reach spell (and AFAIK 7th Level Heightened Haste with 6 targets works with Familiar for further 25'/40' "range"). Another interesting usage is Ranged spells usually depend on line of sight, but Spell Delivery means you can Command Familiar to move to and "attack" target who is around the corner or otherwise out of your line of sight. Certainly, having BOTH Reach Spell AND Familiar with Spell Delivery is somewhat superfluous... But Spell Delivery partially fulfilling same niche (and more), possibly reducing "need" for Reach Spell and therefore freeing Feat for Familiar or other Feats, seems worth noting. (I don't think Spell Delivery is necessary to justify value of Familiar, but it's something some people might want to use, and may persuade them to ignore Reach Spell in favor of freeing slot for other Feat).

More broadly, I think there is plenty of design space for further Familiar/Master abilities. Something like sharing buffs would help cover cases like Energy Resistance while "plane hopping" as somebody mentioned. I think the most important thing is just engaging the game and it's elements on their own merit, not griping that it isn't exactly like 3.x or 1st edition Pathfinder. Those were not perfect games, and what they did or did not do doesn't define some one proper way games need to work.


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Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Ignoring all mechanical/numerical effects, here are some things a familiar can be used for:

Low level flying reconnaissance.

Item retrieval from hard to access places (burrow/flight).

Low risk infiltration as a species common to an area.

Non-threateningly approach and calm a frightened child.

Delight patrons at a bar while you gather info.

Keep watch.

Deliver messages to the princess who's under lock and key.

Start a fire on the other side of the castle.

Gather information from wildlife.

Gain favor with the Familiar fanatics at the wizard academy.

Signal the second team when to start the attack.

...

I mean, if your game has nothing similar to any of these, I'm glad I'm not playing in it.


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Every form of recon my familiars have ever done.

Killed while on recon

Group doesn't want to wait a day to change forms

Killed by stray AOE not directed at them.

Has low enough skill rolls it just fails at the basic task's we ask of it.

So all those benefits are merely liabilities and chances to lose your source of focus regeneration for a while.

I have hard enough time not dying with my 30ft range spells and poor ac. There familiar doesn't leave the pocket.


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What sort of games are you playing in? That sounds awful and I would leave them?

Edit: There are GMs out there that see class abilities and features and try and stop them. We call that out as bad GMing when it happens. Why not here, too?

"Oooh, I wrote this dilemma that's gonna make the champion fall for sure!"

"The whole dungeon is covered in an anti-magic field!"

"I kill the PCs' familiars."


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Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Ruzza wrote:

What sort of games are you playing in? That sounds awful and I would leave them?

Edit: There are GMs out there that see class abilities and features and try and stop them. We call that out as bad GMing when it happens. Why not here, too?

"Oooh, I wrote this dilemma that's gonna make the champion fall for sure!"

"The whole dungeon is covered in an anti-magic field!"

"I kill the PCs' familiars."

I feel like this is both a really valid and important opinion, but your examples are simultaneously a point in the detractors' favor. One of the things that's really great about PF2e is how much the rules are set up to give GMs and games good guidelines for consistency and largely balanced and fun play. If the literal rules as written make for easily-killed familiars, and GMs following those rules end up killing familiars on a regular basis, there are plenty of GMs who simply won't know they are running "awful games" because they're running the rules as written. This doesn't require the nefarious intent to deprive players of core class features implied by your other two examples.

And for folks adhering to things like the organized play rules, they may feel obligated to run the scenario with AOE damage to otherwise passive familiars.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I can understand some familiar being killed on recon "ah snake kill it" but most why would that happen. Like oh no your crow failed its stealth check the bandit spots it and goes "Oh a crow."


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Did anyone mention manual dexterity?

having your familiar administer potions to fallen allies, or stabilize them, or taking a potion and administer it to you for 1 action is pretty cool. also, it can open door, fetch small items...

familiar dying will also be not so common...sure you can waste actions trying to kill it(in stead of killing something that can actually hurt you), but even if you drop it to 0, it follows dying PC rules, so it's dead only on dying 4. I can't imagine even the most evil GMs ground and pounding a poor dead bird on the floor for 2 rounds after it stopped moving...

and even when that happens, you can get one back after a week, which sucks, but won't kill you


^ Yup, and I'm pretty sure that during that week with dead Familiar, you can continue using Master Abilities like Spell Battery and Cantrip Connection, still getting mechanical benefit out of the feat. Even if you weren't using them before Familiar died, you can re-allocate them in next daily prep: they don't depend on or even mention the Familiar itself in any way, so I can't see any reason to believe that familiar being dead or live would have any impact on them.

Also re: distinct value of Spell Delivery VS Reach Spell... I'm not quite sure, but it seems plausible that despite Tiny size (0 Reach), Familiars might sometimes qualify to enable Flanking (both for Attack spells and as buff to ally): VS other Tiny creatures (in same square as Familiar), and VS larger creatures who occupy multiple squares, where Familiar may enter one square which enables Flanking line thru other square of the creature. ...Just something that occured to me now, not sure if needs FAQ...?


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Malk_Content wrote:
I can understand some familiar being killed on recon "ah snake kill it" but most why would that happen. Like oh no your crow failed its stealth check the bandit spots it and goes "Oh a crow."

Most likely because of the guy on the ground yelling commands at it every turn...

Debelinho wrote:

Did anyone mention manual dexterity?

having your familiar administer potions to fallen allies, or stabilize them, or taking a potion and administer it to you for 1 action is pretty cool. also, it can open door, fetch small items...

Can it? let me check, what str does it have again? none, so there is no way to figure out if it can carry anything, lift anything, drag anything or open doors. It's up to the DM if it can move much of anything.

Debelinho wrote:
familiar dying will also be not so common.

Area attacks: full stop. Unless you bury them in your backpack and never let them out, it'll happen. What's worse, Lifelink actually makes it worse as you basically take double damage if you [your and your familiars] if you activate it for an area attack.

Quandary wrote:
^ Yup, and I'm pretty sure that during that week with dead Familiar, you can continue using Master Abilities

I don't think you can: "Each day, you channel your magic into two abilities". Without the familiar, you have nothing to channel into. It doesn't use 'can' but is written as something that's done every day even if it just to duplicate the ones you had yesterday.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
graystone wrote:
Malk_Content wrote:
I can understand some familiar being killed on recon "ah snake kill it" but most why would that happen. Like oh no your crow failed its stealth check the bandit spots it and goes "Oh a crow."
Most likely because of the guy on the ground yelling commands at it every turn

Yelling telepathically from up to a mile away. This is before we get into the fact that minion is an encounter restrictive state, though this is one of those gm fuzzy grey areas you hate so hopefully the gmg will have some words on what minions do out of combat (this my biggest bugbear with the system honestly)


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graystone wrote:
Quandary wrote:
^ Yup, and I'm pretty sure that during that week with dead Familiar, you can continue using Master Abilities
I don't think you can: "Each day, you channel your magic into two abilities". Without the familiar, you have nothing to channel into. It doesn't use 'can' but is written as something that's done every day even if it just to duplicate the ones you had yesterday.

It says you are channeling "your magic" into either "familiar or master abilities". Ignoring Familiar abilities which don't seem relevant if dead*, and some Master abilities still depend on Familiar (Extra Reagents, Familiar Focus, Lifelink, Spell Delivery), and just addressing pure Mastery abilities which don't mention Familiar at all (Cantrip Connection, Spell Battery): Why can't you use these valid applications of the Feat just because the Familiar is dead? You are channeling "your magic" into your abilities for the day, what is the problem?

I'm aware it's a daily recurrence that isn't optional, which was basis for suggesting you could do this after Familiar died even if you hadn't allocated Cantrip/Battery previous to Familiar death. IMHO the non-optionality reinforces my understanding: the familiar dying doesn't remove this "requirement" that you allocate these abilities as part of daily prep, and there is no impediment to Master Abilities working... so where is the problem?

* Although technically they may if you Create Undead on it?

-------------------------------------------

On enemies/NPCs attacking scouting Familiars because you happen to be audibly commanding them... Seems like that comes back to GM will, because ultimately that doesn't seem like a universally advisable strategy if you are in fact in vocal range commanding them... it seems NPC may be better off trying to target you instead of your Familiar, or simply retreating to different position rather than spend their turn attacking a familiar to presumably face full turn of the master's spellcasting actions (plus any allies). All to cause some abstract suboptimality for you in longer term, which isn't clearly decisive to immediate combat encounter? It might happen, but I wouldn't expect it to be universally standard.


graystone wrote:
Malk_Content wrote:
I can understand some familiar being killed on recon "ah snake kill it" but most why would that happen. Like oh no your crow failed its stealth check the bandit spots it and goes "Oh a crow."

Most likely because of the guy on the ground yelling commands at it every turn...

Debelinho wrote:

Did anyone mention manual dexterity?

having your familiar administer potions to fallen allies, or stabilize them, or taking a potion and administer it to you for 1 action is pretty cool. also, it can open door, fetch small items...

Can it? let me check, what str does it have again? none, so there is no way to figure out if it can carry anything, lift anything, drag anything or open doors. It's up to the DM if it can move much of anything.

Debelinho wrote:
familiar dying will also be not so common.

Area attacks: full stop. Unless you bury them in your backpack and never let them out, it'll happen. What's worse, Lifelink actually makes it worse as you basically take double damage if you [your and your familiars] if you activate it for an area attack.

Quandary wrote:
^ Yup, and I'm pretty sure that during that week with dead Familiar, you can continue using Master Abilities
I don't think you can: "Each day, you channel your magic into two abilities". Without the familiar, you have nothing to channel into. It doesn't use 'can' but is written as something that's done every day even if it just to duplicate the ones you had yesterday.

well if you want to get all technical...

it can for sure fetch items with negligible weight, bc no str is required or mentioned. technically, you can carry 5 bulk + str modifier...so even if that is 0, it could potentially still lift 9 L items before it's limit :)

where does it say that you need a str score to use manipulate actions?

AoE spells? fireball is 21 dmg on average, your familiar has 25hp at 5th level...he won't die any more than you will. If you happen to eat 2 or 3 fireballs at that point, you're both fvcked

also, stowing your familiar in your backpack doesn't prevent AoE dmg by the rules, so that is just fluff. I can't imagine that walking around wrapped in a big backpack would give you AoE immunity?


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Debelinho wrote:
also, stowing your familiar in your backpack doesn't prevent AoE dmg by the rules, so that is just fluff.

Line of Effect isn't just "fluff":

Quote:
In an area effect, creatures or targets must have line of effect to the point of origin to be affected. If there’s no line of effect between the origin of the area and the target, the effect doesn’t apply to that target.

The backpack or spell pouch etc are protected by Attended Object rule.

Even PCs can benefit from avoiding AoEs by hiding inside backpacks etc of other characters (if able to fit).

IF Familiar tried to hide in UNattended backpack lying on floor, an AoE might destroy backpack and enable Line of Effect to Familiar.
(although full/partial Cover bonus might apply if backpack not fully destroyed?).

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