Is a familiar worth it?


Advice

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Silver Crusade

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WatersLethe wrote:

Going to have to search far and wide for a GM that will let the fireball kill the familiar in a brown paper bag, but leave the bag untouched.

If you have such a GM, yeah, familiars aren't a good idea.

I'd be incredibly unsurprised if familiars were made slightly more durable, and immediately every one claiming that they're useless would start planning cheesey in-combat hijinks well in excess of 1 feat's worth of utility.

Mean GMs who have a vendetta against familiars might just be the reality that some people are going to have to live with. I'd rather Paizo didn't get in an arms race against such GMs, and turn familiars into Animal Companion Lite again.

Something something Tumor Protector Familiar something something

Exo-Guardians

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Unicore wrote:
It would be nice to see an action listed in the APG that familiars can take called “hunker down” that only works when they are sharing a space with their master, that lets them be immune to any AoE ability as long as they take no additional future actions and are not separate from their master. That would eliminate the need for any unnecessary arbitration on the side of the GM or cheese on the side of the player about when the familiar is protected and when it isn’t.

Any GM that wouldn't already let you do something like this-- simply because "there's not a specific action in the book for that"-- is a garbage GM and you shouldn't play with them anymore.

The PF2 rules are written based on the assumption that most GMs are reasonable human beings, rather than mindless robots or "gotcha"-loving jerks. If your GM is one of the latter, that's a problem that no amount of additional published rules will fix. Tell them to get stuffed.

Liberty's Edge

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The "Hunker Down" mechanic actually already exists in the form of the "Take Cover" basic Action outlined on pg 477 and I CERTAINLY think that being inside a bag counts and based on the wording of the action rules itself it sounds like the Familiar will only need to take this action 1 singular time once in cover to benefit from it since it lists no duration for the effect.

Take Cover grants +4 AC, Reflex Saves and Stealth, so a 4th level Familiar (Statistically the lowest level you are SUPPOSED to run into any enemy that can even cast Fireball) with 20 HP and a Master with 14 Dex will end up with a +12 to Reflex Saves against said fireball.

The whole "Familiar is weak and useless" argument is so full of holes it's really starting to get out of hand. There are a multitude of things offer ways for you to stop your Familiar from being killed by AoE effects but in the end I don't think some people would be satisfied with anything less than a truly immortal companion with zero-risk involved whatsoever.


Taking cover is a bad mechanic for the "Hunker down" effect because it is still resulting in all the weirdness of trying to figure out if the familiar should be having to makes checks to save vs cloudkill. The answer would be yes, and then the player would then need to cast air bubble on themselves and their familiar to be protected? This is too sloppy and prone to debates at the table.

My vision for a Hunker down action, would be an explicit action the familiar has to take to hide well enough on their master that there is no reason or ability to consider them as a separate target until the familiar cease to hunker down. If it is a familiar action, then it is not something that is going to just arbitrarily happen in combat if the caster was using the familiar to do something, avoiding the situation of the conveniently forgotten familiar, because the player has to take an action to make the familiar hunker down and then, if they actively engage with the familiar again, it is clearly no longer benefiting. It also avoids all the silliness of trying to figure out if bags stop fireballs, which is really a bad rabbit hole to fall down.

Make the familiar's immunity tied to a special familiar ability/action that has clear action-based requirements, but not awkward and arbitrary materiality requirements.


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I mean, yeah, if you have a GM willing to rule that a familiar just gets to ignore AoE attacks, you're golden.

But you shouldn't have to rely on hoping your GM decides to be nice or forgets the familiar exists in the first place.

I'm, admittedly, kind of baffled by this naked hostility directed at people who'd like to see these kinds of protections baked into the rules instead of being left with this cross your fingers and hope approach.

It's kind of silly how contemptuous some of the responses in here are over something like this.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

It's also worth considering that a lot of GMs like me, view the fact that it can die as being a balancing mechanic for the feature? Like, I generally don't target them specifically (on one occasion a familiar actually took a bullet for their PC, the player was actually relieved because they likely would have gone down under the circumstances if I hadn't raised the monster's MAP before attacking them) but I think it should be possible.

Then again I think we've defaulted to a "if your familiar doesn't come out of the pouch and start doing things it isn't on the field" mentality, except not really because we started using a token for them i just copy and paste onto the field.

TLDR, an official way to basically remove the familiar from play in exchange for keeping it safe would be appreciated.


The-Magic-Sword wrote:

It's also worth considering that a lot of GMs like me, view the fact that it can die as being a balancing mechanic for the feature? Like, I generally don't target them specifically (on one occasion a familiar actually took a bullet for their PC, the player was actually relieved because they likely would have gone down under the circumstances if I hadn't raised the monster's MAP before attacking them) but I think it should be possible.

Then again I think we've defaulted to a "if your familiar doesn't come out of the pouch and start doing things it isn't on the field" mentality, except not really because we started using a token for them i just copy and paste onto the field.

TLDR, an official way to basically remove the familiar from play in exchange for keeping it safe would be appreciated.

I agree that if they had in innate power or maybe a special item you could take say like a "Familiar pouch" that as long as they are safely inside they are not effected by anything other than something that would destroy all the master's belongings (as well as the master most likely).


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If you have a GM who really hates something they can, if they want, make that thing unfeasible or just sufficiently inconvenient that you're better off using something else. It doesn't really matter what that thing is. What matters is:

-Are you aware of what your GM's bugaboos are?
-Is your GM someone who will allow their dislike of something to make the game less fun?

If the answer to the latter question is "yes", you should probably find another GM. If Paizo printed an item called "familiar pouch" which said "a familiar in the familiar pouch is immune to all damage and harmful effects" there are still going to be GMs who will allow the familiar pouch to be destroyed first, leaving the familiar vulnerable.


I am not arguing for a familiar pouch, that sounds a little too silly. My suggestion was for a specific action so the risks would be clearly codified.


A specific action effectively means all familiar users are permanently down 1 action. The minion rules are just too restrictive and the "if its in danger" part is just too variable. Does it mean the familiar can attack? Run away? Use magic? Does it bypass the Reaction restriction? How many actions can they? Can it use those actions only during the master's turn? Etc.


I kind of like the idea of a familiar pouch though and you could even give it actual hardness/HP so if a clever opponent that was specifically hunting your familiar for some reason could target it and eventually be able to break it and harm the plushy inside. Of course again there would need to be a real reason to do this.

Here is what the object in question stats would look like in my mind

Item (lvl 1) Familiar pouch
Burden: 1 bulk, Cost: 3GP
Hardness: 5 Hp 20 Broken 10

This item is a comfortable protected carrier for a familiar or a tiny animal. A familiar or other tiny creature can take a manipulate action to enter and another to close itself in or the barer can take the 2 manipulate actions to do so effectively placing the creature in the pouch and closing it. Wile inside the creature is insulated from the elements and from most effects of the outside world. Any AoE attacks that effect you wile carrying this item do not effect the pouch unless it would also effect the equipment you are wearing and then the pouch's HP must be taken to the broken level before the occupant can take damage. Some environmental effects will effect the occupant at the GM's discretion (such as traveling underwater without giving the creature an ability to breath or through extreme cold or heat, or falling from any distance that would damage the carrier though if a spell or effect would protect all your belongings from these effects it also will protect the familiar pouch.


Unicore wrote:
I am not arguing for a familiar pouch, that sounds a little too silly. My suggestion was for a specific action so the risks would be clearly codified.

I'm just saying that the intransigent GM has the "rocks fall, everyone dies" option in their back pocket, so literally nothing in any rulebook can protect your familiar from a GM who has it out for your familiar. If you happen to have that kind of GM, don't play with a familiar or get a different GM.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
If you have a GM who really hates something they can, if they want, make that thing unfeasible or just sufficiently inconvenient that you're better off using something else.

Right, but, again, the problem with familiars is that a GM doesn't need to have a vendetta against you to make them inconvenient and fragile. They just need to... play them by the rules Paizo themselves created.

Trying to turn 'familiars are vulnerable to random AoE damage' into 'well the GM can just arbitrarily kill you whenever' is, frankly, attacking a straw man.

Unless you're arguing that any GM who doesn't play with the various house rules proposed in this thread is a GM with a vendetta against familiars... but if you're arguing such house rules are that essential, I don't see how that really ends up being a defense of the status quo.


my idea for the hunker down action is that it would be an action the familiar takes one time, and then it is doing that under the cloak or around the leg or in a pouch until the next time the familiar takes any other action. Thus it is not an action a turn unless the caster is using the familiar every round.


I find use for the familiar as a focus battery.

While I do not think the feat is weak. I think the familiar is weak.

Basically most of it's "features" and tactics with them either risk combat or is something you do in combat that would make it a Target.

Giving it items, stabilizing players, delivering touch attacks. All of these mean any intelligent creature is going to see the familiar as something worth taking out. Do ok, let's not do any of that basically ever.

Scouting, really dependant on the familiar form (Wich means you have the time to switch it's form), the possible enemies, and the DM.

The DM is probably a big one. If I played PFS, I'd never use a familiar because I don't know how the DM is going to handle it's use.

You all talk about, not playing with a DM who *hates* familiars.

I just think if you play most things in terms of even relative common sense and the DM properly role plays the enemies that have a brain... Then familiars are just a liability for many things, your likely to spend more time with 1-2 dead feats then with functioning ones.

I can't help but get the feeling many DMS in here play with soft hands. I guess my groups are a bit more...gritty? I dunno

Silver Crusade

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Or we play with GMs who have opponents go after the bigger threats to themselves (the PCs) rather than ignore the Barbarian introducing the greatsword to their face in favor off going after Smoog the party mascot.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Rysky wrote:
Or we play with GMs who have opponents go after the bigger threats to themselves (the PCs) rather than ignore the Barbarian introducing the greatsword to their face in favor off going after Smoog the party mascot.

I fling a fireball, or line up a dragon's breath into the middle of the party, where the familiar is standing beside their wizard or whatever, in the middle of all the other targets I would normally attack. RAW, the familiar rolls a save and takes damage like everyone else, so I'm not sure that's what people are worried about.


The-Magic-Sword wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Or we play with GMs who have opponents go after the bigger threats to themselves (the PCs) rather than ignore the Barbarian introducing the greatsword to their face in favor off going after Smoog the party mascot.
I fling a fireball, or line up a dragon's breath into the middle of the party, where the familiar is standing beside their wizard or whatever, in the middle of all the other targets I would normally attack. RAW, the familiar rolls a save and takes damage like everyone else, so I'm not sure that's what people are worried about.

This is fine as long as the familiar is "out" and active but most ppl are worried about their pocket familiars dieing to said fireball when the familiar is safely tucked away in their backpack or carrying pouch.


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The-Magic-Sword wrote:


I fling a fireball, or line up a dragon's breath into the middle of the party, where the familiar is standing beside their wizard or whatever, in the middle of all the other targets I would normally attack. RAW, the familiar rolls a save and takes damage like everyone else, so I'm not sure that's what people are worried about.

Yeah but apparently according to the people in this thread doing that makes you a terrible, vindictive GM.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Timeshadow wrote:
The-Magic-Sword wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Or we play with GMs who have opponents go after the bigger threats to themselves (the PCs) rather than ignore the Barbarian introducing the greatsword to their face in favor off going after Smoog the party mascot.
I fling a fireball, or line up a dragon's breath into the middle of the party, where the familiar is standing beside their wizard or whatever, in the middle of all the other targets I would normally attack. RAW, the familiar rolls a save and takes damage like everyone else, so I'm not sure that's what people are worried about.
This is fine as long as the familiar is "out" and active but most ppl are worried about their pocket familiars dieing to said fireball when the familiar is safely tucked away in their backpack or carrying pouch.

Right, but it would be nice to have that explicit- for instance, can a familiar use its focus and spell battery mechanics safely tucked away? The entire notion of a 'tucked away familiar' if I'm not mistaken, is entirely a fiction in terms of the rules, mostly created out of pressure on the GM, and it seems like reading this thread the playerbase considers it a given, and not a decision for a GM to make.


The-Magic-Sword wrote:
Timeshadow wrote:
The-Magic-Sword wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Or we play with GMs who have opponents go after the bigger threats to themselves (the PCs) rather than ignore the Barbarian introducing the greatsword to their face in favor off going after Smoog the party mascot.
I fling a fireball, or line up a dragon's breath into the middle of the party, where the familiar is standing beside their wizard or whatever, in the middle of all the other targets I would normally attack. RAW, the familiar rolls a save and takes damage like everyone else, so I'm not sure that's what people are worried about.
This is fine as long as the familiar is "out" and active but most ppl are worried about their pocket familiars dieing to said fireball when the familiar is safely tucked away in their backpack or carrying pouch.
Right, but it would be nice to have that explicit- for instance, can a familiar use its focus and spell battery mechanics safely tucked away?

This is what I want to know too. I think it is much better to be explicit about how much risk your Familiar has to be in to provide its passive benefits.


It's not "Vindictive" if the player knowingly puts the familiar at risk in a combat situation and it gets hit by an AoE spell. But if the player is being cautious with their familiar keeping it safe in a backpack or dedicated carry bag then I'm not gonna kill it just cause she got hit by an AoE. If she is incinerated (IE instantly killed like takes dbl hp and dies) then of course the familiar will die as well but situations like that are fairly few and far between.


Timeshadow wrote:
It's not "Vindictive" if the player knowingly puts the familiar at risk

Yeah but "knowingly putting the familiar at risk" is literally just having it around, in this case.

...Are there even any rules for putting a creature in a bag to avoid AoEs in the first place?


I agree if a familiar is doing things in the combat like spell touch, feeding potions, scouting ect it is open to attack if it is somehow a priority or the only target. As has been mentioned most enemies will not target a tiny animal over the barbarian in their face or the wizard controlling the familiar. For AoE's I let my players know if the familiar is out and about it could be hit then it's their responsibility to position them as safely as possibly and weigh the risks of actively using them in dangerous situations.


Squiggit wrote:
Timeshadow wrote:
It's not "Vindictive" if the player knowingly puts the familiar at risk

Yeah but "knowingly putting the familiar at risk" is literally just having it around, in this case.

...Are there even any rules for putting a creature in a bag to avoid AoEs in the first place?

Well rules as RAW say attended/carried objects are not damaged by AoE's which means if the familiar is inside such an object then it "should" be unharmed as well aside from a few cases where an AoE specifically damages carried objects as well.

Liberty's Edge

Squiggit wrote:
Timeshadow wrote:
It's not "Vindictive" if the player knowingly puts the familiar at risk

Yeah but "knowingly putting the familiar at risk" is literally just having it around, in this case.

...Are there even any rules for putting a creature in a bag to avoid AoEs in the first place?

The Line of Effect rules (pg 457) make it pretty clear that any Solid Object with less than a 1 ft wide opening in it completely cuts off things behind it from Area Effects. If there is not a 1 ft wide hole/opening in the Container itself at the time of the effect and the Container isn't affected by the Area Effect itself then it stands to reason that no creatures inside of the Container will be impacted by the spell since you cannot draw a line to the Creature from the point of origin.


I think part of the issue is that the rules for Master abilities are incredibly soft and undefined. Can I just leave my familiar back at base camp and benefit from master abilities like cantrip connection and spell battery? Do i have to interact with my familiar to get these benefits? How often do I have to do so?

I sort of feel like the familiar got left in this weird hybrid space of supposing to be mostly narrative flavor dressing , but by giving it such concrete and useful powers, it doesn't really work for the GM to ignore familiars, especially not ones actively doing things on the battlefield.

But having a character carry around another living creature does create a lot of complications. A softer system would probably just say treat the familiar always like an extension of the character, with shared HP, saves and abilities. But that is not really Pathfinder's style.


Themetricsystem wrote:
Squiggit wrote:
Timeshadow wrote:
It's not "Vindictive" if the player knowingly puts the familiar at risk

Yeah but "knowingly putting the familiar at risk" is literally just having it around, in this case.

...Are there even any rules for putting a creature in a bag to avoid AoEs in the first place?

The Line of Effect rules (pg 457) make it pretty clear that any Solid Object with less than a 1 ft wide opening in it completely cuts off things behind it from Area Effects. If there is not a 1 ft wide hole/opening in the Container itself at the time of the effect and the Container isn't affected by the Area Effect itself then it stands to reason that no creatures inside of the Container will be impacted by the spell since you cannot draw a line to the Creature from the point of origin.

So a burlap sack will protect me from a fireball, since fireballs don't effect objects. Pulling the sheets up over your head really does protect you from bad magic in PF2/


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Unicore wrote:
Themetricsystem wrote:
Squiggit wrote:
Timeshadow wrote:
It's not "Vindictive" if the player knowingly puts the familiar at risk

Yeah but "knowingly putting the familiar at risk" is literally just having it around, in this case.

...Are there even any rules for putting a creature in a bag to avoid AoEs in the first place?

The Line of Effect rules (pg 457) make it pretty clear that any Solid Object with less than a 1 ft wide opening in it completely cuts off things behind it from Area Effects. If there is not a 1 ft wide hole/opening in the Container itself at the time of the effect and the Container isn't affected by the Area Effect itself then it stands to reason that no creatures inside of the Container will be impacted by the spell since you cannot draw a line to the Creature from the point of origin.
So a burlap sack will protect me from a fireball, since fireballs don't effect objects. Pulling the sheets up over your head really does protect you from bad magic in PF2/

Objects being worn or carried, specifically, so if you find a giant to wear your burlap sack, you're in the clear.


The-Magic-Sword wrote:


Objects being worn or carried, specifically, so if you find a giant to wear your burlap sack, you're in the clear.

Fireball, and many other AoE spells can only target creatures though. Can it magically affect me inside the sack when the sack is on the floor but not if I summon an unseen servant to pull futilely at the sack attempting to carry it? Is my familiar in more trouble if it is in my back pack and I put my pack down for a minute?

I think a much more sensible way to avoid any of these questions as far as familiars go is to say that the familiar is protected because it has a special ability to be protected when hunkering down on its master. However, I am not sure how that would handle the master powers that give additional spells for example. My assumption would be that master powers are fine while the familiar is hunkering down unless they require an explicit action by the familiar. I think a codified term for a familiar in a protected condition, as well as clearly defined limits for what it can do in that condition would be relatively easy to add in the APG and put a lot of this silliness to bed (tucked into its sheets for protection).


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Unicore wrote:
The-Magic-Sword wrote:


Objects being worn or carried, specifically, so if you find a giant to wear your burlap sack, you're in the clear.

Fireball, and many other AoE spells can only target creatures though. Can it magically affect me inside the sack when the sack is on the floor but not if I summon an unseen servant to pull futilely at the sack attempting to carry it? Is my familiar in more trouble if it is in my back pack and I put my pack down for a minute?

I think a much more sensible way to avoid any of these questions as far as familiars go is to say that the familiar is protected because it has a special ability to be protected when hunkering down on its master. However, I am not sure how that would handle the master powers that give additional spells for example. My assumption would be that master powers are fine while the familiar is hunkering down unless they require an explicit action by the familiar. I think a codified term for a familiar in a protected condition, as well as clearly defined limits for what it can do in that condition would be relatively easy to add in the APG and put a lot of this silliness to bed (tucked into its sheets for protection).

You probably won't have to worry about that for much longer, this tidbit was in a recent Society character options post:

The Targets entry for winter bolt (page 112) should be “1 creature”, not “1 creature or object.” This change is based on upcoming errata for the Pathfinder Core Rulebook

I'm willing to bet that the upcoming change is that they're going to errata the "or object" clauses out of spells, and make it a general rule that damage spells can target objects.

Also, we recently had an entire thread about fireballing chairs, I doubt the intent is that you can let off a fireball in a build and have the building be completely unscathed. We do have hardness and HP for objects, and directions for the GM to use their discretion after all.


While I generally agree, the broader point here is that this is a definitely a grey area that the GM may or may not go along with.

And it feels contradictory to me for people to be simultaneously arguing that familiars don't need any changes while also insisting upon a house rule that's apparently so essential any GM that doesn't go along with it is a bad GM.

If the rules are fine, the GM shouldn't need to do that and if the GM does need to do that, I don't see why it would be a bad thing to affirm that in the rules somewhere as a legitimate option.


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Since we're talking rules, it's worth pointing out that Familiars don't need to be commanded every round to do things like hide in bags, take cover, or literally flee the combat until it's safe. The defacto assumption is they're using their actions to not get murdered unless you tell them to do something else.

Minion Traint wrote:

Minion Source Core Rulebook pg. 634

Minions are creatures that directly serve another creature. A creature with this trait can use only 2 actions per turn and can’t use reactions. Your minion acts on your turn in combat, once per turn, when you spend an action to issue it commands. For an animal companion, you Command an Animal; for a minion that’s a spell or magic item effect, like a summoned minion, you Sustain a Spell or Sustain an Activation; if not otherwise specified, you issue a verbal command, a single action with the auditory and concentrate traits. If given no commands, minions use no actions except to defend themselves or to escape obvious harm. If left unattended for long enough, typically 1 minute, mindless minions usually don’t act, animals follow their instincts, and sapient minions act how they please.

You can definitely sit your familiar down for a conversation and tell it generally what it should do to protect itself if combat breaks out.


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I feel like what a lot of this discussion is missing is the assumption of good faith. I do not believe a GM, acting on good faith, would have you get hit by a fireball, which does not damage the nice shirt you're wearing or your spellbook in your bag, but would harm your familiar who is hiding in your shirt/bag, your GM is probably not operating in good faith.


Rysky wrote:
Or we play with GMs who have opponents go after the bigger threats to themselves (the PCs) rather than ignore the Barbarian introducing the greatsword to their face in favor off going after Smoog the party mascot.

Hey the creature downed those guys that the familiar is trying to save. It is not out of character in the slightest to stop that


PossibleCabbage wrote:
I feel like what a lot of this discussion is missing is the assumption of good faith. I do not believe a GM, acting on good faith, would have you get hit by a fireball, which does not damage the nice shirt you're wearing or your spellbook in your bag, but would harm your familiar who is hiding in your shirt/bag, your GM is probably not operating in good faith.

It's a silly debate to begin with because if your using your familiar it's not hiding on your person anyways.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Martialmasters wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Or we play with GMs who have opponents go after the bigger threats to themselves (the PCs) rather than ignore the Barbarian introducing the greatsword to their face in favor off going after Smoog the party mascot.
Hey the creature downed those guys that the familiar is trying to save. It is not out of character in the slightest to stop that

Ignoring combat (possibly provoking AoOs) and other more accessible opponents is


How many actions do familiar get when not commanded? Can they use anything at thier disposal? Can they use reactions? Do the act during their master's turn or roll initiative? How smart are they when it comes to defending themselves or running away? Is the no item bonus limit a thing only when commanded or in general?

There are too many questions to the "take actions to defend themselves".

Also if the rule is that you can be inside a bag with a less than or equal to 1-ft hole. Is that limit based on the number of holes or per hole? If its per hole, than a sack with 5 1-ft holes for limbs and a sipper to get inside is the ultimate defensive armor. Literally impossible for you to be harmed. Its even easier for small races which can have even smaller hole. Heck you could in theory get a mount, attach the bag securely to it, and now you only need 3 wholes for the arms and eyes and you are immune to every spell.

Or how about a bag shaped like a body so that you can still move and grasp things? Are Astronauts and Hasmat suit users the best people to fight spells?


Temperans wrote:

How many actions do familiar get when not commanded? Can they use anything at thier disposal? Can they use reactions? Do the act during their master's turn or roll initiative? How smart are they when it comes to defending themselves or running away? Is the no item bonus limit a thing only when commanded or in general?

There are too many questions to the "take actions to defend themselves".

I agree that there should be more defined guidelines, because players might meta-game "defending themselves and avoiding obvious harm" to affect NPCs that the players aren't aware of (or are supposed to be aware of). Conversely, a GM could say a Raven familiar flying above a river of lava isn't in a situation of "obvious harm" or in a situation where they are "defending themselves" from the apparent hazard.


Temperans wrote:

How many actions do familiar get when not commanded? Can they use anything at thier disposal? Can they use reactions? Do the act during their master's turn or roll initiative? How smart are they when it comes to defending themselves or running away? Is the no item bonus limit a thing only when commanded or in general?

There are too many questions to the "take actions to defend themselves".

Also if the rule is that you can be inside a bag with a less than or equal to 1-ft hole. Is that limit based on the number of holes or per hole? If its per hole, than a sack with 5 1-ft holes for limbs and a sipper to get inside is the ultimate defensive armor. Literally impossible for you to be harmed. Its even easier for small races which can have even smaller hole. Heck you could in theory get a mount, attach the bag securely to it, and now you only need 3 wholes for the arms and eyes and you are immune to every spell.

Or how about a bag shaped like a body so that you can still move and grasp things? Are Astronauts and Hasmat suit users the best people to fight spells?

You sound super fun to have at a table. If the PC doesn't command the familiar, the GM decides what it does. It's effectively an NPC. It probably still only gets its 2 actions. But, in the spirit of good faith, if a PC tells its familiar to generally hide in a bag and take cover when combat breaks out, a GM probably should allow it. Anything deviating woulc be at the GMs discretion. This really isn't super complicated.


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Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Temperans wrote:

How many actions do familiar get when not commanded? Can they use anything at thier disposal? Can they use reactions? Do the act during their master's turn or roll initiative? How smart are they when it comes to defending themselves or running away? Is the no item bonus limit a thing only when commanded or in general?

There are too many questions to the "take actions to defend themselves".

I agree that there should be more defined guidelines, because players might meta-game "defending themselves and avoiding obvious harm" to affect NPCs that the players aren't aware of (or are supposed to be aware of). Conversely, a GM could say a Raven familiar flying above a river of lava isn't in a situation of "obvious harm" or in a situation where they are "defending themselves" from the apparent hazard.

Players can't metagame it. The familiar is an NPC. When not commanded, the PC doesn't get to say what the familiar does. The assumption on total player control over a familiar or AC is a courtesy and convenience but if a player abuses it the GM can reassert.


Thats kind of the point thou. If the GM runs the game as written there it is perfectly valid to kill the NPC using AoE or by a stray enemy looking for an easy kill; But people keep saying, "the GM is bad for not making up rules" or treating the familiar as something its not.

If its true that familiars/animal companions are NPC and not limited when not commanded. Than why cant they just act like actual animals? Instead they are treated as somehow inferior given the rule is explicit "unless commanded they take no actions except when in danger".

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P.S. I wish to know what people who didnt even want the "self defense" rule were going to do about. It was such a hard fight just to get Paizo to add that rule, as before "minions" couldnt even defend themselves without being commanded.

But I still think paizo was too vague. The entire thing just reads to me like it was a half measure added at the very end.


When I first read the minion rules I hated them. Thought they were way too weak and made familiars and animal companions completely useless as well as summoned creatures. After GMing going on 9ish sessions so far the animal companions and familiars of the party are really starting to shine. WE have a ranger with a bear companion and a druid with a tiger and sorcerer with a lizard familiar. All of them have had moments to shine and all have been nearly killed several times making the players become more protective and cautious with their use. Currently the Sorcerer now almost never uses spell touch anymore after her familiar almost got killed after she used it to chill touch an enemy she keeps it safely in her pack/shirt but she occasionally is tempted to use it again. The bear is doing great for the Archer ranger by running up using it's support then the ranger hunts and hunted shots the adj enemy for massive damage 3d8+1 when he connects(1d8arrow,1d8percice,1d8bear +1str) and if he happens to hit with the second arrow that's another 2d8+1(arrow/bear) all added together for the purposes of damage resistance (Though I have been keeping the bear damage separate for this ie not dbling as it's from a second source). The Tiger is hit and miss but since the druid is very melee based it is a great flanking buddy and has pulled off some finishers and chased down a fleeing enemy once it has definitely been useful.

A little power goes a long way and yes the party is still low lvl (lvl 3 currently almost lvl 4) and I'm guessing the usefulness/power of them will lessen as the party lvls but currently they are really doing well to the point the players who don't have animal companions/familiars are wondering how they can get one lol.


When the animal companions get their templates and have the inherent power scaling (especially when Druids can improve their companions way sooner than Rangers can), they'll be very strong and actually be able to stand alongside you in battle, especially when they can benefit from certain Item and Status bonuses that Familiars can't ever do (even defensive boosts like AC and saves would be nice).

I've had my Familiar for 8 levels now, and I've only ever actually used it once (which wasn't even my idea to begin with), with me temptingly using it twice (but decided against it and for good reason in that combat), but when an enemy with AoOs is out and can easily critical your Familiar, both not only potentially killing your familiar but also interrupting your actions (and wasting spell slots as a result in the case of Spell Touch), abilities like Spell Touch (and Lifelink by correlation) become more wasteful and a liability than they are a help, since not only are you getting a potential asset killed, but you're wasting action economy and resources in addition to that. And in the case of Lifelink, you're taking unnecessary damage than if you went up and did the whole shebang yourself!

Sure, it might not be much different than if another PC goes down (probably better than that, actually), but the PC has abilities to avoid those attacks, as well as have a greater likelihood to not be critically hit compared to a Familiar, and as you level up, those differences become massive and crucial to have in comparison to each other.

Hell, I don't need Spell Touch when, as a Wizard, I can take Rogue Dedication plus Mobility, which has saved my ass in the heat of combat (especially against enemies with reach!) to be able to safely cast spells or get out of dangerous situations that spring up on me.


Timeshadow wrote:

the animal companions and familiars of the party are really starting to shine.

Currently the Sorcerer now almost never uses spell touch anymore after her familiar almost got killed after she used it [once]

Those two statements do not support each other.


I feel like "spell touch" is less for combat and more for social situations where you want to be able to enchant someone subtly, by having your beetle familiar climb on their foot or something.

Conceal spell only goes so far, and it's weird to go around just touching people but if your cat familiar rubs up against someone's leg that's normal cat behavior and not suspicious.


Draco18s wrote:
Timeshadow wrote:

the animal companions and familiars of the party are really starting to shine.

Currently the Sorcerer now almost never uses spell touch anymore after her familiar almost got killed after she used it [once]

Those two statements do not support each other.

I ment one time when she used it not the only time.

She has had alot of mileage from her familiar giveing her an extra focus point every day and an extra cantrip. As a Fimiliar thesis she often has speach, climb and spell touch on it as well (she has improved familiar). It gives her an extra option with her cantrips and lets her pop her halo (Divine Sorcerer) for extra healing as needed. The familiar has only taken damage when she actully put it into harms way ie when she used spell touch with chill touch cantrip and only after doing so several times as the enimies had bigger conserns than this little thing nipping at their toes. When it did get smacked she called it back and is now a bit more catious but still uses the heck out of all the other benefits.

Edit: Plus a ton of roleplay as it is a little camelion called Kewi.


The-Magic-Sword wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Or we play with GMs who have opponents go after the bigger threats to themselves (the PCs) rather than ignore the Barbarian introducing the greatsword to their face in favor off going after Smoog the party mascot.
I fling a fireball, or line up a dragon's breath into the middle of the party, where the familiar is standing beside their wizard or whatever, in the middle of all the other targets I would normally attack. RAW, the familiar rolls a save and takes damage like everyone else, so I'm not sure that's what people are worried about.

No, because [insert here any houserule protecting the familiar]. Since any DM who doesn't use this houserule is the worst DM ever, there's no need to include this houserule in the rule.

Anyway, the only consensus here is:
1/ the best familiar abilities are the pet rock abilities (the abilities that doesn't involve familiar's senses or familiar's move or even familiar's existence).
2/ a pet rock in your backpack isn't affected by AoE.
3/ if your familiar does anything a pet rock can't do (like delivering spells our moving around), then it's fair play to kill it.

Hence, choose any familiar, put its eyes out and pull its legs off, now it's a pet rock and you're golden. I think everyone can agree on this.

The question if it's an awesome game design or not is unrelated.


Gaterie wrote:
The-Magic-Sword wrote:
Rysky wrote:
Or we play with GMs who have opponents go after the bigger threats to themselves (the PCs) rather than ignore the Barbarian introducing the greatsword to their face in favor off going after Smoog the party mascot.
I fling a fireball, or line up a dragon's breath into the middle of the party, where the familiar is standing beside their wizard or whatever, in the middle of all the other targets I would normally attack. RAW, the familiar rolls a save and takes damage like everyone else, so I'm not sure that's what people are worried about.

No, because [insert here any houserule protecting the familiar]. Since any DM who doesn't use this houserule is the worst DM ever, there's no need to include this houserule in the rule.

Anyway, the only consensus here is:
1/ the best familiar abilities are the pet rock abilities (the abilities that doesn't involve familiar's senses or familiar's move or even familiar's existence).
2/ a pet rock in your backpack isn't affected by AoE.
3/ if your familiar does anything a pet rock can't do (like delivering spells our moving around), then it's fair play to kill it.

Hence, choose any familiar, put its eyes out and pull its legs off, now it's a pet rock and you're golden. I think everyone can agree on this.

The question if it's an awesome game design or not is unrelated.

1/ Agreed but only to the point that there is good benifit with very little risk

2/ Agreed

3/ No not kill it, it becomes a valid target in the enemies threat matrix. Again as has been mentioned risk vs reward. There are many situations where a familiar could be a great help as well as many roleplaying situations that couldn't be possable without your trusty little mystic sidekick. Many enemies will ignore active familiars due to their lack of threat but if the enemy wizard can line up 3 PC's and the familiar in a lightning bolt he's gonna do it unless there is a 4th PC that could be hit insted, cause there is no negetive to him to do so.

If a GM has monsters target essentully harmless familiars over PC's then yes he is doing something wrong....unless the enemy has a specific reason to do so. IE all the PC's are med or larger and the enemy has a swallow whole ability and the fimiliar just happens to be the best target in range. This happened in my game with the rangers animal companion and the players went out of their way to save poor butterscotch the bear before the warg ran away. It added so much tension it just made the session.


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It does seem like "rather than the heavily armed people or the person throwing fire around, I will instead choose to direct my aggression towards that cat over there" is a weird thing for a person in the setting to decide and would indicate a particularly vindictive GM.

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