I have a question regarding an attack that a flying familiar could make.
Say the familiar wanted to carry a tiny or small object, fly over the enemy, and drop it on them. As near as I can find, there are multiple options that give me different possible attack rolls. Is this a:
A) Bombard animal trick (BAB to attack, uses falling object damage rules)
B) A falling object attack (Ranged touch, range increment of 20 ft, falling object damage table)
C) A thrown weapon attack (Str attack and damage roll)?
|Mark Hoover 330|
I'd just use Bombard trick. I know Familiar's aren't Animal Companions or even the Animal type, that attack specifically calls out flying animals dropping an item on an enemy to deal damage.
Falling object damage is more for when you pick up a 5 LB rock with Mage Hand in the Surprise round and float that over a goblin's head, then Round 1 you dismiss the Mage Hand so it falls and bonks them.
Thrown weapons are specifically thrown weapons. An owl Familiar MIGHT have the strength and range of motion with a talon or their beak to fling a flask of Alchemist's Fire but that would likely be a GM's call to make. They certainly couldn't whip a javelin in Tiny owl form, regardless of the size of the weapon or the penalty to attack.
Now again, depending on the GM's leniency, you might make a case for a flying Familiar using their own momentum to make a 1 range increment Thrown Weapon attack by dropping the item WHILE moving in flight. Essentially they fly in an ascending or descending arc towards the target, releasing their talons or the "bomb bay doors" in order to toss something, say, 10' and still hit with it. Even in this case I'd still rule that as the Bombard trick.
|Mark Hoover 330|
Also it should be noted that a Thrown Weapon attack is Dex bonus to hit, Str bonus to damage, not Str to attack/damage as above.
A bombard target's the full AC, the familiar must be directly above their target when making the attack, and the device used in the attack deals it's normal damage.
Dropping a falling object means you can target the foe's ranged attack from a 20' range increment but it also means the object being dropped deals only the damage for the object dropped, as per the rules for falling objects. In this instance, the chart starts with a Small object at 2d6.
Can a familiar lift/carry a Small object while flying?
An owl for example has a Str of 6 and is Tiny sized. It can carry 10 lbs while considered to have a Light load for encumbrance. I can't find the citation for it but I don't think flying creatures can actually fly carrying anything more than a Light load.
This means without using Ant Haul or some other means of enhancement the base Owl Familiar can pick up a 10 Lb stone and fly over to drop it 20' using the dropped objects damage. I don't know if that qualifies as a Small sized object frankly.
The mechanics say that the device deals damage based on its size. Using this logic an owl dropping a Small sized 2 handed greatsword is just dropping a 4 lb piece of steel; depending on the GM's judgment, this might not even qualify as a Small object and thus it might only deal 1d6.
Throwing an Alchemist's Fire flask targets Touch AC and deals 1d6 Fire damage with a 10' range increment. Using the dropped object mechanic means you target Touch AC with a 20' range increment. Honestly as a GM, I'd just defer to the rules on throwing a flask in that case, but other GMs may differ in their ruling.
So let me clarify my very first post: I'd default to the Bombard trick for most item attacks for the Familiar, if they intend to deal the damage of the item being dropped. If they want to impale a foe with the point of a piercing weapon and thus deal the damage of that weapon, I'd use the Bombard trick.
If the familiar wanted to use a flask or other alchemical thrown weapon that targets Touch AC, I'd just use the mechanics for that kind of a attack. Finally, if the familiar wants to haul a Small sized object of thick and dense proportions and then drop THAT on a foe, I'd use the rules for dropped object damage.
Oh, and one last thing about dropped objects: per the mechanic objects dropped deal half damage if not made out of a tough, dense material and again deal half damage if traveling less than 30'; if the attack scores a hit, the victim can attempt a DC 15 Ref save to take half damage.
So... if an owl picked up a 10 lb object but let's say it's made of wood, not stone, and the GM allowed that object to be considered a Small sized object, the owl could attack from 20' away. Such an attack would start at 2d6, be reduced to 1d6 by being wood, be reduced to 1d3 by being only a 20' attack, and finally if it hit the enemy, if they roll their save, would take half of the 1d3 damage, min 1 non-lethal.
… or just have it toss flasks as thrown weapon attacks targeting Touch AC.
If the object is being used as a weapon (i.e., being "thrown downward"), it's a thrown weapon attack, with all that this entails. This includes, but is not limited to, Dex to hit, Str to damage, enhancement bonuses/effects if applicable, and nonproficiency penalty if applicable.
If the object is simply being dropped, it's a falling object attack. This is just a ranged touch attack. Dex to hit applies; Str does not. The damage done is strictly based on the object's size, falling distance, and GM discretion, and the object itself is assumed to also take damage. Proficiency is not an issue.