Does a Raven familiar have a beak attack


Rules Discussion

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Maps Subscriber

My character has a Raven for a familiar. In today's game, the question came up if I can command my Raven to do a fly-by beak attack on an enemy. Ravens in the Beastiary have a Melee attack, but some people point to the lack of any fly-by attack for birds under the familiar rules in CRB.
Can I get a clarification?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

Which edition: 1st or 2nd?

It sounds like 1st.

No. The raven cannot do a flyby attack without the flyby attack feat.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Maps Subscriber

Blake, Sorry I should have said, I am playing 2ed.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

Then a couple of things: 1. a familiar's abilities are what you select from the list of familiar/master abilities, and 2. a familiar cannot perform a flyby attack


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In PF2, Familiars don't get any attack other than delivering touch attack spells through the Spell Delivery Master Ability.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Maps Subscriber

Thanks for the info. I don't understand why a raven as an NPC has Beak and Tallon attacks but when it is a familiar it losses natural abilities.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

Familiars aren't the animal they mimic but "something" else.

Sczarni

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Familiars are malleable. You don't actually have a raven, you have a ball of protoplasm that you can shape into a raven during your daily preparations, and it only has the abilities you give it.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Maps Subscriber

Nefreet, Now that is a new idea to me (I guess I didn't read the CRB close enough my bad).
Does that also mean that after a long rest I could reshape my familiar into say a badger or a hawk? I doubt I could reshape it into a panther or other small cat.

where in CRB are the lists of abilities that I can train a familiar to have? And how many feats can they have?
(I am going to do a search in my CRB by all I have is the printed version so searching is S L O W.)

Oh, BTW all of my questions are for society play


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Page 218 has the abilities. By default, you get 2 familiar/master abilities. Check the class feature or feat that gave you a familiar for progression of additional abilities past that. See the wizard's Improved Familiar Attunement on page 206 for an example.

Silver Crusade

Lots more abilities in the APG too. I'd recommend looking at archives of nethys to see all the choices

Sczarni

HERE is the comprehensive list on archivesofnethys.

Grand Lodge

Quote:
You don't actually have a raven, you have a ball of protoplasm that you can shape into a raven during your daily preparations

While I agree that the familiar in question does not have a beak attack nor fly-by attack, this description is not exactly correct...

CRB217 wrote:
Familiars are mystically bonded creatures tied to your magic. Most familiars were originally animals, though the ritual of becoming a familiar makes them something more. You can choose a Tiny animal you want as your familiar, such as a bat, cat, raven, or snake. Some familiars are different, usually described in the ability that granted you a familiar; for example, a druid’s leshy familiar is a Tiny plant instead of an animal, formed from a minor nature spirit.

AFAIK, a familiar would have the Creature type with its level equal to the caster it is tied to.

Grcles de Cross wrote:
Does that also mean that after a long rest I could reshape my familiar into say a badger or a hawk?

The rules do not seem to specifically require a familiar to maintain the same form each day, but IMO it is strongly implied given that it is formerly an animal (or plant, etc) that has been enhanced through the link with its master. Also, if one dies it takes a week to replace it which would indicate to me once you choose it, the base creature remains the same (though its familiar bonus abilities can be changed daily).

It is interesting that they specify only what happens if the familiar dies and nothing if you simply want to dismiss it in favor of something else. That either means you can change them at will, or they assume that once you make a bond, only death will sever it. If that is the case, then you could not voluntarily change your familiar, though I guess you could intentionally kill it knowing that it'll be a week before you can have another one. Sounds like there might be some table variation regarding this part.

The best course of action might be to decide which abilities you want and then select a familiar that is applicable to them. If you select a familiar that can fly, you must assign one of your familiar ability points to the Flier ability, so you would be limited to only the other point being spent on you or another ability for the raven.

Sczarni

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You can change it every day.

No creature examples existed when the familiar rules were originally published, so the "malleable ball of protoplasm" was how it was described at the time to make sense.

You don't get "free" abilities. If you want to describe your familiar as a raven, you have to "pay" for its flight ability.

The "Creature type with its level equal to the caster" is not accurate at all.

Grand Lodge

Nefreet wrote:
You can change it every day

Expect table variation


OP.

The correct question is:

"Does a Beak Attack have a Raven Familiar?"

Grand Lodge

TwilightKnight wrote:
Nefreet wrote:
You can change it every day
Expect table variation

You can reshape the additional abilities it gains every day, but you cannot change the base animal, and must give it any abilities on the list that the base would have.

Quote:

Familiars are mystically bonded creatures tied to your magic. Most familiars were originally animals, though the ritual of becoming a familiar makes them something more. You can choose a Tiny animal you want as your familiar, such as a bat, cat, raven, or snake. ..

Each day, you channel your magic into two abilities, which can be either familiar or master abilities. If your familiar is an animal that naturally has one of these abilities (for instance, an owl has a fly Speed), you must select that ability. Your familiar can’t be an animal that naturally has more familiar abilities than your daily maximum familiar abilities.

There is nothing in there about it being an undifferentiated protoplasmic mass. It says it starts out as a specific animal, and if the animal you chose has an ability (such as fly or burrow) you *must* give it that familiar ability.

Sczarni

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TwilightKnight wrote:
Nefreet wrote:
You can change it every day
Expect table variation

Incorrect.

Grand Lodge

Nefreet wrote:
Incorrect

That's funny. As if you have some mysterious power over every table being run in org play. Just because you rule that a familiar is a completely "malleable ball of protoplasm" I don't see that in the CRB, FAQ or errata, so GMs will make their own adjudication. Some will rule you cannot change it every day. Thus there is some variety, or as usually referenced, "expect table variation."

Sczarni

RTFM??

"Each day, you channel your magic into two abilities, which can be either familiar or master abilities."

Grand Lodge

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That does not allow you to change your familiar's base type.

"if your familiar is an animal that naturally has one of these abilities (for instance, an owl has a fly Speed), you must select that ability. "

You cannot have an owl one day, a cat the next.

Which is what you seemed to suggest:

"Familiars are malleable. You don't actually have a raven, you have a ball of protoplasm that you can shape into a raven during your daily preparations, and it only has the abilities you give it."

Sczarni

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Some history:

This discussion dates back to Day 1 of PF2, where James Jacobs even explained that you can have an owl familiar without flight.

#BurrowingOwl was trending at the time.

For the next few months, several follow-up questions were posted in the Rules Discussion Forum to confirm this, where the "malleable ball of protoplasm" explanation became popular.

Ravingdork's thread can be found HERE, the day after JJ's post.

The conclusion became that there is no reason to select a Familiar with static abilities when you can change it EACH DAY, as we're told in the Core Rulebook.

Sczarni

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(another good reason for this thread to be moved over to the Rules Forum, so it's not just me explaining this)

Grand Lodge

Like most things, once that exists in an easily located without extensive research official location, expect table variation. IIRC JJ has stated on numerous occasions, he’s not a “rules guy” so his commentary unless in a blog or other recognized rules source his commentary, like most Paizo staffers should be taken as merely their personal opinion and the way they would approach it in their own campaign. Especially if this discussion is better suited for the Rules forum which is one of the most contentious locations to talk about anything Paizo.

Dark Archive

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Your familiar's "base form" can be literally anything. There's no limiting list. It functions completely identically to each and every other familiar out there, except for the two+ abilities that you get to change each and every day. -Nothing- prevents you from claiming your familiar is a Flightless Bird, and STILL giving it Flight most of the time but Not Today because Today you want an extra cantrip. The rest of the stats don't change.

Because the only stats that change are the two abilities (because no "base forms" exist), there is literally 0 reason for a GM to say that your familiar can't have "your choice of 2 powers". If he does, I'd recommend having a chat with his VO because he is needlessly and baselessly limiting your completely legal choices. You can always, -always- explain why your familiar looks the way it does but has the abilities you want -Because Magic-. The question is literally down to how you want your familiar to look (= no game mechanic changes) and which two powers you want it to have (= allowed by the rules).

Dark Archive

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Incidentally, the above is also the reason why your familiar does not have fly by attacks or anything not mentioned in the familiar rules to begin with. It only has what the familiar rules say, nothing more, nothing less.

In effect, you don't really have -A Raven- as a familiar. You have a statblock as described in the familiar rules, to which you can give two powers, and you can decide to have it look just like just about anything you want. You can decide to have it look like a raven and give it flight and speech and sound like a raven and smell like a raven and act like a raven, if you want. If tomorrow you choose to give it different powers, that's your choice.

EDIT: Your GM can not dictate what your familiar's base form is - that is up to you. Technically, if YOU, willingly, choose to have your familiar's baseform as A Raven that has Flight, then YES, your GM -can- force you to pick that flight ability each and every day. That is still your choice.
You could just as well choose that your familiar is "A Pet Raven" instead of "A Raven". A Pet Raven is otherwise identical to a raven except they have their wings clipped to prevent escape by flight.
Luckily, you can magically give your Pet Raven the Flight Ability through Magic, every day that you want to.

Grand Lodge

Obviously there are those that do not agree with that interpretation of the familiar rules which have been quoted multiple times up thread. The fact of the matter is, you should expect table variation. Of course you can change you mind regarding participating in the game, but that doesn’t change the reality that some GMs simply do not agree with that interpretation. We can argue about in for as long as we want, but at the end of the day, unless/until the designers or org play leadership post an official clarification, the table GM is going to rule the way they are going to rule. We can either accept that they are doing so in good faith, or not.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Maps Subscriber

First of all, I do apologize for posting in the wrong forum.
Second I thank you all for this discussion. It has been very informative and at times confusing.
Thirdly, I realize I need to spend some more time in the books. There are abilities that say that the familiar must have these two abilities to have this one, but since I can only give two that does not make immediate sense to me. I am sure that some reading will clear that up.

My hope in getting a familiar Raven was the ability to scout ahead for ambushes, obstacles, or specific landmarks report back to at the end of the day. The second was to have a companion that could dive in and do some damage/distraction and then get out of there. It doesn't look good for that now.

Grand Lodge

Nefreet wrote:

Some history:

This discussion dates back to Day 1 of PF2, where James Jacobs even explained that you can have an owl familiar without flight.

#BurrowingOwl was trending at the time.

For the next few months, several follow-up questions were posted in the Rules Discussion Forum to confirm this, where the "malleable ball of protoplasm" explanation became popular.

Ravingdork's thread can be found HERE, the day after JJ's post.

The conclusion became that there is no reason to select a Familiar with static abilities when you can change it EACH DAY, as we're told in the Core Rulebook.

Of course, James Jacobs post *directly* contradicts the actual rules in the book, which say that if you choose an owl that it must have flight. In fact that is the *exact* reference in the book.

"If your familiar is an animal that naturally has one of these abilities (for instance, an owl has a fly Speed), you must select that ability. "

The subsequent thread you linked is a bunch of rules forum regulars taking that one statement, from James Jacobs, and building a whole different rules system around it, rather than referring to James Jacobs own statement that his off the cuff comments are not rules, just how he would run it.

Grand Lodge

In fact, James Jacobs is not even one of the designers for PF2. He is creative director and additional writing.

Grand Lodge

Grcles de Cross wrote:

=

My hope in getting a familiar Raven was the ability to scout ahead for ambushes, obstacles, or specific landmarks report back to at the end of the day. The second was to have a companion that could dive in and do some damage/distraction and then get out of there. It doesn't look good for that now.

It depends what you mean by "distraction"

You could have a Raven that would help you feint, or help you create a distraction to get away. (See the "Partner in Crime" familiar ability from the Advanced Players Guide.)

But in general familiars cannot make their own attacks, other than to deliver your touch spells.

Grand Lodge

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Note that does mean that it is "mechanically suboptimal" to have a raven or an owl, when you could have a cat, and be able to change out it's wings at will.

But frankly PFS2 is way less sensitive to "Optimization" and Suboptimal characters are both more enjoyable in it than they were in PFS1 and more survivable.

One of my goals on my wizard is to have enough extra familiar feats that my spellslime can take tool bearer, just so I can store a set of tools inside my gelatinous ooze...

I don't think my wizard even uses tools...

Dark Archive

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Grcles de Cross wrote:

First of all, I do apologize for posting in the wrong forum.

Second I thank you all for this discussion. It has been very informative and at times confusing.
Thirdly, I realize I need to spend some more time in the books. There are abilities that say that the familiar must have these two abilities to have this one, but since I can only give two that does not make immediate sense to me. I am sure that some reading will clear that up.

My hope in getting a familiar Raven was the ability to scout ahead for ambushes, obstacles, or specific landmarks report back to at the end of the day. The second was to have a companion that could dive in and do some damage/distraction and then get out of there. It doesn't look good for that now.

You can get more abilities for your familiar by taking certain feats/classes, Enhanced Familiar being one of them (and witch familiars get more abilities naturally).

Keep in mind that your familiar will always be very squishy. Scouting might be something that you could try and maybe even succeed at times. Having the familiar do damage in combat independantly isn't something you can reasonably pull off.
Theorhetically, you could pick the familiar power that allows you to use familiar to deliver touch spells - but I really recommend only using that to deliver beneficial spells to your allies. Trying to use familiar to attack enemies will probably result in enemies striking back, and with your low AC they will probably crit, and with low HP the risk of the familiar dying instantly is considerable.

I'm not saying that attacking targets with a familiar delivering spells is impossible, but the risk is considerable.

Sczarni

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RE: "JJ is not a rules guy"

Misses the point entirely. If a 5 year old tells you that 2+2=4, you don't immediately discredit them because they're not a mathematician.

We know TwilightKnight is wrong about being able to change your Familiar's abilities every day, and GMs are specifically not allowed to ignore rules in a published source, so if he GMs a multiday scenario for your Wizard and refuses to allow you your Core abilities, I would indeed suggest escalating a complaint up the chain of command, especially since he doesn't hold a position to protect himself anymore.

Grand Lodge

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No one said you can't change your familiar's abilities.

You were saying (or at least seeming to say) that you can change your familiar's base form every day. That you could have an owl one day, and a snake the next.

That is the part people are objecting to.

If you take an owl as your familiar, you then have to give it flight every day, regardless of what else you give it. If you want to change that, you have to spend a week of down time to get a new familiar.

Dark Archive

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Jared Thaler wrote:


If you take an owl as your familiar, you then have to give it flight every day, regardless of what else you give it. If you want to change that, you have to spend a week of down time to get a new familiar.

Incorrect. There's no rule to support this.

Again, only if you really do decide that you want that owl as your familiar. You could pick a "Pet Owl" that can't fly... And give it flight through your magical familiar abilities until you no longer want to.

You are, technically, correct in that one can't change familiar's base form every day, in that "base form" is not a game mechanic that is defined in any way, so obviously you can't change it. Because it doesn't exist.

We are literelly speaking about statblock A + Darkvision and Scent, versus Statblock A + Speech and Flight. Literally everything is otherwise the same, regardless of whether you call it a "bird" or "ball of protoplasm" or "Raven" or "Lucy" or "A cat". Attempting to restrict what abilities you want to give your statblock makes 0 sense. The rule about "having to choose natural abilities" is there so that you can't say your familiar can fly because it can naturally fly AND then give it 2 additional abilities. It's not there to restrict your choice of 2 abilities, it's there to prevent you from gaining "free" abilities. And if your GM disagrees, point out that your familiar is actually [a creature with no base abilities] so you can very well give it whatever 2 abilities you want - no more, no less. I would be curious to find out what kind of "table variation" these two think would change that.

Jared and TwilightKnight are just playing Devil's Advocates here. Since 2e begun, I've seen exactly 0 GM's trying to prevent people from replacing their familiar abilities with new ones if the old ones didn't work as they thought they would.

Let's remove the abilities question from the equation.
IF your player told you last week that their familiar was a raven, but this week said that they actually have an owl because it fits their theme better, would you tell them to kill the familiar and then spend a week to acquire a new one, because their familiar is now "different" even though it is mechanically -exactly the same- (including their choice of powers), and the only thing that changed was what they decided to call it?


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Tommi Ketonen wrote:


You are, technically, correct in that one can't change familiar's base form every day, in that "base form" is not a game mechanic that is defined in any way, so obviously you can't change it. Because it doesn't exist.

It's defined in the Familiar section of the rules here

"You can choose a Tiny animal you want as your familiar, such as a bat, cat, raven, or snake."

"If your familiar is an animal that naturally has one of these abilities (for instance, an owl has a fly Speed), you must select that ability."

That sure sounds like a defined mechanic to me.

Also

"Each day, you channel your magic into two abilities, which can be either familiar or master abilities. If your familiar is an animal that naturally has one of these abilities (for instance, an owl has a fly Speed), you must select that ability. Your familiar can’t be an animal that naturally has more familiar abilities than your daily maximum familiar abilities."

Not only do the rules require you have an animal picked (Sometimes changed by things like the druid leshy familiar feat) but the rules care about which familiar abilities said animal already has.

---

I agree that there is a mechanical advantage to choosing a familiar with no natural abilities, and that's silly, but if we all ignored every rule that we thought created a silly results we'd all be playing vastly different games.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Maps Subscriber

OK, I think I get it. I picked a raven, so raven it is. I can choose from the list of familiar abilities and pick two. The number shall be two. Not Three or Four, unless you have a feat for that. What the familiar is it has no "natural abilities". But it will always be a statblock that looks like the name you gave it when you picked it to start with. So there is NO effective difference between familiars EXCEPT the two abilities I give it each day.

Again thank you all for your input!

Grand Lodge

Tommie, the Owl is literally the rule example in the book.

It literally says "If it is an owl, you must give it flight"

You are correct in that you could say My familiar is not an owl, so I dont need to give it flight, but only if you picked a familiar that is not an owl.

There is nothing devil's advocate about it. This is *literally* the plain text of the rule in the book.

Grand Lodge

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Grcles de Cross wrote:

OK, I think I get it. I picked a raven, so raven it is. I can choose from the list of familiar abilities and pick two. The number shall be two. Not Three or Four, unless you have a feat for that. What the familiar is it has no "natural abilities". But it will always be a statblock that looks like the name you gave it when you picked it to start with. So there is NO effective difference between familiars EXCEPT the two abilities I give it each day.

Again thank you all for your input!

Partially Incorrect.

Since you chose a raven, you can take two abilities, but 1 of them must be flight.

Or you could spend 7 days down time to get (for example) a cat, and give it any two abilities you wanted every day.

I kind of wish they hadn't written the rule that way, because it effectively punishes players for choosing certain familiars by locking in certain abilities, but that is what the rules say.

Sczarni

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The theory I recall when these discussions were new was that the example of an owl was likely a holdover from the Playtest, when Familiars had a statblock.

But, that's irrelevant.

I don't have an "Owl", I have an incredibly rare "Steppe Owl", from Varisia. It's flightless, because it doesn't have any natural predators at that altitude.

Given all of the crazy build ideas and interpretations I've seen from you over the years, Jared, I'm somewhat shocked you've decided to stamp your foot down on this one.

Grand Lodge

I am not arguing that you can't pick a flightless familiar to start with. I am only contesting the idea that your familiar is a shapeless ball of protoplasm and that you can choose a different base animal each day.

Grand Lodge

Also, familiars in the playtest had no stat blocks (I just went back and checked.)

As far as my builds, yes, I had (and have) a lot of fun and zany builds. None of them involve me saying "well clearly this rule is left over from an earlier edition, so I am going to say it doesn't exist."

No one is arguing that being able to change your familiars base form every day would be too powerful. Especially since mechanically you can get the same effect by, as you noted, picking a familiar base form that has no special abilities.

All we are saying is that under the current rules system, your familiar is an animal that you adopt, and you cant take away an ability it had when you adopted it or reshape it into a different type of animal.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Maps Subscriber

I really hate to bring this idea up, but that seems to be my superpower.

If the familiar(statblock) is an "animal", animals can be trained as companions, one of the skills is "flyby attack". So if A is a subset of B, then action C that works on B should work on A.

You can now tutor me on why logic does not work in the PFS universe.

Sczarni

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I would, again, suggest creating new threads in the Rules Discussion Forum for new rules questions.

I am not sure why this thread has not been moved, yet, but you will get the attention and answers you need over there.

It's also the entire purpose of that Forum, unless Paizo is doing away with it as well.

Grand Lodge

Grcles de Cross wrote:

I really hate to bring this idea up, but that seems to be my superpower.

If the familiar(statblock) is an "animal", animals can be trained as companions, one of the skills is "flyby attack". So if A is a subset of B, then action C that works on B should work on A.

You can now tutor me on why logic does not work in the PFS universe.

1: the familiar *starts* as an animal. in becoming a familiar, it becomes intelligent and is no longer trainable as an animal.

2. It sounds like you are looking at the list of tricks for PFS 1ed.

Quote:

Train Animal

You spend time teaching an animal to do a certain action. You can either select a basic action the animal already knows how to do (typically those listed in the Command an Animal action) or attempt to teach the animal a new basic action. The GM determines the DC of any check required and the amount of time the training takes (usually at least a week). It’s usually impossible to teach an animal a trick that uses critical thinking. If you’re expert, master, or legendary in Nature, you might be able to train more unusual creatures, at the GM’s discretion.

Command Animal

Most animals know the Leap, Seek, Stand, Stride, and Strike basic actions. If an animal knows an activity, such as a horse’s Gallop, you can Command the Animal to perform the activity, but you must spend as many actions on Command an Animal as the activity’s number of actions. You can also spend multiple actions to Command the Animal to perform that number of basic actions on its next turn; for instance, you could spend 3 actions to Command an Animal to Stride three times or to Stride twice and then Strike.

Grand Lodge

Nefreet wrote:

I would, again, suggest creating new threads in the Rules Discussion Forum for new rules questions.

I am not sure why this thread has not been moved, yet, but you will get the attention and answers you need over there.

It's also the entire purpose of that Forum, unless Paizo is doing away with it as well.

You will get a lot of speculation from other people how something works by their interpretation, but you rarely get “answers” since Paizo rarely posts in the rules forum.

Also in this forum, the expectation is we are talking specifically as how it affects PFS while the rules forum is generally more to do with non-org play campaigns where the table GM has the ultimate authority. By having it here, maybe the org play team will address it.

Customer Service Representative

Moved thread to Rules.

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