Can NPCs use Recall Knowledge? Should they?


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

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Squiggit wrote:
3-Body Problem wrote:


That's different the spellbook will usually be guarded and kept on the Wizard's person. If that same spellbook starts whizzing around the battlefield slinging spells or otherwise being a problem it's fair game to destroy it.

Not really an important difference though. If wizards had a class feature that required them to throw their spellbook into the middle of the battlefield in order to function properly, it would be no less debilitating or obnoxious to destroy it.

If you want to make a habit of regularly breaking someone's core class features as a GM, it would be easier to just tell the person not to play that class before the game starts.

Calliope5431 wrote:
But ALL the witch subclasses are balanced by being within a few feet of the enemies you want to affect. I don't think that's a coincidence.
Given that no other class, even ones with significantly more potent abilities, run a comparable risk and most Witch familiar abilities aren't particularly out of bounds power wise (or frankly, even very good at all), I'm not sure I can agree. It just doesn't make sense from a broader balance perspective.

Wizards don't regain their spell book on a rest, though.

And nobody was advocating "kill the familiar encounter 1 of every day". Just that it, unlike an attended object like a spell book, is fully capable of being killed with a very wide range of abilities, and a witch who is too cavalier with it may want to plan for it getting blown up from time to time

There's a very good reason that spells like Phase Familiar exist and why unlike ranger animal companions or spell books you can regain your kitty in 8 hours. It's a creature that's expected to be targeted in combat.


Squiggit wrote:
If wizards had a class feature that required them to throw their spellbook into the middle of the battlefield in order to function properly, it would be no less debilitating or obnoxious to destroy it.

As a side note, Raise a Tome exists and has stats to use explicitly for when you use your spellbook for that purpose.

Compared to that, I'll take my chances at catching a stray AoE.


Farien wrote:
Squiggit wrote:
If wizards had a class feature that required them to throw their spellbook into the middle of the battlefield in order to function properly, it would be no less debilitating or obnoxious to destroy it.

As a side note, Raise a Tome exists and has stats to use explicitly for when you use your spellbook for that purpose.

Compared to that, I'll take my chances at catching a stray AoE.

The less said about Raise a Tome the better...


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Squiggit wrote:
Calliope5431 wrote:
I'm fairly certain that it's meant to be high risk/high reward. And that was likely a balance point.

You say that, but Ongoing Misery is less risky on pretty much all counts than the familiar ability that lets them flank.

So it's clearly not balanced that way at all.

Ongoing Misery doesn't need much balancing. It just needs to be clarified a bit.

Really, it's the other familiar abilities that are unbalanced;they should be boosted.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

There's a pretty good case for Ongoing Misery being overtuned, if only because it does something that literally nothing else in the game does. The other occult patrons feel just about right and the arcane and primal patrons feel undertuned by comparison.


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Ravingdork wrote:
Really, it's the other familiar abilities that are unbalanced;they should be boosted.

Fervor Witch is very straightforward but excellent, Wild Witch is also excellent in a very different way (but it's more subject to GM fiat and circumstances of the adventure, I agree), Winter Witch"s Clinging Ice is excellent, Nudge Fate boost makes it very reliable now and usable both in and out of combat, and obviously (Curse) Resentment Witch is good.

So it's really just the Rune Witch that is bad, and the Shadow Witch that seems hard to play (but I guess it can work with the proper build).

Not so much need for a boost.

Sorry for the old names, I really dislike the new ones.


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SuperBidi wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
Really, it's the other familiar abilities that are unbalanced;they should be boosted.

Fervor Witch is very straightforward but excellent, Wild Witch is also excellent in a very different way (but it's more subject to GM fiat and circumstances of the adventure, I agree), Winter Witch"s Clinging Ice is excellent, Nudge Fate boost makes it very reliable now and usable both in and out of combat, and obviously (Curse) Resentment Witch is good.

So it's really just the Rune Witch that is bad, and the Shadow Witch that seems hard to play (but I guess it can work with the proper build).

Not so much need for a boost.

Sorry for the old names, I really dislike the new ones.

I would argue that all the hex cantrips are similar value. But that's not the same as the familiar abilities.

There's just NO comparison between "I create a 5 ft burst of difficult terrain for a round" (silence under snow/winter) and "you are locked down forever, no resaves" (Ongoing Misery). This ability straight-up UNHINGES spells:

-Paralyze used to be 1-round duration paralyze for people who failed. Now as long as you keep hexing/sustaining, they're still paralyzed indefinitely with no save.

-I've already talked 7th level You're Mine to death. Focus spell no-resave sustained domination. Why not?

-Power Word Stun when used on level 14-15 monsters (or higher level creatures with the heightened version). Formerly it stunned them for 1 round with no save. Now it stuns them for as long as you keep casting hexes or sustaining, with no resaves and no spell slot cost.

-Blindness is a subtle yet terrifying one. It's incapacitation, but on a success "the target is blinded until its next turn begins." So if you cast it, they succeed (or fail but get the incapacitation uptick to a success) and you Ongoing Misery it on the turn you cast it, they're blinded ON their next turn too. Rinse, repeat, and you have a 3rd level save-or-permablind now that works on level 20 monsters.


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Calliope5431 wrote:
I would argue that all the hex cantrips are similar value. But that's not the same as the familiar abilities.

I vastly disagree. Resentment's "Sickened 1 as long as you Sustain it" is nowhere close to good. It's actually not really better than Demoralize (especially once you add the good feats to Demoralize).

Also, the "you are slowed/dominated/blinded/clumsy 3 forever, no resaves" is partly disingenuous. First, you need to cast the aforementioned spell. Second, the enemy has to succeed at the save (in case of failure or critical success you're as good as before) so you have only 50% chance to benefit from Ongoing Misery. Third you need your Familiar to be 15ft. away from the enemy, which costs in general an action to get it there and brings some risks (especially at high level).

The Resentment Witch is a solo monster killer, no doubt. But on the other hand, against multiple enemies it's as good as a 3-slot prepared Occult caster with close to no class feature. Nothing impressive.

I won't say it's bad, it isn't. But when you take both the Hex cantrip and the Familiar effect into comparison, the Resentment Witch is not that better than the other Patrons (even if I agree it may be the best one but I need to see one played to know for sure how efficient it is).


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Old Evil Eye could be compared to Demoralize. New Evil Eye is definitely way better with sickened instead of frightened.

-You can spam it every round until it sticks.
-Can be sustained indefinitely.
-Still requires an action to remove if you don't sustain it. (Potentially more actions since it involves a save and could be sickened 2.)
-No mental, emotional, or linguistic tags.


SuperBidi wrote:
Calliope5431 wrote:
I would argue that all the hex cantrips are similar value. But that's not the same as the familiar abilities.

I vastly disagree. Resentment's "Sickened 1 as long as you Sustain it" is nowhere close to good. It's actually not really better than Demoralize (especially once you add the good feats to Demoralize).

Also, the "you are slowed/dominated/blinded/clumsy 3 forever, no resaves" is partly disingenuous. First, you need to cast the aforementioned spell. Second, the enemy has to succeed at the save (in case of failure or critical success you're as good as before) so you have only 50% chance to benefit from Ongoing Misery. Third you need your Familiar to be 15ft. away from the enemy, which costs in general an action to get it there and brings some risks (especially at high level).

The Resentment Witch is a solo monster killer, no doubt. But on the other hand, against multiple enemies it's as good as a 3-slot prepared Occult caster with close to no class feature. Nothing impressive.

I won't say it's bad, it isn't. But when you take both the Hex cantrip and the Familiar effect into comparison, the Resentment Witch is not that better than the other Patrons (even if I agree it may be the best one).

It's a LOT better than other patrons if it uses the right spells.

Sure, the 1-action hex cantrip is basically Demoralize-but-no-getting out-of-it. But compare to Wilding Word. Minor debuff to attack you only. It's pretty much strictly inferior to Resentment. And there is NO comparison between Familiar of Keen Senses and Ongoing Misery. Point Out is nice and sometimes very important, but it's no "you're Paralyzed until I say you're not Paralyzed". It's not consistently useful.

Compare to Silence Under Snow. Clinging ice damage is fine! I like that spell. But it's not any stronger than Evil Eye, and there is NO comparison between "you get stun-locked because I decided to spend a single 8th, never mind about silly things like saves, who makes THOSE?" (Ongoing Misery + Power Word Stun) and "er, have some difficult terrain" (Freezing Rime)


Captain Morgan wrote:
-Still requires an action to remove if you don't sustain it. (Potentially more actions since it involves a save and could be sickened 2.)

Spell effects are removed when the spell duration ends. And the Destrachan "Sickened 1 for 1 round" proves Sickened can have a duration just like any other condition.

Calliope5431 wrote:
But compare to Wilding Word.

Wilding Word is plain useless, let's be honest.

But Tremorsense/Scent/Wavelength 60ft. are otherwise unseen. It's not useful during combat but during exploration to detect enemies and prepare for combat.

Calliope5431 wrote:
Clinging ice damage is fine!

It's nearly equivalent to Force Bolt but at no Focus Point cost. It's better than fine. It may not look impressive but it's one of the most solid repeatable damaging third action you can find in the game (it does bow Flurry Ranger third attack damage).

Freezing Rime is useless on the other hand.


SuperBidi wrote:


Calliope5431 wrote:
Clinging ice damage is fine!

It's nearly equivalent to Force Bolt but at no Focus Point cost. It's better than fine. It may not look impressive but it's maybe the most solid repeatable damaging third action you can find in the game.

Freezing Rime is useless on the other hand.

Yeah, as I said, I really like that spell.

But it's not game-shatteringly powerful like Resentment witch is. It's just solid damage, and as you said, it's equivalent to Force Bolt but as a cantrip (and probably weaker than Elemental Bloodline Sorcerer's Elemental Toss). In an encounter 2-3 rounds long, a wizard can pump out roughly the same DPR (has way more slotted spells than the witch, and can keep spamming Force Bolts). So can an elemental sorcerer. Damage is good!

But "succeed on one save or you're dominated for the entire encounter with no resaves as a focus spell" (Ongoing Misery + You're Mine) or "succeed on one save or be paralyzed for the whole encounter" (Ongoing Misery + Paralyze) is quite a bit better than good. It's borderline lunacy, especially for an edition built around save-or-suck rocket tag NOT being the dominant form of play.


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I'm not the OP, but maybe the question of the relative power of Witch abilities deserves its own thread? Recall Knowledge hasn't been mentioned for a while. Does anyone have cases of NPCs using it (or not using it) for subjects other than familiars?


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Fuzzy-Wuzzy wrote:

I'm not the OP, but maybe the question of the relative power of Witch abilities deserves its own thread? Recall Knowledge hasn't been mentioned for a while. Does anyone have cases of NPCs using it (or not using it) for subjects other than familiars?

Fair point. Link


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Fuzzy-Wuzzy wrote:

I'm not the OP, but maybe the question of the relative power of Witch abilities deserves its own thread? Recall Knowledge hasn't been mentioned for a while. Does anyone have cases of NPCs using it (or not using it) for subjects other than familiars?

Not really, and even the familiar thing is a stretch. NPCs don't tend to have as many options which means even if they identified something about a PC it is questionable if they could actually do something about it. Pure caster types are the only ones who I think have both the actions and the options to do it. Your average magical striker (think a demon or dragon with several powerful spells) can't really vary its strategy much and usually has better uses for their actions, like cast + strike. And obviously brutes lack options at all.

Basically NPCs should follow the same rules as PCs here since nothing says otherwise, but they don't have as strong an incentive to use the option as PCs.


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Ravingdork wrote:
I don't believe characters intrinsically know how long their negative conditions are going to last what's more, so how or why would they suddenly know that an ongoing condition is going to last a round longer.

Agreed. Hence the recall knowledge check.


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Squiggit wrote:

In general, I think the idea of the enemy team using something to justify information they have about the players is reasonable.

Most NPCs aren't really equipped to use recall knowledge though so a GM would have to figure out something, but it seems reasonable that experienced and knowledgeable NPCs might either already know some things or be able to attempt to ascertain what's happening.

I agree. Most creatures, including intelligent creatures, are not trained in Society, so they are not equipped to perform Recall Knowledge on the PCs well.

But sometimes my players and I find it hilarious when they fail such checks. If the PC is deep in a fey-inhabited forest or down in the Darklands, the locals might have never seen their species before. One local could ask, "What the Abyss are these things?" and the other local could respond, "I think they are some kind of apefolk."

Such a mistake was plot-relevant at 5th level in Fang of War during my PF2-converted Ironfang Invasion campaign. The party wanted to enter a ruined castle that was guarded by Korreds because the Kprreds and fey were having a festival in it. The Bestiary said, "Korred Dances Despite their insular nature, korreds love to dance. On certain auspicious dates, korreds hold great festivals of music and dance in ancient stone circles deep within forest glades. A few non-korred fey sometimes receive invitations to these dances, but any non-fey who interrupts the dance is berated at best or attacked at worst." Only fey were allowed into the castle.

The halfling rogue Sam and the gnome druid Stormdancer approached the guards while the rest of the party hid, because Sam was an expert at Diplomacy and Stormdancer had the fey-touched trait heritage and the Fey Fellowship feat. The Korred guards reluctantly said that the bothersome gnome could enter, because she technically was a fey, but that Sam could not. Sam was as good at Deception as Diplomacy, so he bluffed, "But I am a fey, too! I'm a chergl."

The Deception check succeeded against both Korred's will DC, but the lie was so outlandish, I had both Korreds roll on Society to see whether they had ever seen a halfling before. Halflings were not common in that part of Nirmathas and this was deep in the Fangwood Forest of Nirmathas. Both failed against the DC to identify an uncommon species. Sam's bluff worked.

And Sam being a chergl became a running deception all the way to the 20th-level Epilogue.

As for identifying the witch's familiar and its role in cursing opponents, my PCs often identified features without making Recall Knowledge checks. "My roll of 25 missed and your roll of 23 missed, so our opponent's AC is 24 or 25." or "I cast Ray of Frost on it to check for cold resistance before I cast Cone of Cold." The familiar is a feature and the witch using the feature will be visible to an observant eye.

SuperBidi wrote:
"invisible" effects is a can of worms I'd prefer not to open.

That meaning of the word invisible comes from the Building Creatures: Invisible Abilities section of the Gamemastery Guide. For an exciting game, an opponent should not stand offering no clue what it is doing when it is attacking or preparing to attack the party. Part of the fun of the game is piecing together the clues. Likewise, the party can have the fun of obscuring their own clues, such as the familiar sitting on the witch's shoulder pretending its hissing is irritation at the witch waving their arms around. Such cleverness requires that the opponents are smart enough that fooling them matters.


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Squiggit wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:
Squiggit wrote:
... The more direct issue here is whether or not it's kind of s&#~ty for a GM to target a witch's familiar, which is more about the metagame aspects of play (and the answer is yes, it's all kinds of s!*%ty).
I question your point of view here. Why is it censored to target the Familiar?

A witch without a familiar loses a significant amount of mechanical functionality. Most of the reasons you'd want to play one are tied to the familiar being around.

The issue is destroying a familiar is both trivial to do and significantly negatively impacts the witch. Occasionally that can be fine, hardship is good storytelling.

But I've seen a decent amount of discourse online to the effect of turning this into a habitual tactic to counter certain witch abilities, which is mostly just a good way to annoy people into not wanting to play the class anymore, imo.

I consider it a design problem of the witch though. If the familiar is actively doing stuff in combat, an enemy that knows what the familiar can do should at least consider attacking the familiar. Having the familiar actively doing combat stuff while not being granted any additional defenses was a problem of the design of the class.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Claxon wrote:
Squiggit wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:
Squiggit wrote:
... The more direct issue here is whether or not it's kind of s&#~ty for a GM to target a witch's familiar, which is more about the metagame aspects of play (and the answer is yes, it's all kinds of s!*%ty).
I question your point of view here. Why is it censored to target the Familiar?

A witch without a familiar loses a significant amount of mechanical functionality. Most of the reasons you'd want to play one are tied to the familiar being around.

The issue is destroying a familiar is both trivial to do and significantly negatively impacts the witch. Occasionally that can be fine, hardship is good storytelling.

But I've seen a decent amount of discourse online to the effect of turning this into a habitual tactic to counter certain witch abilities, which is mostly just a good way to annoy people into not wanting to play the class anymore, imo.

I consider it a design problem of the witch though. If the familiar is actively doing stuff in combat, an enemy that knows what the familiar can do should at least consider attacking the familiar. Having the familiar actively doing combat stuff while not being granted any additional defenses was a problem of the design of the class.

The familiar already had pretty significant defensive options, though. You just need to utilize them in a way you didn't when it was just a spy drone your GM may or may not allow you to use.


Captain Morgan wrote:
Claxon wrote:
Squiggit wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:
Squiggit wrote:
... The more direct issue here is whether or not it's kind of s&#~ty for a GM to target a witch's familiar, which is more about the metagame aspects of play (and the answer is yes, it's all kinds of s!*%ty).
I question your point of view here. Why is it censored to target the Familiar?

A witch without a familiar loses a significant amount of mechanical functionality. Most of the reasons you'd want to play one are tied to the familiar being around.

The issue is destroying a familiar is both trivial to do and significantly negatively impacts the witch. Occasionally that can be fine, hardship is good storytelling.

But I've seen a decent amount of discourse online to the effect of turning this into a habitual tactic to counter certain witch abilities, which is mostly just a good way to annoy people into not wanting to play the class anymore, imo.

I consider it a design problem of the witch though. If the familiar is actively doing stuff in combat, an enemy that knows what the familiar can do should at least consider attacking the familiar. Having the familiar actively doing combat stuff while not being granted any additional defenses was a problem of the design of the class.
The familiar already had pretty significant defensive options, though. You just need to utilize them in a way you didn't when it was just a spy drone your GM may or may not allow you to use.

That is fair to an extent. Familiar have their master's AC and saves. So not terrible, like an animal with no bonuses would have. And certain familiar abilities like "Damage Avoidance" and "Life Link" can make them more durable. So there's not like 0 options. But I can definitely see players not choosing those and then putting their familiar into combat and then making surprised pikachu face when they're attacked.


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Claxon wrote:
I can definitely see players not choosing those and then putting their familiar into combat and then making surprised pikachu face when they're attacked.

Fortunately, they can just learn from that and make better choices for the next day.


Farien wrote:
Claxon wrote:
I can definitely see players not choosing those and then putting their familiar into combat and then making surprised pikachu face when they're attacked.
Fortunately, they can just learn from that and make better choices for the next day.

It's okay for most characters, except for witches we rely on their familiars a lot more than the average character. Granted witches get it back the next day, whereas others take a week. But depending on what's happening, it could be a lot more of a problem for a witch.

But I do think there is generally a lesson here which is, don't play a witch and use your familiar in combat, without some expectation that your familiar is a combatant and will be treated as such.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Claxon wrote:
Farien wrote:
Claxon wrote:
I can definitely see players not choosing those and then putting their familiar into combat and then making surprised pikachu face when they're attacked.
Fortunately, they can just learn from that and make better choices for the next day.

It's okay for most characters, except for witches we rely on their familiars a lot more than the average character. Granted witches get it back the next day, whereas others take a week. But depending on what's happening, it could be a lot more of a problem for a witch.

But I do think there is generally a lesson here which is, don't play a witch and use your familiar in combat, without some expectation that your familiar is a combatant and will be treated as such.

A week of downtime, mind you, which means never in some campaigns. There's a world of difference between the two.


Captain Morgan wrote:
A week of downtime, mind you, which means never in some campaigns. There's a world of difference between the two.

There's also a big difference between 'I didn't pick the right familiar abilities and my familiar died. I'll choose better tomorrow.' And 'I loaded up my Sorcerer with a bunch of support and incapacitation spells and now I don't have anything useful to do in combat besides one cantrip or cast an incap spell and pray that the enemy at least rolls a fail on the save.'

One of those takes a lot less time (or downtime) to correct.


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Finoan wrote:
Captain Morgan wrote:
A week of downtime, mind you, which means never in some campaigns. There's a world of difference between the two.

There's also a big difference between 'I didn't pick the right familiar abilities and my familiar died. I'll choose better tomorrow.' And 'I loaded up my Sorcerer with a bunch of support and incapacitation spells and now I don't have anything useful to do in combat besides one cantrip or cast an incap spell and pray that the enemy at least rolls a fail on the save.'

One of those takes a lot less time (or downtime) to correct.

This is why I think that witch is totally balanced around having their familiar killed. Because you get it back the next day, it actually has hit point values, and because there are some focus spells specifically designed to protect it.

Phase spellbook is not a spell, because the chances of your spellbook getting attacked are vanishingly rare. Phase familiar is.


Calliope5431 wrote:

This is why I think that witch is totally balanced around having their familiar killed. Because you get it back the next day, it actually has hit point values, and because there are some focus spells specifically designed to protect it.

Phase spellbook is not a spell, because the chances of your spellbook getting attacked are vanishingly rare. Phase familiar is.

I would agree, but I would replace 'killed' with 'attacked'. The familiar doesn't actually need to die.

The balance of the Witch class is intending for having the familiar at risk of being attacked as being a tactical decision that needs to be made by the Witch player.

Sometimes it is a good choice - especially after putting some build resources into familiar protection. Other times and against other enemies it may be better to keep the familiar out of immediate danger and forego using those familiar abilities for that particular battle so that you can make sure to have them for the next.

I'm thinking that it also depends on party composition and tactics as well as if the familiar needs to actually be adjacent to an enemy or only within a certain range.

If there are allies who can grapple, reactive strike, stand still, or do other such things that prevent or disincentivize enemy movement, the familiar can get closer with lower risk. If the Witch has protective abilities chosen such as Phase Familiar or Lifelink then the familiar can also play closer to the enemies without as much danger.

It becomes an interesting risk/reward and resource management process instead of a no-brainer 'put your familiar in a Pet Cache and be happy with your master abilities' scenario.


As a GM my view on it isn't about recalling knowledge. For a myriad of reasons. Such as the fact that they usually don't have the skills set to do it without me having to fiat. Plus their action economy is already limited.

But here is the thing. Players can recognize when a spell or effect is being used. And they can do Identify Magic as an action on their turn as a base to actually fully identify it.

However a npc with sentience is going to recognize that "Hey when that tiny animal is near me and that enemy casts a spell I get this effect" and can react accordingly. A witch specifically has many ways to protect their familiar and get it out of harms way. Both as reactions and the massive amount of traits they can give the familiar.

And if the worst happens.. it's only gone till the next day. And if it does die its not like you lose anything.

Also if you have a player that is playing a witch then find a way to get them a sleeves of storage if at low level. All they need to do is keep one arm empty and even as an independent action the familiar can flee there if it knows it is safe.

Sovereign Court

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Suppose you were a monster fighting a spellcaster and the caster had a pet riding their shoulders, not doing much anything. Would you spend actions studying the pet or specifically target it? Probably not. I mean, it might be a wizard and the familiar really is mostly decorative.

Now, if the familiar starts doing things, that can change. If it sits on the casters shoulders hissing at me and bad things happen to me, I might think it's the familiar. But kinda hard to tell, since the caster is probably giving me a dark look as well.

As a GM my basic assumption is that effects of abilities are noticeable unless they say they are especially sneaky or subtle. But it might not be full on glowing runes in the air either, being a bit spooky is part of the witch flavor. So I'd go with a feeling of menace coming from the familiar's direction. If it's riding on the witch's shoulder, as a monster it's not quite clear who's doing it. After all, the witch was just using a hex too, and I felt bad.

If I'm wondering "why doesn't this condition get any better", or "why isn't my teammate shaking it off" or "what effect is this and how do you get rid of it" that's a good case for a Recall Knowledge check. But the RK check could/would/should be aimed at the effect, not at the familiar. If I succeed, then I'd get a clue that the cause of the effect continuing, is the familiar.

It'd be a different situation if the familiar isn't just riding the witch's shoulder but flying directly over me. Then it's much more obvious that something fishy is going on and I might just take a guess and attack the familiar, to see if that'll stop the effect.

Liberty's Edge

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I usually try to play NPCs by thinking what a PC would do in a similar situation.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Finoan wrote:


The balance of the Witch class is intending for having the familiar at risk of being attacked as being a tactical decision that needs to be made by the Witch player.

Is it though?

Is it your contention the Witch is a uniquely or exceptionally powerful class if the familiar is left unharassed?

That's kind of a hard sell for a lot of those abilities.


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Squiggit wrote:
Is it your contention the Witch is a uniquely or exceptionally powerful class if the familiar is left unharassed?

Technically... Not any more than a Druid or Ranger or Beastmaster Archetype character would be exceptionally powerful if the Animal Companion was given a gentleman's agreement taboo on being attacked no matter what the Animal Companion does.

So... Yes. I do contend that Witch would be exceptionally powerful if the familiar was considered an invalid target that enemies should not be allowed to attack - while the familiar is in the middle of battle using their special abilities to harass and debuff and even damage those enemies.


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Yeah. All the rest of you go hide somewhere... I got this. They won't attack me.


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Farien, I thought you said that you did not enjoy dying.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Finoan wrote:
Technically... Not any more than a Druid or Ranger or Beastmaster Archetype character would be exceptionally powerful if the Animal Companion was given a gentleman's agreement taboo on being attacked no matter what the Animal Companion does.

Why limit yourself only to those on comparison? What about fighters or bards or non-animal druids or thaumaturges or barbarians or psychics or clerics or sorcerers (etc. etc.)?

If the witch has to run risk calculations to use their familiar abilities (or maybe even risk losing the ability to refocus for the rest of the day) as an important balance point, that must mean that in the absence of that balancing factor, Witches are noticeably stronger than classes that don't have a similar risk, right?


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Are you saying that fighters or bards or non-animal druids or thaumaturges or barbarians or psychics or clerics or sorcerers (etc. etc.) should be able to make attacks themselves without risk of being attacked?

Because a Barbarian being dropped means that they also can't use their class features for a while too.


Orikkro wrote:


But here is the thing. Players can recognize when a spell or effect is being used. And they can do Identify Magic as an action on their turn as a base to actually fully identify it.

Nope! Ten minutes. With a skill feat and legendary proficiency in the right skill you can do it in one action.

Shadow Lodge

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Xenocrat wrote:
Orikkro wrote:


But here is the thing. Players can recognize when a spell or effect is being used. And they can do Identify Magic as an action on their turn as a base to actually fully identify it.

Nope! Ten minutes. With a skill feat and legendary proficiency in the right skill you can do it in one action.

Pretty sure with a level 1 Skill Feat you can Recognize Spell as a reaction.

Recognize Spell wrote:

Prerequisites trained in Arcana, Nature, Occultism, or Religion

Trigger A creature within line of sight casts a spell that you don’t have prepared or in your spell repertoire, or a trap or similar object casts such a spell. You must be aware of
the casting.
If you are trained in the appropriate skill for the spell’s tradition and it’s a common spell of 2nd rank or lower, you automatically identify it (you still roll to attempt to get a critical success, but can’t get a worse result than success). The highest rank of spell you automatically identify increases to 4 if you’re an expert, 6 if you’re a master, and 10 if you’re legendary. The GM rolls a secret Arcana, Nature, Occultism, or Religion check, whichever corresponds to the tradition of the spell being cast. If you’re not trained in the skill, you can’t get a result better than failure.
Critical Success You correctly recognize the spell and gain a
+1 circumstance bonus to your saving throw or your AC
against it.
Success You correctly recognize the spell.
Failure You fail to recognize the spell.
Critical Failure You misidentify the spell as another spell
entirely, of the GM’s choice.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Identifying a spell when you see it cast is different from an Identify Magic check.


Yes, those are two different things. He said identifying it on his turn. You can do that without a feat, but it takes ten minutes to know what that existing spell does.


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Here's what I'll say.

I'd argue that beastmaster ranger or animal druid companion is a lot crueller to attack than a witch's familiar. They pay a lot more feats for those companions, and they lose them for a full week. Which can be half of an entire campaign in some APs.

Yet nobody argues they're invalid targets. Animal druids literally get a focus spell to heal their companions and only their companions.

Witches meanwhile lose far less from losing their companions, and only lose them for a full day. And while most witches (silence under snow, inscribed) lose practically nothing from losing their familiar... resentment is NUTS. And there should absolutely be a counterplay to Ongoing Misery.


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Xenocrat wrote:
Yes, those are two different things. He said identifying it on his turn. You can do that without a feat, but it takes ten minutes to know what that existing spell does.

If you witness a spell(which includes hexes and their related features) cast then you can identify the spell at the cost of one action on your following turn with no check if you have it prepared or part of your repertoire. If you do not, then with a skill check with the relative tradition of the caster and learn what spell it was and thus what it does.

There is a feat that means you can do it as a reaction and there is a feat on top of that which allows you to do it as a free action once per turn.

Identifying magic from an item or world breaking permanent magic since that's impossible to do anymore in 2E as a player (Guess Tyrants Grasp Broke Golarion's magic too like D&D's 4e spell plague) is different as you are probing it to figure out how to active it and what activating it will do without witnessing its invocations. On top of this there are feats that again reduce this all the way down to one action depending on proficiency.

Liberty's Edge

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Orikkro wrote:
Xenocrat wrote:
Yes, those are two different things. He said identifying it on his turn. You can do that without a feat, but it takes ten minutes to know what that existing spell does.

If you witness a spell(which includes hexes and their related features) cast then you can identify the spell at the cost of one action on your following turn with no check if you have it prepared or part of your repertoire. If you do not, then with a skill check with the relative tradition of the caster and learn what spell it was and thus what it does.

There is a feat that means you can do it as a reaction and there is a feat on top of that which allows you to do it as a free action once per turn.

Identifying magic from an item or world breaking permanent magic since that's impossible to do anymore in 2E as a player (Guess Tyrants Grasp Broke Golarion's magic too like D&D's 4e spell plague) is different as you are probing it to figure out how to active it and what activating it will do without witnessing its invocations. On top of this there are feats that again reduce this all the way down to one action depending on proficiency.

Things that the PCs cannot do anymore do not mean the canon of the setting changed between editions.


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I'll toss my anecdotes + opinions into the mix.

My GM for a L8 Amb Vlts campaign does a RK for NPCs often-ish. Mostly out of combat, as the peoples our party interacts with below ground are isolated and would not recognize a lot of what the party is or does at a glance.

In combat, he'll often roll to randomize a beast/abomination's chosen target, but intelligent foes are intelligent.

Contextually, it's rare that an NPC will want/need to recognize what the party is doing specifically, but it does happen.

One time a party member was bleeding, and went invisible. My Alchemist has imprecise scent, and "accidentally" dropped the exact elixir needed within their reach. The Alch bungled the deception check, but as the NPC failed to recognize the elixir and it's effects, it decided that preventing whatever my char was doing was not the priority.

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

On familiars and how this ties into RK.

At our table, a familiar that "stays under the hat" during combat, is hand-waived and ignored.

But as soon as the familiar participates, it is absolutely a target just as any PC.

IMO, it would be downright immersion-breaking to play at a table where the GM doesn't target the familiar "because it would inconvenience the player."

Like, seriously. The threat of actual loss and death is kinda the very foundation of a game like pf2e. To get the combat benefits of a familiar without the entire downside, the risk, is crazy. Even when running them super close to RaW, familiar Feats are some of the most valuable in the game, and the entire notion of risking another's life in combat looses all meaning if a familiar gets to hand out magic potions, hex foes, ect, without risk.

Familiar abilities like Lifelink (When familiar HP gets knocked to 0, trigger Reaction so master takes all dmg, familiar none) has no cooldown.
There are plenty of ways to keep a familiar safe, and Absorb Familiar (aka Tattoo Transformation) is the kind of tradeoff the system expects one to make if they wish to have their familiar generally be safe from harm in combat.

Maybe a hostile NPC does a RK to understand specifically what the familiar is doing magically, but as has been said by some, in most combat scenarios there's no need to RK for the NPC to decide that pancaking the little one is a good idea.

Maybe there's some campaign out there where the PCs avoid killing almost all their foes, but most players regularly engage in lethal combat and kill many sapient people. Yet, they can't handle their own familiar being targeted and object to the very notion. To me that rings as bizarre/alien as the players that want to run pacifist characters. It's just kinda outright incompatible with the narrative.

On the whole, I think the "don't hit my familiar" sentiment is a bit lower in this thread than I might have guessed, which is nice to see.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Trip.H wrote:

On familiars and how this ties into RK.

At our table, a familiar that "stays under the hat" during combat, is hand-waived and ignored.

But as soon as the familiar participates, it is absolutely a target just as any PC.

IMO, it would be downright immersion-breaking to play at a table where the GM doesn't target the familiar "because it would inconvenience the player."

In my posts and examples at least, it's not about "inconveniencing the player." (Which I would have called a disingenuous strawman argument had you been responding only to my posts.) It's about whether the NPCs would even recognize the familiar as a threat.

In my example it is not a spell, so there are no flashing magical lights or outward signs. It is specifically described as hostile hissing, and nothing else. So what reasoning does the GM's NPC have to "swat the cat" so long as there are other more dangerous threats about? Insofar as I can tell, there aren't any. Not unless the GM declares the adversary has lots of experience combating witches, or makes a Recall Knowledge check to better understand what is really going on.

Sure an ignorant enemy might attempt it out of an abundance of caution (the whole "why isn’t the animal running away?" bit), but that should probably be the exception when fighting a clever opponent, not the norm for everyone you ever face.

If the GM wants to make the ability more than its text describes (adding observable magical effects or having the target sense a hostile ping, or what have you) to make the ability more balanced for their table, then that's well within the scope of their authority. I do hope it's discussed in advance though and not used as some sort of "gotcha!" surprise.


Ravingdork wrote:
Trip.H wrote:

On familiars and how this ties into RK.

At our table, a familiar that "stays under the hat" during combat, is hand-waived and ignored.

But as soon as the familiar participates, it is absolutely a target just as any PC.

IMO, it would be downright immersion-breaking to play at a table where the GM doesn't target the familiar "because it would inconvenience the player."

In my posts and examples at least, it's not about "inconveniencing the player." (Which I would have called a disingenuous strawman argument had you been responding only to my posts.) It's about whether the NPCs would even recognize the familiar as a threat.

In my example it is not a spell, so there are no flashing magical lights or outward signs. It is specifically described as hostile hissing, and nothing else. So what reasoning does the GM's NPC have to "swat the cat" so long as there are other more dangerous threats about? Insofar as I can tell, there aren't any. Not unless the GM declares the adversary has lots of experience combating witches, or makes a Recall Knowledge check to better understand what is really going on.

Sure an ignorant enemy might attempt it out of an abundance of caution (the whole "why isn’t the animal running away?" bit), but that should probably be the exception when fighting a clever opponent, not the norm for everyone you ever face.

If the GM wants to make the ability more than its text describes (adding observable magical effects or having the target sense a hostile ping, or what have you) to make the ability more balanced for their table, then that's well within the scope of their authority. I do hope it's discussed in advance though and not used as some sort of "gotcha!" surprise.

I think this is fairly reasonable honestly.

I'd personally add flashing lights (or maybe ominous shadows) just because it's a little bizarre to me that you can use Ongoing Misery or what have you with no visible effects that the familiar is involved (and also as a balance thing). But I probably wouldn't TARGET any familiar besides a Resentment one, because it's not tactically worth it and because that feels cruel. Resentment is totally fair game because it's so strong.


I think in terms of the lead question, it's more in the sense of "when" than "if" NPCs should use RK. The consensus seems to be "out of combat" because that action costs too much (and generally they have effective options for each of their options, even minions).

For you, RD, the example of "just a hissing cat" IMO falls into the meta-knowledge category. Sure, a cat on Golarion could be far worse than the party, but until proven so, why would a combatant waste time on it?
Would a PC? Probably not, and they're among the most meta-savvy, right?

There's the caveat that if a monster has a spare action, and the cat happens to be nearby...squash. This is something that happened to one of my players when a new baddie entered the cavern from behind the party. It was obvious to everyone though, fingers were crossed, the baddie spotted the familiar, and smash. Same might happen with cat so close to the front lines. (Heck, that cat might even save the life of a PC if that spare attack might have been against the downed PC.)

And if the party gains a reputation, that cat might too, but seriously, it'd take an odd combat situation to make attacking the cat worthwhile even then. Yes, an archenemy might specifically target the kitty, much like it might target a spellbook (rarely). Except it is out in the open, and if somebody left their spellbook on the table while grabbing an ale from the bar, it'd be fair game too. Or starting tossing it like a hammer for an in-combat example. (My players routinely had spares, though what I'd like to see are fakes. "OH, NO! Not my spellbook!" screamed Briar Wizard.)


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Calliope5431 wrote:
Resentment is totally fair game because it's so strong.

I disagree that it is strong (or, rather, as strong as people seem to think), but that's a debate for another thread.

Liberty's Edge

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Problem I have with overly targeting the familiar is that some opponents should likewise try to break a PC's weapon.

But PF2 made that pretty impossible. Because it would feel bad for the players.

Very similar here IMO.


If a party of PCs that does not happen to include a witch or other person with a familiar comes across a group of NPCs with the proverbial black cat that hisses at them during combat, should they
(a) assume it's just a cat, leave it alone
(b) assume it's a familiar or something, attack it
(c) attempt RK on it
?

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