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AKA_Bait
2007-09-11, 02:36 PM
I was just thinking about how to make good use from a familiar. I'm sure there is already a thread about this, but I can't seem to find it, so I figured I'd start one with a few ideas I just had and see what else people have.

1. Cast AMF on your familiar. Have them go over and hang around the enemy spell caster until your meatshield makes it over there.

2. Share spells and Shapechange... sounds like fun to me. My familiar is now a Balor.

Chaos Bringer
2007-09-11, 02:38 PM
I've always been fond of keeping a tiny venomous snake up my sleeve. Useful for many situations.

Spiryt
2007-09-11, 02:50 PM
Sweet zombie Jesus...

Aren't mages already broken enough?

Keledrath
2007-09-11, 02:56 PM
Me likey. However, I take it you mean useful in combat, because our party sorcorer has a +15 to Bluff with only 2 ranks. Cloak of Charisma +6, Circlet of Persuasion (+2 on CHA based checks), Snake familiar, and a base 20 CHA. We are level 8 (mostly, three of use are 7, and have nearly squat.).

AKA_Bait
2007-09-11, 02:57 PM
Sweet zombie Jesus...

Aren't mages already broken enough?

Well, yeah. Of course. But I do hear pretty often that familiars are basically worthless other than for the little bonus they give so I started thinking about how they could be, say, more useful than trading them off for PHB2 variants.


Me likey. However, I take it you mean useful in combat, because our party sorcorer has a +15 to Bluff with only 2 ranks. Cloak of Charisma +6, Circlet of Persuasion (+2 on CHA based checks), Snake familiar, and a base 20 CHA. We are level 8 (mostly, three of use are 7, and have nearly squat.).

Yes. Exactly what I mean.

Keledrath
2007-09-11, 03:01 PM
PHB2 variants are crap. If I recall, you have to specialize, which is, in my opinion, the dumbest thing a wizard can do. And you are completely right that they are useless in combat. When my first character (Gesalt monk wizard) got their bat familiar, My cousin (the DM) had it fly around my head in the next battle. Minus 1 to hit, and I already had a bad enough bonus, being level 2.

AKA_Bait
2007-09-11, 03:10 PM
PHB2 variants are crap. If I recall, you have to specialize, which is, in my opinion, the dumbest thing a wizard can do. And you are completely right that they are useless in combat. When my first character (Gesalt monk wizard) got their bat familiar, My cousin (the DM) had it fly around my head in the next battle. Minus 1 to hit, and I already had a bad enough bonus, being level 2.

Erm. Phb II wizard variants are not good.... the Sorcerer variant however...

But the point of this thread is not really to compare relative values of a familiar and the alternatives but to list off some neat stuff to do with one in combat.

Keledrath
2007-09-11, 03:14 PM
Yeah, I'll tell my cousin, who's gnome has one spell with a range longer than 40+5 per 1/2 levels, about these.

Arbitrarity
2007-09-11, 03:18 PM
Erm. Phb II wizard variants are not good.... the Sorcerer variant however...



Exception: Conjuration variant.

JellyPooga
2007-09-11, 03:20 PM
Familiars are extremely useful for bypassing places if you have Dimension Door or Teleport. Send them into a room full of monsters, scout it out a bit. If it's a bit too hairy in there, send your Familiar through the other side of the room and teleport straight past the gribbly monsters, without them even knowing you're there.

Now expand this to a larger scale...send your familiar into the dungeon, whilst you wait outside. When the Familiar gets to the BBEG, Teleport directly to his Throne Room, or even better; his bedroom whilst he's asleep. Slay the BBEG, teleport out...no mess, no fuss, jobs-a-goodun.

Any DM that has a Familiar proof dungeon is having a laugh...no-one can keep rats out of a dungeon!

excrtd
2007-09-11, 03:20 PM
Imbue familiar with spell ability makes familiars quite useful.

OneWinged4ngel
2007-09-11, 03:21 PM
I was just thinking about how to make good use from a familiar. I'm sure there is already a thread about this, but I can't seem to find it, so I figured I'd start one with a few ideas I just had and see what else people have.

1. Cast AMF on your familiar. Have them go over and hang around the enemy spell caster until your meatshield makes it over there.

2. Share spells and Shapechange... sounds like fun to me. My familiar is now a Balor.

Familiars have always been incredibly useful, but often underestimated. The primary reason is quite simple:

SHARE SPELLS. The possibilities are endless. Any buff you can put on yourself, you can put on your familiar. Make him a troll. Give him sneak attack. Make him shoot lasers out of his eyes. Whatever.

Another thing: Get UMD as a class skill, and take a familiar that talks (like a Raven) and he has your UMD ranks. Awesome. Also, this works for every other skill too, so you can totally have a little skill monkey buddy.

Also, check out Imbue Familiar with Spell Ability (Spell Compendium). Gaining actions is *awesome.*

Of course, there are lots of little bonuses too, such as the skill / save bonus, or the fact that a Hawk has something like +17 spot at level 1. Or big bonuses, in the case of the Hummingbird or Octopus familiar, if you like cheese.

Also, many familiars are handy little scouts.

AKA_Bait
2007-09-11, 03:22 PM
3. Use your familiar to cast passwall below the feet of an opponent to create a impromptu pit trap.

4. Use Planeshift and your familiar to get wounded partymembers out of trouble... or to send unwanted enemies to unhealthy locations.

Karsh
2007-09-11, 03:23 PM
Nah, turning your familiar into a Balor is a bad use of resources. You turn your familiar into a dragon and then ride it while Shapechanged into a Balor.

Or you both just shapechange into dragons and fly in formation.

PlatinumJester
2007-09-11, 03:24 PM
Familiars are just a liability. A mindflayer or some other evil creature could easily try and kill it to weaken the Wizard/Sorcerer.

mostlyharmful
2007-09-11, 03:25 PM
Raven familiar is also unbelievably useful, a talking scout that can fly and carry messages, Ravens can fly 1000 miles in a day with the right air currents, which is farther than most medieval or fantasy countries so they are great as messangers and early warning systems. plus the funky sitting on a skull in your frount room croaking when customers come round that really adds to your caster-for-hire mystique (and when I say mystique I mean your by the hour expenses:smallcool: )

axraelshelm
2007-09-11, 03:30 PM
well apart from roleplay tool stand point a familar can say alot about the spellcaster depending how deep you go into his background and how richly detailed the world is.

Jack_Simth
2007-09-11, 04:34 PM
How to make a familiar useful....

Skills:
The Hawk has a better Spot check than basically anyone in the party at level 1 (+16). Should be able to warn you when something's coming.
The Cat or Rat has a better Hide check than basically anyone in the party at level 1 (+16; the Toad is better at +21... but has no move to speak of).
The Owl has the Best Move Silently (+17) and a decent Hide check to go with it (untrained +11) combined with a very good Listen check (+16).
The Rat is usually about the best at scouting in a dungeon enviroment; with both Climb and Swim speeds, Hide +16 and Move Silently +12. Can't see or hear very well though, as it's +1 spot/listen untrained.
Any familiar has, at a minimum, your number of ranks in the skills you have. In most cases, this is a free Aid Another for +2 to almost any skill check you care to try.

Special Abilities:
A Bat gets Blindsense-20; unless it's incorporeal or Silenced, it isn't getting in that range undetected (Core - there are non-Core feats that fix this). My favorite familiar. Also has a good Hide check (+14), and decent Move Silently (+6; how does a rodent that squeeks to see make no noise?!?!), Spot (+8), and Listen (+8) checks. Plus, Fly 40 (good) for getting almost anywhere, and a good AC (for a familiar) of 16.
A Raven can talk. This is EXTREMELY valuable for use as a messenger. Take Use Magic Device cross-class, and it can theoretically use wands for you.

Most of the above stops applying after about level 2-5, when party members get better at that kind of thing.

If you've got a lot of people in the party with familiars, taking Improved Familiar (you need 8 of them to pull it off) for the Formian Worker nets you Cure Serious Wounds at will.

All of the above is pure Core.

After about 5th level, if you don't have enough casters playing with you to get Cure Serious Wounds by way of Formian Workers, you mostly need to go non-Core to make a familiar useful - Imbue Familiar With Spell Ability is Quicken Spell with less cost, for instance; and as the familiar gets it's own actions, it stacks with Quicken Spell, too (and you can Imbue your familiar with a Quickened spell....).

UglyPanda
2007-09-11, 04:52 PM
Suboptimal, but I played an arcane trickster who used his hawk to steal stuff for him since the familiar gets to use its master's skill ranks.

Sornjss Lichdom
2007-09-11, 05:10 PM
I always like to speacilize in conjuration, then ceromonicly sacrafice the poor little guy to I can cast Dimisional door as a Su Int Mod/aday.

Shatteredtower
2007-09-11, 06:39 PM
The best part of being able to share spells with a familiar is being able to instead cast those spells as touch spells on your familiar, freeing them from the need to stay within 5 ft. False life may be the most obvious choice for this purpose, but those who use reduce person (which will affect your familiar in spite of its non-humanoid status, so long as you are the one casting it -- scrolls and wands won't cut it) might find the +5 bonus this adds to Hide checks useful, especially if they can extend the spell. Expeditious retreat is also worth considering, though your toad is better off with boots of striding and springing, once you can afford to have them custom made. A spellcaster with overland flight should consider its use on a familiar that can't fly on its own -- a spectacular boost in speed for the toad.

Scouting is risky for a familiar, especially if it encounters a trap sensitive enough to detect it. (Then again, if it's that sensitive, it's going to catch a lot of ordinary rats. Better have an automatic reset and a daily inspection by janitorial.) However, it's got improved evasion, so once you've found a way to boost its Reflex save (why yes, I do believe that you should consider a cloak of resistance and gloves of dexterity for your familiar) and arranged to give it mobile cover (darkness or deeper darkness, for example, though true seeing and devils trump both), you've got a scout that's perfectly capable of drawing fire without little risk of being hurt.

Please note that this is far from foolproof. The mindflayer is a definite danger to your familiar, because its mind blast affects an area and requires a Will save. (Thank goodness it's using a spellcaster's saving throws and is likely to have a positive Wisdom modifier, eh?) Make sure it can move faster than a cloudkill if it has to. Even so, it's effectively immune to targetted effects from most opponents, and can be well set up to shrug off most effects that call for a Reflex save. If it's drawing their dispel magic attempts, you're still coming up ahead if they can't keep trying all day. (Several powerful creatures can, so don't let your familiar get too far away.)

The deeper darknesss strategy can be useful as a light-block, however, especially if your familiar is merely camped at the far edge of the darkness, rather than carrying its source. This can let you work unseen (but not unheard) and with the protection of a perimeter alarm system. (The empathic link might not be telepathy, but it can relay, "Danger!" easily enough.)

In case those aren't quite combat-oriented enough for you, here's a nasty one that requires a 1th level caster, a familiar, a container the familiar can carry, and a great metamagic rod of quickening (the last is optional, but adds a lot of oomph to the recipe):

1. Cast protection from energy (fire), false life, overland flight, and other defensive spells (according to your preferences) on your familiar.
2. Cast delayed blast fireball, set to donate in 5 rounds, and drop the bead where your familiar can retrieve it.
3. Using the metamagic rod, repeat step 2.
4. Have the familiar retrieve the beads and place them in its container.
5. Repeat steps 2 through 4, but set the beads for 4 rounds.
6. Repeat steps 2 and 4 (but not, setting the bead for 3 rounds this time and placing it in your familiar's grasp.
7. Use the metamagic rod to quicken greater teleport and send your familiar to your destination of choice. (Teleport is a personal range spell, which means you have to go on the trip -- unless you cast it as a touch range spell on your familiar.)
8. Have the familiar dump the beads a round after arrival. Anyone retrieving a bead has a 25% chance of setting it off.
9. Once the kabooms are done, teleport your party in after your familiar, ready to clean house.

Step #7 can be used for many other purposes. In fact, as the share spells feature and teleport are written, a familiar may offer you a remarkable option: you can use teleport to send a group to a location without having to go yourself, so long as you send your familiar.

Be warned that not everyone will agree with that interpretation. Even if they do, this is not without risk to you. Do everything you can to ensure your familiar will survive what's to come -- and have a very good reason for not making the (initial?) trip yourself.

Reel On, Love
2007-09-11, 06:56 PM
PHB2 variants are crap. If I recall, you have to specialize, which is, in my opinion, the dumbest thing a wizard can do.

Sorry, but your opinion is wrong. Specializing generally *raises* the wizard's power. Specialize in Divination and all you have to give is Evocation--no big deal. Specialize in Conjuration and you lose Enchantment too--oh no (other schools have Will-save-or-lose spells, and Mind-Affecting spells get less and less and less useful as you get higher and higher level).
While most of the PHB 2 variants are crap, the Conjurer one is almost brokenly good, and the crap ones are crap for totally different reasons than "you've got to specialize".

OneWinged4ngel
2007-09-11, 07:06 PM
Familiars are just a liability. A mindflayer or some other evil creature could easily try and kill it to weaken the Wizard/Sorcerer.

Uh... you get a fort save, and only lose a bit of XP. Additionally, if the Mind Flayer went and attacked your familiar, that means he just wasted his action *not attacking you* and then he dies.


Sorry, but your opinion is wrong. Specializing generally *raises* the wizard's power. Specialize in Divination and all you have to give is Evocation--no big deal. Specialize in Conjuration and you lose Enchantment too--oh no (other schools have Will-save-or-lose spells, and Mind-Affecting spells get less and less and less useful as you get higher and higher level).
While most of the PHB 2 variants are crap, the Conjurer one is almost brokenly good, and the crap ones are crap for totally different reasons than "you've got to specialize".

Specialization is pretty awesome. Heck, it only gets better with supplements. You can get most things from another school. You get more spells per day. And you get access to goodies like, I don't know, Insightful Divination.

Saph
2007-09-11, 07:13 PM
There are lots of fun things you can do with a familiar. Sneak it somewhere you want to go, and cast Benign Transposition to teleport any of your party there, for instance. Or use Imbue Familiar with Spell Ability to double your spellcasting speed for a few turns.

However, it's worth bearing in mind that your DM's much more likely to start targeting your familiar once you begin doing this sort of thing, and with only 1/2 of your already-low HP score, it won't take much to squish it. Most DMs ignore familiars in combat as long as you're not using them to do any damage, but they won't carry on ignoring them once the familiar's shooting laser beams from its eyes.

I prefer keeping my familiar out of combat, using it as a scout, messenger, and last-resort helper. Save the Imbue-Familiar-with-Spell-Ability-four-spells-per-round cheese for when you really need it.

- Saph

Chronos
2007-09-11, 07:32 PM
Familiars aren't all that useful in combat, but that's because they don't need to be. Their real value (aside from the assorted skill bonuses, which are also great) is as scouts and sneaks. Yeah, it's kind of weak, but it can pass as a perfectly ordinary animal. It's not like every bandit archer in the camp is going to suddenly try to shoot a raven flying overhead, just like all the other birds in the forest flying overhead. It's basically a free Clarivoyance at will, at first level. And you can use your familiar to carry messages (even non-ravens; just write a note on a scrap of paper), or to swipe small, unattended objects, or do anything else a tiny or diminutive (but intelligent) creature could do, anywhere that creature can go.

Feralgeist
2007-09-12, 01:29 AM
dont forget it has to stay within 5 feet at all times, or the spell expires. My friend in our campaign uses his raven as a walkie talkie

Skjaldbakka
2007-09-12, 01:34 AM
My tiny viper familiar was tanking for me last game. Of course, that is mostly because my sorcerer/necromancer was very sad at level 3 with his 14 dex/8con.

I believe it will continue to tank for me until my spellcasting improves. False Life + Enlarge Person gives it better AC and to-hit, plus I can give it a Dessicating Touch spell to deliver with its bites.

Does that Enlarge Person trick actually work? I would benefit from a source for this.

earlblue
2007-09-12, 01:47 AM
Hmm... familiars.

What I did at a high level game was to put a magic jar spell on an ioun stone and pass it on to my familiar.

It then goes around 'jarring' creatures, randomly attacking or runs/fly/swim (depending on the poor creature it captured) to set off traps... if it dies, it simply return to the gem that it uses as the spell component. Of course, this means that it cannot travel beyond a certain distance, but the spell range is often good enough.

I stop doing this when I took Leadership feat and gain followers. My DM has a 'hassled' look on him and I thought I keep it down a notch.:smallbiggrin:

One often overlooked ability is that the familiar can speak to it's own kind at higher level, and with it's owner. This allow the wizard/sorcerer to develope a network of spies and scouts, especially if the wizard or sorcerer bothers to spend skill points in animal handling. You can raise a number of pets, have your familiar 'command' them.

Likewise, druids ability to befriend and speak with animals are often overlooked in this aspect.

OBeQuiet UWannaBe

Your pet dog has acces to all your military secrets! :smalleek: Ha!

Shatteredtower
2007-09-12, 02:09 AM
Does that Enlarge Person trick actually work? I would benefit from a source for this.The description of the share spells feature states: "A master and his familiar can share spells even if the spells normally do not affect creatures of the familiar's type (magical beast)," on pg 53 of the PHB.

Skjaldbakka
2007-09-12, 02:27 AM
That would be great, if I wanted to also enlarge myself. I don't see where it says I can just cast Enlarge Person on my familiar.

namo
2007-09-12, 02:33 AM
However, it's worth bearing in mind that your DM's much more likely to start targeting your familiar once you begin doing this sort of thing, and with only 1/2 of your already-low HP score, it won't take much to squish it. Most DMs ignore familiars in combat as long as you're not using them to do any damage, but they won't carry on ignoring them once the familiar's shooting laser beams from its eyes.

That's what the spell Familiar Pocket is for. It can pop up its head, cast, then go back to total cover. Cheesy but efficient.

Toliudar
2007-09-12, 02:42 AM
From the SRD:


Additionally, the master may cast a spell with a target of "You" on his familiar (as a touch range spell) instead of on himself.

Skjaldbakka
2007-09-12, 02:46 AM
Enlarge Person does not have a target of "You".

OneWinged4ngel
2007-09-12, 03:33 AM
Enlarge Person does not have a target of "You".

But you can still Share Spells it.



At the masterís option, he may have any spell (but not any spell-like ability) he casts on himself also affect his familiar. ... A master and his familiar can share spells even if the spells normally do not affect creatures of the familiarís type (magical beast).


Additionally, the master may cast a spell with a target of "You" on his familiar (as a touch range spell) instead of on himself.

___


Familiars aren't all that useful in combat, but that's because they don't need to be.

By the contrary, I find them extremely useful in combat, especially once you get 6th level spells and Imbue Familiar with Spell Ability.

Chronos
2007-09-12, 10:47 AM
By the contrary, I find them extremely useful in combat, especially once you get 6th level spells and Imbue Familiar with Spell Ability.I meant, by core. Without imbued spells, a familiar can't usually do enough in combat to justify the risk.

The communicating with other animals is another good point, though. In addition to natural animals, a familiar might be able to coordinate summoned monsters of the appropriate type in tactics more intelligent than "Go charge the enemy then full attack him every turn", which most low-int summons will default to.

Jack_Simth
2007-09-12, 03:46 PM
I meant, by core. Without imbued spells, a familiar can't usually do enough in combat to justify the risk.

The communicating with other animals is another good point, though. In addition to natural animals, a familiar might be able to coordinate summoned monsters of the appropriate type in tactics more intelligent than "Go charge the enemy then full attack him every turn", which most low-int summons will default to.

Per Core RAW, for the summoned monsters where the base familiar's ability to speak with creatures of it's kind might be useful already understand common. Seriously. The Celestial/Fiendish template brings the critter's Intelligence score up to 3, without noting what language the critter understands. When you add that to...

Intelligence: A creature can speak all the languages mentioned in its description, plus one additional language per point of Intelligence bonus. Any creature with an Intelligence score of 3 or higher understands at least one language (Common, unless noted otherwise).(Emphasis added).

That Fiendish Dire Bat you got from Summon Monster III? It understands common. Your bat familiar's ability to talk to it won't usually matter, as it can understand you just fine. About the only time the bat's ability to talk to animals of it's type will be useful, in and of itself, is when you need the Summoned Monster to tell you something (e.g., you asked it what's on the other side of that wall - VERY short-range scouting tasks).

OneWinged4ngel
2007-09-12, 04:18 PM
Edit: Whoops... made a mistake here. Will now save you from reading it =P

Chronos
2007-09-12, 08:29 PM
Don't forget, Core Only means No Polymorph Errata. The familiar ain't sharin' Trollform, he's sharin' the real deal. Polymorph. Turn it into a 12 headed paragon half-dragon celestial Cryohydra and turn yourself into one too.Core Only also means no Paragon template. And Polymorph still has a HD limit and doesn't give you most of the creature's abilities, if I'm reading it right. And using only core isn't an arbitrary obsession and reason to find a new DM; some players in fact prefer to not buy a few grand worth of books, and take the relative dearth of game-breaking cheese as an added bonus.

And Jack_Simth, what you say is true, from a literal reading of the rules, but it's easy to imagine a DM ruling otherwise. Having a familiar to act as translator puts you on much more solid ground, RAI-wise. Plus, you could also use your familiar to talk to the party druid's summoned natural allies, which don't get the Celestial or Fiendish template, thus saving him a Speak with Animals.

OneWinged4ngel
2007-09-12, 11:28 PM
Core Only also means no Paragon template.

Whelp... I've always been one to admit my mistakes.

Actually, I made a bigger mistake than just reading templates off the SRD: Polymorph can't give you templates. It's been so long since I stopped using polymorph I forgot. My bad. :smallfrown:


And Polymorph still has a HD limit and doesn't give you most of the creature's abilities, if I'm reading it right. So?

It's still easily one of the most powerful and most abusable buffs in the game.


And using only core isn't an arbitrary obsession and reason to find a new DM; some players in fact prefer to not buy a few grand worth of books, and take the relative dearth of game-breaking cheese as an added bonus. You'll notice that 3 of the 4 most powerful classes in the game are, in fact, core. You'll also notice that a lot of the game breaking cheese tends to rely on stuff in core. Funny how that works. People who believe that core is balanced and noncore isn't are indeed being completely arbitrary, because that belief simply isn't true.

Chronos
2007-09-13, 10:00 AM
It's not that core is balanced... It's not. It's just that adding more books doesn't make it any more balanced. Even those three most powerful classes (I assume you mean wizard, cleric, and druid?) only really get insanely ludicrous (as opposed to merely the regular sort of ludicrous) when you start bringing in Celerity, Chain Spell, Divine Metamagic, and other non-core spells and abilities.

Irreverent Fool
2007-09-13, 10:31 AM
It's not that core is balanced... It's not. It's just that adding more books doesn't make it any more balanced. Even those three most powerful classes (I assume you mean wizard, cleric, and druid?) only really get insanely ludicrous (as opposed to merely the regular sort of ludicrous) when you start bringing in Celerity, Chain Spell, Divine Metamagic, and other non-core spells and abilities.

Familiars can get particularly nasty when, in addition to non-core, you allow third-party books. Mongoose's 'Ultimate Feats' contains a feat called 'Big Familiar' which lets you choose a creature that is medium and bind it as a familiar. It stacks, adding an additional size category allowance each time you take it. IE: twice nets you a large familiar. It's gotta have a CR of half your character level or less but hey... I recall large monstrous crabs having fairly low CRs for how nasty they are. Just add some shared spells and nobody's messing with your 'cute little pet'.

bignate
2007-09-13, 11:36 AM
i am currently playing a bard and i took the obtain familiar feat from complete arcane for a raven for story reasons. anyway i am one of the main healers in the group and use it to deliver healing spells at range...

i know it is sub optimal but it's fun...

John Campbell
2007-09-13, 04:02 PM
And Polymorph still has a HD limit and doesn't give you most of the creature's abilities, if I'm reading it right.
Yeah, but a familiar's effective HD is its master's character level most of the time, which means that the HD limit is your caster level (up to 15, anyway), which is not very limiting (unless you're making the assumption - bizarrely common around here - that all characters are level 20).

Not getting the Special Qualities or the Su/Sp Special Attacks is more limiting, but there are plenty of shapes that can dramatically enhance the familiar's capabilities even without those. My DM further limits polymorph by restricting it to creatures that the caster has actually encountered, but even still, I've found all sorts of useful things to turn my weasel familiar into.

Hydra forms don't rely on anything special for their ludicrous multiattack cheese. Wyverns still get their poison sting, and can still fly, and are strong enough that they can probably do so while carrying their master. Remorhazes don't get their weapon-melting heat, but they still hit pretty hard (way harder than a weasel, no matter how many buffs you stack on him), and they're real handy if you've got someone who needs to be grappled (and they can still swallow people, though I don't recommend it). Humanoid forms provide opposable thumbs - and remember that your familiar shares all of your skills! - and, as I read the rules, weapon and armor proficiencies in, usually, whatever the critter is described as carrying, and maybe some other things (they're racial bonus feats).

Being stuck with half the master's hit points is generally the big problem for a familiar that's looking at getting into a melee... I solve that one by being a 20-Con dwarven fighter/wizard/EK. My familiar has more HP than our sorceress, and, in several of the shapes I commonly give him, he's tougher than the real thing. Better BAB and saves, too.

Ivius
2007-09-13, 04:14 PM
Contingent teleport through Share Spell set on "My familiar is attacked"

OneWinged4ngel
2007-09-13, 04:14 PM
It's not that core is balanced... It's not. It's just that adding more books doesn't make it any more balanced. Even those three most powerful classes (I assume you mean wizard, cleric, and druid?) only really get insanely ludicrous (as opposed to merely the regular sort of ludicrous) when you start bringing in Celerity, Chain Spell, Divine Metamagic, and other non-core spells and abilities.

Well, that's not necessarily true. Yes there's inevitable power creep by sheer virtue of adding more options. However, there's actually some balance creep in some supplements, particularly where they bring up the weaker classes to a more respectable level. And of course, you can always choose to ban the occasional offensive broken bit (like Celerity and Divine Metamagic Persistent)

Jack_Simth
2007-09-13, 04:28 PM
And Jack_Simth, what you say is true, from a literal reading of the rules, but it's easy to imagine a DM ruling otherwise.
Oh, very easy; agreed. Quite easy to imagine a DM saying "A Celestial Owl doesn't speak Celestial? That's stupid - they do in my multiverse. No, they don't speak common.

But even then, it just adds three very useful languages to your Wizard's list - Celestial, Infernal, and Abyssal. You should have the skill points for it.

Having a familiar to act as translator puts you on much more solid ground, RAI-wise. Plus, you could also use your familiar to talk to the party druid's summoned natural allies, which don't get the Celestial or Fiendish template, thus saving him a Speak with Animals.Very true; even then, though, it only works with a particular type; the Druid-7 prefers a Tiger off the Summon Nature's Ally IV list when he has a Wizard-7 friend with a cat familiar. But then... well, each familiar has, at best, a single animal on maybe half the Summon Nature's Ally spells (cat gets SNA III Lion, SNA IV Tiger, SNA V Dire Lion (and possibly the Griffin on the same list ), and the SNA VII Dire Tiger; four or five items out of nine versions of the spell).

It's there, it's useful... but at the levels you're looking at, the Druid is probably better off with a Wand of Speak With Animals (750 gp market) as it'll work with ALL of them (at least, all the animals - won't work so hot with the elementals, magical beasts, and Fey on the list... but Speak With Animals of It's Kind technically only applies to animals, not Magical Beasts, Fey, or Elementals anyway).

Even then, though, the Familiar becomes an advantage... for the Druid, not the Wizard.

Chronos
2007-09-13, 07:00 PM
Even then, though, the Familiar becomes an advantage... for the Druid, not the Wizard.I'd be more inclined to say that the familiar is an advantage for the party. What's good for the druid is good for the druid's allies. In fact, the biggest advantage might even be for the rogue, since you can now tell the critters to flank the enemies.

And yeah, speak with (some) animals at will isn't exactly an overwhelming advantage, but it's just one more bonus on top of the other useful things the familiar can do. Personally, I'd put scouting and sneaking number one on the list of things a familiar is good for, and consider that, by itself, sufficient justification to get one (even if it costs a feat, as with a bard using Gain Familiar). The skill bonuses and the rest are just icing on the cake.

Jack_Simth
2007-09-13, 08:23 PM
I'd be more inclined to say that the familiar is an advantage for the party. What's good for the druid is good for the druid's allies. In fact, the biggest advantage might even be for the rogue, since you can now tell the critters to flank the enemies.

It's easy to get Summoned animals to flank - at least initially - as you simply put them wherever you want them.

Or you don't bother directing the animals, and have the Rogue make use of Tumble to get into position.


And yeah, speak with (some) animals at will isn't exactly an overwhelming advantage, but it's just one more bonus on top of the other useful things the familiar can do. Personally, I'd put scouting and sneaking number one on the list of things a familiar is good for, and consider that, by itself, sufficient justification to get one (even if it costs a feat, as with a bard using Gain Familiar). The skill bonuses and the rest are just icing on the cake.
Oh, definately - scouting and sneaking are at the top of the list ... until somewhere in the 5th-10th range, when a good Rogue will do better at it despite the Familiar's large racial bonuses. The 5th level halfling Rogue with, oh, Dex 20, Wis-10 and maximum ranks in Hide, Move Silently, Spot, and Listen is looking at modifiers of +17/+13/+8/+8 before feats and spells. Sure, there's a familiar that has a better modifier on any one of the four (Toad for Hide, Owl for Move Silently and Listen, the Hawk for Spot) but a good scout needs all four ... and that's without any magical aid or feats for the halfling rogue (who only gets better at it with level); none applied to the Familiar either, though, so the "no aid" thing is a wash. Incidentally, 5th level also happens to be the time you get Speak With Familiar to get a detailed account of what's out there; before then, you need a Rogue to fill the role; at or after then, the Rogue does it better anyway.

Definitely worth it if you don't have a rogue in the party, though, and still useful at low-levels as a familiar can still communicate "bad idea" at 1st (by projecting fear) when it can still out-sneak a dedicated rogue.

Certain familiars (such as the Bat or Raven) have abilities that are going to be situationally useful regardless of level (such as Blindsense and talking to others).

Jothki
2007-09-13, 08:46 PM
Would familiars be easier to use if they had some way of linking their HP with their master, either by having one absorb some of the damage from the other or giving them both a shared HP pool?

AtomicKitKat
2007-09-14, 08:11 AM
I've always been fond of keeping a tiny venomous snake up my sleeve. Useful for many situations.

You're doing it wrong (http://forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?t=727527)...

Arcane Heirophant also works. Combine with some of those things that let you merge Ranger/Paladin Companion/Mount and you get a Companion/Familiar/Mount.