View Full Version : Familiars confusion

Ever Phasm
2007-09-17, 06:07 PM

Please shed some light on my confusion involving the obtaining of a familiar.

The current rules in the PHB for obtaining a familar can be interpretid two different ways.

Familiar: A sorcerer can obtain a familiar. Doing so takes 24 hours and uses up magical materials that cost 100 gp. A familiar is a magical beast that resembles a small animal and is unusually tough and intelligent. The creature serves as a companion and servant.

The sorcerer chooses the kind of familiar he gets. As the sorcerer advances in level, his familiar also increases in power.

If the familiar dies or is dismissed by the sorcerer, the sorcerer must attempt a DC 15 Fortitude saving throw. Failure means he loses 200 experience points per sorcerer level; success reduces the loss to one-half that amount. However, a sorcererís experience point total can never go below 0 as the result of a familiarís demise or dismissal. For example, suppose that Hennet is a 3rd-level sorcerer with 3,230 XP when his owl familiar is killed by a bugbear. Hennet makes a successful saving throw, so he loses 300 XP, dropping him below 3,000 XP and back to 2nd level (see the Dungeon Masterís Guide for rules for losing levels). A slain or dismissed familiar cannot be replaced for a year and day. A slain familiar can be raised from the dead just as a character can be, and it does not lose a level or a Constitution point when this happy event occurs.

A character with more than one class that grants a familiar may have only one familiar at a time.


Familiars are magically linked to their masters. In some sense, the familiar and the master are practically one being. Thatís why, for example, the master can cast a personal range spell on a familiar even though he can normally cast such a spell only on himself. A familiar is a normal animal that gains new powers and becomes a magical beast when summoned to service by a sorcerer or wizard. It retains the appearance, Hit Dice, base attack bonus, base save bonuses, skills, and feats of the normal animal it once was, but it is treated as a magical beast instead of an animal for the purpose of any effect that depends on its type. Only a normal, unmodified animal may become a familiar. Thus, a druid/sorcerer canít use her animal companion as a familiar.

This means that the animal familiar is either magically created as part of the process (save the going extinct animals). Or else the creature to become a sorcerer's familiar already exists and is compelled to go seek out the young sorcerer and bond to him.

In most campaigns one could say who cares! But in my campaign a player of mine is a wizard who loves Dragons and is taking (or has already taken) the Dragon Familiar feat. Also part of the campaign is that Dragons are nearly extinct (to about the point of Middle-Earth).

Dragon Familiar grants a sorcerer/wizard a wyrmling familiar (not game breaking) but what is the range of the summoning? Should the PC be able to summon a blue dragon wyrmling in a cold northern forest?

Also won't a young dragon couple notice if suddenly a wyrmling is magically zoomed off towards the wizard? This provides fun adventure material but could be fatal to the party. Also can a wyrmling even be summoned if every single wyrmling in the world is protected by a Guradian (see Draconomicon for guardians).

2007-09-17, 06:17 PM
The term "summon" familiar is inappropriate, as the wizard does not summon the creature at all, they place a small amount of their own life essence into a normal creature, turning into an extension of themselves. A wizard must have the creature to be made a familiar on hand, and it must either be willing or restrained to undergo the ritual. The ritual is explained in more detail in Tome and Blood, which while being out of date mechanics wise (its 3.0), there is no reason it's fluff (which the familiar ritual primarily is) would be different now then before.

This of course means more powerful familiars, such as dragons, would be difficult to obtain, and obtain them you must. I'd imagine for intellegant creatures (3 + int) that they would have to be willing, simply restraining them wouldn't work.