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Witch’s Familiar

By forging strange bonds with unnameable beings, witches gain the service of a mystical adviser, a familiar to both serve her and reveal to her secrets unknown to most mortals. A familiar is an animal chosen by a witch to aid her in her spellcasting and grant her special powers. This uses the same rules as the wizard’s arcane bond class feature, except as noted below. A witch uses her level as her effective wizard level when determining the abilities of her familiar. A witch can choose any of the familiars available to a wizard in addition to the new familiars presented here.

Levels of different classes that are entitled to familiars stack for the purpose of determining any familiar abilities that depend on the witch’s level. If a witch possesses such levels, her familiar always uses the witch rules for familiars, not those provided by other classes, such as wizards or sorcerers with the arcane bloodline. A witch’s familiar only stores witch spells. All other spells are stored normally, as noted in their class features. If a familiar is lost or dies, it can be replaced 1 day later through a special ritual that costs 500 gp per witch level. The ritual takes 8 hours to complete. A new familiar begins knowing all of the 0-level spells plus two spells of every level the witch is able to cast. These are in addition to any bonus spells known by the familiar based on the witch’s level and her patron (see patron spells).

Table: Familiars and Special Abilities

Familiar Special Ability
Bat Master gains a +3 bonus on Fly checks
Cat Master gains a +3 bonus on Stealth checks
Centipede, house Master gains a +3 bonus on Stealth checks
Compsognathus Master gains a +4 bonus on Initiative checks
Donkey rat Master gains a +2 bonus on Fortitude saves
Master gains a +2 bonus on Reflex saves
Goat Master gains a +3 bonus on Survival checks
Hawk Master gains a +3 bonus on sight-based and opposed Perception checks in bright light
Hedgehog Master gains a +2 bonus on Will saves
Crab, king Master gains a +2 bonus on CMB checks to start and maintain a grapple
Lizard Master gains a +3 bonus on Climb checks
Monkey Master gains a +3 bonus on Acrobatics checks
Octopus, blue-ringed Master gains a +3 bonus on Swim checks
Otter Master gains a +3 bonus on Swim checks
Owl Master gains a +3 bonus on sight-based and opposed Perception checks in shadows or darkness
Pig Master gains a +3 bonus on Diplomacy checks
Master gains a +3 bonus on Sleight of Hand checks
Rat Master gains a +2 bonus on Fortitude saves
Raven* (or parrot) Master gains a +3 bonus on Appraise checks
Scorpion, greensting Master gains a +4 bonus on Initiative checks
Spider, scarlet Master gains a +3 bonus on Climb checks
Squirrel, flying
Master gains a +3 bonus on Fly checks
Thrush* Master gains a +3 bonus on Diplomacy checks
Toad Master gains +3 hit points
Turtle Master gains a +1 natural armor bonus to AC
Turtle, snapping Master gains a +2 bonus on Fortitude saves
Viper Master gains a +3 bonus on Bluff checks
Weasel Master gains a +2 bonus on Reflex saves

* Speaks one language of its master’s choice as a supernatural ability.

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Familiar Basics

Use the basic statistics for a creature of the familiar‘s kind, but with the following changes.

Hit Dice: For the purpose of effects related to number of Hit Dice, use the master’s character level or the familiar‘s normal HD total, whichever is higher.

Hit Points: The familiar has half the master’s total hit points (not including temporary hit points), rounded down, regardless of its actual Hit Dice.

Attacks: Use the master’s base attack bonus, as calculated from all her classes. Use the familiar‘s Dexterity or Strength modifier, whichever is greater, to calculate the familiar‘s melee attack bonus with natural weapons. Damage equals that of a normal creature of the familiar‘s kind.

Saving Throws: For each saving throw, use either the familiar‘s base save bonus (Fortitude +2, Reflex +2, Will +0) or the master’s (as calculated from all her classes), whichever is better. The familiar uses its own ability modifiers to saves, and it doesn’t share any of the other bonuses that the master might have on saves.

Skills: For each skill in which either the master or the familiar has ranks, use either the normal skill ranks for an animal of that type or the master’s skill ranks, whichever is better. In either case, the familiar uses its own ability modifiers. Regardless of a familiar‘s total skill modifiers, some skills may remain beyond the familiar‘s ability to use. Familiars treat Acrobatics, Climb, Fly, Perception, Stealth, and Swim as class skills.

Familiar Ability Descriptions

All familiars have special abilities (or impart abilities to their masters) depending on the master’s combined level in classes that grant familiars, as shown on the table below. The abilities are cumulative.

Master Class Level Natural Armor Adj. Intelligence Special
1st–2nd +1 6 Alertness, empathic link, improved evasion, share spells, store spells
3rd–4th +2 7 Deliver touch spells
5th–6th +3 8 Speak with master
7th–8th +4 9 Speak with animals of its kind
9th–10th +5 10
11th–12th +6 11 Spell resistance
13th–14th +7 12 Scry on familiar
15th–16th +8 13
17th–18th +9 14
19th–20th +10 15

Natural Armor Adj.

The number noted here is in addition to the familiar‘s existing natural armor bonus.


The familiar‘s Intelligence score.

Alertness (Ex)

While a familiar is within arm’s reach, the master gains the Alertness feat.

Empathic Link (Su)

The master has an empathic link with her familiar to a 1 mile distance. The master can communicate emphatically with the familiar, but cannot see through its eyes. Because of the link’s limited nature, only general emotions can be shared. The master has the same connection to an item or place that her familiar does.

Improved Evasion (Ex)

When subjected to an attack that normally allows a Reflex saving throw for half damage, a familiar takes no damage if it makes a successful saving throw and half damage even if the saving throw fails.

Share Spells

The witch may cast a spell with a target of “You” on her familiar (as a touch spell) instead of on herself. A witch may cast spells on her familiar even if the spells do not normally affect creatures of the familiar‘s type (magical beast).

Store Spells

Starting at 1st level, a witch’s familiar stores all of the spells that the witch knows. This does not allow the familiar to cast these spells or use spell-trigger or spell completion magic items. Starting at 2nd level, and every two levels thereafter, a witch’s familiar adds new bonus spells to the witch’s spell list based on her patron. These spells are automatically stored by the familiar and can be prepared as normal once they are gained.

Deliver Touch Spells (Su)

If a witch is 3rd level or higher, her familiar can deliver touch spells or hexes for her. If the witch and the familiar are in contact at the time the witch casts a touch spell, she can designate her familiar as the “toucher.” The familiar can then deliver the touch spell just as the witch would. As usual, if the witch casts another spell before the touch is delivered, the touch spell dissipates. If the witch activates a hex, her familiar can be used to make the touch. She does not have to be in contact with the familiar to use this ability.

Speak with Master (Ex)

If the master is 5th level or higher, a familiar and the master can communicate verbally as if they were using a common language. Other creatures do not understand the communication without magical help.

Speak with Animals of Its Kind (Ex)

If the master is 7th level or higher, a familiar can communicate with animals of approximately the same kind as itself (including dire varieties): bats with bats, cats with felines, hawks and owls and ravens with birds, lizards and snakes with reptiles, monkeys with other simians, rats with rodents, toads with amphibians, and weasels with ermines and minks. Such communication is limited by the Intelligence of the conversing creatures.

Spell Resistance (Ex)

If the master is 11th level or higher, a familiar gains spell resistance equal to the master’s level + 5. To affect the familiar with a spell, another spellcaster must get a result on a caster level check (1d20 + caster level) that equals or exceeds the familiar‘s spell resistance.

Scry on Familiar (Sp)

If the master is 13th level or higher, she may scry on her familiar (as if casting the scrying spell) once per day.

Adding Spells to a Witch’s Familiar

Witches can add new spells to their familiars through several methods. A witch can only add spells to her familiar if those spells belong to the witch’s spell list.

Spells Gained at a New Level: A witch’s familiar learns a certain amount of lore and magic as the witch adventures. Whenever a witch gains a level, she may add two spells from the witch spell list to her familiar. The two free spells must be of spell levels she can cast.

Familiar Teaching Familiar: A witch’s familiar can learn spells from another witch’s familiar. To accomplish this, the familiars must spend one hour per level of the spell being taught in communion with one another. At the end of this time, the witch whose familiar is learning a spell must make a Spellcraft check (DC 15 + spell level). If the check succeeds, the familiar has learned the spell and the witch may utilize it the next time she prepares spells. If the check fails, the familiar has failed to learn the spell and cannot try to learn that spell again until the witch has gained another rank in Spellcraft. Most witches require a spell of equal or greater level in return for this service. If a familiar belongs to a witch that has died, it only retains its knowledge of spells for 24 hours, during which time it is possible to coerce or bribe the familiar into teaching its spells to another, subject to GM discretion.

Learn from a Scroll: A witch can use a scroll to teach her familiar a new spell. This process takes 1 hour per level of the spell to be learned, during which time the scroll is burned and its ashes used to create a special brew or powder that is consumed by the familiar. This process destroys the scroll. At the end of this time, the witch must make a Spellcraft check (DC 15 + spell level). If the check fails, the process went awry in some way and the spell is not learned, although the scroll is still consumed.

Small and Vermin Familiars

Small-sized familiars threaten the areas around them like Small creatures, and can be used to flank enemies, though both familiars and their masters are often loath to use such tactics, as the result is often a dead familiar. Small-sized familiars are also harder to keep on a master’s person than Tiny or smaller familiars. Often they require some form of magic item, like a bag of holding, for such a feat to work.

The process of making a vermin into a familiar grants it an Intelligence score and removes the mindless trait. Vermin familiars communicate with their masters and other vermin of their kind (greensting scorpions with other scorpions, house centipedes with other centipedes, and scarlet spiders with other spiders) by way of a strange combination of behaviors, slight changes in coloration, and even the excretion of scents, subtle and otherwise. As with other types of familiars, other creatures cannot understand this communication without magical aid.

Section 15: Copyright Notice – Advanced Player’s Guide

Advanced Player’s Guide. Copyright 2010, Paizo Publishing, LLC; Author: Jason Bulmahn.