A familiar is an animal chosen by a spellcaster to aid him in his study of magic. It retains the appearance, Hit Dice, base attack bonus, base save bonuses, skills, and feats of the normal animal it once was, but is now a magical beast for the purpose of effects that depend on its type. Only a normal, unmodified animal may become a familiar. An animal companion cannot also function as a familiar.
A familiar grants special abilities to its master, as given on the table below. These special abilities apply only when the master and familiar are within 1 mile of each other.
Levels of different classes that are entitled to familiars stack for the purpose of determining any familiar abilities that depend on the master’s level.
If a familiar is dismissed, lost, or dies, it can be replaced 1 week later through a specialized ritual that costs 200 gp per wizard level. The ritual takes 8 hours to complete.
See also: Improved Familiar
|Archaeopteryx||Master gains a +2 bonus on Reflex saves.||B4|
|Armadillo||Master gains a +1 natural armor bonus to AC||AnA|
|Bat||Master gains a +3 bonus on Fly checks||CRB|
|Cat||Master gains a +3 bonus on Stealth checks||CRB|
|Centipede, house||Master gains a +3 bonus on Stealth checks||UM|
|Chicken||Master gains +3 hit points||FF|
|Compsognathus||Master gains a +4 bonus on Initiative checks||B2|
|Crab, king||Master gains a +2 bonus on CMB checks to start and maintain a grapple||UM|
|Dodo||Master gains a +4 bonus on Initiative checks||B4|
|Dolphin||Master gains a +3 bonus on Swim checks||FF|
|Donkey rat||Master gains a +2 bonus on Fortitude saves||UM|
|Dwarf caiman||Master gains a +3 bonus on Stealth checks||AP55|
|Ermine||Master gains a +2 bonus on Reflex saves||RWPG|
|Fox||Master gains a +2 bonus on Reflex saves||UM|
|Giant Isopod||Master gains a +1 natural armor bonus to AC||AP55|
|Goat||Master gains a +3 bonus on Survival checks||UM|
|Hare||Master gains a +4 bonus on Initiative checks||RWPG|
|Hawk||Master gains a +3 bonus on sight-based and opposed Perception checks in bright light||CRB|
|Hedgehog||Master gains a +2 bonus on Will saves||UM|
|Ioun Wyrd||Master gains a +1 natural armor bonus to AC||FF|
|Kakapo||Master gains a +3 bonus on Climb checks||FF|
|Koala||Master gains a +3 bonus on Climb checks||FF|
|Lemming||Master gains a +2 bonus on Fortitude saves||RWPG|
|Leopard slug||Master gains a +3 bonus on Climb checks||FF|
|Lizard||Master gains a +3 bonus on Climb checks||CRB|
|Marine Iguana (use dwarf caiman statistics)||Master gains a +3 bonus on Swim checks||Blog|
|Mole||Master gains a +3 bonus on smell-, taste-, and touch-based Perception checks||FF|
|Mongoose (use weasel statistics)||Master gains a +2 bonus on Fortitude saves||Blog|
|Monkey||Master gains a +3 bonus on Acrobatics checks||CRB|
|Octopus, blue-ringed||Master gains a +3 bonus on Swim checks||UM|
|Osprey (use hawk statistics)||Master gains a +3 bonus on Survival checks||Blog|
|Otter||Master gains a +3 bonus on Swim checks||B3|
|Owl||Master gains a +3 bonus on sight-based and opposed Perception checks in shadows or darkness||CRB|
|Parrot* (use raven statistics)||Master gains a +3 bonus on Linguistics checks||Blog|
|Peacock||Master gains a +3 bonus on Intimidate checks||FF|
|Penguin||Master gains a +3 bonus on Swim checks||FF|
|Petrifern||Master gains a +1 natural armor bonus to AC||FF|
|Pig||Master gains a +3 bonus on Diplomacy checks||UM|
|Platypus||Master gains a +3 bonus on Swim checks||AnA|
|Ptarmigan||Master gains a +3 bonus on Stealth checks||RWPG|
|Pufferfish||Master gains a +2 bonus on Fortitude saves||FF|
|Puffin||Master gains a +3 bonus on Swim checks||RWPG|
|Raccoon||Master gains a +3 bonus on Sleight of Hand checks||B3|
|Rat||Master gains a +2 bonus on Fortitude saves||CRB|
|Raven*||Master gains a +3 bonus on Appraise checks||CRB|
|Rhamphorhynchus||Master gains a +2 bonus on Initiative checks||AP37|
|Scorpion, greensting||Master gains a +4 bonus on Initiative checks||UM|
|Sea krait (use viper statistics)||Master gains a +2 bonus on Fortitude saves||Blog|
|Seal||Master gains a +3 bonus on Swim checks||AP55|
|Skunk||Master gains a +2 bonus on Fortitude saves||AnA|
|Sloth||Master gains a +3 bonus on Climb checks.||B4|
|Snail kite (use hawk statistics)||Master gains a +3 bonus on Fly checks||Blog|
|Spider, scarlet||Master gains a +3 bonus on Climb checks||UM|
|Squirrel||Master gains a +3 bonus on Sleight of Hand checks||AnA|
|Squirrel, flying||Master gains a +3 bonus on Fly checks||AnA|
|Thrush*||Master gains a +3 bonus on Diplomacy checks||UM|
|Toad||Master gains +3 hit points||CRB|
|Toucan (use raven statistics; cannot speak)||Master gains a +3 bonus on Diplomacy checks||Blog|
|Tuatara||Master gains a +3 bonus on Survival checks.||B4|
|Turtle||Master gains a +1 natural armor bonus to AC||UM|
|Turtle, snapping||Master gains a +2 bonus on Fortitude saves||UM|
|Viper||Master gains a +3 bonus on Bluff checks||CRB|
|Wallaby||Master gains a +3 bonus on Acrobatics checks||FF|
|Weasel||Master gains a +2 bonus on Reflex saves||CRB|
* Speaks one language of its master’s choice as a supernatural ability.
[Paizo Blog] Source Paizo Blog, April 19, 2012
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 his 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 his 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.
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, improved evasion, share spells, empathic link|
|3rd–4th||+2||7||Deliver touch spells|
|5th–6th||+3||8||Speak with master|
|7th–8th||+4||9||Speak with animals of its kind|
|13th–14th||+7||12||Scry on familiar|
Natural Armor Adj.: The number noted here is in addition to the familiar’s existing natural armor bonus.
Int: The familiar’s Intelligence score.
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 wizard may cast a spell with a target of “You” on his familiar (as a touch spell) instead of on himself. A wizard may cast spells on his familiar even if the spells do not normally affect creatures of the familiar’s type (magical beast).
Empathic Link (Su): The master has an empathic link with his familiar to a 1 mile distance. The master can communicate empathically 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 his familiar does.
Deliver Touch Spells (Su): If the master is 3rd level or higher, a familiar can deliver touch spells for him. If the master and the familiar are in contact at the time the master casts a touch spell, he can designate his familiar as the “toucher.” The familiar can then deliver the touch spell just as the master would. As usual, if the master casts another spell before the touch is delivered, the touch spell dissipates.
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, he may scry on his familiar (as if casting the scrying spell) once per day.
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.
Source Animal Archive
As a player, you may desire a special familiar—either real, unique to your campaign world, or wholly imagined—that hasn’t yet been presented with specific stats. With your Gamemaster’s approval, however, it’s easy to “re-skin” an existing familiar stat block to create the exact familiar you want.
The easiest way is to examine the Familiars and Special Abilities table and try to find the animal most similar to the one in your imagination, then use the source listed in the Statistics column to find its full stat block. For many animals, you’ll be able to simply use that stat block for your familiar, in the same way that a parrot uses the same stats as a raven, and change only the flavor and descriptions. This way, you don’t have to worry about tweaking the creature’s mechanics, and your GM can rest easy knowing that the familiar is still balanced.
Sometimes, however, you may want an animal radically different from any on this list. In these cases, your best bet is to look at existing creatures until you find something similar to what you’re looking for—preferably of a low Challenge Rating. From there, you can change the skills and feats, add or subtract attacks, and otherwise sculpt the creature until it matches the picture in your imagination. Bear in mind that monster design is a complicated process. You’ll need to be familiar with the rules if you want your creature to be balanced, and even if you do the math perfectly, your GM may still decide the creature is too powerful. After all, familiars are intended to be relatively weak, and even a baby mastodon is going to be hard to reduce to an appropriate CR without designing a totally new monster, at which point you might as well just grab the pig familiar stats and add fur. The young template is also extremely useful in reducing creatures’ CRs. Once you’ve got the stats worked out, use the examples above to decide what ability your familiar grants its new master. And don’t forget to get your GM’s approval!
For example, let’s say you want to create a cardinal, because you think he’d go well with your fire wizard who only wears red. Since they’re both small birds, it’s easy enough to take the raven stat block above and simply remove the ability to talk. If you want a lobster, you can use the king crab, perhaps reversing its land and swim speeds to represent its quick movement underwater. A rat makes a fine guinea pig, and a weasel makes a great stoat or ermine. If you want to tinker further, remember that the further you range from an existing stat block—especially if it’s to add extra attacks or otherwise improve a creature—the more likely your GM is to reject it as being unbalanced. The rules try to balance familiars so that none are obviously better than the others; if yours is clearly better, it’s probably too powerful, and perhaps better suited for the animal companion class feature.
Source Familiar Folio
While there are already many kinds of familiars, sometimes the available options don’t quite fit your vision of your character’s magical companion. With your Gamemaster’s approval, though, the statistics of an existing familiar can be repurposed to approximate the perfect familiar for your character.
The easiest way to formulate a familiar when there aren’t already stats for the creature you’re looking for is to examine the list and find the animal closest to the one you have in mind. You can then simply use the statistics of the existing animal as those for your desired familiar. This ensures that the familiar is balanced, and it doesn’t require you or the GM to tinker with the animal’s statistics.
When approximating familiars, the most important thing to realize is that a given familiar’s statistics can be used to represent a wide variety of other creatures of the same creature type, not just that species. For example, the rat is a small, agile mammal, so it’s a reasonable leap to use its statistics to represent a mouse, shrew, or other similar small mammal. Conversely, using the stats for a bat to represent a flying fish, despite some similarities, is probably suboptimal. Consider some of the Advanced Method options for making more significant adjustments to a creature.
The Approximate Familiars chart provides a list of the animal familiars most suitable for approximating other types of creatures, suggestions on what those creatures might be, and the sources of the statistics for the base animals. The suggestions listed beside each entry are not exhaustive, of course; they are merely there as guidelines to help you devise the perfect familiar for your character.
You may want a familiar that is radically different from any other creature on the list. In these cases, your best bet is to select the familiar creature that is closest to what you’re looking for, then work with your GM to come up with suitable ability substitutions or statistical alterations that bring the statistics in line with your imagined familiar. (Remember, always ask for your GM’s approval before altering creature statistics or using homebrew elements in the game!)
You’ll need to be well versed in the rules to create a balanced creature, and even if you do the math perfectly, your GM may still decide the creature is too powerful.
Generally, the less dramatic the change to your familiar’s base creature, the more balanced the resulting familiar will be. Players should always have a concrete theme in mind before adjusting familiars’ statistics, preferably a concept that aims toward creating a familiar of an existing type that has a slightly specialized skill set. Creatures that are unique, though still largely natural, and tie into a character’s backstory can also make good concepts.
Players who are considering altering a pre-existing familiar should consider one or more of the following changes to the familiar’s statistics, which are ordered from least to most impactful to the game mechanics.
Skills: Reverse-calculating where skill ranks went is generally easier with familiars than with other creatures, since familiars rarely have more than 1 Hit Die, and rarely have more than 1 or 2 skill ranks to begin with. Reallocating skill ranks can be an easy way of customizing a creature’s statistics to better fit your image of your familiar’s personality. For instance, to create a primate familiar that is good at stealing small trinkets, you might start with the statistics of a monkey and simply reallocate its skill ranks from Perception to Sleight of Hand or Stealth.
Feats: You can easily exchange a pre-built familiar’s starting feats with different feats that better match your concept, such as the familiar feats. There are also new feats relating to familiars, allowing a great deal of customization and sometimes adding unusual mystical qualities and abilities.
Attacks: While changing the damage dice for a creature’s attacks can quickly create an underwhelming or overpowered familiar, exchanging natural attacks for other types of natural attacks is generally a safe practice. Using the natural attacks table, you can easily switch out a bat’s bite attack for two claws or a gore attack. Generally, you should replace a primary natural attack with another primary natural attack, and secondary attacks with other secondary attacks.
Speed: Changing a creature’s movement types or speeds is usually to be avoided. However, it can be relatively safe as long as you are exchanging an unusual movement speed (such as a 10-foot burrow speed) for a different unusual movement speed of an equal rate (such as a 10-foot climb speed), or you are drastically reducing the creature’s base land speed to give it an unusual movement speed (such as reducing a creature’s 40-foot base land speed to 10 feet and granting the creature a 30- foot swim speed).
Ability Scores: Altering a creature’s ability scores is the surest way to accidentally create an unbalanced creature, and isn’t recommended for approximating new familiars in this manner.
Source Ultimate Campaign
In a typical campaign, each player controls one character. However, there are several ways for you to temporarily or permanently gain the assistance of a companion, such as an animal companion, a cohort, an eidolon, or a familiar. The combat advantages of controlling a second creature are obvious, but having a companion also has drawbacks and requires an understanding of both your role and the GM’s in determining the creature’s actions. This section addresses common issues for companions and the characters who use them.
How a companion works depends on the campaign as well as the companion’s nature, intelligence, and abilities. In some cases, the rules do not specify whether you or the GM controls the companion. If you’re entirely in control, the companion acts like a subsidiary PC, doing exactly what you want just like a true PC. If the GM is control, you can make suggestions or attempt to influence the companion, but the GM determines whether the creature is willing or able to attempt what you want.
Whether you or the GM controls a particular companion depends largely on the creature’s intelligence and level of independence from you.
Nonsentient Companions: a nonsentient companion (one with animal-level intelligence) is loyal to you in the way a well-trained dog is—the creature is conditioned to obey your commands, but its behavior is limited by its intelligence and it can’t make altruistic moral decisions—such as nobly sacrificing itself to save another. Animal companions, cavalier mounts, and purchased creatures (such as common horses and guard dogs) fall into this category. In general they’re GM-controlled companions. You can direct them using the Handle Animal skill, but their specific behavior is up to the GM.
Sentient Companions: a sentient companion (a creature that can understand language and has an Intelligence score of at least 3) is considered your ally and obeys your suggestions and orders to the best of its ability. It won’t necessarily blindly follow a suicidal order, but it has your interests at heart and does what it can to keep you alive. Paladin bonded mounts, familiars, and cohorts fall into this category, and are usually player-controlled companions.
Eidolons: Outside the linear obedience and intelligence scale of sentient and nonsentient companions are eidolons: intelligent entities magically bound to you. Whether you wish to roleplay this relationship as friendly or coerced, the eidolon is inclined to obey you unless you give a command only to spite it. An eidolon would obey a cruel summoner’s order to save a child from a burning building, knowing that at worst the fire damage would temporarily banish it, but it wouldn’t stand in a bonfire just because the summoner said to. An eidolon is normally a player-controlled companion, but the GM can have the eidolon refuse extreme orders that would cause it to suffer needlessly.
Magical Control: Charm person, dominate person, and similar effects turn an NPC into a companion for a limited time. Most charm-like effects make the target friendly to you—the target has to follow your requests only if they’re reasonable, and has its own ideas about what is reasonable. For example, few creatures consider “hand over all your valuables” or “let me put these manacles on you” a reasonable request from a friend. You might have to use Diplomacy or Intimidate checks to influence a charmed ally, and the GM has the final say as to what happens. Though the target of a charm effect considers you a friend, it probably feels indifferent at best toward the other PCs and won’t listen to requests from them. a creature under a dominate effect is more of a puppet, and you can force it to do anything that isn’t suicidal or otherwise against its well-being. Treat it as player-controlled, with the GM making its saving throws to resist inappropriate commands.
Common Exceptions: Some companions are exceptions, such as an intelligent companion who doesn’t bear exceptional loyalty toward you (for example, a hired guard), a weaker minion who is loyal to you but lacks the abilities or resources to assist in adventuring tasks, and a called outsider (such as from planar ally) who agrees to a specific service but still has a sense of self-preservation. You can use Bluff, Diplomacy, and Intimidate to influence such companions, but the GM is the final arbiter of their actions. For example, a PC might use threats to convince a caravan guard to hold back an ogre for a few rounds or to prevent her zealous followers from attacking a rival adventurer, but the GM makes the decision whether the guard runs away after getting hit once or the followers attack when provoked.
The GM may deviate from the above suggestions, such as allowing a druid to control an animal companion directly, creating a more equivalent or even antagonistic relationship between a summoner and an eidolon, or roleplaying a mentoring relationship between a veteran warhorse and the young paladin who inherited his loyalty. Before you create a character with a companion creature (or decide to add a companion in play), the GM should explain to everyone how much influence you and the GM each have over the creature’s actions. That way, everyone is fully informed about all aspects of dealing with the companion.
The specifics of controlling a companion vary for different campaigns. a gritty campaign where animal companions can’t do anything that real animals can’t do forces the GM to act as a check against you pushing the bounds of creativity. a high-fantasy game where familiars are nearly as important to the storyline as the PCs—or are played as near-PCs by other players—is a very different feel and can create interesting roleplaying opportunities.
An evil campaign where companions are unwilling slaves of the PCs creates a dynamic where the PCs are trying to exploit them as much as possible—perhaps even sacrificing and replacing them as needed—and treat them more like living tools than reluctant allies.
The GM should keep in mind several factors when it comes to companions, whether handling them as suggested above or altering the balance to give you more or less control.
Ease of Play: Changing who controls a companion can make the game easier or harder for the GM. Controlling a cohort in combat is one more complex thing for the GM to deal with. The GM must keep track of a cohort’s tactics and motivations and how those affect it in combat while keeping her own knowledge of the monsters separate from the cohort’s knowledge; otherwise, the cohort will outshine the PCs with superior tactics. Giving you control over these decisions (while still allowing the GM to veto certain actions) alleviates some of the burden and allows you to plan interesting tactics between yourself and your cohort, much as you would have mastered during times you trained together.
Conversely, giving a player full control over the actions of two characters can slow down the game. If you’re prone to choice paralysis, playing two turns every round can drag the game to a halt. If this is a problem, the GM should suggest that another player help run the companion or ask you to give up the companion and alter yourself to compensate (such as by choosing a different feat in place of Leadership, taking a domain instead of a druid animal companion, or selecting the “companions” option for a ranger’s hunter’s bond ability instead of an animal).
Game Balance: Even a simple change like allowing players to directly control companions has repercussions in the game mechanics. For example, if a druid has complete control over an animal companion, there’s no reason for her to put ranks in Handle Animal, freeing up those ranks for other valuable skills like Perception. If a wizard with a guard dog doesn’t have to use a move action to make a Handle Animal check to have the dog attack, he has a full set of actions each round and a minion creature that doesn’t require investing any extra time to “summon” it. If companion animals don’t have to know specific tricks, the PC can use any animal like an ally and plan strategies (like flanking) as if the animal were much smarter than it actually is.
With intelligent companions such as cohorts, giving you full control means you’re controlling two characters and can take twice as many actions as the other players. The GM can create a middle ground, such as requiring you to put ranks in Handle Animal but not requiring you to make checks, or reducing the action needed to command an animal, but these decisions should be made before the companion joins the group.
Sharing Information: Whenever you control multiple creatures, there are issues of sharing information between you and your companions. Some companions have special abilities that facilitate this sort of communication, such as a familiar’s empathic link or an eidolon’s bond senses ability, but most companions are limited to what they can observe with their own senses. For example, if a wizard using see invisibility knows there is an invisible rogue across the room, he can’t just direct his guard dog to attack the rogue; he has to use the seek command to move the dog to the general area of the rogue, and even then he can’t use the attack command to attack the rogue because the rogue isn’t an “apparent enemy.” If the GM allows the wizard to make the dog fight the invisible rogue, that makes the animal much more versatile than normal, and also devalues the special nature of a true empathic or telepathic bond with a companion. If the dog is allowed to work outside the PC’s line of sight, it devalues abilities such as a wizard’s ability to scry on his familiar. Of course, intelligent companions using speech can bypass some of these limitations (such as telling a cohort there’s an invisible rogue in the corner).
Another issue is who gets to control the companion’s advancement. Animal companions, eidolons, and cohorts all advance much like PCs, making choices about feats, skills, special abilities, and (in the case of cohorts) class levels. Whoever controls the companion’s actions also makes decisions about its advancement, but there is more of a shared role between you and the GM for some types of companions.
Animal Companion: Advancement choices for an animal companion include feats, skills, ability score increases, and tricks.
If the companion’s Intelligence score is 2 or lower, it is limited to a small selection of feats. You should decide what feats the animal learns, though the GM should have a say about whether a desired feat is appropriate to the animal’s type and training—fortunately, the feats on the list are appropriate for just about any animal. If the animal’s Intelligence is 3 or higher (whether from using its ability score increase or a magic item), it can select any feat that it qualifies for. You should decide what feat it learns, subject to GM approval, although the creature’s higher intelligence might mean it has its own ideas about what it wants to learn.
As with feats, you should decide what skills your animal companion learns, chosen from the Animal Skills list and subject to GM approval. If the animal’s Intelligence score is 3 or higher, it can put its ranks into any skill, with the GM’s approval. Of course, the animal might not have the physical ability to perform certain skills (a dog can’t create disguises, an elephant can’t use the Ride skill, and so on).
Ability score increases are straightforward when it comes to physical ability scores—training an animal to be stronger, more agile, or tougher are all reasonable tasks. Training an animal to be smarter, more intuitive, or more self-aware is less easy to justify—except in the context where people can cast spells and speak with animals.
Because you’re responsible for using the Handle Animal skill to teach your companion its tricks, you decide what tricks the companion learns. If you’re not skilled at training animals or lack the time to do it yourself, you can hire an expert trainer to do it for you or use the downtime system to take care of this training.
Cohort: Advancement choices for a cohort include feats, skills, ability score increases, and class levels.
A cohort is generally considered a player-controlled companion, and therefore you get to decide how the cohort advances. The GM might step in if you make choices that are inappropriate for the cohort, use the cohort as a mechanism for pushing the boundaries of the game rules, or treat the cohort unfairly. a cohort is a loyal companion and ally to you, and expects you to treat him fairly, generously, without aloofness or cruelty, and without devoting too much attention to other minions such as familiars or animal companions. The cohort’s attitude toward you is generally helpful (as if using the Diplomacy skill); he complies with most of your requests without any sort of skill check, except for requests that are against his nature or put him in serious peril.
If you exploit your cohort, you’ll quickly find your Leadership score shrinking away. Although this doesn’t change the cohort’s level, the cohort can’t gain levels until your Leadership score allows for a level increase, so if you’re a poor leader, you must wait longer for your cohort to level up. In extreme cases, the cohort might abandon you, and you’ll have to recruit a new cohort.
Examples of inappropriate advancement choices are a good-aligned companion selecting morally questionable feats, a clumsy cohort suddenly putting many ranks in Disable Device (so he can take all the risks in searching for traps instead of you), a spellcaster cohort taking nothing but item creation feats (so you get access to plenty of cheap magic items at the cost of just one feat, Leadership), a fighter cohort taking a level in wizard when he had no previous interest in magic, or you not interacting with your cleric cohort other than to gain defensive spells from a different class or a flanking bonus.
When you select the Leadership feat, you and the GM should discuss the cohort’s background, personality, interests, and role in the campaign and party. Not only does this give the GM the opportunity to reject a cohort concept that goes against the theme of the campaign, but the GM can plan adventure hooks involving the cohort for future quests. The random background generator in Chapter 1 can help greatly when filling in details about the cohort. Once the discussion is done, writing down a biography and personality profile of the cohort helps cement his role in the campaign and provides a strong reference point for later talks about what is or is not appropriate advancement for the cohort.
Eidolon: Compared to an animal companion or cohort, an eidolon is a unique type of companion—it is intelligent and loyal to you, and you have absolute power over whether it is present in the material world or banished to its home plane. You literally have the power to reshape the eidolon’s body using the transmogrify spell, and though technically the eidolon can resist this—the Saving Throw is “Will negates (harmless)”—it is assumed that the eidolon complies with what you want. After all, the eidolon can’t actually be killed while summoned; at worst, it might experience pain before damage sends it back to its home plane. This means the eidolon is usually willing to take great risks to help you. If swimming through acid was the only way to save you, it would do so, knowing that it won’t die and will recover. The eidolon is a subservient creature whose very nature depends upon your will, so you decide what feats, skill points, ability score increases, and evolutions the eidolon gains as it advances.
Follower: Because a follower is much lower level than you, it’s generally not worth determining a follower’s exact feats and skill ranks, as he would be ineffective against opponents appropriate for your level. In most cases, knowing the follower’s name, gender, race, class, level, and profession is sufficient, such as “Lars, male human expert 1, sailor.” Since followers lack full stat blocks, the issue of advancing them is irrelevant. If your Leadership score improves, just add new followers rather than advancing existing ones. However, if events require advancing a follower (such as turning a follower into a cohort to replace a dead cohort), use the same guidelines as for cohorts.
Hirelings: Hirelings don’t normally gain levels. If the GM is running a kingdom-building campaign where hireling NPCs are heavily involved, you might suggest ways for NPCs to advance, but the final decision is up to the GM. If you want more control over your hireling’s feats, skills, and class levels, you should select that hireling as a follower with the Leadership feat.
Mounts: Common mounts (such as horses or riding dogs bought from a merchant, rather than mounts that are class features) don’t normally advance. If extraordinary circumstances merit a mount gaining Hit Dice, and you have Handle Animal ranks and take an interest in training the animal, use the same guidelines as those for animal companions.
Increasing an animal’s Intelligence to 3 or higher means it is smart enough to understand a language. However, unless an awaken spell is used, the animal doesn’t automatically and instantly learn a language, any more than a human child does. The animal must be taught a language, usually over the course of months, giving it the understanding of the meaning of words and sentences beyond its trained responses to commands like “attack” and “heel.”
Even if the animal is taught to understand a language, it probably lacks the anatomy to actually speak (unless awaken is used). For example, dogs, elephants, and even gorillas lack the proper physiology to speak humanoid languages, though they can use their limited “vocabulary” of sounds to articulate concepts, especially if working with a person who learns what the sounds mean.
An intelligent animal is smart enough to use tools, but might lack the ability to manipulate them. a crow could be able to use simple lockpicks, but a dog can’t. Even if the animal is physically capable of using a tool, it might still prefer its own natural body to manufactured items, especially when it comes to weapons. An intelligent gorilla could hold or wield a sword, but its inclination is to make slam attacks. No amount of training (including weapon proficiency feats) is going to make it fully comfortable attacking in any other way.
Even if an animal’s Intelligence increases to 3 or higher, you must still use the Handle Animal skill to direct the animal, as it is a smart animal rather than a low-intelligence person (using awaken is an exception—an awakened animal takes orders like a person). The GM should take the animal’s Intelligence into account when determining its response to commands or its behavior when it doesn’t have specific instructions. For example, an intelligent wolf companion can pick the weakest-looking target if directed to do so, and that same wolf trapped in a burning building might push open a door or window without being told.
Often, a companion is forgotten about when it’s not needed. a familiar hides in a backpack and only comes out when the sorcerer needs to spy on something or deliver a spell with a range of touch. An animal companion or cohort follows the druid silently and acts only when a skill check or attack roll is needed. An eidolon is used as a mount or an expendable resource in battle. You and the GM need to remember that a companion is a creature, not an unthinking tool, and can’t simply be ignored.
Followers are a little more complex because there can be so many of them and they don’t usually adventure with you. You and the GM should keep notes about each follower (or group of followers, if there are several in a common location such as a temple) and link this information to the followers’ base of operations. For example, the GM’s notes about the capital city should mention the thieves’ guild informant follower of the rogue PC. Artwork representing the follower (even a simple piece of free clip art found online) can be a stronger reminder than a name that’s easily lost in a page full of words.
Followers also have a unique companion role in that they spend most of their time away from you, and might use that time positively or negatively. Just because a follower is low level and you’re not doesn’t mean the follower stops being a person with needs, fears, and a role to play in your heroic story. Even if you dismiss the follower aspect of the Leadership feat as baggage, a follower is going to pay attention to what you do, and if this hero-worship grows tarnished from neglect or abuse, that very same follower provides an opportunity for the GM to demonstrate how bad will among the common folk can negatively affect an adventurer’s life (see the Reputation section of this chapter for more information).
Having a companion in the party is an incredible opportunity for the GM to introduce plot elements into a campaign—and more interesting plots than “the companion has been kidnapped!” The players have a general idea about their characters’ pre-adventurer histories, but a companion is a bit of a mystery. What did it do before it met you? What is its motivation for joining the adventuring party? What are its goals? What does it do when you aren’t around?
Unless you raised your animal companion from birth, it has its own history and secrets that are likely important and could surprise you. a druid’s wolf companion might have been saved by a famous ranger, fought in an orc tribe’s arena, or escaped a wizard’s experimental lab. What happens when that wolf recognizes that helpful ranger, savage orc, or mad wizard? Is the wolf aggressive when the druid isn’t around? Does it have behavior quirks like not letting anyone touch the druid when she’s sleeping, even allies trying to wake her? What if the companion was once a humanoid, but was cursed or polymorphed into a different shape and lost its memory about its original identity? What if another druid previously cast awaken on it, and it has been pretending to be a common animal so it can watch over or spy on a PC? The answers to these questions are the seeds to side plots or entire adventures.
Animal companions can also incite fear or prejudice among ignorant townsfolk. Most villages don’t want rowdy adventurers bringing wolves, bears, lions, giant snakes, and especially dinosaurs into the town square, and innkeepers don’t usually want the larger animals staying in rooms with guests. Stables might charge more to board exotic animals or entirely refuse to do so, and might not have appropriate food for them. If a village is experiencing attacks on its livestock, angry people might be quick to blame a carnivorous animal companion. Conversely, innocent children could have a circus-like fascination with exotic animal companions and help break the ice between visiting adventurers and suspicious locals.
A cohort could have a former life as a criminal that she abandoned after being inspired by your heroic deeds. Just like a PC, a cohort has family and friends, with hopes and concerns for those people. The cohort might be a target for your enemies who are unwilling or unable to strike directly at you (though be careful to avoid making the cohort become a liability or look incompetent). a cohort who is critically injured by a monster might develop a fear about that kind of monster and avoid attacking it. She may have secret vices or virtues that become more prominent over time and can directly affect her relationship with you. If the cohort has an animal companion, you might also suffer some indirect repercussions for the animal’s behavior or reputation.
An eidolon has the same mystery as a cohort, except its origins are far weirder. It might have been linked to another summoner before its bond with you. It might be a natural creature altered by planar energies and banished to a far realm, or a former adventurer lost in a disastrous mission to an unknown plane. If it resembles a more conventional planar monster (such as an archon, a dretch, or an elemental), it might have been accidentally summoned or called by a sloppy spellcaster and could have some familiarity with other people in the world. Though an eidolon’s soul is strongly tied to its summoner, it has an existence in another world when it is away, and in that world it might be a bully, champion, or slave. How it reacts to things during its limited time on the Material Plane is influenced by its unknown past and secret life.
An eidolon always has the appearance of a fantastical creature, and attracts as much attention as any unfamiliar animal would. Fortunately for you, you can send the eidolon away to its extraplanar home, allowing you to do business in town and move about normally without drawing unwanted attention. However, if you call the eidolon in an emergency without warning the local authorities, townsfolk might assume it is a marauding monster bent on tearing them limb from limb, requiring hasty explanations and diplomacy to prevent panic.
Plot hooks for familiars are similar to those for animal companions, as they can have the same unknown backgrounds and instinctive reactions to people they knew when they were just common animals. Fortunately, familiars are usually small creatures that can easily pass for common pets as long as they don’t do anything that reveals their unusual intelligence. Most townsfolk aren’t averse to a common cat, a trained hawk, or even a snake, though innkeepers and merchants might ask that such animals be kept in a cage to prevent them from getting loose and causing any damage.
Remember that a familiar has an empathic link to its master, and its animal instincts can lead to plot hooks. For example, a toad familiar might project feelings of hunger whenever a member of a fly-demon cult is nearby, a bat familiar might express curiosity about the words a weird hermit is muttering under his breath, and a rat familiar might feel fear when a dangerous assassin walks into the room. a more powerful familiar can speak with other animals of its kind, and if left to roam, it could pick up interesting news about a town or an army camp.
A follower should be more than an acquaintance or an employee. a follower is devoted to you in the same way a cohort is, but has fewer resources at his disposal and in most cases isn’t an adventurer. The follower sees you as a hero or celebrity—someone to emulate. Though it’s easy to treat followers as a single, nameless group, a smart player realizes that they don’t have to group together. Followers can be spread out over multiple settlements and have multiple roles. For example, if you have a Leadership score of 10, you can have five 1st-level followers: a city guard in the capital, an acolyte at the high temple, an informant in the thieves’ guild, an adept in a frontier village, and a strange child saved from a goblin’s hunger. Gaining followers is an opportunity for you to look back over your adventuring career, recall important or noteworthy NPCs, and solidify the bonds between those NPCs and you.
Choosing followers gives you a network of loyal contacts who trust and respect you. Though they might not have the resources or backbone to fight on your behalf, they’re always on the lookout for ways to help you in any way they can. In effect, they are trustworthy NPC contacts (Trust score 4; see Contacts). The city guard might invite you to gamble with the other guards or arrange to have your armor polished. The acolyte might have tips about an upcoming religious festival and the clergy’s concerns about a nearby plague. The informant might have news about mysterious disappearances or volunteer to keep an eye on your rival. a thug might bully the truth out of a tight-lipped witness or provide inside information on her employer. The adept might send messages about strange events from the wildlands. The strange child might have precognitive visions, perhaps from budding magical powers.
If you ever lose or dismiss your cohort, selecting a replacement from among your followers not only gives you an excuse to spend some downtime training that follower to become your new cohort, but rewards the loyalty of all the other followers, as they see that you treat them as near equals.
The GM should use these followers as plot hooks. Instead of having rumors from an unknown source reach your ears from no specific source, a named follower could present that information. Instead of having you hunt for information about a cataclysm prophesied to occur in 3 days, a scholarly follower could find a scroll or book about the prophecy and bring it to you. The desperate stable-boy follower can approach you about money to pay off his father’s gambling debts to a crooked bookkeeper. The poor merchant can ask you for help dealing with a charismatic man trying to convince his daughter to become a prostitute. By using a follower for a plot hook, the GM lets the player know that the character can trust the follower’s intentions, and keeps the PC’s past involvement with that NPC relevant.
As you reach higher Leadership scores, you gain dozens of followers. Rather than these followers all being spread thinly across every possible settlement in the campaign, it’s more likely that many of these individual followers know each other well, possibly by working together, spending time at the same temple or academy, or being members of the same family, and you should expand these clusters of followers in an organic way. For example, the other guards who gamble with you could become new followers, the acolyte can train other acolytes or spread the good word about you, the informant might persuade others in the thieves’ guild that you’re a valuable ally, the adept’s entire village might begin to see you as a hero and savior, and the strange child could become a wizard’s apprentice and convince the entire cabal to befriend you. If you ever decide to build a fort or found a temple or guild, you already have a group of like-minded and skilled followers ready and willing to help.
Adventuring is a dangerous career, and sometimes an animal companion, cohort, or familiar dies or is lost. a change in your alignment or religion might drive away your cohort, or the cohort’s role in the story might end based on discussion between you and the GM. An extended voyage in a dangerous environment might convince a druid to free a trusted companion that would otherwise suffer and die if forced to travel (such as a polar bear in the desert). a ranger might discover a rare specimen of a favorite type of creature and want to claim it as his own in order to protect it from poachers. Regardless of the cause, when a companion dies or is lost, you need to replace it. This creates an opportunity for roleplaying.
A lost animal companion, cohort, familiar, or follower can be raised or resurrected with spells such as raise dead, resurrection, or true resurrection. For a cohort or follower with character levels, these kinds of spells give the character one or more negative levels—a price worth paying if the alternative is death. Creatures with no character levels (such as animal companions and familiars) count as 1st level for the purpose of these spells, and therefore they take Constitution drain instead of negative levels. a non-sentient companion is assumed to be willing to return to life unless you were cruel to it or directly responsible for its death.
In most cases, the companion probably remembers its last moments alive and understands that you’re the reason why it is alive again. For a lower-level cohort or a non-adventuring follower, the gift of a second chance at life is something very treasured and earns you great respect and devotion. You can gain the reputation of “fairness and generosity” for the purposes of the Leadership feat.
Using reincarnate is an alternative option, but has a similar effect on a companion’s loyalty and affection. Few humans would choose to be reincarnated as a bugbear or kobold, but if the choice is that or death, a new life in a new body is generally preferred. For an animal companion, the GM should create a random table of creatures similar to its original form—for example, a lion might be reincarnated as a leopard, cheetah, or tiger.
In some cases, replacing an animal companion or familiar can be as easy as purchasing an animal of the desired type and declaring it your new companion. Attuning a familiar to its new master requires a ritual. Choosing an animal companion requires 24 hours of prayer. The ceremony can also be used to attract and bond with an animal appropriate to the local environment. However, you might want to wait for the campaign to present an appropriate companion, such as an animal you rescue from a cruel enemy that you tame with the ritual or ceremony. In terms of game mechanics, there is no difference between any of these options, and you should work with the GM to find a replacement method that is appropriate to the campaign.
Replacing a lost or killed cohort or follower involves a similar collaboration between you and the GM to create a character who is appropriate for the campaign and valuable to you (and hopefully to the rest of the party). You might want to elevate a follower to a cohort, select another known NPC to become a cohort, or start from scratch by introducing a new NPC to the party. Keep in mind that your Leadership score might have changed, especially if you were responsible for the previous cohort’s death—and that sort of tragedy creates roleplaying opportunities for the new cohort.
Source Familiar Folio
Those with an inherent connection to magic often attract creatures who feel a similar instinctive pull toward magical forces. At 1st level, a sorcerer, bloodrager, or any other character with one of the following bloodlines can choose to gain a bloodline familiar. The character gains a familiar (as a wizard’s familiar), treating her class level as her wizard level for the purposes of this ability. This familiar has an additional ability listed below based on the master’s bloodline.
This replaces the 1st-level bloodline power granted by the character’s bloodline; in addition, the character gains bonus spells from her bloodline one level later than she normally would. For example, a sorcerer with the aberrant bloodline who takes a bloodline familiar would not gain the acidic ray bloodline power, and she would gain her first bonus spell at 4th level, her second bonus spell at 6th level, and so on.
GMs may use the following bloodline familiar abilities as written, or employ them as guidelines for devising bloodline familiar abilities for bloodlines not listed below.
The familiar gains the compression ability, allowing it to move through an area as small as one-quarter its space without squeezing or one-eighth its space when squeezing.
The damage dice of each of the familiar’s natural attacks increases by one die step.
A number of times per day equal to 3 + your Charisma modifier, your familiar can grant fast healing 1 to an allied creature it’s touching. This effect lasts a number of rounds equal to your Charisma modifier (minimum 1) or until the familiar stops touching the creature, whichever comes first. At 10th level, the familiar grants fast healing 2 instead.
At 20th level, the familiar grants fast healing 3 instead.
The familiar gains a +1 luck bonus on attack rolls to deliver touch spells, and the DC of touch spells delivered by the familiar increases by 1. These benefits increase by 1 at 10th level and again at 20th level.
The familiar can sprout draconic wings, granting it a fly speed of 30 feet with average maneuverability for a number of minutes per day equal to 1/2 your caster level (minimum 1). These minutes need not be consecutive, but they must be spent in 1-minute increments. At 10th level, the familiar’s fly speed increases to 60 feet with good maneuverability. At 20th level, the familiar’s fly speed increases to 90 feet.
When your familiar delivers a touch spell that deals energy damage of a type other than your chosen energy type, your familiar can choose to alter the spell so that half of the energy damage dealt is of the spell’s original type and the other half is of your chosen energy type.
The familiar can fascinate other creatures as the fascinate bardic performance, treating your caster level as its bard level and using your Charisma modifier for the purpose of calculating the Will save DC. The familiar cannot perform any other actions while using this ability.
Animals don’t willingly approach the familiar unless the animal’s master succeeds at a DC 15 Handle Animal, Ride, or wild empathy check. This DC increases to 20 at 10th level, and to 25 at 20th level. Animal companions, familiars and mounts are immune to this effect.
Source Familiar Folio
Witches’ familiars are often tied to their patrons, enhancing and reinforcing the spellcasters’ connections to the sources of their magical might. Just as a sorcerer can gain a bloodline familiar, a witch can gain a patron familiar by choosing one at 1st level in place of her standard familiar. A patron familiar acts in all ways like a standard witch’s familiar, with the addition of the special ability indicated below according to the witch’s patron. In addition, the witch gains her patron spells 1 level later than she normally would—gaining the patron spell she’d normally receive at 2nd level at 3rd level instead, and so on.
The familiar is incredibly fast for its type. It gains an enhancement bonus of +10 feet to each of its movement speeds. This bonus increases to +20 feet at 10th level, and to +30 feet at 20th level.
The familiar gains the ability to speak with animals of its kind at 1st level.
Choose an energy type: acid, cold, electricity, or fire. The familiar gains resistance 5 to the selected energy type. Whenever the familiar delivers a touch spell that deals energy damage, it can change the type of energy damage dealt to the selected energy type.
The familiar is unnaturally talented at resisting bodily corruption. The familiar and any ally touching it gains a +2 resistance bonus on saving throws against non-magical poisons and diseases. At 10th level, this bonus also applies against magical diseases and poisons. At 20th level, this bonus also applies against curses.
Once per day, the familiar can inflict filth fever with its natural attacks for 1 round. At 10th level, the familiar can inflict red ache instead. At 20th level, it can inflict demon fever instead. The familiar may be able to inflict other injury diseases instead at the GM’s discretion.
Once per day, the familiar can use cause fear as a spell-like ability as long as it is in an area of normal or dim light, affecting a single living creature with a number of Hit Dice up to the familiar’s Intelligence score. Thus, creatures normally immune to cause fear because they have 6 or more Hit Dice may not be immune to the familiar’s cause fear spell-like ability.
This effect lasts for a number of rounds equal to 1/2 the master’s caster level.
The familiar is able to transform itself. For a number of minutes per day equal to its master’s witch level, the familiar can alter its appearance so that it looks like a different creature of its type and size. The duration doubles at 8th level, and triples at 16th level. This duration need not be consecutive, but it must be used in 1 minute increments. For instance, a cat familiar could appear as any Tiny animal. This change is purely cosmetic, and doesn’t alter the familiar’s statistics.
The familiar has a mischievous predilection toward simple illusions.
Once per day, the familiar can use a 0-level illusion spell on its master’s spell list as a spell-like ability. At 10th level, it can also use a 1st-level illusion spell on its master’s spell list once per day. At 20th level, it can also use a 2nd-level illusion spell on its master’s spell list once per day.
The familiar can breathe water for a number of minutes per day equal to 1/2 its master’s witch level. These minutes need not be consecutive, but they must be spent in 1-minute intervals. If the familiar can already breathe water, it can breathe air for the same duration. At 10th level, the familiar gains a swim speed of 30 feet (or a land speed of 30 feet if it already has a swim speed) while using this ability. At 20th level, the familiar can move through water as though under the effects of freedom of movement while using this ability.
The familiar gains a Wisdom score of 6. This score increases by 1 point at 3rd level and every 2 levels thereafter (at the same rate as its Intelligence score). This may cause a familiar whose Wisdom score is typically higher than 6 to start with a lower Wisdom score than normal.
- Decoy (Familiar Archetype)
- Emissary (Familiar Archetype)
- Figment (Familiar Archetype)
- Infiltrator (Familiar Archetype)
- Mascot (Familiar Archetype)
- Mauler (Familiar Archetype)
- Pilferer (Familiar Archetype)
- Protector (Familiar Archetype)
- Sage (Familiar Archetype)
- School Familiar (Familiar Archetype)
- Valet (Familiar Archetype)