Familiars are magically linked to their masters. In some sense, the familiar and the master are practically one being. That’s 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 can’t use her animal companion as a familiar.
A familiar also grants special abilities to its master (a sorcerer or wizard), 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 (such as sorcerer and wizard) stack for the purpose of determining any familiar abilities that depend on the master’s level.
Another option for Wizards is to take an Imbued Staff rather than a familiar.
Common Basic Familiars
|Bat||Master gains a +3 bonus on Listen checks|
|Cat||Master gains a +3 bonus on Move Silently checks|
|Dog (Small)||+3 to Sense Motive Checks|
|Hawk||Master gains a +3 bonus on Spot checks in bright light|
|Lizard||Master gains a +3 bonus on Climb checks|
|Owl||Master gains a +3 bonus on Spot checks in shadows|
|Rat||Master gains a +2 bonus on Fortitude saves|
|Raven1||Master gains a +3 bonus on Appraise checks|
|Snake||Master gains a +3 bonus on Bluff checks|
|Toad||Master gains +3 hit points|
|Weasel||Master gains a +2 bonus on Reflex saves|
|1 A raven familiar can speak one language of its master’s choice as a supernatural ability.|
|Master Class Level||Natural Armor Adj.||Int||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|
Familiar Basics: Use the basic statistics for a creature of the familiar’s kind, as given in the Monster Manual, but make 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 one-half the master’s total hit points (not including temporary hit points), rounded down, regardless of its actual Hit Dice. For example, at 2nd level, Hennet has 9 hit points, so his familiar has 4.
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 get 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 (from magic items or feats, for example).
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 are better. In either case, the familiar uses its own ability modifiers. Regardless of a familiar’s total skill modifiers, some skills (such as Craft) may remain beyond the familiar’s ability to use.
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 given on the table are cumulative.
Natural Armor Adj.: The number noted here is an improvement to the familiar’s existing natural armor bonus. It represents the preternatural toughness of a spellcaster’s familiar.
Int: The familiar’s Intelligence score. Familiars are as smart as people, though not necessarily as smart as smart people.
Alertness (Ex): The presence of the familiar sharpens its master’s senses. While a familiar is within arm’s reach, the master gains the Alertness feat (page 89).
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: At the master’s option, he may have any spell (but not any spell-like ability) he casts on himself also affect his familiar. The familiar must be within 5 feet at the time of casting to receive the benefit. If the spell or effect has a duration other than instantaneous, it stops affecting the familiar if it moves farther than 5 feet away and will not affect the familiar again even if it returns to the master before the duration expires. Additionally, the master may cast a spell with a target of “You” on his familiar (as a touch range spell) instead of on himself. A master and his familiar can share spells even if the spells normally do not affect creatures of the familiar’s type (magical beast).
Empathic Link (Su): The master has an empathic link with his familiar out to a distance of up to 1 mile. The master cannot see through the familiar’s eyes, but they can communicate empathically. Because of the limited nature of the link, only general emotional content (such as fear, hunger, happiness, curiosity) can be communicated. Note that the low Intelligence of a low-level master’s familiar limits what the creature is able to communicate or understand, and even intelligent familiars see the world differently from humans, so misunderstandings are always possible.
Because of this empathic link, the master has the same connection to an item or place that his familiar does. For instance, if his familiar has seen a room, the master can teleport into that room as if he has seen it too.
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 could. 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, rats with rodents, cats with felines, hawks and owls and ravens with birds, lizards and snakes with reptiles, toads with amphibians, weasels with similar creatures (weasels, minks, polecats, ermines, skunks, wolverines, and badgers).
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; see Spell Resistance) 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.
Expanded Familiar List
Uncommon Familiars with no Prerequisite
|Familiar||Req. Lvl||Bonus to Master||Popular With||Source|
|Imbued Staff||1||See Imbued Staff||Combat Mages||DR338|
|Albatross||1||+1 bonus on all spot checks||Masters at Sea||Stormwrack|
|Butterfly||1||+3 bonus on Spellcraft checks||Transmuters||DR 323|
|Caterpillar||1||+3 Bonus on Disguise Checks||Transmuters||DR 323|
|Chameleon||1||+3 Bonus to Disguise Checks||Shapeshifters||DR 341|
|Compsognathus||1||+3 bonus to Hide checks||Dinosaur-wranglers||DR318|
|Crow||1||+2 Bonus to Fortitude Saves||-||DR 341|
|Dark Chanting Goshawk||1||+2 Bonus to Will Saves||-||DR 341|
Requires Improved Familiar Feat
|Name||Alignment/Type/Subtype||Arcane Spellcaster Level|
|Fiendish Tiny viper snake2||Evil||3rd|
|Air elemental, Small||Air||5th|
|Earth elemental, Small||Earth||5th|
|Fire elemental, Small||Fire||5th|
|Water elemental, Small||Water||5th|
|Formian worker||Lawful neutral||7th|
1 Or other celestial animal from the standard familiar list.
2 Or other fiendish animal from the standard familiar list.
3 The master must first create the homunculus, substituting ichor or another part of the master’s body for blood if necessary.
Requires Celestial Familiar feat
Requires Dragon Familiar feat
Tiny or Smaller Masters
Masters smaller than the usual size can have proportionately smaller familiars, as indicated on the table below.
|Ferret||Master gains a +2 bonus on Reflex saves|
|Hedgehog||Master gains a +1 natural armor bonus|
|Mouse||Master gains a +2 bonus on Move Silently checks|
|Screech owl||Master gains a +2 bonus on Move Silently checks|
|Toad||Master gains +3 hit points|
|Thrush||Speaks one language|
Huge or Bigger Masters
Masters larger than the usual size can have proportionately larger familiars, as shown below.
|Dire rat||Master gains a +2 bonus on Fortitude saves|
|Leopard||Master gains a +2 bonus on Move Silently checks|
|Monitor lizard||Master gains +3 hit points|
|Owl (Medium)||Master gains a +2 bonus on Move Silently checks|
|Raven (Small)||Speaks one language|
|Viper snake (Medium)||—|
|Wolverine||Master gains a +2 bonus on Reflex saves|