House Rules and Clarifications

House Rules


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 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

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
Fox 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
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
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 +2 bonus on initiative checks
Spider, scarlet Master gains a +3 bonus on Climb 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.

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 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.

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, 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
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.

Int: The familiar's Intelligence score.

Alertness (Ex): While a familiar is within arm's reach, the master gains the Alertness feat.

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 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 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 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.

Improved Familiar

This feat allows you to acquire a powerful familiar, but only when you could normally acquire a new familiar.

Prerequisites: Ability to acquire a new familiar, compatible alignment, sufficiently high level (see below).

Benefit: When choosing a familiar, the creatures listed here are also available to you. You may choose a familiar with an alignment up to one step away on each alignment axis (lawful through chaotic, good through evil).

Improved familiars otherwise use the rules for regular familiars, with two exceptions: if the creature's type is something other than animal, its type does not change; and improved familiars do not gain the ability to speak with other creatures of their kind (although many of them already have the ability to communicate).

Table: Improved Familiars

Familiar Alignment Arcane Spellcaster Level
Arbiter (Inevitable) Lawful neutral 7th
Brownie Neutral 7th
Cacodaemon (Daemon) Neutral evil 7th
Cassisian (Angel) Neutral good 7th
Celestial Hawk1 Neutral good 3rd
Cythnigot (Qlippoth) Chaotic evil 7th
Dire Rat Neutral 3rd
Elemental, Small (any type) Neutral 5th
Entropic Monkey Chaotic neutral 3rd
Fiendish Viper1 Neutral evil 3rd
Homunculus2 Any 7th
Imp Lawful evil 7th
Lyrakie (Azata) Chaotic good 7th
Mephit (any type) Neutral 7th
Nosoi (Psychopomp) Neutral 7th
Nuglub Gremlin Chaotic evil 7th
Paracletus (Aeon) Neutral 7th
Pseudodragon Neutral good 7th
Quasit Chaotic evil 7th
Resolute Owl Lawful neutral 3rd
Silvanshee (Agathion) Neutral good 7th
Stirge Neutral 5th
Voidworm (Protean) Chaotic neutral 7th
1 Or other celestial, entropic, fiendish, or resolute animal from the standard familiar list.
2 The master must first create the homunculus.

Note: This chart has been updated according to the Ultimate Magic Appendix.

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