D&D 5E Familiars, what for?

beancounter

(I/Me/Mine)
Familiars are so squishy, that they are lucky to survive more than two turns in melee combat. So using them in combat while a viable option is extremely risky. I really struggle to see how they could cause a serious problem for DMs.
 

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Yes to this.

The spell literally says:
A familiar can't attack, but it can take other actions as normal.

Very odd to consider using a spell as intended as “abuse”.
It might not be abuse, but it is nonsensical. Granted, that's mostly because the help action itself works in fundamentally nonsensical way. Though the familiar not being able to attack makes it even more bizarre.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
It might not be abuse, but it is nonsensical. Granted, that's mostly because the help action itself works in fundamentally nonsensical way. Though the familiar not being able to attack makes it even more bizarre.

Having an owl flutter in your face is going to be very distracting even if it cannot inflict damage. Where I agree is that doing this (especially round after round) should be highly dangerous for the bird.
 

Having an owl flutter in your face is going to be very distracting even if it cannot inflict damage.
Is it? Compared to a huge goliath barbarian hitting you with several times with a great axe? Because that doesn't make you sufficiently distracted to warrant an advantage for your foes, so it is hard to imagine some fluttering bird or skittering frog would be more distracting.
 

It might not be abuse, but it is nonsensical. Granted, that's mostly because the help action itself works in fundamentally nonsensical way. Though the familiar not being able to attack makes it even more bizarre.
Don’t you think someone at the table could possibly come up with a narrative that makes a particular use of the Help action… make sense?

EDIT TO ADD: never mind - I see you’re going for the realism angle. Not going to find common ground on that.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Epic
Familiars are so squishy, that they are lucky to survive more than two turns in melee combat. So using them in combat while a viable option is extremely risky. I really struggle to see how they could cause a serious problem for DMs.
Part of the problem is that the owl has stealth perception darkvision & 60ft flight.

except it's fully autonomous & can still be manually controlled & has longer flight time
 
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Lyxen

Great Old One
Is it? Compared to a huge goliath barbarian hitting you with several times with a great axe? Because that doesn't make you sufficiently distracted to warrant an advantage for your foes, so it is hard to imagine some fluttering bird or skittering frog would be more distracting.

You are focussing on the barbarian, and the owl more or less comes out of the blue. That being said, the one thing that is really unrealistic in D&D is not familiars helping, it's the fact that having more than one adversary is not a hindrance at all (except for the optional flanking rule which is unfortunately stupid). In real combat, having more than one adversary is more or less instantly deadly, unless there is a huge difference in skill. Some games like Runequest simulate that really well, D&D, being designed to be heroic, totally ignores this, but for me it's much more the source of the problem than familiars helping.
 



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