D&D 5E Familiars, what for?

Lyxen

Great Old One
Really, I would never ask my familiar to help in combat anyways,

For me, it would be a really last chance option indeed.

I didn't even think that was the primary complaint about Familiars being able to take the Help action- if you make the right choices, getting advantage when you want it is pretty easy to do.

It depends, but I've seen people insist upon it (as part of a build), either with Hexblades or with Bladesinger for example.

It was more having the Familiar help with ability checks that I thought was the thing people were more concerned about. Hitting enemies in combat is what players are supposed to do!

Getting advantage on ability checks constantly would be more annoying than Guidance spam.

Especially with perception, which is an important skill in the game, one that some DMs find over-powerful.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
I don't know, there's this discussion about nerfing Darkvision, and every time I bring up the disadvantage to Perception, some people act like it's no big deal.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
I don't know, there's this discussion about nerfing Darkvision, and every time I bring up the disadvantage to Perception, some people act like it's no big deal.

I don't, because it's the one main counter to this problem, perfectly RAW. Note that I even had a player, on a forum, saying that the PP of the owl should have been written as 18, because it has keen senses. He was actually vexed when I pointed out that that advantage actually doesn't even exist at night or in darkness...
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Supporter
Though having advantage is still better than not in those cases, since it balances out the disadvantage. It's why Light Sensitivity wasn't a big deal thanks to Pack Tactics. Alas...
 

Cruentus

Adventurer
I don't know, there's this discussion about nerfing Darkvision, and every time I bring up the disadvantage to Perception, some people act like it's no big deal.
It really ends up depending on how often the party needs perception in the dungeon/house/castle/whatever using Darkvision. If using a module or adventure, it might come up more frequently. When I ran my game, and everyone had Darkvision or the Twilight super Darkvision, even the disadvantage came up infrequently, and I was tuned into it. Could have also been an issue with my encounter building/adventures as well.

Where it really bothered me was using a VTT with Line of Sight active. Everyone with Darkvision could see almost all of the maps, so no surprises there, and passive perceptions were fairly high, so hidden monsters or whatever ended up being rare as well (plus I had given out a Dagger of Warning early - stupid on my part), plus the Chain Warlock had his special Imp invisible flying familiar scouting ahead, and the Warlock with Devilsight Invocation out to 120 feet (normal vision in the dark). So yeah, it didn't matter.
 


It really ends up depending on how often the party needs perception in the dungeon/house/castle/whatever using Darkvision. If using a module or adventure, it might come up more frequently. When I ran my game, and everyone had Darkvision or the Twilight super Darkvision, even the disadvantage came up infrequently, and I was tuned into it. Could have also been an issue with my encounter building/adventures as well.

Where it really bothered me was using a VTT with Line of Sight active. Everyone with Darkvision could see almost all of the maps, so no surprises there, and passive perceptions were fairly high, so hidden monsters or whatever ended up being rare as well (plus I had given out a Dagger of Warning early - stupid on my part), plus the Chain Warlock had his special Imp invisible flying familiar scouting ahead, and the Warlock with Devilsight Invocation out to 120 feet (normal vision in the dark). So yeah, it didn't matter.

Not sure if this was your issue or not but….

On the VTT, start with monsters on the GM layer (Roll20) or hidden/invisible (Foundry) or whatevs (other VTTs). Then let the dice decide if the PCs spot the hiding monster or not rather than leaving it up to the actual screen sight lines - what we see on the screen is meant to be nothing more than an approximation of what the characters are really seeing.

TL;DR: don’t let the VTTs “video-game-ize” your TTRPG experience. They are a tool to aid game play, just like battlemats or graph paper. Nothing more.
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
I don't know, the -5 to passive Perception has served me well as a DM.

Exactly the same with me.

Be shocked what people can blunder into if they are too stingy to cast a light spell.

Sometimes, it's not a question of stinginess, though, it's also about not wanting to be seen, which is a normal concern. I have spent a lot of time into LARPs at night without a light, because it's way too easy to be detected when you are carrying one. Makes things harder, but also a lot more fun, and completely changes the way you go on about things. And one of the best memories I have is about a LARP in which the adversaries were clever enough to patrol the paths without any light themselves, they got the drop on almost anyone else just by moving silently as groups along the path. Nasty surprises when you are yourself trying to sneak, just cross a path and get surprised by 6 barbarians with axes... :)
 

Lyxen

Great Old One
On the VTT, start with monsters on the GM layer (Roll20) or hidden/invisible (Foundry) or whatevs (other VTTs). Then let the dice decide if the PCs spot the hiding monster or not rather than leaving it up to the actual screen sight lines - what we see on the screen is meant to be nothing more than an approximation of what the characters are really seeing.

Exactly this. Although the VTTs have evolved and take many more things into account than previously, lighting and vision are very complex, and you should rely on the old trick of not placing the miniature on the board when you are not sure that a PC has detected it. :)
 

ad_hoc

(they/them)
The thing is that the help action is in two sections, one general part and a combat part:
  • General part: Sometimes two or more characters team up to attempt a task. The character who’s leading the effort — or the one with the highest ability modifier — can make an ability check with advantage, reflecting the help provided by the other characters. In combat, this requires the Help action (see chapter 9, “Combat”). A character can only provide help if the task is one that he or she could attempt alone. For example, trying to open a lock requires proficiency with thieves’ tools, so a character who lacks that proficiency can’t help another character in that task.
  • Combat part (referenced by the general part), the Help Action: You can lend your aid to another creature in the completion of a task. When you take the Help action, the creature you aid gains advantage on the next ability check it makes to perform the task you are helping with, provided that it makes the check before the start of your next turn. Alternatively, you can aid a friendly creature in attacking a creature within 5 feet of you. You feint, distract the target, or in some other way team up to make your ally’s attack more effective. If your ally attacks the target before your next turn, the first attack roll is made with advantage.
Since the general part is in the "Using Ability Scores section", it is meant to refer to just that, and deferring to the combat part for the more specific rules of helping in combat. The Help Action is more specific, therefore takes precedence, and is not about an ability check anyway, it's "Alternatively, you can aid a friendly creature in attacking a creature within 5 feet of you" and doesn't require being able to attack.

This has been clarified in Sage Advice and included in the Sage Advice Compendium which is part of the official rules anyway.

That does not mean that you cannot rule otherwise, but the official RAW are (now, since the SAC is part of them) clear.

I understand that and yes one references the other.

They are not seperate.

I said originally that I am in the camp who sees it as rules abuse.

I recognize others don't.

I brought it up once at my table and everyone of them thought it was absurd too and wouldn't even think to try it.

But other people play differently. I get it.
 

Remove ads

Top