5E Familiars!

Azzy

Cyclone Ranger
Reading a certain other threadbrought my feeling to the fore of the topic of familiars in 5e.

Now, for the most part, I find 5e's rules for familiars okay. However...

I don't like that the familiar is a spirit rather than a normal creature of its ilk. The spirit thing is neat, but for me it's not as cool as bonding with an actual creature.

I don't like that the familiar can't attack. I know, chainlocks have this as a special ability, but meh—they have access to more powerful familiars early on, and most familiars aren't exactly deadly opponents. Like the above, this is mostly just a "feel" thing.

I don't like that non-chainlocks are limited to familars certain familiars. Sure, I get the chainlock has special access to more powerful critters and that's cool. However, I think that casters of other classes should be able to take more powerful creatures, too, at higher levels (that preserves some of the chainlock's specialness). I mean, why shouldn't a 10th-level wizard have a pseudodragon familiar (like they could in some previous editions)?

Yes, these are just my feelings and, sure, I can houserule to hell and back. But these are things that I find disappointing in an edition that I am mostly satisfied with (there are other small things like this that I can whinge on about, but they're all pretty minor). So, here I am ranting online. :D

But that brings me to you guys... What are your thoughts and feelings concerning familiars in this edition and how they size up with your experiences and feelings of previous editions and your expectations of how they should work?
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
Reading a certain other threadbrought my feeling to the fore of the topic of familiars in 5e.

Now, for the most part, I find 5e's rules for familiars okay. However...

I don't like that the familiar is a spirit rather than a normal creature of its ilk. The spirit thing is neat, but for me it's not as cool as bonding with an actual creature.

I don't like that the familiar can't attack. I know, chainlocks have this as a special ability, but meh—they have access to more powerful familiars early on, and most familiars aren't exactly deadly opponents. Like the above, this is mostly just a "feel" thing.

I don't like that non-chainlocks are limited to familars certain familiars. Sure, I get the chainlock has special access to more powerful critters and that's cool. However, I think that casters of other classes should be able to take more powerful creatures, too, at higher levels (that preserves some of the chainlock's specialness). I mean, why shouldn't a 10th-level wizard have a pseudodragon familiar (like they could in some previous editions)?

Yes, these are just my feelings and, sure, I can houserule to hell and back. But these are things that I find disappointing in an edition that I am mostly satisfied with (there are other small things like this that I can whinge on about, but they're all pretty minor). So, here I am ranting online. :D

But that brings me to you guys... What are your thoughts and feelings concerning familiars in this edition and how they size up with your experiences and feelings of previous editions and your expectations of how they should work?
What I think you may be missing is you **can** go find certain creatures and bond to them as familiars. It's just the easy peasy first level sprll that locks in the "fauxmiliar" thing. Check the MM.
 

iserith

Magic Wordsmith
I think familiars are fine in D&D 5e. Useful scouts, helpful allies for attacking, and fun to cast spells through.

I try not to let my experiences with other editions of the game influence how I feel about this edition.
 
My distaste for familiars is their use in combat to gain advantage. The special familiars are fine in combat (actually their a bit weak from what I've heard), but using a house cat to "help" an attack is incredibly stupid IMO. I suppose it might be mechanically fine, but the image of it bugs the grouch old man in me. I remember when having a familiar dying actually hurt you, rather than being an annoyance.
 

TarionzCousin

Second Most Angelic Devil Ever
My distaste for familiars is their use in combat to gain advantage. The special familiars are fine in combat (actually their a bit weak from what I've heard), but using a house cat to "help" an attack is incredibly stupid IMO.
I think your experience with house cats has been different than my experience. #littlekillers
 
It bugs me that familiars are only as smart as their mundane type. I think they should have an Int of, at least, 6. Like a Paladin's mount.
 

Mistwell

Legend
My distaste for familiars is their use in combat to gain advantage. The special familiars are fine in combat (actually their a bit weak from what I've heard), but using a house cat to "help" an attack is incredibly stupid IMO. I suppose it might be mechanically fine, but the image of it bugs the grouch old man in me. I remember when having a familiar dying actually hurt you, rather than being an annoyance.
It's not a house cat. It's a magical spirit shapeshifted temporarily into the form of a house cat.
 
My feeling about Familiars is something similar to a how someone else feels about Gnome Paladins with or without their Rapiers. Now as spirits they just keep coming back no matter how many times I kill the damn things.
 

dnd4vr

Keeper of the Seven Keys
But that brings me to you guys... What are your thoughts and feelings concerning familiars in this edition and how they size up with your experiences and feelings of previous editions and your expectations of how they should work?
Yeah, very disappointed with how they handled familiars in 5E. We house-ruled a new description for the spell, and I even wrote up a Brownie familiar as a new special familiar type:

Find Familiar

Conjuration
Casting Time: 1 hour (Ritual)
Range: 10 feet
Components: V, S, M (10gp charcoal, incense, herbs; consumed by brass brazier's fire)
Duration: Special

An animal becomes your familiar, obeying your commands, though it is still an independent creature. You can choose any animal that is a Tiny Beast with a CR 0.

It has the appearance and statistics of the animal form you choose, but has minimum hit points equal to your level and uses your proficiency bonus in place of its own. Your familiar gains a bonus to its AC and all saves equal to your proficiency bonus. Its minimum Intelligence is equal to your spellcasting modifier.

You can attempt to summon a special familiar instead of an animal. Make a DC 20 check using your spellcasting modifier when you cast the spell. You can only attempt to summon a special familiar once every three months. If you succeed you can summon a Brownie, Pseudodragon, Sprite, Quasit, or Imp.

Your familiar acts on your initiative and you can command it to move verbally. You can spend your bonus action to verbally order your familiar to Attack, Dash, Disengage, Dodge, or Help. Any spells you cast on yourself can benefit your familiar if you choose. You familiar can also be a target for any of your spells.

You can telepathically communicate with your familiar and as an action you can see and hear what it does until the start of your next turn. If your familiar has any special senses, you also gain the benefits of those senses while you are seeing or hearing through it. While doing so, your body is blind and deaf. You can also cast spells with a range of touch through your familiar as if it has cast them itself, but you must be within 100 feet of it and the familiar uses its reaction to cast the spell. Otherwise the spell is cast as if you had done so yourself.

After a long rest, you gain temporary hit points equal to your level while your familiar is within 1 mile of you. If your familiar is further away or dies, you lose any remaining temporary hit points from this feature. If your familiar dies, you suffer one level of exhaustion and you cannot summon a new familiar until you recover that level of exhaustion.

And here is the Brownie:

Brownie.png
 

Prakriti

Hi, I'm a Mindflayer, but don't let that worry you
I don't like that the Familiar and the Revised Ranger's Beast Companion are both basically immortal. If it dies in combat, you can just re-summon it afterwards. Pfft...

IMO, the death of a beloved pet is a ripe roleplaying opportunity, and it should be part of the game. So should the rewarding experience of keeping a fragile animal companion alive for a whole campaign.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
It bugs me that familiars are only as smart as their mundane type. I think they should have an Int of, at least, 6. Like a Paladin's mount.
I agree. They should also have minor benefits for their master for crafting alchemical items, maybe reduce ritual casting time, act as an arcane focus, etc, maybe even be able to remember stuff for you.

A wizqrd’s familiar should be an aid to them in their Arcane endeavors, not just scouting and fighting.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
I don't like that the Familiar and the Revised Ranger's Beast Companion are both basically immortal. If it dies in combat, you can just re-summon it afterwards. Pfft...

IMO, the death of a beloved pet is a ripe roleplaying opportunity, and it should be part of the game. So should the rewarding experience of keeping a fragile animal companion alive for a whole campaign.

Any character can get a pet.
 
Reading a certain other threadbrought my feeling to the fore of the topic of familiars in 5e.

Now, for the most part, I find 5e's rules for familiars okay. However...

I don't like that the familiar is a spirit rather than a normal creature of its ilk. The spirit thing is neat, but for me it's not as cool as bonding with an actual creature.
I like it. It's more consistent with folklore on which it is based: a witches familiar is a devil in animal form. And it means the familiar isn't a liability that is permakilled by the first AoE spell that comes your way.

I don't like that the familiar can't attack.

It helps balance out small critters, so no big deal. Familiars are not meant to be warriors.

I know, chainlocks have this as a special ability, but meh—they have access to more powerful familiars early on, and most familiars aren't exactly deadly opponents. Like the above, this is mostly just a "feel" thing.

I don't like that non-chainlocks are limited to familars certain familiars. Sure, I get the chainlock has special access to more powerful critters and that's cool. However, I think that casters of other classes should be able to take more powerful creatures, too, at higher levels (that preserves some of the chainlock's specialness). I mean, why shouldn't a 10th-level wizard have a pseudodragon familiar (like they could in some previous editions)?

Yes, these are just my feelings and, sure, I can houserule to hell and back. But these are things that I find disappointing in an edition that I am mostly satisfied with (there are other small things like this that I can whinge on about, but they're all pretty minor). So, here I am ranting online. :D

But that brings me to you guys... What are your thoughts and feelings concerning familiars in this edition and how they size up with your experiences and feelings of previous editions and your expectations of how they should work?
It would be nice to have some more options for warlocks, and an "improved familiar" feat for others. As a DM I would probably allow pretty much anything reasonable.
 

dnd4vr

Keeper of the Seven Keys
I don't like that the Familiar and the Revised Ranger's Beast Companion are both basically immortal. If it dies in combat, you can just re-summon it afterwards. Pfft...

IMO, the death of a beloved pet is a ripe roleplaying opportunity, and it should be part of the game. So should the rewarding experience of keeping a fragile animal companion alive for a whole campaign.
That was why we got rid of the fey, celestial, or fiend spirit stuff, and imposed the level of exhaustion when the familiar dies.
 

5ekyu

Adventurer
Any character can get a pet.
Yes, just like characters can get special faniliars.

I draw a distinct line between "class features" (and the like) including spells and the broader issues of companions etc. "Class features" may have some upkeep and baggage, restrictions etc, but they are not the same thing as the party just having now folks to love.

Then again, for my own Stonesinger, she sees it as calling Shadow ( her bat familiar) back.
 
Seriously. Our one cat, a former feral, once took both her claws to my leg in a series of strikes. There was screaming. There was blood.

On the subject of familiars, as I said in the other thread, I think I'd prefer a little more granularity in the experience you get from different familiars and a little more consequence to losing one.

I think your experience with house cats has been different than my experience. #littlekillers
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
That was why we got rid of the fey, celestial, or fiend spirit stuff, and imposed the level of exhaustion when the familiar dies.
That seems really extreme for the loss of a pet that barely does anything.

Do you let it help with things other than scouting and using Help in combat?
 
I

Immortal Sun

Guest
IMO, the death of a beloved pet is a ripe roleplaying opportunity, and it should be part of the game. So should the rewarding experience of keeping a fragile animal companion alive for a whole campaign.
Familiars and animal companions have been notoriously squishy. Which is one reason I don't like the idea that they can "help" in combat, but I've never found it terribly fun to get an animal companion, love it, train it...only to have it take a couple bad crits and die...just so that I can then not have a familiar for a like a year AND take some XP penalties. That was FUN. NOT.

Roleplaying out the death of a familiar is great and all, no issue there. And even if it's a spirit taking the form of an animal, it might not want to serve you again if you got it killed. So add a little RP fluff and you end up with the same result, a dead friend who may not be interested in coming back.

----

Personally, I really like the way 5E familiars work. Sure, I wouldn't mind an "Improved Familiar" feat or a mildly expanded list (though I thought there was an "ask your DM" list already?). But overall they're a a pet with some special uses that you have to make some effort to take care of. You might not have the materials and time to bring them back!
 
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Imposing exhaustion is a nice drawback, actually. It’s temporary and can represent a combination of a loss of power that happens when your connection to your familiar is ripped apart as well as a the grief that might go along.

It might be even worse if you are looking through the familiar’s eyes when it dies. That would be jarring.

One long rest to recover and regain the lost arcane potential is a small cost, I think.

I might not allow you to summon a new one until the level of exhaustion is recovered. Or go the opposite and say that resummoning also recovers your level of exhaustion.
 
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