(Yet another) Improved familiar feat



For various reasons, I've decided to give the Improved familiar feat a go. The general idea behind the feat was to both give the access to the familiar to spellcasting classes other than warlock and wizard, and to boost the familiar to more closely resemble the familiars of previous editions.

The non-warlocks and non-wizards can already obtain the find familiar spell via Magic initiate and Ritual caster feats, but those feats provide benefits other than just giving you the ability to summon the familiar. If the player just wants the familiar, that seems a bit of a waste.

I've tried to provide the benefits of this feat that could be useful to any character that gets a familiar through any means (so, Pact of the Chain warlocks also benefit from taking the feat), but the benefits themselves don't seem unbalanced to me (although I'm far from being an expert). That's why it doesn't expand (much) on the list of available familiars, but the DM can still allow other familiars for players (imps, quasits, pseudodragons, etc.).


Prerequisite: Ability to cast find familiar; or ability to cast at least one spell and character level 8 or higher

You can cast find familiar, but only as a ritual.

The familiar you summon gains additional features, in addition to those described in the spell:
  • Its hit point maximum equals to one-half of your hit point maximum. It is considered to have Hit Dice equal to yours for any effects that might depend on the number of Hit Dice;
  • The familiar can use its Attack action to make an attack. It uses the attack options appropriate for its form (as listed in its stat block). If the familiar does not normally have an attack option (i.e. frog or sea horse), it gains a bite or claws attack which deals 1 hp of piercing or slashing damage (as appropriate) ;
  • It adds your proficiency bonus to AC, attack rolls, and damage rolls, as well as to any special effects DCs (such as the poisonous snake’s poison), saving throws and skills it is proficient in.
  • It gains Intelligence score equal to 4 plus your proficiency bonus. [Optional hindrance: Its Intelligence score cannot exceed yours.]
  • It can speak one language of your choice that you can speak;
  • You can communicate telepathically with your familiar while it is within 1 mile of your location.
  • Casting this spell again restores all hit points to the familiar and removes any conditions. This works even if the familiar is not dead or hidden in the pocket dimension.
You add badger, scorpion and spider to the list of familiars you can summon. Your DM might allow other forms the familiar might take beside the ones listed in the find familiar spell.

I've considered alternative options for some of the features listed, such as adding only one-half of proficiency bonus to AC, for example, or the character's proficiency bonus replacing that of the familiar (instead of just adding it to existing attributes), but these seemed unnecessarily fiddly for something that will not have too much effect.

The only thing I'm still a bit wary of is the allowing the familiar to make attacks. Attack action sort of breaks the action economy in 5e, in that neither the ranger’s companion nor the chainlock’s familiar get to use the Attack action independent from their masters. Paladin’s steed, on the other hand, gets its attacks normally. The attacks available to the familiar with this feat are generally minor (1 hp damage), and should not imbalance the game. However, the ability to attack independently nicely boosts the chainlocks familiar (which can cause a more pronounced effect on the game, especially at lower levels).

I'm curious to see what other think.

Thanks in advance!


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I think the 8th level requirement eliminates most of the concerns. The chainlock has had 5 levels of fighting familiar specialness, and at 8th level, the fighting familiar probably isn't fighting that much anyway. Actually the chainlock would do well to take this feat, as it adds a little bit of offda to their special familiars.


Thanks for the comments! As currently written, the chainlock could take this feat at 4th level. But, using a feat to improve your familiar might be a fair trade-off for skipping either the ability score increase or the benefits the character could directly gain by taking another feat.

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