View Full Version : 4th Ed Familiar Rules

2009-01-26, 02:56 PM
I've been playing with the same group of guys for a long time, since 3.5. They were very disappointed when they disovered that there were no familiars in 4th ed. The ones who used familairs, always found interesting ways to make use of them, so I decided to create some rules to bring them into 4th ed.

I developed the following set of rules with the help of the community at dnd4.com. I think they need some further revision, so I thought I would bring them to this fine community for some more help!


Empathic Link: The master has an empathic link with the familiar out to a distance of 1 mile. The master cannot see out of the familiar's eyes, but the two of them can communicate telepathically. The familiar's lower intelligence score limits what it can communicate and understand, and since it is a creature it perceives the world differently from humanoids. The familiar becomes a Magical creature and is affected normally by all powers that affect the Magical keyword.
The familiar uses its master's 1/2 level for determining all mods and powers, as long as the master's 1/2 level is greater.

Speak With Master: The familiar and master can communicate verbally and understand each other as if they were speaking a common language, due to the empathic link. Other creatures cannot understand the communication outside of magical means.

Speak With Animals of its Type: The familiar can communicate with animals of its approximate type. The conversation is limited by the intelligence score of the conversing creatures.

Share Spell: When you cast a utility spell your familiar gets the same benefits if it is within 1 square of you at the time of casting, or you can spend a minor action to confer the benefit to your familiar if it is within 5 squares.

Channel Power: When you cast a spell with the Close keyword, you can spend an additional minor action to cast the spell through your familiar- the spell's point of original is the square your familiar occupies.

Familiar Defenses: The familiar uses its own ability mod scores for determining defenses, but adds its master's 1/2 level bonus (if greater than the familiar's). Any other defense aspects are normal for a creature of that type.

Familiar Health: When you gain a new level, your Familiar's hit points increase by 1/2 of your hitpoint gain. The familiar has healing surges equal to those of a creature of the same type. If that creature has no healing surges, then the familiar has 1/2 the number of healing surges its master has. Surges restore 1/4 of the familiar's total hitpoints, not the master's.

Familiar Skills: The familiar retains the skills of a creature of the same type, but uses the master's 1/2 level (if greater).

Attacks: The familiar uses its own attack bonuses, but adds its master's 1/2 level bonus (if greater than the familiar's). Damage equals that of a normal creature of that type.
The master can spend a minor action to order his familiar to use a basic attack against a target. The master must spend a standard or move action to order his familiar to use a Power against a target. The familiar can only use powers that are normal for creatures of its type. The familiar may move away from the target for free after completing its attack, but only until it reaches its maximum speed for the round. Example: the familiar has a speed of 6. It must travel 4 squares to attack a target. After the attack is completed, it may move the remaining 2 squares away.

Damage: The familiar takes damage against its hit points as normal for a creature of the same type.

Familiar Death: If a familiar falls unconscious in combat, then the most recent attack roll against the familiar is applied agains the master. If the attack is successful, the master instantly takes psychic damage equal to the damage just dealt to the familiar and is dazed. If the attack misses, no damage is dealt and the master is not dazed.
The master may use his second wind to revitalize the familiar, but only if he has not used it this encounter. Otherwise a successful heal check, per the Death and Dying rules, must be used to revive the familiar.
If the familiar fails his death saves and dies, then the familiar makes an attack against the master's will defense, dealing psychic damage equal to 1/2 the familiar's total hitpoints and is dazed. On Miss the master takes 1/2 damage and is not dazed. If the familiar is brought back from the dead (example: Raise Dead), then the Empathic Link is restored. If the familiar is not brought back, then the master cannot summon another familiar for 2d6 weeks.

Dismissing a Familiar: It is possible for a master to dismiss his familiar, but doing so can be very costly if the parting is not agreed upon by both the master and the familiar.
If the master wishes to forcably dismiss his familiar, then the familiar makes 2 attacks against the master
s will defense. The first attack deals psychic damage equal to the familiar's total hitpoints(Miss deals half damage)- this is from the pain of severing the empathic link. The second attack, if successful, causes the character to incur a permanent -2 penalty to Intelligence (Save prevents).
Once the familiar has been dismissed it will immediately leave its master and seek a new life for itself. The familiar is still considered a magical creature of the same type. The master cannot summon another familiar for 2d6 weeks.


Summon Familiar

Level: 1
Category: Binding
Time: Special
Duration: Special
Component Cost: 50gp
Market Price: 200gp
Key Skill: Arcana

This ritual requires that your character be able to use Arcane powers.
You target a non-hostile, natural animal that lives within 2 miles of your current location. The farther away the creature is, the longer the ritual must last. You can choose the type of animal you wish to summon as your familiar. You can target natural animals of your same level or lower for free. To target an animal 1 level higher than you requires an Arcana check of 15. To target an animal 2 levels higher than you requires an Arcana check of 17. It is impossible to target any animal more than 2 levels higher than you for this ritual.
Once you have successfully targeted an animal, you must make an Arcana skill check to convince the animal to become your familiar. If the check fails, then you must target a different animal. You can target a different animal of the same type if you wish, but if the animal's level is higher than yours the same Arcana checks apply.
Once you have successfully convinced an animal to become your familiar, it will immediately set out to meet you at your current location. Once the animal reaches you, you can complete the ritual that binds the two of you together. This adds an extra half-hour to the time it took for the familiar to travel to your location.
When the ritual is complete, the animal becomes your familiar and you both are bound together by a powerful empathic link (see Familiar Rules for full details on adventuring with your familiar). You are linked to your familiar for life. If your familiar dies, then you must wait 2d6 weeks before you can cast this ritual again.

2009-01-26, 03:58 PM
That looks great. Although, does the DM need to roll for the distance of the creature or something? If so, how?

2009-01-26, 04:12 PM
That looks great. Although, does the DM need to roll for the distance of the creature or something? If so, how?

There are a few different aspects of the rules that rely on distance, so can you please be more specific? Which one do you think the DM would need to roll for?

2009-01-29, 02:06 PM
I'd go with:
1> A feat to get something of this kind of power,
2> The ritual is used to summon/replace a familiar.


I'd also go with the "a familiar is a spirit in the form of an animal", rather than an animal bonded to you. This would justify using more unified stats for your familiar. Use something like the Beastmaster ranger table for different kinds of familiars.

Make the familiar a pseudo-minion. Give it 1/2 the HP of the master. When it takes damage, 1/2 of the damage is moved to the master as psychic damage. If the damage moved to the master is resisted for whatever reason, it applies to the familiar.

Familiar KO and Death should cost a healing surge from the master.

Familiar gets a move action when you get a move action.

Familiar attack should be nominal (Dex+3 vs AC, 2/4/6 at heroic/paragon/epic).

Burst/Blast powers that target both you and the familiar should auto-miss the familiar.

You cannot "spend a minor action" when someone casts a spell on you. Just make it automatic.

Each familiar type would have it's own skill and it's own advantages.

When you are healed, you should be able to heal the familiar the same amount free of charge.


One issue is that a non-crippled familiar is probably better than a single feat (let alone the OP's 0 feat cost). What if you made familiars a "multi-class" feat path, like whip specialization?

Create powers you can swap in that does something with the familiar. The initial feat can also be more powerful.