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    Default Celestial, Fey, and Fiend: A Guide to Familiar Keeping

    Familiar Guide


    Note: Image not mine.

    So you want a familiar? Well, congratulations; you've made a good choice. Familiars are a versatile, fun, and useful way to gain some more abilities, and getting one isn't hard. In this guide, I'll be reviewing all possible familiars, as well as some of the strategies they can be part of.

    I'll be using the common color-code system.

    Great - Some of the best options in the game. Always consider them.
    Good - You won't regret those options. Still, picking something else is no disaster.
    Reasonable - Not bad, but there's probably something better.
    Bad - Do you really need this? A few niche builds might be able to make use of a purple option, but you should probably just avoid them.
    Horrible - No. Avoid like you'd avoid a weekly game of FATAL.


    Classes that give a familiar:
    Spoiler
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    Bard Giving up one of your magical secrets for a 1st-level spell? Yeah, no. Note that you can be an effective familiar-using bard; you just need to find another way to do it.

    Fighter (Eldritch Knight) Not a bad option. Plus, it is arguably possible to cast FF, exchange it for another spell when you level up, and keep the familiar, as long as you prevent it from getting killed.

    Rogue (Arcane Trickster) About the same as Eldritch Knight. Note, though, that your familiar is less useful out-of-combat when you're a skillmonkey yourself.

    Warlock (Chain) The undisputed best when it comes to familiars. Four new forms with great abilities and a handful of ways to buff them even further? Yes please.

    Warlock (Book of Ancient Secrets) Technically, there's a second way for warlocks to get a familiar. You'd probably take this invocation anyway if you were going PotT, so I guess this is a pretty good option.

    Wizard The only class that gets Find Familiar on its spell list. Note that conjurers will have a much beefier familiar than other wizards, and might even want to use it as meat shield. Ask your DM if you can find another wizard with Find Familiar in his spellbook, rather than spend your own resources on learning it.


    Feats that give a familiar
    Spoiler
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    Magic Initiate More ability-dependent than Ritual Caster, but by picking cantrips without saving throw/attack roll or having decent intelligence this gets much better. Note that you are restricted to the wizard version of this feat.

    Ritual Caster Definitely the better of the two feats if you want a familiar. It requires some intelligence or wisdom, though.


    List of normal familiars:
    Spoiler
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    Bat Blindsight is the only real selling point here, though if your DM rules Keen Hearing enhances it it becomes better. If the idea of invisible assassins creeps you out for some reason; who am I to stop you?

    Cat No real reason to pick this. Its high speed might come in handy sometimes, and in some areas it can easily blend in.

    Crab Blindsight that's worse than the bat's and a swim speed worse than the octopus'. No.

    Frog More or less the same as a crab. At least you're stealthier.

    Hawk Fast flier with great perception. A decent aerial scout.

    Lizard Slow, easy to kill, and with bad perception and stealth. Why would anyone want this?

    Octopus A great scout for when you're underwater. Note that Ink Cloud isn't an attack, so you can enjoy heavy obscuration (is that a word?) all combat long.

    Owl Perhaps the best of all standard familiars. Long-range darkvision, a high flying speed, proficiencies where you need them, and on top of all that they've got Flyby.

    Poisonous snake I like it as a downtime form, seeing you can just milk its poison all day long. Taking it on adventures is less interesting, though.

    Quipper Blood Frenzy can get that important spell to hit, and it's got a high swim speed. Not bad, though I wouldn't pick it over the octopus in most situations.

    Rat I too enjoy fragile scavengers without real merits.

    Raven Mimicry makes this perhaps the most versatile of all familiars. Bonus points if you fluff it as a parrot.

    Sea horse Because you don't need to have attacks, skill proficiencies, and the ability to breathe air if you want to be a viable familiar. Oh wait, you do.

    Spider Is being able to climb webs important to you? If it isn't, forget about this option.

    Weasel The stealthiest of all familiars, and a good perception score to go with it.


    List of chain pact familiars
    Spoiler
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    Imp A great pick! Three different animal forms, great skill proficiencies, darkvision, invisibility... there's just so much this gives you. Not to mention that depending on your DM, you might be able to harvest the imp's poison.

    Pseudodragon This sadly isn't as good as the other improved familiars. Apart from being a flying telepathy beacon, this familiar just can't keep up with the others at higher levels.

    Quasit Much like the imp, a very good choice (though I'd say the imp is still better). Remember that Scare doesn't count as an attack, so it can use it without you having to give up your actions.

    Sprite A very nice choice. Aside from the obscene stealth modifier, you get to know a creature's alignment and emotions (and arguably, if it's a celestial, fey, or fiend).


    What to use your familiar for?

    There are a few interesting and creative strategies that can make a familiar very useful.

    Death from Above
    Get a flying familiar (preferably imp), and have it carry as much acid, alchemist's fire, or rocks covered in contact poison (if imp) you are willing to buy. An imp should be able to carry 45 pounds, a bat or raven 15, an owl 22.5, and a hawk 32.5. A flash of acid weighs a single pound. In other words, by giving your imp a bag filled with acid, then letting him pour the entire bag on whatever poor fellow is below him, you deal up to 90d6 points of damage.
    Pros: Lots of damage, little risk to familiar.
    Cons: Might count as an attack, DM will probably reduce damage, expensive.

    Flight of the Halfling
    A halfling or gnome can weigh as little as 37 pounds; eight pounds below an imp's carrying capacity. By having your imp carry you, you gain an effective flight speed of 60 feet.
    Pros: It's at-will, resource-free flight available from level 3 on.
    Cons: You better hope that imp doesn't get attacked. Taking equipment with you won't be easy either.

    Scout
    Many familiars have excellent stealth modifiers and special senses/movement modes. This makes them excellent scouts.
    Pros: Information on what you're going to face is valuable.
    Cons: If anything notices your familiar, it's probably going to die.

    Helping Hands Claws/Talons/Tentacles
    Your familiar can't attack. It can, however, take the Help action. This trick is especially useful for EK's and AT's.
    Pros: Advantage on all of your attacks. Need I say more?
    Cons: Melee isn't an ideal place for anything with single-digit HP.

    Surprise debuff
    Have the sneakiest familiar you can summon sneak up to an enemy, cast a deliberating spell, and attack before the spell can run out. Getting a surprise round is much easier this way. Small issue; your familiar will most likely die.
    Pros: Easy surprise round.
    Cons: Costs 10 GP.

    Break the Economy! (poison)
    Summon a poisonous familiar during downtime, and continuously milk its venom (or better, have the ranger/druid do so). Next, sell the venom to whatever interested buyer you can find. If the familiar runs out of poison, recast Find Familiar to turn it into a new form, essentially replenishing its poison. Afterwards, recast Find Familiar to get something more suited to adventuring.
    Pros: Easy way of making money, safe.
    Cons: Illegal in most areas, finding buyers can be hard

    Break the Economy! (armor and weapons) (warlock only)
    Summon a sprite and strip it of its armor and weapons. Recast Find Familiar, and repeat. Sell the weapons and armor to any buyers you can find.
    Pros: Easy way of making money, safe
    Cons: Finding buyers will be very hard



    If anyone has any suggestions on how to add to, improve, or correct this guide, please post them!
    Last edited by Inevitability; 2015-12-30 at 01:54 PM.
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    WhiteWizardGirl

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    Default Re: Celestial, Fey, and Fiend: A Guide to Familiar Keeping

    I think you need to add to tactics:

    Espionage
    Familiars like Spiders, Bats and Rats(or invisible Imps) aren't likely going to be attacked by anyone really, maybe a bartender in his tavern. You can send your familiar to the enemy camp, use it to get some information(Blindsense of the spider is useful in that), and then let it report back. It's easier than to send the Corpse, and it saves you a lot of blood if you use it right.
    A raven would be also useful, because he can Mimicry sound, so he can send what people say to you using his telepathic bond.
    Pro's:
    Cheap espionage, little chance of failure
    Con's:
    You're familiar might get distracted while on it's mission, it might get lost, costs you a spell.
    Last edited by ImSAMazing; 2015-12-22 at 03:50 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by RodrigoAlves
    Once a player almost fell into a trap full of spikes. He asked me "how much damage would a spike do?"
    I said "Instant death"
    Then, he grabbed a spike and used it as a weapon for the rest of the adventure.

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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Celestial, Fey, and Fiend: A Guide to Familiar Keeping

    psuedodragon's blindsight with voice of the chain master makes you unblindable, so that's probably better than sprite, not to mention keen senses and faster flying... really you only miss out on invisibility for it, but that's not exactly deal breaking.

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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Celestial, Fey, and Fiend: A Guide to Familiar Keeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Dire_Stirge View Post
    [CENTER]Familiar Guide


    Death from Above
    Get a flying familiar (preferably imp), and have it carry as much acid, alchemist's fire, or rocks covered in contact poison (if imp) you are willing to buy. An imp should be able to carry 90 pounds, a bat or raven 30, an owl 45, and a hawk 65. A flash of acid weighs a single pound. In other words, by giving your imp a bag filled with acid, then letting him pour the entire bag on whatever poor fellow is below him, you deal up to 180d6 points of damage.
    Pros: Lots of damage, little risk to familiar.
    Cons: Might count as an attack, DM will probably reduce damage, expensive.
    PHB p. 176: "Size and Strength. Larger creatures can bear more weight, whereas Tiny creatures can carry less. For each size category above Medium, double the creature's carrying capacity and the amount it can push, drag, or lift. For a Tiny creature, halve these weights."

    Your carrying capacities are incorrect. You have to halve them.

    Fun trick though - Average Halfling/Gnome weight is 40 pounds. Even halved, the Imp can carry 45 pounds. Aka, level 1 flight mechanic (albeit at half speed) at all times by having the Imp pick up the Halfling/Gnome.
    Last edited by RulesJD; 2015-12-22 at 05:24 PM.

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    RogueGuy

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    Default Re: Celestial, Fey, and Fiend: A Guide to Familiar Keeping

    Bear in mind that the aquatic forms are there for when you know you need your familiar to be able to breathe underwater, which will normally come up at least once in your adventuring career. I think it would be more useful to rate those forms based on their effectiveness in the niche they are intended for rather than general purpose use.

    In particular, the quipper is very handy. Its Blood Frenzy ability also applies to melee spell attacks, making it easier to land those few spells that rely on them. Normally you have to choose between attacking at a safe distance via your familiar and attacking up close with them granting you advantage, but with the quipper you can get both. (The spider has a similar niche use, in that you can cast Web and then have the spider enter the webs to cast touch spells on the restrained creatures with advantage.)

    It might sound like a niche benefit, but some wizards will take Shocking Grasp as their only damaging cantrip and rely on an owl familiar to deliver it much of the time, and the quipper form allows you to keep that tactic up underwater with increased effectiveness (especially given that metal armour will be less common in that environment).


    On a different note, would you consider adding a section on the spells that can be delivered via familiar (i.e. those with a range of touch) and which classes that can get familiars can use them?

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    Default Re: Celestial, Fey, and Fiend: A Guide to Familiar Keeping

    Quote Originally Posted by ImSAMazing View Post
    You're familiar might get distracted while on it's mission, it might get lost, costs you a spell.
    You can dismiss your familiar to its pocket dimension from any distance with an action and then bring it right back next to you with another action.

    Quote Originally Posted by Foxhound438 View Post
    psuedodragon's blindsight with voice of the chain master makes you unblindable, so that's probably better than sprite, not to mention keen senses and faster flying... really you only miss out on invisibility for it, but that's not exactly deal breaking.
    Are you suggesting that you don't have to take an action to perceive through its senses as is typical? I could see how you might interpret the invocation's wording that way but is that a typical interpretation? Has it been confirmed by anyone?
    Last edited by Dalebert; 2015-12-22 at 11:39 PM.
    If you cast Dispel Magic on my Gust of Wind, does that mean you're disgusting?

    In real estate, they say it's all about location, location, location. In D&D I say it's about action economy, action economy, action economy.

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    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: Celestial, Fey, and Fiend: A Guide to Familiar Keeping

    Has there ever been an official ruling on what happens to items carried by the familiar when it's sent to its pocket dimension? Because familiars are potentially the best small item thieves/teleporters in the game.

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    Ettin in the Playground
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    Default Re: Celestial, Fey, and Fiend: A Guide to Familiar Keeping

    the bat basically has advantage to any perception checks made using echolocation, which makes a mediocre 11 perception a lot better.

    the cat is actually fairly fast, stealthy, perceptive, and enjoys a climb speed over the weasel. is it better than the weasel? well, maybe. they both have their upsides. the weasel does admittedly have a slightly higher stealth modifier.

    the octopus ink cloud is not an attack, so the octopus should be able to use that ability just fine.

    i also agree that it is worth noting that some familiars fit in a lot better than others. cats, ravens, bats, spiders, etc are creatures that you wouldn't give a second thought to seeing in many places, giving them effectively a superior stealth check in a sense; you would think it odd if an owl flew in your window. you'd think it annoying, but completely unsuspicious, if a rat squeezed in through a crack in a wall.


    unfortunately, find familiar appears to be written in such a way as to prevent any real value outside of scouting from using your familiar's senses. it uses your action, so you'd really only have reaction spells that you could cast with the sight granted. most reaction spells you don't need to see to get use out of, and while you can cast a spell as a reaction, that also requires using the ready action rather than the action to see through a familiar's eyes. and the sight only lasts until the start of your next turn (at which point you presumably lose your ready action, though it is not explicitly stated, it *is* heavily implied by the statement that you can ready an action to use sometime over the course of the round).

    on the other hand, you may wish to mention it as an eldritch knight trick (or fighter multiclass trick in general) that they can use action surge to ready a spell of choice for when they can see, spend an action to gain vision of a target, and then cast the spell at the target, if their familiar's senses can see a target but their own can't.

    also, just gotta say... there is nothing that requires you to take attack cantrips with magic initiate. friends, light, mage hand, mending, minor illusion, and prestidigitation (from the PHB) all have potential uses that don't require you to use your spellcasting attribute, and from elemental evil we get mold earth (many uses), control flames (one of the often-ignored things you can do with control flames is instantly put out a fire. another thing you can do is rapidly spread a fire, and yet another thing you can do is double the range of light provided by a fire, all concentration-free), and shape water (create an ice boat, remove small hazardous currents, keep an area clear of water, create ice blocks to drop on someone, maintain underwater air pockets, etc). the SCAG gives us two melee cantrips that require no spell attack rolls or saving throws (and therefore no spellcasting attribute) to function (although GFB certainly functions *better* with a higher spellcasting attribute) as well. i would not completely disregard the cantrips from magic initiate just because you can't use attack cantrips.

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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Celestial, Fey, and Fiend: A Guide to Familiar Keeping

    IMHO the best uses for a Familiar are:

    1. Providing Darkvision for variant human while exploring. Simply grab onto the arm of a party member and perma see through your Owl for amazing perception checks/scouting from above.

    2. Taking the Help action (NOT the Attack action) to provide advantage to you or a party member (rogue, etc).

    3. Trap roomba.

    4. Administering healing potions. Work out ahead of time that you are rigging the corks of the healing pots with leather loops for the owl's talons to grab onto. Alternatively, have it just smash the vial into the persons mouth. Usually I call that as only healing for 2d4 because of the glass damage, but either way it gets the person up.

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    ClericGirl

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    Default Re: Celestial, Fey, and Fiend: A Guide to Familiar Keeping

    Quote Originally Posted by RulesJD View Post
    1. Providing Darkvision for variant human while exploring. Simply grab onto the arm of a party member and perma see through your Owl for amazing perception checks/scouting from above.

    2. Taking the Help action (NOT the Attack action) to provide advantage to you or a party member (rogue, etc).
    The Help function is very nice to have in a lot of situations, particularly when perception is involved.


    From the OP:

    Death from Above
    Get a flying familiar (preferably imp), and have it carry as much acid, alchemist's fire, or rocks covered in contact poison (if imp) you are willing to buy. An imp should be able to carry 90 pounds, a bat or raven 30, an owl 45, and a hawk 65. A flash of acid weighs a single pound. In other words, by giving your imp a bag filled with acid, then letting him pour the entire bag on whatever poor fellow is below him, you deal up to 180d6 points of damage.
    Pros: Lots of damage, little risk to familiar.
    Cons: Might count as an attack, DM will probably reduce damage, expensive
    Any GM with even modest common sense won't just halve the weights, per Rules_JD's post, but will likely halve them again. If you think a regular owl or a regular bat will carry twenty pounds and still fly, I've got a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn. It's one thing for there to be magic. It's another to urinate all over the primary world.

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    Default Re: Celestial, Fey, and Fiend: A Guide to Familiar Keeping

    Quote Originally Posted by RulesJD View Post
    4. Administering healing potions. Work out ahead of time that you are rigging the corks of the healing pots with leather loops for the owl's talons to grab onto. Alternatively, have it just smash the vial into the persons mouth. Usually I call that as only healing for 2d4 because of the glass damage, but either way it gets the person up.
    Expect mileage to vary a lot with this one. Without hands, many DMs are just going to say "no". The imp or quasit should be able to, of course.
    If you cast Dispel Magic on my Gust of Wind, does that mean you're disgusting?

    In real estate, they say it's all about location, location, location. In D&D I say it's about action economy, action economy, action economy.

    Crystal Mage -- a homebrewed arcane tradition

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    Kobold

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    Default Re: Celestial, Fey, and Fiend: A Guide to Familiar Keeping

    Yes Rat is inferior statwise, but it has a major advantage that you're missing. Rats are ubiquitous. They can show up just about anywhere and no one will care. They can walk straight through the goblin cave without even attempting to hide, and none of the goblins will find it unusual. The same can't be said about an owl or a cat or a ferret.

    Also, you haven't covered Variant Familiars from the monster manual.
    Last edited by Strill; 2015-12-23 at 11:53 AM.

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    DrowGuy

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    Default Re: Celestial, Fey, and Fiend: A Guide to Familiar Keeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Strill View Post
    Yes Rat is inferior statwise, but it has a major advantage that you're missing. Rats are ubiquitous. They can show up just about anywhere and no one will care. They can walk straight through the goblin cave without even attempting to hide, and none of the goblins will find it unusual..
    Well, goblins can try to eat your rat familiar.

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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Celestial, Fey, and Fiend: A Guide to Familiar Keeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Dalebert View Post
    Expect mileage to vary a lot with this one. Without hands, many DMs are just going to say "no". The imp or quasit should be able to, of course.
    Definitely true, but that's when I utilize the second part where I have the familiar smash the bottle into the downed players mouth. It can attack, so it definitely has the ability to smash a tiny, brittle vial.

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    Kobold

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    Default Re: Celestial, Fey, and Fiend: A Guide to Familiar Keeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Malknafein View Post
    Well, goblins can try to eat your rat familiar.
    You just unsummon him if something goes wrong.

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    Default Re: Celestial, Fey, and Fiend: A Guide to Familiar Keeping

    A goodberry would be easier for an animal to administer than a health potion, I imagine.
    If you cast Dispel Magic on my Gust of Wind, does that mean you're disgusting?

    In real estate, they say it's all about location, location, location. In D&D I say it's about action economy, action economy, action economy.

    Crystal Mage -- a homebrewed arcane tradition

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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Celestial, Fey, and Fiend: A Guide to Familiar Keeping

    Because familiars may deliver touch spells, you may deliver the more effective touch healing spells at a distance. Remember, an owl does not provoke when leaving an area of control.

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    SolithKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Celestial, Fey, and Fiend: A Guide to Familiar Keeping

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    Any GM with even modest common sense won't just halve the weights, per Rules_JD's post, but will likely halve them again. If you think a regular owl or a regular bat will carry twenty pounds and still fly, I've got a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn. It's one thing for there to be magic. It's another to urinate all over the primary world.
    There's real-world precedent, like swallows carrying coconuts.

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    Default Re: Celestial, Fey, and Fiend: A Guide to Familiar Keeping

    Chult - you can have the winged monkey as a familiar (it's small!)

    So Tomb of Annihilation has the Monkey beast, which can be had as a familiar (says so in the text!) it also can be picked up as a Beastmaster (first version) Rangers companion at 3rd level.

    Now this is a SMALL winged monkey that can fly, it also has a strength of 8!

    This allows it to carry (8 * 15) 120 lbs of stuff or 1 halfling, gnome, goblin, or kobold, plus some of their kit.

    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showt...g-Monkey-Magic
    Last edited by 8wGremlin; 2018-05-24 at 05:25 PM.

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    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: Celestial, Fey, and Fiend: A Guide to Familiar Keeping

    What about familiars and magic items requiring attunement?

    If your familiar possess a magic item that requires attunement, does the familiar attune to the item, or does the item count against your limit on 3 attuned magic items? I don't know the answer, but I'm sure one of you out there does know the answer. If it is the former, this is also a major benefit.

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    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: Celestial, Fey, and Fiend: A Guide to Familiar Keeping

    Another silly little sidestep of weight restrictions is druid wildshape and Find Familiar. WS into a spider, get your flying familiar to carry you wherever. Lvl2 flight for a variant Human druid! Feel free to carry 15lbs of whatever along with you melded into your wildshape form. Or not. But at least you'll definitely be able to fly.


    Might even be able to be a Velociraptor for a combat form if carried by a Hawk (or Flying Monkey) as a Moon Druid! Air cavalry ahoy! OK, just kidding..... Or am I?
    (but hey, you'd have two attacks with advantage due to pack tactics. Which would at least cancel out the disadvantage of fighting while being carried by a Hawk. It's a pity that the help action advantage wouldn't give it back)


    In theory a Velociraptor could *ride* a Flying Monkey, if it knew how, so no disadvantage on attacks. And you do know how, and can even have a pretty decent handle animal skill to do so. And the monkey doesn't need to use its help action for advantage, because you've got pack tactics, so it can use its action for item interaction for dropping caltrops or ball-bearings everywhere. Plenty of strength to carry a few bags of them and maybe some oil too. Hell, you've even essentially got a set of hands for any "normal" stuff you need to do, you just can't speak. So, Yep, celestial flying monkey dinosaur cavalry bomber at lvl2! I love Variant Human Moon Druids :)
    (yay, got there in the end. OK, you'll get one-shot a bit, but whatever. Stick the monkey in a set of custom studded leather armour for "barding")
    Last edited by sambojin; 2018-08-28 at 07:38 PM.

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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Celestial, Fey, and Fiend: A Guide to Familiar Keeping

    Quote Originally Posted by Justin Sane View Post
    There's real-world precedent, like swallows carrying coconuts.
    oh? Would that be an African or a European swallow?

    Quote Originally Posted by Daithi View Post
    What about familiars and magic items requiring attunement?

    If your familiar possess a magic item that requires attunement, does the familiar attune to the item, or does the item count against your limit on 3 attuned magic items? I don't know the answer, but I'm sure one of you out there does know the answer. If it is the former, this is also a major benefit.
    RAW - Your familiar has it's own three attunement slots.
    Adventurers League - Items your familiar attunes to count against your own limit of three.
    Last edited by Matrix_Walker; 2018-08-28 at 09:05 PM.

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    OldWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Celestial, Fey, and Fiend: A Guide to Familiar Keeping

    What about adding a section for exotic familliars such as the tressym?

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