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I know this topic has been done before (and I've seen the handbook, though in my personal experience just because it's RAW doesn't mean the DM will allow it so I've taken it with a grain of salt), but I've been mulling over the idea of a wizard based on using his familiar in combat. So far what I've come up with is pretty much this:
I also have a list of spells to take, which I won't copy/paste here to save space; suffice to say, it's mostly a mix between offensive touch spells (such as Shocking Grasp and Combust), 'self'-targeted spells (including the Light of Luminia line from the Spell Compendium, which becomes rather more powerful than intended when shared with a familiar) and general buffs (Mage Armor and False Life spring to mind).
My group usually starts play around the 3-6 level range, and we rarely go above level 10. I could use some help with making the build playable at levels 1-2 and with keeping the familiar more survivable, though (2-4 hp at 1st level really stings, and it doesn't increase much past that).
At first level, even as a specialist, I can't expect to prepare more than 3 spells per day (4 at second level). For now I have marked one casting of Mage Armor, one casting of Light of Luminia, and one casting of Benign Transposition. BT gives a bit of utility, as at 1-3 level I'd pretty much be rogue-support most of the time (sneaking in or breaking out is easier for a Tiny flier than a small or medium humanoid, and spot/listen mods will be pretty good for a first level character). Mage Armor is pretty much necessary to survive - a single solid hit will likely put me negative, so I need to avoid that if at all possible. This leaves one casting of Light of Luminia, which can serve as minor utility (flying torch) and decent offense at range, or else a first-level nova if the raven perches on the wizard's shoulder and they share it (range 'you', so both the wizard and the raven could be affected and subsequently fire off 2 bolts each for d6 damage/bolt).
Are there any particular spell or skill selections to make low-level play easier or less dangerous? Is there a cheap way to make the raven's natural attack damage a bit more relevant, so it can continue to contribute in combat beyond that single nova attack?
Also, what sort of equipment should I look into buying? Should I buy things that affect the familiar directly, or which benefit the caster and by extension the raven? Some things are obvious (Headband of Intellect +X for example) but I don't really know much about familiar-specific equipment.
I'm aware that evocation (as a general rule) is considered to be an inferior school for specialization, but it'll get used a lot in this build (light of X, shocking grasp, and I believe combust as well are evocation). It hurts a bit to get rid of Illusion but I don't know what else to ditch (Necromancy is important for False Life, Evocation is my main offense, Abjuration/Conjuration/Transmutation provide defenses and some offensive abilities, and I can't lose Divination anyway).
I'm also a bit inexperienced with play above 8th level, so how should I keep the build competitive from 8-10? Targeting Touch AC goes a long way, but keeping my familiar alive is a big concern.
Changeling wizard 5 / Alienist 10 / Fleshwarper 5 or Alienist 5 / Fleshwarper 10 depending on your needs.
Comes with LOTS of flavor, make sure you're a changeling because then your familiar can change to whatever you need it to be with the ACF of wizard 5 which is completely awesome, especially with a liberal reading of the ACF which says it can change into anything available to you and taking:
Improved Familiar (DMG p 201)
Dragon Familiar (Dracon p 104)
and then having it shift between shapes.
Otherwise, spell-linked familiar (PHB 2, p 83) is really the only must-have for the familiar build.
Also, why are you taking the obtain familiar feat? Do you want two? Will your DM let you have a second one if you do that?
Re: Evoker. It's one of the weakest of the specialties. Transmutation or maybe conj because it's just that good is the way to go and share that buff and shapechange with your familiar for the win! All of your offensive needs can be handled by conjuration
Re: Low level wizard. Grease! Glitterdust! Crossbow pew pews It's not great but a couple well placed spells win matches. Also get some social or useful skills because of your int and do fun things!
Edit: Re: Familiar dies --> get another one! It's a minor XP drain, hopefully the BBEG thinks there are better targets around...
I have obtain familiar listed as a bonus feat even though it's a class feature; the class feature is essentially to get 'obtain familiar' as a bonus feat at first level anyway.
I'm not familiar with Changelings or the ACF you mention; where are they from?
As far as Grease/Glitterdust; I know that's what a typical low-level wizard does. I'm trying to find spells that let the familiar be the main focus (in fact, I'm considering having the wizard be practically autistic and having the familiar be my 'character' - the wizard is just around as a spell conduit. I suppose it would almost be like the wizard is the raven's familiar and not vice-versa).
I'm also not familiar with Fleshwarper but since it doesn't come in until after 10, I'm not particularly concerned with it. Our games almost never go beyond 10 (I think we got to 12, once; otherwise we've always stopped somewhere between seven and ten).
Conjuration has offense, but not of the channeled-touch-spell variety (at least, not as well as Evoker). I do intend to use a lot of Transmutation and Conjuration, but Evocation is the one school I know I'll be consistently using (as my Raven can't do much damage without chanelling spells).
It's been a while since I looked into it, but if you get an Improved Familiar later on, don't you have to first dismiss your existing familiar (which makes you wait a year and a day before getting your new one)?
IMP familiar says you instantly gain a new one (this is also addressed in errata/faq)
I posted just the other day on familiars and someone told me something very interesting...
If you go sorc with the arcane line and then do like fighter or paladin even, your familiar is always based off you. So...you could have the paladin saves, HP and stuff like that even though you are a full BAB class. If you need I can dig up the post if you want, just PM me.
If you are super focused on this a druid's animal companion actually advances and gains feats and size increases...or there is a class you could look at converting from PF, the summoner.
Nothing is explicitly banned or nerfed, but again: just because it's RAW doesn't mean it will fly if it's brokenly powerful (or otherwise deviates too far from RAI). Many guides and handbooks suggest high-op choices which I really don't expect to ever see play, simply because the DM would take one look and say 'haha, no. Not at all.' I'm not looking for an exploit to make my familiar have superpowers, I don't want infinite spells per day, I don't even want to be particularly powerful in comparison to the other PCs. I just want some suggestions for the roughly outlined build above, and tweaks to make it more survivable / efficient for the range at which we play (generally up to tenth level).
If you play a gish, the familiar will be much better.
The actual familiar progression is nowhere as useful for the familiar as what you could be getting by turning it into a skillmonkey or fighter of its own by improving your own character's chassis with gish PrCs.
If you play a gish, the familiar will be much better.
Also, my Wizard/Druid/MysticTheurge/RangerKnight/ArcaneHeirophant had a familiar ubermount... that was an AnC and a Special Mount. And a dragon.
The first part is totally true--a duskblade with obtain familiar as a feat would be pretty awesome. Lots of touch spells and stuff.
The changeling ACF is called morphic familiar, it's in Races of Ebberon I think? A raven or imp or dragon or wolf or toad or rabbit is better than just a raven
Look into Fleshwarper in lords of madness--you can enter early, like level 6, your familiar gains some bonuses every couple of level and gains the aberration subtype. One bonus is making them a size larger. This means they don't have to enter squares to deliver your touch attacks.
Alienist gives you the psuedonatural template at lvl 5. Otherwise not super good, but it gives you truestrike and a bunch of funny things.
There are low level touch spells...ghoul touch, chill touch, shivering touch, rigor mortis, that would work for some spells.