From 1d4chan

A familiar is a magical spirit in the shape of an animal (or something vaguely like an animal) which serves as a loyal minion to a witch, warlock or wizard. Originating from real-world beliefs about witches, it is a concept that has been deeply invested in many roleplaying games.

Dungeons & Dragons[edit]

In Dungeons & Dragons, the presence of a familiar as an option for wizards began in the days of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons; in BECMI, wizards had no familiars.

1st Edition[edit]

In 1st Edition, wizards acquired a familiar by casting the 1st level spell find familiar. It took 1-24 hours, and required a D20 roll at the spell's completion; if you rolled a 16+, you failed to summon anything, though you also subtracted -1 for every 3 levels you had. Either way, once you'd cast this spell once, you couldn't cast it again for a whole year, and you can only have one familiar at a time. Familiars granted you a few extra hit points equal to their own, and the normal animal types were good sentries and spies, while the special ones possessed their usual special powers; brownies were pretty awesome, because they gave you 18 Dex, +2 on all saving throws, and you couldn't be surprised (but brownies were only for Lawful Neutral/Good wizards). The downside was pretty bad, though: if the familiar dies, you lose twice that hit point bonus permanently.

Overall, this version of familiars sucks pretty bad, and the only real reason to take one is for role-playing and similar reasons.

1st Edition Familiars

Player's Handbook
A Cast of Strange Familiars (Dragon #84)
  • Bat (Large and Small)
  • Cat (Domestic and Wild)
  • Civet
  • Coati
  • Cockrel
  • Crow
  • Dog
  • Fisher (the larger members of the mustelid family; marten, mongoose, etc)
  • Fox
  • Gull
  • Hare
  • Hawk (Small, Medium or Large)
  • Kinkajou
  • Lizard (Small or Large)
  • Monkey (Small or Large)
  • Otter
  • Owl (Small, Medium or Large)
  • Parrot
  • Raccoon
  • Rat
  • Rave
  • Skunk
  • Snake
  • Squirrel
  • Toad
Familiars With a Special Use (Dragon #86)
  • Telperan
  • Glissan
  • Baltir
  • Tabur
  • Orrek
  • Quark
  • Nalg
  • Durocib
  • Haudhla
  • Veeru

2nd Edition[edit]

2nd edition still used the find familiar spell to summon one up, but the spell was changed pretty heavily. It took 2d12 hours to cast (meaning an average time of 12-13 hours), and cost 1,000 gp of materials. The familiar had 2-3 points more Intelligence than others of its kind, along with having 2-4 hit points, +1 hit point per caster level. They now granted the wizard a flat +1 to surprise checks, and the familiar had a specifically defined empathic link, allowing the wizard to issue mental commands to it up to 1 mile away. The familiar used the wizard's saving throws while in physical contact, and for save-or-damage effects, the familiar took half damage on a failed save, or no damage on a success (a very early version of the improved evasion mechanic in 3rd edition).

Likewise, the drawbacks of familiars were different. The familiar loses 1 hit point each day they are separated from the caster (and there's no specification what "separated" exactly meant). If the familiar dies, the wizard immediately rolls a System Shock check; if they fail, they die, and if they succeed, they loose 1 point of Constitution (as in permanently).

In theory, there were options for obtaining special familiars in various supplements and in certain Dragon Magazine articles (#181 and #200, for those interested). In practice, unfortunately, these had no actual mechanics behind acquiring them, because 2nd edition was even more of a Rule Zero game than its predecessor, leaving much of its workings up to DM fiat. While some grognards grunt appreciatively at this, suffice it to say that you were only one argument with the DM away from getting royally ass-invaded.

So once again, there was little real reason to have a familiar, other than role-playing and other bullshit.

2nd Edition Familiars

Player's Handbook
  • Black Cat
  • Crow
  • Hawk
  • Screech Owl
  • Toad
  • Weasel
Complete Wizard's Handbook
  • Bat
  • Cat
  • Chipmunk
  • Crow
  • Dog
  • Fox
  • Gull
  • Hawk
  • Hare/Rabbit
  • Lizard
  • Monkey
  • Mouse
  • Otter
  • Owl
  • Parrot
  • Raccoon
  • Rat
  • Rooster
  • Raven
  • Skunk
  • Snake
  • Squirrel
  • Toad
  • Weasel
  • Wolverine
Familiar Faces (Dragon #200)
  • Bullfrog
  • Chameloen
  • Compsognathus
  • Euparkeria
  • Iguana
  • Garter Snake
  • Toad
  • Crow/Raven
  • Hawk
  • Falcon
  • Owl
  • Parrot
  • Rhea
  • Armadillo
  • Badger
  • Common Bat
  • Cat (Domestic or Wild)
  • Mouse Deer
  • Wild Dog
  • Ferret
  • Fox
  • Jackal
  • Monkey
  • Opossum
  • Otter
  • Rabbit
  • Raccoon
  • Wood Rat
  • Skunk
  • Squirrel
Humanoid Mages
  • Vampire Bat
  • Bloodhawk
  • Huge Centipede
  • Common or Giant Rat
  • Large Spider
  • Large Scorpion
  • Stirge
  • Vulture
  • Weasel
Underdark Mages
  • Common Bat
  • Fire Beetle
  • Burbur
  • Huge Centipede
  • Small Lizard
  • 1HD Myconid
  • Giant Rat
  • Large Spider
  • Stirge
Sea Mages
  • Barracuda
  • Weed Eel
  • Small Fish
  • Lobster
  • Octopus
  • Sea Horse
  • Stingray
Special Familiars
Greater Familiars of Faerun (Dragon #228)

Note: This issue of Dragon introduced more advanced familiar types, Companions and Minions, through spells that summoned them. You can have one each of a familiar, companion, and minion.

Find Companion Creatures
  • Raccoon
  • Badger
  • Winged Serpent
  • Rat
  • Spider
  • Iguana
  • Talking Owl
  • Falcon
  • Vulture
  • Bat
  • Monkey
  • Snake
  • Stag
  • Otter
  • Fox
  • Wolf
  • Horse
  • Cooshee
  • Brown Bear
  • Cheetah
Find Minion Creatures

3rd Edition[edit]

For the most part, the early 3.0 rules did a hell of a lot to fix the problems with familiars in days gone by. Rather than being a spell (which Animal Companions still were for some reason), it was simply a class feature you could do any time you had 100 gp to spend on the ritual to call up a familiar, and on top of that you don't roll random or have a chance to fail the ritual, you basically get to choose the familiar you want. This meant that you probably didn't start with a familiar at 1st level, but you certainly could acquire one cheaply soon after.

The benefits were enormously better: the familiar gave you a passive bonus to one type of roll (almost always a skill check or saving throw), or possessed some trick ability (ravens could speak, snakes had venom, etc.). Both familiar and master gained the Alertness feat when in physical contact with one another (making it easier to Listen or Spot), and the master had a 1-mile empathic link (similar to previous editions). More than this, the familiar was just plain tougher: 3.0 familiars have way more hit points, better saving throws, better AC (which improves over time), and improved evasion right out of the box at level 1. It had Hit Dice equal to the master's character level, which is useful to determine how certain spells and effects work on it (i.e. if it has enough HD, it simply ignores certain things or they affect the familiar less).

As if all that wasn't enough, though, familiars now also got something else special: they had skill ranks as normal for a normal creature of their kind, as well as any ranks the master had in any skills. This seemingly neat feature is broken by the master getting ranks of Use Magic Device... allowing a familiar to activate anything that doesn't require speaking, and allowing ravens and any other talking familiars (like almost everything you can get with Improved Familiar) to activate scrolls, wands, etc.

But wait, it gets better. In addition to all this, your familiar also gets higher Intelligence and additional special abilities as you level up. It can deliver touch spells, speak with the master and/or animals of its kind, gets spell resistance, and you could even eventually scry on the familiar once/day. The 3.5 update made familiars even better: they could now share spells, meaning that a caster who used mage armor or polymorph could choose to have it cast on the familiar as well, for free, straight up. I'll give you slower folks a moment to realize the implications of this as you realize that, yes, your little kitty cat familiar could now potentially turn into a griffon for a short time.

Now, you may be smirking about what the drawbacks of a 3rd edition familiar are. Well, this is it: you lose 200 XP per level, half that if you make a Fort DC 15 save (and you can't go under 0 XP). That's literally all you suffer. So basically if your familiar dies, you sort of stunt your progress a bit, but this happened in 3rd Edition if you made magic items, cast (limited) wish, etc., so it was a semi-negligible drawback even back then. You don't lose Constitution or permanent hit point, you don't die, you just fry your brain a bit and have to relearn some stuff.

Acquiring a special familiar was no longer either a matter of luck or DM fiat: you bought a feat called Improved Familiar, and selected a new and improved familiar based on certain things like alignment, caster level, race, Base Attack Bonus. (No shit on that last one: if you had a high enough attack bonus, you could acquire a hippogriff or a fucking hellhound familiar.) Later sourcebooks and Dragon articles went from an already impressive list to a fuckhuge cyclopedia of familiars, including extraplanar buddies like fiends and elementals.

Now, there's a healthy argument to be made for ditching your summon familiar class feature for other features out there, especially some of those found in places like Unearthed Arcana (where conjurers could ditch a familiar to get all summon monster spells cast as 1 standard action instead of a full-round action, which is Goddamn amazing). But don't worry! You, too, can cheese the shit out of this by ditching your familiar, then you trot over to Complete Arcane and get the feat Obtain Familiar once you hit CL 3rd... and now you not only have a familiar again, but you can multiclass and get prestige classes and your familiar gets even better than they would have (because your familiar only gets stronger from class levels that give you a familiar; most prestige classes do not, in fact, give you familiar advancement). Incidentally, Obtain Familiar can be used with any class that advances arcane caster level, allowing bards and even warlocks to get them.

Dragon Magazine #338 offers the interesting addition of Imbued Staffs, which replaces a living being familiar with a staff that gains various powers as the caster levels up. This includes enhancement bonuses and weapon abilities, as well as scrying on or summoning the staff at will.

Note that the Item Familiar feat in Unearthed Arcana is not, in fact, a replacement of the summon familiar feature; it is a totally separate thing that anyone, even non-spellcasters, can get and benefit from. You could have both a regular living-creature familiar as well as an Item Familiar.

Ravenloft introduced a variant of the regular familiar called the Dread Familiar in this edition, which is basically a loyal but utterly evil familiar that essentially tries to act out all your dark thoughts without any concern to how this might screw you over, yet another of the many ways that the setting tried to stop you from playing a wizard.

3rd Edition Familiars

Spells (Note that these are all based on the 3.0 rules.)

  • [Animate Dead Familiar]: Makes your dead familiar undead.
  • [Elemental Familiar]: instant duration; Turns your familiar into a tiny elemental
  • [Planar Familiar]: Turns your familiar into a Celestial/Fiendish/Axiomatic/Anarchic creature. (Weirdly its a cleric spell but it can only be cast on your own familiar, so you need to either UMD a scroll or use Limited wish.


  • Construct Familiar (#280 p62): Turns your familiar into a construct
  • Extra Familiar (#280 p62): Lets you take a new familiar each time you take this feat.
  • Undead Familiar (#280 p62): Turns your familiar into an undead.
  • Token Familiar (#280 p62): Turns your familiar into a little item and back at will
  • Shadowform Familiar (CoR p22): Turns your familiar incorporeal, Krinth only
  • Stitched Flesh Familiar (LM p30): Turns your familiar into an undead
  • Shadow Familiar (ToM p138): Grant you a familiar with the the dark template or give it to your already existing familiar, Need Shadowcaster 3rd level

Prestige Class:

  • Alienist lvl 5 (CAr p21): Grants pseudonatural template to your familiar
  • Bonded Summoner (MH p16): Replace familiar with an Elemental, starting at medium size and ending as an Elder Elemental.
  • Fleshwarper (LoM p189): Change your familiar type to Aberration, and give him up to four ability.
  • Fiend-Blooded (HH p102): Grants fiendish templates to your familiar.
  • Nar Demonbinder (UE p25): Grants an Imp or a Quasit familiar as with the improved familiar feat.
  • Arcane Hierophant (RoTW p108): Grant the ability of a familiar to your animal companion.
  • Spell Sovereign (Dragon Magazine #357): Allows you to take a Living Spell as your familiar.

Also, the Dread Necromancer (HH p84) gain a familiar at 7th level from the following list: Imp, Quasit, Vargouille or Ghostly Visage (a Fiend Folio creature).

Standard 3e Familiars
Player's Handbook Familiars
  • Bat (+3 on Listen checks)
  • Cat (+3 on Move Silently Checks)
  • Hawk (+3 on Spot Checks in bright light)
  • Lizard (+3 on Climb Checks)
  • Owl (+3 on Spot Checks in Shadow)
  • Rat (+2 on Fortitude Saves)
  • Raven (+3 on Appraise Checks, can speak 1 language)
  • Tiny Viper Snake (+3 on Bluff Checks)
  • Toad (+3 on hit points)
  • Weasel (+2 on Reflex Saves)
Dungeon Master's Guide Familiars
Tiny or Smaller Masters Only
  • Ferret (+2 on Reflex Saves)
  • Hedgehog (+1 to Natural Armor)
  • Mouse (+2 on Move Silently Checks)
  • Screech Owl (+2 on Move Silently Checks)
  • Thrush (Speaks 1 Language)
Huge or Bigger Masters Only
  • Dire Rat (+2 on Fortitude Saves)
  • Leopard (+2 on Move Silently Checks)
  • Monitor Lizard (+3 on Hit Points)
  • Medium Owl (+2 on Move Silently Checks)
  • Wolverine (+2 on Reflex Saves)
Sandstorm Familiars
  • Horned Lizard (+2 on Will Saves)
Stormwrack Familiars
  • Albatross (+1 on Spot Checks)
  • Eel (+3 on Escape Artist Checks)
  • Fish Owl (+3 on Spot Checks in Shadow)
  • Octopus (+3 on Grapple Checks)
  • Parrot (+3 on Appraise Checks, can speak 1 language)
  • Sea Snake (+3 on Bluff Checks)
Frostburn Familiars
  • Arctic Fox (+3 on Move Silently Checks)
  • Gyrfalcon (+3 on Spot checks)
  • Lemming (+2 on Listen and Spot Checks)
  • Snowy Owl (+3 on Move Silently Checks)
  • Penguin (+2 on Fortitude Saves)
  • Puffing (+3 on Survival Checks)
Dragon Magic Familiars
  • Huitzil (+3 on Sleight of Hand Checks)
Serpent Kingdoms Familiars (requires Yuan-ti race)
  • Dung Snake (+3 on Bluff Checks)
  • Reed Snake (+3 on Bluff Checks)
  • Sewerm (+3 on Bluff Checks)
Monsters of Faerun Familiars
  • Hairy Spider (no bonuses)
Dragon Magazine Familiars
  • Compsognathus (#318, +3 on Hide Checks)
  • Ramphorhynchus (#318, +3 on Initiative Checks)
  • Critic Lizard (#319, +2 on Reflex Saves)
  • Floater (#319, +3 on Sense Motive checks)
  • Speckled Hurrum (#319, +3 on Diplomacy Checks)
  • Jankx (#319, +3 on Listen Checks)
  • Kes'trekel (#319, +2 on Fortitude Saves)
  • Mulworm (#319, +3 Hit Points)
  • Ramphor (#319, +3 on Spot Checks)
  • Z'tal (#319, +3 on Intimidate Checks)
  • Turtle (#323, Optionally Abjurer Only, +1 AC when prone or behind cover)
  • Hummingbird (#323, Optionally Conjurers Only, +4 on Initiative checks)
  • Fly (#323, Optionally Diviners Only, +3 on Gather Information Checks)
  • Mink (#323, Optionally Enchanters Only, +3 on Diplomacy Checks)
  • Spider (#323, Optionally Evokers Only, +3 on Sleight of Hand Checks)
  • Fox (#323, Optionally Illusionists Only, +2 on Will saves)
  • Vulture (#323, Optionally Necromancers Only, +4 on Fortitude Saves vs Disease)
  • Caterpillar (#323, Optionally Transmuters Only, +3 on Disguise checks, at 5th level can be changed into a Butterfly or Moth to grant +3 on Spellcraft Checks instead)
  • Chameleon (#341, +3 on Disguise checks)
  • Crow (#341, +2 on Fortitude saves)
  • Dark Chanting Goshawk (#341, +2 on Will saves)
  • Dog (#341, +3 on Sense Motives checks)
  • Flying Fox (#341, +3 on Sleight of Hand Checks)
  • Iguana (#341, +3 on Climb checks)
  • Monkey (#341, +3 on Tumble checks)
  • Night Lizard (#341, +3 on Hide checks)
  • Platypus (#341, +3 on Swim checks)
  • Rabbit (#341, +3 on Listen checks)
  • Squirrel (#341, +3 on Jump checks)
  • Vampire Bat (#341, no bonuses)
  • Badger (#352, +3 on Knowledge (Arcana) checks)
  • Badger (#277, 3.0 rules, +2 on Will saves)
  • Chipmunk (#277, 3.0 rules, +2 on Reflex saves)
  • Dog (#277, 3.0 rules, +2 on Sense Motive checks)
  • Eagle (#277, 3.0 rules, no bonus)
  • Groundhog (#277, 3.0 rules, +2 on Fortitude saves)
  • Lizard (#277, 3.0 rules, +2 on Climb checks)
  • Monkey (#277, 3.0 rules, +2 on Pic Pockets checks)
  • Otter (#277, 3.0 rules, +2 on Swim checks)
  • Small Constrictor Snake (#277, 3.0 rules, No Bonus)
  • Bird (#280, 3.0 rules, variable bonus)
  • Dog (#280, 3.0 rules, +2 on Sense Motive checks)
  • Fox (#280, 3.0 rules, +2 on Reflex saves)
  • Hare (#280, 3.0 rules, +2 on Listen checks)
  • Lizard (#280, 3.0 rules, +2 on Climb checks)
  • Mouse (#280, 3.0 rules, +2 on Hide checks)
  • Otter (#280, 3.0 rules, +2 on Swim checks)
  • Raccoon (#280, 3.0 rules, +2 on Pick Pockets checks)
  • Skunk (#280, 3.0 rules, musk attack 1/day - master is immune)
  • Squirrel (#280, 3.0 rules, +2 on reflex saves)
  • Golden the Clockwork Cat (#299, 3.0 rules, as Cat but has Construct type)
Improved 3e Familiars
Dungeon Master's Guide Familiars
  • Shocker Lizard (Neutral Alignment, 5th level)
  • Stirge (Neutral Alignment, 5th level)
  • Formian Worker (Lawful Neutral Alignment, 7th level)
  • Imp (Lawful Evil Alignment, 7th level)
  • Pseudodragon (Neutral Good Alignment, 7th level)
  • Quasit (Chaotic Evil Alignment, 7th level)
  • Celestial Template Standard Familiar (3rd level)
  • Fiendish Template Standard Familiar (3rd level)
  • Small Air/Earth/Fire/Water Elemental (5th level)
  • Homunculus (7th level)
  • Ice Mephit (7th level)
Complete Warrior Familiars
  • Krenshar (Any Alignment, 3rd level)
  • Worg (Any Non-Good Alignment, 3rd level)
  • Blink Dog (Any Non-Chaotic AND Non-Evil Alignment, 5th level)
  • Hell Hound (Any Non-Chaotic AND Non-Good Alignment, 5th level)
  • Hippogriff (Any Alignment, 7th level)
  • Howler (Any Non-Lawful AND Non-Good Alignment, 7th level)
  • Winter Wolf (Any Non-Good Alignment, 7th level)
  • Spark Guardian (7th level, Craft Construct, Spells: Lightning Bolt, Locate Creature, Minor Creation)
  • Gauntlet Guardian (9th level, Craft Construct, Spells: Fabricate, Locate Creature, Stone Shape)
  • Blade Guardian (11th level, Craft Construct, Spells: Fabricate, Locate Creature, Tenser's Transformation)
Complete Scoundrel Familiars
  • Small Monstrous Centipede (Neutral Alignment, 2nd level)
  • Badger (Neutral Alignment, 3rd level)
  • Small Monstrous Scorpion (Neutral Alignment, 3rd level)
  • Medium Viper (Neutral Alignment, 3rd level)
  • Small Monstrous Spider (Neutral Alignment, 4th level)
  • Vargouille (Neutral Evil Alignment, 6th level)
  • Mephit, Any (Neutral Alignment, 7th level)
Supplementary Monster Manual Familiars
  • Fire Bat (Any Alignment, 15th level, MMII)
  • Clockwork Mender (Any Lawful Alignment, 5th level, MMIV)
  • Sailsnake (Any Alignment, 5th level, MMIV)
  • Gem Scarab (Any Alignment, 5th level, MMV)
  • Tirbana Eyewing (Lawful Neutral OR Lawful Evil Alignment, 5th level, MMV)
Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting Familiars
  • Eyeball Beholderkin (Any Non-Good Alignment, 5th level)
  • Night Hunter Bat (Any Non-Good Alignment, 5th level)
Players Guide to Faerun Familiars
  • Deathfang (Any Non-Good Alignment, 9th level)
  • Flying Snake (Any Alignment, 3rd level)
  • Spitting Crawler Lizard (Any Alignment, 3rd level)
  • Lynx (Any Alignment, 3rd level)
  • Osquip (Any Non-Good Alignment, 5th level)
  • Tressym (Any Non-Evil Alignment, 5th level)
Serpent Kingdoms Familiars
  • Jaculi (Any Non-Lawful AND Non-Good Alignment, 5th level)
  • Mlarraun (Any Alignment, 5th level)
  • Muckdweller (Any Non-Chaotic AND Non-Good Alignment, 5th level)
  • Glacier Snake (Any Alignment, 3rd level)
  • Tree Python (Any Alignment, 3rd level)
  • Whipsnake (Any Non-Lawful AND Non-Good Alignment, 3rd level)
Shining South Familiars
  • Beguiler (Any Alignment, 7th level)
  • Starsnake (Any Alignment, 12th level)
City of Splendors: Waterdeep Familiars
  • Watchspider (Any Alignment, 3rd level)
Book of Exalted Deeds Familiars
  • Celestial Standard Familiar (Any Good Alignment, 3rd level)
  • Couere Eladrin (Chaotic Good Alignment, 7th level)
  • Lantern Archon (Lawful Good Alignment, 7th level)
  • Musteval Guardinal (Neutral Good Alignment, 7th level)
Planar Handbook Familiars
  • Celestial Template Standard Familiar (3rd level)
  • Fiendish Template Standard Familiar (3rd level)
  • Anarchic Template Standard Familiar (3rd level)
  • Axiomatic Template Standard Familiar (3rd level)
  • Small Elemental (Any Alignment, 5thth level)
  • Imp (Any Non-Chaotic AND Non-Good Alignment, 7th level)
  • Lantern Archon (Any Non-Chaotic AND Non-Evil Alignment, 7th level)
  • Mephit (Any Alignment, 7th level)
  • Quasit (Any Non-Lawful AND Non-Good Alignment, 7th level)
Dragon Wyrmling Familiars (Draconomicon)
  • White (Neutral/Chaotic Neutral/Neutral Evil Alignment, 7th level)
  • Black (Neutral/Neutral Evil/Chaotic Evil Alignment, 8th level)
  • Brsss (Neutral Good/Chaotic Good/Chaotic Neutral Alignment, 9th level)
  • Green (Neutral/Lawful Evil/Neutral Evil Alignment, 9th level)
  • Copper (Chaotic Good/Neutral/Chaotic Neutral Alignment, 10th level)
  • Blue (Lawful Neutral/Lawful Evil/Neutral Evil Alignment, 10th level)
  • Bronze (Lawful Good/Lawful Neutral/Neutral Alignment, 11th level)
  • Red (Chaotic Neutral/Chaotic Evil/Neutral Evil Alignment, 12th level)
  • Silver (Lawful Good/Lawful Neutral/Neutral Alignment, 12th level)
  • Gold (Lawful Good/Neutral Good/Lawful Neutral Alignment, 14th level)
Dragon Magazine Familiars
  • Spider Swarm (#329, Any Alignment, 3rd level)
  • Bat Swarm (#329, Any Alignment, 5th level)
  • Rat Swarm (#329, Any Alignment, 5th level)
  • Locust Swarm (#329, Any Alignment, 7th level)
  • Bone Rat Swarm (#329, Any Non-Good Alignment, 9th level)
  • Centipede Swarm (#329, Any Alignment, 9th level)
  • Corpse Rat Swarm (#329, Any Non-Good Alignment, 11th level)
  • Emphemeral Swarm (#329, Any Non-Lawful AND Non-Good Alignment, 11th level)
  • Swamp Strider Swarm (#329, Any Alignment, 11th level)
  • Bloodmote Swarm (#329, Any Non-Good Alignment, 13th level)
  • Dread Bloom Swarm (#329, Any Alignment, 13th level)
  • Needletooth Swarm (#329, Any Alignment, 13th level)
  • Hellwasp Swarm (#329, Any Non-Chaotic AND Non-Good Alignment, 16th level)
  • Shimmerling Swarm (#329, Any Non-Lawful Alignment, 16th level)
  • Brood Keeper Larva Swarm (#329, Any Alignment, 19th level)
  • Choleric Imp (#338, Neutral Evil Alignment, 7th level)
  • Melancholic Imp (#338, Neutral Evil Alignment, 7th level)
  • Phlegmatic Imp(#338, Neutral Evil Alignment, 7th level)
  • Sanguine Imp (#338, Neutral Evil Alignment, 7th level)
  • Copper Asp (#341, Any Alignment, 3rd level, Craft Construct, Spells: Animate Rope, Melf's Acid Arrow)
  • Razor Hawk (#341, Any Alignment, 3rd level, Craft Construct, Spells: Gust of Wind)
  • Crystal Cat (#341, Any Alignment, 5th level, Craft Construct, Spells: Invisibility, Keen Edge)
  • Glass Dragonfly (#341, Any Alignment, 5th level, Craft Construct, Spells: Colour Spray, Fly)
  • Salvage Rat (#341, Any Alignment, 5th level, Craft Construct, Spells: Acid Splash, Shatter)
  • Erudite Owl (#341, Any Alignment, 7th level, Craft Construct, Spells: Comprehend Languages, Detect Magic, Detect Poison, Fly)
  • Mercurial Spider (#341, Any Alignment, 7th level, Craft Construct, Spells: Polymorph, Spider Climb)
  • Great Horned Owl (#341, Any Alignment, 3rd level)
  • King Cobra (#341, Any Alignment, 3rd level)
  • Small Paraelemental (#347, Any Alignment, 5th level)
  • Monodrone (#354, Any Lawful Alignment, 5th level)
  • Shadovig (#299, Neutral Evil Alignment, 3rd level? 3.0 rules)
  • Cloaker (#322, Any Non-Lawful Alignment, 14th level)
  • Dark Creeper (#322, Any Non-Lawful Alignment, 10th level)
  • Darkenbeast (#322, Any Non-Good Alignment, 12th level)
  • Small Darkness Pseudo-Elemental (#322, Any Non-Good Alignment, 7th level)
  • Night Hunter Bat (#322, Any Non-Good Alignment, 5th level)
  • Sinister Bat (#322, Any Non-Chaotic Alignment, 8th level)
  • Shadow (#322, Any Non-Lawful AND Non-Good Alignment, 9th level)
  • Shadow Asp (#322, Any Alignment, 6th level)
  • Shadow Mastiff (#322, Any Non-Good Alignment, 14th level)
  • Wraith (#322, Any Non-Lawful AND Non-Good Alignment, 14th level)


Pathfinder's take on familiars is essentially the same as in D&D 3rd edition, though the way classes interact with them is a bit different: now wizards can pick between having a familiar or choosing a Bonded Item that gives them an extra spell per day. There is also no experience penalty for losing your familiar, so they definitely become less of a chore to own. Sorcerers don't get familiars at all unless they take the Arcane bloodline, though having new bloodline class features does help salve the pain. Sorcerers later got the ability to drop their first level bloodline power and delay their bonus spells by a level for a familiar, which was often worth it as first level bloodline powers often sucked though other alternatives to bad first level powers compete with it. Additionally the Witch class entirely relies upon using familiars as a kind of quasi-spellbook.

Also, thanks to the archetype system, a few other classes can pick them up, which can be great, since familiars largely suck on their own when they take their stats off of dedicated arcane casters. Having BAB scores, hit point totals and saves based off of Fighters, Paladins, Bloodragers, or other meatier classes can turn what were essentially touch-spell delivery systems and/or spies into full-fledged members of the party.

Finally, they added archetypes for familiars themselves, allowing you to make further custom adjustments to your class-companion if you need them to fill roles such as bodyguards, performers or pickpockets etc. Meaning what was essentially a forced choice in 3rd edition D&D has now become an entire avenue for class building in Pathfinder.

The options for the Improved Familiar started out the same and gradually introduced a bunch of new ones. Many of these are awesome like imp equivalents for all outsider types, the Aether Elemental that telekinetic throws the big stupid fighter at enemies while being naturally invisible, and miniature dragons with their own spell casting.

4th Edition[edit]

4th edition, as always, changed things up enormously. They started by completely removing the familiar at first, pointing out how familiars had traditionally not been very well regarded; they were mostly ignored by players and considered more of a detriment than an advantage, since they were so frail and inflicted significant drawbacks on the player if they died. Familiars didn't resurface until the Arcane Power sourcebook, where taking a familiar became a Feat available to any Arcane class. Now, your familiar can switch between a passive move, in which they are sharing the player's space and immune to attack, or an active mode, in which they can move independently and use a special power depending on the familiar. For example, spiders can be used to haul small objects to different places with their webbing, whilst ravens can become living videophones for you. Plus, if your familiar gets killed, it automatically comes back to life good as new the next time you complete a rest. Those who were willing to give 4e a chance generally approved of the way familiars were handled in this edition, as they finally shook off the "more detriment than value" stigma they'd picked up way back in AD&D.

4th Edition Familiars

Arcane Power
  • Bat
  • Book Imp
  • Bond Demon
  • Cat
  • Crafter Homunculus
  • Dragonling
  • Falcon
  • Owl
  • Rat
  • Raven
  • Serpent
  • Spider
Heroes of the Feywild
  • Bat
  • Cat
  • Coure Attendant
  • Falcon
  • Fiddling Grig
  • Owl
  • Rat
  • Raven
  • Serpent
  • Spider
  • Sprite
Heroes of the Elemental Chaos
  • Arctine
  • Automaton
  • Chaos Phage
  • Crysmalite
  • Flame Serpent
  • Hordeling
  • Magmin
  • Mud Wretch
  • Nereid
  • Pech
  • Storm Talon
  • Sylph
Get Familiar (Dragon #374)
Heroic Tier
  • Arcane Eye
  • Badger
  • Canine Construct
  • Disembodied Hand
  • Fire Lizard
  • Lightning Lizard
  • Ooze
  • Parrot
  • Rootling
  • Scout Homunculus
  • Skull
  • Toad
  • Weasel
Paragon Tier
  • Air Mephit
  • Arcane Wisp
  • Beholderkin
  • Blackspawn Darkling
  • Bluespawn Nimblespark
  • Earth Mephit
  • Fire Mephit
  • Grayspawn Shortfang
  • Greenspawn Banespike
  • Ice Mephit
  • Rakshasa Claw
  • Redspawn Spitfire
  • Stone Fowl
  • Whitespawn Snowstepper
Epic Tier
  • Blazing Skull
  • Chaos Shard
  • Gibbering Pet
  • Shadow Incarnate
Familiars of Eberron (Dragon #377)
Heroic Tier
  • Bantam Fastieth
  • Bloodthorn Vine Barb
  • Clockwork Scorpion
  • Dragonmark Reflection
  • Floating Weapon
  • Gadfly
  • Magpie
  • Marmoset
  • Octopus
  • Saddle Squire
  • Soarwood Wings
  • Summoner Homunculus
  • Tome Caddy
  • Warforged Faceplate
Paragon Tier
  • Ambush Vine Shoot
  • Crawling Clot
  • Dimensional Pet
  • Living Infusion
  • Minor Foulspawn
  • Smith's Hammer
  • Tinker Feyling
Epic Tier
  • Lingering Nightmare
  • Silver Lamp
Familiar Power
Wizard (Dragon #382)
  • Specter
  • Least Air Elemental
  • Tiny Gelatinous Cube
  • Least Earth Elemental
Winning Races
Eladrin, Beyond the Spiral Tower (Dragon #390)
  • Fiddling Grig
  • Coure Attendant

5th Edition[edit]

5th edition goes for a strange blending of 2e and 4e approaches to familiars. Once again, the familiar is hidden behind the 1st level spell find familiar. As in 4e, familiars are considered to be magical spirits (thus they have to take the Celestial, Fey or Fiend creature type) manifesting in the form of an animal chosen by you. Certain monsters in the Monster Manual or other bestiary sources are called out as valid options for your find familiar spell. However, as in 4th edition, there are no drawbacks to having a familiar: if one dies, it has no effect on you, and it will return with a simple recasting of find familiar. When you don't need your familiar, you can dismiss it, causing it to vanish to some other plane until you need it again, whereupon it teleports back to you; summoning or dismissing a familiar just takes an action. Familiars can take all sorts of actions, but they can't fight (which is kind of baffling, given some of the creatures you can make a familiar) - they do, however, possess a 100-ft. telepathic link with you, and they can act as a conduit for your Touch range spells when within that same distance. Whilst your familiar is within telepathic link range, as an action, you can "borrow" its senses, leaving you blind and deaf in regards to your own body, but letting you perceive everything that your pet perceives. The warlock has three versions of it's 3rd level class feature, one of which provides a superior familiar that can attack if you expend your own action.

5th Edition Familiars

PHB Familiars
  • Bat
  • Cat
  • Crab
  • Frog/Toad
  • Hawk
  • Lizard
  • Octopus
  • Owl
  • Poisonous Snake
  • Quipper
  • Rat
  • Raven
  • Sea Horse
  • Spider
  • Weasel
Splatbook Familiars

In addition to the above, an interactive map of Icewind Dale released for the 2020 D&D Celebration contained three puzzle-concealed Adventurer's League-legal unlockable familiars; the Gelatinous Ice Cube (a frozen miniature Gelatinous Cube), the Snowy Owlbear Cub, and the Arctic Stink-Squirrel (basically a skunk with a climb speed).

The Tome of Beasts series by Kobold Press does have a few unique familiars tucked away in its pages. Perhaps due to the Midgard setting originating as a Pathfinder system, many of these familiars actually work by different rules; these "pseudo-familiars" do gain the sense-sharing telepathic link, but don't have the normal reincarnative or dismissal abilities, nor can they usually channel magic - the Kuunganisha is unusual for this trait alone. Unlike true familiars, they can't simply be summoned with a Find Familiar spell, but must be persuaded to agree to forming a familiar bond - Find Familiar can make them show up, but won't guarantee automatic obedience.

  • Clockwork Beetle (ToB1)
  • Drake, Crimson (ToB1)
  • Library Automaton (ToB1)
  • Stryx (Pseudo-Familiar)
  • Witchlight (ToB1)
  • Alkonost (CC) (Pseudo-Familiar)
  • Kuunganisha (CC) (Pseudo-Familiar)
  • Leonino (CC) (Pseudo-Familiar)
  • Living Shade (CC) (Pseudo-Familiar)
  • Wolpertinger (CC) (Pseudo-Familiar)
  • Aviere (ToB2) (Pseudo-Familiar)
  • Lantern Beetle (ToB2)
  • Sniffer Beetle (ToB2)
  • Blood Imp (ToB2) (Pseudo-Familiar)
  • Compsognathus (ToB2) (Pseudo-Familiar)
  • Keyhole Dragonette (ToB2) (Pseudo-Familiar)
  • Light Drake (ToB2) (Pseudo-Familiar)
  • Lymarien (ToB2) (Pseudo-Familiar)
  • Wicked Skull (ToB2) (Pseudo-Familiar)
  • Yowler (ToB2)
  • Bilby (ToB2)
  • Fennec Fox (ToB2)
  • Holler Spider (ToB2)
  • Resinous Frog (ToB2)


In both Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40,000, familiars are a kind of lesser daemon that Chaos Sorcerers have traditionally been able to take as wargear. Daemonic familiars come in a vast array of shapes, but over time have had their roles simplify. For example, Warrior Familiars are unusually strong and aggressive for their kind, and generally provide some free attacks to their master.

In 2nd edition Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (the one by Black Industries), familiars are discussed in "Realms of Sorcery", the sourcebook on wizard PCs. Familiars are the very first entry in chapter 7, "Magical Tools": according to this book, there are three ways to get a Familiar in the Warhammer world.

Firstly, you can craft a homunculous; a little artifical man or beast made from artificial material (or flesh & bone, if you wanna be gross) and then bring it to life with magic. This option requires Magic (3), Academic Knowledge (Magic), and Arcane Language (Magick) to have both the raw power and the learning to complete the ritual, as well as the magical affinity for Death, Fire, Light, Metal, Shadow, Chaos or Necromancy magic in order to breathe life.

Secondly, you can use magic to form a soul-bound with a living creature. This is easier than making a homunculous, as you only require Magic (2) and the Charm Animal skill, but it is restricted to those with the magical affinity for Beasts, Fire, the Heavens, Life, Light and Shadow magic, or those who possess the Witchcraft talent.

The third option is to summon and bind an imp-level Daemon - these methods are only undertaken by Chaos Sorcerers, for obvious reasons, and are detailed in the splatbook Tome of Corruption instead.

The big reason for bothering with this? Firstly, companionship; being a wizard is a lonely affair in the world of Warhammer. Secondly, every familiar has at least one of several magical bonuses:

  • Aethyric Reserve allows a familiar to store a spell and then unleash it on its own.
  • Link of Psyche gives master and familiar a telepathic bond - which, aside from being useful for using your familiar as a spy, also boosts both the wizard's Int and Willpower stats and the familiar's own whilst they're both conscious.
  • Lucky Charm causes the familiar to generate 2 Fortune Points per day.
  • Magic Focus allows the familiar to double an attribute of a spell, at the cost of making it more unpredictable.
  • Magic Power means that the familiar's presence effectively raises the wizard's Magic Characteristic by 1.
  • Master's Touch allows the familiar to serve as a "stand-in" for casting the wizard's spells.
  • Master's Voice allows the wizard to project their voice through the familiar from afar, which means it can effectively act as not only a living telephone, but also let the wizard cast even if he's gagged.
  • Voice of Reason makes the familiar into a natural magical dampener, giving its master added protection against Tzeentch's Curse.


In the Deadlands roleplaying game, having a Familiar is a 5-point Huckster-only Edge found in the splatbook Hucksters and Hexes. With this Edge, the huckster forms a spiritual and mental link with a single small animal - no bigger than a medium-sized dog. The familiar's presence boosts the huckster's ability to manipulate magical energy, giving them a +1 to Hexcasting rolls. However, if it's slain, that spiritual link causes a huge backlash; the Huckster must make an Incredible (11) Vigor check or be Stunned until they can pass it, and even after they shake off the stunning, they suffer a -2 modifier to all Trait and Aptitude rolls for the next 1d6 days.

Add in that it costs triple the Bounty Points and a month of study and a Fair (5) Academia: Occult roll to replace a dead familiar, you better be treating it right, partner!

See Also[edit]