Familiars and the Arcane Bond

House Rules


Arcane Bonded Objects

At 1st level, wizards form a powerful bond with an object or a creature. This bond can take one of two forms: a familiar or a bonded object. A familiar is a magical pet that enhances the wizard’s skills and senses and can aid him in magic, while a bonded object is an item a wizard can use to cast additional spells or to serve as a magical item. Once a wizard makes this choice, it is permanent and cannot be changed. Rules for bonded items are given below, while rules for familiars are at the end of this section.

Wizards who select a bonded object begin play with one at no cost. Objects that are the subject of an arcane bond must fall into one of the following categories: amulet, ring, staff, wand, or weapon. These objects are always masterwork quality. Weapons acquired at 1st level are not made of any special material. If the object is an amulet or ring, it must be worn to have effect, while staves, wands, and weapons must be held in one hand. If a wizard attempts to cast a spell without his bonded object worn or in hand, he must make a concentration check or lose the spell. The DC for this check is equal to 20 + the spell’s level. If the object is a ring or amulet, it occupies the ring or neck slot accordingly.

A bonded object can be used once per day to cast any one spell that the wizard has in his spellbook and is capable of casting, even if the spell is not prepared. This spell is treated like any other spell cast by the wizard, including casting time, duration, and other effects dependent on the wizard’s level. This spell cannot be modified by metamagic feats or other abilities. The bonded object cannot be used to cast spells from the wizard’s opposition schools (see arcane school).

A wizard can add additional magic abilities to his bonded object as if he has the required item creation feats and if he meets the level prerequisites of the feat. For example, a wizard with a bonded dagger must be at least 5th level to add magic abilities to the dagger (see the Craft Magic Arms and Armor feat in Feats). If the bonded object is a wand, it loses its wand abilities when its last charge is consumed, but it is not destroyed and it retains all of its bonded object properties and can be used to craft a new wand. The magic properties of a bonded object, including any magic abilities added to the object, only function for the wizard who owns it. If a bonded object’s owner dies, or the item is replaced, the object reverts to being an ordinary masterwork item of the appropriate type.

If a bonded object is damaged, it is restored to full hit points the next time the wizard prepares his spells. If the object of an arcane bond is lost or destroyed, it can be replaced after 1 week in a special ritual that costs 200 gp per wizard level plus the cost of the masterwork item. This ritual takes 8 hours to complete. There are other consequences of a broken arcane bond (see below). Items replaced in this way do not possess any of the additional enchantments of the previous bonded item. A wizard can designate an existing magic item as his bonded item. This functions in the same way as replacing a lost or destroyed item except that the new magic item retains its abilities while gaining the benefits and drawbacks of becoming a bonded item.


A familiar is an animal chosen by a spellcaster to aid him in his study of magic. It retains the appearance, Hit Dice, base attack bonus, base save bonuses, skills, and feats of the normal animal it once was, but is now a magical beast for the purpose of effects that depend on its type. Only a normal, unmodified animal may become a familiar. An animal companion cannot also function as a familiar.

A familiar grants special and arcane abilities to its master. These abilities apply only when the master and familiar are within 1 mile of each other.

The special abilities are detailed on the table below.

The arcane abilities imbued by the familiar are based on a modifier comprised of half of the familiar’s Intelligence (INT) score. Add this number as a modifier to the Wizard’s INT for the purposes of determining her…

  • Concentration check
  • Bonus spells per day
  • Save DC
Familiar Special Ability
Bat Master gains a +3 bonus on Fly checks
Cat Master gains a +3 bonus on Stealth checks
Hawk Master gains a +3 bonus on sight-based and opposed Perception checks in bright light
Lizard Master gains a +3 bonus on Climb checks
Monkey Master gains a +3 bonus on Acrobatics checks
Owl Master gains a +3 bonus on sight-based and opposed Perception checks in shadows or darkness
Rat Master gains a +2 bonus on Fortitude saves
Raven* Master gains a +3 bonus on Appraise checks
Viper Master gains a +3 bonus on Bluff checks
Toad Master gains +3 hit points
Weasel Master gains a +2 bonus on Reflex saves
Blue-Ringed Octopus Master gains +3 bonus on Swim checks
Donkey Rate Master gains +2 bonus on Fortitude saves
Fox Master gains +2 bonus on Reflex saves
Goat Master gains +3 bonus on Survival checks
Greensting Scorpion Master gains +4 bonus on Initiative checks
Hedgehog Master gains +2 bonus on Will saves
House centipede Master gains +3 bonus on Stealth checks
King Crab Master gains +2 bonus on CMB checks to start and maintain a grapple
Pig Master gaIns a +3 bonus on Diplomacy checks
Scarlet spider Master gains a +3 bonus on Climb checks
Thrush* Master gains a +3 bonus on Diplomacy checks
Turtle Master gains a +1 Natural Armor bonus to AC

*A raven or thrush familiar can speak one language of its master’s choice as a supernatural ability.

Familiar Ability Descriptions: All familiars have special abilities (or impart abilities to their masters) depending on their level, as shown on the table below (under Familiar Advancement). The abilities are cumulative.

If a familiar is dismissed, lost or dies, it can be replaced 1 week later through a specialized ritual that costs 200 gp. The ritual takes 8 hours to complete. This new familiar will begin play at level 1 (see Familiar Advancement below). There are other consequences of a broken arcane bond (see below).

The Arcane Bond

Due to the nature of the arcane bond between the object/familiar and the wizard, the following occurs should the bond be broken (dismissed, lost, or destroyed):

  • The Wizard must make a DC 20 Will save or take d4 INT drain and be stunned for d4 rounds (Success = ability damage and no stun).
  • Should the bond be forcibly broken, residual magics are released, causing a d8 damage burst of arcane energy to occur in a 5’ radius of the object/familiar

Familiar Advancement

  • Familiars advance similarly to the way cohorts do via the Leadership Feat. A familiar earns XP by dividing his level by the PCs Wizard level. Multiply the result by the total XP awarded to the PC; then add that number to the familiar’s XP total.
    • The exception to this rule is 1st level. Familiars ear XP at a rate of 75% of that earned by the PC at 1st level.
  • Familiars treat Acrobatics, Climb, Fly, Perception, Stealth, and Swim as class skills. They receive 2+INT skill points per level.
  • When an animal first becomes a familiar and is bonded to the Wizard, then they become a first level familiar. They advance in the same manner as other characters. Their abilities are governed by the following table:
Level HD BAB Fort Ref Will Skills Feats NAB Int Special
1st +2 +1 +3 +3 +0 2 1 +0 +0 Alertness, Improved evasion, emphatic link, share spells
2nd +3 +2 +3 +3 +1 3 2 +0 +1
3rd +3 +2 +3 +3 +1 3 2 +2 +2 Deliver touch spells
4th +4 +3 +4 +4 +1 4 2 +2 +2 Ability score increase
5th +5 +3 +4 +4 +1 5 3 +2 +3 Speak with Master
6th +6 +4 +5 +5 +2 6 3 +4 +4
7th +6 +4 +5 +5 +2 6 3 +4 +4 Speak with animals of its kind
8th +7 +5 +5 +5 +2 7 4 +4 +5
9th +8 +6 +6 +6 +2 8 4 +6 +6 Ability score increase
10th +9 +6 +6 +6 +3 9 5 +6 +6
11th +9 +6 +6 +6 +3 9 5 +6 +7 Spell resistance
12th +10 +7 +7 +7 +3 10 5 +8 +8
13th +11 +8 +7 +7 +3 11 6 +8 +8 Scry on familiar
14th +12 +9 +8 +8 +4 12 6 +8 +9 Ability score increase
15th +12 +9 +8 +8 +4 12 6 +10 +10
16th +13 +9 +8 +8 +4 13 7 +10 +10
17th +14 +10 +9 +9 +4 14 7 +10 +11
18th +15 +11 +9 +9 +5 15 8 +12 +12
19th +15 +11 +9 +9 +5 15 8 +12 +12
20th +16 +12 +10 +10 +5 16 8 +12 +13 Ability score increase

HD: The total bonus to the familiar’s HD based on level.

BAB: The familiar’s base attack bonus by level. Familiars do not gain additional attacks using their natural weapons for a high base attack bonus.

Fort_/Ref_/Will: The familiar’s Fortitude, Reflex, and Will save bonuses by level.

Skills: The familiar’s total skill ranks. If a familiar gains a 10 Int, then they gain bonus skill points as per normal. Familars with Int of 3 or higher can purchase ranks in any skill. Otherwise, they may only purchase ranks in Animal Skills (see Animal Companions). A familiar cannot have more ranks in a skill than its level.

Feats: The total number of feats possessed by the familiar. Familiars should select their feats from those listed under Animal Feats (see Animal Companions). Familiars may select other feats, though some may not be usable (such as Martial Weapon Proficiency). Note that familiars cannot select a feat with a requirement of base attack bonus +1 until they gain their second feat at 2nd level.

Natural Armor Adj.: The number noted here is in addition to the familiar’s existing natural armor bonus.

Int: The Intelligence bonus for the familiar.

Alertness (Ex): While a familiar is within arm’s reach, the master gains the Alertness feat.

Improved Evasion (Ex): When subjected to an attack that normally allows a Reflex saving throw for half damage, a familiar takes no damage if it makes a successful saving throw and half damage even if the saving throw fails.

Share Spells: The wizard may cast a spell with a target of “You” on his familiar (as a touch spell) instead of on himself. A wizard may cast spells on his familiar even if the spells do not normally affect creatures of the familiar’s type (magical beast).

Empathic Link (Su): The master has an empathic link with his familiar to a 1 mile distance. The master can communicate empathically with the familiar, but cannot see through its eyes. Because of the link’s limited nature, only general emotions can be shared. The master has the same connection to an item or place that his familiar does.

Deliver Touch Spells (Su): If the familiar is 3rd level or higher, a familiar can deliver touch spells for its master. If the master and the familiar are in contact at the time the master casts a touch spell, he can designate his familiar as the “toucher.” The familiar can then deliver the touch spell just as the master would. As usual, if the master casts another spell before the touch is delivered, the touch spell dissipates.

Speak with Master (Ex): If the familiar is 5th level or higher, a familiar and the master can communicate verbally as if they were using a common language. Other creatures do not understand the communication without magical help.
Speak with Animals of Its Kind (Ex): If the master is 7th level or higher, a familiar can communicate with animals of approximately the same kind as itself (including dire varieties): bats with bats, cats with felines, hawks and owls and ravens with birds, lizards and snakes with reptiles, monkeys with other simians, rats with rodents, toads with amphibians, and weasels with ermines and minks. Such communication is limited by the Intelligence of the conversing creatures.

Spell Resistance (Ex): If the familiar is 11th level or higher, a familiar gains spell resistance equal to the master’s level + 5. To affect the familiar with a spell, another spellcaster must get a result on a caster level check (1d20 + caster level) that equals or exceeds the familiar’s spell resistance.

Scry on Familiar (Sp): If the familiar is 13th level or higher, the master may scry on his familiar (as if casting the scrying spell) once per day.

A familiar can be enhanced further by the Improved Familiar feat.

Familiars and the Arcane Bond

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