How to determine if an animal is a familiar or a regular beast?

As a player (or DM) might use a familiar as a spy, are there ways, magical or otherwise to detect that a cat is a familiar, or just a house cat?

I’ve read the answer to Are familiars considered magical for effects like detect magic? and agree with the accepted answer that they are not. So what might be other methods for exposing the nature of the creature in front of you?

And I mean short of killing it to see if it disappears 😉

Does unarmed proficiency get downgraded in Pathfinder 2e polymorph spells (animal form etc.)?

Every polymorph spell that grants you special attacks in your battle form notes that you are trained with these attacks. They are also always unarmed attacks. Does your proficiency bonus for these attacks get a downgrade if you are usually an expert with unarmed attacks, and now you are only trained?

Arguments for:

  • "Trained" is not just proficiency in general, but the name of one of the proficiency levels in particular. The descriptions could have said "You apply your proficiency for unarmed attacks" or just nothing, because every class is at least trained with unarmed attacks.
  • Animals are not usually very educated (see also: elephants with high strength and medium athletics)
  • This could be meant to keep you from getting too powerful with these attacks or exploit monk abilities with them, as the attacks allow you to use your own attack modifier if it is higher than the (relatively high) modifier included in the spell.

Arguments against:

  • I seem to vaguely remember errata saying that yes, every class is trained in unarmed attacks. These descriptions could be a holdover from the time where that wasn’t clear.
  • There aren’t many skill downgrades in the game, and those are always described as obvious drawbacks (literally, in the case of the silvertongue elixir.) It seems strange to limit your character’s powers here and only here.
  • If you did just want to say that players don’t need to worry about proficiency penalties, should they want to use their own attack modifier, I guess that would be a concise way to say it.

When I cast Simulacrum to make a copy of a creature with a feature like Rangers Companion, do I get a free animal companion to go with it?

The Simulacrum spell contains an interesting clause.

It appears to be the same as the original, but it has half the creature’s hit point maximum and is formed without any Equipment. Otherwise, the Illusion uses all the Statistics of the creature it duplicates.

Since the Companion feature is part of a creatures statistics, this means that it should get duplicated, I think. So if I were to duplicate a creature that has a feature like Rangers Companion (or something similar), does the animal companion automatically come with it?

Related questions that would have an answer based on the answer to the primary question:

  • If we don’t get a free companion, can the simulacra bond with a new one?

  • If we do get one, would it also be an illusion, or is it a real flesh-and-blood creature?

  • If the Simulacra dies, does the companion instantly die as well?

  • If the companion dies, can the Simulacra bond with a new companion?

Animal handling check new companions for other party members

DM here.

I plan to give the party an opportunity to find a homonculus in a defeated necromancer lair and possibly make it there animal companion if they wish to.

The druid characters could probably make the animal handling checks easily. However other characters could also be interested in the companion.

The question : is there an official mechanic other than the help action to allow the druide to help the sorcerer to acquire the homonculus as a pet ?

If not how would you implement a rule to do so and explain it narratively (not just "the druid role for you")

Can we get my gestalt E6 character’s dire wolf animal companion/special mount her 21st HD?

In a previous question, I asked about making my strange gestalt E6 character’s mount tougher. I have followed that advice, and as my character is now (among other things) a gestalt of

  • Harmonium peacekeeper 1st/druid 5th
  • beastmaster 1st/ranger-knight of Furyondy 1st

with Devoted Tracker and Holy Mount, so he counts as a 15th-level paladin for the purposes of a special mount, and a 9th-level druid for the purposes of animal companion, which thanks to Devoted Tracker are the same creature: a dire wolf named She-of-Spots.¹ (She-of-Spots also counts as the familiar of a 3rd-level witch thanks to arcane hierophant but that doesn’t affect this question.)

As in the previous question, this is a form of E6 where additional “levels” are gained as gestalt to the previous sets of 6 (which is how I can have Harmonium peacekeeper as my “1st” level, since there is another set² of 6 before it that don’t impact She-of-Spots). Importantly, since this is gestalt, “overlapping” levels that count towards animal companion or special mount status don’t stack, and since it’s E6, those base levels can’t exceed 6th—which I already have for both animal companion and special mount. That also nixes Natural Bond for improving animal companion status. The only reason I am able to achieve effective 9th-level druid and 15th-level paladin status is because of the bonuses provided by beastmaster (+3 levels for animal companion status), Harmonium peacekeeper (+4 levels for special mount status), and ranger-knight of Furyondy (+5 levels for special mount status).

Anyway, all told, my mount has 20 HD—6 HD as a dire wolf, +6 for being the animal companion of a 9th-level druid, +8 for being the special mount of a 15th-level druid.¹ 20 HD is a very interesting number: one more and she’s be an Epic character. As much I despise the Epic rules—and I do—the idea of my pet dog being Epic-leveled in an E6 world is just too amusing not to pursue.

All 3.5e material (including 3.5e-legal 3e material) published by Wizards of the Coast, or from Dragon or Dungeon magazine, is acceptable, as well as all Paizo-published Pathfinder material (Paizo’s 3.5e material. I want some option that simply grants my companion mount (familiar) at least one bonus HD—a real HD, that will allow her to select another (now Epic) feat, not “counting as” or temporary à la inspire heroics. An effect that grants my character a bonus to his effective druid level for the purposes of animal companion would do the trick, for example.

I should level-up a few more times this campaign, so class levels and feats are legitimate, but remember this is E6—prestige classes or feats that require things an E6 character can’t have don’t work. Attempts to “break” the 6th-level limit of E6—say, contracting lycanthropy so that Natural Bond’s +3 druid level bonus applies—are not acceptable.

Suggestions must be something reasonably within player-character control. No outside assistance can be assumed, though, nor stuff like acquired templates that require finding a specific rare monster or whatever. I want stuff I can just pick when I level up or get a feat. Items are acceptable, provided they could be made by an E6 character and provide a continuous bonus.

The mount is a dire wolf—her being canine is pretty important to the story and can’t be changed. Alternative mounts might have more HD, perhaps, and thus reach 21 HD after my existing bonus HD, but unless the alternative is also canine and also has the auto-trip attack that wolves have, it isn’t acceptable. Likewise, polymorph magic, on either of us, isn’t an acceptable answer.

Various forms of extreme cheese—“unleveling,” manipulate form, any kind of infinite/arbitrary loop, perfectly-timed level-ups, are all banned.

  1. The bonus HD from animal companion status and from special mount status have been ruled to stack. This is certainly arguable, RAW, but this is what we’ve gone with—after trying it without and finding the mount a rather anemic contribution to combat.

  2. For the curious, the first set of 6 was commoner, and then another set of 6 devoted to a full-BAB psionic class.

Can an animal cast spells via a Ring of Spell Storing? [duplicate]

Based on this question, (answered here), I have a follow up question:

Can a normal animal cast spells via a Ring of Spell Storing?

It seems that any animal, if properly trained, can attune to the Ring. But do they have the ability to cast spells stored within?

This is strictly about trained, wild animals; not familiars where there is a telepathic link, not Beast Master beasts where there is a deeper connection. This is referring to the pig I grew up with, the owl I nursed back to health, or the rat I bought from the local store.

The best I could find so far is the Feeblemind spell which states:

… the creature’s Intelligence and Charisma scores become 1. The creature can’t cast spells, activate magic items, understand language, or communicate in any intelligible way. The creature can, however, identify its friends, follow them, and even protect them.

But is the ability score or 1 what prevents the spell casting, or an effect from the spell?

But if we take an owl, it has an Int of 2. Is that enough to cast a spell?

Consider that a PC can still become a Wizard even with the lowest die roll of 3. They just can’t multiclass.

Also, from the Ring’s description:

While wearing this ring, you can cast any spell stored in it. The spell uses the slot level, spell save DC, spell attack bonus, and spellcasting ability of the original caster, but is otherwise treated as if you cast the spell. The spell cast from the ring is no longer stored in it, freeing up space.

There is no mention of whether components are required or not. If they are, could a beast form the words/sounds needed for Verbal components?