Is this flightless homebrew “riding bird” familiar balanced?

A player in the new campaign I am DMing wants their character, a halfling wizard, to ride around on a small bird, going for a Sir Didymus from Labyrinth feel. He suggested this could be his familiar, though he was very clear he doesn’t expect this give him any special advantages (increased speed, flight etc.) beyond those a familiar normally grants. I liked the idea, so I came up with the following creature which would be added to the list of animal forms for the find familiar spell:

Bococho (riding familiar)
Small fey, unaligned
AC 12
HP 3 (1d6)
Speed 25 ft. (cannot fly)
STR 7 (-2) DEX 15 (+2) CON 10 (+0)
INT 2 (-4) WIS 14 (+2) CHA 7 (-2)
Skills: Perception +4
Senses: Passive Perception 14
Magical Mount. A bococho can carry its master (including their belongings), as long as they are of size Small or smaller. It won’t carry anything else.
Peck. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d4 + 2) piercing damage.

It’s based on the eagle’s stats (since that’s a Small-sized bird which is still CR 0), but with no flying speed (it’s flightless), a better walking speed (matching a halfling’s normal speed), no Keen Sight trait, and the new Magical Mount trait allowing it to carry its master and for simplicity’s sake to magically ignore how much gear they’re carrying. (For reference, the slightly increased Strength of 7 means it can carry up to 105 pounds, which seems pretty reasonable for carrying a halfling wizard, who will only weigh around 40 pounds plus gear.) It retains the eagle’s hit points and (slightly tweaked for theme) attack.

Is this balanced? I’m pretty sure that the hp and attack won’t be an issue, since it still has a tiny number of hp and it can’t attack in normal circumstances anyway, but have I made it too weak removing it’s ability to fly at all (rather than just specifying it cannot fly while being ridden, say) and removing it’s sharp sight feature (advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks involving sight)? Are there any drawbacks or advantages to this familiar that I haven’t considered?

Can a Rogue exploit a tiny familiar for automatic Sneak Attack in melee?

A Rogue’s Sneak Attack can be triggered “if another enemy of the target is within 5 feet of it”. As discussed here, such another enemy may also be a familiar, and the Sage Advice Compendium seems to confirm this (even though I am a bit confused that it does not emphasize the fact that the familiar qualifies as “another enemy”, but rather that it is “an allied creature”).

While it hardly makes sense in view of the narrative behind a Sneak Attack, this technically means that a spider familiar located in some reasonably safe spot on a Rogue’s body lets them always use their Sneak Attack in melee. Using the Cunning Action to Disengage, the Rogue can immediately retreat, taking the familiar with them and thus taking it out of immediate danger.

Am I missing something? What’s the catch? How can a DM deal with that apart from flat out prohibiting it?

Is this Flying Monkey familiar overpowered?

I am DMing a game with my niece, whose character is a 2nd level Wizard. In our last session she acquired the find familiar spell which she copied into her spell book and then wanted to cast to summon a flying monkey. Initially I didn’t allow it since the spell description only lists fairly mundane creatures, but I’ve been thinking it over and I’d like let her have her way. It would be a fun thing to add to the game and it would also be a small reward for what I think is a cool idea.

Here are the stats for the Flying Monkey that I have worked up:

Flying Monkey

Tiny beast, unaligned

Armor Class 13
Hit Points 4 (2d4)
Speed 30 ft., climb 20 ft., fly 30 ft.

STR 8 (−1) DEX 16 (+3) CON 10 (+0)
INT 6 (−2) WIS 12 (+1) CHA 10 (+0)

Skills Stealth +5 (while not flying), Acrobatics +5, Sleight of Hand +3
Senses passive Perception 11
Challenge 0 (10 XP)

Nimble. The flying monkey has advantage on all dexterity based saving throws.


Bite. Melee weapon attack: +1 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 1 (1d4 − 1) piercing damage.

Does this seem to be in line with the other familiars, power-wise? Or is it overpowered?

It has a fly and climb speed, but I’ve kept them fairly low to compensate. I’ve also given it stealth and the ability to use sleight of hand to give it some additional utility and to compensate for the lack of special senses.

5e Familiar using a magic item to cast a concentration spell

As there are items that do not require concentration and allow the casting of spells through them, such as the wind fan, is it possible to have the familiar take the concentration for this spell?

While holding this fan, you can use an action to cast the Gust of Wind spell (save DC 13) from it. Once used, the fan shouldn’t be used again until the next dawn. Each time it is used again before then, it has a cumulative 20 percent chance of not working and tearing into useless, nonmagical tatters.

Note that this fan does not require attunement and is a totally stand-alone tool in your familiar’s hands. An octopus, rat or weasel would arguably have the ability to hold and wave such an object around.

Is this Eldritch Crystal Familiar overpowered?

My friend is DMing a campaign, and I’ve been helping him balance out the homebrew content the players request. The most recent request is a custom familiar that the PC is getting through the Magic Initiate Feat to steal the Find Familiar spell.

To support the custom familiar, the player cited Volo’s Guide to Monsters with:

Variant: Familiars Any spellcaster that can cast the find familiar spell (such as an apprentice, warlock, or wizard) is likely to have a familiar. The familiar can be one of the creatures described in the spell (see the Player’s Handbook) or some other Tiny monster, such as a cranium rat, a crawling claw, a gazer, an imp, a pseudodragon, or a quasit.

Some of the balance difficulty comes from the fact that they want a monster not in the Monster Manual. The player is hell-bent on having a crystal as their familiar, and created this:

Eldritch Crystal
Tiny ooze, chaotic evil
Armor Class 12
Hit Points 3 (1d4)
Speed 10 ft., burrow 5 ft.
STR 1 (−5)
DEX 8 (-1)
CON 12 (+1)
INT 10 (+0)
WIS 3 (-4)
CHA 1 (-5)
Skills: Arcana +2
Senses blindsight 10 ft, passive Perception 6
Challenge 0 (10 XP)
Otherwordly Resilience: The Eldritch Crystal takes no damage from damaging spells, and no additional damage from magical weapons.
Innate Spellcasting: The Eldritch Crystal can cast either Blur or Meld into Stone once per short or long rest.

Is it a balanced familiar? If not, what would make it balanced?

Notes on specific features:

  • The Ooze choice (instead of, say, Aberration, Construct, or Fiend) was because of some 3.5e crystalline oozes.
  • The magic resistance was specifically asked for because the player is a Forge Cleric who’s getting this familiar through a feat. The class gets fire immunity, and the player wanted a familiar who wouldn’t be hurt by all the splash and flames.

Is it possible for two Sorceresses to be a Familiar to each other?

On one of my Pathfinder tables, two players came up with the idea of having their new characters – two 3rd level Sorceresses – not only having a romantic relationship, but also being so important to each other that they went through a ritual that made both of them a familiar for each other.

Their plan is for them to build their characters as Fey-Touched, take Improved Familiar and then bind each other as a familiar.

While Improved Familiar is pretty clear regarding Fey-Touched creatures being a valid target for a familiar, I’m under the impression that what the rules are saying is that you can pick a regular familiar with the template “Fey-touched” applied upon it, not any arbitrary creature with said template, and so they wouldn’t be able to make this work.

I’m not even sure if a PC can be built with the Fey-Touched template from the get go, but assuming it is possible:

  • Is my reading of Improved Familiar correct?
  • If it is and it is impossible for them to proceed with their plan this way, is there any other build that could enable them to follow this concept that would be valid with no or minimal DM-fiat?

Does a familiar act on its own initiative count?

In our group we always had a familar act “simultaneously” together with its master on a single (the master´s) initative count.

But considering that

  • a familiar can act independently
  • has – in most cases, because of it´s own dexterity score – a different initative modifier than its master
  • can use the “delay action” or the “ready action” which automatically leads to a new position in the inatative order

a familiar should rather have its own initative count.

The problem now is – assuming the familiar is not being carried, sitting on a shoulder, etc – that it cannot move together with its master, if it acts on its own initative count. Even if familiar and master act immediately one after another, someone has to move first.

If master and familiar want to stay together within 5 feet, the only way to accomplish that would be to move no more than 5 feet each round, because otherwise they would lose touch.

Especially concerning the familiar´s Share Spells ability this would have consequences.

Share Spells (PHB): … If the spell or effect has a duration other than instantaneous, it stops affecting the familiar if it moves farther than 5 feet away and will not affect the familiar again even if it returns to the master before the duration expires. (emphasis mine)

“Imbue Familiar with Spell Ability” and Share Spells

If a wizard/sorcerer employs the spell “Imbue Familiar with Spell Ability”, transfers spells on his familiar and has then his familiar cast a spell (e.g. Invisibility) on him, can his familiar share that spell (become invisible as well)?

In other words: does the Share Spell ability of the familiar still work although it is not the master that is casting the spell?

Share Spells

At the master’s option, he may have any spell … he casts on himself also affect his familiar.

I tend to say ´no´, but I´m not quite sure. One could argue that although the familiar functions as the caster it´s still the master´s spell that´s being cast and the master´s caster level that is being applied.

… The transferred spell’s variable characteristics (range, duration, area, and so on) function according to your level. … (Spell description “Imbue Familiar with Spell Ability”)

So, in a way, the master casts the spell (Invisibility in this case) – via his familiar – on himself. If you see it like this the familiar should then be able to share that spell.

Do creatures from Find Familiar (spell) age & grow old?

As the title says.

An ‘animal’ familiar, as summoned by the 5e [ritual] 1st level spell are not normal creatures. Technically they are ‘spirits’: fiends, celestials or fay. Does the age of the body change &/or grow old?

Common problems / concerns:

1/ They are wee creatures! Find out how long the appropriate creature lives and recast the spell when their body dies. An ‘goliath bird eater’ spider or most owls live for 15-25 years. A mouse, 5-7 years. And so on. When you re-cast the spell the spirit comes back and refabs itself a new body. Option: kill your familiar to get a new-fresh-young body!

2/ They are immortal creatures. As neither Solar nor Quasits age, neither will these things. The body is just for show and to meter out game stats.

3/ Time spent in ‘pocket dimensions’ does not count! The DM has to keep track of the exact minutes your familiar is out & about / active in the Real World on a specific chart. When the body expires (or ‘not killed often enough’) you must re-summon a familiar at THAT time.

4/ Spirits get bored of this world / have better things to do / get promotions / have events in heaven &/or hell to attend, etc. When you ‘cast’ or summon your familiar that spirit goes with you for a reasonable amount of time. When it is sick and tired of you (for ANY reason) you get a totally new familiar. If they get really sick of you they simply expire (‘appear to die’) and don’t come back. Then you must re-cast the spell and get a different spirit with a new body.

NOTE Not trying to answer the question. The ideas above show problems encountered & why this is a question in the first place. I.e. a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ will not suffice.

How does this familiar Gazer work?

Our Wizard has the Find Familiar spell, and we’re running through Waterdeep: Dragon Heist. At a point of the adventure, adventurers find an albino Gazer.

If I understand correctly, the Wizard can now summon/unsummon the Gazer with a Find Familiar spell. This seems different from the consensus here, where a familiar is just a pet and has no relation with the actual spell, based on the VGM variant:

GAZER FAMILIAR: The gazer can serve another creature as a familiar, forming a telepathic bond with its willing master […]. While the two are bonded, the master can sense what the gazer senses as long as they are within 1 mile of each other. If its master causes it physical harm, the gazer will end its service as a familiar, breaking the telepathic bond.

From now on, is the Gazer Familiar something summoned by Find Familiar, or something like a pet that permanently exists?