You gain the service of a familiar, a spirit that takes an animal form you choose: bat, cat, crab, frog (toad), hawk, lizard, octopus, owl, poisonous snake, fish (quipper), rat, raven, sea horse, spider, or weasel. Appearing in an unoccupied space within range, the familiar has the statistics of the chosen form, though it is a celestial, fey, or fiend (your choice) instead of a beast.
Your familiar acts independently of you, but it always obeys your commands. In combat, it rolls its own initiative and acts on its own turn. A familiar can’t attack, but it can take other actions as normal.
When the familiar drops to 0 hit points, it disappears, leaving behind no physical form. It reappears after you cast this spell again
While your familiar is within 100 feet of you, you can communicate with it telepathically. Additionally, as an action, you can see through your familiar’s eyes and hear what it hears until the start of your next turn, gaining the benefits of any special senses that the familiar has. During this time, you are deaf and blind with regard to your own senses.
As an action, you can temporarily dismiss your familiar. It disappears into a pocket dimension where it awaits your summons. Alternatively, you can dismiss it forever. As an action while it is temporarily dismissed, you can cause it to reappear in any unoccupied space within 30 feet of you.
You can’t have more than one familiar at a time. If you cast this spell while you already have a familiar, you instead cause it to adopt a new form. Choose one of the forms from the above list. Your familiar transforms into the chosen creature.
Finally, when you cast a spell with a range of touch, your familiar can deliver the spell as if it had cast the spell. Your familiar must be within 100 feet of you, and it must use its reaction to deliver the spell when you cast it. If the spell requires an attack roll, you use your attack modifier for the roll.
Casting Time: 1 hour
Range: 10 feet
Components: V, S, M (10 gp worth of charcoal, incense, and herbs that must be consumed by fire in a brass brazier)
School: 1st-level conjuration (ritual)
Who can cast Find Familiar? Wizards have Find Familiar on their class spell list. Additionally, Pact of the Chain Warlocks have access to an enhanced Find Familiar that allows for conjuring more powerful familiars that can attack. Druids can also cast a limited-duration Find Familiar without material components using their Wild Companion feature by expending a use of Wild Shape (TCoE 35).
Player’s Handbook, pg. 240
Find Familiar 5e
Find Familiar is a powerful utility spell that’s excellent for any Wizard (or any class) to have prepared. It’s your shortcut to having a (spirit) animal buddy in DnD 5e. Find Familiar also has the longest text description of any first-level spell in 5e, so it’s worth taking the time to suss out exactly how it works.
This article will cover the basics of Find Familiar, tactics for using the spell well
How Does Find Familiar Work in 5e?
Find Familiar summons one of the 15 following creatures by default:
Find Familiar takes one hour to cast, or one hour and ten minutes to cast as a ritual without expending a spell slot (PHB 201). The familiar appears within 10 feet of the caster.
Some official adventure books have additional creature options. Additionally, the stat block of the creature is the important thing, not the actual form they take (more on this in the “DM Tips” section below).
Once summoned, a familiar exists until it’s killed or you dismiss it permanently. You can also use an action to temporarily dismiss it to a pocket dimension, and another action to summon it back.
When within 100 feet of you, you can telepathically communicate with the familiar and cast Touch-ranged spells through it. When you use your action to do this, the familiar immediately takes its reaction to deliver the spell.
While active, you can use an action to experience the familiar’s senses (while losing your own). If the familiar has special senses (like Darkvision), you also have them while experiencing its senses.
When a Warlock with Pact of the Chain casts Find Familiar, they can also choose to summon a:
How to Use Find Familiar in 5e
Here are the best ways to use Find Familiar in 5e:
Use the Help action in combat. Although familiars can’t typically attack, they can use the Help action to give an ally advantage on their next attack. Pair this with a Rogue’s Sneak Attack, and you’ve got a recipe for consistent damage output throughout a fight.
Just be careful; familiars are incredibly squishy, which is one reason nimble familiars like the Owl are so powerful (more on that below). For Pact of the Chain Warlocks, using an invisible familiar is even safer — they can spam the Help action without breaking invisibility, and they can get away without taking opportunity attacks (which require sight of the target).
Scout ahead. One of the most common ways players use familiars is as unassuming scouts. Sending a Spider through a dungeon to crawl on ceilings and check things out with Darkvision. Or shoot a hawk up into the sky and get a bird’s eye view of the Orc encampment that your party hopes to ambush.
Long distance touch spells. The ability to cast spells with a range of touch up 100 feet away is incredibly powerful. Touch spells are typically scaled with risk/reward in mind — if you have to be close, you’re in a riskier position, so the spell has to be more powerful.
But with Find Familiar, you’ve got the most powerful damage at nearly the biggest range that standard spells can reach. Just like when you use your familiar to help, be careful about it getting one-shot due to being caught in a bad position.
Manipulating items. Sending you familiar to pull a lever, retrieve a key, or grab something from deep underwater can help in a number of puzzles and situations. But remember — you can’t send your little buddy to grab something, send him to the pocket dimension, and then have him reappear beside you with the item. He’ll have to be able to get back to you himself.
Sending messages. Being able to communicate telepathically up to 100 feet opens up opportunities for your party to split up for a tactical advantage. The Raven is especially suited for this purpose, as its Mimicry ability allows it to make imitations. Most DMs won’t carry this to words (certainly not full sentences), but the
Special senses. You can use your familiar’s special senses while looking through its eyes. While this makes you blind to your own senses, one way to get around this is to simply put your familiar on your head. However, a DM may rule that you cannot simultaneously move while looking through your familiar’s eyes (although the spell description never explicitly disallows it).
Give your Pact of the Chain familiar a wand. Using a magic item isn’t the same as taking the attack action, so they can use items like wands to cast spells on their turn — quite powerful, but rules-as-written fine. Although your DM might put certain limitations on it or claim it’s too OP to allow.
While Find Familiar comes with a hefty set of rules, it also comes with a huge range of applications.
What Are the Rules for Find Familiar in 5e?
The rules for Find Familiar in DnD 5e are as follows:
Your familiar cannot attack. While familiars can take every other action, they cannot normally attack (exceptions below). Note that this includes opportunity attacks, as they are still classified as attacks.
Your familiar can be dismissed outside of the 100-foot range. While telepathic communication and familiar-based touch spells have a 100-foot maximum range, the dismissal of your familiar (permanent or temporary) can happen at any range. Here’s a Jeremy Crawford quote on the topic.
Your familiar cannot bring things to the pocket dimension. The familiar vanishes; if the tiny creature was carrying anything, it falls to the ground. Sorry, no level 1 spirit bag of holding for you.
You can only have one familiar at a time. No horde of tiny animals either.
Familiars don’t make death saving throws. As the spell’s description states, the familiar vanishes immediately upon hitting 0 hit points.
Your familiars form can change. Each time you cast Find Familiar, you can choose the familiars form anew. Since you can only have one familiar at a time, though, any other familiar currently active will be permanently dismissed.
Not everyone can ritual cast this. Note that while Arcane Trickster Rogues, Eldritch Knight Fighters, and classes who lack the Ritual Casting feature but nevertheless gain Find Familiar via Magic Initiate cannot cast Find Familiar (or any spell) as a ritual spell.
Unless you get the Ritual Caster feature. With a prerequisite of 13 Intelligence or Wisdom, any class can learn Find Familiar as a ritual spell, as long as they choose the Wizard class spell list when they select this feature.
Familiar attack exception. Warlocks with the Pact of the Chain can forgo one of their own attacks to allow their familiar to make one attack of its own (PHB 107). PHB Errata has confirmed that the familiar takes its reaction to do so. This means it may not make an opportunity attack if you’ve used it to attack during that round of combat.
Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything also presented an additional Eldritch Invocation option for Pact of the Chain Warlocks: Investment of the Chain Master (TCoE 71). Part of this invocation allows Warlocks to take a bonus action to make an Attack with their familiar. This allows for much greater action economy.
Familiars use their own ability scores for saving throws. And this is not boosted by any saving throw bonuses that the summoner has.
Is Find Familiar 5e a Good Spell?
Yes, Find Familiar is a phenomenal spell in 5e. It’s like having a Swiss army knife in your back pocket at all times, as long as you can keep your familiar safe or in its pocket dimension.
It’s a scout, combat-helper, lever-puller, message-sender, and, even in unfortunate situations, it takes a hit that could’ve been directed at a character in your party instead.
But that’s not your real question…
What Is the Best Familiar in 5e?
The best familiar of the default set is the owl. This does not take into account familiars that are specific to Warlock Pact of the Chain.
Let’s briefly cover the top five familiars available to non-Warlocks:
Owl. Owls have a lot going for them: they have 60-foot flying speed, Keen Sight, and, most importantly, Flyby. This ability allows Owls to swoop in and out of the fray without ever provoking opportunity attacks. This opens up a lot of doors — most importantly, diving in, using the Help action to give an ally advantage on their next attack, and then flying back to safety.
Bat. Bats are another good choice. While slow, they offer 60 feet of Blindsight, making them excellent scouts and equally useful battlefield monitors. No enemy will be able to slink away from your party while a Bat familiar is active.
Hawk. Hawks have the highest passive perception of any familiars and Keen Sight. They’re a bit slower than Owls, but they make marginally better scouts.
Raven. The Raven doesn’t have Keen Sight or Blind Sight, but Mimicry opens up some fun utility, especially if your DM allows for Ravens to utter words or short phrases.
Spider. Stealthy, wall-climbing little buggers that no denizen of a dungeon will bother looking twice at — the perfect scout for dungeon crawls.
As you can see, flying familiars have an undeniable edge. Not only are they able to avoid many combat situations, but they also provide powerful special senses and abilities. The Owl’s Flyby ability puts it into a league of its own, really.
Runners-up include the Octopus (your best option for any underwater mission thanks to Ink Cloud) and the Weasel for having the highest stealth among familiars, as well as Keen Hearing and Smell.
Find Familiar: Warlock Pact of the Chain Options
With that out of the way, let’s turn to Warlock-specific familiars; those that come with the Pact of the Chain Pact Boon option. While each of the four Warlock familiars is superior to the Owl, the clear winner is the Imp. Let’s break down all four options to see why:
Imp. The devilish shapechanging bugger can scuttle or fly, is immune to fire and poison (very common damage types), is resistant to physical and cold damage, has Darkvision that can’t be impeded, and advantage on saving throws against magic. Plus it can stay invisible for as long as it can maintain concentration.
Sting can also deal a hefty amount of damage if you choose to use your Imp offensively (which you should definitely do versus magical enemies). And the Imp boasts 10 hit points, the highest of any familiar.
Pseudodragon. Pseudoragons have Keen Senses and can telepathically communicate with any creature, not just you. A Pseudodragon’s Sting also has a chance to instantly make a target unconscious. This is even better with the Investment of the Chain Master invocation, which changes the DC to your spell save DC, rather than your familiar’s.
Quasit. Quasits can attempt to scare a creature once a day, can potentially poison targets with their attacks, and have advantage on saving throws against magic.
Sprite. Sprites are the squishiest option, with only 2 hit points (although their 15 AC is the highest of the familiars). They can fly up to 40 feet, turn invisible at will, and learn the emotional state of a creature they touch. Their shortbow means they can actually be pretty decent damage dealers in a fight, as they’re pretty easy to keep save with a 40-foot flying speed.
Find Familiar 5e DM Tips
Anyone who’s DM’d for a group with a familiar knows they can be a real headache to manage. Depending on the party you’re DMing for, the situations you’ll face with Find Familiar will differ.
For a caster who wants to use Ravens to talk, you’ll have to decide what level of complexity you’ll allow it to get away with via Mimicry.
The Monster Manual’s entry for Hobgoblins does state that they “communicate with each other using trained ravens,” indicating that certain Ravens in the DnD universe are capable of carrying messages composed of full words or even sentences (MM 186).
You’ll also have to consider how you want to deal with familiars that constantly use the Help action to grant allies advantage on attack rolls. Are monsters smart enough to refocus their attention on the squishy familiar, or do they let this kind of thing go and focus on the players?
Regardless, Find Familiar is a fun spell. Players develop attachments, think up creative ways to employ their familiars, and generally have fun utilizing an extra party member. Reward smart use and remain consistent with your rulings.
Finally, be mindful of players hogging the spotlight by using their familiar to scout all the time. While they’re scouting, be sure to encourage other players to discuss what they’re doing — don’t let the action die just because the Wizard is off in a trance for 20 minutes.
DnD 5e Find Familiar FAQ
Find familiar DnD 5e FAQ:
Is find familiar permanent? Yes, find familiar is permanent. However, when it drops to 0 hit points, it disappears, and you must cast the spell again to conjure the familiar (or a new one) again. But there is no time limit on how long you can keep a familiar, either in your plane or in its pocket dimension.
How much weight can familiars carry? Familiars can carry a number of pounds equal to their Strength score multiplied by 15, divided by 2 (since they are all tiny creatures). This means that a Hawk can carry the most weight (37.5 pounds; 5 strength), while a sea horse can carry the least (7.5 pounds; 1 strength) (Player’s Handbook, pg. 176).
Can you have two familiars? No, you cannot have two familiars simultaneously, as the spell clearly states that ‘you can’t have more than one familiar at a time.’ However, you are free to conjure a different familiar each time you cast the spell.
Can a familiar stand guard? Yes, a familiar can stand guard. A familiar ‘always obeys your commands,’ so if you give it a command to stand guard, it will do so. Note that you won’t be able to telepathically communicate with it from a distance greater than 100 feet, however.
Does a familiar disappear when you fall unconscious? No, a familiar does not disappear when you fall unconscious. Find familiar is not a concentration spell, and the only ways for a familiar to disappear is if it drops to 0 hit points or if you use an action to dismiss it to a pocket dimension temporarily or forever).
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