Assuming the NPC species/type/subtype would be a valid choice for both the cohort and familiar features.

For the sake of a complete example, lets take a Coure Eladrin.

  • Wizard is CG, has the exalted familiar feat, and is lv 20 (Can have a coure eladrin as familiar).

  • Wizard has the leadership feat, and over 25 leadership score (even though 25 is the cap). Has no cohort at the moment.

  • Wizard currently has no familiar, and is not on "familiar replacement cooldown".

  • Wizard has access to the eladrin homeland in Arborea, and several coure are willing to go into wizard's service. Permission from the higher ups is also assumed.

Can the wizard take a Coure with class levels (within the ECL allowed by the Leadership feat) and make that Coure the wizard's familiar?

Or does the wizard must walk out with two coures, one with class levels and another with the basic outsider 2 HD?

The DM is indifferent on the subject but would prefer to stick to the written rules. What do the books say?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Note that Familiars and Cohorts have different advancement rules, and that those rules might conflict with each other when it comes time to figure out what level the... ah... (Familhort? Comiliar?), entity would be. \$\endgroup\$
    – nijineko
    Commented Oct 22, 2017 at 0:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, that is why I want to ask if I can have my cake, cast Alamir's Fundamental Breakdown on it and then eat it too. @nijineko \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 22, 2017 at 1:02

1 Answer 1


The rules don't mention the possibility of a familiar also being a cohort due to the master having taken the feat Leadership (Player's Handbook 97). However, the Dungeon Master's Guide on Paladin Cohort Mounts provides rules that can be massaged to fit:

At the DM’s option, she may allow a paladin or other character with a special mount class feature to combine the special mount with the cohort feat [n.b. in context, the feat Leadership]. The special qualities such as the empathic link and shared spells make this quite potent and worth a minimum of a +2 level adjustment to the cohort mount ECL. (200)

The typical coure (Book of Exalted Deeds 168-9) has a cohort level adjustment of +5 for an effective character level (ECL) of 7. Using the above Paladin Cohort Mounts as a guideline—and assuming that the DM rules that the special abilities a wizard grants his familiar are as "potent" as the special abilities a paladin grants her special mount—this makes the cohort familiar coure ECL 9, and such a cohort familiar becomes a possibility for any creature with the appropriate feats and a leadership score of at least 13.

The only real sticking point after that is the creature's Hit Dice and hp. Were a player to come to me with this proposal, I think I'd use the master's effective Hit Dice for computing spell effects (as per Familiars on Hit Dice on PH 52) plus whatever Hit Dice the creature gains naturally due to its own advancement beyond this then follow a similar procedure for the creature's hit points—half the master's hp plus whatever hp are gained from advancement. This will make the familiar's effective Hit Dice higher than the master's—and that's weird—, but since the creature doesn't really benefit all that much from it, that shouldn't be a big deal.

If the DM won't adapt the Paladin Cohort Mounts rules to familiars, then it looks like the wizard is stuck with having two sprites, one a familiar, the other a cohort from the feat Leadership.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Wouldn't it be either the Advanced HD or the Wizard's level? The rules say "use the master’s character level or the familiar’s normal HD total, whichever is higher." - first generate the NPC stats with class levels, then decide to either use one or another. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 22, 2017 at 2:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mindwin That could totally work—I mean, we're already in house rules territory, so have fun!—, but I think that would negate an advantage of the familiar also being a cohort. Besides, those effective Hit Dice don't really do anything except, like, help the creature resist effects like sleep. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 22, 2017 at 2:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ On the last paragraph, the whole point of this exercise is to see if there is anything (in the books) against cutting down on the heavenly fairy mischief that would ensue from RP all those faeries going bananas in the dungeon. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 22, 2017 at 2:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ But if there is the precedent for the paladin to mix both in the DMG, there is no reason the wiz can't use it too. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 22, 2017 at 2:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mindwin I totally get not wanting to be surrounded by a cloud of chaotic, pranking angels. ;-) Honestly, I've no idea why the wizard and the druid and the ranger couldn't do the same as the paladin. I suspect—with absolutely nothing but my gut to back it up—someone just wanted his or her paladin to ride something awesomer than what was immediately available, so somebody wrote those rules. Again, I suspect lack of foresight as the culprit rather than gross imbalance shall ensue! Hell, we're talking about a level 20 wizard here. He could have Ftr20 cohort and probably be fine. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 22, 2017 at 2:42

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