So, I am new to DnD and have been having a conversation with my DM about restrictions she is putting on my Warlock (pact of the chain), such as limiting my short rests to only one per day to restrict my spell slot regeneration. During this conversation she mentioned that she has given my familiar more agency than he should have and that per the rules he shouldn't be able to talk.

According to the PHB, Imps have Common and Infernal as language skills. I don't know where she found the rule that Imps can't talk. Is this in the DM guide or is she making it up?


4 Answers 4


Can Imps talk?

Yes. Yes they can. It's not really very complicated; it says so right there in the rulebooks. They also say how short and long rests work, and even have some recommendations for adventure pacing that could give a DM an idea as to how much/little time pressure is 'normal'.

What to do when your DM hates Warlocks, you unknowingly made a Warlock, and they told you to go ahead and play it

So, it sounds like this is probably your real problem. The solution to this problem is to tell your DM "Hey, when I made this character I didn't realize we were houseruling rests so warlocks are only allowed 1/day, and houseruling imps to only being able to talk at GM discretion. It sounds, based on your houserules, like you don't really want people using the warlock class. If that's true, I think the game will be better for both of us if I rebuild the character using a different class you are okay with. Are there any other classes you have similar problems with as with the warlock?" (or something similar, based on your relationship and the DM's personality). Playing a class the DM hates will be no fun if your DM is unwilling to play by the rules, for at least one of you.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Even if it could not speak, it would only be a problem between the imp and your party members. You can communicate with it telepathically (Phb 240) \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Commented Nov 7, 2017 at 8:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ The concept is sound. I would try to away from using so much accusatory language. You don't like warlocks. Can I play a class you are okay with? Are there other classes you have a problem with? All very passive-aggressive and accusatory. \$\endgroup\$
    – Luke
    Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 3:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Luke suggested rephrasing? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 5:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd talk about the issues I'm facing, why I made my choices, and if there is a way to resolve them. "I understood a Warlock's balance relies on getting short rests throughout the adventure. Is that something we can address, if not can I change to another class that won't be as limited by it?" for example. \$\endgroup\$
    – Luke
    Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 5:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Luke - To me, that sounds like "Well, gee, the way you do things, you've totally nerfed my character - can I get something more powerful?" Whereas (especially in person, with the right focus), the original approach lets you get more to the heart of the matter. I'd avoid sounding accusatory by focusing on how the developments feel to the OP, and making it clear that you're looking to make the game as fun as possible for all concerned. It's also OK to say, "I'm new to all this, and I'm a bit confused about the imp talking thing. PHB says it can - what am I missing?" \$\endgroup\$
    – RDFozz
    Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 19:53

The find familiar spell allows you to summon a spirit that takes the form of an animal from a list, as a pact of the chain warlock you are allowed to choose the imp form.

An important sentence in the spell is the following:

the familiar has the statistics of the chosen form, though it is a celestial, fey, or fiend (your choice) instead of a beast.

Part of the statistics are indeed the languages of the creature and imps are capable of speaking common and infernal.

Thus, rules as written, your imp familiar should be able to speak, but is indeed an NPC in the control of the DM with the only restriction that "it always obeys your commands".

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    \$\begingroup\$ @ObliviousSage in the cases where a creature is only able to understand but not able to speak this is explicitly mentioned... e.g. Skeleton, Zombie, Homunculus, Flesh Golem, ... Quote from the MM: "Sometimes a monster can understand a language but can’t speak it, and this is noted in its entry." \$\endgroup\$
    – Thyzer
    Commented Nov 7, 2017 at 0:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ Huh, I don't think previous editions had that. You should add that to your answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage
    Commented Nov 7, 2017 at 1:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think the "NPC in control of the DM" is correct unless you are using the imp variant in the MM, rather than pact of the chain. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 7, 2017 at 2:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ The DM might be concerned that the Chain familiars are better than the standard beast options. Which... yes, they are! While most familiars are animals that can't speak (outside of certain spells or effects), the Pact of the Chain specifically provides expanded familiar options that are both more combat-capable and more generally useful, and one of those ways is in being able to communicate. (For example, the pseudodragon can't speak, but understands, and has that telepathy thing.) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 7, 2017 at 16:37

I realize the question is just about RAW on the Pact of Chain Familiar, but there were some other things in the question that I felt should/could be addressed.


Limiting the number of short rests is a tactic some DMs use to stress resources, typically they find reasons to interrupt the rest. The DM can have any house rule to limit resting also, but doing so really messes with the balance of the Warlock class.

Pact of Chain

Familiars are capable of telepathic communication with the caster, by way of the spell:

While your familiar is within 100 feet of you, you can communicate with it telepathically.

As other answers say, the Imp, RAW, do speak both Common and Infernal. The spell reads:

[T]he familiar has the statistics of the chosen form... (Find Familiar 240 PHB)

And the Imp stat block says:

Languages Common, Infernal

Person Problem

Your post makes it sound like you feel there is also some unfair nerfing of your character that is really the root of the question. I would suggest that you respectfully approach your DM and communicate that you feel like you're being unfairly penalized. Approach it from the standpoint of trying to reach an understanding.

From a balance perspective: The Warlock has the second most powerful free attack in the game (Eldritch Blast, not counting Hex), but they only have a few spell slots. They recharge on a short rest, but those are limited by activities that have to get done. Those slots max out at 5, not counting the Mystic Arcanum.

  • \$\begingroup\$ A point of order: While the warlock's Eldritch Blast is powerful, it's only about as powerful as (for example) Firebolt in terms of damage. (Though EB has more rolls and possibly more targets). Only when the warlock takes specific invocations (+CHA on damage) does it actually become better. Even then, it's only as good as a crossbow in terms of damage when the warlock spends an invocation and still underperforms compared to the fighters 2D6+STR (reroll 1's and 2's) free attack. What I'm trying to say is: Yes, Eldritch Blast is good, but it's not THAT good. \$\endgroup\$
    – Valthek
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 9:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Someone did a DPR comparison of all free attacks as an answer to question (I'm looking for it). With the Agonizing Blast, but without hex, EB was only surpassed by the (I think) the Fighter at highest levels. If you add hex, which is a reasonable assumption b/c higher levels means 8 hour hex and higher constitution and more slot to recast, EB would be the highest. EB+Agonizing Blast+Hex past level 17 is 4d10+CHA+4d6 max, even without hex it's 4d10+CHA, and 4d10 without Agonizing Blast. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 15:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'd like to see that math. (Not that I don't believe you. Just curious to the math and factors used) \$\endgroup\$
    – Valthek
    Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 9:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ See this Q&A: Weapon attacks compared with damaging cantrips? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Nov 10, 2017 at 20:11

Imp (Monster Manual p.76)

Languages: Infernal, Common

Yes they can speak Infernal and Common.


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