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I've been thinking about doing a "Lord of Pain" wizard, who studies pain in all its forms and loves to try them out on living beings.

The find familiar spell makes you gain the services of a spirit (fey, celestial or fiend).

If such a character would go on his way to regularly torture his familiar without killing it, would it keep the same level of obedience and cooperation?

Question also applies for other kinds of familiars that a player can control (like the Chain Warlock one).

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This is something that works differently for familiars summoned by find familiar, who are subject to:

Your familiar acts independently of you, but it always obeys your commands. (PHB 240)

and familiars gained in other ways. There are some creatures that can voluntarily become your familiar and their description usually includes:

At any time and for any reason, the pseudodragon can end its service as a familiar, ending the telepathic bond. (MM 254)

So going by RAW a familiar summoned by the spell cannot leave your service or refuse to obey you. However you should consider two things:

  • Your DM might rule otherwise, so make sure you discuss this with them. They might not be comfortable with such a theme at the table.
  • Familiars summoned by the spell usually have 1 HP, so if you want to inflict pain on them, you won't get much "mileage" out of them.
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    \$\begingroup\$ Unless the torture does not do actual damage, like emotional pain, or drowning simulation, for instance. \$\endgroup\$ – Gael L Jan 6 '18 at 17:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ Might be worth mentioning that the designers have clarified that the variant is meant only for NPCs. \$\endgroup\$ – J. A. Streich Jan 6 '18 at 23:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @J.A.Streich I am not sure what you mean. Link plz? \$\endgroup\$ – Szega Jan 7 '18 at 1:48
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  • \$\begingroup\$ @J.A.Streich I quoted the MM rules to show the contrast and because I think that is the source of confusion. I do not think that intent is relevant here. \$\endgroup\$ – Szega Jan 7 '18 at 8:39
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Rules as written answer: Yes. page 240 of the PHB states

Your familiar acts independently of you, but it always obeys your commands.

Common sense: no. It would start to act up. Since its a fey or fiend, the first thing I as the GM would have it do is seek outside help from the DUFWFSA (Demonic and Unselie Fey Wizard Familar Services Agency)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Or FAMINE (Familiars Against Mistreatment, Inflicted iNjury, and Evil) \$\endgroup\$ – wolf Jan 31 '18 at 6:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ 'Dear Pit Fiend. My master is hurting me. You cannot even imagine amount of pain I'm going through right now. Please help'. 'Dear Imp. Please read up on how Pit Fiends are promoted into their positions and then call me again...' \$\endgroup\$ – Artur Biesiadowski Sep 6 '19 at 11:11

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