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I have a player whose PC is a level 1 rogue that plans to multiclass into cleric after receiving divine inspiration. The PC is currently under the impression that a high enough level caster can grant her a magic fox. The player believes that her character's understanding is that this magic fox would be similar to an animal companion: it would help her out, warn her of danger… that kind of thing.

Outside class levels and feats, is there a way for a PC to acquire a creature like this? Could magic be used to create such a creature for the PC?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I think it would be clearer if you update the title to say "Familiar", as an Animal Companion is also a thing in 3.5e, but it's explicitly a natural animal and not a magical one, while a Familiar is a magically enhanced animal like you mention in the question. \$\endgroup\$ – Erik Jan 23 '18 at 9:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ Should the PC's method of acquiring Mr. Foxy Cuddles be reliant on taking levels in standard or prestige classes or by taking feats? Or should the method be asymmetrical, outside the advancement-through-classes-and-levels system? That is, is the connection to Mr. Foxy Cuddles supposed to be a goal to which the PC aspires or is Mr. Foxy Cuddles to be a gift or purchase from a powerful druid or wizard? \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jan 23 '18 at 11:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ (Also, are you sure about the rules-as-written tag? If you just want to know about the rules and how to apply them, then I don't think the strict legalistic and grammatical reading of each ability that would grant such a creature is really necessary… and that's what you'll get with the rules-as-written tag. However, I don't know. Do you play with a group of of lawyers, programmers, engineers, and copy editors who frequently fight about what something means according to what it says rather than how it feels?) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jan 23 '18 at 11:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ (That is, rather than rules-as-written, I think the term you're looking for—at least how it's typically used around here anyway—is official, as in published by Wizards of Coast for use with the Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 rules. In other words, you don't want answers that are house rules or that suggest making it up yourself, which is totally legit. Is that accurate?) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jan 23 '18 at 11:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ Rules as written to mean there is a reference to a method via wotc books. I know of no spell or even series of spell that provides this. I'm willing to simply say "magic" but wanted to know if there's a more official method \$\endgroup\$ – NeomerArcana Jan 23 '18 at 12:19
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Befriend a druid/wizard/mystic theurge

The 5th-level Drd spell awaken [trans] (Player's Handbook 202) can be cast on an animal like a fox. The 5th-level Sor/Wiz spell Rary's telepathic bond [div] (PH 268–9) when followed by the 5th-level Sor/Wiz spell permanency [univ] (PH 259–60) can make the bond spell permanent (although subject to effects that dispel magic) between two creatures like a fox and a rogue. In combination, any animal can gain a reasonable Intelligence score and have a human with whom it shares a mental link.

Normally such a combination of spells is typically expensive and, in fact, impossible without DM intervention: an awaken spell has a price of at least 1,700 gp if cast by a level 9 druid, a bond spell 450 gp if cast by a level 9 wizard, and a permanency spell on that bond spell 12,950 gp if cast by a level 13 wizard. This last spell is beyond the 3,000-gp limit placed on spellcasting by the Player's Handbook on Table 7–8: Goods and Services (under subhead Spellcasting and Services on page 129), so only the DM can make that spellcasting available. The total price for all this done this way is 15,100 gp.

(While it's possible to tote around a little buddy from one caster to another to get these spells cast, a lone caster would cast all of them. A no-shenanigans druid 3/wizard 3/mystic theurge 10 could cast all three spells, but the total price rockets to 23,500 gp.)

While this is a substantial sum at low levels, the outcome is largely unspectacular. Adding the awaken and permanent bond effects to a cat (Monster Manual 270) or fox (Dragon #323 98 has the fox using cat statistics) technically gives the creature an LA of at least +2 (normally a cat's LA is +0 as per Dragon #293 54), but I don't think anyone but a low-level commoner would argue that such creature was the equal of even, for example, a level 2 fighter. This DM suspects that by the time the PCs hit level 3, such a creature really won't be a combatant anymore but just a fairly smart, tougher-than-it-looks-but-it-doesn't-look-that-tough, semi-telepathic magical beast, suitable for light scouting and not-particularly-dangerous guard duties.

Survey some constructs

Similarly but slightly sideways, this DM assumes most creatures created by the feat Craft Construct (MM 303) can be given the command by their creator Obey the commands of this creature. (Transferring control of a creation should be possible even if the game doesn't mention explicitly how; that is, many creations have prices in case some dude wants to just straight-up buy one.) While this typically won't establish an empathic or telepathic link (unless it's Golden the clockwork cat!), PathfinderD&D 3.5e's respectful cousin—includes this nifty additional rule in its homunculus entry:

The person whose blood is used to form a homunculus’s body becomes its master; it is possible for one person to give blood for the creation, another to sculpt the base material, and another to magically animate it as a minion for the one who provided the blood.

While this rule is absent from the 3.5e homunculus entry (Monster Manual 154), it is an easy, interesting, and not unbalanced house rule… and it's precisely the kind of secret knowledge a grateful high-level patron could reasonably possess.

(By the way, to be clear, this DM doesn't mandate that a traditional homunculus be a misshapen horror: This DM takes the idea that a "homunculus’s creator determines its precise features" further than most likely do, letting it mean that the creature must be about 18 in. tall, have a 2-ft. wingspan, and possess a mouth full of needle-sharp teeth but putting pretty much everything else under the creator's control. Wizards have a hard enough time socially from constantly carrying a satchel filled with bat poop and spiders; no need to have wizards further ostracized for surrounding themselves with little hideous winged frog monsters!)

Use an original magic item that follows published guidelines

An original magic item that grants the feat Obtain Familiar (Complete Arcane 81) has a price between 20,000 gp and 30,000 gp according to the Arms and Equipment Guide on Magic Items that Grant Feats (128). Strictly speaking, this DM would usually use the higher price if the magic item's possessor need not still meet the prerequisites of the feat granted by the magic item, but this DM would adjust the price for the campaign, making the price lower if every PC has a pet, for example, and, perhaps, making the price higher if some typical drawbacks of the granted feat didn't apply. (For example, while magic is weird sometimes, it seems particularly odd to this DM were a creature to employ, like, a headband of familiar summoning to obtain a familiar and the familiar dies that the creature that used the headband is forced to wait a year and a day to summon another familiar… but another DM's opinion may be entirely different.)

This solution still requires some homebrewing, but even though the nuts and bolts of such an item will be up to each DM, at least pricing guidelines—however subjective—are out there.

Discover a companion during an adventure

More than a few creatures possess telepathy and are willing to throw in their lots with adventurers of the same stripe. A pseudodragon (Monster Manual 210–11) is a perennial favorite, for instance, joining good-aligned adventuring parties since at least 1978.

Further, any living creature that possesses at least 6 Hit Dice and a Constitution score of at least 13 can have two feats—Shape Soulmeld (shedu crown (Magic of Incarnum 85–6)) (MoI 40) and Open Least Chakra (crown) (MoI 39–40)—that, combined, allow the creature to communicate telepathically with any creature possessing a language. An generous DM can make such a creature available to the PC—maybe such creatures are bred by a soulcaster (MoI 142–7) or occur naturally in areas steeped in incarnum?

A discovered creature may just be a temporary adventuring companion but could, over time, develop into a more permanent cohort. (A cohort needn't only be a product of feat Leadership (PH 97)—the feat is just usually the easiest way to get one; for details see this question.)

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks; this has to be the best reply I've received to a question \$\endgroup\$ – NeomerArcana Jan 23 '18 at 22:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Suggestions for improvement welcome. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jan 24 '18 at 14:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Don't forget to use metamagic on your casting of Awaken, specifically: empower and maximize. ^^ All those lovely variable die rolls, after all. \$\endgroup\$ – nijineko Jan 25 '18 at 3:05
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Golden, the clockwork cat, is found in Dragon vol. 299 pg. 64,1 and acts like a familiar for its owner. A sufficiently-skilled mage could craft one of these and give it to the player character in question. As a familiar (and as a cat), it would fall short of the power available to an animal companion, though being a construct would make it hardier and being a familiar would make it cleverer. Golden’s owner also gains the Alertness feat while Golden is nearby, and being fairly clever and independent, Golden certainly can help the owner out.

  1. Thanks to HeyICanChan for name and source.
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  • \$\begingroup\$ Golden! (Dragon #299 64) (I'm a sucker for monsters PCs can create.) \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Jan 23 '18 at 14:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Thanks! The friend who mentioned Golden to me would be asleep right now, so I was having trouble digging up the name and source. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jan 23 '18 at 15:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ Golden will only become a familiar to a PC who can cast at least 1st level arcane spells. This would require my player take a level is wizard or sorcerer, which I don't think they're willing to do. \$\endgroup\$ – NeomerArcana Jan 25 '18 at 23:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NeomerArcana Ah, that’s a good point, I missed that buried at the end of the paragraph there. There are official ways around that, though they’re a little more involved and I recommend just seeing that the official ways exist, accepting it as possible, and allowing players to do it without jumping through quite so many hoops. Nonetheless, I will update this answer with those ways once I get a chance. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Jan 25 '18 at 23:48
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The feat magic iniatie would allow her access to the find familiar spell as one of the possibilities. Otherwise she could have a ring with the spell stored inside as a magical item that only summons a fox.

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