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I've been creating a wizard for upcoming game, and I decided to take improved familiar with faerie dragon as my chosen familiar. I looked at the following rule regarding familiars:

Skills: For each skill in which either the master or the familiar has ranks, use either the normal skill ranks for an animal of that type or the master’s skill ranks, whichever is better. In either case, the familiar uses its own ability modifiers. Regardless of a familiar’s total skill modifiers, some skills may remain beyond the familiar’s ability to use. Familiars treat Acrobatics, Climb, Fly, Perception, Stealth, and Swim as class skills.

My main question here is how can I possibly know from faerie dragon entry which of the skills have the class skill bonus (+3)? Thus, how do I know if i should be using wizard's skill ranks instead of faerie dragons, and how to determine if I do add familiars stat + class skill bonuses or just the stat bonus?

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A monster's class skills are determined by its type

Each creature type is assigned a list of class skills. The faerie dragon, for example, possesses the type dragon so its class skills are Appraise, Bluff, Climb, Craft, Diplomacy, Fly, Heal, Intimidate, Knowledge (all), Linguistics, Perception, Sense Motive, Spellcraft, Stealth, Survival, Swim, and Use Magic Device.

A faerie dragon's dragon type gives it 6 skill ranks per Hit Die, and its Int 16 gives it another 3 skill ranks per Hit Die. The faerie dragon's Skills entry has 9 skills listed: Acrobatics, Bluff, Diplomacy, Fly, Perception, Sense Motive, Stealth, Swim, Use Magic Device.

With such a creature, it's safe to assume it has put 1 skill rank per Hit Die in each of the skills in its Skills entry to arrive at the listed bonuses with these skills, but a diligent player should double check the math just in case.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ But an improved familiar still counts as a familiar, right? Then wouldn't it still have a familiar's class skills in addition to its racial class skills? \$\endgroup\$ – MikeQ Apr 3 '18 at 13:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MikeQ Sort of. The feat says, "Improved familiars otherwise use the rules for regular familiars, with two exceptions" that don't affect its skills except that the entry you linked to is for animal familiars (i.e. "use either the normal skill ranks for an animal of that type or the master’s skill ranks") not for familiars of other types. While other creature types are unmentioned, I think it's safe to assume improved familiars aren't worsened by becoming familiars. Keeping an improved familiar's skills the same as the base creature except when its master's would be better works for me. \$\endgroup\$ – Hey I Can Chan Apr 3 '18 at 14:05

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