My Sorceress carries her familiar everywhere. Like most familiars, it tends to be a little forgotten until actually useful. A good way to be useful would be to Aid Another. Can my familiar aid me?

DC10 is quite easy to reach after some levels. It's a stackable +2 to near every skill check and Aid Another for +2 to hit or AC as well. Does this seem a bit overpowered?

Slighty Related to: Can a summoned monster be commanded to aid another?

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Is the only reason you doubt that a familiar may be able to take the action aid another on its master's behalf is because that seems too powerful? Or has something else raised this doubt? \$\endgroup\$ Apr 23, 2018 at 19:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sometimes when I read a rule and it seems too powerful, I take the time to read it again. Some of those times, I made a misread and the others... it is on a 9 level caster entries. \$\endgroup\$
    – aloisdg
    Apr 23, 2018 at 22:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ O, please, don't get me wrong: It's totally legit to ask question like Am I understanding this rule correctly? I just wanted to make sure my answer didn't overlook another reason—omitted from the question—why this may be disallowed. (Although I've not seen it lately from anyone, playing Gotcha! this way—whether accidentally, to test the site's knowledge of the rules, or just to troll—has been am unfortunate thing in the murky, unenlightened past.) \$\endgroup\$ Apr 23, 2018 at 22:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan Please be sure that I love your answer (you brought some solid points) and your help overall on the website. And thank you for your comment, asking " why" can bring better answer by helping the questioner to ask the real question. :) \$\endgroup\$
    – aloisdg
    Apr 23, 2018 at 22:55

2 Answers 2


The GM can limit a typical familiar's ability to aid another on skill checks

On Skills on Aid Another says

You can help someone achieve success on a skill check by making the same kind of skill check in a cooperative effort. If you roll a 10 or higher on your check, the character you're helping gets a +2 bonus on his or her check. (You can't take 10 on a skill check to aid another.) In many cases, a character's help won't be beneficial, or only a limited number of characters can help at once.

In cases where the skill restricts who can achieve certain results, such as trying to open a lock using Disable Device, you can't aid another to grant a bonus to a task that your character couldn't achieve alone. The GM might impose further restrictions to aiding another on a case-by-case basis as well.

(Emphasis mine.) This means that the GM may rule that, for example, the typical less-than-level-4 master's familiar—that usually can't speak and that usually can only communicate empathically with its master—may be unable to aid another on Knowledge skill checks and other skill checks where what it knows could be useful… if only it could only speak. (A more generous GM could allow the familiar to communicate that the master was getting warmer or getting colder so as to still grant the aid another bonus on some skill checks, although this bonus may take a while to be realized!)

Also, the GM can arbitrarily limit the number of creatures that can aid another on a skill check.1

Further, other restrictions may apply: On Familiars on Familiar Basics on Skills says, "Regardless of a familiar’s total skill modifiers, some skills may remain beyond the familiar’s ability to use." In other words, the GM is allowed to just say to No not only to a master's familiar's attempts to aid another but also to the familiar's ability to use a skill at all.2

Finally—and obviously—, there's no way a familiar whose master and familiar both lack ranks in a trained-only skill can aid someone with a trained only skill. If neither master nor familiar has ranks in the skill Disable Device, for instance, the familiar just can't aid anybody on Disable Device skill checks.

However, despite the possible restrictions that a GM could layer on a familiar's use of skills—therefore on aid another attempts—, this GM and the GMs with which this player has gamed have all been extremely liberal with what a familiar can accomplish. Having a familiar make aid another attempts to assist with skill checks has always been one of the reasons to have a familiar, especially at low levels.

In addition, while a +2 bonus on many skill checks at first blush may seem extremely powerful, by the time the master's relatively competent (say, level 5 or so?) that +2 will often be forgotten—or even go unused—because the master can already make all the checks he needs to make on his own.

The typical familiar's ability to aid another in combat is usually extremely limited

On Combat on Aid Another says

In melee combat, you can help a friend attack or defend by distracting or interfering with an opponent. If you’re in position to make a melee attack on an opponent that is engaging a friend in melee combat, you can attempt to aid your friend as a standard action. You make an attack roll against AC 10. If you succeed, your friend gains either a +2 bonus on his next attack roll against that opponent or a +2 bonus to AC against that opponent’s next attack (your choice), as long as that attack comes before the beginning of your next turn.…

(Emphasis mine.) Because the typical familiar has a reach of 0 ft. because of its Tiny or littler size, the typical familiar doesn't threaten an area, so it's only very rarely in a position "to make a melee attack on an opponent that is engaging a friend in melee combat." (Even arming a familiar that can wield one with a reach weapon—like kitting out Mr. Nilsson with a lance—is typically no help here!)

A bigger familiar is more useful in this regard, of course, but with a bigger familiar comes new problems. (Like the fact that the bigger familiar still only has half its master's hp, yet it's being ordered to enter melee!)

1 The System Reference Document for D&D 3.5—on which Pathfinder is based—omits most of that earlier game's examples, including the one from its Player's Handbook of only one creature being able to aid another on a Heal skill check made to stabilize an ally "because a third person would just get in the way" (66). As an aside, this reader recommends not allowing 3.5 example writers to perform your surgery.
2 In another omitted Player's Handbook example, this statement specifically mentions as an example the skill Craft as a skill a familiar is incapable of using (52).


Since nothing in the Familiar nor in the Aid Another section stop them from using the Aid Another action, they are able to.

Tattooed Sorcerer

However during combat, if you familiar is a Familiar Tattoo in tattoo-form from the Tattooed Sorcerer archetype, then it is not possible to Aid Another. A tattoo cannot take actions except to transform from a tattoo into a creature.

In tattoo form it continues to grant its special familiar ability, but otherwise has no abilities and can take no actions except to transform from tattoo into creature.

The good news is that switching from one form to the other is a move action:

Transforming into a tattoo or back to normal familiar form is a move action for her familiar.

So you are able to Aid Another and switch to tattoo in the same turn.


Note that most familiars are tiny, and thus can't grapple with anything above small size. Unlike attack, using Aid Another for ability checks requires the creature to be able to make the ability check on her own.

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