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While looking through a familiar's senses, the owner goes blind and deaf. Instead they see and hear what the familiar sees and hears. In some cases, this is even better than the spell caster (blind sense, Devil's Sight, etc).

If the familiar is perched on your shoulder (or pocket, head, or somewhere else on your person), can the owner function normally in all respects, including attacking and casting spells?


As an example, a Tiefling at level 5 I can cast Darkness. Per the spell:

A creature with darkvision can't see through this darkness, and nonmagical light can't illuminate it.

But my imp familiar (Pact of the Chain) has Devil's Sight:

Magical darkness doesn't impede the imp's darkvision.

So if the Tiefling gives over their senses to the imp, they would be able to see normally (or at least to the level of darkvision). Can the warlock now attack the creatures caught in the Darkness spell via sword and/or via spell?

Please do not get hung up on the example

I'm not asking for the best way to see in magical Darkness. The example is just that, an example of using a familiar senses instead of your own in "real time".

For a non-magical example; assume the familiar owner is naturally blind (defect from birth), can they use the familiar's senses to navigate the world, cast spells, and attack evil?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Can we assume that by attack, you mean attack with advantage instead of with disadvantage, as your target being in darkness doesn't prevent you from attacking them at all? \$\endgroup\$ – Derek Stucki Sep 26 '18 at 22:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DerekStucki, attack would mean walk into the darkness and whack them with my weapon, or stand outside the spell range and cast attack spells into the darkness. \$\endgroup\$ – MivaScott Sep 26 '18 at 22:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ You don't have to see your target to attack them, so the whole familiar thing is unnecessary. Do you want to change your question or should I address that in my answer? \$\endgroup\$ – Derek Stucki Sep 26 '18 at 22:26
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Yes, but don't forget about the fact that it requires an action.

To see through your familiar's senses, it requires your action, as do most spells and attacks. If, for example, you had Misty Step (bonus action, can teleport to a location you can see within 30 feet of you), you should be able to teleport to a location your familiar can see as long as its within the appropriate ranges (compounded by the question Can a wizard use his familiar's senses to enlarge his "you can see" area?). Considering the effect has no mention on your speed, mobility, bonus actions or reactions, then the simplest conclusion is that they are not impacted at all, so long as you obey any of the new changes to your perspective.

This isn't precisely written territory, however, so your DM may have an alternative viewpoint.

For example, I actually just asked this to my DM, whether I could use Mage Hand Legerdemain while seeing through a familiar. His response was that, while it normally shouldn't be possible for normal people, due to the Mage Hand being invisible and not having access to my own senses, my naturally high intelligence is enough to do it without requiring additional difficulty checks. That being said, Your Mileage May Vary.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I would question the DM about "not having access to my own senses". You only lose sight and hearing, nothing else. And as stated, the Mage Hand is already invisible, what are you really losing out on by listening via the familiar instead of your own ears? \$\endgroup\$ – MivaScott Sep 26 '18 at 22:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MivaScott Good points, but I brought it up because they were a concern to at least one real-world DM. If one has to make a decision on it, then there are going to be more, and I wanted to emphasize that this might not hold up to every DM. \$\endgroup\$ – Daniel Zastoupil Sep 26 '18 at 23:00
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Yes, you can attack while using its senses, but...

Solving the vision problem with this method introduces several limitations. Seeing through your familiar's eyes uses your action each round that you do so, which severely limits which spells you can cast, and may eliminate your ability to make any weapon attacks. Multiclassing with fighter or sorcerer may be required to achieve what you want. Your spells also still need a clear path from you (not your familiar) to your target.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Another solution, that's probably a bit more efficient, is to replace or get the Devil's Sight invocation for themselves. Then they could cast it on their familiar and make it a mobile Darkness. \$\endgroup\$ – Daniel Zastoupil Sep 26 '18 at 22:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ I made the assumption (perhaps in error) that the devil's sight invocation had already been considered and rejected. \$\endgroup\$ – Derek Stucki Sep 26 '18 at 22:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DanielZastoupil the invocation is not being consider as 1) if seeing through the imp works, there is no point to getting the invocation, 2) there aren't enough invocations to go around, 3) the darkness/devil's sight is just an example, but the question is more general. \$\endgroup\$ – MivaScott Sep 26 '18 at 22:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MivaScott I brought it up as just a side note, as there was already a note that Shadow Sorcerer was another solution to provide what the OP was looking for. My comment was intended to be only related to that note. Or rather, Derek said "There's an easier way", and I said "There's an easier easier way". \$\endgroup\$ – Daniel Zastoupil Sep 26 '18 at 22:35

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