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The find familiar spell has a duration of instantaneous, which implies that the familiar itself is not an ongoing magical effect. However, the spell provides a number of ongoing features that are definitely supernatural:

  • The familiar disappears when it drops to 0 HP.
  • The wizard can temporarily or permanently dismiss the familiar.
  • The wizard can communicate with the familiar telepathically.
  • The wizard can observe through the familiar's eyes and ears.
  • The familiar can deliver touch spells on behalf of the wizard.

Which of these features are considered magical? For example, would any of them show up to a detect magic spell or be suppressed by an antimagic field? In addition, is my assumption above correct that the familiar itself is not considered magical?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast A duration of "instantaneous" implies that the spell does not have any ongoing magical effect. For example, a fireball spell is magical, but the after-effects are not. \$\endgroup\$ – Ryan Thompson Oct 15 '18 at 1:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast The logic is expanded in this semi-related question: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/133615/… \$\endgroup\$ – Ryan Thompson Oct 15 '18 at 1:28
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To answer your last question first, you are correct, a familiar is not an ongoing magical effect. It is a supernatural being, but it wouldn't show up to a detect magic spell for the same reason a dragon, zombie, or elemental wouldn't. The Sage Advice Compendium question that impinges on this situation is a bit long, so I'll reproduce the text here, and focus directly on familiars at the end.

Q: Is the breath weapon of a dragon magical?

[...] Our game makes a distinction between two types of magic:

  • the background magic that is part of the D&D multiverse’s physics and the physiology of many D&D creatures
  • the concentrated magical energy that is contained in a magic item or channeled to create a spell or other focused magical effect

In D&D, the first type of magic is part of nature. It is no more dispellable than the wind. A monster like a dragon exists because of that magic-enhanced nature. The second type of magic is what the rules are concerned about. When a rule refers to something being magical, it’s referring to that second type. Determining whether a game feature is magical is straightforward. Ask yourself these questions about the feature:

  • Is it a magic item?

  • Is it a spell? Or does it let you create the effects of a spell that’s mentioned in its description?

  • Is it a spell attack?

  • Is it fueled by the use of spell slots?

  • Does its description say it’s magical?

If your answer to any of those questions is yes, the feature is magical.

Let’s look at a white dragon’s Cold Breath and ask ourselves those questions. First, Cold Breath isn’t a magic item. Second, its description mentions no spell. Third, it’s not a spell attack. Fourth, the word “magical” appears nowhere in its description. Our conclusion: Cold Breath is not considered a magical game effect, even though we know that dragons are amazing, supernatural beings.

So we'll ask ourselves those questions about familiars.

While the qualities you listed are supernatural, none of them are magic items or mention specific spells, and none of them are explicitly magical within the description. The touch-spell delivery is specifically using a spell (and acts 'as if the familiar had cast it'). However, in the Monster Manual (page 9) and the corresponding section of the basic rules, telepathy is described as 'a magical ability', and more to the point, the last paragraph of the description of telepathy has this to say:

A creature within the area of an antimagic field or in any other location where magic doesn't function can't send or receive telepathic messages.

So, in an antimagic field, the familiar's ability to channel your touch spells and its telepathic link to you would be disabled, but all its other qualities, while supernatural and amazing, are not magical game effects any more than a dragon's breath is, and would not be disabled. Your DM may decide that the sense-sharing ability is an advanced form of telepathy and would therefore be blocked as well, but it isn't explicitly so as far as the rules as written.

In the case of other effects that block 'magical effects', such as Leomund's tiny hut:

Spell-channeling wouldn't pass through a barrier that blocks magic, as it's actually casting a spell (bullets #2 and potentially #4), and while telepathy is only explicitly blocked by an antimagic field, the description does specifically call it out as a magical ability, so it falls under bullet #5 and would be blocked.

The other familiar abilities would probably not be hampered since they are supernatural but not magical in the aforementioned sense of 'concentrated magical energy that is contained or channeled'.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I think the question of "is it a spell?" is a bit ambiguous. All of the supernatural abilities are definitely effects of a spell, but they are effects that linger after the duration of that spell is over. \$\endgroup\$ – Ryan Thompson Oct 14 '18 at 23:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ The Find Familiar spell is instantaneous, and contains a description of the capabilities of the creature it creates, but the creature is not an ongoing spell effect, and anything the familiar can do is not part of the find familiar spell; it's merely described there. The ability to, for example, vanish into a pocket dimension is not a specific spell. \$\endgroup\$ – Darth Pseudonym Oct 14 '18 at 23:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Adam Good catch! Actually there's an even more direct quote at the end of that description that makes it explicit that you can't use telepathy in an AMF, so that cinches it. I'll add that. \$\endgroup\$ – Darth Pseudonym Oct 15 '18 at 0:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Does telepathy include seeing/hearing with the familiar's senses, or is that separate? \$\endgroup\$ – Ryan Thompson Oct 15 '18 at 1:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not 100% convinced that the specific language in Leomund's tiny hut would block these abilities even if they are magical, but I suppose that's a separate question. \$\endgroup\$ – Ryan Thompson Oct 15 '18 at 2:08
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You gain the service of a familiar, a spirit that takes an animal form you choose: ...

Appearing in an unoccupied space within range, the familiar has the statistics of the chosen form, though it is a celestial, fey, or fiend (your choice) instead of a beast.

They are a spirit in a corporeal body of a beast that is a celestial, fey, or fiend type.

RAW - nothing is stating otherwise, one can agree that what ever effects / blocks telepathy, dimensional travel, spell casting, or targets celestial, fey, or fiend type could directly effect the familiar.

Think about other creatures they are inhabited by spirits i.e. golems, undead, magmen, etc., they have "spirits" in them, but aren't necessarily magic.

Antimagic field

Creatures and Objects. A creature or object summoned or created by magic temporarily winks out of existence in the sphere. Such a creature instantly reappears once the space the creature occupied is no longer within the sphere.

RAW the spell description doesn't state it was "summoned or conjured".

RAW the spell didn't "create" the familiar either.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Why the negatives? \$\endgroup\$ – XAQT78 Oct 15 '18 at 15:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ I downvoted because your logic appears to be not enough to support what you are trying to say. For example why does celestial etc have an effect on anything? How does that at all support the idea that "what ever effects / blocks telepathy, dimensional travel, spell casting, or targets celestial, fey, or fiend type could directly effect the familiar." Additionally I'm not actually sure what your final conclusion even is. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Oct 15 '18 at 20:42
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Familiars are magic

Familiars are magic in animal form. Chris Perkins

So detect magic would detect the familiar, antimagic field would cause it to disappear.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Note that Ryan is asking whether the familiar's features are magical. The fact that familiars are magical is a good starting point, but that alone does not answer the question. \$\endgroup\$ – Ruse Oct 14 '18 at 19:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ The Sage Advice Compendium says: "Whenever you wonder whether a spell’s effects can be dispelled or suspended, you need to answer one question: is the spell’s duration instantaneous? If the answer is yes, there is nothing to dispel or suspend." Find familiar has a duration of instantaneous, suggesting your answer is wrong. (Chris Perkins is a designer, but his rulings aren't official, and this tweet seems to be more of a general description of "what find familiar is" in response to a child's question than an official ruling.) \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Oct 14 '18 at 19:57
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    \$\begingroup\$ I have edited this to show more precisely where the reference came from. Sage Advice implies an official source for the rules. But Chris Perkins is not such a source. The Sage Advice site does not differentiate between official and not official sources and is run by a third party. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Oct 14 '18 at 21:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ As such I'm downvoting this for a few reasons (in no particular order): 1) because this answer relies only on a designer quote without referencing or alluding to material from the rules. (Especially since this seems to contradict what the rules say and that should be discussed). 2) for using an "unofficial" source as your only reference. 3) Not actually answering the full question. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Oct 14 '18 at 21:18

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