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I was looking at the thing a familiar could do in combat and found the Help action.

The description of the Help action is as follows:

You can lend your aid to another creature in the completion of a task. When you take the Help action, the creature you aid gains advantage on the next ability check it makes to perform the task you are helping with, provided that it makes the check before the start of your next turn.

Alternatively, you can aid a friendly creature in attacking a creature within 5 feet of you. You feint, distract the target, or in some other way team up to make your ally’s attack more effective. If your ally attacks the target before your next turn, the first attack roll is made with advantage.

As I see it the following could be possible:

  1. I, my familiar, and an enemy are standing in a line so that I am standing between my familiar and the enemy.
  2. My familiar can use the Help action on me to give me advantage while standing 5 feet from me and 10 feet from the enemy.
  3. The enemy can not hit (without ranged attack or reach) my familiar.

This seems strange to me as there are a lot of people saying that a non-owl familiar is very vulnerable when using the Help action as they would be in range of the enemy, but in the situation that I just described it seems that my familiar seems safe.

Am I missing something here or is this totally possible?

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It is not

you can aid a friendly creature [ in attacking a creature ] within 5 feet of you

but

you can aid a friendly creature in attacking [ a creature within 5 feet of you ]

You must be within 5' of the target of the attack you are helping with.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @fabian But that changes the quote; as I understood it, Szega was showing different ways to parse the sentence as-is \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Dec 17 '18 at 11:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ @fabian The point is that the first seems wonky. It is because the second parsing is the correct one in English. \$\endgroup\$ – Szega Dec 17 '18 at 12:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ @fabian Szega is engaging in sentence diagraming. His technique shows the incorrect and correct parsing of the sentence. \$\endgroup\$ – schroeder Dec 17 '18 at 12:23
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As described in @Szega's answer (emphasis mine):

you can aid a friendly creature in attacking [ a creature within 5 feet of you ]

To help in attacking (doing a feint), you have to be within 5 feet of the enemy, not 5 feet of your ally.


Timing-wise, the familiar goes into range of 5 ft to the target, uses the Help action to distract, and then moves out of range.

The owl indeed seems to be the best familiar to do this, because of its Flyby trait:

Flyby. The owl doesn't provoke opportunity attacks when it flies out of an enemy's reach.

But in general, familiars are not good in combat due to their low AC and low HP.

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