The most recent PHB errata clarified that the Steed generated by Find Steed can communicate telepathically with its summoner.

In the next-to-last paragraph, "communicate with it" is now "communicate with each other."

However, there was no corresponding change in the text of Find Familiar, which still states that the summoner can "communicate with it.” Does this lack of similar change indicate that the telepathic communication with Find Familiar is one-way?


2 Answers 2



Sage Advice has weighed in on a similarly worded game feature (p. 6):

Does the warlock’s Awakened Mind feature allow two way telepathic communication? The feature is intended to provide one-way communication. The warlock can use the feature to speak telepathically to a creature, but the feature doesn’t give that creature the ability to telepathically reply.

The text of Awakened Mind states (PHB, p. 110, bold added)

You can communicate telepathically with any creature you can see within 30 feet of you.

This is linguistically very similar to the text in Find Familiar's description, which states (PHB, p. 240, bold added):

While your familiar is within 100 feet of you, you can communicate with it telepathically.

Given the clarification of the meaning of Awakened Mind in Sage Advice, and the alteration done to Find Steed but not Find Familiar, there's a lot of evidence that Find Familiar's telepathic communication is meant to be one way.

But it's unclear

Despite the evidence given above, it'd be unrealistic to say this issue is definitively decided. After all, the most common way that something becomes a Sage Advice question in the first place is that the rules are sufficiently unclear that many people are confused: and Find Familiar has the same unclear wording as Awakened Mind. As written, the text gives enough ambiguity that there's leeway for any particular group to rule on this as they see fit. To add to this, Jeremy Crawford's own opinion on the matter is the opposite of my previous conclusion (credit to V2Blast for finding this):

I allow a familiar to telepathically communicate simple concepts to its master.

Since he says "I allow," it seems this statement is meant to indicate a decision as a DM, not as a designer of the rules. So it leaves the decision in the hands of the DM.

Besides, the ability to look through a familiar's eyes and hear through its ears would make most things it could want to communicate to you superfluous. And it certainly stops the familiar communicating you from being unbalancing in most cases.

You could even take the change to Find Steed's text as a piece of evidence in favor of the idea that familiars can communicate back. After all, the change implies that the phrase "communicate with" was meant to allow two-way communication in the Find Steed spell, so it might be meant to do the same thing in the case of Find Familiar. The lack of similar change in Find Familiar in the last errata makes this conclusion suspicious, but we cannot read anything definitive into a lack of a change: we can't interpret rules that don't exist, only the ones that do.

So although most evidence points to the conclusion that you can send telepathic messages to your familiar, but they cannot telepathically respond, it's sufficiently unclear that it's left up DMs.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Related Crawford tweet (not an official ruling): "I allow a familiar to telepathically communicate simple concepts to its master." - His wording of "I allow [...]" suggests this is a house-rule/DM fiat on his part, though it doesn't answer the broader rules question you've raised. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Feb 16, 2019 at 2:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hmmm... upon viewing the tweet, it's from sufficiently long ago that it may be overridden by more recent rulings. I need to investigate further. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 16, 2019 at 2:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's not an official ruling; as I said in my comment, his wording suggests he's just describing what he allows in games he DMs. That said, I'm not sure if he has ruled at all on whether the spell even allows for telepathic communication by the familiar back to the caster, or whether that's intended to be allowed but just an oversight that wasn't addressed in errata. (The latter is a possibility; something not being addressed in errata doesn't mean it's written exactly as intended.) \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Feb 16, 2019 at 3:14
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ As Belfast Biker's answer states, the wording of the Awakened Mind feature has been changed as of the 2018 printing of the PHB (though not noted in the errata PDF). It now reads: "You can telepathically speak to any creature you can see within 30 feet of you." This matches Crawford's previous (now-unofficial) tweet. You may want to update your answer accordingly. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Aug 29, 2019 at 6:31

The Awakened Mind text now reads:

You can telepathically speak to any creature you can see within 30 feet of you.

That is most definitely one way.

Find familiar text instead reads:

While your familiar is within 100 feet of you, you can communicate with it telepathically.

That is most definitely two way.

However, if you communicate in real life with a human or other, and it doesn't understand your language, no amount of communication back is going to make much sense. There's no common language. So if the familiar is an owl say, there's no language for it to speak.

But, if you have an imp for a familiar, it understands the common tongue, and is smarter than I am. You can talk back and forth inside your heads until the cows come home.

Although.... to muddy the waters for normal non-warlock familiars, this in the spell: "the familiar has the statistics of the chosen form, though it is a celestial, fey, or fiend (your choice) instead of a beast."

I wonder, would this particular summoned thing be able to communicate, it being fey etc, no ordinary beast?

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Note: The fey/fiend/celestial creature type doesn't grant any special communication abilities to the familiar. \$\endgroup\$
    – V2Blast
    Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 2:20

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .