The Improved Familiar feat was designed before the Witch existed, and mainly for Wizard. I have a Witch that has more than 10 lvl1 spells and more than 3 spells of lvl 2 and 3, and I'm wondering if the Improved Familiar feat is really a good idea at this point.

My question about this revolves around the fact that a witch's familiar is the one that knows the witch's spells, and not the witch herself. I already know that, as for the wizard, taking this feat means you don't have to pay the ritual money to change familiars, but nowhere have I found anything clear and definite about the spells.

Does the new familiar know all of the spells of the basic one? Do you consider it to be a normal replacement familiar (2 spells of each lvl)? Something in between?

  • \$\begingroup\$ This forum thread talks a bit about the issue and provides some ideas, but there are no definite answers in it \$\endgroup\$
    – Lymakk
    Jun 13, 2019 at 13:42
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ There are several threads on the Paizo message board about this topic (although that one pops up first). If you've completed the research and found no good answer, that is the answer, and you should post it. (Answering your own questions is a totally legit thing, by the way.) \$\endgroup\$ Jun 13, 2019 at 14:10

2 Answers 2


An Improved Familiar has a "new" selection of spells.

Witch Familiars have specific rules about spells known when they are taken as a Familiar.

A new familiar begins knowing all of the 0-level spells plus two spells of every level the witch is able to cast. These are in addition to any bonus spells known by the familiar based on the witch’s level and her patron (see patron spells).

If you really want to keep more spells, you can Scribe Scrolls to relearn them.

A polite GM can allow you to attempt to retain some of your spells with Spellcraft check(s).

Specifically, Witch Familiars whose Witch perish retain their spells for 24 hours. It's not a stretch to suggest that a dismissed Witch's Familiar may do the same. In this time, the Familiars can commune to learn spells (at a rate of 1 hour per spell level).

Furthermore, a GM could allow you to follow the Wizard ability to replace their spellbook with their prepared spells. The Witch has no formal ability to do so, however.

A particularly nice GM (or one who likes story leverage) may also hand-wave that your Patron wishes you to keep your spells and transfers them to the new creature.


Her familiar evolves into an improved version of it

The shape or form of a witch's familiar is not important for her class abilities. When you take Improved Familiar, your witch's familiar is replaced by a new familiar, retaining all abilities they previously had. Witches may take Improved Familiar normally as counting her witch levels as wizard levels to qualify for the feat, as clarified in this FAQ item. This also doesn't cost you additional money either, as clarified by the developers on this FAQ item.

Sorcerer/Wizard: Can I dismiss my familiar so I may select a new familiar?

This isn't addressed in the rules anywhere, but yes, you should be able to dismiss a familiar if you want to select a new one. However, you must still wait 1 week and pay 200 gp for the 8-hour ritual. Dismissing a familiar is ending a link between your soul and it, so it should probably take about an hour.

The exception to the above is if you take the Improved Familiar feat, which allows you to immediately replace your familiar with the new familiar, at no cost or time required (it is assumed this occurs during whatever preparations you make while leveling up).

Once dismissed, an animal familiar is just a normal animal of its type (a special familiar from the Improved Familiar feat reverts to a normal creature of its type). Whether or not it wants to remain with you is up to your GM and probably based on how you treated the creature while it was your familiar.

To clarify, a witch knows all spells that her familiar knows, just like a wizard knows all spells written in his spellbook. They just cannot prepare spells without the aid of their familiar/spellbook, because they probably lack some minor details that are vital for the spell to be memorized.

But it is unclear what happens to their spells

If you are worried that your "old" familiar will lose all known spells when you pick a new familiar, you will have to have a chat with your GM about how that really works. It is agreed that your familiar is merely a conduit to your patron, but what exactly are those patrons are left completely at GM's discretion. They are not even given names or anything longer than a phrase of description. Some GMs will say the familiar merely pass the knowledge from the patron to the witch (based on folklore), others that the familiar is a living spellbook for the witch, and thus, losing a familiar work similar to losing a spellbook (your spells are gone).

There are ways around this, such as creating backup scrolls for every spell you know so you can have your new familiar eat them and learn those spells again. Or getting yourself a Stone Familiar, which is a bit costly (6,000 gp), but will fix the problem completely, allowing your to backup all your spells in the item.

Personally, I would say that it is perfectly fine for your old familiar to teach the new familiar during the process of replacement, similar to one witch's familiar teaching another witch's familiar, as this hasn't happened abruptly (such as having your familiar killed) and there is no mention on how long it takes, or how it even works, to get an Improved Familiar.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm not as sure about Witches, but Wizards don't "know" any spell they don't actively have prepared except Read Magic. You could not, say, scribe a new Spellbook from memory (except you can expend spells you've prepared to Scribe those). \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Jun 13, 2019 at 17:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Ifusaso for all purposes, they do know all spells in their spellbooks. But that's not the same thing as a spontaneous caster's Known Spells. Lets not get that confused. See Wizard Spells and Borrowed Spellbooks for evidence. \$\endgroup\$
    – ShadowKras
    Jun 13, 2019 at 17:28

You must log in to answer this question.

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