The improved familiar feat allows a higher level arcane spellcaster to get a, well, improved familiar. However the Special Abilities for these familiars is not listed.

For some of these (Celestial Hawk, Dire Rat, Fiendish Viper) the special ability is "obviously" the same as their non-upgraded version; but what about the others (Stirges, Elementals, etc) that have no mention in their monster description sa to any familiar bonuses.

Imps at least have a brief mention of some powers, but no indication as to their associated bonuses.

So the question is:

What special ability do non-templatised improved familiars give? None? Is it just a prestige thing?

Also; is my assumption that the templatised familiars give the same special ability as their normal creature type. Is this correct?


3 Answers 3


I think Improved Familiar is really just a better creature. For comparison, the standard familiars are basically all CR 1/3 or 1/2 creatures. Wait until level 7 and you can get a Mephit, which is a CR 3 monster.

Plus that Mephit is going to get all of the other bonuses, like more HD/HP, better saves, deliver ranged touch attacks, etc. With all of the bonuses, your familiar quickly becomes a CR 4 or more.

So you're going to lose that +3 skill bonus. It's not really a big deal given that your familiar now has a breath weapon and spells.


Improved familiars are better than the usual ones. They could have better stats, magical properties or something else that balances out the loss of those bonuses to skills.

I'm not sure a templatized creature should give these bonuses at all. The feat lets you choose a different creature that's inherently more powerful, enough to justify both the expendition of the feat and the loss of the special ability.

However, I've not found any evidence of this on the rulebooks and I'm answering according to my D&D 3.5 knowledge. These assumptions might have been changed in PF without me noticing. Additional informations by fellow players is thus greatly appreciated.


All improved familiars do not give any special abilities to the spellcaster. I personally would allow the analogous special abilities in the case of templatized creatures off the normal list, but acknowledging that's outside RAW.


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