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Per the rules of Find Familiar, familiars can deliver touch spells on behalf of their owner:

Finally, when you cast a spell with a range of touch, your familiar can deliver the spell as if it had cast the spell. Your familiar must be within 100 feet of you, and it must use its reaction to deliver the spell when you cast it. If the spell requires an attack roll, you use your attack modifier for the roll.

But what if the familiar's owner had previously also cast Hex on the target?

The description for Hex states:

Until the spell ends, you deal an extra 1d6 necrotic damage to the target whenever you hit it with an attack.

Would the touch spell delivered through the familiar also include Hex damage?

While Hex state it happens with "you hit it with an attack", the "hit it" is the familiar delivering the touch spell attack. But by the same token, Find Familiar says that "If the spell requires an attack roll, you use your attack modifier for the roll." So the "hit it" is based on the caster's abilities, not the familiar's.

So when a familiar does the dirty work, who exactly is "hitting it" and can it include Hex damage?

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The familiar doesn't cast the spell, hex damage is applied

The rules for Find Familiar state:

Finally, when you cast a spell with a range of touch, your familiar can deliver the spell as if it had cast the spell [emphases mine]

Who has cast the spell? 'You' have - this is stated explicitly and the spell uses your attack modifier, not your familiar's. Your familiar has delivered the spell 'as if it had cast it' but it has not actually cast it - 'you' have.

The rules for Hex state:

you deal an extra 1d6 necrotic damage to the target whenever you hit it with an attack

So in this case, you can deal hex damage as it was you that cast the spell, as your attack.

Your familiar delivering the spell 'as if it had cast' it simply means you can use your familiar's location rather than your own when determining range.

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It is your attack, so hex damage is applied

Finally, when you cast a spell with a range of touch, your familiar can deliver the spell as if it had cast the spell

The familiar isn't attacking the creature, you are, the only thing that is changed is that the familiar is functioning as an intermediary, allowing you to use touch attacks from a distance. This description is there to indicate that instead of the usual range for touch spells, you can use your familiars position to deliver the spell, as if they had cast the spell, but they didn't actually cast the spell, you did, it's your attack.

The fact that you are using your own spell attack modifiers is another indicator that it is, in fact, you hitting the enemy and not your familiar, who is merely there to provide a way for your touch attacks to extend that far.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ How did you decide that "as if it had cast the spell" only refers to position? If you think this passage is supposed to only refer to the position, then why the passage "If the spell requires an attack roll, you use your attack modifier for the roll."? This passage is only makes sense if "as if it had cast the spell" is unbounded. \$\endgroup\$ – pllpnakjlx Dec 17 '19 at 3:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @jgn: The wording about using your attack roll is necessary because they chose to describe the delivery mechanism the way they did, not just in terms of range. Without that, using the familiar's attack roll modifier would become a possible interpretation of that phrasing, even if "unbounded" is not what the designers intended. I don't think that part of your argument against this interpretation holds up. \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Cordes Dec 17 '19 at 3:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @PeterCordes "as if it had cast" means "as if it had cast". Even if you assume that it is talking only about range then there is no reason to think you would be using the familiar's attack roll. If your RAI makes the rules make less sense, then that is a good sign that the RAI is wrong. \$\endgroup\$ – pllpnakjlx Dec 17 '19 at 3:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ In normal English "as if" means "you didn't do it, but it's like you did it". It only references the part about delivering the spell. They can walk somewhere and go 'boop, you're it', even though they aren't casting the spell, but they can deliver it as if they were. It's still the attack of the caster. \$\endgroup\$ – Theik Dec 17 '19 at 7:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Theik "delivering" a spell is not a mechanic, it is describing what the familiar is doing. The familiar is delivering the spell, and mechanically this is "as if they had cast the spell". \$\endgroup\$ – pllpnakjlx Dec 18 '19 at 4:02
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It is as if the familiar casts the spell, no hex damage is applied

The rules for Find Familiar state:

Finally, when you cast a spell with a range of touch, your familiar can deliver the spell as if it had cast the spell

Yes, it uses your modifier, but the familiar is the one making the attack.

Since Hex requires "you [to] hit it with an attack", then since it is "as if [your familiar] had cast the spell", you will not get the Hex damage bonus.

Wait, isn't the text of Find Familiar talking about just the range?

No. There is no statement saying that it is "as if it had cast the spell [with regards to range]". You should understand the rules as they are written.

It even goes on to say that even though it is "as if" the familiar cast the spell, you use your attack roll instead of the familiar:

If the spell requires an attack roll, you use your attack modifier for the roll.

This would be a bizarre and redundant statement to make if only the range of the spell was being discussed.

But wait wait, the familiar is only delivering the spell!

"Delivering a spell" is not a mechanic, this passage is describing what the familiar is doing. The familiar is delivering the spell, and mechanically this is "as if they had cast the spell".

Note again that there is no limitation to this clause. There is no text saying "it is as if they had cast the spell, in XYZ situation, except ABC." There is no reason to second guess the designers, they said it is as if the familiar cast the spell.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You're neglecting to account for the language outside of your bolded section. It says "your familiar can deliver the spell as if it had cast the spell". It still says "when you cast a spell", so you have cast the spell, and only the delivery of the spell is modified to allow it to originate from the familiar. I'm not 100% your end result is wrong, but it's not because the spell is counted as being cast by the familiar, it's because it's possible the familiar is the one performing the attack (even though it uses your attack modifier, for a spell you cast). \$\endgroup\$ – ShadowRanger Dec 16 '19 at 17:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ShadowRanger The second clause modifies the predicate, 'delivering a spell' is not a game mechanic, reading the statement as 'it is as if the familiar cast the spell' is more correct than worrying about what it means to 'deliver' a spell. \$\endgroup\$ – pllpnakjlx Dec 16 '19 at 23:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think the "as if it had cast the spell" wording only applies to satisfying the touch range requirements and whatever other particulars of the spell, not that the familiar "takes over" your spell. It doesn't say "instead of you" (which would make your interpretation pretty clearly right). I see the argument you're making, and I think this interpretation is compatible with RAW. But so is the other one, and I think getting Hex damage makes sense intuitively when you "channel" the spell through your familiar. So sensible RAI disagrees with this, and RAW doesn't force this. \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Cordes Dec 17 '19 at 3:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ My guess is that the designers weren't thinking about the interaction with Hex when they worded the description this way for casting via familiar. Their wording covers cases like the familiar's hands being full, or some special circumstance other than range that would prevent a touch between the familiar and some creature. I think that's why they didn't just talk about range. re: picking and choosing: I think both interpretations are valid RAW. That's a necessary pre-condition for getting to pick and choose without just calling it a house rule. \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Cordes Dec 17 '19 at 3:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @PeterCordes The other answer is pure RAI, the rules do not say anything about limiting "as if" to range. Furthermore it's not even a good attempt at RAI since it doesn't make a whole lot of sense why the rules would include redundant text. \$\endgroup\$ – pllpnakjlx Dec 17 '19 at 3:50

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