The text of the spell Find Familiar states (emphasis mine):

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

The spell Warding Bond's text states:

This spell wards a willing creature you touch and creates a mystic connection between you and the target until the spell ends.

Let's say we are in initiative order.

I want to cast cast Warding Bond on an ally through a familiar. My PC takes the action "cast a spell". A few NPC turns go by (to emphasize that there is a temporal distance between casting and delivering). Then the familiar, who actually touches the ally, uses its reaction to deliver the spell "as if it had cast the spell".

Does the bond exist between the PC and the target? Or between the familiar and the target?

Consider the following:

A PC readies a spell, setting the trigger to "my familiar wears my ring". The PC wearing the ring, casts the spell, holds the readied energy, gives the ring to the familiar, the familiar touches the target, dons the ring, triggers the touch spell and delivers it as if it had been cast by the familiar.

The heart of this question is the proper interpretation of this clause, "as if [the familiar] had cast the spell". To what extent does the familiar function as the spell-caster?

Reasonably, limitations of range, or conditional targeting limitations (e.g. a target the familiar can see), fall under this clause. But, what about interference with concentration on invisibility?

And, if we argue that all of those considerations are contingent on treating the familiar as the caster, isn't it too arbitrary to draw a definitive line before Warding Bond's "you and the target"?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Related: Can I cast Shillelagh through my sprite familiar? \$\endgroup\$
    – nonymous
    Sep 24, 2022 at 20:50
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ I've rolled back your latest edits because they are too large a change to a question that has already received several good answers that would be invalidated by the edit. The correct place to argue for a particular interpretation is in an answer post not the body of the question. \$\endgroup\$
    – linksassin
    Sep 30, 2022 at 0:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ Completely re-writing the body of the question in the way you did, while on the surface level it is the same question, you introduced a lot of assumption and discussion points that a good answer would need to address and the current answers don't because they weren't part of the original question. Additionally several point you added appear to be attempts to reply to answers "Other respondents have addressed this ambiguity previously" - editing the question in response to answers usually isn't the right move. \$\endgroup\$
    – linksassin
    Sep 30, 2022 at 0:49
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ We consider changing the goalposts for a good answer after they have come in to be invalidating them. Your original question was clear enough and the answer seem to address it adequately to me. Your edit changed too much about the question and really seems more like an attempt to answer it than an actual clarification to the question. Minor edits and clarifications that don't invalidate answers are fine. Large scale changes or revisions are not. The line between them is a bit grey but I'm letting you know that on this occasion your edit was too drastic, hence it has been reverted. \$\endgroup\$
    – linksassin
    Sep 30, 2022 at 0:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ If you believe the answers to your question are inadequate, you may bounty your question to attract more answers. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 30, 2022 at 5:38

5 Answers 5


You, the caster, are linked to the target

Find Familiar says,

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

So you are the caster: you cast the spell. The familiar is never the caster, it is merely delivering the spell, as if it had cast it. As if makes it clear it has not cast it.

This wording may be because the rules on page 202 PHB for casting spells state:

Some spells can target only a creature (including you) that you touch.

Normally only you, the caster, can deliver a spell with touch when you cast it. If you use a familiar, instead the familiar can deliver it.

In the text of spells, including that of Warding Bond, you refers to the caster. So the caster is the one linked to the target by warding bond. The caster of Warding Bond merely using the familiar to deliver the spell's effect.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage
    Sep 30, 2022 at 12:49

The bond is between the original caster (you) and the target.

The caster of a spell is always the same, but certain rules interactions around casting spells can be complicated by familiars, depending on the wording.

The caster of the spell is the one who cast the spell. Find Familiar makes this clear with the phrase "when you cast a spell". This does not change.

What does change from a typical casting when a familiar is involved, is the delivery of the spell. "Deliver the spell as if [the familiar] had cast the spell"

So the end result is that the PC remains the caster of the spell, but the familiar is treated as having cast the spell.

The distinction may seem subtle, but you could consider the metaphor of someone relaying a message to help make it a little more clear. For the following example scenario, treat "casting a spell" as "delivering a letter".

Wizzy the Wizard casts the spell Secret Chest through Fammy the Familiar to a wooden chest.

Situationally the same as:

Wizzy the Wizard delivers a letter through Fammy the Familiar to a wooden chest.

If we ask a question like, 'Who is the author of the letter?', there is only one answer: Wizzy. If we ask a question like 'who delivered a letter?', there are two answers: Wizzy and Fammy.

Switching back to Wizzy casting a spell, let's ask those same questions through rules interactions. If we're asking 'who is the "you" who can use an action to recall the chest from the ethereal plane after the spell has been cast?', the answer is Wizzy, the caster of the spell.

If Wizzy and Fammy were both sprinkled with Dust of Disappearance before the spell, the questions 'did Wizzy cast a spell?' and 'did Fammy cast a spell?' both have the answer "yes", so the invisibility ends on each of them.

The same logic applies to Warding Bond. In almost every instance of "you" that appears in the spell description, the antecedent is the caster of the spell, Wizzy. The only time "you" gets a little fuzzy is when talking about the delivery of the spell, such as the phrase "you touch". Since Fammy did the actual, physical touching, the spell could be rewritten in this way:

This spell wards a willing creature Fammy touches and creates a mystic connection between Wizzy and the target until the spell ends. While the target is within 60 feet of Wizzy, it gains a +1 bonus to AC and saving throws, and it has resistance to all damage. Also, each time it takes damage, Wizzy takes the same amount of damage.

The spell ends if Wizzy drops to 0 hit points or if Wizzy and the target become separated by more than 60 feet. It also ends if the spell is cast again on either of the connected creatures. Wizzy can also dismiss the spell as an action.

*-(a pair of platinum rings worth at least 50 gp each, which Wizzy and the target must wear for the duration).

With only the delivery changed, it becomes clear that the bond is between the caster, Wizzy, and the target.

As for if Wizzy can be both caster and target, let's look at the spell as a whole. Including the grammatical fragment of the material component description, there are 7 sentences in the spell's description. "You" and "the target" are listed separately in 5 of them, while they are referred to with the plural "the connected creatures" in a sixth, so it's safe to assume that whoever the target of the spell is, it's someone other than the caster, Wizzy.

On a final note, an interesting consequence of the fact that touch spells can also be cast on the self is that Fammy would be able to target their own self with the spell as long as they're wearing the other half of Wizzy's pair of rings.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage
    Sep 21, 2022 at 18:25

You are the caster, and you hold the bond.

The complete rule about spells with a range of touch reports (emphasis mine):

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.

A plain reading of the rule tells us that the sole aspect about this casting that is different from a normal casting is that the range is no more "touch" but it is 100 feet, i.e. the position of the familiar. There are no part of the quoted rule that says that the familiar becomes the actual caster beside the change of range: indeed the predicate you cast is repeated 2 times in the description, and the fact that the familiar just deliver the spell is repeated twice too. The as if part refers just to the range extension: Groody's and OneHotPotat's answers explain this part pretty clearly.

We have a further confirmation about the familiar not becoming the caster but simply extending the range, in the very last sentence of the spell description (emphasis mine):

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

This means that the familiar is just a "channel", an extension of the hand of the caster, because anything (verbal, somatic and material components, attack modifier) related to the spell except the range remains the same.

Note that the description says that you use your attack modifier, not the familiar uses your attack modifier.

Moreover, there is no delay between the casting and the delivery: indeed the rule says

[...] and it must use its reaction to deliver the spell when you cast it.

so the "touching" must happen in the same turn of the caster. In case of readying a spell, at the time of the trigger all the requirements for the casting must be met, otherwise the casting fails.

The above reasoning applies to any spell. Let's check Warding Bond, in particular the material components: the caster and the target must wear a couple of rings

a pair of platinum rings worth at least 50 gp each, which you and the target must wear for the duration

A possible interpretation is that the cleric\$^\star\$ makes the familiar wear the ring to bond the latter and the target, but in this way the requirements to cast the spell are not met, hence the casting of Warding Bond is unsuccessful.

If the caster wears the ring but the actual caster becomes the familiar, then the spell is wasted since the latter does not wear any ring.

Everything works fine in the last case under the plain reading of if the familiar only extending the range: the bond is created between the cleric\$^\star\$ and the target, because they are the 2 creatures wearing the rings.

In the depicted case of readying Warding Bond, where the trigger consists in "my familiar wears my ring", the casting fails, because the cleric does not have the required material component when releasing the spell power. The actual casting may take place several turns before familiar's, and the cleric casts Warding Bond bonding their ring, hence their HPs, to target's; then, they take off the ring and pass it to the familiar, in this way the casting fails, since one of the requirements of the spell (the material component) is not met anymore.

\$^\star\$ Or the paladin or the artificer or any caster that gains access to this spell.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage
    Sep 30, 2022 at 12:48

Upon review, it's still ambiguous, but slightly in favor of the familiar functioning as the caster

Two new pieces of information have arisen since my previous answer.

Firstly, other respondents have previously treated this ambiguity in a different situation.

And secondly, the language used in the Find Familiar spell is used in other examples of proxy casting. And, it leans in support of the interpretation, "the familiar takes on the function of the caster". Specifically, we find similar language used with magic items like Bowl of Commanding Water Elementals:

While this bowl is filled with water, you can use an Action to speak the bowl's Command word and summon a Water Elemental, as if you had cast the Conjure Elemental spell.

or an Elemental Gem

This gem contains a mote of elemental energy. When you use an Action to break the gem, an elemental is summoned as if you had cast the Conjure Elemental spell ...

The Conjure Elemental spell specifies that the elemental

obeys any verbal commands that you issue to it (no Action required by you).

To emphasize the usage of this language "as if ... had cast", consider a situation in which, e.g. the familiar uses its action to break the Elemental Gem and summon an elemental "as if it had cast" Conjure Elemental. Unambiguously (presuming the familiar was one capable of verbal commands e.g. sprite, imp, etc.), the elemental would obey the familiar's verbal commands, as if it, the familiar, has cast Conjure Elemental.


Suppose, my ally and my familiar each wear a ring, and each of them put their ringed hands in each of my hands. Then, they each hold hands with their free hand. While touching the pair of rings, I ready a casting of Warding Bond on my ally, through my familiar, setting the trigger to "I blink thrice in rapid succession". I then blink thrice in rapid succession, triggering the spell, which my familiar delivers it as if it had been cast by the familiar.


Rule 0 - the GM makes the call.

The phrase

"as if [the familiar] had cast the spell"

is too ambiguous to make universal ruling either way.

See here, or below, for further explanation.

Consider the following scenarios, which all depend on interpreting the same clause in the Find Familiar spell:

  1. A caster wants his familiar's concentration, in lieu of his own, to maintain a spell.
  2. An opponent wants to counterspell a familiar
  3. A wildshaped druid wants to cast Magic Stone through a (Wild Companion) familiar.
  4. A caster wants to cast Warding Bond on himself through a familiar.
  5. A caster with Truesight wants to deliver Shocking Grasp to an invisible enemy (which the familiar cannot see) without disadvantage.
  6. Via an invisible familiar (e.g. a sprite, quasit, or an imp), and without interrupting the familiar's invisibility, a spellcaster wants to
    • (a) [no attack] cast Cure Wounds on an ally.
    • (b) [attack roll] cast Shocking Grasp on an opponent.
    • (c) [saving throw] (have the pre-buffed familiar) use an action to breathe (not cast) Dragon's Breath on a group of enemies.
  7. An invisible caster wants to maintain invisibility through delivery of a touch spell [Mearls' example]
Standard interpretations* suggest these (1-6b) are illegal because the familiar effectively
  1. only delivers the spell
  2. only delivers the spell
  3. only delivers the spell
  4. only delivers the spell
  5. casts the spell
  6. (see)
  • a. casts the spell
  • b. casts the spell and/or attacks
  • c. [LEGAL] neither attacks nor casts a spell (wow)
  1. [LEGAL] casts the spell

The trouble is, an arbitrary line seems to hover somewhere between 3 and 5 with respect to the function of the familiar.

So, how do we justify drawing that line? Should 6a be legal? Should 4?

* linked


Conservatively (and probably RAI)

A conservative interpretation is, the PC is always the holder of the bond (caster) and the familiar is always the conduit / proxy / deliverer. This is the safe bet. You should probably interpret the rules this way, according to arguments offered by others. On this interpretation, "as if [it] had cast the spell" only refers to details like the range of the spell, targeting, or maintaining concentration on invisibility.


On the liberal interpretation, the phrase "as if [it] had cast the spell" refers to the relative origin of the spell and perhaps more details of casting.

In most cases, allowing the familiar to take the role of the caster like this is pretty innocuous. In general, a familiar's low HP would make this a transient buff--so, in total, a round or two of resistance at the cost of the familiar's life.

While the RAW seem to allow for this special interpretation, it is extremely powerful in a few specific cases, which a DM should carefully consider before making a more liberal ruling. These involve Pact of Chain familiars.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. \$\endgroup\$
    – Oblivious Sage
    Sep 27, 2022 at 15:48

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