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Is there any way to work around Familiar Alignment restrictions?

Examples:

  • LE Wizard wanting to get Faerie Dragon as a Familiar.
  • CG Wizard wanting to get Ratling as a Familiar.

Is there any way to achieve that? RAW approach, loopholes & things that wouldn't work in RAI expected.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I could have sworn I remembered some rule for, say, a LG character taking an imp, which would try to tempt you to evil, or the reverse for an LE character and an angel, but I'm not finding it. \$\endgroup\$
    – Phoenices
    Jan 5 at 20:24

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Yes, but

First, it's important to point out that there are two very different alignment restrictions, not just one, and both play an important role.

The primary alignment restriction comes from the Improved Familiar feat itself, which lists "compatible alignment" as a prerequisite for the feat, and that compatible alignment is is explained as:

You may choose a familiar with an alignment up to one step away on each alignment axis (lawful through chaotic, good through evil).

The secondary alignment restriction is put in place by the individual creature chosen as familiar, for example:

Faerie Dragon (alignment: Chaotic Good)

An arcane¹ spellcaster of at least 7th level with an alignment within 1 step of chaotic good who has the Improved Familiar feat may select a faerie dragon as a familiar.

Shikigami (alignment: Lawful Neutral)

A spellcaster must have the Improved Familiar feat, an alignment of lawful neutral, and an arcane¹ caster level of 7th or higher to gain a shikigami familiar.

Ratling (alignment: Chaotic Evil)

A chaotic evil spellcaster can gain a ratling as a familiar at 7th level by taking the Improved Familiar feat.

E.g. choosing a Ratling familiar is even more difficult than usual for improved familiars:

The Improved Familiar feat would merely require an alignment within 1 step of Chaotic Evil [Ratlings are CE] on each axis, i.e. one of the four alignments TN [True Neutral], CN [Chaotic Neutral], NE [Neutral Evil], or CE [Chaotic Evil].

But the text specific to the Ratling demands the spellcaster to be CE.

Therefore any attempt to work around familiar alignment restrictions has to be mindful of both sources of alignment restrictions, those from the improved familiar feat and those from the creatures.


Feat Restriction

The rules on the Prerequisites of Feats unambiguously state that even a temporary lapse in fulfilling the feat's prerequisites makes the character unable to use the feat:

A character can't use a feat if he loses a prerequisite, but he does not lose the feat itself. If, at a later time, he regains the lost prerequisite, he immediately regains full use of the feat that prerequisite enables.

So the alignment restriction is permanent, and as soon as a character fails to fulfill the feat's alignment prerequisite, he loses his improved familiar. That prerequisite requires the character to have "an alignment up to one step away on each alignment axis" from the familiar's alignment at all times.

But fortunately an individual familiar's alignment isn't fixed! The Bestiary merely lists the alignment of generic creatures, but individuals may deviate from that. It's possible for an individual Ratling to be Lawful Good, or for a Faerie Dragon to have fallen into service of the Abyss becoming Neutral Evil in the process.

Even former animals that became familiars can change their alignment away from True Neutral, as that TN alignment is only fixed for animals with an intelligence score of 1-2. Familiars are explicitly considered sentient creatures (INT > 2) and these should be able to develop alignments of their own.

The LE Wizard could even opt to put a Helm of Opposite Alignment on a Faerie Dragon's head to speed up the process, quickly turning the creature from Chaotic Good to Lawful Evil.

The Improved Familiar feat's alignment restriction can thus be overcome by changing the familiar's alignment towards the desired direction. This can even be a fun source of roleplay at the table.


Creature Restriction

RAW this restriction can be "rules lawyered". Unlike a feat's prerequisites, this restriction doesn't need to be fulfilled all the time. It's sufficient to fulfill the restriction at a single point in time: the moment the familiar is acquired. None of the possible familiar creatures that have specific alignment requirements say anything about their master having to remain at that alignment. The alignment demand is only stipulated for the moment of acquiring the familiar.

Usually any alignment restriction has to come with an explanation what happens if a character deviates from that alignment. Classes with such restrictions, like the Paladin, Antipaladin, Cleric, Druid, or Monk, all come with explanations on how to proceed from the point of deviation as an Ex-Paladin (Ex-Antipaladin, Ex-Cleric, ...), i.e. which abilities are lost and what redemptions (usually Atonement) are possible.

This language is missing here and can be fully exploited RAW. After acquiring the familiar, the master can attempt to move towards his truly desired alignment without having to worry about the creature alignment restriction again.


Example

LE Wizard wanting to get Faerie Dragon as a Familiar.

The LE Wizard can don a Helm of Opposite Alignment [becomes CG] and remove it, then get a Faerie Dragon familiar [he qualifies now, being CG], then quickly teleport two more such helms onto the heads of himself & the Faerie Dragon [both become LE: the master still has a compatible alignment with his LE familiar, satisfying the feat prerequisite].

But beware of your familiar dying, as you would need to return to a CG alignment to get a new Faerie Dragon familiar. Resurrection magic might be a more convenient (& more expensive) option than going for an ordinary replacement ritual.


¹: The restriction of familiars to "arcane spellcasters" has been resolved as per this FAQ.


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  • \$\begingroup\$ Helm of Opposite Alignment: "Only a wish or a miracle can restore a character’s former alignment, the affected individual does not make any attempt to return to the former alignment. In fact, he views the prospect with horror and avoids it in any way possible.“ So, once the wizard in your example has become CG he will just feel great and redeemed and will live happily together with his friendly Faerie Dragon familiar... :) \$\endgroup\$
    – Peregrin
    Jan 9 at 20:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Peregrin: Skelterhide users can ignore such pesky trivialities. \$\endgroup\$
    – Theaitetos
    Jan 9 at 20:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ —But why would the CG wizard want to use the Skelterhide? He feels great and "does not make any attempt to return to the former alignment". \$\endgroup\$
    – Peregrin
    Jan 9 at 20:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Peregrin: I'm sorry, but your comments add nothing of value to this answer and are just completely distracting/annoying. Obviously the helm is not necessary, and is just used as an example of how to change alignment. As for your question: While wearing a Skelterhide, the LE Wizard can don the helm, change his legal alignment to CG while remaining LE in attitude for 15min, and then proceed with acquiring the familiar. With that being said, I will not answer any further comments on this line of inquiry. \$\endgroup\$
    – Theaitetos
    Jan 9 at 21:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ Amazing answer, thank you very much. Should I make separate question on other options for temporary and permanent instant alignment change? Also: how does one make this Helm of Opposite Alignment? It has no price, which is a big problem. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nec Xelos
    Jan 10 at 1:29

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