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A shield guardian has the Spell Storing trait:

Spell Storing. A spellcaster who wears the shield guardian’s amulet can cause the guardian to store one spell of 4th level or lower. To do so, the wearer must cast the spell on the guardian. The spell has no effect but is stored within the guardian. When commanded to do so by the wearer or when a situation arises that was predefined by the spellcaster, the guardian casts the stored spell with any parameters set by the original caster, requiring no components. When the spell is cast or a new spell is stored, any previously stored spell is lost.

Is there any reason a shield guardian couldn't find a familiar for itself? The only reason I could think of why this wouldn't work is the use of the word "parameters", which might cause find familiar to act as if you (the master) had cast the spell instead of the guardian.

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3 Answers 3

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Can it?

There are a lot of issues that need to be resolved, to decide.

Can the shield guardian even cast find familiar?

This is up to the DM. There are arguments for both yes or no.

You can get rules-lawyery on the exact phrasing of the shield guardian's (SG) description; in particular the phrase:

To do so, the wearer must cast the spell on the guardian.

Some DMs may decide that language only allows spells that can be cast "on" a creature, such as invisibility, or fly. That's a very reasonable interpretation.

Other DMs may decide that in this case "cast on" means that somehow the magic of the SG allows spell storage and that "cast on" is a limiting factor.

You can make lots of arguments in either direction, but the text is not unambiguous, and the DM will need to decide.

If the SG can cast find familiar, can it find one for itself?

Again, up to the DM. There are arguments for both yes or no.

The description says:

the guardian casts the stored spell with any parameters set by the original caster

A reasonable argument is that even if the SG can store find familiar, that it is still the caster who is "casting" the original spell, and that the summoned familiar will be for the original caster, since there are no "parameters" that specify finding a familiar for someone else.

The opposite argument is also reasonable. The spell is stored in the SG, the SG casts it, it's the SG who gets the familiar.

You can make lots of arguments in either direction, but again, the text is not unambiguous, there are no defined rules for exactly how shield guardian spell storage works, and the DM will need to decide.

If the SG can get a familiar, what does that even mean?

Again, up to the DM. There are arguments that an SG can't make use of a familiar, and arguments that it could.

The SG can't talk:

Understands commands given in any language but can't speak

An SG has 7 intelligence. It's smart enough to speak, but it just doesn't.

Furthermore, the SG's description says:

A shield guardian’s solitary focus is to protect the amulet’s wearer. The amulet’s wearer can command the guardian to attack its enemies or to guard the wielder against attack. If an attack threatens to injure the wearer, the construct can magically absorb the blow into its own body, even at a distance.

One argument is that even if it could cast the spell and gain the familiar, that "having" a familiar is foreign to the SG's purpose, and while it can have one, it can't use one.

But assuming the SG knows how to "have" a familiar, or can be taught, there's another problem.

The SG can't talk, but the familiar needs to be commanded:

Your familiar acts independently of you, but it always obeys your commands.

So, sure, you can imagine that somehow the SG "commands" the familiar through gestures, but that really seems like a stretch.

The RAW answer

Is . . . there isn't one. The rules just aren't unambiguous. The DM will need to decide. It is less of a question of "how do shield guardians work", and more a question of "how do shield guardians work in your particular game".

Use RAW as the place to start, not the place to stop

A shield guardian is a game-changer. Once a PC has an SG, that SG is going to be part of your game to the end, either of the SG, or the game.

How sentient is a shield guardian?

One thing the DM will have to decide, is, how sentient is a shield guardian? The text basically says the SG is a single-minded moderately-smart defense robot. To the extent that a DM sticks to that interpretation influences things like whether it can have a familiar. A narrow interpretation of how SGs work, and a familiar doesn't really make sense, a more liberal interpretation . . . maybe.

Keeping it playable

Another issue the DM (and the player) needs to deal with, is how to have the SG in the game without spending immense amounts of time on the caster's character and their minions. If a caster has a familiar, and a shield guardian, and the shield guardian has a familiar, right there that is a lot to resolve on the caster's turn. Many wizards will want to have animated objects, summoned elementals, a simulacrum, the list goes on. It may be that the most important rule for managing the shield guardian is how to keep it playable. A sentient shield guardian that has its own familiar and sends it out scouting, perhaps in conjunction with the caster's familiar, may well not be playable.

In conclusion

If you're a player

You will need to work with your DM to determine how the shield guardian works, on this and many other topics. That will determine if your SG can have a familiar.

If you're a DM

Work top-down. Is the SG sentient? How you are going to handle the SG in combat, without bogging things down? Things like this will determine if the SG can have a familiar. Likely, the answer is no; but if you think the game is more fun if the SG has a familiar, then by all means, you should do it, and not feel like the rules are constraining you.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I agree some of these points have ambiguity, but whether it's the Shield Guardian doing the casting seems 100% unambiguous. "the guardian casts the stored spell." Doesn't matter if they're doing so according to the specifications of the original caster, they're still casting it themselves, just like someone casting a spell from a Ring of Spell Storing. That's not remotely ambiguous. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 6 at 21:11
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No.

Not via their Spell Storing feature, anyway. The text says "To do so, the wearer must cast the spell on the guardian.", which implies the spell must target a creature. find familiar targets an unoccupied space and thus you can't "cast the spell on the guardian".

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Hmm.... I doubt this interpretation. But your argument is that, unlike the Ring of Spell Storing (any creature can cast a spell into the ring) this says "must cast the spell on the guardian," implying that it must be castable on the guardian? Interesting. \$\endgroup\$
    – Phoenices
    Commented Apr 6 at 14:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you sure about this? Find familiar has a range of 10 feet. \$\endgroup\$
    – User 23415
    Commented Apr 6 at 15:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Phoenices I hadn't considered comparing to the ring. I will have to compare the wording, but I will be away from my books for awhile. To clarify, though, my argument is around the word "on". To my eye, that implies targeting the guardian with a spell that can target a creature. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 6 at 16:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ @User23415 Suddenly, no I'm not. I had originally checked roll20.net/compendium/dnd5e/Find%20Familiar, but my book disagrees. The search is on! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 7 at 3:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ You'll be interested in checking out this FAQ, which treats this exact question : whether or not "cast the spell on the guardian" means the spell has to be cast on the guardian itself for it to be stored. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matthieu
    Commented Apr 8 at 10:00
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I guess so, yeah

Rules As Written, it does appear that a shield guardian can cast this spell. The shield guardian probably wouldn't do much with the familiar, since it appears to only take certain actions and only when commanded to do so explicitly. But it could summon a familiar.


It might interest you to know that there are other ways to get familiars for characters that normally shouldn't have them. For example the Lorehold Primer is an uncommon magic item from Strixhaven which gives the attuned owner the ability to "choose one 1st-level spell from the Cleric or Wizard list" and cast it once without using a spell slot. If the group finds such an item, they could trade the book around until they each have a familiar.

The Ring of Spell Storing is another example.

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