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The 5e PHB is pretty unambiguous on familiar 'death':
(From the find familiar spell description)

When the familiar drops to 0 hit points, it disappears, leaving behind no physical form. It reappears after you cast this spell again.

You can also use the spell to change your familiar's form. Is this familiar, for all intents and purposes, exactly the same being you summoned before? In other words, is familiar death in 5e just a temporary inconvenience, or does it have repercussions of some sort?

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It's just a temporary inconvenience, except in a singular case.

Basically, all that a familiar's death means is that you'll have to recast Find Familiar at your earliest convenience (so it means the loss of a spell slot for a day if you have a time pressure and can't take The extra 10 minutes to cast it as a ritual). The spell/ritual does cost 10gp, but that's a pretty trivial amount for an adventurer. It also has a casting time of 1 hr so you probly need a short rest to do rather than simply doing it between encounters.

The only case where having a familiar come to harm is a permanent issue is in the rare event that you decided to retrain the spell (or as a wizard, lose your spell book that contains it). These are the only times when losing a familiar has long term ramifications.

As to whether or not the newfound familiar when you recast the spell is the same being reincarnated/resurrected or a different being entirely, this is up to you and the flavor you choose for your familiar.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Since it's a ritual, it doesn't even have to cost a spell slot for the day. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Oct 19 '14 at 2:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think it will actually take 1 hour and 10 minutes to cast. The casting time for Find Familiar is 1 hour. Casting a ritual spell takes 10 minutes longer (see the Rituals section in the PHB pg 201) \$\endgroup\$ – Jason Apr 12 '15 at 17:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ Might be worth mentioning that there would also be social consequences. Deliberately killing the familiar over and over will lead to the familiar refusing to cooperate. (I learned this the hard way. My mage hand won't even do what I want anymore.) \$\endgroup\$ – Mooing Duck Apr 16 '15 at 17:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @MooingDuck Is that RAW or just a DM who decided they wanted their world to operate that way? \$\endgroup\$ – Praxiteles Apr 25 '18 at 6:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Praxiteles: Purely DM fiat, I admit \$\endgroup\$ – Mooing Duck Apr 25 '18 at 16:56
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I've been thinking a lot about this lately.

General Case

If the familiar drop to zero hit points, it is sent back to the pocket dimension, and the spell must be recast. When recast you get the same spirit back again.

Edge Cases

That isn't the only death a familiar can face. Power Word Kill for instance says:

If the creature you chose has 100 hit points or fewer, it dies.

So, if a character spent a 9th level spell slot, they could kill the familiar dead. Certain Celestial and Fiends when killed reform on the celestial plane, abyss, or the 9 Hells (like Devils, Demons, etc.). So, death might not be the end of them. The Fey, however, is likely toast.

Recasting the spell after that death will still work, but you're likely just going to get a new spirit.

And Disintegrate says:

On a failed save, the target takes 10d6 + 40 force damage. If this damage reduces the target to 0 hit points, it is disintegrated.

It is unclear which is more specific, and which happens: the Familiar rule or the Disintegrate rule.

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The only long term effect under normal circumstances (you can recast the spell) is the material cost of 10 gp worth charcoal, incense and herbs.

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There is a case where it might matter. Although your question specifies the Find Familiar spell, there is another way to get a familiar. The Monster Manual has familiar variants for the unusual familiar types: Quasit, imp, etc.

According to the powers that be, these are intended primarily as familiars for NPCs, but it is unclear if they are summoned with magic, or if they are simply beings who have agreed to work in concert with a character for mutual benefit. The implication (verified by Crawford and others) is that the Find Familiar spell is not invoked, since:

At any time and for any reason, the quasit can end its service as a familiar

In this singular case, a familiar's death would be a real death, subject to the rules regarding death for a creature of its type. In the case of a Quasit, its form should reappear in the Abyss, but since it was never summoned with Find Familiar, some other means must be found of returning it to the Prime Material. Similar rules apply to the imp. The pseudodragon would simply die. There is no variant for the sprite.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ It isn't unclear -- the book says they make agreements, and Jeremy Crawford has stated a number of times they have nothing to do with the Find Familiar spell. \$\endgroup\$ – J. A. Streich Jul 15 '17 at 16:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ Unless you're a pact of the chain warlock. In which case you can call them using Find Familiar. \$\endgroup\$ – Rob Rose Jul 15 '17 at 19:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ @J.A.Streich, Sorry, I was going for more of the flavor of the thing, specifically for an NPC. You are of course, correct that RW and RAI, the spell is not required for a variant familiar. I got there in the answer, but you are spot on that there is no unclarity. I'll adjust the phrasing. \$\endgroup\$ – keithcurtis Jul 16 '17 at 7:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @RobRose A variant familiar is not summoned by the Find Familiar spell for anyone. I have adjusted my phrasing above to make that more clear. This answer is speaking of a familiar for a Variant. Not even a Pact of the Chain warlock gets these. \$\endgroup\$ – keithcurtis Jul 16 '17 at 7:41

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