The Faerie Dragon bestiary entry is unusual among monsters eligible to be Improved Familiars. Notably, it's unusual because unlike all of the other available options, the Faerie Dragon has a list of Spells in addition to it's Spell-Like Ability.

Specifically, the Faerie Dragon is explicitly called out as casting spells as a 3rd-level sorcerer.

To me, this implies that the Faerie Dragon's list of spells known is capable of being determined at the time of 'creation', and isn't fixed across all creatures of the type. Thus, if I wanted my Faerie Dragon Familiar to know Color Spray instead of Grease, or Detect Magic instead of Open/Close, that ought to be possible.

However, I fear that my interpretation might be more permissive than is intended, and that the spell list ought to be fixed to those listed in the bestiary.

Either way, it seems very clear that this spell casting does not scale with hit dice/character level as most SLA's do. That said, I also find myself wondering how this affects the Faerie Dragon's access to magic items. Can it use Wands and Scrolls as a 3rd level sorcerer (i.e. without a UMD check if the spell is on the proper list)? Could it use a Page of Spell Knowledge to learn an additional spell?


3 Answers 3


The Advancing Companions section in the Pathfinder System Reference Document seems to indicate that the answer is yes on all counts:

Another issue is who gets to control the companion's advancement. Animal companions, eidolons, and cohorts all advance much like PCs, making choices about feats, skills, special abilities, and (in the case of cohorts) class levels. Whoever controls the companion's actions also makes decisions about its advancement, but there is more of a shared role between you and the GM for some types of companions.
Cohort: A cohort is generally considered a player-controlled companion, and therefore you get to decide how the cohort advances. The GM might step in if you make choices that are inappropriate for the cohort, use the cohort as a mechanism for pushing the boundaries of the game rules, or treat the cohort unfairly.

(emphasis mine) and from Aspects of Control:

Sentient Companions: a sentient companion (a creature that can understand language and has an Intelligence score of at least 3) is considered your ally and obeys your suggestions and orders to the best of its ability. It won't necessarily blindly follow a suicidal order, but it has your interests at heart and does what it can to keep you alive. Paladin bonded mounts, familiars, and cohorts fall into this category, and are usually player-controlled companions.

And in Monster Advancement.

Adding Racial Hit Dice: Adding racial Hit Dice to a monster is a similar process to building a monster from scratch. As additional Hit Dice are added, other abilities increase in power as well. Additional Hit Dice usually results in better attack bonuses, saves, hit points, and skills, as well as more feats. It can also include additional spellcasting capability and other powers.

All but the last of these passages can be found in Ultimate Campaign. The last passage is part of the Bestiary, on page 295.

Since what spells a faerie dragon knows are a decision it makes as it advances in racial HD, and since you, not the GM, control such advancement, and, in fact, determine all aspects of your familiar with only minor oversight (as shown above), you can certainly swap out a faerie dragon's spells known as you generate it, just like you can its skill points, feats, and all other decision-based aspects of its character.

As for item usage, the dragon casts spells "like a sorcerer", so for items which benefit from or require sorcerer spell ability (like a wand of Fireball or a Staff of Meteor Swarm or, like you mention, Pages of Spell Knowledge) the dragon qualifies as a sorcerer. However, it is not a sorcerer and so items that rely on it being one (class requirement items) or possessing other class powers (Robe of Arcane Heritage) would not function.

You are right that the spellcasting does not increase as you (the master) level up, but if the familiar were a wild faerie dragon it would increase with additional racial Hit Dice, as per the normal rules for advancing monsters with spellcasting ability.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't see how Spells known to a Faerie Dragon are Advancement when they are attained. I could see that this is correct if they gain more spellcasting levels, but the ones it would have would (generally) be the default when you find them. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ifusaso
    Dec 29, 2020 at 12:38

RAW: Are they fixed, NO. Can you Pick them yourself, NO (you do not get to pick your familiar's backstory).

Faerie dragons grow in power as spellcasters as they age (typically gaining levels in sorcerer), learning more powerful spells to complement their innate abilities. The spells of faerie dragons tend to focus on tools that can be used to create or enhance pranks, and illusion and enchantment spells are particularly popular. - (ECOLOGY, http://www.d20pfsrd.com/bestiary/monster-listings/dragons/dragon-faerie)

The above quote implicitly seems to state that the Faerie Dragon's spell casting ability comes from levels in Sorcerer, and based on its stats and spells it can be reasonably implied that a generic Faerie Dragon Familiar is a level 3 sorcerer. Therefor its spells are not fixed, it gets to choose then as it ~ages and gains levels in sorcerer~.

This feat allows you to acquire a powerful familiar, but only when you could normally acquire a new familiar. - (Improved Familiar, http://www.d20pfsrd.com/feats/general-feats/improved-familiar)

A familiar is an animal chosen by a spellcaster to aid him in his study of magic. - (Familiars, http://www.d20pfsrd.com/classes/core-classes/wizard/familiar)

The above quotes imply that you do not create the familiar, but instead get an existing creature to bond to you. Therefore you were not with it when it leveled its Sorcerer class (unless you somehow bonded to a baby). So what spells it has would logically be up to your DM.

All of the above is dependent on your DM. They can and should determine if ruling that the Faerie dragon has three levels in sorcerer makes them unbalanced for their game or not. And also are perfectly able to allow you pick your familiar's spells, if they so choose.


The owner can select the spells. It does cast spells as a 3rd level sorcerer. An NPC with 16 Cha gets bonus spells per day of 1st through 3rd. Since it doesn't know any 2nd or 3rd level spells, it doesn't get those bonus castings. It knows 5 0th level and 3 1st level — exactly what a 3rd level sorcerer would. For all intents and purposes, he is a 3rd level sorcerer. This can be expanded by Pages of Spell Knowledge, etc. So they can have 6 castings of a 1st level spell and unlimited 0th level spells. So it all matches up exactly for a 3rd level sorcerer.

Since it has a language, it can use spell trigger / completion items such as scrolls, wands, and staves. No need to make UMD checks for spells on the class list, which is... everything arcane. It just may not know them.

It has been ruled in Pathfinder that they are considered a biped (hands) creature type, which gives them all item slots.

A faerie dragon is probably one of the top familiars for an arcane caster.


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