Among the Wizard's Necromancer variants is the Skeletal Minion feature, which says (among other things):

A 1st-level necromancer using this variant can begin play with an undead minion (a human warrior skeleton).

A necromancer using this variant permanently gives up the ability to obtain a familiar.

However, there's an Obtain Familiar feat, which says;

You can obtain a familiar in the same manner as a sorcerer or wizard.

Does the Skeletal Minion feature mean you can't get a familiar ever from any source, or that you just give up the wizard feature of having a familiar?


3 Answers 3


Yes, you can gain a familiar elsewhere and have both

This ambiguity is due to a very annoying habit that Wizards of the Coast had to assume that all characters were starting from 1st-level, would remain single-classed, and would not take cross-class skills, when discussing what members of a class can do. You see this in similar issues like:

In all three cases, the text states restrictions in very broad, unqualified terms, but the restrictions only make sense if you assume a single-classed character with only in-class skills. They also, of course, ignore even the possibility of future content changing things.

This was probably to try to make things easier to understand as a new player, by not bringing up various potential other considerations that could come up, but it makes it very difficult to draw the line here. The consistent response (validated, in some cases, by future books, errata, or developer commentary) has been

These kinds of restrictions about what members of a class cannot do only refer to what that class is letting them do, not imposing a restriction on what other classes, skills, or feats might allow.

So the necromancer loses the Summon Familiar class feature of the wizard class. He could still gain a familiar from, e.g., taking levels in sorcerer, or the Obtain Familiar feat.


Rules as written are simply inconsistent here.

Each specialist class has three variants: one that replaces the specialist's summon familiar ability,

As you can see, here summon familiar that came from class is replaced, but no word about permanency.

And later on the same page, in the part you quote, the same page states that you give up ability permanently.

Outcome depends on which wording you will treat as more binding. Usually specific beats general, so "permanently" would win and you can never ever have a familiar again. But the line about permanently giving up familiar appears in all variants described, so it isn't any more specific than this general rule, really.


The second.

You have an ability to obtain familiar, and you have an option to trade it for another ability. If you acquire the ability to obtain familiar from another source (multiclassing, for example), you will have both a skeletal minion from necromancer variant and a familiar from that another source.


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