The PHB (p. 240) states as part of the Find Familiar spell that:

As an action while it is temporarily dismissed, you can cause it to reappear in any unoccupied space within 30 feet of you.

Say the wizard is outside a locked vault or a locked room of some kind. Can he use this method to cause his familiar to appear inside the locked area?


According to Jeremy Crawford in the Youtube video Dragon+: Q&A with Jeremy Crawford, 10/30/18, RAW says it is possible, and the targeting rules don't apply.

Transcript of video section (28:35–31:09):

Bart Carroll (hosting): Texas Devin asks a real question for Jeremy: “May I dismiss my familiar and resummon it to the unseen far side of a wall or locked door?”

Jeremy Crawford: Wow, okay. So let's, let's take a look at the find familiar spell.

BC: And this is, yes, Jeremy brought his laptop today so he can look up things on the fly.

JC: Yeah, normally you know I look up things in the books, but I realized, why don't I bring in my laptop and I can search things on D&D Beyond, so BAM I have find familiar here. (Reading) And you can — as you know, you can dismiss your familiar… and then, as an action, you can cause it to reappear in any unoccupied space within 30 feet of you. Strict reading of this? I would allow it to appear in any unoccupied space within 30 feet of you. It includes beyond a wall and whatnot. Someone might then, might then ask me, “well Jeremy, what about the rules on spell targeting that say, hey the target of a spell, there must be a clear path to it?” It, you know, it can't — the target can't be behind total cover unless the spell says otherwise.

BC: Yeah.

JC: Here though, we're not talking about the targeting of the spell. The targeting of the spell is back when you first created the familiar within its original ten-foot range. This resummoning, all the spell says is it has to be any unoccupied space within 30 feet of you.

BC: So could I go to the bank, and summon my familiar behind the vault?

JC: As a DM I would allow it.

BC: A-ah.

JC: But — but, particularly because I as a DM like to interpret our rules as generously as possible. And especially generously when that's going to cause the players to get themselves into trouble. Because, because what you just described, someone might think “wow, that's broken” and as I, as a DM, I, I think of that — I'm like “ooh delicious,” because chaos is going to ensue, story time is coming.

BC: The guards must know this, so what have they placed in the vault that watches for things teleporting in, and what happens when my familiar gets absconded with, right?

JC: Right. Well and also, familiars are, are not… particularly resilient, so there's risk involved.

BC: I would also like to see the familiar just take the money and run. At what point do they decide to break ranks and just, you know, take off.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Also it is always better to summarize what a linked source says rather than just pasting the link. Partially this is so we can avoid answers becoming useless in the case of link rot. If you summarized what JC said and then discussed what the rules actually say and how everything fits together, that would be a good answer though. So feel free to edit that kind of information in! \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Apr 4 '19 at 20:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. Please support your answer by quoting/summarizing the relevant information/reasoning from the link. Crawford asserting it to be true doesn't guarantee that it's true, but you might be able to support this by citing the rules. Crawford says that "by a strict reading" of the spell, he'd let it be resummoned anywhere within 30 feet, then addresses the argument that the targeting rules might apply. He also says that "as a DM" he'd allow it, which doesn't necessarily tell us what the spell says. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Apr 4 '19 at 20:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ Having watched the bit of video linked to, it's especially important to summarise what he says, and to summarise his reasons — he goes further into detail on that, and the reasons are particular to how he likes to DM games. That context is important, because he's not saying "this is the way the rule works for everyone", instead he's saying, "this is a reasonable ruling, and is the ruling I would make because it has this side effect that I like". \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 5 '19 at 20:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ I've pulled a transcript out of the Youtube captions/transcript and lightly edited it to correct automatic captioning errors, and to add punctuation that sounds like what was said. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 5 '19 at 21:19

No — since it doesn't explicitly override them, the normal rules on page 204 of the Player's Handbook for choosing the target space into which you summon your familiar in the first place still apply when re-summoning it:

To target something, you must have a clear path to it, so it can’t be behind total cover.

You have to pick a location that you can see clearly.

To work otherwise, the description of find familiar would need to include language describing how you may target a space that you don't have a clear path to, such as appear in spells like dimension door to alter the normal targeting rules.

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    \$\begingroup\$ If you can see through, then you have a clear line of sight, isn't that sufficient? So if the vault's door has a small window with bars, could we not have the familiar appear on the other side? (I know that it the "targeting" is not really clear in this case, and an empty spot could mean behind the caster; however, if we assuming clear spot where the caster could walk to, it would a different matter...) \$\endgroup\$ – Alexis Wilke Jan 25 '16 at 4:18

I would say that strict rules as written would suggest that this would actually work.

The rules on page 204 of the PHB refer to casting a spell, but this is not what you’re doing. You are simply using a feature of the familiar.

Consider if you were using the other listed features with the familiar on the other side of a wall. Would you be unable to telepathically communicate or use the familiar’s senses because there was a wall in the way? What about dismissing the familiar into its pocket dimension, would that feature also be unavailable on the other side of a wall?

I would argue that if you needed a clear line of sight to summon the familiar, then this would be explicitly stated in the feature’s description.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Feb 22 '19 at 0:50


As SevenSidedDie states, you need to have a clear path to the location, so the other side of a vault vault door probably isn't valid. The opposite side of a jail cell, however, probably is (even if the bars of the cell are too close together for the familiar's form to actually fit through).


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