I have a Celestial Bat familiar (Improved Familiar feat) which I use to deliver touch-range spells for me.

This animal has no attack on its own, but we have ruled that having a charged touch spell gives it an attack at my base attack bonus + its Strength modifier (-5; bats have 1 Str), + its size modifier (+4; Diminutive).

We have been seeing that +2 bonus to attack rolls is not quite enough to adequately deliver spells.

I chose the bat for its good maneuvrability (meaning it can hover and thus doesn't get entirely screwed by tight spaces like the bird familiars), but it appears I've been somewhat screwed by its low strength. I somehow never imagined low strength would be an obstacle to touch spell delivery.

So right now I am looking for a way to improve my familiar's efficiency at delivering touch spells. What are accessible ways of improving my bat's touch attack rolls? (I am a level 4 wizard.)

I have thought of :

  • Using Bull's Strength on it before battles: not so cost- or time-efficient
  • Hiring someone to cast Permanency along with Reduce Animal, to reduce its size to Fine and making its size bonus +8 (Would this work on the Diminutive magical beast that my familiar is? What are potential negative effects of this that I should be wary of?)
  • Using Permanency with Reduce Monster if Reduce Animal doesn't work
  • Creating a new spell that would read something like "The targeted creature gains +4 to melee touch attacks for 1 min/level", and that would be eligible to Permanency.

2 Answers 2


A generous DM may allow you to simply trade out the bat's largely useless Alertness feat for another feat, and Weapon Finesse is the obvious choice. Such a trade really won't make the bat overwhelmingly powerful or anything.

If the DM doesn't allow this trade, there are a few in-game ways to swap unwanted feats for more desirable ones, the most widely accepted being the 4th-level psion/wilder power psychic reformation [telepathy] (XPH 127), which a DM in a campaign with newer players may want to allow into the campaign even if psionics are usually banned. Having a friendly psion use psychic reformation on the celestial bat improved familiar costs the familiar's master 280 gp plus probably an additional 125 gp (unless the DM rules the master must pay based on the creature's effective Hit Dice rather than its actual Hit Dice) and 25 XP (as before plus usually the bat would pay this XP; making the master pay this XP instead of tracking the familiar's XP is reasonable).

Note that as a Diminutive creature, the bat must enter a foe's square to attack the foe, provoking an attack of opportunity from that foe. This makes a typical bat familiar's delivery of touch spells against foes a risky proposition. (The feat Combat Familiar (Player's Handbook II 76) addresses this issue; however, don't read this as the feat being particularly good because it's not; please, spend your feats on better things.)

I am unaware of an official reduce monster spell that's similar to the spells reduce person and reduce animal. This latter spell can't be used on the celestial bat (or a bat familiar) as it's a magical beast not an animal. But bear in mind that the bat usually benefits just as much as any party member from effects that improve attack rolls (e.g. the bard's inspire courage, the spell bless).

Bat attack!

While the bat has no natural attacks, it nonetheless can make an unarmed strike... with which it isn't proficient and suffers a −4 penalty on attack rolls. A bat's unarmed strike deals 1 point of nonlethal damage (computed using Table 2–3: Decreasing Weapon Damage by Size on DMG 28); the bat can suffer a further −4 penalty on attack rolls to deal lethal damage with its unarmed strike. Even a bat can administer a coup de grace.

Further, were the bat to somehow gain one or more natural weapons, the bat could "[u]se [its] Dexterity or Strength modifier, whichever is greater, to get [its] melee attack bonus with natural weapons" (PH 52-3). Even so, touch attacks will often likely remain more frequently successful.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Suggestions for improvement welcome. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 20, 2015 at 14:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Just saying: too late, I already took Combat familiar. For better or for worse, I wanted to try my best at this touch-spell familiar thing. By the non-proficient thing you noted, would my current bat (without Weapon finesse) incur a -4 penalty on the delivery of touch attacks? Is everyone proficient with the delivery of their own touch spells? Nice addition about the unarmed strike and coup de grâce thing. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ariane
    Nov 20, 2015 at 15:07
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Ariane A creature holding the charge of a touch spell is considered armed, but a touch isn't, per se, a weapon (that is, it's not on the list of weapons available to creatures nor is it a natural weapon) so proficiency isn't an issue. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 20, 2015 at 16:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ Additionally, magic items that do not require activation. A Collar (aka belt) of Giant Strength, sized for a diminutive creature. With most worn magic items resizing to fit automatically, you might not even need a custom item. \$\endgroup\$
    – tzxAzrael
    Jul 19, 2016 at 23:08
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Bumping Str would reduce the to-hit penalty for (abysmally) low Str. Most familiars would have trouble using items needing activation, so use an "always on" item. "Collar" is listed as a viable slot for animals. Given the physiology of a bat, it would have to wear a belt as something more like a collar, so maybe your DM allows it to work as-is. There isn't so much difference between the 2 items. Alternately, using the "Common Item Effects" list, you might put Str (or Dex if more useful) on some type of custom necklace/collar. Sorry I didn't make it more clear, it just seemed obvious to me. \$\endgroup\$
    – tzxAzrael
    Jul 19, 2016 at 23:31

All listed small birds I could find get Weapon Finesse as a bonus feat.

The Bat doesn't, because it doesn't get any attacks, but if you rule it to have an attack, perhaps your DM will let you have the Feat as well; it would allow it to use it's +2 dex instead of its -5 str for the roll, for a net +7 difference.

Reduce Animal won't work on it by the way. Reduce Monster would, but is very expensive. The +4 to touch attacks spell is probably quite powerful and way overpowered if suspectible to permanency.


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