In Pathfinder, who is (and isn't) your ally?

I'm inclined to think the following are allies:

  • Your willing party members
  • Your animal companion
  • Your summoned creatures
  • You

I think the following are clearly not:

  • NPCs trying to kill you

But what is the line for NPCs? And for animals?

  • Is there a rule that says which NPCs do/n't count?
  • If I get a dog and bring it along with me, is it my ally? Does it matter whether I train the dog?

I recently read a post elsewhere suggesting that a Skald could share her Spirit Totem Rage Powers with a satchel full of mice bought from a feed store (allowing the mice to attack your foes with negative energy). This strikes me as wrong (largely because I don't believe that those standard mice have any concept of alliance with me, even if I've trained them). That said, if you told me you have a trained warhorse, and you want to flank with it, I wouldn't bat an eye. So perhaps the dividing line for animals is that an animal that can be and has been trained to fight beside you is an ally? Perhaps that means one could train those mice with the guard and attack tricks (since they have the same INT as a horse) and then expect them to receive and make use of that Spirit Totem power?

I'm especially curious if this is answered explicitly in the rules (or some FAQ) but also interested in interpretation.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not sure about Pathfinder, but I know that in 4E you are not, actually, your own ally. I seem to recall that 3.5 is the same about that. \$\endgroup\$
    – Frezak
    Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 12:54
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @Frezak Third Edition includes a glossary of terms; on page 304 of the PHB 3.5, you'll find the definition of 'Ally:' "A creature friendly to you. In most cases, references to "allies" include yourself." \$\endgroup\$
    – Eikre
    Commented Mar 25, 2016 at 0:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh, and given that the example in this question was a Skald, you should also remember that "If a raging song affects allies {...} the skald's allies must decide whether to accept or refuse its effects." So if your bag-o-mice decide to join you in your negative energy ghost teeth freakout, it constitutes a deliberate choice on their part. Perhaps that makes this easier to accept. \$\endgroup\$
    – Eikre
    Commented Mar 25, 2016 at 0:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Eikre Alternately, that gives the DM an easy out. You might simply declare that the mice are simply incapable of understanding the decision, and thus unable to accept it, whereas an animal trained to fight with you would have been trained to use buffs when you can provide them. \$\endgroup\$
    – tzxAzrael
    Commented Jul 21, 2016 at 14:57

3 Answers 3


As a designer (third-party), I assume that anything that works with “allies” works with “anyone the player wants it to, and no one the player doesn’t.” That seems to be the safest assumption, when designing things, and many tables do play that way. From my reading of official material, I think it seems that Paizo has the same practice.

This means that material is designed around the idea that you can (and someone will) get creative with ally designations. Designed so that it isn’t too problematic when someone does that. So that ends up also being a practical play rule, as well.

I will note that just because designers try to keep this idea in mind doesn’t mean they don’t sometimes forget to consider it; there definitely are cases where it can cause problems. But I would consider those unusual cases that should be handled independently, not by trying to make a stricter definition of “ally” binding on all uses of the term. Whether any particular case is a problem is, I think, almost impossible to objectively state; that will be a table-by-table thing.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think the creature itself should also "want" the spell to be used on him. If you use a spell that targets allies on an enemy that it would do harm to, the spell should not work. Therefore, ally should be "any willing creature the player wants it to, and no one the player doesn’t" \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 21:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Jean-LucNacifCoelho Such spells and effects should get the Willing descriptor. As a designer, I’m not willing to assume that tables will rule that way, which means I'm explicit when that’s the intent. And since designers do that, it shouldn’t be necessary to worry about it as a player. I recommend dealing with cases where you feel it is a worry on a case-by-case basis. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Commented Mar 24, 2016 at 21:36

Ally - anything aiding you in your objective

Hostile / enemy - anything attempting to impede you in your objective

Civilian / by-stander / neutral - anything that doesnt apply to ally or hostile.

Basically, if it helps, it can be considered an ally, even if its normally an enemy. An example of this is Darth Vader at the end of Jedi.

In your question I would simply have the character use their skill checks to see if they could train the mice effectively. We have used animals in war for all kinds of things from messengers to weapons. I don't see a reason this person couldn't use mice.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The reason is mostly because it can be insanely overpowered. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 4, 2017 at 8:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ Which has nothing to do with whether or not they can use then as an ally. A level 20 wizard helping out a level 2 group would also be overpowered, however theyre still wn ally. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 4, 2017 at 17:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ A lvl nothing bag of mice shouldn't make your lvl 5 skald as powerful as a lvl 20 whatever. I tried this build (except I was using vipers), and it is not reasonable to allow it, even if the skald effectively trained the mice. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 5, 2017 at 8:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't intend to repeat myself. If you disagree, simply downvote and move on. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 5, 2017 at 15:45

I do not have any links to provide, I'll mostly talk about interpretation.

Most of the game is based on how an entity (humanoid, animal, monsters) react to your presence. Are they Hostile, Unfriendly, Indifferent, Friendly and Helpful. Animals are by default indifferent. If you train the animal, it means you have spend times with it, probably feed it and provide protection. This can be a way to make the animal believe in you, trust you and make him follow you. This way it would become a kind of ally.

The definition of ally may depend on several thing on the battle field. You can help an evil creature to beat an even more evil creature, but in any other situation you would have killed it...

I think that any creature that have the same objective as you during a fight may become an temporary ally. You may share the power of you totem to entities that don't threaten you directly at the moment, and if they change their mind to attack you then their status change and they lose the effects.

What is the difference between ally and enemy? It is their behaviour at a specific moment. Betrayal is still possible from intelligent beings, animals included. What is the difference between trained horse, and trained mouse? I would say none in the game, even if the mouse may be less loyal.


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