Let's say you cast the find familiar spell, and summon a bat as your familiar. Obviously, a bat only has an Intelligence of 2, and can't communicate with you easily by any method other than your telepathic connection. Say I want to ask some bats in a cave if they've seen anything, but no one has Speak With Animals. Can my bat familiar communicate with the bats, and relay the information back to me, or would it be unable to do so, because it is actually a familiar in bat form? Would it have to change form to speak to other animals, or would there be one kind of "Beast Speech" that all animals would understand, considering that "Speak With Animals" works on all beasts?

In addition, say my DM let me have a Tressym as a familiar, a beast with an intelligence of 11 that can understand, but not speak, Common. Can it remember conversations, provided they are in common or being spoken by beasts, and relay them back to me since it has a much higher Intelligence than regular beasts?


2 Answers 2


As far as a bat can communicate with another bat, yes.

The spell states:

Appearing in an unoccupied space within range, the familiar has the statistics of the chosen form, though it is a celestial, fey, or fiend (your choice) instead of a beast.

That would imply that the familiar looks and acts like the chosen animal, but is not a beast when it comes to spells and skill checks. After that it's up to the DM to decide if a regular bat of 2 Intelligence can comprehend concepts of time and people well enough to tell you whether they've seen anything interesting. I doubt a bat can tell another bat that they've seen a group of people come through there yesterday.

That would still mean that "Speak with Animals" is better because it's a magical way to comprehend and communicate with animals and at the very minimum it will enable them to tell you about nearby locations, monsters and recent events they've witnessed. It seems to me that "Speak with Animals" enables the beast to communicate something it's retained far better than it could even to a member of it's own species.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I doubt a bat can tell another bat that they've seen a group of people come through there yesterday. A bat might have heard one. "Blind as a Bat" is a cliché for a reason. :-) \$\endgroup\$ Nov 10, 2016 at 14:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ Irrelevant and inaccurate. That statement concerns the ability of bats to rationalize and communicate. Also bats have eyesight on par with rats and some actually have better sight than humans. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 10, 2016 at 15:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ Smilie was included for a reason. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 10, 2016 at 15:09

For your first question, no. As the spell mentions, your familiar is a celestial, fey, or fiend, and explicitly not a beast. Compare this to the Speak with Animals spell, which explicitly calls out beasts:

You gain the ability to comprehend and verbally communicate with beasts for the duration.

Given this wording, someone who had cast Speak with Animals cannot talk to your familiar. This suggests some sort of fundamental incompatibility between the spirit in the form of your familiar and an ordinary beast.

As for your second question, the Tressym is slightly smarter than the average human (INT 10), which would suggest that it can remember and relay conversation in Common. Based on the information above, it would not be able to understand generic "beast language," though it could certainly relay conversations that it had in its own Tressym language.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I figured that this was the answer, to both the first and second question. Being a celestial, fey, or fiend, it might be possible for it to communicate with them, or perhaps other familiars, but not with beasts, not technically. A DM could decide to override this, but I feel like this is the right way to go. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$
    – Jay Kay
    Nov 10, 2016 at 14:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ There is no "beast language". Also there is no "Tressym language". Tressym use common to communicate. They just don't speak; for a lack of vocalization organs. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 6, 2017 at 5:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ i.imgur.com/mYfKx5f.jpg excerpt for tressym \$\endgroup\$ Jul 6, 2017 at 6:04

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