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Pathfinder: Arcane Bond vs Familiar

   
Arcane Bond vs Familiar

I'm creating a character for a tabletop game that will begin soon. The character concept is beginning to finalize and I realize that the idea of a familiar or a bonded item truly has little bearing on what the concept will soon become (I'll be slowly building a wizard/cleric battlefield controller-like combatant. There's more to him, but this is the important part for this discussion.). I heard whispers from my DM who was making some standard google-fu searches into the overall player feelings of this debate and it seems to be strongly leaning towards getting a familiar.

Here's the simple parts of this:
1. The PC's familiar will not be combat based if he gets one. It will be used in roleplay only events. It's the concept of the character and no other reason.
2. If I choose an arcane bond, it will probably be a piece of jewelry (neck slot or ring slot). This is because I'm playing a dwarf and intend to lug about a
This decision has already been made, so no need to tell me how ridiculous I am (because I already know).
warhammer. Besides, I already know that having him carry a wand around will only force me to roll a fumble and drop the item and then lose any ability to cast spells.

As you can see, the decision is almost strictly flavor based at this point. However, I would like to know what folks have to say on the subject since it might strike up a good conversation. It might also lend itself to creating various conceptual ideas for me to play with that I would otherwise miss out on.

Thanks in advance.
Cheers.
B.B.

Despite what some people say, I actually prefer arcane bond over a familiar. Familiars can be fun, but I always like the image of the ring-wielding mage better. And you can keep adding enchantments to it as you get more powerful, and with PF's more generous enchanting rules (not having to pay XP for it) going that route becomes more attractive. So by high levels, if you felt like spending the time and gold, you could have an arcane bonded ring of protection/invisibility/spellstoring, or whatever...very handy.

It also depends on how devious your DM is. If an enemy detects you have a powerful bonded item, and the enemy is a mage, the DM could be mean and have the mage do a targeted dispel magic on the ring, or attempt to sunder it somehow or steal it...then you'd be in trouble. But still, I like the items better...

I tend to agree you KillerK upon first inspection of the debate. I usually love my familiars and animal companions, but I find I'm far more protective of them than some players (who simply use them as fodder, flanking bonuses, or some other trick) and this game looks to be a bit more combat focused at the request of the other player playing in it. This leads me to believe that any extra creature I bring into the game will merely be hiding in the dwarf's pocket.

As for the bonded item, I like that idea. Unfortunately, I intend to bounce back and forth between classes thus making my advancement of the item much slower. But I do like the idea of an legacy-like item that at it's weakest can hold a spell for me at no cost to me.

Why not take Arcane Bond and use your Holy Symbol as the item? It should count as an Amulet and seems appropriate to a Wizard/Cleric.

KillerK, where would this feat be located?

Very clever Sorsha, I had not considered that.

Seems like you already have your mind made up Basil if its just mostly flavoring! In that case a familiar is a nice roleplaying attachment to your character that comes with some nice tricks.

Generally I would go with a bonded item myself though. Most of my players, while decent enough RPers, just aren't that interested in lugging around another character and forget them half the time. Bonded items at least give me the capability of another spell per day and a useful magic item as well!

Oh, while I am leaning one way more than the other, I'm also very susceptible to being sold to either. I'm honestly surprised there hasn't been someone who's voiced their opinion yet on the optimization of one technique over another.

Probably because while both familiars and bonded items are useful neither one of them offers game breaking advantages or are particularly better then the other, though YMMV. Its just icing on the cake!

For a multiclass character, a bonded item would appear more handy, as a familiar's abilities depends on the master's class level.

A bonded item can be a huge boon to a wizard, allowing him to cast any of the spells in his spellbook once per day; it ads a rather impressive chunk of flexibility to the prepared caster at literally no cost.
Moreover, the bonded item (depending on type) is less vulnerable than a familiar (unless said familiar is always 'in hiding'); while sundering it might be possible - when something's close enough to attempt to sunder your bonded item, you'll probably have more pressing dangers.
Having the option of adding other abilities to the bonded item without needing to have the prerequisite item creation feats can also open a lot of options.

Whether Dispel Magic et al. affect the base ability of a bonded item (namely, spell focus and one free spell/day) is up to the DM; the rules appear to be silent on this.

Familiar, for multiclass characters, are terribly fragile.

Making the holy symbol the bonded item is certainly interesting. You could also make your warhammer into your bonded item - though that puts it into more danger (disarm).




 

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