New Pathfinder and Pathfinder Society FAQs: Animal Companion and Familiar Edition

Not too long ago, Pathfinder Society released an update to the organized play campaign’s animal companion and familiar guidance and rules. That has recently made it onto the FAQ page. The Pathfinder Design Team also recently released–and then revised–an FAQ on calculating costs and multipliers for armor. This FAQ doesn’t mention animal companions, but they are the feature most immediately impacted by the changes as the base prices for large suits of mithral armor have increased drastically.

We haven’t dug into these rulings in detail until now for two reasons. In the case of the PFS rules, they were actively being clarified and updated over the course of a week, and in fact we are still awaiting word on how to interpret certain aspects of the new rules. For the Pathfinder FAQ, it was not immediately clear that the new rules would be final. Given the revision to the FAQ and the posting of the animal companion rules to the PFS FAQ page, now is as good a time as any to talk about the implications we know about, so let’s unpack them.

Oh, and one more thing–for those of you who try to stay up-to-date on Paizo’s FAQ releases, FAQ Friday has been moved to Tuesday. From here on out, all Pathfinder FAQs should be Tuesday releases. Since the materials pricing FAQ was a relatively major change (compared to the typical low impact of most FAQs), and as the design team was able to respond relatively quickly to the concerns instead of letting them simmer in the forums all weekend, it seems to have been a good decision.

Weapon and Armor Costs

Let’s start with the easy one: as of July 19th (although the date claims the 18th) we have a final decision on how to calculate weapon and armor costs.

What’s the question?

As anyone who remembers their middle-school math (and order of operations) knows, if you are going to both add and multiply in the same calculation, it matters which order you do it in. In Pathfinder, this comes into play when you are looking at cost multipliers for weapons and armor. The most common cost multipliers are for size, for unusual shape (in the case of armor; this usually refers to barding), and for cold iron (which doubles the cost). The most common cost additives are for masterwork quality (+150 for armor; +300 for weapons) and for many special materials like mithril, adamantine, and the like.

The rules don’t specify what order you should perform these operations in. Existing items published by Paizo have multiplied the base price first, and then added all the additives later, and most Pathfinder Society players (and many, if not most Pathfinder players) have used this calculation until now. So mithral chain-shirt barding for a large quadruped would be calculated like this:

(100 [base armor cost] x 2 [size] x 2 [shape]) + 1,000 [material] = 1,400 gp

What Changed?

The FAQ is half a clarification and half a change in the rules–it’s not exactly either, because we had a pretty good idea of what the rule was, even if the rulebook never precisely defined it. The new rule specifies that you determine the base price of the item first, including special materials. You then apply multipliers, and finally, the cost of making the item masterwork. The new calculation for mithral chain-shirt barding for a large quadruped looks like this:

(100 [base armor cost] + 1,000 [material]) x 2 [size] x 2 [shape] = 4,400 gp

Why was the FAQ revised?

The FAQ originally included the masterwork quality cost in with the materials cost, before the multiplier. We can’t say exactly why the design team changed their minds on that, but the arguments against the FAQ centered on that point:

  • Cold iron doubles the cost, and this makes masterwork cold iron gear more expensive
  • We have prices for cold iron weapons that do not conform to this (the original) FAQ
  • The rules for calculating weapons do specify in a few places that masterwork costs are not doubled

What are the outstanding questions about this FAQ?

The FAQ appears to have been “finalized,” but there are a few outstanding questions for Pathfinder Society players. The first is over the use of the “Fitting” armor enhancement. The FAQ specifies a cost decrease for certain tiny armors, and for the moment it’s possible to use the fitting enhancement to make some types of armor cheaper than before, for medium and larger humanoid creatures. John Compton has stated that he is examining the future of fitting in PFS; although it may serve a purpose for some animal companions (for example, the mammoths that a mammoth rider rides) it is likely that fitting will be severely restricted if not outright banned. You should probably avoid its use until John has a chance to make a decision.

What about those new weapon and armor mods?

Adventurer’s Armory 2 included weapon and armor mods–modifications you can make to your weapons and armor that add a flat cost and a drawback in exchange for a benefit. Although as of this writing (July 2017) they are not legal in PFS, they are explicitly designed to be added after a weapon or armor has been created. As a result, their costs should clearly not be multiplied.

What do I need to do?

Your masterwork cold iron weapons are safe, but if you have a familiar, mount, animal companion, or other ally who wears armor, you should double check the calculated prices to see if you need to make any changes. John and the PFS team haven’t chimed in with any exceptions to the rebuild rules yet; those rules include selling back the item at full price. If you want, and can afford to, you can then purchase the same item (or a different one) at the new price with whatever money the character has, including the money from selling back the affected item. Large animal companion barding will undoubtedly cost more, as a result of this change; armor for tiny or smaller familiars will probably be cheaper.

Animal Companion and Familiar Rules

The new PFS FAQ on animal companions and familiars is also out. There are a lot of changes here, so make sure you read this thoroughly if you have an animal companion or familiar; the broad rules have not changed, but some of the edge cases have. There are also some unanswered questions. There are also a number of clarifications to the FAQ in the comment section of the associated blog post.

What’s the question?

Simply put, many of the rules for animal companions and familiars were written in forum posts. They are sometimes contradictory. The lists, both of what item slots were available and what familiars could activate magic items using Use Magic Device, were static lists that were not updated to account for new options.

What Changed?

The biggest changes include:

  • The list of animal companions able to use wands has changed.
  • Animal companions and familiars (especially familiars) that come with Weapon Finesse as a bonus feat no longer lose their ability to use dexterity to make attacks while tiny or smaller, if Weapon Finesse is traded out for another familiar feat. Normally, tiny creatures use Dexterity instead of Strength for melee attack rolls, Climb skill checks, and Swim skill checks. According to an older Mike Brock ruling, even though the Weapon Finesse feat was redundant to a tiny creature, it would use strength instead of dexterity on melee attack rolls if it had the feat by default and traded it out.
  • Familiars do not get neck, belt, shoulders, or any other slots open by default. This includes improved familiars, which used to have all slots open and available by default.
  • Familiars cannot use weapons unless they are on a specific list.
  • Specific familiars, even those representing NPCs from specific scenarios, can still be “rebuilt”–for example, exchanging starting feats for familiar-specific feats. (Previously, it was understood that specific familiars came “as-is” and could not be rebuilt in any way.)
  • You can use prestige to retrain other familiar and animal companion feats. (This is not necessarily a change, but is good to know whenever the slots available to a companion or familiar are changing.)

What don’t we know?

At the moment, the combination of the FAQs and clarifications suggests that creatures whose body type lists an armor slot may wear nonmagical armor. However, they cannot wear magical armor unless they have the feat opening up the slot. This seems very strange, and there may be a clarification to this later.

Another possible point of confusion is the ruling that no creature can wear a saddle unless it has a saddle slot. Exotic saddles are designed for creatures with unusual body types, and this ruling would seem to make exotic saddles useless. This aspect may be an unintentional consequence of the FAQ, but nobody knows for sure right now.

You can still ride a mount without a saddle, but with some not-insignificant penalties–a strange situation when there are some classes and archetypes (for example, the First Mother’s Fang nagaji cavalier archetype) that specifically provide a character with a mount that does not include a belt [saddle] slot. As with the mundane/magical slot discrepancy, there may be a clarification later.

What do I need to do?

First, read the FAQ. Second, review your characters with companions to see what you need to do. Linda has stated that as a result of this ruling, you can freely rebuild your companions and familiars–for example, to add the extra item slot feat.

If you currently have a mount with an exotic saddle and the mount does not have a belt [saddle] slot in the new list, you may be able to keep using it while the PFS team sorts out the FAQ. We recommend briefly explaining the situation to your GM, however, instead of assuming that your snake, trilobite, or turtle mount can freely wear their saddle.

In Category: Announcements, Pathfinder News, PFS News


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