There are numerous classes that can have companions in Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition. From the Beast Master’s animal buddy to the Battle Smith’s robot helper, there are plenty of little friends to gather. Perhaps the most common companion is the Familiar. The Familiar is a summon that you can get through any class that attains find familiar – theoretically, with the Ritual Caster feat (or Magic Initiate), you can get a familiar no matter what. With how many classes can get these little creatures, a good question to ask is what familiars work well. We’re here to help, in our Best Familiar 5e Guide.
Best Familiar 5E Guide
Most classes – other than Pact of the Chain Warlocks – have access to the same list of 14 CR 0 creatures (and 1 CR 1/8). Because they are CR 0, they’re unsurprisingly not too different from each other. These animals are not too powerful by themselves, but you can make them stronger with targeted buffs; a Hawk might deal 1 damage, but it can still use Dragon’s Breath! And of course, if you want another choice, then talk to your DM and see if your preferred option is allowed!
- Bat: Great start. Bats have Blindsight and Flight, making them wonderful scouts immediately. Their relatively good Dexterity makes them not abysmal at Stealth. Great for if you want your familiar to find invisible creatures.
- Cat: Has good skill ranks and keen smell, as well as a good climb speed. Honestly, not the worst, especially in urban environments where cats would be common.
- Crab: Slow, easy to hit, with their only upside being low-ranged Blindsight. You could theoretically use it if you’re unsure whether or not you’re going in the water… But it’s not amazing.
- Frog: Same problems as the Crab, but slightly better. Better perception and stealth.
- Hawk: The best Perception modifier on the list, Flight, and advantage on perception. If the only thing you care about is Perception (and relatively accurate sources of 1 damage), the Hawk does fine.
- Lizard: Completely worthless, use a Cat instead if you really want a climbing animal.
- Octopus: Useless while out of water. In water… Well, it’s got 3 hit points which is impressive? Actually, the Octopus can grapple creatures and force them to spend actions escaping. It’s also fairly good at swimming. A good water creature that can come out of the water.
- Owl: The best choice in general. Great stealth, great perception, perception advantage everywhere.
- Poisonous Snake: Technically the highest damaging creature, and the only CR 1/8 threat on the list. Its movement speed isn’t bad, but it’s bite does 1 damage and forces a Constitution save. Dealing 2d4 damage! That actually hurts a lot, especially early on. The save is not great, so don’t expect it to work often. Otherwise, it just has small blindsight and climb.
- Quipper Fish: It’s a fish. Don’t take it out of water. It’s got okay AC, but go Octopus.
- Rat: Slow, low AC. Trash, use a snake or cat instead.
- Raven: Good fly speed, okay perception. The most unique trait it has is Mimicry, where it can attempt to repeat whatever it’s recently heard. The DC to know it’s an imitation is kinda low… but that’s fine. Strange utility choice.
- Sea Horse: You literally cannot choose a more worthless choice. Throwing a rat in the water is more useful than this creature (not really. Use Octopus instead).
- Spider: Spider actually has a lot of stuff going for it. Fantastic stealth, guaranteed climbing, web utility, and the second highest damage bite on the list. If you know for certain there’s an 8-legged threat coming up, this might not be bad. Put this buddy on a web and you know where the ambushing spiders will be.
- Weasel: Best stealth modifier on the list, good perception, and advantage on almost all perception checks. Unfortunately, it can’t even climb, reducing its usefulness as a scout without support magic.
Best Familiar for Pact of the Chain Warlocks
The Pact of the Chain has 4 special forms for their familiar. These special forms are all above CR 1/8, so they’re generally strictly better than any of the traditional familiar forms. You can also take invocations to make them better, so your choice is relatively important.
- Imp: Imps… these guys are incredible. They can turn invisible at will, and have a really dangerous sting. If that wasn’t enough, they have a silly amount of resistances, no vulnerabilities, can see through magical darkness, transform into a ton of creatures, and have awesome skills. This is by far the best choice, generally.
- Pseudodragon: Pseudodragons have better Perception than Imps… and that’s about it! They’re a little weaker, though their sting can apply the poisoned (or unconscious) condition. Not bad necessarily, just probably not worth not being an imp.
- Quasit: Quasit is basically exactly like an imp… but worse. Their only advantage is the Scare ability, allowing it to Frighten a creature. Otherwise… it’s just an imp but with worse utility, damage, and defense.
- Sprite: Sprites are extremely weak; no resistances, 2 health, bad melee to-hit, and only as much utility as an imp. They do have a few upsides; their stealth is dumb, they can read someone’s emotions, and they can poison/knock someone unconscious from up to 160 feet away. They’re actually somewhat worth considering, but… imps are just so stupidly strong.
See Also: Tool Proficiencies 5E Guide
Concluding on Familiars
Of course, feel free to take whatever you like! All of these animals are unique, and have their upsides and downsides (other than Lizard and Rat). If your character would prefer a specific animal, then have them go with that instead. 5E is forgiving enough that your choice in a specific familiar isn’t crucial.
Familiars can’t attack.
While purely numerically the Imp might be superior to the Quasit, the Quasit does have a swiming speed, which the imp lacks as well as the chance to inflict the poisoned condition with its attacks, which can be really helpful to the rest of the party. Additionally, the Imp’s resistance to non-magical attacks can be by-passed with silver weapons. That said, I do love both as choices for Familiar.