[RPG] Does a familiar’s poison attack take its effective familiar hit dice into account


A few animals and vermins available as familiars have a poisonous attack. My personal familiar is a house centipede with a dazing poison. As a familiar, it has currently 5 effective hit dice and will get more when my character levels up. According to the Universal Monster Rules about the Poison special attack :

The saving throw to resist a poison is usually a Fort save (DC 10 + 1/2 the poisoning creature’s racial HD + the creature’s Con modifier; the exact DC is given in the creature’s descriptive text).

With 10 Constitution and 1 racial HD for the base creature, the DC is 10 as written on the Bestiary entry.

Is the DC on the Bestiary only here as an indication and changes if the creature gets more HD or Constitution, or is it an invariable number ?

PS : Can the poison be extracted from my familiar (preferably in a nonlethal way) to be used on weapons ?

Best Answer

The Rules Are... Ambiguous

The Universal Monster Rules regarding poison say that

... The saving throw to resist a poison is usually a Fort save (DC 10 + 1/2 poisoning creature's racial HD + creature's Con modifier; the exact DC is given in the creature's descriptive text).

The only ambiguous part of that rule regarding the centipede as a normal creature is the 'usually a Fort save' segment; the rest specifies how a poison's save DC is calculated, and that it will be calculated in the creature's descriptive text. Recalculating on a change of racial HD or of Con is the correct reading of the rule.

The rules are silent, however, as to whether the effective HD for effects are racial or not. One argument in favor is that the familiar has only one type of HD, and so they would be 'effective racial HD.' The argument against it is that the rules don't say that they are.

Both rulings have merit; the permissive ruling helps the familiar remain relevant as the master's level increases, and the restrictive ruling helps keep 'the rules don't say I can't' from being a useful argument.

Further Analysis

The clauses from the familiars section regarding HD is dichotomous:

... It retains the appearance, Hit Dice...


Hit Dice: For the purpose of effects related to number of Hit Dice, use the master's character level or the familiar's normal HD total, whichever is higher.

The second clause would override the first, depending on the definition of 'effects'. Since there is none in the glossary, extrapolation is necessary.

Within the glossary alone, there are hundreds of instances of the word 'effect' or 'effects'. Looking at the Afflictions Section, afflictions, including poisons, appear to have effects.

Thus the effects of poison that are related to HD should be calculated from the master's HD, when higher.

It's still ambiguous though. If they'd just define what an 'effect' is, then these questions would be a cakewalk.