[RPG] Is a familiar from the Find Familiar spell as intelligent as its “normal” animal counterpart, or more intelligent


Familiars from the find familiar spell are spirits (celestial, fey, or fiend) and take the form of a pre-defined creature when summoned, but are they as intelligent as their "normal" creature counterpart? Or is the familiar more intelligent than a normal creature of its kind?

The spell find familiar seems to list features that imply an intelligence greater than a typical animal. Is there a reference to how intelligent these spirits are expected to be?

Best Answer

From Find Familiar (PHB p. 294)

the familiar has the statistics of the chosen form, though it is a celestial, fey, or fiend (your choice) instead of a beast.

They have the same Intelligence (and Wisdom, and Strength etc.) as the chosen form.

The spell is explicit about what they can and cannot do. Specifically:

  • It acts independently
  • It obeys your commands
  • It cannot attack
  • You can communicate with it telepathically up to 100 feet - it does not say that it can communicate with you in this way
  • You can use an action to "see through your familiar’s eyes and hear what it hears"
  • You can use an action to dismiss/recall it
  • You can use it to cast a "touch" spell

Of these the only one where lack of intelligence would be an impediment would be obeying commands. The forms mentioned all have an Intelligence of 1, 2 or 3, so:

  • a command "Design the Sydney Opera House" is going beyond their capability,
  • "Go there", "Come here", "Stay" are not,
  • "Go through that door and scout the next room" is a DM call. The geniuses of the group (cat, octopus) might manage this; the others would probably struggle. If you want to use a familiar as a scout you would be better served "see[ing] through your familiar’s eyes and hear[ing] what it hears" and issuing short easily followed commands on a round-by-round basis.