[Update #4] Familiars' Handbook - Familiars and Metaspells

Familiars and Meta-Spells


Metaspells is a term for those spells that affect your spellcasting skills. Imbue with Spell Ability and Imbue Familiar with Spell Ability are examples of metaspells. This kind of spells are especially interesting that require their own entry, because of the special link that exists between you and your familiar: the Share Spells ability. For those that do not know what this ability does, or need to refresh their memory, you may have a spell (not a spell-like ability) that affects you, also affect your familiar; the only restriction is that your familiar must be within 5ft in order to receive the benefit. Something that's interesting is that the Metaspells are almost exclusively Universal spells, so if you've got access to the sorcerer/wizard spell list and you've got a familiar, you will most probably be able to use the 'tricks' that are mentioned in the following paragraphs; do note that some spells that belong to different schools exist, but they usually fall into Conjuration or Transmutation, schools that are never (at least, if you're not sane enough, or, consious enough to lower your power level) dropped. 

Now, metaspells combined with the Shared Spells ability create a very good interaction: take for instance the spell Mnemonic Enhancer, which you can find in the SRD: the spell has two modes, one of which is to retain a spell that you've previously cast. Let's assume that you've used a method to transfer some of your spell slots to your familiar - if you cast Mnemonic Enhancer, you're actually doubling up on the amount of spell slots you're getting back, if you share it with your familiar. Normally metaspells are very effective and are used in a variety of Nova builds, which make them top tier spells, but even if you don't want to create broken effects, you can still incorporate them into your build in order to benefit of the doubling up. You can also use the more powerful (and higher in level) spell Mordenkainen's Lucubration, but you can only use it for retaining a previously casted spell, not preparing additional spell levels. 

Arcane Fusion and Greater Arcane Fusion are a series of Sorcerer only spells that appeared in Complete Mage. Sharing this spell with your familiar is a very neat deal, because you're effectively applying a Twin Spell metamagic effect to your Arcane Fusions and the best part is that the effect is instantaneous, which means that if your familiar for some reason moves more than 5ft apart from you, there is no downside to the spell's effect. It is unclear whether the familiar gets to cast its own transferred spells or it chooses from your own; I'm going to support that the familiar has to choose from his own allotment (so he must have spells in order for this to work), otherwise I wouldn't be discussing it here. You'll have to use Imbue Familiar with Spell Ability in order for this trick to work, otherwise you won't have access to the higher spell levels that Arcane Fusion provides free access to. 

Rary's Arcane Conversion is another spell from Complete Mage, that is also an awesome metaspell for providing a wizard versatility. It enables you to exchange a prepared spell slot for another wizard spell, which must appear in your spellbook. It's a pretty good deal on its own, but if you count that you can share it and effectively change two spells for one, it becomes a lot more easier to give up that sixth spell slot. There is an interesting question that arises from this spell's description however: is your familiar able to use your spellbook as described in the spell as its own spellbook or do you have to provide it with its own spellbook in order to take any advantage at all? 

Arcane Spellsurge is an oddity from Dragon Magic. What this spell does is to lower the casting time of all spells by one degree; since you only have one swift action for the round however, you're again limited to the same casting time, assuming we're talking for standard-action spells in casting time. Those spells that have a casting time of a full round however, you can cast as standard actions. This instantly benefits two different classes: sorcerers and summoners (as in, spellcasters that use summon spells). The first one really doesn't need any explanation, once you factor in that sorcerers can use metamagic feats on-the-fly and that in order to use one they have to increase the casting time of the spell! Add some of the metamagic feats that do not increase the level of the spell for some minor benefits (like the infamous Invisible Spell from the obscure - or the rarely used if you prefer - Cityscape). The second one is again obvious and mentioning summoners separate from the sorcerer class doesn't mean that you can't have a sorcerer summoner; quite the contrary. The main reason that I mention them as a class of their own, is that they often use spells that have a casting time of 1 round, so they benefit from Arcane Spellsurge not by virtue of their class features, but because of their spell selection. On to the post's main topic, assuming that you can share Arcane Spellsurge with your familiar, means that you probably belong to one of the above mentioned classes. Scenario: a summoner casts Imbue Familiar with Spell Ability and transfers two spells with casting time of a standard and a full-round action; he then casts Arcane Spellsurge. Now his familiar will be able to fire those two spells in the same round in addition to helping his own spellcasting.  

Triadspell is a very tricky one. It appears in Spell Compendium, but you can also find it as Azuth's Exalted Triad in Magic of Faerun (although some differences exist, such as higher level). It's instantaneous in duration and has a personal range, but most importantly, it's a high level cleric spell (level 5), so, again, the same restrictions apply as with Imbue with Spell Ability: unless you're using omething tricky, you'll have to multiclass into Cleric, Archivist (Heroes of Horror) or Ur-Priest (Complete Divine). What Triadspell essentially enables you to do, is to enhance a prepared spell slot into holding its energy, so that instead of being expended in one use, it's expended when used three times. Obviously, you can't be a spontaneous caster in order to use this spell - you have to have the ability to prepare spells from one of your spells; additionally, I assume that the spell slots that you transfer to your familiar retain their casting type indication of spontaneous or prepared. So the benefit to this is to share a Triadspell with your familiar in order to get an additional two third-level spells: you're essentially spending a 5th level slot in order to get four 3rd level spells; remember that Triadspell has an instantaneous duration, which means that as long as the spells are transferred to your familiar, those Triadspell'ed slots remain there. This last fact has an interesting interaction with Mnemonic Enhancer, but with the prepare option this time: use Mnemonic Enhancer to prepare an additional third level (or lower, if that's what you want to do) and then use the shared Triadspell to create two 'shadow' spell slots that stay there essentially forever (as long as you don't cast them at least).

Finally, the spells True Casting (Complete Mage), Assay Resistance (Complete Arcane), Mystic Surge (Player's Handbook II) and Spell Enhancer (Spell Compendium, Player's Guide to Faerun) are perfect examples of simple metaspells that you can share with your familiar. 
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On Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 9:34 AM

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