Could a Warlock with Dark One’s blessing kill his familiar for temporary HP?

One thought on “Could a Warlock with Dark One’s blessing kill his familiar for temporary HP?

  1. D. Walker says:

    Technically, it specifically works against -hostile- creatures.

    So what does it mean for a creature to be “hostile”? And what’s stopping a familiar from being hostile?

    If we’re just using common English definitions, hostility covers a huge range of things, and exists across a broad spectrum of severity. Attempted murder is certainly hostile, but you could just as easily describe much tamer actions like refusing to cooperate with you as being “hostile”.

    The other possibility would be that this refers to Social Interactions with NPCs, and the three different statuses of being “Friendly”, “Indifferent” and “Hostile”. An NPC that is considered “Hostile” is one that is “inclined to get in your way”.

    So what if you’re a warlock whose familiar hates and resents its master? Just because the familiar is magically forced to do the warlock’s bidding doesn’t change the fact that it is personally hostile toward the warlock.

    An imp bound to service against its will almost certainly will be “inclined to get in your way” – it just is prevented from doing so by magical means. By pretty much any definition you care to use, such an imp ought to be considered “hostile”, even if it being kept from acting on that hostility.

    However, perhaps you might argue that “hostility” has less to do with intent, and more to do with physical actions taken. Perhaps a hostile creature is not just one that doesn’t want to help you, but that actually acts against you.

    In that case, all the warlock needs to do is command their familiar to act against them for a brief period of time. Since we’re arguing that intention doesn’t matter, and what’s important is the action itself being “hostile”, then it is a simple matter to order your imp to spend the next minute defying you, and return to normal service once that minute is passed.

    Any way you slice it, the rules as they exist don’t really prohibit this from working.

    Balance doesn’t seem to be an issue, since you have to spend at least an hour casting a spell and 10 gold in materials to resummon your defeated familiar, and all you get in exchange is 1 to 25 temporary hitpoints, based on level and spellcasting modifier. You also suffer an opportunity cost of not gaining any of the benefits of your familiar until you can resummon it.

    Personally, I think this is a very clever usage of the warlock’s abilities at a reasonable cost, and as a DM I would absolutely allow it.

    That said, I would also rule that doing this can damage the warlock’s relationship with their familiar. If your familiar actually likes you and is loyal of their own volition, at best they will see this as a necessary sacrifice. But at worst they will see this as cruelty and abuse, and shift from a “Friendly” NPC status toward “Indifferent” or even “Hostile” – particularly if this happens multiple times.

    Of course, if your familiar already hates you, you might feel like you don’t stand to lose anything from doing this. But I would argue that sacrificing your familiar like this without their agreement would be an Evil act, and any character who does this sort of thing with any regularity would start to have their alignment shift toward Evil.

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