Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Pathfinder Zaniness: Air Elemental Familiar

Pathfinder includes many spells designed to aid allies (healing, buffs, etc.) that must be delivered by touch.

Normally the spellcaster walks up to his or her ally, and uses the spell efficiently because the time to cast these spells includes the time required to touch a willing target.  But during the middle of a dangerous combat, walking up to the party's Fighter might be too dangerous for the spellcaster.  What are the alternatives?

There are three solutions, and many spellcasters can use all three.

First, a magic item.  The lesser rod of reach metamagic costs only 3,000 gold pieces, and thrice daily allows the casting of a low-level touch spell with "close" range instead.

Second, a spell.  The second-level spell spectral hand is designed to deliver low-level touch spells instantly within medium range (100 feet + 10 feet per caster level).  It is safe to use because it hardly matters if it gets zapped.  However, it halves the pace of casting touch spells since the spellcaster must use half of his actions directing the hand.

Third, the Improved Familiar feat.  Spellcasters with familiars can obtain a small air elemental.

What a familiar!  Familiars can deliver touch spells, and this one can deliver a touch spell each round up to 40 feet away (each round it can move 40 feet, use its Flyby Attack feat to deliver the touch spell, spend 10 feet of movement to reverse direction, and fly back 40 feet).  Its whirlwind form, combined with familiars having hit dice equal to their master's character level, makes it very hard to hit.  Like any familiar, it can normally be holding the charge for a touch cantrip such as guidance just in case it is needed, and can deliver spells of higher level than a lesser rod or spectral hand.

The small air elemental can also be a master of disguise!  Humorously, if its master wears a Ring of Chameleon Power then, because that ring actually casts the spell disguise self (unlike most items that say they grant an ability "as if..." the spell was used), the spellcaster could use the standard familiar share spell ability to make the air elemental look like any Outsider up to two feet tall.  (A "small" creature has a size between just over one foot up to two feet, and disguise self changes size by up to one foot.)

Even more amusingly, the small air elemental can be made enormous!  The creators of the spell Threefold Aspect probably did not consider using it with the share spell ability: this makes the air elemental to grow to 40 feet tall, although it gains no other traits of an elder air elemental.

As before, let the villains benefit too!  The big villain of a fifth-level adventure could benefit during the climactic combat by having two spellcasting minions hiding in the shadows, both using air elementals to heal and buff the villain, and spectral hands to deliver offensive touch spells against the heroes.

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