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Author Topic: Elemental wild shape mini guide  (Read 7778 times)
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cru
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« on: January 11, 2011, 03:42:53 AM »

Wild shaping into elementals is not too popular. And that's a shame. Historically, when druids gained the type of the form they wild shaped into, animals were recommended, because of all druid animal buffs. After all the errata, only a bunch of people noticed that this makes elementals comparable, and sometimes better.

Also, especially on a druid, elemental wild shape comes a bit too late, with shapechange just around the corner. Still, it has uses.

Note: This guide assumes that druids can wild shape into any elemental with the subtype, not just the vanilla elementals. I could not find anything in the rules that would explicitly confirm or negate this. If your DM says something else, masters of many forms and planar shepherds don't have the limitation.

Why do I think all elementals should be available?
- druid's elemental wild shape grants access to spell like abilities. vanilla elementals have no SLA at all
- elemental wild shape is druid's capstone ability and should not suck

What abilities do you get?
As usually with this kind of spells/effects, it is not quite clear what abilities you get. In particular, do you get elemental traits? PHB explicitly mentions that you retain your creature type, i.e., you don't get the elemental type. However, you do get all the Exes, Sus and SLAs. A creature type is simply a collection of various abilities typical for that creature type. These abilities are often Ex or Su. I.e., you should get e.g., elemental darkvision (ex). Some abilities don't have a type listed, such as the immunity to flanking and critical hits. These abilities are sometimes called natural abilities. Do you get them? Unclear!

Relevant rules and stuff:
http://www.d20srd.org/srd/specialAbilities.htm#alternateForm
http://www.d20srd.org/srd/typesSubtypes.htm#elementalType
http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/rg/20040525a
« Last Edit: January 11, 2011, 04:25:08 AM by cru » Logged
cru
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« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2011, 03:43:27 AM »

Druid (PHB), ECL16
- limited to air, earth, fire, water
- separate wild shape pool, up to 3/day
- get all Ex, Su, SLA, and feats
- small to large, huge at ECL20

Master of Many Forms (Complete Adventurer), ECL14
- up to 11/day or more
- gets all Ex (nothing else)
- diminutive to huge, gargantuan at ECL15
The only gargantuan form with less than 20 HD is the spawn of juiblex, elder (MM5).

Planar Shepherd (Faiths of Eberron), ECL14
- limited to those native to the chosen plane (ECS: Fernia has fire; Lamannia has air, earth, water)
- costs two wild shape uses, up to 3/day
- get all Ex, Su, SLA (not feats)
- tiny to large, huge at ECL15

Wavekeeper (Stormwrack), ECL12
- limited to water elemental
- 1/day
- get all Ex, Su, SLA, and feats
- small to large, huge at ECL14 (but note: huge water elemental has 16 HD)

Summary:
  • Druid gets access to elemental forms rather late, but she gets Ex, Su, SLA, and all the feats (better than Planar Shepherd!)
  • Master of many forms only gets all Ex, but she has access to diminutive to gargantuan forms (HD limit still applies)
  • Planar shepherd's forms are limited to those native to the chosen plane and has to pay 2 wild shape uses. Otherwise solid.
  • Wavekeeper can access only water forms, but earlier, and she gets feats, just like druids.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2011, 02:58:14 AM by cru » Logged
cru
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« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2011, 03:44:23 AM »

MM1
belker: air, large, 7 HD, gaseous form
air/earth/fire/water: 8 HD, large, various melee feats
air/earth/fire/water: 16 HD, huge, various melee feats
invisible stalker: air, large, 8 HD, natural invisibility, improved tracking using spot
magmin: fire, small, 2 HD, melt metal weapons
thoqqua: medium earth 3 HD, tremorsense, can burrow/burn through solid rock, leaves a tunnel

MM2:
air/earth/fire/water weird: large, 15 HD, command elementals, powerful divinations at will. metamagic feats
breathdrinker: air, medium; 8 HD; paralyzing gaze (fear)
fire bat: small, 6 HD, blindsight 120 ft, regeneration 5
galeb duhr: earth, medium; 8 HD, DR10/magic, +15 NA, SR21, earth SLA, tremorsense 300 ft.
immoth: air, cold, water; large, 10 HD, melee feats

MM3:
chraal: large, COLD (MoMF, PS of Risia), 9 HD, breath weapon (Su), +4 deflection to AC (Su)
storm elemental: air, small to huge (16 HD) (PS of Kythri), great melee/blasting form

MM4
inferno spider: large fire; 14 HD (Fernia); flaming web, fire shield, tremorsense, spring attack

MM5
ruin elemental: large earth; 14 HD: rock throwing, shock wave, good feats, e.g. brutal throw
spawn of juiblex, lesser: large water, 8 HD: slime
spawn of juiblex, greater: huge water, 11 HD: more slime, horrific presence
spawn of juiblex, elder: gargantuan water, 16 HD: even more slime

Complete Arcane
elemental grue: medium air/earth/fire/water, 3 HD; spell disruption, various minor abilities

Dragon Magic
Blazewyrm: large fire 9 HD, tumbling flame 6d6

Fiend Folio
Living Holocaust: small air fire, 15 HD; gaseous, various fiery attacks, DR10/-

Frostburn
Elemental Weird: large, air/water, 15 HD; command elementals, powerful divinations at will. metamagic feats

Heroes of Horror
Taint Elemental: small to huge, EVIL; taint damage, dimension door 3/day

Miniature's Handbook
Magma Hurler: medium earth fire, 4 HD, hurls magma
Walking Wall: medium earth, 6 HD, can act as a wall...

Monsters of Faerun
Ice serpent: large air, 6 HD, constrict

Races of Stone
earth whisper: medium earth, 4 HD: incorporeal: not sure how that works

Sandstorm
dust twister: medium air 4 HD, finesse, flyby, can carry stuff

Stormwrack
Caller from the Deeps: huge water 9 HD, grappler, some SLAs

Tome of Magic
Shadow Elemental: small to huge, SHADOW, incorporeal...

Expanded Psionic Handbook
Crysmal: small earth 6 HD, PLA
« Last Edit: January 11, 2011, 03:58:28 PM by cru » Logged
cru
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« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2011, 03:48:45 AM »

Last reserved post (just in case)
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Benly
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« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2011, 10:12:59 AM »

So I guess the thing the cool kids are doing these days is interpreting "small, medium or large elemental (air, earth, fire or water)" as not referring to the creatures actually named by the format "small air elemental", "medium fire elemental", and so on? This is the second guide I've seen doing it and it still seems like a stretch.

I'm curious, would you read a power that says "lets you summon a large air elemental" as letting you summon a belker if you want to? If so, what wording would it take for you to decide that you can actually only summon the thing named "large air elemental" instead of any elemental which happens to be large and have the air subtype?
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Gods_Trick
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« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2011, 11:30:58 AM »


Relevent text from SRD
At 16th level, a druid becomes able to use wild shape to change into a Small, Medium, or Large elemental (air, earth, fire, or water) once per day. These elemental forms are in addition to her normal wild shape usage. In addition to the normal effects of wild shape, the druid gains all the elemental’s extraordinary, supernatural, and spell-like abilities. She also gains the elemental’s feats for as long as she maintains the wild shape, but she retains her own creature type.

So its change to elemental, and then a limitation of type, not worded as Size X Element Y elemental. I'm no expert, but I'd the stretch as adequate.

Anyone have the PHB handy to see if the wording differs?
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Bloody Initiate
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« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2011, 02:22:34 PM »


Relevent text from SRD
At 16th level, a druid becomes able to use wild shape to change into a Small, Medium, or Large elemental (air, earth, fire, or water) once per day. These elemental forms are in addition to her normal wild shape usage. In addition to the normal effects of wild shape, the druid gains all the elemental’s extraordinary, supernatural, and spell-like abilities. She also gains the elemental’s feats for as long as she maintains the wild shape, but she retains her own creature type.

So its change to elemental, and then a limitation of type, not worded as Size X Element Y elemental. I'm no expert, but I'd the stretch as adequate.

Anyone have the PHB handy to see if the wording differs?

From my PHB PDF (First printing July 2003):
Quote
At 16th level, a druid becomes able to use wild shape to change into Small, Medium, or Large elemental (air, earth, fire, or water) once per day. These elemental forms are in addition to her normal wild shape usage. In addition to the normal effects of wild shape, the druid gains all the elemental's extraordinary, supernatural, and spell-like abilities. She also gains the elemental's feats for as long as she maintains the wild shape, but she retains her own creature type (humanoid, in most cases).
At 18th level, a druid becomes able to assume elemental forms twice per day, and at 20th level she can do so three times per day. At 20th level, a druid may use this wild shape ability to change into a Huge elemental.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2011, 02:24:07 PM by Bloody Initiate » Logged

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cru
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« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2011, 03:52:57 PM »

Yeah... well. As for summoning, I am actually in the conservative camp, because e.g. SNA7 allows to summon greater elementals, i.e., obviously not a size category. Also, MM3 in the Storm Elemental entry lists when these elementals can summoned with SNA; these levels are different from the vanilla elementals.

As for wild shape, it traditionally has HD and size limitations. That's why I think elemental wild shape also does. So, yeah, that's my take.

As a possible counter-argument, there's the epic feat http://www.d20srd.org/srd/epic/feats.htm#improvedElementalWildShape. But that's 3.0 and it's not really conclusive anyway.
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Gods_Trick
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« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2011, 06:03:14 PM »

Yeah... well. As for summoning, I am actually in the conservative camp, because e.g. SNA7 allows to summon greater elementals, i.e., obviously not a size category. Also, MM3 in the Storm Elemental entry lists when these elementals can summoned with SNA; these levels are different from the vanilla elementals.

As for wild shape, it traditionally has HD and size limitations. That's why I think elemental wild shape also does. So, yeah, that's my take.

As a possible counter-argument, there's the epic feat http://www.d20srd.org/srd/epic/feats.htm#improvedElementalWildShape. But that's 3.0 and it's not really conclusive anyway.

Like I said, I agree thats it open to more than the Size X Type Y Elementals. so yay to changing to Belkers! The Druid gets another unecessary powerboost  Rolls Eyes, but at this point no one cares about the extra power anyway, and cool options are always fun!
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Akalsaris
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« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2011, 07:48:04 PM »

I don't really agree with the interpretation that seems to have sprung up, as it seems to be more of the "It doesn't say I can't!" reading than what seems to be the RAI. 

With that said, I'd say the clear winners for spellcasting forms (which, at level 16, is what you will be doing a lot of) are the earth and air elemental weirds - DR 20/magic, regeneration 10, and improved initiative, +2 reflex/fort, and maximize & empower??  If you follow the silly interpretation that spellcasting is an (ex) ability, you'd also walk away with 18th level sorcerer casting.  As a level 16 druid. 
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Gods_Trick
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« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2011, 08:14:43 PM »


Oh its certainly not RAI  Wink. But so much of 3.5 is not RAI because of badly written designers who fail at designing and playtest.

But getting spellcasting out of it is pretty cheesy; I'd call that TO material .
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cru
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« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2011, 02:51:50 AM »

I don't really agree with the interpretation that seems to have sprung up, as it seems to be more of the "It doesn't say I can't!" reading than what seems to be the RAI.  

With that said, I'd say the clear winners for spellcasting forms (which, at level 16, is what you will be doing a lot of) are the earth and air elemental weirds - DR 20/magic, regeneration 10, and improved initiative, +2 reflex/fort, and maximize & empower??  If you follow the silly interpretation that spellcasting is an (ex) ability, you'd also walk away with 18th level sorcerer casting.  As a level 16 druid.  
weirds get DR 10/- in the 3.5 update.. that makes them even better I guess

Also, look at this:
Quote from: PHB, druid
At 5th level, a druid gains the ability to turn herself into any Small or Medium animal
..she gains the ability to take the shape of a Large animal at 8th level, a Tiny animal at 11th level, and a Huge animal at 15th level.
At 12th level, a druid becomes able to use wild shape to change into a plant creature...
At 16th level, a druid becomes able to use wild shape to change into a Small, Medium, or Large elemental (air, earth, fire, or water) once per day.
At 20th level, a druid may use this wild shape ability to change into a Huge elemental.
same words used to describe animals and elementals

Quote from: quench spell
Each elemental (fire) creature within the area of a quench spell takes 1d6 points of damage per caster level
subtype of the elemental in parentheses, just like in wild shape description
similar syntax is also used e.g. in Otiluke's freezing sphere (An elemental (water) creature instead takes 1d8 points)

Quote from: MM1
Air Elemental, Small
Small Elemental (Air, Extraplanar)
subtype(s) in parentheses

Quote from: druid 3.0
At 16th level or higher, the druid may use wild shape to change into a Small, Medium-size, or Large air, earth, fire, or water elemental once per day.
Wording was different in 3.0. Why was it changed? Because the intention was different? To specify the subtypes in parentheses?
« Last Edit: January 12, 2011, 02:55:48 AM by cru » Logged
Benly
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« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2011, 09:16:22 PM »

With that said, I'd say the clear winners for spellcasting forms (which, at level 16, is what you will be doing a lot of) are the earth and air elemental weirds - DR 20/magic, regeneration 10, and improved initiative, +2 reflex/fort, and maximize & empower??  If you follow the silly interpretation that spellcasting is an (ex) ability, you'd also walk away with 18th level sorcerer casting.  As a level 16 druid. 

No mention of the at-will free action Contact Other Plane?

Unfortunately, since Elemental Pool is a (Su) ability and you get the (Su) abilities, you're going to be stuck in one place for the duration of the wild shape. Or, rather, you're stuck there unless you go through the pool to the appropriate elemental plane, at which point as long as we're going with "you can do it if it doesn't say you can't" you can Plane Shift or Gate right back to where you were despite being "physically tied to its pool". I wonder why no weird ever thought of that before.
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Ed-Zero
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« Reply #13 on: January 13, 2011, 02:55:10 AM »

Here's a few more prestige classes that have to do with elementals:

Elemental Companion Alternate Class Feature (Complete Mage) - Gain a elemental of your choice that gains most animal companion abilities

Elemental Savant (Complete Adventurer) - Actually turn into a Elemental over 10 levels gaining it's subtype as well.

The Elemental Master (Draconomicon) - Like Elemental Savant, gain Elemental like bonuses but you have to be a true dragon to take it

Elemental Archon (Faiths and Pantheons) - See Elemental Savant

Winterhaunt of Iborighu (Frostburn) - Gain the Elemental subtype @ 10th level

Bonded Summoner (Miniatures Handbook) - You & your familiar become elementals, cool thing about this one is that your familiar can become a elder elemental
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