Aether Elemental vs Aether Wysp?


Advice


Hello,

I'm trying to decide which familiar to take for my Aether Kineticist, the Small Aether Elemental or the Aether Wysp. Havent found much info on one versus the other though. I've looked at both of them and have some questions too. But first, I looked at the creatures' basic stats and then calculated their exact stats that they would have as my familiars.

In both cases, the wysp is better than (or at least equal to) the elemental in almost all areas. The elemental is better only in a few areas that are quite niche (it is immune do force damage, but how often is that gonna come up) or quite pointless (it has 12 STR over 10 STR for the wysp).

The only area where the elemental has a real advantage is ranged attack, because the wysp has none. Which is especially painful since the wysp is a tiny creature and has a reach of 0 ft. Meaning that it cant flank, cant make AoOs, and provokes an AoO from its target when attacking them in melee.

To go over the wysp's special abilities:
1.) Resonance: so, every creature with "aether" subtype in range (including enemies, I assume?) gets a +2 bonus to all the stuff listed, but on top of that, the kineticist gets an additional +1 to attack and damage rolls? For a total of +3 to attack and damage? If I'm reading this right, then this is a very powerful ability. 10/10.
2.) Servitor: increases Aid Another from +2 to +4. Sounds great for out of combat. I guess I'd give it a 9/10.
3.) Lesser Telekinesis: sounds like a worse version of my Basic Telekinesis. Might be great for other characters, but for a Telekineticist, it just doesnt add anything new or more useful than what they already have. 3/10
4.) Living Battery: Incredibly hard for me to evaluate. It sounds great in theory.... but hear me out :) First of all, who decides if the familiar should use this ability or not? Is it me, the kineticist that summoned it? Is it the GM? Does it happen automatically wheter or not we want it to?
Because, lets assume that any character values their familiar and wants to keep the familiar alive and helping (as it should be for almost all characters). Then, you wouldnt want the familiar to commit suicide at the first sign of danger, right? Especially if you're merely falling unconscious (would the familiar know this, or would it kill itself to "save" you?).
Anyway, even if it comes to the point where you actually die... would you always want the familiar to sacrifice itself for you? I dont have nearly enough experience to know the answer, but my thinking is this: working under the same assumption as before, you'd still want your familiar alive and helping. But, after the wysp kills itself, you can only revive it with True Ressurection, Miracle or Wish. Which is much harder than simply reviving a lil' ol' human kineticist with Raise Dead, which could even be cast by one of your teammates (at much lower levels), if they have the spell. So I'd say that the choice depends heavily on whether or not your party has someone that can cast Raise Dead or similar spells, or at least has easy access to someone that can, or at least to scrolls, or other means of reviving dead characters. And then it also depends on how the current fight is going. Is it almost over and your team can mop up and then revive you? Is it half way through and could go either way, with the chances of it going badly dramaticaly increased by your death? Perhaps the battle just started and there's a good chance that your team can grab your body and run (since something that killed a character this fast isnt something that a now-weakened party can defeat anyway)? These things all play a factor and if the decision isnt in the hands of the player, then this ability is almost detrimental imo..... If it is in the hands of the player, then I guess it would be pretty great for that one time when you need it... still really hard to evaluate, but probably comes in quite high.

Anyway, a quick look at the elemental's special abilities:
1.) Telekinetic Invisibility: this is simply great. 10/10.
2.) Telekinetic Throw: sounds like a pretty good ranged attack. It probably wont be able to throw many creatures due to the DC12 save, but it can always throw objects. 8/10.
3.) Telekinetic Maneuver: I'm planning on taking this utility talent later, so its great for now, but soon it wont be as important (kinda like wysp's telekinesis). 5/10
4.) Telekinetic Deflection: getting the CON modifier to AC sounds great until you realize that its CON is 12, for a +1 to AC (which is already poor).... 3/10

_____

Looking at all of this, it seems like the wysp isnt actually meant as a combat companion. Its main benefit is a static boost to some of your rolls, and a static increase to the boost to your other rolls, and a one-time heal when you're in danger of dying. It doesnt have a ranged attack and has to get smacked by AoO to attack anyone in melee, meaning you'd have to be crazy or desperate to send it into a fight. It seems like the best use of it would be to have it just kind of stand (float) there while giving you a static increase to your stats. It would be just hanging around and making you stronger. Somehow, this doesnt sound like a familiar anymore to me. Its starting to sound more like a piece of equipment. And, I almost cant believe I'm going to say this, but I dont like that. Sure, almost all of its stats are better than the elemental's. Sure, its special abilities are very powerful. But in the end, it just feels like having another piece of equipment that just happens to be floating around instead of being worn. So, basically a slotless wondrous item. And yes, if someone would offer me a slotless wondrous item that does all this for the price of one class "feature", I'd call it a great deal. But somehow the fact that it's a familiar, is making it worse for me, to the point where I'm seriously leaning towards the elemental. Which has its own set of pretty cool special abilities, but the wysp's seem even better, in addition to being better in almost all other stats as well... But at least the elemental is able to do things like scout, attack things, participate in flaking, etc... you know, do something other than being there to give you boosts.... I dunno. Am I crazy for thinking the wysp is little more than a good piece of gear? Does anyone think the same? If so, what did/would you do in my position?

_____

And another thing I wanted to ask was about gear/magic items for familiars. They are able to wear items based on their body type, as listed here.... but what in the world are the body types of the aether wysp and the aether elemental?


The aether elementals have the reach of a biped and the art depicts them as being humanish, but with a wispy tail instead of feet. So, I’d probably say they have all the human slots except feet. The wysps are spherical, so maybe no slots. But ask your dm. I might would let them wear head items.

And don’t forget that if you are invisible, your enemies are treated as flat footed against you, unless they don’t usually use sight for seeing things. You will also want to find out how your dm interprets the hit dice of a familiar.


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Also, you probably don't have the Aether subtype, so you're getting the +1 competence bonus from the Wysp (which won't stack with things like a bard's inspire courage), and the bonus to aid another won't apply to you.

Might make the choice easier on your end.


This is a classic "green sting scoprion vs. imp" debate.

The wysp gives you bonuses to your stats just by being there (it is also good at aid another). The elemental has an ability set that allows it to directly act on its own, but then you have to worry about the GM actually remembering it is there (but then again- constantly invisible).

It is all about what you feel would be useful in your group. Maybe if you have other invisibility capable teammates, then the elemental might be less important as backup.


Thanks everyone for your replies.

Regarding body type: ah ok I see. I imagined the wysps as balls of matter, and I've always envisioned elementals as humanoids, but that's mostly because that's how they're presented in the video games that I've played, and they sometimes get these things differently than in pathfinder. I will discuss it with the GM too of course, but if the elemental has almost all slots and the wysp has almost no slots, then the scales tip even more in favor of the elemental for me....

Do flatfooted enemies not get AoOs against invisible creatures that have to move into their square to attack them? If so, that might make the wysp a bit more useful, as long as the enemies cant see invisible creatures etc...

Regarding subtype: wait, really? I thought my character gains the aether subtype based on the fact that aether is his primary element.... if not, then the wysp only gives +1 to two rolls of the kineticist, and +2 to a whole bunch of rolls to any potential enemy that finds itself in the area.... this isnt making sense to me, why would it give a bigger bonus to enemies than to its "master"? If this is true, then a kineticist wouldnt even be able to benefit from Living Battery, meaning none of its abilities work, so then what's the point of the wysp?

I'm sorry, I'm not familiar with the green sting scorption vs imp debate. I dont think the "remembering it is there" would be much of an issue - its miniature would still be on the board. The enemies might not notice it due to invisibility, and it would be my responsibility to make sure to move/do stuff with it. If I forget, then though luck for me cause I just wasted some actions, but generally no harm done.

Well, as an Aether Kineticist, my character has picked up TK Invisibility, which he has been using to decent effect. The rest of the party are: a magus, who could easily get invisibility if desired, a warpriest that I dont think can easily get invisibility, and a paladin, which I also dont think is gonna be invisible any time soon (not that it'd help him much with all the clunking :P)


Little clarification on the wysp; it specifies that kineticists get +1 to attack and damage, not the +2. But it's still a pretty big help as there aren't as many feats that a kineticist can take to up their attack. Also remember that aid another can be used in combat to aid your attack, and I'm pretty sure that doesn't provoke. So if it can hit that DC 10 check you get a big ol +5 to hit.


Well living battery works because the +1 boost is part of the Resonance ability. Also, you still benefit from the boosted aid another and any familar archetype (ex sage). But wysps are not invisible so that could be a problem.

Remember not all familiars are battle familiars.

Btw, the way that the Kineticist familiar works, when you get a new familiar due to death, it keeps the same memories of your old one although it can change form.


The Wysp says:

Spoiler:
The wysp grants a +2 competence bonus on attack rolls and damage rolls to all creatures within 30 feet with an elemental subtype that matches the wysp’s, and to the DCs of all racial spell-like, supernatural, and extraordinary abilities of such creatures.

and:
Spoiler:
Kineticists within 30 feet who share the wysp’s element gain a +1 competence bonus on attack rolls and damage rolls.

So yes, a kineticist gets +1 to attack and damage, which is not terrible, but hardly reason enough to pick the wysp.
However, the wysp grants a +2 to a whole lot of things to other creatures EXCEPT its master (apparently). I guess theoretically those creatures could also be allies, not just enemies, but in any case, its odd that your familiar would grant other creatures far bigger bonuses than to yourself.

And then Aid Another and Living Battery both depend on Resonance:

Aid Another:
When it uses the aid another action to assist a creature benefiting from its resonance, the wysp can grant that creature a +4 bonus instead of +2.

Living Battery:
As an immediate action, a wysp can kill itself to cause a creature benefiting from its resonance to heal 2 hit points for each of that creature’s HD.

So, does the +1 to attack and damage that kineticists get, count as "benefiting from its resonance"? It must, because if not then the wysp is practically useless to a kineticist. But even if it does count, I still find it odd that others would benefit more than the kineticist. It seems to me that wysp is not quite as good as I had originally thought.

__
For what it's worth, I did take a look at the greensting scorpion and imp, and for me personally the decision seems much easier - the scorpion doesnt seem to offer much for my character, so I'd go with the imp (assuming I wouldnt mind its evil nature).

__
And I'm not sure if I'm missing anything with the way that familiars work, but what you're saying is that if I choose lets say Wysp, and it dies (not from Living Battery I assume), and I then revive it, I could revive it as an Elemental instead? I havent seen anything to support this, where does it say I could do this?

__
Also, forgot to mention it before, but why would the familiar's hit dice need DM interpretation? Arent the rules clear enough in stating:

Familiar Hit Dice:
For the purpose of effects related to number of Hit Dice, use the master’s character level or the familiar’s normal HD total, whichever is higher.

My level is always going to be higher so the familiar's HD will always be equal to my level? Or am I missing something?


Sorry about the double post but I cant seem to edit the last post anymore.

I forgot to mention archetypes. As far as I know, you cant pick an archetype that replaces Speak With Animals Of Its Kind, which only leaves a few choices, namely:

- Egotist: seems like a nightmare to play, since its supposed to interfere with everything the master does. It gets bonuses instead of the master, can scry on the master, and does this at the cost of other useful feats... I'm going to stay away from this one.

- Emissary: looks like a decent one, it gets new abilities that are about as useful as the one it replaces (YMMV of course). I guess the choice depends on your play style, and right now I'm leaning more towards keeping the original abilities.

- Sage: a good archetype, but much more suited to the wysp/noncombat familiar. I feel like I'd definitely chose this archetype if I decided to go with wysp, but for a familiar that is expected to do things other than standing there and rolling knowledge, I think the original abilities would be better suited.


When a familiar dies normally you dont revive it. Instead you pay some cost (200 gp per lv), spend some time and get a new one. The figment familiar archetype, changes this so that your familiar never dies but it severly limits its range.

The Kineticist's familiar is in the middle. The familiar can die and roam like a normal familiar (so you must pay to regain it); bits it conciousness lives in your mind like a figment (so it's always the same familiar).

Here is the text:

Elemental Whispers Greater wrote:
If your improved familiar dies, you can still contact its voice in your mind and gain the Alertness feat, but you can’t cause it to manifest. If you pay the usual costs for replacing a familiar, you manifest a new form for your elemental friend.

The last sentence where it says it manifests a new form, is what I believe let's you change it. A GM might say no.

**************
Again the Kineticist +1 boost is part of the Wysp's Resonance ability.

The reason why they boost all creatures around probably has to do with the lore. Wysps were captured and crossbreed to give bonuses and be servants.


Oh really? I thought that the new familiar is the same as the old (not the same individual creature but same type of creature).

As for GEW familiar, I understood it differently, I thought "new form" just means like a "new body" for your familiar, never would I imagine that the "new body" can be of a different type than the old one... just that its not the same old flesh and bones that have been left rotting somewhere for a week....
Anyway, if this indeed means it can come back in a new form, the available forms would still include only the elemental or the wysp, so I dunno... it'd be a pretty expensive "trial run" to first summon it in one form and if you dont like it, summon it in the other next time..

On that note, is it possible to "unsummon" or otherwise "deactivate" a familiar like this? Or once its out, its out until it dies?

Ok, I get that they were captured to give bonuses and be servants... doesnt mean they couldnt make them give bonuses to their new masters as well... makes them less useful. Oh well.


Well that's the way I read it, which makes sense considering with normal familiars you can get a different one every time they die. But, its ultimately up to the GM.

I dont think you can "unsummon" them since it clearly says it's always manifested. The regular version does let's you unmanifest them, but that's a lot more like a figment familiar.

Yeah it's kind of weird but nothing that can be done about it, except by the GM.


I see. Wasnt aware that normal familiars work like that cause I've never played a character who had one, at least not in PF. Without that point of reference, I assumed it's always the same type of creature, and carried it on to kineticist's familiar too. But its good to know.

Yeah that's pretty much what I figured, but wanted to make sure cause sometimes there are advantages to being able to unsummon them.

Thanks for all the answers!


First question: do you have a normal fmiliar, or the one gained by Elemental Whispers or Greater Elemental Whispers? The former one can be upgraded with Improved Familiar.

If you have a normal familiar, you can always swap out/raise your familiar for the normal fees. A raised familiar will remember its past. A replaced one will be a different individual.

If you have an elemental whisper familiar, it still does must be made manifest by your [standard action] concentration. As a familiar, the Elemental Whispers talent gives a familiar that lasts until you stop concentrating or it takes any damage. So, no matter how many HP it has, taking a single HP of damage makes it pop. It is not dead, so it does not need to be raised or replaced.

If you have the greater elemental whisper familiar, you do need to pay the fee for raising it. It gains a new form, but is the same one as far as memories go.

Now, what the Wysp is good for? Force multiplication. If your party summons elementals of the correct kind, the wysp will improve their combat ability. As a kineticist, a wysp of the correct variety gives you a +1 bonus, but not much more. A bard's Inspiration does not stack with the wysp's resonance. The aid another for combat requires hitting the opponent at AC 10. Since the wysp has reach 0, that means moving into the opponent's space, and taking an AoO. Nor being invisible, that provokes an AoO. Not worth even a +4 to me.

The elemental is much better at combat, as the invisibility gives 50% miss chance, avoids provoking AoO, and allows flanking easily. Until you hit creatures that can see invisible. Invisibility does not make the opponent flat footed. Rather, it denies dex on the opponent's AC. This makes it easier to hit, usually.

/cevah


As said, I currently have a familiar gained from Elemental Whispers, and I'm looking to soon upgrade it to one gained from Greater Elemental Whispers.

And I agree on most of these. I'm just not sure what does the "it gains a new form" mean with GEW - if it dies as an elemental, it can then be raised as a wysp, but keeps the old memories? Or that it can be raised as an elemental again but with a new/different "body" and old memories?

And no, my party hasnt summoned any elementals yet. I dont think there's much summoning planned in our future either. If it does come up, and the summoned monsters end up being elementals (of the matching element), then okay. But if the party only summons one elemental, I hardly think that this is enough to justify taking the wysp for this bonus. Sure, if you have like 4 people who can summon the correct type of elementals, then the wysp may be amazing. But for summoning one elemental here and there, not really :/ Unless I also take Spark of Life and summon my own elementals (which wasnt the plan, but might work....)


The new form under Greater Elemental Whispers is "your choice of a wysp or Small elemental of your primary element as an improved familiar". When raised, you make this choice again, even swapping between elemental and wysp as you wish. The memories, however, remain that of the one that just died.

/cevah


Thank you. That's an important detail that I wasnt aware of. It might never come up, or it might come up all the time, so its good to know.

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