Elemental Body questions


Rules Questions


Hi all,

Today I started runing a high-level mini-campign (specifically, the Feats of Dust module, although that is not particularly relevent to the questions).

One of the players was playing an Elemental Sorcerer, and after the session wrapped up and we were talking about what he gets next level, and he gets Elemental Body III as a bloodline spell (already having I and II). He commented that they were badly worded to the point of being non-functional, and after looking them up I could not really disagree. I did think their might have been some errata since our very old CRBs were printed, but the PRD seems to have all the same issues.

Elemental Body I says you can assume the form of an Small Elemental. And then says "If the form you take is that of a Small air elemental..." etc.

Elemental Body II says you can also assume the form of a Medium Elemenal, but then each elemental types is "As Elemental Body I, except (better bonuses). Conspecious by its absence is any indication when those bonuses apply, so it inherits the if-you-choose-Small from EB I.

As written with EB II you gain the better bonus if you assume the form of a Small elemental, but just the base stats from the Polymorph Subschool when you assume the form of a Medium elemental. The same problem propegates through EB III and EB IV. This is clearly not intended, but unless I am missing something it is how it is written.

The intention is presumably either that you gain the bonuses for the spell you are using regardless of which size you select (with the only differences between size being damage and things auotmatically modified by the size modifier), or you use the bonuses appropriate to the size you select regardless of spell, but I have no idea which.

Thoughts? Am I missing something?

_
glass.


Here's the most recent (near-) consensus I could find. TL;DR: You get some stuff from the higher level spells (namely immunity to bleed damage, critical hits, and sneak attacks), but the rest of it is size-dependent.


Oh, I asked the question and then forgot to check back for the answer. Sorry Blahpers, and thanks.

_
glass.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I mostly disagree with the consensus, as that series of spells give relatively few extra benefits besides the stat bonuses when compared with other polymorph spells of the same levels. Balance wise Beast shape is stronger.

Elemental form I give you:
- small size
- the attacks of the form
- the spell bonus to stats, essentially a +2 to one physical stat
- an increase in natural armor from +1 to +4
- darkvision
- one special ability that depends on the elemental form chosen. Fire resistance 20 if you become a fire elemental

Beast shape II (same level)
- size from tiny to large
- the attacks of the form
- a size bonus to stats, either a +2 or a +4 and a -2
- an increase in natural armor from +1 to +4
- your choice of climb 60 feet, fly 60 feet (good maneuverability),
swim 60 feet, darkvision 60 feet, low-light vision, scent, grab,
pounce, and trip.

Elemental form II give you:
- small or medium size
- the attacks of the form
- the spell bonus to stats, essentially a +4 to one physical stat
- an increase in natural armor from +3 to +5
- darkvision
- one special ability that depends on the elemental form chosen. Fire resistance 20 if you become a fire elemental

Beast shape III (same level)
- size from diminutive to huge
- the attacks of the form
- a size bonus to stats: the same as the previous spell plus either +6 and -4 or a straight +4
- an increase in natural armor from +1 to +4
- your choice of grab, pounce, trip, burrow 30 feet, climb 90 feet, fly 90 feet (good maneuverability), swim 90 feet, blindsense 30 feet, darkvision 60 feet, low-light vision, scent, constrict, ferocity, grab, jet, poison, pounce, rake, trample, trip, and web.

Elemental form III give you:
- small to large size
- the attacks of the form
- the spell bonus to stats, essentially a +4 to one physical stat or a +6 and a -2
- an increase in natural armor from +4 to +6
- darkvision
- one special ability that depends on the elemental form chosen. Fire resistance 20 if you become a fire elemental.

Beast shape IV (same level)
- size from diminutive to huge
- the attacks of the form
- a size bonus to stats: the same as the previous spell plus either +8 and -2 or a +6, -2 +2
- an increase in natural armor from +1 to +6
- your choice of burrow 60 feet, climb 90 feet, fly 120 feet
(good maneuverability), swim 120 feet, blindsense 60 feet, darkvision
90 feet, low-light vision, scent, tremorsense 60 feet, breath weapon,
constrict, ferocity, grab, jet, poison, pounce, rake, rend, roar, spikes, trample, trip, and web. If the creature has immunity or resistance to any elements, you gain resistance 20 to those elements. If the creature has vulnerability to an element, you gain that vulnerability.

You need to get to Elemental body IV to receive new abilities: immunity to bleed, criticals, sneak attacks, DR 5/- (and those are good, no discussion), but there isn't a Beast shape spell of that level. Plant shape III gives Regeneration, DR and trample

If the form you receive from Beast shape was limited to only the forms in the Bestiary I the would be an equivalency between the effects, but when you add all the stuff in all the other sources the caster of Beast
shape gets an ever-increasing advantage.


Diego Rossi wrote:
I mostly disagree with the consensus, as that series of spells give relatively few extra benefits besides the stat bonuses when compared with other polymorph spells of the same levels. Balance wise Beast shape is stronger....

Besides getting the stat block wrong on Elemental Body 3, (it’s +4, +2 or +6, +2, -2)... you seem to have completely overlooked one of the major advantages elemental body spells have over beast shape spells. You can still use all of your normal weapons and class abilities with elemental body naturally, including spell casting.

While strictly stat-wise beast shape is stronger, your actions are limited in by beast shape, while elemental body is more of a direct buff to your personal abilities. This reason, along side the fact that the spell series is quite obviously intended to function the same way as the other similar polymorph spells is why the general consensus is what it is. The spell series doesn’t need a buff from misinterpretation when it is already plenty powerful enough as is.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Chell Raighn wrote:
Diego Rossi wrote:
I mostly disagree with the consensus, as that series of spells give relatively few extra benefits besides the stat bonuses when compared with other polymorph spells of the same levels. Balance wise Beast shape is stronger....

Besides getting the stat block wrong on Elemental Body 3, (it’s +4, +2 or +6, +2, -2)... you seem to have completely overlooked one of the major advantages elemental body spells have over beast shape spells. You can still use all of your normal weapons and class abilities with elemental body naturally, including spell casting.

While strictly stat-wise beast shape is stronger, your actions are limited in by beast shape, while elemental body is more of a direct buff to your personal abilities. This reason, along side the fact that the spell series is quite obviously intended to function the same way as the other similar polymorph spells is why the general consensus is what it is. The spell series doesn’t need a buff from misinterpretation when it is already plenty powerful enough as is.

You can use your equipment if you stay small or medium-sized, drop it and then pick it up, it doesn't resize or reshape with you, it melds into your body.

Your equipment meld into your body, spell components pouch included, so you need to have eschew materials or, again drop it before casting Elemental Body and then pick it up.
Your equipment doesn't receive any special resistance to fire or water, so forget using a scroll if you become a fire or water elemental, and again being a fire or water elemental will make a lot of components useless.
If you pick up your equipment, forget to earth glide, you pass trough earth, not what you hold or wear.

Note that the advantage of being able to cast spells is present at all levels, regardless of the spell used, so it is irrelevant when comparing the stat gains and ability gains when using different spells.

And, the last point: all the other polymorph spells fro the CRB explicitly say that you use the lower level spells enhancements to stats when you use the form provided by the lower-level spells. Elemental body is the only one that lacks that caveat.
It is a bit strange that a single chain of spells lack that specification while the others, similar, chains of spell have it.


Actually, it is only beast shape, plant shape, and fey form that explicitly state the different stat blocks apply only to certain sizes, they are also the only ones that grant multiple sizes with each variation. Form of the Dragon, Giant Form, and Elemental body all have the same wording and format as each other. Each grant only 1 size category per spell version. The wording may not be as explicit as the ones that grant multiple size options, but the intent is quite clear that you only apply the stat blocks to the size offered at each spell level.

By your reading of it, I could similarly cast form of the dragon 3 declare to take the form of a medium dragon, but still get all the stats offered by FotD3 instead of being given the stats from FotD1. The only thing that is carried over from the higher level spells when choosing a form from the lower level versions, is the extra abilities. Forms granted by the lower level variants use the stat bonuses from that variant, regardless of which version of the spell you cast.

As for equipment melding, there are ways around that. As you mentioned dropping items and picking them back up again being the simplest. There is also a specific magic item bag that remains unaffected by polymorph effects and accessible in any form. Just to name a few.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Chell Raighn wrote:
Form of the Dragon, Giant Form,

Not in the CRB. I limited the scope of my argument to what was printed at the same time, as a single book usually is more coherent in its rule text format.

As I said, "I mostly disagree". I wouldn't argue with a GM using the other interpretation, it is simply that, if you aren't a druid, Elemental body II and III aren't really better than Elemental Body I.
The stat increase without a versatility increase isn't particularly useful if you aren't at least a 3/4 BAB class that go in melee combat, and for a class that go in melee combat and can cast level + spells there are better options, beast form included.

For a druid "it lasts 1 hour/level and you can take natural spells" completely change the effects.


BTW, the immunity to critical hits, bleed, and sneak attacks is actually added with Elemental Body 3, not 4. Elemental Body 4 just adds the DR 5/-. It is only Elemental Body 2 that is lackluster due to providing nothing beyond a stat bump and size change.


Diego Rossi wrote:
Chell Raighn wrote:
Form of the Dragon, Giant Form,

Not in the CRB. I limited the scope of my argument to what was printed at the same time, as a single book usually is more coherent in its rule text format.

As I said, "I mostly disagree". I wouldn't argue with a GM using the other interpretation, it is simply that, if you aren't a druid, Elemental body II and III aren't really better than Elemental Body I.
The stat increase without a versatility increase isn't particularly useful if you aren't at least a 3/4 BAB class that go in melee combat, and for a class that go in melee combat and can cast level + spells there are better options, beast form included.

For a druid "it lasts 1 hour/level and you can take natural spells" completely change the effects.

form of the dragon is in CRB. And as noted, it is more similar to Elemental Body in that each level provides one specific size option, so it would be the appropriate spell to compare to for how the size language is written.

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