Would casting in battle forms be that strong ?


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion


Hi,

I just learned that Dragon Form prevents casting spells (and talking) which kind of surprised me and might make me reconsider the evolution of my current sorcerer.
But now I wonder. Is there any battle form currently allowing you to cast spells ?

And would it be that powerful if for 1 minute a caster could cast spells while turned into a creature that is supposed to do so ?

I know this propbably falls into homebrew territory, and the final say will be my GM, but I'm curious to know what people more experienced than me think of it, balance wise.

(Also rp wise the draconic sorcerer turning into his dragon form while still casting spells is super cool fantasy)


Currently, there are no battle forms that allow you to cast spells. Technically there are none that allow you to escape grapples either. I think there are only two that allow you to manipulate doors.

Considering this is very specifically spelt out under the Polymorph trait, I would say this was a deliberate decision and I would not allow it at my table unless there is a battle form that specifically says that it allows it.

Edit: Relevant to your question, I think yes. Allowing casting in dragon form would be quite strong. It entirely eliminates your weaknesses as a caster, while allowing you to keep your strengths and adding additional strengths. So yes, it's cool. But it's too much in my opinion.


That's true, though this does costs a spell slot (or feat investments through dragon disciple) to have it available often. It would make sense though but well.
Being unable to talk is very annoying tho', cutting communication with team-mate and all x)


The inability to talk certainly hurts (and is a bit confusing with some battle forms) but by the time you get it, you should have a handle on how your group tends to function so I don't think it'll be that bad if you do it.


Guntermench wrote:
The inability to talk certainly hurts (and is a bit confusing with some battle forms) but by the time you get it, you should have a handle on how your group tends to function so I don't think it'll be that bad if you do it.

Yeah, it's just that for cool moments you can't say something while being a badass dragon.


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Kalaam wrote:
Guntermench wrote:
The inability to talk certainly hurts (and is a bit confusing with some battle forms) but by the time you get it, you should have a handle on how your group tends to function so I don't think it'll be that bad if you do it.
Yeah, it's just that for cool moments you can't say something while being a badass dragon.

I mean, you can roar like a dragon. That's pretty badass.


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I don't think it's exactly a question of power-level. Meaning I don't think that letting a character cast spells while in a battle form is going to cause a character to be outside the GM's ability to provide a reasonable challenge for.

I think it's a question of meaningful choices.

There are a lot of defensive- and utility-buffing spells available, and a character could layer them on to have similar capabilities to a battle form while still casting spells... or they can save some slots and use a battle form, with the trade-off of not being able to cast other spells. And without that trade-off, even though it results in a narrative "problem" in that the actual thing you're magically pretending to be can do something you can't while in its form, you run into situations where there's no meaningful choice; why cast fly if you can cast aerial form?

As for not being able to speak... I'm less certain why that was done, but I would guess because it creates a clear choice between social interaction and other sorts of encounters, since you can't already be a dragon when you are trying to convince an NPC to do something and are planning on beating them up if they don't go along with it. Or maybe it's niche protection for illusion magic where disguises can help with social interaction by not letting transmutation also do the same.


Quote:
Meaning I don't think that letting a character cast spells while in a battle form is going to cause a character to be outside the GM's ability to provide a reasonable challenge for.

While true, it's probably going to play havoc with the rest of the group with many of the forms. At that point, you don't really do anything poorly (outside of being stopped by doors and not being able to talk). Righteous Might if it allowed casting, for example, puts a Cloistered Cleric as effective martially as a Warpriest, but with better casting. Thus it's strictly better to use. Dragon form gives you huge manoeuvrability, a breath weapon for weaknesses, and improves your AC, HP via temp, melee ability...


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

The counterpoint is that thanks the 2 action casting time and one minute duration, using a top level spell slots to assume a battleform is already a meaningful choice. There's lots of competition how you could spend that turn and slot.

I'm not entirely sold either way.


This is, again, moving into homebrew territory, but what about permitting spell casting in a battle form at the cost of heightening the spell slot? Dragon Form, as a good example, needing to be heightened to 9th or 10th level and allowing you to cast spells while changed?

Liberty's Edge

Yes, I believe that it would be "that" strong as you're taking a Spellcaster and letting them retain all the cool stuff that makes them powerful while also granting them AC and to-hit and Damage that is scaled to be as powerful or more powerful than any of your other peers with the exception of Fighter for accuracy and Paladin/Monk for AC.

I think that perhaps a Class Feat around level 9 or so that grants a 1-action Activity that allows you to use the remaining two Actions to Cast a Spell might be okay but as for just allowing it outright... that's gonna a no from me dawg.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

I think the choice is an important one as is. Right now battle forms kind of break the rules by allowing someone who doesn't have the stat allocation for a certain activity to perform and even excel in that activity.

But activating a battle form in turn is a commitment. By buying into it you've giving up access to something else for the duration. It's a good dynamic.

If I had any major complaint it'd probably just be that battle forms feel a little too druid centric right now (wild shape + feats is really strong) and it'd be cool if witches/wizards got some internal battle form support as well.


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Squiggit wrote:

I think the choice is an important one as is. Right now battle forms kind of break the rules by allowing someone who doesn't have the stat allocation for a certain activity to perform and even excel in that activity.

But activating a battle form in turn is a commitment. By buying into it you've giving up access to something else for the duration. It's a good dynamic.

If I had any major complaint it'd probably just be that battle forms feel a little too druid centric right now (wild shape + feats is really strong) and it'd be cool if witches/wizards got some internal battle form support as well.

I aggree ! I plan on taking the Dragon Disciple path to focus on this turning into a dragon part of the character, I wish more feats gave some bonuses to the dragon form. The only that does is "Dragon Scales" which gives a +2 status to AC when unarmored, which would be useful when in Dragon Form, but that's it.

You all bring great points in though. Something I would love would be a feat for sorcerers to be able to use their draconic bloodline spells when in dragon shape. That might be more balanced.

Though, is the Dragon Form that good ? I saw several people say it was pretty bad outside of the levels where you get it, or heighten it (so at level 11 it's good, level 17 it's good, but level 20 it's meh)


Squiggit wrote:

I think the choice is an important one as is. Right now battle forms kind of break the rules by allowing someone who doesn't have the stat allocation for a certain activity to perform and even excel in that activity.

But activating a battle form in turn is a commitment. By buying into it you've giving up access to something else for the duration. It's a good dynamic.

If I had any major complaint it'd probably just be that battle forms feel a little too druid centric right now (wild shape + feats is really strong) and it'd be cool if witches/wizards got some internal battle form support as well.

Yeah, feats like keeping your AC if it's higher or a highest slot like the Divine Sorcerer one for the Battle Form would be interesting on Wizard/Witch.


I allow casting and talking in battle forms if the form allows manipulate traits and a normal member of the species can talk. It's very powerful. I don't think an inexperienced DM should allow it especially in the hands of experienced players. I didn't like it from a world consistency standpoint, so I changed it. I would definitely allow speaking while in a battle form if the form can speak, that's just a ridiculous limitation.

What are the main concerns with casting in battle forms?

1. Mobility: This is the primary advantage. Some of the battle forms can move at extreme speeds or where they can't be attacked. An air elemental gets a fly speed of 80 feet and a dragon flies at 100 feet. So you can basically turn into an untouchable bomber moving out of attack range and blast away at the target. The main limitation would be the range of your spells which are often slow.

Most melee monsters move like 25 to 40 feet, so you're way faster than they are.

This is the main issue a DM will have to deal with.

2. Martial Capabilities: The martial capabilities of battle forms are decent. They do get reach. They do more damage than you would do standardly with a weapon.

This isn't bad, but when you can switch between martial damage and casting at will you can build up pretty good damage.

But my experience is only the mobility is a problem for inexperienced DMs depending on the terrain. I've had no problems allowing casting in battle forms. Casters don't do any more damage casting and using martial damage in battle forms. They still only have 3 actions a round which limits what they can do. In my opinion, it makes the game more fun for casters allowing them to break up casting and fighting for a battle here and there.

Not sure why Paizo made the choice they did with battle forms, but someone there must have really disliked casting while shapechanged. It doesn't make sense to me considering dragons and elementals both have languages, can use manipulate actions, and dragons have definitely been known to cast. So I allow it and it hasn't hurt my games. I think it makes the game more fun and ensures an internal world consistency I prefer.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I'm definitely allowing casting and talking in battle forms that it makes sense for. Dragons who can't talk or cast might as well be drakes. It doesn't fulfill the fantasy.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

One question to ask when you consider house ruling this: will my martial players be mad about casters eating their lunch? Polymorph shenanigans were a big part of the old CoDzilla paradigm.


It wouldn't be a balance problem, Paizo just really don't like casters getting to hit things in 2e, so they made sure that polymorph spells leave you less effective than an actual martial and that you can't use magic to mitigate that.


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Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Thunder999 wrote:
It wouldn't be a balance problem, Paizo just really don't like casters getting to hit things in 2e, so they made sure that polymorph spells leave you less effective than an actual martial and that you can't use magic to mitigate that.

"It wouldn't be a balance problem, but here's the ways Paizo specifically balanced them" is a really weird sentence.


Captain Morgan wrote:
One question to ask when you consider house ruling this: will my martial players be mad about casters eating their lunch? Polymorph shenanigans were a big part of the old CoDzilla paradigm.

CODzilla not a problem with battle forms. But massive, untouchable mobility is a problem.

Battle forms don't hit as well or as hard as martials, but they provide mobility a PC can't equal.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Maybe some combination of feats and spell heightening could be used to enable spellcasting in battle form?


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They left the door open for it with the potential to have battle forms that state you can cast spells with them, but none of the existing ones do.


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Thunder999 wrote:
It wouldn't be a balance problem, Paizo just really don't like casters getting to hit things in 2e, so they made sure that polymorph spells leave you less effective than an actual martial and that you can't use magic to mitigate that.

?

The attack numbers are the same for Wild Shape Druids and the non Fighter martials. The ACs are OK.
They are only less effective in that they don't have any other of the cool powers that martials get. But they can grab a few feats to help a bit.


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Polymorph spells were tremendously imbalancing back in 3.x. Paizo said "we want to give you some of that polymorph awesomeness, but we don't want it to become unbalancing." Having the ability to spellcast in battle form may or may not cause serious balance issues (I too would be concerned about the mobility) but it would open up a large space for *potential* shenanigans... and Paizo is starting out cautious on these sorts of things. If it's too weak in the long-term, or a non-issue, they can offer a feat, or a variant of the spell, or whatever. All of that is much less hassle than letting people get into the idea of spellcasting in dragon form and then trying to take it away from them.

I respect that caution, and while it may or may not be *correct*, I certainly think that it is *warranted*.


Gortle wrote:
Thunder999 wrote:
It wouldn't be a balance problem, Paizo just really don't like casters getting to hit things in 2e, so they made sure that polymorph spells leave you less effective than an actual martial and that you can't use magic to mitigate that.

?

The attack numbers are the same for Wild Shape Druids and the non Fighter martials. The ACs are OK.
They are only less effective in that they don't have any other of the cool powers that martials get. But they can grab a few feats to help a bit.

Their damage suffers too since they don't have weapon runes. This is only mitigated once you get up to forms with extra damage riders on their primary attack. Similarly, the non-fighters usually have a damage steroid (rage, etc) to make up for not being a fighter but battle forms don't. Instead, you eventually get built in flight and a couple of niche abilities.

That said, the lack of casting in either dragon or green man forms makes no logical sense and really isn't that big a deal.


gesalt wrote:
Gortle wrote:
Thunder999 wrote:
It wouldn't be a balance problem, Paizo just really don't like casters getting to hit things in 2e, so they made sure that polymorph spells leave you less effective than an actual martial and that you can't use magic to mitigate that.

?

The attack numbers are the same for Wild Shape Druids and the non Fighter martials. The ACs are OK.
They are only less effective in that they don't have any other of the cool powers that martials get. But they can grab a few feats to help a bit.

Their damage suffers too since they don't have weapon runes. This is only mitigated once you get up to forms with extra damage riders on their primary attack. Similarly, the non-fighters usually have a damage steroid (rage, etc) to make up for not being a fighter but battle forms don't. Instead, you eventually get built in flight and a couple of niche abilities.

That said, the lack of casting in either dragon or green man forms makes no logical sense and really isn't that big a deal.

They do get weapon rune effects if they have handwraps and the rune effects don't modify any special statistics mentioned in the spell. The additional damage effect runes don't actually directly modify your damage bonus, so they work.


Djinn71 wrote:
gesalt wrote:
Gortle wrote:
Thunder999 wrote:
It wouldn't be a balance problem, Paizo just really don't like casters getting to hit things in 2e, so they made sure that polymorph spells leave you less effective than an actual martial and that you can't use magic to mitigate that.

?

The attack numbers are the same for Wild Shape Druids and the non Fighter martials. The ACs are OK.
They are only less effective in that they don't have any other of the cool powers that martials get. But they can grab a few feats to help a bit.

Their damage suffers too since they don't have weapon runes. This is only mitigated once you get up to forms with extra damage riders on their primary attack. Similarly, the non-fighters usually have a damage steroid (rage, etc) to make up for not being a fighter but battle forms don't. Instead, you eventually get built in flight and a couple of niche abilities.

That said, the lack of casting in either dragon or green man forms makes no logical sense and really isn't that big a deal.

They do get weapon rune effects if they have handwraps and the rune effects don't modify any special statistics mentioned in the spell. The additional damage effect runes don't actually directly modify your damage bonus, so they work.

I do not allow striking runes with battle form attacks. They do the damage they do. I have not read anything otherwise.


All of your insight is very interresting.
I hadn't considered the massive fly speed, though this mainly matters when fighting outside.

It also seem way less useful past level 18. Its martial abilities are way below other martials (our Paladin would have 6 more AC, +6 to hit for about the same damage on melee, my own breath weapon would be stronger than the Dragon Form's, though it has a flat bonus so it evens out I guess.)

It feels weird that it has no 9th or 10th level version of the spell honestly. xD


Deriven Firelion wrote:
Djinn71 wrote:
gesalt wrote:
Gortle wrote:
Thunder999 wrote:
It wouldn't be a balance problem, Paizo just really don't like casters getting to hit things in 2e, so they made sure that polymorph spells leave you less effective than an actual martial and that you can't use magic to mitigate that.

?

The attack numbers are the same for Wild Shape Druids and the non Fighter martials. The ACs are OK.
They are only less effective in that they don't have any other of the cool powers that martials get. But they can grab a few feats to help a bit.

Their damage suffers too since they don't have weapon runes. This is only mitigated once you get up to forms with extra damage riders on their primary attack. Similarly, the non-fighters usually have a damage steroid (rage, etc) to make up for not being a fighter but battle forms don't. Instead, you eventually get built in flight and a couple of niche abilities.

That said, the lack of casting in either dragon or green man forms makes no logical sense and really isn't that big a deal.

They do get weapon rune effects if they have handwraps and the rune effects don't modify any special statistics mentioned in the spell. The additional damage effect runes don't actually directly modify your damage bonus, so they work.
I do not allow striking runes with battle form attacks. They do the damage they do. I have not read anything otherwise.

Oh yeah, Striking Runes don't work except for (debatably) on one dice attacks (which there are barely any of), I was more talking about Flaming and things like that.


Kalaam wrote:

All of your insight is very interresting.

I hadn't considered the massive fly speed, though this mainly matters when fighting outside.

It also seem way less useful past level 18. Its martial abilities are way below other martials (our Paladin would have 6 more AC, +6 to hit for about the same damage on melee, my own breath weapon would be stronger than the Dragon Form's, though it has a flat bonus so it evens out I guess.)

It feels weird that it has no 9th or 10th level version of the spell honestly. xD

Yes. It mainly matters outdoors or large fighting areas where it can be used. The earth elemental has burrowing, but they didn't give it earth glide so mainly useful in natural earth settings.

I haven't found any problems with casting while in battle forms. It allows a caster to do a little bit of damage while casting in big boss fights. It enhances fun rather than hurts it.

I'm allowing spell attack rolls in place of attack rolls for summoned creatures as well. It's not proving to be a problem. The creatures are still too low level and weak to be a real danger to higher level enemies. It's unfortunate Paizo's level ranged balanced math really hurts summoned creatures from being viable. A summoned creature is a classic fantasy trope that is really underwhelming in PF2.


Pretty sure the weak summons are intentional, summoning is one of the things that was really good for casters in 1e, so naturally they made sure it wasn't good in 2e.

It's pretty clear that Paizo were desperate to avoid the caster supremancy of 1e and decided they'd rather make magic overly weak than risk it being overly strong as a result.


I'd say it's better for it to be a bit too weak because then players are more likely to accept a GM's adjustment to make it a bit stronger (allowing casting in battle forms or from summons etc). Rather than the GM nerfing their spells so they don't break their game and overshadow everyone else in the group.


Thunder999 wrote:

Pretty sure the weak summons are intentional, summoning is one of the things that was really good for casters in 1e, so naturally they made sure it wasn't good in 2e.

It's pretty clear that Paizo were desperate to avoid the caster supremancy of 1e and decided they'd rather make magic overly weak than risk it being overly strong as a result.

The biggest problem with 1E summoning had nothing to do with singular strong creatures, but the sheer number of smaller creatures with special attacks that messed everything up. So they once again over-limited the game to the point of making summons not even fun.

Making summons use spell attack rolls is a small change I'm making to make summons viable, not good, just maybe ok. Summons scale terribly with PF2 math. They already have the minion trait which reduces them to 2 actions at most. They require a sustain action. They still don't get an item bonus to hit with ACs, saves, and defenses 5 to 8 levels below monsters which as we all know with PF2 math is basically useless.

I've seen players try to use max level summons against appropriate level encounters, they have always performed inferior to another spell of the same level, even a sustained spell.

I do not want a classic caster archetype neutered to the point of uselessness. That's not fun. Even save or suck or save or die spells have a chance of rolling a 1. Summon monster spells might not even hit an enemy boss on a 20. It's kind of ridiculous.


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Summons might not be all that useful offensively, but one shouldn't minimize their defensive benefit as well as their indirect offensive one. The indirect offensive benefit primarily comes from flanking—it's neat to be able to send in an expendable minion in order to give your fighter or rogue flanking. The other benefit is acting like a meat shield. Every attack aimed at your minion is one attack less aimed at you or your allies (unless of course the opponent has AOEs).

That's in addition to their situational benefits. For example, in one encounter against a number of rogue-type NPCs, the druid in my party summoned a mudwretch which creates a 10 foot aura of difficult terrain, which totally shut down their mobility which in turn seriously reduced their ability to flank and sneak attack. This turned what would otherwise have been a somewhat challenging encounter into a fairly easy one.

In another fight, the druid summoned a leopard atop a wall where an alchemist was throwing bombs at the party. This negated the alchemist's tactical advantage, because there was now an enemy on the wall along with him.

Now, could the druid have caused a similar effect with another spell? Quite possibly, but the benefit of a Summoning spell is that you can bring out the creature that's right for that particular situation.


Staffan Johansson wrote:

Summons might not be all that useful offensively, but one shouldn't minimize their defensive benefit as well as their indirect offensive one. The indirect offensive benefit primarily comes from flanking—it's neat to be able to send in an expendable minion in order to give your fighter or rogue flanking. The other benefit is acting like a meat shield. Every attack aimed at your minion is one attack less aimed at you or your allies (unless of course the opponent has AOEs).

That's in addition to their situational benefits. For example, in one encounter against a number of rogue-type NPCs, the druid in my party summoned a mudwretch which creates a 10 foot aura of difficult terrain, which totally shut down their mobility which in turn seriously reduced their ability to flank and sneak attack. This turned what would otherwise have been a somewhat challenging encounter into a fairly easy one.

In another fight, the druid summoned a leopard atop a wall where an alchemist was throwing bombs at the party. This negated the alchemist's tactical advantage, because there was now an enemy on the wall along with him.

Now, could the druid have caused a similar effect with another spell? Quite possibly, but the benefit of a Summoning spell is that you can bring out the creature that's right for that particular situation.

My experience with summons at this point in time is they are not worth the high level spell slot they require.

Not sure why the rogues in the above example were more limited than your PCs considering the mudwretch aura would have equally affected your PCs as well as the rogues.

A druid blasting the alchemist with a 3rd level sudden bolt would have been equally or more effective than summoning a leopard using 3 actions and a sustain action every round. Summon animal only has a range of 30 feet, sudden bolt 60 feet. So not sure why your druid chose summon animal over a direct damage spell from an optimal play view. Sounds like he just did it because of personal preference without any regard to optimal play.


Staffan Johansson wrote:
Summons might not be all that useful offensively, but one shouldn't minimize their defensive benefit as well as their indirect offensive one. The indirect offensive benefit primarily comes from flanking,

It can help. But flanking is actually very easy to set up in so many other ways. Most martials have it more often that not. The ones that really care about it have feats to make it almost automatic.

I don't see it as a major point, or a good use of a top level spell slot.


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Deriven Firelion wrote:
Not sure why the rogues in the above example were more limited than your PCs considering the mudwretch aura would have equally affected your PCs as well as the rogues.

Because the rogues were the ones trying to move around in order to flank party members.

Quote:
A druid blasting the alchemist with a 3rd level sudden bolt would have been equally or more effective than summoning a leopard using 3 actions and a sustain action every round. Summon animal only has a range of 30 feet, sudden bolt 60 feet. So not sure why your druid chose summon animal over a direct damage spell from an optimal play view.

Because the leopard got the alchemist into melee, and kept him there. Sudden Bolt would have dealt a fair bit of damage, but wouldn't have locked the alchemist down the way the leopard did. I mean, mechanically there's nothing that prevents the bomber from bombing the party while a leopard is trying to eat his face, but I try to play my NPCs as somewhat reasonable and when the leopard asks for my attention, I give it to it.

Could also have been an issue with already having cast Sudden Bolt that day - it's been a few months, so I don't recall the events clearly. Also, Sudden Bolt is an uncommon spell that's primarily available via a particular AP—now, that is the AP we were playing, but for most druids it's more of an issue.


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Gortle wrote:
flanking is actually very easy to set up in so many other ways.

That is often true, but is also dependent upon party composition.

Not all parties have 2+ characters that want to be in melee, so in the party compositions that don't a summon can be a significant help, since even when they end up the only melee character there aren't always options they want to take that give them the flat-footed benefit.


While polymorphs do have a lot of needless limitations, casting is not one of them. Many battle forms give pretty large boosts to AC (from a caster standpoint), temp hp, and in many cases resistances.

If we ever get natural spell back, imo, it would have to be a 1 action metamagic feat, and probably limited to lower level spell, if not cantrips only


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Alchemic_Genius wrote:

While polymorphs do have a lot of needless limitations, casting is not one of them. Many battle forms give pretty large boosts to AC (from a caster standpoint), temp hp, and in many cases resistances.

If we ever get natural spell back, imo, it would have to be a 1 action metamagic feat, and probably limited to lower level spell, if not cantrips only

You can get some moderate resistances.

Caster AC Should look something like this at the end of it all: 10 + 24 (Proficiency) +5 Dex (no caster should not build dex to 20) +3 (item bonus) = AC 42.

Elemental Form AC at 20 is 42.

Nature Incarnate at 20 is 45.

Dragon form AC at lvl 20 is 41.

So only a 10th level spell improves your AC above what you could normally get. And in normal form you could cast shield or use a shield, which would boost your AC to 43 or 44.

Temporary hit points provide a buffer of about one strike against a level appropriate enemy. They do next to nothing if you nuked by an AOE spell at that level against a DC of a level appropriate enemy.

I don't think AC or temp hit points are a concern for casting. It's mainly the mobility advantages.

An Air Elemental can move at 80 feet per round without provoking reactions. Can you imagine that in battle? A caster moving 80 feet in one move flying without provoking a reaction? Mobile spell attack platform.

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