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Now here's the thing about Mephits: While they're seen, rightly, as weak, interchangeable, and disposable by the power players all across the Planes, Mephits are actually badasses by the standards of material planar societies. Even the basic common Mephit in the Monster Manual has Fast Healing, a spell-like ability or two, and the power to summon help when needed. That's more than most mortal soldiers can boast about. This isn't even to mention their fly speed, or their breath weapon. Actually, with the way their breath weapon works, they work better played as individual badasses than as swarmers; tracking a swarm of creatures is hard enough, give each one an ability on a cooldown and it becomes harder, make the cooldowns random and it becomes nearly impossible.
Nonetheless, they get a crap deal. Because of their elemental origin and short generations, they are right there when a mage is looking for something to enslave, and there's a mephit to send into almost any environment. They're also more than a little lacking in intelligence with an intelligence score of 6. That means that we can only tell that the writers wanted to be sapient by their language abilities. As it is, they're easy to trick and slow to catch someone using the same trap twice. Also, the power scale of the various planes is incredibly broad, and, despite being able to show up mere mortals easily, Mephits still get trounced by the larger creatures on the planes.
None of this stops any individual Mephit from rising above this. Indeed, the only obstacles are that most DMs and players dismiss Mephits too easily, that rules for playing Mephits haven't existed in previous editions, and that they've fallen into the trap that all 3rd edition playable monsters have of charging for abilities twice and building starting characters whose ECL is twice their CR. So, this is how Mephits based on class levels work. Note that some of their signature abilities, like summoning and fast healing, have been moved to substitution levels on the Genie class:
- Minimum level 3: All Mephits are at least 3rd level characters. Most take them in Genie, but it's fine if you want to take them in Rogue, or Sorcerer, or any other class, even, say, Barbarian.
- Small Size. As small creatures, Mephits gain a +1 bonus to armor class and attack rolls, but must use smaller-sized weapons.
- 30' Movement Speed. All Mephits also have other movement speeds dependent on type, including a Fly speed.
- Outsider Type, (Extraplanar) subtype when on the Material Plane and one of (Air), (Earth), (Fire), or (Water), depending on Mephit type. Mephits are native to the appropriate elemental plane.
- Darkvision 60'
- -2 Intelligence: Mephits are not known for being bright. They gain other ability adjustments depending on their elemental subtype.
- Natural Weapons: Mephits have two claws as primary natural weapons, which inflict 1d3 damage.
- Breath Weapon: A Mephit gains a Breath Weapon identical to that of a Monster Manual Mephit of its type. Its breath weapon does not scale for more damage. Once used, it may roll 1d4 at the start of its turn every turn. On a 4, it may use its breath weapon again. This replaces the normal 1d4 round time between breaths.
- Automatic Languages: Appropriate elemental language.
- Bonus languages: Abyssal, Aquan, Auran, Celestial, Common, Ignan, Infernal, Sylvan, Terran, Undercommon
- Favored Class: Genie and Rogue
- Level Adjustment: +Level Adjustment::0
- Effective Character Level: Effective Character Level::3
Mephits' ability score adjustments for different elemental subtypes, movement types and spell-like abilities, are as follows:
- (Air) Subtype: Air, Dust, and Ice Mephits take -2 Strength and gain +2 Dexterity. They have a Fly speed of 50' with Perfect maneuverability, except for Air Mephits, who have a fly speed of 60'. Ice mephits also have the (Cold) Subtype.
- (Earth) Subtype: Earth and Salt Mephits gain +2 Strength. They have a Fly speed of 40' with Average maneuverability.
- (Fire) Subtype: Fire, Magma, and Steam Mephits gain +2 Dexterity. They have a Fly speed of 50' with Average maneuverability.
- (Water) Subtype: Ooze and Water Mephits gain +2 Constitution. They have a Fly speed of 40' with Average maneuverability, and a Swim speed of 30'.