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Hey folks,
I can make certain assumptions about the BBB spirits and what is good for different things (for example, fire spirits excel at combat, earth spirits can soak up damage and lift extremely heavy stuff) - what do you guys see as the best uses for each spirit? Where does the spirit of man fit in to all this, since his advantage is being able to cast a spell that the magician already knows?

Mr. Unpronounceable
A spirit of man can, theoretically at least, cast a spell the magician knows at up to 4x the magician's magic rating with a dice pool of up to 6x the mage's magic rating. Not too shabby.

Alternatively, with a bit of forethought by the mage, it can know stabilize or heal and cast those on the magician when he's too beat up to do it himself.
Air spirits excel at helping levitate people and items at extreme speeds.
Plus, Spirits generally aren't all that great at sheer damage output. Melee attacks take a complex action, as do Elemental attacks and Engulf. So for fighting off groups of enemies you might be better off having a Force 4 or 5 Spirit of Man casting Stun Balls rather than having your Fire Spirit wade into melee.

Anyway, Fire Spirits are the best low Force combatants, while Guardian (Plain nasty with the right optional choices) and Air Spirits tend to beat them out as Force climbs ever higher. Task Spirits have incredible utility written all over them. Plant Spirits are wonderful for binding specialists since they get Regeneration as a Great Form power while Fear, Guard, Magical Guard, and Concealment as base powers means they're just about always useful-- add in Movement as their first optional power at Force 3 and they become my favorite "general purpose" bound Spirit. Spirits of Water are often underrated-- they always have Concealment, Search, and Movement plus they can gain Weather Control, which is useful because if nothing else you can cause a fog or rainstorm (easily done in Seattle!) in order to gain more negative visibility modifiers to go along with Concealment. Earth and Beast Spirits are OK, but I kinda consider them the black sheep of the family. The lifting rules aren't really robust enough for the Earth Spirit's ridiculous strength to be that great of an asset while Beast Spirits would be a bit more attractive if Guardians weren't capable of taking Animal Control as an optional power. Guidance Spirits are great too; if nothing else, they can get you access to divination without having to burn a metamagic.
Blood spirits are great for breaking the game. biggrin.gif
Although it's worth noting that the recent errata nerfed them down from God to smaller godling.
My favorite use for a guidance spirit--if you're possession-based--is to use a newspaper as a vessel. The funnies get a little darker, but the horoscopes and actual news items benefit greatly.
don't forget the guidance spirit's engulf ability it's resisted with will and has no armor reduction at all making it one of the most bad assed at engulf.
and it's great form power of being able to transport you to the metaplanes can be invaluable if you are need of such abilities.
That's true, but I'm afraid it's not enough to save the Guidance Spirit from being a crappy combatant. Remember that Engulf is basically a slightly more reliable version of subdual attack and that Guidance Spirits have crappy Agility. Plant Spirits have the same Agility, except their Strength attribute is F+4, so their Subdual damage output keeps up with a Guidance Spirit's engulf pretty well, even if do have to wait a turn to start inflicting damage. After all, a Force 3 Plant Spirit will threaten 7S resisted by Impact+Body with subdual vs. an equivalent Guidance Spirit's Engulf threatening 3S resisted by Will with Engulf. Earth Spirits are much the same way, except if they choose to Engulf they get to deal physical, which opens things up for them a bit when dealing with drones (if your Spirit can't deal Physical somehow, it quite literally can't kill a drone) plus unlike either Guidance or Plant Spirits, Earth Spirits have a ranged attack. This especially hurts Guidance Spirits since they don't even get either Fear or Engulf as base powers; unless you summon at Force 6 or higher, you're stuck choosing between Engulf and the Spirit's sole ranged combat power.

Anyway though, I'd give Fire Spirits the nod for best engulfer: they've got the agility to connect more reliably and they deal Fire damage, so their engulf is lethal, works against drones and can net you all sorts of nifty GM determined effects.
A problem with SR4 Spirits:

All the Elemental Spirits are largely the same, with a different "flavor" if you will.
Watchers are dumber than dogs
Plant and Man are so bomb you don wan nutin else
Guardian, Guidance, and Task are well divided into their tasks and perhaps do them too well that you don't need elemental spirits
Air Spirits are still nice to fly you around seattle
Water spirits are cheaper and more secret than the ship ride across the pacific
Earth spirits are great for building your subterranean lair
Lets not even mention fire spirits, cosmetic surgery to take care of the burns cost me a fortune! wink.gif
Plant spirits have some of the best powers for combat and outta combat, too.

Movement and concealment not withstanding.

A possession based great form plant spirit with Regeneration.. No more medical bills. And ontop of that, the plant engulf turns into LOS(A). Makes for growing just about anything quick really easy.
And we cant forget the Task spirits...

Being able to have ANY physical or technical skill.. Need a doc, got one. Need a repairman, got one. Need a ____ just add any flavor of Artisan skill. And being able to have moderate to high levels of Survival. Makes life really easy.

Who says magic doesnt like technology?? *gives his task spirit some software skill to crack some copy protects*
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