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The spell find familiar allows a character to summon a familiar, which is a spirit of creature type celestial, fey or fiend. From the spell's description (PHB, p. 240):

You gain the service of a familiar, a spirit that takes the form of an animal [...] the familiar has the statistics of the chosen form, though it is a celestial, fey, or fiend (your choice) instead of a beast.

Would there be any balance issues with allowing the familiar to be of the elemental creature type instead (meaning, adjusting the above description to read "celestial, elemental, fey, or fiend (your choice)" instead)?

Elemental creatures are affected in the same way as celestial/fey/fiend creatures by other spells such as protection from evil and good, forbiddance, and banishment (being permanently banished to their home plane rather than just stuck in a demiplane for 1 minute), etc, so being an elemental shouldn't allow the creature to bypass that which would affect a RAW find familiar familiar.

That would have been the main thing that I would suspect might affect balance, but I can't think of a spell that affects only celestials, fiends and fey, but not elementals. And I don't feel like the concept of an elemental spirit creature being summoned as a familiar goes against the narrative theme of the spell either.

Are there any odd interactions with an elemental familiar that might make it more or less powerful than, say, a celestial familiar? My intention is for this to not affect the balance whatsoever.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd also be interested in this, as well as other 'outsider' types like aberration, etc. \$\endgroup\$ – Pureferret Mar 20 at 15:23
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No, There's no Major Difference.

Creature type in 5e is rarely referenced, and it is mostly used as flavor. However, I did find a couple of effects that will effect an elemental differently.

  • The Paladin's Divine Sense detects "the location of any celestial, fiend, or undead within 60 feet of you that is not behind total cover" (PHB, p. 84)
  • The Ranger's Primeval Awareness senses "whether the following types of creatures are present within 1 mile of you (or within up to 6 miles if you are in your favored terrain): Aberrations, Celestials, Dragons, Elementals, fey, Fiends, and Undead." (PHB, p. 93)

These are relatively minor, and generally will not affect the balance of the game.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Good first answer, take the tour if you haven't already and see the help center or ask us here in the comments (use @ to ping someone) if you need more guidance. Good Luck and Happy Gaming! \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Mar 20 at 20:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for drawing my attention to the paladin; that reminds me of the Oath of the Ancients ability, Turn the Faithless (PHB, p. 87): "You can use your Channel Divinity to utter ancient words that are painful for fey and fiends to hear. As an action, you present your holy symbol, and each fey or fiend within 30 feet of you that can hear you must make a Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, the creature is turned for 1 minute or until it takes damage." Luckily, this and Divine Sense (from your answer) excludes either celestial or fey, so an elemental familiar should be fine as well. \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Mar 20 at 20:57

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