... now with 35% more arrogance!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Elemental Forefathers

Regardless of the strength of an Elemental, only one of each type can be brought into existence during any "day". Thus, if a character possessed a device to call up an Air Elemental, but before he could employ it an opponent conjured an Air Elemental, another could not be created until the next day. (Monsters & Treasure, p18) 
Sounds like a dissociated mechanic, doesn't it?

Almost. Except that I think it actually arose from the idea that an elemental was a creation rather than a being summoned from elsewhere. The Conjure Elemental spell caused a substantial quantity of matter to take on a crude intelligence and independent behavior. Thus, once the earth or air in an area has been used, it can't be used again; you have to conjure a different kind of elemental. So, it's actually a very associated mechanic, treating matter in the area as a limited resource.

This was before the elemental planes were conceived, remember. You can see this in the Invisible Stalker description that comes immediately before the entry for elementals: stalkers aren't considered air elementals yet, and they are said to come from a non-dimensional plane.

The elementals in The Fantasy Trip have this same feel of being created rather than summoned. Both TFt and the LBBs fit my "plane-less cosmology", although the LBBs do have these suggestions of "extradimensional space" that doesn't have a clear concept yet. I'm actually OK with that: an endless number of "pockets" outside of normal space and time that are vague and difficult to comprehend.


  1. That's probably a reasonable interpretation, but what was actually meant by that rule remains unclear. How far away you have to go before one elemental being summoned doesn't affect your ability to do so, for example.

  2. I would say "far enough away that you and the other summoner aren't part of the same encounter." You can see someone summoning an elemental? You can't summon the same kind of elemental. Somewhere, in another town, someone is summoning an elemental? No effect on you. If you learn about it at all, it will be after the fact.

  3. observer effected elementals? Nice.

    Howl's Moving Castle has just rewired my brain on elementals: now I know I want them to be minor Vancian summonings, with a more live-and-let-live nature than Sandestins such that I might even allow elemental PCs.

  4. I didn't quite mean it in the sense of a wizard staring fixedly for a moment, then shouting "I've collapsed the state vector!" as an elemental manifests. More like: presumably, all the matter of one type in an "area" becomes alive and self-aware, but we don't want to mess around with fiddly numbers, so we'll just define "area" as "what the conjurer is aware of."

  5. Sorry, I just can't resist trying to interpret the gameworld like that. I do it all the time as a DM as well...