... now with 35% more arrogance!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Substance Abuse

One of the benefits of assuming that elementals are created locally by magic that imbues a substance with life and intelligence, rather than summoned from a distant "elemental plane", is that conjurers can potentially research a variant of the Conjure Elemental spell for any imaginable substance. Sure, you could go the same route as AD&D went, coming up with a conceptual scheme of the planes and then filling in "para-elementals" and "quasi-elementals" and "pseudo-elementals" and "poly-elementals". I tried going down that route once, with a scheme of 36 elements (four pure, six half-and-halfs, twelve one-and-a-smidgens, twelve one-and-two-smidgens, and the perfect balance and perfect negation.) But I couldn't figure out a reasonable conceptual place for every elemental substance I wanted; conversely, I couldn't figure out a substance for each conceptual position in the scheme. It's a whole lot of wasted effort to make the scheme work, instead of just skipping that step and figuring out what substances you want to "elementalize".
If a player want to "uplift" a particular substance as an elemental, all the GM has to do is decide what the effects of that substance would be, then use the basic elemental patterns to set details:
  • AC 2 for all
  • HD based on conjuration method (spell = 16, device = 12, staff = 8)
  • base damage 2 dice, 1 die for gaseous/liquid forms
  • add 1 die damage when attacking in specific arena
  • Move based on elemental they most resemble
So, for example, you could have a Booze Elemental (Ale-emental) patterned after a Water Elemental (can't move more than 60 feet from its source, Move 6, 18 in liquid.)  You just need to decide what a Booze Elemental's effects are. Most could be improvised, but you could add a simple intoxication effect: save vs. poison or drunk (-1 to all actions,) save again on another attack or very drunk (-2,) third failed save means unconsciousness; drunk creatures never check morale. A Vine Elemental, on the other hand, would maybe resemble an Earth Elemental, but would primarily have an entangle attack instead of extra damage.
You could do something similar with the "magic giants", but I'll save that for a future post.


  1. hmmm, where you say "_ elemental" I say "animate _" (and next think naturally of chairs and street furniture and bits of ships). I might drop the AC a bit, but this looks mighty handy.

  2. If you're doing furniture and objects, I'd agree: drom the AC to fit the item. Damage, too. And none of the broad special abilities I'm talking about.

    But the difference between an elemental and an animate object is that the elemental is more of a "borderline spirit". It's not just particles of substance that act like it's alive, but also has power over sny msss of that substance it comes in contact with, and can replace portions of its own substance from the substance around it. Compare an Earth Elemental to some kind of earthy golem; the latter is more limited; it's an earthen statue that's "alive", not a spirit bound to earth and thus able to control it.

  3. katamari!? Now that's another great idea.

  4. I should clarify - I actually do get what you're saying about elementals and, although it's not quite how I'd roll, I like your thinking. It's just that you're throwing out so many delightful ideas here and I'm having fun collecting them.

  5. I'm just waiting for someone to add rules for pseudo-elementals and poly-elementals. And maybe ur-elementals and uber-elementals and 'pata-elementals...