There. I said it.
Now I don't hate them quite as much as the great wheel, but they still smack of a bunch of dumb symmetry to me. I just don't like it. The 4e Elemental Chaos is a little better, but even then it's not what I need.
So what are Elementals in my mind? Simple: animistic spirits. Nature kami. Which raises two questions. First, is there an elemental for the part of nature which is living? We'll come to that one in a moment. Second, is there an elemental for things that are part of the experience of sapient creatures? It is this which is the subject of my post. I found my answer in, of all places, Dungeon World, which just goes to prove that anything is a sourcebook if you have the right mindset. Here's the monster as DW presents it in its entirety.
So here's my attempt to give you the Concept Elemental. I will include a dozen subtypes as examples, following in the manner of Dyson.
Concept Elemental Solitary, Devious, Planar, AmorphousSpecial Qualities: Ideal formThe planes are not as literal as our world. Clothed in the elemental chaos are places of stranger stuff than air and water. Here, rivers of time crash upon shores of crystal fear. Bleak storms of nightmare roil and churn in a laughter-bright sky. Sometimes, the spirits of these places can be lured into our world, though they are infinitely more unpredictable and strange than mere fire or earth might be. Easier to make mistakes, too—one might try calling up a wealth elemental and be surprised to find a murder elemental instead. Instinct: To perfect its concept
- Demonstrate its concept in its purest form
- Lesser Elemental (Summoned by Staff) – 8 HD, AC 2, 1d8 damage
- Greater Elemental (Summoned by Devices) – 12 HD, AC 0, 2d8 damage
- True Elemental (Summoned by Spells) – 16 HD, AC -2, 3d8 damage
- Legendary Elemental (Summoned by Ritual) – 20 HD, AC -4, 4d8 damage
Unlike other elementals, all concept elementals have a subtype reflecting just what state of being or thought that they are born of. A spellcaster can learn (typically via a quest or magical tome) how to summon a particular subtype of elemental. In this case, if the proper environment is present, the summoning will always bring forth the desired subtype, but otherwise the kind of concept elemental called upon will be completely random. A spellcaster can learn how to summon a number of subtypes equal to 1/2 his level.
Unless otherwise indicated, any spell-like abilities are treated as being cast by a spellcaster with a level equal to the elemental’s Hit Dice. Some spell effects are from the Advanced Edition Companion (in bold) others are from the ACKS Player's Companion (underlined). In parentheses will be listed the circumstances in which a creature takes extra damage for them
- Wealth: Create objects as an Efreet (Carrying more than 100 GP/level in money, precious metals, or gems on their person)
- Murder: Death attack after three rounds of study, target must save vs. death. (Creatures that have killed in cold blood or for selfish reasons)
- Dream: Hallucinatory Terrain, Phantasmal Forces, or Sleep 1/round. (Creatures that are unconscious or asleep)
- Terror: Fear or Phantasmal Forces 1/round (creatures that are afraid, whether magically or because they failed a morale check)
- Peace: Sanctuary 1/round (Creatures who have made an attack in the last turn)
- War: Weapons used against it may stick to it, as an Iron Living Statue. (creatures wielding weapons)
- Madness: Attacks cause Confusion (Creatures that are Confused, charmed, or under the effects of an illusion, or are actually insane)
- Truth: Dispel illusions 1/round (Creatures that have broken their word in the last year)
- Time: Attack randomly ages or de-ages target 1d10 years (Creatures that have been outside of or traveled in time-- or creatures that experience time at all if you want to be a killer DM about it)
- Size: Attack randomly increases (as Growth) or decreases size (as a potion of dimunition)
- Love: Charm Person or Charm Monster 1/round (creatures that are charmed or in love)
- Community: Allied creatures within 50' need never make morale checks and are immune to fear (People who are not members of the community it represents)