SO this is a thing I had sitting around waiting for me to draw some art for or someone else possibly, but since Patrick Stuart keeps posting awesomely weird abstract elemental stuff , I felt the neat to post this before he DOMINATES
Elementals remember themselves as before anything and everything. They exist as matter's understanding of its self.
The home of any elemental is it's source. Out modeled cosmology would call it the relevant elemental plane. The source is like, for example , of fire is.. well fire. As in all fire has the same idea of fire and that idea is also a place and all fire is in the place at the same time.
Make sense? Well okay imagine a sheet of paper, the paper is crumbled , but opened out again, no longer smooth but a mass of peaks and troughs. It has been laid flat on pool of ink.
The ink seeps through where the paper touches the ink. All the ink is more or less continuous even as seems separate (as blotches on the parts of the paper that made contact. THe paper is the world, and the pool of ink the Source, and the blotches are what seem to us as isolated fires.
From a fire elementals perceptive when you are lighting a fire, you are actually warping the fabric of the world to make some of it nearer the fire elemental plane. It's impossible to actually go to an elemental plane, only that element can exist there. Indeed thinking of it as a location is a mistake. Time, depth and other familiar dimensions are not found there.
Of the 4 major planes ( fire, air, earth, water) the interests of the intelligences there are represented by a collective.
The collective will argue amongst themselves who first discovered the world, in any case they were quick to discover they could infuse it with themselves, and promptly had a giant shit fight about it.
The clash of the elements twisted and stretched the world into wondrous complexity and novelty unimagined by the elementals.
The mindless tug of war settled down into a more experimental era, each of the elementals seeing what the stacking effects of their individual influences would result in.
Each elemental however had a different idea of what was best done with the world, and fire and earth found themselves unable to shape things to their liking, fire too fragile to match waters smothering and airs tempests.
And Earth being too slow to keep up with the rapid changes air and water were capable of.
The first of the pacts was soon formed. Earth agreed to shelter fire under its stone bulwarks, and in exchange fire gave blood and muscle to earths bone, allowing earth to shift its massiveness.
Water and air saw this and grudgingly explored the possibility of an alliance, and began to shape the first weathers.
The world was thus interesting and novel enough for some elementals to begin a "sojourn", shifting their awareness into the world itself.
Earth elementals took on the forms of wizened stooped things, with huge dark eyes the better to walk in the vast black veins of the world, The Gnomes.
Fire was next, receiving a gift from earth, for fires aid in shaping the stone, in the form of obsidian, which fire build on, and its Primary skipped along the world with bones of compressed ash and obsidian, like needle lizards, the billowing flame of their substance barely staying put on their frames. The Salamanders.
Air and Water , however, have naturals forms too fluid to enter the world in any way conclusive to experiencing its unique quality.
So being too huffy to bargain with earth for matter, they brewed up something between themselves, with stolen dust and heat as well as their own natures.
Thus the first flesh was crafted.
Now this is what is claimed by Water and Air , but Flesh is its own council and has its own source and claims to have always been waiting.
The very nature of reality changes over time, and the core elements shift, and countless forms of matter lie sleeping somewhere.
Each element is willfully ignorant of anything outside its own perspective.
Air made a pact with flesh and gave breath to fleshes multitude forms. The Sylphs flew over the land, while Water entered the seas, contrarily choosing to reject the option of flesh and choosing the mercurialness of its own nature as the Undine.
Other ways of matter snuck in, and also claimed to have always been.
The lines blurred, smaller elements carved out their niches.
Flesh succeeded and become its own realm. Fungus and Flora entered the world.
A clear timeline was mocked, for all of this is malleable. An element can enter the world as if it has always been, and an older element can suddenly splinter into a 1000 others, each claiming to have always been.
Countless impossible , implausibly , and not quite elements exist frozen somewhere, like cysts in the flesh of the not-real.
The collectives are instinctively away of this, although refusing to acknowledge their fragile position in the broil of metaphysics , they actively attempt to intercept , distort , silence or spread magics and heresy they think will maintain their importance in the nature of things.
They are nearly clueless of what to be spreading and what to be suppressing and so the collectives compete with each other in a elaborate game of blind poker.
Collectives, , Pacts, Tiefs, Sojourners,Exiles:
A collective is the gestalt will and intelligence of elementals in their source.
A pact is what is entered in so one element can make use of the materials of another.
Fire and earth have a pact to order for fire to live under the earth and earth to move it's mountains and continents with the aid of fire.
A tief is on going use of materials for another element.
The obsidian bones of the salamanders are the result of a tief.
Sojourners are elementals who maintain a continually existence in the world, rather than temporally manifesting. The first four sojourner races are Gnomes, Salamanders, Undines and Sylphs. They are born on in the world and return to their Source when they die
Exiles are elementals determined to stay in the world, and resenting the source's pull on them.
the collective of earth elementals is known as Arena of Soil
shriven little men with big black eyes and not much other features to speak of. THey scuttle in the darkest of tunnels and they can whisper to the mountains to make them wake.
Sand erases but sand can remember. Sandtaken are forms of sand in the exact likeness of someone buried and rotten to nothing in a particular vast sandy desert. The Sandtaken believes it to be the person who's form it has taken and whole cities are in the desert with crowds of sand people acting out the lives long gone that were never theirs to begin with.
. After centuries of false life they start losing their form, and appear less and less detailed, and clumsier in the duplications of life. Eventually they cannot remember anything and they then hunger for identity, smothering and drowning people in themselves.
They will then believe to be this new person. This will last only a month though and so become far more dangerous in this stage of their existence. Sandtaken are excellent at denying evidence of their false existence, but convincing enough arguments or strong evidence can make them lose their grip and become ego-cannibalistic.
Any Sandtaken however has a 1 in d10 chance (modified by the int modifier of the form it has now) not immediately descending in egocanniblsim, but is likely to be pretty fucking depressed knowing its life is a lie.
Sandtaken are not undead or ghosts. The are original earth elementals desiring of new life who are now fixed on their path of egotheft.
Mud Horrors are belligerent and cantankerous , preferring to shun the company of their own kind, preferring swamps or bogs were there is plenty of water to draw into their form to give them a fluidity otherwise unknowable to earth elementals. While water is drawn into their form, the actual essence of a Mud horror is dirt, and completely drying a mud horror out renders it sessile and inert, its ability to shape an earthen form atrophied. A Mudhorror will cling to this form (as opposed to returning to the Source) however if it has pressing business of revenge, waiting and waiting for water to allow it to move again.
In addition to using water , a mud horror will also decorate itself, weaving (or appropriating out right) a skull from vines, with branches for horns, roots for claws, sphagnum moss for a hide.
They prefer to spend their time contemplating the endless dramas of the swamp life, but happily kill for fun , as they cannot take flesh beings that seriously. They will also respond with great malice if the existence of the swamp itself is threatened.
walking hills are more of hillock than a full grown hill. ANd they walk with the aid of 2 stump stone legs, emerging from underneath like a old dame pulling her skirts up to cross a puddle. Most Walking Hills are merely temporarily roused into action by the whispers of a gnome, but some areas have a few hills that regularly amble around. Walking hills motives when not obeying the directives of a gnome are generally pretty much a desire to shuffle about the area seeing whats changed recently before returning more or less to their original spot. If attacked and the attack actually manages to get their attention they defend themselves by stomping.
Its unknown if all hillocks can move, (and most choose not to), or if the gnomes spark life in them, or summon their kin to possess the hill.
What is more worrying is that gnomes refer to mountains as Grandsires, and stories (and some geographically evidence) suggest all mountains are in fact elementals and capable of being roused into action by the gnomes.
mattocks are named both for their blunt relentlessness as well as their popularity as default summoning creature for elementalist. The appearance is that of a great earthen bear, with a rupture of a face, all stone tusks and gape. The intellect is comparable to a bear as well, and temper to boot.
It is rare they are found in the wild with out the actions of a gnome, elementalist or wizard bringing them into being. Left to their own devices they generally curl up and sleep, become part of the landscape. It is possible to awake such dormant Mattocks, and it is very inadvisable.
collective is the Union of Seas
undines are water mimicing many humanoid forms all at once, back and forth , something like a hydra and something like a orgy of water people. The Undine have most of political clout in the Parliament of waves, and individual Undines get up to all kinds of schemes to advance they own personal whim and/or the machinations of the parliament of waves. A young Undine can command a limited amount of water and attacks with buffeting, but experience and training allow them to shape some of their form to ice or steam, and some are rumoured to have learned secrets from the flesh elementals, allowing them to manipulate the blood in a living body.
The cold ones are rogue faction of the Parliament of waves, believing that water should try and replace earth as the principal solid material, and currently wander the polar areas in monastic existence arguing among each other which is the best and truest expression of water. They appear as figure of snow and ice, at least 8 feet sometimes up to 15. This figure is hunched and has a crude face, wide circles for eyes and a gaping pit suggestive of mouth, shaping an endless moan.
Kraken are enigmatic. Rejecting the commonness of water as a form, the Kraken have made pact with flesh elementals, giving them vast and mighty forms, in exchange for this, Kraken lurk in the deepest depths, shifting through various nightmare forms, and surviving environments seemingly impossible for flesh to survive, thus giving the Flesh Cabal new insights. Kraken have the ability to see dreams, even from countless miles down in the dark trenches. This is were the Kraken get their inspiration from. So a Krakens form will be quintessential distillation of human fears of alien depths of the sea. Kraken occasionally come to the surface to wreck terror and thus stir up fresh material for their dark artistry.
|From concept art here|
The merrow have looked to the squat , brutish forms of fish , eels , lobster and crabs, and stolen them for their own. While the Kraken have their flesh forms through arcane mercantiling , the Merrow merely took what they wanted, claiming that the innate water content makes flesh theirs by right. Flesh elementals are generally hostile to Merrow and take any safe opportunity to inflict woe on merrow. Merrow appear as ogrish brutes, with eelish skin and vast chitin jags and claws. The forms vary, but all are chosen for violence and terror. Merrows are raiders and marauders, relishing in destruction and conquest. The Merrow are loathe to return to the Parliament, and are far more invested in their survival here than other elementals.
Nereids are another water elemental charmed by the seas multitude of forms. They make pacts with mermaids and others near the sea. In return for a great boon, the being must surrender their body to the Nereid at a certain date. The Nereid will then shape the body, adorning it with its favourite aspects of sea life, such as a sea horses tail, dragon fish's handsome and toxic fans, the eerily light of a nudibranch.
Such things nereid can offer include rescued people lost at sea, healing sickness, drowning enemies. The time before the claim is due varies.
The negotiation ability of the being and the desperateness of their circumstances being the most common influence on this..
Most Nereid are happy to wait a year and a day, but some waiting 10 years is not unheard of. Trying to welch on the claim is going to really piss the Nereid off, as anyone entering a contract with a nereid will have their location always know to that nereid.
Unless, of course, they have all their blood drained until they are a husk and then replaced with fresh blood.
A Nereid seeking vengeance is a terrible thing. You will never be safe near water. The only water you can drink is rain falling from the sky or magically created. Drinking any other water will allow the Nereid to immediately possess your body and eject your soul.
Some particular vindictive Nereid will hold on to your soul as well, keeping it trapped in their back of your former head, as the Nereid proceeds to destroy everything you love and value in your former life while wearing your form and forcing you to watch the whole time.
Other Nereid will actually find a way to access the Gloaming or Twilight and dump your soul straight into the mouth of a Consumer or journey further and see if they can get a good price for it.
Nuckavee lurk in rivers and other land waters. They will patiently assemble a form of their own from drowned bodies and melding it together. They then play out the animal hungers of the forms, gaining great joy in being a lurking hungry thing. They seem to favour horses but with a mismatch sizes of parts, and slime for skin. Nuckavees are generally not very bright, the smarter elementals tending to take more sophisticated sojourns, but its not impossible that a nuckavee could be a sojurn for one more cunning and cruel.
Blood riders appear as many long legged worm, the legs stalactites of scrabrous blood. The legs are temporarily made when they need to move about outside a host. They can pour themselves into any living being with blood, and take control or merely passively ride. When in a host they can provide improved healing, congealed blood armour and weapons. They are esoteric assassains who especially target doppelgangers and other flesh elementals who the Union of Seas feels is gaining too much influence. Sometimes form an alliance with a willing host.
Collective is known as The Tempestial Mob
Sylph appear as winsome people with scraps of cloud and incandescent motes for wings. The sky endless falls in their eyes and to maintain a sylphs stare is to be subject to an crippling attack of vertigo. They maintain the weather system, migrating in vast cloud herds, their tief with water is guide the clouds to shape the land.
They are mostly flesh but with wind for blood and organs, and can shape the weather to their defense.
Whirlygigs are intelligent sand devils, disruptive and annoying but with no real blood lust or malice
Cloud whales aid the sylphs in herding the clouds. THey are titanic and capable of exhaling vast balls of lightning.
Excess use of weather magics has brought ruin to more than one city by cloud whales, broking no usurpation of their realm.
Glossmers appear half delicate youth or maiden and half glowing jelly fish. THey are predatory and dangerous, feeding off nuances and breath. They will leave alone some, and drink another dry. They can hypnotize with song and light display and their tendrils freeze like northern winds.
Breath thief are nearly invisible, appearing only if there is enough dust or impurity in the air to show their form. In this case they appear as swollen child with mocking slit of a mouth. They are junkies and their fix is the breath stolen from human lungs, the younger the better.
Mighty thunder horses stamped across storm skies reveling in noise and power. They sometimes descend to the earth to eat of rare flowers, and if one can mount one and stay on it for the night they will remain a companion and steed as long the rider seeks glory and excitement.
The source of fire is known as the Burning Society
like needle lizards, the billowing flame of their substance barely staying put on their bones.
Their bones are sharp edged obsidian and compressed ash. Conquestal and violent, flaring out from their waste land homes to burn and despoil. They respect only strength and long winded jokes.
somewhat loyal talking fires that provide protection and heat for a house in exchange for feeding.
A drifting orb, a hollow sneering face that eats the last heat of the dying. Skilled illusionists.
Weaker salamanders are compressed in a great pressure oven until they burn into each other, their bones snapping to scouring powder and forming the cloud of utter destruction known as a pyroclast. Pyroclast are more siege engine that creature, a blacking choking cloud of terrific speed , heat , and stone shredding grit.
happy playful snakes of fire, their gaze makes you explode. If not appeased with elaborate gifts of fruit they come out of the fumarole lairs and start fires to dance and sing in.
tiny little spark people, the sign of a forge of quality is a troupe of flits living in it. IF a blacksmith sleeps besides their forge, the Flits, on rare occasion, send dreams. These dreams elude to the materials and fuel for crafting wondrous things.
But beware some dreams will not be ignored, striking down the blacksmith with cruel fevers unless they make the thing from their dream. Even if requires stoking the forges fires with their own children.
other "lesser" elements:
Long legged dog things that will pin you down , clamp its face over yours and fill your lungs with ash.
Long twisting hazy thing, conjures mirages of past burned things for its own inscrutable purposes.
cats that light is loath to rest upon, that drink the breath of babes.
brutish lumpish things of crude humour. Will scoops hunks out of each other to throw at people , like a cannibalistic orgy and food fight.
A cruel figure in smouldering black iron, attending their great stone cauldrons and sending spys of poison gas out into the world.
collective :Cabal of Flesh
A tumour that can be a familiar. How much this relationship is parasitic depends on the individual personality of a tumourling. Weirdly enough they often seem to have the opposite personality of their host, bastards sprouting timid selfless healers and saints sprouting selfish devourers. They are easy to transplant however, and a long suffering tumourling of tyrant will happily make a new home on a heroes meat.
A cloud of dust which collects your discarded skin intil it has enough to become you.
plant has a source , and a collective the Parliament of Trees
Mostly a sinister looking tree, but when it's a cloudless night with no moon, they go on a rampage, squeezing people in their massive hands to feed the earth.
|click for source|
fungus has the Myconic web as its source
myconid as original
Festering fluffy dank mass that infects dead bodys one by one , fresher the better (more moltile), dull blue fuzz growing from the orifice.
All its puppets are linked to it and when it has enough (24) it combines them to a big shambling abomination and makes a killing field to lay its spores. It will consume a puppet within a week so it will remain dormant until it thinks there's enough around to make it worth it's while infecting them. The original mass can attack with a blast of flesh eating spores.
Like ring worm but makes a crown shape. Mostly benign , will infect a population , providing immunity to disease and poison but the population won't change or progress.
Looks like a skeleton half dug up from dry mud. Hides this under robes and cloaks. Will travel around , does not talk but waits outside a residence. IF it's not invited in it will leave after a night and a day, and nothing will grow there for a year. If invited in and politely received the land will be abundant for a year. If its attacked or treated rudely or with indifference by the host, it will throw back its hood and scream out an abrasive wind of dust, scouring flesh off bone in a mere instant.
Little bundles of soot and dust, found in abandoned places. Will leave if too much noise or life. Intelligent and will offer information about area if offered a suitable place to live.
Looks like a mummified rat. Can chew through anything. Attack in swarms , live in ruins and appoint themselves as guardians of the ruins, declaring the ruin is the property of entropy and is to be left to its slow destruction.
(etymology note: the word rodent and erosion share the same root word; erodere "to gnaw away, consume")
Like a crystal vessel, half broken and in the shape of a person. Its delicate limbs are very sharp and its reflective surfaces can store echos of past event, which it can release to its defense. Often confused by the memories they contain and think they are someone from them. Sometimes changing from one false identity to another, carrying out arguments or duels with them selves.
Like the gayest dragon ever as interpreted by an alcoholic Polish painter. Segmented, incandescent , barbed and absurd. Mad and destructive and capable of shooting all kinds of impossible energy beams.
Hulking, festooned with blooms of rust . Grinding plates of flaking iron compose it's form , like armour made from dueling contients.
Territory and attend great "gardens" of scavenged steel, iron, and other metals.
Patiently harvesting the rust that forms over centurys on its hoard. The longer something takes to corrode , the sweeter the meal to the iron bear. Generates a choking cloud of dust, its claws and fangs drip with a strange red oil that cause blood to congeal rock hard in the vein.
(their gardens often have the remnant of intruders slain this way, the flesh having long rotted, and only the circulatory system remaining now impervious to rot through the poisons ferric alterations).
Also brutally strong as benefits a bear made from iron.
Its unshelled form is a tangled mass of red rusted steel wool , twisted and knotted into the proximity of an arthropod. They are like hermit crabs, taking discarded helms, bowls and other concave metal objects as a shell and home. They also, like the iron bear, have hordes which they tend for the rust that forms on them. They defend their hordes with barbed far striking tongues that inflict a form of organic rust, which eats away at the bone and skin.
void, weirdly enough has a Collective known as the No School
A undulating rubbery thing. Like a form fitting skin of a youth, black and glistening , inverting and swallow itself endlessly.
Philosopher knights prone to kidnappings and marooning people on barren peaks and plains as sport. Surviving this ordeal is to earn their respect and tutelage
Flimsy things like whisps of fabric burning softly with blue flame. Live in a black glass citadel l like a spiders lantern.
Which floats on moonlight and only the mad can decipher its scheduled arrivals. In this place the filaments dance their dances , which are part poem and part mathematical formula.
It is said if they reach the perfection of this ritual the world will ignite and blaze in 3 seconds of perfection before oblivion. Bringing them a them a suitable poem , dance or theorem will hire their services as an assassins.
In combat their caress causes the skin to burn with a blinding light. They drift , start burning their target, leave the target t stumble around blinded and disorientated by their own essence incandescencing and when this begins to fade they drift in again to reignite it.
Like a 3 winged butterfly, wings extending in sharp rays of light. only dangerous after mating, when it will swoop inside a person and heal them a 1d10 hitpoints per round , until they reach twice their maximum, and which stage their soul explodes with a soul burster young (appear as smaller versions of the adult) who fly off at great speed. 1 per hitpoint before bursting.
A whispering thing , like a long tangle of lost forms, a black tattered ribbon, a parade of might have beens. Some benign , some cruel. Attack with chilling grasps and destruction/recreation of memory.
bottle imp : the spirit of well crafted glass, kinda of like a dryad in that its a small fairy like being and it is bonded to one particular glass ware. It can jump from reflective surface to reflective surface
Black glass fiend:
heart eating obsidian beast. A gorilla like thing with massive claws, a long regal neck and head more hooked beak than head.
Like setting them selves up as figures of worship, demanding regular hearts as tribute.
glass butterfly of varying sizes, strange habits and stranger appetites
Mind: source is known as the Dreaming, but does not appear to have an Collective
Size of pea, look like shrimps but cuter, if you are infected by them, any mind based check you make you have to roll twice and take the worse result. Can only be removed with mind effecting magics, or particular brutal benders.
Starts life as particularly weird book or puzzle or machine and if you try and figure it out for too long you become obsessed and your brain grows into a mole thing and then you go and make a bunch more puzzles.
somewhat like a long eel dark purple panther with a brain running down the length of its spine. If it eats your brain, it grows again on its back and you live in artificial reality of the intellect devourers design. Range of alignments from the cruel collector, enslaver types to ones that offer you an immortally or the ultimate witness protection plan. If you could work out which growth belongs to which devoured individual you could cut it out (with the aid of magic, technology or elite/lucky surgical skills) and stick it someone else and that person could live again! Sometimes people sell their brains to the intellect devourer , to be collected on the moment of their death or a fixed time period.
A not even really real but kinda real like a rogue thought. Gets inside your head, makes you think there's someone out to get you, hallucinations , paranoia etc , the more you act on these fears the more the Nemesis can distort your perceptions. Eventually it kills you from the stress on your body. This will spawn more Nemesis which will latch on to those who knew you.
("whoa something really did kill Grimaxe. Maybe there was something to all that crazy stuff he kept ranting on about someone out to get him..")
Bile (salt/acid/alkaline as well)
Desiccator , looks like some kind of shriveled up bleached weasel, mouth spits in 6 revealing a circular fan like maw with needle teeth.
Searing Toad: a toad that looks like a bowling ball made from crude oil. Can pretty much jump through people and walls because its so corrosive. Mostly animalistic, but actually has cruel and intelligence and malign humour.
Like a half chewed centipede a horse in length , thrown up and skittering forward on acid injecting glass legs.
Travel around sneaking into places and killing people with little rhyme or reason.
This guy http://milkinajar.tumblr.com/
drew a gnome, I like it
Lovely Elementals - strangely something like the Iron Bear (though not until now a bear) has been inhabiting a section of my dungeon of choice for a while - the players just ran away from the parasitic Rust Wyrds among its scrap hoard.ReplyDelete
Point is - great post, as always very thoughtful and jam packed with both lucid imagery and compelling ideas.
Some brilliant ideas and adaptions there. Quite a fun read.ReplyDelete