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[OC] Guideline for Improvising Summonable Elementals

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  • [OC] Guideline for Improvising Summonable Elementals

    I put this together as a guideline for a home game, and some folks on the discord liked it enough I thought I'd share it.

    What are elementals and what can they do for me?

    Elementals are not like gods or demons in that they aren't 'for' anything; they're spiritual wildlife. Gods have a purpose built in to them, and demons were created to express the will of the primordials and to do harm to Creation, but Elementals arise from natural processes and have idiosyncratic relationships to those processes.

    They take inspiration from interesting natural phenomena of our world, often animals, though often not in their native contexts.

    Sometimes they have an ongoing relationship with the natural process that gave rise to them. Usually they don't.

    They can usually, but not always, magically shape or wield their element in some specific way.

    They are material. Powerful ones can develop the ability to dematerialize but it's rare.

    Essence 1 elementals

    Minor flora and fauna, usually no more dangerous than a wild animal. They are transient creatures, arising in response to a spike of elemental power like a storm or wildfire or flood, and fading back in to the elements afterwards. When conjured, they are more akin to obedient animals or insects than people, and never have a human form.

    They might be summoned to: Serve as a portable cook-stove. Set things on fire without getting caught. Cultivate unusual herbs or flowers from their bodies. Carry messages to and fro on the wind. Poison or hunt pests. Serve as a fierce guard animal or steed. Cool a building or tent in hot climates. Find you food or water in the wild. Purify food and water of poisons.

    Examples: none published. Starter pokemon.

    Essence 2 elementals

    Never transient in the wild. They have personhood and agency, though not necessarily wisdom. They can be more dangerous than a well armed mortal can hope to be, but their power is never enough to take ranks of significance in their courts. They can never be mistaken for human, but almost all of them are people rather than beasts.

    They might be summoned to: Serve as fierce soldiers or body-guards. Serve as a supernatural steed to carry folk through the air or water. Perform mortal craft or labor with supernatural verve. Levy strange blessings or curses on individuals. Provide practical wisdom and insight on natural, elemental processes. Scout in places no human could survive. Envoy to mortal princes and leaders. Find and retrieve magical natural treasures.

    Examples: Huraka (air), Mercury Ants (earth), Vaktri (earth), Brine Cur (water), Tidemare (water), Stick Person (wood)

    Essence 3 elementals

    These are powerful spirits, strong enough to take a human or draconic shape. In the courts of elementals, they are honor guards, conspiring nobility, or rogue cultivators. They can leverage their power to become petty lords of human settlements. They usually have powers that make it difficult for even strong and well-organized mortals to get a handle on them.

    They might be summoned to: Terrorize a city, raze a village, or blockade a road. Rout dozens of mortal soldiers. Assassinate a mortal lord by cunning or poison. Envoy to gods or spirit courts. Provide primordial wisdom of the natural world and its processes. Levy strange blessings or curses on a whole lake, thicket, field, or hillock. Stand beside or against the Exalted in battle. Make safe passage through fierce and deadly natural terrain. Reshape the natural world to the needs of the caster. Perform mortal craft in ways mortals simply cannot - e.g., blowing glass in to square bottles, growing wood to bespoke shapes, freezing ice sculptures layer by layer.

    Examples: Need Fire (fire), Heketa (water), Jokun (earth), Thunderbirds (air), Cloud Person (air), Greenmaw (wood)

  • #2
    Have I told you lately that you're my favorite rampaging earth dragon?

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    • #3
      While correlating an elemental's degree of sapience or self-awareness is kind of tempting, tend to avoid that and play more loosely with that aspect - for one, because that's what we have Perception, Inteligence & Wits for in the first place - but also because relating such things to Essence level blocks off options elementals with lots of character & capacity for thought but limited power or, in the opposite side of the spectrum "great magical beasts" of great supernatural power but that are 100% animalistic in overall behaviour (and limitations), like many of the monsters in Hercules' Twelve Labors for example.

      But yeah, the Essence tiers are quite invaluable in making write ups of elementals as they inform a ST of the abrangence of the powers offered, what gives he or she a framework to how close to mortal or superhuman they might be. I also steal a lot of ideas from supernatural merits, thaumaturgy rituals or hearthstone powers as a quick alternative to making charms, specially for the lower Essence ones.


      I, for one example, have in my games even made Essence 1 elementals that do not have mote pools, to boot.


      The Vinemen. Pumpkins, squashes, turnips, yams and other root vegetables that, thru extended exposure to the essence of certain wood demesnes or wyld-touched places develop a sort of sapience, uprooting themselves and forming scarecrow-esque limbs out of their vines, while the "head" develops a vague semblance of facial features.
      Some even experiment with the pruning or weaving of upper head vines, branches & leaves in imitation of human hair styling, to which flowers and other seasonal growths may bring pleasant or embarassing surprises to those inattentive with their grooming.

      While technically they might be considered elementals, they are much closer to plant-themed beastmen or mutants, frequently joining human, mutant or beastmen communities when not forming families or clans of their own. The one special thing about them is the capacity to regrow limbs and other parts with time (all the same vines woven in different patterns), except for the "head" (but cutting the neck is survivable, as long as the head gets to root itself in soil in a number of days up to Stamina - and hopefully, regrow a fully functioning system of vines with which to weave a new body in time).

      There's also a weird rumor that inserting a hearthstone into the mouth of a decapidated vineperson may produce a sort of artifact lantern, or cause its ascendance into a full elemental with essence pool & charms. Which of those is true - if any - is very much up to debate.


      Made them as something of a passing Halloween joke but ended becoming something of a pet favorite of the group due to the particular combination of fanciful and minimalism that makes their character as "walking scarerow plant people" but that aren't much more supernatural and just as mortal as the average beastman or person. Some bit of comicbook inspiration also helped me considerably with making them grow farther their funny cameo roots.
      Last edited by Baaldam; 03-20-2021, 09:58 PM.

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      • #4
        E1 elementals are good grounds to allow Summon Elemental to have a control of "You can summon these ones real fast".


        Check my Exalted homebrew!

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Synapse View Post
          E1 elementals are good grounds to allow Summon Elemental to have a control of "You can summon these ones real fast".
          E1 elementals make me think of Kodama

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Synapse View Post
            E1 elementals are good grounds to allow Summon Elemental to have a control of "You can summon these ones real fast".
            Edited:

            Frack it

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            • #7
              Need Fires would probably be Essence 1 if redesigned from first principles. It seems like the main reason why they're Essence 3 in RoGD1 is because they posessed spirit charms with high minimum requirements.


              Onyx Path Forum Moderator
              Please spare a thought for updating the Exalted wiki.

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              • #8
                Yeah, good point! Well, that and a Need Fire doesn't manifest in singular; the stats they gave you were for a large swarm. An individual Need Fire is a good example of how low the scale can go, and I should've been mindful of that.

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                • #9
                  Lioness sorry for the ping >.< I was trying to assert if a bug that kept me from posting all evening was really a bug. please delete this.


                  Check my Exalted homebrew!

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