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Scalenex
2013-06-28, 04:28 PM
Iím working on a homebrew D&D setting. A 3.X setting, that could be adapted to a 4.0 setting. I am starting with the gods how they created the world and what their motives are. Then moving on to planes and creatures. The goal is to have everything make sense, in a mythical sense. For instance leveling doesnít work because the game mechanics need it. Leveling works between the Nine Gods gained their power by killing their creator in battle. Since the Nine created the world they left their imprint on creation, along with the ability to gain power through combat and struggle. The alignments exist because LG, LE, LN, etc each represent the moral viewpoint of one of the Nine. If I canít come up with a good reason for something to exist, I remove it from my D&D world. For instance, no monks.

My cosmology doesnít really fit well with elemental planes, but I want to have elementals. My plan is to have them sometimes be born out of their component elements, usually when magic energy is released. Major battles between wizards often leave elementals in their aftermath, wizard schools have to take precautions against unwanted elementals. Elementals also follow the wake of major storms and large natural events. Elementals last anywhere between a few minutes and a few months, then return to their component element. Elemental summoning magic is a controlled variant of the random elemental summoning that already occurs.

Iíd like to try to figure out what elementals WANT during their brief existence. I figure they would be neutral like an animal, perhaps rudimentary intelligence but I donít want them to have human like sapience. So I envision elementals would be sentient but not sapient. The problem is the basic motivations of sentient beings would not work. Elementals donít need to eat or sleep. Elementals wouldnít have a lot of self-preservation instinct because their existences would be pretty temporary like mayflies. They couldnít reproduce their element (except fire elementals I guess).

Iím hoping to develop a motivation and/or goals for elementals that are simple and make sense but are also sufficiently alien. Once I figure out what elementals do in NORMAL circumstances, I can figure out what they would do in ABNORMAL circumstances.

Part two, is the possibility of elemental gods. After the Nine gods of my world overthrew their tyrannical creator and created the world anew, the First Age or the Age of Dragons dawned. The dragon nations and cults warred on each other incessantly. One dragon queen tried to gain an edge in the wars by harnessing the elemental power of the world. The spell backfired and awoken hundreds of elementals at the center of the Pangea

Normally benign the elementals attacked every dragon (and other living being in sight). They also attacked each other or the component elements of the other elementals. The first two elementals released en masse were water and earth elementals. They split the Pangaea-like continent in half. Rivers were redirected, mountains were raised and leveled, new valleys and laeks were formed. More elementals awoken as the first elementals spread out from the center of the world. Soon wind and fire elementals were joining the fight. Most dragons were too busy fighting each other to combine forces against the rampaging elementals. When the elementals finally quieted down, the dragon cities were in ruins and their population was reduced to a tiny fraction of their numbers. The elemental devastation was called the First Unmaking. The Age of the Dragons was over and the gods created elves to take their place as the new dominant race. Later a second calamity brought on the Second Unmaking ending the Age of the Elves. The Second Unmaking (caused by Lovecraftian nihilist demons, not elementals) ended the Second Age giving way to the Third Age where humanity is dominant.

The world was permanently changed. Where air and earth elementals fought in great numbers, flying islands have emerged. Most of them have gradually fallen creating some mountains in odd positions and places. Fire and air elementals rarely fought but the Fire Plains still have fire raining from the sky periodically. Fire and water elementals left behind geyers and hot springs, etc.

I am thinking of maybe having an elemental lord awaken into full awareness. Perhaps four elemental lords. She/he/they would be the first minor god(s) on my world (probably without clerics or spellcasters though). Assuming the lord(s) had full intelligence and sapience and a limited but growing ability to control the actions of a small group of elementals at a time. What would be a suitable agenda/personality for an elemental lord? Preferably an elemental lord would have a morality that is alien to humans. Not good/evil law/chaos. Philosophically Iíd want them to think of things as fiery or watery but Iím not sure what elemental philosophy/morality/politics would look like.

Any ideas?

Edge of Dreams
2013-06-28, 06:00 PM
My initial quick thoughts:


Fire Elementals want to burn as much combustible material as they can
Water Elementals want to flow to the lowest point they can reach. They also try to purify any body of water and help it flow freely by destroying percieved sources of pollution or obstruction such as a watermill, dam, etc.
Earth elementals seek out ore, rare minerals, crystals, and gems, and gather them together into rich pockets or veins, like a dragon with its hoard except undeground
Air Elementals want to stir up movement and change - they amplify winds, move clouds around, and try to spook animals and people into running away

Avaris
2013-06-28, 06:38 PM
In terms of motivations, you could consider tying their motivations/personalities into the classical four temperaments: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Temperaments#Sanguine

Traditionally, each temperament is tied to an element, and reflects a type of personality:

Air - Sanguine - 'fundamentally sociable and pleasure-seeking; sanguine people are impulsive and charismatic.'. I'd say air elementals would therefore be extremely curious about the world they have found themselves in, seeking out as many things as possible. This means they would investigate something, then once they've got a vague idea of what it is lose interest and move on to something new and exciting. Of course, even though their interest is fleeting, it is likely very dangerous. Key theme: curiosity

Fire - Choleric - 'They have a lot of aggression, energy, and/or passion, and try to instill that in others.' Fire elementals would be driven to spread their passion and energy, i.e. fire, as much as possible. They have found themselves in this world full of lights, sounds and colours, and they want to share as much of their own light sound and colour with others as possible.They don't understand that the fire hurts others, it is so pretty to them that everyone must have it, and they will take anyone rejecting their 'gifts' very badly. Key theme: excitement

Earth - Melancholic - 'often perceived as very (or overly) pondering and are both considerate and very cautious'. Earth elementals have found themselves in the world and quickly developed one focussed idea they want to explore and spend all their time on. They are aware of the things in the way of them exploring this, and will fight to do so, but really they'd be far happier left alone with that thing they want to investigate (woe betide anything that becomes the target of their affection, as the elementals have no way of knowing how fragile it might be). Key theme: focus

Water- Phlegmatic - 'fundamentally relaxed and quiet, ranging from warmly attentive to lazily sluggish'. Water elementals just want to watch the world go by, and once they've got a view of the world they will be quite content to stay there. Unfortunately, some people insist on changing the world, which the elemental sees as wrong: everything should stay as is, and the elemental will fight to keep it that way. Key theme - calm


Not sure how much the above will really help, but its a possible start on directions for motivation...

Now, regarding elemental lords and their motivations. For personalities, see above: the wiki link I have should give you ideas for each lord's attitude! Motivations are more difficult... quite prominently in your setting you have the creator god being destroyed by the current gods: could the elementals be linked to this event? A few ideas as to how to do this follow:
- Elementals are the result of fights between wizards, so when Gods fight it must be even worse. Maybe the elemental lords were created in these earliest days when the creator was destroyed, and have been in hiding ever since, trying to work out what they want to do and fearful of the gods, who may have hunted them down
- Elementals in general could be a side effect of the creator's death: bits of the raw stuff of creation that were left behind as the work hadn't been quite finished. Alternatively, bits of the creators blood that sank into the land and are awakened by magic. Either way, maybe the lords have acquired their sentience through a remnant of the creator's divine spark... maybe they even have some sliver of the creator's personality that has survived for eons within elementals. Whether the lords actively know of what happened to the creator, and whether it actually affects them, is another matter: they might be seeking revenge on the gods, or simply have a feeling that they should be far more powerful.

Few ideas, hope they're helpful.

Slipperychicken
2013-06-28, 11:58 PM
Iím hoping to develop a motivation and/or goals for elementals that are simple and make sense but are also sufficiently alien.

I always thought that elementals were just straight-up nuts. They constantly rampage because, as primordial beings (souls bound to raw energy rather than bodies), they're easily bored, angry at a world they can't understand, and are incapable of self-control or introspection. They would only stop their mad meaningless quest for amusement when forced by magic, and even then will relentlessly test their bonds until freed.

Perhaps the smarter ones want to divorce the elements from one another, seeing their combination as an abomination (earth mating with fire?! Disgusting!) and keep each element exclusively in its own sphere, which necessitates the world's grisly destruction. They may be willing to make "temporary" alliances to further this end, partly because none of them like the status quo, and partly because it requires destroying all life, a task which will require their combined fury.

Also, they would seek to destroy Constructs, which are animated by bound elemental spirits. A construct is to an elemental what a zombie is to a human; a soul painfully imprisoned to play out a cruel mockery of life, in undying slavery to some monster who thinks that souls are worthless tools. Any elemental who values his kind would regard constructs as irredeemable disgusting evil.


An elemental lord could perhaps wish to save his "people" and awaken his brothers' minds through some old magic (wind? earth?), or simply spread the element and leave his mark on creation (I see fire doing this), or use the elementals as a weapon to cause havoc (water?).

Cerlis
2013-06-29, 12:26 AM
This is akin to what some of the others are saying , but with a key difference.

indeed the state of an element might effect its basic behavior in a sentient since (personal motivation, reaction to threats, ect) which i think has already been covered.

But the thing you want to do is how they work instinctually. No elementals dont eat or sleep or even breed. But they do have their comfort zones. That is why Air and earth elementals have affinities because they gain a bonus when they are in their element, literally.

Sure, the personality of an earth elemental might cause him to take comfort in the variety of what can only be translated as "children" of the earth. But an earth elemental is OF the earth. Its very essence IS what the earth is. except when it is angry, (such as fire heating it, or water lashing at it) it is subdued , unyielding and unmoving. For an earth elemental, moving and talking is probably the equivalent of breathing liquid air, or sexing up a mouse would be to us. Sure its possible, but its unnatural. It would make them very uncomfortable and they'd resist it as much as they could.

Fire doesn't consume out of greed or destruction, it does so because burning is the same thing to it as breathing is to us. And they would probably be aware of how fragile they are and lash out against anything that risks it burning out. This is why you dont put out a campfire with water, because it lashes out.

Sure air moves alot and is chaotic. It can be still but moves simply with a change of temperature. But its not because its Wiley or flippant. Maybe by our standards yes, but thats what air DOES. It moves across the PLANET probably not returning to the same exact spot for years or decades or even centuries because its constantly moving just because of a little heat, humidity or movement. Its like how a some peoples cant fathom staying in one place for long, but even greater. Most people feel that way because being till either makes them feel pointless, or because its boring. For them staying in one spot would probably be the equivalent of one of us standing rigid, not blinking or moving or breathing. Its not just weird its SUFFOCATING.

the point is that they do have these natural urges they are just very different

Draken
2013-06-29, 12:44 AM
Instead of giving them stock personalities, just give them baseline goals and build from there, along with their individual goals.

What is the goal of every living creature? Feed to sustain its existence and multiply before it dies.

These could very well be the same. An elemental seeks more of its element to absorb, grow larger and eventually split off smaller elementals from itself.

Ossian
2013-06-29, 06:18 AM
You could also play a role reversal. Instead of the good zen tea drinking elements (Water and Fire) , the neutral careless Earth and the all consuming fire, swap them around a bit. I agree with the baseline goals, and then improvise (or elaborate) ad-hoc.

Fire: survival. Their existence is fleeting, as in they require both Air (oxygen) and wood (so, in a way, Earth) to exist. Without that, they simply transition out of existence. Unlike water (which evaporates) or earth (which becomes something earth-based anyway) or or air (which can't really change that much) Fire simply stops existing. No memories. No traces. Nothing.
All fire wants is to find a stable source of combustible and stick to that, for as long as it can. There must be greedier Fire elementals out there, for sure, but they are exception.

Earth: the true dominators. They can shape continents and decide where water goes and where it does not, opening chasms on the oceanic floor, and making volcanoes pop up as they see fit. They rule, and don't want to see anyone messing around with them. After all, the planet IS Earth, in some shape or form (from magma to steel, passing through wood and granite, it's all "earth stuff").

Air: a bit like angels, but less caring. They observe the comings and goings of the world down blow, unable to do much to interact with it. Apart from the occasional tornado, they have very little power. They exist, as huge repositories of knowledge, but it is a lore that is very hard to tap into. Kind of absent minded careless geniuses of unfathomable intelligence but ZERO wisdom.

Water: competing with Earth for domination, Water is a powerful force, able to do much damage. Water elementals are bitter, and competitive, and very very aggressive. They are erratic and unpredictable, and absolutely ruthless when roused. They will strike the unholiest bargains if that gets another foot of land underwater.

BWR
2013-06-29, 05:44 PM
I always interpreted elementals, at least the true elementals, have a mentality a lot like Ursula LeGuin's Earthsea dragons: there are beings that do and beings that are. Mortals are beings that do, dragons in Earthsea, and elementals, are.

On their home planes they are really a part of the plane itself. It's hard to tell where an elemental begins and the plane ends. While the planes themselves aren't sentient, the elementals are sort of odd pseudo-intelligence that arises and coalesces every now and then. To natives on their home planes, elementals are basically just the local version of weather. Sometimes you can predict the weather, sometimes it helps to pray to it, sometimes you can build to prevent the effects. When off their home plane, they are a bit puzzled, trying to comprehend the broader nature of the multiverse through a rather limited mental filter. They tend to act as they would have at home, but changes in local natural laws make things odd. Magical impulses (from spells) can compel the elementals to certain forms of actions.

ThirdEmperor
2013-06-29, 05:57 PM
Here's a thought. If they're born from magic, instead of building of the traits typically attributed to their element, have their goals be based upon the intent of the spells they were born from. So an elemental born from a fireball spell just wants to burn things, while one created from a stoneshape might build and mold the earth compulsively.

Scalenex
2013-06-29, 09:13 PM
Thanks for the good replies everyone!


In terms of motivations, you could consider tying their motivations/personalities into the classical four temperaments: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Temperaments#Sanguine

Traditionally, each temperament is tied to an element, and reflects a type of personality:


Your layout of personalities was an excellent start. I think Iíll combine it what ThirdEmperor said and have the motivations of the spellcasters affect them (but to a minor extant because you canít always keep track of that).


Here's a thought. If they're born from magic, instead of building of the traits typically attributed to their element, have their goals be based upon the intent of the spells they were born from. So an elemental born from a fireball spell just wants to burn things, while one created from a stoneshape might build and mold the earth compulsively.



- Elementals are the result of fights between wizards, so when Gods fight it must be even worse. Maybe the elemental lords were created in these earliest days when the creator was destroyed, and have been in hiding ever since, trying to work out what they want to do and fearful of the gods, who may have hunted them down
- Elementals in general could be a side effect of the creator's death: bits of the raw stuff of creation that were left behind as the work hadn't been quite finished. Alternatively, bits of the creators blood that sank into the land and are awakened by magic. Either way, maybe the lords have acquired their sentience through a remnant of the creator's divine spark... maybe they even have some sliver of the creator's personality that has survived for eons within elementals. Whether the lords actively know of what happened to the creator, and whether it actually affects them, is another matter: they might be seeking revenge on the gods, or simply have a feeling that they should be far more powerful.

I also like the idea of elementals being fallout from the Nineís Rebellion. Problem is I already have a LOT of fall-out from the Rebellion. I need to figure out some way to make elemental fallout different from all the Spirit Fallout (Spirits are the outsider minions of the gods). Demons, salt, silver, cold iron, maybe even psionics as demonic telepathic powers filtered through the damaged Barrier to the youngest race (humans).



Turoch created the world so he could feed on the souls of the deceased. After the Nine overthrew their creator Turoch, they each fashioned a tool or weapon out of part of his body but the bulk of his essence became the Void. All that is left of Turoch is his hunger to consume all and his hunger became the Void. The Void marks the literal edge of the world at the poles. The Nine erected a barrier (creatively called ďthe BarrierĒ) to keep the Void from consuming the world but the Void leeches heat away (thatís why itís colder near the north and south pole). The Barrier weakens every year on the anniversary of Turochís death and strengthens the rest of the year (creating seasons). The Void eventually spawned demons. The demons of the Void care nothing for spreading corruption like most D&D demons. They simply want to snuff out all life, starting with those with souls.

Turochís blood fell to the world in the form of salt. Because he created the world living things need some salt to survive but too much is unhealthy or even lethal. Because of its tie with Turoch, salt is repellent to the Nineís outsider minions and most canít cross a line of salt (or at least canít cross a line of salt without enduring pain). Turochís bones became the worldís iron ore which is why cold iron harms the minions of the Nine. Silver was used at the base of the Barrier, and silver can overcome a demonís damage reduction.

Arkhosia
2013-06-29, 11:51 PM
What about his flesh?
Maybe it fell to the earth, and was then buried by earth elementals in an attempt to dispose of it. This was a mistake however, and where the flesh fell, mainly into the deep caves of the underdark, the Void would seep into the land, as the traces of Turoch's flesh contained his vile essence. It created access points to the void, which allowed demons to escape to the world and corruption to seep in as well. When the corruption touched the beings created by the Nine, they became twisted forms of themselves. Elves became Drow, doppelgangers, and Goblins, humans became orcs, minotaurs, teiflings, and ogres, plantlife became treants, dryads, nymphs, and wilden, and metals such as gold, copper, and lead became dwarves, duegar, durros, dark gnomes, genasi, and shardminds (I said the forms were twisted, not that this made evil). The nine, fearful of some of these new races, used holy magic to attempt to purge corruption, and created halflings, gnomes, goliaths, devas, and, from chromatic dragons who were corrupted, dragonborn.
Thus, the races were created.

erikun
2013-06-30, 12:27 AM
I've thought of the Elemental Planes as being partially sentient, as in they generate sentience from nothing just as they generate energy and matter from nothing. (This works just fine with D&D4e Elemental Chaos, as well.) Elementals are that latent sentience taking form into a creature. Elementals begin tiny and not thinking much, similar to insects or animals. As they incorportate more of their element into themselves and grow larger, their sentience and intelligence grows larger.

This would make elementals not much different from normal animals, beyond having different motivations. They wouldn't eat, per se, but they would want to remain in their element and keep it close as much as possible. They'd probably be territorial and could either lash out as humans or ignore them completely, depending on how they've perceived them before.

This also means that an elemental who suddenly became very large would become interestingly intelligent, although not necessarily knowledgeable. What happens when a wind elemental grows and becomes a hurricane - does it go landward out of idle curiosity, or because it fears humans will try to slay it otherwise? What does a fire elemental grown into a wildfire think, suddenly super-intelligent but realizing that it will die out when the woods are gone?

As for your Elemental Gods, how about very, very large elementals that incorporated so much of their element into themselves that they are hardly noticable? Gaia, the god of earth, and merged and become one with the ground itself. Magma, the god of fire, have retreated underground and returns to the surface to view current events. Sea, the god of water, as become one with the oceans and waterways. Wind, the god of air, is still in the sky and blowing around the planet. The dragons and gods may know of the existence of the for elemental gods and may not realize exactly what form they take, and so may be making rather unwise quests to seek them out and slay them. It would certainly make an interesting prophecy of "When the four elemental gods awaken, it shall be the end of the world."


In terms of motivations, you could consider tying their motivations/personalities into the classical four temperaments: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Temperaments#Sanguine
Interesting! I'd also like to throw out the five elements of Japanese philosophy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_elements_(Japanese_philosophy)) (void being the fifth) as another resource to build the different elemental personalities on.

Avaris
2013-06-30, 03:26 AM
I also like the idea of elementals being fallout from the Nineís Rebellion. Problem is I already have a LOT of fall-out from the Rebellion. I need to figure out some way to make elemental fallout different from all the Spirit Fallout (Spirits are the outsider minions of the gods). Demons, salt, silver, cold iron, maybe even psionics as demonic telepathic powers filtered through the damaged Barrier to the youngest race (humans).

Turoch created the world so he could feed on the souls of the deceased. After the Nine overthrew their creator Turoch, they each fashioned a tool or weapon out of part of his body but the bulk of his essence became the Void. All that is left of Turoch is his hunger to consume all and his hunger became the Void. The Void marks the literal edge of the world at the poles. The Nine erected a barrier (creatively called ďthe BarrierĒ) to keep the Void from consuming the world but the Void leeches heat away (thatís why itís colder near the north and south pole). The Barrier weakens every year on the anniversary of Turochís death and strengthens the rest of the year (creating seasons). The Void eventually spawned demons. The demons of the Void care nothing for spreading corruption like most D&D demons. They simply want to snuff out all life, starting with those with souls.

Turochís blood fell to the world in the form of salt. Because he created the world living things need some salt to survive but too much is unhealthy or even lethal. Because of its tie with Turoch, salt is repellent to the Nineís outsider minions and most canít cross a line of salt (or at least canít cross a line of salt without enduring pain). Turochís bones became the worldís iron ore which is why cold iron harms the minions of the Nine. Silver was used at the base of the Barrier, and silver can overcome a demonís damage reduction.

So, to make sure I have the existing fallout straight:
- Turoch's essence became the void, and eventually demons
- His blood became salt, and his bones iron
- the Gods created servants in the form of spirits to help in their war

I'm wondering about a rock/paper/scissors relationship with the demons and spirits. The elementals could be essentially the world's 'immune system', which was created by Turoch to combat the upstart Gods. As Turoch was defeated the elementals are a fraction of their former power, but they remain deadly to Spirits (reinforcing the iron and salt thing). Spirits were created to battle Turoch himself and subsequently the void demons, so through their use of silver are most effective against them. Finally, the demons seek are from beyond the world, and didn't exist when the elementals were created. The spirits have adapted, but as they now lack sentience the elementals don't know how, or even if, to fight the dmons.

Scalenex
2013-06-30, 03:32 PM
So, to make sure I have the existing fallout straight:
- Turoch's essence became the void, and eventually demons
- His blood became salt, and his bones iron
- the Gods created servants in the form of spirits to help in their war


Not quite, the gods created spirits to help them run the world AFTER Turoch was defeated. Spirits were created to help run the world smoothly (and let the Nine fight each other by proxy). To back them up in the Rebellion they used the very souls that Turoch demanded to be fed. The most evil of the Nine (Greymoria goddess of magic) mutilated a batch of souls so much that they would poison Turoch when consumed (the few that werenít consumed became the first undead, to complete the lich process a spellcaster must graft one of these primordial pained souls to his own). Another god Hallisan led the strongest souls as shock troops against Turoch. The few souls that survived the battle grew stronger from it becoming the first dragons. The remainder of the souls at the time (most of them) were put into an enchanted sleep and hidden by the goddess Mera. When humans and elves were created much later these souls were used as the base material.

Because I only have nine gods for the entire world (I didnít want every race or nation to have their own god), the Nine have very big portfolios. They canít be everywhere at once so they use spirits to serve their agendas on a smaller scale. Spirits are Outsiders born out of the essence of the Nine (or rarely a deceased mortal who pleased a god enough to be worthy of being infused with power and sent back as an agent). Making a new spirit temporarily weakens them (to a very small degree), so a spiritís birth is a deliberate act. Demons are Outsiders born randomly from Turochís essence. Elementals are Outsiders born from the essence of the world itself (so you could call them ďInsidersĒ instead of ďOutsidersĒ I guess).

Avaris
2013-06-30, 05:11 PM
Hrrm, definitely a lot of existing fallout from the gods! I can see why you want to be careful to keep the elementals distinct from the other types...

How much control do the new gods have over creation compared to that which Turoch had? As they can't be everywhere at once and need spirits to act for them I assume their control is limited, such that they could not fully control the forces of creation. It therefore stands to reason that said forces of creation may 'leak' into the world on occasion, hence elementals. Can even have rock/paper/scissors going the other way: the presence of the Gods (and their spirits) prevents the formation of elementals through imposing divine control of the forces of creation, the 'insider' elementals act as creation's immune system against the outsider demons, and the demons seek to bring down/steal souls from the gods/spirits.

inuyasha
2013-06-30, 05:16 PM
Slayers guide to elementals may have what you are looking for, I love it and use it quite often, and it talks a lot about this sort of thing