View Full Version : Air Elemental tactics

2007-03-04, 11:07 AM
When the secret access panel swings open, you’re hit with a blast of air. Looking in, you can see a narrow crawl space that spirals downward, a worm’s version of a staircase. As you squeeze down through the passage, the rush of wind continues until you emerge suddenly on a narrow iron catwalk which appears to hang in empty space, for the place is wreathed in dense fog, fog which rushes past your face propelled by the wind. The catwalk runs down a steep flight of stairs, but you can’t see past the first 10 feet. When characters step further, As you inch out along the walkway, you’re clinging tightly to the guard rails, though they’re slippery with moisture, for the wind whistles fiercely through the metal rungs, and it feels almost strong enough to sweep you off your feet and out away into empty space.

It turns out, of course, there is a Greater Air Elemental lurking around the room (or possibly a Huge one; the party is 5 characters lvl 7-9, and putting them out on a slippery catwalk puts them at a bit of a disadvantage). The room is irregularly shaped, but for simplicity assume it's 50x50x50 ft. What tactics would you employ for the elemental?

I was thinking it wouldn't strike until the characters are partway down the stairs, where they're most vulnerable. And that it would strike first in its whirlwind shape, picking up as many of the characters as it can (Ref save made at some penalty due to slippery railings), carrying them up near the ceiling and ejecting them for 5d6 falling damage. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I figure it can pick them up from the catwalk on one round and then eject them on the following round, while it would take an extra round for it to lift characters on the ground all the way up to the cieling.

I also figure it could choose to do extra damage (+2d8?) to characters caught in the whirlwind by moving them through the catwalk, though in doing so it would also afford characters an additional opportunity to escape by grabbing hold (making a Ref save, again at some penalty due to slippery railings).

I'm not clear what kind of Spot roll to give characters to recognize that this isn't just any normal whirlwind but an elemental that can be attacked. I gather that characters caught in the whirlwind can attack the elemental, though they take -2 on attacks plus an additional -1 due to its Air Mastery since they are airborne creatures (or does Air M only apply when the elemental is fighting chreatures that are independently airborne?).

Finally, I'm reconsidering the placement of fog: I'd assumed that an air elemental, given its intimate connection with all the air in the room could feel/sense characters as soon as they moved into the room (giving it Blindsense or even Blindsight), but I find that the MM entry gives Air Elementals just Darkvision. What's up with that?

2007-03-04, 12:07 PM
Of course, you can give the elemental blindsense if you want, but it might be fairer to just let it make listen checks to locate characters in a fog-filled room. Normally, I'd suggest that a whirlwind would disperse fog, but if there's nowhere for the fog to go...

I like the idea of moving the vortex through the catwalk - it makes sense as a tactic, but also gives the players whose characters are in the vortex more options.

I'd give the PC's a relatively easy shot at noticing that this is no normal whirlwind - perhaps a DC 15 spot to notice intelligent control, DC 10 knowledge (Planes) to figure out what it is.

For added nastiness, remember that my reading is that the air elemental doesn't need to stop or make attack actions in vortex mode, just move through a square occupied by a character. Even if it only has an approximate sense of where the characters are, covering 20 squares in a round means that it can effectively sweep the bottom for dropped characters in a round (getting close enough to see most of the squares in fog) and pick one or more characters up. Next round, it rises through the catwalk, snags one or two that are up there, and moves back down again. Nasty.

Good ideas! Wish I'd had them in my last session.

One other tactic, if you don't mind throwing in some magic cheese. If there's a way to add Silence to the elemental, its movements become much more difficult to track, and it's practically impossible for a spellcaster to escape the vortex.