Becoming a Elemental
To become an Elemental your character must have a pre-existing affinity for a specific element. An affinity of this sort is more than simply liking swimming, or enjoying being near the warmth of a fire; it is much more fundamental and core to someone's being. A farmer tilling the earth doesn't just appreciate the soil, he depends on it for his livelihood. A sailor cannot hope to complete his or her voyage without aid from the oceans and the wind. From these sorts of connections a true affinity can be born.
The process to become an Elemental usually starts unintentionally, with the person in question continuing to become ever more intertwined with their elemental affinity. There is no set path that must be followed, but both breadth and depth are required. It is not enough to merely make use of an element for one's work, it must be more. An experienced mountain guide who can feel subtle shifts that might lead to avalanches, a forge worker who knows exactly how long the metal must be subjected to the heat and flame without having to check, and a sailor who can feel the winds shift before they happen are all examples of small ways this process can begin.
Elementals are the direct and primal manifestations of their elements. Becoming one is a massive transformation that radically changes the one who undergoes it, and it cannot be undone by any means. As such, it requires a tremendous amount of existing elemental power that only exists in a limited number of places. The transformation can also be initiated by another elemental, but such an occurrence is much less common than the alternatives. Some transformations are triggered by a life-threatening event involving the element the mortal has bonded with, while others become so magically attuned to their element that they are able to trigger the transformation by absorbing elemental energy from a powerful natural font. There are innumerable possible catalysts so these examples are by no means exhaustive; each Elemental follows their own path to this destination.Traits of a Elemental
Elementals are afforded many boons upon completing their transformation, some of which are obvious and some of which are quite subtle.
- Physical Form: Simply put, an Elemental is their element. They do not have "true" forms in the sense of having one base appearance. The closest approximation to one would be a sentient, moving mass of their element. Elementals do have the capability to shift their forms into an imitation of their former selves, but any such imitation will be influenced by the traits of their element. For example, a former human who became a fire elemental would have much more vividly colored hair, eyes, and likely some traces of flames about them despite having shifted their form.
- Elemental Dominion: Any and all manifestations of the elements are the domain of the Elementals. Weather patterns and other natural phenomena are inherently linked to the existence and power of Elementals. Much of this occurs on a subconscious level as Elementals release some of their tremendous power automatically unless they are deliberately suppressing it, but it can also be done on purpose. A vengeful Elemental can bring the wrath of their element down upon those who have stoked its ire via brutal ice storms, raging fires, mud-slides, or tornadoes, while a benevolent Elemental could instead bring nourishing rain, cleansing forest fires, fertile soil, and favorable winds. Mortals praying for favor with an element hope dearly for the latter.
More generally, any and all feats utilizing their element are within the capabilities of an Elemental given enough effort. This is different from the magic of mortals and even Ancients in that it is simply an extension of the Elemental's being. When an fire Elemental calls forth a burst of flame to incinerate an enemy they are using a part of themselves as a weapon. Smaller scale exertions of this sort are close to automatic, but calling forth a firestorm in an attempt to engulf a city would require considerably more effort, in addition to leaving the Elemental greatly drained after the fact. To do this the Elemental must actively draw power from Aitheri, a process that is neither simple nor entirely safe. It is even possible for an Elemental to dissipate their physical forms for a time if they attempt to perform a feat too great in scope. If this occurs the Elemental will eventually reform, but they will be greatly diminished for an extended period of time afterwards.
- Physical Impermeability: If you swing a sword through a stream what happens? The water parts around it. The same concept applies here; unless your weapon could normally harm the element in some way the Elemental will be less affected by it than a normal entity. That is not to say that Elementals do not feel pain due to physical impacts, but they must be greater in scope or magically influenced to impart any lasting damage. Attacks that exploit the weaknesses of an element, using electrically charged attacks against a Water Elemental for instance, will find more success than mundane alternatives.
- Zone of Extension: Elementals naturally collect energy flowing out from Aitheri, pooling it within themselves to prevent these forces from running rampant across the realm around them. However, they cannot completely contain these energies without effort. As such, unless an Elemental actively suppresses it, some of this energy will leak out into the world around them. It is only a tiny fraction of the total power that remains otherwise contained but it is still enough to affect a region around the Elemental. People in this area will feel they are in the presence of something abstractly "large", though only the more magically attuned among them will be able to discern the cause. The physical environment around the Elemental is also warped slightly by this phenomena, becoming more reflective of the nature of the Elemental causing it. For example, a Wind Elemental's immediate surrounding region would begin to experience gust level winds before long, while a Fire Elemental would cause temperatures to rise and eventually small fires might break out nearby. The size of this zone varies from Elemental to Elemental depending on their individual power and exertion, but is typically no bigger than 100 meters in diameter. It is possible for an Elemental to suppress this effect, but it requires active exertion and cannot be maintained indefinitely.
- Primal Mind: The process of becoming an Elemental fundamentally changes the mind of the one who goes through it. While many aspects of their mortal minds do remain, they become firmly intertwined with will of Aitheri and the deific elemental manifestations. One consequence of this modification is that it makes it impossible for psionic magic to have any effect on an Elemental unless the wielder is both exceptionally powerful and highly familiar with the mind of the Elemental being targeted. Even a powerful psion unfamiliar with the mind of an Elemental would find it eldritch and bizarre in nature, unable to separate the mortal aspects from the Aitherian, while those with knowledge but insufficient power would find their attempts too feeble to penetrate the powerful magic surrounding an Elemental.
Not all that glitters is gold, and becoming an Elemental exacts some tolls upon any that complete the process.
- Singular Existence: Tremendous power within the domain of their element comes at the cost of any access to other elements or other forms of magic. A Water Elemental cannot use fire magic under any circumstances, even if they were fully capable of it prior to their transformation. Most would be adversaries will not have the sheer power necessary to take advantage of this, but sufficiently powerful and cunning opponent could make use of the limited scope of an Elemental's powers to attack their weaknesses (e.g. using potent water magic to assault a Fire Elemental).
- Loss Of Self: As Elementals age they naturally lose touch with their former selves unless they take deliberate steps to prevent this. There many ways to stave off the slow loss of individuality, but because Elementals naturally become much less like their former mortal brethren it can be very hard to maintain connections to the world at large that might otherwise help an Elemental retain their sense of self. Additionally, if an Elemental is forced to dissipate their physical form due to either overexertion or severe injury this effect is greatly accelerated to an almost irreversible degree.
Furthermore, upon becoming an Elemental beings will lose touch with some of their past motivations and desires as a result of the changes to their minds. Someone who may have sought the transformation for the sake of gaining more power might well lose interest in their original motivation for seeking that power in the first place, and other mortal desires may start to seem trivial or ersatz. Particularly deeply held goals and desires will most likely be maintained after the transformation, but even they will be twisted by exposure to Aitheri and the deific elemental manifestations' power.
Restrictions to becoming a Elemental
- Environments: While Elementals are never cut off from their element due to their constant connection to Aitheri, they will be less powerful when in an environment bereft of their element. It is much easier for an Elemental to manipulate an element that is already present near them then it is for them to summon forth great amounts from Aitheri, so starving an Elemental of supplemental "fuel" can restrict the scale of feats they would be capable of. Valleys with restricted air currents for Air Elementals, deserts with little to no water and nothing but sand and dead land for Water and Earth Elementals, and wet or otherwise fire-retardant environments for Fire Elementals are some examples of this.
- Racial: Any mortal race can undergo the transformation into an Elemental, with the exception of those afflicted with lycanthropy or vampirism.
- Class: There are no class restrictions to becoming an Elemental.
- Faith: Those who are exceptionally devout are much less likely to be able to form the bonds necessary to initiate the transformation into an Elemental. It is not explicitly impossible, but it is exceedingly difficult to do without diminishing ones devotion to the Gods in some form or another.
- For the sake of clarity, it is outright impossible for an Elemental to be harmed by an attack based in their own element. No matter how powerful the attack might be, whether it be from an Ancient or an Avatar of Jherad, an Elemental's dominion over their element is so absolute that any attack of that ilk will fail to cause any damage. Furthermore, because the power of an Elemental is drawn directly from Aitheri their energies cannot be used by others to fuel their own spells, and any who try would be in grave danger of injuring themselves due to exposure to the otherwise unrestrained energies in Aitheri.
- Original Concept and Write-up: Vyse