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Bound Elementals
Wandering Monsters
By James Wyatt

I have some more elementals to talk about this week. We've begun imagining these creatures as elemental forms that don't exist in the wild of the Elemental Planes. Rather, they're summoned to the Material Plane and bound into service in a specific form. There are three monsters in this category that we've identified so far: invisible stalkers, water weirds, and the monsters called archons in 4th Edition.

Invisible Stalker

Large Elemental
Alignment: Neutral
Level: Medium
Environment: Any

A wizard who casts a particular summoning spell (it was a 6th-level spell called invisible stalker in 1st Edition and 2nd Edition, or monster summoning VII in 3rd Edition) can call an air elemental from the Plane of Air and bind it into the form of an invisible stalker. It is composed of air and wind, and thus it is naturally invisible. As it moves through a room or across a field, its passage is visible and audible, and creatures feel its movement.

When it is summoned, an invisible stalker can be given a task to perform. If not given a task, it follows its summoner and takes no other actions. The only tasks it can perform are those that involve finding a creature or object and either destroying it or bringing it back to the summoner. As soon as its task is assigned, it knows the distance and direction to its target, and it flies off to complete the mission as quickly as possible so it can be freed of its bondage.

When we discussed this creature, we started imagining adventure possibilities. Picture the player characters sitting in a locked room admiring the haul from their latest adventure. Suddenly, the windows rattle with wind and a gust of air blows through the room. Then the precious Ruby of al-Samawat lifts up from the table, apparently of its own accord, and out the window as the shutters are smashed open by an invisible force. The gem disappears into the distance with incredible speed, and the adventurers must figure out who sent the invisible stalker after them.

Of course, having a wizard send an invisible stalker to kill a player character is a much more direct encounter, but it has just as much adventure potential, with the focus (after the initial combat encounter) being on discovering who sent the stalker—and wondering when he'll send another one.

An invisible stalker is bound to complete a single task, but if that task requires a lot of time to complete, the stalker resents its summoner and tries to pervert the intent of the summoner's command, while remaining true to the letter of the wording.

Water Weird

Large Elemental
Alignment: Chaotic evil
Level: Low
Environment: Any aquatic

Similarly, a water weird is an elemental from the Plane of Water bound into a serpentine form on the Material Plane, usually summoned to serve as guardians. While in water, a water weird is indistinguishable from the surrounding water, but it has the ability to rise up like a giant (10-foot long) snake to strike at and grab creatures outside the water. Thus, a water weird is often placed in a fountain or pool near a doorway or treasure that its summoner wants protected.

A water weird's service is longer than that of an invisible stalker, and the very fact of being wrenched to the Material Plane and confined to its bodily form twists its mind. They are bound to serve their summoners as commanded, but they are otherwise chaotic evil in every respect, delighting in causing pain and suffering to everyone else.

A water weird can slam at a creature in or within 10 feet of the water where it resides, dealing bludgeoning damage. It can also coil itself around a Medium or smaller foe and drag it into the water, where it holds the creature below the surface to drown it.

A weird is resistant to piercing, slashing, and fire damage, but cold damage slows it.

Elemental Myrmidon

Large Elemental
Alignment: Neutral
Level: Medium
Environment: Any

An elemental myrmidon—what we called archons when they were introduced in 4th Edition—is an elemental spirit called from the Elemental Planes and bound into pieces of plate armor (including, at minimum, a breastplate, bracers, and a helmet—often a full-face helmet with a terrifying face on the front). Four kinds of myrmidons exist—air, earth, fire, and water. (I'm not sure whether we'll have ice myrmidons.) They're created to serve as soldiers and guardian, for they are tireless, fearless, and utterly obedient to whoever holds the talisman used in their creation. It's virtually impossible to wrest control of them away from the holder of the talisman—they can't be charmed or dominated, for example.

Their obedience goes beyond literal-minded completion of the exact orders they're given. They are intelligent enough to interpret the intent behind their commands and figure out the best way to accomplish the tasks given them. For example, a group of fire myrmidons could be told, "Take the city," and they would go about besieging it, moving inside, and controlling zones within the city without any further orders. Elemental myrmidons don't speak, but they understand the speech of anyone holding the talisman used in their creation, and they have a limited, short-range telepathy among their own kind.

Elemental myrmidons are armed with weapons when created. Typically earth myrmidons swing great mauls, fire myrmidons wield scimitars, air myrmidons use flails, and water myrmidons use tridents. When slain, an elemental myrmidon's elemental spirit returns to its home plane while its body disintegrates.

What Do You Think?

There's a new concept here: the idea that these monsters exist only when given form and purpose by mortal spellcasters. Does that work for you? Let's hear your thoughts.

Previous Poll Results

How do you think this description oHow do you think this description of salamanders squares with their history in the game?
1—The spark has gone out. 27 3%
2—It’s a mere ember of the truth. 27 3%
3—OK, I recognize the salamander, but it needs work. 132 13%
4—You’re getting warmer. 368 37%
5—It’s on fire! (In a good way.) 418 42%
Total 972 100.0%

How do you think this description of xorn squares with their history in the game?
1—Useless mud. 15 2%
2—Boring as granite. 59 6%
3—OK, I recognize the xorn, but it needs work. 187 19%
4—It’s a diamond in the rough. 436 44%
5—Polished diamond! 264 27%
Total 961 100.0%

James Wyatt
James Wyatt is the Creative Manager for Dungeons & Dragons R&D at Wizards of the Coast. He was one of the lead designers for 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons and the primary author of the 4th Edition Dungeon Master’s Guide. He also contributed to the Eberron Campaign Setting, and is the author of several Dungeons & Dragons novels set in the world of Eberron.
Comments
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Love that we're bringing in the Archons back, but I'm going to admit, but I hate the term "Myrmidon".
  
Posted By: the_Horc (9/28/2013 7:02:30 PM)
Rating: 
0.51.01.52.02.53.03.54.04.55.0

 


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