Thursday, January 12, 2012

Earth Elemental

In published adventures, it seems like the go-to elementals are air (for fouling flyers, especially in trap/tomb-type adventures) and water (any pool in any adventure on any world ever).  But in films and games—GalaxyQuest, Kingdom Rush, even Battle Chess for you oldsters out there), earth elementals win hands down (the hands, in this case, being crushing rock fists).  With the exception of dragons, no monster on screen looks as good as an earth elemental in full smash.

The badlands of the Meztal are so alive with the power of Earth that the animals in the area have turned to stone.  While they may have petrified, they haven’t remained still.  Visitors to the area can see earth elementals in the shapes of coyotes, bighorn sheep, and mountain lions bounding around the hoodoos with heavy, clattering footfalls—before turning, as if controlled by a single mind, to attack flesh-and-blood interlopers.

Gray elves live with time more than other elves, and the forests they love tend to carpet mountains and valleys.  So it’s no surprise they find strength and wisdom in stone—or that they guard their mountain passes with earth elementals.  The sight of a slender elf conjuror riding the shoulder of a stocky earth elemental would be comical, where it not for the elf’s ability to conjure various fog and cloud spells to confuse and trap the pair’s enemies just before the earth elemental wades into battle.

Dawn breaks to the sound of the local keep’s curtain wall collapsing.  The north wall was built on the back of a sleeping earth elemental, which awakes after 50 years’ slumber to a calling from his home plane.  The nearest portal sits at the crown of the well-warded local magus’s tower, and the elemental crudely reasons that if it can’t earth glide up the structure, it will have to smash the tower down.

Pathfinder Bestiary 122–123

For a brief glimpse of an earth elemental in fiction—as well as an underground-dwelling elf that is antisocial but definitely not a drow—look for the “dirt elf” in Michael G. Ryan’s “Time for an Experiment” in the excellent Dragon 176.

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