Elementals, in general and in the Sea of Stars

28 May, 2012

I had mention in an early post that the elemental realms (elemental plane in D&D terms) still interacted with the Sea of Stars, but I have decided this is not longer so as there are no elemental realms anymore.  Not as it “they have been destroyed” but rather, that they never existed.

Elementals All


Reading James Maliszewski‘s It’s Elementary article reminded me about the origin of elementals in D&D and that the elemental planes were a later addition to the D&D cosmology which may have some literary antecedence in Moorcock’s works but I am not sure.

In retrospect, the elemental realms is a concept that is not needed for the Sea of Stars as the realms beyond simply do not play a major role in that setting.  In the Sea of Stars, an elemental is the awakening of the essence of that element, a spark of life and intelligence, but rarely full sentience, imparted to an element.  So, the elements are not summoned, only the animating spark.

Therefore, to create an elemental you need:

  • Magic to create or summon the animating spark.
  • The element you are awakening.  The larger the elemental you wish to awaken, the more of the element you need.

A candle flame will get you the tiniest of fire elementals, while a bonfire or furnace can create quite a large one (if you have a powerful enough animating spark).  If you are at sea, you summon a (salt) water elemental, the same spark will give you a snow or ice elemental in the arctic, or a beer elemental in a brewery.

However lack of the element prevents an elemental from forming.  You cannot create a fire elemental without flame already present.  Equally, an elemental will take the easiest form, that is the one composed of the simplest version of the element, water before wine, earth before stone, clear air before smoke and so on.

Elemental creatures exist because magic spontaneously generate these elemental sparks, giving life to the lifeless and animation to the inanimate.  A powerful enough spark or an elemental that survives long enough may achieve some form of sentience.  Other flashes of elemental sparks may cause such to bond to a living creature forming a hybrid being, some of these live short and painful lives, others thrive.

Of course, there are six recognized elements in the Sea of Stars, but that is a post for another time . . .

Notes: Image from by Ratomir Wilkowski from Wikimedia Commons and used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

More thoughts on Elementals here.


  1. This definitely feels like the Sea of Stars setting that I remember so fondly. It particularly reminds me of that wizard’s tower that I think we traversed by teleport? I’ve forgotten the guy’s name, except that I think he was someone-or-other Oakheart. =)

    Some kind of random questions – do you include elder elementals in this same scheme, and simply require a truly epic amount of the element to create one of those? (I sort of liked using elder elementals as the wise and knowledgeable ones that can teach the PCs things, and that probably each have names of their own.) I can imagine higher-end spells that both animate the elemental and summon the sentience of the elders, based on using that individual elder’s name.

    Also, I like hearing about cosmological systems other than the Aristotelian four elements, so I’m curious to hear about your six and their mystical correspondences.

    • Zardarian was the wizard’s name, he has camoed in a few later adventures.

      Summoning/awakening an elder elemental would be an interesting accomplishment, not something easy to do though. Most elder elementals would be those that have continued on slowly gaining power and wisdom, they may have been created originally or emerged spontaneously, but they have survived. There is certainly enough ambient magic to maintain elementals over centuries in the Sea of Stars. It would be a task to find one and then convince it to communicate with you however.

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