Elementals, again (A to Z Challenge, E)6 April, 2016
Some background, Elementals are one of the classic creatures in fantasy roleplaying but the first game I really remember them from is RuneQuest which named each of the types of elemental (air elementals were sylphs, fire, salamanders and so on) which I found very evocative, as was the art of a sorcerer summoning a salamander. AD&D gave us elemental planes, which I now find very strange, as the world is composed of elements, several of the Ancient Greek philosophies in fact explicitly define everything as being built from the four elements.
For the Sea of Stars, Elementals are the elements awoken and they share the characteristics we think of when anthropomorphizing them, fire is hungry, earth is plodding, air is flighty, and so on. This is further modified by what particular element is awoken, a water elemental composed of wine will be quite different in personality then one made of sea water from Shipwreck Bay.
Elementals can be awoken for a short period or bound into a permanent form depending on the needs of the elementalist. Entire technologies can be built around using bound elementals (such as the earth elemental road crew encountered in Petrichor) but elementals are ‘living’ creatures in their own way and must be treated with some care or they will rebel or escape, though how the elemental must best be treated varies considerable from elemental to elemental.
Elemental shaping, manipulation and binding is a reoccurring theme among the uses of magic in the Sea of Stars as it is a relatively reliable and easy to systematize magical schema.
Some of my earlier thoughts on elementals can be found here.