2017/03/24

OSR: The Nature and Lives of Elementals

This is what novice Elementalists are taught:


The first element to be tamed was Acid. Life struck a bargain with Acid in the very first hour of Creation. Acid crawled inside some creatures and lives there still, in the mouth or in the stomach. It tears apart our food. Not all Life agreed to the terms of the bargain. Plants rejected Acid and its benefits.

The next element to be tamed was Stone. Stone is a reluctant ally, and must be prodded and hammered into shape. There are barbarian tribes that have never learned to forge iron and rely on the strength of stone for all their tools. The alliance with Stone separates Beasts from People.

Then, came Fire. To draw metal from stone, to cook food, to light the darkness, Fire demanded a place in every home and in every land. Before the bargain, think of how few fires existed in Creation. Now they are everywhere.

Next, Water, or perhaps Water and Wind allied together. Water would carry our ships and turn our mills. Wind would propel them, and turn any devices placed in its path. These are mild bargains compared to the compacts of Fire and Stone, but winning fickle Wind and changeable Water to the cause of People was not easy.

Ice has never been tamed. Ice refuses diplomacy and devours emissaries. Plant, Beast, and People are all loathed by Ice. It would destroy us if it could.

Lightning too has never been tamed. Its place in Creation seems uncertain. Stay away from Lightning.

This is what more advanced, post-graduate Elementalists are taught:


Everything we know about the bargains of Acid, Stone, and Fire, we learned from ancient Stones. They may lie to us. Fire acknowledges that there is a bargain, but is unable to describe its terms. Acid has no memory of any agreement. Stone tells different tales. Wind only agreed to the bargain because the Church agreed that Winds, or at least the Four Great Winds, are people, and may enter Heaven. Water agreed to help us but demands continual sacrifices.

Ice once ruled the entire world.

Lightning has a place in Creation, but we do not understand it, and it does not understand us. Stay away from Lightning.

This is what Arch-Elementalists ponder during sleepless nights:


The bargains may have been exchanges. Life gave some of its Nature to the Elements, and the Elements in return gave protection to Life. This explains why Acid is bestial, Wind is personable, and Lightning is incomprehensible. Yet why is Ice similar to People in many ways?

Some alchemists have discovered Lightning lives in the brains of some creatures, including People. We have had those alchemists silenced. Also, fur and amber are involved somehow. Just as how you can summon Fire by rubbing two dry objects together, so, it seems, can you summon Lightning. Acid may also play a role. And metal. How is metal involved with any of this? Why does Acid covet some metals and spurn others?

Where does Lightning go? Does it hide in Stone? Does it live in the Air, or beyond it?

Why is there so little Acid, Fire, and Lightning in Creation, when Stone, Water, and Air are present in such great abundance? Is there another part of Creation where the proportions are reversed?

Why does Fire need to eat? None of the other Elements eat.


Why does Air weigh nothing, Fire weigh next to nothing, Acid slightly more than Water, and Stone more than all the others? When Water becomes Ice it swells (from rage) but also floats on Water. Why is this?

Why are Stones produced by volcanoes all of one type, but Stones found in other places of other types entirely? The Stones say it is because the travel deep underground in vast, slow processions, and thereby change their forms and properties. Why is this?


If you asked a novice Elementalist to explain everything, they might draw you something like this:



Except with worse handwriting. They would use a slate and chalk.

Almost everything in this diagram is wrong.

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