Elemental, Generic Information
Elementals are sentient beings that can possess bodies made of one of the four
basic elements that make up the Prime Material plane -- air, earth, fire, or
water. They normally reside on an elemental Inner Plane and will only be
encountered on the Prime Material plane if they are summoned by magical means. (See Manual of the Planes for more information on the nature of the various elemental planes.) Each
elemental must adopt a shell in the Prime Material composed of the basic element
it represents. and once this shell is destroyed, the elemental will return to
its native plane. While there are many more powerful and more intelligent
residents of the elemental planes, the common elemental is the easiest to contact, and
therefore the most frequently summoned.
Their magical nature gives elementals great protection from attacks on the
Prime Material plane. Elementals are not harmed by any nonmagical weapons or
magical weapons of less than +2 bonus. Creatures with under four Hit Dice and
without any magical abilities cannot harm an elemental either. (Magical abilities
include such characteristics as breath weapons, poisons, paralysis, or even being
immune to normal weapon attacks.) Orcs, for example, are powerless against a
conjured elemental unless one happens to possess a weapon with +2 or better bonus
Though elementals do enjoy protection from many nonmagical attacks in the
Prime Material plane, like all extraplanar and conjured creatures, elementals are
affected by protection from evil spells. An elemental cannot strike a creature protected by this spell and
must recoil from the spell's boundaries. However, the elemental can attack
creatures protected by the spell as long as it doesn't touch them. For example, a fire
elemental could set the ground on fire around the creature and wait for the
blaze to spread.
Each of the four types of common elemental has its own particular strengths
and weaknesses, attack modes and method of movement, depending on its plane of
origin. These will be covered individually, by elemental type, in the next few
pages. All common elementals share one major characteristic, however. They are
basically stupid. This low intelligence makes it difficult for the elemental to
resist a magical summons. But even the common elemental is bright enough to know
it does not like being taken off of its home plane and held in the Prime
Summoning an Elemental: There are three basic ways to call an elemental to this plane, and the
strength of the conjured elemental depends on the method used to summon it:
Conjured by spell
8, 12, 16, or 21-24 Hit Dice
Conjured by staff
16 Hit Dice
Conjured by summoning device
12 Hit Dice
Obviously, the type of wizard or priest spell used to contact an elemental
will greatly effect the size of the creature on this plane. (See Player's Handbook for specifics.) Also, a conjured elemental's height (in feet) is equal to its
Hit Dice, so the method of summoning an elemental to the Prime Material plane
will also determine its size.
Each individual's use of any spell, staff, or device in contacting the
elemental planes produces a unique call. This unique summons will only be answered by
the inhabitants of a particular plane once per day. Therefore, each of the
methods of summoning elementals -- spell, device, and staff -- can be used by one
person to call only one of any specific type of common elemental per day. If a
staff is used four times in one day, for example, all four types of elementals
must be called once.
The only exception to this is a character using more than one method to call
elementals. Then, the conjurer can call a number of elementals of the same type
equal to the number of methods he or she uses. This means a person with a
device and a staff can summon two earth elementals. However, a person with two
staffs can still summon only one elemental of any specific type in one day.
Controlling an Elemental: Because the elemental will be furious at being summoned to this plane,
concentration in conjuring the creature is vital. In calling an elemental, a person
must remain perfectly still and focus all of his attention on controlling the
being. Any distraction to the summoner, either mental or physical, will result in
a failure to control the elemental when it arrives on the Prime Material plane.
Elementals that are uncontrolled and acting upon their own desires are called free-willed. If the party is lucky, a free-willed elemental will immediately return to
its plane. However, this occurs only 25% of the time.
In most cases (75% of the time), an uncontrolled elemental will immediately
attack the person or party who conjured it, also destroying anything that stands
between it and its enemies. There is no way to gain control of the elemental
once it is lost, and there is nothing the objects of the elemental's wrath can do
but defend themselves. The elemental's intense dislike of being away from its
home plane is the only safeguard those conjuring an elemental can rely upon if
the elemental runs wild. Because remaining on the Prime Material plane is
painful to any common elemental, the uncontrolled elemental will always return to
its plane of origin three turns after control is lost, whether it has destroyed
the creatures responsible for calling it away from its elemental abode or not.
There is always a 5% chance per round that an elemental is in the Prime
Material (beginning with the second round) that the creature will break control and
attack the person who summoned it. Also, if a person is wounded, killed, or
loses concentration while controlling an elemental, the creature will become
free-willed. The elemental will first attack the person who summoned it and then
destroy any living thing it can find during the three turns after control is lost.
The creature will then return to its home in the Inner Planes. A free-willed
elemental can be sent to its home plane if a dismissal spell is cast upon it, but there is only a 50% chance of success for the
spell in this situation.
A successfully controlled elemental will stay on the Prime Material only for
the duration of the spell that summoned it, and it can be controlled from a
distance up to 30 yards per level of the person who summoned it. If under control,
an elemental can be dismissed by the summoner when its task is complete.
Stealing Control of an Elemental: Control of a conjured elemental can be stolen from the person who summoned it
by casting dispel magic specifically at the magical control over the creature (not the elemental
itself or the person controlling it). Most of the normal rules for dispelling magic
apply (Player's Handbook p. 148). However, when dealing with control over an elemental, a roll of 20
by the person attempting the spell means that all control has been dispelled and
the creature is now free-willed.
If control of the elemental is stolen, the creature will follow the wishes of
the new person controlling it as if he or she summoned it in the first place.
If the dispel magic fails, the elemental will immediately be strengthened to its maximum 8 hit
points per die and the conjurer's ability to control the elemental will be
greatly enhanced, making any new attempts to steal control of the creature
impossible. Also, the elemental will recognize the person who sought to take control of
its will as a threat. If the person currently guiding the creature loses
control, the elemental will immediately attack the person who attempted to steal
control of its will -- even before attacking the person who first summoned it.