Jan 162019
 

Eldritch Elementalism

This supplement clocks in at 31 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 21 pages of content, though, as always for Legendary Games, these are cock-full with content – many other publishers wouldn’t have crammed this much text on a given page.

Okay, so, in a way, this pdf represents partially a player’s option booklet, partially a GM’s toolkit that also is somewhat relevant for players…but in order to explain that, we should take one step at a time.

Upon opening the pdf, we are greeted with something I did not expect, but very much enjoyed: The book presents us with a variety of ecologies for the respective elementals for the 4 core elements. This may sound like a small thing, but to me, text like this helps getting the creative juices going, and indeed, few beings require this little help as much as elementals do…but I’ll get back to what I mean by that later.

For now, let us take a look at the two new archetypes, which both aim to fill a hole in the rules regarding elemental-themed support. The first of these would be the elemental channeler druid archetype, who receives Knowledge (planes) as a class skill and chooses an elemental focus among the 4 core elements. For the focus, the channeler gets a +1 bonus to CL when casting spells with the corresponding descriptor. This also determines the opposing element. The archetype has diminished spellcasting, but gains access to a kineticist’s simple blast associated with the chosen element, with 6th level increasing the range of the blast to 120 ft. – and another ability nets basic aerokinesis for air, geokinesis for earth – you get the idea. The elemental channeler treats the latter as at-will SPs. Nature bond, nature sense and wild empathy are lost for these abilities, though. At 3rd level, the elemental channeler can learn a 1st level utility wild talent associated with the chosen elemental focus, which becomes an at-will SP or SU, depending on the utility wild talent in question. Every 3 levels beyond that yield an additional such utility wild talent, which must be of a level equal to half the elemental channeler’s class level or lower. Instead of being governed by Constitution, they use Wisdom as governing key ability modifier, and instead of accepting burn, they are powered by expending a spell slot of a spell level equal to the wild talent’s level.

The archetype can also choose to learn the element’s defense wild talent, though here, the spell slot expenditure required is equal to the amount of burn accepted. Instead of woodland stride and trackless step, we get different abilities depending on the chosen element. Instead of resist nature’s lure, we have a bonus to spells and effects originating from elemental creatures with the druid’s subtype. A purely cosmetic hiccup: A bit of a sentence here is bolded that shouldn’t be. This does not impede functionality, though. Wild shape is altered to allow the druid to assume elemental form, counting as +2 level for the purpose of assuming the form of the chosen element, but prohibiting her from assuming the form of the opposed elemental. Instead of a thousand faces, the archetype, finally, has an apotheosis to native outsider with the chosen element’s subtype, but sans the immunity/vulnerability, and with the explicit caveat of that not hampering raising from the dead. All in all, an interesting kineticist-y engine tweak for the druid.

The second archetype within would be the elemental witch, who is locked into Elements, light, Mountains, Storms, Water or Winter as patron. The elemental witch chooses a single element to focus on, and the choice is in part determined by the patron chosen, and the elemental witch does not have an opposed element. At 6th level, the witch may choose to gain another elemental supremacy in place of a hex, and she may select several, provided they are allowed by the patron chosen. Subsequent choices after the one at 1st level are treated as witch level minus 5, though. We get custom elemental supremacy effects for each of the elements, and I was surprised to see some interesting angles here – air, for example, allows you to ignore wind effects up to a certain strength, while also providing +2 to Fly, a bonus that increases over the levels. Air descriptor spells get a +1 CL, and the supremacy includes an at-will SP, with 5th, 10th and 20th level providing upgrades in the face of additional SPs and better defensive tricks. This paradigm applies to all of these supremacies, though in different ways. Beyond supremacies aligned with the 4 core elements, we also have a supremacy for cold and storms.

At 4th level or whenever she gains a new hex, the witch may choose Improved Familiar instead, gaining an elemental patron associated with the respective patron. 6th level nets elemental shape, basically a wild shape variant for elemental shapes only. Minor complaint: One reference to elemental body I is not italicized properly. The ability upgrades at 8th, 10th and 12th level, with durations and uses per day increasing per level. The ability replaces the 6th and 12th level abilities. The archetype also may choose from among 8 unique major hexes, which include Augment Summoning elemental summoning, and the option to grant some supremacy benefits to other summoned creatures. We also have a cyclone, a crashing wave that can push targets away, etc. – these are interesting, and, you guessed it, contingent on the patrons chosen. All in all, a nice archetype!

The pdf also contains 5 feats…for elementals! Smothering Grapple is a feat for air and water elementals, and allows an elemental to suffocate grappled targets. Manifest Armaments is an overdue trick for elementals, allowing them to manifest armor and weaponry, with unique benefits depending on the elemental subtype – air elementals have weaker armor, but get scaling miss chances, for example, while earthen armor is better, but bulky, and thus subject to an increased armor check penalty.  Improved Manifest Armaments increases the range of the base feat, now allowing for the creation of medium armors and two-handed weaponry, or light and one-handed weapon at once. Cool! Manifest Earthen Bulwark increases DR granted by the armors, and unlocks heavy armor equivalents. (As an aside: The feat is called “Earthen” because it’s earth-exclusive.)

Shape Summons is a key-feat here – it’s not for elementals, but for their summoners, allowing the summoner to apply elemental templates to called elementals. This brings me to the lion’s share of the book’s content, namely what I always wanted – rules-relevant tweaks to diversify elementals, here, in the guise of a plethora of templates that may be applied to elementals. Before you ask, yes, interactions with planar ally et al. are covered, and each of the templates comes with a sample creature, many of which come with actual full-color artworks! One of these fellows you can see on the cover – it’s an air elemental with the CR +1 avian template applied, the “Roc of the Gales.” We also get templates for cephalopod elementals, exemplified in application…by the sky squid! The pdf does contain rules for the CR +2 draconic elemental template (yep, they’re indeed harder than regular elementals…) and, as you could probably deduce from aforementioned Armament feats, there is the humanoid elemental template, which, also at +1, would be a great place to note that the respective sample creatures are NOT just lazy applications of the base template. Instead, e.g. the sample humanoid elemental does make use of the new feats…and has class levels. (As a cosmetic note: The armor class-header is not bolded in the template.) Predatory elementals take the form of hunting animals and beasts, while piscine elementals – bingo, resemble fish…and yes, you *can* make a piscine fire elemental! Finally, there would also be serpentine elementals – the last three all clock in at CR +1, btw.

However, beyond these roughly creature-shape-themed elemental templates, there is more to be found within: Consuming elementals, at CR +1, can consume the elemental energy, and a kinetic blast-based breath weapon. Speaking of which: The kinetic elemental gets kineticist tricks that improve based on HD. A pleasant surprise for me was the presence of the CR +1 radioactive elemental template, which draws upon the Technology Guide’s radiation rules, with HD governing radiation strength. The sample critter here is particularly neat: We get a consuming radioactive kinetic humanoid earth elemental with invulnerable rager levels! CR 17. You *know* you want to send this fellow to kick your PC’s behinds! On the more down to earth side, the unbound elemental template at CR +0 represents a more mutable elemental.

Beyond all of these, the pdf also contains two eldritch elementals as a bonus of sorts: The Flamboyant Flame, a CR 13 humanoid fire elemental swashbuckler that masquerades as a graceful efreeti – and yes, we have notes to call this fellow via planar ally. And then there would be the endboss. If your players ever laughed about the notion of a campaign ending in a battle versus an elemental that is not a prince or, well Tharizdunian in theme, here you go: Infernatrox, the Draconic Conflagration, is an advanced draconic mythic fire elemental that clocks in at a cute CR 25/MR 10. AC 47, an ability called “Immortal Flame” that not only has him detonate upon death, but makes it possible for allies to quickly and fully revive the fellow, an ability called “Everything Burns” that bypasses all resistance and immunities of nonmythic targets and also compromises that of mythic beings…and I’m just getting started. An interesting thing about this brutal beast, though, is that it is designed to reward planning and clever PCs. Several abilities have specific means to offset them – yep, mythic characters *can*, with a clever trick, benefit from resistances and immunities versus his flames. In a way, this is a great build that is both mechanically interesting and a small puzzle of sorts. Really enjoyed this fellow!

Conclusion:

Editing is very good on a formal and rules-language level. Formatting sports a few more glitches than what I’m accustomed to see from Legendary Games, but none of them are impediments to grasping the concepts within. Layout adheres to the blue-tinted two-column full-color standard of the reign of Winter-plugins, and the pdf sports quite a few nice full-color artworks. While I had known a few before, I also found several new ones within. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Deborah Kammerzell, Chris van Horn and Jason Nelson have crafted a pdf I frankly did not expect to like. At all. When I read “elemental” on most books, I get this immediate yawn-reflex. I have seen elemental options done so often, and often so well, that I am hard to excite. However, the simple form-templates for elementals in this book really serve a niche: they provide a quick and painless, fun toolkit for the GM to finally make elementals top being so damn boring. If you have ever bemoaned that e.g. no birds of lightning, no fish of fire graced your table, here you have an array of templates that elevates elementals from boring hunks of elemental matter to actually interesting adversaries that get players talking: That eel of lightning sure was creepy, right? Anyhow, if there is a minor weakness here, then that would be that I would have loved to see a few more outré templates for the elementals. Predatory, for example, is a pretty simple one, and not all of them are equally exciting. However, that is me complaining at a high level. The pdf does have its genius moments, and some of the sample elementals indeed go above and beyond.

All in all, this represents a pleasant surprise, and as such, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars – a super-handy toolkit for GMs, and particularly if you’re too lazy to make all these small templates yourself, a real time-saver. (Plus: Sample critters rock!)

You can get these cool elementals and the related material here on OBS!

An excellent offering! Like my shiny 5-stars-icon? You can check out the artist’s designs by clicking here!

Endzeitgeist out.

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