Elementals Species in Ulskandar | World Anvil


Beings of pure energy that may trace their origins to the dawn of time and matter themselves. They are the physical manifestation of the presence and power of magic in our world, and their abilities to control the fabric of their elements is truly astounding. There is much to learn from these creatures, if only we were not so concerned with harnessing their power for our own ends.
Extract from Ingrid Aevardottir's Corpus Animalium.

Basic Information


Elementals are beings of pure magical energy that have developed to use naturally occurring resources to sustain, grow and develop themselves. Elementals do not just ‘eat’ these resources, but they intrinsically bind themselves to them so that they can draw sustenance from the environment around them and exist in a sort of symbiotic relationship with their chosen resource. It is thought that the reason Elementals bind themselves to a natural resource is to increase their own lifespans by using the energy and of their chosen resource to act as a containment field and regulator of their energy, so that they can stabilise their physical forms. This is why the source of an Elemental’s magical energy, its heart, is always located right in the centre of their form, as an Elemental will bind material around it to afford itself as much protection and stabilisation as possible.   The four most common resources, or elements that Elementals will bind themselves to are Earth, Water, Air and Fire, though it has been known for more uncommon Elementals to have existed, tied to rarer elements. The most famous example is a mature Iron Elemental that was living in a particularly rich vein of ore beneath the city of Ebenbirn that was only removed with great difficulty. It is not known how an Elemental choses which resource to bind itself to, or even if they have a choice. What is known is that Elemental of a certain type almost exclusively begat other Elementals of the same type, e.g. an Earth Elemental will always create another Earth Elemental. However, as only a handful of Elemental ‘births’ have been witnessed by other species it is hard to draw a definitive conclusion on whether an Elemental will bind to the same elements as its parents or whether it can choose. There is no documentary evidence on record to demonstrate that Elementals of different types can’t procreate, neither is there any to conclusively disprove it.   In terms of their physical form, an Elemental’s core physique will look like an amorphous collection of their defining element. The magical energy that is the core component of an Elemental’s person allows it to manipulate their form at will, which is primarily used to give them appendages that they can use to make carrying out tasks or movement easier. Very often Earth Elementals will appear as a vaguely humanoid in form, though Air Elementals almost exclusively appear as nebulous shapes. The older and more powerful an Elemental becomes their person will be surrounded by floating particulates of their bound element that are in the process of being drawn into and attached to the Elemental’s body proper. A Greater Water Elemental for instance will have large floating spheres of water orbiting around its core form.

Genetics and Reproduction

When two Elementals of the same type come together to breed rather than engaging in a form of copulation, they will instead physically extract part of the energy that makes up their being and join it with that of their partner to create a Juvenile Elemental. This Juvenile is completely independent from the moment that the two halves that make it up are joined, and they are expected to immediately look after themselves from the moment of their creation onwards. It is highly likely that they will never see their parents again, and Elementals have no concept of parenthood or family.

Growth Rate & Stages

From the moment of their conception, Elementals of all kinds are growing in power as their hearts begin to swell and grow with the magical energy that sustains and gives them life. This growth, however, is very slow, and for good reason. If an Elemental’s heart was to grow at the same rate as say a Human child’s, then the immense magical power that it would generate would tear the creature apart before it was able to stabilise itself sufficiently by drawing in a containment field made from its associated element. This means that Elementals mature very slowly, and it can take millennia for an Elemental to develop from a Juvenile to a Greater Elemental. The defined growth levels of Elementals are rather arbitrarily assigned as they have been inferred by humanoid scholars, most notably Ingrid Aevardottir, the eminent zoologist from the Kingdom of Kjörnsholm, as opposed to having been set by Elementals themselves. In general, Elementals are classed in the following age categories:     Juvenile: 0-200 years Lesser: 200-500 years Mature: 500-1000 years Greater: 1000+ years   The older and elemental is, the more powerful it is. This not only makes Elementals incredibly dangerous the older they get, but also increasingly desirable as targets for poachers, as the hearts of a Greater Elemental can be worth many thousands of Platinum pieces.

Additional Information

Social Structure

Elementals are solitary creatures that rarely seek out the company of their kin, only doing so to breed. Because Elementals draw sustenance directly from their founding element they are very territorial and will protect their patch vigorously from incursions of other Elementals of the same type, to avoid depleting their source of sustenance. This means that Elementals are more likely to tolerate another Elemental of a different type to themselves, as they will not be drawing from the same resource base to sustain themselves.

Geographic Origin and Distribution

Elementals can be found wherever their bound element or resource is available and their range is restricted by how far they can travel and still have access to this resource. This means that Earth and Air Elementals are the most widely spread and ubiquitous of all Elementals, as they can access their core resource across Ulskandar and their range is not particularly restricted at all. The range of Water Elementals is obviously limited to areas with a large amount of standing water, and they will use river systems, seas, oceans and lakes to get around. Water Elementals have also been known to move between bodies of water when torrential rains have occurred, and given them enough of a safety net from trying out to attempt the journey. Fire Elementals are the most scarce of the four common types given the scarcity of natural continuously burning areas and they will mostly be concentrated around areas of seismic activity where they can gain access to lava.

Perception and Sensory Capabilities

Due to their intrinsic binding to natural elements, Elementals are able to exercise an incredible amount of control upon the elements that they are associated with. This control allows Elementals to manipulate and exploit the elements around them, which can be used in a constructive or offensive way. The older an Elemental is, the more powerful their abilities become. Greater Elementals are capable of staggering feats of manipulation, and there are tales from across Ulskandar of Greater Elementals causing widespread flooding, tornadoes, earthquakes and firestorms. Their close association with their element also means that Elementals can move freely through and within terrain made from their bound element. Earth Elementals for instance, can travel for miles within the ground itself, emerging where they please and almost completely undetected.

Civilization and Culture

Naming Traditions

As Elementals do not have any form of relationship with their parents, it is left up to the individual themselves to choose a name by which they can be identified. Often these names will be linked to aspects of their core element, for example a Fire Elemental might choose to call themselves by the Primordial name for ‘Ember’, ‘Flame’ or ‘Spark’. Elementals never appear to be particularly attached to names, and an individual may choose to rename themselves several times throughout their lives.

Interspecies Relations and Assumptions

Although they are classed as being a Sapient Species, Elementals are rarely treated as such by the other species that inhabit Ulskandar. Since learning that Elemental Heartsm have powerful applications for the creation of magic items, most other Sapient Species have turned to treat Elementals as a source of this valuable resource, rather than as intelligent and rational beings in their own right. In addition, the discovery that Elementals themselves can be bound to items, in a similar way that Djinn, Demons and Devils can be has further reduced the standing. Fire Elementals in particular have a particular hatred of humanoids, because they are generally the most easily bound of all the Elementals. When tempted away from their source of sustenance by a canny adventurer Juvenile and Lesser Fire Elementals can be tricked into entering a small fire, brazier or other fire filled container to rest and regain some of their energy, only to find that they are then trapped at the mercy of their captor, who can move the container to an area where the Elemental has no choice but to negotiate, or risk starving to death.   As for Elementals themselves, the persecution of their kind has led them to be very distrusting of all humanoid species that they come across, with the exception of Fey creatures with whom they do enjoy a longstanding, mutual respect, which can sometimes even be called a friendship. On the whole, when confronted with a humanoid and Elemental, especially a lesser Elemental will attempt to remain concealed first and if that fails they will almost always resort to violence, rather than risk engaging with a humanoid and potentially put themselves at risk. One of the greatest barriers to humanoid-Elemental relations is the fact that Elementals on the whole only speak Primordial, which means that it can be hard for any other than academics to actually converse with them.   Occasionally, Greater Elementals have been known to establish a form of dominance over humanoids as a pseudo-deity, using their immense, raw power to wow and cow their new subjects into submission. There is, of course a fine line that needs to be treaded here, for if an Elemental establishes to large a power-base that is too well connected to the rest of the world, it is only a matter of times before Arcane hunters are drawn to the area, looking slay the Elemental in question, and claim their heart as a very lucrative prize. This means that those Elementals that do manage to exert some sort of influence or domination over a community of humanoids will almost always do so in remote areas, or they may even attempt to disguise themselves as a minor deity or Fey spirit in order to protect and conceal their identity.
Conservation Status
The use of Elemental hearts in the production of magical items along with the rather derogatory way that the other sapient species of Ulskandar view them has meant that Elementals are regularly the targets of hunts where they are killed purely so that their hearts can be extracted and then sold on, primarily to the Arcane workshops in Zhisbon. In recent years there has been a marked decline in the number of Elemental sightings that have been reported, and some scholars, particularly those who are able to converse in Primordial have raised concern that the relentless hunting of Elementals is putting at risk a species that holds countless thousands of years of knowledge. However, Elemental hunters continue to find steady work, and in every large town and city a poster can be found advertising for willing adventurers to sign up to track and hunt a Mature or occasionally Greater Elemental that is thought to reside in the vicinity.

Cover image: by Chris Pyrah


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