Ravenloft elementals are not dissimilar to their more mundane cousins. However, they are created because of an unusual interaction between the Mists of Ravenloft and the fabric of the elemental planes. Thus, they tend to absorb some of the dark aspects common throughout the land and take on an aura of the macabre not found in elementals elsewhere.
Unlike true elementals, those lurked in conjunction with the mists have no native plane to return to when their tasks in Ravenloft are done. The essences that animate them, however, are found in the mists that surround the dark domains of Ravenloft. Like true elementals, they can exist outside of the mists only in a shell of material drawn from the environment into which they are summoned.
As a rule, elementals are not very intelligent. They are aware, however, that they have been snatched away from their normal lives and forced into physical shells to do the bidding of another creature. As such, they are foul-tempered and violent when encountered and will seek, if possible, to avenge themselves upon their summoner (see below).
Combat: All Ravenloft elementals share a number of common features, many of which apply to combat situations. First, they are harmed only by magical +2 or better weapons. Similarly, creatures with fewer than 4 Hit Dice and no magical abilities are unable to harm an elemental in any way. Thus, a band of goblins would be helpless to fend off the attacks of an elemental unless they had access to a +2 or better weapon.
Unlike normal elementals, Ravenloft elementals are not held off by spells like protection from evil that ward off extraplanar creatures, for they are on their own plane in Ravcnloft. In addition, the fact that many spells intended for use against elemental creatures function differently in Ravenloft than they do in other realms makes these creatures doubly difficult to overcome.
All elementals are immune to attacks that draw on their basic natural element to inflict damage. Thus, a pyre elemental (which is a variant fire elemental) is unharmed by spells like fireball, and a grave elemental would remain unharmed by atransmute rock to mud spell.
Summoning an Elemental: There are three ways by which an elemental can be called into existence (conjured) by a wizard. These are detailed in the basic Elementals entry and will not be repeated here. The following information, however, supersedes the data presented earlier and applies only to the conjuration of elementals in Ravenloft. Much of this information is collected from various points in the Ravenloft Boxed Set.
The Dark Powers of Ravenloft restrict the free travel of planar creatures into and out of their domain. Thus, any attempt to summon a traditional elemental (air, earth, fire, or water) has a 20% chance of creating a Ravenloft elemental instead. If the materials needed to form such a creature are not close at hand, the Dark Powers provide them. Ravenloft elementals summoned by accident cannot be controlled by their conjurer and will be freewilled, angry forces when they arrive. For additional information on this, see “Controlling an Elemental” below.
Although most appearances of Ravenloft elementals are the result of a failed attempt to conjure a traditional elemental, this is not always the case. A specific attempt to conjure a Ravenloft elemental is possible, provided the caster has the materials required to form the creature's shell (soil from a grave, a funeral pyre, etc.) In fact, it is only through the purposeful summoning of a Ravenloft elemental that such a creature can be controlled by its conjurer. Such deliberate uses of the Dark Powers of Ravenloft require a Ravenloft Powers check by the summoner, with the level of the check (1-5%) being determined based on the purpose for which the summoned creature is used.
In all other ways, the process of conjuring an elemental in Ravenloft is similar to that employed outside of the dark domain.
Controlling an Elemental: As stated in the basic elemental entry, absolute concentration is required to control a summoned elemental. In Ravenloft, however, it is even more difficult to control elementals than it is in other planes. Because of this, all conjured elementals receive a saving throw versus spells at -2 to escape control on the round that they arrive in Ravenloft. If this spell fails, they are not allowed another unless a new person tries to take control of them (see below). Ravenloft elementals that are conjured by accident are automatically uncontrolled (or free-willed).
A free-willed elemental will use its first action to attempt a return to its home 25% of the time. Otherwise, it will attack the character that conjured it. Since escaping from Ravenloft is not easy, those elementals who attempt to leave instantly will fail and will then turn on their creator as well.
Spells like dismissal or banishment do not work the same way in Ravenloft that they do in other domains. The exact effects of these and other spells are described in the Ravenloft Boxed Set, but it should suffice to say that they are seldom able to send a summoned elemental out of Ravenloft.
In all other ways, control of elementals is handled the same way that it is in other realms. The exception to this, obviously, is that a summoned elemental cannot return to its home plane (as most will do after no more than 3 rounds of combat). Trapped in Ravenloft, they will do everything in their power to destroy those who brought them into that place.
A Ravenloft elemental that is successfully controlled will, of course, break free of the caster's influence at the end of the duration of a conjuration spell. Since it is unable to return to its home at this time. it will become free-willed (see below).
Stealing Control of an Elemental: Stealing Control of an Elemental: This is handled just as it is with normal elementals, save for one thing. Any successful attempt to break another's control of an elemental allows it to make a new saving throw (albeit with a -2 penalty) to avoid the control of its new master.
Free-willed Ravenloft Elementals: Free-willed Ravenloft Elementals: A free-willed Ravenloft elemental will seek to destroy the one who created it, for only by so doing can it be freed from servitude. As soon as the conjurer is slain, the Ravenloft elemental dissipates, ending any threat it might pose to others. If the summoner flees the area, it will find itself stalked by the monster until one or the other is destroyed. Because of the bond created between the two beings at the time of the summoning, the elemental will always know the location of its intended victim and can follow him no matter where he goes or what wards he erects around himself.