Elemental Beast (Athas), General Information

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Elemental Beast (Athas), General Information

The elemental beast is a creature of low intelligence that is native to one of the four elemental planes. The physical form of the elemental beast is composed of one of the four elements - earth, air, fire, or water. The beast is composed of only the purest elemental material and there is no substance within it other than its native element.

The only proven way of transporting the elemental beast to the Prime Material Plane is by some magical means such as a rod, staff, wand, or spell. There are, however, myths of these beasts appearing near areas of intense “elemental activity” (an elemental beast of water would appear in the center of a whirlpool). Magical researchers have developed a theory that as the energy from a natural elemental occurrence (hurricane, tornado, whirlpool, firestorm. earthquake) reaches an extreme intensity, a temporary rift can develop between the Prime Material Plane and the elemental planes that release elemental beasts.

When summoned to the Prime Material Plane, only the “elemental essence” or life force of the elemental beast is brought forth. Therefore, the beast must adopt forms of its element that are available on that particular plane. The prime planes are all made from the various mixes of the four basic elements, and therefore each element is available everywhere on the prime planes. However, because the elements are all combined, the elemental beast is less “pure” and therefore less powerful than if it were encountered on its home plane where the base element is of the purest nature.

This impurity also causes the beast pain that varies by the degree to which its element is contaminated with other material. An elemental beast of water that is summoned near a bog or swamp would likely be in extreme agony while the same creature summoned near a spring-fed lake would experience a lesser degree of discomfort. Extreme pain causes the beast to enter a rage that, if unchecked, could cause it to turn on its summoner.

As only the elemental essence is brought to the Prime Material Plane, a beast is impervious to certain attacks. An elemental beast is immune to all physical attacks that are nonmagical. Magical attacks include such natural abilities as breath weapons, gaze attacks, poisons, paralysis, and other innate powers. No creature of less than 4 HD can harm the elemental beast without magical assistance.

The mind of the elemental beast is very different from beings of the Prime Material Plane. An attempt to control or contact these beasts psionically causes the psionisist to enter a trancelike state. During this time, the individual babbles, screams, and wails, but does not speak. This state lasts for 3-18 (3d6) rounds and then the psionicist enters a comatose state for 3-30 (3d10) hours. When he wakes he has no recollection of the events that transpired between the attempted contact and his waking.

An elemental beast is susceptible to spells and magical items that affect such creatures. Protection from evil spells and devices that create such effects protect the target from the creature. While the beast cannot touch or enter areas protected, it can affect the surrounding areas and cause damage using methods that require no contact. For example, an elemental beast of air could create a whirlwind that surrounds the target, causing the victim to be pelted with debris and suffer the appropriate damage.

On its home plane, an elemental beast is highly sought by the genie races as a pet, guardian, or hunting companion. The beast truly excels as a hunting companion. Its sensitivity to impure elements makes it an excellent tracker. This tracking ability only applies on its home plane since prime worlds are far too impure and create too much white noise for the creature to use this ability effectively. This sensitivity is so keen that the beast can even track natives of the plane if they have a physical form that contains any material not of the purest element.

Summoning an Elemental Beast: Elemental beasts are summoned using a variant of most spells that are capable of contacting and summoning an elemental. Devices that summon or affect elementals have the same effect on elemental beasts unless otherwise noted. For example, a censer controlling air elements also controls elemental beasts of air, but a ring of air elemental control only effects creatures other than air elementals making their home in that plane.

As with the standard elemental summoning, each individual casting a spell or using a device creates a unique signature that is answered only once per day by creatures residing in the inner planes. There are three basic methods used to summon the beasts, a spell, a staff, or a device. An individual can use multiple methods to summon elemental beasts from the same plane. For example, a summon elemental spell can only call one elemental beast of air per day, but the same individual can use a staff or a device to summon another air beast. However, the same individual with multiple devices, even if they are different types of magical items, can only summon one of a given type of elemental beast per day using these devices.

Controlling an Elemental Beast: Once the elemental beast has been brought to the Prime Material Plane, it must be controlled. With most spells and devices this is an aspect of the summoning that is incorporated into the casting. However, if something happens to the summoner to distract him, there is a 75% chance he loses control of the beast. The summoner must maintain concentration for the entire duration of the spell or until he has communicated with the creature and given it its mission.

For every round the elemental beast is on the Prime Material Plane there is a 1% cumulative chance that it breaks free of control and becomes freewilled. At this point there is a 50% chance that the freewilled beast attacks the summoner, his party, or the closest creature if the summoner is not at hand. A beast that doesn.t attack runs off to look for an environment suited to its nature. Such loss of control happens even if the creature has been sent on a mission and direct control has been removed. If an elemental beast becomes free-willed while on a mission. there is no way to regain control and it begins a rampage that ends only when it is sent back to its home plane, it is destroyed, or 24 hours has passed since entering the rage.

If the elemental beast becomes free-willed at any time other than while fulfilling its quest, the summoner can regain control by successfully casting a charm monster spell or a speak with monster spell followed immediately by a charm spell. Other spells that work to temporarily stop the beast from rampaging are hold monster and imprisonment. A banishment spell can send a free-willed creature back to its home plane.

There are precautions that can be taken when summoning a beast that ease control. The summoner can try to make the beast experience less pain in being summoned by acquiring the purest form of the correct element. Ten cubic feet of the element is required for this to have any affect on control as the beast assimilates the finest specimens to create its new body. An elemental so created has half (rounded up) the chance of becoming free-willed. Only five cubic feet of material is needed if the substance used is from the elemental plane from which the beast is summoned. In this case, the chance of breaking control is only 25%. It is possible for another individual to arrest control of an elemental beast from the summoner. A dispel magic spell cast at the individual who summoned the beast, if successful, breaks the bond between the two beings and transfers that control to the caster of the dispel magic. Rules for casting dispel magic are identical to those on page 148 of the Player's Handbook except that on a roll of 20, the elemental beast becomes free-willed.

If control of the elemental beast is transferred to a new individual, the beast obeys his commands as if he were the original summoner. If the transfer falls, the beast's hit points are increased to the maximum 8 hit points per die. A failure also augments the bond between summoner and beast and no further attempts to seize control succeed. If the summoner loses control of the elemental beast, the creature remembers the person attempting to gain control of it and attacks him even before attacking the summoner.

Missions: Elemental beasts summoned to the Prime Material Plane can be petitioned to provide one service for the summoner. Because of the low lntelligence of these creatures, they can understand only simple commands of no more than a few words. While on this mission, there is no need to control the elemental. It is single-minded in its quest and does not stop until either the service is complete, it becomes free-willed, it is destroyed, it is sent to its home plane, or the spell lapses. For a spell caster to succeed in sending the beast on the quest, he must cast a charm monster. The caster must also have some means of communicating with the creature, such as a speak with monster spell or a helm of telepathy. To bind the deal, the summoner must provide a gift of a gem worth at least 1,000 gp. If the caster achieves all of this criteria, he then rolls a 1d20 for a Charisma check. A successful roll indicates that a deal has been struck and the beast provides one service. If the attempt fails, there is a 25% chance the elemental beast breaks control to become free-willed. Only one mission can be attempted per summoning.

Returning to the Elemental Planes: Returning to the Elemental Planes: Elemental beasts have no innate ability to return to their home planes. They look to the summoner to return them home. The ease of control and increased safety of the summoning might be explained by the creature's inability to return home and a fear of being stranded on a strange and hostile world.

Following a mission or when the original purpose of the summoning has been completed, elemental beasts return to the controller to be dismissed. If the controller is unable or unwillmg to return the beast home, the beast immediately attacks the individual. All such attacks are made as if the beast were in a berserk fury and are made at +l, but the AC has a -1 penalty.

Stranded beasts seek out a less hostile region until some means of return presents itself. This might be the source of many of the “mythical” elemental beasts that have been seen inhabiting the Prime Material Plane.

Free-willed Ravenloft Elementals: Elemental Beasts on Athas: Athasian priests often prefer to summon elemental beasts to their elemental counterparts. In this case, the beasts are slightly more controllable and can even be sent on a mission with little or no supervision. Also, the effect the elemental beasts have on any psionicist attempting to communicate with the creatures allows greater control.

Some elemental beasts stranded on Athas are quite disadvantaged compared with most prime planes. The harsh climate and terrain make both water elemental beasts and air elemental beasts uneasy. There are few places on Athas where the water beasts can survive for long and the frequent sand and dust storms cause air elementals extreme pain and fury.

If an Athasian is an elemental priest or a wizard and has the ability to communicate with an elemental and the ability to return it to its home plane, the beast can frequently make a deal. As with all communication with an elemental beast, the concepts must be simple and clear or the beast becomes confused and possibly attacks the Athasian (25% chance).

While all elemental beasts are rare on Athas, fire elemental beasts have been known to exist in areas of volcanic activity. Some earth elemental beasts have been reported in the rocky badlands and the mountains.