What is an elemental?
An elemental is a being native to an elemental plane (i.e. one of those closest to Erdreja). The most common elemental planes are those of earth, air, fire and water, and the para-elemental planes of mud (between earth and water), magma (between earth and fire), mist (between air and water), and others.
In order to manifest on Erdreja an elemental must either be bound to a living pattern, or supported by magic. This leads to two types of elemental upon Erdreja, magical constructs and living elementals. Magical construct elementals are powerful but cannot exist on Erdreja for a protracted period, returning when their magical energies are diminished. Living elementals are either living beings with an elemental pattern within, or elementals with a living pattern within (most commonly the former). The elemental power is weaker, but stable.
Theoretically other patterns can be combined with elemental patterns (e.g. unliving and elemental, or demon and elemental), but without a native pattern such creatures would be unstable on Erdreja, and unlikely to come here.
Despite frequently being referred to as life or unlife ‘elementals’, beings from the plane of life or unlife are more correctly known as existentials. Elementalism may or may not work upon them.
Anima (lesser and greater): The weakest of the elemental types, but even lesser anima cannot be controlled or dismissed by a single elementalist, even one with high magic. Non-sentient unless joined with a living pattern.
Scions (lesser and greater): Powerful elementals, virtually always sentient. Difficult to dismiss or control. Greater Scions are sometimes capable of ‘cloaking’ their dismiss level from elementalists.
Overlords: Incredibly powerful elementals, capable of obliterating small armies. Almost impossible to dismiss or control. Capable of ‘cloaking’ their dismiss level from elementalists.
Elementalism is a set of spells and abilities which add to those of healers, enchanters or light incantors. Those who become elementalists gain the following powers in addition to those healing, light incanting or enchanting powers they already possess.
Detect elemental (weak/level 1 ability): sense elementals in the area, similar to detect unliving.
Discern elemental (weak/level 1 ability): Discerns the dismiss/control level of a single elemental. Greater Scions and Elemental Overlords can block this ability, meaning that the discerner gains a ‘cloaked level’ answer, and the elemental knows it is being discerned.
Dismiss elemental (incantors only; power level scales depending on power of incantor): This allows elementalists who learned via incantation to dismiss an elemental as they would an unliving. Dismiss wedges are possible (and indeed necessary due to the power of even the weakest elementals), but must be headed by an elementalist, and those within the wedge must have dismissing abilities (i.e. the wedge can contain non-elementalists, but they must be incantors, as healers cannot dismiss). Normal advanced incantor skills involving improved dismissing and improved wedges will work when dismissing elementals.
Dismissing an elemental removes it from Erdreja, sending its pattern back to the elemental plane. Living elementals will also be dismissed. Normally the living pattern is sent to the plane of life as the entire being is dismissed, but sometimes a possessing elemental may be driven out, leaving a living being behind. Such is the subtle difference between elemental possession and a living elemental.
Control Elemental (power level scales depending on power of elementalist): This ability controls an elemental for approximately ten minutes, during which it can be commanded to do anything, including commit suicide or leave the plane (if able). This ability is taken as serious as Beguile etc. by the healers guild and the militia. The ability to control elementals is available to all elementalists, and works similarly to dismiss elemental in that wedges can be formed, and advanced incantor wedge skills work for elementalists.
Cure Elemental (strong/level 2 ability): This ability fully cures one location of an elemental being. Living elementals can usually be cured by healers or light incantors in the normal way, but the elemental cure works on magical construct elementals, as well as living elementals with aberrant or alien patterns.
Elementalists may summon elementals using ritual magic. This allows elementals to be brought from their own planes to serve the elementalist. The normal restrictions and risks of a ritual apply. In addition, powerful elementals may choose to lower the amount of power required for their summoning, either to serve their allies or to destroy unwary ritualists.
Normally a ritual will simply summon an elemental, which is then negotiated with or controlled by elemental wedge. Certain rituals may control elementals as part of the ritual. As with normal ritual magic anything is possible – in theory.
The traditional pre-cataclysmic role of mages as elementalists is still possible using ritual magic, but only healers, incantors and enchanters may learn the art of controlling elementals they did not summon, as well as detecting, discerning and curing them.