Elements of [Whiteleaf] - discussion welcome

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willpell
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Elements of [Whiteleaf] - discussion welcome

Post by willpell » Tue Dec 15, 2015 12:05 am

There are no "para-elementals" in Whiteleaf; the classic Four Elements each have an opposite (known as a tertiary element, or sometimes as an "antiment"), and combinations of any two of the primaries (called "secondaries" or "blends") are considered elements in and of themselves. Sixteen Elemental Realms orbit the Prime Material Plane, comprising every combination of 0-4 of these "building blocks" for reality, their metaphysical relationships symbolized by a three-dimensional diagram called the Merkaba. (The scientific name for the shape is "stellated octahedron".)

* Fire's opposite is Cold. It is considered to incorporate Air, Earth and Water.
* Fire and Air combine to form Lightning. Water and Earth blend into Wood.
* Air's opposite is Pestilence, also known as Rot or Toxin. It includes Water, Earth and Fire. Acid is among the manifestations of this element.
* Air and Water juxtaposed produce Cloud. Fire and Earth can be fused into Metal.
* Water's opposite is Sand, which also manifests as Glass and is considered to symbolize Time. It contains roughly equal quantities of Air, Fire and Earth.
* The seeming opposites Water and Fire truthfully cooperate to generate the element of Flesh (despite its apparent solidity, the substance of animal bodies is not regarded as a manifestation of Earth). Whereas Air and Earth, when likewise combined, produce elemental Sound, a "substance" which is completely un-solid, existing only as vibrations within a medium, yet capable of exerting the purest form of Force, when properly concentrated.
* Earth's opposite is the immaterial ephemera of Spirit. Comprising Air, Water and Fire, it is the definition of "insubstantial", and its nature is one of symbolism made manifest.
* The utter absence of any elemental substance is referred to as the "element" of Void itself. Whereas a pure combination of all four elements, such as that found in the Flux Realm of Limbo, is spoken of as a Storm, and Storm Elementals contain all four elements, albeit that their Earth component is highly attenuated.

(I have been trying to come up with a fully consistent elemental system for a decade and a half; this is the closest I've come, and I still have issues with it.)

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Re: Elements of [Whiteleaf] - discussion welcome

Post by Ashtagon » Tue Dec 15, 2015 6:17 pm

Interesting. reminds me of something a guy going by smileylich did a while back.

Before making a really complicated elemental system, I'd want to consider what role I want the elements to have within the setting. From that, the rest should write itself.
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Re: Elements of [Whiteleaf] - discussion welcome

Post by willpell » Tue Dec 15, 2015 8:45 pm

Ashtagon wrote:Interesting. reminds me of something a guy going by smileylich did a while back.
Fairly neat, although he obviously is more okay with "trivial" elements than I am. My objective was to use only really major categories ("Cloud" needs to go out of the above list, as soon as I figure out something else to replace it). The fact that he used "sugar" and "alcohol" as elements amuses the hell out of me, but is definitely not consistent with what I'm doing.

Can't believe I forgot Light, which is a much better fit for Fire+Air than Lightning. (Associating Lightning with Air has never really made much sense to me. Light at least connotes a similar "omnipresent yet easily goes unnoticed" vibe which suits Air.) I could also use Radiation, although it's not very "fantasy". The last time I sat down and tried to figure out how to add a sixth energy-damage type to the game (not that Acid should count, and you could easily just make Alkali separate, but anyway), Radiation damage was the only thing that made sense to me as counting as its own "thing", the way Fire and Cold and Electricity do.
Before making a really complicated elemental system, I'd want to consider what role I want the elements to have within the setting. From that, the rest should write itself.
I already have an instinctive sense of what I'm going for; the hard part is verbalizing it sensibly.

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Re: Elements of [Whiteleaf] - discussion welcome

Post by willpell » Mon Dec 21, 2015 1:00 pm

"Cloud" is clearly the weakest candidate among all of these elements, especially given that I also have Storm along with both Cloud and Lightning. Such redundancy should be avoided at all costs. A possible solution is to treat Cloud not as being just water vapor, but also symbolically connected to Quantum Forces, the same way I tied Sand to Time. Thusly, it could actually be "Probability Cloud", and its elemental effects could pretty much all be based on the layman's misinterpretations of chaos theory and the Observer Effect and so forth.

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Re: Elements of [Whiteleaf] - discussion welcome

Post by willpell » Fri Jan 08, 2016 5:49 pm

Given that I'm using Fire+Air for Light, do you guys think you would buy Earth+Water as being Shadow? Both of them are things that you can be "under" and probably in the dark, and Shadow is one of the most obvious "extra" elements, although it's also questionable in terms of the existence of a Shadow Plane, and the whole Shadow Magic subsystem, which currently has no particular ties to any element.

I'm also looking at making a Wax or Resin element, as the closest fantasy approximation of Plastic, which is one of the most obvious "elemental" substances that is currently not accounted for.

In general, figuring out what I feel like should qualify as an element is hard; if it requires too much explanation, it's not "pure" and primal enough to really deserve the term. Yet it bugs me to have, say, Magma elementals which are considered distinct from Fire elementals, because they also contain Earth, when the most distinctive trait of Earth is its solidity, and the most distinctive trait of Fire is not being a form of matter, so distinguishing between Fire and Magma elementals seems kind of pointless - a fire elemental has to have some sort of substance, since you can damage it, so how does substituting molten rock for that substance change things on some grand essential scale? I have similar problems with all the other hybrid elements other than Cold, which is why I tend up bending over backwards like this.

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Re: Elements of [Whiteleaf] - discussion welcome

Post by Ashtagon » Fri Jan 08, 2016 6:24 pm

"Welcome to the elemental plane of resin" tells me more or less nothing.

"The Plane of Resin has these environmental effects. In particular, due to the way the plane increases natural build-ups of wax, characters must make a Fort save each hour or suffer a cumulative -2 penalty on all Listen checks (becoming deaf when the penalty reaches -10). Ptui'blisidi is the elder elemental god of resin, and his home is a giant castle made of earwax. Resin elementals are malodorous in the way only a troglodyte can be, and are vulnerable to fire (+50% damage, regardless of saving throws). Now that tells me more that I probably wanted to know.

It's not what elements you have. It's how you populate the planes and make them places to visit rather than just names on a map.
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Re: Elements of [Whiteleaf] - discussion welcome

Post by willpell » Fri Jan 08, 2016 6:41 pm

Thanks a lot for completely ruining my concept, Ash.... :roll:

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Re: Elements of [Whiteleaf] - discussion welcome

Post by Ashtagon » Fri Jan 08, 2016 7:53 pm

willpell wrote:Thanks a lot for completely ruining my concept, Ash.... :roll:
That's nothing. You should see what I did to someon'e discussion of centaurs once.

Yes, I took ranks in Craft (disturbing image). :twisted: ^_^ :halo:
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Re: Elements of [Whiteleaf] - discussion welcome

Post by willpell » Fri Jan 08, 2016 8:06 pm

That on the other hand is awesome. I won't use it, since I'm a tremendous fan of the traditional centaur (and more conventional modern methods of perverting it), but it's pretty dang cool.

EDIT - And now a look at the predecessor thread to it has gotten me determined to massively improve the position of centaurs in my gameworld. It'll need to be a major in-setting event, akin to the creation of the Warforged (which was also on my to-do list, although that one can't go in anything I publish for myself, given that they're very definitely not open content).

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Re: Elements of [Whiteleaf] - discussion welcome

Post by willpell » Wed Apr 17, 2019 9:23 pm

To necro this thread, I can't believe I ever proposed "pestilence" and "rot" as element names. Toxin is the only one I'd consider using anymore, unless I just cut it down to just Acid, or more generally Solvent (although that one is also terrible).

Still never came up with a better idea for Cloud, though I'd probably call it Mist instead. I'm tempted to try and tie it to Barovia, but that would imply that all Mists are inherently "dark" somehow, and as someone who is genuinely happier on a misty morning than a "beautiful sunny day", I would never make such a parallel.

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