Wednesday, November 7, 2018

OSR: The Elemental Court of Fire

This wasn't a post I really wanted to make, but Arnold K. forced my hand.  So I'm going to make it.  Also, this is inspired very heavily by this post.

Boring Lore stuff

Consciousness precedes existence.  Before there was anything, there was thought.  Then through thought, the world was created.  As such, consciousness underlines all matter.  To a certain extent, everything is alive.  Even the things that you might not suspect are alive.

But as with all living things, there are layers.  In the world of the animals, there are long chains of obedience and dominance that bind all living things together.  Mosquitos feed on plants, but they are eaten by frogs.  Frogs are eaten by birds, and birds are eaten by men. 

But this is not where the chain ends.  The great chain of being extends up even higher.  Above Men we have Magical Beasts, and above them, the Spirits, then finally the Gods.  The Magical Beasts are creatures that have strange power, but are not supernormal.  They are paranatural, just of a higher stature, in the same way that an eagle is higher than a sparrow.  Then above them we have the Spirits, the Angels and the Demons, the beings who can leave the world of the mortal and ascend into the heavens to speak with the Gods.  The Gods form the top of this hierarchy, or at least, as far as we mortals can look.  The Gods dwell in Heaven and in the Higher Realms, and can only enter our world through rituals or the confluence of Fate.

And in the world of the Elements, the same is true. 

Let us take Fire, for an example.  A lit match is equivalent to a bacteria or an insect.  A torch is like a small hare, and campfire a wily fox or faithful hound.  A bonfire is equivalent to a great beast such as silverback gorilla or a water buffalo.  And of course, wild and forest fires do not really have a clear comparison, but could be compared to a great living mat of algae living in a symbiosis with each other, or perhaps an ant colony, if the colony was all one massive organism.

But the chain of dominance does not end there.  It keeps going up.

The System in Theory or Why Fire is Hot

The universe is a very complicated place.  So like our world, Nukaria does not have laws of nature, albeit in a slightly different fashion.

Let's say you want to start a fire.  Here's what you do.  First, you gather your materials, and then create a spark, and then hope it catches the tinder on fire.  Then you feed it kindling, and eventually, proper firewood.  And boom, fire!

Now here's what you didn't see.  As you began attempting to start a fire, a primitive fire spirit, similar perhaps in intelligence to an individual cell in your body noticed, and recorded the data, which was then transferred to the nearby fire spirits, and so on and so on.  This transfer of information continues until a fire spirit reaches the sun.  There the request is acknowledged and evaluated by a Burning Bureaucrat, who works in one of the golden office-complexes of the sun.  There the Bureaucrat consulted the current status of the area around where you are trying to start the fire, the presence of any local water spirits (dampness and moisture), and the method through which you were attempting to start the fire.  

If this Bureaucrat thinks that a fire here is appropriate, the report is stamped and a copy of it is sent back from the sun, along with a small pile of primitive fire spirits.  These fire spirits then come down and flare to life, and you have a fire.

This is the Elemental Court of Fire.

It is the regulatory body through which all fires are authorized and monitored.  At least, in theory.  In practice, there are illegal blazes, border jumpers, defectors, and other blemishes on this otherwise highly efficient system. 

Still, the system mostly works.

The System in Practice

All fire comes from the Sun.  Whenever you attempt to light a fire, somewhere above in one of the golden office complexes of the Sun, a clerk working in the Burning Bureaucracy is evaluating your request, based on the wind, moisture, and numerous other factors.  Then, if they approve your request, the fire starts.  The clerk must then notarize the paperwork and send it off to be properly tabulated.  Usually this system works very well, as the Sultan of the Sun is an administrative genius, and has taken great care to ensure all the legal formalities have been worked out with the other Elemental Courts.  This is a feat that should not be underestimated, considering that the Elemental Court of Fire is currently at War with the Court of Water and is involved in a series of wild diplomatic maneuvers with the Court of Air.  Earth is sort of their ally, occasionally.  The Court of Earth is an impossible mercurial thing, even more than the Court of Air.

Still, the Sultan manages to keep things functioning smoothly, and most of the time, every fire is properly authorized, notarized and catalogued in triplicate.  But mistakes are made.  Paperwork is misfiled, or a Burning Bureaucrat falls asleep at their desk, or any number of other snafu can occur.  As such, the Sultan needs more than mere paper-shufflers and pencil-pushers to keep his Empire working.

                                                                     by ARTdesk
Base Fire Elemental Statblock

HD Varies  AC Varies  Atk Varies
Mor 7  Saves Varies

Elemental: Elementals are alive, but not in the way that you are.  They do need to eat, sleep and drink, but not in the way that you are.  In this case, Fire Elementals need oxygen and fuel to continue functioning.  As long as they are on Earth, they must "eat" or consume something flammable every hour or start to wither.  They also need oxygen, and take 1d6 damage a round they spend in a vacuum. 

Perfect Fire Resistance: Fire Elementals are not negatively affected by heat, fire, or anything related to those effects.

Water Damage: Fire Elementals take 1d6 damage if water is poured onto them.  They avoid it like the plague.

Tactics:
- Varies
- See below

Elementals of Note


                                                                        by Zlydoc
Sun-Brothers

Sun-Brothers are beautiful, sanguine creatures, their flesh unmarred by burns or ash, tanned and well-formed.  They tend to be quite beautiful, with skin ranging from the soft yellow of a beeswax candle flame to the russet red of leaves falling in autumn.  Their hair is similarly colored, though it can often come in bright shades of blue, white, or gold.  They clothe themselves in gossamer robes of embers and adorn themselves with molten jewelry, their rings and necklaces still glowing red-hot from the forge.    

These are the children of high ranking Ministers in the Bureaucracy or the spawn of Solar Governors who simply could not fit into the strict Solar Society, were incompetent, or committed some kind of faux pas that got them punished.  But since they were nobility, they could not merely be killed.  So they were instead assigned to some minor administrative task on Earth, which is largely a backwater, as far the Solar Court is convinced.  And compared to the glass halls and the endless heat of the Sultan's palace, Earth certainly seems far too cold, dark and dank for their liking.  These poor fools are left to attend to their largely meaningless work in miserable conditions, a fact that is now doubt incredibly obvious as very little of their work is actually important.

And while I use the term Sun-Brother, there can be female Sun-Brothers.  They are called Sun-Sisters.

Statblock Changes:          

HD: 4

AC: 13

Saves: 8 or less is a success

Atk: Heated Dueling Blade 1d6 + 1d6 fire damage

Abilities:

Regeneration: Sun-Brothers regenerate a HD per round they are in sunlight.

Solar Flare: As a full action, the Sun-Brother cames a blinding flash of light.  All who can see the Sun-Brother must save.  If they are close to it or looking at it directly, they get a penalty to their save.  On a failure, they are blinded, and as an action each round, they can save again.  A successful save means their vision comes back.

Magnifying Ray: The Sun-Brother can use this attack every 1d4 rounds.  As a full action, the Sun-Brother can concentrate all the sunlight falling on the area into a single blinding bolt that does 3d6 fire damage on a hit, save for half if you are mrely attempting to dodge, or if you have a shield or a mirror, save to resist all damage.  Also, anyone who takes at least one point of damage from it is blinded as "Solar Flare".

Tactics:
- Wear down your foes
- Drag out the Fight
- Only fight in the sunlight, where you can heal


                                                            by IvanLaliashvili
Burn Wardens

Burn Wardens are as intimidating as they are overworked and underpaid.  They wear robes of pressed smoke and masks of glowing metal, carrying clipboards and ledgers, trailing notes and discarded pieces of paper behind them.  They speak quickly and tersely, and are always fretting over some minor matter that concerns no one but themselves.  They are rarely violent, and will usually ignore those who don't interfere in their very important work.  They are always nervous, but rarely as observant or clever as they think themselves to be.  They won't fight unless you force them to, but if you do, they will use "Ember Storm" which is where they conjure a cloud of burning papers and project them with magical force.  This is not as harmless as it sounds.   
   
These are overworked, underpaid bureaucrats, likely deployed on their first mission.  They work in teams, and usually have the task of directing larger fires, and making sure they do not burn past their legally alloted area.  This is never an enviable task, as directing a forest fire or a fire on the plains is like herding a flock of vicious, flying cats. 

Statblock Changes:

HD: 2

AC: 14

Saves: 7 or less is a success

Atk: Ember Storm(+4) - see below

Abilities:

Ember Storm: Does 2d6 damage, save for half.  Also, anyone hit by this attack is set on fire, and takes 1d6 damage a round until they take an action to extinguish it.

Burn Notice: If there is any fire within 100' of the Burn Warden, the Burn Warden can use it to immediately make an attack against anyone with range.  It may make as many attacks as their are fires.  Any fires affected by this ability temporarily grow huge and launch themselves at the target.  These attacks are made as if by Ember Storm, except they only do 1d6 damage, but still have the chance of setting someone on fire.

Cancel: A Burn Warden may, as a free action, cause any source of fire within its field of view to immediately go out.  It can also cause spells or magical items to produce fire to not produce anything.

Tactics:
- Use Ember Storm to set flammable things on fire
- Start as many fires as possible
- Use those flames to pick off the weaker people



                                                             by Artofryanyee
Smoke Heralds

Smoke Heralds were a compromise.  They look like aerial creatures, made of whispy strands of black, grey and white folded around a burning heart, glimpses of fire spilling out of their eyes, mouth and wound.  They are warm to the touch, if you can manage to actually grasp them.  Most likely, if you try to touch one, you'll merely get a handful of air and have to pull back from the heat.  Though you might not even get that far, as Smoke Heralds are swift and very hard to catch, even if you don't include their ability to fly.    

Smoke Heralds are a relatively new office, recently created after several Pantheons of Gods allied and threatened to invade the Sun and replace the Sultan with someone more even-handed, unless the Sultan would stop fire from being so hot.  The Sultan was unwilling to compromise his principles like that, but in the end, war was prevented due to a clever compromise.  Fire could still burn people, but now it had to announce itself first, by sending forth a herald.  This herald was dubbed smoke, and all fires have one, from the smallest candle to the largest inferno. 

The Smoke Heralds are the same thing, but meant to serve not mere Fires, but the Fire Elementals.  While Smoke Heralds will often be seen flying around large fires, they also precede larger Elementals to warn those nearby that someone powerful and dangerous is coming through. 

Statblock Changes:


HD: 1

AC: 16

Saves: 9 or less is a success

Atk: Breath of Fire 1d6 fire

Abilities:

Choking Cloud: As a full action, a Smoke Herald can produce a choking cloud of smoke.  This smoke does 1d6 CON damage to anyone who spends more than 1 round inside it, and then 1d6 additional CON damage for each round after that.  If this ever equals or exceeds someone's total CON score, they collapse and pass out.  It also blinds all within it.

Flier: Smoke Heralds can fly, and hove in mid-air.

Tactics:
- Use "Choking Cloud"
- Stay out of the way
- Fly away if in danger

This monster was originally thought up by Patrick Stuart and Scrap Princess.

Sunset Storks

They are enormous birds, as tall as giraffes with long beaks and delicate legs, and wide, gleaming feathers that glow the low red and pale orange of the Sunset.  They are often seen at Sunset near large fires or lava flows.  There they can be seen fishing ethereal fish from the blaze or dark, jewel-shelled fish that dwell within the lava itself, to gobble down these creatures.  They are cordial and willing to speak to you, though they will not brook any interfere with their vital duties.  It is said that if they do not return by the time the Sun sets, they will perish, and that is why they are always in a hurry.  This is not quite true.  

Sunset Storks are the censors and book-keepers of the Solar Bureaucracy, given the important duty of ensuring no fire burns past its due.  You see, when a request for a fire is approved, it is given an alloted time it is allowed to burn.  But when the fire's time is up, it must cease burning and return to the sun.  The Sunset Stork is there to ensure that everyone is accounted for.  It has a long list of memorized names and identities relating to the request for fires, and which of the fire spirits must return by the time the Sun sets.  Then, when all those who need to return are accounted for, the Sunset Stork flies back to the sun, and then, when it leaves, it will signal to the Sun that everything is in order.  When all Sunset Storks have given their affirmative, then and only then will the Sun set, and dive into the Sea of Night, returning the Heavens to the Moons and Stars.

Statblock Changes:

HD: 2

AC: 12

Saves: 10 or less is a success

Atk: Beak(-3) 1d10

Abilities:

Space-Bird: Sunset Storks can take objects or people to and from the Sun with ease.  They are not affected by the vacuum or any other perils of space.

Perfect Memory: Sunset Storks never forget anything.  They know every fire spirit they are supposed to be picking up, where those fire spirits were originally dispatched, and all other data contained in the original report. 

Flier: Sunset Storks can fly.

Tactics:
- Don't bother fighting
- Fly away
- Be cordial, but never forget your time-table

                                                                    <source unknown>
Ashen Assassins

They are gloomy and hard to see, soot-grey and black, with a few small, glowing patches all over their body.  They are hot to the touch, and their heated grip allows them to melt stone and metal to create handholds.  They can scale walls, sheer cliff sides, and other impossible obstacles with ease.  They are very sneaky as well, preceded by only the slight smell of something having been burned.  To us, they are sneaky.  To most Elementals, they are all but invisible.  Then, when they find what they are looking for, they explode into motion, burning blades protruding from their wrists, elbows, knees and ankles.  They attack swiftly, with overwhelming violence, then retreat just as fast.  They often travel alone, but sometimes they work in small, highly lethal teams.  They will avoid all combat that might endanger their mission, but will defend themselves with shocking violence. 

All fire comes from the Sun, but the process is not as clean as I have been suggesting.  There are those who bribe bureaucrats on the Sun, or illegal smugglers who can get some enterprising fires off the Sun, for a proper fee.  Or sometimes, a fire request is approved and a mass of fire is sent to the proper location, but once the fire gets there, it can refuse to cooperate.  Or it may start out loyal, but as it burns, decides it doesn't want to stop.  To bring these dissident elements into line, the Ashen Assassins are sent.  They come in the shadows, sneaking up to the rebellious fires and extinguishing them.  This is their most dangerous ability, though it is useless against fleshlings.  Then they retreat, bringing the fire's ashes back with them as a sign of their victory.  They are often followed by Burn Wardens of Burning Bureaucrats, who come to make sure everything then proceeds as scheduled.

Ashen Assassins are also deployed in the Vapor War against the Court of Water, against disloyal Governors or officials in the sub-Court of Magma, and against Air Elementals that are too capricious to be reasoned with.     

Statblock Changes:

HD: 3

AC: 14

Saves: 11 or less is a success

Atk: Burning Blades(+2) 1d6/1d6/1d6

Abilities:

Sneaky: Ashen Assassins get +2 to all stealth rolls against fleshlings, and +6 against Elementals or Magical Beasts.

Extinguish: Ashen Assassins can extinguish any fire that they touch, and when they do, that fire cannot be restarted by that same source until the Assassin has given its permission, or an injunction has been filed in a Solar Court.

Acrobatic: Ashen Assassins are skilled climbers, jumpers and acrobats.  They get +4 to any feat of agility or flexibility.

Tactics:
- Sneak up
- Pounce from a place unexpected
- Attack, then run away
- Repeat as necessary

                                                               by theDURRRRIAN
Pyrocrats

Pyrocrats are tall and saturnine, stoic and imperial, unflinching like iron.  They wear formal garments befitting their station and have immense gravitas.  They do not suffer fools lightly.  They usually wear belts of sashes of molten gold to mark them as officials, and carry rods of burning iron as badges of office.  They are usually surrounded by thin clouds of smoke, usually something sweet-smelling and white, but if they grow angered, this smoke changes, becoming a choking cloud of black, smelling of sulfur and roasting pork.  People often mistake them for Demons, and flee from them.  This is not the concern of the Pyrocrats, who are content to ignore everything beneath them.  And make no mistake, you are beneath them.

Pyrocrats are governors, rulers and high-ranking Ministers.  They are rarely seen, and only come to Earth for matters of extreme importance.  A large rebellion that needs to be put down, for example, or to negotiate another peace likely failed peace treaty with Water, or to speak with the Parliament of Stone, because one of its many sub-sub-committees found a discrepancy on page 366, section K, sub-section 3 that needs to be discussed before they can continue, or to adjudicate some issue with the sub-Court of Magma or to go to war.  They also show up to supervise large fires or volcanic operations, so if you see one of them and everything is not currently on fire, then you should probably be evacuating the area.    
                    
Pyrocrats are not unwilling to speak to you, but their is virtually no chance that anything you say will affect them.  They consider you gnats.

Statblock Changes: 

HD: 5

AC: 10

Saves: 13 or less is a success

Atk: Iron Rod(+2) 1d6 + 1d6 fire/1d6 + 1d6 fire

Abilities:

Planned Combustion: Pyrocrats may use this ability every 1d4 rounds.  Pyrocrats can, as a full action, fire off 1d6 glyphs of Combustion.  Each of these requires an attack roll of (+4)  These glyphs, once they strike a person or object, must germinate for 1 round.  After that, they combust, lighting the object on fire.  This fire will continue to burn until the object or glyph is destroyed.  The glyph can be destroyed by carving through it.  If a glyph has struck a person, they must take at least 1 point of damage to destroy it.

Fiery Holocaust: Pyrocrats can, once per day, cause one person or object to erupt into flames.  This person immediately takes 3d6 fire damage, save for half.    

Tactics:
- Begin with "Fiery Holocaust" unless you know these guys are strong
- Then bluff and say you can do that all day
- If they don't back off, use "Planned Combustion" to target their armor, weapons or squishy members
- Beat the rest to death with your metal stick

1 comment:

  1. Very cool worldbuilding! I like that Sultan and his administration as well as the Sun-Brothers.

    ReplyDelete