Sunday, August 25, 2019

OSR: The Elemental Courts of Air

                                                       from Tarot Mom

The World according to Air

The Heavens were created first to be home to Light.  The oceans came afterwards, being formed out of the darkness which had been separated from the Light earlier.  Then the land arose.  Finally, after living creatures arose, the Sun was born.  However, not all Air Elementals think of the Air as the center of the world, or the most important part.  Air Elementals are well-traveled and cultured individuals, fully aware of the immense diversity beneath them.  So while most believe that Air came befor all the other Elementals, most Air Elementals do not personally believe that Air is inherently superior to the other Elements.  However, many hold grudges against the Courts of Water for their crimes against the Courts of Air.

History

Long ago, the Air Elementals were unified in one Court.  But shortly after the Beginning, the Cloud War started when the First Emperor of the, then unified, Court of Water invaded the Air by sending clouds up into the air.  However, despite the enormous resources of the Water Elementals, the First Empress knew that her forces were still outnumbered and fighting on hostile turf.  So she organized and led an attack on the Sky-Supreme, the King of all Air Elementals and undisputed Sovereign over the Court of Air.

Her attack was a stunning and decisive success as her forces rapidly overran and seized the Sky-Supreme's palace.  The Sky-Supreme is believed to have perished in the fighting, though how he died varies from account to account.  Some say he shed his royal rainment and fought alongside his soldiers until he was slain by a common Cirrus Servant.  Others insist that he dueled the Water Empress in a desperate, noble struggle to save the lives of his courtiers, or that he purposely allowed himself to be killed.  The version you hear is likely going to be highly dependent on who is telling you it.  Air Elementals sympathetic to the cause of organization and central authority tend to tell versions that are more flattering and those opposed to such measures tend to do the opposite.

Regardless of what account, the facts are this.  The Sky-Supreme died and central authority broke down.  The Air Elementals fractured into countless independent Courts, all vying for power over each other and freedom from the same.  There have been attempts to unify the Sky, but they have all failed so far.

Too many Courts

There are a countless number of Courts all claiming to be the legitimate Court of Air at any given of time.  Each of these Courts claims to be the true one and that all others are rebels or traitors.  These Courts feud and war among each other, some seeking to dominate and rule if not the whole sky, then as much as they can hold.  Others merely seek to preserve their independence against other Courts.

Because of this, I will not be presenting not a Court or Courts, but tools on how to create your own court.  But before I do that, let us meet the players in this little production.

                                                      source unknown

Base Air Elemental 
HD X  AC Y  Atk Varies
Mor 6 (+1 per other Ally there)  Saves (5+HD) or less is a success

Elemental: Elementals are alive, but not in the way that you are.  They do have bodily needs that must be addressed, but not in the way that you are.  In this case, Air Elementals need to stay in contact with the air.  If they are in a place where Air is mostly stagnant, Air Elementals grow sluggish, as if sleep-deprived or drunk.  Additionally, if forced into a vacuum, an Air Elemental will take 1d6 damage a round until it manages to free itself.

Free Fall: Air Elementals do not take fall damage.

Flight: Air Elementals can fly at the speed the wind is moving.  If they are in a cave or at sea level, they can only levitate at reasonably fast speeds, unless it is a rather blustery day.  But high above, in the sky, they can zip around and fly like birds. 

Tactics:
- They vary, see below

                                            from Magic the Gathering

Invisible Servant

Invisible Servants are Air Elementals with skinny bodies made of a delicate, crystalline substance.  They are clear as glass and often invisible, especially in certain conditions.  Unless the light hits them from the right angle, they can't be seen. These are the creatures who so often patrol the palaces of the Gas Nobles or the petty Kings of the upper air, often adorning themselves with ribbons of smoke or garlands of perfume so their employers don't have to worry about walking into them.

Invisible Servants are abnegating, humble creatures who gratefully and eagerly serve.  They are very much aware of their own weakness and seek the protection of greater beings.  And of course, like all Air Elementals, they do not snobbishly believe that it is only appropriate to associate with other Elementals.  Invisible Servants prefer to serve higher ranked Air Elementals, but they will also serve Dragons, powerful Wizards, Cloud or Storm Giants, or other mighty creatures with a taste for high altitude air.

Statblock Changes:        

HD: 1

AC: 10 (when visible), 14 (when invisible)

Saves: 8 or less is a success

Atk: (+0) Fist 1d4

Abilities:

Partial Invisibility: Each round, based on how they move, Invisible Servants have a 4-in-6 chance of being invisible.

Tactics:
- Avoid fighting at all costs
- Hide if you can
- Ambush, then run away

                                                        by nkabuto

Wind Warrior

Every war needs soldiers to fight it.  And make no mistake, the Courts of Air are at war.  This has led to a proliferation of common soldiers, Elementals with minimal martial skill and training in how to use their powers.  These conscripts occupy the Courts of many would be leaders among the Air Elementals, fighting guerilla wars against the more organized and more powerful, but far less numerous, Water Elementals.  These are not the primary opponents of the Courts of Air, however.  Attacking Water Elementals is often risky and always dangerous, as Water Elementals generally have much more training and experience. 

No, the much more common target of the Air Elementals is other Air Courts.  These are the most common opponents of the Airy Aristocracy, who are as incestuous as they are vitriolic, engaging in endless intercine warfare.  But why, an outsider mught ask.  The sky is largely empty, there are no riches and little territory that can be gained, so what could they possibly be fighting over?  Well, to put it simply, the Nobles of the Courts of Air fight for many reasons that mortals do: love, revenge, power, glory and etc.  However, they mainly fight over the most precious resource imaginable.  Other Elementals.

While no one exactly knows how Elementals are created, except for the Elementals themselves, of course, one thing that is known by all in the Upper Air is that Air Elementals are constantly fighting each other over control of each other.  During an Air Elemental attack, the focus is not on taking territory, but on kidnapping certain enemy Elementals and bringing them back, alive.  The reasons for why some are taken while others are not has never been explained to mortals, but it is a fact that can be observed. 

Such is the fate of the Wind Warrior.  They are either captured and passed around from Aristocrat to Aristocrat, or they are slain in one of countless circular battles against another Air Court, or squashed in their first encounter with the Court of Water's veterans.  Pity them, for they are creatures without any chance of salvation. 

Statblock Changes:      
  

HD: 1

AC: 12

Saves: 8 or less is a success

Atk: (+1) Glass Javelin 1d6

Abilities:

Javelin Return: Wind Warriors can throw their javelins, then use their innate magic to return the javelins back to their hands, assuming the Javelin wasn't caught or broken by someone.  Not all Wind Warriors know that they can do this.   

Safety in Numbers: Wind Warriors never travel alone.  They are always accompanied by 1d6+2 others of their own kind or an equivalent amount of HD equal to 1d6+2 Wind Warriors.

Variable Training: All Wind Warriors have received some training to prepare them for battle, on top of what experience they may or may not have.  Assume all the Wind Warriors in a group all have the same amount of training.  To see how much training they may have had or what experience they may or may not have, roll on the table below. 

1d6
1- Conscript.  This Wind Warrior is a complete novice.  He can barely hold his weapon properly, and stands no chance of using it.  A group of Wind Warriors like this will mob the first person they see and gang up on him in a disorganized mob.
2- Raw Recruit.  This Wind Warrior has been trained, but he lacks any experience.  If attacked, he will link up with other Elementals and form a wall of spears, a tortoise or some other formation.
3- Damaged.  This Wind Warrior has tasted real battle and he snapped under the pressure.  These Wind Warriors avoid fighting if possible, but when forced to, attack in great, screaming bands as Conscripts. 
4- Hardened.  This Wind Warrior knows his way around a battle field, at least a little bit.  He will link up with his fellows and try to build a formation, then use that formation as a wedge to drive apart the enemy, separating them from each other.
5- Veteran.  This Wind Warrior knows a few tricks of the trade.  He has figured out how his javelin works and has mastered the innate magic of the Air Elementals.  He will throw javelins and avoid melee combat, if possible.  He also knows how to retreat in a non-disorganized fashion.
6- Crack.  This Wind Warrior knows about the javelins and about his own relative frailty.  These Wind Warriors avoid straight fights at all costs, instead relying on sneak attacks, ambushes and lightning raids.  They will stalk you for days, constantly harassing you to prevent you from resting, before striking when you are at your most vulnerable.

Tactics:
- See 'Variable Training' Table

                                                    source unknown

Sky Sword

War is not a science, but an art, and art requires an artist to create it.  The Courts of Air recognized this long ago, back when there was only one Court, and thus the Sky-Supreme created the office of Sky Sword.  The Sky Swords were once the flower of his army, a noble class of warriors in and of themselves. However, the Sky-Supreme would not live to see his Sky Swords proudest moments, nor their disgraceful fall. 

The ideal of the Sky Sword is a noble warrior, a creature of blood and iron while at war, but meek and gentle while at home. Sadly, this is an ideal that few of them have ever reached, even among those of their class who aspire to such an ideal.  Many Sky Swords are mere brutes, barbarians who possess all the strength of a monster, but with none of the gentleness needed to temper it.  These Sky Swords usually serve whatever master provides them the most glory or honors.  Some Sky Swords have fallen even further than this, working for coin or seizing power for themselves.  These latter types are renegades of the highest order, and all decent Air Elementals avoid them for the savages and cutthroats that they are. 

These categories describe most Sky Swords, these Elementals either being noble warriors sworn to a Master or brutes bound in obedience to their appetites, but some choose a different path.  These Sky Swords instead wander from place to place, traveling knight-errants, seeking their own ends, whether those be justice, revenge, or something higher.  Many of these wanderers are looking for the Sky-Supreme, or his heir, depending on how cynical they are.  It is believed that once the rightful heir is discovered, the skies will be united once again and order will return to the Upper Air.  And while such a goal is noble in itself, actually completing it might be an impossibility. 

Statblock Changes:        

HD: 3

AC: 13

Saves: 10 or less is a success

Atk: (+3) Sword 1d8/1d8

Abilities:

Sword Style: Sky Swords are all trained to use the sword, but there is great diversity among the types of sword schools they follow.  To see which style a Sky Sword practices, roll on the table below.

1d6

1- Red Dance.  A sword school based on reading your opponent's movements and countering them before your opponent can attack. Once per round, if a creature makes a melee attack against the Sky Sword, the Sky Sword may instead make a melee attack against him.  If the Sky Sword does damage to the creature, cancel the attack the creature made against the Sky Sword and treat it as if it did not hit.   
2- Iron Wall.  Iron Wall is a defensive school based on defending oneself from attacks.  Per round, the Sky Sword may reduce the damage of any melee or ranged attacks that could be deflected with a sword by 2d8, divided as it chooses among the attacks taken.  Also note that even if a mortal couldn't stop certain things with a sword, such as an arrow, a Sky Sword could.
3- Song of Silk and Steel.  This is a school that was either stolen from or taught to the Handsome Men.  Either way, it is about being as lethal and elegant as possible.  A Sky Sword trained in this style always gets the first attack, assuming none of his opponents attack from surprise or have some ability that enhances their speed.   
4- Capasi.  This is a sword school based on doing large amounts of damage then fleeing.  This Sky Sword may immediately upon damaging someone, take an additional action, as long as that action is to run away from the person he just hit.  
5- Skullcruncher.  A surprisingly beautiful school meant to be more intimidating than murderous.  This Sky Sword, upon damaging someone, may force them to save.  If that creature fails his save, he becomes scared of the Sky Sword for one round, and will avoid melee combat with it.
6- The Principle Art of Cutting.  A killing school.  Upon failing to complete an attack against someone, the Sky Sword may choose to not damage them directly, but instead cut through their shield, armor or weapon.  The Sky Sword's blade can cut through anything non-magical, indestructible or super-hard.

Tactics:
- Attack the strongest person
- Cut them to pieces
- Flee if all hope of victory is lost

                                            by isotxart

Carbon Commandos

A Wind Warrior is an infinitely useful thing to have.  They can protect, defend, escort and even fight.  Best of all, having a few dozen of them reflects great strength among the Airy Aristocracy.  For while any fool can have a few Invisible Servants, a platoon of Wind Warriors is a true status symbol.  Even more than Sky Swords, which are much more expensive and demanding of attention, the common Wind Warrior is the true key to building and maintaing a Court.  For any Court requires constant displays of strength and wealth to maintain itself and this goes double for a Court of flighty, Elemental bastards.

But sometimes, you don't need strength, or politics or even lies.  Sometimes you just need someone to die.  Enter the Carbon Commandos.  This is the purpose of the Carbon Commandos.  They are assigned to an ancient office, originally headed by the Sky-Supreme's Master of Assassins, the greatest killer in the universe, or so it was said.  The Master of Assassins was originally there, in the Beginning, and once the Cloud war began took an active role in the conflict.  He is said to have escaped the palace after the Deluvian Emperor's assault and continued a guerilla campaign against the forces of the Court of Water for over a hundred years.  What happened to him after that is a matter of fierce debate and occasional propaganda campaigns.

Regardless, the Master of Assassins did manage to leave behind one enduring legacy.  His Carbon Commandos are crack troops, miniature versions of their Master, skilled in infiltration, espionage and cold-blooded murder.  Carbon Commandos are difficult to recruit, expensive to maintain and surprisingly finicky on who they will actually target.  They are mostly ideological puritans, refusing to carry out any order they feel would be against their "Father"'s wishes.  The fact that they are also ludicrously dangerous on top of being puritanical is usually no condolence to any employer, as the fact that the Commandos are so skilled means that their employers have to put up with their eccentricities.  Still, for most who see their results, it's almost always worth it.  Almost. 

Statblock Changes:        

HD: 3

AC: 14

Saves: 10 or less is a success

Atk: (+2) Crossbow 1d10 or (+4) Long Knife 1d6/1d6 

Abilities:

Stealth Mode: Carbon Commandos can cloak themselves, giving themselves a +4 bonus to stealth.  This renders them nearly invisible, transforming them into shifting smudges on your field of vision.  From a distance or at night, they are almost invisible.  Up close or in bright light, they are easier to notice.    

Killing Fog: Carbon Commandos can, as a full action, release clouds of smoke.  These clouds of smoke obscure vision, as per normal smoke, but the clouds they produce are also heavier than air and unbreathable.  Any creature inside one of the Commandos' clouds takes 1d6 STR damage a round until they leave it, after which the STR slowly reverts back to its normal number at a rate of 1 point per minute.  If the amount of STR damage taken ever equals or exceeds the creature's STR score, the creature passes out and begins dying.  Carbon Commandos are immune to the effects of this cloud, of course.  

Tactics:
- Sneak up if possible
- Attack swiftly, with overwhelming force
- Focus fire on the most dangerous targets
- Use 'Killing Fog' to escape and weaken melee opponents

                                                        by xxrandomstuff

Methane Minister

Methane Ministers are orphans, those who have lost the most prestige, the ones who have lost their sacred charge.  Once entrusted to manage and coordinate Air Elementals all across the world, they have been reduced to mere thinkers, sitting alone and philosophizing from the ruins of their strongholds or being snatched up by brutish raiders and put to work at far less prominent positions.  Now they are accountants and wise men for those who can capture or afford them, using their vast knowledge and skill with numbers and figures to make brilliant connections.

Do they resent this state of affairs?  Yes, absolutely.  Some Methane Ministers attempt to escape, or take power for themselves.  Many a small Court is ruled by a Methane Minister doing their best impression of a brutal Sky Sword or mad Gas Noble.  Yet despite their impressive abilities, Methane Ministers usually lack the killer instinct necessary to be great warriors, as well as the charisma to be leaders.  For this reason, they usually end up in the service of others, or more rarely, on their own.  

Statblock Changes:        

HD: 2

AC: 11

Saves: 9 or less is a success

Atk: (+1) Feather Blade 1d6

Abilities:

Flammable: Methane Ministers are flammable.  If they take any fire damage, they burst into flames and continue burning until they take an action to extinguish the fire.  For this reason, Methane Ministers usually carry anti-fire substances with them.

Writ of Power: All Methane Ministers have the power to implement atmospheric changes.  However, due to the fragmentation of the central bureaucracy, their powers are limited and odder than they otherwise would be.  To see what Writs the Methane Minister carries, roll on the table below.

1d4
1- Writ of Combustion.  Once every 1d4 rounds, the Methane Minister may breathe a 30' cone of fire that does 3d6 damage, save for half.
2- Writ of Decomposition.  Once per round, the Methane Minister may target 1 creature below its maximum HP.  That creature's tissues start dying and falling off.  This does 1d6 DEX damage a round.  If this damage equals or exceeds a creature's DEX score, the creature dies and melts into a puddle of bubbling, flammable flesh.
3- Writ of Solidification.  The Methane Minister can create walls of a thick, rubbery substance as an action.  These walls can be created around creatures or objects, trapping or encasing them.  This does no direct damage.
4- Writ of Explosion.  Once every 1d6 rounds, the Methane Minister can fire a blast that explodes, dealing 4d6 explosion damage, save for half, to everything within 50' of the explosion.

Tactics:
- Rely on others to protect you
- Use your Writ if you must
- Run from anyone who might threaten you

                                                         by peter mohr bacher

Gas Noble

Gas Nobles are the aristocratic class of the Air Elementals.  The oldest of their kind once served the Sky-Supreme personally, while others have to manage with stories of his glory.  Regardless, among the Air Elementals, they are the proudest and noblest, carried by zephyrs or on the wings of eagles, their delicate, humanoid beautiful to behold.  Their flesh fluctuates between being as hard as crystal or as insubstantial as smoke.  Regardless of what form they take, they are beautiful and alien, especially when the sunlight strikes them, transforming them into the clouds of sunset or sunrise, or making their solid flesh glitter like crystal. 

Gas Nobles are generally proud creatures, prone to hubris.  Many of them believe that they, of all their kind, will be the one to bring order to the sky and become the Master of Gales.  And while this stubbornness can and does lead the Gas Nobles into many terrible situations, it also attracts followers.  Confidence is key, and who has more confidence than someone who earnestly believes they are completely flawless?  For this reason, Wherever Gas Nobles go, they are attended by lesser Elementals, mortal slaves or other, stranger creatures.  
   
Statblock Changes:        

HD: 4

AC: 11

Saves: 11 or less is a success

Atk: (+2) Claw 1d6/1d6

Abilities:

Insubstantial: As an action, Gas Nobles can transform into clouds of smoke.  In this form, they cannot be harmed by anything that could not harm a cloud, but cannot harm anyone else.

Noble Inheritance: All Gas Nobles have a certain special power based on their lineage.  To determine what a Noble's inheritance is, roll on the table below.

1d6
1- Floating Curse.  One creature the Gas Noble touches begins to swell up and become lighter.  They begin floating and if not tied or held down, they will float up and away.  The Gas Noble may only curse one person at a time.  The Gas Noble may also reverse this curse at will.
2- Glowing Curse.  One creature the Gas Noble touches begins to glow as a torch.  This glow is constant and permanent.  It also permanently reduces AC by 1d4, unless the creature is wearing heavy armor.
3- Sleeping Venom.  Any creature damaged by the Gas Noble takes 1d6 CON damage.  If the amount of COM damage they've taken ever equals or exceeds their CON score, that creature falls asleep.  Breathing in the Gas Noble's cloud form also does this, but it only does 1 CON damage in that case.
4- Bulletproof Body.  The Gas Noble can cover parts of his body in a hard shell.  This makes his fists do 1d8 blunt damage on a hit.
5- Laser Eyes.  The Gas Noble may make two Eye Laser attacks instead of his normal claw attacks.  Each laser attack does 2d6 fire damage, save for half.  The Gas Noble must target two different targets, one for each of his lasers.
6- Invisible Flay.  The Gas Noble's touch causes anyone to take an additional 1d6 energy damage and for bits of their flesh to begin melting off.  If the amount of additional energy damage any creature takes equals or exceeds his CON score but the creature is still alive, he is stricken with cancer and will need medical attention, or he will slowly wither and die over a period of weeks or months.    

Tactics:
- Avoid active confrontation if possible
- Attack from range, if possible
- If impossible, separate someone from a group and fight them

                                                         source unknown

Build your Own Court

There are too many Courts of Air to detail them all, so instead, you can make and customize your own by rolling on the tables below.

Who rules this Court?

1d6

1- An insane, paranoid Gas Noble.  This Gas Noble fears for his safety, seeing rivals and enemies everywhere.  There is a 25% the Gas Noble has actually stumbled upon an actual conspiracy, otherwise it is just his madness.  Nothing you say that contradicts his delusion will be heard and is likely to get you thrown in a dungeon, or off whatever clump of solid substance the Gas Noble has built his Court on.
2- A violent, blood thirsty Gas Noble.  This Gas Noble is getting ready to declare war on anyone and everyone.  He is a brilliant warrior and has a 50% of being a good tactician.  Either way, he keeps his men in line through a combination of blood curdling threats and promises of booty upon their victory.  He will react badly to any challenge to his authority.  Not as dumb as he looks. 
3- A genteel and merciful Gas Noble.  This Gas Noble is sophisticated, aloof and condescending.  He is nice, but in a patronizing way.  He is very impressed you seem to be wearing clothes and can do more than brain other mortals with rocks.  He regales his servants with tales of the glory days of the Court of Air and apes the ancient ceremonies they once performed. A good leader, but has no idea how to solve the problems of his current age.  
4- A ruthless and highly competent Gas Noble.  This Gas Noble is shrewd, politically savvy and cool-headed.  He is well aware of the problems he faces and has some very good plans on how to solve them.  Is not above using mortals to fill the gaps that Elementals cannot.
5- A Sky Sword who has taken power through force of arms.  He's not much for ceremony or tradition, but he is charismatic and strong, and for some, nothing else matters.  The Sky Sword is a strongman, ruling through sheer willpower.  He knows the basics of leadership, but doesn't really have any plan or ideology of his own.  He maintains power through an image of invulnerability and supreme martial skill.
6- A Methane Minister with astounding persuasion and rhetorical skills.  The Methane Minister has somehow convinced everyone else that their previous leader was no good, then arranged so that they would be 'offered' the crown, which he "reluctantly" accepted.  The Methane Minister is a master manipulator, always presenting himself as a victim or as non-threatening as possible.  Has a plan.  A really good one. 

How many Wind Warriors does he have?

1d6

1- 1d6
2- 1d8
3- 1d10+6
4- 1d20
5- 1d20+10
6- 1d10*10

How many elite soldiers does he have?

1d6

1- None
2- None, but he has mortal assistance.
3- A few, 1d6 Sky Swords.
4- A small number 1d4+1 Team of Carbon Commandos.
5- 1d10 Sky Swords.
6- 1d20 Sky Swords, + a 1d8+1 Carbon Commandos.

Does he keep any other staff?

1d4

1- No, it is just him, his soldiers and 1d20 Invisible Servants.
2- Yes, He has a Methane Minister to keep his sums.
3- Yes, he has a pet Gas Noble who he keeps around for his own purposes.
4- Yes, he has mortals who also attend his Court, relying on his protection.

What is this Court's relation to its' closest neighbor?

1d6

1- Friendly.  The two Courts have a good relationship and if one was in danger, the other would come to aid them.  Probably. 
2- Peaceful.  The Court is currently in relationship with its neighbors.  They don't trust each other, but they are not actively fighting or planning on fighting each other.
3- Suspicious.  The Court is currently suspicious of one of its neighbors.  They are planning on the attacking the Court, so everyone is walking on eggshells, waiting for an attack that is sure to happen one of these days.
4- Belligerent.  The Court is trying to provoke its neighbors into attacking, for some reason.  Maybe they have a plan.
5- Antagonistic.  The Court is bullying its neighbors, demanding they give it things or face the consequences.
6- At War.  The Court is currently fighting its closest neighbor.

                                                        by Jarek Nocon

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