A fire elemental is a being of living fire, often conjured by wizards.

Appearance and personality[edit | edit source]

A fire elemental is a vaguely humanoid shape made entirely of flickering flame.[2] Its "arms" are arbitrary appendages which appear to flicker out only to spring again from its body. It has no facial features except for two patches of blue fire, which resemble eyes.[3]

A typical large fire elemental around 16 feet tall, weighing only 4 lbs. The smallest variety stands at 4 feet, while powerful elder fire elementals have been known as tall as 40 feet,[1] with a rare few colossal primal fire elementals even greater than that.[4]

Some fire elemental creatures closely resemble animals or other creatures familiar to the Material Plane.

Alignment[edit | edit source]

Despite their propensity for destruction, savage nature in combat and eagerness to burn material creatures that resembles joy,[1] fire elementals are typically of Neutral alignment. However, evil fire elementals do exist, including some corrupted with demonic essence[5] and the elemental prince Imix holds numerous such beings in slavery. Such creatures are summoned only in the presence of elemental nodes linked to the cult of Elemental Evil, or by that cult's servants.[6]

Fire elementals of other alignments are available.[7]

Abilities and traits[edit | edit source]

Fire elementals are made of constant flame and set alight anything they come into contact with. They move quickly.[1]

As a creature made of fire, they are resistant to attacks by normal weapons. They are amorphous in shape and have no distinct anatomy, and as such are not vulnerable to states like exhaustion, poison or paralysis. Nor can they be effectively grabbed, since they are not solid. They do not need to eat, breathe or sleep, nor do they need air to burn like a normal fire.[2]

Fire elementals avoid water, as it appears to cause them considerable pain. They are unable to cross wide rivers or expanses of water.[2]

Environment[edit | edit source]

A fire elemental's natural home is the Elemental Plane of Fire, an otherworldly realm consisting almost entirely of flame. Fire elementals are sentient fragments of that plane, usually conjured away from it by powerful magic.

Fire elementals exist on thousands of worlds.[7]

Life cycle[edit | edit source]

Fire elementals are created by the division of a larger fire elemental. A particularly large elemental may divide into thirty or more smaller ones. Such a reproduction process occurs only rarely. Elementals grow larger as they age.[7]

Half-elemental fire creatures exist, but these are likely to be the offspring of creatures such as efreet.

Treasure[edit | edit source]

Fire elementals generally do not carry possessions. The unique fire elemental Imix wields a colossal flaming sword studded with rubies.[8]

History[edit | edit source]

The race of fire elementals is more ancient than humankind,[7] but they have practically no written or recorded history that is known of.

Society and culture[edit | edit source]

Settlements[edit | edit source]

Fire elementals tend to congregate within towns and cities constructed somehow of fire. [7]

Relationships and family[edit | edit source]

Fire elementals are generally distrustful of outsiders, and resentful of being summoned against their will. While they often live together in settlements, their family structure is unknown. [7]

Religion[edit | edit source]

A few elementals become clerics.[7] Some fire giants, red dragons and fire-using spellcasters worship Imix, the Prince of Evil Fire Elementals.[9]

Magic[edit | edit source]

A few elementals become spellcasters. Elementals possess some spells unknown to non-elemental spellcasters.[7]

Art[edit | edit source]

Elementals have a rudimentary art forms, although their value is attuned to elementals' six senses,[7] and are not widely understood by humans.

Language[edit | edit source]

Although fire elementals are not highly intelligent, they speak Ignan, the language of fire elemental creatures. Their voice sounds like the crackle and hiss of a burning forest fire. However, they rarely choose to speak.[1]

Notable fire elementals[edit | edit source]

Fire elementals are a homogenous group, and individuals almost never take names or distinguish themselves.

The closest thing to exceptional fire elementals are the unique fire archomentals Imix,[10] Zaaman Rul[11] and Bristia Pel.[11][12]

Publication history[edit | edit source]

Chainmail[edit | edit source]

Elementals appear at least as far back as Gygax's miniatures wargame Chainmail 3rd edition (1975), where they must be conjured to the battlefield by a wizard. Fire elementals are immune to a dragon's fire breath, and are immune to normal attacks. Efreet are considered a subtype of fire elemental.

Original Dungeons & Dragons[edit | edit source]

Fire elementals appear in Monsters & Treasure (1974), p.18, along with their air, water and earth counterparts. They are immune to non-magical weapons, cannot cross water, and set flammable objects alight. They appear in 8, 12 and 16 hit dice variants depending on the spell or item used to summon them, and all three types are conjured from a flame such as a bonfire or pool of lava.

Elementals can be summoned with the 5th level magic user spell conjure elemental or an item such as the brazier of commanding fire elementals. The caster must maintain his undivided attention in order to maintain control of the elemental.

In the article Planes: the Concepts of Spacial, Temporal and Physical Relationships in D&D, Dragon #8 (Jul 1977), p.4, Gary Gygax introduced the Plane of Fire, which would become the fire elementals' home.

Basic Dungeons & Dragons[edit | edit source]

Fire elementals appear in the Expert Set (Moldvay) (1981), p.31 and the Expert Rules (BECMI), Expert Rulebook (1983), p.49, in which they closely resemble their OD&D counterparts.

In Rules Cyclopedia (1991), p.175-176, elementals encountered on their home plane are more powerful and more varied, ranging from 1 to 32 hit dice or occasionally higher. Their natural form is an amorphous blob, but they can create multiple arms if needed. Considerable information appears here regarding their society and culture.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition[edit | edit source]

The four elementals appear again in the Monster Manual (1e) (1977), p.37-38. Here they are immune to nonmagical damage from creatures of fewer than 4 hit dice, unless equipped with a +2 or greater weapon. The fifth level magic-user spell conjure elemental (Players Handbook (1e) (1978), p.79) allows thme to be conjured.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition[edit | edit source]

Fire elementals are detailed in Monstrous Compendium Volume One (1989).

Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition[edit | edit source]

The fire elemental is detailed in the Monster Manual (3.5) (2003), p.95-101, where it appears in six size classes: small, medium, large, huge, greater and elder. The 96HD+ primal fire elemental appears in the Epic Level Handbook (2002), p.186-189. Their home plane is described in the Player's Handbook (3.5) (2003), p.74-76.

Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition[edit | edit source]

Unlike previous editions, D&D 4e's decision to reboot much of the games lore saw the original fire elementals omitted from the original Monster Manual, where they were initially replaced with various mixed elementals.

The fire elementals do not appear in a monster manual until Monster Manual 3{{UnknownBook}}, p.80-83, where they are detailed in lesser, standard and greater sizes (levels 1, 11 and 21 respectively). They are considered skirmisher role creatures. Revenge of the Giants (2009) introduces the controller-type Fire Elemental Firestorm and Inferno, and the minion Fire Elemental Spark. Dungeon #209 (Dec 2012), p.15 describes the Fire Elemental Companion, a level 15 striker.

Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition[edit | edit source]

Fire elementals once again appear at launch in Monster Manual (5e) (2014), p.122-125. Only one size of each of the four elementals appears, a 12HD large sized creature. The more powerful Fire Elemental Myrmidon appears in Princes of the Apocalypse (2015).

Creative origins[edit | edit source]

The idea that all matter is made of four elements (fire, water, air and earth) dates back to ancient Greece. These concepts influenced renaissance alchemists, including Paracelsus, who described four creatures linked to the elements who can move through their own element as easily as a human moves through air: salamanders (fire), nymphs (water), sylphs (air) and gnomes (earth).[13] All four of these later became separate D&D creatures.

Elementals appear in the works of Michael Moorcock, a fantasy author who D&D creator Gary Gygax cites as an influence.[14] In The Dreaming City (1962), elementals appear as conjured creatures, as they are in their earliest D&D appearances.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Monster Manual (3.5) (2003), p.95-101.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Monster Manual (5e) (2014), p.123-125.
  3. Monstrous Compendium Volume One (1989).
  4. Epic Level Handbook (2002), p.186-189.
  5. New Monsters:Grues, Dragon #285 (Jul 2001), p.48-51.
  6. Four in Darkness: A Guide to Elemental Evil, Dragon #285 (Jul 2001), p.44-47.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 7.6 7.7 7.8 Rules Cyclopedia (1991), p.175-176.
  8. Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil (2001), p.153.
  9. Princes of Elemental Evil: The Archomentals, Dragon #347 (Sep 2006), p.29-41.
  10. Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil (2001).
  11. 11.0 11.1 Princes of Elemental Good: The Archomentals, Part II, Dragon #353 (Mar 2007), p.43-50.
  12. Heroes of the Elemental Chaos (2012), p.26-28.
  13. Paracelsus Natural Spirits
  14. Dungeon Masters Guide (1e) (1979), p.224.
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