Elemental Gods - The Elemental "Powers" of Athas

As I further explore the Elemental Planes of Athas, it is now time to review the concept of the great elemental lords, or powers, of the setting’s Elemental Planes. What are they? What were they? What are their roles and responsibilities?

We have almost no information about these beings, at least of which I am aware. Earth, Air, Fire, Water discusses them loosely, but there are no set examples. But to entice your imagination, there is this colorful passage:

…There are still beings of enormous strength living in the inner planes that are home to the elementals. Those who commune with them say they complain incessantly about the dryness of the earth, the scarcity of cool breezes, and roar louder than thunder when defiling magic begins to eat at their souls like leprosy. Other, smaller spirits flit around these giant beings like hungry rasclinn, begging for any morsel their masters might toss them. For the last few centuries, the scraps have been few and far between.

-EAFW, p. 7

Another fascinating and little-explored narrative is that regarding powerful elemental beings as referenced on page 91 in the venerable Dragon Kings, in the Dragon Metamorphosis spell description for the mid-levels (24th, 25th, 26th):

…The preparation time extends to two years per casting, during which time the caster must befriend and visit a powerful creature from an elemental plane. The caster must visit the planar creature three days of every fifteen for the entire preparation period. The DM must create and role-play the elemental creature–it is likely that it will force the defiler to perform difficult mission, more often than not for its own amusement, all through the preparation period…

and for high-levels (27th, 28th, 29th):

…The actual casting time is 24 hours, and the caster must have the full cooperation of at least three powerful beings from that plane for the entire time. Locating beings willing to cooperate should be easy, but getting their cooperation requires exchanges of favors, quests, etc.; preparation time is equal to the time it takes to convince the planar beings to cooperate.

What profoundly powerful entities on the Elemental (or other?) Planes exist there that might intimidate and check 24th level+ dragons? What profound knowledge and wisdom might they wield to aid such a dragon?

Though I am preparing some answers to this subject, I open the question of these beings to the community. Do you know of any such beings referenced in the source material? Have you created one and implemented it in your game? How do you envision their roles, their powers, their domains, their followers, etc.? What do they even look like?

I am interested in your initial thoughts gentlemen.




It also might explain why the SKs allow elemental temples in their cities

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I am not certain , Ouroboros, what the sorcerer-kings might gain by setting up such temples. Being not actual deities, the Elemental Powers might shrug at or be ignorant of such temples. They would likely gain nothing from them in and of themselves, though perhaps such beings might benefit from these temples in that more clerics might be initiated to the worship of their element. Such worship would not make these beings personally more powerful, but it’s difficult to imagine such mighty beings would be directly negatively affected by the erection of such temples.

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Wow. I just discovered Rajaat99’s excellent website. Therein he provides a well-thought out cosmogony, which explains much about Elemental Lords: Adventures Under the Dark Sun

Review this selection from his cosmogony regarding the Elemental Lords:

The elemental planes; earth, air, fire, and water, have existed since time began. The inhabitants of these realms are elementals, they can be both powerful and feeble. They were born of the substance that surrounded them and made up their homes. They battled each other for dominance for countless millennia and these clashes created the battlegrounds of the paraelemental planes, magma, sun, rain, and mud.

Then something happened that they did not expect, the paraelemental planes gave birth to their own forms of life. These paraelementals were not as powerful as their elemental cousins, but they were recruited as fodder for the elemental wars, lead by genies and other true elementals. As time passed, the paraelementals grew in power and intelligence. They threw off the yoke of the elementals and began warring with them.

These battles caused the combatant’s respective elements to drift into the prime material plane as scattered matter. These pieces of matter did not concern the elementals, for their planes were vast and endless. However, a powerful sun paraelemental visited the prime material plane and used the pieces of scattered matter to create an azure orb of pure paraelemental sun.

This organized sun matter imbued the paraelemental and the paraelemental plane with even greater power, creating the first paraelemental lord. The other elementals saw what the paraelemental had done and were quick to organize their own matter on the material plane. For the first time since time began, the elementals stopped fighting and began working together to organize the matter in the universe. Water, air, and earth quickly worked together in the process of creation, with fire joining them reluctantly later.

The culmination of their joint efforts was the creation of a world with living things. Plants and animals thrived, each imbued with a little of each of the four main elements and some with portions of the paraelements as well. There was no sentient life on the prime material plane, as the elemental lords had no reason to create it.

What an excellent explanation. I shall peruse further, but I am thinking to adopt it.

Rajaat99 is a 2nd Edition man too. Good to see I am not alone in keeping that alive.

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You’ve got the basic elemental lines from the MM that take you from small to elder, the monolith from Complete Arcane and primal from the Epic level handbook. They aren’t particularly intelligent but they do start getting smarter. Certainly the more powerful ones can be the basis of the armies for these Powers.

The Archomentals (princes) in Dragon 347 and 353 can be re-flavored to make some interesting generals of the war but still aren’t “god” level.

Elemental Weirds gain a lot of freedom in their home planes and have progression that could give an advanced being a run for their money and could certainly have knowledge and wisdom a dragon could use.

One thing I should shy away from is having a single ruler for any of the elemental planes. I find it much more interesting if there is hundreds of factions each as powerful as the others. A twist that I use is that as an elemental becomes more powerful, it needs more of Athas to power it. That’s one of the reasons for the war. The elemental planes as Athas knows them are nothing more than a tiny sliver that the Grey cut off from the main planes long ago. As those who would be lords grow stronger, they become more and more distant, falling into a trance that is harder and harder to wake from due to Athas being so damaged. Any Elemental being reaching 75 HD starts feeling the effects. Due to this effect, any elemental that could unite the factions, is rendered unable to do so, leaving it’s underlings to try to tip the scale.

The Black God in the Dreadlands was one such elemental being that is to powerful for it’s own good. It’s been forced to sleep when it came through the portal. I also use an unique 300 HD Omnimental that several elemental lords got together and created to fight the para-elementals, but it went horribly wrong and now there’s an entire society on Athas devoted to keeping it asleep.

As an aside, while I feel Avangions work with the elementals (and rain) to advance, Dragons would only be accepted by Magma, Silt, and Sun paraelementals. The others are actively harmed by defilers, I can’t see any service that could be so great as to entice them at the cost of their own power.

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I certainly agree SeruZmaj that singular rulers in charge of each Elemental Plane is unseemly to the setting. If nothing else, it implies more order and hierarchy than I would envision on these Planes. Whatever “armies” these great elemental powers might muster, I hardly imagine them being full of ranked officers, commanding echelons of units from platoon to brigade. That is for some other universe. On Dark Sun’s elemental planes, these are assuredly more like motley bands and hordes, and if they are led by any one elemental at all, it probably has little more than the title of “leader” or the like.

I have certainly enjoyed the archomentals, but alas I do not envision them for Dark Sun. They smack too much of the traditional AD&D multiverse. I have however considered porting the 30-HD avatars of the Elemental Gods from Forgotten Realms as base templates for “Elemental Lords.”

Though I know you are writing in 3rd Edition terms, I am nonetheless intrigued by your mega-hit die elemental lords. 75+ HD is a lot in 2nd Edition terms (especially that 300 HD omnimental you mention!), and reminds me of the stats of the gods from 1st edition, who would not even have hit die but rather just enormous blocks of hit points, like 300 or even 400 hp. Are Dark Sun’s elemental lords so powerful? I think that my answer is yes, some of them are, though as you suggest, perhaps it is not as easy for them to directly act. Indeed, the very act of some 300HD earth omnimental moving might cause earthquakes on Athas, and cause such a being much expenditure of its strength.

I am unfamiliar with your “Black God in the Dreadlands.” I am looking to build a catalog of these types of named elemental lords, and I would be interested to learn more about this being if you have more information.

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I mainly use 3.5e, and I incorporated these ideas into the 8th defiler metamorphosis spell. As follows:

Defiler Metamorphosis VIII

Transmutation/Metacreativity (psionic enchantment)

Spellcraft DC: 127 DC
Components: V, S, F
Casting Time: 1 minute
Target, effect or area: Personal
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: N/A
Spell Resistance: No

To develop: 1,143,000 Cp, 23 days, 45,720 XP. Seed: (transmutation) transform (21 DC). Seed: (metacreativity) life (55 DC). Factors: defiler metamorphosis 8 (210 DC). Mitigating factors: Change range to personal (-2 DC). Sacrifice 2000 HD of living creatures (-50 DC). Assistance of an Elemental Lord (-50 DC). Burn 5700XP (-57 DC).

The almost unbearable pain and agony seem to be second only to your fury and hatred as another stage of the metamorphosis is completed. You are now bigger than ever before.

This spell may only be cast after the defiler metamorphosis VII spell has been cast, and you must be of dragon type. Additionally, this spell must be cast as a psionic enchantment, meaning an epic psionic power slot must be expended in the casting.

At this, the eighth stage of your metamorphosis, a focus structure is detrimental your continuing metamorphosis, and you are so powerful you have no need of a focus structure anyway. Instead of a focus structure, you enlist the aid of a powerful Elemental Lord. The Elemental Lord provides you with the pure essence of his plane to assist you in your metamorphosis. In return for this assistance, the Elemental Lord asks nothing of you but that you become one of his kind by taking his elemental subtype. An advanced being anchored in the Material Plane allows the flow mystical energies to the devastated elemental plane of the corresponding subtype, healing some damage to the elemental plane. The following subtypes are available: fire, air, earth, water and cold. Cold elemental lords live in the elemental plane of water.

Additionally, you can some of the benefits on the elemental subtype as follows:

A creature with the fire subtype has immunity to fire. It has vulnerability to cold, which means it takes half again as much (+50%) damage as normal from cold, regardless of whether a saving throw is allowed, or if the save is a success or failure.

A creature with the cold subtype has immunity to cold. It has vulnerability to fire, which means it takes half again as much (+50%) damage as normal from fire, regardless of whether a saving throw is allowed, or if the save is a success or failure.

Your breath weapon changes, if necessary, to a type that is consistent with your new subtype. For example, if your breath weapon was cone of flame but your subtype is now cold, your breath weapon changes to a cone of cold. Use the chromatic true dragons as a guideline.

This spell transforms you into the eighth stage of the Athasian dragon species. Your size increases by 1 category, gaining all the inherent features thereof. If your size increases from Huge to Gargantuan for instance, you would gain +8 Str, +4 Con, , and -2 on attack/AC. In addition, your skin and scales become denser, giving you an additional +5 Natural Armor bonus. Your infusion of pure elemental energy to fuel your metamorphosis gives you the elemental subtype (earth, air, fire or water) that corresponds with the assisting Elemental Lord. Furthermore, elemental creatures of this subtype view you as one of their own kind. Initial NPC attitude is one degree better than it would be normally (for example, if an NPC of the same elemental subtype would normally have an initial attitude of indifferent, it is considered friendly instead).

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Very interesting. The type of Elemental Lord influences what you are becoming as a dragon. Very interesting. Obviously that allows for quite a bit of potential variety, as far as Athasian dragons go.

Interesting, no, that avangions seem not to need Elemental sponsors. Yet dragons need them multiple times.

Good stuff. I shall have to consider.

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I reworked the avangion spells here.

Here are all my compiled epic spells. Some are a work in progress.

Here are my “salient feats” for advanced beings. Although for 3.5e, this system could be implemented in other systems because it is a bolt on system. I remembered all our discussions from the wizards forum almost two decades ago, so in that file I answer the question about whether sorcerer monarchs can cast spells spontaneously as you claimed (the answer is yes for a number of spells, if they take the salient feat), among many other questions posed by you. Enjoy.

Check out Athas.org’s Secret’s of the Dead Lands. Specifically the Lands of the Disciples section (pg48).


I consider that there are no gods in Athas even those elemental in nature. There can be powerful elementals on Athas, but as them don´t want the powers (gods) of other settings even come to Athas, they consider affecting Athas as unnamed powers…

Even more, if we consider the old “Dawn War”, a gods vs archoelementals war in the begining of time, seems that the loser side (elemental side) still have at least Athas, as a one crystal sphere -to use the Spelljammer reference to each setting universe- so they, the most powerful elemental lords around do not want BY ANY MEANS to ever be referenced to gods, in hope dont lose Athas -or other similar crystal spheres- That also explain the absence of dragons like other settings on Athas as well.

I remember reading about a powerful silt elemental looking as a big silt horror deep in the Silt Sea, and genasis living in some elemental influenced islands going East from the Tyr Region to the Silt Sea, so maybe you can start from there


Interesting cosmological reflections Alvar. You are not alone in such or similar concepts. The Gray is like a veil, at least to mortals. In the Verdant Passage, we first see the Gray as a veil, the boundary between life and death, which Rikus faces after his near death experience fighting the gaj. A psychopomp even appears to guide him through, but in classic form, Rikus refuses death.

That the Gray could be as some sort of veil to even the gods is not impossible. Though it could be as a veil for mortal folk, who are left to struggle without the direct divine aid of other worlds, as if it were some sort of grand experiment by deities who wanted to test what mortals might do without them.

As to the silt kraken, I rather enjoyed Ul-Athra, even if as only a myth. I mean to include this being in my list of great elemental lords.

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