Fire elementals get all the love. Azer, magmin, salamanders (and, nearly separate creatures, fire snakes), the popular efreeti; we love things that set other things on fire, truly we do. Every type gets genies, mephits and proper elementals, of course, but fire’s creatures have some real cachet.
But what about the other elements?
Earth gets the ever-popular gargoyle, the wacky, lovable xorn, and the underused treant-but-for-rock galeb duhr. By lore, all golems are earth-spirits, and by resonance, they also sort of kind of get most plants and oozes too. Dwarves and gnomes, and their deep- cousins on top of that. Heck, even most corporeal undead fit. Earth’s doing okay.
But I really do like the xorn, so here’s a moment or two for my second favorite earthalike. The xorn should have a swallow-whole ability so it can kidnap medium and smaller creatures, like a Legend of Zelda-style like-like. To modify it appropriately, give its multiattack 3 claws and one of Bite or Swallow Whole, give its bite grapple on hit; give it the trait Damage Transfer (Split external damage 50/50 with swallowed target), Swallow Whole action (target: one grappled creature while there are no Swallowed Whole creatures; target is no longer grappled but is blinded & restrained & has total cover outside the xorn; takes 10 (3d6) bludgeoning damage at the start of each of the xorn’s turns from internal processes; if the xorn takes 15 damage or more on a single turn from the swallowed creature, regurgitates victim prone within 10 feet (DC 16 constitution save negates); on death, creatures no longer restrained and exit with 5 feet of movement exiting prone). A mean DM lets it keep earth glide while digesting.
Air gets the invisible stalker… and that’s it, save the standard layout. An “air dungeon” would of course have all manner of flying creatures (and incorporeal undead), but come ON guys. We’re even missing the 3e standby, the Belker. This is sad, guys. There’s a lot you can do with air: poisonous gasses, lightning and storms, cold, maybe even light and dark if you start getting really obscure. But we can at least bring the belker along:
Large elemental[shapechanger] (neutral evil)
Armor Class: 15 (11 when solid)
Hit Points: 59 (7d10+21)
Speed: fly 10 ft. (and walk 30 ft when solid)
STR +3 DEX +1 CON +3 INT -1 WIS -1 CHA -2
Senses: Blindsight 60 ft.
Passive Perception 9
Damage Resistances: Acid, cold, fire, lightning, nonmagical weapon damage (loses all when solid)
Damage Immunities: Poison
Condition Immunities: Poisoned; grappled and restrained (loses when solid)
Challenge Rating 4
Wind vulnerability (not while solid): The belker treats moderate (10mph) wind, or any amount of precipitation, per holding its breath (a per minute timer). It treats strong (20mph) wind per asphyxiation (a per round timer). It treats liquids as a solid surface.
Smoke form (not while solid): The belker can enter a hostile creature’s space and stop there. It can move through a space as narrow as 1 inch wide without squeezing. It cannot hold or manipulate objects. A creature beginning its turn in the belker’s space must make a DC 13 Constitution save against poison or spend its action on its turn retching and reeling.
Phase: The belker can choose at the end of each of its turns whether to be solid or gaseous (statistics default to gaseous). Its traits are modified as indicated while solid (lower AC, gains a walk speed, loses resistances, loses wind vulnerability, smoke form; deals additional damage). It cannot become solid while sharing its space with a creature or object, or contacting substantial liquid.
Multiattack: Make two talon attacks.
Talon: +5 to hit, reach 5ft., one target. Hit: 8 (2d4+3) slashing damage. If the belker is solid, this attack deals an additional 5 (1d10) slashing damage. If the target is retching and reeling, the target is poisoned for 1 minute and while poisoned takes 5 (1d10) slashing damage at the beginning of each of its turns as the belker’s claws attack the creature’s insides; a DC 13 Constitution save ends this poisoned effect.
This take on the belker seems workable to me. Like the Ankheg, it has state-dependent stats; in this particular case, it’s mostly “was the party able to force the creature out into the open or cast the otherwise not-so-useful gusting wind or are they toughing it out in the belker’s preferred battleground”. I think it prefers a sort of drifting hit-and-run, but its low speed means that if the party wants to get away, they probably will: it’s an ambusher. Trap them in bottles for extra fun.
Water. Water wierds. I think that’s all they get, and because the water wierd depends on the underspecified drowning rules, I’m still not really certain how to use them. This is not cool. Think about all the interesting ice-type elementals we could have had. Think about a template like “topiary guardian” but made out of water. Think about nereids. I guess we’ve got mermaids and merrow, a sidebar for lacedons, various aquatic dinos; even storm giants. So the water type is well represented, just not water-typed elementals
Huge elemental (neutral evil)
Armor Class: 10 (natural armor)
Hit Points: 85 (10d12+30)
Speed: 30 ft.
STR +3 DEX -2 CON +3 INT -2 WIS -2 CHA -1
Senses Darkvision 60 ft.
Passive Perception 8
Damage Immunity: cold
Condition Immunity: charmed
Challenge Rating 4
Regeneration: At the beginning of each round while the homunculus has at least 1 hit point, it regains 10 hit points. This trait is suppressed until the end of its turn whenever the homunculus takes fire damage or is not in contact with frost or snow. If this trait brings the creature above 25 hit points, it grows to large; above 50 hit points, it grows to huge. If the homunculus’s new space includes a creature, they are moved to an unoccupied space of their choice adjacent to the homunculus or, if no such space exists, fall prone.
Melt: When the homunculus drops below 25 hit points, its size reduces to medium; below 50 hit points, its size reduces to large. Whenever this happens, after shrinking the homunculus may use Icy Aura as a reaction.
Icewalking: Snow and ice do not cause difficult terrain for this creature, clouds of snow or ice do not impede its vision.
Frozen body: A creature that touches the homunculus, or hits it with a melee attack while within 5 feet, takes 10 (3d6) cold damage; if it is large sized, the damage is 7 (2d6) cold and if medium, 3 (1d6) cold. It also deals this damage with its weapon attacks (already included in the attack).
Slam: +7 to hit, reach 5ft., one target. Hit: 13 (3d6+3) bludgeoning and 10 (3d6) cold damage. If the homonculus is large size, it deals 10 (2d6+3) bludgeoning and 7 (2d6) cold. If the homunculus is medium size, it deals 6 (1d6+3) bludgeoning and 3 (1d6) cold.
Boulder: +7 to hit, range 20/60 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (3d4+3) bludgeoning and 10 (3d6) cold damage. If the homunculus is large size, it deals 8 (2d4+3) bludgeoning and 7 (2d6) cold; if medium, 5 (1d4+3) bludgeoning and 3 (1d6) cold.
Icy Aura: The homunculus’ space and every space within 5 feet are slicked with ice. The ground becomes slick ice which is difficult terrain, and creatures entering or beginning their turn within the space fall prone (DC 15 Dexterity save negates prone); this lasts until it naturally melts. For one round after using this effect, the air is also heavily obscured with snow flurries in the same area.
An article for another time: Where are my lightning elementals, my ice elementals, my wood elementals? I can fake lava reasonably well, but what about iron and thorn and other non-classicals?
An article for another time: Did pathfinder drop the elemental type? While writing this, I checked their SRD to refresh my memory: they’re all outsiders. 3e had it. Weird.