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On the Elemental Spirits

April 7, 2009

firelordSo once again Etsugal and I were musing about aspects of Azeroth that are probably way to deep for anyone to muse about… except that we’re roleplayers and that’s just what you do. This time, it’s about elementals and the Elemental Plane.

The rule about elementals is that you do not talk about elementals. I mean, they’re trapped in the elemental plane. It’s actually somewhat strange that we have a character class entirely devoted to communing with and working with elementals because in their own way, elementals are Bad Guys. Way back in the day, before the titans, the elementals were the servants, lap dogs, and soldiers of the Old Gods. Old Gods are bad. They’re like… Well like the Aztec gods. Like Huitzilpochtli demanding hundreds of blood sacrifices to not destroy the world.

In any case, the titans arrive, lay out a picnic and sit around discussing how very fine this whole world would be if only those party pooper Old Gods would stuff it and let them enjoy their pimento loaf sandwiches. Well, like any good picnic nuisance, the Old Gods couldn’t just up and stop being annoying, so the Titans created the Elemental Plane, locked the elementals there, and then shoved the Old Gods down below the ground and figured they were done. At this point they start building things like dwarves and gnomes and Uldaman, Uldum, Uludar,…and a bunch of other things that begun with “Ul” too, I’m sure. Not very creative, were they? What this leaves us with, then, is a bunch of elementals from four opposing factions shoved together in one little prison. And this is where we come in.

The Elemental Plane is a prison, but more like a prison in which most of the cells have tunnels to the outside already dug in them. We can use magic to travel there or summon them, and they can open gates into our world or use force of will to simply blink themselves into existence over here. The Elemental Plane is something like Azeroth before the whole giant Well of Eternity BOOM thing. It’s a single continent surrounded by water with air above and fire (lava and whatnot) below however, being a prison, it seems to be shaped somewhat hyperbolically so that going in any direction will cause you to end up right where you were. There are lots of animals and plants, but they’re adapted to live in a world constantly subject to elemental warfare.

The idea is this: there are many “classes” of elementals. You’ve got Ragnaros the Fire Lord, the elementals that roam Azeroth, right on down to the little guys you can summon with a totem or that say “Reth, reth, reth!” when you burn huts in Nagrand. I propose that different classes of elementals have varying levels of… consciousness, awareness. I think the elemental Lords are the highest level of consciousness, probably owning a consciousness beyond what we, as mortals, understand and closer to omniscience. Below them, though, as the power of an elemental decreases so does it’s awareness. The tiny little guys that you may use in quests or that can be attached to a totem, I’d argue are somewhere between a rock and an ant. They exist, and can have a magic-user or elemental lord infuse them with a purpose, but only one purpose and they will continue doing that one thing until they either gain power and awareness somehow or are destroyed.

I also think that we can summon the elementals to do our bidding that have some degree of autonomy but not enough power or force of will to push through to our world on their own through the use of the elemental bracers. And/or the elementals can’t even exist here without the bracers. I think that the bracers, constructed out of material from our world and imbued in some special way allow the elementals a physical shape in this world. Something like the bracers and wrappings of the ethereals allow them to have a defined form and without them they’re just an inconsistent blob of energy prone to floating away with the breeze.

What are our characters doing with elementals then? Do the elementals still feel some allegiance to their Old God masters, or have the Elemental Lords freed themselves from the Old Gods and are now pursuing their own ambitions? Are the elemental spirits we commune with really benevolent, or are they simply using our reverence for them to gain power and move up within the ranks of the elemental army?

It seems to me that the earth elementals, at least, have decided that all the inhabitants of Azeroth (except perhaps the Draenei) are Therazane Stonemother’s “children”. One can never be sure, but they seem to be benevolent and the most open to helping us. It’s also possible that Therazane is the Tauren “Earthmother”, although that does put a damper on the sun and moon being the Earthmother’s eyes. If that were true, I’m incredibly, intensely, inarticulately grateful that she didn’t make the tauren in her image.

Neptulon is said to be the most powerful elemental lord and is supposed to be really touchy about having people knock before they come into his room. People entering his “domain” (Read: anything and anywhere you’d find Dihydrogen monoxide). I think if you treat with him and his creatures respectfully though, that he’s probably the second most easy going of the elemental lords. This assumption is based almost entirely on the fact that the “beneficial” totems like the water and healing spring are water totems.

Al’Akir the Windlord is supposed to be fickle and underpowered compared to his…siblings. So, he’s touchy and apparently doesn’t care much when you cast air spells except for when he’s feeling pissy. I’d call him a neutral party m’self.

Ragnaros. I don’t really know what to say about him. He was brought into the world against his will by the Dark Irons and is now both trying to just find his way home… but also destroy our world. These could be at the same time, they could be mutually exclusive… it’s just whatever he feels like… kinda like Al’Akir I suppose. Personally… I didn’t like much what that little elemental thing did during the Midsummer Fire Festival, turning giant on us, and I don’t trust the fire elementals. I think they’re willing to work with us so long as we feed them power and you’ve really got to be careful you don’t give them too much.

Better yet, just don’t talk to strange elementals at all, particularly not ones who want to sell you tickets to sporting events or Rolex watches with the name spelled wrong… Some elementals seem friendly, some seem angry, but what do we really know about any of them?

-Mitawa

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