Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Art of Being a Monster: Elemental

Fire. Slime. Air. Lightning. Metal. The infinite planes of pure elemental energies mix and swirl into still more infinite combinations of goals, treatises, and ideals. This guide will seek to perfect the tactics of those beings originating from the elemental planes of energy far beyond the reckoning of the mortal world. Take note of these archetypes and see how your abilities will best trump their powers, so that you may act unopposed.
F: As your attacks are physical and in only some cases will you have superior mobility, you will be forced to attack through the fighter. This opponent has strong defenses and is tough, and will force you to waste your time while their allies strike at you. Use the terrain to your advantage, taking cover from the fighter’s allies while you fight this armored foe. If this is not possible, consider using your elemental abilities to damage the fighter through their armor, ensnare them, or evade them. Ranged attacks from cover can be a useful opening salvo or even a powerful strategy if you can keep the fighter from engaging you. This foe will be your biggest challenge, as they will attempt to keep you locked into fighting them, protecting their allies.
T: Your elemental form is going to be mostly or entirely immune to any sort of back-stabbing and your physical might too strong for a weak flanking enemy to risk getting near you. If the thief shows capability to do grave harm, ready an attack for when they come near. Otherwise, this opponent is a very low priority to eliminate. Keep in position, if possible, to make it hard for them to attack you.
R: Measly arrows and slings from a ranged enemy will do little to harm you, but they add up if the ranger can sit behind the protection of a fighter. Do your best to keep cover in mind when defeating the fighter, but you can usually wait to engage the ranger until after the bigger threats of the fighter and wizard have been defeated. Keep changing your angles of cover so that the ranged enemy must keep moving, unable to steady their aim.
W: Spell-casters will have a difficult time harming you, with your many resistances to elemental damage and inherent toughness. They do present a unique threat of banishing spells to which your only defense is to prepare the battlefield with anti-magic effects, beat through the fighter to eliminate them, or simply have a good backup plan for what you do after you are banished. It may help to invest in magic that improves your chances of resisting banishment. After negating the fighter’s protection, immediately engage the caster.
The Ideal Elemental’s Forms
A keen elemental will take heed of the following mental forms to adjust their actions to suit their purposes. The direct path or the obvious path has often lead past elementals to fail in their pursuits and bring ruin to their plane. It is best to put forth as much energy to sculpt plans to fit the forms and ideals presented below. Your element is perfection and your plots will bring it closer to dominion over all existence.
-My own element is the most powerful there is, but to truly increase its glory, I must not be afraid to utilize the lesser elements in my strategies and tactics. I will gather magic and mundane items that expand my attack types outside of what would be expected by my opponents. For example, ooze elementals for example should seek out ways to turn solid rock or steel to their advantage or fire elementals attacking enemies recently frozen with blasts of extreme cold.
-Elementals are often subject to dangerous conditions and my plans always include some risk of being killed. I will keep on hand planar teleporting abilities, illusion spells, or the like to make a quick escape. Methods that mimic the appearance of death are preferable in that they keep enemies from searching for me, and elementals leave no particularly distinguished corpse upon death, making it easier to fake.
-The only creatures that can match my power are other extraplanar or elemental creatures. I will maintain, to the best of my ability, a solid reputation for following through on my promises. To support this goal, I will only make promises I intend to keep. This allows my threats and bribes to carry the weight I intend. Additionally, this means having a network of alliances and friendlies I can call upon as I desire. This should be doubly true for natural allies to my element.
-Any material plane lair will be designed to be totally inscrutable and uninhabitable by material plane creatures. The only exceptions to this rule are where material plane minions are needed, the resources required for such a design are too costly, or where I need to lure material plane creatures for my schemes. No matter what, my inner sanctum and most valuable assets will be as inhospitable to mortals as possible: inside solid rock, in frigid ice water, or in unbearably hot magma rooms, etc.
-The other, lesser elementals and extraplanar creatures can make good momentary allies so I should not be afraid to work with them. It can surprise my foes from unexpected directions but I should not rely on them or leave their portion of a plan without redundancy. Despite their inferiority, it advances my cause little to remind them of this inferiority. I will give the appearance of earnestly listening to their ideology to befriend them.
-If I can, I should give off the illusion of being of another elemental type or especially a non-elemental, mortal creature to throw off any would-be-slayers. An easy example of this would be occupying objects with my shapeless form or disguising myself. Giants, oozes, plants, undead, or creatures weak to elemental damages make good disguise choices. Slayers might waste their precious magic or attacks using inefficient damage types before they realize their mistake. I should supplement this belief by stocking my lair appropriately and leaving fake evidence of my disguised form.
-Any cultists I might attract will absolutely not allowed to be Evil™. Even if our goals are diametrically opposed to the survival or enjoyment of material plane creatures, it is stupid to be open about it. Needless aggression and destruction only attracts the attention of would-be-heroes and monster hunters. I will couch my cult’s language in things that hold the highest regard for whatever values the local kingdom upholds, twisting them to my own ends. If they are too difficult to twist, material plane minds are easily tricked into holding two contrary ideals without seeing the contradiction.
-It is much easier to convert from a seemingly neutral point of view. I will at least pretend to be interested in the ideologies of other creatures and planes. It will serve me best if I have a good understanding of the beliefs behind my enemies actions. Intolerance is unlikely, if ever, to result in a beneficial outcome compared to tolerance. Understanding others’ motivations only makes it easier to convert them to my side by showing them how their internal motivations line up better with my plans or ideology, even as a lie.
-I will have some sort of bargain with another intelligent extraplanar that I can run my larger schemes past. A reciprocal relationship between us should allow us to help remove blind spots from our plots we may have based on our narrow upbringings. Ideally, it would be best to have a triad of such ‘advisors’, which is not so many that it becomes unwieldy to return the favor but not so few that mistakes can go easily unnoticed. These should be those whose interests are so far removed from me as to be neutral. They should neither be allies nor enemies. Even after confirming my plans with them, I will still not assume my plans are flawless.
-I will maintain a solid base of operations on my home plane or at least a fall back shelter in case I get banished from the material plane, whether on purpose or by accident. At a bare minimum, this should include redundant abilities to contact my next in command, redundant ways to return to whatever plane I was one, backup copies of vital equipment, protection against magical detection, and a way to heal.
-Seeing as my major escape tactic and powers I use rely on the ability to connect with other planes, I will have numerous tests to determine whether my foes have an ability that negates this connection like a planar anchor. Illusion effects, minions, and magic are good ways to test this, but are never entirely accurate. They will throw difficult or seemingly difficult challenges at my foe that are easily beaten with a banishing-type effect, hoping to draw out such an ability before it is used to surprise me in combat. I will always assume that my enemies could have some sort of back up plan to knock out my connection with my plane, and will thus have independent means to reassert my connection with my plane or escape.
-If I am relying on permanent magic such as portals for any part of my plans, I will both ensure that I have a redundant, separate source of power to draw upon should the first fail as well as providing numerous false, fake, or unnecessary copies of the device or enchantment. Fake portals will cause my enemies to waste their dispelling magic while false mechanisms delay them while I escape with the real one or organize a counterattack. The real device or enchantment will be designed so as to appear as a broken or lesser part of another device. Dispelling or destroying the ‘main’ mechanism will make it appear stopped or stop it temporarily until the saboteurs leave.
-Money is valuable to material plane creatures so I will keep a good amount around in nigh-inaccessible areas to use for bargaining, bribery, or mercenaries. I will not hoard it in the open except as a distraction or as cover for suspicious treasures or traps elsewhere in my lair.
-I will freely seed rumors about magical rituals I need to perform to complete my goals. They will be of varying degrees of credulity with varying but seemingly symbolic timelines and ingredients. This will make it very difficult for my enemies to determine how to actually stop any necessary rituals from taking place. I will perform some of these fake rituals as if they were as important as the real ones. I will keep fake ingredients, prisoners, equipment, and tomes scattered about my lair.
-My successful plans and enchantments will be ‘secretly’ leaked with ways to undo them that are arduous but seemingly logical: return this ring to a volcano, find a rare flower in the distant marsh, etc. I will couch these rumors in vague and mysterious language so that adventurers will think themselves clever for having deciphered them, while foolish ones never even think to attack me. This will keep my enemies focused on the wrong task if they do try to fight me. I will not gloat or do nothing with this extra time, I will use it to research my foes and prepare my defenses or flee.
-My abilities are supernatural and thus continue to function in anti-magic zones or under the effects of creatures that create such effects. I will utilize the means at my disposal to gather anti-magic effects as normal material plane weapons are much less lethal against me than their enchanted counterparts. This has the added benefit of giving enemy magic users a hard time and making any elemental style hazards more difficult to bypass.
-I have little to no need of armor or weapons, so I will not keep those or other useful items around in my lair except where needed by my minions. For those necessary pieces of equipment, I will try to make sure they are as inconvenient for outsiders to use as possible. This might include things like getting all armor custom-fit to my minions, training my minions to use exotic weaponry, or even enchanting them to fall apart if someone else tries to use them. Likewise, treasures and magic items will be sold or destroyed if they are not serving some purpose. Better that than to give invaders free resources to use against me. Adventurer corpses will be cleared from my lair on a regular basis, both to withhold their post-mortem equipment from future invaders as well as to disguise the lethality of any particular section of my temple.
-If possible, I will ally with a powerful magic user, pretending to be their servant or pet. The power they wield can easily be twisted to suit my ends, as they are almost entirely prideful and curious creatures with weak wills for flattery and inquiry. They will defend their own towers, leaving me free to spend more of my own energy on my own matters, retreating to my real lair if the mage should lose. Even better, I may be able to turn against my former ‘master’ and gain the alliance of even more competent adventurers, repeating this cycle to gain more and more powerful allies, each time playing the role of the bound servant.
-I will propagate the idea that summoned elementals are bound to their master’s whims and it is only freak accidents that allow elementals to attack or betray their summoner. This is a secret all elemental kind benefits from, as the summoning spells use the caster’s magic to get us to the material plane instead of us having to expend our own energies getting here. It also gives a great excuse to not be killed, that we should be held as blameless servants with no free will to act outside of our summoner’s command. Creatures look at the chains around our necks and think on us no more, paying no mind to the fact that there is no lock.
-My advantages lie in my control over elemental energies. I will keep sizeable amounts of accessible elemental sources nearby me at all times, or retreat if I do not. My lair will feature large quantities of usable material of this type for my advantage. To make sure that this is not obvious to foes, I will do this in the most inconspicuous manner possible. This might mean, for example, hiding great ramparts of stone or earth behind a thin facade of paper or wood. Extra-dimensional space items are unsurpassed advantages for just this purpose, allowing me to instantly transform a battlefield to my favor. Finally, I will also make sure to have access to magic that can transform my immediate environment to suit my purposes, allowing me to swing otherwise unwinnable fights in my favor.
Shape yourself up, lest you fall apart to return in spirit to your plane. Worse yet, fail repeatedly and you may find your energies repossessed by your home plane. These forms are the ideals that will bring you ever closer to perfection.

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