Wednesday 13 September 2023

Humanity's Elementals: Necessary for the Life of Men

The principal things for the whole use of man's life are water, fire, iron, and salt, flour of wheat, honey, milk, and the blood of the grape, and oil, and clothing.

Ecclesiasticus 39.26, Authorised Version*. 

(The Book of Ecclesiasticus is to be found in the Apocrypha and is also known as the Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach.)



Appearance Not the water of the deeps, not water of the torrent, not the water of the hillside spring, not the water of the life-giving rain. Man's water. Five legs, made of pipes, bottles, jars and jugs support a large sphere of water. Within the sphere is a curious face, with the fluid features of a brush-and-ink work.

Assorted Sense Data Strong light through the elemental's body casts a strange glimmering pattern on the ground. It has a voice like water chugging through a borehole. 

The Subtly Supernatural Wake this Elemental can Produce A scatter of droplets - either refreshingly cool or startlingly cold.

Disposition Serious-minded, slow-moving, lucid.

Threats and Assorted Offensive Capabilities Kicks from five legs, jets of high-pressure water.

Gifts the Elemental may Offer A small stone carved with the elemental's face. This can purify a tun of water.

Trophies gained Once the Elemental is Dispelled Five small stones that will each reduce a tun of water to a fine grey powder.


Appearance Not the wild fire, not the elemental fire, not the sorcerous fire, not the heavenly fire. Man's fire. Picture a being like a goat. This goat has a stone hearth for a torso, two fire pots for protruding eyes, two candelabra for horns, a clay oil lamp for a brief tail. A mouth of curiously unconsumed hot coals. Each leg is an iron poker, terminating in a human hand made of four fire-strikers and a pointed flint thumb.

Sense Data Walking over stone the elemental makes little clicks. A small trail of smoke follows the elemental, growing thicker in moments of conflict or stress. The elemental speaks in the voice of a furnace. A faintly caprine furnace.

Wake A startled elemental can create a great cloud of sparks. 

Disposition Hungry - ravenous, even - but curiously affectionate, not to say clingy. 

Threats Flame, Iron-shod knees, two big horns, sparks, four sharp thumbs, a mouthful of burning coals.

Gifts The elemental coughs up an ember. This is perpetually just shy of bursting into flame, needing only a good strong puff and may be extinguished only by magic. Storing it? That's your problem. 

Trophies Twelve of said embers, but they all hate you.


Appearance A tottering pile of iron plates, gathered around a handful of iron spits that rise up like a thick neck. About this, two overlapping slopes of plates descend to two ingot-like feet. Two sets of tongs protrude from left and right about the midriff.

Sense Data A voice like tuneless chimes, as of metal on metal. Thumping heavy footsteps.

Wake A strange cold sensation in the air, and a subtle oiliness.

Disposition Stubborn, inflexible, cold and reassuringly firm.
[Iron and Salt were once lovers. Or siblings, possibly twins. It's a little difficult to tell. They had an affair of alarming torridity and concerning intensity. Or a family quarrel over the supramundane equivalent of father's pocket watch. Either way, whenever Iron encounters Salt, the elemental goes a strange reddish-brown colour.]

Threats An iron-hard body. If provoked, the elemental can also make a noise like all the hammers of the Nibelungs, except so loud you can feel it like the mother of all migraines. 

Gifts The elemental gives little, but will reshape metal implements as desired. The elemental can also get just about any Fairy junior to Oberon to shove off.  

Trophies As much iron as you can carry.


Appearance Imagine the armour of a hoplite, but make it white, crystalline and translucent. Fill it with rock salt in the shape of a department store mannequin. 

Sense Data A soft white trail on the floor. A briny scent in the air. A voice like somebody taking rasping, softly crunching steps in fresh snow.

Wake Out of the air, something begins clinging to you, coating you, causing little tensions on your skin.

Disposition Melancholy but interesting. Occasionally florid, never insipid. 
[Iron and Salt were once lovers. Or siblings, possibly twins. It's a little difficult to tell. They had an affair of alarming torridity and concerning intensity. Or a family quarrel over the supramundane equivalent of father's pocket watch. Either way, whenever Salt encounters Iron, the elemental becomes highly flakey.]

Threats Ever been in a sandstorm that hated you? Plus two salty fists.

Gifts  The elemental can also get just about any fell spirit junior to Mammon to shove off.

Trophies A pile of white powder. If you shove your hand it, it comes out covered in razor-sharp flakes. They will not cut you, and they will not come off readily.

Flour of Wheat

Appearance Shaped as a human, wearing a skirt or apron that reaches to cover the feet. The wedge of the lower body appears to practically hover over the ground. The surface of the elemental's body is dusted in fine flour: if you wipe this away, it reveals a body of plain dough. Cutting into the body reveals a sticky, over-watered dough. Much like hair, a golden sheaf of wheat sprouts from the elemental's head. A set of facial features and muscle-mimicing details are formed by scores much like the top of a country loaf.

Sense Data If burnt by sorcerous fire, the elemental may begin to cook and give off the smell of fresh bread. The speech of the elemental is like wind through a wheat field.  Divots in the body of the elemental are easily made and easily smoothed out. 

Wake The flour on the surface of the elemental can be shaken into a concealing cloud. 

Disposition Placid as a pig; graceful as a deer.

Threats Two big doughy fists. An engulfing body. 

Gifts A pie-crust containing fine white flour. The flour may be used to create high-end baked goods; the pie-crust may be refilled with something more interesting to create a delicious pie. 

Trophies The flesh of the elemental taken without permission is a tasteless toxic paste.


Appearance A camel, the colour of brass, bearing on its back in the place of humps a hive and a large clay pot. The camel's eyes and hooves are hexagonal. 

Sense Data A tuneful but inescapable buzzing. A sweet scent on the air. The voice of the elemental has a certain sweet clarity.

Wake A sudden swarm of bees.

Disposition Charming, Optimistic.

Threats Hooves, angry and focused bees. 

Gifts A wax ampoule containing honey: a taste will sate any human hunger, a dressing of it will cure most wounds.

Trophies A vast pot of honey - which will attract ten times the amount of flies even the sweetest vinegar does.


Appearance A floating vesica piscis or pointed oval, apparently made of a hundred pats of butter shaped like rose petals. Milk flows perpetually from a spot near the centre. 

Sense Data The sound of dripping. The voice of the elemental is smooth, its diction unhurried.  

Wake You have the horrible, almost overwhelming sensation that something is wrong and it will not be fixed. 

Disposition Irritable, but mercurial. The mood will not last. 

Threats A bombardment of cream. Lots of it. Enough to clot in your throat. 

Gifts How much milk would you like?

Trophies A puddle of clarified butter, contaminated with whatever detritus was on the floor at the time. This makes an excellent - nigh-on supernaturally effective - grease.

Blood of the Grape

Appearance A voluptuous but androgynous humanoid form, the colour of red wine. It wears a crown of vines and had green eyes. Cutting into the body spills wine: if this is not drunk, it clots into a black scab (which tastes strongly of raisins).

Sense Data Songs pass the elementals lips at almost all times. It has a deep-throated voice. 

Wake The smell of brandy worms into your nostrils, bringing you to the point of giddiness.

Disposition A jovial host, by turns caring and attentive or wildly exuberant.

Threats Intoxication, the possibility of choking on wine, two fists each with the weight of a hogshead behind them.

Gifts The elemental sets a silver spigot into a finger tip and pours out some of the best claret you've ever drunk. 

Trophies A skeleton, soaked in what appears to be Malmsey. It's even in the marrow.


Appearance A hooded figure, with numerous folds in the cloth of its voluminous garment. The folds have the static quality of sculpture. The hood and cloak have the colour of dull gold. The cloak seems to cling at the ground. 

Sense Data Glistening traces of oil on plant matter where the elemental has passed. The voice of the elemental hisses and fizzes like oil in the skillet. 

Wake The air becomes startling humid. Movement in armour becomes tiresome. 

Disposition Ingratiating at first, but easily nettled. 

Threats The floor below you becomes suddenly frictionless. Your sword-hand coated in a glaze of lard, the pages of your grimoire stuck together. Life becomes very difficult, even before your mouth is stopped by a glistening hand. 

Gifts An unguent that comforts and speeds the healing of a great many wounds and infections. 

Trophies A vast tarpaulin - that is, an Oilskin.  


Appearance As an octopus made of several bolts of cloth knotted together into a central mass which is bounded about with a broad leather belt. 

Sense Data An octopus made of cloth makes very little noise unless it wishes to. Naturally, the only odour from the cloth is a slight smell of cedar shavings. It has a voice like a shuttle being drawn through a loom. 

Wake The feeling of a dozen loose threads in your clothes, tickling and twining in inconvenient places. It becomes difficult to concentrate.

Disposition Fussy, detail-oriented, perfectionist. 

Threats Eight ensnaring tentacles and a great resilient head with which to butt.

Gifts A beautiful and nearly indestructible ribbon. 

Trophies Eight bolts of fine but fragile cloth, prone to ripping. 


*Cf. Douay-Rheims: The principal things necessary for the life of men, are water, fire, and iron, salt, milk, and bread of flour, and honey, and the cluster of the grape, and oil, and clothing
and the Revised Standard Version: Basic to all the needs of man's life are water and fire and iron and salt and wheat flour and milk and honey, the blood of the grape, and oil and clothing. I think the Authorised Version has the most fantastic possibilities with that pairing of iron and salt, and the 'principal things... of man's life' phrase. 


  1. Replies
    1. Does any portion strike you as particularly choice?

    2. Hard to single any one part out - I particularly like how un-like the existing water, fire, etc elementals these are, and how well you have imbued them with a sense of what they are to humanity. I also like the Appearance / Sense Data / Wake / Disposition / Threats / Gifts / Trophies classification.

  2. This is really nice interpretation of elementals.

    1. I was contemplating calling them something else, but I think 'Elemental' sums it up best.

  3. Yeah these are sick - favourites are the honey elemental & the wine elemental