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Elementals are a pretty iconic part of D&D, since they’ve shown up on every book we’ve covered so far. The MM1 and MM2 elementals were built to showcase the mixed nature of the Elemental Chaos, so they were always a different combination of two or more elements.
This was pretty cool, but it also caused some edition warriors complain that they missed the traditional single-element quartet from editions past.
The Monster Manual 3 brings the “singlementals” back, with heroic, paragon and epic variants of all four classic types. The Lesser (heroic) variants would be reprinted in the Monster Vault, and we already covered them here. We’ll look at the standards and greaters now.
Air Elementals are Lurkers. They have a ground speed of 0, but very high air speeds with Hover. They also have some degree of vulnerability to Fire.
The Lesser Air Elemental is Level 1 and covered here.
This Level 10 Lurker has 81 HP and a flight speed of 8. It has the same Phantom on the Wind trait as the lesser version, which makes it become invisible when it starts the turn not adjacent to any enemies. This lasts until the end of its next turn or until it attacks, so it will remain invisible until it does close in to attack.
Its basic attack is a slam with no riders, and it can use a Rampant Storm that does more damage over a Close Burst 3 area and dazes targets that couldn’t see the elemental before it attacked.
Classic lurker tactics: start invisible, Rampant Storm, move away to become invisible again.
Greater Air Elemental
This one is Large and Level 20 with 143 HP and a speed of 10. It has most of the same traits of the standard air elemental with bigger numbers, and it replaces Rampant Storm with Engulfing Winds. This melee attack pulls and grabs the target. The elemental can move freely with a grabbed victim, which takes 20 ongoing damage until they escape.
This one wants to grab someone and play keep-away.
Earth Elementals are Soldiers. They have a burrow speed equal to their walking speed. Earth Glide allows them to pass through earth and stone as if it had phasing, and their Brittle Skin means they take a -2 penalty to all defenses for a turn when hit with thunder damage. They attack with slams.
As usual, the Lesser Air Elemental is covered in the MM/MV article.
The standard Earth Elemental is level 11 with 119 HP and Speed 7. It gains a Quake Stomp attack that covers a selective Close Burst 2 and targets Fortitude, damaging those it hits, sliding them 2 squares, and knocking them prone.
The Greater Earth Elemental is Large, Level 22 with 212 HP, and replaces Quake Stomp with Flattening Stomp, which targets a single creature for heavy physical damage and automatically knocks all enemies within 2 squares of the target prone.
Fire Elementals are skirmishers. They run very fast and can fly, though not as well as an air elemental. Their slams deal only ongoing fire damage, and Flickering Flame allows them to shift a number of squares as a minor action. If they’re hit with cold damage, though, they’re Frozen in Place and can’t shift for a turn.
All elementals have a reaction ability that deals some sort of fire damage around them when they’re hit by an attack. This gets more powerful as the elemental gets bigger. Lessers are level 1, standards Level 11, and Greaters level 21.
Water elementals are controllers. They have a swim speed equal to their ground speed, and are Aquatic. This gives them attack bonuses against non-aquatic enemies when fighting underwater. They’re Sensitive to Cold, and after taking cold damage they gain Vulnerable 5 against the next attack to hit them before the end of their next turn.
Their slams do some physical damage and inflict ongoing physical damage from the water that gets into people’s lungs. Drowning Essence allows them to slide victims taking this ongoing damage as a minor action.
Their special attack seems to be surging like a wave, dealing damage and pushing or sliding people around. It gets more damaging, more frequent, and pushier the bigger the elemental gets. It has different names for each elemental: Whelm for Lessers, Whirlpool for standards, and Surging Waves for Greaters.
I guess you can notice me getting gradually more bored with classic elementals as I wrote the above post. These ones are better than they used to be in earlier editions, but I can understand why the Monster Vault only reprinted the lessers. The more powerful versions are pretty much the kind of thing you can write yourself using the standard monster leveling rules.
Like all other elementals, they fit easily into any adventure or encounter that also features someone who could conceivably summon and bind them. They also work well as “widlife” in the Elemental Chaos.