Monday, 17 February 2014

A Lithic Cosmology


Why aren’t summoned earth elementals the dominant form of warfare underground?

In the Monster Manual they are slow, can travel through any kind of solid ground and can kill the fuck out of ‘anything that rests upon the earth’, which in Veins, is everything. They are also stupid. 


The reason summoned elementals are stupid is because most earth elementals are highly intelligent and very busy and very far away. From the perspective of earth elementals the cosmos looks like this.

They are at the centre. This is where they do most of their work. A huge city-continent-planet where all the hyper-complex life and endless internal politics of the Plane of Earth goes on. We hardly hear about any of it. This is the ‘first world’ from their perspective.

Around it is a mixture of fire and earth. This is considered almost as good as Earth by earth elementals. To them it’s like China or Brazil are to the West.

(They don’t really think of the elements as having their own planes. Most elements are cultural chauvinists.)

Then beyond that a kind of halo of veined, light, easily-eroded dead rock full of water and air. This is like a pirate archipelago to the Elementals of Earth. Like Somalia or some other poor chaotic backwater. It’s a place civilised people would never want to go. But it can be useful, things can be done there that cannot be done anywhere else. Meetings can take place, plans can be made out of sight. And if you are desperate, or subnormal, if you can’t make it in the ‘real’ world, you can go there to hide.

A mages summoning spell is the equivalent of an incompetent alien abduction sweeping through a backwater. Even there, most people (Elementals) are strong or smart enough to simply wave it away like a grasping hand of smoke. The only ones that will be caught are, from their perspective, animal-level elementals.

It’s as if the aliens abducted a cow or a dog and dropped it in mild acid. That’s why summoned earth elementals are stupid and violent.

If you pull the same shit underground, deep underground, things are going to be a bit different. You are a lot closer now, closer to the core, to the ‘real’ world. The Elemental you summon won’t be a dog or a cow. But they won’t be a ‘real’ citizen either. You will have got yourself in shit.

Summoning the Earth Elemental; Ramifications.

You have actually summoned.

1. A fugitive. Dangerous, wont leave, being hunted. Cops coming.
2. A child, terrified, acts out, parents on their way.
3. ‘Traveller’, likes to interact, non-violent, surprised you aren’t.
4. Refugee. Desperate not to leave, more arrive, one each turn. Geopolitical blowback.
5. Lone messenger on high-level business. You are now the baddies of a Tom Clancy film.
6. Criminal element, organised, violent, has specific plans for you. Smarter than you.

They look like.

1. Hugely segmented snake of perfect spheres.
2. Rippling flame of shifting stone
3. Bodybuilder, legs fused, stands en-pointe, moves like a tornado
4. Pangolin
5. Gorilla shape of tessellated polyhedra, constantly rearranged.
6. Giant crawling baby.

Made from.

1. Grey-black fine-grained Basalt.
2. Pillow grey Komatiite with dendric feathery crystals of green Olivine.
3. Corse-grained Peridotite with thick black pyroxene crystals.
4. Fine black Andesite with almond shaped white crystals of zeolite.
5. Rose-coloured Rhyolite.
6.Rough textured thick-crystal’d Diorite, white and black.


1. A gawping Noh-Mask face.
2. Eyes like orbs of wheeling iron, casting a hammering heat.
3. Vertical face like a chasm in the earth. Deep. Causes vertigo.
4. Concave human features, animate and wry.
5. An endlessly-opening rose of nuclear fire.
6. Spouting torrent of sand in which shadowed faces form.


  1. I like this, but now I'm envisioning your competent underdark geomancer as a sort of Afghan warlord trying to convince his bemused CIA contact (Earth elemental) that the fellows in that other valley are baddies and deserve a drone strike or two.