Arbiter’s Elemental Court
Not all of the technology woes of the Shogunate were directly tied to the loss of the Celestial Exalted and the sorcery and Charms they wielded. A second tier of unanticipated hardship plagued the new rulers of Creation because of the Dragon-Bloods’ low position in the hierarchy of the Exalted. The Solar Exalted alone were authorized by Heaven to rule Creation. It was to them that the Unconquered Sun had granted the title of Lawgivers, and they alone had the right to command the spirits of Creation as they saw fit.
The Spirit Rebellion
When the little gods saw what the upstart Terrestrials had done, they threw off their chains and rebelled. The agreements between the spirit courts and the Solar Exalted were rendered null and void by the mass assassination of the Lawgivers. All manner of spirits deserted the objects and systems into which they’d been bound, and they refused to gift the Dragon-Bloods with their favor in any capacity. Heaven saw the DragonBlooded as barely Exalted, hardly above mortals in status or worth. And given the blatancy and sheer hubris of their recent mass regicide, Heaven saw fit to punish the Terrestrials through its absolute lack of support or even acknowledgement. While many spirits mourned the passing of the Lawgivers who had extended the borders of Creation and brought stability to Creation, other spirits saw the overthrow of the Solars as an opportunity to disregard the Exalted mandate and hoard power in violation of celestial law.
Dragon-Blooded sorcerers held extensive diplomatic talks with spirit envoys, but to no effect. The spirits refused to serve the Terrestrials, and their departure instantly plunged the Shogunate into chaos as the infrastructure that had made life so comfortable under the Lawgivers collapsed. Entire systems ceased to function, hollowed out and left useless by the spirits’ abdication of their former duties. Bad as things were, they could have been worse. Only the behind-thescenes maneuvering of the hidden Bronze Faction Sidereals kept the spirits from turning against the unwitting Dragon-Blooded wholesale. Only the elementals still served the Terrestrials, and they did only what they were bound to do by sorcery. Those elementals who were serving the Solars out of choice (and there were many of them) fl ed as the other spirits did, and the relatively few Dragon-Blooded sorcerers were able to keep only the most crucial elemental-powered devices running after a flurry of emergency summonings.
This desertion was an insult of unthinkable proportion to the Terrestrial Exalts, and they would not forgive it. To keep spirits in line, members of the Bronze Faction created the Immaculate Philosophy and went to the immense trouble of teaching Immaculate monks Celestial martial arts, something they’d never done before. By giving the infuriated Dragon-Blooded both a reason (the Immaculate Philosophy) and the means (Immaculate martial arts) to injure spirits, the Sidereals established a system to keep spirits in line—or at least to address their most excessive behavior. The Dragon-Blooded could not claim divine mandate to rule, but they could now get what they wanted through intimidation tactics. “We can hurt you now, “the new approach said, “and if you stay in line, nobody needs to get hurt.” Ultimately, the strong-arm tactics of the Immaculates did them no favors. On the contrary, they cemented the spirits’ impression that the Terrestrial Exalted were little more than glorified thugs. The Immaculates kept the peace and prevented spirits from wreaking havoc, but it cost them dearly. Any lingering shreds of hope or respect that the spirit courts may have had for the Shogunate died the moment a band of Immaculate monks committed violence on a spirit simply for accepting prayers from mortals.
The Silence of the Gods
It was not just the departure of the small gods that undermined Shogunate technology. The Solars had a long history of asking the gods direct questions about how to innovate on their technology. Vanileth, for example, had long coached Celestial Exalts through the construction of increasingly powerful skyships, and there was no one anywhere in Creation who knew more on the subject. The Celestial gods steadfastly refused to talk with the Terrestrials, however. When the gods and elementals alike gave the Dragon-Blooded the cold shoulder, it had severe consequences for all manner of technological research and maintenance. Books of Sorcery, Vol. 1: Wonders of the Lost Age p.18-19
Air permeates. Earth abides. Fire burns. Water flows. Wood lives.
So do the elements rest.
Air precedes water. Water precedes earth. Earth precedes wood. Wood precedes fire. Fire precedes Calibration.
So do the seasons proceed.
Wood refreshes air. Air fans fire. Fire renews earth. Earth channels water. Water feeds wood.
So do the elements cultivate.
Fire consumes wood. Wood covers earth. Earth blocks air. Air freezes water. Water drowns fire.
So do the elements destroy.
Elementals of Air
Air elementals conceal an inner raging chaos beneath a veneer of cold order. The first elementals to form after the destruction of the five progenitors, the air elementals were also the last to count powerful beings amongst their number. But the Wind Masters, the last of the highest order of first-generation elementals, were also the first lesser elemental dragons, and today, these ursine dragons ensure the elementals of air are the most unified, most organized and most militant of all elemental beings.
The Council of Winds, the elemental court of the Wind Masters, claims authority over every air elemental in Creation. Though they’re not the only dragons to claim authority over all elementals of their sort, no other dragons can count on as many elementals to agree and submit. The Council of Winds is also the elemental court with the strongest remaining ties to Yu-Shan—though the great bears retain independence from the Bureau of Seasons’ full control, they nevertheless work eagerly with the Celestial storm serpent Nasri and Shogun-Regent Ghataru. The Wind Masters need the support of Heaven, for only this cooperation provides for them the leniency they require to pursue their endless military crusades against the elementals of water. For the past 1,000 years, the elementals of air have waged pogrom after pogrom against the water elementals, decimating the ranks of the latter and ensuring that the air elementals have control over the courts of the North and the West.
Thunderbird Air Elemental
Books of Sorcery Vol. 4, p.98
Rash and warlike, these rainbow-winged elementals bring lightning out of storms. Thunderbirds find slain enemies’ flesh delicious, and enjoy mastering new weapons and strategies. All find ways to make war: some lead bellicose mortal cults; others hunt water elementals for fun or for the approval of Wind Master Black Grinning Bear (see p. 91). The Western Bear manages his thunderbird guests handily. He gives them alcohol and marijuana, allocates plenty of land for their wild dancing and bonfires and has instituted an island hierarchy that they climb by killing water elementals. Those with the most status are sent on challenging quests, assigned stints as Black Grinning Bear’s bodyguards or granted the privilege of leading visitor tours of his vast trophy halls, where they extol his virtues as a leader and brag about their own accomplishments.
Known also by the name of wind makers, thunderbirds can call thunderous blasts of air by flapping their wings. They all know a second language of thunder. Simpler than the spoken one, it sends warnings and requests echoing across Creation, and these elementals can thus communicate to siblings up to 1,000 miles away. Their actual voices are flutelike. A newborn thunderbird breaks out of its black egg as a huge many-colored raptor (hawk and eagle forms are common). It shakes static from its wings, stretches and soon stands tall as a powerfully built, dark-skinned bald human. Having found both forms, it’s immediately respected by its fellows as a true thunderbird. Normally, this process takes only a few hours, but some wind makers—for whatever reason—have needed to complete long vision quests to achieve human form.
Western mortals worship these elementals for their beauty, power over storms and especially for the war-blessings they give. Thunderbirds demand human sacrifices, to eat and take as concubines, and followers must go raiding five or more times a year and take battle-captives to sacrifice—lest they be required to sacrifice some of their own people. The mortals often suffer mild poisoning as well, since their masters command them to wear white war paint laden with lead. Still, thunderbirds protect their cults. Though their prismatic eyes are sharp enough to gaze through any physical thing, wind makers can hardly see water elementals, and often bring human helpers on the hunt. (Without assistance, a thunderbird takes an external penalty of -2 to rolls against water spirits that require sight; with it, this penalty is reduced to -1.) An especially talented and loyal worshiper can earn a war club just like her master’s own: forged of orichalcum and ironwood in the heat of lightning. (Such clubs are level-2 artifacts with statistics as shown in the notes below.)
Thunderbirds’ lusty passions are legendary. They’re most attracted to warriors, and an ancient Western adage advises anyone who seeks a thunderbird’s love to defeat it in battle. They’re also incredibly jealous; these elementals won’t hesitate to slaughter anyone who makes a move on an object of desire. However, love won’t stop a thunderbird from continuing to visit its harem during a relationship, and if accused of hypocrisy by an infuriated lover, a thunderbird will be perplexed. After all, if the loved one hates its harem so much, why doesn’t he just slaughter all the concubines out of hand? All this leads to a lot of children, and thunderbird blood is one of the most common divine influences on Creation’s mortal population. Thunderbird males rarely take an interest in their kids, and thunderbird females often abandon their own eggs with the father—though naturally, if a wind maker’s child grows into a famous fighter, the proud parent will take all the credit.
Although thunderbirds can formulate astoundingly sneaky battle-stratagems and certainly love to exaggerate, they are uncomfortable with deception and elaborate social maneuvers. The typical thunderbird is blunt and won’t consciously lie—though it might “overstate itself” in the heat of passion: “Of course I love you!”
Summoning: Calling a thunderbird requires that a sorcerer, just as its worshipers, paint her face white and wear white feather garments. As long as the thunderbird is being summoned to do battle, the elemental will be perfectly fine with its servitude. In fact, the elemental will act as if it’s freely doing the sorcerer a good turn; a thunderbird whose term of service has ended might even visit a summoner later, demanding a return on the “favor” it did her. But if ordered to back down from a battle or given too few opportunities to indulge in fighting, a thunderbird’s resentment will last long past the end of its binding. These elementals adjust well to becoming Killers, Wardens and Ecstatics.
Motivation: Show great battle-prowess
Attributes: Strength 3, Dexterity 4, Stamina 3; Charisma 4, Manipulation 3, Appearance 4; Perception 2, Intelligence 2, Wits 2
Virtues: Compassion 2, Conviction 2, Temperance 1, Valor 4
Abilities: Athletics 2 (Flying Maneuvers +3), Awareness 3, Craft (Fire) 1 (War Clubs +3), Dodge 4, Integrity 3, Linguistics 2, Lore 0 (War Club Artifact Crafting +3), Melee 4 (War Club +3), Occult 0 (War Club Artifact Crafting +3), Performance 3, Presence 3, Resistance 3, Survival 3, Thrown 0 (Thunderclap +3), War 3 (Thunderbird Formation +2)
Backgrounds: Artifact 2, Contacts 3
Join Battle: 5
- All Forms:
- Thunderclap: Speed 6, Accuracy 11 Damage 12B, Range 100, Rate 1
- Talon: Speed 4, Accuracy 5 Damage 5L, Parry DV 3, Rate 3
- Punch: Speed 5, Accuracy 4, Damage 3B, Parry DV 3, Rate 3
- Kick: Speed 5, Accuracy 4, Damage 6B, Parry DV 1, Rate 2
- Clinch: Speed 6, Accuracy 2, Damage 3B (P), Parry DV –, Rate 1
- Warclub: Speed 5, Accuracy 13 Damage 19B/4 (piercing), Parry DV 7, Rate 2
Soak: 7L/15B (Naturally armored, 6L/12B)
Health Levels: -0/-1/-1/-1/-1/-2/-2/-2/-2/-4/Incap
Dodge DV: 6
Essence Pool: 60
Other Notes: As men, thunderbirds must use Landscape Travel to fly, but as birds, flight comes naturally with their wings, and their fight speed is doubled.
Huraka Air Elemental
Core Book p.303; Books of Sorcery Vol. 4, p.__
The huraka are medium-sized air elementals who take the form of tremendous bears whose breath always steams from their mouths. They stand 12 to 14 feet tall, their eyes are rich, shining gold, and their fur is as soft as a cloud. Huraka serve the Wind Masters, the five lesser elemental dragons of air who are responsible for the five cardinal winds, and each huraka’s fur is colored similar to that of the Wind Master it serves. Huraka are gentle wind-herders who manage steady breezes over a few hundred square miles. They also serve in the Aerial Legion as shock troops, for their fearsome size and terrible strength. Huraka are limited in intelligence and readily receive orders. They rarely develop any type of personality, preferring to spend their days at menial tasks rather than in conflict or discourse. They are commonly summoned by sorcerers who require a steady wind for their experiments or to complete tasks requiring great strength but little manual dexterity. The Wind Masters are very protective of their favorite servants, and sorcerers who abuse or otherwise mistreat summoned huraka may have to face their overseer’s wrath. The breath of the huraka is famed for destroying deception. Many savants have captured this breath in jars or other clear containers. Players of those who look through these containers of huraka breath add three automatic successes to any Perception roll made to pierce an illusion or glamour, including those of the strongest Fair Folk.
Sanctum: Huraka live in the Great Halls of their Wind Masters when they are not working.
Motivation: To herd the gentle, persistent winds of Creation and loyally serve their masters.
Attributes: Strength 6, Dexterity 3, Stamina 5; Charisma 2, Manipulation 1, Appearance 3; Perception 3, Intelligence 2, Wits 2
Virtues: Compassion 3, Conviction 2, Temperance 1, Valor 3
Abilities: Athletics 3 (Feats of Strength +2), Awareness 2, Bureaucracy 1, Dodge 3, Integrity 2, Linguistics (Native: Airtongue; Others: Old Realm) 2, Martial Arts 4, Presence 2, Resistance 4, Stealth 3
Backgrounds: Backing 3, Sanctum 1
Join Battle: 4
- Bite: Speed 9, Accuracy 11, Damage 10L, Defense 2, Rate 1
- Claw: Speed 7, Accuracy 10, Damage 8L, Defense 4, Rate 2
- Dragon’s Suspire: Speed 10, Accuracy 5, Damage 8L, Range 10, Rate 1
Soak: 6L/9B (Thick hide, 4L/4B)
Health Levels: -0/-1/-1/-2/-2/-4/Incap
Dodge DV: 4
Essence Pool: 70
Cost to Dematerialize: 40
Other Notes: A Huraka’s Dragon’s Suspire ability is to breathe a stinging, freezing hail.
Elementals of Fire
The elementals of fire are the most respected of the elemental beings. The garda birds are the only elementals not of dragon stature with passing influence amongst the gods. The ifrit are the elementals most respected amongst humanity. Virtuous yet aloof, the ifrit and garda birds who lead the fire courts remain neutral in conflicts between other elementals, and so garner a reputation as moderators and hosts during talks of peace. Only the water elementals despise the elementals of fire, for refusing to come to water’s aid against the Court of Winds.
It needn’t have been this way. In the chaos following the death of the Great Garda, amidst the endless inferno clouds of need fires, the garda birds were born immortal, and could join with each other to create wise and pure beings. By an accident of history, a few such gardas broke past Creation’s barriers and found their way into Heaven, where they remained pure and unsullied by the rage and chaos of a world torn by war. At war’s end, when the gods claimed Heaven for themselves, the garda birds were already there, and these Celestial gardas traveled back to Creation, where they joined with the rage-filled garda birds of the Terrestrial sphere. The withdrawn wisdom and Temperance-countered Valor of the garda birds shaped the fire courts thereafter. Other fire elementals are base, violent and emotional, but by ifrit and garda guidance, the fire courts remain at peace. Had no gardas found their way into Heaven, the fire courts and all of Creation would have reached a far different outcome.
Fire court peace comes at the cost of influence. Unlike earth elementals, who never seem to concern themselves with outside affairs, fire elementals have consciously surrendered the possibility of a great and centralized authority to retain the respect and admiration of the other elemental courts. Fire elementals have left the role of grand generals to the Wind Masters.
Garda Bird Fire Elemental
Books of Sorcery Volume 4 p.117
Rumors surround the mysterious garda birds, who originate from the Great Garda that (some savants say) brought fire to humanity. Perhaps the Great Garda, storytellers whisper, was torn into many birds by the machinations of the gods, who felt angry that it had given wisdom to mortals. Perhaps the Great Garda was the font of all forbidden knowledge—and perhaps every lesser garda is a source of secrets and temptation. Garda birds, after all, have hidden knowledge of men and women.
They boast both emperor forms—beautiful peacocks with purple and flame feathers—and empress forms—enormous, burning silver-eyed pheasants. Their third form—a blazing phoenix with a man’s legs and the head, talons and wings of an eagle, six arms and six fiery swords—expresses primal secrets of fear; almost everyone who sees this form flees in terror. The birds even understand immortality. Unlike other elementals, garda birds aren’t replaced by the world when they die. After every death, a garda bird will rise again in flame—self and individuality intact.
Because of this last secret, garda birds are willing to destroy themselves. If backed into a martial corner, the bird sings a requiem of victory, then detonates across the sky in a tremendous Essence flare. Only fools fail to run when faced with a garda bird girding its loins.
Garda birds, perhaps the oldest fire elementals in existence, are sometimes involved in the flame courts. There, their wisdom and mystery are respected. They rarely gain quite the influence they could, because they aren’t considered very reliable, but when they speak their words gain great attention. Still, most of these elementals are solitary. They never pursue affairs with any creatures but each other. When two garda birds are truly in love, they have a unique way of expressing it: they immolate themselves together (probably wrecking an entire region in the process), then rise again as a new garda with a new self. The only thing left of the former birds will be their tail feathers, which are avidly sought by sages. All garda tail feathers burn with a cold, painless indigo flame, which cannot be quenched but also cannot spread.
Summoning: Garda birds are obviously the perfect tactical weapon for sorcerers, who can bind these elementals to detonate over a designated area. This irritates the birds, as they think it an ill and unvalorous use of their sacrifice. They must personally seek redress over this, as the Celestial Order cares not, but garda birds’ immortal nature makes them tenacious enemies. Sorcerers who call garda birds usually just use them as warriors, and occasionally advisors in matters historical or magical. The secrets of garda birds—immortality, fear, sex—are part of their nature; garda birds cannot reveal their secrets even to a summoner, because they cannot be articulated.
Motivation: Find the perfect mate, with whom it shall combine. Garda birds are very choosy about this—only the greatest love is worth sacrificing immortality.
Attributes: Strength 4 (Phx 6), Dexterity 5, Stamina 4; Charisma 5, Manipulation 3 (Phx 2), Appearance 5; Perception 4, Intelligence 4 (Phx 3), Wits 4
Virtues: Compassion 2, Conviction 3, Temperance 3, Valor 5
Abilities: Athletics 4, Awareness 4, Dodge 4, Integrity 3, Lore 4, Melee 0 (Phoenix 5), Occult 4, Presence 4 (Intimidation +3), Resistance 3, Socialize 2, Stealth -3, War 3
Backgrounds: Contacts 4, Influence 2
Join Battle: 8
- Emperor and Empress form:
- Claw: Speed 4, Accuracy 6, Damage 7L (Empress +2 Fire), Parry DV 3, Rate 3
- Clinch: Speed 6, Accuracy 5, Damage 4B (P), Parry DV –, Rate 1
- Arc of Flame: Speed 6, Accuracy 9, Damage 4L, Range 10, Rate 1
- Phoenix Form:
- Phoenix Sword: Speed 4, Accuracy 12, Damage 11L (+2 Fire), Parry DV 6, Rate 3
- Emperor: 2L/4B
- Empress: 4L/6B; 8L/10B vs. Fire (Halo of flame, 2L/2B; 6L/6B vs. Fire)
- Phoenix: 10L/14B; 14L/18B vs. Fire (Halo of flame, 2L/2B; 6L/6B vs. Fire) (Lamellar armor, 6L/8B, -2 mobility)
Health Levels: -0/-1/-1/-1/-1/-1/-1/-2/-2/-2/-2/-2/-4/Incap
Dodge DV: 7
Essence Pool: 80
Other Notes: In any form, garda birds may fly at their full movement speed. Landscape Travel may increase this speed. In Empress and Phoenix forms, garda birds set fire to any combustible material that they touch, and absorb fire elemental damage per Blessed Fire Body (see pp. 163-164). Due to their blazing plumage, garda birds take a -3 internal penalty to any Stealth checks they’re unwise enough to make. Neither Eclipses nor Moonshadows can learn Immolation.
Ifrit Fire Elemental
Books of Sorcery Vol. 4, p.119
Ifrit resemble tall, handsome desert nomads, reaching up to eight feet in height, with smooth foreheads and noble noses—save only for their incandescent skin. The skin of the ifrit glows with an orange light, visible for miles at night. By nearly everyone they meet, the ifrit are prized. They make excellent warriors, diplomats and generals. They are virtuous, honorable and honest. Unfortunately, that they sided quickly with the Dragon-Blooded during the Usurpation lent the ifrit an undeserved reputation for treachery in Yu-Shan—while once ifrit and garda birds visited Heaven together, now the gardas go alone and the ifrit aren’t welcome. Ifrit are incredibly proud. An ifrit who chooses to become an ascetic must go through the worst privation and offer the sagest, most impenetrable insights.
A diplomat-ifrit must be renowned for its wise and evenhanded compromises. A warrior-ifrit will seize every opportunity to demonstrate bravery and mercy. An ifrit who feels no mortal respect for its character will be unhappy—even if it claims all it wants to do is sit meditating on a 50-foot column, alone and uninterrupted. Thus, ifrit dislike being around other ifrit and enjoy granting favors to suitably humble petitioners: a lone ifrit will often go unchallenged as a city’s most upstanding citizen.
Ifrit excel at nearly everything. Their aspect is inspiring and intimidating, and their commands form hot words that cannot be challenged. Elemental courts welcome ifrit gladly, and quickly elevate them to high positions. Even the Terrestrial courts, which normally treat elementals disdainfully, sometimes receive ifrit with respect and request their help with thorny issues.
Ifrit don’t often settle down, but one might commit itself to a cause or region that’s having a great many problems. This can be a curse in disguise, for when these elementals dedicate themselves to something, they are more likely to feel stress over its shortcomings—and their tempers can be fiery indeed. It’s not unusual for ifrit to take flame ducks (see pp. 116-117) as consorts, and the South has more than a few ifrit-flame duck teams.
Summoning: An ifrit will warm somewhat to a sorcerer who gives it interesting and challenging assignments (thus, ifrit make good Hunters), particularly if the summoner is polite. Nothing insults an ifrit so much as being called to do something easy, such as guarding an unthreatened front door for show or carrying written messages like a street urchin. These elementals would never whine or seek their own revenge, but an ifrit bound to demeaning purpose will later drop complaints in powerful, well-chosen ears.
Motivation: Provide a good role model for less righteous folk (i.e., everyone).
Attributes: Strength 4, Dexterity 4, Stamina 4; Charisma 4, Manipulation 3, Appearance 5; Perception 3, Intelligence 4, Wits 3
Virtues: Compassion 3, Conviction 3, Temperance 4, Valor 3
Abilities: Athletics 4, Awareness 3, Dodge 3, Integrity 4, Investigation 3, Linguistics 4, Lore 3, Performance 3, Presence 4, Martial Arts 5, Resistance 2, Socialize 3, Stealth -3, Survival 2, War 4
Backgrounds: Artifact 2, Contacts 5, Influence 1, Resources 4
Join Battle: 6
- Punch: Speed 5, Accuracy 10, Damage 4B, Parry DV 6, Rate 3
- Kick: Speed 5, Accuracy 9, Damage 7B, Parry DV 4, Rate 2
- Clinch: Speed 6, Accuracy 9, Damage 4B (P), Parry DV –, Rate 1
- Excellent Straight Sword: Speed 4, Accuracy 12 (*21), Damage 8L, Parry DV 6 (*10), Rate 2
Soak: 8L/12B (Lamellar armor, 6L/8B)
Health Levels: -0/-1/-1/-1/-1/-1/-2/-2/-2/-2/-4/Incap
Dodge DV: 6
Essence Pool: 75
Other Notes: Due to ifrit’s blazing flesh, ifrit take a -3 internal penalty to any Stealth checks they’re unwise enough to make.