8/17/13

Montporte Cosmological Notes: On the Elements

In the classic D&D universe, there is a plane of existence associated with each of the four classical elements. Air, Earth, Fire and Water each have a elemental plane associated with them. This is not the case with the world of the Montporte Dungeon Campaign. In the universe of Montporte, the four elements are merely the building blocks of the physical universe, in much the same way our own universe is made of atoms of unique elements. The four elements are a key component of the overall cosmology of Montporte.

The Four Elements
The physical universe of Montporte is made up four elements in various combinations. The presence of these elements also confer their properties to the objects and substance of the material world as well, as indicated by the written descriptions and by the diagram below:
  • Air is primarily wet and secondarily hot. 
  • Fire is primarily hot and secondarily dry. 
  • Earth is primarily dry and secondarily cold. 
  • Water is primarily cold and secondarily wet.
Note: The above description and diagram come from Classical Elements (Wikipedia). I am borrowing heavily from Aristotle (you can see my Source Bibliography for some of my other sources).

The Elements and Magic
The relationship between the elements and magic is a complex one. It is complicated by the involvement of the three energies (Positive, Negative and Chi), as the intervention of the divine. Sages, mages and scholars have found bits of evidence that points to ancient mages having great insight into and control over the four elements. Sometimes called "elementalists," the knowledge they must have possessed has been lost to the current world of Montporte. Some scholars have dismissed these elementalists has inventions of dreamy and wishful mages.

The Elements and the Types of Magic
Here are the main types of magic and how they interact or manipulate the four elements:

Alchemy: Alchemy is the form of magic most closely associated with the four elements. Alchemists use their knowledge of the elements and their resultant substances to concoct magic potions, dusts, oils, and even devices. The the practice of alchemy is considered part of the arcane arts, but alchemy relies on the use of formulae and recipes rather than Ars Memoriae to create its magical results.

Arcane: Magic-users and sorcerers have different approaches to arcane magic but both use mental powers to manipulate the three energies and the four elements.

Divine: Divine magic, typically used by clerics and paladins, uses transcendent divine power communicated through the caster via faith to manipulate the four elements and the three energies in whatever manner is necessary to produce the desire result.

Druidic: Druidic magic relies on Chi, the life energy, to manipulate the four elements and the other two energies (Positive and Negative). Druids use both their own Chi, as well as the Chi is found coursing through all living things, to power their spells.

Monastic: Monks use their own Chi to in order to create their superhuman skills. This is mainly done through the manipulation of the four elements present within their own bodies.

Elementals
Elementals are magical creatures that exist on the plane of Aarde (the plane in which Montporte is located), being a combination of one element in its pure form and Chi, the life energy. Elementals can be created via spells as well as through alchemical mechanics. They also can come into being when pools of pure element is in the presence of Chi or magical activity.

There are rumors among mages of the existence of other elementals created by elemental combination with Positive energy or, more ominously, Negative energy.

Beyond the Elements
Scholars have debated whether or not the four elements can be subdivided further into smaller constituent components, similar to our own universe's subatomic particles. What materials lie beyond the four elements is unknown as current magic is unable to split apart or breakdown the material world beyond the basic elements of Air, Earth, Fire, and Water.

2 comments:

  1. Interesting. When you add your four elements and three energies together you get seven "foundations" for existence, with which you could draw all sorts of parallels (days of creation, virtues/deadly sins, classical planets, alchemical heptagrams, that sort of thing).

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    1. I was thinking the same thing. I didn't have any of this in my head when we started playing, except that there was some sort of elemental connection or theme to the dungeon.

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