“Close your eyes and imagine a magician drawing upon ancient forces and casting a spell, bringing magic into the world. What spell do they cast? When you think of magic, what do you see? Conjured torrents, exploding fireballs, pillars of stone—these spells, by my estimation, are precisely the sort that never stray far from our minds. The elements are quite inseparable from magic and, indeed, from all life. Our reality could never exist without them; there would be no water in the creeks, no forests of trees, no sun shining in the sky if the elements had not been shaped into being at the dawn of creation.”1
We play these games for many reasons. We want to spend time with friends. We want to make new friends. We enjoy the tactical positioning and battles. We enjoy the roleplaying and story’s journey. Some love playing mighty warriors, expert archers while others prefer spellcasters healing their allies or summoning mighty arcane blasts. We create Druids calling lightning, Sorcerers of various dragonkin, Wizards of evocation but those warriors might embrace the elements too. I know a monk rooted to the mountain and an archer might add lightning to their arrows. Fire is an especially common a theme for it scares and inspires with its passion and heat. I truly love this excerpt above because the elements are often key to our fantastic realities and their characters, but also something hermetic and philosophical with cultures the world over.
It’s no surprise then that Rage of Elements is inspiring and exciting. Since its announcement last year – and I heard the cheers and saw the glee at Gen Con – everyone’s been talking of the various elements, the kineticist, and the planes-hopping that is to be had. Logan Bonner, Sen H.H.S., and Jessica Redekop have delivered an incredible book along with a number of other contributors like Jason Bulmahn, James Case, and Michael Sayre. There’s of course many more and I highly encourage you to check that Table of Contents page so you can review all the amazing people who produced pieces and art for this. Even the shifting banner art is amazing! Truly art in both literary and imagery! And since I’ve this masterpiece, I have to of course share why I’m so excited and investing all my time reading through it!
First of all, in the very Table of Contents we get a nice sidebar (I’m a sucker for a sidebar) that gives us some of the Updated Rules we’ll be seeing soon. While I’d heard individuals would now be off-guard instead of flat-footed, I hadn’t known the languages of some planes would change. Those of windy realms will speak Susrran with a breathy voice. Deep, earthy places will speak Petran. If you burn with a passion from the plane of fire you’ll speak Pyric, while those cool, go with the flow water plane types will speak Thalassic. I love – and am already using – the words vitality and void instead of positive and negative. I do need to better understand how spell schools are not going to be used in game, though as noted illusions will have special rules. I appreciate these previews we’re getting in stream and in book, though I’ll note the OGL is still referenced at the end.
Elementary Truths is the first major section, our introduction. You maybe see these sections as chapters but they aren’t listed as such. Instead they are grouped first for Elemental Characters, then that of Air, Earth, Fire, Metal, Water, Wood, and the Churn of Elements. And as previous releases have done, this tome is the work of a certain individual in the larger universe, namely Aziza Amani al-Fasih a jann traveler who’s kind enough to share her “understanding of the elements and Elemental Planes” with us. You can find more from her on Paizo’s blog as well. She uses this introductory section to detail the Fundamentals including the six foundational elements of her universe. Some of us – myself included – had likely grown hearing of the four classic elements drawn from Greek philosophy but metal and wood can be found in many cultures. Some use a combination, but for Golarion and the universe that it’s a part of there are indeed six as depicted in the above updated cosmology. I love this update as we heard last year, and I know many had hoped the playtest would share a bit more but now we’ve got them all! This is explained through a bit of a historical primer on how all Elemental Lords have been freed and the Planes of Metal and Wood returned. A quick run down is given of each plane – and they have whole sections later – but again a sidebar draws my attention. Elements of Aether and Void are discussed. I wonder if that means some rules to support them might appear, but otherwise Aether is suggested as a spiritual base of telekinetic manifestations or that of force while Void is an emptiness or destruction. Could we get a sort of kineticist with Vitality and Void abilities?
The introduction thus moves on to the Elemental Cycle and the focus on the flow between them feeding and countering. The image above shows this. Air is presented as having a special place within the cycle: always feeding and being fed. I read up on Wu Xing and Taoism to gain a better understanding (a reminder to explore and learn based on the cultural influences of our games) of how metal feeds water. While earth feeds metal as metal has to be drawn from the earth, it is said that metal feeds water as moisture in the air – surrounding all elements to feed and be fed – condenses and produces water droplets. Fire counters metal as it’s the only thing that will melt it, and possibly moisture is produced then too. Other philosophies are discussed like the Inner Sea’s classic four I mentioned above as well as that of Minkai, the Vudra, and the Shory Empire. The world building of our authors certainly gives much for our author Aziza much to reflect upon for Golarion.
She exclaims in the very next section how much she wants to be a kineticist. Elemental Characters has all the goodies the PCs want: the new class, feats, impulses (manifested uses of your elements), allies, new backgrounds, the geniekin, and even details for other classes. Before I get to those I have to say Yoon, the iconic kineticist, holds a special place in my heart. I love a badass female protagonist and as a child struggling at the loss of her family with the need to keep going, her story resonated with me some eight years ago. Now she’s still got Gom-Gom but she’s persevered through adolescence and her own travels, culminating in a journey that burns for more adventure! I also got to play Yoon as an iconic when I first met up with Order of the Amber Die. I was low level, but quickly made a mark and it was an honor to play her in their home Rise of the Runelords game. As James said in the blog post: “the heart is a gate.” Yoon certainly has unlocked it.
On that note, your Kinetic Gate is what actually connects your kineticist supernaturally to the elements. While in the playtest you could be tied to all four, now you will choose to either start with one or two. The difference now is that if you select only one element you get a special impulse junction (minor effect) right from the beginning. All kineticists can gain junctions later on but right from the start the Kineticist with a Single Gate might be able to stride half their speed as part of a 2-action air elemental blast. Or maybe their fire damage is enhanced by a die! Or their flesh gains an oaken protection of temporary hit points. I like this deeper connection made manifest. Of course, I also level roleplaying opportunities presented by mechanics and the fact Channel Elements creates that 10’ aura of your element can provide some cool visuals for you to describe when your character gets angry or is making a statement as they stride through a town. Yet when attacking your Elemental Blast can be a 1 or 2 action melee or ranged attack. If you do 2 actions you get a bonus to your damage equal to your constitution modifier. Have I mentioned Kineticist sometimes makes me think of the spellfire in Forgotten Realms? They were Constitution based too I think. We get different damage dice, types and range based on element. Of particular note the Wood type can do the vitality energy type, i.e. what we have called positive. So the special Wood impulse gives temp hit points and the blast does healing. Vampires are really going to hate Wood kineticists…
The class feats you can take include what you might expect: Elemental Familiar, Weapon Infusion, or Effortless Impulse for a free Sustain of an active impulse, a slight tweak from the playtest. But there’s also ones I didn’t like Elemental Overlap to pick up a composite (combination of elements) impulse where you only have the ability to use one of its elements. At 20th level you can be quickened all the time with Kinetic Pinnacle, though that extra action is just for Channel Elements, a 1-action Elemental Blast, or a single action stance impulse. Oh yes, there’s stances! Also as the playtest you don’t have to take class feats when you get one every even level. Instead you can take impulse feats tied to your element. Each element has two pages of impulse feats, and yes some are stances. Eternal Torch (fire) is now only a single action. Flame Eruption became Scorching Column (better name!) and it takes 3 actions now. However now it’s 10’ in diameter and can be 60’ away, and you can sustain it! Wood can create Fresh Produce (1st level) to feed and heal a creature who eats it! Cabbage Guy would be happy, though I guess maybe there’s no Cabbage Corp in that future. You do become full and immune to it for 10 minutes, so it’s not going to break the game. The 12th level Witchwood Seed is a 2-action attack. A seed takes root in the target’s body and erupts to cause piercing damage, possibly becoming clumsy or immozbilized too. I can’t tell if the Druids will be happy or disturbed. I guess it depends if they’re Green Faith or Gozrehian, am I right?
All the elements have impulses like I said but the Composite Impulses are the blend of two elements. Does that mean we might see a blend of more in the future? I hope so. There’s two pages of these feats at either level 4 or 6, so certainly attainable early on – if you have the right elements anyway. Or, well, you take that Elemental Overlap I Mentioned! I want to make a Dwarf of Highhelm with fire and metal. They can pick up Molten Wire, a two-action impulse that wraps the target in a spinning vortex of molten iron! Sounds painful! Tree of Duality makes me think of Lifeweaver from Overwatch, summoning a tree that heals allies and dazzles enemies with hallucinogenic spores. Oh and you can make a Rising Hurricane with air and water. It’s a 30’ diameter and bludgeons all within it, and if they fail a save you get to lift them as high 40’ and drop them too. A hurricane! I need to ensure my players in my Kingmaker game live so they can’t summon a hurricane with a new character.
Friends From All Over
Elemental Allies provides details for the various partners in adventuring various classes can acquire. We now have Elemental Eidolons with a base type and then variances for each element. The Water Eidolon is amphibious while the Metal one can fashion an unarmed attack into one weaponlike form, gaining the versatile damage trait of one type along with its other type. The Wood Eidolon regains hit points when you refocus, which is pretty efficient time wise between combats. Druids can now gain elementals as companions. The Fire Elemental lion is adorable, and ferocious… We get 5 new elemental familiars. Gennayn are minor genies who have a Little Wish reaction, once a day to allow a creature to reroll a saving throw or skill check. The Elemental Scamps are Scamps (formerly mephits) born of the elemental planes complete with a breath weapon!
More Character Options
Ten new backgrounds including 2 uncommon and 2 rare. Maybe you’re a Crystal Healer, trained to use crystals for natural healing and natural medicine (as per the feat!). Both uncommon backgrounds center around the Concordance: Research and Scout. I like that both can vary based upon the elements you wish to focus upon. Elementally Infused is the rare background sure to get a few players asking for permission. You were exposed to elemental essences somehow and that grants you a particle cantrip based upon the related element. We also get two new geniekin heritages: Ardande and Talos. Ardande are born of the Plane of Wood or possibly the First World. Talos on the other hand are tied to the Plane of Metal. You can very easily theme a party now with a plant focus maybe with an Ardande, a Leshy, a Druid, and a Kineticist tied to wood. The Talos are good at finding metal with the new detect metal cantrip while the Ardande can better see in low light or possibly darkvision. I like the Talos Gildedsoul 1st level ancestry feat as polished or precious metal like silver or gold manifest in your body. You might even have skymetals like adamantine or orichalcum! I guess you could have a metal themed party too! An automaton, an android, a transmuter Wizard, and a metal Kineticist!
There’s of course a multiclass Kineticist archetype! Got Constitution modifier of +2? Then you’re ready to rock. It’s recommended as something good for Champions, Barbarians, or Druids though I think almost any class might enjoy, Monks especially. One of things I think people will be pleased about is getting that Channel Elements action, even if it’s not as good as the full one (you don’t get to do a blast or stance with it). There’s 7 feats over one page, with the final listed feat at Level 12 to become an expert. Thus I expect we’ll get some more in time, or at least an 18th level feat to become a master. There’s also updates for the Elementalist archetype, basically updating to choose an Elemental Philosophy and expanding the feats available over 4 pages. We get metal and Wood focus spells for the elementalist or those who might grant them. Repel Metal is a Level 4 reaction that lets you summon a repelling field to get a circumstance bonus to AC when struck. You can use it on yourself or someone within 60’ so that’s pretty useful for a party, provided the item striking the target is made of metal anyway. Meanwhile the 4th level focus power for Wood is like spider climb meets plant shaping. You can walk right up a tree, summon vines to form a ladder traveling at your speed in any direction, along any surface provided plants are involved. You aren’t protected from hazardous terrain but it might help you get around where it’s difficult. Any spellcaster can become an elementalist now!
Oh The Planes We’ll Go!
Wow, a jam-packed book right? Well that’s just the Elemental Characters section! What follows are six sections highlighting each of the elements presented. Rather than go deep into each, I’ll note the base structure you’ll find and then highlight some things that got me excited. I’m not positive but most – if not all – of these sections starts with a full page piece of art by Matsya Das (who also did the new cosmology art above). We all love the crunch of mechanics and the weaving of the Lost Omens story, but the art is always an inspiration too. There’s then a beautifully produced narrative piece on that plane with an extension of that art. We learn about the author of that section, some denizen of the plane, and then some importance areas you might find when visiting. Shanaria, an air elemental, tells us of Hauntasia and the scamp King Eshakhar II of ice. Meanwhile the Plane of Metal is discussed by the elementalist Talamandair who’s had quite the series of titles. There’s apparently a Scouring Tempest on the plane where a storm of electromagnetic energy that rages over a hundred miles. The ring of every metal within, spinning in a pattern that repeats seems like material rife for an adventure! Each plane has a nice sidebar on the primary language spoken, a great way to reintroduce them. Muan, the language of wood elementals, is percussive and sounds like a mix of marimbas and pan flutes. Sounds lovely!
Some key individuals of the plane are noted before the official detail for it: category, divinations, native inhabitants and a short description. Then we get to the local Elemental Lord and an important deity found there. It’s interesting not to see any alignment information provided as Pathfinder2E moves away from that, but clear edicts and anathema are given as well as the divine attribute, what sort of fonts are allowed, and of course domains. Atreia the Lambent King is a fiery, three-headed ibis lords over fire while a terrifying shark-sea-dragon (brine dragon perhaps) in the form of Kelizandri rules the waters. With a nickname of Brackish Emperor, I don’t exactly expect much diplomacy to be had, at least easily. Thus effectively we get 12 new divinities, two for each element with one being the elemental lord. We learn of Ferrumnestra, the Lady of Rust, for the Plane of Metal and Shumunue, the Carved Lady of Mimicry. I’m really excited to see an elementally-focused campaign or adventure path to explore these places and the related cultures.
Each of these sections also features new spells, items, and creatures. I was immediately drawn to the Fire Dancer spell, level 5, because it reminded me of Loren’s Hap from our Three Ring Adventure game for Roll for Combat. It can be used on others or yourself, granting them 2d6 fire damage to their Strikes, persistent of 2d4 to critical hits, and you get to use Performance instead of Intimidation to Demoralize. I’ll probably have Ateran pick it up just to cast it on her. In Highhelm we got Forge relics, and now we’ve got Metal relics too! I like the Rail Dash major gift. Two actions to Stride three times in a straight line and hopefully bludgeon a target where you end for 1d12 points of damage for every 2 levels of the relic (basic Reflex). And hey, another sidebar noting how runes can be used as gifts, which will be detailed in GM Core. Examples include shifting as minor gift for metal or extending as a major. In the Wood section, we meet the Nightwood Guardians (see below), which gave me Where the Wild Things Are vibes. Even the sidebar notes that while interacting with them usually results in violence, there are many tales of these giants escorting lost children safely through the woods. They might have a weakness to fire, but they’re enraged by it. I like the visual too of how damage to them slowly turns them into solid wood and their regeneration activates, unless of course they’re wounded by fire. And now unfortunately I have to call out the big miss.
And saving my favorite for last, the 18th level Anemos. The anemoi are genderless and even formless, taking on humanoid guises to walk amongst mortals and experimenting with the gender expressions they take interest in. These elementals “guard the skies and shepherd the winds of every world.” They can Command the Breeze to have the winds around them help them finish a ritual without the need of any other. They Redirect Weather as a reaction, redetermining all the targets and effects of an air or electricity spell. And they can even Collect Thunder, either as a free or single action. They gather latent energy in the winds around them, summoning a thunderbolt in an open hand. The single action version makes it manifest and strike their hand immediately, deafening those around them. So it’s a bit of Collect Thunder or Lightning and either way it’s awesome. A sidebar informs us of additional spells the Anemoi of different cardinals winds of Golarion might have. An exciting creature to use in any campaign, maybe even a Kingmaker game…
This Is What It’s Like When Elements Collide
Finally we have the Churns of Elements, the section where Aziza returns to discuss the various approaches of elementalists including discrete and churn elementalism. She focuses in on churn elementalism as while some elementalists treat each element as individual components, others practice with the manipulation of transitioning, transforming, colliding elements. They pull power from border realms, though that’s not the only place churn occurs. We learn of a few of those areas before we learn some Hybrid Element Spells. Elemental Breath is a random roll as to which element you breath. Wood breath is just a ton of branches shooting out in a 60’ cone. I find that terrifying. A few items and a detail of the Genies that stride between planes – including Jann – follows. Indeed, Jann have every elemental trait including Elemental and Genie. We do also get a new ritual, Elemental Servitor, at level 8. You’re calling an elemental lord to send you a servitor of theirs. The success is good, gaining you a servitor that you’ll have to pay in some way and the critical success means you have to pay less. However, the critical failure means the lord is displeased and you’re likely to still get an elemental visitor but they’re not coming to help you. Call on the elements carefully y’all.
This incredible book of some 240 pages does have a codified spell list last (well before the appendix anyway). If you’re like me you’ll want to invest much of your time reading through Rage of Elements, and then you’ll re-read all the spells carefully too. I’m excited both from a player and GM aspect. You’ll find yourself imagining those universal energies at your fingertips, eager to explore the realities these planes present, especially the recently returned Metal and Wood. Oh, now I can update the kineticists for Kingmaker too. I’m excited to see the various kineticists others put together and the adventures beyond Golarion ahead! If the elements are raging anywhere, it’s within those willing to tap them.
And I do love, Gom-Gom!
I wasn’t quite sure what to name my article series when I first started but the idea of showcasing or discussing things that make me excited, that I find new and interesting, or maybe I’m otherwise passionate about seemed to fit with the idea of Investing In something like the Pathfinder 2E mechanic. To use some magic items you have to give that little bit of yourself, which helps make these things even better. I like the metaphor of the community growing and being strengthened in the same way!
I also want to hear what you’re Investing In! Leave me a comment below about what games, modules, systems, products, people, live streams, etc you enjoy! You can also hit me up on social media as silentinfinity. I want to hear what excites you and what you’re passionate about. There’s so much wonderful content, people, groups (I could go on) in this community of ours that the more we invest in and share, the better it becomes!
- Elementary Truths excerpt, Rage of Elements, Paizo
- Cosmology, Elementary Truths, Rage of Elements, Paizo, art by Matsya Das
- Elemental Cycle depiction, Elementary Truths, Rage of Elements, Paizo
- Yoon, iconic Kineticist, then Occult Adventures and now Rage of Elements, Paizo, both by Wayne Reynolds
- Fire Elemental companion, Elemental Allies, Rage of Elements, Paizo
- Kelizandri, Water, Rage of Elements, Paizo
- Nightwood Guardian, Wood, Rage of Elements, Paizo
- Rob hugging Gom-Gom with Order of the Amber Die