Even the smallest fire can be devastating, and the fantasy D&D versions are no exception. It’s fire elemental, where hitting it could cause you fire damage.
The 1E Monster Manual describes fire elementals as being “terrible to behold and fierce,” but based on the art they look a little like Calcifer’s larger sibling…. still sort of adorable. That said, they do set fire to any in-flammable materials they touch and are only held in check by water. In theory, you could trap a fire elemental on an island indefinitely.
Much like the Last Airbender movie, fire elementals can only be called into the material plane in an area where a large open flame already exists. This is likely because they don’t particularly enjoy being called to the Prime Material Plane and channel their displeasure into relentless and savage attacks on whichever opponent is unlucky enough to get in their way. The exception being water, of course, and other innate fire abilities. For example, red dragons will take less damage versus a fire elemental.
From a technical standpoint, fire elementals deal a double whammy of damage with a slam attack. One hit will result in bludgeoning and fire damage and might cause the hit party to catch fire and burn for 1D4 turns. Plus, anyone hitting a fire elemental with a natural weapon or unarmed strike will take fire damage as if the elemental had hit them and may also catch fire.
Turns out I misspoke when in my air elementals piece, stand alone single-element elemental did exist in 4E, they were just in the 3rd monster manual. Here they can be as small as a campfire, as opposed to starting at a 4 foot height minimum, and are driven by a hunger to ignite and consume more “fuel.” If you’re wondering about the combos though, the Firelasher is the swirling fire cyclone of chaos we talked about a few weeks ago, and there don’t seem to be any other fire mixes listed. Still, a flame tornado would be more than enough terror for me.
Fifth edition introduced a few interesting and horrible features to the fire elemental. Now they can travel through areas as narrow as one inch and may enter the space another creature is already inhabiting and stop – presumably to light them ablaze. In addition they can now travel in water, however every gallon that splashes onto it results in one point of cool damage. For a small amount of water, this won’t be of much concern to the elemental at all, but a strong river or large wave would be enough to do some more substantial damage.
Which feature of the fire elemental is your favorite? Have you ever encountered one? Did you inadvertently catch fire while attempting to fight it? Let us know in the comments!