Fire Elementals Shouldn’t Be Immune to Fire

In a lot of ttRPGs, a whole slew of creatures are immune to fire damage. Most commonly, demons/devils, and things from the elemental plane of fire.

The logic goes, demons and devils live in some kind of fiery hell. But most fantasy mythologies have them put there as punishment. Why put them someplace they are immune to?

Similarly, a fire elemental is said to be immune to fire because is it made of fire. But I’m made of flesh and bone, and a leather-wrapped femur slapped upside my head damages me just fine. Slap me with a side of beef and I show no sign of being immune to it.

Now, you DO want these creatures to be able to exist in their environments, but that need not make them immune to a common form of damage, and classically one of the things you CAN use against monsters in fantasy fiction. Demons and devil may be immune to being destroyed in Hell because they are immortal spirits, but they can still burn and suffer, making their existence damnation, Fire elementals can be given an ability to see the routes through the plane of fire, escaping burning not because they are made of fire, but because they are adapted to their environment.

So, since people aren’t immune to damage from being hit by the things they are made of:

Fire elementals should not be immune to fire.

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About okcstephens

Owen K.C. Stephens Owen Kirker Clifford Stephens is the Starfinder Design Lead for Paizo Publishing, the Freeport and Pathfinder RPG developer for Green Ronin, a developer for Rite Publishing, and the publisher and lead genius of Rogue Genius Games. Owen has written game material for numerous other companies, including Wizards of the Coast, Kobold Press, White Wolf, Steve Jackson Games and Upper Deck. He also consults, freelances, and in the off season, sleeps.

Posted on May 14, 2021, in Game Design, Makes Perfect Sense, Musings and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. caribetpressNeil taylor

    Hmm… but I am immune (as flesh) to sitting next to an object of flesh. It struck by flesh, it is the blunt-impact that damages me, not the fleshiness.
    Ergo, a fire elemental is not damaged by sitting in a fire – it’s more likely to absorb and digest the fire, sustained by it – but if struck by a flame-whip, it could expect to take Whip Damage, but not Fire Damage (burning).

  2. Hmm… but I am immune (as flesh) to sitting next to an object of flesh. It struck by flesh, it is the blunt-impact that damages me, not the fleshiness.
    Ergo, a fire elemental is not damaged by sitting in a fire – it’s more likely to absorb and digest the fire, sustained by it – but if struck by a flame-whip, it could expect to take Whip Damage, but not Fire Damage (burning).

    • Except fire needs to breath, and any foreign fire sucks up the air is uses.
      And all living things are organized structures. There’s no reason to think having that structure disrupted, as two fires passing through each other would, doesn;t harm the living elemental.

      • Aha – a challenge…
        Can a fire elemental survive outside of a fire? Typically they must be summoned (formed from) a fire, but also rpg-typically they can move from the fire source. They do not (in rpgs) lose health without something to burn (that’s another story…), so they are not “burning” substances in the normal fashion. So they are not burning up the air. So a mundane fire which they encounter is not competing for oxygen or fuel. Rather, it seems the elemental consumes (absorbs into itself) the fire.
        If an elemental consumes fuel, it does so indirectly, by igniting the fuel, and consuming the resulting fire.

        Is an elemental immune to *all* fire/heat damage? That’s a more interesting question still. If a “normal” elemental is summoned from normal fire (c. 500C), how does it react to a laser beam? To the surface of the sun (5600C) or solar core (15,000,000C)? I’d suggest that a “fire” elemental would be subject to immense disruption by the energies in those environments – the thermal expansion if not constrained by anything else – and suffer damage.
        So maybe a fire elemental is possessed of a ludicrously high Fire Resistance (say, 100) and no normal fire could harm it. It may even have a feed-on-fire ability to reduce a fire by N points and heal some. But a really, really intense fire could disrupt it and harm it.

        So what lives on the sun? super-hot elementals – plasma elementals. They would find even a normal fire to be cold, certainly suffer cold damage in a room-temperature env, maybe even in a fire?

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