An Elemental is a nebulous breed of monster defined by its strong connection to the power of the Elements. The most iconic depiction of the elemental is as the incarnate spirit of a given element, causing it to manifest as a (usually roughly humanoid) entity comprised solely of elemental matter - a swirling mass of wind or flame, a mobile clump of earth or a slime-like animate puddle of water. However, many different monsters have been considered "elementals" over the years.
As a basic concept meaning "magical being that embodies or personifies a force of nature", the elemental has been around a very long time. The idea is practically universal, and has its roots in everything from gods and nymphs to more modernistic "fairy tale" beings like Jack Frost.
The most well-known real-world belief about elementals, and probably that which has had the greatest impact on fantasy gaming, is that created by the 16th century alchemist Paracelsus, who defined four main "races" of elemental - Gnomes of Earth, Salamanders of Fire, Sylphs of Air and Undines of Water - as part of his personal alchemical philosophy. Other prominent alchemists with similar theories include Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa and the Comte de Gabalis, whilst elementals were integral in the belief system of the Rosicrucians.
Dungeons & Dragons
In Dungeons & Dragons, elementals are Outsiders (what other settings might call "spirits") native to the Elemental Planes, and thus take the form of roughly humanoid creatures made up of elemental (or paraelemental, or quasielemental) matter. This has led to a vast and sprawling family of elementals and elemental-like creatures over the various editions, starting with Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.
Your standard Elementals are, well, as described; vaguely humanoid masses of elemental matter. They are the most populous of the various elemental beings.
Dread Elementals are standard Earth, Air, Water and Fire Elementals that were summoned to the Demiplane of Dread, Ravenloft, and were warped into horrible versions of themselves. Grave Elementals are warped Earth Elementals who are made of grave soil and have the ability to bury people alive with a touch. Mist Elementals are corrupted air elementals who have the ability to turn people Chaotic Evil with a touch. Blood Elementals are tainted Water Elementals who can drain the blood from others to feed themselves. Pyre Elementals are distorted Fire Elementals who have the ability to either burn through armor (AD&D) or animate corpses as burning zombies or skeletons (3e).
Genies in D&D are considered a breed of elemental, if very distinct from the standard masses. This is why there are four distinct breeds, one for each element; Dao of Earth, Djinn of Air, Efreet of Fire and Marid of Water. Plus the fifth "mixed elemental" Janni.
AD&D introduced the concept of "Elemental Kin"; entities that were very strongly related to the elementals, but looked and functioned more like humanoid races: Air was home to Aerial Servants and Sylphs; Earth was home to Chrysmals, Pech and Sandlings; Fire was home to Azers, Salamanders and Tome Guardians; Water was home to Nereids.
It also introduced the concept of Elemental Weirds. These were originally portrayed as serpentine Elemental Kin, with only Earth Weirds and Water Weirds existing, but in 3rd edition these were changed into their own unique Nymph-like elemental Oracles, with one for each plane. The original Elemental Weird became the Lesser Elemental Weird, a larval state, and didn't get acknowledged until Dragon Magazine #347.
Naturally, Ravenloft fans jumped in and added Dread Elemental-Kin in the Book of Shadows netbook; Myst Sylphs, Mist Servants, Crypt Gnomes (corrupted Pech), Gravelings, Heat Stalkers (corrupted Salamanders), Pyre Wyrms (corrupted "Fire Snakes" - larval Salamanders), Bloody Marys (corrupted Nereids) and Scarlet Streams (corrupted AD&D Water Weirds).
One creature unique to AD&D that didn't make it into subsequent editions was the "Animental"; an animal or monster (including monstrous humanoids, like medusas) who died and whose spirit was drawn into an Elemental Plane, where it was reincarnated as an elemental version of its former self. This idea probably inspired the Elemental Template in 3rd edition.
Grues are small, malevolent, elemental spirits, with one for each of the four Elemental Planes.
Al-Qadim introduced the Elemental Vermin; small animals native to the four Elemental Planes and which basically serve as their home environment's form of pest. Theoretically, they could serve as familiars.
Archomentals are the powerful demigod-like rulers of the Elemental Planes.
All OGL elementals are maintained from 3.5. The elemental type no longer exists, instead being a subtype of Outsider that carries most of the rules baggage of the original type. Mostly this just frees the writers from having to saying "outsiders and elementals" a bunch since most effects that worked on one worked on both. Pathfinder has since added further elemental types.
Aether Elementals are beings made of translucent, multicolor threads that embody Aether, the "element" that contains magical force and telekinesis. They can be invisible whenever they want. Small ones make for some of the best familiars in the game since they're invisible and their telekinetic abilities scale based on their master's hit die.
Paraelementals were eventually stolen from D&D, with new statistics since they weren't OGL. Since they weren't OGL they're also never actually referred to as "paraelemental" in published material, but no alternate name has been printed, so everyone outside of Paizo still calls them that. While Ice (Water+Air) and Magma (Earth+Fire) were natural enough combos to copy outright, Mud (earth+water) replaced ooze. Smoke elementals, oddly enough, don't exist even though an Elementalist Wizard sub-school for the combination does. Pathfinder also has the oddball of Lightning Elementals. Formed of giant thunderstorms on the elemental plane of air. Even more simple minded and aggressive than typical elementals. None of these are particularly exceptional as a familiar.
|This article or section is about Monstergirls (or a monster that is frequently depicted as a Monstergirl), something that /tg/ widely considers to be the purest form of awesome. Expect PROMOTIONS! and /d/elight in equal measure, often with drawfaggotry or writefaggotry to match.|
As with every other kind of monster, elementals sometimes get the monstergirls treatment too. It helps that because of how generic the term is, any woman with the right elementalism powers and coloration could easily be passed off as an elemental monstergirl. It doesn't hurt that Dungeons & Dragons also introduced the Genasi race, who're supposed to descend from unions of humans and elementals, so technically a monstrous woman version of an elemental is canon in D&D.
It helps that it literally comes with the standard portrayal of an elemental - a creature influenced by its elemental symbolism - and all it's really doing is putty a sexy skin over a standard concept.
Naturally, the core four are well represented. Gnomes are earth elementals who take the form of curvaceous women made out of living earth and stone. They are calm, gentle creatures whose presence enriches the land around them, making it healthy and strong, and giving them an affinity for plant mamono. Sylphs are playful, free-spirited, green-skinned & haired sylvan spirits who serve the setting as air elementals. Undines are water elementals whose bodies are technically slime-like, being comprised of animated water, but which can assume a solid human-like thickness to better interact with humans; calm-natured and devoted, they are a gentle race. Finally, the role of fire elementals is filled not by Salamanders - in this setting a kind of lizardfolk - but by creatures called Ignises, hotheaded, fiery-tempered and passionate spirits who appear as naked human women with flame swirling around their bodies and preserving their modesty.
Then... there are the other elementals. Dark Elementals are embodiments of the dark, demonic energies that the Demon Queen is using to transform the world into her infernal paradise; their very presence can transform whole villages into dens of monstergirls. For reasons known only to the author, whilst the other elementals have more inhuman forms, Dark Elementals appear as naked lolis floating atop a ball of inky-black slime. Yuki-Onnas are considered "Ice Elementals", but that role is more directly filled by Glacies and their Ice Queen rulers; crystaline-aspected and coldly beautiful women of pale-blue flesh and icy shells who seek to steal the metaphysical warmth from humans for themselves. Finally, the Dorome is a dopey lustful slime-like elemental of living mud, apparently created by accident when too much demonic energy and wet soul goes into the process of embodying a gnome - the wording is highly awkward and difficult to understand.
|The inhabitants of the Planes of Planescape|
|Upper Planes:||Aasimon - Angels - Animal Lords - Archons - Asuras - Eladrin - Guardinals - Lillend|
|Middle Planes:||Formians - Githzerai - Inevitables - Marut - Modrons - Rilmani - Slaadi|
|Lower Planes:|| Alu-Fiends - Baatezu - Bladelings - Cambions - Demodands - Erinyes - Hags |
Hordlings - Imps - Kytons - Marilith - Succubi - Tanar'ri - Yugoloth
|Transitive Planes:||Astral Dreadnought - Githyanki|
|Inner Planes:||Azers - Elementals - Genies - Grues - Mephit - Salamanders - Sylphs|
|Sigil:||Dabus - Cranium Rats|
|High-ups:||Archangels - Archdevils - Archfey - Archomentals - Demon Princes|