Sylph is the name that Paracelsus gave to his definition of the Air Elemental, alongside of its companions the Gnome, Salamander and Undine. The term has since been used repeatedly in fantasy media for various air-related elementals.
Dungeons & Dragons
First appearing in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, the sylph is a fairy-like air elemental, taking the form of a beautiful elven woman with two pairs of dragonfly-like wings - almost like a sprite grown to human size - with bright hair, ranging in hues from the normal human range to blue, purple and green. Peaceful and inquisitive, most sylphs occupy their lives with travelling the world or the Plane of Air in search of new things to discover, most frequently interacting with benevolent air elementals, nymphs (believed to be an ancestor race of theirs) and elves. They are an all-female race who must mate with other humanoids to propagate their species; whilst they prefer elven men for this role, they have been known to mate with benign-natured and attractive human or halfling men. They lay a single pearly egg some three months after conception, which hatches after a further 6 months; baby sylphs cannot fly until they reach 10 years old, even though other magical abilities kick in at the age of 5, and so their mothers zealously guard their nests.
All sylphs have the spellcasting abilities of 7th level wizards, and are almost always air elementalists. They can also turn invisible at will and summon an air elemental once a week. They actually fly through innate levitation, relying on their wings to provide thrust and momentum; as such, anti-magic areas render them incapable of flight. They live to be 1000 years old, and retain their youth throughout their lives.
In Ravenloft, the same process that creates Dread Elementals has been known to twist sylphs into Mist Sylphs. These cruel-featured nymphs are surrounded by vaporous, twisting clouds of cloying mist, which rise from their skulls in lieu of hair. Cruel, malevolent and enamoured with corruption, mist sylphs have lost their levitation ability; whilst their wings are strong enough to allow them to fly, the fact that they are forced to regularly touch the earth to rest is believed to be one of the reasons why they are so hateful. Whilst not quite as magically adept as normal sylphs, they have a number of potent spell-like abilities, each of which they can call on once per day (unless noted otherwise), all of which function as 7th level spells: feather fall (twice per day), wall of fog (three times per day), dust devil, fog cloud, ride the wind, stinking cloud, whispering wind, gust of wind (twice per day), wind wall, solid fog (twice per day), and cloud of putrefaction.
These spiteful, malicious creatures don't have the power to infuse evil in the same way that mist elementals do, but they can use their whispering winds to carry evil thoughts into the minds of dreamers, afflicting them with horrible nightmares the more pure of soul they are. They can still summon an elemental, but only once per month, and as the fruit of such an effort is a malign mist elemental that will turn on the mist sylph at the first chance, they are loathe to use this ability unless they absolutely must.
One unique power they have is to assume a mist form for up to three hours per day, rendering them immune to harm in much the same way as a vampire.
The shy and reclusive sylphs of Pathfinder are their OGL version of Air Genasi; planetouched born of the union between humans and air elementals, they tend to be calculating intellectuals with an obsession with spying by way of eavesdropping. They vary in appearance from pale-skinned, fair-haired humanoids to more visibly inhuman, but invariably sport blue, swirling tattoo-like markings across their skins. Even by Paizo's own system they, like their counterparts, are severely underpowered. They have one saving grace however in that they can get permanent flight at the cost of two feats, though this isn't often used since constitution penalties suck for everyone and the ability scores would push them into Wizard, who can fly anyways.
- +2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence, -2 Constitution
- Native Outsider
- Base speed 30 feet
- Darkvision 60 feet
- Spell-like Ability: Feather Fall 1/day with a caster level equal to character level.
- Energy Resistance: Electricity Resistance 5
- Air Affinity: Sylph Sorcerers with the Air bloodline treat their Charisma as being +2 points higher for all sorcerer spells and class abilities, whilst undine Clerics with the Air domain use its domain power and domain spells at +1 caster level.
Late in the system's life two variants were introduced. Lightningsoul has +2 dex, +2 cha, -2 wis and Shocking Grasp as an SLA. Smokesoul has +2 dex, +2 cha, and -2 con and have blurred movement as an SLA. Lightningsoul can make good archer paladins, but Smokesoul doesn't really have a point.
|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 - Obyrith - 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|
|The Races of Pathfinder|
|Player's Handbook:||Dwarf - Elf - Gnome - Half-Elf - Half-Orc - Halfling - Human|
| Aasimar - Catfolk - Changeling - Dhampir - Duergar |
Drow - Fetchling - Gillman - Goblin - Grippli - Hobgoblin
Ifrit - Kitsune - Kobold - Merfolk - Nagaji - Orc - Oread
Ratfolk - Samsaran - Strix - Suli - Svirfneblin - Sylph
Tengu - Tiefling - Undine - Vanara - Vishkanya - Wayang
|Bestiaries:|| Android - Astomoi - Caligni - Deep One Hybrid - Gathlain |
Gnoll - Kasatha - Munavri - Naiad - Orang-Pendak
Reptoid - Rougarou - Shabti - Trox - Yaddithian
|Adventure Paths:||Being of Ib - Kuru|
|Inner Sea Races:|| Ghoran - Monkey Goblin - Lashunta - Skinwalker |
Syrinx - Triaxian - Wyrwood - Wyvaran
|Ultimate Wilderness:||Vine Leshy|
|Blood of the Sea:||Adaro - Cecaelia - Grindylow - Locathah - Sahuagin - Triton|
|Planar Adventures:||Aphorite - Duskwalker - Ganzi|