An Elemental of Surprise


Elementals are incarnations of the elements that compose existence.

Surprise Elementals

Surprise Elementals inhabit the demiplane of Surprise, a mildly chaotic-aligned[1] plane loosely connected to the Prime Material plane. They embody the plane’s ethos of “always be surprising, especially when you are not”. This ethos separates the demiplane of Surprise and the Surprise Elementals from beings of pure chaos, as it acknowledges the refractory period between surprises which exists in most species.

Stealth-related skills are very common among denizens of the demiplane of Surprise, and Surprise Elementals are no exception. As surprise is a key component of their makeup, there are actually many exceptions. There are few things more surprising than a Surprise Elemental walking down a hallway towards you, sword in hand, yelling about bees[2].

The demiplane of Surprise is loosely connected to the Prime Material plane in a manner similar to that of the Ethereal plane. Any Surprise Elemental summoned will likely have been observing the actions of the summoner for some time.

When summoned to the Prime Material plane, Surprise Elementals are (usually) composed of the least likely substance nearby (DM’s discretion).

Relations with other Elementals:

Surprise Elementals are standoffish towards the four standard types of elementals. Surprise Elementals consider them excessively regular, that even the chaos of Fire Elementals is of an expected kind.

Relations with other Planes and Demiplanes:

Surprise Elementals have more in common with beings from the positive energy plane, who are some of the few beings who can be quicker and more energetic.

As Surprise Elementals are mildly chaotic-aligned, they tend to get along best with beings from planes that support changes of all forms. Beings from lawful-aligned planes tend to try to destroy or banish Surprise Elementals whenever they see them. Beings from the strongly lawful-aligned demiplane of Expectation are in direct opposition to beings from the demiplane of Surprise.


Surprise Elementals always act in every surprise round, and can take full round actions, even though most beings can only take one action during a surprise round. Note that this means that they can use their ‘Surprise!’ special ability (see below) during a surprise round.

The actions and abilities of Surprise Elementals can vary from encounter, even from round to round, depending on their whim. Some ideas for skills, feats, and special abilities are below.

Surprise Elementals are often described as ‘going faster than one might expect’. They can travel as fast as is required to be surprising, up to a normal maximum of 120′. It is not fully known what method of transport they use. It may be somewhat dependent on the materials from which they are formed.

                     Surprise Elemental, Medium   Surprise Elemental, Large
Size/Type:           Medium                       Large
Type:                Elemental (Extraplanar)      Elemental (Extraplanar)
Hit Dice:            4d8+8 (26 hp) 	          8d8+24 (60 hp)
Initiative:          +8 (+see above)              +8 (+see above)
Speed:               Up to 120' (see above)       Up to 120' (see above)
Armor Class:         4d8+8 (26 hp) 	          8d8+24 (60 hp)
Base Attack/Grapple: +3/+4                        +6/+12
Attack: 	     Surprise. (see below)        Surprise. (see below)
Full Attack: 	     Surprise! (see below)        Surprise! (see below)
Space/Reach: 	     5ft./20ft. (see below)       5ft./20ft. (see below)
Special Attacks:     Surprise. and Surprise!      Surprise. and Surprise!	
Special Qualities:   Varies (see below)           Varies (see below)
Saves: 	             Fort +1, Ref +3, Will +9 	  Fort +2, Ref +5, Will +13
Abilities: 	     Varies (see below)           Varies (see below)
Skills: 	     Any (see below)              Any (see below)
Feats: 	             Any (see below)              Any (see below)
Environment: 	     Demiplane of Surprise        Demiplane of Surprise
Organization: 	     Solitary or groups           Solitary or groups
Challenge Rating:    5 or varies                  7 or varies
Treasure: 	     Varies (see below)           Varies (see below)   	
Alignment: 	     Mildly Chaotic               Mildly Chaotic
Advancement: 	     5-7 HD (Medium)              9-15 HD (Large)
Level Adjustment:    ā€”                            ā€”

Surprise.: As a move- or attack-equivalent action, a Surprise Elemental can attempt a ‘Surprise.’ This is based on any skill that the Surprise Elemental chooses, although they may not choose the same skill in two consecutive rounds, unless they do. The damage done is all subdual, and is equal to the DC achieved minus 20. The damage may be avoided by the target spending an action on an opposed skill check.

Surprise!: As a full-round action, a Surprise Elemental can attempt a ‘Surprise!’ This is a similar attack to ‘Surprise.’ above, but with a +5 to the roll, and if the attack is successful, the target is confused for one round. Note that this ability can be used during a surprise round, as Surprise Elementals are able to perform full-round actions during a surprise round.

Space/Reach: Normally, medium and large Surprise Elementals take up a 5′ square. If it is surprising enough (DM’s discretion), they can reach up to 20′ away to perform an action.

Special Qualities: Most Surprise Elementals have Sense Darkvision, 60′, so that they can better understand what the beings around them can perceive. Surprise Elementals have the following general traits of Surprise races:

– +1 bonus to Surprise lawful creatures, +2 to those associated with the demiplane of Expectation
– -2 penalty to saving throws against spells, spell-like abilities, and supernatural abilities with the Expectation subtype or used by creatures of the Expectation subtype
– Any one of the special abilities of any elemental subtype (does not breathe, stability, fire resistance, or natural swimmer)

Saves: Surprise Elementals depend on mental flexibility, and therefore are not as physically flexible (except for when these are reversed).

Abilities: Typically, Surprise Elementals will have the following abilites:

Medium: Str 11, Dex 14, Con 4, Int 21, Wis 11, Cha 11 	
Large:  Str 11, Dex 16, Con 6, Int 25, Wis 11, Cha 11

Note that Surprise Elementals are typically very intelligent, and will plan their surprises, skills, and feats to be the most surprising.

These abilities may vary wildly with no warning from one Surprise Elemental to another.

Skills: Surprise Elementals receive (6 + Int modifier)*4 skill points at first level, and 6 + Int modifier per hit die above that. All skills are class skills. The skill points may be allocated any way the DM wishes. a random generation may yield the best results. Remember that the Surprise Elementals will be working to optimize their ‘Surprise.’ and ‘Surprise!’ attacks, and so will tend to specialize and diversify, except when they don’t.

Feats: Any. Choose the most surprising. Horseback riding for an elemental that commonly takes the shape of a horse is a good example.


Surprise Elementals cannot generally bring items from the demiplane of Surprise when summoned, but will pick up any surprising items as they go past them when moving on the Prime Material plane. Treat this as version of ‘Kender Pockets’.

When encountered on the demiplane of Surprise, Surprise Elementals can be carrying literally anything, even things one might not expect them to be carrying, or they should not be able to carry (DM’s discretion). It is rumored that some Surprise Elementals incorporate dimensional rifts into themselves (similar to a portable hole) so as to be able to carry arbitrary objects.

Player Characters as Surprise Elementals:

This should not be allowed, unless you are running a very unusual campaign, and all characters are elementals or similar creatures. Any player character playing a Surprise Elemental should be expected to roleplay all surprises.

[1]The demiplane of Surprise is mildly chaotic, while Delight is mildly chaotic good and Prank is mildly chaotic evil. Expectation is strongly lawful, while Hope is strongly lawful good and Presumption is mildly lawful evil.


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