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Player's Option: Heroes of the Elemental Chaos (4e)
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Player's Option: Heroes of the Elemental Chaos (4e)

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Command the Elements

Imagine untamed oceans wracked by lightning, whirlwinds of seething flame and roaring thunder, and massive shards of flying earth and ice. Welcome to the Elemental Chaos, the raw plane from which the gods and the primordials fashioned the world. The plane forms the foundation of the D&D cosmos and is home to countless elemental beings, including genies, archons, and demons. It's also a source of tremendous arcane power, the place where all fireballs and lightning bolts are born.

Now you can play a hero who harnesses the raw power of the Elemental Chaos. Player's Option: Heroes of the Elemental Chaos presents the elementalist sorcerer and the sha'ir wizard as new class options, as well as new character themes, feats, powers, paragon paths, epic destinies, and elemental companions.

Product History

Heroes of the Elemental Chaos (2012), by Richard Baker and Robert J. Schwalb, was the third Player's Option for D&D 4e. It was published in February 2012.

About the Cover. Cryonax, a Prince of Elemental Evil, takes center stage on the cover. He's been a part of D&D mythology since the early '80s.

Concluding the Heroes. 2011 had been a down year for D&D with Wizards publishing just eight RPG books (plus one release for Free RPG Day). The other shoe dropped on January 9, 2012, when Wizards of the Coast announced through a New York Times article that D&D 4e was ending, to be replaced by a new edition. Heroes of the Elemental Chaos was the first RPG publication to follow that announcement. Afterward, there would be just two more 4e-specific books (plus one more Free RPG Day release).

Heroes of the Elemental Chaos was the third and final book in the short-lived Player's Option series for D&D. Like its predecessors, it featured classes, paragon paths, epic destinies, and themes. Unlike its predecessors, there were no new character races, just elemental-based variants for some existing races. The book also includes an extensive section on elemental power, including elemental magic. However, it's not presented as a power source, marking the end of 4e's slow move around from sources in the final year of its publication. Instead, elemental magic is used as a modifier to other power sources — which matches how it had always been used by arcane and divine casters.

The Forgotten Heroes. There are just two full builds in this book: the elemental sorcerer and the sha'ir wizard.

The elementalist is a rather common sort of magician in myth that had (rather surprisingly) not existed for the first 17 years of D&D's life. Instead the first elementalist appeared in Tome of Magic (1991). They'd been better loved in later days, appearing in Tome and Blood (2001) for 3e and Complete Arcane (2004) for 3.5e.

The sha'ir is a genie-related magician who made its first appearance in Al-Qadim: Arabian Adventures (1992). They later got a complete book of their own, CGR3: The Complete Sha'ir's Handbook (1994). Unfortunately, some readers found the 4e sha'ir too similar to the witch, who had debuted a few months earlier in Heroes of the Feywild (2011).

Expanding the World Axis. Heroes of Elemental Chaos contains a little bit of information on the Elemental Chaos, but The Plane Below: Secrets of the Elemental Chaos (2009) is generally a better source.

NPCs of Note. Baker and Schwalb filled Heroes of the Elemental Chaos with references to character from D&D lore, such as the drow Eclavdra, the wizard Mordenkainen, and the madman Castanamir.

However, the most notable reference in Heroes of the Elemental Chaos is probably to the cult of the Elder Elemental Eye, a deity who dated back to the '70s and who would receive even more attention in season 8 of D&D Encounters, "The Elder Elemental Eye" (2012).

The authors cleverly tie the Elder Elemental Eye to the Princes of Elemental Evil, another classic group of NPCs. The first five Princes — Cryonax, Imix, Ogrémoch, Olydrya, and Yan-C-Bin — were created by Lewis Pulsipher for the Fiend Folio (1981). They became archomentals in Jeff Grubb's Manual of the Planes (1987) and then were joined by good counterparts in the Planescape Monstrous Compendium Appendix III (1998). Most recently they'd received attention in Dragon #347 (September 2006) and Dragon #353 (March 2007), which revamped them for D&D 3e. Now they'd become more powerful than ever as primordials.

In keeping with the mythology of David Cook's Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil (2001), Heroes of the Elemental Chaos suggests that the Elder Elemental Eye might not exist — that it might just be a hoax created by the Princes to hide the form of the Chained God — who of course is another Gygaxian deity, Tharizdun, from WG4: "The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun" (1982).

Future History. Dragon #408 (February 2012) focuses on the Elemental Chaos with articles on themes and treasures. Meanwhile, the aforementioned Encounters season, The Elder Elemental Eye" (2012), offers a more comprehensive tie-in to this book.

About the Creators. Baker had been with D&D since the '90s, but this was his last RPG work as a Wizards employee. He's now writing for Sasquatch Game Studio, where he freelanced for 5e's Elemental Evil arc (2015). Schwalb had been a contractor for Wizards since the start of 4e and would later help with all three of the core 5e books (2014).

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to shannon.appelcline@gmail.com.

 
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File Last Updated:
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This title was added to our catalog on May 12, 2015.