I’ll be the first to admit that the Captain Planet reference is a little dated: Only ’90s kids will etc. etc. A different pop culture reference was plaguing Kineticist last time we saw her, but it was Captain Planet that set the precedent for me. Of course, your elemental touchstone might look a little different. There’s a vast sea of alternative media references floating around out there. Pokémon, The Fifth Element, Magic: The Gathering, The Wheel of Time, Fantastic Four… The list goes on. Just hit the TV Tropes page if you really want to dive into the wide world of elementally aligned super powers. Whether it’s real world neo-druidic beliefs or the rock-paper-slag system of your favorite video game, this stuff is all over the place. That represents an opportunity in terms of character building (I want to be a fire guy!) but a challenge as well (oh man, not another Human Torch ripoff!). 

The real trick is making sure that you’re communicating your version of the trope to the rest of your gaming group. Your party members and your GM are going to come to the table with visions of Elsa, or Chandra Nalaar, or Storm dancing around in their heads. If that’s not what you’re going for, then get out ahead of it. You can try and explain the intricacies of your PC up front, but for my money, I think it’s better to lead the conversation with “my guy is like X, but different because Y.” Of course that’s a gross oversimplification. “My guy is like Thor, but more about lightning than melee” is not an especially interesting description. It is infinitely better than waiting for your pals to comment, “So you’re basically playing Pikachu.” Once that mess hits the table, you are never going to shake it.

So here’s the question of the day. What kinds of elemental themed characters have you seen in games? Were they like any existing pop culture characters, or did they manage to carve out their own identities without need to reference precedent? Let’s hear about your favorite benders down in the comments!


REQUEST A SKETCH! So you know how we’ve got a sketch feed on The Handbook of Heroes Patreon? By default it’s full of Laurel’s warm up sketches, illustrations not posted elsewhere, design concepts for current and new characters, and the occasional pin-up shot. But inspiration is hard sometimes. That’s why we love it when patrons come to us with requests. So hit us up on the other side of the Patreon wall and tell us what you want to see!