I am building a system in which the physics (and metaphysics) are based on a Western Classical Element system: the four basic elements of Fire, Wind, Water and Earth can intermingle with each other forming another para-element based on which one of them was the dominant one.

In this way, for example, you have:

  • Fire (dominant) + Earth = Magma
  • Earth (dominant)+ Fire = Cinder
  • Wind (dominant) + Fire = Smoke
  • Wind (dominant) + Water = Fog
  • Earth (dominant) + Water = Mud

Those sounds reasonable. I am completely at loss when looking for these combinations, though:

  • Fire (dominant) + Wind
  • Water (dominant) + Wind
  • Water (dominant) + Earth

The classical D&D setting expanded in Planescape uses a similar system, and taking from that, I could get the suggestion that Water + Wind could be Ice, and Water + Earth could be Ooze; however, the former doesn't convince me much, and the latter is not really distinguishable from Mud (it's just more watery mud, basically).

I have tried to find a solution to this looking into various culture element system but couldn't find anything which satisfied me.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I think this may suffer from being primarily opinion-based, which might see it closed. My own suggestions would be: mud sounds water-dominant, so try soil for earth-dominant instead of mud? Same for water + wind: make that frost (a bunch of water, influenced by a bit of wind) or something, while water + wind = fog. (Ever seen fog when the wind is "dominant"? The fog doesn't last. Fog works best in still air.) That leaves fire + wind... perhaps a furnace wind without flame (flame, presumably, covered by Fire in its unmixed form)? In short, re-examine your sets and see if there's room left. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Sep 4 '13 at 4:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ The way I see Mud it is still very Earth-y. Also, again, I think again that soil*/*mud don't make such a big metaphysical difference. Frost is an excellent idea, and your observation on Fog is spot on, though I would like to underline that Wind = Air/Gas. I would like those elements to be thought as metaphysical principles more than their physical counterparts (think Alchemy). \$\endgroup\$ – NinGen ShinRa Sep 4 '13 at 4:25
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ (Ugh, the downvoter care to explain why? I am a new user, but I think it is a well-formed question) \$\endgroup\$ – NinGen ShinRa Sep 4 '13 at 4:40
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @NingenShinRa The tooltip for the downvote button reads: "This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful." It's probably one of those - and the voter's opinion. Or someone using the downvote buttons like they're a substitute for voting to close when you don't have permission to make close votes. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Sep 5 '13 at 10:46

The Rolemaster Elemental Companion breaks down elements into several categories (listed later on for completeness) from these I'd suggest the following compounds:


  • Fire opposes Water
  • Earth opposes Wind
  • Wind opposes Earth
  • Water opposes Fire

And the combinations:

  • Fire (dominant) + Earth = Magma (Opposes Ice)
  • Fire (dominant) + Wind = Electrical (Opposes Inertia)
  • Earth (dominant)+ Fire = Light (Opposes Dark)
  • Earth (dominant) + Water = Ice (Opposes Magma)
  • Wind (dominant) + Fire = Heat (Opposes Cold)
  • Wind (dominant) + Water = Inertia (Opposes Electrical)
  • Water (dominant) + Wind = Cold (Opposes Heat)
  • Water (dominant) + Earth = Dark (Opposes Light)

The RMEC defines these as the elements; I can expound more if needed, but this should give you the idea.

Lesser Basic Elements

  • Air - Opposed Gravity
  • Cold - Opposed Heat
  • Light - Opposes Dark
  • Vibration - Opposes Inertia
  • Water - Opposes Earth

Greater Basic Elements

  • Gravity - Opposes Air
  • Heat - Opposes Cold
  • Dark - Opposes Light
  • Inertia - Opposes Vibration
  • Earth - Opposes Water

Compound Elements

  • Electrical - Light + Heat + Inertia
  • Fire - Air + Heat + Light
  • Ice - Water + Cold
  • Wind - Air + Inertia

Super Compound Elements

  • Plasma - Equal mix of all 10 basic elements
  • Vacid - Mix of all 10 basic elements where each opposing element is balanced

Complex Elements

  • Aether
  • Chaos
  • Nether
  • Nexus
  • Spirit
  • Time
  • \$\begingroup\$ Very thorough answer, thank you! I wonder why Earth + Fire give Light and Earth + Water give Ice. This seems to agree with Brian that Fire + Wind give Thunder/Electrical, so that's settled. As for Water + Wind Cold/Ice/Frost seem quite good. Given this, do you have any other suggestion on what the result of Earth + Water could be? I would like something with a strongly elemental feeling (rather than inertia kind of thing, which is awesome but perhaps not for this current project). \$\endgroup\$ – NinGen ShinRa Sep 7 '13 at 17:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ The reasoning was Earth burnt by fire gives Light and Earth plus water makes water more solid, urgo Ice. These are adaptations of the RMEC system as that uses elements that you are not. Earth plus water could be Wood (an actual traditional element) \$\endgroup\$ – Rob Sep 9 '13 at 8:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ah! Wood! How could I not think about it. That's it. This solves my question. Thank you; even though Brian's answer was also awesome. \$\endgroup\$ – NinGen ShinRa Sep 10 '13 at 20:59
  • Fire + Wind = Sparks/Lightning/Plasmas
  • Water + Wind = Effervescence (I summon the elemental plane... of fizzy drinks!)
  • Water + Earth = Mud 2
  • Earth + Water = Quicksand/Ketchup 1/Thixotropic Ground. (Or, if you're boring, Clay)

1 I really couldn't resist the element of Ketchup. Sorry. Blame Schlock Mercenary. Not to be confused with the paraelemental plane of ranch dressing.

2 Soil texture and fertility is a big deal. Sandy clay loam is different from loamy clay. See the Soil Nomogram Silt and sand composition is different from earth composition, and classically the differentiation of fertile soil from granite is a Big Deal. Technically, Water + Earth, if you're being classical about it should be Life, as it is the intersection of calories.


There are a few Flash/mobile games around in which you start with base elements (generally Water, Fire, Earth, Air/Wind) and combine them to make new elements or objects, and continue combining more and more to create more complex objects (sometimes even creating concepts).

For example, http://littlealchemy.com

  • Water + Fire = Steam
  • Steam + Earth = Geyser
  • Water + Earth = Mud
  • Mud + Fire = Brick

And so on. You probably don't want to go quite as far as some of these games have, with 3-500 total element results, but looking up a guide for one of those games (or simply playing it -- you might have fun!) could certainly give you ideas.


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.