The early levels of a campaign are full of unique creatures. However, an elemental appearing is often that turning point where we go from goblin and giant rats to the wild and crazy world of magic. Water elementals, in particular, are a terrifying foe. They practically exemplify one of the worst-known ways to die.
A Water Elemental is a suffocating torrent of water from the pressure of 3000 swirling gallons of water. The force of being rattled around inside them while snagged debris and possibly your friend jostled against you is bad enough.
Drowning inside the body of a raging elemental without even getting to avenge your family is a whole different kind of tragedy. Welcome to a Water Elemental 5e Guide.
Water Elemental, Conscious Currents
Water Elementals are one of the most dangerous Elementals to encounter. While tangling with a fire elemental might burn you, Water Elementals will not afford you a quick death. Instead, as living bodies of pure liquid, a Water elemental can slide right into your personal space, leaving you stuck inside a spiraling torrent of water.
Water Elementals are initially currents in the Plane of Water who have gained small smatterings of sapience. They hold the mental capacity of feral beasts while being made of the pure element of their home plane.
The typical image of a water elemental is an entity of pure water resembling a humanoid torso sprouting from a serpentine funnel. This is actually the form an Elemental takes when ripped from the Water Plane into another.
- A water elemental requires somewhere between ‘several barrels’ and a pond to be summoned. The lore refuses to make this clear.
- A Water Elemental has a rough estimate of 2000 gallons in it.
- As of DnD 5e, while a water elemental prefers to be around the body of water they were summoned from, they are not limited to it.
- Unless the creature is capable of water breathing, being on the same square as a Water Elemental means being restrained and drowned.
- Water elementals are currents with minimal sapience in the Plane of Water until summoned.
- Summoning a Water Elemental generally enrages it. It had such a peaceful life before you came around.
- If a sapient soul and a pure water elemental merge, there is a chance that a Marid will be formed.
- If a Water Elemental consumes enough of its natural element, a might Leviathan may be birthed.
Pure Water Elemental
- 5e Monster Manual
- Large Elemental, Neutral
- CR 5 (1,800 XP)
- Passive Perception 10
- AC: 14 (natural armor)
- Hit Points: 114 (12d10+48)
- Speed 30 feet; swim 90 feet
- Str 18 (+4) Dex 14 (+2) Con 18 (+4)
- Int 5 (-3) Wis 10 (+0) Cha 8 (-1)
- Dmg Resistances: acid; nonmagical bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing.
- Dmg Immunities: poison
- Condition Immunities: exhaustion, grappled, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned, prone, restrained, unconscious
- Senses: dark-vision 60 feet
- Languages: Aquan
- Water Form: A water elemental can enter an enemy square(s). The water elemental can choose to stay there without moving the enemy. However, any in the Elemental’s space must deal with Whelm. Whelm is outlined in actions. It can move through a one-inch space without being considered squeezed.
- Freeze: Cold damage partially freezes a water elemental. This causes its movement to be reduced to 20 feet. This condition melts by its next turn.
- Multiattack: The water elemental can make two Slam attacks in one turn.
- Roll to Hit: +7
- Range: Five Feet, one target
- Hit: 13 (2d8+4) bludgeoning
- Recharge: 4-6
- Save: DC 15 (Str)
- Range: Each target in the creature’s space. A Large creature is 10x10ft or the size of 4 squares. Max Grapple Capacity: Two targets, medium or smaller, or one Large target.
- Save Success: Target gets pushed out of the Elemental’s space.
- Save Failure: 13 (2d8+4) bludgeoning. Grappled targets take 13 (2d8+4) at the start of the Elemental’s turn until freed.
If the target is large or smaller, they are grappled. Escape DC 14. Target is restrained and unable to breathe unless capable of water breathing.
A creature within five feet can yank a target out of the elemental. DC 14 (Str)
Until a magic user gets involved, Water Elementals function more like living currents. They hunt and move through the Plane of Water like any sea creature might. Still, they are practically invisible as sapient shimmers in the water living their best life. So visiting the Plane of Water, you’d be forgiven for never noticing their presence in the first place.
Then, of course, a wizard gets involved and rips the pour thing straight to the Material Plane. This is very disruptive and usually requires a significant amount of water in the squares summoned.
Outside the Plane of Water, a Water elemental looks like a waterspout with a humanoid upper body spiraling out of it. A ghostly face shows its dismay, usually in the form of unyielding rage. This type of Water Elemental could be considered ‘pure’ compared to other options available.
A Water Elemental will keep its abilities to become invisible in a body of water. Yet, simultaneously, it will move and function like a cresting wave outside of water. Their bodies are crushing, swirling pressure that can easily take down a building.
The most horrifying ability they wield is Whelm. As expected of a large body of water, a Water Elemental will drown anyone unfortunate enough to be captured by its mass for too long.
Initially, a Water Elemental is nothing more than a large current with the intelligence and wisdom of a feral predator. Until some Wizard butts in.
Imagine, if you will, being a current in the Plane of water. Not a single concern minus consuming whatever gets caught in your wake. Like a Jellyfish, maybe. Nothing but the water ripple and potential booping into a strange formation or life form to fret over. Nothing to care about, not a worry in the world.
Then some WIZARD in the Material Plane gets the bright idea to screw around and find out. So now you are staring down at four(odd) adventurers. All of whom are very unhappy with your appearance and may or may not attack you before you even have a chance to react.
This is the life of your average Water Elemental. It is for this reason they are generally not too happy with anything they see. The ones who summoned them are usually only safe due to magic binding. Even supposed free-roaming Water elementals around the coasts of magically-potent areas are likely just stuck there and angry about it.
A Water element prefers to hunt and roam through large bodies of water, burrowing through it like an invisible current. While outside of a body of water, it is either forced to follow a magic user’s whim or very, very lost.
Summoning Elementals is not just for that crazy wizard the town wants your help dealing with. While Conjure Elemental is the tried, true, and honestly only sane option available that doesn’t require a special forge. There are three common, though high-level, spells that will grant you access to your very own elemental minion.
Please note elementals are generally not pleased with this situation and, without magical bindings, will react like a tiger you just yanked out of the jungle to fight your battles.
- Spell Level: 5th
- Class List: Druid, Wizard
Conjure Elemental is the more reasonable way to use an Elemental, as it is the primary option a player has access to, which also binds the elemental to the user’s will. However, there are two restrictions the magic user must be aware of, as forgetting these two essential details can mean a lot of accidental friendly fire.
Concentration is required to keep the elemental in check. Elementals are large and powerful, so they need a bit of focus. Losing focus will not dismiss the elemental. It will just remove your grip on it. A full hour is required until the Elemental will be dismissed back to its home plane.
Generally, Elementals do not like being yanked from their peaceful mingling among their home plane. A water elemental was perfectly happy tossing about in the currents and waters before you came around and shackled it with your material responsibilities.
- Spell Level: 6th
- Class List: Cleric
Planar ally is a double-edged sword in the guise of a sword. Sure, you can potentially bribe that Marid into helping you. However, they are just as capable of changing their mind and expecting more from you.
That or become the new problem you must face after he successfully water-boarded a confession out of the Warlock.
To put the cost of this spell into perspective: if you have a task measured in minutes, it will cost around 100 gold per minute. So, it is usually better to think up an hour-long task to be cost-effective.
Planar Allies run a package deal where hourly jobs cost around 1000 gold coins. Be advised that this is a rule of thumb, and sometimes payment comes in the form of having to take quests from the fish genie.
Using Planar ally to try and make use of Pure elementals, Invisible Stalkers, or even more mind-bogglingly, a Leviathan is not advised. Creatures with the intelligence score of a bear generally don’t have much patience for barter. Nor do they care about who had the moral high ground in yanking them from their peaceful water world.
You look just as tasty to a hungry whirlpool as that Warlock does.
- Spell Level: 9th
- Class List: Cleric, Sorcerer, Wizard
Listen to me, player. I get it. As a Sorcerer or Cleric, your options to summon an elemental are pretty limited. You saw your druid friend summon some Water Elementals and make a Water Weird. Now you are jealous. I want you to repeat after me, Gate is not the way.
Opening up a Gate from the Material to the Plane of Water is not going to work out regardless of which direction you have it facing. Sound the front be towards the Material; you have a firehose-pressured torrent the size of the average castle’s doorway to worry about. This is your first problem.
Should it be facing the opposite direction, any atmosphere or oxygen will want to make friends with the Plane of Water.
As a player using a 9th-level spell, you will likely try and go all out by summoning a Leviathan. Do NOT call for a Leviathan. We will get to them, but let’s just say ‘Kingdom crushing tidal wave in all directions’ and leave it at that.
Species of Water Elemental
Through varying methods, usually sparked by a wizard or druid who really needs to tone down their hubris, a Pure elemental can get themselves an upgrade! Depending on perspective, a Water Weird is more intelligent at the cost of physical strength.
Cr 3 – Water Weirds
Does your body of water have a magic sword, but the whole atmosphere lacks a certain zing? Water Weirds are the magical enchantment for you!
Should you not piss them off, a Water Weird’s upper body looks like an enchanting woman with a column of water serving as their lower half that resembles a serpent.
While in the Elemental Plane of water, they are typically loners thanks to their status of being forced into existence. Their exact method of creation is unknown. However, one can assume that the ritual required to bind a Pure Water elemental to a specific body of water is the necessary step in evolution.
A Water Weird has the intelligence and wisdom of the average human. Typically loners thanks to their time spent guarding or representing a body of water. Their nature is based both on their surroundings and the state of the water they are in.
Pollution will typically birth an evil Water Weird moody about being made of gross matter. Meanwhile, a noble Water Weird will happily act as a village’s ‘river spirit’ if given the proper care.
The renowned ‘Lady of the Lake’ in Arthurian Legend can be considered a Water Weird if translated to DnD.
Cr 7 – Myrmidons
A pure elemental is sometimes too defenseless for the master’s purposes. For these difficult moments, a Myrmidon is made. This is a grueling task compared to a simple conjuration spell. Many steps must be undertaken.
A unique forge is required, though first glances might keep you from realizing its true purpose. Fountains of boiling water filtering through a temple to the chaos of a whirlpool could easily, in reality, be the complicated landscape for forging a Myrmidon.
Special armor must be forged and fitted over a, likely angry, elemental. Special care must be taken to ensure every step of the complicated creation ritual is followed. Otherwise, the creator will find themselves with an angry, uncontrollable beast of a being that can easily whip out their entire organization.
It is said the first of these creations were forged by the Primordials themselves in response to the god’s army of angels. An outsider, possibly even a traitorous god, whispered the idea to them. My money’s on the Fey.
Cr 11 – Marid
When a sapient soul mingles with the primordial energies of an elemental plane, there is a rare chance that a powerful genie will emerge. In regards to the element of Water, this creates the mighty Marid.
Considered by many humanoids to be the most splendid and powerful of the Genie, a Marid was most certainly the largest. Towering upwards of eighteen feet tall, they were known to wear clothing or go bare to flaunt their intimidating physiques to other races.
Some might take on more amphibian traits, while others could be mistaken for colorful humans. All were noted as having all the most elegant ocean colors, creating hypnotic designs across their skin.
Marids were magical powerhouses in their own right. Still, unlike many mythical beasts and genies, they have the might to back it up. Legends tell of Marids huffily stopping massive ships with just the palm of their hand.
Often mistaken for natural storms with sapience, the Elder Elementals are the deadliest creatures in the Elemental planes. They can rival the demon lords in their power, and only the most powerful magic users can hope to even summon them, much less control them.
The rituals and spells required to rip them from the elemental planes are often lost to the rubble of their last summoning or, when found, locked away as forbidden tomes.
Elder elementals hold the powers and, to many, station as a Patron Deity. Many treat them as the Elemental Gods just under the ancient Primordials. Unlike Deities and other Patrons, there is no singular Elder elemental. They are, more so, the highest form of power a Pure Elemental can reach.
It just isn’t generally by means a material mind would consider moral. Functioning on the same level of intellect as a feral beast, an elemental does not concern itself over these matters. An Elder elemental merely exists to other elementals, rather than acting as a symbol of sin.
For a being like a Leviathan to form, an Elemental needs to consume a large amount of its native element. This, generally, means cannibalism of other Water Elementals. Once the power of hundreds if not thousands of elementals have been contained in the essence of one, it will form a Leviathan.
CR 20 – Leviathan
Not to be mistaken with the massive whale-like creature birthed from the Earth Mother, the Leviathan. An Elemental Leviathan is a form an Elder Elemental of Water takes when it has achieved its ultimate form.
Unfortunately, many adventurers have made this mistake and have reported the elemental Leviathan is far less accepting of their nonsense.
A Leviathan appears like a massive torrent of water, like the current left behind a torpedoing whale. This torrent of water takes the shape of a serpent. However, all many adventurers see is this powerful beast’s open maw moments before they become crushed within its form.
While it holds high wisdom denoting the tactical mind of an apex predator, its intelligence is but a 2. This means these tactics are restricted to ‘rush them, encircle them with tail, rush again .’It just knows the best time to use its abilities.
Its most frightening ability comes from its Tidal Wave. The Leviathan can create a wall of water 50 feet thick and at a massive scale of 250 long and 250 feet wide at its max. It goes for 250 in all directions around it, making it an ability capable of wiping out entire Arcepellagos and the kingdoms dotted over them.
Distressingly, Leviathans have, on rare occasions, found their own way to the Material Plane. Portals appear randomly between closely connected realms, allowing a Leviathan to idly glide into the oceans of Faerun.
Thankfully, the citizens of the sea are just as wary of its presence as the kingdoms of the land, and hunting parties are immediately launched to take out these beasts.
Where a Leviathan can destroy kingdoms, dispatching one can create a powerful ruler. Thanks to their beastly might, the Elemental Plane of Water will often have visitors in the way of Gods, Devil Princes, and Demon Lords.
These pinnacles of power in the realm are there looking to prove their status through a hunt that requires the domination of the elements themselves.
The Plane of Water
The Plane of Water has no sea floor for coral to cover. Unless you find yourself extremely fortunate, there is no air to be found once below the surface. Should you ever find the surface. The Elemental Plane of Water is not just an Endless Sea; it is the source of all water as the Material knows it.
Yet there is still a sky to be found. A sun arcs through it, clouds pour down rain and lightning, and stars even show themselves. This is likely where the Elemental Plane of Water merges with the Material. However, within the clutches of the Plane’s Atmosphere, there are still dregs of life to be found.
An endless ocean might seem terrifying and, much like Water Elementals, a significant drowning risk. However, it is relatively peaceful in a world where water-breathing spells can be found distilled in a fancy aquatic brew.
While the Plane of Air has the top spot in overall survivability, an endless ocean is far more friendly than a plane of pure flames or mostly solid Earth.
That does not mean the Plane of Water is without features or landmass. The source of these is added through the ParaElemental Planes.
The Para Elemental Planes are where two Elemental Planes intersect. As the Material Plane is at its center, each Plane intersects at two points. Where it intersects with the Plane of Air, the Frostfell is formed.
The ParaElemental Plane of Ice is a massive solid wall of ice that occasionally breaks off to leave huge submerged Ice Bergs and the occasional trapped pocket of air.
Meanwhile, where the Planes of Water and Earth intersect forms the ParaElemental Plane of Ooze. This massive mass of mud bleeds out into silt where the two intersect, filled with the occasional clump of stone or wayward Hag.
They say that rifts to the Outer Planes can be found down in the depth of the elemental planes. From which horrendous sea demons drift through.
Thanks to these factors, pockets of the elements can be found throughout the endless depth along with entire civilizations built around the wobbling continents that are dwarfed into islands by the scale of this particular ocean.
Through all this serenity and chaos, might elemental serpents are often hunted by the gods, devil princes, and demon lords alike in their attempts to prove dominance over all the inner planes have to offer.
Question: Are Quasi-Planes Still Relevant in DnD 5e?
Short Answer: Dm’s Discretion.
Long Answer: For the unfamiliar, the Quasi-elemental Planes were the points where the Positive and Negative Energy-Planes met up with the Elemental Planes. This created eight Quasi-Planes with Positive and Water forming Steam. Meanwhile, Negative and Water formed Salt. This is an element of the ‘Great wheel Cosmology’.
Other Cosmologies, such as 5e’s recent World Axis Cosmology, formed after a stupid wizard caused the scary Spellplague incident.
After the Spellplague, these planes melted into the elemental Chaos surrounding the inner planes. The Positive and Negative Energy planes wrap around the Outer Planes according to the grouped Plane’s alignment.
Question: How Much Water is in the Average Water Elemental?
Answer: A Water elemental is classified as a large creature, which takes up a 2×2 square or a 10ft by 10ft square. This Elemental will not take up the entire square, taking up at most a fourth to a third of that space.
About 800 cubic feet fit in a 10×10 room, which is just barely under 6000 gallons. Being generous and giving them a hird of hat space, a Water Elemental is full of roughly 2000 gallons of liquid.
Question: What Books Can I Find Water Elementals In?
Answer: Your basic Water elemental and the Marid are found in the Monster Manual. Meanwhile, the Myrmidon and the Leviathan can be found in Monsters of the Multiverse.
Stolen from a life of serenity, I have grown to deeply feel for the Elementals of the Forgotten Realms. They seem to live a troubled life once they’re forced to carry the weight of a stat block.
They were just minding their own business, living their best life as a current with feelings. Then some magic user has to just come on up, yoink them from their bubbly home of serenity, and sick them on a group of adventurers. I’d be huffy too!
If there is anything I have learned from studying all these monsters, it is that in the world of DnD, you should never trust a wizard with significant sources of power.
Shame gathering the knowledge to create these mana pools is practically their entire purpose in life.