Inspired by the collar that bound Mogget, a Free Magic Elemental into the service of the Abhorsen in the form of an adorable white cat (at least when Sabriel met him), this could definitely be an alternative way for a Magic-User (or any character) to adopt a Familiar of sorts.
Before being applied to an Elemental, the collar appears as a fairly plain steel ring. On closer inspection, etched runes of binding, service, and holding, can be read around its circumference. The ring can be worn on one’s finger and doesn’t count against the number of magical rings one can wear since it doesn’t provide any inherent bonuses to the wearer.
When the wearer holds the ring and speaks the command word, the ring quickly expands into a steel hoop with bright runes spinning around its circumference. The hoop can be expanded to any reasonable size required by the user. The hoop will also retract back into a ring with another use of the command word or after a few hours, if not used. The hoop will not expand against a solid object or fast enough to cause harm.
Once placed around or under an elemental, the hoop will quickly retract around the elemental’s form. As a general rule, elementals with 8 HD or less can be bound in 1 round, 9 to 12 HD in two rounds, 13 to 16 HD in three rounds, and 16+ HD in four rounds. On the first round, the elemental receives a Save vs Death at a -4 penalty to resist the effect and remove the hoop. On the second round, it receives another Save vs Death, but at a -8 penalty. If that fails, the process cannot be stopped. The elemental is likely to panic and attempt to flee or to spend its last few round attacking the one who placed the collar on it.
As the hoop constricts, it forces the elemental into a new, benign form, often an animal. When the process is completed, the new form appears as an ordinary creature of its type, though it is capable of speech and of a random gender, and wearing a leather collar around its neck (the collar could be a particular color depending on the type of elemental). Hanging from the collar is a small steel bell, enchanted, that helps keep the elemental bound whenever it rings. A round after the transformation is complete the creature coughs up another Elemental Binding Collar in its ring form. Both the leather collar and the ring bear the same magical rune to indicate that the two are connected.
It’s worth noting that the leather collar is merely an illusion. The collar cannot be broken with a weapon, it will not degrade over time, and it cannot be removed by the transformed elemental alone. Someone must choose to undo it and take it off. If the leather collar is ever removed it dissolves into smoke immediately and the elemental will be released over the course of 1 round.
The collar reverts back into the original ring form and one of these things will happen:
- The ring will return to the hand of the person who had bound the elemental, unless they are dead or not on this plane.
- The ring will return to the hand of the person who unbound the elemental, unless they are dead or not on this plane (extraordinary bad timing).
- The ring will appear within 2′ of the elemental and clatter on the floor; it may be lost!
How the ring gets there is up to the DM
At this point, the runed ring can be turned into the hoop and used to rebind the elemental. The ring will not respond to the command word before then.
The bound elemental in its creature form will be helpful to the owner of the ring, if not friendly, and will not willingly harm its master. Though it lacks any of its previous offensive capabilities but it retains its knowledge, personality, and ability to speak all languages it might know. When asked questions or asked to perform tasks, it will answer truthfully and act properly (if begrudgingly). The bound elemental retains its HD and Saves, but its AC, forms of attack, and special abilities are that of the new creature. Any magical powers the new form would normally have are not available. (For example, an elemental bound into the form of a Small Dragon (HD 3) would have a breath weapon. Turned into an Imp, it would lack any of the spell-like abilities, but keeps the poison tail attack)
The form the elemental takes could depend on the type of elemental, a particular collar may always turn an elemental into a particular creature, or each binding transforms an elemental into a random creature; it’s up to the DM. Needless to say, the type of creature will be appropriate to its environment (that is, its new form can swim and breathe water if it’s underwater and so on).
Next week, I’ll post a random table to determine what form a bound elemental might take.