There are few things as useful and versatile as a good man-at-arms, clad in stout armor and well armed. Such a man could deal damage, protect others, and engage in many useful martial activities. The most common elementals that could be summoned were destructive, powerful, but seldom useful, except in the most basic of situations. Even proximity to some elementals was dangerous, and summoned some more exotic types was all but a guaranteed disaster anywhere but in an open field far from settlement. A lone fire elemental, unrestrained in combat, could see a forest go up in flame, or half a valley of grain and corn burn. It was from this that the Lectory of Crachwar embarked on a collective effort to create a new sort of summoning, to summon a man-at-arms, but to be composed of the same stuff as elementals.
The Elemenal-At-Arms appears as a warrior in full armor, the type of armor generally coming from the cultural arsenal of the summoner. They radiate magic, and have an elemental aura that gives them away. An elemental-at-arms only passes as human from a distance. The appearance of the armor is inconsequential, and has no effect on the armor class of the elemental-at-arms. An elemental appearing in full medieval plate is going to have the same stats as one appearing as a Meso-American Jaguar or Eagle warrior, same if the elemental is mimicking an elf, human, dwarf, or any other humanoid race.
Color: Reds, oranges, and yellows
Preferred Weapon: Sword and spear
Boon: Deals fire/heat damage, can control existing flame
Profile: Aggressive, damage dealing, reckless
Color: Green, brown, and black
Preferred Weapon: Mace, Hammer, Shield
Boon: cannot be knocked back, or prone, attacks can cause knock down
Profile: Defensive, blocker, cautious
Color: White, Light Blue, translucent
Preferred Weapon: Spear and bow
Boon: Attacks ignore non-magical armor, can freeze liquids at will
Profile: Balanced, cruel, prefers to maim rather than killing
Color: Blue, blue-green, gray
Preferred Weapon: flail, staff, whip, bare hands
Boon: can fit through any opening, cannot be grappled
Profile: Balanced, patient, uses evasion, close quarters combat preference
Color: Light blue, light green, light yellow
Preferred Weapon: Bow, throwing weapons
Boon: Always goes first in initiative, can become intangible for a round, but gives up attack ability for that time
Profile: Aggressive, fast, rushing attacks and rapid fallbacks
Color: Black, gray
Preferred Weapon: polearms, spears, bows
Boon: Can cause 'fear effect', can deliver sundering strikes through shields and armor
Profile: Super aggressive, fast, no self preservation
Color: white, gold, and silver
Preferred Weapon: Sword and bow
Boon: Bonus vs chaotic and evil foes, inspire morale
Profile: Balanced, reserved, strike from a distance for maximum damage
Color: Black, dark blue, and purple
Preferred Weapon: sword, flail, and ax
Boon: Bonus against lawful and good foes, cause fear
Profile: Defensive, inflict maximum damage at close range
The Elementals-At-Arms and the Guilds
The Lectory of Carchwar counted a number of powerful and important allies. The most prominent was the Guild of Adventurers-Upon-Return, usually known more commonly as 'The Guild' or the Heroe's Guild, this group supported large numbers of journeyman magi. These magi were more than aware of the sheer power of summoning elementals, and conversely knew that was the main reason to not summon said beings. A more throttled, controlled, and versatile version of a potent summoning, they fully supported. The Guild supplied financial backing, dungeon level testing of new incantations, and feedback on how the new shaped summons functioned when invoked.
The Order of the Silver Wand, magi in training, also were strong supporters of the Lectory's work. The Order frequently saw circles of multiple magi rendered dependent on hired steel, and often vulnerable to said steel when it wasn't trustworthy. The ability for a magi to have a readily summoned elemental-at-arms was too valuable to pass up. Given the number of apprentice level magi, the Silver Wand was able to introduce the new spells to a large number of budding magic users. Equipped with these new spells, they saw the spell used frequently, and often visibly.
The final faction supporting the Lectory was an unexpected one. Maesters, and their art of maestery were frequently looked down on as low magic, pretenders to the great art. The Maesters of Iapermorquae provided the one thing that was missing from the ultimate spell, reliability. The limitations of maestery were applied to the Elementals-At-Arms. This made the spell reliable and no longer variable in nature. Earlier versions of the spell proved unreliable, and could summon multiple elementals, the elementals might be exceptionally strong, or even feeble, but many scoffed that this was the nature of magic. The Maesters revision ensured that the spell summoned a single Elemental-At-Arms, and they would always be of the desired strength
The combat abilities and powers of the elemental-at-arms depends on two factors, the level of the spell used to summon them, and the type of elemental summoned. Their attack is based on their element, and not the weapon they appear to use. Thus a pair of fire elementals-at-arms bearing a fierce two-handed sword and a spear respectively, are going to deal the exact same amount of damage on their attacks (the same dice rolled). The elemental's attack automatically matches their type, and adds any ability tied to their elemental nature. Their combat abilities in terms of attack and damage are based off of the summoning spell level, higher level spells create more potent warriors. For the duration of the spell, or until their health is depleted, the elemental-at-arms can fight without fatigue, immune to critical hits, and they cannot be disarmed, disemboweled, or otherwise dismembered.
An Elemental-At-Arms manifests as a warrior class, their level comparable to the level of the spell used to summon them, so that a first level spell summons the equivalent of a starting character, and the highest level spell summons a veritable 'Knight of Myth and Legend' to the field of battle.
Elemental Strike - the Elemental-At-Arms can concentrate their essence into an attack, and unleash on that foe their might. This attack detonates as an elemental bolt spell that goes off at the point of contact. This damage stacks with the damage that would be inflicted by their normal attack, and can be again stacked with any special feats the elemental-at-arms has relative to their warrior level. Thus, an elemental-at-arms that has a feat allowing them to unleash a flurry of blows can add their elemental strike to this attack.
Overload - a last ditch effort, an elemental-at-arms can concentrate ALL of their power and unleash it in a single effort. This can be a display of power such as an earth elemental-at-arms ripping the door off of a castle, or a fire elemental-at-arms detonating in a fireball. After this display the elemental is gone until it is summoned again, but not for at least 24 hours.
Spell-Like Abilities - an elemental-at-arms can swap out gaining combat based feats to pick up spells related to their element. This lessens their pure melee ability, but can provide an unexpected surprise for foes. This can only be taught to cultivated elementals-at-arms. They are limited to low level spells, and their learned spells cannot exceed their own summoning level. A good rule of thumb is that they cannot learn more spell like abilities than their own level. A fifth level Dark elemental-at-arms could only learn 5 levels of dark magic, for example.
A summoner has the ability to 'cultivate' an elemental-at-arms. This allows the caster to functionally build the elemental-at-arms they want rather than letting magic do as it wills. This is mostly a matter of aesthetics, but also shaping the demeanor of the elemental-at-arms, as well as basically picking out what combat feats they would have (based on whatever game system is being used). The advantage is that a specific man-at-arms profile can be built, one that exploits a specific type of weapon, and elemental boon, especially if it is one that is unusual. The downside is that if defeated, depleted of HP, or dismissed by magical means, a cultivated elemental-at-arms is unavailable for 24 hours, the elemental has to heal its own injuries.
The Elemental-At-Arms should allow a magic user to summon an elemental bodyguard to protect them, or to join the rest of an adventuring party in melee combat. These should be 'meatshields' to protect the more vulnerable members of the party. Dueling wizards could summon their men-at-arms for duels, or for any other of a long list of things a magic soldier made of an element can be used for. The potential is simply too long to list.
Drawbacks - Elementals-At-Arms are magical by nature, and must abide by the laws of magic. Rival magic users can banish them back to where elementals dwell. They are vulnerable to their rival elements, a fire elemental-at-arms will take massive amounts of damage from water based magics, and the rest of the elemental weaknesses follow suit.