D&D 5E Elemental warrior concepts and archetypes

I'm trying to think of concepts for mystical warriors of specific elements (the 4 classical elements), though not too much into rules and mechanics specifics, but maybe a basic description of what they might be like.

Because these concepts are elemental warrior they're of course going to be quite magical, but they aren't going to be full-on spellcasters (like nothing more than cantrips for non-spellcasting classes) but subclasses of certain warrior or warrior-like classes. Some existing subclasses do touch a bit on these like the Rune Knight Fighter or Way of Elements Monk, but I'm interested in ones that are fully specialized in a specific element.

So here's my thoughts on certain elements:
Fire: All offense very little defense, fire damage obviously, could be a Fighter or Barbarian subclass.

Earth: Strong defense, slow, hits hard. Probably favours heavy weapons. Most likely a fighter subclass.

Air: Quick, evasive, many hits. Favours ranged or finesse weapons. Most likely a Monk or Ranger subclass

Water: I'm having a harder time here thinking of how they fight, but could be evasive. Try avoiding it's just like fire except cold damage. Could healing be a thing for this concept? Maybe a likely Paladin or Monk subclass.

I guess mentioning archetypes from other media and games might also help.
 

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Looking at the water cultists in Princes of the Apocalypse, they're described as patient skirmishers, focusing on weak points and slowly eroding the defenses of their enemies, using hit-and-run-tactics.

Water: I'm having a harder time here thinking of how they fight, but could be evasive. Try avoiding it's just like fire except cold damage. Could healing be a thing for this concept? Maybe a likely Paladin or Monk subclass.
 

Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
Supporter
My takes:

Fire. Agree -- offense, even reckless offense. Area damage. If any of the archetypes have ranged damage, it would be these. Closest we have right now is the Evoker and the Flame Druid.

Earth. I see where this comes from, but in my head the two greatest earth-themed mystical warriors are Toph (Avatar) and Terra (from Perez' and Wolfman's Teen Titans) -- both small women. So no heavy weapons, but fists-like-rock, combined with strong defense. The earth becomes the weapon. I also think of the mythical Antaeus, whose strength existed as long as he touched the earth. It's clobberin' time.

Air. This one also has a strong defense, but it's not that it's soaking the damage, but just not being hit -- an armor class bonus rather than THPs, if you will. Agreed on finesse weapons, but I'd point to thrown rather than ranged.

Water. For this, I would look to a protean fighting style -- something always changing. Grappling goes here, and a constantly shifting attack (cf. Odysseus and Proteus in Odyssey 4). When fighitng against water, you should be always threatened with being overwhelmed. We have the Fathomless Warlock right now, that has some of this.
 
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cbwjm

Seb-wejem
For water, I tend to think of it as having more control effects, so it might use ice to freeze targets in their tracks, a tidal wave to push the target, or a rip tide/which of water to pull them towards you.

Healing is also a good idea for water, it's the healing element in WoW.

An explosive fire subclass would be great for a barbarian. All about dealing a lot of quick damage.
 

Undrave

Legend
Here’s my take:

Fire: The Living Conflagration. They recklessly charge into crowds, taking out enemies left and right, not caring about burning out or damaging allies. No mercy for anyone.

Earth: The Living Mountain. Slow and ponderous, but inevitable. They rarely run during a fight, but nothing would be able to stand in their way or make them deviate from their chosen path. Their footsteps can cause quakes, their armor is nearly impregnable and their blows heavy.

Wind: The Living Gale. Like a breeze they are invisible and impossible to grasp (both physically and mentally), but like a storm they can send foes flying off. Speed, maneuverability, arrows that never miss their target.

Water: The Living River. The versatile warrior. Just like steam they can be untouchable, like a flood they can overwhelm all defenses, and like a glacier they can endure the mightiest hits. By changing phase, they can mimic a lesser version of the other three’s specialty.
 

Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
For something a little less trope-y:

(fire) Salamander Guild (retaliation build): Fire shield, serpentine counter-attacks etc

(earth) Bulette Guild (mobility build): earth glide, erupt from below etc

(water) Quipper Guild ( overwhelm build): pack tactic, + damage against a bloodied for

(wind) Manticore Guild (ranged build): flight, ambush etc
 

CreamCloud0

One day, I hope to actually play DnD.
fire: rogue subclass, style-burn up: can cause a weapon attack to deal crit damage on a hit but their sneak attack damage is dropped by 1 die each time and doesn't recover until they rest (short rest recovers 1 sneak die, long rest recovers all), may add the fire damage type to any weapon attack they make.
earth: sorcerer subclass: style-verdant soil: expanded spell list including shillelagh, conjure volley and various earth and plant based spells, when casting a spell can use two sorcery points to cast 1st level cure wounds on themselves as a bonus action without using a spell slot
air: ranger subclass: style-gale strike: +10ft increased movement speed, whenever they hit an enemy with a weapon attack they may push them 5ft away for every time they hit, when an enemy attacks them they may impose disadvantage PB/LR, if the attack misses they can disengage and move 5ft away as a free action.
water: fighter subclass: style-flowing steel: can swap out their equipped weapon (and shield) as many times as they like as free actions on their turn or when making an attack, they may treat any non-heavy weapon as having the thrown property, may add the cold damage type to any weapon attack they make.
 

Stormonu

Legend
For water, I tend to think of it as having more control effects, so it might use ice to freeze targets in their tracks, a tidal wave to push the target, or a rip tide/which of water to pull them towards you.

Healing is also a good idea for water, it's the healing element in WoW.

An explosive fire subclass would be great for a barbarian. All about dealing a lot of quick damage.
Something like Subzero from Mortal Combat?
 

Undrave

Legend
Healing is also a good idea for water, it's the healing element in WoW.
Speaking of healing... the Golden Sun franchise has healing 'spells' for each of the four elements. The first game had Water and Earth adepts with healing spells and the second had Fire and Wind adepts that could heal. Water and Wind was multi target healing while Earth and Fire was single target, if I recall correctly.
 


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