How would you portray Shadowfell versions of the four main elemental planes?


I'm planning on using both the Shadowfell and Feywild in my game and was looking for suggestions on how to depict Shadowfell (and Feywild) versions of the elemental planes.

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From 1E Manual of the Planes:


Other options you could consider:

Earth=Salt (works better than for water, IMO)

Personally I like:

Fire - Cinder
Air - Miasma (poison gas and airborne disease)
Water - Acid
Earth - Dust

The theme is that the elemental equivalent is either useless (cinders and dust) or actively harmful (miasma and acid).

Miasma is specifically derived from the old belief that bad odors caused disease. "Malaria" literally means "bad air", and plague doctor masks were stuffed with sweet smelling flowers to counteract allegedly disease-causing smells.

I understand Ravenloft substituted water for blood, earth for grave, and fire for pyre in at least one iteration (don't remember what the air alternative was)
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I didn't see before where you asked for Feywild versions, too. I would honestly keep them the same, but that's not what you asked for, so let's see...

Fire - Radiance
Air - Lightning
Water - ...Holy Water?
Earth - Wood
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I would just use the old Planescape versions of the elemental + positive energy plane (feywild) and elemental + negative energy plane (shadowfell). These were:

Air+Positive = Lightning
Earth+Positive = Mineral (gems, basically)
Fire+Positive = Radiance (light)
Water+Positive = Steam
Air+Negative = Vacuum (void, outer space)
Earth+Negative = Dust
Fire+Negative = Ash
Water+Negative = Salt

The 'Fell is emotionally dampened, so:

Air: some kind of doldrums (or maybe void)
Earth: dust
Fire: cinder
Water: ice

The 'Wild is emotionally overactive, so:

Air: tempest
earth: magma
fire: fire is already emotionally overactive
water: steam


If you don't want to use the Planescape model, I would suggest the following:

Air: Dark, storm-wracked sky, acrid black smoke instead of clouds, and barren stone islands drifting, shattered and scorched by constant lightning strikes, amid an endless void of thin air. Undead djinnis, Aarakocra, and elementals of smoke, void, and lightning wander the tortured skies.

Earth: Cavernous expanse of bleak darkness filled with narrow, twisting tunnels, muddy, flooded passageways, and countless dead ends, pitfalls, and other hazards around every turn. Few (if any) random encounters, but the PCs always feel like something is watching, just out of their vision range. Make sure to play up the subjective gravity and three-dimensionality of the place, and drive home the point that danger could literally come from any direction at any time.

Fire: Oppressive heat and choking smoke, but actual open flames are few and far between. Lava bubbles beneath the surface, cracking and rending the ground at random. Obsidian spines, abandoned towns of steel and volcanic stone crawling with burned undead and evil fire creatures. The horrors that lurk here are drawn to heat and flame, so the party will quickly learn to fear the light as well as the dark.

Water: A frozen wasteland wracked by constant blizzards and bone-chilling gales, the howling wind and blinding snow make sensing danger before it arrives all but impossible. Labyrinthine passages snake beneath the ice, providing respite for the cold and weary. However... the party will quickly discover that the desolation of the surface world is but a prelude to their troubles. They are not the only beings to seek refugee beneath the ice, and their neighbors are not eager to share.
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Two forces colliding can either merge or repel each other. You might consider looking at this as an opportunity to show conflict.

Rather than blend Shadow/Fey into the Elements, I would keep them distinct and create dangerous interactions between Shadow/Fey and the Elements. To that end, I would not have a Shadow version of the Elemental Plane of Fire, but instead would have places in the Elemental Plane of Fire where the Shadowfell is in contact and the Elemental Energy of the plane is repelling the Shadow energy in bursts of necrotic and flame. The virulent nature of the Feywild tries to creep into the Elemental Planes of Earth and Air, but are rejected and pushed back by the Plane itself in Avalanches and Gusts that blow into the Feywild.


And for Faerie versions:

Air: mountains covered in lush jungle drifting lazily across an endless dawn sky, wreathed in cool mist. Trees, flowers, and fungi of every shape, size, and hue crowding every inch of habitable space. Thundering waterfalls gushing from caverns gleaming with gems and precious metals, fading into the mist as they descend into a sky filled with the omnipresent chorus of countless birds and bugs.

Earth: Forests of gleaming metal and crystal under an infinite ceiling of rock. Studded with jewels that glow with an inner light, the "sky" would cover the plane below with a coruscating pattern of dim light in every conceivable hue. Gnomes and Dwarves would build vast, magnificent cities out of the bedrock of the plane, in some places reaching all the way to the "sky." The Dark Elves who live here would have greedily mined the gems from the rock above, leaving their lands in the shadows of an endless "night."

Fire: a desert of blazing sands and continuous sunlight, what scattered forests there are here have leaves of white, gold, and brilliant orange, almost identical to flames when they wave in the wind. Though harsh, the desert still teems with life that can withstand the heat, and cities of fiery Fey are dotted here and there. Closer to the border of the Plane of Fire, the desert gives way to barren rock and rivers of molten stone and metal.

Water: an endless tropical ocean with water so clear you can see almost as far as you could in air. Drifting masses of coral and seaweed anchor bustling cities of aquatic creatures and sea elves. The buoyancy of the water makes architectural feats impossible in the mortal world almost commonplace here, and many of the trade cities are enclosed with massive crystal domes for the convenience of air-breathing creatures.
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