I’m working on a big write-up of how I would do the Bionicle elements in G3. It’s not done yet by any means as I’ve only written about the common structure among the elements and developed some of the elements themselves in writing so far, but this is already gotten so long that I figured I could post it and get some feedback as I write out the rest. It’s definitely going to be too long to throw up into a post directly, so here’s a link to view the word file instead:
In all seriousness, though - this is great. Especially the division of elements into “process” elements and “material” elements I can only agree with. Toa of Earth being able to create oil is a little bit of a far stretch for me personally, but I guess it works - especially since we never got an official explanation (if I remember correctly) of what where the differences between Stone and Earth.
One of the things I can’t completely agree with are the “most common” personalities associated with an element, though.
You say Fire guys are hot headed and impulsive, etc. (which they always were, of course, but still…), but I always thought them being really careful with their powers would be much more sensical. In combination with what you wrote about them being most effective in a team - which I can totally agree with - I also view them more as a kind of “offensive supporter” in battle - and I don’t really associate recklessness and “act first, think later” with that. It can’t be denied that their powers are “flashy”, though and that this would affect their personality in the early time of being a Toa.
Water Toa on the other hand (the religious unity stuff aside - which is totally fine) could be really aggressive and reckless, since water is usually there in abundance and they don’t have to care that much for their elemental batteries to run and stay dry.
I personally also think Toa of Plantlife and Toa of Erath should be kept separated - maybe through the Toa of Earth only being able to manipulate dead organic matter, while the Toa of Plantlife can only control living organic matter. I feel like Toa of Plantlife should be able to control Rahi and such things, too, then, though. Toa of The Green would still fit as a name, I guess.
I actually have to agree, though, that instead of Onu-Matoran the Po-Matoran should work in the mines, while the Onu-Matoran are busy with agriculture.
The Po-Matoran seem to become what usually dwarves are in other fantasy worlds - miners, carvers, builders. Only metalworking probably is reserved for Fe-Matoran.
Anyway, I like all the ideas presented. I would say that earth is changed the most; like @Gilahu mentioned maybe it would be better to make earth and plantlife/jungle/of the green separate, since earth now seems to have such expansive powers.
You should add in what colors you think the various elements should have, too.
I wish I was a good artist… If so I would definitely go and illustrate some of these ideas!
Speaking of which, if you find the time you should try and illustrate them yourself!
Yeah, I was honestly just kind of spitballing ideas on how to draw some connections between the nature of a character’s element and personality with those. They’re not meant to be absolute for those characters by any means, but I figured the connections may provide some useful analogies for G3 writers to describe their characters’ personalities. Maybe some Fire characters would be more careful with their powers as they have seen their destructive potential? That’d certainly make for an interesting backstory…
When I get to Plantlife, I’ll put in the full explanation of why I chose to run with the idea of combining it with Earth instead of keeping it as a separate element, but here’s a first draft.
The way I’ve got Earth set up at the moment is effectively something like 25% G1 Earth and 75% G1 Plantlife, and you’re right that it does add up to control of a pretty large and varied collection of materials. They’ve all got the high content of organic material in common, though, which is what I based the idea of Earth as presented here on. If I were to take out all the plantlife-related things, I’d have to base Earth on something other than organic material 'cause plants are organic material, and that doesn’t leave me with a lot to work with. I mean, soil, a hallmark substance for Earth to control, is an aggregate of minerals and organics with water and air mixed in; water and air already have elements of their own and minerals fall under Stone, so what can Earth be based on other than the organic component? I really don’t have an answer there, not one that wouldn’t bring me back to having Earth and Stone trampling all over each other trying to control the same material. And if Earth does have control over organic materials, I don’t see a good reason as to why that control wouldn’t apply to plants as well.
As for giving Earth control of dead organic material and Plantlife control of living organic material… what’s the difference between the two? I mean, I don’t think that there is a fundamental change that happens the moment that material goes from being living to being dead; the moment of death is just the end of a collective chemical process, after which the delicate balance of materials that make up living tissue proceeds to decay. Even in a decayed state, though, it is still organic material… just no longer part of something living. If anything, I would think that giving Earth only control of material in this decaying state, besides being confusing on my end, would lead to the rather macabre situation of Toa of Earth having to kill plants to be able to apply their element, which completely undermines the idea of Earth being a life-giving and nurturing element. I’m not enthusiastic about making Earth in essence the element of death…
The final argument that I would put forward in favor of making Earth in effect the element of nature (just not in name) is that doing so allows us to describe the entire world that our characters know early in the story in a simple manner through the core elements. The material elements of Air, Water, Stone, and Earth, if Earth is read as ‘nature,’ are all one needs to describe what most of the world physically consists of, and all of them are very recognizable from the real world. Fire and Ice are by far the easiest of the process elements to describe to children and one doesn’t need to have been around for long to know the difference between things being hot and cold; I mean, kids get told not to touch hot things or to go outside in cold weather without bundling up all the time. All the other, more exotic elements could be introduced later as need be, but most of them are going to represent far more difficult things to explain like lightning, sound, light, or the difference between metals and minerals. The work I put in developing a heavily element-based headcanon for G2 convinced me that the ability to define the world as much as possible through non-overlapping core elements will make it much easier to set the limits on what Toa can or cannot manipulate. Without lumping Earth and Plantlife together, I saw no real way to keep Earth without making it overlap with other elements.
As for why I choose to still call it Earth as opposed to renaming it to Plantlife since that makes up such a large fraction of the combination’s powers… well, I may be rather wedded to the idea of keeping at least the names of the core elements intact, if not everything else. My rationalization for it, which I did put in the document, is that the abilities that Matoran of Earth have are most directly linked to soil. They don’t understand that fundamentally they’re only manipulating the part of the soil that plants are entirely made of; to them, plants are just a product of the soil that they have a natural kinship with because of their abilities to manipulate the soil. So for the Matoran, Earth begets Plantlife and hence that is what the element is named, even if it is not exactly accurate to how it works. The actual mechanics in that regard wouldn’t be presented in the story anyways; a description for the power of Earth on a G3 website could simply say something like “The Element of Earth grants insert Toa of Earth here the ability to move and shape the soil and the plants that grow from it.” Everything from control of pollen clouds to making trees take up arms for you can be explained away from there.
Really, I do love the overall concept; I picture black-armored toa with vines and plants growing off of and over their bodies; the contrast between black, rich soil and bright green plants would look nice, I think.
Also, on a note with the personalities, I think something interesting to note is how fire is powerful on its own but works even better in groups (like if toa of earth can manipulate oil that toa of fire can then ignite; same for stone and fire working together with the magma and etc.). This however, comes into conflict with, for example, Tahu wanting to simply do it his way and on his own. It would make an interesting character arc as Tahu would have to realize that on his own he is simply not quite as powerful as he is working with a team.
So basically we don’t have the old Earth element anymore and Plantlife became the new Earth element. Why is that control over living things not including control over Rahi, though? You wrote something about talking about that when you get to Psionics later on, but plants and animals aren’t that different when it comes to cell structure and how they work.
That’s actually a very good question…
I’d say that living things have some kind of “will of their own” which will have to be overcome in order for the Toa being able to control it. Take a sunflower for example: it will always try to “look” into the direction of the sun, thus if you would want it to face in another direction you would have to work against its internal processes.
I imagine this might take a different kind of power to do.
Also stimulating growth - for that you’d have to speed up all the processes going on within the plant, since only by flushing it with nutrients doesn’t make it grow much faster. And I’m not really sure how you would make for example Photosynthesis faster with those Earth powers.
On the other hand I have to agree with you that Earth becoming kinda the element of death isn’t very appealing. After all giving Earth control over dead plants - or dead bodies would make wielders of these powers capable of raising zombies…
Well, more or less. A plant isn’t dead the moment you uproot it. It takes between a few hours and a few days for a plant to actually die. If it can’t get any nutrients through its roots anymore it starts metabolizing its own substance bit by bit for energy to keep living. Only when that ends it is properly dead.
However, you could also few the whole thing about dead organic material as some kind of “Circle of Life”. The Onu-Matoran take the dead things and use them to raise new life from them.
The fundamental difference as I see it is that rahi have brains and nervous systems and plants do not. Rahi are mobile: to effectively use mobility, most creatures that can move about have a brain and nervous system that enable them to respond appropriately to a wide variety of stimuli that their changing environment can present them with. This is far more complex than what sunflowers and other plants do; they just use a single chemical reaction or two prompted by light to slightly ■■■■■ their structure in a way that happens to increase the amount of all-important light that they can capture. However, both plants and rahi are at least in part made of organic material, so why couldn’t a Toa of Earth move rahi about the way that they can with plants?
Rahi can react. Plants cannot.
In theory, a Toa of Earth could use their elemental ability to apply force to organic parts of a rahi body in such a way that the rahi will be moved in ways that the Toa wants. However, the rahi’s brain and nervous system are going to send signals to their muscles as well to cause them to contract and hence to move the body in different ways. Rahi tend not to be fond of being moved against their will and will struggle against what the Toa of Earth tries to make them do, effectively turning the whole affair into an elemental wrestling match between the rahi and Toa for the control of the rahi’s body, pitting the muscular strength of the rahi against the elemental control of the Toa. In the long run, this is a contest that the rahi will always win as their strength takes far longer to exhaust than a even Toa’s elemental battery. Furthermore, the anatomy of the rahi was made specifically to respond to contraction of individual muscles or sets of muscles, which the nervous system is geared to achieve while elemental powers are not. So, not only would a Toa of Earth have to expend extraordinary amounts of elemental energy to overcome the resistance of the rahi; they’d also have to deploy that power with enough finesse to target a large number of individual muscles and simultaneously give them different commands. That’s a tall order, and it would take a lot of practice to force rahi to do even relatively simple things through manipulation of their muscles through Earth alone. By comparison, plants do not have the ability to move and hence don’t resist being moved and re-shaped through elemental powers beyond the intrinsic resistance of the material that they’re made of; flexible plants are easier to move than hard, wooden ones, but all plants are orders of magnitude simpler to operate than even a very basic rahi.
So, in summary, a Toa of Earth technically could take control of a rahi’s body to some degree, but it is almost guaranteed to be a waste of elemental energy to do so and is guaranteed to tick off the rahi. They don’t run that risk with plants.
A more effective way to get rahi, or any creature with a brain and nervous system to work for you would be to appeal to or mess with their mind instead, making use of the fact that they already have full control over their own bodies. This would be done through Psionics, but we haven’t quite gotten there yet.
A very enjoyable, well developed foundation. The direction you’ve taken with Earth with greater leniency towards control of plantlife and an agriculture based society feels like a more effective concept than the more industrious role they had in G1.
Well, yes and no. There are plants that are able to react quite fast to physical contact by rolling in their leaves etc. - or just think of the Venus flytrap and how it catches its prey. But I get your point
Also don’t underestimate the power of hormones in triggering how plants react. I suppose that it might well be that plants, too, try to resist elemental control, only that they build up this resistence over time as their cells begin synthesizing stress hormones. So the longer the Toa tries to influence the plant with his powers the more difficult it would get.
Then there are sentient plants, though - at least in the G1 universe - (Daikau), Karzahni, Morbuzakh. What about these? I would say they’re real plants and thus don’t have a nerval system and muscles, but still they can move (although they probably can’t react as fast as proper Rahi). I imagine they move by allocating water on one side of their tendrils which causes them to bow to the other side. What I always wondered about, though - if they’re indeed real plants and don’t have a nerval system, how can they be sentient?
Oh, wait, I just read that the plants in the Matoran Universe were also made out of Protodermis, so that’s the answer to that.
Are you talking about organical Protodermis or normal organic tissue in your G3 elements?
Since the defining characteristics, as I’ve set them up so far, of whether something is feasible for a Toa of Earth to control or not is a combination of the target’s ability to resist on a short timeframe and the mechanical complexity of the target’s body, I think that sentient plants would be easier than Rahi to control but far more difficult than regular plants. And yes, it would not be a good idea for a Toa of Earth to rely on manipulating a single plant for an extended period of time; it’d by like a Toa of Iron continuously trying to mold the same piece of metal as it continues to build up strain hardening; eventually, it’s going to become too expensive to continue. When fighting a sentient plant, though, I don’t think that a Toa of Earth would resort to a ‘hostile takeover’ of their body to begin with. They’d probably just expend their energy to try and rip off the dangerous pieces instead, or to work with soil and especially oil if a Toa of Fire is present to bring some far more effective weaponry to bear.
As for whether it’s protodermic tissue or organics as we have on our world, that just depends on whether protodermis makes a return in G3. Personally, I think that setting up protodermis as a group of materials that are programmable to some extent is a nice way to explain the powers of the Toa, plus it could be a useful tool later in the story if they have to deal with non-protodermic materials that look like their elements which they couldn’t control easily. However, for the sake of simplicity I think that protodermis would either be dropped or turned just into a single, special material in G3, in which case Toa control of their elements just applies to material of their element.
Okay, I’ve got the skeleton, if not the full write-up for Air in place, and I’m adding notes on other elements as I think of them. Still working on write-up for Air for now, will proceed with the other elements in the order listed at the bottom of the document.
Pink as a colour for air… Does it really offer that much camouflage? I personally can’t warm to the idea of Toa of air being pink… In fact I think that this colour best stays a colour not used on characters. I dunno, to me personally it just doesn’t fit into the Bionicle Universe.
That basic idea for Ice is actually exactly the same how I figured it might work when thinking about it. Actually that would also offer a nice combination of recharging - a Toa of Ice gets rid of all the heat he absorbed by thawing snow with it and the liquid water that results from it could be absorbed by a Toa of Water.
This might also enable Toa of Ice to “mold” ice to their liking by thawing and refreezing parts of it…
Pink offered enough camouflage for it to be legitimately used on low-altitude recon planes:
However, it only works under specific circumstances. Against a completely clear sky at mid-day, it’s pretty well visible, but it blends into clouds and morning or evening skies very effectively. I was thinking to use it as an accent color under the rationale that it would break up the Toa’s silhouette to a foe in these circumstances. Granted, a Toa of Air who knows how to do their air combat would probably rely more on tactics like attacking from the direction of the sun anyways, but I figured mixing some ‘camo pink’ into the color scheme might be helpful and it’d definitely be a distinctive color; green is already being used in part by Earth in this proposal, blue is obviously associated more with water, and Ice would still take white. Sporadic accents in pink would belong to Air and Air alone, the rest of the color scheme consisting of light blues for the air’s typical color and some green to signify the important role that air plays in maintaining life.
Also, I didn’t even think about it, but that idea of shaping ice by repeatedly thawing and refreezing parts of it definitely has merit… a Toa of Ice could melt a window in a wall of ice. That’d be useful.
It’s probably going to be closer to fifty pages by the time I’m done with all the elements…
Edit: Air’s done!
Edit 2: I’ve got the list, if not the detailed description done for Ice, and added at least some brainstorming lines on all the other elements. Shadow was particularly interesting, but some development is definitely still needed there.
I really like the idea of Le-Matoran living as nomads.
Wouldn’t the absorption process of Toa of Air cause air to stream to them to fill the space that was formerly occupied by the air the Toa just absorbed? I’m not sure how much that would affect the speed of the absorption process, but it would result in Toa of Air always being the center of weak air currents… I guess?
Those concepts of Light and Shadow seem pretty good so far.
Gravity maybe could be divided up between Magnetism and Air, or rather Lightning and Air then. And perhaps Psionics. Because as I understand it currently all Gravity basically does is making stuff lighter or heavier, speed it up, slow it down, and accuracy/pulling stuff together, I guess.
Magnetism/Lightning could maybe cover the accuracy/pulling stuff together part. Air could speed up or slow down objects with air currents, as well as making heavy objects lighter or light objects heavier by pushing them up with air or pressing down on them (although of course these effects of Air wouldn’t nearly be as powerful as “proper” Gravity powers). Psionics could do much the same via telekinesis.
An ever-so slight current of air would exist, but it would be so small as to be effectively unnoticeable; the absorption nodes have to fit into the palm of the hand, and that’s a tiny surface area compared to how much, say, a sphere enclosing a Toa would have if one wishes to model the air current produced by absorption of air. Since the air current would produce a constant volumetric flow rate, even a fairly quick current flowing into the small contact nodes would have a an almost negligible effect on the surrounding area.
I wouldn’t divide Gravity between other elements as it does work through a distinctly different process, my reservations are more about whether or not giving Toa the ability to bend raw spacetime to exercise Gravity powers isn’t pushing things a bit far. Plus the lack of a recharging mechanism is kind of bugging me, so for me it’s more a question of whether Gravity is in or out, not whether it’s part of other elements or not. That said, the ways in which gravity can be deployed can be mimicked by other elements; Gravity can turn anything into a homing missile, but any material element can do that with matter of their own element. Iron can mimic the ‘crushing’ effect against metal armored creatures and a very creative user of Stone could do it against creatures with mineral armor. And, as you mentioned, Air could use currents to help or hinder objects’ movement similar to heavier or lighter Gravity applied to them. Basically, the process of Gravity is unique, but its manifestations are not… and it messes with the world in a far more fundamental way than other elements do, in my opinion. So yeah… I’m still debating on whether to include it. I might still give it a write-up but put my reservations in there and leave it up to the reader to decide whether Gravity is appropriate to include or not.
As for Psionics doing Telekinesis, in current draft that’s actually not a power I’m planning on giving Psionics, as I have yet to figure out a mechanism to do it with. It could be done by Toa of Psionics through latent Earth and Stone powers for ground and latent Lightning powers for metal objects by using magnetism to make them levitate, but that’s pushing Psionics into a macro-scale application that I kind of want to avoid for the pseudo-element; it explicitly works by focusing on the micro-scale applications of its constituent elements, as macro-scale is the domain of those elements themselves. Mixing in Gravity for telekinetic abilities would completely kill Gravity as an element, which I personally wouldn’t mind, but then a rationale would have to be produced as to why power over the mind allows one to bend space-time… I’m not sure on that one, but I’ll keep thinking about it. I mean, telekinesis is traditionally seen as a psionic power, rationale or not, but if I’m going to include it I’ll have to come up with a reason beyond Gravity’s absence for doing so.
edit: added full write-up for Ice and rationale for keeping Stone and Iron as separate elements to the document.