All right, let’s create some gods.
I’ve always liked the phrase “Elemental Evil.” It sounds right. It’s got a nice alliterative ring to it. If I tell you that the Lords of Elemental Evil are awakening, you know exactly what sort of shit is going down (hint: it involves fire and probably tentacles). So I’ll take that phrase and run with it. We have some Lords of Elemental Evil hanging around. There are…seven of ’em. Seven is a good number for things like this. Fear the Seven Lords of Elemental Evil, for their awakening will spell the doom of man. Yeah.
What, exactly, is Elemental Evil? The classical elements are, by their very nature, neutral. Fire, earth, air and water, none of these bear you any ill will. Fire will burn you, sure, but it doesn’t get any sort of psychotic thrill out of it. In this fantasy world fire heats your house, lights up the night, and cooks your food. Fire is only scary when it’s out of control, raging across your roof and walls, or even across an entire field. Water is only scary when you’re drowning, or when it’s rising up and blotting down the horizon and coming down on your little coastal village like the end of the world. Air is only scary when drawn into a funnel or when flinging straws through trees, and Earth is only scary when it moves and shakes and swallows things up. The Lords of Elemental Evil are not evil versions of the classical elements, because I really can’t see Fire or Water themselves as being evil. Instead, they are natural disasters. Their names are things like Earthquake and Tsunami and Storm.
And hey, there are seven of them! One for every day of the week. Back when the Lords of Elemental Evil were awake and ruled the world, they each had one day of the week (maybe this is where the modern seven-day week comes from). Monday was not Monday, it was Earthquake Day. Every day saw a new disaster scouring the world. I imagine this being like the molten-rock and poison-gas early stages of a planet forming, except overseen by these massive beings with powers that can only be described as elemental. When humanity came along, though, these disasters kept killing them; and since they were universally the fault of these gods, they were called the Lords of Elemental Evil. Every day a new disaster, every day spent in mourning for the one before, every day a new tragedy.
Alternate name for the Lords of Elemental Evil: The Seven Tragic Days. Gives the whole thing a sort of Lovecraftian-horror feel. They were thrown down in the ancient war between the old gods and the newly-come mortals, but they never went away entirely. They’re still out there, somewhere, shaking the ground and stirring the winds, trying to return to the world that was once theirs. Let us hope that day never comes.