For this, and any other Wacky Writing Ideas, I happily release them into the wild for anyone to use. If you like the idea and want to write it up, do so with my blessing! If you want to change it or use it for something else, have at it! If you really want to do something nice for me, feel free to acknowledge me and let me know if you’ve used one of them (I’ll link to your creative work from my blog). If you don’t feel like it, no worries. If there’re a few comments with enthusiasm for an idea, I may write it up, so please comment if it sounds like something you’d like to read.
Mechas have been a rich idea in sci-fi for years, with things like Robotech and Battletech capturing the imagination of nerds. There have been animes such as Escaflowne that try to combine mechas with more of a fantasy esthetic. This idea is to move that concept more explicitly into a high-fantasy world.
The core magic system would be thrones that any human can sit on which will summon an elemental of one of the four elements (earth, fire, air, or water). Each time a person sits on the throne, it summons a particular elemental, that gets a little bit stronger each time it’s summoned. The person’s consciousness is moved into the elemental and the person gets better at controlling it every time they use one as well. An aristocratic class exists who have extensive experience controlling elementals, typically specialized in one type.
If the elemental is destroyed, the person’s consciousness returns to their body and they can summon the elemental nearby the throne again. If a person is removed from the throne or voluntarily returns their consciousness to their body, the elemental dissipates. If a person remains in the elemental too long, perhaps over 3 days, they permanently merge and can’t return to their body, which dies. That person’s consciousness then dies the next time the elemental dissipates. Nations are the strongest closest to their thrones since elementals can be quickly summoned and deployed from them.
A “suicide bomber” battle technique exists where someone expendable is given scant training, then they’re intentionally merged with the elemental for over 3 days. This kills the summoner. This gives them the opportunity to travel further from that elemental’s throne than it can usually achieve when being resummoned.
The political backdrop would be nations that control a set number of these thrones in specific locations. The thrones can’t be moved without disrupting the elemental they summon and losing all that elemental’s growth over the years, so nations are loathed to do so. The techniques for building new thrones have been lost. This has resulted in unending warfare that’s a deadlock – the territorial boundaries between the nations move back and forth slightly as bloody battles rage for years.
Most mecha stories are about war, so it might be interesting to make this more of an adventure book. Perhaps an expedition finds a site that may lead to re-learning how to make thrones, which would dramatically change the political landscape and end the continuous wars. The story could follow the expedition made up of elementals and humans as a dungeon crawl.