18 thoughts on “Can you suggest options for when the Druid uses Elemental Mastery and chooses to pay the Nature’s price?”

  1. How are you putting out the fire? Did you call the flames away? Did you summon water? Did the air get sucked away? Did a hill fall on the flame?

  2. If you called the flame to stop burning that, then what would the element of flame want as compensation? It might ask to burn something else.

    If you called water to put out the flame, what would water want to compensate it’s trouble?

    If you called air to pull itself from the area and snuff out the flame, what would air want for it’s trouble?

    If you called earth to smother the flame what would earth want as compensation?

    The idea of Elemental Mastery, from how I’ve interpreted it, you have raised your ability to bargain with the elements themselves. And you can command them to do exactly what you say, and maintain control of their actions, provided you respect the elements and agree to their terms. If you don’t fulfill the contract, you can either lose control of them, or not accomplish what you want them to do.

    The flame could stop burning the forest that was on fire, and instead burn the village nearby. (Accomplishing task, but losing control, since not paying nature’s price).

    The flood could smolder the flames but lay waste to everything.

    The air could become a tornado

    The earth could crack.

    It all depends on what you want to do, what they ask, and what element they want to draw from.

  3. Understand that every action in the game is for the sake of creating new ideas for the story. Even if you avoid the price, and maintain control, you create something new.

  4. You see, that’s kind of the problem with the move: even if you roll 10+, if you choose to avoid the price and to retain control, by exclusion the effect you desire doesn’t come to pass, so it seems like it’s the exception where a roll doesn’t automatically move the story forward.

    I understand the concept: you’re dealing with powerful forces beyond your capacity, so there’s always a price or a catch, but it makes it difficult to adjudicate for me.

    How would you handle it, if the player chose not to pay the price and maintaining control?

  5. Actually all acts would move the story forward.

    Let me set up a scene since we’re still too vague.

    You are the druid, neutral, and you need to get into this protected keep. It’s night so you wish to keep your presence secret. You call upon your Elemental Mastery and in your minds eye you commune with the elemental spirit you want to deal with to forge the deal. You decide you want a tunnel under the wall into the cells. So you contact the Earth Spirit itself. in your minds eye you see the spirit who looms over you like a mountain. You have earned his respect for your acts in the past so the bargain is in your favor. You rolled a 10+, the spirit looks at you and says simply that in order for him to create this tunnel he needs a boon. There is an artifact known to him that has been stolen and hidden from his view. You spout lore to figure out if you know anything about this item. You get a 7-9, and know an interesting thing about the item, it’s rumored to be the balance of nature. You don’t know if giving it to the elemental is a good thing or bad thing. Deciding to err on the side of caution you refuse. The Earth Spirit, annoyed that you will not complete the bargain is upset, however your deal with the spirit is enough to keep him from rampaging through the world. You feel the ground below you shake and rumble. Trees near by fall and create noise. The keep is suddenly on high alert as you try and wrangle the spirit whose price you refused to pay.

    Does this help?

  6. But doesn’t that mean the player is getting a bad outcome on a 10+? I understand it moves the story forward, but goes against the core assumption that a 10+ is a success. In your example, the move not only failed to accomplish what he wanted, he also created further complications.

  7. 10+ stated in Elemental Mastery says pick 2.

    – The effect you desire comes to pass

    – You avoid paying nature’s price

    – You retain control

    As these are vague terms, it allows for a large interpretation of the text.

    The thing you have to understand is that if they didn’t chose to have “The effect you desire comes to pass” then how can it be anything but a failure? Essentially the move is so powerful it has a soft move built in. You can Do one of the following: Pay the price, lose control, or not get what you wanted.

    Could you imagine this rule with no soft move attached? It’s too powerful. You don’t need a party because if you can roll a 10. “I decide to summon fire. I rolled a 10+. Fire is now my slave as I don’t have to agree to anything Fire wants. I’m going to decimate that army and maintain complete control of fire.

    What this is supposed to imply, and again remember this is entirely my interpretation, is that the Druid is communing with the spirits of nature and can use them to aid him, however he cannot dominate them.

    If you notice, this is one of the only moves that says “On a miss, some catastrophe occurs as the result of your calling” This means that the hard move is so horrible, that you essentially pissed off the spirits. “I want to summon wind to help us out run our enemies on these boats. I rolled 2…” the GM goes “You angered the spirits, you mocked or insulted them in some way that the skies darken. Lightning crashes. You are now in the unholy child of a maelstrom and a hurricane.”

  8. I agree, the move is too powerful to be used routinely.

    I think I just have to replace in my mind “nature’s price” with “the price of the elemental you summoned”.

    Part of the problem arose because the Druid was using the move to put out a forest fire, and the player argued that she was already paying a price to Nature (or shouldn’t become indebted). Do you agree?

    Thanks for the examples, I’ll try to be more creative and define the prices better next session.

  9. I don’t. Forest fires are a necessary part of nature. They clear the land, make fertile soil. Little known fact: Sequoia trees cannot produce new trees without a forest fire.

    As for her use: did she rain on the fire or have the fire move away? I think the title “elemental mastery” gives a good idea of limits. People think of the four elements (not the periodic table) and relate to that.

    Now, if you want to assume that nature is a combination of all of these things and a deity of such, I’d play it like that. Nature wants a boon for it’s services. And as any adventurer knows, when you ask a deity for something, there’s always a price. Even the option of pain.

  10. She made it rain on a fire, but it was started by some lumberjacks who (unknowingly) tried to cut down a Treant.

    After the Treant retaliated, they ran away but used incendiary arrows to ignite both the Treant and the surrounding trees.

    The Druid arrived, used elemental mastery to make a big wave out of a nearby river, but there was only enough water for the Treant.

    She then proceeded to call rain clouds to put down the fire.

    The theme of the adventure is the struggle between the forest and its inhabitants (mostly centaurs and some fae creatures) and the nearby human settlement (with some nefarious creatures instigating a war between both), so I would say that the fire was not very much natural in that context, but… not sure any more.

  11. It’s all on what you want to do. If she was my player, she’d inform me her desired act, and roll. On the 10+ it would be the following:

    Realizing you lack the natural resources to do more, you commune with nature, envoking your druid abilities to speak to the elements. Your skill to many seems instantaneous, but in your mind you are confronted with Nature itself. Nature is a spirit of balance and favors your efforts. To maintain balance it asks of you to bring the forest and the settlement into harmony.

    Now she has a choice, if her alignment conflicts, she can argue she will not do it. (Avoid Nature’s Price) Nature can then point out that the rain is ready regardless. She can have it fall as she wishes but will not be able to stop it. (Desire comes to pass) Or she can deny the rain, but will have to point it somewhere else. (Retain control). That’s assuming she opts not to fulfill nature’s price.

    Nature could also demand it in a time frame.

    Now, on a 7-9. She could have avoided nature’s price and a storm would blow off and rain where it didn’t help, possibly flood that location. Or she could accept the price and have it rain on the forest, without the ability to control it. Or she could redirect the monsoon somewhere else.

    A miss, as a catastrophe, would be that nature blames you. Or holds you responsible. The forest and the settlement could be the price for your assumption. The idea that you could command nature.

    Nature could destroy everything, with the knowledge now new life would take root.


  12. Notice I changed how nature’s price could be viewed, from the elements to a deity. It’s vague wording because it is designed to help you craft the story that works best for you.

  13. We reached a consensus based on your ideas.

    The elements are the building blocks of nature. Nature flourishes when they are at balance.

    But the elements, by themselves, are kind of selfish and petty. Fire wants to burn, wind wants to blow, water wants to drown and earth wants to… sit still or shake, whatever.

    When you call an element and choose to pay the price, it’s not quite nature’s price, but the element’s price (not rules as writen, but I guess it’s fine if it makes sense in our game).

    The element may request something of you first, may make you promise to do something for it in the future, or it may say “you owe me” (usually when I can’t think of anything on the spot).

    For example, Earth may allow you to make a rock slide, but only if you allow it to block the river in the process.

    A in game example, Wind helped to deflect a magical fire, but it said to the Druid: “I will someday erode this mountains. You can’t interfere.” The problem is the mountains protect the woods from the Western scorching winds…

    Another example I gave to the player: suppose Water helps you and say that you owe her… next time you pass close to a damn, she may ask you to set her free… even if that means drowning the nearby village.

    Thanks for your input, it really helped to reach something we are both satisfied with.

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