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Mining with Earth Elementals


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After a cave-in, my players want to get back into a cavern. They have no mining experience or knowledge and their first thought was using an Earth Elemental, since one of their number had recently been buried by one.

If they only need to get in and out, could a medium or large elemental basically escort one of them forward, temporarily carving out space for them as they go? Probably would need to bring a small air elemental with them to breathe?

If they want to actually build a narrow passageway, it seems like a large elemental could open up a 1m wide x 2m tall x 5m long tunnel which they could then shore up while it holds it open (presumably using an Extension spell). Then move on to the next 5m, etc.

Anything I'm missing here? Would the Command Cult Spirit need to be extended along with the Summon Elemental?

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34 minutes ago, Scorus said:

After a cave-in, my players want to get back into a cavern. They have no mining experience or knowledge and their first thought was using an Earth Elemental, since one of their number had recently been buried by one.

That could work.

35 minutes ago, Scorus said:

If they only need to get in and out, could a medium or large elemental basically escort one of them forward, temporarily carving out space for them as they go? 

A Small Earth Elemental should be able to carry one person, a Medium Earth Elemental can carry 2 people and a Large Earth Elemental should be able to carry 3 people.

36 minutes ago, Scorus said:

Probably would need to bring a small air elemental with them to breathe?

Air Elementals are big and would not really work inside an Earth Elemental. I suppose you could have them side by side, with the adventurer's head sticking out of the Earth Elemental into the Air Elemental. alternatively, just use the air Rune to provide enough air, or try and hold their breath, using the asphyxiation rules.

37 minutes ago, Scorus said:

If they want to actually build a narrow passageway, it seems like a large elemental could open up a 1m wide x 2m tall x 5m long tunnel which they could then shore up while it holds it open (presumably using an Extension spell). Then move on to the next 5m, etc.

Although that works in theory, Earth Elementals just use brute strength to push the earth away. I wouldn't like to trust what it leaves behind for any period of time. shoring it up might work, but it would be less stable than normal mining. You could use Flintnail's Support Wall magic to hold the wall/ceiling up, I suppose.

39 minutes ago, Scorus said:

Anything I'm missing here?

No, except that Earth Elementals are a very blunt tool. It would work, but I wouldn't like to guarantee that the open tunnel lasts very long. Also, Earth Elementals do like to squish whatever they are holding, so that is always a danger.

40 minutes ago, Scorus said:

Would the Command Cult Spirit need to be extended along with the Summon Elemental?

"Fetch Freddie from in there and bring him back" is enough of a command for the Earth Elemental to obey, so it shouldn't need to be extended.

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Question 1)

Yes,  the Bestiary specifically mentions this (P179):

Quote

An earth elemental can carry a person and “swim”
through the soil if it has STR enough to carry that
person. There is no air underground, and an individual
being carried must make CON rolls or suffocate. The
earth elemental can only do this with an unresisting
passenger. An earth elemental can carry several people if
its STR is sufficient.

But

The description in the bestiary also makes a few references to it being effective in soil, dirt and other softish types of ground but not against solid rock.

If the cave-in is mainly of soil then yes.  If it is huge chunks of rock fallen from the ceiling then the elemental will have to shift them, not tunnel through them and it would be the GM's call whether it is strong enough to move those boulders.

 

Question 2).  Suffocation is an issue.  In my opinion, trying to get an Earth and an Air Elemental to occupy the same physical location will not work.  So hold your breath.

 

Question 3)  (actually a statement) I would imagine so.  A tunnel is only a horizontal pit which earth elementals can create.  However I can see it being a bit more complex as the soil doesn't just disappear and must actually go somewhere.  Perhaps the elemental ejects the soil out into the previous part of the tunnel where it must them be moved further away (probably by the miners).  It is much easier to dig and move earth that has just been dumped than to dig through undisturbed ground.

(Though, going down a slightly wacky tunnel of thought,  perhaps such earth "moved" by the elemental is actually magically transported to the home of the God that the elemental belongs to.  Each such use expanding that God's domain).

 

Questions 4 & 5) Not sure. I suspect both spells will need extending.

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11 hours ago, Scorus said:

If they only need to get in and out, could a medium or large elemental basically escort one of them forward, temporarily carving out space for them as they go?

I m not sure "escort" is the right word (but my english...) as it implies the elemantal is able to act by itself to protect the human. It's not the case. If ordered, the elemental will do what the pc says (not wants), so yes to carve out a space, no to identify where and how this space must be placed.

11 hours ago, Scorus said:

Probably would need to bring a small air elemental with them to breathe?

it depends what is the relationship with air elemental, and finally with air entities / cults

if you are a sorcerer or a lunar or a bad shaman or ... anyone who doesn't care (or is happy) to harm air spirit , there is no problem to enslave the air elemental and order it to come with the pc.

if you are a respectfull shaman (or any good conjurer) you will try to find another way, because you risk to be cursed by some intelligent air spirit in the future

if you are from the stormtribe, well.... prey a lot, and try to obtain any willing air spirit to follow you in a so bad environment (no wind, no space, no freedom, no breath) or, find another way

11 hours ago, Scorus said:

If they want to actually build a narrow passageway, it seems like a large elemental could open up a 1m wide x 2m tall x 5m long tunnel which they could then shore up while it holds it open (presumably using an Extension spell). Then move on to the next 5m, etc.

yes to move, but not to maintain solidly  the space : the elemantal may not know (and probably doesn't care) what happen 10 minutes after its move

11 hours ago, Scorus said:

Anything I'm missing here?

Yes, see the elemental like a tool, not an engineer : if your pc doesn't know how to mine, then the elemental will not know. it can move, it can make temporaly space, and that's all. If you are a good builder / miner, elemental is a very attractive tool (respectfully, don't want to hurt Orlanth) but if you are a bad builder / miner, elemental is just a very dangerous tool.

11 hours ago, Scorus said:

Would the Command Cult Spirit need to be extended along with the Summon Elemental?

it depends what you ask:

if you want to direct it to the left, then to the right, then solidify this part, then ... etc yes because that is not one order at the beginning of the spell but orders after orders depending the situation and what they found.

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