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I'm not entirely sure how to interpret the druid move Thing Talker. The text reads:

You see the spirits in the sand, the sea and the stone. You may now apply your spirit tongue, shapeshifting and studied essence to inanimate natural objects (plants and rocks) or creatures made thereof, as well as animals. Thing-talker forms can be exact copies or can be mobile vaguely humanoid-shaped entities.

Now at first this seems pretty clear, but there are 3 interpretations that I could see one having from this move:

  • You can shapeshift into any inanimate natural object.

  • You can shapeshift into any inanimate natural object in your domain or that you have studied.

  • You can't shapeshift into anything new to start but you can study inanimate objects now and transform into them once you have done so.

The first reading seems unlikely to me because the move specifically says you can now study inanimate natural objects which would have no value if that reading was correct. However between the second and third reading I am not able to discriminate.

Which reading if any is correct?

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In practice, #2.

I've run it that way in my campaigns, mostly because it follows from be a fan of the players.

Think of it this way: if the Druid's native land is a part of your current campaign, they can do the needful during the same downtime where they leveled up, and you've got scenario #2.

On the other hand, one of the Druid's big angles is that they can bring a terrain from completely outside the campaign scope into it. If that's the case, then enforcing #3 means you've pretty much cut them off from talking about the plant, sea, and earth spirits from their native soil.

So, in practice, #2.

A Precise Rules Grammar

If you're still wondering, here's your actual shapeshift move:

You may take on the physical form of any species whose essence you have studied or who lives in your land

Thing-talker effectively turns this into:

You may take on the physical form of any species of animal, inanimate natural object, or animate creature of natural material whose essence you have studied or who lives in your land

Which is a little unwieldy, but "studied essence or lives in land" is the rider on the whole thing.

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Unambiguously #2

It works exactly as it reads.

In addition to animals from your attuned Land and those whose essence you have contemplated, you may now speak to and take the form of inanimate objects from that Land and those you have contemplated.

You may also contemplate the spirits of inanimate objects.

There's no need to interpret.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Is this a quotation? If so from what? \$\endgroup\$ – Wheat Wizard Jul 26 '18 at 18:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @WW It's not a quote, it's just restating what the ability says. “You may now apply [these moves] to inanimate objects (plants and rocks) or creatures made thereof, as well as animals.” It doesn't change your moves, it just adds more things to them than animals. The moves they work the same way on these new things. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jul 26 '18 at 18:58

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