Ritualistically Speaking: seek rumor

Rituals, divination more than others, always make me think of a really great line of books: “The Dresden Files.” I have yet to read them all but I really like the gritty way in which they deal with magic; the way wizards are limited by what magic they know and how well they know it; how a creature of magic must interact with the physical world to create a spell.  I also really enjoy the way they paint some of the more simple rituals and spells as tools of the detective trade. I really think this ritual fits right in the pages of a Dresden Files book. It is because of this thought that I chose Seek Rumor this week, well that and the fact that countingku suggested it.

Seek Rumor

Cost: 20 gp Market Price: 50 gp Skill: Arcana Level: 2 Category: Divination

Time: 30 minutes Duration: Instantaneous

You sit in meditation and let rumor drift into your mind, blown in on the wind of the community consciousness. Your Arcana check for this ritual counts as a Streetwise check for gathering information. Treat the Streetwise DC as 5 higher. You learn only information you could pick up by a normal use of the streetwise skill.

published in Forgotten Realms Player’s Guide.

Seek Rumors is going to be a bit of a challenge. To really make this ritual work the DM might have to make some simple allowances or even change the way the ritual works, but just a bit. Players will need to think somewhat out of the box to really bring the true potential out of this one.

So part of what really turns some people off of rituals is the cost. Every ritual has a component cost and components require cold hard gold. Powers don’t cost gold, skills don’t cost gold, and the average player has plenty of both and very little gold. So why would a player turn to a skill which only allows them to make a skill check? What would make a streetwise check worth 20 gold? The simple answer is no one in the party has the skill trained and they really need to use it. I think there can be far more value to the ritual and that 20 gold can be seen as an investment and with a nice return players just might use it more often.

DMs: I mentioned the Dresden Files in the introduction to this article, and that genre can be key to working this ritual into a story. You don’t have to write a detective novel or a mystery to get the players to look for someone. All you need to do is create a hard to find NPC and give them information of value. Perhaps have them give the party a side quest with a pay off, or information about extra hidden treasure wherever they are planning on adventuring. Remember not to give this NPC information required to move the story forward if the players don’t find him/her or take the bait to use the ritual you could be stuck. Place some easily found information about this NPCs existence and perhaps even leave a clue that the only people who find him use magic to do so. If the players take the bait and use the ritual, give them some really colorful flavor. Instead of just rolling the skill check and giving them the information, have them cast the ritual on a crystal and then make them follow the way the crystal points, or have the light in the crystal glow as they get closer to the intended target.

A second option to make the ritual worth more than its weight is to allow players to use it in place of bartering when selling gear. If they party’s gear has come to the end of its usefulness, allow the players to cast the ritual to find information as to which merchant in their area will give them the best value for their good. Reward this kind of creative thinking by giving them an extra 5% or so. This should more than cover the cost of the ritual.

To make ritual a bit more appealing to the average player you can allow them to cast it on an implement or focus; let’s say a gold coin for instance. After the player casts the ritual on the coin they can instantly use it at any time, but only once then the coin turns to dust. You can even add flare to the use of the coin (i.e., the player must flip the coin to activate it, and then roll their streetwise check). Being able to instantly cast the ritual will allow the player to use this power when they are in a situation where casting time or public venue might otherwise not allow for it.

To really make this ritual shine, a DM must be willing to allow it to work. If the players use it to gain information and none is available, make some up and give it a value that is higher than the ritual (i.e., some extra treasure parcel even if it is only ritual components worth 60 gold or so). If the players are looking for treasure, add some or split a parcel to make the ritual feel as if it worked. If the players are looking for people and you don’t want them to be found yet, have it take them to someone close to the person they are looking for and allow the players to feel like they are getting closer to the answer they want. The key to making rituals fit is to give the players more usefulness and power to mold their story.

Players: You can make use of this ritual in many fun ways, most of which are flavor and story. As I mentioned above, use Seek Rumor to find better prices on goods or a better place to sell. Try to use it to find cash or work when your party is strapped. Use it to find quick leads when you feel like you have hit a dead end. But for real fun use it in combat; this requires the DM to work with you a bit but it adds a bit of fun to your fights.

DMs and players will have to work together to make this play well. If a player has cast Seek Rumor on a focus and decides to use it in battle the outcome can be a few things. The player might gain information about the monster, such as something basic from the monster knowledge section of the monster stat. The DM would need to replace the streetwise check with the appropriate skill. In the story this would be explained as the player seeking back ally discussions taking place between two adventurers about the monster and encounters they have had and thus gaining information outside the streetwise skill. A really fun DM might make up a weakness from time to time to give the monster (i.e., vulnerable 5 to fire or lighting, or that it will become dazed if you can get submerged in water). Other options for DMs would be to alter the terrain for the players as they use the ritual. Place a trap, a pit, or other terrain in an area advantageous to the players and close to the enemy. Then set a streetwise DC and  give the player awareness of the trap if they succeed the DC check granted by the ritual.  “Suddenly you hear whispers of thieves discussing traps they had once set to guard their territory, traps they set and left long ago. You then realize you have stumbled upon one of these traps.” And viola! You have a combat value for a simple divination ritual.

Outside of combat it might be fun for players to play detective. This ritual might be used to gain information on an NPC you need to bargain with, find skeletons in his/her closet, or learn about mutual enemies you might share. Or the ritual might be used just to help an NPC find a lost kitten. Either way using Seek Rumor can be fun and add tons of story to your game.

T.


Part idiot. Part old man. All geek. Thadeous can't think of anything interesting about him self right now. Know this though if he could it would be creative and funny as well as thought provoking.


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About Thadeousc

Thadeous can't think of anything interesting about him self right now. Know this though if he could it would be creative and funny as well as thought provoking.
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