Ritualistically speaking: Clear the Path

This week I’m looking at exerting arcane will over the physical world with a ritual designed to help players explore areas filled with difficult terrain and fallen rocks. Clear the Path is a ritual with a simple function; to allow a wizard who lacks the athletic ability to traverse a path filled with fallen trees, rocks, or tricky terrain. In a dungeon a cave in could mean being buried alive to a wizard who is not strong enough to move heavy boulders which might block the exit. A man of magic with this handy ritual in their bag of tricks does not need to fear the repercussions of their focusing on mental fortitude over brawn.

Clear the Path

You cause the rocks and debris before you to shudder and come to life, scattering out and away from your approach.
Cost: 70 gp Price: 150 gp Key Skill: Nature (no check)

Level: 6 Category: Exploration  Time: 30 minutes Duration: Permanent

You target an area burst 3 within 10 squares. Debris, rubble, and other detritus flattens to the ground, shifts out of the way, or otherwise ceases to be an obstacle. This ritual does not affect solid earth or rock; thus, it can be used to clear the wreckage of a collapsed tunnel, but not to create such a passage where one did not already exist. Its most common use is to flatten or smooth a path so as to eliminate difficult terrain. It does not affect manufactured walls, floors, or ceilings, traps, or magical barriers.

First published in Forgotten Realms Player’s Guide.

At first glance Clear the Path looks pretty cut and dry, but I know there are deeper and more exciting uses for it than just easy travel and getting out of cave. That being said it does not mean I as a DM am above using the cave in on my party as an excuse to prod them to use it.

Making it accessible: Aside from my home brew rules which allow players to spend healing surges to store a ritual for later use I think this ritual could have a fun focus or storage implement. I often look for something with meaning for a focus, and if a player comes to me with a good suggestion for one I usually say yes. My line of thinking for Clear the Path would be a small stone taken from a rock slide which had been cleared, or a branch from a fallen tree which had been removed from a path. Something akin to a road block which had been removed. Then the item is covered with arcane markings either drawn or carved, thus making it a proper receptacle for arcane energies designed to move objects.

To use such an object the wizard must as always imbue the object at the beginning of the day with the ritual, spending the component cost plus about 10% to ready the focus. To trigger the ritual the focus must be thrown into area needing to be cleared. Fun flavor text could be used to describe the activation and the clearing of the area as the energy dissipates from the focus and it is destroyed.

A second option for a focus or implement for this ritual would be an old broom with many years of sweeping stored up. Arcane runes could be carved into the handle and charged the same way as the stone or branch. To activate the broom the wizard must make a sweeping motion towards the blocked path while chanting the final words of the ritual. Thus releasing the years of stored sweeping memories in the broom and causing it to turn in to dust much like the debris it swept for its whole existence and the energy it releases would send the debris flying as if swept to the side.

Getting it into your game: DMs it’s never hard to force your players hand when you know they are holding an ace, causing a cave in the party can not escape is an easy out when you want them to rely on magic for the solution. I would suggest a more sublet approach to drawing out the magical potential from your players. Options are your best friend when you are trying to get players to realize the absolute gold you players have in their ritual books.

When designing your game try to add extras which hold minor rewards for using rituals or just out of the box thinking. In a dungeon add a few rooms which a closed off due to cave ins. In one rooms have an encounter with some minor treasure, make the other a path with might lead the party past a dangerous encounter.  Or while your players are traversing thick forest/jungle the use of Clear the Path might help them find an opening with a refreshing spring which grants them rest and allows them to regain a spent healing surge.

Giving your players options one path filled with difficult terrain for safer or faster passage or a clear and easy path which might take longer and be more likely to be filled with dangerous creatures. With very little prodding players would be happy to spend the required amount on the ritual to gain safe and fast travel.

Allowing the players to use this ritual to become a local hero is always a fun and easy way to get players to tap their potential. Have your players enter a small village with a burning building ( I know I go to the burning building a lot) and have a family or small children trapped inside of the fire. Players could remove some of the debris blocking the door with an athletics check while taking damage, but a quick use of Clear the Path would allow instant access into the building. If you were to play it as a skill challenge it could be counted as an 1 successful roll.

Getting the most as a player: As an arcane player I look at everything with a filter of “how can magic help here” and I think it is a very logical way think. While playing a character who has spent their life studying arcane I would quickly go there for most answers. Is there a wall which needs climbing? Do I have any magic which will help? Is there a river which needs crossing? I bet magic could make it easier. Clear the Path has many easy to spot uses, but the obvious are no fun. Often using a ritual in an “out of the box” way is often at the mercy of the player’s DM so you many not be able to use some or any of these in your game.

Climbing is often hard for a wizard who has neglected their physical training but creating a slope of debris makes accent safer even if slower. Using Clear the path to move surrounding terrain against a wall and allowing a character to climb up the newly created ramp might give a bonus to a climb check but also slow the speed of the accent.

Using Clear the Path to move debris or terrain from one path to another could quickly create an obstacle behind a group who is being persued. Or a player would revers that and use the power to block a path of a target they are chasing, though it would open a new path for them to escape.

Debris laying along the side of a river might be moved out of the way and into the water to also create a bridge or ground below the water on which the players might cross. A DM could allow the players to make an acrobatics check to cross the river on the newly raised river bed or sunken tree.

Creative Combat: Wizards are controllers, and while not all ritual casters are wizards they should have access to some controller flavor. One of the core controller features is creating terrain to control the battler field. Clear the Path could be used to augment a wizards ability to control the battle field by allowing them to remove or move difficult terrain.

A DM could allow a player to remove an affected area of existing difficult terrain. A second option would be allowing the caster to move a few squares of existing difficult terrain to squares adjacent to the affected burst thus rearranging the battle field in a very controller way.

A player who is able to cast this ritual in combat might also use it to remove terrain which an ranged striker is hiding behind. If a goblin archer is using a pile of rocks to gain partial cover a wizard might wave his hand and cause the goblins cover to roll away instantly thus leaving the attack exposed.

I know I have not covered all the options for using this ritual in your game, for your character or in combat so please if you have more ideas feel free to post them here.

-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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