ritualistically speaking: Inquisitive’s Eyes

The more I write these articles on rituals the more I want to run a campaign based heavily on mystery and cloak and dagger affairs. I really enjoy combat in 4th edition D&D but I also enjoy watching players try to figure out why they are chasing a villain, or searching for clues as to who is behind the dark power creeping into the world. Rituals play into this so well adding magical flare to story and action. Inquisitive’s Eye is another srcying ritual that gives players access to information with out having to charm, trick or intimidate it out of any NPCs. Not that I am against NPC interaction but I do tire of the repetitious grab a thug, interrogate the thug, get information, kill and or release the thug, wash rinse repeat cycle some mystery games descend into.

Inquisitive’s Eyes

Component Cost: 125 gp Market Price: 680 gp Key Skill: Arcana Level: 8 Category: Divination
Time: 10 minutes  Duration: Instantaneous

You cast your senses back through time to observe your current location as it was up to a number of hours ago no greater than your Arcana check result. You can observe the scene as if you were there, although you cannot affect anything.

First published in Eberron Player’s Guide.

It makes sense to me that this ritual would be published in the Eberron players guide. The whole world setting is based on intrigue and mystery. Backstabbing and double crossing abound in a world where every country is at odds with its neighbors.

Story time!

A group of adventurers arrives at the small house at the end of town hoping to find a young female elf NPC who had been helping them gain information for their quest. When the arrive they find the front door off its hinges and the house in ruins as if there had been a struggle. The young girl had told the party that a gang leader in town had been responsible for the assassination of the young prince and that he was aware that she knew this. Seeing the evidence of a struggle the group decides to challenge the the gang leader as her captor.

Before they do the groups wizard spots a mirror on the floor of the far wall. He walks over to it, bends down and begins to chant. Sprinkling a small amount of dust on the frame of the mirror it begins to shimmer. Placing one finger on the rim of the mirror he begins to move his finger counter clockwise and an image appears in place of his reflection. The image moves in reverse at a very high speed. He stops moving his hand and takes it off the mirror and it begins to play a startling scene.

The young girl stands in her home talking to one of the  royal advisers and two of the kings elite guards. One of them produces a small pendant; the party recognizes it as a royal signet belonging to the prince. The young elven girl smiles and begins to turn over the furniture in her house. One of the guards begins to put on an outfit that looks very similar to those of the local street gang. He takes the pendant and leaves as the other two men help the young girl destroy her house. They then leave quickly through the back.

Making is accessible: Creating a focus for this ritual can be fun for players or DMs. As always with any focus it should have something which connects it to the spirit of ritual. For Inquisitive’s Eyes I would use something like a small spyglass, a monocle, or a silver mirror as a storage device or focus. Remember that each time a focus is created it adds to the cost of the ritual. Also a focus is depleted after it is used and must be remade at full cost before it can be used again.  After preforming the ritual and storing it in the focus a player wishing to active the ritual  would only need to look through or into the focus and utter the final line of ritual to activate it. The player would then see the actions or time-line take place through the lens of the focus.

What interests me more than creating a focus for this ritual is creating a shortcut for it. If players want to view an area a DM could allow them to use parts of the room to cut down the required casting time, or perhaps part of the component cost. It’s a simple idea which might be hard to communicate. As in the story above the wizard was able to use the mirror as a viewing portal because it was present to absorb that moment in time. An open window or a pair of glasses left on a desk would have been able to provide the same shortcut. The amount of time or component cost the short cut allows would be up to the DM.

DMs: It’s never hard to get scrying rituals into a game with high mystery. The key is to make the ritual both rewarding and something which adds to the story. Making a ritual rewarding can be as simple as letting the players see someone hiding treasure in the area the ritual affects. Something small and valuable enough to cover the cost of using the ritual and then some. Or a reward could be something more complex and drawn out, such as showing the party an NPC hiding a treasure map in the area affected or showing an NPC removing something of value from the area. These would amount to a side or minor quest for the players, which could result in the gaining of both exp and treasure.

Making Inquisitive’s Eyes further a story with out jumping the tracks can be a bit more complex. The trick lies in the fact that the players can only see part of the story. Players using Inquisitive’s Eyes to view events can only see the events which take place in the area where the ritual has been cast. In the story above the players gain a small amount of information about the story. From what the players have seen they might think the young girl and the guards are part of the murder. There is a great deal of evidence there to support this theory, but later down the line the party might find out the girl, with the help of the others they watched, were planting evidence to help convict the true murderer.

The party can only see the piece of the puzzle which took place in the room of the girls house, this can easily being the party into confrontation with the true villain or with a group who might become allies and ask the party to help them be completing quests for them. Either way the wizard was able to alter the course of the party and perhaps the story by making quick use of his ritual. The extra quests, new alliances or the option to avoid a fight with the wrong enemies are all rewarding and positive outcomes.

Players: Creative use of Inquisitive’s Eyes shouldn’t be hard to figure out.  In any scenario where time is of the essence but multiple paths can be taken such as a chase Inquisitive’s Eyes can give players an easy advantage. In situations where secret doors need to be found, or passwords need to be discerned Inquisitive’s Eyes can be cast and used to over hear said password or watch as the secret door is unveiled.

In situations where mystery and intrigue are thick using this ritual can help to gain vital information. If you are being sent on quests by a patron, lets say a king. The group over time begins to doubt the honesty of their benefactor, a quick view into the recent past might uncover that the king has been using them to less than benevolent means, or perhaps has lied to them about his motives.

In skill challenges Inquisitive’s Eyes can find many uses I won’t go through them all or we could be here all day. I’ll give you suggestions on what to look for though. Anytime you are trying to gain access to something or some one viewing the recent past might give you hints as to how. Anytime you are trying to barter with someone looking into their recent past might give you some kind of leverage over them. Any time you come upon a security system or a trap peering back through time might allow you to see how others have passes safely or what happens when the trap is activated. As a DM I would reward any of these uses of this ritual with 1 success towards a skill challenge, others might give players a bonus to a related skill check.

Creative Combat: DMs can reward combat use of Inquisitive’s Eyes in a few ways. If there is difficult terrain or traps in the combat area players who gaze into the past might be able to recognize them right away because they were able to watch others have to deal with them thus giving the play some advantage. If the DM plans on ambushing the players or has more enemies waiting in the wings the ritual caster might be able to see them in the past when they were moving into their hiding position. This would give the party a heads up about what they might expect. If the party is about to enter combat in an area where it is clear that a battle took place a short time ago this ritual might allow the caster to see one or more of the powers their enemies used to defeat their previous foes. None of these benefits would insure victory or even tip the scales in battle but they do give the players a sense of advantage and allow the caster to feel more useful.

There are always more uses for rituals than I can write. If there is some fun or useful application for Inquisitive’s Eyes that I have missed please feel free to post it below in the comments section.


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.


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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