Stay Classy: Remember Rituals?

Do you? Remember rituals, that is.

One of the elements I most enjoyed in early 4e was the ritual. Or, more accurately, I enjoyed the idea of the ritual. For a variety of reasons, the ritual never lived up to its potential. Cost (both monetary and time), failure to provide exciting rituals, etc., all drove the ritual out of the current game. Occasionally, someone at WotC mentions they are still working on getting rituals on track, but I’ve yet to see much.

Today, I was planning on releasing a new class (or an update to an old class); however, I want to make a few tweaks to it. In its stead, here are a handful of rituals for use in your 4e game. My last entry received a lot of feedback on how to make the options presented better, and I hope to get the same here. How can these rituals become better? How can we integrate them in 4e easier?

Next Thursday, I will release the new class. Additionally, I will include PDFs of my first 2 columns here (knight powers and these rituals). Those PDFs will have revised versions based on the feedback given here. Consider that an open thing. Anyone who plays this game is part-designer, thus if you are willing to take the time to point out strengths and weaknesses, hopefully we can build better options for 4e together. It is a communal game, after all.

 

—————— 

ADVANCED ARCANA

Sweat beaded across Echan’s brow. Still, despite his nervousness, he kept his gaze steady lest his master, the Wizard Grezel, unleash a sharp rap against his knuckles for lack of concentration. He mumbled out the last few arcane words of the incantation and spread the fine powder along the torn page.  Quickly, quietly, the page reformed; the magic ran along the tear binding the parchment along the same course it had just been sundered.

                Grezel said, “Good. Now prepare your reagents again. Perform the ritual once more.”

                Echan could not stifle the sigh that escaped his lips. “Master, why bother with such paltry magic? I can throw bolts of force and summon fire.” Echan hazarded a look at his master. “I can freeze the a . . .AIIGH!”

                Grezel’s wand rapped sharply across his student’s knuckles. His aged hand snapped forward with speed belying its weathered skin and grasped Echan by the collar. “Fool,” Grezel spat. “You think like a barbarian or a soldier, only worried about the damage you can deal. If that is so leave the books behind and grab a sword and shield, boy. I’ve no time for dimwitted ruffians.”

Grezel shook his hand free and stared hard at the boy. “Listen to me carefully, young Echan. Any hedge wizard can conjure the elemental forces by sheer will alone, what separates the true master of magic is intellect and patience. It is these two virtues alone that unlock the power of ritual magic. Yes today you may only be mending the thread of parchment sheets, but decades from now you may be unraveling the threads of fate.”

Grezel gave pause and put a hand on Echan’s shoulder. “And if that is the case I pity the wizard who challenges you with only a handful of fire.”

Echan nodded silently and began preparing the ritual once more.

Grezel’s words should be taken to heart by all aspiring spellcasters. All arcane casters can conjure damaging curses, searing rays of fire, and globes of destruction, but few can master the epic magic of rituals. Below are some rituals that should help your arcane caster achieve his potential.

 

Curse of Quietus

With a surge of dark magic you throw a lock of Bailiff Windright’s hair into the still twilight. A faint odor of decay swirls about you, an acknowledgment of arcane success.

 

Level:  10                             Component Cost: 400 gp (special)

Category: Deception      Market Price: 1,000 gp

Time: 1 hour                      Key Skill: Arcana

Duration: Special

 

This malicious ritual is favored by warlocks and witches. By twisting dark magic around a lock of the target’s hair, you surround the victim with an aura of decay.  The victim’s skin grows pallid and rotten, his hair falls out in clumps, and the stench of death lingers about him regardless of his cleanliness. As a result, the target suffers a -2 penalty to all social checks per day he suffers under the curse.

This curse cannot be healed in mundane matters. It must either run its course or be countered by a remove curse. Also, as the target is unwilling, your Arcana check must exceed the target’s Fortitude defense to take effect. In addition, the Arcana check determines the curse’s duration.

 

ARCANA CHECK                                DURATION

19 or lower                         1 day

20 -29                                    3 days

30-39                                     5 days

40 or higher                        7 days

 

False Memories

It would be so much easier for the witnesses to believe your story if you were actually telling the truth. Fortunately, you’ve found ways around that.

 

Level: 19                              Component Cost: 8,000 gp

Type: Deception               Market Price: 20, 000 gp

Time: 1 hour                      Key Skill: Arcana

Duration: Special

 

You may insert memories into the targeted creature’s mind. These memories are individual events, such as being robbed, a wedding day, or having spent time in prison. The details may be as precise or as vague as you wish to leave them. However, this ritual does not allow you to replace old memories. The targeted creature will recall all other events in its life naturally, and it is up to you to create convincing memories around that structure.

Any unwilling target of this ritual must be helpless during the casting time. Upon completing the ritual, roll your Arcana check. This check must exceed the targeted creature’s Will defense. In addition, this check determines the rituals duration.

 

ARCANA CHECK                                DURATION

19 or lower                         1 week

20-29                                     1 month

30-39                                     1 year

40 or higher                        Permanent

You may also target yourself with this spell.

 

Mirage of Masquerades

So far today you have been Edwin the Red, rogue about town, and Igben the barkeep. Both disguises garnered a lot of information, but you believe your turn as Count Helwik Highcourt at tonight’s ball will be the most useful of all.

 

Level: 8                                                Component Cost: 135 gp (special)

Type: Deception               Market Price: 680 gp

Time: 10 minutes             Key Skill: Arcana

Duration: 24 hours (special)

 

With this ritual you weave a malleable illusion about yourself. Over the course of the next 24 hours you may assume 3 different humanoid appearances. These appearances can stem from your imagination or they may be imitations of other people. If they are imitations of other people, a picture, painting, or, preferably, the person being imitated needs to be at hand during the casting of the spell. For those familiar with the imitated target, allow an Insight check with a DC equal to 5 + your Arcana check to notice the differences.

The duration of the ritual is 24 hours. However, the magic does not allow constant swapping between forms. Once one form is used, only two remain, and so on. Swapping into a new mirage is a full-round action and is an obvious use of magic if noticed.

Finally, you can cast this ritual on someone other than yourself but it requires a focus of 200 gp.

 

Portal of Ages Past

You feel as a god must, for the very stars seem to swirl and bend to your gestures. Slowly, but inescapably they are drawn into form – that of a spiraling portal.

 

Level: 29                              Component Cost: 90,000 gp (plus 5 healing surges)

Category: Travel               Market Price: 500,000 gp

Time: 1 hour                      Key Skill: Arcana

Duration: Instantaneous

 

This ritual allows you and any others you name within 25 feet of you to be hurled through time. The portal does not allow for travel through space; you end up at the stated day in the exact same locale you cast it. This requires some measure of preparation on your behalf to ensure you do not end up in the midst of a battle, or worse, the bottom of an ocean.

In addition to the dangers of ill preparation, an unskilled caster may become unhinged in time and forever lost. The table below charts the strength of your ritual based upon your Arcana check.

 

ARCANA CHECK                                DISTANCE ALLOWED

Natural 1                              Unhinged in time (see below)

19 or lower                         1 year

20-29                                     10 years

30-39                                     100 years

40 or higher                        Any known point in history

 

Only willing targets are subject to the time travel this ritual allows. These willing subjects are lifted from the ground and hurtled skyward until they disappear with a flash of light. Any equipment that his held or carried is transported with the subject. There is no limit to the number of people that can travel via this portal aside from the number of people that can fit within a 25 foot radius of you.

 

Unhinged in Time: Daring time travel is a risky proposition. If a ritual is performed unsuccessfully, the caster is hurtled through time randomly. Upon arriving at this unknown destination, the caster is also invisible and insubstantial, unable to physically affect anything within his new era.

 

Quick Study

You thumb through the book, flipping the pages hastily. You set it down and say, “I’ve studied the history of the region. I believe we should began are search at the abandoned manor of the Renwick family.”

 

Level: 5                                   Component Cost: 50 gp

Category: Divination       Market Price: 200 gp

Time: 10 minutes             Key Skill: Arcana (no check)

Duration: 5 hours

 

This ritual hastens your mental acuity. Under its effects, you are able to perform calculations and comprehend items in a much quicker manner. This grants the most utility in research situations as it allows you to read 30 pages of text every 10 minutes; this translates out to 600 pages an hour. All of this text is fully digested as if you had spent hours poring over every minute detail and reading it in full.

Another benefit for spellcasters is that this ritual lessens the time it takes to master other rituals. When under the effects of Quick Study, a ritualist need only 1 hour, as opposed to 8, to master a ritual.

 

Sleepless Vigilance

Deep within the Mare Forests, one cannot afford the luxury of rest.

 

Level: 6                                                Component Cost: 140 gp

Category: Warding          Market Price: 360 gp

Time: 10 minutes             Key Skill: Arcana

Duration: 6 hours

 

You, or another recipient of this ritual’s effect, do not need sleep to feel fully rested. For the next 8 hours you are wakeful and aware, gaining a bonus to your Perception skill as shown below:

 

ARCANA CHECK                                PERCEPTION BONUS

19 or lower                                         +1

20-29                                                     +2

30-39                                                     +3

40 or higher                                        +4

 

Though not sleeping, this ritual does grant you all the benefits of a full night’s rest. At the end of the 6 hours you regain any lost hit points, healing surges, encounter powers, and daily powers, and you still lose any accumulated action points.

 

Theft of Thoughts

You stare at your captive. The rogue sneers at you. “I’ll never tell you a thing,” he says with steel in his voice.

                Your response is calm and measured. “Good. I prefer ripping the answers from your mind anyways.”

 

Level: 12                              Component Cost: 500 gp

Category: Divination       Market Price: 2,600 gp

Time: 10 minutes             Key Skill: Arcana

Duration: 10 minutes (Special)

 

You can rifle through a helpless target’s mind and rip out the information you seek. This ritual gives you full access to the creature’s mind, but it is up to you to navigate the process. This ritual does not allow you to read thoughts. Instead, you prod the magic by asking questions mentally to the victim; if the creature is aware of the answer you are as well.

There are some limitations to this ritual. Namely, it works best with yes/no or short answer questions; as a rule, you do not receive answers longer than 10 words. Secondly, if the target is unwilling your Arcana check must exceed its Will defense. The Arcana check also determines the number of queries.

 

ARCANA CHECK                                QUESTIONS ALLOWED

19 or lower                                         1

20-29                                                     2

30-39                                                     3

40 or higher                                        5

 

Tormented Arcana

You’ve hurled bolts of lightning, rays of fire, and summoned blizzards of ice. And you’re enemy knows it.  But as you grit your teeth and choke back the copper taste of your own blood, you realize it is the magic he is unaware of that will cost him.

 

Level: 21                              Component Cost: 13,000 gp

Category: Creation          Market Price: 65,000 gp

Time: 10 minutes             Key Skill: Arcana (no check)

Duration: Instantaneous

 

By inflicting grievous strain on your health and pain threshold you call upon a rare form of blood magic to refuel your arcane reserves. This ritual allows you to recharge any spent daily powers from a certain tier. The cost to your immediate health is taxing, and most texts that contain this ritual regard it as a last ditch attempt for survival.

 

POWER TIER REPLENISHED           HEALING SURGES SPENT

Heroic                                                                   2

Paragon                                                               3

Epic                                                                        5

 

For example, if you spend 3 healing surges when casting this ritual you regain the use of any spent daily power from levels 11-20 (the paragon tier).

 

Twist of Fate

As you cast this ritual you see the threads of fate spun about you. You gently pluck at one producing the harmonious tone of good luck.

 

Level: 16                              Component Cost: 1,800 gp

Category: Binding            Market Price: 4,500 gp

Time: 30 minutes             Key Skill: Arcana (no check)

Duration: 24 hours or until discharged

 

Your mastery of the arcane allows you to bind the magic of fate to your side. During the next 24 hour period you may re-roll any one roll that affects you, either a roll you make, or a roll made against you. After the re-roll takes place you may choose the optimal roll for your concerns. If the magic is not used within a 24 hour period it dissipates.

This ritual only affects you and may not be cast upon other creatures.

 

Unfettered Vision

You see the unseen. Through darkness, distance, and magical cloaks, your now silver eyes see all.

 

Level: 14                              Component Cost: 800 gp

Category: Divination       Market Price: 4,200 gp

Time: 10 minutes             Key Skill: Arcana

Duration: 1 hour

 

This ritual greatly amplifies your sight and heightens your senses. For the duration of the ritual’s effects your eyes shine with a silvery sheen and they remain unblinking. This transformation of the eyes is not a disguisable element even by illusory magic.

The strength of the ritual determines the effects and bonuses inferred upon the caster.

 

ARCANA CHECK                                SIGHT GAINED                  SKILL BONUS

19 or lower                         Darkvision 60’                    +2 Perception

20-29                                     Truesight 60’                      +2 Insight

30-39                                     All-around Vision

40 or higher                                –                                        +5 on Arcana checks for Divination category rituals.

 

Depending on the text, this ritual has been referred to as Angel Eye’s and Eyes of the Oracle for its beneficial impact on divination and scrying spells.


Part idiot. Part old man. All geek. Matthew A. C. is a struggling writer, professor, family man, and gamer. Yes, he struggles at all those things. However, he's been fortunate enough to publish a few things here and there. You can find his RPG stuff at RPG Now and follow him on twitter (@thelastrogue).


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About Matthew A. C.

Matthew A. C. is a struggling writer, professor, family man, and gamer. Yes, he struggles at all those things. However, he's been fortunate enough to publish a few things here and there. You can find his RPG stuff at RPG Now and follow him on twitter (@thelastrogue).
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