Rituals and Ceremonies

Whereas instant spells and miracles are well known, tightly controlled methods for causing an effect, ritual magic taps into the more fundamental forces of the universe. Thus ritual magic can be used for casting spells and miracles beyond level 10 and combining the powers of several characters as well as the more usual single character casting a simple spell or miracle.

However, the greater flexibility and power of rituals comes with a price. Rituals take longer to cast than instant spells/miracles and also the extra power can harm the caster(s).

Ritualists and Ritual Groups

A single character can perform rituals by simply learning Magic Ritual for spells and Religious Ceremony for miracles. This allows him to create and cast rituals up to the level of his skill.

In order to create truly powerful effects, ritualists must work together in a Ritual Group. A Ritual Group formed to cast ritual spells is called a Cabal, whereas a Ritual Group formed to cast miracles is called a Conclave.

Working harmoniously with others to create effects requires training to control the power. Without this training, a character cannot control the variations and fluctuations introduced by other ritualists. To successfully work together the Work with Cabal skill is required:

Work with Cabal/Conclave
This general skill provides the basic training required to work with other ritualists. It does not need to be bought for a specific School/Path or Cabal/Conclave. Work with Cabal/Conclave allows the character to add their Magic Ritual/Religious Ceremony skill to others so that it can be used when casting a ritual with a Cabal/Conclave.

Forming a Cabal

Any two or more characters can form a Cabal as long as at least one character has the Work with Cabal skill.

Forming a Conclave

Any two or more characters with at least one shared Principle can form a Conclave as long as one has learnt the Work with Conclave skill. Thus a character with Religious Ceremony (Justice) can form a Conclave with a character with Religious Ceremony (Life), but could not form a Conclave with a character with Religious Ceremony (Death). This allows the characters to cast ritual miracles together to the limit of their Work with Conclave skills.

Other characters can join the Conclave, with the permission of its other members. New members must have at least one shared Principle with all other members of the Conclave.

Creating Rituals

To create a ritual from the beginning requires (level + 1) weeks.

While creating a ritual a character cannot perform any other activity beyond the basics of living.

Example: Simkin has Magic Ritual (Water) 4 and wants to create the new Water ritual Condense, a spell that creates water. The Condense spell is deemed to be level 0 and thus takes him 1 week to create.

The maximum ritual level a character can create is equal to his level in the appropriate ritual skill (Magic Ritual (School) or Religious Ceremony (Path)).

Example: Simkin has Magic Ritual (Water) 4 and can create Water rituals up to level 4 or modify an existing Water ritual up to level 8.

When a ritual is created, the following details must be specified

Caster

The identities of the caster is integral to the ritual. Characters can only research rituals with themselves as the Lead Ritualist unless they have the Work with Cabal skill. If they have this skill they can research rituals for other Casters up to their Work with Cabal level.

Example: Pilgrim has Magic Ritual (Earth) 6 and a Work with Cabal 4. Thus he can:
• Create Earth rituals up to level 6 for which he is the only Caster.
• Modify existing Earth rituals up to level 12 for which he is the only Caster. However, there’s little point doing so as he won’t be able to cast them.
• Create or modify Earth rituals for any other Casters up to Level 4.
• Create or modify Earth rituals for himself up to level 6 which involve assistants.

When creating rituals for a Ritual Group, the ritual does not need to specify the identity of the assistants, but at least one of the Ritual Leader or Assistants will need the Work with Cabal skill for the ritual to function (See Casting Group Rituals)

Components
Components are optional and are used to reduce the damage from the ritual. The exact type must be specified. A ritual can have a maximum of 1 Component. At the end of the ritual Components are irrevocably destroyed.
Focuses
Focuses are optional and are used to reduce the damage from the ritual. The exact type and number must be specified. A ritual can have a maximum of 1 Focus.
Circle
Ritual Circles are optional and are used to reduce the damage from the ritual. Only the minimum level must be specified. (The Ritual Circle must match that of the School/Path of the ritual.)
Sacrifices
Sacrifices are optional and are used to reduce the damage from the ritual. Sacrifices do not have to be killed as part of the ritual, but also refer to volunteers who join the ritual to help. Only the number of Sacrifices needs to be specified, not their identities. Sacrifices can only be used to absorb casting damage, they cannot contribute Mana or Standing to the ritual.

All rituals which do not cover a standard spell/miracle must be submitted to the Character Ref for approval, and the Character Ref is free to make changes. Creating or modifying a ritual is really a research project in which the character attempts to find a method to control and direct the magical power. In particular, what works for one character may not work for another.

Multiple characters can be involved in the creation of a ritual as long as all have the required level of skill. This reduces the amount of time required to create the ritual.

Example: Gemdar needs to create a new level 6 ritual, which will take a total of 7 weeks. However, he needs the work completed sooner so he asks his friend Flake to help out. With the two of them working on the ritual, the time is halved to 4 weeks.

Modifying Rituals

A character can modify an existing ritual that is up to twice his ritual skill level. Modifying an existing ritual is a far simpler process than creating one from scratch and takes(Level +1) Hours. In addition, if the level of the ritual is less than or equal to his ritual skill, then the time taken is halved (rounded up).

Usually, rituals based on instant spells or miracles can be treated as being modifications of an existing ritual. This is based on the assumption that all instant spells/miracles are refinements of ritual magic and thus a character with access to an instant spell/miracle also has access to the equivalent ritual.

For some characters, particularly those who do not belong to a Guild or similar organisation, this assumption may not be correct.

Example: Archibald has Magic Ritual (Water) 4 and wants to create a Clear Mind(T) ritual. To modify this ritual would normally take 2 hours, but as it has an instant spell equivalent and Archibald is deemed to have access to the underlying ritual, he can create a ritual in only 1 hour.

Modifying a ritual allows everything apart from the ritual level to be changed as long as the character has the skills to do so.

Example: Caffrey spends 2 hours modifying the Strength Justice Ceremony for his own use and creates a ritual requiring
• 1 caster: himself.
• 1 Standard Component: a lot of bull’s blood.
• 1 Superior Focus: a Giant’s fingernail.
• A level 2 Ceremonial Circle of Justice.
As his Religious Ceremony(Justice) skill is 2, this will take 2 hours.

Example: Mayhew has decided to redo his Ice Blade 0 ritual as, with his higher level, he no longer needs as many components, focuses, etc. He spends a single hour and creates a new Ice Blade 0 requiring
• 1 caster: himself
• 1 Superior Focus: a large pearl

Example: Nefar, a Priest of Death, has finally found the forbidden Ritual of Tek’anhut after years of searching. The ritual is level 24 and is too difficult for Nefar to understand with his Religious Ceremony(Death) skill level of 10.
After destroying a few infidels, he becomes sufficiently experienced to increase his Religious Ceremony(Death) skill to 12, which is high enough for him to begin modifying the ritual. The modification takes 25 hours and Nefar creates a new ritual requiring:
• 4 casters: Nefar and three Assistants.
• 1 Superior Component: the heart of a Paladin
• 1 Superior Focus: the Skull of D’Kral, a powerful Lich destroyed 2 centuries ago.
• A level 11 Ceremonial Circle of Death.
• 5 Sacrifices.
The next step is for him to find the Skull of D’Kral and kill a Paladin for his heart.

Casting a Ritual

A ritual can only be cast if all the specified Casters, Components, Focuses, Circle and Sacrifices are available.

One of the ritualists involved in the casting must be nominated as the Ritual Leader. For individual ritualists, the Ritual Leader is obviously the ritualist himself. For a Ritual Group, any member with Work with Cabal can be nominated the Ritual Leader for a ritual, though usually this will be the character with the highest Work with Cabal/Conclave skill level.

The maximum level that a Ritual Group can cast is equal to the sum of all their Work with Cabal/Conclave skills, up to twice the Ritual Leader’s Magic Ritual Skill (which may be limited by their Magic Ritual/Religious Ceremony skills for the specific school/path they are casting).

When performing a ritual:

Rituals follow the same Casting Requirements as for casting a spell/miracle normally, except you can never run (and if using a Ritual Circle, you should remain within 20’ of it) and instead of using the standard vocals, you perform the ritual (but the name of the spell/miracle must still be said at the end of the ritual).

Concurrent Castings

You can cast multiple spells/miracles together that interact in some way (e.g. Extend/Extension and Spell Weave) with both Rituals and Instant-Cast as described below:

Ritual and Instant Cast

If the spells/miracles are cast by Ritual and Instant-Cast then the Instant-Cast must be done just before the end of the ritual.

Example: Winterlight rituals up Extension 2 (level 2, 3 minutes); just prior to it ending, Pilgrim casts Blade Sharp 1 on Winterlight’s sword and Winterlight finishes the ritual, targeting it on the sword.

All Ritual (same caster)

If all the spells/miracles are cast only by Ritual by the same caster then the final effect is only ready when the combined ritual ends.

Example: Iussis wishes to make himself strong for 1 hour. He rituals up a Strength (level 2, 3 minutes) and an Extend 2 (level 2, 3 minutes). After 6 minutes the ritual is complete and Iussis has Strength for 1 hour. If interrupted beforehand Iussis has nothing and is affected as per Ending a Ritual.

Example: Magma wishes to combine Blade Sharp and Flame Blade. He rituals up a Spell Weave 3 (level 3, 4 minutes), a Blade Sharp 3 (level 3, 4 minutes) and a Flame Blade (level 3, 4 minutes). After 12 minutes the ritual is complete and Iussis has a sharper, flamey sword. If interrupted beforehand Magma has nothing and is affected as per Ending a Ritual.

All Ritual (different casters)

The different Rituals should be timed so that they end at the same time. Note you can maintain one (Maintaining the Ritual) if necessary.

Example: Exhor rituals up an Extend 3 (level 3, 4 minutes) intending to cast it on Iussis’ Strength ritual. After 1 minute, Iussis begins his Strength ritual (level 2, 3 minutes). Both rituals complete at the same time and Iussis has Strength for 1 hour (Note the Extend +1 level adjustment for different caster).

Casting Damage

The amount of damage is based on the Level of the Spell and the Ritual Skill of the Ritual Leader. When casting a ritual with the same level as the ritualist’s skill, the amount of damage is 3 Life Points. This amount is reduced by 1 Life Point for every level higher that the ritualist’s skill level is higher than the ritual level (to a minimum of 0) and increased by 3 for every level lower. The Ritual Leader can distribute this damage amongst all participants and Sacrifices as he sees fit.

Skill Level – Ritual level Damage
3+ 0
2 1
1 2
0 3
-1 6
-2 9
-3 12
-4 15
-5 18
-6 21
-7 24
-8 27
-9 30
-10 33

Example: Gemdar is casting a level 6 Earth ritual using his Magic Ritual (Earth) skill of 6. This will take 5 minutes and cause 3 Life Points of damage.

Components and Focuses

Components and Focuses can be used to reduce the damage, with the amount based on the quality of the item. At the end of the ritual Components are irrevocably destroyed, whereas Focuses are undamaged and can be used again.

Quality Damage Reduction
Focus
Standard 1
Superior 2
Master 3
Legendary 4
Component
Standard 1
Superior 2
Master 3
Legendary 4

Example: When Gemdar created his level 4 Earth ritual, he specified the use of 1 Standard Component and a Standard Focus. These reduce the damage by 2, so Gemdar only takes 1 Life Points of damage.

Circles

To create a circle of a particular level, the character must have learnt Magic Ritual/Religious Ceremony to at least the same level.

Drawing a circle takes as long as it physically takes the character to mark out their circle, with a minimum of 1 minute.

A circle does not have to be a ‘circle’ but can be any enclosed shape. The circle must be big enough to encompass the Casters, Components, Focuses & Sacrifices. The physical circle must be created during the ‘drawing’ time, this can be by marking a circle in the earth, using rope/branches, pouring powder etc. It must also be relatively simple to destroy, by scuffing the ground, removing the rope etc. and cannot be hidden.

Once drawn, it must be empowered with Mana/Standing to be effective. Empowering requires the character to touch the circle and takes 10 seconds per point of Mana/Standing transferred. Any character or group of characters, can empower a circle. A circle can take up its level +1 Mana/Standing and any Mana/Standing beyond this limit is simply not transferred. The amount of casting damage that a circle protects against is equal to the amount of Mana/Standing it has been empowered with.

Example: As well as the Components and Focuses, Gemdar also specified that his level 4 Earth Ritual requires a level 0 Earth Circle. This increases the amount of time to cast the ritual, as it takes him slightly more than 1 minute to prepare and empower the circle with 1 Mana. This further reduces the damage by 1 Life Point, so Gemdar takes no casting damage when using this ritual.

Once drawn, a circle can be re-used provided it is undamaged (at the GM’s discretion), though it must be empowered again.

Talismans and Holy Symbols
Talismans and Holy Symbols provide no protection from Ritual damage.

Example: Nefar and his three lieutenants have Work with Conclave skills of 12, 8, 4 and 3, and Nefar has a Ritual Skill of 12 which means that the combined Ritual Group can cast a maximum level ritual of 24.
Nefar brings the Ritual Group together to cast the level 24 Ritual of Tek’anhut, which he has modified for the group’s use. Nefar is the Ritual Leader, and his skill minus the ritual level is (24 – 12 = 12), which equates to 39 Life Points of damage.
This is reduced by:
• 1 Superior Components (2)
• 1 Superior Focus (2)
• Level 11 Circle of Death (11)
So the ritual will cause 24 Life Points of damage.
The ritual also requires 5 Sacrifices, for which Nefar has captured 5 Human villagers (30 Life Points, 10 Death Threshold).
During the ritual Nefar assigns the damage to the Sacrifices equally, causing 5 Life Points to four of them and 4 to the fifth, marking each with the Unholy Mark of his God and making them suitable vessels to become Avatars of Despair.

Casting Group Rituals

Casting Group Rituals can be done by any Ritual Cabal or Conclave depending on the relevant levels of Ritual Skill and Work with Cabal skills the participants have. This is divided into two cases: Cases where both the Lead ritualist and assistant(s) have the Work with Cabal skill and cases where only one of the Lead ritualist and assistant(s) have the Work with Cabal skill. In either case, in order to be an effective assistant the assisting character must either know the ritual being cast as an instant cast spell (not via Spell/Miracle gift), or have ritual skill themselves. All participants must also be able to cast the spell or miracle being cast (so an Air Mage couldn’t assist casting an Earth spell or vice versa)

Example: Archer, a Paladin of Justice, is casting a Dispel Death 10 ritual. Vertonius, a Paladin of Life, knows Dispel Death 2 as an instant cast miracle, and thus can assist Archer in this ritual.

Archer later encounters Chaos priests downcasting Curse, and rituals a Dispel Chaos 10 ritual to counteract this. Vertonius does not know Dispel Chaos and cannot assist in this case.

Example: Archibald, a hydromancer, is casting a ritual to open a portal to the Plane of Ice. Nemesis knows no Water Ritual, so cannot assist as this ritual has no instant cast equivalent. However Barel knows Water Ritual 2 and can assist.

Lead Ritualist and Assistant both have Work with Cabal skill

A Lead Ritualist can be helped by an assistant to cast rituals above his usual level of power up to his Ritual skill + Work with Cabal skill up to a maximum of twice his base Ritual Skill. Assistants can contribute additional levels up to their Work with Cabal skills. This increases the casting damage as in Casting Damage. Casting damage and mana/standing costs are divided between the cabal as decided by the Ritual Leader.

Example: She who Thirsts on the Despair of Mortals, a Drow Shadowmaster, is casting a level 16 Darkness ritual to strike everyone within a village permanently blind. She has a Magic Ritual (Darkness) skill of 10, and has a Work with Cabal skill of 5. She is assisted by her two apprentices. The first apprentice knows Magic Ritual (Darkness) 8 and Work with Cabal 3, adding four extra levels. The second apprentice knows Mass Blindness, which the Character Ref rules is similar enough to the ritual being cast to be applicable and also has a Work with Cabal skill of 3. This increaes the ritual group’s casting level to 16, as She who Thirsts only has a Work with Cabal skill of 5, enough to cast the ritual. However as the highest Ritual Skill in the Cabal is 10, it will cause 18 life damage. For this purpose, they have acquired several elven sacrifices.

One of Lead Ritualist and Assistant have Work with Cabal

As before, a Lead Ritualist can be assisted by an assistant up to his Ritual Skill + Work with Cabal up to a maximum of twice his ritual level. However only one of the Ritualist and Assistant need to know the skill. However channeling extra power in this way is significantly more dangerous given the lack of training. Each ritual cast in this way causes 5 Life Damage which cannot be prevented to each participant for each level above the Lead Ritualist’s skill boosted and each participant’s Death Threshold is reduced by 1 for the next 24 hours, or until the cast effect ends, whichever is the greater.

Example: Tinker wants to go Troll wrestling and prepares to cast a Quintuple Strength Ritual with her Magic Ritual (Earth) skill of 10. Caled knows Work with Cabal 1 and the Strength spell and decides to help, so she might actually win. This increases the ritual level to 12, to cast Hextuple Strength. This causes 21 Life damage and additionally causes 10 unpreventable Life Damage to Caled and Tinker and reduces their Death Thresholds by 2.

Maintaining a Ritual

Once a ritual has been cast, it can be maintained by expending 1 Mana/Standing per minute. A Ritual Group can divide this cost amongst its members.

Example: Mayhew spends 6 minutes casting Mass Rust in preparation for an attack by a tribe of Orcs. By the ritual has been completed the Orcs have not appeared, so Mayhew decides to extend the spell by spending 1 Mana/minute. Two minutes later the Orcs appear, and Mayhew releases the Mass Rust.

When maintaining a ritual you have to Concentrate.

Ending a Ritual

If a ritual is interrupted, you effectively loose everything as if the ritual had been completed, but nothing happens.

You can voluntarily end a ritual. However, all participants must do so and it takes a full minute (and if one of the participants doesn’t want to end the ritual, treat it as an interrupted ritual).

It is not possible to end a ritual early and cast a lower level spell/miracle.

Example: Archibald is performing a ritual to cast an Ice Blade 4 (5 minutes). He cannot end it after 3 minutes and cast an Ice Blade 2.

Performing Rituals and Ceremonies Unskilled

Rituals and Ceremonies tap into the primordial power of the Principles and the Elements that make up the world and exist for all with the skill, will and power who are daring or foolish enough to attempt to claim them and bend them to their will. This can include those without training, or attempting to cast beyond the limits of their training without assistance, but this is a risky path to follow. Without formal training, the end result of such rituals and ceremonies are rarely predictable, but the following tends to hold true:

Despite a character’s best efforts in providing power, sacrifices, components and focii, any untrained ritual or ceremony may fail for any reason, including no reason at all, at the whims of the Gods or Spirits of the elements (As decided by the GM). Power remains lost in such attempts.

The elements and gods of the world react poorly to interlopers who repeatedly intrude upon their domains without showing the correct respect, particularly for trivial tasks. All life damage caused by unskilled rituals is doubled. Characters who repeatedly attempt to use unskilled rituals or insufficiently skilled rituals to circumvent having to buy the skills themselves will quickly find their actions to have unpleasant consequences.

Ceremonies must be performed by characters who have an aligment compatible with the desired outcome. Such a character must have a Path in order to have any chance of success. Needless to say, attempting to call upon powers opposite to the characters path tends to have immediate and disastrous consequences. Similarly, mages cannot perform Rituals from schools they cannot cast from. (So a Hydromancer cannot attempt Fire rituals and vice versa)

In order to perform an unskilled ritual, a character must do the following:

The ritual can then be cast as normal, with the normal power cost. Mana/standing costs are divided equally between all participants as is Casting Damage with no regard to each character’s capacity to pay these costs. If insufficient power is availible, or a Caster dies or falls unconcious, the ritual fails. The casting damage is as listed in the Casting Damage table, assuming a Lead Ritualist skill of -1 in the case of a ritualist using no skill, or equal to the Lead Ritualist’s skill level if casting above their usual level.

Example: Guard Lieutenant Grak and his Sargeant Grok, two Half Ogres, find a reinforced wooden door they can’t break using their prodigious strength. Being cunning Half Ogres, they decide to try calling on the Earth spell Shattering Blow 1 to help smash the door and go collect some rocks.

Casters: Grak, Grok
Components: 1 Really Big Rock
Focii: 1 thing that looks like a rock
Circle: None
Sacrifices: None

Shattering Blow 1 is a level 1 Earth spell, and Grak and Grok both take their metal armour off before casting it because they’re cleverer than the average half Ogre. This ritual thus takes 2 minutes to cast and causes 18 life damage. The GM rules that the thing that looks like a rock is an invalid Focii but the Really Big Rock is relevant.

After 1 minute, Grak has to pay the first 1 mana for the ritual. As a Half Ogre he has no usable mana and this is thus overcasting, causing him 5 Life Damage and losing 1 Death Threshold. After the second minute Grok must pay the next 1 mana, which also causes him 5 Life damage and 1 Death Threshold in overcasting.

The ritual is thus successful and Grak casts Shattering Blow 1 on himself, costing Grak and Grok 9 Life damage each. Grak then successfully uses Shattering Blow to smash the door down. However due to the uncontrolled powers in play, this disintegrates Grak’s weapon after doing so.

Ritual Only Spells and Miracles

Certain spells and miracles, for various reasons, are too powerful, too unique or too unpredictable to be refined into instant castings. The same rule as for unskilled rituals also applies. Despite a character’s best efforts in providing power, sacrifices, components and focii, more unique rituals or ceremonies may fail for any reason, including no reason at all, at the whims of the Gods or Spirits of the elements (As decided by the GM & Character Refs). Power remains lost in such attempts. These should not be used on game without prior GM and Character Ref approval, and are more intended as plot devices. These include, but are not limited to:

Summon Elemental/Planar Spirit

One of a wide variety of rituals for various paths and spirits, this ritual needs to be written for a specific elemental or spirit in question and performed in areas which have a strong connection to the element or plane in question, using a Ritual Circle to summon the creature into. It offers no way of controlling the spirit however, that is left to the summoner. Higher level rituals allow for the summoning of more powerful creatures.

Open Portal to Plane

Similar to summoning, opening portals to other planes needs to be performed in specific locations where the borders between planes are weaker, and use a Ritual Circle to create the portal within. The portal will remain open for as long as the caster holds the ritual (See Maintaining a Ritual). More powerful ritualists can open portals in more places. Of course there is no guarantee that the area on the other side of the portal is safe, or can be opened again from the other side…

Dispel Spiritual Influence

These rituals cannot be refined to instant castings for the simple reason that each casting is effectively unique and a different casting in it’s own right. For more detail see Spiritual Influences.

Greater Resurrection/Raise Dead (Minimum Level 5 (Life)/6 (Justice)

The Ceremony to bring a character back to life after being dead over an hour cannot be refined to an instant because it must be tailored specifically to the character who is being resurrected to guide their spirit back from the afterlife. Such resurrections are not straightforward and require lengthy negotiations with the powers that be to ensure success. More powerful Ceremonialists can bring back characters who have been dead longer.

Destroy Holy Symbol/Mystic Talisman (Minimum Level 25 (Fire/Chaos)

The Ritual to destroy a Holy Symbol or Mystic Talisman cannot be refined into an instant casting because of the sheer level of power needed to destroy items protected by the soul held within them, and the wardings needed to contain the backlash from the powers that are unleashed. Ritual Circles are typically used to defend against this but some foolish Cabals attempt to without these.

Excommunication (Miracle Only)

The Ceremony of Excommunication is not one undertaken lightly. A Conclave of at least 3 Ceremonialists of the same path as the target (Who must also be present, but not willing or concious) call upon the Path to pass judgement on the charges presented by the 3 casters. If the case is found to be justified the target loses the ability to cast all of their miracles up to the level of the ceremony until some attonement is peformed, set by the Path. The Path can always impose lesser or different punishments if the powers that be (The GM & Character Refs) see fit. Spurious cases result in all 3 casters being excommunicated themselves for a number of days equal to the Ceremony Level. No magical variant is known to exist.

Create Warding Circle

The Warding Circle rituals are a technique to defend against forces counter to the element or path of the caster. It involves the creation of a Ritual Circle onto which the warding spell or ritual is cast. Once cast, the ward will prevent spells, miracles or creatures from crossing or affecting things inside the ritual circle until the mana or standing within the circle is exhausted. The circle consumes 1 mana/standing a minute until exhausted, at which point the warding circle loses all protective qualities. The circle can be empowered with power whilst active in the usual fashion. Dispel (Path/Magic) and Path/Mana Lace remove power from the circle (Equal to level for Dispel). Higher level warding circles protect against higher power spells/miracles/creatures.