Rituals are invocations of the deepest and oldest magic. The kind used to forge the world. The kind used in the distant past to level mountains and fell empires. What powers the effects of a ritual? Is it the Twelve Immortals? Is it an even higher power? No one can say for sure, but it seems to be written into the very fabric of the world itself.
Rituals are nowhere near as prevalent as spells — they're complex, powerful, and dangerous. A mage may spend the majority of her life creating a ritual. To learn a ritual might be the very goal of a role-playing campaign. A ritual might end a drought, destroy an ancient evil, or even grant immortality.
Rituals are special in that the participants may not even know they're performing one! Imagine a farming village full of bright faces and hard workers, who gather on the vernal equinox to pray for healthy crops. They make offerings of what remains of last year's harvest onto a pyre. They slaughter a bull and offer its blood to the heavens. Their voices unite in ceremonial litany. Little did they know that they just successfully performed a minor ritual to bless their land and nurture what grows there.
When a ritual is performed, an offering is the payment required to balance the ledger. One ritual can put you further in debt than another. Payment is due up front; the universe isn't in the habit of making personal loans.
In this game, offerings grant you Ritual Points. Every ritual requires you to amass a certain number of Ritual Points.
- Time is money, after all. The longer you spend performing a ritual, the quicker it comes to pass. You gain one Ritual Point per rank of the element needed every hour spent performing a ritual. For example, if you have five ranks in Fire, and you perform for ten hours straight, you gain fifty Ritual Points. Mages performing for longer than eight hours must make a Stamina check against a DL of 10 every hour. This DL increases by one for every additional hour. If failed, the mage moves one step down the Knockout Track, but can continue performing until they pass out.
- Two heads are better than one. Several mages acting in tandem can split the check so to speak. All mages contribute the points they each gain as a ritual is performed. Three archmages, each with ten ranks in Light, performing for three hours amass ninety Ritual Points.
- What makes a better offering than magic power itself? The debt can be paid with MP supplied by those performing the ritual, or with physical mana (in either gaseous, crystalline, or liquid form). You gain one Ritual Point for every MP offered.
- Some rituals can be paid with actual valuable materials: precious metals and gems, for example. These type of offerings are consumed as part of the ritual and vanish in spectacular fashion. You gain one Ritual Point for every 500𝕤 worth of wealth offered.
- Holidays fall on specific days for a reason: there's something special about that exact page on the calendar. The solstices, the equinoxes, the full moons, the new moons. You gain twenty Ritual Points when performing the ritual within a month named after the element, fifty if it takes place on a day of note. The summer solstice relates to Fire, the winter solstice relates to Ice. The vernal equinox relates to Verdance, the autumnal equinox relates to Ruin. The new moon relates to Dark, the full moon relates to Light.
- Any great business owner will tell you that location is everything. Some places are just better suited to rituals than others. The site of an ancient war, the place of birth of some notable wizard, or the intersection of two ley lines. You gain twenty Ritual Points for performing a ritual in a special location, fifty if it directly relates to the element needed.
- We've all heard of objects with great mystical power. The skull of an ancient priest, the wand of an archmage, or the throne of a tyrant. You gain twenty Ritual Points for involving a relic, fifty if it was previously involved in the same ritual.
- Blood. Livestock. People. All of these make acceptable sacrifices. Sacrificial offerings help offset the cost of certain rituals (and each one will note whether a sacrifice is acceptable or required). Some of a participating mage's blood grants ten ritual points. An animal grants twenty. A person grants fifty. A self-sacrifice grants one hundred.
The rituals below share some common parameters.
- Just like spells, every ritual belongs to an essence that describes its makeup, purpose, and means of operation.
- When a mage performs a ritual, it is evoked using a specific elemental school. Rituals available in multiple schools list the symbol of each. Rituals with no elemental symbols are available in all elemental schools. A ritual available in multiple elemental schools may behave differently depending on the element that powers it.
- The recipient of the ritual's effects. The target is either Not Applicable (the ritual just happens and there's no special target), Self (the ritual affects the caster), Creature(s) (the spell affects one or more creatures), Object (the spell affects an inanimate object — sometimes only certain kinds of objects, such as things that are metal, or the remains of a creature), Area (the spell affects an area and anything within it).
- Some rituals must have specific kinds of offerings to activate. For instance, a specific earth ritual might require that it be performed underground.
- Some rituals must not have specific kinds of offerings. For instance, a verdance ritual is diametrically opposed to a human sacrifice.
- Ritual Points
- The total amount of Ritual Points needed to activate the ritual.
List of Rituals
What follow are some potential rituals that can be used by heroes and villains alike. Since Rituals are grandiose, legendary occurrences, the ones detailed here are only examples, and the possibilities are endless.
|Target||Object (metal)||Ritual Points||50|
|Requirements||Mana, Wealth, Time|
With the aid of this ritual, a mage can permanently change one kind of metal into another. For example, lead to gold, copper to orichalcum, iron to aluminum. Those performing the ritual can alter up to a one foot cube worth of metal.
The universe requires balance in all things, and so the mage cannot permanently increase or decrease an object's mass — only tinker with the existing mass. For instance, steel is much heavier than aluminum, so if this ritual was used to turn a hunk of aluminum into steel, it would shrink. Also, since it probably will take a considerable amount of cash to enact this ritual, changing zinc into gold is not going to be an effective way to get rich quick or ruin the local economy.
An obedient, durable servant that excels in combat is a desirable thing indeed. Through the power of the Binding Ritual, the mage junctions an elemental to a lifeless object, and in doing so gives rise to a new fabricated creature. Each different kind of elemental produces a unique type of fabrication.
The fabricated creature which arises from this ritual are intelligent, can follow orders, and some are capable of speech. In all cases, they have a disposition of enamored toward their creators. Each one has a vastly different array of abilities (See Appendix II: Creatures for more information).
These automatons infused with the power of an elemental obey very specific laws of magic. Each one has at its disposal an assortment of spells, and it can only replenish its MP by way of its master refueling them, so to speak.
The ritual requires at least 20 Ritual Points worth of Wealth, and in addition, at least 15 MP worth of mana to provide the automaton. The junction is permanent until the creature is destroyed, at which time the elemental is released.
This ritual wipes clean the memories of another creature. The target becomes partially amnesiac, retaining basic, common knowledge, but nothing personal. The ones performing the ritual can author new memories to replace the stolen ones, if desired. Doing so is a fantastic way of hijacking someone's loyalty.
The Brainwash ritual is rather simple, and requires only a small blood offering of a participating mage, and that the target remain bound, blindfolded, gagged, and lying on a flat surface while the ritual is performed.
Circle of Defiance
|Requirements||Time, Wealth, Mana|
Harnessing the ancient power of protection and safety, this ritual provides an invisible barrier that can protect or entrap. Those performing the ritual construct an intricate circular diagram on the ground, using whatever means and materials necessary. Typically, the inscriptions and runes involved in this ritual are recorded using chalk, powdered gems, or even drawn in the dirt with a stick. Those performing the ritual can choose whether the circle allows movement in but not out (a capturing circle), or allows movement out but not in (a protective circle). Nothing harmful or living can penetrate the barrier (including fabricated creatures), however this ritual does not prevent Transportive magic or the Teleport Special Power.
The circle is permanent, however, once the inscriptions of the circle are disturbed, the power of the ritual disappears (a capturing circle can only be destroyed from the outside; a protective circle can only be destroyed from the inside).
In practical terms, the circle is actually a sphere, the outer perimeter of which is 10 feet from the center. Those performing the ritual can choose to enlarge the Circle of Defiance in increments of 10 feet. Each increment costs double the Ritual Points of the one before it. So for example, a 20 foot radius circle would cost 20 Ritual Points, but a 30 foot radius circle would cost 40.
|Target||Body of water||Ritual Points||25|
This ritual allows the placement of a curse on a small body of water, such as a pool, fountain, pond, or spring — anywhere someone is likely to seek a refreshing drink. Specifically, the curse is any spell which does not require an Attack Roll and has a target of creature (or creatures). The mage who casts the spell need not be one of those performing the ritual. However, the mage must choose the intensity of the spell, and must make a single Casting Roll. After the ritual is complete, any creature who drinks from the cursed water becomes the target of the spell placed there, and must save against the initial Casting Roll. The curse remains on the body of water indefinitely, or at least until the well dries up.
|Oppositions||Cannot be performed in a month named after the opposing element|
This ritual consecrates up to an entire acre of land (shaped like a circle, this would be about 235 feet in diameter). This effect bolsters one of the twelve types of elemental magic within. The behavior of the place varies between elements, but the end result is that the area just feels more suited for magic of that type. A place hallowed for fire feels warm. A place hallowed for water feels humid. A place hallowed for ruin smells of decay. The hallowed ground is permanent. Those performing the ritual must outline the entire perimeter of the chosen area with specific runes. This process takes about 2 hours.
In game terms, all spells of the hallowed element receive a +1 bonus to the Casting Roll within this area. All spells of the opposite element take a −1 penalty. An elemental of the hallowed type summoned into the area receives a +1 bonus to their Resilience checks against a Banish spell. An elemental opposite to the hallowed type takes a −1 penalty.
Consecrated ground can only be removed by desecration — by performing a hallow ritual for the opposing element.
|Requirements||Sacrifice (self), Wealth, Mana|
What better reward could there be for ascending the ladder of sorcery than immortality itself? Any humanoid or legendary creature with the Spellcasting special power can perform this ritual to surrender her mortal body and transform into a lich — an undead thaumaturge of unspeakable power. The archmage must petition one of the twelve elements of magic to sponsor her ascendancy into lichdom. In order to begin the ritual, she must have 10 skill ranks in the element in question. To complete the ritual, she must yield her own soul and imprison it inside a phylactery. At that moment, her body dies but her conscious mind remains bound to it. Once the ritual concludes, the creature's nature changes to undead (though it may be some time before the body fully decays).
Unlike other undead, a lich can generate its own MP. However, since it no longer requires sleep, a lich must touch its phylactery once per day to restore its MP. There are no harmful side-effects if the lich is physically separated from its phylactery for an extended period. If a lich takes damage in combat and its phylactery is intact, its body will regenerate within a week, even if its body is completely destroyed. However, if its phylactery is destroyed, the lich will collapse where it stands and crumble to dust as its imprisoned soul moves on. It's for this reason that a lich should carefully protect its phylactery. Anyone who gains possession of it could basically guarantee the lich's cooperation (if not obedience).
|Target||2 Creatures||Ritual Points||100|
|Requirements||Wealth, Sacrifice (blood)|
This ritual levies a curse on two creatures and hopelessly interweaves their fates. Whatever effects one is placed under, the other will be placed under as well. If one is the target of a spell, the other will become a target as well. If one suffers damage, so too does the other. If one dies, they're making the trip together. The ritual involves trapping a small bit of the targets' spirits in a pearl worth at least 2,000𝕤 (which provides at least 4 Ritual Points). Those performing the ritual will likely keep the pearl on them at all times from that point forward. If the pearl is destroyed, the curse ends.
It should also be noted that the spell has side effects as well. If one of the targets feels a particularly powerful emotion, the other will feel it as well, and the spell may lead to visions of the other target's thoughts, whereabouts, or actions. Both parties receive +10 to Clairvoyance for emotive transmission or precognition about the other.
|Requirements||Time, Mana, Wealth|
If you don't have a map, maybe a compass that points at your target will help. Those who perform this ritual enchant a compass to point not to magnetic north, but to an object or creature. If the ritual performers want the compass to point to a kind of object, such as the nearest water source or the nearest campfire, they must have such an object present at the time. If they want the compass to point to a specific object, they must have the object present at the time. If they need a compass that points to a kind of creature, such as the nearest cow, they need material shed from the creature (e.g. hair, scales, feathers). If the ritual performers desire a compass that points to a specific creature, they must have a tiny amount of the creature's blood.
When the target is within a mile of the compass, it begins to pulse at a steady interval, like quartz. As the target drawn nearer, the pulses increase in frequency.
If the compass is tuned to a specific object and it's destroyed, or a specific creature and it dies, the power of the ritual is broken and the compass spins wildly.
|Requirements||Cooperation, Sacrifice, Mana, Wealth|
|Oppositions||Cannot be performed in a month named after the opposing element|
This ritual unleashes the fury of nature. Raw, destructive forces of the natural world gather rapidly and activate violently in a manner in keeping with the element involved. Air releases a swirling tornado, earth incites an brutal earthquake or a landslide, electricity summons a fierce lightning storm, fire ignites explosively with wildfires or volcanic eruption, ice forms a devastating blizzard, water delivers unstoppable flooding. Regardless of the means of destruction, an area of 10 miles in diameter is left in shambles.
In all cases, buildings will be razed, burned, or torn apart. A great deal of life will be lost.
Those performing the ritual can choose the epicenter of the disaster, and must be located within 20 miles of the chosen place while doing so.
This is one of the oldest rituals known, created by the Immortals themselves. To learn of its secrets would be a challenging quest indeed.
Water mages are in high demand in times of drought since many of them possess the knowledge of how to call the rains to nourish withered crops and souls alike. The mages must dance in a ceremonial circle and chant while performing the ritual. At the end of the rain dance, the skies open up and an area ten miles in diameter receives cool, steady rain for a day.
This ritual can be used for good or ill, however, since an extended, wide-spread rain will cause flooding, mudslides and damage to structures. For every 50 Ritual Points past the required 100, the rain continues an additional day.
Spawning undead is considered a taboo practice nearly everywhere. Through the power of the Binding Ritual, the mage junctions an elemental to a humanoid body. Each different kind of elemental produces a unique type of undead.
The undead which arise from this ritual are intelligent and capable of speech. In most cases, the creature has a malign disposition to the ones that summoned it; it will generally leave them alone unless provoked. To anyone else, the creature has a hostile disposition, and will seek out the living to consume their life force. The only exceptions to this are Guardians and Deathless (See Appendix II: Creatures for more information).
Undead infused with the power of an elemental obey very specific laws of magic. Each one has at its disposal an assortment of spells, and it replenishes its MP by taking them from the living. These creatures are repelled only when presented with the symbol of an Immortal whose associated element is opposite their own. For instance, vampires are repelled by a symbol of Loelir the Lady of Light.
The junction is permanent until the creature is destroyed, at which time the elemental is released.
Speak to the Land
Using the ancient rites of communion with nature, those who perform this ritual can make a bargain with the land itself. If using the power of verdance, they plead for healthy, plentiful crops. Harvest will be bountiful and all plants grow with ease. If using the power of ruin, they plead for blighted, wilting vegetation. Famine will result and even houseplants fail to grow. The ritual can affect an area up to 5 miles in diameter for 6 months. The power of verdance calls for an offering of wealth (typically produce), and the sacrifice of an animal. The power of ruin calls for an offering of wealth (typically tarnished silver) and a sacrifice of human blood.
|Requirements||Event (new moon), Mana, Wealth|
This vile ritual can only be performed on the night of a new moon. It is used to rip one's very soul from the body and keep it captive. The target must be motionless, and the dark mages performing the ritual must lay hands on them. An extracted soul can only be imprisoned in a phylactery. Once the soul is extracted, the body crumbles into dust. If the phylactery is broken, the soul is freed and passes on.
A mage with ranks in either the Dark or Light elemental skill are able to touch a phylactery and determine if it's housing a soul and even communicate with it. The longer a soul is imprisoned, the more tenuous its grip on reality. Souls imprisoned for decades seem insane. Souls imprisoned for centuries are incomprehensible.
The soul itself has power, and mages who possess trapped souls could tap into very powerful magics indeed.