Ritual Magic

The kind of magic covered by powers includes fast, flashy magic that can be cast in the heat of combat. It doesn’t tend to last very long, but it doesn’t require reading from cumbersome spellbooks and it can be performed on the fly.. There is another type of magic, however - a more scholarly magic. Whether it’s a complex arcane ritual to open a gateway to hell, or a holy ceremony that can restore the dead to life, the most potent and powerful magic takes time and skill to pull off.

Unlike powers, rituals can’t just be learnt once and then held in the memory. They tend to be complex and weighty affairs, usually taking up many pages in some dusty grimoire or sacred tome. These ritual books are the result of extensive research and scholarly effort from a practitioner of the arcane arts, and only the simplest rituals are available on the open market. Most mages jealously guard their research, and religious institutions are scarcely less secretive with their holy texts.

Note that most of the rituals given below are, to some extent, generic examples. Often, the same ritual could easily be arcane, divine or alchemical in nature. When a ritual doesn’t explicitly state what kind of Arcane Background it is associated with, or what components and preconditions are required, these details are left up to the GM.

For inspiration on ritual components, see the tables on page 52 of the East Texas University setting book.

Casting Rituals

Rituals are rated by rank, just like powers - the rank of a ritual determines the minimum level required to cast it, as well as the difficulty:

   
Rank Difficulty
Novice 0
Seasoned -2
Veteran -4
Heroic -6
Legendary -8

Before you can cast a ritual, you must first meet its rank requirement. You must also study the ritual thoroughly; this usually takes 1 day per rank of the ritual, but can take longer in the case of exceedingly lengthy tomes of lore. Once you have finished studying it, you can cast the ritual as long as you have the ritual tome to hand; it is not possible to cast a ritual from memory, as they are too long and complex.

Rituals are cast with your normal spellcasting skill, or the Occult skill if it is higher. Some rituals can even be cast by non-spellcasters (or those of the wrong arcane background) using Occult. These tend to either be simple rituals such as Pentacle and Runelore, or those that rely on the invocation of greater spirits.

Casting a ritual is simple: the caster makes a single spellcasting roll at the end of the ritual’s casting time. This roll is modified by the ritual’s difficulty. On a success, the ritual works. On a failure, it fizzles and any material components are wasted. On a Critical Failure, something bad may happen if this is outlined in the ritual’s description. For the purposes of ritual casting, a result of 0 or lower is also considered to be a Critical Failure!

Power Sources

Higher-ranking rituals can have significant penalties, but the difficulty of ritual magic can be mitigated with careful preparation. Cooperative rolls are allowed. These will usually be made using the relevant spellcasting skill, but other skills may be an option depending on the ritual. Anyone who participates in the ritual suffers the same risks if a Critical Failure occurs, however.

If you wish to further mitigate the difficulty of a ritual, you must seek out sources of power to bolster the energies you seek to control. The means by which spellcasters do so are many, but some examples for each “discipline” are given below.

Novice Rituals

Seasoned Rituals

Veteran Rituals

Heroic Rituals

Legendary Rituals

Novice Rituals

Alarm

Casting Time: 5 minutes

This simple ward requires only two components: a tiny bell, and a thread of fine silver wire long enough to encircle the area to be warded. When successfully cast, the ritual will detect the presence of any creature larger than a normal rat. As soon as any creature enters the warded area, touches it, or otherwise contacts it without speaking a password established by the caster, the alarm spell lets out a loud ringing that can be heard clearly within 10” and lasts for a minute.

This ritual lasts a long time once placed, and usually only needs to be renewed every year or so. However, the magic is expended when the alarm is triggered and it must be recast afterwards.

Find Familiar

Casting Time: 1d8 hours

Find Familiar is one of the first rituals cast by many neophyte mages seeking a companion to guide them in their arcane journey. The ritual itself is extremely simple - one must simply attune the mind to the correct frequency, burn a certain rare incense worth 100 silver, and chant the incantation until a familiar appears. It is said that the ritual originates from the druids - created to guide and restrain magic-users in the hopes that their animal companions would lead them towards greater harmony with nature.

Failure of the ritual simply means that it fails and must be tried in another area at least a mile away. Success, on the other hand, calls upon a nearby animal within 1 mile to appear before the caster. Only natural beasts of animal intelligence are eligible.

The ritual confers the following benefits and drawbacks to both master and familiar:

While a familiar is undeniably useful as a spy and scout, the true role of a familiar is to act as the link between their master and the mysteries of the multiverse. Familiars have a natural affinity and understanding of such things, and can often act as guides and advisors to the spirit world, even through their limited empathic link.

In certain circumstances, a familiar can even go beyond the role of an advisor and sounding board on all things immaterial. In some cases, they can even call upon their bond to the master’s spirit to pull their dreaming soul from their body and into the Ethereal or Astral. Of course, they will not (and often cannot) do this on command. An extraplanar familiar will do this only when it serves their own ends. An animal familiar will not consciously know how to do it at all. They are driven by instinct, and only when the time is right and the need is great will they do what must be done.

Mending

Casting Time: 5 minutes

This ritual is one commonly used by travelling apprentice mages to earn their keep, for it repairs small breaks or tears in objects. It will weld a broken ring, chain link, medallion, or slender dagger, providing but one break exists. Ceramic or wooden objects with multiple breaks can be invisibly rejoined to be as strong as new. A hole in a leather sack or wineskin is completely healed over by a mending spell. This spell does not, by itself, repair magical items of any type. 10 minutes after the ritual is cast, the magic of the joining fades, and the effect cannot be magically dispelled.

A failure simply means that the ritual must be attempted again. A Critical Failure makes the damage worse - for example, a torn waterskin may be ripped in half, or a snapped dagger may crack into pieces beyond the ability of the mending ritual to repair.

Pentacle

Casting Time: 5 minutes

An exceedingly simple ritual, and the first learned by many aspiring witches and ritualists. The pentacle is a circular region that is rooted in the Material or Elemental Plane in which it is cast, and cannot be easily crossed by creatures that exist partly in other worlds. For obvious reasons, it cannot be used outside of the Inner Planes. A standard pentacle has a diameter of 5 feet; it can be drawn larger, but each additional 5’ of diameter increases the difficulty by 1 and adds another minute to the action time. The circle lasts for as long as the caster remains within and the lines are not physically broken.

Any creature which dwells partly in another world will be hindered by the invisible barrier of a pentacle; this includes any being made of spiritual energy (such as an elemental, fey or demon) as well as vampires, wights, and any other undead with a link to the Plane of Negative Energy. It also applies to creatures in the Border Ethereal, such as ghosts.

The effect of touching the barrier depends on what the pentacle is drawn with. If it is drawn with chalk, the area within the pentacle is only grounded to the Material; affected creatures must make a Spirit roll (opposed by the caster’s spellcasting roll) to cross. If it is drawn in silver dust, the pentacle is an area that exists entirely in the Material. It is impossible for affected creatures to enter at all. However, such circles cost 50 silver per foot of diameter.

A pentacle that Critically Fails will be very obviously and visibly wrong. It will glow bright red; rather than preventing extraplanar creatures from entering, it will trap the caster within until the circle is broken by some outside force.

Purify Food & Drink

Casting Time: 1 hour

This divine ritual (sometimes found in alchemical form) allows a priest or druid to cleanse and purify spoiled, rotten, poisonous, or otherwise contaminated food and water - making it fit for eating and drinking. In addition to rotten or contaminated food or drink, it can also be used to make seawater potable. Poisoned food and drink will be cleansed of impurities, but it should be noted that this ritual will ruin wine or other intoxicants by converting them into pure, clean water. Potions will suffer a similar fate, making this ritual unsuitable for “curse-finding”.

The only requirement for this ritual is a quantity of holy water that has been specially consecrated in a temple or shrine to the gods. This must be sprinkled over or into the goods to be purified; generally, a single phial of holy water is enough to purify enough food and water for 5 people.

Runelore

Casting Time: 15 minutes

Runelore is not a single ritual, but a whole arcane tradition bound up in the runes of Nordmaar. Separate from the mundane alphabet used by the Norse for writing, the magical runes of Nordmaar are self-contained, simple rituals that center around a complex sigil known as a runestave. Because of the compact form that they take, runestaves can be permanently memorised - unlike most rituals. Learning a new runestave generally takes a single day.

Although their effects vary, runestaves are all used in fundamentally the same way - each step takes about 5 minutes, and they can be done at different times without disrupting the ritual:

  1. The stave is shaped in the caster’s mind by deeply contemplating it.
  2. The stave is carved into the surface that will accommodate it. Typical carving surfaces include blades, stones, and drinking horns.
  3. The stave is activated by channelling magical energy and speaking the associated rune-poem.

There are a wide variety of runestaves known to the galdrar of Nordmaar, and new staves are being discovered all the time. Nonetheless, the most commonly known runestaves are:

Critically Failing to cast a runestave usually does not have any untoward effects, unless otherwise specified. However, runecasters never know whether their rituals have failed or not. The only way to tell whether a carved rune is effective is to use it - although spells such as Detect Arcana might be used to shortcut this.

Sanctify

Casting Time: 5 minutes

This ritual is exclusive to faithful adherents of a deity or religion, and allows them to bestow blessings in the name of the god or pantheon that they serve. It requires no components, but it must be cast in a sacred space - such as a temple, shrine or place of great religious significance.

Depending on exactly what is being blessed, the ritual has the following effects:

Blessing a person or object may have other effects, depending on the nature of the deity. For example, a consecrated corpse may be protected from necromantic reanimation. A person who receives a blessing from the god of travellers before a journey may receive a Benny that can be spent to survive the dangers of the road.

Although there are no negative effects caused by a Critical Failure, it is not usually clear whether a blessing was successful or not. Those blessed must simply take it on faith that the holy water will work or that the blessing of their god is upon them. This doesn’t mean that the spellcasting roll must be made by the GM or that Bennies cannot be spent on it - only that the caster does not know.

This ritual is ubiquitous and usually included as part of the standard religious texts or doctrines of an order. As such, it is exceptionally easy to obtain.

Unseen Servant

Casting Time: 15 minutes

This ritual allows the caster to conjure a helper and assistant - an invisible, mindless and shapeless force. The servant can be used to step and fetch, open unstuck doors, and hold chairs, as well as to clean and mend. It is not strong, but unfailingly obeys the command of the wizard. It can perform only one activity at a time and can move only lightweight items, with a Strength of d4. It can open only normal doors, drawers, lids, etc. The unseen servant cannot fight, nor can it be killed, as it is a force rather than a creature. It can, however, be dispelled.

The only material component of this ritual is a small nugget of gold worth about 50 silver pieces. The unseen servant usually lasts for 8 hours, and cannot go more than 30 feet away from its master. However, if the ritual is cast on a building, the servant will instead be bound to the building. When cast in this way, the ritual only needs to be renewed once a year. The servant never obeys commands from anyone other than its master.

If this ritual is Critically Failed, the servant will act as poltergeist - attempting to prank and otherwise irritate the caster and anyone else nearby. It remains weak and incapable of combat, and is unlikely to be more than a nuisance. It lasts until dispelled, or until 8 hours have passed.

Werelight

Casting Time: 30 minutes

This ritual is similar to the Light power, but produces permanent sources of light. It can be cast into the air or at an object, and will cause it to shed radiance. This enchantment slowly consumes the object in question, but hard materials like metal or stone can last hundreds of years before being destroyed by their werelight.

If this ritual is Critically Failed, the intended target catches fire; if it was cast on the air, the caster catches fire instead.

Wizard Lock

Casting Time: 1 minute

This ritual enchants a doorway, gate or valve to be magically sealed against all entry. It can also be used on containers, boxes and even books. The magical closure holds the portal or lid fast, just as if it were securely closed and locked. In order to break the spell, you must either dispel the enchantment or overcome the caster’s spellcasting roll with a Strength check. Destroying the object itself will also break the spell.

Seasoned Rituals

Astral Projection

Casting Time: 30 minutes

It is well known that every living thing is composed of two bodies: a crude physical body that dwells in the Material Plane, and a subtle spiritual body that inhabits the Ethereal. These two bodies normally stay together, but the Astral Projection ritual allows the caster to send his own soul out into the multiverse, along with up to 8 willing others.

Preparation for this ritual is simple; the participants must simply lay on the ground, with their hands linked in a circle. They must then enter a state of deep meditation and relaxation; this can be assisted with certain incenses and drugs if the participants are not skilled in the meditative arts. When a state of profound calm has been reached, the spellcaster begins to repeat an incantation over and over again until the projection occurs.

The astral travellers will initially appear in the Border Ethereal directly above their own bodies, and are connected to them at all times by a silver cord. They can take hold of this cord at any time and be instantly awakened in their bodies; if it is somehow severed, they will have to find their own way back. Astral travellers usually have the same appearance - including clothes and equipment - that they have in their waking life. This is merely a projection, however, based on how they see themselves.

As a general rule, it is not possible to bring equipment with you when projecting. Although travellers usually appear clothed or even armored, this armour is part of their astral body and provides no protection. Likewise, weapons simply deal the wielder’s Spirit score in damage, as they are just projections of their spirit. Enchanted items such as spellbooks or magic weapons are the exception. Because their enchantment extends into the Ethereal Plane, an astral traveller can take them and use them. The physical version will be devoid of magic while this is happening - a magic sword will be simple steel, and a spellbook will be useless. You can also use items of a spiritual nature - such as a sword looted from a demon - normally.

The astral traveller can travel in any direction they wish, with a Pace equal to their Spirit die. Although they can move freely within the Border Ethereal, finding their way to other planes will require them to perform some magic or to find some natural portal or “thinning of the veil”. They retain any skills they have in their waking life, but any checks that would normally require an Agility roll are made with Smarts, and any checks that would normally require a Strength or Vigor roll are made with Spirit. Toughness is likewise recalculated with Spirit instead of Vigor.

If this ritual is Critically Failed, only one participant (chosen randomly) is affected. A disembodied spirit takes advanage of their vulnerable spiritual state to possess them, and is now a permanent passenger in their body. Use the Dominion rules from Deadlands to handle this. The character now has a Dominion score, which ranges from -4 to +4 and starts at 0. When the spirit wants to take control, make an opposed Spirit roll. If you win, you gain 1 Dominion, or 2 on a raise. If they win, they take control for a while - and you lose 1 Dominion, or 2 on a raise.

Commune with Nature

Casting Time: 1 hour

This ritual is an important one for many druids, as it allows them to quickly gain information about an area. It doesn’t function in places where nature has been replaced by construction, such as dungeons or towns. In wilderness areas, however, it can be used to briefly become one with the land and gain information about your surroudings.

To prepare the ritual, the druid must first create a circle of stones from the surrounding land. Four bowls are placed around the perimeter of this circle: one is empty, one contains ashes, one contains water, and one contains soil. In the center of the circle, a bowl of incense must be placed and lit. Then, the druid can recite an invocation of the four elements while drawing on their connection to nature through the circle.

If the ritual is successful, the druid will meld with the lifeforce of their local environment, resulting in the following:

In addition to the specific information provided by the ritual, the druid gains an intuitive knowledge of the local environment. This gives them a +2 bonus to any subsequent checks that depend on this knowledge, such as Survival or Science(Herblore), for the next week.

If the ritual fails, the druid has been unable to reach out to the local nature spirits and cannot try again for at least a day. If the ritual Critically Fails, a nearby monster senses the ethereal disturbances created by the druid and comes to investigate.

Conjure Illusion

Casting Time: 1 hour

This ritual allows a magic-user to create permanent, programmed illusions. These illusions can take many forms: a stationary illusory wall, a dragon that menaces and threatens those who come close, or even a hallucinatory terrain that makes a treasure trove appear as an empty room. The illusions can behave according to simple rules, or they can be given complex commands or programmed triggers.

The casting of this ritual requires a special component: an elaborate, perfectly carved prism. Such things must be specially made by a skilled jeweller or artisan and can only usually be come by in the greatest of cities. Exactly how extravagant the prism must be depends on the nature of the illusion to be created:

Ultimately, the complexity of the illusion and the type of prism required is determined by the DM. Attempts to make an illusion overly complex for the prism you have will result in an incomplete illusion that does not function as intended. Illusions conjured with this ritual can be permanent until dispelled; if the caster wishes, they may trigger only once or be deactivated with a certain command word.

Mechanically, illusions conjured with this ritual function identically to the Illusion power. Those who contact an illusion or doubt it’s real make a Smarts roll as a free action (at −2 if the ritual was cast with a raise). If they succeed, they are no longer subject to it.

Curse

Casting Time: 1 hour

All know the folk tales about curses; they are the hedge witch’s ultimate weapon against those who anger or oppose them. By the power of this ritual, a caster can bestow curses upon others - at any distance. However, the caster must be personally familiar with their target; they must have actually met them face to face.

A curse allows the caster to bestow a Minor Hindrance upon the target. These will usually be drawn from the existing Hindrances in the Savage Worlds rulebook, though in some cases a GM may allow the warlock to craft a custom curse. For example, you might curse someone to be unable to keep a secret (Big Mouth), to lose the ability to read and write (Illiterate), or give them a brand-new fear (Phobia). You can bestow Major Hindrances on others by increasing the difficulty of the ritual by 2.

Once placed, curses usually last for 2 weeks. A person can only be affected by one curse at a time, and the caster can choose to lift the curse at any time. A successful Dispel against the caster’s arcane skill will also lift the curse. If the curser has something that belongs to the target, they can increase the duration to 1 month. If they have a part of the target - like hair or nails - they can increase it to 1 year. The “focus” must be burned up during the curse, and can’t be reused.

On a Critical Failure, the curse rebounds on the caster - and they receive the exact same Hindrance they were trying to give to someone else. It can’t be lifted by any means other than Dispel, and it lasts as long as their curse was going to.

Extension

Casting Time: 15 minutes

Powers tend to have a short duration and be most suited to combat - this is, after all, why we have rituals in the first place. Yet many mages wish to extend the spells they use on a regular basis - for example, to change their shape for hours at a time or make their allies invisible for longer periods. While some have devised trappings of existing spells to achieve this effect, the Extension ritual is another option.

The Extension ritual increases the base duration of any power to 1 hour; to qualify, the power must have a duration in the first place. The ritual has no effect on powers that already have a duration of 1 hour or more, such as Darksight. At the end of the ritual’s casting time, the caster spends power points and makes a spellcasting roll to activate the power. This is still a ritual casting roll, so it suffers penalties from difficulty and any result of 0 or lower is considered to be a Critical Failure.

Feign Death

Casting Time: 10 minutes

Through this ritual, a person can be placed into a cataleptic state that is impossible to distinguish from death. Although the person or creature affected can smell and hear what is going on, they cannot see or move, and have no feeling. While under the effects of the ritual, the affected creature does not suffer any Wound or Fatigue penalties when making skill rolls (such as Notice to hear something).

In addition to its usefulness in deception, this ritual is sometimes used to save those on the verge of death. Being under the effects of this ritual slows all dangers and hazards related to metabolism and the body. The interval between checks is doubled for the following Hazards: Cold, Disease, Heat, Hunger, Poison, Thirst.

The affected creature can be woken at any time by the caster; they may also make a Vigor roll once each day to waken themselves.

Failing this ritual will inflict a level of Fatigue on the recipient. Critical Failure will inflict a Wound, as the uncontrolled necromantic energies sap the target’s life force.

Leomund’s Secure Shelter

Casting Time: 1 hour

This ritual enables the caster to magically call into being a sturdy cottage or lodge, made of material that is common in the area where the spell is cast. The floor area of the lodging is of decent size and the surface is level, clean, and dry. In all respects the lodging resembles a normal cottage, with a sturdy door, two or more shuttered windows, and a small fireplace.

While the lodging is secure, it has no heating or cooling source. Therefore, it must be heated as a normal dwelling, and extreme heat adversely affects it and its occupants. The dwelling does, however, provide considerable security otherwise, as it is as strong as a normal stone building, regardless of its material composition. The dwelling resists flames and fire as if it were stone, and is impervious to normal missiles (but not Heavy Weapons).

The shelter is secured with locks on the door and shutters, and a grate over the chimney. It contains rude furnishings as desired by the spellcaster - up to 8 bunks, a table and benches, and a writing desk. Once conjured, the cottage will persist for 24 hours or until dismissed.

Malbeth’s Locator

Casting Time: 30 minutes

Although first ascribed to the renowned treasure-hunting magus, Malbeth, this ritual is now bread and butter for many mages. It is easy to cast, but the components can make it costly, especially if you fail.

In order to perform the ritual, a map is required. It can be at any scale and quality, though crude maps will obviously show crude detail. Likewise, a map of a country will allow you to cast your net further, but it won’t tell you which street in a city someone is staying on. The spell also requires the ashes of daisy plants - at least 2 drams, which is mixed with the blood of the person to be located. Blood can be replaced with the ashes of nails, hair or bone suspended in water, but this will impose a -1 penalty to the spellcasting roll. Replacing the blood with the ashes from some personal item owned by the target will impose a -2 penalty to the spellcasting roll. Finally, powdered chalk is required.

The blood and ash mixture is prepared beforehand, along with complex incantations. Then, the warlock must place the map flat on a surface. A circle of chalk is drawn around it, and the elements are invoked to draw the power of air and earth into the circle. Finally, an incantation in Druidic is spoken - which a druid could translate as relating to beseeching the elements to accept foreign spirits into their domain without taking offense.

Finally, the warlock pours the mixture in a heap on their own current location on the map - the ritual cannot be performed if their current location is outside the map’s boundaries. The blood and ash will hover slightly above the surface of the paper, and will not damage it while the ritual is being cast. Success means that the mixture will move slowly across the map from where it was in the first place, coming closer and closer to the place where the target is located. When the ritual ends (or if it fails), the liquid soaks into the map - usually ruining it, unless it is made of waterproof materials.

Remove Curse

Casting Time: 2 hours

A curse is simply an enchantment which can be placed on a person, place or object to permanently affect them in malicious ways. Curses cross a wide range of power levels and types, and can come in many different forms. Mechanically, though, curses are split into two groups:

Variants of this ritual usually don’t have costly material components, whether or not they are being cast by a mage or priest. Successfully casting it will remove mundane curses from an individual, freeing them from their effects. Note that this will not, for example, “un-curse” a weapon: it will simply free you from the weapon’s curse. If you touch the cursed weapon again, you may find yourself cursed all over again.

Special curses are much more resilient, and resist removal by trivial magics. Against such curses, this ritual will instead provide the caster with information about the curse, such as its nature and origin. If there is a defined way to end the curse, this will usually be learned as well - for example, “only when the crew of the ghost ship is put to rest will you be free”. Other relevant information or vague hints abouts the curse can be shared as well, as the DM’s discretion.

Often, breaking special curses will require additional research. Almost every curse can be broken, but figuring out how to do so can be the subject of an adventure of its own. The information provided by the ritual will provide somewhere to start - for example, you may learn you were cursed with a twig from the Elder Tree, that the waters of the River Styx were sprinkled over your doorstep, or that the lich Acerak cursed you. Actually reversing the curse might require researching a special ritual, performing quests to find certain items, or confronting the one who placed the curse in the first place.

Failing this ritual normally has no negative side effects, although the caster may not attempt to lift the same curse again until they have gained an Advance or significant time has passed. Critical Failure will worsen the effects of the curse. Its progression may be accelerated, its effects may increase in magnitude, and so on.

Scrying

Casting Time: 30 minutes

Scrying is a popular form of divination employed by mages and priests alike to view things from a distance. It can be used to remotely spy on any creature or location that the spellcaster is familiar with. It is usually performed with a focus - like a pebble from a certain beach, or a lock of hair from the person to be viewed. Scrying can be performed from memory or a description, but the spellcasting roll is made at a further -2 penalty.

In order to cast the ritual, a wizard needs only to have a suitable reflective surface. A mirror worth at least 500 silver is usually used, but a crystal ball or a font of enchanted or consecrated water will also suffice. They must place the focus, if any, in a bowl before the mirror, then begin the incantation.

If the ritual succeeds, the spellcaster will see the image of their desired target appear in the medium, and be able to see and hear all that goes on. They perceive the target as though it really is in front of them - so an elf looking through a scrying mirror would benefit from their low-light vision, for example.

Scrying is undetectable by mortal senses, though there are various items and spells that can identify it, including anything that can see invisible objects. Even a Detect Arcana (or similar) spell will be able to detect the presence of a scrying sensor. On a raise, it will even be possible to trace the sensor back to its source. Scrying is not without its risks, and most mages should think twice before scrying on those with magical abilities.

There are also various ways to protect against scrying. Something like Conceal Arcana will be enough to protect a target against scrying; how effective this is depends on exactly what the spellcaster is trying to scry on. If someone has Conceal Arcana cast on them, scrying won’t be able to see them. If the spellcaster were to scry on the location that person is currently in, however, they would still be able to see it - the concealed person would simply appear like a black silhouette, their words a muffled buzzing.

If the ritual fails, the spellcaster simply cannot see whatever it is they wish to see. They are free to try again. However, if they Critically Fail, the desired effect will be reversed. The target will be aware that they are being scried upon, and will briefly see the spellcaster’s own face before the magic is cut off.

There is a variant of this ritual called Teleprojection, which functions identically for the most part. It allows a spellcaster to project an illusory image of themselves into the place they are scrying, which can move and speak with their voice. This is often used for meetings between spellcasters.

Treesing

Casting Time: 6 hours

A strictly druidic form of magic, treesinging allows druids to shape and coax living plants without needing to fell or harm them. No materials or components are required to do it: just the ability to sing and a deep connection to the power of nature. If the ritual is cast successfully, one of the following effects may occur:

Treesinging ceremonies often go on for days or even weeks to produce the desired results. Bringing a single tree from seed to full maturity can take up to a week of constant singing, and elvish druids have been known to spend months creating groves and gardens to feed their people without harming nature. Doing so is exhausting, however, and usually requires a great many druids working in tandem.

If the treesinging ritual is failed, nothing is wasted other than the time it took. However, a Critical Failure gives a level of Fatigue to the druid, which can only be restored by a good night’s sleep.

Veil

Casting Time: 15 minutes

By means of this ritual, a caster can protect an area from magical divination. For example, a chamber that is being used as the headquarters of a thieves’ guild could, when scried upon, appear to be an empty and cobweb-filled room. The caster may choose the exact nature of the deception, though they cannot entirely obscure the original area. They could make a room in a house appear empty, or make it look like a library - they couldn’t make it look like a cave occupied by a firebreathing dragon. The illusion must also be stationary - they cannot have servants dusting the shelves, for example.

To cast the ritual, the spellcaster must burn a certain magical incense worth 100 silver in the area to be concealed. If the ritual is cast successfully, anyone attempting to view or listen in on the area (such as with the Scrying ritual) must beat the caster’s spellcasting roll. If they do not, they will hear and see only what the caster wants them to see.

This ritual lasts 24 hours, and must be renewed periodically to maintain the area’s protection.

Whispering Wind

Casting Time: 10 minutes

This ritual, which allows a magic-user to send messages over long distances, must be cast from somewhere high up where the winds can be caught. They must also have a sail, sheet or similar length of cloth in which to capture the wind. The ritual is cast by speaking certain incantations to the captured wind, enchanting it as they try to keep it from escaping. The spellcaster must then tell the wind their message and who it is intended for, then release it.

Distance is not a limiting factor, as long as the intended recipient is in a place that the wind can reach. They cannot be contacted, for example, if they are underground. The wind will take 1 minute for every 5 miles to be travelled, meaning that long-distance messages can take a long time to reach their recipient. When it arrives, the recipient will hear the spoken message as a gentle breeze in their ear.

Spells which protect against divination will prevent a Whispering Wind from finding its recipient.

Veteran Rituals

Conjure Object

Casting Time: 30 minutes

By the power of this ritual, the caster can pull wisps of material from the Demiplane of Shadow to create an item of nonliving, vegetable nature - soft goods, rope, wood, etc. Such items will last up to a month once conjured. The caster can also create mineral objects - stone, crystal, metal and so on. However, the stuff of shadow is too impermanent to last more than a day when forced into this form. Precious metals like gold only last a few hours.

Items created by the ritual can be fairly complex - particularly if the caster is a skilled craftsman - but making complex objects is not possible without a detailed understanding of how they work. In order to make a lock, for example, the caster would need to be a locksmith and make a relevant skill check. Note that items made by this ritual are quasi-real creations of shadow, and can’t be used as spell components - it’s not real gold, but “shadow-gold”.

This ritual is generally used to make tools and other small objects - generally not larger than a longsword or bow. Making larger things - such as a sturdy door or a suit of plate mail - is possible, but imposes a penalty of -2 to the spellcasting check. Very large creations, like a statue or a stone wall, impose a -4 penalty.

Though highly useful, this ritual is not without its risks. On a Critical Failure, the caster cannot control the stuff of shadow that they are attempting to weave. 1d6 shadows emerge from the ritual circle and immediately attack the caster.

Control Weather

Casting Time: 4 hours

Speaking to the wind or conjuring storms is one of the more desirable forms of magic - what sailor wouldn’t want trade winds at their beck and call, and what warlord wouldn’t want the power of a thunderstorm at their fingertips? Yet weather witchery is a difficult and taxing kind of magic to work, and not one that comes lightly.

This ritual can only be cast from a high place that nears the heavens, like a tall tower or a mountaintop. The dangers that this ritual poses depend on how much of a change you wish to work. Changing light rain to heavy rain is easy - but turning sunshine to a thunderstorm is much harder. Use the table below to figure out how many “stages” you’re trying to shift the weather:

     
Precipitation Temperature Wind
Clear Sweltering Calm
Light Clouds or Mist Hot Breeze
Cloudy, Foggy or Light Rain/Snow Temperate Moderate Wind
Heavy Rain/Snow or Hail Cold Strong Wind
Driving Rain/Snow/Sleet Freezing Gale

For example: say that it is a perfectly average day (cloudy, temperate, moderate wind). To turn this into a terrible storm (driving rain, cold, gale force winds), you would need to shift the weather by 5 stages in total. Simply making the day cold, on the other hand, would only be a change of one stage.

Each stage you wish to alter the weather by inflicts a level of Fatigue. Obviously, beyond 2 stages, this would kill any individual caster. Working large changes to the weather therefore requires a circle of cooperative casters who can distribute the strain of weather-working so that none of them grow too exhausted. The storm normally lasts 12 hours and affects the immediate area in a 10 mile radius, but the following modifiers can be applied for extra levels of Fatigue:

Of course, to maintain the ritual beyond the initial 12 hours, the casters must not break the circle - they must remain within and continue casting for as long as the storm is to be maintained. The Fatigue inflicted by the ritual is in addition to ordinary Fatigue from lack of sleep or food, so sustained casting usually requires that the casters are regularly swapped out as they become too tired to continue. Great weather-working is a task large enough to occupy an entire temple or guild of mages.

Critical Failure will unleash the fury of nature on the ritual casters in the most direct way possible. Instead of channeling their power into the skies, the skies will send power into the ritual casters - in the form of bolts of lightning that deal 4d6 damage. Each participant will be struck simultaneously.

Create Undead Horde

Casting Time: 2 hours

For small scale necromancy, the Zombie power is the quickest and easiest way to create undead minions. However, even a powerful necromancer will have difficulty maintaining more than a handful of undead minions at any given time; if an army of the dead is desired, ritual magic must be used. Skeletons and zombies created by this ritual are permanent, cannot be dispelled, and are permanently under the caster’s control.

There is a limit to how much negative energy a necromancer can channel at once. The number of corpses that can be raised in a single casting depends upon the necromancer’s rank - and increases the difficulty commensurately:

   
Rank Number of Corpses
Veteran 1-20
Heroic 21-40
Legendary 41-100

The ritual’s most important material component is blood, from humans or other sentient beings and spilled on the site of the ritual casting. It must be sprinkled over the area that the ritual is to affect; usually a single sacrifice will be enough, but very large areas may require more. A small amount of the ritualist’s own blood must be sprinkled over the area as well, to connect them to it. Once this has been done, the ritual itself must begin within 1 hour. Usually, the ritual is performed in the location where the dead are to be reanimated; however, this is not a requirement.

The ritualist forms a circle with any assistants around something with a link to a powerful source of negative energy. Usually this is an altar or idol to some dark god who is friendly to the casters. Other options include certain undead (such as a wight or vampire); a cursed artifact; a desecrated place of holiness; or a cursed location such as a haunted battlefield. So prepared, they can begin the long and drawn-out invocation which will reanimate the dead as minions in the service of the ritualist.

Regardless of whether the ritual is successful or not, completing it is immensely taxing for all involved due to the negative energy being channelled. All casters and assistants gain a level of Fatigue which is not restored until they have had a full night’s rest. Incapacitation as a result of this Fatigue results in immediate death. If the ritual is successful, the corpses targeted will immediately become skeletons or zombies under the control of the lead ritualist.

A failure means that none of the corpses were reanimated; furthermore, the entropic energy channelled into them causes them to crumble into dust or ash. Critical Failure means that the corpses are successfully reanimated, but are not under the control of the ritualist. Instead, they are driven unerringly towards the ritualist and will not rest until they are slain.

Dream

Casting Time: 1 hour

This ritual enables the caster to visit the dreams of other people, usually to gather information, manipulate the dreamer, or to deliver a message. At the beginning of the ritual, the caster must name the recipient or identify him by some title that leaves no doubt as to his identity.

As the caster completes the ritual, they fall into a deep trancelike sleep, and instantaneously projects their mind to the recipient. The visitor then enters the recipient’s dream, unless they are magically protected - taking whatever appearance they wish. If the visitor’s body is disturbed during this time, the spell is immediately cancelled and they come out of the trance.

Most dreams are fairly safe for a visitor, in projection form, to enter. The dreamer is generally not aware of the visitor unless they make themselves known, and most elements of the dream will proceed as if they weren’t there. Even if the visitor appears before the dreamer, they will be speaking to the “dream self”, which is generally unaware that they are in a dream and willing to accept strange situations as ordinary. Any message delivered to the dream self will be remembered perfectly when the dreamer awakens.

In an ordinary dream such as this, the visitor can attempt to take control of the dream by sheer force of will. By making an opposed Spirit roll against the dreamer, they can reshape the dream to their liking - they can also make the dreamer awaken at any time. If they are defeated with a raise, the dreamer awakens. If they are defeated with two raises, or if they Critically Fail, the dreamer becomes lucid.

If the dreamer is having a nightmare, or if they are dreaming lucidly and have full control over the dream, the visitor might be in more danger. While the visitor cannot be slain in projection form, any Wounds inflicted will manifest as levels of Fatigue. Furthermore, they will not be able to escape from a lucid dreamer who is aware of their presence, unless they are released by the dreamer or forcibly woken from their trance. If the visitor is Incapacitated by Fatigue, they will fall into a coma; each day, they can make a Spirit roll at -2 to return to their senses, Exhausted.

If casting of this ritual fails, the caster falls into an ordinary and dreamless sleep. On a Critical Failure, they are plunged into a nightmare from which they cannot be wakened for 8 hours. When they awaken, they will be Exhausted.

Guards & Wards

Casting Time: 30 minutes

Through the judicious application of magic and a few rare components, a skilled mage can lay a permanent protective enchantment across a structure. Any type of structure can be protected, but it must belong to the caster in a metaphysical sense. In some cases, this may be as simple as owning the deed, but a lich’s catacomb lair would also apply, as would the intricate tunnel systems of a mad mage buried deep in the mountains.

Casting this ritual creates the following effects in the target structure, which the caster may place as they choose:

The caster and anyone who knows the secret watch-word can bypass any of these protections simply by speaking it. Illusions stop affecting them, mist vanishes, doors open and so on. Those who do not have the word must contend with the protections, even if they’re following someone who does know it. Powers such as Dispel can end individual effects, but not the whole ritual.

On a Critical Failure, the watch-word does not function, and the caster is subject to their own spells.

Invocation

Casting Time: 30 minutes

The ritual of Invocation is the standard for all demonologists and summoners of hostile spirits. To prepare for an Invocation, a magical circle must first be drawn. A hand-drawn circle for this purpose can be constructed in 10 minutes. Extending the time taken to draw the circle to a full hour will give a +1 bonus to the spellcasting roll. Circles can be permanently engraved to prevent accidental disruption - this takes about a week for a skilled mason. If the mason fails their skill check, the circle may be flawed.

In order to conjure with a circle of Invocation, the name of a spirit must be known. It need not be their “true name”, only a name that it knows and that is tied to it. For this reason, many demonologists hoard grimoires containing the names of powerful entities, and guard them jealously. A being who has been summoned and compelled by another cannot be used by you, so only the most minor beings are recorded in easily found books.

When the circle is drawn and the name known, the would-be summoner can attempt to perform the ritual. Most extraplanar beings, if the ritual is successfully performed, have no choice but to appear before the summoner. Beings of significant power can choose whether to respond to the summons, and may leave at any time. If they do choose to appear, however, they are bound by the constraints of the circle and cannot attack the summoner. Lesser beings, once summoned, are imprisoned within the circle and cannot leave until released or until the circle is disrupted.

Once a being has been summoned, it is up to the caster to extract an agreement from the circle’s inhabitant. Any direct attack will break the circle and risk the caster’s life, so they must negotiate with their prisoner. While the caster has most of the leverage - they are the captor, after all - they must weigh this against the risks of keeping a spirit imprisoned for long periods of time. It only takes a single mistake to release an angry and vengeful being into the world. If the caster is able to extract an agreement, however, the power of the Invocation ritual will bind the summoned creature to the terms of that agreement.

Failure of this ritual means that the creature in question cannot be summoned until 3 days have passed. Critical Failure has dire consequences; the summoning is successful, but the circle will not protect the caster from the wrath of the one they intended to enslave.

Teleport

Casting Time: 20 minutes

One of the most convenient and useful rituals at a wizard or priest’s disposal, Teleport allows you to instantly transport multiple people - including yourself, if you desire - anywhere in the world. The ritual circle required to cast this ritual is made of costly semi-precious minerals that cost 500 silver to draw a circle capable of transporting 4 people. The size of the circle can be increased to a maximum of 8 people, but it costs another 100 silver pieces worth of amethyst dust for each person added to the ritual.

Teleportation circles can also be permanently inlaid for a cost of 3,000 silver pieces. If this is done, the circle is permanent and can be used repeatedly - although failed attempts will “overcharge” the circle, making it unusable for an hour. Note that the destination is part of the circle - so a permanent circle can only be used to send people to one location.

If the caster is not familiar with their destination, a -2 penalty is imposed on the spellcasting roll. This requires them to be familiar with exactly where in the world it is and to have at the very least a map or picture of the destination. If they have been there before and have a clear memory, this also qualifies.

If this ritual Critically Fails, the teleportation is thrown off course. If they were trying to travel up to 100 miles, roll 1d10. If they were trying to travel further than this, roll 1d100. Multiply the result by 10 to get the number of miles they’re thrown off course by. The DM should randomly determine the direction in which they are shunted.

Heroic Rituals

Parthogenesis

Casting Time: 4 hours

This exceptionally costly and difficult ritual, or others like it, are the origin of many of the strange monstrosities that inhabit the world: chimerae, manticores, owlbears and so on. It allows for life to be created: not from nothing, for this is impossible, but by combining creatures to create something wholly new and possibly even fertile.

The first thing that is required for parthogenesis is a vessel: it must be easily large enough to contain the specimen and enough liquid to completely cover it. The vessel must be of good quality and made either of glass, crystal or metal. This vessel must be filled with a special solution, the specific proportions of which vary in accordance with the creature being created. Many of the ingredients are mundane (though costly) alchemical reagants that can be found in any large city. However, some other magical liquid is also required as a substrate, such as dragon’s blood. The preparation of this solution takes 1 day and costs 1000 silver for a Size -1 creature; each size category above this adds 1000 silver to the cost, and an additional day.

The next thing needed, obviously, are samples of the creatures to be combined. A manticore, for example, is made from a human, a bat, a lion, and a large quantity of iron for the tail. All samples must be of the highest quality: the iron must be free from any impurities, and the living ingredients must be exceptional specimens who are in the fullness of health. Using less than perfect specimens will impose a -2 penalty to the spellcasting roll.

When the vessel is ready, each of the specimens is prepared by placing them into a deep sleep. Then, one by one, they are sumberged within the vessel. The final stage is to perform the actual ritual, speaking a complex incantation over the vessel to begin the process of deconstruction and reconstruction that will create a chimeric being. This takes several hours.

If the process was performed correctly, the process of deconstruction and reconstruction will begin. The specimens will slowly dissolve away into the substrate, and eventually will reform as a foetus of the new chimeric being. Like a clone, the chimera takes time to grow. Small or medium sized creatures take 2d4 months to grow, while large sized creatures (Size +1) take 1 full year. It is possible to make fertile specimens with this ritual, but this can only happen if every single step of the process is performed with the utmost precision. Only if the ritual is succeeded with a raise is a fertile specimen produced.

If the ritual fails, the results will be immediately apparent. The balance of deconstruction and reconstruction will be thrown out of balance, and the solution will become a deadly acid. It will dissolve the specimens and eat through the vessel, destroying anything it touches and evaporating into nothing with a minute.

Critical Failure is even worse; the specimens will rapidly metamorphose, their development greatly accelerated. Within 1d4 rounds, the horribly mutated and insane result will burst free from its vessel: an abomination of eyes and teeth. This newborn abomination will immediately seek to destroy any living creature it encounters, giving preference to its creator.

Plane Shift

Casting Time: 1 hour

Though it is quick to cast, Plane Shift is one of the more powerful and complicated rituals that exists. It does not simply separate the dreaming soul from the waking body, as rituals like Astral Projection do. Instead, Plane Shift is able to pierce the veil between the physical and metaphysical worlds and transport up to 9 willing creatures to another plane of existence. The spellcaster can be one of those creatures, but they do not have to be.

In order to cast Plane Shift, a circle of power must first be inscribed on the ground using ground amethyst dust worth 500 silver pieces per person to be transported. In the center of the circle, a specially made tuning fork is placed whose frequency corresponds to the exact plane that you wish to travel to. The fork is not consumed in the casting, and finding the exact frequency required usually requires a Research roll with a suitable arcane library. The participants stand in the circle and join hands, and the ritual caster begins casting the spell.

If the ritual is successful, all participants - except the caster, if they do not wish it - are transported to the desired plane. Note that Plane Shift is not a spell of teleportation: you have very little control over exactly where in a plane you end up on. Usually, plane shifting visitors will arrive on the “shores” of a plane, or wherever the ruler of the plane wishes them to appear. Planes can be closed off as well: if the patron deity of a realm does not wish you to enter, then Plane Shift will be of little use.

When something is plane shifted, it is completely transported to another plane. If you send someone from the Material to Mount Olympus, for example, you would send not only their soul but their body as well - including any equipment they carry, magical or otherwise. The same applies in reverse: an angel could physically enter the Material Plane via a Plane Shift, even though it is a metaphysical being that cannot normally exist in the Material without a physical vessel.

If this ritual is Critically Failed, the tuning fork is destroyed and the ritual works in reverse. Instead of sending the participants across the planes, it opens a rift in reality through which an opportunistic planar monster from anywhere in the multiverse may step. This is usually a demon or some other being of malicious intent.

Legendary Rituals

The Path of Lichdom

Casting Time: Special

This is not a single ritual, but a pair of related rituals. When correctly used, and used together, they can allow one to attain immortality and become that most dreaded of undead: the lich.

These rituals are never found together, and few necromancers are lucky enough to stumble across a copy by chance - they are (or were) the most prized possessions and important works of the liches and failed liches of history. Most would-be liches must figure it out themselves, and as a result there are many different variations of the ritual. The actual research often involves striking bargains with fiends, evil gods and other foul entities.

The Preparation of the Vessel concerns the creation of a suitable phylactery to safely hold the necromancer’s soul in perpetuity. It is keyed to the very essence of their soul, and a completed phylactery can be used by no other. The phylactery itself must be of the finest quality, for even the slightest imperfection - physical or metaphysical - will ruin the ritual. Perfect multifaceted gems, masterwork weapons and magnum opus works of arcane lore are common choices. Amongst other symbols and inscriptions, the vessel must contain the lich’s true name.

The Opening of the Threshold concerns the brewing of a powerful poison. This poison will grant instant death to the one who drinks it, but there are many poisons that do this. The poison brewed by the would-be lich is special because, in killing the imbiber’s body, it prevents their soul from passing on and places it into a state suitable for binding with the phylactery. Though the “classic” version of this ritual is a potion, other variants may differ - for example, perhaps it is an enchanted ritual dagger used for the slaying.

Only the broad details of the ritual are given above - the specifics vary - but the consequences of failure are always the same. Failing either aspect of the ritual results in the necromancer’s death. If the phylactery is not made correctly, it will not accept the soul. If the potion is not made correctly, it will simply kill the necromancer. There is no additional consequence for Critical Failure.

Mechanically speaking, becoming a lich confers three qualities:

Wish

Casting Time: 1 hour

The conception of a conjured genie altering reality in line with the summoner’s will is myth; the genies are powerful servants and frequently summoned for this reason, but their power is mundane. A sorceror summons a djinni or efreeti because they are immensely strong, can fly, can turn invisible, are invulnerable to nonmagical harm, and so on.

Nonetheless, there are various means by which reality itself can be altered. Deities, demigods and certain powerful artifacts have this power, but the most accessible way for a mortal to gain access to it is through the use of the Wish ritual. This should not be taken lightly, however - it is a subtle and deep magic, and the Wish is a ritual of incredible difficulty and potentially disastrous consequences.

The first component of a Wish ritual is something of great value to the recipient of the wish. It need not be a physical object, but must belong to the recipient and be amongst their most prized of possessions. What this means might differ for different people - a trusty magic sword, the memory of your family, or even the sacrifice of a close friend in the case of very evil magic-users. In order to gain what you desire, you must sacrifice something of importance that you already have.

The second component is the location. A convergence of ley-lines is helpful when casting some rituals; for a Wish, however, it is absolutely necessary. The ritual has an enormous requirement of power, far more than a mage can provide even through ritual magic. Ley-line intersections are the easiest way to tap into the power needed, but there may be other options - such as the lifeforce of a powerful magic being, or the sacrifice of a powerful magic item.

When all is ready, the casting of the actual Wish can begin. The ritual is extremely long and taxing for all involved; over its long casting time, enormous amounts of power are drawn forth and stored in a circle of shimmering runes. By the time it’s finished, the runes blaze with searing light and will incinerate anyone who approaches other than the intended recipient. At this point, the final roll is made to see whether the ritual fails.

If the ritual succeeds, the recipient may enter the circle, bearing their sacrifice - whether it is a physical object or something they carry with them on a metaphysical level. They may then speak their wish; if it is within the power of the ritual, the sacrifice will be taken and it will be fulfilled. Wishes are bound by the following unbreakable laws:

If the ritual fails or the wish is impossible, the energy dissipates and the sacrifice is not taken. If the ritual Critically Fails, the circle of runes is imperfect, and the energy dissipates unevenly. The sacrifice is taken, and the caster is struck with a wave of magical backlash that deals them 2d10 damage; if they survive, the backlash will also “burn them out”, rendering them incapable of using magic for 1 week.

Casting this ritual is one of the most taxing things a spellcaster can do. A successful wish ages the caster by 5 years. Casting the ritual also gives the caster Exhaustion, regardless of whether the wish succeeded. This turns into Fatigue after two days of rest, and is fully cured after another two days.