And for today it’s another question about Ritual Magic.
Hmm, I have been looking at Ritual magic. If I am reading it correctly, the suggested DC of 10+2x(level of character needed to perform effect normally) works out to a suggested DC of 9+2xSL to reproduce the effects of spells. Would this work of level 10+ spells? Say a ritual of DC 51 to create a demiplane as the 21st level spell? A defined ritual with 7 components would give +8 to +40 on the roll. A character focusing on spellcraft, with the aid of a group of adventures to assist with components could do that fairly easily. How would you recommend dealing with the side effects (such as what they are and how to manage them)?
On a related note, with Applied Spellcraft from the Practical enchanter, would combining a DC 55 runic formula + DC 30 amplification +4 into a DC 60 allow a caster to use a 6th lvl spell slot to cast a 10th level spell determined by the formula? RAW that would seem to be legal, as well as using magic to boost spellcraft to assist in said check.
These are some monstrously powerful options, but they seem to allow for many of the high magic effects in some stories where the caster doesn’t seem to be able to throw around high level spells alone.
Thinking more on this, it would seem likely that there would be a lot of powerful entities who would watch for rituals that would affect them and their interests and get various countermeasures prepared.
It is only a rough guide – and actually comes out to a DC [(4 x Spell Level) + 8] (we both forgot to correct for character level not spell level at first) for spells. Ritual enchantments designed to duplicate conventional magical items are also possible, as are attempts to duplicate weird class powers (especially in mixed system games). You might want to up the DC for the level 10+ spells simply because they aren’t “balanced” conventionally and because many of them are already ritual effects that call for long casting times, but it probably doesn’t matter much; if a character is determined to collect massive bonuses on a once-a-day-at-most skill check there are a lot of ways to do it.
Now ritual magic is discussed in more detail in several other articles on the site, in Legends of High Fantasy, and (in the form of Runic Inscriptions) in The Practical Enchanter – but like any other ability dependent on a single skill, it’s possible to abuse it horribly by simply boosting that skill. What keeps it under control in an actual game is simply that a specialized ritualist will have spent a lot of character points and wealth on those boosts – leaving them with a lot less to do on an adventure.
For those related articles we have:
- Game Mastering Ritual Magic. Hints on using rituals in the game.
- Eclipse Ritual Magic versus Legends Of High Fantasy Ritual Magic. Why two systems which take opposite approaches wind up so similar.
- Orin Markala and his Minor Rituals – and More Minor Rituals. For some sample low-end rituals.
- Atherian Ritual Magic. The magical rituals available through Knowledge Skills.
- d20 and Megalithic Magic. Another approach to building magical amplifiers.
- Castle Hieronymus. Building magical castles with Mystic Architecture.
- Continuum II Ceremonial Magic. A ritual magic system for producing minor effects.
- The Kabalistic Ritualist level one build. A basic ritualist build.
So it will generally be up to other characters to undertake those adventures and get those ingredients.
Then there’s the actual ritual! Surely THAT will be exciting! If the ritualist is attempting to call a mighty demon and bind it into the form of an enchanted castle full of wonders (if you haven’t read any of the Castle Perilous books they’re good fun) doubtless the unleashed infernal energies will cause strange storms, raise lesser demons and undead, warp nature in a radius of many miles, and attract powerful forces of good and evil in an attempt to stop, exploit, or at least supervise this mighty act of magic! Plus, of course, said mighty demon is certain to notice and dispatch minions to interfere. (Yes, that sort of thing covers powerful entities keeping an eye out for rituals that will affect their interests).
And while all of that happens, your ritualist will be… chanting, and gesturing, and manipulating odd components, and taking ritual baths, and doing all the other stuff that adds up to his skill check. Possibly for a week or more. While his or her more adventurous friends deal with all the complications and their players have all the fun.
That’s why rituals are generally self-limiting and why most player character ritualists will be dabblers. Actually performing rituals simply isn’t a lot of fun; it’s the component-gathering and defending / disrupting them that’s fun.
Which is really why ritual DC’s basically come down to “you can do this easily – and probably could do it readily in some other way too”, “you can do this with a lot of work after a great big scavenger hunt for components”, and “you cannot reasonably expect to do this. Try doing something else”.
Now for NPC’s… rituals are a wonderful plot device. Perhaps the court magician cannot handle stopping the dark spirits which are sweeping over the land, but he CAN send the player characters off to challenge their dread overlord to try and stop them. Is the Dark Lord gathering a set of terrible ingredients that your mentor says are the key to raising a near-limitless army of the dead? You’d better either stop him from getting his components or stop the ritual itself – and even if you do, the energies unleashed by even a disrupted necromantic ritual of such magnitude are likely to have nasty effects all over the place.
As for the Runic Inscriptions from Practical Enchanter, you’re quite right; that will allow a relatively low-level caster to access powers far beyond his or her direct control – in this case a tenth level effect – although setting up that inscription would require about two weeks of work. (Given how readily a circle done in chalk or some such could be marred, I’d recommend going with paint, even if this will leave you spending three weeks to a month on the setup). This is indeed a very powerful option – but if you’ve gone to the trouble to build your check up to +50 or so and have spent a month on your project, getting a fairly major effect out of it is not unreasonable.
And I hope that helps. If there’s anything else you want to know, do ask.