Thursday, July 15, 2010

House Rule - Ritual Spell Casting


House Rule - Ritual Spell Casting

Preparation - When a Magic User or Cleric prepares their spells for the day, they may opt to leave one or more spell slots "empty". The magic user or cleric may then employ Ritual Spell Casting later that day.

Ritual Spell Casting (Magic User) - The Magic User may cast any spell in his spellbook, provided he has his spellbook with him, possesses the necessary components, and has an "empty" spell slot of the appropriate level. Ritual Spell Casting takes a minimum of one turn per level of the spell being cast, and may not be performed under duress or during combat.

Ritual Spell Casting (Cleric) - The Cleric may cast any spell allowed by his deity, provided he has his holy symbol with him, possesses any necessary components, and has an "empty" spell slot of the appropriate level. The necessary prayers to perform the Ritual must be performed in a consecrated area (such as a temple of that deity), otherwise the area must be consecrated, which requires a vial of holy (or unholy) water, incense, and takes a minimum of one turn per level of the spell being cast.

Why use this houserule? I think it gives spell-casters a little more flexibility - Vancian casting is all about preparedness and making good choices, and Ritual spell casting allows them to take this a step further and decide between filling their slots with spells that can be cast at a moment's notice in the heat of combat or some other challenging situation, or leaving a "reserve" of energy for those times when facing the unexpected becomes necessary - one never knows when one of the more obscure non-combative spells like speak with dead or know alignment may prove helpful. There's also the risk to consider of lugging your precious spellbooks into the hazardous environments adventurers frequent - those books are damned expensive to replace!

I like the Sword & Sorcery flavor of this houserule, too. Priests of dark gods muttering foul incantations over corpses chained to altars, old wizards absentmindedly rattling off spell after spell from their tomes as they pursue some inscrutable arcane goal in their laboratories, etc. As a referee, I think it also lets the players more fully explore the complex realm I've taken the time to create for them, as there may not be a steady supply of divination or exploratory scrolls available in a low-magic setting.

22 comments:

  1. Interesting. This kinda fits what I had been thinking about doing for awhile now, but this post prompted me to make the proposal to my AD&D group. We'll see what they say.

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  2. I really like this!

    I'd take it a step further too, allowing a magician or cleric to cast a spell from levels above what they normally could, taking extra time per level above their ability. That would nicely simulate situations where the hero or villain has found the ancient arch-mage's spellbook to combat, or aid, the ancient evil.

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  3. Not bad, good work! Might have to steal this idea ;-)

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  4. Good rule, and I like Tom's addendum. One question though: where did you get that picture of my graduate adviser? :)

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  5. Nice idea. Solves the problem that some spells never get chosen/cast because they are too hard to predict the need and nobody wants to give up valuable spell slots.

    We go one step further and just do spell slots period. Of course there are more detailed rules to control it somewhat, but it does give greater flexibility, spells that never get cast finally get cast, and it speeds up preparation time and players don't agonize over what spells to pick.

    I still think there is a place for ritual spells. Lots of divination spells, ressurect spells, and anything that takes more than a round probably should have been a ritual anyway.

    @Tom - but you need to have some significant chance of failure if you can cast spells above your level - sort of like with scrolls that could fail.

    Powerful rituals, whether dark or not, should have a chance of failure with unpleasant side effects, don't you think?

    http://gnotions.blogspot.com/

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  6. That's a neat idea. I bet it will work out for your group. I know I'd take advantage of it!

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  7. @Tom, I've been pondering the higher-level possibility too. I might wait and see if something becomes emergent through play.

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  8. Interesting concept, though I'd submit that it could entirely replace Vancian magic (but that's my bias showing). Also, in campaigns where clerics don't memorise spells, not sure there would be much benefit to this approach. Regardless, though, it does solve the I-wasted-a-slot-on-Floating-Disk problem...

    Also, that dude must have a hell of a time fastening his belt.

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  9. Considering it borrowed. Now if I can just find some good rules for casting beyond your level.

    -Eli

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  10. I like this. I'll be toying with something like this for my houserules doc. I really like the idea of the powerful stuff (like resurrection or some of the powerful divination spells and the like) being "rituals" - maybe even with more people adding their "power" to the spell. I'm considering limiting mages and clerics to 6th level spells, but having higher level spells available when they "combine" their power...or something.

    Anyway, great food for thought...

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  11. That's an elegant solution to the problem. I will almost certainly adopt it as a DM and encourage the DM of my current game to as well, and not just because I play a m-u.

    BTW is that a TSR rendering of Thoth-Amon? Their Thoth-Amon figure looks almost exactly like that (but not as well animated).

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  12. Yep, I believe that's Parkinson (CB2 - "Conan against Darkness!")

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  13. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  14. I was going to do something similar (well, exactly like) this myself. In the end, though, we just did away with all pre-memorization and allow any known spells to be cast as needed.

    This is a great middle ground.

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  15. Just have to say that I have done this for D&D 3e and it works great. I agree with many of the posters that it could be used to do away with Vancian magic entirely.

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