As discussed in this thread, Ritual magic is something of a challenge to the setting of Ars Magica. I'm not interested in getting into debates about spell mastery and botch dice here, neither side has enough evidence to change the other side's mind as we both stick to specific language in the core text and discount the language the other side holds as authoritative.
No, what I'm interested in is trying to make Ritual magic more Ars like. Because whether it is used in a story, or it is used on an ongoing basis, rituals are almost handwaved for success, certainly the time element involved is handwaved, but it's important to note that if done in the field, it's hard to say that a ritual is cast in a relaxed manner, and therefore the caster is suddenly confronted with a lot more botch dice than he ever had to contend with before. I find that troubling, because as a story guide I might very well want to ritual to succeed, so that the character could continue on, and so in those situations I might be more lenient with botch dice, but in a story that I don't care about the character's participation, I might (consciously or not) add more botch dice. I'm dissatisfied with that approach, and as evidenced by active discussion in the forums, it's easy to find points to disagree upon, and at the table it is simply enough to destroy the episode, if not the saga generally.
So my desire here is to come up with some better alternatives that treat rituals differently, give them a bit of gravitas that they don't have, without relying upon a die mechanic that has risks of botch that can mitigated by virtues and a lot of effort, and instead treats it more like other magus activities (seasonal activities). Granted, certain rituals don't fit in this framework, namely the healing rituals, and I'll admit that I don't have a good handle on how to rework them for this context. Rituals like the healing rituals would be considered Lesser Rituals, and I'll present a mechanic that handles them a bit later. My next post will discuss Greater Rituals, rituals that take a season to enact this involves anything with a duration that is presently a year, and the stat boosting rituals, because they are powerful. Nothing presented will have been play-tested, and I invite people to rip it to shreds and build it back up to make it better.