Rethinking Ritual Magic

I apologize for going overboard with my rhetoric. And I am not as passionate as I seem. I was just having fun. Like a shark I smelled blood, and went in for the kills.

If this was all just about an HR idea, then I was out of line. I was under the mistaken impression that this idea was being proposed for the RAW of a potential new edition.

Well, no, I am proposing it for a new edition, should it ever come up. The premise being that Ritual Magic is poorly integrated within the setting. As it is now, rituals are no risk and largely of bookkeeping or incredibly risky if the SG says it is so, or rituals are just always risky, depending upon your reading of RAW. If a rule is never used, or just ignored, the rule is unnecessary. If it's applied capriciously or haphazardly (botch dice on some rituals, but not others) then it has all the hallmarks of an unfair rule, because sometimes a ritual isn't a risk, and other times a ritual is a total risk. I'd like a system that handles the riskiness of rituals a bit more consistently than SG/troupe fiat.

As an SG, like you, I'm not a fan of telling players no. Saying that OK, it's a risky ritual and so you have 15 botch dice (exaggeration) is nearly the same as saying no, especially if the PC does botch. The idea being, well, you knew the risks is cold comfort to me as a player or the SG. Time for rituals, is rarely a factor under the current system. And whether or not you see it, there is little difference between spending time learning an Aegis under the RAW now, and working an Aegis as I propose, with the notable exception of the field Aegis. The other example you provide of a ring of towers, could be down by a formulaic spell, if they didn't need to be as elaborate, and would last long enough for a field operation. If a person is working the ritual for their covenant I could be convinced to allow some flexibility to allow multiple castings in the area, though they would all look identical, and they only work in the area identified by spell text...

I don't have a good answer for the field Aegis, but then I have this idea that magi should be safest at home, and when they go out into the world they have to deal with stuff in a less than optimal environment. I mean, if someone wants to spend a season and can zip back and forth between the point in the field where they want to cast the Aegis and their lab, I'd be fine with that. It's also representative of the objective that ritual spells extend the power of magi in powerful ways that formulaic and spontaneous spells can't master.

Just because the current RAW allows something, or you did something in the past doesn't mean it is a valid reason for the status quo.


If this is in response to me, no apology needed. I was speaking about the conversation, not about one or the other of you. (And, fwiw, I am totally on your side regarding this rule.) I've been reading both of you for years, find that you both hold strong opinions (not at all rare on a gaming board!) and until this conversation never let the river flood over. No harm done.

It's not as though you called anyone a Diedne! :slight_smile:

By the way, I'm still waiting for your Creo Pot Roast ritual! :slight_smile:/97389791234789



The apology was ment for Jonathan. In my enthusiasm I got a bit to viscious with my rhetoric. I know I am totally right about this. But I could have been more diplomatic.
Thing is, as was stated, this is more than an HR idea. It is an agenda to change RAW if and when a new edition is ever written. And I feel compelled to oppose that.
If it ain't broke (and it ain't), don't fix it.
But seeing the writing on the wall, I have no worries that this idea will gain any traction amongst the powers that be.
I am very sorry that I am unable to find a more diplomatic way to word this. It is just not a good idea. However, I will agree to disagree and leave it alone (for now).

Yeah, my brilliance is unappreciated by most, and attacked by Marko. Given Marks past exploits, I find it comforting, to be honest.

Current Ritual Magic might not be broken, I mean it works great when the risks are handwaved away.

As for food, I do have a pot roast recipe. Not a fan of the stuff, but I found a way to make it work for me. Use a stainless steel Dutch oven. Sweat some red onions and garlic in butter first. Then add the meat. Season with Lawry's and black pepper, some oregano and a few bay leaves, and whatever else tantalizes your taste buds. Don't use ketchup. Use BBQ sauce. Lots of it. Sweet Baby Rays or Branding Iron. Never ever use Open Pit for anything ever. Potatoes, carrots, celery, and whatev.
That is off the top of my head from memory.
As for McD's, save that as a last resort if you are starving and only have a dollar to spend. And just get fries. Everything else they serve is terrible. I have never heard of a McD's with whole chicken pieces though. That must be unique to someother part of the US. Not here though. And I have never heard of Costco, so I cannot offer an opinion there.

Ok, I have not read all of the thread, just the first and last 2 pages, but I agree with JL's assesment of the ritual problem.

I also happen to be a proponent of "rituals have botch dices, even if mastered", not only for the same reasons as JL, but also because it makes Mercurian Magic all the more precious, which is good, IMO. It also means that we can introduce additional "Ritual" masteries that reduce botch dices for rituals, which is also a good thing IMO, if only because most masteries are only useful with formulaic spells.

But why make this a yes/no question?

As I see it, we can have Rituals work as they are, including extra botch dices for vis, which make them dangerous to cast unless you happen to be a ritual specialist... With the possibility to "attune" a ritual to a place over a season, using lab total instead of casting total.
This means that:

  • Field rituals are still possible, but shouldn't be handwaved. Let the mercurian shine, or the gal that took time to master her ritual! And let the others take a risk, and go out in a blaze!
  • Safe casting of rituals is still possible, but you need to have spend a season learning how to perfectly attune Ritual A to Place B
  • Rituals attuned to a place are more powerful than the others, meaning that your "home" aegis will be more powerful than a "field" aegis. Meaning also that the player who took the time to attune one of his rituals to a place benefits from it with both increased safety and increased power.

All true but it still tends to interfere with the story telling which is generally the reason for the handwaving of "common" rituals now. How often do you play in a game with someone that specializes in ritual magic or even just AotH? I have been playing ArM off and on since the 90's and I can count on one hand the number of games that players used Wizard's Communion to help cast AotH. So for each game you generally have either one person taking all the risks or, more commonly, the SG must provide an NPC who can cast and take the risk.

JL's proposal just takes this into account for what a vast majority of gaming groups do now.

The Fixer's idea has some merit. Quite a bit, actually. My primary concern here has been the handwavium. So, taking The Fixer's ideas and blending it with what we have already, Greater Rituals are rituals that can be done (but do not need to be done) in the lab over a season and tied to a specific area (without the risk of botch) or cast as standard rituals with all of the risks and requirements that they have under current RAW. I'd also leave it that rituals that are cast as Greater Rituals can be maintained by anyone at a later time, representing the up front time commitment someone put into the ritual, and that they can be easily recast, like a longevity ritual, should they fall, for some reason.

The fact that details of Andorra's Aegis casting are unknown to the ASG[sup]1[/sup] belies Marko's assertion that "[Ritual Magic] ain't broke." Not knowing who is casting the Aegis ignores the issue that it can even be cast, and simply accounts for the vis. Casting it with a tablet, and hand waving that is a huge risk, because obviously, in that situation the spell isn't mastered at all, so it must be cast with a stress die and isn't relaxed. It's broken for the simple fact that no one knows how the Aegis is maintained, and who does it. And this isn't unique to Andorra. The Aegis should be a huge issue for every covenant and it is almost always treated as an accounting exercise. And if you're using a casting tablet for your Aegis, and still treating it as an accounting exercise you are ignoring some pretty huge risks, especially if the Aegis is greater than 35th level, due to the botch mechanics of casting tablets, you're looking at a minimum of 8 warping points from just a single botch. Would you ignore the risks if it happened in the middle of a story, cast any ritual with a casting tablet?

[sup]1[/sup] Marko discussed Andorra's ritual here, which lead to this entire thread. Andorra's Aegis warding effect doesn't need to penetrate, and so requires less of an investment than other sagas that would require an Aegis to penetrate.

A compromise such as that would work better, presenting long casting as an option isnstead of making it mandatory. I still think a whole season is too long though. Maybe make it one day per magnitude. This can still have a serious impact on a season, especially if it gets disrupted and you have to start over.

As for Andorra, I looked it up and remember what I was doing now. There is a tablet for the full level and another for level 20 (for field use). But the Mercere magi are the back up and the plausible cause for wave. Keeping a Mercere magus in the covenant is nigh impossible it seems though. At least three PC Mercere magi have come and gone over the years. It is reasonable to figure that House Mercere has only a handful of major HQ sites such as this, and thus plausible that they can protect their interets with just a few magi travelling via Portal once a year.

Well, it is a season in exchange for being able to maintain it without risk in perpetuity... That's not without value. It's also where we could add refinement/virtues to the Greater rituals which set them apart from a lesser ritual.

Marko, you illustrate my point about rituals mostly being accounting exercise, the Aegis, in almost every game is treated as an accounting exercise. I'm fine with that. I think that's probably the way it should be. I just want rules that reflect that in some way that everyone can achieve that risk free Aegis (or other ritual) at the cost of some upfront time. The other option is to load up on virtues that mitigate risk, and spell mastery, and acquiring a familiar and prioritizing the Golden Cord. Hand waving works to a point, but when you push it too far, you end up hand waving the risks for every ritual. No one would cast a ritual under duress, except in situations contrived by the SG. I don't like to contrive situations like that, that's gotcha GMing, and I try and avoid that. It may be that there are legitimate risky situations calling for a ritual. If the ritual botches, though, that would probably interfere with my story, unless I planned for the botch, too. That's really close to being a killer GM, for my tastes.

Still no pot roast ritual. :frowning: Are you going to allow JL to win this one unconstested?

But every time you run a story, you 'contrive' stressful situations. Without those contrived situations, we'd be doing lots more accounting as our magi advanced their studies without pressure.

I remain less than a fan of fumble-based story design, though I've taken advantage of how it eases a GM's life. Yet if we are going to look at this, why limit our purview to rituals? Let's look at the whole system.

And if we are going to look at accounting, I think ritual magic isn't nearly the lowest hanging fruit.

FWIW, any saga that uses 3 botch dice as a baseline is intrinsically gotcha GMing, imo.



Doing it around a ritual turns it up to 11. I don't see the need. But, no, I generally plan out things that can happen, and then I'm making decisions on the spot as to what is stressful and what is not, because no scene I've planned survives first contact with the PCs.

Who says I am? This is a start. Probably one of the most egregious examples of SG fiat changing the risk/reward calculus for the player.

I wasn't looking at accounting, I was saying that things like the Aegis should simply be an accounting exercise, if that's the wish. That the setting should account for that.

That's not my baseline, just been in sagas where that's the standard.
The RAW is pretty clear that 1 is the baseline.


Doing it around a ritual has far less impact than "doing it around combat," since ritual magic rolls happen much less often. So I'm not seeing the 11.

I don't see the need either, but if we accept the assumption that botches are built into the system, and AM5 very much does to the point that botches drive other subsystems (Twilight!) that are considered important, and that if we want to retain the idea that momentous events are stressful, and that very powerful or special spells ought to be rituals, then here we are.

To me, you are scratching an itch that is really bothering you, but the itch is a secondary symptom. And people are complaining that your scratching is just causing other problems.

deep breath I say you are. You are looking at ritual magic in isolation. This is a minor and rare instance of "SG fiat." Every time a SG decides if a roll is simple or stress, we have SG fiat. Every time a SG decides how many botch dice a particular situation requires, we have SG fiat. Ritual magic is a vanishingly small wedge of this pie. I would even go so far as to say that the ritual rules (barring some unfortunate ambiguity, so I have to offer my reading) remove SG fiat, because they tell you exactly how long it takes and how many botch dice are risked.

What are "things like the Aegis?" Do you mean when a CrCo specialist uses downtime to ritually boost his physical stats all to 5? When a CrTe specialist decides to use his "Conjuring the Five Score Mystic Towers" ritual during downtime to dot the countryside with towers? Or the Aq specialist to sit back and casually cast his "Ireland is the New Atlantis" ritual?

If the issue is specific to the Aegis, one sentence in the spell description solves the problem.

If the issue is that downtime works best without dice rolls or GM fiat, then I think a broader approach is needed, because there are other dice and other GM fiats. (And we won't be able to get away from that entirely, since spell/effect design requires a ruling, since the specificity of the rules is not sufficient.)

If the issue is something else, then I still don't understand it.

Yes, it is. I'm just saying. I know that you play in and hopefully enjoy those sagas, even though that single rule is more outrageous to me than anything about rituals. Ugh.




Because the risk for a ritual botching, go far beyond the risks one faces in combat. Combat casting and casting a ritual in a stressful situation aren't even comparable in botch risk, whether you accept the 1 or 3 botch dice baseline. The lowest level ritual has at least 5 botch dice, base 1 +4 for the 4 pawns of vis. It goes up based on the magnitude, so it can get pretty risky. The other thing is that these are decisions of the character spending resources. One should be able to spend their money without risk of it blowing up in their face. A stat boosting ritual is an exchange of vis for an improved stat that helps them in the future, investing in themselves to pay dividends later. Much the same as creating a magic item is an investing in themselves to pay dividends later. The Aegis is an exchange of vis for protection, and the Mystic Tower is shelter, in exchange for vis. These are all investments in the character, and should be relatively risk free, or at least be commensurate with enchanted items.

That's a fair point. But, I don't have a problem with botches in play, or contrived situations that an SG creates, i.e. stories. I do have a problem with an SG telling me that I have to cast this ritual spell now to avoid some uncertain fate, and there is a huge risk, to boot.

Sure. Which is why I call for a die roll, it's a stress, I mean, it's not worth it to call for a simple die, the disappointment when a player rolls a 1 on a simple die is truly palpable. But, no, the ritual rules determine whether it is a stressful roll or not, Spell Mastery muddles things by saying if someone is relaxed that they can cast without risk of botch, despite rituals always being rolled with a stress die. SG fiat still exists, because the SG decides if it is stressful casting. But how often is a ritual a really important part of the story?

Already defined earlier, rituals that extend power, rather than make whole. Healing spells restore someone to being whole from being broken. Spells that extend power, in some permanent way should be Greater and should have the option of the player of choosing risk or time. Want to cast that stat boosting ritual 5 times in a row, without spending a season each? Have at it, each spell has 1+Magnitude botch dice if you roll a 0. Or take a season for each and no risk.


I think we are simply going to disagree on this one.

On the positive side, thanks for the pot roast recipe. Except for the wine and for our adding mushrooms, it is similar to what we do. But we use a crockpot (bad idea?) and Costco meat (bad idea?)



No, I think Costco has good cuts of meat, from what my friends who shop there tell me. We don't have a Costco near us, most of my meat comes from Sam's Club, which is similar to Costco.

You should still brown your roast on both sides in a fraying/saute pan, and then deglaze the pan with some liquid, beef stock to get the browned bits up. The browning process creates a lot of flavor. Transfer the roast, after browning to the crock pot, use the broth to get all the stuck browned bits dissolved and then poor that into the crockpot with everything else. You'll find the roast has a much large depth of flavor. A lot of people don't like the texture of mushrooms, and that's understandable. Try it with mushrooms sometime, and just pull them out before serving so you don't eat them. THe primary problem I have with crockpot cooking for roasts is that they will tend to overcook them, especially if you set it and forget it while at work. I like crockpots for soups and stews...

I gave you the basis for a spontaneous spell. True chefing is improvosation. Baking is an exact science. Cooking is art. When you are pumping out thirty plates an hour, the casting tablet quickly gets discarded.
I can write out a Lab Text for you at a latter time. But the essentials are to 1) use a stainless steel dutch oven. Crock pots don't allow for as fine and quick temprature control and are not good for seering or sweating. Cast iron, though it has loyal adherants that swear by it and it does have unique properties, are too problematic. They are porous and retain the flavor of whatever you cooked in it last time. Use red onions and garlic. Rub the meet with seasoning mix (black pepper, season salt, oregano, maybe some tarragon and whatever else you like). Use BBQ sauce, not ketchup. And deglaze your pan with sherry.

I still have no idea what Costco is. I am guessing it is a grocery chain in your area? Around here in Chicago the big chain is Jewel. Mariano's is much nicer and is growing fast, taking over all the old Dominick's spots after they went belly up last year. Caputos is nice too. Not a fan of Whole Foods. There are stores that have groceries as an added feature; such as Sam's Club, Target, and Wall Mart. But it isn't their specialization and it is more of a convienience that a desired destination.

Enameled cast iron is pretty sweet for the home cook.