Spell Mastery and Ritual Spells

An interesting question has arisen in our saga.

Namely, on the subject of Ritual Spells: Spell Mastery reduces the number of botch dice by one per level of Mastery - except when the magus is relaxed, in which case there are no botch dice, even in a foreign aura or when using vis. (p. 86)

However, a Ritual Spell consumes one pawn of Vis per magnitude (in the case of the spell in question, nine pawns), and are always cast using a stress die (p. 81)

Question (which assumes that the magus is relaxed, if that is possible with a Ritual Spell, and that the magus has one level of Mastery): when casting a Mastered Ritual spell, are there truly no Botch Dice involved? Or does the the Mastery simply reduce the botch dice from nine to eight?

I'm inclined to think that there are Botch dice (based on the last clause of the Mastery description). But I'm not sure I like the idea of spending five points (or taking a minor Virtue) to get rid of that many Botch Dice.

my 2c: As Rituals are always cast using a stress dice, they cannot use the "relax" clause. They are not cast that way. So the Mastery removes a botch dice.

It's never occurred to me to interpret the rules any other way than to reduce the total down to 8 botch dice.

I feel this way primarily because of the system for Familiar bonds. If a single level of mastery negates all those botch dice, why would anyone need more than one point of Gold Chord bond strength?

By the other logic, wouldn't a single point of mastery would also negate all the botch dice gained from casting in inhospitable auras?

As I said somewhere else, the Ars Magic system relies pretty heavily on a proper order of operations. Addition and subtraction almost always happen in a manner that makes order meaningless, so long as it is done before any division. (I can't think of any examples of multiplication off the top of my head.)

To be honest, we've largely done away with simply dice at our table.
If it's a stressful situation you roll a stress die.
If it's not a stressful situation, there's usually little point in rolling.
So around here you'd be using a stress die but not too many botch dice :slight_smile:

The relaxed mastered casting of rituals made sense. Especially when you consider the Aegis of the hearth. What mage is going to want to be casting the yearly Aegis spell if they are likely to botch it and go in to twilight once every 10 years. (even weakest aegis would have 5 botch dice).

for non-ritual spells: if you are in foreign aura or using vis but are not rushed or in stress, you roll a simple die. There is no chance of botch. Now that it is mastered means it is always a stress die (gee, a lot like rituals) but relaxed casting means no botch dice.

If you are doing a ritual in privacy of some room somewhere that no one will disturb you and you have it mastered, I say no botch dice.

The fact that a die is a stress die does not automatically mean that there are any botch dice (see page 6 of the main book) - this is clearly trivially true when you've spell-mastered them away completely, but also potentially true in other situations. Therefore I'd say the two statements are mutually consistent - rituals are always cast using a stress die (so 1s explode and 0 are 0s rather than 10s), but there are no botch dice.

I dislike the idea for 5 xp a character can eliminate the chance of catastrophic failure. Take casting a 9th magnitude AoH as an example. No one casts an AoH, or any ritual for that matter, in a stressful environment. So rituals, according to page 86 will always be a stress die without risk of botch. It is cheap and seems to fly in the face of the rules and several virtues and te familiar bond that reduce botch dice. Why should they exist?

Returns to the concept of a Quality dice vs a Normal vs Stress dice. Fair.
My interpretation is that its a typo and rituals are botchy.

Agree totally. Rituals should have the botch as an inherent risk. That said, the 5xp only removes 1 botch dice, not all the botch dice rolled. I still play a dice for every magnitude, so a 9th mag is rolling at least 10 dice.

But that interpretation isn't RAW according to page 86 of the MRB.

Yup I know, and we're probably meant to stay within RAW for most forum discussions. On this one though I'm happier ignoring that part of the RAW.


why do you think it is cheap to master a single ritual for 5 exp, so you can cast it at leisure without the risk of about a 1 in 10 catastrophic failure, very likely leading into twilight? In terms of time or apprenticeship XP, it tends to means doubling the ritual's cost.

I would indeed think that mastering rituals for that purpose is a very adequate practice, to the contrary. And it is plain and simple by the rules, as written and - to my understanding - as intended, too.
(1) The only stressful thing in casting rituals at leisure is the amount of Vis, or a surrounding foreign Aura.
(2) Mastering a spell removes the chance to botch it because of use of Vis, or of a foreign Aura - likely because neither Vis nor Aura disturb you when executing your well understood and practiced routine.
So when casting a mastered ritual and taking your time, it is both fully intuitive and by the rules that you do not need to roll botch dice.


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House rules and what not are discussed all the time. I just wanted to make sure we were on the same page.

Because it is cheap? Tell me how many times a character, who has spent 5 xp to master a ritual spell, has then cast the spell with a risk of a botch? It just doesn't happen. No one casts a ritual in combat, you can't, it takes too long. So, essentially, the RAW states that you always[1] cast rituals with the benefits of a stress die, but none of the risks for a mere 5 xp. It is not intuitive, if it were, intuitive then it would follow that # of pawns of Vis - mastery score - cord modifiers - virtues modifiers= # of botch dice. That is intuitive.

Please note, you have to take your time with a ritual, you have no choice, it takes 15 minutes per magnitude, period.

Emphasis mine. This seems fairly straightforward to me.

Tell me, how many times a character, who has spent 5 xp to master a normal formulaic spell, has then cast the spell at leisure in a foreign aura and/or using Vis with the risk of a botch?

Is your argument the following: Because casting ritual spells at all is already very much restricted anyway, improving their casting should be some ten or more times more expensive than for normal formulaic spells?

In that case, please allow me to differ. I am quite happy with the RAW here. Indeed I feel it is necessary to make routine Rituals like AotH viable in a longer running campaign.


Amul quoted it all.
By the RAW, Rituals are always stress (p81), and always incurr at least 1 botch dice per pawn (p83).
It isn't "rituals are always stress, save when mastered", or "1 botch per pawn, save when mastered, in which case it's 0"

People sometimes complain about Mastery being useless for rituals. Well, it isn't, and here's why. Most mastery special abilities may not be useful, but the botch reduction thingie sure is.

This also means that Mercurian Magi are a great boon to the order, due to their ability to use less vis: Less vis => less botch dices.

Your not answering my question, or even the question posted. There are multiple paths to viability. A ritual, by the fact that it is a ritual, cannot and will not be cast during any stressful situation. Ever. Therefore the rules for spell mastery give all rituals a pass at botches by spending a measly 5 xp. I find that to be contrary to the spirit of the rules. On one hand imposing a chance of botch for commonly cast rituals like AoH is pretty high and on the other hand you can avoid it entirely by spending a measly 5 xp. Seems like a huge gap and there are no cases that are in the middle.

Not quite all. The discussion also needs to include the last sentence on page 86, and is what brings the discussion here.

I personally think this is a throw-away sentence, as it seems to suggest far more than the authors intended, at least given all the paths towards reducing botch dice that have been incorporated in the rules.

Yes, but given the quite specific sentences on rituals, and the fact that rituals, formulaic spells, and spontaneous magic are quite different, this, IMO, applies only to formulaic spells (note that you can't master spontaneous magic).

As it is, someone casting a lvl 30 Aegis has 6 botch dices from vis alone (and I see no other sources of botches for him).
A mercurian lowers this to 3.
A familiar also helps a lot (cautious sorcerer too, but I'll discard it), so it's not very hard to avoid botch dices

With a good familiar, this means that most magi can get by with a Mastery 03 for a lvl 30 Ritual. For stronger Rituals, you need either to get serious about mastery, or be a Mercurian.

Which means Mercurians are the prime casters of big rituals. Which, IMO, is quite fine.

I think that you can Master Ritual Spells, but only by the bonus to Casting and some specialities.