Ritual Book: Ritualist Theme

This is the Ritual Book. In this series we will look to explore and expand the role of rituals in Dungeons & Dragons 4e. We will focus on options for players and dungeon masters who want their ritual casters to cast more frequently and more effectively in-game. The goal is to encourage ritual use in general.

Yes I am still obsessed with themes. I hope that they are taking root in your own games at home. I have found them to be quite fun and useful at fleshing out those details of characters that might not be so highlighted by traditional powers and paragon paths and such. I also still believe that they are blatant power creep, but a power creep that I can wholeheartedly embrace as better for the game. This is especially true if you can hand craft a few themes for your own homebrew campaigns and handcrafted settings that will expand the richness and flavor of the world.

Shimmertook recently latched on to the Alchemist theme that was printed in Dragon #399. I admit a bit of theme envy when I saw how effective the Alchemist theme was at making alchemy a regular and effective part of the game for my friend’s character. Certainly I do believe that rituals are quite effective in their own way. However as I have stated before, I think rituals need some help in order for ritual casters to be encouraged to make their rituals a regular part of the game.

The two biggest constraints for a ritual caster are time and money. The time aspect is a very sticky mechanic to tamper with. By reducing the casting time of a ritual you open some doors that may leave you with some precipitous (sometimes literally) problems, especially if the ritual becomes accessible in combat. I tried to imagine the theme as something that would open the door for more frequent casting, not necessarily quicker casting. I see the cost of rituals as a regular drain on the resources of the character that wants to incorporate them. As a regular player of a ritual caster, it often feels like the cost of rituals simply discourages ritual casting rather than balances the casting of a ritual (especially in heroic). While I have seen some fun and helpful house rules out there for changing the ritual casting system, I do my best to craft answers within the context of the current ritual system so as to not overwhelm the players that are not regularly using rituals. I feel like working within the rules on this makes it a little easier to digest and is more equitable.

So the key was to develop a simple theme that embraced the character’s desire to make ritual casting, no matter the class, an important feature in their character’s development. I could easily envision a rogue or assassin taking this theme and focusing on deception rituals or an avenger using divination rituals to draw himself closer to his deity. Any ranger would be happy to add travel and exploration rituals to her repertoire. Even classes like the cleric, wizard and druid may want to focus more on using the rituals that they are already allowed. I also think this could be a great option for feat starved hybrid classes that miss out on the ritual casting features of their parent classes.

To briefly explain the free knowledge skill training benefits, I felt they would be required for any class that does not traditionally gain them automatically or even contain them on their skill list. As with the example of the rogue above that wants to learn deception rituals. She will need to learn Arcana somehow. Other than that learning free rituals and the ability to cast one (and eventually two) rituals a day for free seemed the most apt way to encourage making ritual casting a regular and fulfilling option for the character.

Let me know what you think.

RITUALIST
The ritualist is someone who is practiced and studied in the art of ritual casting. There could be many reasons for this. You may have been a business owner and found that the magic of rituals facilitated your daily practices. Perhaps you were an avid explorer, using rituals to lighten your loads or increase your survivability on long expeditions. Maybe you were a village shaman, caring for the sick and needy.

How will you continue to use rituals in your adventures? Will you eventually become a master? Will you someday change how rituals are cast?

Starting Feature:
You are an innate ritual caster. The process just feels natural to you, so much so that you can regularly tap into the energy within yourself as opposed to using costly materials from the world around you to cast your rituals.
Benefit: You gain the Ritual Caster feat as a bonus feat. You possess a ritual book that contains two 1st-level rituals that you have mastered. In addition, you gain training in one of the following skills: Arcana, Heal, Nature or Religion. Once per day you may cast one ritual of your level or lower without paying the casting cost. You must still pay for and acquire any focuses needed for the ritual as well as sacrifice any healing surges that are normally required for the ritual. You may not reduce the cost of item creation rituals or the Raise Dead ritual.

Additional Features:

Level 5 Feature-
As you study and learn more powerful rituals, your breadth of knowledge increases. You realize that the more your know about the world around you, the more versatile ritual caster you can become.
Benefit: You master another ritual of 5th-level or lower and add it to your ritual book. In addition, you gain training in one of the following skills: Arcana, Heal, Nature or Religion. If you are already trained in all of these skills you instead gain a +2 bonus to one of these skills.

Level 10 Feature-
Your knowledge and experience have grown. Producing a ritual is just as easy as swinging your sword or waving your wand. All you need is time and to focus your power.
Benefit:  You master another ritual of 10th-level or lower and add it to your ritual book. In addition, you may now perform up to two mastered rituals per day of your level or lower without paying the casting cost. You must still pay for and acquire any focuses needed for the ritual as well as sacrifice any healing surges that are normally required for the ritual. You may not reduce the cost of item creation rituals or the Raise Dead ritual.

Optional Powers

Ritual Knowledge        Ritualist Utility 2
Encounter
Free Action        Personal
Trigger: You roll an Arcana check, Heal check, Nature check or Religion check.
Effect: Roll twice and take the higher of the two results.

Masterful Continuance    Ritualist Utility 6
Encounter
Free Action        Personal
Trigger: A ritual that you have performed is about to expire in duration.
Effect: Instead it does not expire and continues on in duration as if you had just cast it. You do not need line of sight or effect to use this power, but must be on the same plane as the ritual in question.

Quickened Ritual        Ritualist Utility 10
Encounter
No Action    Personal
Effect: You perform a ritual that you have mastered in half the time that it normally requires to cast.

Ritual Book: Cooking the Books

This is the Ritual Book. In this series we will look to explore and expand the role of rituals in Dungeons & Dragons 4e. We will focus on character options for players who want their ritual casters to cast more frequently and more effectively in game. In addition, we will offer up advice on how dungeon masters can make rituals a more important or integral part of the game. The goal is to encourage ritual use in general.

In this first installment, I would like to explore the financial aspect of ritual casting. One of the harshest criticisms of rituals is the constant financial tax. It can be very difficult for a player to make a choice between saving up for an important magic item or slowly whittling away at her resources to cast rituals throughout her career. It can be even harder to rationalize spending resources on rituals if your fellow players or dungeon masters are not keen on the time and results of rituals. With that in mind, I want to look at some character options for free or reduced cost rituals.

What Options Do I Have?

There are few ritual caster classes already out there for budget conscious ritualists. Currently the wizard and bard have the most freebies. A wizard receives two rituals to start as well as two free rituals of her level or lower at 5th, 11th, 15th, 21st and 25th. The bard is allowed lots of component free casting with bard rituals, once per day at heroic and one additional time per day at each tier. Do not forget you can pick up the Bardic Training class feature with the Bardic Ritualist multiclass feat if you like casting bard rituals for free. After that the field is slim. Psions, druids and invokers each receive one ritual they can cast for free whenever they like.

Some more versatile choices would be the skill powers Improvisational Arcana and Experienced Arcana. Both options are daily utility powers that cut the cost of a ritual in half, with some additional riders as well.

And that is about it. Unfortunate for sure. There are many ways to make multiple rolls on your ritual attempts or gain bonus to skills associated with rituals, however not many selections to reduce the financial burden of being a ritual caster.

Creating Options

I would like to propose several alternatives to help alleviate the financial strain of ritual casting. The goal here is to provide additional avenues for ritual casters to either offset the cost of buying rituals in the market or consuming gold for casting rituals.

Feats:


Class Features:

Magic Items: