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Rituals

Rituals are magical formulae that allow a caster to create a magical effect of their choosing through a combination of chanting, gesturing, and the use of magical focuses and ingredients. While sphere abilities are fueled by spell points and often take no longer than a standard action, rituals may take minutes, hours, or even days to perform, often requiring the use of a magical laboratory or temple and the expenditure of rare components.

In many ways, rituals are similar to spells and principally exist as a way to either re-introduce the utility of spells to a world of spheres, or to allow sphere casters to use spells in a world where both exist. While not automatically divided into divisions such as the arcane/divine of the core system, it isn’t difficult to divide rituals among different casting traditions, if the GM wishes to preserve the distinctions of that system.

All rituals possess the following:

Base Sphere: Every ritual has an associated sphere, which a caster must possess in order to use the ritual.

Ritual Level: Every ritual possesses a level from 0-9.

Casting Time: The amount of time the caster must invest in order to use the ritual.

Save DC: If a ritual calls for a saving throw, the DC is equal to 10 + the ritual’s level + the caster’s casting ability modifier.

Materials: Every ritual has a material cost, be it special focuses, rare materials, or general alchemical equipment. These items must be present when the ritual is used, and with the exception of focuses (which are designated with an F), these materials are expended when the ritual is cast.

Using a Ritual

All rituals require the caster to possess a written copy of the ritual such as a scroll or ritual book, as rituals are too complex to use without some form of written direction. If a caster comes into possession of a ritual, the caster must first decipher the magical writing with either a successful Spellcraft check (DC 20 + the ritual’s level), a read magic spell, or the basic sense ability from the Divination sphere. Once a ritual has been deciphered, it needn’t be deciphered again, even if the original written copy is lost and another used in its place.

Once a ritual has been deciphered, the method for using that ritual differs depending on whether the caster is working from a permanent magic book or from a scroll.

Ritual Books

To use a ritual from a magic book, the caster must possess that ritual’s associated base sphere (or must possess the Ritual Caster feat), and their caster level with that sphere must be at least twice the ritual’s level. In addition, their casting ability score must also be at least 10 + the ritual’s level. If the caster meets all these prerequisites and possesses the ritual’s material components, he may invest the required amount of time and activate the ritual.

Recording a ritual into a magic book is a process that requires 1 hour per ritual level (0 level rituals take 30 minutes) and requires one page per ritual level (0 level rituals take half a page).

A ritual may be copied from another book, a scroll, or created through independent research. If a ritual is copied from a scroll, this expends the scroll. In addition, if a ritual is copied from a scroll or another ritual book, a certain amount of magic (in the form of material components) must be expended to create a working written version, according to the Table: Ritual Cost. This cost does not need to be paid if the ritual was independently researched, as the components were spent during the research itself.

Buying and Selling Ritual Books: While ritual books have a cost to create, rituals also have a cost to research. Ritual books could easily be found as loot, but are not considered to have a market value in and of themselves. While the details of magic and economics depends on the setting in question, in most cases there are either too few casters in the world to allow for large-scale ritual book sales, or so many casters in the world that specially-regulated guilds and merchants handle the creation, copying, and sale of magical formulae. As such, while certain rare rituals or other special circumstances may provide exceptions, a player may buy ritual books at a cost of 4x the cost of a scroll or sell their own ritual-casting services to rich clients, but will not find it possible to sell copies of their own ritual books.

Scrolls

Creating and using a ritual scroll is handled the same as creating and using a core spell scroll. To create a ritual scroll, a caster must know and be able to use the ritual and must possess the Scribe Scroll feat. Using a ritual scroll causes the writing on the scroll to disappear, leaving the scroll as nothing but an ordinary blank sheet.

A ritual scroll contains a copy of a ritual that has been mostly cast, with the ritual’s cost and much of its casting time spent earlier during the scroll’s creation. A ritual scroll has a market value equal to the level of the ritual × the creator’s caster level × 25 gp + the ritual’s material cost. When a caster creates a ritual scroll itself, the cost of creation is the level of the ritual x the creator’s caster level x 12.5 gp + the ritual’s material cost. A 0 level ritual is treated as having a level of .5 for this purpose.

Activating a scroll is the same as using a ritual from a book, except the casting time is the spell’s casting time (as opposed to the ritual’s casting time, which is always longer), there is no material component (as that was supplied earlier), and a caster may attempt to activate a scroll even if her caster level isn’t necessarily high enough. If the caster’s caster level isn’t at least twice the ritual’s level, she may make a check (d20 + her caster level vs. a DC equal to the scroll’s caster level + 1) to attempt to use the scroll anyway. If the caster succeeds, the scroll is activated as normal. If this check fails, the scroll is spent and the caster determines scroll mishap as with a core spell scroll.

Researching Rituals

If a caster possesses a ritual’s prerequisite caster level, sphere, and the Craft Rituals item creation feat, she may choose to research a ritual, allowing her to create a written version of that ritual even if no previously written version exists for her to work from. With GM permission, the caster may even create completely unique and original rituals, similar to creating custom spells in the core magic system.

Researching a ritual is similar to creating a magic item; there is a time and material cost, after which the caster must pass a Spellcraft check to determine if she was successful. It takes one week of research per ritual level to create a ritual. At the end of this process, the caster must make a single Spellcraft check. The DC to finish a ritual is 2x the ritual’s level + 10. Failing this check means that the ritual is not created. Failing this check by 5 or more results in an unintentional effect when the ritual is used, similar to how magic item creation can result in a cursed item. The nature of this unintentional effect is subject to GM discretion.

The cost of researching a ritual is determined by Table: Research Cost.

Once a ritual has been researched, the caster may immediately cast the ritual by spending its material cost. She may also write the ritual down in a magic book at no extra cost, as the required magic components were already used in the research process.

Table: Ritual Cost
Ritual LevelWriting Cost
05 gp
110 gp
240 gp
390 gp
4160 gp
5250 gp
6360 gp
7490 gp
8640 gp
9810 gp
Table: Research Cost
Ritual LevelDevelopment Cost
0500
11,000
22,000
34,500
48,000
512,500
618,000
724,500
832,000
940,500
Table: Material Cost & Casting Time
Spell LevelMaterial CostCasting Time
01 gp1 minute
15 gp5 minutes
210 gp10 minutes
325 gp30 minutes
450 gp1 hour
5100 gp2 hours
6250 gp4 hours
7500 gp8 hours
81,000 gp1 day
92,500 gp2 days

Mixing Spells & Rituals

Ina world where both core spells and this system spheres exist simultaneously, a sphere caster in possession of a spell scroll or a wizard’s spell book may use these spells as if they were rituals, and spellcasters may memorize their spells from available ritual books.

Converting Spells to Rituals

To turn a spell into a ritual, use the following formulae:

Ritual level: This is equal to the spell’s level.

Base Sphere: Determine the ritual’s base sphere through the following conversions.

  • Abjuration = Protection
  • Abjuration (good, evil, lawful, chaotic) = Fate
  • Conjuration (creation) = Creation
  • Conjuration (healing) = Life
  • Conjuration (teleportation) = Warp
  • Conjuration (calling, summoning) = Conjuration
  • Divination = Divination
  • Enchantment = Mind
  • Evocation (dark) = Various*
  • Illusion = Illusion
  • Necromancy = Death
  • Transmutation = Enhancement
  • Transmutation (polymorph) = Alteration
  • Transmutation (earth, air, fire, water) = Nature

*Evocation includes so many different types of spells that a simple conversion isn’t possible. (light) spells would be the Light sphere, (Darkness) spells would be the Dark sphere, but others could be Destruction, Weather, Mind, or even Creation depending on the spell in question. GMs should use their own good judgment to determine which sphere an Evocation spell should use.

Material Cost and Casting Times: Use Table: Material Cost & Casting Time to determine a ritual’s material cost and casting time. If the spell in question has a longer casting time than this, use the spell’s casting time instead. If the spell has a costly material component or focus, this must be supplied in addition to the cost listed on Table: Material Cost & Casting Time. Depending on the ritual and casting tradition of the caster, this material cost could be alchemical supplies, rare herbs, or another form of magical component.

Sample Rituals

The following spells have been adapted into rituals as examples of how these conversions are accomplished. As with all things, conversions are not always exact and GMs should use their best judgment when determining how a spell should be converted.

Animal Messenger

Sphere Nature; Ritual Level 2
Casting Time 10 minutes
Components V, S, M (a morsel of food the animal likes, 10 gp in silver dust)

DESCRIPTION

This functions as the animal messenger spell.

Animate Dead

Sphere Death; Ritual Level 3
Casting Time 30 minutes
Components V, S, M (an onyx gem worth at least 25 gp per Hit Die of the undead)

DESCRIPTION

This functions as the animate dead spell, except undead created with this ritual count towards the caster’s Death sphere limit.

Ant Haul

Sphere Enhancement; Ritual Level 1
Casting Time 5 minutes
Components V, S, M (small pulley, 5 gp of silver dust)

DESCRIPTION

This functions as the ant haul spell.

Arcane Mark

Sphere Illusion; Ritual Level 0

Casting Time 1 minute
Components V, S, M (treated ink worth 1 gp)

DESCRIPTION

This functions as the arcane mark spell.

Astral Projection

Sphere Death; Ritual Level 9
Casting Time 2 days
Components V, S, M (3,500 gp jacinth)

DESCRIPTION

This functions as the astral projection spell.

Baleful Polymorph

Sphere Alteration; Ritual Level 5
Casting Time 2 hours
Components V, S, M (100 gp in diamond dust)

DESCRIPTION

This functions as the baleful polymorph spell.

Control Weather

Sphere Weather; Ritual Level 7
Casting Time 8 hours
Components V, S, M (500 gp in rare herbs)

DESCRIPTION

This functions as the control weather spell.

Divination

Sphere Divination; Ritual Level 4
Casting Time 1 hour
Components V, S, M (incense and an appropriate offering worth 75 gp)

DESCRIPTION

This functions as the divination spell.

Earthquake

Sphere Nature; Ritual Level 8
Casting Time 1 day
Components V, S, M (unworked gems or minerals worth 1,000 gp)

DESCRIPTION

This functions as the earthquake spell.

Floating Disk

Sphere Creation; Ritual Level 1
Casting Time 5 minutes
Components V, S, M (silver dust worth 5 gp)

DESCRIPTION

This functions as the floating disk spell.

Hallow

Sphere Fate; Ritual Level 5
Casting Time 24 hours
Components V, S, M (herbs, oils, and incense worth at least 1,000 gp, plus 1,000 gp per level of the ritual to be included in the hallowed area)

DESCRIPTION

This functions as the hallow spell.

Heal

Sphere Life; Ritual Level 6
Casting Time 4 hours
Components V, S, M (250 gp in special ointment)

DESCRIPTION

This functions as the heal spell.

Heroes’ Feast

Sphere Creation; Ritual Level 6
Casting Time 4 hours
Components V, S, M (250 gp in rare herbs and spices)

DESCRIPTION

This functions as the heroes’ feast spell.

Identify

Sphere Divination; Ritual Level 1
Casting Time 5 minutes
Components V, S, M (bottle of fine wine worth 5 gp, stirred with an owl’s feather)

DESCRIPTION

This functions as the identify spell.

Polymorph Any Object

Sphere Creation; Ritual Level 8
Casting Time 1 day
Components V, S, M (diamond dust worth 1,000 gp)

DESCRIPTION

This functions as the polymorph any object spell.

Permanency

Sphere: Varies (see below); Ritual Level 5
Casting Time 2 hours
Components V, S, M (2,500 in diamond dust per level of the affected ritual, see spell)

DESCRIPTION

This functions as the permanency spell.

Raise Dead

Sphere Life; Ritual Level 5
Casting Time 2 hours
Components V, S, M (100 gp in special ointment, diamond worth 5,000 gp)

DESCRIPTION

This functions as the raise dead spell.

Scrying

Sphere Divination; Ritual Level 4
Casting Time 1 hour
Components V, S, M (50 gp in silver dust), F (a pool of water, or a silver mirror worth 1000 gp)

DESCRIPTION

This functions as the scrying spell.

Shrink Item

Sphere Creation; Ritual Level 3
Casting Time 30 minutes
Components V, S, M (25 gp of silver dust)

DESCRIPTION

This functions as the shrink item spell.

Siege of Trees

Sphere Nature; Ritual Level 7
Casting Time 8 hours
Components V, S, M (500 gp in rare herbs)

DESCRIPTION

This functions as the siege of trees spell.

Sympathy

Sphere Nature; Ritual Level 8
Casting Time 1 day
Components V, S, M (a drop of honey and crushed pearls worth 2,500 gp)

DESCRIPTION

This functions as the sympathy spell.

Teleport

Sphere Warp; Ritual Level 5
Casting Time 2 hours
Components V, M (100 gp in diamond dust)

DESCRIPTION

This functions as the teleport spell.

Tongues

Sphere Divination; Ritual Level 3
Casting Time 30 minute
Components V, M (silver dust worth 25 gp)

DESCRIPTION

This functions as the tongues spell.

Optional Pricing

Rituals are included with a material cost to create better synergy between rituals and the standard magic system. However, spending money is by no means the only way to regulate the use of powerful magic. Low-level rituals (0-3) may easily have their material component cost removed, and GMs are encouraged to create alternate pricing methods if such would better suit their campaigns, several examples of which are included below. These alternate pricings could even be used when creating magic items or accomplishing other feats of magic.

Blood Price: Sacrifices are the only way to invoke greater magic. For every 25 gp of a ritual’s listed cost, 1 HD worth of creatures must be killed. Creatures with an intelligence score of 3 or higher count as twice their listed HD for this purpose. These creatures must be killed within a specially prepared magic circle (no cost to create, but requires at least one hour to draw; maximum radius 5 ft. per caster level). So long as the magic circle remains intact, any caster may use HD collected within it to power their magic, spending the collected HD as if it were gold to power their rituals.

Cataclysmic Magic: Rituals disrupt the fabric of reality. Magic users risk their own destruction when using this magic, and while some villains may possess artifacts that exempt them from these risks, the average PC is not usually so lucky. Rituals have no material cost, but every time a caster uses a ritual above level 1, he must roll a d20. He compares his result to Table A if using a ritual of level 2-5, and to Table B if using a ritual of level 6-9.

Essence Price: Rituals are powered by essence, which must be freely given. Rituals cost experience points instead of gold, which may be drawn from the caster herself or other willing party members.

Life Price: Greater magic saps the very life force from its users. Instead of costly components, a caster ages 1 week for every 50 gp of a ritual’s listed material cost.

Priceless Component: While rituals of levels 0-3 have the usual material requirements, rituals of levels 4-9 require a special rare component to use. This component is so rare and valuable that it cannot be bought and sold in any market. Those who hold this component find it gives them such control over those who don’t have it that it is jealously guarded, and the only way to gain it is to find it, steal it, or trade services for it. This item could be a rare gem only mined in one location, human souls distilled through an evil artifact, the tears of an elder god, or a special artifact (e.g., a dozen small spheres, each of which may be used to power a ritual, but subsequently disappears for 1 week per level of the ritual used. After this time, the sphere reappears in a random location on the planet).

Table: A
RollResult
1Your body surges with an unusual power. Your Caster Level increases by 1 for 1 day.
2Fate smiles upon you. Once during the next hour you may roll a d20 twice and take the better result when making an attack roll, saving throw, or skill check.
3Your body lights up like a torch for 3d6 hours.
4You change color every hour for 1d3 days.
5No consequence
6No consequence
7No consequence
8Your body emits a high-pitched squeal for 6d6 hours, making sleep and stealth impossible.
9Whispers from the beyond whisper things to you for 1d4 days. Depending on the spirit, the whispers could be prophetic, violent, or simply rude.
10Your life reverses on itself. For 1d3 days, you count as an undead creature for all spells.
11Strange palpable darkness follows you for 1d4 days. The area within 40 ft. of you for that time is always dim light and difficult terrain.
12Magical forces leave you scarred. You suffer 1 point of ability drain to a randomly-determined ability score.
13Your mind reels with disturbing nightmares when you sleep. You awaken fatigued every morning for the next 1d3 days.
14Telekinetic forces lift you and all creatures and objects within 100 ft. of you, dangling you in place for 1d3 hours. A successful Will save (DC 18) negates.
15The magic you have unleashed unravels your mind. For 1d6 days, you have a 25% of doing nothing every time you take an action.
16A storm of pure magic rips through the area. For 10 rounds, every creature and object within 1 mile of you suffers 1 damage per 2 caster levels per round (Reflex half).
17You develop a ravenous appetite. You must consume 5 lbs. of food every hour for the next 1d10 hours. Each hour you do not eat this amount causes you to suffer 2 points of Constitution damage.
18You disappear for 1d4 hours, reappearing in the same spot you left with no memory of where you disappeared to.
19You and one random creature within 1000 ft. of you swap bodies for 1d3 days.
20Roll twice and combine the results
Table: B
RollResult
1A powerful outsider has felt your magic and taken an interest in you, offering you a quest and reward if you accept.
2A random magic item appears before you (50% chance for a cursed item).
3Your casting ability modifier increases by 2 for 1 hour.
42d4 floating balls of light follow you for a week, each giving off light as a torch.
5No consequence
6No consequence
7A shower of light turns day into night for 2d6 days within a 2-mile radius.
8Your body begins to waste away. You suffer 2 points of Constitution damage every day for 1 week.
9Your senses are permanently warped by your magic. You cannot see beyond 60 ft., but you also gain blindsense 60 ft.
10You become feral for 1d4 hours. You lose all ability to use magic or mental skills, and attack anyone who comes within 30 ft. of you.
11A vision of death and destruction plays before your eyes for 1d3 days. You are sickened for this entire time.
12You either permanently shrink one size category or grow one size category, chosen at random.
13All plant life within 2 miles instantly dies.
14Angry spirits of the dead follow you and disrupt your work for 1d4 days. You suffer a -2 penalty to all attack rolls, skill checks, ability checks, and saving throws.
15You are instantly reincarnated into a randomly determined body.
16All intelligent creature within 60 ft. are reincarnated into randomly determined bodies.
17Your essence is spent. You suffer 1d6 points of ability drain to 2 randomly determined ability scores, which may not be healed by magic, and only disappears after 1d3 weeks.
18You exude a randomly determined disease. For 1d3 weeks, all creatures who come within 30 ft. of you must save or become diseased. A creature who saves against this disease cannot be potentially infected again until the following day.
19A powerful outsider has felt your magic and declared you its enemy. It appears and attempts to destroy you.
20Roll twice and combine the results
Section 15: Copyright Notice

Spheres of Power © 2014 Drop Dead Studios LLC, Author Adam Meyers