Ritual Magic in the Age of Ruins

In the arcane tradition of the Age of Ruins there are many magical rites that do not require any Arcane Background edge for a character to learn and perform. Some rituals do utilize the Spellcasting skill, however, and are therefore only useful to mages. Rituals follow the rules for “Dramatic Tasks” found on page 84 of Savage Worlds Deluxe. As described in those rules, rituals take place over five “actions,” however, the length of an action is defined by the ritual itself. Some rituals take five combat rounds, others five days, and still others may take five weeks. For more lengthy rituals, the description will indicate if the entire time is taken up by the ritual, or if there is simply a requisite amount of time before the next step can be completed. Because Action Cards are not also being drawn for other characters in combat during these longer rituals, the character must kill one card from the top of the deck between each draw.

If a ritual can be performed during combat (Action Length: 1 round), then disruptions to the performer’s focus harm his chances to successfully complete the ritual. Every time a character performing a ritual is shaken or takes a wound, subtract one success from the total accumulated.

Under most circumstances, failure to properly complete a ritual simply causes a loss of time and the resources or components required to conduct the ritual. However, many failed rituals can also cause particularly harmful ill effects under the circumstances of a “Disastrous Failure.” This occurs when either the total accumulated successes while performing the ritual equal 1 or less or when a roll is failed (at the additional -2 penalty) while acting on a Club, as described on page 84 of SWD. As always, the Perilous Practice rule applies.

Ritual Name
Rank: The minimum rank a character must be to learn the ritual.
Skill: The skill used to perform the ritual.
Difficulty: The penalty applied to the skill above while performing the ritual.
Action Length: The amount of game time one segment of the ritual takes.
Requirements: Any material components or specific actions needed to perform the ritual.
Below that initial description is the description of the ritual and any side effects.
Disastrous Failure: The result of accumulating 1 success or less, or of failing on a Club action card.

Here are three sample rituals.

Spiteful Spears of Vollund
Rank: Seasoned
Skill: Spellcasting
Difficulty: -2
Action Length: 1 round
Requirements: An iron staff forged during a violent thunderstorm, at least 3 feet in length and topped with an amethyst worth at least 500 silver.

This ritual calls forth a storm that the performer can use to rain down destruction upon his foes. As the ritual is performed, the sky darkens with roiling storm clouds. Rolling thunder in the distance grows ever louder as it nears completion. Once the ritual is successfully completed, lightning begins to rain down from the sky under the caster’s guidance. The caster may call down one lightning bolt per round within a 1 mile radius, provided he takes no other action that round. Each bolt does 3d6 damage to the target.

For every minute that passes, the caster must make a Spirit check at a cumulative -1 penalty to maintain control of the storm. Once the caster loses control, the precipitation begins and the storm transforms into a natural (but particularly intense) weather occurrence for the region that lasts 2d12 hours and affects a 40-mile radius. A standard failure to complete the ritual still brings about this weather.

Disastrous Failure: Upon failing, a first bolt strikes down on the character performing the ritual. Bolts continue to fall for the next minute with a 25% chance that each bolt will strike the caster. If the caster is not hit, another random living being in a 1 mile radius is hit.

Fury of the Star Stones
Rank: Seasoned
Skill: Spellcasting
Difficulty: -2
Action Length: 1 round
Requirements: An amulet carved from the stone of Rukma and engraved with the bearer’s true name

This ritual calls forth a shooting star that wreaks fiery devastation. As the ritual is performed, shooting stars begin to streak across the sky. Once complete, a meteorite strikes a spot of the caster’s choosing, even directly impacting a single being. The target of the strike takes 5d6 point of damage; anyone within a large burst template of the strike takes 3d6 points of damage.

During the hour after the ritual is completed, 2d3 similar strikes will occur within a 40-mile radius. A standard failure to complete the ritual still calls forth this meteor shower.

Disastrous Failure: Upon failing, the initial strike falls immediately, centered on the caster. Assuming the caster survives, there is a 20% chance that he will be the target of each subsequent strike.

Blade-Binding of the Mazakym
Rank: Novice
Skill: Knowledge Infernalism
Difficulty: -4
Action Length: 10 minutes
Requirements: A bladed weapon of superb craftsmanship (worth at least three times the listed price) and a stone alter surrounded by binding runes painted in lamb’s blood

This ritual summons a mazakym, a particularly bloodthirsty variety of imp, and binds its essence into a bladed weapon. In the hands of a skilled warrior, the mazakym’s viciousness manifests through the blade, savagely cutting into enemies. When the wielder of a mazakym blade makes a successful Fighting roll, he gains +1d6 damage for each raise on the roll, breaking normal cap of 1d6 bonus damage gained from the first raise. However, anytime his Fighting die is a 1 (regardless of his wild die), he hits a random adjacent target, as per the Berserk edge.

After a month of bearing such a blade, the wielder’s features gain an otherworldly darkness, and though his personality and nature remain under control, he becomes susceptible to bonus damage from the Champion edge of virtuous characters.

A normal failure to complete the ritual fails to bring forth the mazakym and causes the blade to become brittle and unusable.

Disastrous Failure: The results appear the same as a normal failure, but in actuality the mazakym possesses the performer of the ritual. He gains no bonus damage, but the negative effects of rolling a 1 on Fighting apply to all rolls the character makes. In addition, the character literally begins to thirst for blood. At first, the impulse is small and controllable, but it continues to grow, and by one month after the ritual the need is equivalent to Habit (Major), with one cup of blood needed every day.

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Author: John Carr

Gamer, comic guy, office drone.

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