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Building A Ritual

Just like epic spells, Rituals are built from smaller pieces.  For simplicity we will call these pieces seeds and factors just as in Epic Magic.  Every seed has a base Ritual DC modified by factor adjustments.  Rituals are researched just like spells so they take time and resources to develop.  Most rituals also require material components that can modify the Ritual DC as well.  The final DC for a ritual is based on the combined DC of the seeds plus the factor adjustment and any component adjustments added together.  The DC can also be modified afterward by adding additional members, materials, or even a sacrifice depending on the nature of the ritual.

DMs are encouraged to keep the material adjustments for the ritual secret from the player performing the ritual until they actually make the Ritual skill check to complete the ritual against the total DC.  The final DC is the gauge of the ritual's potential power so rituals may have a DC far beyond the Ritual skill check ability of the player.  For realism and to add a nice bit of tension, the DM should keep the player guessing if they are attempting something at the limits of their power.  Players may take a chance on a powerful ritual if they think they can complete it but when reduced to cold hard numbers, there is only fact with little risk.

Table: Ritual "Seeds"

Seed Base
Ritual DC
  Seed Base
Ritual DC
Afflict 14   Energy 19
Animate 25   Foresee 17
Animate Dead 23   Fortify 17
Armor 14   Heal* 25
Banish 27   Life* 27
Compel 19   Reflect 27
Conceal 17   Reveal 19
Conjure 21   Slay 25
Contact 23   Summon 14
Delude 14   Transform 21
Destroy 29   Transport 27
Dispel 19   Ward 14
* Characters must have levels as a divine spellcaster to use these seeds

Seed Descriptions

Combining Seeds

When two or more Seeds are used to create a ritual, the base Ritual DC for each seed is added together toward the final Ritual DC.  The Seed (Descriptors) are also combined together and applied to the finished ritual.  The Range, Targets, Saving Throw, and Area of seeds may be different or nonexistent.  Determine which seed is the "primary" seed for the ritual and use its base attributes.  These attributes can be altered later by use of Factors.  Each Seed also adds to the total casting time for the ritual.  If any seed is subject to Spell Resistance, the finished ritual also subject to it.

All Rituals have a casting time of at least five turns (30 rounds) and adding extra seeds multiplies this time.  For example, if two seeds each require a casting time of five turns the total ritual time is ten turns.  Adding a seed that requires ten turns to that ritual brings the base casting time up to twenty turns.  Factors, components, and additions can be added to shorten the casting time of the final ritual.

Seed Judgment

Sometimes a ritual effect will not clearly fit into the category of any of the listed Seeds.  The creator of the ritual must decide if the effect can be accomplished by the addition of another Seed or if the ritual accomplishes something a combination of Seeds will not produce.  In the case of ritual effects that Seed combinations can't accomplish, the GM will need to extrapolate from the existing Seeds and find the closest possible match for the desired effect.  This "ad hoc" method is similar to the way new spells must sometimes be adjudicated.   Sometimes players will assign one Seed to a ritual when in fact the desired effect is much closer to that of another Seed.  In these situations the GM should make the adjustment and then explain to the player the reason for the change.

Factors

Factors are not part of epic seeds, but they are the tools used to modify specific parameters of any given seed. Applying factors to the seeds of an epic ritual can increase or decrease the final Ritual DC, increase the duration, change the area of a spell, and affect many other aspects of the ritual.

Table: Ritual Factors

 

Ritual DC
Modifier

Casting Time
Reduce casting time by 1 turn (minimum 1 turn) +2
Contingent on specific trigger 1 +20
Components
No Verbal Component +2
No Somatic Components +2
Duration 2
Increase Duration by 100% +2
Permanent Duration (apply this factor before mitigating factors) x5
Dismissible by caster (if not already) +2
Range
Increase range by 100% +2
Target 3
Add extra target within 300 ft. +10
Change from target to area (pick area option below) +10
Change from personal to area (pick area option below) +15
Change from target to touch or ray (300 ft. range) +4
Change from touch or ranged touch attack to target +4
Area 4
Change area to bolt (5 ft. x300 ft. or 10 ft. x150 ft.) +2
Change area to cylinder (10 ft. radius, 30 ft. high) +2
Change area to 40 ft. cone +2
Change area to four 10 ft. cubes +2
Change area to 20 ft radius +2
Change area to target +4
Change area to touch or ray (close range) +4
Increase area by 100% +4
Saving Throw
Increase saving throw DC by +1 +2
Spell Resistance
Gain +1 bonus on caster level check to overcome target's spell resistance +2
Gain _1 on caster level check to beat foe's dispel effect +2
Unless stated otherwise, the same factor can be applied more than once.
  1. Ritual casters can only have one contingent ritual active at a time.
  2. Seeds that already have an instantaneous or permanent duration cannot be increased.
  3. When changing a targeted or area seed to a touch or ranged attack, the seed no longer requires a save if it deals damage, instead requiring a successful attack roll.  Seeds with a non-damaging effect still allow the target a save.  Area spells changed to touch or ranged attacks now affect only the creature successfully attacked.
  4. When changing a touch or ranged attack seed to a targeted seed, the seed no longer requires an attack roll if it deals damage, instead requiring a saving throw from the target. On a failed saving throw, the target takes half damage. Area seeds changed to targeted seeds now only affect the target. The GM determines the most appropriate kind of saving throw for the epic spell.

 

Mitigating Factors

Mitigating Factors are Factors that decrease the Ritual DC allowing the caster a better chance to succeed.  They are added to the Ritual DC after all other Factors have been taken into effect.

Table: Ritual Mitigating Factors

  Ritual DC
Modifier
Backlash 1d6 points of damage (max d6 = caster HD x2) 1 -1
Burn 100 XP during casting (max 1,000 XP) -1
Increase casting time by 1 turn (max 10 turns) 2 -1
Increase casting time by 1 day (max 100 days) 2 -2
Change from target, touch, or area to personal -2
Decrease damage die by one step (d4 minimum) -5
Each unique material component (must be related to object of ritual) -1
100 gp additional exotic material component (must be related to ritual goals) -1
Sharing backlash or XP burn amongst other participants 3 -2
Sacrifice Special
Outsider or Elemental Aid Special
  1. The caster cannot somehow avoid or make him or her self immune to backlash damage. For rituals with durations longer than instantaneous, the backlash damage is per round. If backlash damage kills a caster, no spell or method exists that will return life to the caster’s body without costing the caster a level—not even wish, true resurrection, miracle, or epic spells that return life to the deceased. Spells that normally penalize the recipient one level when they return him or her to life penalize a caster killed by backlash two levels.
  2. When increasing the casting time of a ritual in order to reduce the Ritual DC, a character must first “use up” the maximum of 10 turns (for a total DC modifier of –10). After that, a character can continue to add days to the casting time, with a further modifier of –2 per day, up to the maximum of 100 days.
  3. Must have at least two people participating.  The XP cost or Backlash damage is divided equally amongst participants (always round up).  The participants must be aware of this and unresisting or the DC is instead increased by +2 for each individual resisting the shared penalty.

Additional People Assisting in the Ritual

Rituals by default do not require extra people to assist.  Having other people assisting in ritual casting gives the caster a greater chance at success as well as giving them the possibility of sharing the repercussions of a failed ritual.  For each person with the Ritual Skill assisting in the performance of the ritual, they get the ability to Aid Another with their skill check.  By making a Ritual check (DC 10) they can grant a +2 bonus to the Ritual leader's check.  You can't take 10 on this skill check.  People without the Ritual Skill can attempt to aid the caster by making a unskilled Ritual check (DC 15).  If they succeed they grant a +1 bonus to the leader's check.  If they fail the check by more than 5 they impose a -2 penalty to the leader's check.  The Ritual leader can only benefit from the help of a number of people equal to their Character Level.  (A 5th level fighter being helped by 7 people can still only gain a maximum +10 bonus.)  The DM decides which character's participation effect the leader before the checks are rolled, this way it is possible for some people who would have aided having no effect while someone else penalized the ritual. 

Failure

Individuals who create a ritual are encouraged to come up with some ritual specific possibilities for ritual failure.  This is not strictly necessary but by coming up with possible failures for the ritual the players and GM have to work less if the ritual check is failed.  I use these failures as role playing opportunities and reward my players when they realize they have failed their roll and role play the backlash effect.  Even though a failure is stated in the ritual description, Ritual Failure is always chaotic and GMs are encouraged to occasionally reference the Ritual Failure section for additional or substitute effects.