View Full Version : [D&D3.5/4E] Rituals

2010-11-23, 06:14 PM
Like about half this forum, I've been messing around with some ideas on how to create a more balanced version of D&D 3.5, mostly for my personal amusement and possible later use. And like most of those who give it any thought, I've arrived to the conclusion that casters need toning down.

One idea that 4E implemented that I'm quite fond of and is changing a lot of the out of combat utility spells, like Teleport, Scry, Raise Dead, Alarm and so on into Rituals, which are seperate from the whole power mechanics of 4E and take far too long to complete to be usable in combat. I want to make this a part of my redesign of the 3.5 spellcasting system, but I want to make sure I understand the effects of this change. I've noticed that the (small-ish) 4E community on these boards doesn't seem to like rituals as much as I do (I'd like to note that I've never actually played 4E, just read through many of the books), without seeing a proper explanation for why. Is this just because of the gold costs of ritual components, which end up either being irrelevant because the DM makes sure you stick to WBL, or leave the ritualist below desired gear-levels (the same problem consumables have)? Is the skill-basedness a problem? I can see it being a problem in 3.5, but then, 3.5 skills are much easier to max out. Or is there another reason I haven't thought of that rituals are bad? What can be done to make them work?

TL;DR version: I want to homebrew 4E rituals into 3.5 - what should I worry about?

Aron Times
2010-11-23, 06:22 PM
One thing that really makes rituals more useful is splitting the component cost between the whole party. The whole party benefits from the ritual, so why place all the burden on the ritual caster alone?

Rituals are balanced. Period. Most of the complaints come from those who are used to the overpowered utility spells of 3.5. Rituals are not meant to solve everything on their own; they're simply just another tool at the party's disposal.

2010-11-23, 06:37 PM
The idea of rituals is fine. In execution, though, 4e rituals have the following problems:

Time: they take too long to be used under pressure, which is often when you need them.
Money: they aren't free, and skills are.
Restrictions: many rituals have obscure, irritating drawbacks that seem to have no purpose except to make the caster's life more difficult (e.g. you can't use Comprehend Languages until after you've recently heard/seen the relevant language).
Duplicability: you can frequently do a better job with mundane solutions.
There are a small number of excellent rituals that do something essential for a very reasonable price (Raise Dead) but in most cases, it's easier and cheaper to solve a problem without a ritual than with one.

Note that it's fine to maintain some of these drawbacks. It's very reasonable to have a ritual be slow, or expensive. However, if it has all of the drawbacks - slow AND expensive AND restrictive AND duplicable - it's not going to see much use.

2010-11-23, 06:44 PM
TL;DR version: I want to homebrew 4E rituals into 3.5 - what should I worry about?

3.5 does have rituals: they're just called Incantations. (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/magic/incantations.htm)

It seems pretty simple to me to make Teleport or Plane Shift into an Incantation and ban the actual spell.

2010-11-23, 09:13 PM
3.5 does have rituals: they're just called Incantations. (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/magic/incantations.htm)

It seems pretty simple to me to make Teleport or Plane Shift into an Incantation and ban the actual spell.
Huh, interesting. Didn't know about this. It seems to have the right idea, but looks awfully clunky, with the backlash and failure penalties and weird restrictions and all that.

Thanks for the input guys, I have an idea where to go from here!

2010-11-23, 09:45 PM
Like most other WotC alternate casting systems - the idea is sound but the sample spells suck. Make your own incantations out of the problem spells and you'll do better. :smallsmile:

Remember that Incantations can (and indeed are encouraged to be) very specific. e.g. instead of Teleport, an Incantation would be more like Town Portal - castable from anywhere but with just one destination.

2010-11-23, 09:55 PM
I'm a big fan of 4e rituals, personally. Yes, sometimes they take too long to cast out of combat, but that is fixable through some house-rules. However, I do like the fact that they are (typically) unusable in combat. The one exception is when the players are able to lure the monsters to fight on an area they've already prepped, and if they can do that they deserve some mechanical benefit from it anyway.

I would make a scaling skill check to lower the "casting time", except that you can't do it in combat. That's how I'd handle lowering the time, anyway.

2010-11-23, 09:58 PM
I will probably copy the 4E "Linked Portal" ritual mechanics for teleport-y spells, actually. Requires a known destination teleportation circle for which you know the "password", takes 10 minutes to cast and opens a portal to the destination for a few rounds. A seperate ritual creates the target circle. So yeah, pretty much a Town Portal type effect.

This mechanic solves a whole bunch of problems associated with teleport spells, reducing it to a simple but very effective travelling spell that the DM has pretty much complete control over (because he controls which teleport circles the party gains access to).

2010-11-23, 10:02 PM
Incantations are freakishly broken. For instance; creating a permanent summoned monster would be a DC 30 on Spellcraft or Knowledge (Arcana). While this doesn't seem that bad from the outside, you could literally recast this spell over and over till you have an army of summons.