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Thread: (4e) Rituals

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    Pixie in the Playground
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    Default (4e) Rituals

    My group is starting a new 4e campaign this weekend and we're trying out something different with Rituals. In this campaign all rituals, with a few exceptions, will follow these rules.

    - Casting a ritual takes one standard action, either from scroll or from a Ritual Book
    - Anyone can cast a ritual from a scroll whether they are trained in ritual casting or not
    - Rituals cast from scrolls do not require training in a particular skill
    - If the ritual has a varied effect dependent on a skill check, the player casting the Ritual makes that check, even if casting from a scroll
    - If the ritual has a varied effect dependent on a skill check you may increase the casting time on it to take a number at the ratio of 1 minute per number. This allows you to sacrifice time in order to make sure a ritual is successful. (Example: You can cast Cure Disease as a standard with a normal heal check, or you can take 20 minutes to cast it and resolve it as though you rolled a 20)
    - Anyone with Ritual Casting may make scrolls for use, the cost is equal to the component cost and that scroll can then be used by anyone at no additional cost.

    The group feels that Rituals were dumbed down enough that the ridiculous casting times on some of them just went way overboard. There are obvious exceptions like Raise Dead, Create Magic Item, things like that. Has anyone done something like this to the Ritual system and did it work out for you?

    We're hoping this brings back some of the creativity we had with problem solving and assault planning from 3.5. The powers are great but most of them are not good for multi-tasking.

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    Default Re: (4e) Rituals

    This seems pretty unnecessary to me. The 10 minute casting time for rituals just isn't that big a deal outside of combat, and the rituals aren't meant to be used during combat at all. I think that allowing in-combat ritual casting is going to open up more problems than you think it will solve.

    That being said, remember that the enemies should be using rituals all the time now just like the PCs will. Ritual scrolls will become a huge market, and the prices will probably increase (for some rituals) due to the increase in demand.
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    Default Re: (4e) Rituals

    I've been in a lot of scenarios where a ritual would be extremely helpful, but sitting stationary in one spot for 10 minutes is completely unfeasible. Let's go with Silence. You can't imagine a scenario where you might want to cast Silence in under 10 minutes? I have a hard time thinking of a scenario where I can predict which burst 4 area I might need silenced in about 10 minutes outside of the obvious "meeting in a certain room" situations. =

    We were worried about the potential in combat problems but none of the rituals are designed to do anything in combat, very very few of them have feasible applications while in combat. Mostly they would be useful during for the in-between combat time. Infiltrating a castle using Passwall for instance. You can get a window of opportunity between guard patrols to sneak up to a wall and Passwall through it, but it's a lot less feasible to set up an uninterrupted 10 minutes next to a castle wall with which to finish casting the ritual while your party waits nervously behind you.

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    Default Re: (4e) Rituals

    hehe 1 standard action Linked portal. Takes the fear out of just about any dugeon crawl.

    i think the reason why they have casting times like they do is because there not ment to be used as an OMG ****!!! reaction spell. Some of them can be used efectivly in combat with some preplaning but no more of this "Ow my, a rampaging mob of townfolk!!!! here play with this Hallucinatory Creature for a bit while we run away style strats.

    standard action Disenchant magic item ... hehe game breaking

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    Default Re: (4e) Rituals

    So compromise -- instead of 10 minutes or 1/10 of a minute, try 1 minute.

    That's a hard -- but not impossible -- amount of time to find between patrols next to the castle's walls.

    If that's still too restrictive, you could take just some Rituals, like the stealthy ones, down to a 2- or 3-round casting time (15 seconds or so). And leave the rest at one minute -- or even 10 minutes, for big stuff like Teleporting.
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    Default Re: (4e) Rituals

    Quote Originally Posted by BlackRabite View Post
    I've been in a lot of scenarios where a ritual would be extremely helpful, but sitting stationary in one spot for 10 minutes is completely unfeasible. Let's go with Silence. You can't imagine a scenario where you might want to cast Silence in under 10 minutes? I have a hard time thinking of a scenario where I can predict which burst 4 area I might need silenced in about 10 minutes outside of the obvious "meeting in a certain room" situations. =

    We were worried about the potential in combat problems but none of the rituals are designed to do anything in combat, very very few of them have feasible applications while in combat.
    If it won't make a real difference, then why bother? You already say that you're going to make exceptions to the rule, so it'd be just as easy to say "Rituals X, Y, and Z cast in one standard action instead of the normal 10 minutes".

    Quote Originally Posted by BlackRabite View Post
    Mostly they would be useful during for the in-between combat time. Infiltrating a castle using Passwall for instance. You can get a window of opportunity between guard patrols to sneak up to a wall and Passwall through it, but it's a lot less feasible to set up an uninterrupted 10 minutes next to a castle wall with which to finish casting the ritual while your party waits nervously behind you.
    If you can cast the ritual in under six seconds, you aren't going to be doing much "nervous waiting". The adventure of trying to infiltrate the castle, with the elaborate plan and exquisite teamwork replace by:
    "Is there a guard nearby?"
    "No."
    "I use passwall. Everybody into the castle!"
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaun View Post
    hehe 1 standard action Linked portal. Takes the fear out of just about any dugeon crawl.

    i think the reason why they have casting times like they do is because there not ment to be used as an OMG ****!!! reaction spell. Some of them can be used efectivly in combat with some preplaning but no more of this "Ow my, a rampaging mob of townfolk!!!! here play with this Hallucinatory Creature for a bit while we run away style strats.

    standard action Disenchant magic item ... hehe game breaking
    There are obvious exceptions like Raise Dead, Create Magic Item, things like that.
    Or we could have exceptions.. like obvious exceptions. Like linked portal and a few others.

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    Default Re: (4e) Rituals

    Ok maybe for this post to work you should tell us which rituals you are planing to leave as is and which you are changing because obvious exceptions is a bit to much in the eye of the beholder.

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    Default Re: (4e) Rituals

    You DO know that what you're doing is regressing to 3.5e where magic was the easy way out and that's EXACTLY what WotC wanted to avoid and the SPECIFIC reason WHY they implemented rituals in the first place?

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    Default Re: (4e) Rituals

    He pretty much said that that's exactly what he's trying to do.
    Quote Originally Posted by Cheesegear View Post
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    Default Re: (4e) Rituals

    I guess that's what I'm trying to do. Except the Rituals are vastly underpowered compared to 3.5 spells. Not only did they lower them in power, they made them cost money and they gave them prohibitive casting times.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BlackRabite View Post
    I guess that's what I'm trying to do. Except the Rituals are vastly underpowered compared to 3.5 spells. Not only did they lower them in power, they made them cost money and they gave them prohibitive casting times.
    Yes, because magic is not supposed to be an instant solution to every little problem on hand. You're only supposed to use rituals when the situation really warrants it, or a second/third resort.

    If anything, 4e rituals are fine, and 3.5e spells were disturbingly, utterly overpowered.

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    Default Re: (4e) Rituals

    I think this variant is probably a big mistake. There are quite a few points behind rituals in 4e
    • They prevent skills from becoming redundant, like they can be in 3.x
    • They also make sure that casters don't get any good 'easy ways out' - part of the imbalance in 3.x was because a caster could usually escape from any bad situation - and a well-prepared caster was invincible.
    • They allow magic to be portrayed as powerful without risking any game balance issues. This one is actually quite important.
    • They also get across the idea that this is what most magic is really like when you get past the flashy combat spells.


    Quote Originally Posted by BlackRabite
    Except the Rituals are vastly underpowered compared to 3.5 spells. Not only did they lower them in power, they made them cost money and they gave them prohibitive casting times.
    Except that in 3e it is well worth banning several of the spells that are now rituals so that you can actually get some use out of the skills system. Knock and Detect Secret Doors are big examples. Just because they have limited combat use doesn't mean that they should be trivial.

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    Default Re: (4e) Rituals

    Another point about 4th ed. rituals - people seem very upset about the whole "10 minute casting time" thing. First of all, it's not like it's 10 minutes of actual time. You can cut straight to the end of the casting if you don't want to RP it out. Second, they are called rituals. If you can do them in a standard action (about 3 seconds) what exactly is ritualistic about them? 10 minutes is actually pretty fast for something like that...I mean hell, it takes me more than 10 minutes to make dinner or take a shower, I can't imagine how long it would take me to say, re-shape reality so I could talk to animals or raise the dead.

    Also, as the DM, you can have a ritual go faster or slower if the plot requires it. You can integrate a ritual into a skill challenge (they are a skill check, after all). You can use them in much more interesting ways than 3.5's "spells as anti-challenge ammo" system. Granted, not every ritual is going to be useful to every group. Likewise, some rituals may not have much of a use at all; that's just design mistakes, they happen in every game. Just help your players choose good ones that they will use and give them opportunities to use them.
    Last edited by Grynning; 2009-01-30 at 10:34 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by lesser_minion View Post
    I think this variant is probably a big mistake. There are quite a few points behind rituals in 4e
    • They prevent skills from becoming redundant, like they can be in 3.x
    • They also make sure that casters don't get any good 'easy ways out' - part of the imbalance in 3.x was because a caster could usually escape from any bad situation - and a well-prepared caster was invincible.
    • They allow magic to be portrayed as powerful without risking any game balance issues. This one is actually quite important.
    • They also get across the idea that this is what most magic is really like when you get past the flashy combat spells.




    Except that in 3e it is well worth banning several of the spells that are now rituals so that you can actually get some use out of the skills system. Knock and Detect Secret Doors are big examples. Just because they have limited combat use doesn't mean that they should be trivial.
    Neither of those make the skills redundant because of the limitations set on them. Detect Secret Doors costs 25 gold to check for a secret door or hidden door only if it is in your Line of Sight when you cast it. It's obviously much better to burn 25 gold in each room you come to, sometimes multiple times in the room if it contains a LoS bend or large pillar than to have someone with the actual skill do it for free. If the door is opened by a switch or lever it doesn't show you the mechanism, only that there is a door there. Knock is even better, nothing is more awesome than burning money and a healing surge each time I want to try and open something. Hope I don't botch the roll.

    As for the "RP through the casting time" the reason for this houserule isn't because we're tired of listening to our wizard say "still casting" for 10 minutes. The reason for it is to make rituals worthwhile in the situations they seem to be designed for, when you need extra help and you don't have time to do it in a mundane fashion. A lot of them burn resources to do something you could do mundanely for free, why should they take longer as well. Can you give me an example of when you would use Detect Secret Doors when you have someone with a high perception with you?

    Heck, the flavor text for Passwall almost invalidates itself. "A gap opens in the impenetrable Caldanis Fortress Wall, peeling the solid stone into a passageway as if it were a pair of tent flaps. “Come,” says your guide, 'we have only a short time before they notice this trick . . . or it closes on us.' "

    They could notice us at any second. Good thing they didn't gander over here in the last 10 minutes when I was chanting and drawing arcane symbols on their wall.

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    Default Re: (4e) Rituals

    Note that you don't need to cast a ritual to perform utility magic. According to the RAW, an Arcana check lets a character manipulate magical phenomenon such as dispelling a harmful magical effect.

    If you skim through the traps section in the DMG, you'll notice that most of the magical traps can't be disarmed by Thievery; you'll need to succeed on an Arcana check, or in some cases an Arcana skill challenge, to dispel the magical trap. Several planar hazards in the Manual of the Planes can be rendered inert by a successful Arcana check or skill challenge.

    The same holds true for Religion when it comes to divine magic. 3.5's Consecrate and Desecrate have been folded into the Religion skill in 4E. In several LFR adventures (which are mandated to follow the RAW), Religion is used in this way.

    Basically, rituals are there as a last resort. Use skill checks and skill challenges instead for most occasions.

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    Default Re: (4e) Rituals

    If you are going to make rituals more used and accessible, try finding a way to work with the price. While most rituals are low priced, the fact is if your are following the DMG you are supposed to give a specific amount of gold to the players, and using rituals uses up a consumable resource that could be spent on magic items that make you better for longer times.

    Just giving ritual components as treasure doesn't work, because they'll just be used to make magic items if the group is smart.
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    Default Re: (4e) Rituals

    Well, by using scrolls you can already halve the time to cast the ritual. So, I'm thinking if you wanted to modify the cast time of the ritual you can just apply a penalty to the skill check. And if there is no skill check, you can't quick cast the ritual. You can even add a feat to reduce the penaltys for quick casting. So, for example. If you use a scroll you halve the time. Reduce the time by 1 miniute for a -5 penalty on the skill check (minimum of one standard action). Feat makes this a -3.

    So to reduce a ten minute ritual to one standard action you use a scroll and reduce it 5 minutes for a -25 on the skill check or take the feat to reduce it to -15 on the skill check.
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    Default Re: (4e) Rituals

    Quote Originally Posted by lesser_minion View Post
    I think this variant is probably a big mistake. There are quite a few points behind rituals in 4e
    The problem is that most of these points you've listed aren't really true.

    Quote Originally Posted by lesser_minion View Post
    They prevent skills from becoming redundant, like they can be in 3.x
    Skills aren't redundant in 3.X. Spending vast amounts of money and effort to be half as good as what the rogue can do for free doesn't make the rogue redundant, it just makes you a sucker. Making rituals effective wouldn't make skills redundant in 4e, either.

    Quote Originally Posted by lesser_minion View Post
    They allow magic to be portrayed as powerful without risking any game balance issues. This one is actually quite important.
    For the vast majority of the rituals, in the 10 minutes it takes to cast them, you could solve the same problem with mundane skills for free. You seem to be saying that it's possible to make rituals largely useless while still making them appear 'powerful' - but it doesn't work that way. Either rituals are effective or they aren't, and as things are, they mostly aren't.

    The fact is that the majority of rituals in 4e, frankly, suck. You have to spend resources to learn them, you have to pay money to cast them, you have to take 100 combat rounds to use them, and then their effects are usually so weak as not to be worth the trouble in the first place. They'd be worth it if you could use them reasonably quickly, but the 10 minute casting time makes most of them ridiculous. As things are, there are about half a dozen rituals that are must-haves (Raise Dead and Linked Portal being the big ones) and dozens more which are money sinks.

    I've DMed 4e games, and every time someone's tried to play a ritualist, the dialogue has gone something like this:

    Ritualist: "Hey guys, look at this situation! This is a perfect place to use Ritual X!"
    Party member A: "Dude, we don't need it."
    Ritualist: "But I want to get to use my class features! I never get to cast a ritual! Please can I use it?"
    Party member B: "Hey guys, while you were talking the rest of us decided on a different way to do things which takes less time and less effort and less money. You can catch us up."
    Ritualist: "..."

    Reducing the casting time on all those 10 minute rituals would do a lot to make them less useless.

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    Default Re: (4e) Rituals

    Had an idea

    1) Make a top 10 list of rituals (better yet, make the players do it)
    2) Anything on that list takes 10 minutes per level to cast.
    3) Anything not on the list takes 1 round per level to cast.

    Thus the all important Raise Dead takes 80 minutes to cast while Knock merely takes four rounds.
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    Default Re: (4e) Rituals

    This is a good idea.

    Whatever the intent was of WOTC for rituals in 4E, the practice is that nearly all of them are restricted to the point of utter uselessness. This has been a massive overreaction on WOTC's part

    Rituals should have one of (1) a high cost, (2) a high casting time, or (3) a limited effect; most rituals as printed have all three. So relieving that would certinaly help.

    As past threads on the topic have shown, in most cases where rituals do see frequent use in play, the DM is (consciously or not) waiving the many, many restrictions on them. Players aren't necessarily aware of that. But with only a few notable exceptions (e.g. floating disk, resurrect, enchant item), if you find a ritual useful, you're not playing it by RAW.
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    Default Re: (4e) Rituals

    You could force them to make an Arcana or Religion check to use the Ritual in combat (even if you normally don't make one) and give them a +10 to the DC for it being rushed. Then of course you also have to make it a Full round action.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KillianHawkeye View Post
    That being said, remember that the enemies should be using rituals all the time now just like the PCs will. Ritual scrolls will become a huge market, and the prices will probably increase (for some rituals) due to the increase in demand.
    Economics? In DnD? BLASPHEMY! (See: Purchase and sale prices for magic items)

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    Honestly I don't think you're going to be able to get a quick fix for rituals. Each ritual has its own set of problems that require individual attention to balance/make useful so that any universal easing to the ritual system (including decreasing casting time) is going to break some formerly 'useless' rituals completely.

    Even the clever 'top 10' idea will break at least one #11+ ritual. I guess there are workarounds, but the solution that ends up with the best balance is the thorough one that takes lots of work.
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    Default Re: (4e) Rituals

    Quote Originally Posted by Saph
    Skills aren't redundant in 3.X. Spending vast amounts of money and effort to be half as good as what the rogue can do for free doesn't make the rogue redundant, it just makes you a sucker. Making rituals effective wouldn't make skills redundant in 4e, either.
    Where do you have to spend vast amounts of money and effort to automatically succeed at something that the rogue might fail? The only issue is only being able to do so a limited number of times in a day. I actually said that they can make skills redundant - there are skills that remain useful, but it still feels like 3.x wizards and sorcerers tread on the toes of the rogue too much when the character concept doesn't really demand it. I don't know how much I can speak for the designers, but that was a pretty significant factor in changing rituals.

    Quote Originally Posted by Saph
    I've DMed 4e games, and every time someone's tried to play a ritualist, the dialogue has gone something like this:

    Ritualist: "Hey guys, look at this situation! This is a perfect place to use Ritual X!"
    Party member A: "Dude, we don't need it."
    Ritualist: "But I want to get to use my class features! I never get to cast a ritual! Please can I use it?"
    Party member B: "Hey guys, while you were talking the rest of us decided on a different way to do things which takes less time and less effort and less money. You can catch us up."
    Ritualist: "..."
    My understanding of some of the explanation behind rituals leads me to believe that many of the rituals are there solely as a last resort for when players can't solve the problem quickly and efficiently. There is an article on the Wizards site that has some explanation.

    Quote Originally Posted by BlackRabite
    We're hoping this brings back some of the creativity we had with problem solving and assault planning from 3.5. The powers are great but most of them are not good for multi-tasking.
    This is worth trying to achieve, but I think that in the very least you need to review each ritual on a case-by-case basis and make sure that they are less available than in 3e, even if you want to give them some more use.

    I think a good compromise would be to ban the rituals from being used in any stressful situation and keep the cost. (the financial cost being the main balancing factor really)

    I don't really see how nerfing 3e's selection of spells like teleport, knock, detect secret doors and so on is a bad move however, and I would strongly suggest thinking twice about reversing the decision to do so.
    Last edited by lesser_minion; 2009-01-31 at 03:13 PM.

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    Default Re: (4e) Rituals

    many, but not all. Some are designed to be used as part of the adventure. A trip across the planes needs the right rituals, for example.

    and some are practically useless but have an element of style- Raise Land, for example. May be not very directly useful, but the idea of ripping a two-mile wide chunk of land from its roots to soar into the sky may appeal to some players.

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    Default Re: (4e) Rituals

    Quote Originally Posted by Kurald Galain View Post
    Rituals should have one of (1) a high cost, (2) a high casting time, or (3) a limited effect; most rituals as printed have all three.
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    Default Re: (4e) Rituals

    Quote Originally Posted by lesser_minion View Post
    I don't know how much I can speak for the designers, but that was a pretty significant factor in changing rituals.
    The problem is, that as a lot of people have noted, the designers overreacted. Instead of limiting the power of utility magic but making it still effective, they boosted a select handful of rituals to be so crazy-good that you'd have to be insane not to take them (Raise Dead, anyone?) and nerfed the rest into near-uselessness.

    Quote Originally Posted by lesser_minion View Post
    My understanding of some of the explanation behind rituals leads me to believe that many of the rituals are there solely as a last resort for when players can't solve the problem quickly and efficiently.
    This does seem to have been the intention, but the PHB doesn't actually say this - the rituals are presented as things that are supposed to be really useful. So new players look at them and think "hey, that would be cool to do!" and then find out that they don't really work.

    Quote Originally Posted by lesser_minion View Post
    I don't really see how nerfing 3e's selection of spells like teleport, knock, detect secret doors and so on is a bad move however, and I would strongly suggest thinking twice about reversing the decision to do so.
    I think you're pretty far off base here. Of the three spells you've listed:

    Detect Secret Doors: I have never seen this spell used, ever, in all my years of playing 3rd edition. What on earth's the point when Search is free and finds everything? Would never put it in my spellbook, and would only get a scroll as a novelty item if I had the money to throw away.

    Knock: Used to carry a wand of it as a wizard. Useful occasionally. Open Lock is still better on average. I only had the wand because I picked it up as treasure - I wouldn't have spent the 4,500 gold on it otherwise. If making a new wizard, I'd probably buy a scroll or two of it, but no more.

    Teleport: Excellent spell. Of course, 4e has pretty much the same thing with Linked Portal, which functions in largely the same way (the cost is negligible). Linked Portal is another of the must-have rituals that you'd have to be crazy not to get. Linked Portal has the advantages that it can do a whole party at once and can't misfire, while Teleport has the quicker casting time and has slightly more freedom of location. I'd have a very hard time choosing between the two if they were both made available to me as 3.5 spells.

    So of the three spells you listed as needing nerfing, two are niche spells that you can go the best part of a campaign without using, and the third didn't really get nerfed at all, only adapted (and still just as good).

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  28. - Top - End - #28
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    Default Re: (4e) Rituals

    The only rituals my party every uses are a few basic ones for creating items or teleporting and the like.

    I personally think the whole ritual system needs to be re-worked. I'd like to see more rituals with more reasonable cast times(rituals shouldn't be combat cast able, but you can do that by making the ritual take 1 minute, 10 minutes isn't neccesary), scrolls shouldn't have any cost to use(it should be included in the cost of the scroll) and ritual casters should have a certain amount of rituals they can use per day without components.
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    Default Re: (4e) Rituals

    Quote Originally Posted by BlackRabite View Post
    As for the "RP through the casting time" the reason for this houserule isn't because we're tired of listening to our wizard say "still casting" for 10 minutes.
    You're not casting them in real-time, are you? The whole point of the time duration was so that you couldn't cast rituals in combat. But you're allowed to skip ahead.

    Here's how I would play it:

    Player: I cast Detect Secret Doors in the room.
    DM: (Mentally considers whether anything will happen to disrupt ritual and decides against it) OK. The ten minutes pass swiftly, and the magical outline of a door appears in the left wall.
    Last edited by FoE; 2009-02-01 at 03:17 AM.

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    Default Re: (4e) Rituals

    Quote Originally Posted by Saph View Post
    The problem is, that as a lot of people have noted, the designers overreacted. Instead of limiting the power of utility magic but making it still effective, they boosted a select handful of rituals to be so crazy-good that you'd have to be insane not to take them (Raise Dead, anyone?) and nerfed the rest into near-uselessness.
    QFT.

    Quote Originally Posted by Face Of Evil View Post
    Player: I cast Detect Secret Doors in the room.
    DM: (Mentally considers whether anything will happen to disrupt ritual and decides against it) OK. The ten minutes pass swiftly, and the magical outline of a door appears in the left wall.
    Other player: while the wizard is busy for ten minutes, I start making perception checks.
    DM: Ok, after thirty seconds you have found the door.
    Other player: wizard, you can save your money and stop casting now.

    And that is why DSD is a useless ritual.
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