From Guidebook

Around the world, all civilizations have employed the magical practice in their own ways, for their own ends. The variations between techniques and methods seem innumerable, but there are five known constants. Below are the fundamentals needed for each spell. When an Arcanist casts a spell, it takes time for them to find their components, select a power source, scribe their runes, and other essential items.

Although it takes three successful rolls in the thread, flavour and the nature of their work means Arcanists will generally prefer to take longer, allowing them to set up a ritual for the best possible effect. Hence, the slow casting time. Rituals is also the way Arcanists create Enchantments.

A Ritual, in summary[edit | edit source]

Arcanists begin by drawing, carving, laying down the circle. Then they draw their runes. After that, they place the components. Once it is all set up, they activate the ritual using a drop of their own blood. It does not need to be much, only a tiny drop, but arcanists are sometimes known for their dramatics. If they have prepared a power source, and made sure to key the ritual to it, it should all unfold as intended.

After that, the ritual proceeds, much like a computer program runs as directed by its code. Stopping the process at this point is often more disastrous than allowing it to play out, as it usually means that an arcanist needs to break the circle.

When performing a ritual or scribing a spell, players use the keywords they've chosen for their arcanist character. They can take the risk of using unknown Keywords, but this is dangerous work and incurs a penalty during rolling. Like the other Paths, you are welcome and encouraged to come up with as many interesting spells as you'd like for your arcanist to explore, within the bounds of those keywords.

As always, the mechanics, keywords, penalties, and quality of components is entirely in the meta. Characters are not aware of their 'keywords' or the mechanical impact of their choices. They just know they have a specialty or a focus in certain areas of magic, and that certain things can go wrong or are difficult to accomplish.

Ritual Failure[edit | edit source]

Ritual magic is a dangerous practice but the reward often outweighs the risk. Below are the consequences of failure. As with all things involving the mechanics of the Strike & Cinder system, regard these as guidelines and make the dice work for you. The way in which the ritual backfires and your character loses Luck are up to you in terms of flavour, timing in the thread, and other such elements.

Failure and Consequences
Ritual Backlash Rolling a partial failure when activating a ritual ends in a backlash and the ritual fails. A ritual backlash reduces the caster's Luck by 2.
Major Ritual Backlash Rolling less than a partial failure when activating a ritual is considered a critical ritual failure and ends in major ritual backlash and the ritual failing. A major ritual backlash reduces the Luck of everyone in the area by 2.
Containing Backlash An Arcanist can't stop the backlash, but they can contain it. A spellcraft Cinder skill check can contain the damage and reduce the Luck loss to just 1.
Broken Circles When the circle of a ritual is broken, the ritual experiences a catastrophic failure. Everyone in the vicinity has their Luck reduced by half, rounded up. If the Arcanist rolls an exceptional success on a Cinder skill check, they can contain it to just them, reducing them to 1 Luck.
Rushed Rituals When rushing a ritual (rolling less than the required three rolls for preparation) the caster needs a critical success of 10 passes on the activation roll for the ritual to succeed.
No Power Source Regardless of the results of the activation roll, casting without an appropriate power source reduces a caster's Luck to 1. If they roll a partial failure in addition to this, they also reduce the Luck of everyone in the vicinity to 1.

Rituals done by non-Arcanists[edit | edit source]

Non-human or tainted humans, such as Possessed and Cursed, use their Path's Cinder pool. When they use their own blood, one keyword is randomly added to the ritual, causing it to have unexpected and potentially disastrous effects. Although they could be practiced and knowledgeable in the ritual arts, for a non-human or tainted human, the Threshold is modified with a +1. Anything less than an extraordinary success as they're performing the ritual is considered a critical failure. A partial failure results in a catastrophic failure.

A Mundane Human attempting a ritual with the purpose of entering the Arcanist path also has the Threshold modified with a +1, but they can do their Cinder rolls with the Circlebreaker Cinder pool.

Ritual Fundamentals[edit | edit source]

Process of Casting a Ritual[edit | edit source]

Number Modifiers
  • A ritual done by a non-Arcanist: Threshold +1 for all rolls. They must roll an extraordinary success to avoid failure.
  • A ritual using non-human or tainted blood: Threshold +1 for all rolls. A Keyword from the blood is randomly introduced to the ritual.
  • When using unknown Keywords, Arcanists are limited to their Circlebreaker Cinder pool (7d6) with a +1 to the Threshold on the activation roll.
  • A ritual missing two or more components: Threshold +1 for the activation roll.
Ritual Preparation
  • Three successful Cinder rolls in separate posts.
  • A failed roll cannot be re-rolled in the same post, but it can be attempted again in the caster's next post.
Ritual Activation
  • One Cinder roll to activate the ritual (and a drop of blood).
  • The power source must be specified.
Order of Actions
  • A ritual begins with drawing the circle, then scribing the runes and laying the components.
  • The power source is usually prepared beforehand or while a ritualist works, and keyed to the ritual through the runes.
  • The blood to activate the ritual must always come last.

First - The Sigil Circle[edit | edit source]

The circle is the foundation of ritual magic. Both a gateway and a barrier, the circle, found everywhere in nature, was the natural choice for prehistoric arcanists. It can be made of chalk, bone, metal (excluding sky iron, or silver), or even just leaves. Arcanists in the Exchange often carry metal rings with them that they can throw down quickly to cast spells in the field. Other places in the world may have arcanists using rope or ceramic plates with runes inscribed around the edge. Ultimately, the material does not matter and is subject to the arcanist's preference. It should be noted that there is a risk of breaking the circle in the process of casting, so hardier materials are recommended.

In casting more than one spell at a time, such as in the case of a summoning and a binding spell, it is common for arcanists to draw multiple circles, with a concentric arrangement being best practice. Others may prefer interlocking circles. Results may vary.

Risks[edit | edit source]

Anything less than a complete circle is very likely to lead to disaster. Similarly, it is always recommended that the circle be as close to perfect as possible, which has led to a joke in the supernatural community that arcanists are the next largest consumer group of compasses after mathematicians and navigators. Should an arcanist's circle be incomplete, anything less than an extraordinary success is a critical failure. If the circle becomes broken mid-ritual, the effect is an immediate and catastrophic failure.

Catastrophic Failure - The nightmare of every arcanist. A broken circle means dealing with pure, untethered magic. Directionless and destructive, the backlash affects everyone and everything in the immediate area. The Arcanist must roll an extraordinary success on their next Cinder skill check to limit the effect to themselves, allowing the ritual to reduce their Luck to 1. Otherwise, it affects everyone in the thread, reducing their Luck by half, rounded up.

Second - The Runes[edit | edit source]

Thousands upon thousands of runes exist, each with their own special meaning. The origin of this eldritch alphabet is a mystery lost to time, but evidence shows that it is ancient, and runes vary by culture, language, and region.

These runes are carved within and without the sigil circle, programming the spell's intent, duration, and potency. An arcanist must carve, draw or otherwise write these runes accurately, lest they write a rune wrong and produce unexpected results while casting.

Experienced arcanists often learn how to craft their own spells with the runes, while apprentice arcanists will follow the directions in grimoires or spellbooks.

Runes can also be used independently of ritual spell casting. Often, they are carved into items to make them capable of being enchanted with a ritual. The better the caster, the more power an enchanted item will hold, and for longer. Some ancient artifacts have lasted centuries, created by a very powerful arcanist, or a group of arcanists.

Other times, they are drawn as warding symbols or perhaps even as traps - a single explosive rune in sigil circle drawn in chalk on a wall makes a devastating trap.

Risks[edit | edit source]

This part of the spell is the place with the greatest margin for error and where less experienced arcanists fail.

Third - The Components[edit | edit source]

The focus, the sacrifice. Arcanists need up to five components to engage each of their five senses, although casters who lack one of the senses can and do manage with less. These components are placed in or around the sigil circle and these items are consumed in the process of casting.

Components do not include an item being enchanted, or the potion being brewed. When enchanting something, the quality of the components are important and have an impact on the nature and power of the enchantment.

Components vary by caster, but should be relevant to the spell they intend to cast. Other than these parameters, the components are bespoke and arcanists can often be spotted toting large bags full of their preferred components.

For example, one necromancer will choose bone meal, a burial shroud, a jar of embalming fluid, myrrh, and the echoes of a tomb caught in a handkerchief, while another will choose a raven's skull, a black feather, a drop of asp blood, flowers, and chanting a dirge. You're more than welcome to design your own spells and needed components.

Risks[edit | edit source]

If a ritualist is missing two or more components, the threshold for the ritual increases by 1. So, instead of 4, they need 5 or higher on each die in their Cinder roll for it to count as a success.

Fourth - The Caster's Blood[edit | edit source]

An arcanist's signature. The caster's blood dripped on the sigil circle is the only known way of activating the ritual.

A drop of blood on the sigil circle is used to seal the circle and to begin the ritual. This is what precludes non-humans and the cursed from using ritual magic as their blood will introduce an unknown variable to the spell, warping the magic and bringing out potentially destructive results.

Non-humans or tainted can use someone else’s blood to avoid the risks of using inhuman or tainted blood, but even practicing a ritual can still be risky for them. It is often impossible to predict how ritual magic will react to other magics inherent in the caster.

Risks[edit | edit source]

Substituting with someone else's blood: Should an arcanist use another's blood for a ritual, if they are non-human or tainted the Threshold of all rolls throughout the ritual increases by one (1). It will also randomly introduce a Keyword from the origin of the blood, regardless of whether or not the combination works. This is done through a dice roll either by the player or staff.

As a result, the ritual will not function as intended whether it succeeds or fails. Use the random keyword as a guideline for the possible disastrous effect or the way it fizzles. In the case of enchanting items with these effects, it is staff who rolls for the keyword and defines how it changes the enchantment.

The Energy Source[edit | edit source]

Everything needs energy, including magic. For their rituals, arcanists can call on a variety of energy sources based on the size and complexity of the ritual; thunderstorms, a burning fire, or perhaps even the electrical power grid. The power or force of the energy source often defines the potency of the ritual, especially when the power source is active during the ritual. Passive energy sources are ill-suited for rituals and result in lacklustre enchantments.

If there is no available power source or the power source is too weak, the spell will default to draining energy from the caster. Seasoned Arcanists know that going without an energy source should only be done when there is no other choice. A careless caster may find themselves near unconscious or killed by neglecting to find an appropriate energy source.

Risks[edit | edit source]

Should an arcanist cast without an appropriate energy source, it takes them down to 1 Luck. If they roll a Partial Failure during such a ritual, this effect applies to everyone in the vicinity of the ritual.

Allowing a ritual to drain from the caster is physically debilitating. Arcanists have reported various physical effects ranging from loss of limb coordination, symptoms of blood loss, symptoms of a stroke, dysarthria, or apraxia. It can also mimic the effect of Resonance. In the very serious cases, it can result in permanent disability or death.

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