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Why Rituals are the Worst Designed Thing in Fourth Edition

Written by Nicholas - Published on February 6, 2009

Nicholas is the columnist in charge of Nerd Watching and part-time Expy wrangler. He also works as the community manager, so keep an eye out for him on RPG blogs and forums.

After reading that headline I suspect that even those of you who like 4th ed. (which I do) are going “Nicholas, what about skill challenges?” I didn’t forget them, I think the ritual system is worse than skill challenges. I paused so you could gasp in shock but it doesn’t translate well in print. Anyway, throughout the article I will not only be attacking the ritual system but pointing out ways that it is worse than its often maligned cousin skill challenges.

Disclaimer: I don’t like being negative and I have nothing but respect for the men and ladies who design games. That said, the ritual system has been getting on my nerves.

Rituals are Costly

So you’ve set out on a life of adventuring as a wizard and you’ve just hit level two! You stroll into town feeling like the king of the world in your wizard hat and non-magical staff. You’ve decided that you want to translate your new found wealth from goblin slaying into a ritual for your spellbook. Well assuming your DM gave you your whole monetary reward in gold and not any potions that means you have 720 gold among all your friends. You take your even cut and set off to by your first level 2 ritual, eye of alarm! You shell out 100 of your hard earned gold pieces for the ritual but that’s not all! You’re also going to need enough reagents to cast it. With your remaining 44 gold you can afford enough reagents to cast it once, boy you’ll feel safe for that one night! Of course, that’s assuming you’re in a standard group of 5, since the treasure parcels don’t increase in monetary treasure for additional adventurers. If you have 6 people in your merry band you had best hope you invested in charisma because you’ll be sitting outside the tavern where the rest of your friends are drinking their rewards away while you beg for the last 5 gold you need to cast your shiny new ritual once.

Why skill challenges are better: skill challenges do not make me poor, they provide me with experience and sometimes treasure.

Rituals are Scattered

Assuming you have worked up enough money to pay for rituals (or get some of the free ones that only wizards get), you need to pick them. Well that’s easy, if you want to find the ideal ritual for you just open up your copy of the Player’s Handbook, Forgotten Realms Player’s Handbook, Manual of Planes and Open Grave and start searching. Of course that list will soon be outdated.

Why skill challenges are better: Different books provide sample skill challenges but everything you need to make a skill challenge is in the DMG.

Rituals are Overlooked

At last, a chance to use your duplicate ritual! That is, assuming you have the one, remember that you have that one, realize that it could be useful here, have enough money in components, have the right kind of components and your companions haven’t already found a different solution in the time it took you to look up duplicate. Now which book was that in again?

Why skill challenges are better: Well, they aren’t really. Unless a DM has planned something as a skill challenge ahead of time it is very unlikely he will think to make one on the fly.

Rituals are Indistinct

Creating illusionary sound: class feature. Creating illusionary item: ritual. Creating illusionary creature that makes illusionary sounds: ritual. Creating illusionary self: utility power. Confused?

Why skill challenges are better: Everyone knows what skill challenges are, something they don’t want to use.

Rituals are Fixed

Like it or not, you need the ritual system. There are effects such as item creation and disease curing that simply need to be in the game and currently the only way they are is through rituals. Unless someone does a drastic overhaul of the ritual system or simply cuts it and incorporates those effects in other ways you are stuck with it as is.

Why skill challenges are better: Skill challenges are optional, you can chose to use them or leave them out with no repercussions. They are also flexible, you can bend and change them to suit your needs without hard rules rewrites.

Do rituals get your blood boiling or do I just need to chill out? Let me hear it in the comments!

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Written by Nicholas

Nick DiPetrillo is the original author behind the games Arete and Zombie Murder Mystery available at http://games.dungeonmastering.com

Nick is no longer active with DungeonMastering.com, however he is an accomplished writer and published his first game in 2009.

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Why Rituals are the Worst Designed Thing in Fourth Edition , 2.6 out of 5 based on 9 ratings

Nicholas is the columnist in charge of Nerd Watching and part-time Expy wrangler. He also works as the community manager, so keep an eye out for him on RPG blogs and forums.



42 Responses to “Why Rituals are the Worst Designed Thing in Fourth Edition”
  1. Pinwiz says:

    I’ll agree with some of the points, but some quick rebuttals.

    RITUALS ARE COSTLY – I can see the point, but if the GM doesn’t increase the amount of treasure available to a larger party then there’s something wrong.

    RITUALS ARE SCATTERED – And this is different than Powers how? That’s a bigger problem for every character than just the Ritual users.

  2. Yax says:

    Does anyone here use the D&D compendium regularly to gather information on all these different rituals or powers?

  3. Nicholas says:

    @Pinwiz: For most characters there will only have to look in two books for their powers, the PHB or other core book their class is in and the book for their power source. That can be annoying but it should cap out as two books per person. For rituals it is already up to four books and still growing. The only thing I think is going to come close is magic items, already in the PHB, Adventurer’s Vault and the Adventurer’s Vault 2 coming out.

  4. Dave T. Game says:

    Alright, if no one else will, I’ll bite.

    Rituals are Costly: Since they benefit the party, generally, this comes out of party funds in our groups. Plus it makes for a great reward from an NPC priest or wizard (or scavenged from an evil wizard’s library).

    Scattered: The case for most things in D&D :)

    Overlooked: You’re going to have written down all the ones you know on your character sheet, I assume, and the names are generally pretty evocative. Since it’s part of a wizard’s class features, the wizard in my group is always looking for chances to use his.

    Indistinct: This could also be blamed upon the powers system, no? Or the system as a whole? Seems odd to pin it on only one part.

    Fixed: They don’t just provide essential effects, they have plenty of fun utility too.

    Of course, I don’t have a problem with Skill Challenges either. There’s plenty of other stuff I could complain about, but those two ain’t it.

  5. Nicholas says:

    @Yax: I haven’t found the insider tools useful enough to make me bring my laptop to games yet. Using the character creator frustrates me far more than just pencils and paper. The compendium is okay but haven’t hasn’t been worth the hassle. It is also only useful for looking up rituals you already have because you have to search by name, it is no good for picking rituals.

  6. Nicholas says:

    @Dave T. Game: Even if you have the whole party pitching in, the purchase and use of rituals consumes (in my opinion) far too much of the party’s treasure for the effect you get. If you get them as a reward it is still coming from the total monetary award per level for the party, that is just the DM spending the party’s fund for them. Of course you have your rituals written down but in most cases you will need to look up the component cost and skill check associated with the ritual. Yes, the indistinctness is also the fault of the power system. I think they generally just don’t draw a clear enough line between utility powers and rituals.

  7. Tom says:

    Scattered? I suppose. Stop buying books and you’ll have less to weed through.

    If they cost too much, just house rule a discount.

    Why are comparing rituals to skill challenges? Are afraid the Haters will Hate you for not making them the main focus of your Hate? ;-)

  8. Dave T. Game says:

    Still seems like splitting hairs to me. Rituals aren’t listed as being parcels, so I consider them extra. It may just be an oversight, but the adventures look like they do it that way too.

    Just like with the indistinctness, you also have to look up powers in a book to see their details unless you have them written down. Is this a fault of rituals, or the system itself? It also doesn’t bug me that some illusions can be done as powers and some are rituals- D&D spells have always been odd and arbitrary in their placement.

    How much experience do you have with rituals in actual play?

  9. ambrose says:

    I’ve always encouraged my players to make checklists to avoid making my brain go, “Mage Armor! Mage Armor! for Gods freaking sake cast it or I swear there will be 50 orcs instead of 5!” Buying survival gear that need replenishing(a.k.a. food and water) is also a checklist I encourage. Maybe the materials for a ritual should be budgeted in this way.

    Also, I haven’t run more than a one-shot 4e game yet but maybe a simple house rule could extend the duration of the ritual’s effect to offset the cost?

  10. Nicholas says:

    @Tom: I was a player at the time they were really annoying me. Besides, I like playing the rules as written. I play with a single house rule, in my campaigns female dragonborn do not have breasts. And no, I am not afraid of the haters, I think that my past posts make it clear that I am usually defending 4th ed. I compare them to skill challenges because that is widely as the worst aspect of 4th ed.

    @Dave T. Game: Quite a bit. My last character was a priest of Sehanine. One of my goals for the character was to prove to the usual wizard player of that group that rituals shouldn’t just be ignored, which is what he was doing. I was making a very active effort to use rituals whenever I could. I chose illusions specifically in the article because my cleric worshiped the goddess of illusions but for some reason several facets of illusion were restricted to wizards.

    I make no secret that this article is essentially a rant of what was bugging me at the time. Most of it was fueled by my own attempts to write rituals. That experience revealed to me just how lazy the ritual rules all. For instance, there are nine categories of ritual with one of them admitted as being a “catch-all”. Over a third of all the rituals in the PHB are in the catch-all category, only a single ritual falls in the actual category “binding”. Now as a player there is no reason you should ever care about that. In fact, you probably would never even notice unless you went to write you own rituals. However, once I noticed it just gave me the impression of a system that was not really thought out, just thrown together.

  11. Micah says:

    What they did to the magic system in 4e makes me cry myself to sleep at night. All those beautiful spells collapsed into a bunch of sterile powers and a handful of rituals.

    * Runs away weeping…

  12. Thasmodious says:

    I will defend skill challenges to the death. I think they are one of the best innovations of 4e, even while their initial math is a bit off. It’s new. But the core idea of treating RP and skill based situations as encounters, with clear goals, consequences, XP, and a mechanical means to move through those situations is great. Skill challenges work great when you don’t worry overly much about the structure of the challenge itself and instead focus on using it as a framework to run an interesting, dynamic encounter.

    Now rituals. I agree with another blogger who said the only thing better than rituals is MORE rituals. That said, my players have not found the love yet, but I think they are slowly coming around. A few things I have done to help this is to remind them when a ritual would have helped them and to seed treasures with ritual components. Right now, the value of those components counts against the gp value of the parcel, but I am considering doing it outside of the treasure system to encourage their use. I also like the idea of using unique ritual components (as in AV) and dropping those as treasure – rare animal organs, certain gems and the like. I can’t say there is nothing wrong with the ritual system right now as my players have not really found much use and ultimately, the system may look better on paper than it does in play (as some say the opposite for the 4e system in general, that it plays much better than it reads). Still, I think its a workable system and as the group levels, the rituals become considerably more useful and eventually fairly necessary.

    As for things being “spread out”, the answer is DDI and the Compendium. $5 a month is really not an amount that can be complained about, and the tools available right now are indispensable for the DM and useful for the group as a whole. The Character Builder lets you know every ritual available from every source when you level up your ritual caster, and the Compendium lets you access them all easily without pouring through books.

  13. Nicholas says:

    @Thasmodious: We agree on many points. I poke fun of them in my article but I think skill challenges are far more clever than they get credit for. I don’t really blame the community though, in my opinion WotC really dropped the ball in initially presenting them. As I talk about in my upcoming review of Open Graves, I feel like that book does a much better job of showing the vast possibilities of that system.

    Still @Thasmodious: I was also a fan of rituals until I tried using them. The casters of my group also just ignored them so I made it my mission to try them out, that is when the subtle problems began to show up. For special components you can look to Unearthed Arcana (my favorite D&D book!) for inspiration. It has a brilliant section on metamagic components.

    More talking @Thasmodious: I have an insider subscription but I hate the character builder.

  14. HeirToPendragon says:

    I hate how long they take.

    Seriously, most of them take 10 minutes to cast! 10 minutes is a LOT of time in the world of D&D. That 10 minutes could change exactly how useful that ritual is.

  15. One more thing (may have been said), but do not forget rituals are often included within treasures, as well. Obviously, this does not rebuttal much, but still the wizard is not always shelling out hard-earned gold for these things.

  16. Nicholas says:

    @HeirToPendragon: I have to agree there. It seems like they wanted to make it impossible to use them as combat abilities but it was excessive, one minute would do that. In one of my games a little girl was just kidnapped by the big bad enemy and we had no idea where he was taking her. I wanted to use commune with nature to ask about strange buildings in the area but it takes 30 minutes! I wasn’t going to waste half an hour with the girl in danger.

  17. Mark says:

    Wow, Captcha just blew away my multi-paragraph response due to some validation error on the anti-spam code. Great.

    Outside of the fact that the alchemist and ritual caster in my party have a hard enough time getting the other characters to pony up for research and components, HeirToPendragon makes an important point about the casting time. For example, 10 minutes to cast Knock is ridiculous. The fighter and paladin in my party are usually beating down the doors in my dungeons before the rogue can even get out his toolkit. Never mind waiting 10 minutes in game time. Sure, they’ve gotten burned a few times using this approach, but that doesn’t seem to stop them!

    And putting in a door that defies all lock-picking and breakthrough attempts feels cheesy and contrived. Especially since the party is still at the mid-heroic tier and is currently encountering various grades of raving undead, kobolds and goblinoids. Monsters not known for their magical aptitude and arcane knowledge.

    The canned modules that WotC has been putting out also do not incorporate the use of rituals well. Again, to use the Knock example, most traps and doors have DC’s that can be overcome by the adventurers with a little teamwork (or Bluffing/Diplomacy/Intimidate skill challenges with the guards).

  18. Mark says:

    I wanted to add – one thing that I did was designate certain rituals as “combat” rituals. They take rounds to cast, instead of minutes. I think I tied the number of rounds it takes to cast to the level of the ritual.

  19. Milarky says:

    Erm are not rituals the boring spells that none Adventureing wizards cast?

    they are like building, finding pre or post adventure type spells or extended rest type spells

    if they pcs work for patron wount the patron pay for the costs..
    wount the pcs find portal type compoents in the wizards castles left behind after the bad guys retreat.

    there are kinda advenutre hooks, and clue givers to me.. nothing of use to an adventure whos in the thick of the action

    for a quick round up
    Rituals are the C.S.I after thought or pre thought that lead to capture and Powers are the S.W.A.T they take the brunt and bust down the door.

  20. Thasm says:

    1. “I don’t really blame the community though, in my opinion WotC really dropped the ball in initially presenting them.”

    Yeah, I would certainly agree with that. I think Mearls specifically has done a good job of picking the ball back up with his championing of skill challenges in his blog, the wizards site, and his excellent Dungeon articles.

    2. On rituals – this has given me a lot to think about. Do you think it could be, at least in part, that DMs are not used to rituals either and designing with them in mind a bit more might help? I think this was a problem with skill challenges as presented. DMs weren’t familiar with them and they weren’t explained in an intuitive manner with sufficient examples, leaving people floundering a bit trying to make them fit into the game as they understood it. Certain elements of the game require their use or are at least greatly aided by them – dealing with diseases, planar travel, illusions, item creation; so the potential is there, I think.

    I had an idea a while ago for a scenario where the group has to infiltrate a keep for some reason and are given a passwall ritual to do so. I envisioned lots of stealth and planning, a tense ritual casting at the wall, possibly while some of the group fights off guards, things like that.

    3. “I have an insider subscription but I hate the character builder.” You need to go see your doctor as soon as possible, clearly you’ve suffered a psychotic break. :)

  21. Felonius says:

    Originally, I didn’t really agree with this article… Then I started looking at some of the later (post-PHB) rituals… Well, it’s not really *that* bad, but the Forgotten Realms ones really missed it (in my opinion).

    My biggest complaint *is* the “component cost”. Time? Meh. Commune with Nature to save the girl taking 30 minutes? It could be worth it if it saves you an hour… Knock, admittedly, it’s likely rarely worth it unless the door is somehow reinforced (making stabbing through it a “not gonna happen”) and you lack a rogue (or if it’s reinforced and barred on the far side), which is a little *too* specific… Though, it *does* unlock chests and other “don’t want to damage the contents” type things, which could be useful, again, in the absence of a Rogue.

    Component cost is where most of them break down… Knock is 35gp plus 1 healing surge… 35 gp is a lot for one door, or one chest, no matter how tough it is to unlock… The one that gets me, however, is “Tiny Lanterns” from the FRPG… Level 6 Ritual, Duration: 1 hour, component cost: 60gp. What does it do? Creates 1 to 4 (based on arcana result) candles which you don’t have to carry yourself… You can buy *a lot* of candles for 60gp (at 1cp each, that’s 6000 candles…).

    Some rituals make sense.. Some balance out well… Even in the FRPG (Darklight is awesome, cheaper, lower level, and more effective than Tiny Lanterns…).

    I’ve lost focus, but sort of made my point… Component cost, in my opinion, is the *most* broken part of the whole thing… And everything else, while wonky, is workable…

  22. Nicholas says:

    @Thasm: I’ve actually spent much of the time I was supposed to be writing this morning playing with the character builder. The first couple times I tried the character builder I was making higher level characters and the whole thing felt non-intuitive to me. I got frustrated very quickly. I put some more time in it and I am starting to see the value of the program.

  23. Elda King says:

    “Wow, Captcha just blew away my multi-paragraph response due to some validation error on the anti-spam code. Great.”
    Just had the same problem… That’s really frustrating.

    I couldn’t believe that this article was serious. Without meaning offence, it simply makes no sense for me. The “scattered” argument was the worst I saw ever since someone said 4E was the worst system ever because it had too many full-page pictures, and the book had less text because of it.
    Well, using the logic from that argument, 3E magic system was the worst mechanic ever. Every single book I could remember had spells (excepting Unearthed Arcana)! And monsters would be the worst thing about 4E. There are monster in even more books: MM, Draconomicon, Open Grave, Manual of the Planes, all adventures, Forgotten Realms. The point is: these books are supplements. Completely optional. All you need to play is the core books. If you choose to use supplements (and more over, all suplements), it’s up to you to manage it.
    About being costly: well, they are. And I believe the whole party should help with the cost, if they benefit from it, but it’s up to the group. But the point is: you are not supposed to open every single door with a ritual. If you were, it would render lockpicking useless, for example. Nor are you supposed to protect yourself against scrying every night: in this case, it would better be a static ability: “you can’t be scryed upon while you sleep”. But when you find that extremely strong door and can’t spend hours trying to break it, use a ritual. I’m perfectly capable of imagining a siege where a wizard must knock the enemies’ gate down while soldiers protect it. And, when the party is hiding from the powerful evil wizard, a ritual may be their only way to survival. Sometimes divination may be the only way – or the safest way – to discover something. Rituals aren’t meant for everyday usage. These are cantrips, and to a lesser extent utilities. Rituals are made for situations when magic is the only (or the easier or the best) resource you can rely on.
    They are also not crucial to the game (“fixed”). They are very useful, but you could go without them. Let the players buy equipment, get the player whose character died to make another character, don’t put situations where the players must scry or hide from scrying, make them walk. It’s not harder than making an adventure without skill challenges.
    Overlooked? If the DM doesn’t make up situations where a certain skill can be used, it also becomes overlooked. If the DM makes situations where the players benefit from using a ritual they know (or from buying and using a scroll, for example), rituals can be fine.
    And the difference about rituals and powers is: powers are meant to be used inside combat. Rituals not. Most of them you woudn’t want to. Also, another more meaningful difference: rituals usually feature “bigger” or longer effects. If one illusion created by a 10 minutes (or more) ritual lasted for only 5 minutes, that ritual is broken.

    Now, why I find rituals great:
    1) They have great flavour
    2) The spellcaster no longer needs to choose between battle-spells and those for use outside combat
    3) Characters can have a little “magic-training” without multiclassing
    4) They allow for easy expenditure of old itens: selling or using the residuum to make new itens would require a lot of those low level itens, but rituals can use less components (and you can use lower-level rituals)
    5) They provide great adventures, encounters and quests: stop the evil ritual. Investigate something. Hiding from scrying. Etc.

    Now, the only point I agree with you: rituals are worse than skill challenges. But just because the later are amazing. (And actually, everyone I used to talk to loved skill challenges, but I didn’t like it at first – until I saw they are great).

  24. Nicholas says:

    @Elda King: Yes, I’m serious. Monster are at least well divided into the supplement books by topic. You know what sort of monster you want in an encounter then you know what book to pick up. With rituals you’ll need to look in several books to find what you’re looking for. As a matter of fact I didn’t like the scattered nature of spells in 3E. Yes, if I want to use supplements it is up to me to manage it. However, I think from a business standpoint Wizards of the Coast would want to make that easy on me. If I, as a consumer, start to view their new books as a hassle instead of a desirable product it does not look good for them. The reasons you think rituals are great and things I actually agree with. I really like the concept of rituals for those reasons but I think they fall down in the execution.

    Also, I always copy my text before I submit in case I mess up the spam-code.

  25. Usual Wizard Player says:

    Hah! I see I got you to come to my side concerning rituals.

    Through the normal discourse of playing my characters, I think I found only one spot where a ritual would’ve helped, and I had forgotten I had it. We still managed to get through the situation, though, and the ritual would’ve just saved us a bit of time. You’re not going to come across a situation where they’re particularly helpful very often, and maybe you won’t ever unless the GM specifically makes one, at which point it becomes a money-wasting nuisance instead of a fun obstacle. I would never make their use necessary, it’d be a terrible thing to force upon the players.

    For how much they cost, you don’t get a lot of bang for your buck. The only ones I would ever consider taking are Comprehend Languages, Enchant Magic Item, Disenchant Magic Item and Remove Disease. The rest are just too limited in application to be worth it unless the rituals and components are handed to me for free, and then I’ll probably just forget about them and continue playing as normal.

    So really the big problem with them is that they’re expensive diversions that add nothing to the game. You can just as easily go throughout the game never casting a ritual, and your character would be that much richer for it.

  26. Gull2112 says:

    The characters in my campaign are only at 3rd level and haven’t needed any rituals. There is so much new in 4E that it will be a delight to add later. We all really like 4E and as DM I REALLY like it. In my campaign I do not expect to ever need a knock ritual. A raise dead will be sure to come in handy. I will use rituals sparingly for key purposes and ignore them the rest of the time.

    I think what gets forgotten sometimes is that the story is the game (right Micah?) and the system takes a back seat and is there to add depth and flavor and not make it totally arbitrary.

    The best part about Open Grave is the rules (guidelines) for a zombie infestation, I can’t wait to attack Winterhaven in true hordes-of-the-things fashion!

  27. Micah says:

    @Gull2112 Hey, don’t quote my marketing and use it against me! ;)

    The argument that the DM should plan for challenges that use rituals is backwards. The DM should just plan challenges and then allow the players to overcome them as they please. Adding a door that’s unbashable and unpickable just so someone gets a chance to cast knock is very contrived and your players will know it. That’s way too close to videogames. “You need the red key to open this door…and for some reason there’s no ‘bash it to pieces’ option on the menu.”

  28. Dave says:

    You see this is the beauty of DnD, if you don’t like the rules change them. Or add onto them

    Feat: Master of Rituals (Gain rituals for free, and cast lower level ones using utility powers)
    Requires:Ritual Caster
    You master a number of rituals equal to your Wis/Int/Cha Modifier. Each level you may reselect these rituals. You may lose the use of utility power for the day in order to ignore the components needed for rituals up to 10th level. This cannot ignore special or optional components.

    Feat: Necromancer’s Ritual (use death instead of money for rituals)
    Requires: Ritual Caster
    Whenever you kill a target with necrotic damage you store a portion of its soul. Whenever a ritual requires you to spend healing surges you may instead spend stored souls. In addition you may expend souls to replace the component cost of rituals. Each heroic tiered soul can replace 10g worth of components, each paragon soul can replace 100g worth of components, and each epic soul can replace 1000g worth of components. This cannot replace special or optional components.

    Feat: Transcended Meditation (use time instead of money for rituals)
    Requires: Ritual Caster
    You may ignore the components required of rituals by meditating for 1 day per level of the ritual. During this time you do not require sleep or food, but cannot perform any strenuous activities.

    Feat: Miracle Caller (use future healing surges for rituals)
    Requires: Ritual Caster, trained in Religion Skill
    You forgo the time and components required for a ritual if it’s completion will directly benefit your patron deity. For the next amount of days equal to the ritual level you lose 1 healing surge.

    Feat: Residuum Ritual (use found magic items for rituals)
    Requires: Ritual Caster, trained in Arcana
    You gain the Disenchant Ritual, and has no component cost. In addition, you may replace the components required for a ritual with an amount of residuum worth one third of what the components cost would normally be. This cannot replace special or optional components.

    Now your character can give up some of his or her combat potential in order to have a smattering of rituals at his or her disposal.

  29. Jonathan says:

    Feat: Ceremonial Ritualist
    Requires: Ritual Caster
    When ever you are performing a ritual that does not specify a required number of assistants, you may divide the casting time by the total number of people performing the ritual (including yourself).
    (Many hands make light work.)

    Feat:Astral Altar
    Requires: Ritual Caster
    You only require half of the required components. This cannot replace special or optional components. (You are creating the other components in your mind’s eye on your Astral Altar.)

    Feat:Astral Temple
    Requires: Ritual Caster, Astral Altar
    You only require a quarter of the required components. This cannot replace special or optional components. (You are creating the other components in your mind’s eye in your Astral Temple.)

  30. Jonathan says:

    (1 more… though I think I would rename 2 of my previous two..)

    Feat: Astral Ritualist
    Requires: Ritual Caster
    You only require half of the standard components when performing a ritual. This cannot replace special or optional components. (You are creating the other components in your mind’s eye.)

    Feat: Astral Altar
    Requires: Ritual Caster, Astral Ritualist
    You only require a quarter of the standard components when performing a ritual. This cannot replace special or optional components. (You are creating the other components in your mind’s eye in your Astral Altar.)

    Feat: Astral Temple
    Requires: Ritual Caster, Astral Altar
    You do not require any standard components when performing a ritual. This cannot replace special or optional components. (You are creating the other components in your mind’s eye in your Astral Temple.)

  31. Wimwick says:

    What’s a Ritual? My groups core campaign has the characters at 6th level, we haven’t used a ritual yet. Don’t miss em, don’t read about them. Skill challenges we love and have been having a lot of fun with.

  32. Elda King says:

    “Adding a door that’s unbashable and unpickable just so someone gets a chance to cast knock is very contrived and your players will know it.”
    Sure, that’s true. But now, add one very thought door. One the fighter/paladin would need, let’s say, a 20. Now put some kind of urge on the players, like “if you don’t leave in 15 minutes, everyone dies”. They could hope for high numbers when trying to knock the door down, or use knock – that in 10 minutes will do, no chance of failing. Or you could simply add normal doors, and give the players the option of chosing and using the ritual whenever they want. In high levels, I guess the cost would be cheap enought to be reasonable.
    Other rituals are easier to use: put a very long travel, and the players will probably consider all the teleport and flight rituals they have – thought they would not teleport to the nearest village. Divination comes in handy when trying to discover something crucial – it could save a lot of time.

  33. Nicholas says:

    @Elda King: Just a note on your first situation. Knock is not automatic, you roll your arcana + 5 in place of thievery and you only get that one check for your 10 minutes. The fighter/paladin would have 100 chances to break down the door in the time it takes you to cast knock once.

  34. Guver says:

    Chill OUT!!!!
    I don’t agree with you at all.
    3.5: 45 books with spells.
    4.0 4 books with rituals and the Compendium and Character Builder to help you


  35. Elda King says:

    4 books, until now… I wonder how many it will be. Anyway, we do get the compendium and the Character Builder (that allows you to choose from a list of available rituals).

    “Knock is not automatic, you roll your arcana + 5 in place of thievery and you only get that one check for your 10 minutes. The fighter/paladin would have 100 chances to break down the door in the time it takes you to cast knock once.”
    Yes, sure. Now, I’d not say a single round would suffice for a fighter/paladin to break an iron door (so, I’d not give 100 chances in 10 minutes). If we assume a strength check takes 1 minute, it would be 10 tries – and, if your only chance was to get a 20, you’d have 40% chance of suceeding. Knock would give you +5 bonus, +5 from the training, and possibly racial bonuses, feats, backgrounds, etc, for at least 55% chance.

    Not that Knock would be a ritual I’d choose. Specially with Enchant Magic Item and Traveller’s Feast at the same level.

  36. Jason Lee says:

    I just have to say that I agree about the rituals , but I think they just went Way tooo far in the whole re-build!!! Instead of giving a whole slew of completely different things to learn, they should have left the old system alone, streamlined THAT, by makeing the classes more vague, but flexible, and figured out ways to make DMing easier and less time consuming. I have Too many IDEAS!!!! and they won’t pay me for them!!!!! GRRRR!!!!!! ;)

  37. Barbican says:

    Rituals work a lot better in 4e than their equivalents in 3e.

    In 3e to do a lot of the things that rituals do the wizard hat to burn xp. Now the party has an easy way of splittling up the burden of rituals. Rituals were still expensive in 3e, but they were called “having a bunch of scrolls of spells that do important but rarely needed things”.

    Rituals at your level are expensive. When you get a little higher there are still lots of useful rituals that are relatively inexpensive.


  38. Rob says:

    I spoke about this very topic on my blog article The Promise and Problems of Rituals. To sum up what I said there, I like the feel of rituals but believe that they were implemented poorly. I agree that the main problem with rituals is that the primary limitation on how many rituals you can posses or perform is financial. This is really not a great idea from a design point of view, and one that Wizards of the Coast attempted to address concerning Magic Items in the past.

  39. Rob says:

    The only real problem with rituals are their casting costs (maybe how expensive they are to buy as well.)

    Rituals take a while to cast so as to not tread on the toes of other characters – e.g. Knock / Rogue.

    Rituals are just spells not for combat, so if you can afford them you can have as many as want – 10 each if you are greedy.

    Spells used to cost money to buy or you had to find/steal them.

    One problem I have with them is they just feel quite boring. Don’t know why. I don’t think they are any worse than the old spells.

  40. MoD says:

    The best thing about rituals is that everyone has the opportunity to use them, not just wizards.

    Skill challenges are also a really excellent idea. It encourages players to think outside the square.

    Fourth edition is the best thing that WotC have done for Dungeons and Dragons since the Open Gaming License.

  41. Ermacofpain says:

    If you think rituals are scattered i have one word for you.. Feats

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