Tuesday, October 7, 2014


In building Rituals for Heroes By Trade I have stumbled down some incorrect paths.  One of the defining features of the system is that there are things called Epic Rituals that have amazing powers but require tremendous investment to acquire and cast.  They allow people to summon volcanoes, coat the land in darkness, plant Trees of Life, become a new star in the sky, and raise the dead.  In short, they are the sorts of things that make stories in fantasy worlds turn.

The trouble is they aren't very *useful*.  Sure, it is cool that you have to carry a seed on your person for ten years and then you can plant a Tree of Life, but that isn't going to come up.  Coating the land in darkness is pretty cool, but it too isn't a thing you cast every day even if you could come up with a shroud from a pure hearted hero's grave on a regular basis.  Initially I solved this problem by having people gain Epic Rituals automatically as they learned other Rituals - every five regular Rituals you get an Epic one.  The trouble is that this led to people getting Rituals they had no interest or investment in.

My new structure is that you have to pick Epic Rituals but when you do you gain a Secret.  Secrets are powerful abilities that make you better; mostly by improving your ability to cast Rituals.  A full list of Secrets is at the end of this post.  Thematically I like this as it seems right that mastering an Epic Ritual that has world shattering effects improves your understanding and skill at using all Rituals.  It also creates an interesting choice as players must decide between utility / flexibility or raw power.  I think I personally would end up taking lots of Epic Rituals because that seems way cooler.  I am okay with a system that generally leans towards players learning crazy and interesting powers.

The way things are currently structured is that all Rituals are divided into four schools (Blood, Shadow/Light, Nature, Arcane.)  Each school has a bunch of subgroups that are divided thematically.  For example, Blood has a Strength subgroup, Arcane has Time, Nature has Plants, etc.  Each subgroup has a simple, cheap Basic Ritual, two Advanced Rituals that have higher costs and much more sweeping and complex abilities, and an Epic Ritual that does something nutty.  The first Ritual learned in a group must be the Basic Ritual, then an Advanced Ritual.  After that the player can learn either of the remaining two Rituals in either order.  The idea is that some people will dabble about, taking a bit of this and a bit of that, and some will invest in buying full subgroups to gain the Secrets associated with doing so.


Blood Rituals

Subgroup Name
Alter Shape
Body of Earth and Air
Transfer Health
Purify Body
Boundless Strength
Moment of RestFeign Death
Blood Linke
Life From Death
I hope that this structure makes Epic Rituals feel more fun and makes people happy to choose them.  I know that having them in the game is something I want but it is really important to me that they feel relevant and that people care about them.  If I get it right they should fit into the structure naturally and people should look forward very much to using them, if only rarely.

Full list of Secrets:


Each time a character learns an Epic Ritual they drastically increase their knowledge of their chosen Ritual school and expand the capabilities of their body or mind.  Learning an Epic Ritual grants the character access to a new Secret which must be chosen from the list below.  Some Secrets are available at any time but others can only be selected if the Epic Ritual being learned is of the school listed.  Secrets cannot be saved for later nor changed as once an Epic Ritual is mastered the alteration of the person is permanent.  Most Secrets can be selected many times and they stack but any Secret with the word Unique under the name can only be taken once.
Incredible Healing
School: Any
Effect: Your body becomes capable of incredible feats of repair as your master the ebb and flow of your own energy and life force.  Your healing per day is increased by 2.
School: Any
Effect: Your inner reserves and the resilience of your body increase to superhuman levels.  Your KO value is increased by 4 and your Death threshold is increased by 8.
Blood Power
School: Blood
Effect: Your blood becomes incredibly potent, humming with the potential to strengthen the Rituals you cast far beyond what other mortals can accomplish.  Once per day you may double the effect of a Ritual in one of the following ways:  Duration, numerical bonus, number of targets, range, or size of effect.  Taking Blood Power additional times allows you to use it one more time per day.  You may use multiple uses of Blood Power on a single Ritual but each use must affect a different value.
Last Spark
School: Light/Shadow
Effect: You can power your Rituals and draw forth sustenance from the last spark of hope and despair in the mind of a dying creature.  Once per day you can touch a creature that died in the last minute or is KO.  Doing so in combat requires you to use a Move or an Action to accomplish it.  The creature must be one that is capable of both hope and despair so most animals are not usable because they are not intelligent.  Doing so ends their life immediately and you heal 3 WP damage and have a buffer of 3 points that may be used to cast Rituals in lieu of WP damage.  These points last 24 hours.  Taking Last Spark additional times increases the healing and Ritual points by 3.
Nexus Energy
School: Nature
Effect: Your Nexus becomes capable of powering your Rituals by drawing on your surroundings instead of using your own body as a source.  Once per day you may cast a Ritual without paying any WP to do so.  Each additional time your take Nexus Power you may cast one more Ritual per day without paying any WP.
Rapid Casting
School: Arcane
Effect: Pushing your mastery of time and space you increase the speed with which you can cast Rituals.  You reduce the casting time of each Ritual by one step along the following chart.  This cannot reduce the speed of Rituals below Action.  Taking Rapid Casting additional times moves each Ritual one more step along the chart.

1 day
1 hour
10 mins
1 min
School: Blood
Effect: Your skin becomes stronger and sturdier allowing you to shrug off blows that normal mortals would succumb to.  Your Armour value is increased by 1.
Iron Will
School: Light/Shadow
Effect: Your control over emotions allows you to push yourself further than others in combat and reach deep for the strength to use greater Powers.  Your Vigour is increased by 1.
Great Stalker
School: Nature
Effect: You use your connection to the natural world to move more quickly through it either to chase down your prey or avoid being caught yourself.  Your Speed value is increased by 1.
School: Arcane
Effect: You can reach a tiny bit into the future to anticipate harm that might come your way and avoid it before it even happens.  Your Dodge value is increased by 1.

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