Monday, September 13, 2010

Ritual spell casting

Telecanter posted a PDF with some of his favorite house rules, which reminded me of one I've been considering. I'm not completely comfortable with the way fourth edition separates magic into combat spells and non-combat rituals, but I do think there's a place for ritual casting in OD&D. I like the idea of the PC's bursting into a room to interupt an evil priest muttering over a smoldering brazier and a bound sacrifice. I'm not sure exactly how it should work as a rule, but I'm starting with this on a trial basis:
A magic-user (or cleric) can cast any spell they know without it occupying a daily spell slot so long as they have the spell in written form and can take the time to cast it (two 10 minute turns per spell level). This is not something they can do in combat or any other distracting situation. The referee should make a wandering monster check each turn during ritual spell casting.


  1. Throw in 100 g.p. per spell level for rare earths, elemental essences and monster bits and it'll keep every dungeon adventure form really dragging out as MU's cast yet another detect magic or knock spell.

  2. Yeah, that's not a bad idea. I originally had it as one turn and 100 GP per spell level. I had also considered requiring a porter to carry the extra volume of spell components.

    On the other hand, at two turns per spell level, I figured that the players would get pretty tired of fighting all the extra wandering monsters. When casting third or fourth levels spells, they're going to get interrupted most of the time, and the spell will be ruined.

  3. The cure light wounds, however, might be overused. I could see bumping it up to three or four turns per spell level for clerics.

  4. How about godly reaction rolls for the cleric ritual casting?

    A good reaction and the ritual works like the spell.
    A bad reaction...well we just don't want to think about that.

  5. I've considered that all spells with no given casting time should be assumed to have a casting time of 1 turn (10 minutes). This definitely makes casting in small combats difficult, which may or may not be your cup of tea, but there are not as many offensive spells in OD&D and those that are there, like fireball, tend to be better suited to mass combat anyways, where the magic user could stay fairly far removed from the combat and have 10 minutes to spend casting while defended by bodies of troops.