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Learning Rituals But Not Paths

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  • Learning Rituals But Not Paths

    I thought it would be awesome as an idea of someone learning to cast ritual magic (from a given school) but not learn Paths. The concept is a ritual magician who may elect later to learn paths, but not now. Assuming Out of Clan costs, how might you suggest this be priced? Initially I was thinking as a secondary path, but seems spendy for ritual magic).
    Last edited by g3taso; 10-08-2017, 03:42 PM.

  • #2
    Level of Ritual x 5 with the obvious "you need at least one level 1 to buy a level 2"

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    • #3
      The way I can see it, you a have two options

      1) Develop a path of Thaumaturgy that grants no usable powers, but gives access to rituals and gives say 2 or 3 x the level of the path in rituals, so level 1 gives 3 level 1 rituals and no powers

      2) Give the character a merit (Per School) to learn them without the discipline, points of merit depending on how much access is given (depending on the Chronicle)- Hermetic Thaumaturgy (Tremere stuff) Assamite/settite/anarch schools and possibly Necromancy option as a different merit

      I would specify that they can only cast rituals matching their occult level or lower (to prove that they have understanding of the concepts Even though that's not a limit of regular Thaumaturgy if you go with the merit option)


      Here's the biggest issue - Experience Costs and consistency

      - Dark ages charges level x 2 to learn a ritual, but modern says it doesn't cost xp, you can find it and get taught.
      - Dark ages Paths give one free ritual at the level you're learning the Primary path, Modern gives you 1 for level one and nothing for the above levels

      I assume that you're talking Modern - so equity for the players could be difficult - Officially (RAW) if you let them get rituals, they don't have to pay for them individually; and there's a lot that someone can do with rituals and no powers. Arguably, that's the most powerful part of Thaumaturgy. Even as a Level 5 + Merit; that's powerful.

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      • #4
        I think that the official view is that the basic knowledges required for rituals (namely: channelling blood power in magical effects in the way required by the specific type of blood magic) are learnt by learning a Thaumaturgy path of the appropriate level. That kind of magic reminds me more of the Circle of the Crone of VtR or the Hedge Magicians of MtA, but there is no system for it in Masquerade, and it seems that it's actually against the rules and how blood magic works.

        It could also be very unbalancing to have young Tremeres with level 5 rituals and Toreadors with no Necromancy but able to cast a Xipe Totec. If you really need to house rule this, though, I'd suggest to stick to level 1 rituals and have them paid with experience, other than time (3-4 xp each should be good, depending how much you want to stress the difficulty of the task). It wouldn't be convenient XP wise, but still allow people to learn something. Level 2+ rituals feels just too powerful to be learnt without proper training.

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        • #5
          Well, i have done that for decades by porting Werewolf's rite system (with some tweaks) to Masquerade, inspired by something suggested in passing in the original Clanbook: Gangrel. In fact it's something that conceptually meshed so well with the Sabbat's ritae in particular that i mostly kept it as "Tzimisce grassroots traditional magic" instead of the paths/ways of Koldunic Sorcery in most of my games.

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          • #6
            The last several games I've run have used a system where Rituals and Paths were entirely divorced. In fact, I treat Rituals as fairly common. Lots of elders can cast Bind the Accusing Tongue, Defense of the Sacred Haven, etc. But knowledge of Paths is very rare, and considered much more advanced.

            I charge (Rating x5) XP for Rituals, and there is no progression. A character can learn any level of Ritual they can pay for and justify, no pre-requisites. So if you want to learn Ward vs Ghouls (level 2), you don't need to know any level 1 rituals at all. You could even learn Blood Contract (level 5) and have no other mystical knowledge at all. Rituals are entirely self-contained.


            I'm a professor! Why is no one listening to me?!

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Telgar View Post
              The last several games I've run have used a system where Rituals and Paths were entirely divorced. In fact, I treat Rituals as fairly common. Lots of elders can cast Bind the Accusing Tongue, Defense of the Sacred Haven, etc. But knowledge of Paths is very rare, and considered much more advanced.

              I charge (Rating x5) XP for Rituals, and there is no progression. A character can learn any level of Ritual they can pay for and justify, no pre-requisites. So if you want to learn Ward vs Ghouls (level 2), you don't need to know any level 1 rituals at all. You could even learn Blood Contract (level 5) and have no other mystical knowledge at all. Rituals are entirely self-contained.


              Only reason I suggested requring some lower level of understanding is you probably need to have some "First aid" applicable skills before you hit "heart surgery"

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              • #8
                If -- if -- you wanted to go this route, which is honestly counter-intuitive considering the blood sorcery rating itself represents the character's understanding of the form's underlying principals, metaphysical model, and in cases of religion-based blood sorcery their faith in whatever they deify. Remember, depending upon edition discipline rating does not equal primary path rating, and it is possible (again, in some editions) to place the dot in a secondary path when a character raises their blood sorcery rating -- it's just incredibly rare to do it, except in all editions when raising blood sorcery beyond 5 in which case that dot must go to a secondary path.

                I'd go with Rituals as a background, not a discipline in and of itself. This grants the ST more power over which rituals are accessible and when.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Lian View Post
                  Only reason I suggested requring some lower level of understanding is you probably need to have some "First aid" applicable skills before you hit "heart surgery"
                  In general one ritual does not give the underlying understanding needed for the higher ritual; very few rituals have pre-requisites.
                  A level 5 ritual is much harder to practice to perfection, and probably requires more precise movements/intonation/timing etc, but you don't need to know others to know a higher one.
                  Technically RAW Modern V20 - you could have one level 1 ritual and then the next one you learn is a level 5. (With Thaumaturgy 5 that is...)

                  One of the advantages of the Sabbat is that they have the ritae, rituals that don't require a discipline to understand, I think that giving everyone access to rituals changes the setting considerably. Honestly, the Tremere's inclusion in the Camarilla is because of the magic power they bring, and that's not the Path powers, but the rituals.

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                  • #10
                    Way back, I believe I suggested in my Malkavian Sorcery thread that Malkavian characters ought to be able to buy Rituals at character creation, because they learned them through the Cobweb. Expanding this out to "anyone can learn Rituals by themselves" is a natural extension, once you realize that there's no inherent difference between learning from a regular mentor or text, and learning from the voices in your head. You're still being taught a magical trick.

                    And I totally believe that learning Rituals alone should require no prerequisite. When you pay X number of experience or freebie points for a Ritual, you are saying that your character has learned to perform that particular Ritual by rote. This even has precedent; you don't need special Traits to learn the rite to summon a demon. Either you know how to summon a particular servant of Beelzebub, or you don't.

                    You would learn Thaumaturgy (or another type of Blood Sorcery) in order to learn, not just the primary Path, but also the fundamental metaphysics of that magical style. A Tremere who learns Thaumaturgy 1 isn't just learning how to learn things by tasting blood; she's learning how to perform Hermetic High Ritual Magic (as filtered through the undead state of the vampire). This is why learning Rituals is free for those with an actual Blood Sorcery Discipline. It's easier to understand why you need to perform the Ritual in this particular way, and so it's easier to remember. A layperson must fit the entire set of instructions for a Ritual, divorced from any philosophical or esoteric context, which requires more investment.


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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Lian View Post
                      Only reason I suggested requring some lower level of understanding is you probably need to have some "First aid" applicable skills before you hit "heart surgery"
                      That's represented by your Occult Ability. Rituals are like recipes. You don't need to know how to make mac and cheese to know how to make pot roast. How to boil water, use an oven, etc, yes, but all that basic stuff is covered by Occult. Rituals are the practical application of Occult knowledge, but each one is individual and self-contained. The argument of "walk before you run" comes up a lot, so this isn't just a response to you. I just don't see level 5 Rituals as "running" vs the "walking" represented by level 1 Rituals.

                      Rituals are rotes. Specific sets of steps you follow by memorization. There's nothing "skillful" about them, really. Do A, B, C, and D in that order, with the necessary materials, and you get Result X. Every time. It's like memorizing a play and being able to recite the lines. Memorizing Hamlet doesn't help you when you need to perform Death of a Salesman. Only your underlying ability to perform the task (acting, occulting, etc) will improve your results.

                      The benefit of stand-alone Rituals is that it lets certain powers become more widespread without giving every single NPC a bunch of dots in Thaumaturgy just so they can perform one or two specific plot-related tasks. If Rituals exist outside the normal Discipline framework, they provide a way to generate unique powers for PCs and NPCs without over reliance on Meta-Disciplines and Thaumaturgy Paths. It also means every NPC with a custom power doesn't have to be 7th Generation and have 6 dots in something. It just makes the game system a lot more flexible.


                      I'm a professor! Why is no one listening to me?!

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                      • #12
                        The Sabbat ritae I see as functioning thanks to the Vaulderie, so that the push and pull of emotional undercurrents between participants can influence the pack in a particular manner if manipulated correctly. The Vaulderie itself might qualify as a Level 10 ritual that grants a mystic bond between those who have partaken it, and unlocking limited ritual capabilities based on that bond without necessarily knowing Thaumaturgy.

                        As for enacting rituals without Thaumaturgy or without supervision by somebody with Thaumaturgy, I would consider it extremely dangerous. Sure, you may know by rote how to do something, but what is your margin for messing up? If something strange starts to happen, what should you do? The Tremere have a pretty high attrition rate for neonates due to them messing up a ritual and catching fire, etc., so even reliable rituals for non-Thaumaturges should be like a trapeze act without a safety net.

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                        • #13
                          In the By Night Studios LARP rules, there's a great Anarch merit that does just this!

                          Sorcerous Dabbler (2 point merit) - You know either three level 1 rituals, or two level 2 rituals, or one level 3 ritual. These must be bought at standard XP costs.

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                          • #14
                            I am all for divorcing Rituals from Thaumaturgy, but we need ground rules. These are my suggestions:

                            1) Rituals are done by rolling Intelligence+Occult at a difficulty equal to the level of the ritual +3(so a lvl 5 Ritual would be diff 8).

                            2) Each Ritual costs lvl times x amount in XP (I would say times 3 but not sure). Characters that belong to a magically knowledgeable group (Tremere, Giovanni, Setite Lector Priests, etc.) and who is knowledgeable in one of the Disciplines normally associated with Blood Magic (Thaumaturgy, Necromancy, Akhu, Dur-An-Ki, etc.) would have an XP break by one (so in my example lvl times 2, rather than times 3).

                            3) Learning times and XP cost for rituals not normally associated with your school of magic would be increased (+1XP per level), representing your character having to adapt the ritual to his own framework.

                            4) A Kindred can have as many Rituals as they want but they must have the necessary skill to pull them off. Performing a Ritual of a Higher level than you Occult rating would have significant penalties for doing so, for example a +1 diff for each difference in level. A character with Occult 3 that is attempting to do a lvl 5 Ritual would have +2 diff in addition to the normal +3, so a total diff of 10). This means that it is still doable, but a lot harder if you don't have the necessary knowledge.

                            5) Characters that belong to a magically knowledgeable group (as mentioned above) and at least 1 dot in the Discipline associated with that group would have enough knowledge in them that they would either negate the penalty fully or have an easier time compensating for the penalty (a +1 diff for every other step in difference, rather than for each step).

                            6) STs are as always final arbiter on what rituals are allowed in the game and may substitute Occult for another knowledge more fitting the characters "paradigm" (for example, Computer for Technomancy rituals.)

                            So for example, a Camarilla Toreador with no training in Thaumaturgy (or any other such Discipline) could learn Bind the Accusing Tongue for 3 XP while a Tremere could learn it for 2 XP. But (s)he would need to have at least 1 dot in occult to even attempt it. If (s)he would learn a lvl 4 ritual it would cost 12 XP and if she only had 2 dots in Occult the difficulty would be 9.

                            A Tzimisce Koldun, with Occult 2 and at least 1 dot in Koldunic Sorcery trying to learn a lvl 4 ritual would pay 8 XP for it and cast it at diff 8. If he had Occult 3 the Diff would be 7 and the same at Occult 4.





                            English is not my native language, so i apologize for errors in grammar or spelling.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Telgar View Post
                              That's represented by your Occult Ability. Rituals are like recipes. You don't need to know how to make mac and cheese to know how to make pot roast. How to boil water, use an oven, etc, yes, but all that basic stuff is covered by Occult.
                              No, Occult represents your knowledge of Enochian (assuming you're not using the Language merit for it), your understanding of Hermetic glyphs and your ability to correctly align your alchemical circles with the local feng shui. It also cover generic WoD knowledge on vampires and other supernatural creatures. Manipulating the Quintessence in the blood to shape magical effects is NOT covered by Occult, just like in MtA.

                              Occult can cover the ingredients and the cooking process, but adding heat is tied to your understanding of Thaumaturgy and without it your rituals will be either raw or burnt.


                              I am all for divorcing Rituals from Thaumaturgy, but we need ground rules. These are my suggestions:
                              Divorcing rituals from Tha equals to rising the munchkin level over 9k and makes no sense lore-wise.
                              But if you really want to HR this (and, again, I strongly advice against) then you should AT LEAST put some progression because your system is basically allowing a character with Occult 3 and no knowledge of thaumaturgy to actually learn a level 5 ritual as his first ritual. And then again, it makes no sense.
                              You need both a level cap (like WtA uses the "rituals" knowledge, for instance) and a progression system (need to know 2 level 1 rituals before you can learn a level 2, need 5 total rituals with at least 1 level 2 among them to learn your first level 3, etc), maybe even a total cap (max number of learned rituals = occult dots), otherwise is just a powerplay feast.

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