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Ritual Sorcery & Tribal Rites -- A Blood Sorcery-inspired System

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  • Ritual Sorcery & Tribal Rites -- A Blood Sorcery-inspired System

    My players and I are greatly fond of the Blood Sorcery system for high magic that was in Blood & Smoke, so we decided to rework the Rites and Rituals system from Werewolf in that fashion. We also wanted to give werewolf tribes some more to set them apart, since in our game, the pack was usually much more visible as a social grouping. Also note, this refers to the Selkies and Water-Horses, both of which are custom shifters but who otherwise mostly follow Uratha rules -- you can find more on them via the directory in my signature. Those who are familiar with my efforts on Cruac, Theban Sorcery, Vicissitude, and Gilded Cage will find this mostly familiar.

    I wrote most of these, though Isabella was responsible for a few of the rituals, particularly among the Tribal ones (...I forget which ones, I'll have to ask her). This also goes off her Tribal Reworking, again, in my directory.

    Needless to say, you need to have the Blood Sorcery system from B&S in order to make this work. I've included the dice pool, but the rest will have to be gotten from the book.

    Ritual Sorcery represent the werewolf ability to invoke their distant spirit cousins, calling upon ancient bans and pacts that were struck when the world was new. Many human attempts at spirit ritual are echoes of the true power of a rite, a power that was mostly lost to mortals at the time of the Susuru Hafarrakum. Werewolves can still make these ancient rituals work. Their half-spirit nature and claimed blood ties to both Father Wolf and Luna give their voices an urgency that few mortals can match. These rituals must be performed in the proper manner to draw a spirit’s response and imbue the ceremony with supernatural power.

    Yet it is not only werewolves who have access to Ritual Sorcery. The selkies have their own deep tradition of spellcasting, invoking the spirits of ocean and storm, while the kelpies know deep prayers to Demeter Aganippe.

    Ritual Sorcery is the magic of Spirits. This means, first, that Ritual Sorcery is Otherworldly. It deals with the Shadow, and with the spillover of the Shadow into the mortal realm. Secondly, Ritual Sorcery works by way of Influences. Its magics are subtle and suggestive, the magic of probability and entropy, inclination and belief. Finally, Ritual Sorcery is Intermediary, in that all it does, all it can do, is invoke spirits to fulfill the ritualist's will. The sorcerer cannot alter reality directly, but cajoles, bribes, and commands spirits to do so for him.

    Dice Pool: Presence + Intimidation + Ritual Sorcery. Many rituals are also Contested or Resisted, as noted in their descriptions.

    Spell Mechanisms
    Ritual Sorcery, Range Limitations, and 'Holding' Spells
    Certain Rites have a range greater than that of line of sight -- usually one mile. A character who finds out he is being targeted by spirit-magic may, quite rationally, try to run away, either by putting some distance between himself and the ritualist, or shifting to a different plane of existence.

    If the ritualist accumulates enough successes to activate the spell, but the target is out of range or in a different dimension, the curse does not activate. At this point, the ritualist can either let the curse dissipate harmlessly, or else 'hold' it, continuing to go through the motions of the ritual (this does not add further successes or have any further costs other than the ritualist's time and effort). A ritualist may 'hold' a spell until the next sunrise or sunset, provided he is willing to continue the ritual that long, and if the target comes back within range during that time, the spell activates instantly.

    A target who is out of range of the spell no longer knows if they are being targeted by Ritual Sorcery (in other words, they don't know if the ritualist gave up or is holding the spell), and no longer has the same sympathetic connection to their ritualist -- though they can certainly remember which way the sympathetic connection pointed while they were linked.

    Hanging Spells
    Certain Rites, once cast, do not immediately activate. Rather, they lie dormant on the ritualist, their effect 'hanging' until activated by some specific action (most attack spells are of this sort). All unused Hanging Spells go away at sunrise, unless the ritualist pays a lesser sacrifice to keep them going. A supernatural ritualist must spend 1 Essence per Hanging Spell to extend them a further 24 hours.
    Last edited by NeoTiamat; 01-20-2015, 12:03 PM.

    GM of the Walking Shadow Campaigns
    New System and Setting Material

  • #2
    Spirit Rites

    Rank 1 Rites

    Call Spirit
    Target Number of Successes: 5 x Spirit's Rank
    Contested by: Resistance
    This is, bar none, the single most common and most important rite in Ritual Sorcery. It exists in a thousand variations, and may be used for everything from summoning petty imps and spirits of house and hearth, to invoking creatures akin to gods.

    While there are myriad variants (and even a single ritualist will usually have a half-dozen versions of the rite, to use on entities of different nature and power), all must include some form of container or barrier into which the spirit is summoned. Traditionally, this is a circle inscribed upon the ground, though vessels such as bottles or even lamps are popular as well.

    If the ritual is successful (enough successes are accumulated, and the spirit does not reach them first), then the spirit is brought before the ritualist and confined to the container for the rest of the scene. Breaking the container (including by attacking the spirit) lets it free, and at the end of the scene the spirit returns back to the Shadow. Note that this ritual cannot be used to command a spirit, or to hold it in place longer.

    Also, if the ritual fails, the spirit has the option of showing up anyway. Just in that case, it's not actually bound by the container.

    Twilight Eyes
    Target Number of Successes: 6
    For the rest of the night, the ritualist is able to see, hear, and smell into the Twilight.

    Territory Marker
    Target Number of Successes: 10
    Another one of the foundational rites of Ritual Sorcery, this allows the ritualist to put a spiritual claim over an area. There are many variations of this ritual, but all of them involve the ritualist putting her mark at the border of a claimed territory -- at minimum, one at each cardinal point, though more may be used to create a territory of a specific size.

    The territory may be of any size or shape, provided that the ritualist is able to visit each border marker before the sun next crosses the horizon (sunrise or sunset). Only one ritual sorcerer may claim a given territory at any time -- if someone else attempts to claim a territory with a Territorial Marker already there, whoever's ritual has the higher Potency is able to claim that area.

    At this stage, the territory has no little mechanical effect, though later rituals build off of the territory. However, the ritualist is able to append a simple message to his territorial markers ("Danger: Keep Out" and "Territory of _____" are the most common), which is clear and understandable to any ritual sorcerer that sees them.

    Feng Shui
    Target Number of Successes: 5
    This ritual must be cast on an area no larger than 100 by 100 feet, which must be inside the ritualist's territory.

    The ritualist is able to align the spiritual energies of a given location, emphasizing a certain characteristic of humanity in that area. Or, conversely, the ritualist can disrupt it. All rolls involving a specific attribute may be given a +1 or -1 bonus in the affected area.

    Rite of Dedication
    Target Number of Successes: 5
    While shredding one's clothing and then transforming back into a naked human being is traditional for shapeshifters, it's also dreadfully inconvenient. This ritual allows a shapeshifter to keep at least a few articles of clothing or personal possessions on them when they transform. This ritual may be cast upon the ritualist, or upon another shapeshifter in the same Pack or equivalent (selkie pod, kelpie cult, etc).

    A character who knows the Rite of Dedication or has a packmate who does may have any number of normal clothes and Size 1 objects (smartphones, knives, pistols) on them when they transform, within reason (in other words, the Storyteller won't make you account for all of your character's clothes if you don't try and have a brace of hand grenades dedicated). Having a Size 2 object (a submachine gun, a sword, a briefcase) or any kind of armor reduces your starting Essence by 1 per object. Having a Size 3+ object (a rifle, a double-handed axe) reduces your starting Essence by 2 per object.

    Preserving the Trail
    Target Number of Successes: 5
    Contested by: Wits+Stealth
    The ritualist performs the rite at a location at which she can catch the scent in question. This may be the quarry’s living quarters or just a place that he happened to pass through a couple of hours ago. Alternatively, she can use an article of clothing or something else that carries his scent, allowing the rite to be enacted almost anywhere. She locates the strongest source of the scent and closely sniffs at and even tastes the specific site or object. She then intones the following in the First Tongue: Nihu ba eshe ges (roughly translated, “I will find you anywhere in the world.”)

    For the next lunar month, the ritualist ignores all time-based penalties and up to (Potency) worth of environment-based penalties to scent-based tracking. The subject may have last visited their flat three weeks ago and then walked away in a rainstorm, but (with sufficient Potency to bypass the rainstorm's penalties), their scent is still as fresh to the ritualist as if they had walked out only five minutes ago. The ritualist is able to tell more recent scents apart from older ones.

    Ritual of Propitiation
    Target Number of Successes: 4
    With this quick rite, the ritualist makes a brief sacrifice or prayer to the spirits, offering up a drop of blood or howling a homily of praise in exchange for their aid.

    This is another rite that has a hundred versions, but in all cases it operates the same. The ritualist spends the Essence, conducts the Rite, and gets a +2 bonus to a single non-supernatural roll within the same scene, provided they can come up with a suitable spirit that might enhance the action. Invocations to genius loci allow the ritualist bonuses to opening doors or finding objects, prayers to spirits of hunt or prey assist in chases, a prayer to Many-Shifting Luna may be used to gain divine creativity, and so forth.

    Rank 2 Rites

    Control Spirit
    Target Number of Successes: 5
    Contested by: Resistance
    Special: This ritual only takes 1 Turn per roll to cast.
    This ancient ritual, supposedly hailing from before the Gauntlet, allows the ritualist to command a spirit to carry out certain actions. For every success above those earned by the spirit, the ritualist is able issue a single command. A single command is a single action -- "Go to #42 Hereford St., kill the old man there, and bring back his copy of Der Garten to me," would be three commands (going someplace, killing someone there, and bringing back the book).

    Target Number of Successes: 8
    This ritual grants the ritualist a +(Potency) bonus to the next Abjuration roll made to cast out or banish an ephemeral entity, made before sunrise. For more on Abjuration, see GMC pg. 231.

    Rite of Ostracism
    Target Number of Successes: 10
    Contested by: Resolve+Primal Urge
    This ritual occupies an important position in the judicial process of both werewolf and selkie, between corporeal punishment and execution. This rite estranges the punished individual from her people, even her pack. They will thereafter treat the individual as a nonentity. She is ignored as much as possible and forced to fend for herself for even basic needs, although no hostile actions are taken against the non-person (in theory at least, although some Forsaken have been known to injure ostracized werewolves "accidentally"). In a life-or-death situation, the tribe (friends and packmates in particular) might aid the offender, but even then only grudgingly.

    Though often used as a curse to punish supernatural lawbreakers, it actually works perfectly well on mortal criminals.

    In order to be subject to this ritual, the subject must be thought to have committed a serious crime against the laws of their own kind (the sort of thing that gets punished by a five-to-ten year stint in prison among mortals, say). A mortal may violate British criminal law, a Forsaken may go against the Oath of the Moon, a Selkie may transgress the bounds of their community. Note that the ritualist must only believe that the subject is guilty (that said, trying to force the ritual on someone who the ritualist knows to be innocent reduces the roll to a Chance Dice). Unlike most rituals, this has no conventional range limit, though its effects are bound in space.

    Upon completion, the subject suffers a -(Potency) penalty on all Social rolls with whatever group or groups count as "their people." Those individuals see the subject as a criminal and lawbreaker, though they might not necessarily know why, or know the details. Mortals will often just think "That guy looks like a murderer," while supernaturals are more likely to be aware of what goes on. This penalty erodes by 1 Potency per year, until it is eventually gone. The only way not to suffer the penalty is to go to people whom the subject would consider "foreigners," which means that most subjects of the Rite of Ostracism end up migrating to new cities, even new countries, or giving up their supernatural links.

    The ritualist may also revoke the curse whenever they feel that the subject has sufficiently atoned, or if evidence of innocence is presented.

    Lose the Trail
    Target Number of Successes: 10
    Sometimes it so happens that a ritualist is being supernaturally tracked or scryed upon, which makes it difficult to do things which others might not approve of. With this ritual, the sorcerer may briefly avoid notice, confounding supernatural followers.

    This ritual has two forms. First, the ritualist may throw water over an area, and in so doing cleanse it of all supernatural or psychic traces. Even if he had just murdered his brother with a knife, someone attempting to use psychometry against the knife would enter into a Clash of Wills with the ritualist, where the ritualist gains a +2 bonus.

    If the psychometric reader fails this Clash, he gets the impression that no one has ever touched it and nothing has ever happened to it. This is distinct from the sensation of simply being unable to access the impression, and many seers find this sensation disturbing the first time they experience it. Once an item has been cleansed, it remains void of impression until something meaningful happens to it — someone other than the cleansing ritualist picks it up, for example. If the psychometric reader succeeds, the reading works normally -- and will usually reveal the individual that used Cleansing Impression in the process.

    GM of the Walking Shadow Campaigns
    New System and Setting Material


    • #3
      Rank 3 Rites

      Bind Spirit
      Target Number of Successes: 5 x Spirit's Rank
      Contested by: Resistance
      This ritual takes the container crafted by Call Spirit and strengthens it, allowing the ritualist to imprison the spirit for (Potency) Months. The ritualist can break the container prematurely to release the spirit, or can craft special trigger conditions that allow the spirit to be released when met (these have to be fairly simple, though, such as "when someone enters this room" or "when someone takes this object").

      Most commonly, this ritual is used to form a long-term working relationship with a spirit, or to procure a temporary guardian. It can also be used to threaten a spirit with something that is annoying but not quite as deadly a threat as the "Eternal Imprisonment" ritual.

      Haunted Sleep
      Target Number of Successes: 10
      This ritual must be cast on an area no larger than 100 by 100 feet, which must be inside the ritualist's territory.

      Summoning spirits of fear and despair to an area, the ritualist can blight the sleep of all within the area. No one who rests in the affected area regains Willpower, and if using Oneiromancy, than the Intensity of all Nightmares is increased by (Potency).

      Target Number of Successes: 12
      Contested by: Composure+Primal Urge
      The ritualist curses her victim, who must be within one mile of the ritual, with regard to a specific action. The next time the victim engages in that action, he suffers a –5 dice penalty. This occurs only once.The effect of the ritual ends if not used after a lunar month.

      This rite requires the construction of a poppet (or voodoo doll, to the uninitiated), which must include either a photograph, a lock of hair, or a drop of blood from the subject (the last of which counts as extensive preparation for the ritual). Destroying the poppet causes the ritual to end prematurely.

      Spiritual Guidance
      Target Number of Successes: 12
      By calling a spirit to guide his hands, the ritualist blesses either herself or a target in her presence with regard to a specific action. The next time the victim engages in that action, he gains a +(Potency) dice bonus. This occurs only once.The effect of the ritual ends if not used after a lunar month.

      Target Number of Successes: 20
      With this common ritual, the sorcerer alters the spiritual tone of his territory, elevating a single emotion or concept above all others. Spirits of the appropriate type flock to the territory, and in time, the very nature of the territory may change.

      This ritual is cast upon the Ritualist's territory and lasts for a single lunar month. During the casting, the ritualist selects a resonance towards which to align his territory -- this must be something broad and general, expressed in a single word. "Peace," "Authority," "Fear," or "Wealth", would work, but you can't do something like "The Authority of the Six-Six Pack" or "The Wealth of Shipping." The ritual has four effects:
      ● All rolls that go towards supporting that concept gain a +1 bonus, increased to +2 at Potency 5, +3 at Potency 10, and so forth. If the concept is 'Wealth', then any roll to make money gets the bonus, while if the concept is 'Fear', then all Intimidation rolls meant to terrorize another gain the bonus.
      ● All rolls that are directly opposed to the concept take a -1 penalty, increased to -2 at Potency 5, -3 at Potency 10, and so forth. If the concept is 'Peace' then all combat rolls take the penalty, while if the concept is 'Authority', then all rolls by protestors and opposition figures are penalized.
      ● All spirits associated with the concept gain an additional point of Essence per week, rising to 2E at Potency 5, 3E at Potency 10, and so forth.
      ● All spirits in direct opposition to the concept lose 1 point of Essence per week, rising to 2E at Potency 5, 3E at Potency 10, and so forth.

      Wolf's Den
      Target Number of Successes: 10
      The ritualist draws upon the power of a great and predatory spirit, giving uninvited guests the same sense of unease that a rabbit feels in a fox's den.

      This ritual must be used on an area no larger than a city block or a square mile of rural territory, that is within the ritualist's territory. Any uninvited individual who enters the area must roll Resolve+Composure. If they gain successes greater to or equal to the spell's (Potency), then the character feels a sense of unease, but no more, and is immune to Wolf's Den for the next 24 hours. If they gain fewer successes than (Potency), however, they take their choice of the Shaken or Spooked Condition.

      This ritual lasts for one lunar month.

      Rank 4 Rites
      Universal Bane
      Target Number of Successes: 12
      With this ritual, the ritualist transforms an object of no more than Size 5 into a universal Bane (see GMC pg. 221) for the next (Potency) nights. This ritual is most often used either to craft weapons, or to create spirit-proof vaults.

      Spiritual Glory
      Target Number of Successes: 12
      Until sunrise, the ritualist is considered to have an honorary Rank of (Potency, to a maximum of the ritualist's Ritual Sorcery), as if he were a spirit. This has two effects. First, spirit will be wary of tangling with someone they perceive as being of greater or equal Rank to them, and will treat the ritualist with great respect. Secondly, the ritualist's hands (and/or claws and teeth) count as the Bane of any spirit of lesser Rank than them.

      Forge Alliance
      Target Number of Successes: 15
      Calling on the Firstborn, this rite replicates an ancient pact amongst those primeval wolf-spirits and burdens the Uratha with it instead. At the rite’s culmination, every pack of which at least one member is present is joined in the alliance. For the remainder of the month, the entire alliance is treated as a single pack for the purposes of Gifts (but not for Rites), Death Rage triggers and other supernatural effects. A specific prey can be declared during the rite; if this is the case, the alliance will dissolve the moment the prey is brought down, but all members of allied packs gain an additional Aspiration to hunt that prey.

      Darkened Portal
      Target Number of Successes: 15
      The sorcerer opens a gate to the Underworld. This rite can only be performed at an Avernian Gate, or at a place with an appropriately death-like resonance (cemeteries usually work). The ritemaster stands before the gate or resonant local, and makes an offering to powerful spirits of death (Werewolves traditionally invoke Kamduis-Ur, Death Wolf, even Pure, while selkies call upon old Celtic gods such as Arawn). This offering must involve a living sacrifice, but any living creature, even a mouse, will do. The werewolf then draws the First Tongue sigils for “death” and “crossing” in the victim’s blood, and sits in silence until the gate opens.

      Upon success, the door remains open for (Potency) hours. The rite may be cast from either side of a door -- though most sorcerers prefer to keep a door open, since living sacrifices tend to be scarce in the Underworld.

      Rite of the Shrouded Glen
      Target Number of Successes: 20
      With this ritual, the sorcerer is able to cut a piece of the Shadow away from the rest of Hisil, by rendering all paths to and from it invisible to spirit eyes. It's still there, technically, but in the skewed geography of the Shadow, perception governs reality, and if one can't see how to get there, one can't get there at all.

      This ritual must be conducted in the Shadow, and the ritualist must first conduct a Territory Marker ritual to mark the bounded area. For the next lunar month, anyone attempting to enter the Shrouded Glen must roll Wits+Investigation or Finesse and gain more successes than the rite's Potency. The exception is the ritualist, who knows the location of the secret paths, and anyone he shows them to (note that 'being followed while using the path' counts as 'showing').

      This ritual can only be conducted on relatively uninhabited pieces of Shadow territory. For every spirit living in the Shrouded Glen, the ritualist takes its (Rank) as a penalty to the ritual. However, individuals inside the Shrouded Glen when it goes up can no more find their way out than others can find a way in.

      Construct Verge
      Target Number of Successes: 15
      Contested by: Local Gauntlet x3
      This ritual allows the ritualist to build a more permanent door into the Shadow, a verge that allows anyone to cross from one side of the Gauntlet to another. The verge lasts for the next lunar month (unless a Willpower dot is spent to make it permanent).

      The ritualist may create a verge that is open all the time, but as this usually ends very badly almost all ritualists construct verges so that they open only with specific keys. This key may be as simple (someone wearing red) or complex (only on Beltane at the strike of midnight if in the presence of a young woman, and old man, and a wolf), but they must be objectively determined.

      Anyone attempting to force the verge must succeed at a Clash of Wills with the ritualist, who gains (Potency/2) as a bonus to his Power Stat + Ritual Sorcery.

      Bloody-Handed Hunter
      Target Number of Successes: 20
      This rite was developed to honor the family lines and ancestry of some Blood Talons that reach back to the era of Celtic warriors as “bloody-handed heroes.” This is not a ritual that romanticizes the Celtic culture as particularly noble; rather it harkens back to an era of violent men who spent a great deal of time killing one another. That savage passion echoes in the modern ritual, and transfers to the werewolf’s claws.

      Bloody-Handed Hunter cannot be performed on other characters — only the sorcerer himself can receive the benefits. The ritualist meditates on the savagery shown by his ancestors as he begins the rite. The ritualist then prepares a bowl of purified water (mineral water is not acceptable; the water must be boiled by the ritemaster), and then he cuts deeply into his palms with a knife or other sharp implement. Immersing his bleeding hands in the bowl for a number of minutes, the sorcerer swears to his ancestors that he will bring death to any enemies he meets before sunrise.

      For the rest of the night, the sorcerer's hand attacks gain a +(Potency/2, max of Ritual Sorcery) bonus to attack rolls, and damage type is upgraded by one level. A mortal sorcerer's punch will break bone and tear flesh (Lethal), while a werewolf's claws will leave wounds that boil and hiss and decay at the faintest touch (Aggravated).

      The catch is that for the rest of the night, the sorcerer's hands are covered in dripping blood, which continues to drip (and leave DNA trace evidence) no matter what he does. Swathing them in bandages or wearing gloves will at best delay the bleeding for a while as it soaks through the bandages.

      Rank 5 Rites
      Eternal Imprisonment
      Target Number of Successes: 10 x Spirit's Rank
      Contested by: Resistance
      This is the big, nasty brother of Bind Spirit. In addition to its Essence cost, this ritual also costs 1 WP dot. In exchange however, the contained spirit is trapped there permanently, or at least as long as the container holds. Most ritualists who use this ritual procure extremely durable containers beforehand, carving circles in stone, or vessels of steel or gold.

      Any ritualist who knows this rite is treated as a figure of absolute terror by spirits, and even Incarnae will treat him with respect (or try to kill him on sight, one of the two).

      Blight the Land
      Target Number of Successes: 30
      Contested by: Domain's Resource rating x3
      This ritual is cast upon an area of some size (either a small community, a section of forest, or a single Domain inside of a city). Over the course of a multi-hour ritual, the sorcerer calls down dark spirits to bedevil the land, spreading a hundred types of minor misfortune. Plants and animals sicken, wood rots, stone crumbles, metal rusts. Business deals go sour, relationships fray, crime rises, trusts are broken.

      If successful, then the Resources rating of the area is reduced by 1 for the next month. At Potency 10, and then again at Potency 20, the Resources rating is reduced by a further 1. This also applies a -1 penalty to every roll in the given area for that month, going up by another -1 at Potency 10 and Potency 20.

      The All-Encompassing Ocean
      Target Number of Successes: 20
      This is originally a Selkie ritual, but mortal sorcerers and werewolves have used it as well, drawing upon the truth that the Ocean is touches every shore.

      The ritual must be enacted above salt water at least one hundred feet deep, and so is usually done on boats or on cliff-sides. At the conclusion of the ritual, the ritualist dives into the water, and must swim unaided to a depth of a hundred feet (no scuba gear allowed, which is why selkies find this a far easier ritual than anyone else). Upon reaching the appropriate depth, the ritualist feels a moment of sublime oneness, and is transported to any place in the globe that they desire, at least so long as it's within deep salt water. A ritualist can cast this sorcery in the Orkneys and come up in the Tasman Sea, if they so choose.

      The ritualist can bring clothes or packages along, so long as they can physically carry them, though casting the ritual naked grants a +3 bonus. Otherwise, if one has the swimming ability, this is one of the safest and most reliable instant-travel magics out there, and unlike most it doesn't require the ritualist to have knowledge of the location they are travelling to (though in absence of that knowledge, the rite is only accurate to a ten-mile radius).

      Rite of the Spirit Clay
      Target Number of Successes: 30
      Contested by: Spirit's Rank+Resistance
      One of the most powerful rituals known to werewolf or selkie, this ritual is either an enormous bribe, or more commonly a dreadful threat, for it allows the ritualist to rewrite the spirit's Ban or Bane as he sees fit.

      The spirit must have been summoned for this rite to be used, and it requires a great deal of complex preparations. Nevertheless, the effect is quite simple. Upon success, the ritualist selects new Ban or Bane for the spirit, or at Potency 5, both. This may be anything the ritualist desires, simple or complex, so long as it is not a core part of the spirit's nature (a fire-spirit cannot be made to be repelled by fire).

      Understandably, this gives the ritualist considerable power to threaten or bribe spirits, though few spirits are willing to place themselves into such vulnerability to the ritualist.

      GM of the Walking Shadow Campaigns
      New System and Setting Material


      • #4
        Tribal Rites
        Beneath the Eye of Fenris (Blood Talon)
        Target Number of Successes: 12
        Our deeds are terrible and great. The Blood Talons believe that anything worth doing is worth overdoing -- the favored of their Firstborn live on an epic scale, with successes (and failures) unimaginable to lesser men. This ritual calls the attention of their Firstborn to the Blood Talon, and ensures that whatever else happens to them that night, it's going to be memorable.

        Until the next sunrise, the Blood Talon may spend 1E reflexively to add (Potency) to a dice roll. This might be an attack roll, a social roll, another Ritual Sorcery roll (but not a Gift roll or other supernatural power usage), or any other kind of non-supernatural roll. The Blood Talon may do this as often as they have Essence.

        The catch? Any time the Blood Talon fails a roll during that night, that failure is upgraded to a Dramatic Failure, for which the Blood Talon receives no Beats.

        Death Wolf's Bones (Bone Shadow)
        Target Number of Successes: 12
        It is not known until your bones know it. The ideal of every Bone Shadow is mastery, the kind of mastery that comes from knowing every aspect of some skill so deeply that you can do it in your sleep, when wounded, when at the very point of death, the kind of mastery that gets down into your very bones. With this ritual, the Bone Shadow is able to call upon the remembered mastery imbued in a bone or a tool, using it to their own ends.

        This ritual is cast upon the physical remains of someone who possessed a skill at 4+ dots (their bones traditionally), or an object associated with the skill in question that was repeatedly used by such a person (a sniper's gun, a politician's daily planner). The person in question must be definitely, without any doubt dead -- not a ghost, not a vampire, but gone (some Bone Shadows thus use this ritual to check if a foe is "actually gone or not").

        The ritual imbues the object with the memory of the relevant skill. Within the next lunar month, while holding or wearing the object, the Bone Shadow may draw upon the memory in the bone or the tool, using it's dice pool instead of his own. The object uses the Bone Shadow's Ritual Sorcery dots for its attribute rating, and (Potency) for skill rating.

        This may be done only once before the ritual must be reused, but the bone or tool is not used up in the process -- many Bone Shadows hoard useful bones or private possessions, re-enchanting them repeatedly.

        A Bone Shadow may begin an adventure with one or more of Death Wolf's Bones prepared, at the cost of reducing their starting Essence by 2 (essentially, they get a slight discount for prepared objects, but must pre-select which skill is in which).

        The Clever Red Wolf (Iron Master)
        Target Number of Successes: 4
        The Law of Nature remains the same. Adapt or Die. The hallmark of the Iron Master is to use every tool at hand, to shift flexibly from strategy to strategy until they strike upon just the right one for the situation. To the true children of Red Wolf, knowledge is just another tool, to be changed to whatever is most needed.

        This is a very quick ritual to cast, intentionally so. Upon completion, the ritualist is able to shift up to (Potency) Skill dots from one skill to another. Those skills are genuine in every way -- they count for the use of supernatural powers, and they mitigate (or cause) Untrained penalties. The skill dots do not have to all go to the same place, or come from the same skill (a werewolf lost in the wilderness can chop a dot from Academics, Politics, and Science in order to raise their Brawl by 2 and their Survival by 1). Skills cannot be raised above the werewolf's normal maximums, and the shift lasts till the end of the scene.

        The Black Wolf at the Door (Hunter in Darkness)
        Target Number of Successes: 12
        The land and I are one. The Hunters in Darkness aspire to become one with their territory, to come to know it in every particular, to know every tree, every alley, every unlocked gate and secret shortcut. Territory is sacred to the Hunters, an integral part of their identity. When this ritual is enacted, nothing in a Hunter's territory passes unnoticed.

        This ritual is cast upon the Ritualist's territory, lasts until the next New Moon, and is only in effect so long as the ritualist is inside the bounds of their marked territory. During this time, the ritualist's awareness spreads throughout the territory, and they may 'notice' any extreme, unusual, or noteworthy event in their territory. If a stealth effect is involved, roll Clash of Wills.

        The standards of what constitutes extreme, unusual, or noteworthy varies by the territory. In a virgin forest in the depths of the mountains, the arrival of a single human being would be worthy of notice. In a small village, any sort of violence or shouting would attract attention. In a large urban territory, only extreme acts like murders, fires, or the like rise above the day-to-day existence of the territory. A good rule of thumb is asking if the same scene is being played out elsewhere in a territory -- there are probably a lot of minor assaults on any given night in a large urban slum territory, but not so many shootings.

        The use of obvious supernatural powers always qualifies as 'significant' (obvious being "would someone in the room realize that something supernatural has happened"). So cults summoning demons, mages calling down storms, vampires ripping up lamp posts will be noticed in even the largest and busiest territory.

        The ritualist is also able to reach events that draw his notice much more quickly, arriving at the scene in (1/Potency) the normal time.

        Winter Wolf's Eye (Storm Lord)
        Target Number of Successes: 12
        The weakness of one is the weakness of all. The Storm Lords believe powerfully that everything has a weakness, and it is the ability of a person to cover for that weakness which determines how great they can become. On the other hand, what one can cover, another can uncover, and by looking through Winter Wolf's Eye the Storm Lords are able to do just that.

        During the course of the next 24 hours, the ritualist may try, as a Reflexive Action, to determine a subject's weakness. This is free the first three times the ritualist uses it during those 24 hours, and costs 1E thereafter, and requires that the ritualist roll Ritual Sorcery + Potency versus the opponent's Resolve+Composure.

        If the ritualist is successful, they may learn one of the following:
        ● The subject's most immediately applicable weakness
        ● The subject's greatest weakness of a given type (Mental, Social, Physical, or Supernatural).
        ● If the answer to either of the above is 'No weakness', then the question automatically becomes "How can I create a weakness?"

        The ritualist also gains a +(Potency) bonus to a single roll to act upon the subject's revealed weakness (or to create one), provided this roll occurs before the end of the scene. So if the ritualist realizes that the subject has a very short temper and might go into Death Rage during the course of delicate negotiations, they gain a +(Potency) bonus to a roll to goad the target, trying to get them to Death Rage and ruin their own position. Of course, if successful there's now a Death Raging werewolf, so hopefully it has a weakness like a bad leg that the ritualist can quickly determine.

        Hunger of the Dire Wolf (Predator King)
        Target Number of Successes: 12
        You deserve what you can take. The Predator Kings believe that might makes right, and that the chosen of their Firstborn are the mightiest of them all. This ritual allows the Predator King to steal the strength of those that they slay, growing more powerful with each kill.

        For the next lunar month, every time the Predator King kill someone, he may steal either a single supernatural power (of up to Potency dots; Numina count as 3 dots), or up to (Potency) dots in a single skill. These remain till the end of the lunar month.

        If stealing a supernatural power, the Predator King gains powers it with Essence if necessary. This is a single power, so a single Gift, or mage Spell, or changeling Clause, or spirit Numina. He does not gain intermediary powers, and uses the equivalent dice pool as best possible (if stealing Numina, use Presence for Power and Wits for Finesse). So a Predator King who gains Stone 5: Red Rage of Terrible Revenge would spend 3 Essence and 1 Willpower, roll Resolve+Primal Urge, and would be absolutely terrifying.

        If stealing a skill, the Predator King gains up to (Potency) skill dots, to a maximum of the victim's rating in that skill. Note that unless the Predator King has a single dot in that skill normally, than Untrained penalties still apply (it's hard to use the genius researcher's high Science skill if you don't have at least a minimal understanding of Science basics).

        Note that the Predator King must actually hunt and kill his victims in order to steal their powers or skills. Catching and eating a mouse while in wolf-form in order to benefit from it's Stealth skill is acceptable, but buying one from a pet store isn't.

        Breath of the Burning Wolf (Fire-Touched)
        Target Number of Successes: 12
        Without guidance, the Earth is lost. The Fire-Touched are the high priests of the Old Gods, the great spirits that walked the land before the modern day, and that still hide behind the veil of myth and legend. Call them Thor, call them Zeus, call them Perun, to the Fire-Touched they are the Thunderer, and through Burning Wolf's blessing they can take on the mantle not just of priest, but of saint.

        In order to enact this ritual, the Fire-Touched must have the aid of a willing or bound spirit, which must be on the same side of the Gauntlet as the ritualist. This spirit then enters the ritualist, creating something akin to a temporary - and voluntary - possession, which lasts for the rest of the night.

        While under the effect of the ritual, the Fire-Touched gains the spirit's Ban and Banes, and is able to use its Influences (rolling Presence+Wits+Potency as the dice activation pool). Aside from the dice pool, the Influences are the same as if the spirit used them - they have the same Essence cost, dot ratings, and so forth.

        Silver Wolf's Brand (Ivory Claw)
        Target Number of Successes: 15
        We will reclaim our rightful land. To the Ivory Claws, the Earth is theirs by right, their sovereignty interloped upon by Luna and her lackeys. The end of Pangaea was nothing less than a coup, one that led to the downfall of the rightful order and the rise of humanity in its place. The Ivory Claws are rulers in the oldest sense - they laugh the loudest, weep most bitterly, rage the fiercest, are the most unflinching in adversity, and drive themselves to excess in plenty. They are larger than life, and be they good or evil, others flock to their greatness of spirit. Though they may be denied their birthright, they can still force that burning devotion in those they conquer.

        This ritual can only be performed upon a subject who is unconscious or otherwise incapacitated - a single act of defiance, even a spoken "no" or an angry gesture, causes the ritual to fail. Outside interference or other interruptions to the ritual likewise cause it to fail. For this reason, the Ivory Claws usually perform it on bested foes, in place of killing them. The werewolf begins the ritual by placing a hand or running a claw against the target's flesh, leaving behind a glowing silver brand about the size of a palm. The werewolf then begins to speak, speaking old words of fealty - the rite forces the target to respond in kind, even if unconscious, though it cannot prevent them from acting to defy the ritual.

        If the ritual is completed without a hitch, the target arises as a bound servant of the Ivory Claw. While their opinions and feelings toward the werewolf do not change, they must obey any direct orders given to them by their Master, and cannot take any actions that would be detrimental to their Master unless they are ordered to. Furthermore, if the ritual's Potency is greater than the target's Resolve, they are unaware their obedience is supernaturally compelled, rationalizing it to themselves as being caused by the Ivory Claw's persuasive personality, even in the face of overwhelming evidence.

        The ritual has a weakness, however, in that the brand remains visible so long as the ritual is affecting the Target. While it can be covered up by clothing, it cannot be disguised by any means - a shapeshifting Target will have the brand in all forms (each brand is unique to the Ivory Claw who wrote it, being a combination of their own sigil and that of Silver Wolf). The ritual is permanent until either the Ivory Claw releases their victim, or the Ivory Claw is killed. Certain curse-breaking magics might also end the ritual, provoking a Clash of Wills.

        Wrath of the Finfolk (Selkie)
        Target Number of Successes: 12
        In modern days, selkies are seen as a safe, even a cute sort of myth. But to the people of the Orkneys, their power over storm and sea was something to be feared. They could sink a fisherman's ship or have the sea wash away his home. And the Finfolk haven't forgotten this power.

        When cast, the ritual causes foul weather in the entire region, and Extreme Weather effects hit an area no larger than one mile square and no smaller than 100 by 100 feet. The extreme weather has a Rating of 1, +1 for every three additional dots of Potency (max Rating of 4), the weather being appropriate to the local conditions. Note that the ritualist may also choose to inflict less extreme weather, in case they would rather not destroy too much of the local area. The weather hits at full force for the rest of the scene, and then loses one level of Rating per hour afterwards. See GMC pg. 213 for more on extreme weather.

        Guardian of the Sacred Spring (Water-Horse)
        Target Number of Successes: 12
        In olden lore, sacred springs and bogs have supernatural properties, the ability to heal the sick and break foul curses. Very often, such places have guardians, dreadful monsters akin to the Water-Horses. It is usually assumed that the magic of the spring attracts such fearsome beasts. Rarely do people think that the kelpies are the ones who create the springs.

        This ritual must be cast on a body of water no more than 20 feet across, or a definable subsection of a larger body of water no more than 20 feet across. Traditionally, the headwaters of springs or the 'hearts' of bogs are chosen, though really it can be anything so long as it's not very big and you can give it a name. The ritual also requires an animal sacrifice of at least Size 2. Using a human being grants a +3 bonus to the ritual.

        For the next lunar month, anyone who drinks from the spring gains the benefit of healing powers. As the potency of the ritual increases, new effects open up. Whoever drinks from the spring must choose one of the following:
        ● They may heal (Potency) Lethal damage.
        ● If the spring is at least Potency 3, they may heal a non-terminal disease.
        ● If the spring is at least Potency 5, they may regrow a limb.
        ● If the spring is at least Potency 5, they may heal (Potency/5, rounded down) Aggravated damage.
        ● If the spring is at least Potency 5, they may remove a curse with a duration of no greater than a month.
        ● If the spring is at least Potency 7, they may heal a terminal disease.
        ● If the spring is at least Potency 7, they may remove a curse with a duration of no greater than a year.
        ● If the spring is at least Potency 10, they may remove a permanent curse.

        The catch? A spring will only provide one healing effect per night, refreshed at dusk and available at a first-come, first-serve basis. Furthermore, a single ritualist may only have a single spring active. Most kelpies, therefore, are very protective of their healing springs.

        GM of the Walking Shadow Campaigns
        New System and Setting Material


        • #5
          Did you ever see the rites system I wrote?

          My core goal was to try and make the spirits matter to the magic system, which if I'm honest is what I'd criticise about yours. They feel more like wizardry than theurgy to me. Maybe something in mine will give you ideas, feel free to use anything you like.

          “There are no rules. Only Principles and natural laws.” - Promethius
          My Homebrew no longer fits in a signature, you can find an index of it here.
          Full length fan-books I contributed too: Princess: the Hopeful, Leviathan: the Tempest, Dream Catchers