Ritual Casting - Hard Skills

Hello, I play a ritualist, it’s very fun. Currently our coven uses a lead ritualist and a number of supporting ritualists. I’d like to work on being able to lead my own rituals, especially as I am becoming more interested in Arcane Projections.

I have tried writing things down and reading them during the rituals, and it is better than fumbling but I’m not much of a performer.

I’m wondering how other ritualists build a “tool kit” to improve from. What are your building blocks to filling those two minutes? How do you develop the skill to perform a good ritual? Do you rehearse? Do you all improvise? Do you have roles among your coven that you all contribute with for all the rituals? (E.G. Bjorn recites the runes, Helga evokes the virtues, Wulfe rattles bells and dances around)?

As a side note, do you have to use Night runes for Night magic? Sometimes I am using a Night ritual to empower warriors (Embrace the Living Flame), so I want to call on Courage/Battle (Jotra - Summer), and Victory (Tykonus - Summer), however I have been discouraged from using these IC (“No, don’t use them, they’re the wrong realm”). Is each rune inherently magical, and will using runes from other realms effect the ritual? I find it a bit restrictive being stuck to four runes if this is the case, but I don’t want to cause magic backlash.

(Also, I love this feature where related topics pop up as you type a new post, that’s genius.)

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General ritual advice: here’s some I prepared earlier.

On the runes: you definitely aren’t restricted to just the four Realm runes. They’re more closely associated, but I encourage responding to any IC comments of that sort with something along the lines of “not if used with care and ingenuity!”

I’d never do a rune-cast of Embrace the Living Flame without Zorech for Passion, but passion-conflict-victory sounds like a fantastic combination for the ritual.

The runes of a given realm will usually be very appropriate for a given ritual, and I would take care to make sure you get that Night-magic flavour in - just using Jotra and Tykonus without attention to the passion and freedom of Night else feels like the Summer-y Champion’s Shining Resolve style - but I think there’s a lot of cool stuff to be done with thinking carefully about which runes make sense, rather than looking only at the four.

In particular, I’m a big fan of characters having runes they draw on a lot. My Dawnish Merrow Weaver used the Aesh and Zorech combination for all his magic (Dawnish passion shaped into magic by Merrow focused thought; he did healing, Summer and Winter, and I used appropriate runes for those, but everything started with Zorech and Aesh); later on, I played a Naga Earl who opened most magic with Hirmok, claiming dominion over whatever he was working on at the time. Consider how your magician approaches the act of casting magic, and see if there are some runes that you could use as a signature of your character’s spells.

That last feeds into some of the advice in the post I linked at the top - if you open all your rituals with about ten seconds invoking your two “I’m doing magic now” runes, that’s ten seconds less specific-ritual-appropriate stuff you need to think of each time, as well as giving a sense of consistency to anyone who sees you cast a lot of different magic.

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The realm associations with runes are to my eyes just that - associations. They are not intrinsically linked to a particuclar realm, but their qualities resonate most clearly with a signle one. There are a few rituals with descriptions that suggest using alternative runes despite them being the ‘wrong realm’. For example, for the Spring ritual Fan the Flame of New Life, the wiki description suggest that some ritualists might try using the rune Verys (rune of might, a ‘Summer’ rune) instead of Bravash (rune of fertility, a ‘Spring’ rune). That said many people will have the ic opinion that you shouldn’t mix runes between realms, but that can be a good vector for having very interesting conversations/debates/arguments with other players.

Oh yeah, Zorech was a given for that example (should have included it)! I guess I just want to check there wasn’t some IC mechanic that would cause and issue. Definitely doing to be flinging all kinds of runes everywhere now.

Having a standard intro/exit is a good idea. I’ll definitely work on that.

The only times I’ve seen specific issues are ones that are called out in the ritual texts themselves - Summer runes don’t interfere with Winter rituals, but Kaela hates Tykonus so (explicitly noted on the ritual page) Clarion Call of Ivory and Dust fails is any of the ritualists is wearing it. In practice I wouldn’t even expect the refs to always remember that; Clarion Call is the only one I’m aware of with a clause like that, so as an occasional player of Winter ritualists I just remember that’s a thing.

The more relevant thing is dissonance in casting - if your choice of runes is actively inappropriate (this is more than just being off-realm - some cleverness where you invoke Kyrop, rune of Weakness, in a casting of Embrace the Living Flame, say) you might get traumatic wounds out. Don’t rely on this always happening, but it does come up.

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Lazy hacks I’ve used in the past - there will be a lot of overlap with @MorkaisChosen’s previous post, I suspect.

  • Open and close in a ceremonial style.
  • Repetition is great - doing things 3x means you only need 1/3rd of the content.
  • Call and response is great. Say something, then have your target repeat it back to you.
  • Speak just a little bit slower than usual, and a little bit more loudly.
  • If you have props, narrate what you’re about to do before you do it, and narrate what you’ve just done after you do it.

The other obvious thing is to draw on setting details. If the ritual you’re doing has a cool name, repeat it in full several times throughout. If it draws on an Eternal, cite two of their (longest) sobriquets. When you mention a rune, spend ten seconds explaining some of its symbology, even if that’s completely irrelevant.

When you’re leading a ritual, instead of performing solo, you can extend a lot of these by involving other people in them. If we’re invoking this rune for power, then let’s each of us do it in turn. This both seems more flavourful, keeps everyone involved, and pads out time nicely.

Over time, you get an intuitive sense for ways you can make what you’re doing feel more like ritual, like magic, and also take up a bit more time without feeling dull or boring.

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I like the repetition and the call-response ideas. Definitely good for remembering less things!

That link is really useful. I like the idea of taking on OC nerves as IC nerves and making it part of the roleplay. It’s a good way to develop character and find things to do IC, “Archmage! Please can you help me with opening the Realm of Summer?” And the idea of just improvising the ritual going off the rails when you brain freeze sounds a lot of fun.

I’ll definitely be giving some of this a test run at E1.

The other one like call and response that I often fall back on is ‘Tell Me’. get the target to talk about why they want the ritual or get them to tell you about something that resonates. so for ‘embrace the living flame’ maybe get them to tell you about something that they’re passionate about while you trace the runes or walk the circle or what ever.

The other fall back no one has named yet is your hearth magic, as an urizeni for example I will often call on those around to witness my actions and to support and strengthen them. A common part of my Aesetic star casting for example is to ask the targets who they are, what their loyalties are and then turn to the witnesses to ask if the empire stands with them because I’m calling on the net of the heavens to strengthen my casting.,

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A ritual is two minutes of performance not necessarily two minute of speech.

The first ritual I ran didn’t have a single word and entirely revolved around passing props, and walking in the circle. (I kept wondering whether I should pass the crib sheet of symbolism to the ref). Now this might be an extreme example, but ritualised movement is a way of reducing the improv demand.

Stuck get everyone to trace X rune on each pillar of the regio, that uses up time and gives you time to think.

I tend to go with more a facilitation role as ritual lead, than many. I divide it into a number of big bits and then generally do the transition between them. Give your contributors an idea of what there part of the ritual is in advance and there is far less work for you to do.

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As someone just recently getting into ritual magic, this is all really useful to read! Thanks for starting the topic :slight_smile:

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Most of the tips are here already, but mine are:

  • Start by drawing the energies of magic, draw a circle around the ritual, etc. You can kill 10-15 seconds just by walking in a circle chanting some generic waffle about drawing magical energies and focusing and such.
  • Share the love, get the target to participate in some way, by asking them why they want the ritual, in what heroic or virtuous way they’ll use the effect of the ritual. If it’s a ritual to do something, get them to demonstrate for you the thing it will let them do, or train them in the thing it will let them do.
    ** When doing this, it helps to give them advance warning so they can think of something to say. Also feeds in to repetition, for example “In a moment, I’ll ask you to what virtuous cause you’ll put this to use. (waffle for 20 seconds about virtue). So, to what virtuous cause will you put this to use?”
    ** This can actually serve a useful function, if you’re granting the target the ability to do something they’ve never done before they might actually not know exactly how to do it (for example, giving someone the ability to cast a spell they’d usually have no prepared vocal for). You can demonstrate and have them copy you.
  • If you’re in a contributive ritual, share the love with your other contributors. “Who here wishes to express their desire, their will to break this curse?” You can also answer this question yourself (in fact, make sure you can answer this question yourself in case your co-contributors are nervous and none speak up).
  • Tell the target, IC, what the effect of the ritual is “This will inspire you to greater heroism, allowing you to draw upon your heroic energies once per day until the end of the season”.
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A good solid half of my performances of Horizon’s Razor Edge is counting down from 10, increasingly painfully slowly, to focus the targets and get a “time is stretching out” feeling. Ritual RP does not have to be complex.

Props are great!

  • When I did farm income rituals, we used to get every target to bring a bit of produce “from their farm”. We’d talk about that and use it as the centre for the roleplay. This tended to involve dirty jokes about cucumbers ;).
  • Ropes, chains, a jar of flour, anything you can use to mark a boundary. Laying out a boundary and talking about it takes up time and indicates something is going on inside it.
  • I have a portable ritual kit that fits in a belt pouch. Mana physreps, a rune chart, a cloth map of the Empire, some Realm props (bones for Winter), and a 2 min timer.

Get a 2 minute sand glass

Get a notebook

  • Few things say “Wizard” like a mystic tome full of arcane scribblings and mysterious schema.
  • You can have pages for your favourite runes, constellations, hearth magics, etc.
  • Coloured pencils are great to highlight things and make it look even more complicated.
  • You can also write in the effects, magnitudes and interesting trivia for your favourite rituals.
  • Example:
  • Wisdom of the Balanced Blade (Magnitude Six)
  • Reveals facts about a Curse.
  • The Exemplar Kala, who measured and examined all things to find truth.
  • The runes Ophis (revelation) Irremais (Wisdom and learning).
  • The Key (Things are Revealed)

Skim the ritual tradition pages

  • Astronomancy : Talk about constellations.
  • Music of the Spheres: Complicated, unless you know music theory. If you can get someoen else to suggest appropriate tunes, you could use them in your rituals. Less obvious to a bystander as it’s very technical.
  • Blood Magic: Bleed on things. Note that stabbing people up or sacrificing animals or whatever is useless.
  • Dramaturgy: Wizard improv or magic plays. Noting down a few useful personas and having a mask or prop might be useful.
  • Rune Magic: Shout about runes, draw runes, etc.
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Have a standard-ish start and finish to rituals. ‘I invoke the wrath of the whatever from high atop the thing’ blah blah ‘YAY EMPIRE’. Starting and finishing are the tricky bits, if you’ve got that sorted then you’ve got a consistent style.

Get your victims to join in. For Navarr rituals I got the target to swear what they were going to do with the benefits of the ritual.

Actions. My Navarr ritualist walked in patterns around people. This is excellent because you can disorientate people by shouting at the back of their heads. Similarly, my Urizen Physick makes people copy a certain set of movements to realign the flows of Virtue.

Consider involving any bystanders. Get other people to shout at the magic to tell it what to do, to give advice to your target, or to swear to help your target with the purpose of the ritual. I particularly enjoyed doing this for Midwife’s Recourse, and getting as many people as possible to promise to protect the new child & their family.

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