Ritual Props Ideas/Suggestions

Hi there,

You might have seen some of our other recent posts about creating new Highguard magisters that are interested in curses and looking into ritual magic:

We wanted to get some general ideas for props to use for rituals, what props have other players used for rituals and where they went about finding them online?

We have seen some posts talking about using timers and quartz to produce light, and also maps of the empire and a parchment with runes. I was interested in where you can find maps of the empire, are they available to buy at the event?

Thanks for any suggestions,
Callum

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At the most basic level, for maps of the Empire…

https://www.profounddecisions.co.uk/empire-wiki/Maps

some people have printed chunks of this out onto fabric, or copied bits out onto paper, or indeed reinterpreted it on one scale or another (I have made maps as small as my House’ demsne, and as large as to include international trading partners… reliability variable). Bear in mind that extra information on some areas is available in play… it has been possible, this last in-game year or two, to sketch out the Druj lands, and the new (ex-Druj, now Varushkan) province of Ossium.

The Broken Coast and the Grendel lands have also been explored in the last few years…to one degree or another :stuck_out_tongue:

There is also usually a large map of the Empire hung in the Hub (about 6 foot high and 10 foot wide), and of course others in places like the Academy, Imperial Offices, Library, and military council.

Actually, the Library may well have paper copies to sell you? Worth a look…

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For ritual props, my Highguard Winter Coven are all about death and virtue. We use a lot of fake skulls (Halloween shops are a great resource), chalices (goth shops), fake blood (again, Halloween shops), candles (use battery powered ones for safety, find them online), and bells.

Bells are my big tip for Highguard ritual magic, as they’re part of our Hearth Magic. You can find bells on ebay, sometimes in batches, or in antique stores (although those are probably closed atm). You can never go wrong with some solemn bell ringing and ominous chanting as part of a Highguard ritual!

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For Highguard (As a Magister myself) the basic heath magic is the washing of hands and your veil/hood. Your Chapter should have those anyway, although you may find it helpful to have a portable bowl in something unbreakable (wood, metal, plastic) if you need to take it to the Regio. Your hood or veil should be on you at all times - you never know when looking serious and disapproving may be useful!

I do also have a bell on me - although do check with your target if it’s a person that they are OK with having a bell rung at them. The big ones look great but they are LOUD! I have a little tinkly emergency bell which is less dramatic but works for the smaller rituals.

You also should have some phys rep for the mana crystals you are using. I have plastic gems, but beads, wedding table crystals or little glass pebbles will work fine, you don’t need to hand them over so you can re-use just a few each time.

After that look at the rituals you plan to cast. each one has some flavour text on the wiki see if any of that leads you to specific items that you’d like to have. Food makes good props - transferring or sharing power by sharing from the same plate looks good. Most religious type iconography works well, I know someone has a censer, stole type neck cloths look great and provide interesting surfaces for embroidery or paint work on your theme.

It’s worth watching a few once you hit the field, Highguard have been camped next the the Regio for the last couple of years so we see a lot of different ways to do it. You’ll develop your own style especially for the ones you cast most often.

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As @CharlieP says, it’s a good idea to think first about the rituals you’ll be casting, and the flavour of your magic. You may want to check out the magical traditions if you haven’t yet https://www.profounddecisions.co.uk/empire-wiki/Magical_tradition. For example, I’m an astronomancer, so I have a star map with the constellations on it that I use.

Maps of the Empire are useful if you’re casting territory or location-based magic (for example, buffing resources), but if you’re not doing that type then they may not be necessary. They are awesome however - there are one or two players who print them onto canvas (including @Daisy I believe?), but obviously with the long dark things have been a bit quiet!

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Yup if you keep an eye out on the main Empire LRP FB group the people who sell cloth copies of the map should pop up at some point once theres a confirmation of an event.

The Highguard Hearth Magic page covers the backstory for all the bits of hearth magic and they can all be used as flavour in rituals. One that hasn’t been mentioned yet is bowls of water for ceremonial purification (you don’t even need to actually wash your hands, the motions of washing do the job for ceremonial purposes). You can do some fun stuff with purification before and after the ritual, at the very least it pads out the time you need to speed doing the ritual nicely :slight_smile: .

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To a degree this depends, and to me alot of this is coming up with your style of ritual.
There are a number of different magical traditions in the Empire and which one you practice will impact the props. Similarly nation, realm and even the precise rituals you have will impact the props you use.

I think you have a really interesting concept, and by adding ritualised elements I think you could create something really cool and distinct by focusing on the core group idea.

So Maps for instance are vital if you are doing scrying or territory enchantments/curses, and might be cool for travel rituals or similar. But if you are focusing on cursing individuals you probably don’t need one.

Personally I would be looking for ritual props that reinforce your really interesting concept. Highborn Hearth Magic might be a good place to start, tying in the corruption and purification symbolism seems particularly useful. Having a ceremonial washing bowl which the delivered of the curse washes themselves with before and after delivering it. Similarly if you don’t need the regio, the use of fire could be really effective. Writing out the unvirtuous deeds of your target, and then condemning that list to the fire to be burnt before setting out to deliver correctional

I’d also say using hoods and cowls effectively would be really cool for the delivery. Having a group Cowl or Veil style, and then all having them up when delivering curses (and possibly drawing them up at the start of the ritual and only lowering them when the curse is delivered) is a great visual to lean into.

Also virtue symbolism (possibly even looking at the Exemplars and Paragons - as the obscure tradition of Theurgy.) Vigilance strikes me as an obvious group virtue and not a bad symbol to be drawn upon for cursing rituals. So Lanterns maybe with an appropriate rune painted on them (Someone in my group has this and it’s a really effective prop.) Bells are both Vigilance based and Highborn, fairly easy to find and as a prop having bell ringing at the right point in your rituals would be really effective.

Having a book with IC Scripture in to read from, would be really cool. This could go from an IC notebook you have written things in, to a cool leatherbound custom tome depending on you budget. Similarly notebooks to read the unvirtuous acts of those you are cursing.

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Thank you all for your replies. Your answers have been very useful and helped us come up with some interesting ideas.

Honestly, I was envisioning spending a lot of time at the library in my first event and taking a more passive role observing others so its nice to see you seem to agree that might be best.

We have already started assembling our costumes and gear and the bells and hoods were one of our main initial purchases as we knew they would be important. We had not considered the bowls however which do sound very useful as props for rituals.

@McGonigle You had some ideas that fit really well with the intentions of the rituals. I really liked the concept of writing down unvirtuous deeds. I thought about maybe using wafer paper and ‘purifying’ it by dissolving it in water if doing it within the regio.

Just wondering if you think this would work as an initial idea:

  • Starting the ritual with all members raising hoods at the same time and presenting lanterns.
  • Chiming bells 3 times.
  • Lead ritualist produces paper and bowl whilst other ritualists chant
  • Lead ritualist washes hands in the bowl and writes down the unvirtuous acts of the target.
  • Lead ritualist explains the misgivings of the target and dissolves the paper in the water to cast them away.
  • Lead ritualist draws winter runes within sand to call upon them to punish the target.
  • Ritual finishes with three final chimes of the bell and removing hoods at the same time.
  • After the lead ritualist has presented curse to the target they repeat the hand washing to purify themselves of the curse.

Thanks for all the help, I am always grateful for any advice offered,
Callum

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So firstly that seems a pretty solid ritual format, it has a nice progression and hammers home your group concept as well as dripping in Highborn symbolism. I have definitely seen (and been involved) in many rituals in play which I think are worse. I’d try a test run of seeing how the wafer paper is to write on, but if it works that sounds really cool, and has the advantage of being really mobile.

One of my misgivings about your ritual format is I would break up the lead ritualist role, one reason for this is practical, writing down takes a lot longer than you might think, and having one person scribing while you have the explanation will probably make things smoother*.

The second is I think the concept of a lead ritualist is an unfortunate necessity in larger covens, but in a small focused group I would advise looking at splitting it up more into roles, so everyone is more involved in each ritual (You may pass roles between players between rituals). Say one person presents the information, one person accepts and places them in the water, one person imbues the prouncer with the power of the ritual, one person does the pronouncement of doom. (These could be combined depending on the size of your ritual.)

Another thought symbolically I would remove the hoods later (at least on who is pronouncing the curse.) It feels like delivering a curse is still a reason to have your hood up, particularly with your group concept.

Another thought is instead of putting the runes in the sand, trace them on the pronoucer cursing rituals essentially empower one coven member to deliver the curse. My thought would be to use the tracing of runes to symbolise this. (It could also be done with the water from the bowls, which mean you aren’t trying to carry a bowl of sand and water.)

  • Remember you only have a short time after the pronouncement of doom to deliver the curse so getting the timings right, is more important for curses (it’s also a reason to try to use the regio as little as possible because you don’t want to get stuck in the que.) I would even suggest pre-writing the unvirtuous acts them, if you find it’s taking to long.
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Thanks for these suggestions. I really think your ideas will make things easier and quicker while keeping the original intentions. My new plan for this kind of ritual is (assuming 3 people are present, but can be adapted for more or less):

  • All members raise hoods and present lanterns.
  • All members chime bells 3 times.
  • Ritualist A produces bowl of water and washes hand.
  • Ritualist B presents paper with pre-written unvirtuous actions, unvirtuous actions are explained.
  • Paper is given to ritualist A to be destroyed by dissolving in water/burning.
  • Ritualist C draws the relevant winter rune onto Ritualist A’s forehead using the water.
  • All Ritualists besides ritualist C chimes bells 3 times again and lowers their hoods.
  • Pronouncement of doom presented by Ritualist C, hands washed once more, they chime their bells 3 times and lowers their hood.

That should work perfectly with most rituals, but you might need to be a bit more flexible when it comes to curses as you only have 15 minutes after casting the ritual to make the “pronoucement of doom” at the person you’re cursing, or it rebounds. Here are all the things you need to take into account to successfully curse someone. So you might be needing to do it on the quiet, behind a tent while someone keeps an eye on the target so they don’t run.

However I can see the full ritual you’ve described working if say, your target is attending Conclave, as then you’ve effectively got them boxed in :slight_smile: . Cursing people in middle of a speech in Conclave of course gets you extra cool points :slight_smile:

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That was a worry I had (the pronouncement of doom time limit), we should know who the person is beforehand so that seems like a more sensible solution, rather than doing the ritual and running about trying to find them :sweat_smile:. Would tailing the target be acceptable in that context, to try keep tabs on them while the other members prep for the ritual itself?

I was essentially thinking of this plan as the showy ritual, and then somehow come up with a more subtle and sneaky version, not sure how to go about that atm though.

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I’d say having someone tailing the target would be an entirely necessary and sensible thing! :slight_smile:

One tactic that comes to mind after suggesting you stake out Conclave for mages who are politically active, if you’re after a Senator you’ve got a good chance of knowing where they’re going to be 4 or 5 times during the game (if they’re not using a proxy). So I think the pro-tip is to know where you target is going to be in advance, but hey that’s a bunch of extra fun shenanigans to play with :slight_smile:

Also Re: Subtle version, don’t worry you’ve plenty of time :slight_smile: .

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One interesting tactic (that requires some work to pull off) might be to see if you can get a relevant assembly to call them to Inquisition. I wouldn’t normally suggest it but with your groups aims it seems an on brand option.

After all if they are legally required to be in the Inquisition for an hour, it makes it easier to curse them. (Personally in this case I would try preforming the ritual with them watching, because I like drama in that way) This also has the advantage you can make it clear why you are cursing them.

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Please note if you are cursing someone you also need to get your ref in advance - anyone with a radio can ask for one, egregores, GOD staff, Civil Service in the Hub, but it might take a few minutes for them to finish whatever they were doing and get to you.

So if you know your target will be in Senate at 4, asking for a ref at 3.40 is probably a good idea, and be clear where you will be so they can find you.

Don’t worry you will definitely get a ref, curse delivery is great fun for them too!

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This is why I prefer territory curses. They’re easier to find :wink:

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@McGonigle Out of interest how would that work? I’ve not come across calling someone to inquisition in the wiki, on another note, when we heard about cornering them in a meeting we thought it would provide a fantastic opportunity to role play the ritual within the meeting.

@CharlieP We knew about needing a ref but that’s very good to know in terms of a timescale.

@Mark_Wilkin I definitely think the investigation side of this will be very fun, especially if we’re trying to be sneaky about it and gleam the information without revealing intentions.

Inquistions are a Judgement you can bring in either your National Assembly (if it’s someone in your nation), your Virtue (or the Way) Assembly or in the General Assembly (this is quite hard). I’d start a new topic asking any questions about it as there’s a bunch of stuff to talk about there :slight_smile:

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