Rituals - How to use them in mods?

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I have a couple of questions about the use and acquisition of rituals in Living FR Modules:

1) I've seen some treasure bundles that, instead of give you an additional magic item, they allow you to learn a ritual and this doesn't take up a found magic item slot.  That's all well and good, but often times the market price of said ritual they give you is less than or equal to the bonus gold you would have gotten had you just selected the "gold" option, and the ritual is rarely from an otherwise-restricted source.  Example: BALD 1-6 gives you access to the Magic Circle ritual (market price 250 gp, out of the Players Handbook) as one of your treasure bundle options.  Gold for not taking a bundle?  250 gp.  Is this just some massive oversight in poor treasure design, or am I missing something about the acquisition of rituals here?

2) Component costs of rituals - how do you track the use of components?  Is it generally considered a party expense, and all PCs pay an even share of it?  Is the ritual caster shouldered with the entire financial burden?  Or can the cost be "written off" and ignored, such that all players can still earn full gold at the end of an adventure?

3) Since all of the modules I've seen so far (granted, not a large percentage) are designed to be completable without use of any rituals, and are generally written in a way to not even consider the possibility of rituals, why would someone ever use one?   

The reason I'm asking these is that, as a now-Level 5 Wizard, I feel I've been shafted in every attempt I've made to perform a ritual in a LFR module.  In each of the two occasions (once casting tenser's floating disk, once casting make whole) I performed these rituals to assist us in a skill challenge or some other task in an adventure, and in both cases they didn't result in any in-game benefit (didn't count as a success in a skill challenge, didn't really help the adventure).  All I was left with was less gold at the end of the day.

I was just leveling up my wizard to Level 5, and noted I got 2 more free rituals learned this level.  I had to stop and honestly ask myself if it was worth even looking through the rituals, as I feel they aren't really a benefit at all in LFR.  I just want to make sure I understand them properly and wanted to see how others feel on the issue.

It's pretty DM-dependent. I like to think that if there's ever a ritualist at my table and they stop to use a ritual, I'd figure out some way to make it awesomely useful -- but since it's never happened I can't swear I would. (You have my full permission to remind me I said this next time you're up at Legends.)

I'm unsure if I have the discretion as a DM to sneak in some extra gold to compensate for ritual costs. I think it's more reasonable to do so if the ritual wasn't useful? Dunno.

I personally would chip in as a player for ritual costs, but I'm pretty sure that's up to the table. 

There are some modules where having certain rituals make the module quite a bit easier. 
SPEC 1-3, P1
I roughed up a party in the infamous stairwell encounter.  Someone in the party had a Linked Portal ritual, and a location to another portal in the Shadowfell (thanks to WEEK 1-1/-2/-3).  Because they could escape the Shadowfell on their own, they were no longer bound by the module's imposed time limt and were able to take an extended rest.

Seems pretty useful to me.

Well, I have to agree that rituals are pretty much useless in LFR. Either they have no real benefit or the same result  can be reached through other means without paying the ritual costs (e.g. a DM might allow "Endure Elements" to count as all characters having auto-success at the "resist the environment or lose 2 healing surges" skill challenge, however without the ritual half the party would have made the endurance check anyway and for the other half it's the difference between ending the mod with 4 unspend surges instead of 2 unspend surges).


And that seems to be the best case, at worst I can easily imagine rituals leading to less XP/gold than going the non-ritual route (e.g. if a ritual enables you to bypass certain parts of the adventure) - although I have yet to come upon such a situation but once more powerfull travel rituals become avaible I could easily imagine that casting planeshift instead of trying to reach the portal to your destination and defeating the two encounters on the way to it that you could end such an adventure without XP/gold for these two encounters.


That being said, I have one character who just loves rituals and spend app. 50% of all the money he has ever earned on learning new rituals (and that's not including the extra gold forfeit by selecting rituals as a treasure bundle instead of selecting the extra gold option). He knows 37 rituals at level 10 and he's a swordmage who doesn't get any rituals as part of leveling and had to spend a feat slot to be able to start mastering them in the first place.


All throughout heroic I cast less than 10 of them and only two times had been actually aimed at getting the adventure forward, all others were purely for roleplaying reasons (e.g. casting "Fastidiousnes" before entering a sewer or "Banish Vermin" before laying down to sleep in a seamy tavern)

I agree that LFR makes rituals difficult for most situations. After all, the adventure has to work without them and the framework lacks the openness of a home campaign to just go off tangent based on a ritual.

However, a decent number of adventures are coming out with references to rituals or allowing them to provide successes with skill challenges. It is hard, however, for authors to read lots of rituals and stay up on all the options.

For at least one upcoming adventure, a ritual might save your life or significantly ease the combat.

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There are some ways to cast rituals once per day(not per extended rest!) without any cost - Vistani from Dragon Magazine, Bards, etc...

Song of Sustenance is an amazing Bard ritual...
This wasn't LFR, but I was running Scales of War the other day, and the party was in a Skill Challenge.  The Invoker decided to use his daily "Hand of Fate" ritual, so I let each good, usable question count as a sucess in the Skill Challenge.  I don't see why that can't be allowed in an LFR adventure.
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This wasn't LFR, but I was running Scales of War the other day, and the party was in a Skill Challenge.  The Invoker decided to use his daily "Hand of Fate" ritual, so I let each good, usable question count as a sucess in the Skill Challenge.  I don't see why that can't be allowed in an LFR adventure.


This.
To me, this is the biggest DME fail from "random convention DM" that I've seen in LFR - the statement that, "the adventure doesn't say that a ritual does anything here, so it doesn't". The adventures and campaign are designed such that if the players do something that should reasonably be successful, it should result in reasonable success.
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Interestingly, Hand of Fate and Song of Sustenance are the only rituals I have ever used. They are pretty easy to use. But, others should be able to have effects in skill challenges.

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For reference, here's the list of rituals that my 14th level artificer has used to good effect in adventures and in what manner:

Amanuensis - allowed us to play both sides against the middle with a knowledge acquisition adventure.
Comprehend Language - opened up options during a skill challenge
Enchant Magic Item - lets me create magic ammunition cheese during adventures
Endure Elements - eliminated "It's cold; make an Endurance check or lose a surge."
Leomund's Secret Chest - Enemy with overpowering forces: "Give me the plot item or else!" Me: "We don't have it. Search us." Also, great for keeping souvenirs from ancient ruins and cleans and presses your underwear.
Magic Map - bypassed an entire tracking skill challenge
Make Whole - allowed us to barricade a broken door by fixing the door.
Passwall - NPC: "If you don't defeat the encounter in three rounds, that sliding stone door will close forever!" Me: "So?"
Phantom Steed - rapid travel, can skip navigational skill checks
Remove Affliction - healed an ally who had been petrified mid-adventure.
Seek Rumor - because spending a skill training on Streetwise is inefficient.
Speak With Dead - allowed us to get information from a foe defeated by a bloodthirsty rogue.
Status - lets you micromanage healing without metagaming; tweaks DMs who don't like you essentially having a HUD on your allies.
Trailblaze - prevented surprise in a forest when the party had poor Perception
Transfer Enchantment - used to get useful enhancements from useless weapons
Waterborn and Water's Gift - lets the DM ignore that whole page of "why the PCs suck underwater when the monsters don't".
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My impression on rituals in LFR is that they are generally not necessary and I the only ones I regularly see used are free bard rituals (usually chant of sustenance for the endurance check bonus). But not always there are a few rituals that you want just in case or which are generally useful.

Transfer enchantment. Make your +2 vicious sword into a +2 vicious javalin when you get a +3 bloodclaw sword to replace it. Etc. Etc.

Cure disease: you hope it won't come up but sometime half of your party will have mummy rot and you'll be glad to have this before going into the final encounter.

Remove affliction: Again, it's inevitable that, sooner or later, a party member will be petrified (or something) in encounter 1 and you can either play down a person or fix it. Fixing it will be a good thing.

Speak with Dead: Because, "we don't torture prisoners; if he says he won't talk, just kill him and I'll rip the information from his corpse" will sometimes give a bonus on intimidate checks.

If you want a way to just say, "this adventure is lame; we're going home/shortcutting to where we need to go" linked portal may serve that purpose.

If you want to use more rituals, JohnduBois's previous post looks like a good list. It'll be a gold drain, but using magic to bypass stupid "how much do you suck" die rolling exercises can be fun.

I'll just keep waiting for the first "solve the murder mystery" adventure I can break through first talking to the victim, then see his last living moments through his eyes to get a visual to his words and then retroactively scry the deed for good measure Laughing


I am also curious to see whether some paragon mod author will make the mistake of keying one encounter to a portal the party is supposed to take while they just go  "screw this, we can cross on our own power without needing to fight the solo-monster portal guardian"   Tongue out


And I am sure that someday some stupid NPC will finally make me angry enough to use undead servitor on his corpse


1) I've seen some treasure bundles that, instead of give you an additional magic item, they allow you to learn a ritual and this doesn't take up a found magic item slot.  That's all well and good, but often times the market price of said ritual they give you is less than or equal to the bonus gold you would have gotten had you just selected the "gold" option, and the ritual is rarely from an otherwise-restricted source.  Example: BALD 1-6 gives you access to the Magic Circle ritual (market price 250 gp, out of the Players Handbook) as one of your treasure bundle options.  Gold for not taking a bundle?  250 gp.  Is this just some massive oversight in poor treasure design, or am I missing something about the acquisition of rituals here?


This is a massive oversight.

Relatedly, it was pointed out a few months ago that (especially in earlier adventures) ritual books acocunt for one-quarter of all treasure parcels, whereas far fewer than one-quarter of RPGA characters actually use rituals.


3) Since all of the modules I've seen so far (granted, not a large percentage) are designed to be completable without use of any rituals, and are generally written in a way to not even consider the possibility of rituals, why would someone ever use one?  


Over here, at least, people don't. People also don't buy residuum, and generally ask the DM to "skip those" when he gets to the ritual bundles at the end of the adventure.

My level-10 wizard has over a dozen rituals in his book, but only ever finds a usage for Hand Of Fate and for Tenser's Floating Disk.

Well, I have to agree that rituals are pretty much useless in LFR. Either they have no real benefit or the same result  can be reached through other means without paying the ritual costs


This, basically.


1) I've seen some treasure bundles that, instead of give you an additional magic item, they allow you to learn a ritual and this doesn't take up a found magic item slot.  That's all well and good, but often times the market price of said ritual they give you is less than or equal to the bonus gold you would have gotten had you just selected the "gold" option, and the ritual is rarely from an otherwise-restricted source.  Example: BALD 1-6 gives you access to the Magic Circle ritual (market price 250 gp, out of the Players Handbook) as one of your treasure bundle options.  Gold for not taking a bundle?  250 gp.  Is this just some massive oversight in poor treasure design, or am I missing something about the acquisition of rituals here?


This is a massive oversight.


It's not always an oversight - I've been talking with an author whose adventure I playtested about ritual choices for his bundles, and we've discovered that especially at higher levels, there's an issue with the discrepancy between "more gold" at low and high tier.
Basically, if an author wants to include rituals as a bundle that is available at both tiers (that is, the author only wants to dedicate one bundle slot toward rituals), the value of the bundle needs to be more than the more gold value at high tier, but less than twice the more gold value at low tier (because ritual books sell for 50% of value instead of 20% and aren't allowed to be sold for more than "more gold" anymore - see all those scrolls of raise dead from the 1-1 adventures to see why). It's very hard to make that fit, especially when the difference between more gold at low and high can be measured in the thousands. What you will see more frequently is a ritual book that is more than the more gold value at low tier, but less than the more gold value at high tier.

Relatedly, it was pointed out a few months ago that (especially in earlier adventures) ritual books acocunt for one-quarter of all treasure parcels, whereas far fewer than one-quarter of RPGA characters actually use rituals.


I find it very difficult to believe that one-quarter of treasure parcels are rituals, or that this was ever true. As of right now (per the LFRspoilers spreadsheet's January 18 update), slightly less than half of adventures contain *any* treasure parcels that are rituals, and in the vast majority of those adventures, the ritual is one bundle out of six or seven. About one in ten of these adventures also has a scroll in addition. An additional 10% of LFR adventures have only a ritual scroll, and no ritual book. So out of the 123 adventures in the database, there are around 84 bundles containing a ritual. Given that each adventure has (low estimate) six treasure parcels, that's a total of 738 parcels, 11% of which contain a ritual. For 25% of parcels to be rituals, and assuming that no rituals were released as parcels since 25% of parcels were rituals (which is patently untrue, but the most generous assumption we can make for the argument), that would require there to be 336 total parcels, meaning that the last fifty-six adventures released contained no ritual bundle whatsoever. I think that is highly implausible.

Also, I find the statement "fewer than one-quarter of RPGA characters ever use rituals" to be a little problematic as well. Only two character classes, one of which isn't terribly popular, use totems as implements. Does that mean we shouldn't see totems as bundles? The treasure parcel system as it exists in LFR is to give a diverse set of player characters a diverse set of options. To argue that a parcel option should be less available than it is because the characters that are able to use it don't limits the opportunities for character diversity that exist. In short, you don't use rituals; that doesn't mean that I shouldn't get an opportunity to take rituals as a bundle choice.
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Also, I find the statement "fewer than one-quarter of RPGA characters ever use rituals" to be a little problematic as well. Only two character classes, one of which isn't terribly popular, use totems as implements. Does that mean we shouldn't see totems as bundles? The treasure parcel system as it exists in LFR is to give a diverse set of player characters a diverse set of options. To argue that a parcel option should be less available than it is because the characters that are able to use it don't limits the opportunities for character diversity that exist. In short, you don't use rituals; that doesn't mean that I shouldn't get an opportunity to take rituals as a bundle choice.


It is fair, however, to make the argument that rituals are overrepresented in treasure bundles. Every LFR character uses a neck slot item and armor slot item. Many of them use weapons. Implements get hairy because there are so many of them. I think that ever since AP and PHB2 that there's been a scramble to include totems and tomes. Thankfully, shaman is the only class that depends on one of those (wizards have many choices, and druids can use magic staves). Any class that can use a neck slot/armor slot/weapon or implement slot has to use an item there to remain effective. Conversely, a Ritual Caster is almost explicitly optional in any adventure, since there's no core expectation that every table will have one. The few modules I've played which have required rituals have usually given them in the form of scrolls.


I make this post as the player of two characters that can use Ritual Caster. One of them took it via multiclassing at paragon, and I've purchased a number of lower level rituals that I can now use reliably. The other is my druid, who has taken two bundles of rituals and hasn't used any of them in a module. Would I like more, better options? Sure. Do I want them coming at the cost of things which are potentially of use to many more characters? No.


It's not always an oversight - I've been talking with an author whose adventure I playtested about ritual choices for his bundles, and we've discovered that especially at higher levels, there's an issue with the discrepancy between "more gold" at low and high tier.


Then it's still a design oversight. If the rituals cost less than the "more gold" option, then nobody will take them and they might as well not be there. If they cost slightly more, then it's not a very likely choice either.

I find it very difficult to believe that one-quarter of treasure parcels are rituals, or that this was ever true.


Check the earlier rounds of adventures; most of the -1-1 and -1-2 set contain eight bundles, two of which are rituals. That adds up to one-quarter of treasure parcels.


Also, I find the statement "fewer than one-quarter of RPGA characters ever use rituals" to be a little problematic as well. Only two character classes, one of which isn't terribly popular, use totems as implements. Does that mean we shouldn't see totems as bundles?


Taking somebody's argument to meaningless extremes doesn't add anything to the discussion.

To put it more in line with what I was actually saying, since only two character classes use totems it follows that having 25% of all bundles consist of totems is a bad idea.

If there are more characters that use swords than that use orbs, then it follows that more players are interested in a sword as a bundle than in an orb, and consequently that more sword bundles than orb bundles should show up. Of course, this is exactly what happens already. Note that this does not mean that therefore all bundles ever should only contain swords.
Personally, I'd like to start seeing Ritual Scrolls as consumable + gold bundles, instead of the ubiquitous potion of healing. None of my characters are ritual casters nor want to become one, but I could definitely see picking up something like a scroll of Water Breathing if it was offered as a consumable + gold bundle option.
But you can already simply buy whatever scrolls you want, yes? Just like you can buy potions of healing. You don't have to wait for a bundle.
Personally, I'd like to start seeing Ritual Scrolls as consumable + gold bundles, instead of the ubiquitous potion of healing. None of my characters are ritual casters nor want to become one, but I could definitely see picking up something like a scroll of Water Breathing if it was offered as a consumable + gold bundle option.


Ask and you shall receive! (D&DXP will have at least one of these).

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This is a bit funny to me. Just yesterday I was looking over my level 10 Cleric in preparation for a game and realized "oh yeah....this guy has ritual casting". He will have a little gold to play with soon, so I was thinking about buying a ritual or two and some reserve residuum.

Which does beg the question: If ritual casting is (by design) mostly useless in LFR modules due to the living campaign experience, at what point do rituals start becoming either cost-effective or so cost-minimal that you can afford to cast them even without the expectation of any significant reward?

I know that most level 1 rituals run around 10 gold to cast, and that doesn't sound like a lot compared to my typical H3 high tier gold income. The 100 gold for a level 5 ritual sounds like a pretty significant drop though. Do rituals start becoming trivial expenses at current level -10? Any opinions?
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