[D&D Essentials] Spell Acquisition & Rituals

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I have started playing D&D again for the first time in God knows how long.  More than that, I am GMing a D&D Essentials game of H1 Keep on the Shadowfell using marvelous Maptool.  All is going great but I do have a couple of areas I'd like to discuss; Spell Acquisition and Rituals.

Spell Acquisition:
In previous games I've played, finding a spell scroll amongst the treasure has a big deal and maintaining a spell book took a lot of time and money.  The Essentials books provide a lot of advice about managing "loot" but don't seem to discuss how a Mage gathers new powers, nor do any of the adventures I've bought seem to have any spells included as their rewards.  Humph.  I don't want to go back to a situation where Mages spend days "not playing" just to add a power to their book but at the same time I don't want a characterless environment where spells just appear when a character gets the right amount of XP.

So I'd like to (at the very least) add spell scrolls back into found treasure and narrate the arcane processes the Mage has to go through to learn them permanently.  I have the guide-lines of how many spells a Mage of level X should have but I would also like to see some guidance for managing growth.  What about Cantrips, for example?  A mage starts off knowing 3, by level 10 shouldn't they have mastered them all?  What about At Wills?  Wouldn't knowing too many of them make a mage too flexible?  Too powerful?  Any advice would be appreciated.

Rituals:
On a different but related subject what about Rituals in Essentials?  This seems to be a 4E concept that's been dropped from Essentials.  I like the colour the bring to the game and wonder about adding them to Essentials.  Any advice?  Should I require players to have an appropriate Feat to use them?  Anyone?  Trained skill?


On spell acquisition.  Unlike in previous editions, neither mages nor wizards can acquire additional powers in that manner (though rituals can be acquired in that manner - see below).  While both, as a nod to their previous edition roots, do get additional power options that they can choose between each day, they don't get any additional powers beyond those granted by their respective class abilities.  And they don't have to search for them or otherwise go through any special steps to get them (you automatically add the additional spells to your spellbook when you gain the appropriate level). 

Of course, you can houserule otherwise.  Doing so will make your mages much more flexible, though not necessarily more powerful (in a given day at least) so long as you limit them to the same number of available powers each day.  Though if you're going to do that for mages, it would be fair to implement similar houserules for other classes as well.


On rituals.  Rituals weren't "dropped" from essentials.  Remember that all essentials material is part of, not separate from, 4e.  Any material in 4e is available to any character in 4e, whether they were made with an essentials class or not.  And that includes rituals (as well as feats, powers, paragon paths, themes, items, etc. and so on).  So while none of the essentials classes get the ritual casting as a bonus class feature like the Wizard and Cleric, they can still take the Ritual Caster feat from the Player's Handbook to do so, just like how the Fighter, Rogue, Paladin, Sorcerer, and every other class has been able to do since day one. 

And it's usually rituals, not class powers, that are included as part of treasures and rewards.  In fact, that one of the easiest ways to introduce rituals to your group.  Either in the form of ritual books so that the players can master said rituals, or in the form of scrolls if you only want to allow a one time use.

As an aside, our group houserules that you can copy ritual scroll into your book, just like you could in previous editions.

Thinking about creating a race for 4e? Make things a lil' easier on yourself by reading my Race Mechanic Creation Guide first.
Of course, you can houserule otherwise.  Doing so will make your mages much more flexible, though not necessarily more powerful (in a given day at least) so long as you limit them to the same number of available powers each day.  Though if you're going to do that for mages, it would be fair to implement similar houserules for other classes as well.

Well said.  Be very careful allowing spellcasters to get access to more powers for flavor's sake, even if they are still limited to the same number of powers per day as normal.  It's not just the number of powers per encounter or per day that make a PC powerful, it's the number of different powers they can pick from at any given time.  And don't underestimate the efficacy of utility powers either - just because they're not attack powers doesn't mean an overabundance of them can't disupt the balance between classes.

And if you do decide to do this, you definitely need to allow the other PCs to do it as well or you may end up with the Martial characters becoming torchbearers for the Arcane characters just like in 3.X.

My advice would be similar to Fireclave's.  Instead of granting the traditional spells on scrolls that would be 4e "powers," use rituals.  Work ritual scrolls (and residuum/ritual components) into the treasure parcels, but also be sure that if there is only one person in the party who is a ritual caster, that you don't let the others feel left out when someone continually finds treasure that only one person can use.

OD&D, 1E and 2E challenged the player. 3E challenged the character, not the player. Now 4E takes it a step further by challenging a GROUP OF PLAYERS to work together as a TEAM. That's why I love 4E.

"Your ability to summon a horde of celestial superbeings at will is making my ... BMX skills look a bit redundant."

"People treat their lack of imagination as if it's the measure of what's silly. Which is silly." - Noon

"Keep On The Shadowfell" would be hailed as a brilliant, revolutionary triumph in game design if it were followed by the words "A Pathfinder Adventure Path by Paizo."

"Falling down is how you grow.  Staying down is how you die.  It's not what happens to you, it's what you do after it happens.”

For balance sake if you allow arcane characters to find a widget that lets him throw lightning the martial characters should be able to find a new way to swing his sword.

I have played JRPGs before where you can find new sword or axe moves as treasue. 
The sea looks at the stabillity of the mountian and sighs. The mountian watches the freedom of the sea and cries.
Work ritual scrolls (and residuum/ritual components) into the treasure parcels, but also be sure that if there is only one person in the party who is a ritual caster, that you don't let the others feel left out when someone continually finds treasure that only one person can use.


Adding to this, do encourage the group to view both rituals and ritual components as a party resources.  Even if only one or two character invest in learning rituals, its usually the whole party that will benefit from them when they are cast.  Like the rest of the party's funds, the party should have some say when how their ritual resources are spent, and the ritualists shouldn't always be the ones footing the bill for components. 

Further, even if you can't cast rituals yourself, you can still help with the Aid Other action.  Most rituals give much better returns with higher checks, so that's something to consider when choosing skill proficiencies and the like.
Thinking about creating a race for 4e? Make things a lil' easier on yourself by reading my Race Mechanic Creation Guide first.
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I don't mind my thread being moved (I was going to ask if it was in the right place) but I would recommend at least emailing thread owners when you do.  Especially new-to-the-forum thread owners like me.

Back on topic:

Ritual Casting
I've been exploring adding this to my campaign.  Probably through NPC initially, but later encouraging players to get the feat.  I was looking at characters using the Char Build tool and for some reason couldn't get Ritual Caster to appear for my groups War Priest.  The charcater is trained in both Religion and Arcana.  Is there another prerequisite I am missing?

Initially I may house rule that rituals can be performed without the feat, just with negatives to the skill check and possible failure even where failures aren't normally possible.

Spell Acquisition
I've decided I am worring unnecessary ;)  I can manage what spells are acquired and ensure the player doesn't have too many choices.  In the long term they may have an advantage, but that will be traded off against occasional in-game inconvenience.  Either way, as long as the player still has difficult choices to make when selecting spells, it will all be fine.

Cheers!
Ritual Casting
I've been exploring adding this to my campaign.  Probably through NPC initially, but later encouraging players to get the feat.  I was looking at characters using the Char Build tool and for some reason couldn't get Ritual Caster to appear for my groups War Priest.  The charcater is trained in both Religion and Arcana.  Is there another prerequisite I am missing?

If you pick the "Build new Essential's character" or whatever the default is, I think it only offers Essentials feats.

Initially I may house rule that rituals can be performed without the feat, just with negatives to the skill check and possible failure even where failures aren't normally possible.

That would probably work.

Spell Acquisition
I've decided I am worring unnecessary ;)  I can manage what spells are acquired and ensure the player doesn't have too many choices.  In the long term they may have an advantage, but that will be traded off against occasional in-game inconvenience.  Either way, as long as the player still has difficult choices to make when selecting spells, it will all be fine.

Cheers!

Why would the player have an advantage?

[N]o difference is less easily overcome than the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions. - L. Tolstoy

Why would the player have an advantage?


Well if I give them extra spells they are effectively getting the "Extensive Spell Book" feat for nothing.  Its not a big advantage and since my Mage player is unlikely to overwhelm the other players, I have decided the extra "colour" is worth the small risk.
Selecting "New" in the character builder permanently and irrevocably limits the character to Essentials content only. WotC has refused to change this, despite the number of complaints that there is insufficient warning and no way to change that status later.

Hence, you should ALWAYS choose "Custom" and then "D&D Home Campaign", no matter what you're actually planning to do with the character or where you're planning to play it.

--

As for spell acquisition: that mechanic made some sense in old-E where wizards had spells and fighters didn't. It doesn't make much sense in a system where everyone has powers. Rituals have by and large replaced 'acquired spells' and they aren't class-specific anymore.

As for allowing ritual use without the feat: I'd suggest allowing the use of any ritual with a key skill in which the character is trained. Ritual Caster simply lifts that limitation.
Thanks for that.  That was indeed the issue with the Character Builder.