DM vs PC on: Rituals,fine with RAW or need houserules?

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TLDR: Do you guys think Ritual costs are fine with RAW or need tweaking to make them more usable? Fuller story: So! I am a lvl 4 wizard in a 4e campaign, and I really love the idea of rituals. This is the furthest I've ever gotten with a character, and I havnt played all that much even at lower levels, so other than my own use of Tensers Disk I have not seen rituals used all that much.

When I google 4e Rituals, most of what I seem to find suggests that they are very poorly balanced, with many suggestions of houseruling away ritual costs and similar things.

When I talked to my DM about it though, he says that he feels they are fine and that I just need to get used to using them.

So far in my journeys, I have only used Tensers Disk and only when I knew it would be useful. I have a few other rituals but I always find myself putting off using them, thinking, "No there will be a better time"

As a specific example...Going through Keep on the Shadowfell, a place full of undead, and I had the ritual Undead Ward. There were several opportunities where I could cast it, but I could only afford to do so once. The result of which was....I never used it at all. I just kept saying to myself, "there could be a better time to use it" and every time we got by without needing it, so I always felt justified in waiting.

So basically my question to you guys is this... are rituals fine and I am the problem, do I need to just get over the idea of saving rituals and accept that I will sometimes just waste money with absolutely no gain?

Should I ask my DM to reconsider houseruling ritual costs? A very popular suggestion from the internets was "1 free ritual of your level or lower per day"

I am not going to like leave the game or yell at him or anything over it, this is really just something that I feel would make the game slightly more enjoyable to me, but I accept that he has the final say so. If you guys tell me that its just me not being used to Rituals/that I need to get over the idea of potentially wasting my money, then I will accept that, and if you tell me Rituals are borked and offer advice on what I can tell my DM, I will try that if you have any specific examples of what I could say to him beyond "but the internet said so"

Sorry for the long rambly post, if you want a TLDR see the top, and thank you in advance for any advice.

Generally speaking, I see the houseruling of costs as being a way DMs try to get players to make more use of rituals. I've done this myself to exactly nobody taking rituals anyway, heh. You already want to use rituals, so I'm not sure it's a necessary rule. The key consideration in my opinion is if rituals will actually be useful in the game. In most games that I have seen or played in, they aren't because the game isn't "granular" enough for rituals to matter (outside of comrade's succor of course!). As you said, you've wanted to use them, held off, and felt justified in that because it would have been useless (in that instance) anyway. I bet they're going to be mostly useless altogether in your DM's game unless the DM likes to do certain things regularly that rituals might help with such as overland travel (can't remember what that ritual is) or social scenes where you might want to lie a lot (Glib Limerick?). A game in which players some control over the narrative outside of their characters can also make rituals useful for themselves, such as when a player in my game used a ritual to portend the weather and I asked to tell me what it was (since I don't care about weather). A sudden cold snap allowed them a slight advantage over their cold-blooded adversaries in a future scene.


Maybe ask the DM for the one freebie as a test and, if he agrees, go for it. If he's concerned about balance, it's probably nothing to worry about and offer to be cool with changing things back to RAW if things get out of hand.

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I sometimes liked to add residuum to a treasure parcel without reducing the gold given at all. That way if the ritualist wanted to use a ritual they aren't as up against it for cost because they've been getting a currency that is there exclusively for rituals. The players aren't going to try and sell it for gold because they know the intent is to free them of these concerns and make rituals more useable to them. Perhaps you could get the DM to do something similar if you assure him you wouldn't exploit extra treasure. It really doesn't contribute a whole of meaningful aid, but can add some fun ritual actions for your character.

I think that rituals vary a lot in how useful they are. There are some that allow you to create magic items of your choice that can come in handy if your DM does not provide what you want, and other similar rituals exist. Mostly however I think that rituals are mostly flavour and should not really be balanced against magic items (because anything in 4e having a gold cost is either living expenses or balancing around the magic items expected at each level). 

I think part of the problem is that you have a big long list of rituals, and aside from a few that are often useful (comrade's succour and raise dead, I'm looking in your direction), most of the individual rituals are either:


1. Only useful in a corner case (I've never been in a situation where I've said "man, if only I took Leomund's Tiny Hut...", and even if I were in that situation, odds are I'd have picked out one of the other 360 available rituals instead)

2. Do things that are too mundane to spend screen time dealing with (Create Campsite?  Is it that hard for four adventurers to pitch a tent?  And do we really need to have a tent-pitching scene in our heroic adventure story?)


So, you have this big long list of rituals to go through and pick out a few, and odds are if you run into a situation where a ritual may appropriate, you won't have the right one.  It's a lot of bookkeeping for a very small chance at a reward.  Not to mention component costs and time to cast eat up some of the utility of rituals as well.


Instead, I've been thinking of creating a whole new system, where instead of having a big long list of very specific rituals out there and players having to pick out in advance which one they know, players are simply trained in Ritual Casting (Arcana, Nature, or Religion) and it's simply a matter of the player describing what they want to do on the spot and casting complicated spells/petitioning the gods/talking to the spirits to make what they want happen, with costs and time to cast are determined by the complexity of what they want to do and its area of effect.



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A lot of rituals are specifically designed to replace services found in towns and villages. This would be fine, except for one small thing:


It's actually more cost effective and interesting to simply build a village and take it with you.


Instead of buying and using Knock, you could keep a master locksmith on retainer.


Instead of buying and using Traveler's Feast, you could buy enough rations to feed an army, plus the horse and cart to haul them around in.


Instad of buying/using enchant magic item, you could hire an artificer to follow you around.


Many divination rituals can be replaced by sage hirelings.


For the cost of the portal rituals, you could build a moving city grand enough to encourage other organizations to establish portals for you.


Most rituals just exist to give the DM rules for the case where he has to give you that ritual effect but doesn't want to handwave it. e.g. Endure (Primordial) Elements, Raise Dead, Waterborn, all the Locate Plots.


The rest, pretty much irrelevant and don't need to cost anything but time to stop people from ever wanting to cast them.

With regards to rituals, my personal thoughts with them is that overall they are rather situational as per style of play and situation (Divination Especially), but there was a thread on this board somewhere that put some ritual uses out. Here are some rituals and possible uses just to get you started (Remember, you don't NEED all of them, just the ones to ease the particular situations that the GM throws at you):


  • Brew Potion/Enchant Magic Item - Very useful no matter what. FYI, treat potions as emergency healing FULL STOP. The inbuilt healing word and its equivilents in the leader classes out-perform potions of healing every time. 
  • Gentle Repose/Comrade's Succour/Cure Disease/Remove Affliction/Raise Dead - Never leave home without, since all are designed to cure irritating conditions and to shift healing surges around as needed. Heal based though, so get training in the relevant skill (Well, techically, you don't need the skill, but these require checks). Comreade's Succour depends on IF you have an Artificer in the party. The only rituals I would get regardless of campaign. 
  • Magic Circle - Handy for protecting bystanders in some kind of seige or raid, such as a bank raid. 
  • Fool's Gold - Pay ramsons in fake gold! Don't Overuse, people tend to get angry when they are conned of self-explanatory reasons. 
  • Make Whole - Broken mechanism vital to getting somewhere? Repair it with this! 
  • Tenser's Floating Disk/Tenser's Elevator - Get over the River without drowning or down the mineshaft without risk of failing Athletics and dying. 
  • Comprehend Language - Know if you are welcome or not. 
  • Portal Rituals, Phantom Steed and Shadow Walk - Get from A to B faster. You should KNOW if you need this depending on the style of your GM, and even so, keep the portal one in handy. Planeshifter PP gets a Utility that replicates this, so you won't need it then. 
  • Warding Rituals - If you have a home base, could pay to Arcane Lock everything...
  • Divination Rituals - Learn where the Artifact you need to kill the BBEG is. THE MOST SITUATIONAL ACCORING TO GM STYLE! Mind you, Magic Map stands out to me as the least situational IF you are pursuing someone. 
  • Scrying Rituals - Slightly less campaign dependent, since all you do is spy on the enemy. Be aware that sensors can be dectected. 
  • There was one that involved a bag of holding and turning it inside out so as to access the contents at-will. Someone used it to get weapons past guards. #
  • Create Campsight calls for a Nature Check to conceal the campsight - If you GM is fond of night time ambushes, could be useful. COULD be useful. 

Brail wrote:
So far in my journeys, I have only used Tensers Disk and only when I knew it would be useful. I have a few other rituals but I always find myself putting off using them, thinking, "No there will be a better time"


As a specific example...Going through Keep on the Shadowfell, a place full of undead, and I had the ritual Undead Ward. There were several opportunities where I could cast it, but I could only afford to do so once. The result of which was....I never used it at all. I just kept saying to myself, "there could be a better time to use it" and every time we got by without needing it, so I always felt justified in waiting.

I see that as the primary issue with rituals: GMs and modules don't assume they'll be used, so the game is fun without them. Not that it would work to assume they would be used. I find the best results when I don't assume a solution to a situation at all, and just put in what I think would be cool. That's when the rituals and interesting uses of powers come out.


That's a GM side answer, though, and not something you can easily implement. I think you should keep talking to your GM, and point out what you told us, that you might have used it, but you learned that it wouldn't have helped. It should be possible for the GM to set up situations in which rituals would help the party, but not trivialize the encounter. And not just one, but several, so you can decide whether to use it early on, or later. The worst is when a ritual is the perfect key to a single encounter and no other ones.


Good luck.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

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