Finally we reach the last chapter in our Dungeons & Dragons Fourth Edition Player’s Handbook readthrough with rituals.
Rituals is a new thing for 4e. Because the old spellcasting system has been retired and what are called “spells” now are really just powers like any other class’ powers, a lot of old effects didn’t really fit in the powers system. These range from the more-utility-than-utility like Arcane Lock to the old favorite Raise Dead, to magic item crafting.
Rituals are found in books or scrolls, like spells in older editions. But you don’t have to be a spellcaster per se to use them, you just need the Ritual Caster feat (and that’s only to do them from books; anyone can cast one from a scroll). In general they take a while to cast and use up some kind of expensive component. Rituals are lightly skill linked – some use a skill check to gain a better result, but many don’t really use or require the listed skill. They have a minimum level needed to perform them.
I think rituals are pretty neat; they have the potential to make memorable effects (like Raise Dead) more memorable.
I don’t like some of the things they put in here though. Like Arcane Lock – that’s something that has definitely been used in combat (and its older brother Hold Portal) in my day. I know that there’s only a limited number of powers possible and that everything else has to go here by design, but it seems to me to make for a lot less “interesting” options in combat. Silence, Passwall, and some others should have been made powers instead. And Hallucinatory Creature, the last vestige of illusion in the rules.
(Stupid economics alert: It costs you full price to make a ritual scroll and you can only sell it for half price. NPCs apparently make it at full price and sell it for full price. Which is silly for both the PC and the NPC scenario. Also, Raise Dead costs more based on your character level – 500 for heroic tier, 5000 for paragon tier, and 50000 for epic.)
This is where all the divination spells went, mostly. And non-hit point healing – cure disease, etc. And magic item crafting, and a very little bit of abjuration, illusion, and conjuration.
I wish magic item creation took more than an hour. I feel like their attempt to balance it using bad economics could have been mitigated if it just took a lot longer to make a buff item. Even a day per level would prevent a ritual user from converting a dragon’s hoard into magical buffs in every slot on every party member in 24 hours flat.
But besides those specific issues, rituals are well handled and pretty simple really. The overcomplexity which found its way into other bits isn’t here so much. So yay, rituals!
There’s an index and a character sheet; I trust they don’t need much discussion.
And here endeth the PHB readthrough! When I get time, the DMG will be next.