Learning Rituals

Magic in A Dungeon Game is referred to as Rituals.

The rules for learning Rituals in character creation are located in the section titled Learn Rituals. The Rituals characters begin play with are assumed to have been learned or discovered in whatever life they led before they became an adventurer.

Beyond character creation, new Rituals must be learned or discovered during the course of your adventures. They may be found inside dungeons, written in spell books or etched into surfaces as Sigils or in some other form. Others might be learned from enchanters encountered on your travels, researched in libraries, or discovered through experimentation or prayer. The exact means of discovering new Rituals is left to the GM and players to determine according to the needs of the campaign.

When a new Ritual is discovered and you attempt to learn it, roll 1d3 and reduce your maximum health or one of your attributes by that amount permanently. Then attempt to roll under your Cunning on a d20. If the roll succeeds you learn the Ritual. If it fails, that Ritual is forever lost to you - you can never learn it. You can exert yourself on this roll.

If you die while attempting to learn a new Ritual during normal play, refer to the rules for Dying.

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Types of Rituals

There are three kinds of Ritual: Phrases, Sigils, and Ceremonies.

  • Phrases take one round to cast, occur instantly, and fade as soon as they have taken effect.
  • Sigils take a minute to draw, can be triggered at will or when a certain condition is met, and their effects last for ten minutes per Adventurer Level of the caster.
  • Ceremonies take an hour or more to perform, occur as soon as the ceremony is complete, and their effects last for one day per Adventurer Level of the caster.

Rituals are formed of two words chosen at random, one from each of the Word Lists below. 1

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Word Lists

Roll 1d20 twice, once on each column, and combine them into your Ritual.

1d20 Word 1 Word 2
1 Hungering Life
2 Slowing Light
3 Corrupting Swarm
4 Shifting Hate
5 Rotting Darkness
6 Preserving Death
7 Violating Silence
8 Desecrating Noise
9 Summoning Violence
10 Sloughing Peace
11 Rambling Bears
12 Creating Abominations
13 Imbibing Flesh
14 Glimmering Blood
15 Evading Ooze
16 Wandering Flight
17 Concealing Alarm
18 Revealing Stone
19 Lingering Grief
20 Combusting Blade

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Using Rituals

To perform a Ritual, describe what you intend your combination of words to achieve and roll under your Cunning on a d20. 2 If you succeed the Ritual takes effect. If you roll your Cunning score exactly it either lasts twice as long, or is twice as effective (your choice).

If you roll over your Cunning score, the Ritual fails. Roll on the Mishap table, adding the difference between your failed roll and your Cunning score to your result and reading off the relevant entry on the table.

Constituent words in a Ritual can be reversed. One word can be reversed without effort. Reversing both words simultaneously requires you to exert 1d3 Cunning. For example, Concealing Darkness could be cast as Revealing Darkness or Concealing Light without effort. To cast it as Revealing Light requires exertion.

Rituals that deal damage do 1d6 per Adventurer Level. Similarly, Rituals that provide healing do 1d6 per Adventurer Level. 3 4

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Using Rituals in Combat

Performing Rituals while fighting is difficult and dangerous. You can’t cast a spell and move in the same round. If you use a scroll in combat, you automatically go last in initiative.

If you take damage before your go in a combat round, your Cunning check to perform the Ritual only succeeds if it is equal to or below your Cunning but greater than the amount of damage you took. If you fail, roll a Mishap as normal.

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Safe Rituals Per Day

New characters can perform one Ritual per day without taxing themselves. At higher levels this number increases to half your Adventurer level (rounded down) + 1. 5

To perform additional Rituals above this number you must first exert your Cunning. The first Ritual above your daily limit costs 1 Cunning, the second 2, and so on. You must exert yourself before rolling to see if the Ritual succeeds.

If you cause a Mishap on an exerted Ritual, you can’t perform Rituals again that day until you have rested for the night.

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Roll 2d6 + the difference between your failed roll and your Cunning, then apply the effect below.

If a mishap causes you to replace a constituent word in your Ritual, you don’t remember the new words once the Ritual is complete unless the table specifies otherwise.

Roll Effect
2. Replace the first Word in your Ritual with a random different Word and cast it on the same target. Add the new Word to your list of Words known.
3. Replace the second Word in your Ritual with a random different Word and cast it on the same target.
4. Replace the first Word in your Ritual with a random different Word and cast it on a different target.
5. Replace both Words in your Ritual with different random Words and cast it on a different target, in addition to your original Ritual. Both Rituals work without needing an additional roll.
6. Take 1d6 damage. If you take 4 or more damage, forget the second Word in your Ritual and learn a new one in its place.
7. Take 1d6 damage. Your Ritual works as intended.
8. Take 1d6 damage. If you take 4 or more damage, your Ritual fails. If you take 3 or less damage, your Ritual works as intended.
9. Your spell has the opposite effect.
10. Summon 2 x Adventurer Level bears.
11. Lose 1d3 Brawn permanently.
12. Lose 1d3 Agility permanently.
13. Lose 1d3 Cunning permanently.
14. Lose 250 x Adventurer Level XP. If this takes you below 0 XP you die.
15. Roll twice and apply both effects. This result stacks.
16+. Your Ritual works as intended, but you permanently lose the ability to perform Rituals.

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Using Spells From Other Games

Instead of rolling 1d3 when attempting to learn a new Ritual, reduce your maximum health or an attribute by the level of the spell you are attempting to learn.

If the spell you want to learn has no level or is level 0, roll 1d3 as normal. All damage or healing values become 1d6 per Adventurer Level.

The ritual type is determined by the casting time of the spell you want to learn. Some games measure these times in minutes and hours, while others use types of Actions. If a game lacks casting times, use spell durations as a guideline instead.

Follow this procedure to convert the spells to a Ritual type, moving to the next step only if the type isn’t resolved:

  • If the original casting time is one round or measured in actions and the duration is less than 10 minutes, the spell becomes a Phrase.
  • If the original casting time is measured in rounds and the duration is less than one hour, the spell becomes a Sigil.
  • The spell becomes a Ceremony.

Use your best judgement in cases with no obvious answer or where the procedure conflicts with your intuition.

Unlike normal Rituals, spells imported from other sources can only be used as indicated in their specific text.

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Rituals can be scribed onto scrolls, allowing adventurers to perform them without using their daily Rituals or to access Rituals that they haven’t learned by heart.

Scrolls do have some limitations over memorised Rituals.

  • Scrolls must be written in the form of Phrases, not Sigils or Ceremonies. This means that Rituals that were originally learned as Sigils or Ceremonies must be converted into a form able to be scribed. 6
  • Where the effects of performed Rituals are determined by the caster in the moment of invoking the Ritual, those written on scrolls must have their exact effect determined at the time of writing.
  • Lastly, because they are written on flimsy paper scrolls risk damage from fire, water, and other hazards. Damaged scrolls can be incredibly dangerous.

Unlike spontaneously performed Rituals, scrolls have a Scroll Level. This determines aspects of the Ritual that would normally be dictated by the Adventurer Level of the caster. For Rituals with ongoing effects, the duration is a turn per Scroll Level. Scrolls that inflict damage or provide healing do 1d6 per Scroll Level.

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Creating Scrolls

To create a scroll you must know and be able to cast the appropriate Ritual. Writing a scroll requires a week of uninterrupted work, breaking only for sleep and food. Adventurers engaged in writing scrolls can’t recover exerted attributes at the same time.

The materials used in writing scrolls cost money, with the costs increasing in line with the complexity of the task. Phrases are easy enough to transcribe onto paper, but distilling a complex Ceremony down into a form able to be scribed and cast as a Phrase is costly.

An adventurer writing a scroll can write it at any Scroll Level up to and including their own Adventurer Level, and must determine the exact effect of the scroll at the time of writing. The cost of writing scrolls is as follows:

Original Ritual Type Cost
Phrase 100sp x Scroll Level
Sigil 200sp x Scroll Level
Ceremony 600sp x Scroll Level

No Cunning check is required to write scrolls, with the exception of those where the original Ritual is a Ceremony. In this case, the GM makes a secret Cunning check on behalf of the adventurer at the end of the week. The adventurer writing the scroll can choose to exert themselves as much as they like before this test is made in order to help ensure success.

The GM does not reveal the result of this check until the scroll is used. If the Cunning check was successful then the scroll functions as normal. If it was unsuccessful then the Ritual was poorly transcribed. Instead of taking effect as intended when the scroll is read, roll on the Mishap table and apply the result.

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Using Scrolls

Anybody can cast Rituals from scrolls, even if they don’t normally know how to use magic. The adventurer reads the words inscribed on the scroll and the effect manifests itself.

You can learn a Ritual from a scroll as per the rules for learning new Rituals. When doing so, you must attempt a special Cunning check in addition to the one required to learn the Ritual. This check occurs after reducing an attribute or health but before rolling to see if you successfully learn the Ritual.

To make this check, roll 1d20. If the result is between the Scroll Level and your Cunning, continue with the procedure for learning for Rituals.

If the result of the roll is equal to or lower than the Scroll level, or equal to or higher than your Cunning, you accidentally cast the Ritual from the scroll while attempting to learn it. Resolve the effect of the Ritual, then continue with the procedure for learning Rituals.

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Using Scrolls in Combat

In combat, reading from a scroll takes your full initiative. You can’t move or perform any other actions during that round, and you automatically go last. Characters who rolled below their Agility for initiative who then decide to spend their turn reading from a scroll act as though they rolled above their Agility.

If you take damage during a combat round in which you are attempting to read from a scroll, make an Agility saving throw. On a success you perform the Ritual normally. On a failure you perform the Ritual normally but the scroll becomes damaged. Roll on the Damaged Scrolls chart and apply the result.

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Reusing Scrolls

The number of times a scroll can be used depends on the skill of the person reading it. After reading from a scroll, roll 1d20. If the result falls between your Cunning score and the Scroll Level, you are successful and the scroll can be reused. On a failure the scroll turns to ash in your hands. Rolling exactly your Cunning or exactly the Scroll Level counts as a success but imparts no additional benefit.

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Damaged Scrolls

When a scroll becomes damaged, roll 1d20 + the Scroll Level on the following chart and apply the result. In all cases the scroll is no longer usable after it has become damaged.

1d20+SL Result
2,3,4. The scroll turns to ash.
5,6,7. Violent earthquakes spread from the scroll to a radius of 1d20 miles. They last for 1d6 hours.
8,9,10. The scroll explodes. All creatures within 20’ make an Agility save or suffer 2d6 damage.
11,12,13. All rock within 15’ of the scroll turns to liquid for 1d6 Turns.
14. All creatures within 20’ are blinded for 1d20 hours.
15. Gravity is reversed in a radius of 2d20 feet for 1d6 Turns.
16,17. Forks of lighting lash from the page. All present make a Agility save or take 3d6 damage.
18,19. A torrent of ink begins to spill from the scroll. It forms into a black pudding in 1d3 Turns.
20. All liquid within 10’ of the scroll begins to boil.
21+. Somewhere in the world a rift to another dimension tears open, allowing an abomination to step into the world. It knows the name of the one who scribed the scroll and is hunting them.

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  1. These word lists are primarily designed for player characters. GMs may of course invent new combinations of words for their non-player characters to use, to act as dungeon hazards, or to place in dungeons as treasure for players to find.↩︎

  2. Sometimes deciding the exact effect of a Ritual requires some discussion between the player and the GM to ensure an effect that is fun and fair but not game-breaking. Players will tend to re-use effects regularly, so try to imagine how this ability being present in the game permanently will imapct play. If in doubt, err on the side of being permissive and remember that if something is impacting the fun of anyone at the table (including the GM!) the solution to most problems lies in communicating with one another.↩︎

  3. Melee and ranged weapons only deal 1d6 damage, and on its face this can make magic seem overly powerful. Remember that there is always a risk to using Rituals that isn’t present when using conventional weapons.↩︎

  4. For details of Adventurer Levels, see Advancement.↩︎

  5. The exact number of safe Rituals per day is given on the Advancement Chart.↩︎

  6. See Creating Scrolls.↩︎