Dungeon Crawl Classics has a distinctively built-out spell casting ruleset. But spells as wizards and clerics “normally” cast them are not the only way that magic works in the world of DCC—we are outright told that there are more powerful magics in the world: rites and rituals.
While the core rulebook describes various conditions that might apply to an instance of ritualized magic—for example, using a circle of mages, offering sacrifices, casting at a location of power, etc.—we felt that this still seemed rather unexceptional for enacting such eldritch rites as seem to run throughout Appendix N literature. While the mechanics are sound, they weren’t really weird enough for our DCC tastes. Thus we present but one possible iteration for how to enact rituals.
Klaatu… Barada… Ni <COUGH> t <COUGH>!
Rituals work on very familiar, but unique, mechanics. They are laid out like spells, with a range of results based upon the die rolled. The critical difference is that, while a spellcaster uses their action die to cast the spell, anyone who casts a ritual uses the ritual’s action die. These ritual action die begin very low, for organizing a ritual is very hard. There are ways to improve your odds, including those already mentioned above—but also by utilizing a circle of followers, providing spellburn, participants burning XP, performing actions in a certain sequence, or including rare ingredients that are required for success—and any given ritual should spell out how these components affect the ritual casting check, whether by die bumps (+1d, +2d), flat bonuses, or both.
Further, the same ritual end-result can be achieved in more than one way, because not everyone figures out the best way to achieve success—for example, a phylactery created by a cultist of Cthulhu utilizing the text of the Necronomicon would not arrive at the end-result the same way a priest of Osiris reciting incantations from The Book of the Dead would. In our article, we will show you several ways that casters have found to cast the same ritual.
Rituals are usually very focused—they deal with one aspect of what might be presented in a spell, and really explore it in detail. Often, they take spell effects that are temporary, and provide ways to make them have incredibly extended duration— even making them permanent.
Rituals can be a major addition to the DCC rules if you let them. They add drama, and they add a lot of reasons for adventuring, both pro (we have to find that rare book or component) and con (Oh no! The bad guys are going to cast a ritual to enslave the world—we should make sure they can’t do that by hindering the ritual!). This article will run through the first three issues of Tales from the Smoking Wyrm—it is huge, with lots of ritual examples to help you build out your own rituals for years to come!