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Rituals for Martial Classes

posted Friday, January 8th 2010 by Jonathan Drain
Fourth EditionGame Design

Last year I noticed that fighters have few out-of-combat abilities, and wanted to add more versatility to the class without using the powers system. It struck me that 4E already has a mechanic for non-combat powers: the rituals system, normally used for spellcasters’ out-of-combat spells. D&D blogger Wyatt recently had a similar idea, so I thought I’d share some more of my ideas on the topic.

A ritual as we know is a non-combat spell, characterized by long casting time, a level requirement, a cost to acquire, a cost per use, and usually a skill check, with higher results sometimes granting greater successes. We can apply that to the martial classes, creating what Wyatt calls an Endeavour. Broadly speaking, a ritual or endeavour lets a character perform actions not covered by normal skill use or combat powers. Wyatt recommends giving all characters one Endeavour for free at level 1.

Dragon #379 also introduced something called Martial Practices, very similar to a ritual but you typically pay the component cost in healing surges. Below are some new examples of whatever you want to call rituals for martial classes.

Blacksmithing
This ritual brings third edition’s Craft (weaponsmithing) back into play.
Level: 1
Component Cost: Special
Category: Creation
Market Price: 50gp training, 20gp tools
Time: Special
Key Skill: Endurance. Working hard for long hours at a hot forge requires good stamina.
Duration: Instantaneous

You turn raw materials into weapons, armour or other metal objects. You pay half the item’s purchase price in raw materials and must spend one day working per 25gp in the item’s price. Your skill check determines the item’s quality and production time.

9 or lower: Crude. Item takes 50% longer to produce and suffers a -1 penalty (to attack rolls for weapons, to AC for armour)
10-19: Sturdy.
20-34: Superior. Item is produced in 75% of the time and worth 50% more than usual.
35 or higher: Masterwork. Item is produced in 50% of the time, and is worth double.

An item can be crafted Hastily, in which case it takes only one day but the blacksmith must spend one healing surge for each day he saves. For each surge he doesn’t spend, the skill check suffers a -5 penalty. At the DM’s discretion, certain objects may be especially challenging to craft, and impose a penalty. Players should note that by rules as written, mundane gear isn’t worth anything to sell.

Grisly Trophy
Level: 5
Component Cost: 1 healing surge
Category: Abjuration
Market Price: 80gp
Time: One hour
Key Skill: Intimidate
Duration: One day

By choosing body parts and pieces of armour from fallen enemies, you construct a terrifying scarecrow-like monument to your own prowess. When an enemy sees the grisly trophy for the first time, make an Intimidate check vs Will as an immediate reaction. On success, the enemy is frightened and takes -2 to attack rolls until the end of the encounter. You gain +2 to the check if the trophy is made of the target’s allies, or +5 if the trophy is made of the target’s leader or boss.

You can’t move the grisly trophy or carry it into battle. It can be destroyed if it takes damage; an average trophy has AC 10, Fortitude 10, Reflex 10 and 25 hit points.

Legendary Blacksmithing
Your weapon and armour crafting talents surpass those of most mortal craftsmen.
Level: 15
Component Cost: Special
Category: Creation
Market price: 1,000gp training, 20gp tools
Time: Special
Key Skill: Arcana, Endurance or Religion
Duration: Instantaneous

As Blacksmithing, but the works you create are imbued with expert enhancements. You can imbue an item with the following properties:

Indestructible (any item): Item adds resist 10 to damage (item only, not wielder)
Blood Channel (weapon): Once per day, expend a healing surge to score a critical hit on a roll of 19
Featherlight (armour): Penalty to skill checks in armour is reduced by one
Fearsome (any item): Wearer gains a +1 bonus to Intimidate checks
Fop’s Blade (armour, weapon): Ability score required to wield or wear this reduced by two; owner can take the requisite proficiency feat
Serrated: (weapon): Deal +1 damage on a critical hit

The number of properties you can imbue depend on your skill check result:

14 or less: None, and item cannot be made magical (see below)
15 to 24: None
25-29: One enhancement
30-39: Two enhancements
40 or higher: Three enhancements

In addition, you can use residuum to craft a weapon or armour into a magic item, as per the Enchant Magic Item ritual.

Comments

  1. Neuroglyph

    January 8th, 2010

    Very cool ideas here… I’m definitely copying these down and going back to Dragon #379 – not sure how I missed that article.

  2. JMag

    January 8th, 2010

    Awesome. If there’s one thing that was missing from 4e, it was a way to waste time crafting swords. There’s nothing like spending two days crafting a weapon that you could just buy for 35gp anyway.

    Also megarad is Grisly Trophy, which has the advantage of being totally stationary. I will set up my super freaky scarecrow somewhere, and then just spend the rest of the day trying to lure encounters toward it so I can inflict that sicknasty penalty to attack rolls.

    The best part, really, is that these aren’t at all distinct from Rituals as-is, they’re just new rituals. With Endurance as they key skill once in a while. Systemically, I always thought Rituals were great, I loved spending tons of money and hours on mundane crap–but I just wished I had EVEN MORE MUNDANE STUFF to waste my character’s time on. Crafting weapons and building scarecrows is just the thing. Could you provide a basketweaving ritual next?

  3. Rook

    January 9th, 2010

    (shakes off the sarcasm dripping from my boots)

    I for one really like this idea. I have a player who gets into the weapon crafting thing, so this is right up his ally. Thanks for the post and keep’m coming.

    Just for the record, I think I prefer the term Endeavour. Keeps them separate and distinct from Rituals.

  4. Jonathan Drain

    January 9th, 2010

    Basketweaving
    Your skill at wicker-weaving is unsurpassed.
    Level: 27
    Component Cost: 800gp
    Category: Creation
    Market Price: 2,000gp
    Time: 1 day
    Key Skill: Streetwise (no check). Obtaining good willow cane requires a surprisingly deep network of contacts.
    Duration: Instantaneous

    You turn raw materials into wicker or basket. You can create the following wicker items (the DM may add more at his discretion):

    Wicker chair: Provided you have four allies to carry you aloft in your chair, you gain a +1 bonus to attack.

    Basket: Your carrying capacity is increased as if your Strength score was two points higher. Balancing the basket on your head requires a successful skill challenge involving Acrobatics, Endurance, and Streetwise.

    Wilden: This ritual is the secret origin of this race. You can create a new Wilden with a level equal to your Streetwise check. If you accidentally create a Wilden with a level of thirty or more, it immediately ascends to deityhood and covers your DM’s lovingly crafted campaign world in willow tendrils. He has to accept it because it’s on a blog and it’s a rule.

  5. JMag

    January 9th, 2010

    Glorious.

  6. TitusUnintegritus

    January 9th, 2010

    Honestly, I prefer the option presented in Dragon in one of the early Scales of War articles. You selected a background that was smith, and you were simply permitted to make things. It was just that easy.

    Really, this kind of thing seems like adding dormers, spoilers, rhinestone encrusted spinner rims, and fuzzy dice to a sports car.

  7. Jonathan Drain

    January 9th, 2010

    TitusUnintegritus: That’s probably a more elegant solution to crafting.

  8. Swordgleam

    January 9th, 2010

    I like this, because one of my players keeps trying to mess around with his armor and now I can just point him at this.

    By the way, Azagar’s Book of Rituals has at least a couple rituals just for martial characters – I know, because I wrote for of them. ;)

  9. Tetsubo

    January 11th, 2010

    I have a question, in all seriousness: Is this blog going to remain 4E-centric?

  10. Jonathan Drain

    January 12th, 2010

    Tetsubo: D20 Source tries to stay somewhat edition-neutral, though there was a lot of 4E content in December. There’s probably going to be some bias toward 4E in future since Brandan likes that edition and I’m finding it has more openings for ideas that haven’t been explored yet.

    Third edition players shouldn’t worry too much, however, as the August survey revealed 60% of readers play third edition, so there’ll still be material for 3E.

  11. Andy

    January 13th, 2010

    The Basketweaving ritual is beautiful.

  12. Scott Lykins

    January 27th, 2010

    is this forum strictly D&D because i can post plunty of monsters and stats but its from the games that i had create..and im sorry but i cant live with D&D after i created my own games…of corse if i was to post my creatures you would have to format them to your game, or maybe i could try to do it myself, still…
    Vencorbin@live.com

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