Arcana: Places of Power

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Ley lines. Holy ground. Ancient Indian burial grounds. The Norse called it naming. We call it ritual. Every item has a place, and some of those places have power. This kind of magic draws its power from names, from sacrifices, and from places of power. If you follow the correct instructions, say the right words, in the right place, the hidden world will reveal itself. And the more chanting cultists you have assisting you, the better off you are.

Places of power provide you as the Adventure Guide the flexibility to have anything happen. Within a place of power, villains can use ritual to do just about anything —but only after drawing the attention of player characters by acquiring rare sacrifices and causing strange phenomena in the preparation of their evil schemes.

Places of power have levels, natures (often a sphere of influence), and a moral code.

Absent a specialty that grants it, there is no reliable means of detecting a place of power other than watching its effects.

The products of a ritual, however, and the ritual itself, detect as divine, as magical, and as psychic. They even register on odd wavelengths if the technology exists. Rituals draw on the foundation of the world, below all sources of power.

Moments of power

Acts of extreme evil that cause deaths can create a moment of Evil power for a few hours or days at the killing ground. Sacrifices of extreme good can result in a moment of Good power.

The appearance or death of an avatar can also result in a moment of power. The moment of power will have the same moral code as the avatar.

Rituals in a place of power

Rituals can summon known creatures from this or other planes. They can locate known individuals, create magical or divinely-powered items, and bind individuals to a doom. They can provide protection from the supernatural. They are not spells, powers, or spirits, and their effects will never be as obvious, controllable, or flashy.

Rituals do not require that the preparer or performer be a sorceror, prophet, or monk (although sorcerors and prophets may have access to powers that make them more effective at rituals than other characters). All rituals require a sacrifice, symbolism (an enclosing magic symbol with symbolic drawings and/or items), and a chant.

Rituals are worked in two parts: preparation and performance. Preparing and performing a ritual is a dangerous, complex, time-consuming task. The ritual must be prepared and performed nearly exactly, or failure will result, and failure during a ritual may well have catastrophic effects, especially if the ritual is partially successful.

Outside of a place of power, rituals have no effect. Rituals take hours or days to complete, and often have multiple stages. No ritual will take less than an hour to complete, and that will be only for the simplest of results. Rituals can only affect targets within sight of the place of power, or for which the ritual performer has something (or someone) deeply attached to the target.

Rituals in a place of power: Sacrifice

All rituals require a sacrifice of some symbolic significance to the results. There are no trivial sacrifices. A sacrifice must be imbued with strong emotion, or must be worth a lot of work and time, or must be a truly significant sacrifice to someone, and the nature of the sacrifice must be symbolically important to the ritual’s results.

Prepare the ritual (symbolism)

The character preparing the ritual (drawing any magic circles and signs, placing symbolic items, and organizing chanting cultists or sacrifices) must make a reason roll to successfully duplicate the ritual’s needs. There may be penalties to this roll depending on how the character learned the ritual; if they translated it from a language they don’t know very well, for example, there may be a penalty for that. If their source for the ritual was incomplete, there may be a penalty. Especially difficult rituals will also have a penalty.

During the preparation, proper symbols and iconography must be placed within the ritual circle. Symbolism must provide direction for the ritual. It must be relevant and somehow lead to the desired results of the ritual.

Perform the ritual (chant)

The character performing the ritual (speaking the words, making any necessary movements, and making the sacrifice) must make a willpower or a perception roll to successfully control the ritual. When trying to summon, banish, expel, or dominate a creature, or create a divine item, a willpower roll is required; when trying to control a thing or manipulate a happening, or create a magical item, a perception roll is required. Locating something can be either a willpower or perception roll. Especially difficult rituals will also incur a penalty.

If the character preparing the ritual fails their reason roll, and the character performing the ritual continues anyway, the amount the reason roll was failed by is applied as a penalty to the willpower or perception roll.

When a place of power’s moral alignment coincides with the moral code of the person performing the ritual, that person gains the level as a bonus to their willpower or perception roll. When the place of power’s moral alignment is opposed to the moral code of the person performing the ritual, apply the level as a penalty to their willpower or perception roll. Irrelevant natures do not affect performance rolls.

Chanting cultists

Prophets can make use of chanting cultists if the place of power matches the ritual performer’s moral code. The prophet must make a charisma roll. If successful, the performer gains a bonus on their performance roll. At two or three chanters, there is a bonus of one. For four, five, six, or seven chanters, there is a bonus of two. For eight through fifteen, a bonus of three, sixteen through thirty-one, a bonus of four, etc. The bonus cannot exceed the level of the prophet who is herding the cultists.

Magic Circle (John William Waterhouse).jpg
  1. Divine Intervention
  2. Arcana
  3. Riddles