Source Material for Rolemaster Standard System

Copyright Aran Mull 1999

In the following article I have outlined the basics of how the Magic Ritual skill is divided and how those skills would be used within RMSS. All that follows is, of course, unofficial. Use what works for you and feel free to discard everything else. Much of this had its genesis in articles found in the various Role Master Companions and, most recently, in the Essence Companion chapter on ritual magics. Much of any credit for what is found here belongs to them. Any errors are, of course, my own.

I would love to hear any and all comments, criticisms, and suggestions anyone has. Feel free to drop me a line at AranMull@worldnet.att.net .


Ritual Casting


The Basic Divisions of the Ritual Casting Skill.


There are eight basic classes for the Power Manipulation skill of Magic Ritual. These Basic Classes are Mind, Body, Soul, Creations, Imbuing, Elemental, Gating, and Essænce Cræfting. Most of these classes are further divided into sub-classes, all of which are skills that must be developed individually. The basic classes and their sub-divisions are described below.

Artwork Copyright by Larry Elmore



Rituals of the mind are divided into Internal and External rituals, each of which must be developed separately. This class, rather obviously, involves the manipulation of the mind of the target.


The Mind - Internal

This subclass is devoted to the manipulation of the ritualist's own mind. Probably the most often used rituals are those associated with increasing the ritualist's ability to comprehend and assimilate information, but the application of this skill is actually quite varied. This skill also allows the user to protect his or her own mind from assaults, as well as ignoring pain and the like. Through the use of this skill the ritualist may communicate mind to mind with others capable of telepathy.


The Mind - External

This subclass allows the skilled ritualist to manipulate the minds of others for good or for ill. It is in this field that we most often find those who read, manipulate, and control others thoughts and actions, but the kindly arts of truth saying and healing of the diseases of the mind also fall within its purview. This subclass also allows the use of telepathy between the ritualist and those unskilled in mind communion.



Rituals of the Body also are divided into Internal and External branches. This class involves the manipulation of the physical being of a living creature.


The Body - Internal

This subclass is devoted to the manipulation of the ritualist's own body. Some of the most skilled warriors, martial artists, and athletes are masters of the manipulation of their body. Such talents as self-healing, hasting, and changing the physical structure of the body are possible within this subclass.


Body - External

Similar to the Mind class above, the Body - External subclass of rituals allows the ritualist to use the same talents developed in the Body - Internal subclass, but on other creatures. Healing others, warping the bodies of others, and even wounding others are all possible in this subclass.



The last skill divided into Internal and External subclasses is that of casting rituals of the soul. Acting directly on the immortal soul this skill is often considered the most powerful, and is, appropriately enough, much harder to learn.


The Soul - Internal

This subclass is the rarest of those learned. Practitioners of this art know their soul to be a fortress and work hard to insure it remains unassailable. Protection, purification, and healing of one's soul are the basic skills of this subclass. Projection of one's soul outside of one's body, (always accompanied with the mind of course), is perhaps the supreme art of this subclass.


The Soul - External

This subclass of soul rituals is the medium used by both the darkest and the most pure of those throughout the multiverse. The subclass is further divided into SE-Corporate and SE-Discorporate.


Focussing on acting upon souls tied to living tissue this subclass is known for their talents for the evocation of emotion and exorcism. It must be noted that the emotions evoked through this art are blind unreasoned emotions. (Only through the use of the Mind - External skill could a rational basis for some emotion be established.) This skill may also be used in conjunction with SE-Discorporate to corrupt a soul of a living being in preparation for using the soul for the creation of some of the more powerful undead.


It is this area of magic which is both most feared and most revered. At it's most powerful it allows the rejoining of souls to the bodies of the deceased – and the utter destruction of a soul. Raising of many of the undead, and protection of the souls of the innocent belong within this powerful subclass.



Appropriately named, this class deals with the creation of an object from its base components. Note: neither this skill nor any other skill allows for the creation of something from nothing. If the basic components are not present the ritualist must combine this skill with the appropriate Gating skill to bring the materials to hand. This class is also subdivided into Creations – Inorganic, and Creations – Organic.


Creations – Inorganic

This is the base skill that all wishing to use Creations rituals must learn. Using this skill the ritualist may purify a base metal, raise a castle, or anything in between. Use of this skill is heavily dependent upon other skills the ritualist has in the appropriate areas. (E.g. – swordsmithing if a sword is to be "created".)


Creations – Organic

This skill is much less common. It is usually used to "create" plants, herbs, and foodstuffs. Creation of the composite beasts of legend was almost certainly accomplished through the use of these rituals, but such is currently beyond the comprehension of all but the gods.



Listed here as a separate Class, there are many that would argue it is mearly a subclass of Creations. We leave such matters to the learned sages who, by measure of the number of volumes they have written on this subject, undoubtedly have little else to do! This class differs from that of Creations in that it is the skill of imbuing a magical talent within an existing object. This class also has two major subdivisions, Imbuing – Fetishes and Imbuing – Artifacts.


Imbuing - Fetishes

This is the skill of imbuing, within objects, talents of limited duration. From the laboratories of these ritualists come the potions and powders most are familiar with. From such also come the temporary, and un-rechargable, runes, and such.


Imbuing – Artifacts

Here we have the much more involved skill of imbuing objects with talents of a permanent nature. Ranging from rune paper, wands, and the like, that may be easily recharged, to the swords, staves, and armor of legend, this skill allows the creation of items of true power.



This skill is also divided into two subdivisions, Intra-Planer and Inter-Planer.



By far the most common, and the easiest to learn, Intra-Planer Gating is that skill which allows the ritualist to longdoor, teleport, and apport by creating "doors" between locations on the same plane. It is also used by many seers who scry distant locations by opening "windows" in the fabric of reality, (actually a combination of Mind and Gating covered later).



This type of Gating is harder to learn, harder to affect, and hideously draining of the ritualist's Essænce. Most often used for travel or combined with another skill to "summon" various creatures.



Elemental magic possesses the greatest number of subclasses, the most common of which are presented here. It should be noted that combining the effects of two or more of these subclasses often has an effect much greater than its sum. Those who would experiment beware!

Dark – a force of entropy closely related to both earth and water. Dark is most aptly summed up with the word "Absence".

Light – A force of energy closely related to both Air and Fire. It should be noted that both Light and Dark are neutral forces with no true association with evil or good.

Air – Wind and flight are the principal uses of this element.

Earth – Nurturing as well as destroying Earth is both a potent force for building as well as for war.

Fire – The bolt of fire is a force every aspiring wielder of the arts arcane has held in their heart. It must also be remembered that fire also protects and warms, and it makes our very civilization possible!

Water – Often overlooked water is quiet and possesses the patience of ages. It is perhaps supreme among the elements, quashing fire out of hand, relentlessly tearing at the earth, and unaffected by Air, Dark or Light.


Essænce Cræfting

The final class of ritual is that of direct manipulation of the forces of magic themselves – that is the direct manipulation of Essænce. For all except Arcane users this is the hardest of the classes to learn. This class of ritual allows its user to dispel magics, buttress spells to make them resistant to magic, to see magical forces, and to prevent others from seeing them.



On Learning and Employing Ritual Magics.

When casting a ritual the ritualist is limited to the lesser of his or her ranks in the Ritual Magic skill or the appropriate limiting skill. Meditation limits Mind–Internal, Psychology/Lie Detection /Seduction limits, as appropriate, Mind – External, Cleansing Trance limits Soul – Internal, Artifact Lore limits Imbuing, Essænce Cræfting is limited to half the ritualist's ranks in Spell Lore, or equal to his ranks in Arcane Lore, (assuming he can find someone to teach the skill), etc...

Ritual Lore – Creation is a special case. The ritualist may "create" nothing he or she does not know how to make themselves or has a "template" for. The GM must adjudicate whether the ritualist has the necessary skill, and the level of skill will determine the quality of the item produced. A template may be substituted for the skill in which case the "creation" is a duplicate of the template – although the ritualist may vary the dimensions. [A long forgotten group of Animists were called the "Amber Mages" for their routine of preserving herbs in amber to act as a template for this kind of "creation".] Lastly other skills such as Rune Lore and Undead Lore may act as limiters as the GM determines. The limiting skill can and should vary with the effect the ritualist wants to achieve. If rituals were an easy way to become an "Omni-mage" they would be much more common. It is suggested that ALL rituals be limited to corresponding ‘Lores' or ‘Research’ skills, or be cast from a ‘recipe’ of sorts such as the caster may find in a Tome of Rituals. The above list is by no means complete and can, and should, vary according to the focus of the caster and the GM's preferences.


Further limitations are applied with respect to learning Gating, Creations and Imbuing. The first of these, Gating, is limited in that the ranks in Inter-Planer may never exceed the ranks in Intra-Planer. Creations is limited in that no skill in Organic may be developed until 5 ranks have been developed in Inorganic. Similarly Imbuing requires 5 ranks in Fetish before any ranks in Artifact may be developed. This basic knowledge is needed to lay the groundwork for the application of the relatively more advanced skills.


Both the Mind and the Body skills have virtually identical effects in both their Internal and External subclasses. While a ritualist skilled in the Internal subclass may never successfully project the effects of the ritual to simulate an External effect, a ritualist skilled in the External subclass MAY attempt to effect themselves with a ritual. In such circumstances the ritualist suffers a –50 to her success roll and failure results are determined as per the Extraordinary Failure Roll rules.


Arcane Users:

Suffering from the least restrictions, Arcane users may perform any of the known rituals. Additionally, due to the more controlled nature of rituals, Arcane users suffer no negative modifiers to their casting of Arcane magics when they do so via ritual, and their chance of corruption is half normal, (i.e. the same as for other users of magic). (Ritual casting is by far the safest method for casting Arcane magics. It is by this means that the ancient, Arcane-using forces for good avoided corruption. The time needed to cast these magics is also the reason they do not act more overtly.) On the other hand, should an Arcane user attempt to cast a ritual in less than the indicated time, (see Essence Companion section 9.0), the chance for corruption returns to the same as for normal spell casting. An additional penalty of –60 is applied to the roll to represent the primal nature of the Essænce when drawn quickly. This penalty is in addition to all others.


For Arcane users the following skills are:

Restricted: None

Everyman: Essænce Cræfting, Gating – Intra-Planer, Soul – Internal, and Mind - Internal

Occupational: None


Non-Arcane Users:

Developed long before the separation of magic into the three realms we know today, rituals, at their most effective level, are properly Arcane and involve the direct manipulation of the Essænce. While the separation of magic into the three realms allowed spells to be learned more easily, (and by those incapable of wielding the forces of the primal Essænce), practitioners of these realms suffer from an inability to cast some rituals and a harder time learning others. These restrictions are outlined below:

All non-arcane spell users using Ritual Magic suffer from their incomplete knowledge of the manipulation and effects of Primal Essænce. When casting rituals such users focus on manipulating those forces they have been taught to handle but in performing a ritual they are calling on true Essænce. The effects of this excess energy cause the ritualist to suffer a –15 to their Magic Ritual skill and increases by half their chance of gaining corruption. Hybrids and Channeling users may never avoid this penalty, (except by following the precise formulae which are their spell lists), but Essence and Mentalism users may eliminate this penalty if they stay within narrowly defined areas. Mentalism users avoid this penalty if the ritual draws only on the Mind class of ritual magic. Essence users avoid the penalty if they draw solely on the subclass they chose as their Everyman skill, (Creations – Inorganic, OR Imbuing – Fetishes, OR One Element...).


For Channeling users the following skills are:

Restricted: Essænce Cræfting, Elemental, and Mind

Everyman: Soul – Internal, Choice of One Element OR Body – External OR Creations OR Imbuing - Fetishes. (Choice determined as it best fits character's worship.)

Occupational: None


For Essence users the following skills are:

Restricted: Essænce Cræfting, Soul, Body, and Mind

Everyman: Gating – Intra-Planer, Choice of Two Elements, Choice of Creations – Inorganic, OR Imbuing – Fetishes, OR One Element chosen previously becomes Occupational AND the opposing element becomes Restricted.

Occupational: None, except as noted above.


For Mentalism users the following skills are:

Restricted: Essænce Cræfting, Elements, Gating – Inter-Planer, Creations, and Soul

Everyman: Choice of Body – Internal OR Gating – Intra-Planer

Occupational: Mind


Hybrid users' Restricted skills are those skills listed as Restricted in BOTH Schools.

Hybrid users' choose ONE of the Schools from which to derive their Everyman and Occupational Magic Ritual skills. (Optionally the player and the GM may determine an appropriate mix based on character background, profession, and development.)




Rituals Involving Multiple Ritual Classes

The most spectacular and the most enduring effects accomplished through Ritual Magic are the product of combining multiple ritual classes to achieve a result a single class could not achieve alone. In such a case the lesser of the RM skills used applies when rolling to determine success and an additional penalty of –10 per additional ritual class applies.

Two of the most common effects invoked though ritual magic are the various Scrying spells and most uses of the Creations class. These two classes are used as examples for the combining of ritual classes.



Scrying is a fairly simple effect achieved most commonly through the application of Mind – Internal and Gating skills in combination. The ritualist, assuming she rolls a success using the lower of her Mind – Internal and the appropriate Gating skill, opens a pinpoint "window". This window is a wormhole between the sensory center of her brain and the location she wishes to scry. Infinitely small nothing may pass through this window except her mental energy, (and the mental energy of anyone who senses her and can attack mentally!). Greater skill in BOTH disciplines may allow her to hold the window open longer, or open it on a different plane, or open it at a different time, or extend more senses through the window. All are possible.

It is also possible for those of great skill in the Gating class to merely open a large window and hold it open and use their primary senses to experience whatever is occurring in the area without using any skill in the Mind class. Of course the energies necessary to hold such a window open are prohibitive, not to mention that the window would be obvious to all and anyone could step through, etc...

A skilled practitioner of Soul – Internal may choose to forgo both options and withdraw his soul and mind from his body and travel to the location he wishes to view in that manner. No one way is the right way, but the first is commonly considered the safest way.



We have mentioned the need to Gate in material to create any item the ritualist may wish to create but does not have at hand. There are two ways the ritualist may do this. If the ritualist knows how to make the item in question and thereby knows exactly what materials are needed, he may gate them in using Gating prior to creation. (See the discussion on gating to determine where the material comes from, etc...) This is the safest way and allows the ritualist to cast two separate rituals at full ranks in both skills with no penalty. When the ritualist does not know what is needed he must have a template and gate in the materials as he creates the item. This is the most common application of these skills and, as iterated above, the ritualist must roll against the lesser of the two skills at –10 due to the additional ritual class to determine his success.



Rituals and the Gods

In general followers of the various gods do not perform "Rituals". While a god's followers may be required to perform ritualistic actions before the god will allow the effects of a spell to manifest. These are not rituals in the sense that the caster performs the actions to mold the energies to his or her will. The caster is performing the actions in order to "purchase", in a sense, the finished product.

The two main exceptions on this are where the "god" worshipped does not exist as an entity, (dead but still worshipped, a philosophy is the object of worship – animists, Buddhists, Unlife, etc...), and where specifically required by the god, (god of magic, of self-reliance, etc...

(This reflects my views of the whole cleric-god relationship. I also do not allow Clerics to develop Spell Mastery skills either. How could they improve upon the gods' creation? Even the thought is blasphemy. I do allow the Clerics to pray for different variations on spells, but it is a long process where they have to show their piety as well as the justification for the modification. OTOH once the variation is granted they may use it at will without having to make SM rolls!)