While the spell magic of Clerics and Magic-Users in Dungeon Delving Undying Light are useful and quick to cast, their power is quite limited. Magic in fantasy fiction (especially swords and sorcery fiction) is often much more powerful. However, such magic usually requires rituals that require much time, preparation and special materials – and do not always work. True Magic Rituals add this type of powerful magic to Dungeon Delving Undying Light. Use of these rules in a campaign is up to the referee as they are not appropriate for all campaigns.

True magic rituals can be found in books and scrolls or can be created by 4th level or higher Magic-Users and Clerics. Clerics can only create rituals in areas their deity rules, however. While Magic-Users and Clerics are more likely to succeed at performing a True Magic Ritual, anyone can attempt to perform a true magic ritual if they have a written copy they can understand and can meet are the prerequisite strictures needed to perform the ritual.

Type of True Magic Rituals: There are three types of True Magic Ritual: Lesser, Greater, and Ultimate. The referee decides which type a true magic ritual is when she creates it or when a player who wishes his character to create (or commission the creation of) a True Magic Ritual describes what the ritual will accomplish if successful. Exactly what results fall into which type depend on the setting of campaign and are therefore up to the referee to determine.

Strictures: True Magic Rituals have requirements, called strictures, which must be met before they can be performed. A Lesser ritual requires one stricture. A Greater ritual requires two strictures. An Ultimate Ritual requires three strictures. These strictures are selected by the referee when the ritual is created and my not be changed. Those performing a ritual may elect to work additional strictures into their preparation in order to increase the ritual chance of success. Each additional stricture whose requirements are completed before the ritual is attempted adds +1 to the chance of success. Some possible strictures are listed below. The referee may create others.

  • Ritual requires days/weeks/months of preparation.
  • Ritual requires 100s/1000s/10000s of gold pieces in materials.
  • Ritual can only be performed in a certain location.
  • Ritual can only be performed at a certain time.
  • Ritual requires a special item that cannot be bought and is not easy to find/obtain.
  • Ritual requires the sacrifice of a particular powerful magic item.
  • Ritual requires special knowledge or training that is hard to obtain.
  • Those performing the ritual take 2d6/4d6/6d6 damage.
  • Ritual requires 1d6/2d6/3d6 assistants.
  • Failing the ritual causes performers to suffer some permanent and obvious negative effect.

Determining Success: Once all of the strictures have been met, the ritual may be performed. Lesser rituals take about an hour to perform. Greater rituals take 2d3 hours to perform. Ultimate rituals take at least 4d6 hours to perform. After the ritual is performed, roll a D6 for success. A 7 or higher is needed for success. Magic-Users and Clerics may receive a bonus to the roll depending on their class level (see the table below); others will have to add additional strictures to their preparation to have any chance of success. If multiple Magic-Users or Clerics are involved in a ritual, only the bonus of the highest level Magic-User or Cleric is added to the success roll. A Lesser or Greater ritual will fail on a roll of 1 regardless of bonuses. An Ultimate ritual will fail on a roll of 1 or 2 regardless of bonuses.

True Magic Ritual Bonus Table

Level Magic-User Bonus* Cleric Bonus**
1 +0 +1
2 +1 +1
3 +1 +1
4 +2 +2
5 +2 +2
6 +3 +2
7 +4 +2
  • Reduce the bonus by 1 for a Greater ritual and by 2 for an Ultimate ritual (minimum bonus is +0).

** Bonus only applies if the Cleric’s deity supports performing the ritual.

Ritual Failure: All participants in a failed ritual must save or take 1d6 damage from magical backlash. All participants in a failed ritual must save or be unable to perform any magic for 1d6 hours/days/weeks. Strictures may impose additional penalties for failure.

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Example Rituals: A ritual to curse a person so that all children born to them would be deformed would be a lesser ritual. The required stricture might be that the ritual must be performed at midnight on the new moon. A ritual to restore a dead person to life would be a greater ritual. The required strictures might be that the ritual must be performed on a high holy day of a specific deity and that 1d6+4 thousand gold pieces of gems and jewelry must be offered to the God during the ritual. A ritual to create a large castle overnight would be an ultimate ritual. The required strictures might be that the ritual must be performed during a total eclipse of the moon at the site of the castle, that the ritual must be performed exactly at the end of six months of careful preparation of the site, and that ritual needs the body of an engineer who died during the preparation time.

Note: If the referee does not want to make this option available to player characters, it may still be useful for NPC villains who obtain access to it through a foul pact with an entity from “beyond”.