As much as I love Carcosa, I have to admit that I don't get some of the rituals. Invoking and Conjuring are simple enough, but some stuff seems a bit redundant or useless.
For instance, if I bind a creature but don't know how to conjure it, am I screwed? Or can I just command it to come to me? And if that's the case, what's the point of a Conjuration ritual, especially when Conjuring something doesn't automatically put it under my control?
The same thing goes for Imprisonment. Say I spend time researching and learning "Formula of the Geometries of the Pit." I even get lucky and learn a correct version. Then I find an appropriate flint knife, round up 61 people, sacrifice them, chant for six hours and imprison the Fetor of the Depths.
...now what? How is that helpful? Does imprisoning it mean it's unavailable to other Sorcerers? Does freeing it make it more willing to aid me? If I'm a Sorcerer, why do I bother with this ritual?
I'm sure there are angles I'm missing (non-euclidian ones, obviously) here; any and all input is appreciated!
Archaeology is nothing like Indiana Jones. I've never once gotten to punch a Nazi!
Post by crusssdaddy on Mar 20, 2013 9:33:38 GMT -6
It's been awhile since I've looked closely. I think having rituals of dubious utility is a statement on the inexact and generally awful nature of sorcery. As a sorcerer you can do everything right and be left with no gain. Maybe man's study of Snake-Man sorcery is imperfect?
Some force uncomfortable choices. Like, if the Lurker Amidst the Obsidian Pillars is rampaging and you want to put an end to it and you don't have the banishing ritual which requires no sacrifice but you do have the imprisoning ritual which requires an ugly sacrifice, do you have the stomach to go through with it?
I think there's room for a lot of fun to be had innovating some additional bling for some of the rituals. For imprisonment, maybe the sorcerer also gets limited ability to talk to/invoke the captured beast, which could result in the capacity to gain followers or grow a cult. Maybe you send the Violet Mist to the Angled Labyrinth in order to bring something back to you from that weird realm. I think imprisonment should typically be wielded as a threat to a summoned monster, in order to coax obedience.
Of imprisoning rituals the book says, "This confinement can typically be ended only by a Sorcerer freeing it with a ritual of conjuration." Perhaps freeing a monster you have imprisoned is substantially easier than using a conjuring ritual (especially the particularly involved ones), in which case you have a potent means of blackmail against communities.
Crussdaddy's post is full of good stuff. Here are my answers to each of your questions. Please note that my answers make no pretense to being Official Rules. They are merely how I do things.
For instance, if I bind a creature but don't know how to conjure it, am I screwed?
Depends. I do not rule that binding typically gives the sorcerer a special ability to communicate with the bound entity. Thus it would make no sense to bind an entity that the sorcerer couldn't get to within the given time frame. For example, The Ninety-Six Chants of the Leprous One binds the Leprous Dweller Below for 7 days. If the ritual was successfully performed, but the sorcerer couldn't issue commands to the Leprous Dweller Below, the binding would be worthless. "Hey, this entity has to obey me for 7 days, but it would take me 10 days to get within shouting distance... Hey, what did I just do?" In my games, the players would typically bind entities only if they knew they could somehow issue commands to it. But suppose the entity resided in deep space? Then the PCs would have to try to find some way to communicate their commands over long distances, perhaps through some weird artifact of the Snake-Men.
Or can I just command it to come to me?
Yes, but only if it can hear you. See above.
And if that's the case, what's the point of a Conjuration ritual, especially when Conjuring something doesn't automatically put it under my control?
The entity doesn't have to hear you to be conjured. One thing that happened more than once in my campaign would be TWO rituals performed by the PCs at the same time. For example, sorcerer X would perform a ritual to conjure an awful thing, while at the same time sorcerer Y would perform a ritual to bind that same thing. The PCs would time their rituals so that X's ritual was completed only seconds before Y completed his ritual. That way the entity wouldn't have time to effectively rampage through the PC party. Of course, the PCs had to cross their fingers that the entity wouldn't make its saving throw against being bound...
The same thing goes for Imprisonment. Say I spend time researching and learning Formula of the Geometries of the Pit. I even get lucky and learn a correct version. Then I find an appropriate flint knife, round up 61 people, sacrifice them, chant for six hours and imprison the Fetor of the Depths.
...now what? How is that helpful?
Imprisoning rituals are typically only one-half of a useful combination. You also really need to also know the appropriate tormenting ritual (though crussdaddy gives a good use for imprisoning rituals all on their own). The idea is that imprisonment-torment is a one-two punch to get an entity to do your bidding. If you imprison an entity and then subject it to torment, you might be able to get it to do you a service. It's kind of like a poor man's version of a binding ritual.
I typically rule that a sorcerer can communicate with an entity that he has imprisoned, so it can go like this: "Hey, Mr. Ugly. I've imprisoned you in an awful spot. I'll let you go if you agree to do me a service... No? I'll torture you if you don't agree. Still no? OK, then..." At this time the sorcerer performs the appropriate tormenting ritual, thereby subjecting the entity to torment: "How'd you like that medicine, Mr. Ugly? You ready to perform a service for me now?"
Does imprisoning it mean it's unavailable to other Sorcerers?
Yes, unless a sorcerer conjures it.
Does freeing it make it more willing to aid me?
If I'm a Sorcerer, why do I bother with this ritual?
Typically to get the thing to render you a service. Be careful that it doesn't just rend you instead!
I hope that is at least a little bit helpful. I never intended for the rituals to work like science, or be logical, or necessarily be compatible with one another. They are fragments, shards of insane power and knowledge, fumblingly groped by human sorcerers, who are all tyros compared to the extinct Snake-Men. Like many of the rules in the 1974 D&D game, I purposely intended for the rituals to be ambiguous, ambivalent, and susceptible to multiple interpretations. I like things (especially mysterious sorcery!) to be suggestive and unfathomable rather than prescriptive and mechanical.
I hope each ritual is a dark inspiration for the referee to flesh out according to his own lights. Each one serves the additional purpose of being an adventure seed, encouraging (often disastrous!) experimentation: "Hey, can I COMBINE this conjuration ritual and this binding ritual into one giant ritual, so I can summon and instantly bind this thing all by myself?"
Making referees and players unsure of the rituals was a goal of mine. I'm glad you are struggling through the murk! Perhaps my ideas in this post will be of use to you. Or maybe they'll inspire you to think of even better ideas to use in your own campaign that will make my suggestions seem half-hearted in comparison.
In a nutshell: There is no right way. Throw your imagination into a dark place. Then trust your intuition. Trust your gut. THAT will be your answer for any particular ritual. Let mathematics and logical consistency be d**ned.
Last Edit: Mar 20, 2013 20:44:19 GMT -6 by geoffrey
This stuff is definitely useful, thanks to you both! There's really a lot that can be pulled out of those short entries if you direct your imagination appropriately; it's one of the things I like so much about this setting. Now I just have to convince my group to give it a try!
Archaeology is nothing like Indiana Jones. I've never once gotten to punch a Nazi!
Correct me if I'm wrong (just bought the book and haven't played it)
It seems to me that ideally a sorcerer would have access to all of the spells appropriate to a specific cthuloid. For example a sorcerer lives near a swamp and figures he can dominate the neighboring village with a suckered abomination. Again, ideally he would learn "tomb of the writhing one" (imprison) "The ineluctable pallid commandment (binding) "obstruction of the suckered abomination" (banish if things go awry) "dirge of the outer dark" (torment if the binding doesn't work)and "the tentacled desiccating one" (conjure if he happens to be far away from the swamp).
With those spells, he can make a god his "b***h". How could he find those spells? Well, this is where the (invocation) rituals comes into play, to allow our sorcerer to communion with elderitch beings who can point him to the hex where these rituals can be learned/found. Of course who has got the time to learn all of those charms? I would gather impatient and foolhardy sorcerers might try and get by simply with a torment, or a conjure ritual, or seek one out and attempt to bind it before it catches wind of the ritual.
Some spells, like It of the Fallen Pylons, are virtually worthless given their extreme cost. And I like it that way
Well, you've summoned a god with no way to diminish or control him, but you stand within a protective circle, so if your goal is just to unleash a 20HD behemoth into an area, I would call it a great success!
I've been wondering since G.M. writes that the primary distrust between the races stems from the fear of being used in sorcererous rituals, "How does a sorcerer capture 60 people for a ritual?" And "can the choice of his means inform a player on what race of man to pick?" "What race can most efficiently cast which rituals?"
means of obtaining sacrifices 1) one at a time... 2) into a 'suicide cult' via trickery. 3) by becoming a leader of a tribe of a particular race and not using rituals using your own kind--using your people to help raid your neighbors for victims at the command of your "god" "Old Testament style". 4) becoming a leader of a tribe and using rituals that call for only 1 or 2 of your own "tributes." 5?)
For example, Options 2 and 4 require you to be the same color as your victims. Which means a sorcerer should seek out rituals that use his own race as sacrifices. This means if a player really wants to be a sorcerer who summons the "colorless ooze", then a serious option is to be a bone man of you want to use #2 or 4, however if you want to primarily capture your victims, better then to chose a race other than bone man. Now, #4 can be tricky as colorless ooze rituals require between 8 and 16 persons. This leaves a bone man sorcerer really with only #1 and 2 as an option.
so indeed the choice of color at the start of play should not necessarily be entirely random if a player has in mind particular rituals he would like to learn