I like the direction that 4ED went with rituals. Give the players a bunch of cool spells that just about everyone could cast (if they picked up the feat). I like that they were displayed as a different set from other powers, allowing the player to cast them without having to bother memorizing them for the day. In that aspect I always thought the wizard got the shaft in previous editions.
Why bother memorizing all the wild utility spells if it took up a slot for something more important (like fireball)? I guess most folks liked the logistical challenge of trying to figure out what spells would be pertinent for the adventure. Typically I found everyone just taking an 8 hour rest to memorize the spells they needed (like identify 4 times), and then re-memorize the typical layout later (or they end up making a stack of wands and scrolls). Yeah, I like a player being able to cast the neat stuff without having to take up a slot from their bread and butter spells.
However, rituals aren’t quite perfect. Aside from casting times, I tend to think the component costs are pretty outlandish. The casting time I can sort of understand. If it was a quick cast, players would be casting knock on every door and teleporting everywhere. But combined with the unusually high components, I can see players sort of bypassing rituals.
It’s a shame as I think rituals allow the players to do the really cool RP things. They really can help push the story forward, and clever players are going to find unusual uses for them. From my post on extended rests, folks can see I like to encourage casting rituals. So I decided to give the player a little incentive doing so.
I reduced the component cost for casting rituals. For heroic rituals (1-10) components cost 50% less, for paragon rituals (11-20) the cost is reduced 25%, and epic rituals have no reduction in component cost. For some specific rituals that required a particular focus (Leomund’s secret chest, enchant magic item, etc.) the costs for these focus items are not reduced. Also raise dead has the same listed component cost, as I consider the game effects to be too large to discount.
I also started to freely throw around ritual components to supplement treasure parcels. It’s really easy to add a few odd bits here and there, especially as different rituals require a variety of components. Its another way to add a little variety to those listed treasure parcels.
I still have not delved too deeply into awarding rituals that can be copied. I usually drop the one-shot, scroll rituals as they can really give the party a much needed clue to keep them on track (hand of fate, anyone?). But given the cost for obtaining a ritual, I see the opportunity to pick up one completing a quest, even on behalf of an arcane benefactor, a possible incentive for a few of the players in a party. This can definitely can add a little drama to party dynamics if the group is happy completing a quest and ready to head topside, while the wizard wants to push a little further on for the potential of obtaining another ritual.
So rituals…hate em? Love em? And any tips how you folks use them in your campaigns?