Ritual Magic in Jadepunk

In the main Jadepunk rulebook, one of the lesser nations, the Ahlmac, are described as:

“blood worshippers, believing that power even beyond what jade can give is found in one’s own blood”

This was very interesting to me since magical effects obviously do exist in the system but they are largely confined to strange martial arts techniques or various amount of jade-based technology; however the write-up of the Ahlmac seems to suggest that they may have some form of power beyond that which Jade can offer. Of course this could be simple superstition or even techniques built using the normal Asset/Stunt system provided in Jadepunk; recently however I reviewed the excellent Crestfallen RPG by Dan Hiscutt (you can see the review by clicking here), one of the rules mechanics that really caught my attention was the way that rituals worked within the setting.

In Crestfallen magic is a slow and subtle art that involves rituallists gathering power and then shaping it to create a magical effect; it occurred to me that this could very well be ported into other games and that it might be an ideal match for the Ahlmac blood magic.

Please note: I’m not going to go into too much detail about the Crestfallen rules specifically here (if you are interested then I urge you to purchase a copy once it is availabe for generally release) but am going to produce some mechanics inspired by them.


Ahlmac Blood Rituals

Ahlmac blood rituals are represented by a series of rolls:

  1. A, Explorer roll to accumulate the required components of the ritual.
  2. A Scholar roll to prepare the ritual.
  3. The profession used for the third roll depends on the nature of the ritual:
    1. Aristocrat: Rituals of social manipulation and control.
    2. Engineer: Manipulating/interfering with Jadetech.
    3. Explorer: Aiding transportation or movement.
    4. Fighter: Inflicting harm or protecting someone from it.
    5. Scholar: Gaining knowledge or insight.
    6. Scoundrel: Rituals of disguise or theft.

Please note: In order to use Ahlmac blood rituals the character must have an Aspect that gives them narrative permission to do so, Assets can also be built that provide bonuses to blood sorcery.

Example Asset: Master of Blood Sorcery

Cost: 1 refresh
Guiding Aspect: Whatever aspect allows the character to use Ahlmac blood rituals.Feature: Focus (adds +1 blood ritual rolls)
Flaw: Situational (only when the caster has drawn blood in the scene)

Performing a blood ritual takes a day, however this can be reduced for each of the three rolls that is succeeded with style.

Number of Rolls succeeded in Style

0 – Ritual takes one day to perform.
1 – Ritual takes half a day to perform.
2 – Ritual takes six hours to perform.
3 – Ritual takes three hours to perform.

The difficulty of each roll depends on the effect that the rituallist is trying to achieve.

Explorer Roll Difficulties
This difficulty roll is based on how obscure the ingredients are and the final outcome of the ritual, the difficulties below list the type of enemies that could be affected to provide an example.

+2 Minimal – a non-combatant.
+4 Lesser – a single mook.
+6 Greater – a group of mooks.
+8 Major – a main villain.

Scholar Roll Difficulties
This roll is based on the surroundings and trappings that the rituallist has to hand, some example are given below:

+2 A lot of preparation, the rituallist is taking their time or is in a place consecrated to the Ahlmac religion.
+4 An average amount of preparation, the rituallist has had time to adequately prepare the ritual space.
+6 Minimal prepartion, the rituallist is hurried.
+8 No preparation or the rituallist is under fire.

Final Roll Difficulties
The final roll difficulties are largely left to GM discretion but should be based on the desired effect; for instance if the ritual were to inflict shifts of harm then the GM might take the number of shifts as the difficulty.

What if the ritual goes wrong?

A failed Explorer roll means that some mistakes were made with the trappings of the ritual and that the affect which occurs is not precisely the desired one, a failed Scholar roll results in the uncontrolled power of the ritual being released causing strange side-effects whilst a failure on the final roll depends very much on the desired effect of the ritual.

If you’re looking for further inspiration for ritual use or one method of using them in your games then I highly recommend that you check out the Crestfallen RPG.