5e: Not enough rituals

5e has a luxuriously complete spell list, and an absurdly small number of its spells have the ritual tag. Bards, clerics, and druids have over 100 spells each, and each of these classes has exactly 12 ritual spells – about 10%. Wizards, who have the biggest spell list at 213 spells, have 17 rituals, which is only 8% of their list. Sorcerers have four rituals. Warlock is the worst offender because it has a big class feature and invocation devoted to collecting ritual spells – but it’s a trap. Of its four rituals, three are first level.

The dearth of rituals makes me think that they’re priced wrong. WOTC realized that their generous ritual rules (cast a spell free in ten minutes) led to abuses with too many spells. They pulled back and now only 10% of the spells are ritualizable.

This compares unfavorably with my original hope for spells: every spell can be cast as a ritual!

I think this dream is still possible if we tweak the cost. +10 minutes is clearly too low a cost. Money (as in 4e) is too high a cost. What about adding arbitrary restrictions instead of cost?

As before, you can cast any known spell as a ritual, whether or not it’s prepared, by adding 10 minutes. New rule: you can ritually cast a number of spell levels equal to your character level. This refreshes on a short or long rest. You can only ritually cast one spell of level 6 or higher per day.

What do we do with the few official ritual-tag spells that WOTC thinks are safe, un-spammable, and OK to cast unlimited times a day? Let’s let them be cast unlimited times without costing any ritual spell levels, as in the official rules.

So how open is this to abuse? Not very, I think. Cast a Fireball as a ritual? Sure, useful for a few free lobs in slow-paced siege warfare. Cure Wounds as a ritual? Sure, it gives clerics a nice, limited apply-herbs thing to do out of combat. Wish as a ritual? Yeah, once a day. What about the fact that any spell is now open to ritual dabblers, like warlocks and users of the Ritual Caster feat? I’m fine with it. If a barbarian wants to spend a feat on Ritual Caster so he can cast Bear’s Endurance or Fireball a few times a day, I’ll allow it.


9 Responses to “5e: Not enough rituals”

  1. Necrozius says:

    Could it be as simple as requiring 10 minutes / level of the spell?

  2. Jake says:

    I agree, and approve. OR:

    Spells are difficult to memorize — you have to get each syllable exactly right. Trained users of magic in the D&D-verse are proficient enough at this that it is automatic, but spells only take a few seconds to recite. Rituals are 10 minutes, which requires exponentially more focus and concentration. So what if it takes a Knowledge: Arcana check (for arcane users) or Knowledge: Religion check (for divine casters) to successfully complete one?

    If you’re trying to perform a ritual in suboptimal conditions (bad weather, middle of a battle, missing the right gear, etc.), the roll has disadvantage.

    Do it with extra stuff (paying money for ritual junk), extra time, extra help, in a sanctified space, etc., the roll has advantage…

    Just brainstorming.

  3. Frederick says:

    I like this direction and I’ve used a similar “anything can be a ritual with 10 minutes” house rule as well. I’m hesitant to add more book keeping with ritual levels.

    Perhaps we combine these suggestions;

    Spells with the ritual tag can be cast in 10 minutes with no restriction as noted in the rules.

    Other spells can be cast as a ritual by accumulating 1 ritual success per spell level.
    A ritual success is earned by performing the ritual for 10 minutes and making a Knowledge (Arcana or Religion) check with a DC = to 10+spell level.
    Disadvantage for distractions, Advantage for ritual accessories or help
    A failed Knowledge check does not interrupt the ritual, but taking any action other than performing the ritual does.
    Optional: performing the ritual at a location of power (standing stones, altar, etc) accumulates 2 successes per Knowledge check.

  4. Kevin says:

    As someone who’s playing a tome warlock, rituals are such a trap. Its literally not even worth taking. I was really hoping for some cool rituals from the other spell lists to make the Tomelock a little more flexible or something.

    Its just really bad though. Even spells like Message or Sending can’t be cast as rituals? Cmon.

  5. paul says:

    A lot of good suggestions here. I like these more than the bookkeeping solution that I suggested.

    I like the addition of skill checks to the mix. Perhaps the penalty for failing a skill check isn’t wasting your time and failing the spell – it’s spending a spell slot.

    My only hesitation: when someone says “After the battle, I cast Cure Wounds as a ritual as much as I can to cure people up” – which will come up a lot – how many skill rolls/how much bookkeeping will it take?

  6. Eli says:

    I don’t see how ritual casting for locks is a trap, there’s some useful stuff in there, like using Alarm + Meld Into Stone to set up for an ambush.

    I do agree that I’d like to see more rituals, but the danger is from things like Animate Dead, where you could just spend all day summoning zombies, then have them clear a dungeon out. Or worse, an npc could do that.

    Heroes’ Feast would give party immunity to fear and poison every day. Right now, the cost on that is giving up your 6th level spell slot for the day.

    Healing spells would completely invalidate the need for the short rest healing system, and that being limited.

    So, while I would LOVE to see more rituals, esp as a Pact of the Tome lock, there are some spells that just shouldn’t be rituals for balance reasons.

  7. Sam says:

    It doesn’t get rid of the overall low number of ritual spells, but something I think has been missed in the comments about the warlock – the Tome Pact Warlock (assuming you also take Book of Ancient Secrets, which you need to do to cast rituals anyway) doesn’t just get Warlock rituals, they can learn and cast rituals from all the other class spell lists, too.

  8. Raion says:

    The suggestions so far have been pretty great, i would prefer for all ritual spells to be cast out of combat.
    I am not looking for lots of skill checks or a drawn out ledger system to keep track of it all really.

    Personally i prefer this setup:
    -You can cast any spell you want as a ritual, as long as you either know it, or have copied it from a scroll into your ritual book.
    -It takes you 1 hour per spell level, no in combat rituals or quick party boosts each day.
    -To perform a ritual you do a concentration check dc 10+spell level, if you fail, you spend half the time the ritual would last, then you lose your concentration and the spell fizzles into nothing.
    -If the spell requires casting components of 50g or higher, you must pay this price for every hour the ritual lasts.

    I’ve found this particularly useful for casters who want to dip into a non caster class for more than three levels but who still want to be able to cast wish or other 9th level spells on occasion.
    And of course the sorcerer gets a big RP utility boost :)

  9. Hastner says:

    I think may of the suggestions here sound great, but if the ritual costs 10 min/spell level, would this mean that you could cast a spell that scales with spell slot (e.g: cure wounds) as a spell of a higher spell slot by spending more time, concentration checks, …?

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