Rituals and Alchemy
In the world of Ask Again Later, there exist magical spells that can be performed by following a recipe. Some say they were developed by earlier generations of witches, some believe they were written by the Devil themself; regardless, and none can deny their power. Each Ritual is completely unique, but all have the same building blocks. They are magical recipes that can be passed from one practitioner to another, and as such are not kept on a character’s sheet, but are on separate index cards like items. All Rituals also follow the rules below, regardless of whether or not the caster has been informed of them yet or what the caster believes the Ritual does.
To be clear, the Laws of Magic may or may not be known to your character, but are fundamental laws of the Universe. Your character may certainly attempt to violate these Laws, but you should know out of character that they will not succeed.
The Laws of Magic
- Power is not without Price.
- You cannot swim against the currents of time.
- Death’s domain is outside our grasp.
- There is no such thing as a perfect copy.
- Everything ends, but do not underestimate the power of an echo.
Principle: A Ritual’s Principle is its driving force, and this is the part of a Ritual that explains any draws that need to be made on the part of the caster or if any Health boxes are required to power the magic. Most Rituals require an Intelligence + Local Lore or Presence + Local Lore draw, and some more challenging Rituals might require more than one success on that draw. Health boxes used to power the Principle are marked off with Lethal damage, representing the caster bloodletting themselves or sacrificing another’s life blood. The bloodletting or successes required for the Ritual can be scaled up, and can have a larger effect on the world as a result. Blood costs may also be split between multiple participants. Unless overridden by the Trappings or Focus, activating the Principle is done as an action.
Focus: Many Rituals need something to ground the magic in the real world, no matter how good the caster is at performing them. Focuses are generally much less involved than trappings, they might only be a symbol drawn on the ground, some branches held in the caster’s hand, or the requirement of a second practitioner on hand.
Trappings: These are often the most involved process of a Ritual, and when fulfilled are the parts of a Ritual that allow a person to compensate for a lack of natural magical ability. Trappings include things like large mystical circles, multiple participants, hours of chanting, or even eye of newt. Anyone with the Ritual Magic Advantage can ignore this step.
Effect: This lists what successfully casting the Ritual really does, whatever that may be. Rituals can curse or damage other people, create objects from thin air, or even impart an unnatural ability for a period of time.
Duration: How long the effects of the Ritual last are detailed here.
Accepted characters with the Witch challenge begin the game with a number of Rituals. The Storytellers will work with them on the determining specifics of their Rituals once those characters have been accepted. Players of characters with access to Rituals will be given some examples to guide them in their pitching process.
Creating a magical potion, poultice, or salve is a time-honored art. The first step required is to gather the ingredients, classically a draw of Wits + Outdoorsy but sometimes based on Bureaucracy in this modern age, and then a draw of Intelligence + Local Lore to distill the ingredients. Two different characters can make those draws, but they must be in close coordination.
Creating an Alchemical Solution requires a certain amount of successes (see below) combined between the two draws, but neither of the draws can fail outright. Gaining extra successes can create more powerful effects, as shown below.
Characters can also make a Manipulation + Artsy draw to hide the Alchemical solution in regular food, such as a pie or wine.
Potion of Love
Successes Required: 3
Effect: Imparts the Charmed Condition. The Imbiber must make a Stamina + Composure draw, penalized by the total extra successes gained when the solution was made, to resist the effects.
Successes Required: 5
Effect: Imparts of the Mesmerized Condition. The Imbiber must make a Stamina + Resolve draw, penalized by the total extra successes gained when the solution was made, to resist the effects.
Successes Required: 4
Effect: Imparts the Tilted Condition. The Imbiber must make a Stamina + Composure draw, penalized by the total extra successes gained when the solution was made, to resist the effects.
Successes Required: 3
Effect: Imparts the Iron Skin (••) Unnatural Advantage for 1 Hour. This does not stack directly if a character already benefits from this Advantage, but can upgrade the 2-dot version of Iron Skin to 4-dots. It therefore offers no benefit to someone with Iron Skin (••••) Advantage.