May 272020
  May 27, 2020

If you just want to see what spells I added the tag to, scroll past these first few paragraphs.

5e ritual casting is…troubled. The biggest problem is just that it looks like a slapped on patch when they saw they had some game design problems instead of an actual feature in itself. You don’t add a whole magic system for like 10 spells. OK, it’s more than 10, but it isn’t many and since they are class specific, it’s around 13 for Bards, Druids, and Clerics 7 for Artifices (who I won’t discuss as they add nothing to the conversation) and for Sorcerers it’s 4… FOUR!). And since it is an extra system in the game, there should be ritual-only spells—but that’s an issue for another day. Fixing it properly would require a re-write, so I’ll follow the game designers lead and just patch it.

So, to patch it, it’s good to decide what the purpose of rituals are in the game design. For me, I say the purposes are:

A – As the game is quite strategic, spell casters are often forced to take only combat spells and save slots for combat. Rituals mitigate this.

B – Expand the role of some spells. Allow for clever uses.

C – Fill in missing roles (perhaps no one wants to play a cleric, but the game requires one, so a rogue with the ritual feat should be able to manage the barest minimum). Right now clerics and wizards are necessary. Tag some more spells, and they won’t be, which would be a huge boost to the classes left behind.

D – Supply some extra spells for those with too few.

E – Supply some cool things for non-casters. This includes tagging some cantrips. Sure the casters won’t care, but how about a fighter who takes the ritual feat so he can ritually cast Mending each night on his slashed tunic.

F – Allow a way for situational spells to be used, the ones no one will normally take because they are only needed for that one situation. Yes, Wizards can already deal with this by changing their prepared spell, but maybe every party shouldn’t require a wizard, and right now, they do. Also allows bad spells to be used. Hey, bad spells can be fun, but not if taking them means all your companions die because you didn’t take the good spells.

So how do I patch ritual casting?

1 – Rituals should be REALLY noticeable (this gets rid of most valid complaints against enlarging the ritual spell pool. Ritual should add a lot of movement and sound to casting a spell. It shouldn’t be subtle. If you can pull off 10 minutes of somehow prancing about and yelling and moaning to perform a ritual spell to attack a shop keeper, then you deserve to be able to do it.

2 – Drop Sorcerer from the Ritual Feat. There’s only 4 ritual spells on the sorcerer list and the sorcerer class doesn’t grant the ability to cast those as rituals (nor should it based on how their magic is supposed to work, if you care about the lore of D&D). Also, limit taking “warlock” from the feat except by warlocks—that magic comes from a deal. Additionally, “cleric” and “druid” only should be options for true believers.

3 – Make the Ritual in “Ritual Casting” class-specific. Clerics are begging their god for a boon, so their rituals should be lots of dropping to their knees, beseeching the sky and self flagellation. (See the Priests scene in the movie Wizards). I’d add a requirement for a second person for back up prayers or “halleluiahs” or the like. Bards should be playing a song or interpretive dance. I’d add a second person on drums (see any voodoo movie from the ‘30s). Wizards should be rushing about, drawing circles and symbols in the air. Add a helper to hold his book open. And Druids…make them have to be meditating in nature. Yeah, it screws them over, but druids are already screwed over.

4 – Add enough to rituals (and good ones) for other classes so we can at least pretend there is a choice other than Wizard for the feat.

5 – EXPAND the number of spells with the ritual tag. I’ve done this. Just take them. Adding ritual tags to these will not have huge game-changing/balance effect, but will have a relatively small positive effect.

Additional Ritual Spells

• Encode Thoughts [W]
• Light [B C W]
• Mending [B C D W]

1st Level
• Create or Destroy Water [C D]
• Cure Wounds [B C D]
• Detect Evil and Good [C]

2nd Level
• Arcane Lock [W]
• Find Steed [*P*]
• Lesser Restoration [B C D]
• Locate Object [B C D W]
• Nystul’s Magic Aura [W]

3rd Level
• Create Food and Water [C]
• Dispel Magic [B C W]
• Gaseous Form [W]
• Nondetection [B W]
• Remove Curse [C W]
• Sending [B C W]
• Speak with Dead [B C]
• Speak with Plants [B D]

4th Level
• Banishment [C W]
• Find Greater Steed [*P*]
• Leomund’s Secret Chest [W]
• Locate Creature [B C D W]

5th Level
• Greater Restoration [B C D]

6th Level
• Arcane Gate [W]
• Word of Recall [C]

7th Level
• Etherealness [B C W]
• Plane Shift [C D W]
• Sequester [W]
• Teleport [B W]


That’s enough to at least make ritual casting look less silly.

It’s tempting to add a few combat spells, like Fireball, just to see all the amusing uses one could find for them out of combat.

Now I’d like to have every Conjure creature spell on the ritual list, but I know 5e was trying to nerf conjurers, and a bunch more conjuring would slow the game to a crawl, so I left them off. Since about half the Wall spells are weak and will never be used (I’m looking at you Wall of Ice), I would have liked to put them on this list—but consistency matters, and I don’t want to put on the good Wall spells (i.e. Wall of Force).

The arguments against having some of these as rituals are quite funny. My favorite is the guy who said that if Banishment was a ritual, everyone would be using it to get past guards. Really? Huh. So, you’re going to be within 60 feet of the guards for 10+ minutes, making noise and waiving about. Sounds like the most likely result is the party getting ambushed and arrested by the group the guards sent when they saw you 9 minutes ago. Also, if you are trying to pass by secretly, sending a guard to another plane and letting him return will accomplish the opposite result as there’s going to be a whole lot of yelling when he gets back.  Now sending a restrained demon home or frightening a captive—those are actual uses.

For reference, all current ritual spells:

1st Level
• Alarm [W]
• Ceremony [C]
• Comprehend Languages [B W]
• Detect Magic [B C D W]
• Detect Poison and Disease [C D]
• Find Familiar [W]
• Identify [B W]
• Illusory Script [B W]
• Purify Food and Drink [C D]
• Speak with Animals [B D]
• Tenser’s Floating Disk [W]
• Unseen Servant [B W]

2nd Level
• Animal Messenger [B D]
• Augury [C]
• Beast Sense [D]
• Gentle Repose [C W]
• Locate Animals or Plants [B D]
• Magic Mouth [B W]
• Silence [B C]
• Skywrite [B D W]
• Wristpocket [W]

3rd Level
• Feign Death [B C D W]
• Leomund’s Tiny Hut [B W]
• Meld into Stone [C D]
• Phantom Steed [W]
• Water Breathing [D W]
• Water Walk [C D]

4th Level
• Divination [C]

5th Level
• Commune [C]
• Commune with Nature [D]
• Contact Other Plane [W]
• Rary’s Telepathic Bond [W]
• Telepathic Bond [W]

6th Level
• Drawmij’s Instant Summons [W]
• Forbiddance [C]