Why did you make this, Forseti?

Because magic in 5th edition was thrown under the proverbial bus in an (rather successful) attempt at streamlining the game.
Magic never had an overtly complex system in D&D, mind you, but now spells have been so ironed out in terms of what they can do, and for how long, that it really feels like the devs don’t want you pesky spellcasters to just stay in line with the rest of the classes.

That’s sensible, and completely understandable.

But if you are like me, you don’t want Wizarding to be sensible, or magic to be just another samey tool in the toolbox of dungeon-delving-hack-and-slashing. If you say “I cast a spell” other players shouldn’t just shrug, as if the Barbarian had said “I rage”, they should give you a sideways glance filled with wonder and (comprehensible) fear. He’s gonna blow himself up again, isn’t he?

I made this Ritual overhaul because the Ritual system I like. It’s really unique and makes you feel like you are doing something that’s important, special, magical. I want all spells to feel like that, or at least most of them.

And I want to give casters enough rope to hang themselves, Vancian magic style.

Invested Rituals: Quick Guide

  1. All spells have the Ritual tag.
  2. Ritual spells still require no inexpensive materials components and 10 minutes of casting time, but now require 2 succesfull rolls to go off. You can’t just spam them for free.
  3. If either of the rolls fail, roll on the Botch table. If both fail, roll on it with disadvantage.
  4. The DCs for the rolls are the same. The first one depends on the Origin (arcane/divine/druidic…) of the spell. The second depends on its Effect (what does it do?).
  5. Before starting a ritual, you may increase both DCs to add metamagics to it.
  6. Optional. Use my changes to spellcasting classes for a more balanced (and fun) experience.
Origin Roll #1
Arcane Arcana
Divine Religion
Druidic Nature
Bardic Perform
Other GM’s Discretion
Effect Roll #2
Damage/Enhancement Same as #1
Healing/Affliction Medicine
Summoning/Abjuration Depends on the type of creature
Divination Insight
Illusion/Invisibility Deception
Charm/Control Persuasion
Fear Intimidation
Other Ask the GM

Tell me how does it work!

This module drastically changes how Ritual Spells work.

If you are familiar with 5th Edition, you will know that they are essentially a way to allow spellcasters to bring the party their utility without sacrificing a huge portion of their combat ability.

Do I prepare Magic Missle and Sleep, or sacrifice either so I can also cast Comprehend Languages if need be? Boring, right?
No longer an issue. Just spend 10 minutes instead of an action to cast it, and you can do it without using a slot.

That’s good, let’s keep that. We hate boring things.

In fact. Let’s make it so you can cast everything as a ritual, because they capture the feeling of working magic that well.

Obviously, this rips the balance right open. Damaging spells are finicky to make work with the 10 minutes casting time (but fun to pull off, with enough coordination with the party) but things like buffs and, especially, healing spells that can be cast indefinitely could be a real problem.

More to the point, it’s not that interesting per se.

That’s where we spice it up. Make it so Rituals require skill to cast and offer high risk, and high reward…or maybe low risk low reward. After all one of the biggest thrills in RPGs is rolling that dice and controlling risk, so we add both to the mixture.

Casting one of our new Ritual spells will require 2 rolls:

  1. A roll that depends on the Origin of the spell.
  2. A roll that depends on the Effect of the spell.

This enforces the impression that this ritual stuff is complex and mystical.

The DC of these rolls is the same, and as follows:

[ 3 + 2 * level of the spell ]

What about the risk factor?
Simple, we allow players to dig their own grave.
Firstly, a character may power up their own rituals with Metamagics (from the Ritual Metamagic Table), increasing the DCs, but making the spell more powerful, last longer, reach further and much more.
A player can add any number of Metamagics to his spell, and can select the same one more than once.

Metamagic CD Increase
Spell Level + 1 (max 9) 2
+1 target (harmless spells, non-caster targeted) 1
+1 target (harmful spells) 2
Double duration 2
Double range 2
Double area of effect 3
Contingent (Like the spell, but concentration) +5

Lastly, there will be consequences to failure:
If either roll fails, roll on the pretty Ritual Botch Table and cross your fingers!
If both rolls fail, roll on it with disadvantage. Good luck!

d20 Mishap Result
1 Something goes terribly wrong. The ritual has no effect and your vulgar magic attracts some unwanted attention. Perhaps a fiend if the ritual is arcane, or the anger of a diety (maybe even your own) if divine. Perhaps the campaign’s villain or one of his henchmen find you. Go wild, GMs.
2-3 The energies of the ritual go out of control and explode. All creatures within [5ft x level of the spell] receive [2d6 * level of the spell] damage. The damage depends on the spell. When in doubt, fire is a good choice. BOOM.
4-8 The spell works at full force on the intended target, but the effect is reversed! Healing turns to damage, damage makes a big mess but is otherwise harmless, bonuses turns to maluses and viceversa. Divination spells give unreliable information. Summoned creatures go on a rampage and require no concentration to maintain, lasting their full duration.
9-13 The spell works at full force but on a random target nearby. Divination may tell you what you want to know, but about something else. Summoned creatures are not under your control but are not necessarily hostile. Careful with damaging spells…
14-17 The spell works on the right target but at half strenght. Damage and healing is halved, so is the duration of any effect. Information gained through spell is especially cryptic.
18-19 You manage to barely salvage the ritual. Next turn you can try the ritual rolls again. Good luck!
20 Miraculous! The ritual works as intended.

If you are interested in getting the most out of this, consider using one of my changes to spellcasters that leverages this ritual overhaul.
You may also consider including my variants about special material components for rituals or my variant for Health Die cost for ritual casting.

Whether you are looking for more flavor or for more balance with Invested Rituals, I got you covered!