So, thanks to my good friend Phil, the ChattyDM, Goodman Games sent me a product to do a pre-review of.
I know, neat, right?
So, now that we’re finally finished moving and I’m settled into my new job on the other side of the country, I should probably get on that. Let’s see… it releases…
Well, so much for the “pre” part.
Anyways, the book I was sent was Agazar’s Book of Rituals, and as I said, it is out today. This is an interesting book, as it was “crowdsourced”, in a way. Way back in January, Goodman Games put out an open call for submissions, and this is the result.
I have to say, knowing this, the end result is quite impressive. Most of the contributors are not professional game designers (and many may not even aspire to be such a thing). The fact that such a product even exists is a feat unto itself.
But that’s not what you’re here for, is it?
What the hell is it?
This is a collection of some 300 new rituals for use in 4e D&D. They are divided into ritual groups, just like the ones in the 4e core books, ranging from Binding rituals, to Divinations, to Warding.
Every category gets a chapter with about 12-15 pages of new rituals, with some variation. There are only 8 pages of new Restoration rituals, while Exploration (a very broad category) gets a whopping 36!
The book begins with a short introduction from Agazar himself, on the subject of rituals in general. This is repeated at the beginning of each chapter, for that chapter’s specific ritual category. After this short introduction to a chapter, you will find a list of the rituals contained within it, organized by level, and then the rituals themselves.
The most beneficial part of the book’s organization, however, is the 20 pages of indices at the back. These sort the rituals alphabetically, by level, by category (and by level within that category, making this one a mashup of the lists found at the beginning of each chapter), and finally by Key Skill (and again, subcategorized by level). If your Cleric wants to find a good level 3 Religion-based ritual to pick up, this makes it easy.
So is it any good?
Yes! Most of the rituals contained within are creative, useful, or otherwise just neat. Unfortunately, the book suffers from some of the editing problems that occasionally plague Goodman books. One ritual referencing a disease calls for a Save rather than an Endurance check, for instance. The one that bothers me the most is the Heal ritual:
Time: 1 hour
Duration: 5 minutes
This ritual allows the target to spend a single healing surge but regain hit points as if it had spent four healing surges. (The caster can spend a healing surge for the target, if he has none.)
It’s a very neat ritual, and costs a ton of money to make up for the awesomeness. But there is one problem I have with it.
Why does it have a duration?
As it stands, it reads to me as though the extra hit points wear off after 5 minutes. Alternately, it could mean that every healing surge spent in the next 5 minutes is equal to 4, making this a kickass ritual right before a boss fight. I believe it was meant to show that you needed a short rest to do it, but with a casting time of an hour, is that really necessary?
The actual intention is clear, but the duration should have been Instantaneous. These sort of minor issues are to be found every few pages or so.
Is it a dealbreaker? Not at all. But it does mean you’ll have to read everything you want to use twice, to be sure the intent matches the execution.
As a whole, the book is quality work, well-laid-out, and containing some great black and white art.
Do you have any favourite parts?
Brownberry’s Annoying Companion.
Anyone in my group who remembers Clarence the Talking Box will know why.
Also, the Travel and Warding categories in particular are great.
Would you use it yourself?
Honestly, probably not, at least not at this point. My players are largely new to the game, and don’t need to be swamped by the sheer amount of new material in this book.
Aside from that, some of the new rituals in the book just seem unnecessary to me. For instance, there are many that are made for use by the villains in your adventures. Personally, I see that as an area where codifying the bad guy’s rituals just overcomplicates matters. These rituals may see a lot more play in Evil campaigns with Evil PCs, but I don’t tend to run those sorts of games, so their usefulness is limited for me.
The next time I actually play a ritual caster, though? Oh, you better believe I’m taking Brownberry’s Annoying Companion!
Would you recommend it?
- Do you believe there is a need for tons of new rituals in 4e?
- Are you confident enough in your players that you do not fear a deluge of new options causing choice paralysis, as it often did with 3e spellcasters?
- Are you not bothered by occasional editing errors, and having to fix minor mistakes before you can use some of the product?
- Does $15 sound like a fair price for for a 160-page softcover book containing 300 new rituals?
If you answered yes to all of the above, then I have no issues with recommending this book.
If you answered no to any of them, especially the player confidence one, then you’re going to want to at least flip through it first before buying it, and it may very well not be a good book for you.
Where can I find out more?
Goodman Games has a few previews up on the web, including the entire first chapter and all 20 pages of indices (plus some other sites’ pre-review opinions as well). Take a look and decide for yourself.
Additionally, Goodman Games is actually big enough to be carried regularly by many local game stores, so if you want to flip through the whole thing, you can try there.
Once again, Agazar’s Book of Rituals releases today and retails for $14.99 USD. Thanks again to Joseph Goodman and Goodman Games for the PDF review copy.