House Rules for the Empyrean Age

Free Rituals

Rituals are powerful spells that usually take too long to perform in combat or consume valuable resources for purchasing items etc… My solution to this problem is to follow the example given in the Player’s Handbook II with Bards.

Bards are allowed to perform one ritual per day of their level or lower without having to pay the component cost. The only catch is that the ritual must be a bard specific ritual. At paragon and epic tiers the bard is allowed one additional ritual per day for free.

Following this example I am extending this class feature to Wizard, Warlock, Clerics, Avengers, Druids and Shaman classes. Arcane classes (Wizard, Warlock) would be only be allowed to perform Arcane based rituals for free. Clerics and Avengers would be restricted to Religion based rituals, while Druids and Shamans would only be allowed to cast Nature based rituals without component cost.

Because Wizards and Warlocks are the only “studied” arcane class, this makes sense. Clerics and Avengers are the two most scholarly of the Divine classes and Shaman and Druids are no brainers for the Nature classes. This should allow these 6 classes to show off the power of rituals since they choose to not be at the forefront of battle.

Here is why I like rituals. There are basically two speeds in D&D. There is combat and story. Sure, they can intersect some times, but each one is a different mode of play. Rituals are, or at least rituals are supposed to be, the powers (to use a 4e-ism that should have been scrubbed out of the core rulebooks) of story. You can see the remnants of that in the initial list of rituals—there are rituals to find stuff out, there are rituals to make things, there are travel rituals, and rituals to get out of jams. But during the process of the design, rituals took some wrong turns.

Gold should not be the only resource that a ritual can consume. In mythology, rituals take both expensive components and fortitude of the caster. In history, expensive materials were probably sold by con-men performing rituals after the ritual was done. Only sometimes did you need just one or the other. Ritual casters should be able to convert healing surges into component cost.

Now because of the all-over-the-place nature of ritual component costs, this is hard to retrofit. One place is from now on a Caster can spend a healing surge worth 10 X caster level gp of components. At 1st level a healing surge would be enough to cast Comprehend Languages (worth 10gp), and at 25th level it would be enough to cast Remove Affliction (worth 250gp). When you start out you can cast rituals of your level solely with healing surges, but later on you can cast any heroic-level ritual for a healing surge. For rituals of your level, you will have to gather those components and/or channel the healing surges of others. I think this feels like “high magic.”

When channeling healing surges from others, you do so for a lower rate of exchange. Non-ritual casters can contribute their surges to a caster for 5 X their level in gp worth of components in assistance a ritual. There could be feats that allow ritual casters to get more component cost from non-ritual casters, and other ritual caster feats.

For all instances of this, if you have spent at least 50% of your component costs in Healing Surges, you can cast the ritual in 1/10th the time. So if it’s an hour long casting time, it changes to 6 minutes instead. This gives flavor in using Healing Surges for Rituals.

Sometimes it will be a no-brainer to use rituals, sometimes it will be an interesting choice, but at least rituals get used. They will become part of the game, part of the abilities of your character, rather than this strange subsystem that people ignore either because they can’t wrap their heads around, have a hard time gaming, or can’t afford because of insane casting costs.

Some of them should be used in combat…but in contingent ways. The next part of the equation is where YOU get to have a lot of fun. Read over your rituals, think about them in a combat scenario and then try and write out a “battle ritual”. What’s great about this, is that you get a chance to make a custom spell built on the magics available to you. Below is an example of how to use the “Raise Dead” in combat.

Glyph of Life
Placing the glyph of life on the forehead of your companions, and reciting an ancient prayer, you can bring one of them back to life with a mere touch.

Level: 12
Component Cost: 500 gp
Category: Restoration
Market Price: 2,600 gp
Time: 10 minutes and special (see below)
Key Skill: Heal (no check)
Duration: Until end of next extended rest or until discharged
You perform this ritual at the end of an extended rest or during a short rest. When you do, you place the glyph of life on the forehead of each ally that you touch. The glyph has no effect on the creature touched during casting, but if he or she dies, you can bring her back to life, as if you had cast the Raise Dead ritual. Doing so is a standard action with a range of melee: touch on the dead ally you want to raise. Using this action discharges the ritual.

And now you can make rituals in-combat buffs, but with interesting game play and reasonable effects. All of a sudden you start feeling part of D&D. You engage the story, I can allow you guys to pitch in when needed, and shine when you want. Ritual use becomes part of problem solving and world interaction not just automatic assumption shunted out of the game.

They act like the spells that you wish you finally had an instance to cast, but you were never going to replace blade barrier. Now you have the chance.

In some instances though – you may still like to have a simple ritual prepped for “instant casting” during combat. In this case we will still continue to use the “Stored Ritual” method.

Storing a ritual works the same as performing a ritual (PHB 298), including the ability for others to assist. It requires the same components and takes the same amount of time. At the end of the ritual, however, the ritual caster must expend a healing surge in order to lock the ritual into an item related to the ritual itself, known as a ritual object (a key for Knock, a desiccated tongue for Comprehend Languages, etc.).
A ritual will remain stored in the object for a number of days equal to the character’s Intelligence modifier +2 .

If a character has a stored ritual when he takes an extended rest, he recovers one fewer healing surge per stored ritual. For example, a wizard that normally had eight healing surges after each extended rest would only start with seven if he had stored a Detect Secret Doors ritual the previous day but had not used it yet.
A character can store a number of rituals equal to his Intelligence modifier (min. 1).

Using a Stored Ritual
It requires a standard action to use a stored ritual. The character must be holding the ritual object when he takes the action.

Releasing a Stored Ritual
A character can release a stored ritual at any time as a free action. He need not be holding the ritual object, and the ritual magic dissipates without effect. He does not immediately regain his healing surge, but can recover it with an extended rest or other ability that allows the recovery of a healing surge.

So in Summation:
Spending Healing Surges as part of a Ritual Casting cost
  • You can spend a healing surge for 10x your current level in Component costs when casting Rituals.
  • Allies can “give” you healing surges for 5x their current level in Component costs.
  • If spend at least 50% of a spells Component Cost in healing surges – you reduce the casting time by a factor of 10.

Creating Custom “Combat Rituals”

  • You can create spells that can be used in combat by making “custom spells” that work on the same basis as a Ritual you have already learned (scrolls do not count). No custom spell may be used without DM’s approval. See Glyph of Life as an example of how to fit “raise dead” into a combat setting. If the spell seems unbalancing the DM reserves the right to retract use of said spell.

Storing a Ritual

  • A caster must have an item that is related to the Ritual they are going to cast (for instance, a mirror could be used for portals, a desiccated tongue for comprehend languages etc…)

  • The caster spends the normal amount of time casting the spell – but instead of triggering it at the end of casting “sinks” it into the “Ritual Object”.

  • “Sinking/Storing” a Ritual costs a Healing Surge. As long as the Ritual is stored, that Healing surge is considered “in use” and cannot be recovered in any way fashion or form until the Ritual is used, lost, or released.

  • A ritual may be stored like this for Your Int. Modifier +2 days before the Ritual is lost.
  • A character can store a number of rituals equal to his Intelligence modifier (min. 1).

  • To use a Stored Ritual, the caster must spend be holding the object and spend a Standard Action in order to cast the spell.

  • A caster may release a spell (spell does not cast – the magic is just lost) as a free action. The caster does NOT have to hold the object to release the spell.

In all the above cases, these mechanics are designed to help give you more options as a player. This opens up a lot of design space for you to make your own custom “power rituals” that can be used in combat or other tight situations. Try it, be it, love it.

Because a standard Dungeon Crawl/Long Journeys without rest like the old days of D&D are not as feasible under the 4e flagship, there are a few ways we can account the expenditure of resources and keep the flavor of a long journey to a single location.


Taking a rest within a dangerous area causes a subtle shift. The adventurers rest (short or extended), and the environment regroups as well. This will be represented by giving the GM one action point that he can spend on any monster in the dungeon or this section of the story. These action points can be spent as normal action points on any monster the PCs face. This way – while the party can rest, the monsters can have surprises of their own and spring them at inopportune times. Unlike PCs – if the Action Point has not been spent by the next extended rest – the GM does NOT lose these action points. Only if the PCs leave the area (go on a new story etc…) do the Action Points null back to zero.

The Horizon

Menace threatens and gets in your face, but there is a whole new level of danger that lurks on the Horizon. Certain actions that adventurers take hasten their approach to this threat or event. If they can make the right choices, maybe they can outrace it. Or maybe not…
The Horizon is a bit more complex than Menace, but not by much. Extended rests and other actions accumulate points that advance along a track. Reaching the track’s end unlocks a significant story event. The mummy finally rises from it’s tomb; the ritual completes – thus summoning the Starborn; the monster tracking you has finally caught up with you.

In addition – I will also provide a “timer” that you guys can see as the Horizon gets worse and worse. The closer you get to triggering the Horizon – the more dangerous the encounters become. That way you can feel the impending doom. But if you’re able to figure out how to reduce the Horizon you can sometimes completely skip around it. That way you have a chance to really flex your Roleplaying/Problem solving muscles.

The Action Point Rules:

The Expanded Action Point Rules are as Follows:

1) Re-Roll a roll.
2) Add 1d6 to the current roll.
3) Make an extra attack during your turn

The “Fun Points” Rule:

Each Player is eligible for “Fun points” during the game. The hope is that by using these “Fun Points” we make the game more enjoyable, personal and engaging for each player. It is NOT mandatory to do any of these tasks. But it IS mandatory for each player to be responsible for their Fun Point totals. Lost points will not be replaced.

It should be noted that some of these Rules are “one offs” – meaning once they have been done – they cannot be retaken until the group “resets”. A Reset will only be allowed if all members of the current group perform a “one off”. If this is the case – the “Fun Point” rule can be re-opened for further use.

If you have an idea for a new Rule – you are encouraged to bring it up to the group so it can be voted on. The GM always has the right to accept or veto in the end if he feels it may not be a good fit.

Below – you will notice some points will have “vote” before them. This means that the group decides on how many points to award the player in question by deciding on a number in the range listed (so if its 1-3 points then the person can be award 1,2 or 3 points), please note that no Voting number will be higher than 5. When a person qualifies for that reward – each player must hold up his or her hand showing the amount of points the Player should get (ex: if they believe the player should get 2 points then they hold up one hand showing two fingers). The GM will then counts up the fingers and divide by the number of people in the voting party. The average will be the number awarded. Note: you cannot vote higher than the maximum number allowed (so if 3 is the max number – then you cannot vote 4 or 5). If this sounds excessively complicated – worry not – the GM is responsible for this. Just remember to vote with your hand!

You accumulate points, and when you have 10 points, you can turn it in for a roll on the fun list. The fun list is a list of 100 bonuses your characters can get. You can keep fun cards for as long as you want, but like action points, they are meant to be spent, so spend them! Most of them you can spend at any time.

Ways to Get Fun Points

One Offs

1) Write up a background for an organization, people, or area that has yet to be covered. This is subject to GMs approval and collaboration: 20 points

2) Donating Props, items, trinkets etc… to the GM to aid in visual storytelling: 10 points

3) Read the Player’s Handbook (not every power, but at least the core rules): 5 points

4) Read the Primal, Divine, Arcane, or Martial Power Handbook (whichever applies to your character) – note: if you do not own the book you can ask to borrow the GMs: 5 points

5) Make a list of things you want out of the campaign: 5 points

6) The Group Resolves a conflict using the Forums. Examples are as follows: Revising the Covenants, Making a Plan for your next adventure if you have a good idea of where to go, Splitting up loot, Voting on your next adventure, suggesting a new adventure etc…: 5 points


1) Arrive on time to a D&D Session (time is always set by GMST “GM Standard Time”): 1 point

2) Come prepared with Pizza money, dice, bible, paper, personal ninja notes and everything else you may need: 1 point

3) Note – Taking (anyone who takes thorough notes): 3 points.

4) Bring Snack Food or Drinks above and beyond normal Contributions: Vote 1-3 points.

5) Respecting the holder of the “talking stick” during a debate so as to keep the conversation civil and understandable. “Respect” in this case is to not interrupt, try to pull the stick away and otherwise keeping the comments to a minimum while waiting for the stick: Vote 1-5 points

6) Going an entire Session without interrupting someone else. If you would like to interject you may always ask for use of the talking stick (GM’s Prerogative): 5 points

7) Using Ninja notes to communicate with players instead of having conversations that overlap the current state of play for a session: 3 points

8) Spend $5 on RPG – related products (DDI/Character Builder, books, dice, props, power cards, etc…): 1 point for every $5 spent.

9) Make an outstanding joke that makes everyone laugh out loud. Any player may trigger this by calling for a vote on the Joking Player. Joking Player may not ask or vote themselves: Vote 1-5 points

10) Each Player has 2 points they may give out per session. These can be given out for good role-playing, problem solving, tactics, creativity and for humor and fun. Note: players are NOT obligated to donate any points at all during a session.

11) Each time a Player updates their Wish List for their character’s current level (only 2 postings per level): 5 points.

The Fun List

Roll Name Effect
1 Secret Stash Scroll: You just happen to have the ritual scroll you need! (Your level or lower)
2 Secret Stash Potion: You just happen to have the potion you need! (Your level or lower)
3 Secret Stash Adventuring Gear: You just happen to have the piece of gear you need! (Any piece from table on 222)
Secret Stash
Alchemy: You just happen to have the alchemical item you need! (Your level or lower)
Secret Stash
Weapon: You just happen to have the weapon you need! (Any piece from pages 218-219)
Lucky Find
Ritual: Lucky you! You find a ritual book of your level or lower.
Lucky Find
Magic Weapon: Lucky you! You find a magic weapon of your level + 1d4 (or lower).
Lucky Find
Magic Armor: Lucky you, you find a magic armor of your level + 1d4 (or lower).
Lucky Find
Magic Implement: Lucky you! You find a magic implement of your level + 1d4 (or lower).
Lucky Find
Magic Arm Item: Lucky you! You find a magic item for arm slot of your level + 1d4 (or lower).
Lucky Find
Magic Feet Item: Lucky you! You find a magic item for feet slot of your level + 1d4 (or lower).
Lucky Find
Magic Hand Item: Lucky you! You find a magic item for hand slot of your level + 1d4 (or lower).
Lucky Find
Magic Head Item: Lucky you! You find a magic item for head slot of your level + 1d4 (or lower).
Lucky Find
Magic Neck Item: Lucky you! You find a magic item for neck slot of your level + 1d4 (or lower).
Lucky Find
Magic Ring Item: Lucky you! You find a magic item for ring slot of your level + 1d4 (or lower). Must be level 10 to use.
Lucky Find
Magic Waist Item: Lucky you! You find a magic item for waist slot of your level + 1d4 (or lower).
Lucky Find
Treasure: Double the amount of non-magic treasure you just found.
Lucky Find
Upgrade a magic item you just received to 1 level higher. Pick a new item.
A Smattering of Words
You can speak and read one language for the next day.
Like the Monkey
Add +10 to an Acrobatics roll you just made.
Amateur Arcanist
Add +10 to an Arcana roll you just made.
What Can You Bench?
Add +10 to an Athletics roll you just made.
Me? Lie?
Add +10 to an Bluff roll you just made.
Half-Elf’s Tongue
Add +10 to an Diplomacy roll you just made.
I Once Went to the Underdark
Add +10 to an Dungeoneering roll you just made.
I Can Do This All Day
Add +10 to an Endurance roll you just made.
Have You Heard of the Athalas Plant?
Add +10 to an Heal roll you just made.
Once Upon a Time…
Add +10 to an History roll you just made.
Human Lie Detector
Add +10 to an Insight roll you just made.
You Lookin’ At Me?
Add +10 to an Intimidate roll you just made.
Tree Hugger
Add +10 to an Nature roll you just made.
How Did You Even See That?
Add +10 to an Perception roll you just made.
You Haven’t Heard of that God?
Add +10 to an Religion roll you just made.
Add +10 to an Stealth roll you just made.
I Know a Shortcut
Add +10 to an Steetwise roll you just made.
Oh, Was That Locked for a Reason?
Add +10 to an Thievery roll you just made.
Fortuitous Failure
Suppress a zone or conjuration for 1d6 + 1 rounds.
Wise Beyond Your Years
Acquire one feat for 1 day, regardless of level or pre-reqs (DM’s discretion).
I Remember How to Do That
Add +5 to one skill check you just made.
Extra Batteries
Recharge a power in a magic item.
Bull’s Eye
Ignore penalties to attack until the end of the encounter.
Third Wind
Spend a healing surge as a free action.
Second Line of Defenses
Ignore penalties to defenses until the end of the encounter.
I Wear Two Suits of Armor
Gain a +2 bonus to AC until the end of the encounter.
I’m Glad I Took My Vitamins
Gain a +2 bonus to Fortitude until the end of the encounter.
I’m Smarter Than I Look
Gain a +2 bonus to Will until the end of the encounter.
I Totally Dodged That Lightning Bolt
Gain a +2 bonus to Reflex until the end of the encounter.
I Sharpened My Weapon This Morning
Gain a +2 bonus to attack and damage until the end of the encounter.
Monster Repellant
Gain resistance to one damage type until the end of the encounter.
Can’t Keep a Brotha Down
Gain a +2 bonus to saving throws until the end of the encounter.
These Aren’t the Droids You’re Looking For
Target creature is dominated by you until the end of its next turn.
Way of the Ninja
Teleport 5 squares.
Way of the Blender
Keep using at-will attack powers until you miss.
Use the Force
Reroll an attack roll.
Energy Strike
Deal 1d6 extra damage of an energy type of your choice.
Fortunate Turn of Events
Gain +2 to a roll you just made.
Let Me Try That Again
Reroll any number of damage dice you just rolled.
Quicker Than You!
Initiative: Move to the beginning of the initiative list.
Skills: +1 to all skills for 1 day.
Good Thing I Wore My Displacement Cloak
Make an enemy reroll an attack.
Longer Legs
Gain a +1 bonus to speed until the end of the encounter.
I Like the Look of You
One non-hostile NPC becomes a trusted friend and ally.
You Lucky Devil
Lucky: Reroll one die.
My Arms Are Longer Than They Look
You have reach 2 and threatening reach until the end of the encounter.
Tis a Flesh Wound
Take half damage from weapon attacks until the end of the encounter.
Limbo Expert
You do not elicit opportunity attacks until the end of the encounter.
Big Feet, Big Hands
You gain a +5 bonus to bull rush and grab attacks until the end of the encounter.
Oh, I Totally Saw That Coming
Your group is not surprised when it normally would be.
Prophetic Insight
You know the answer to one question that can be answered with yes or no (DM’s discretion)
Word on the Street
Find out where something or someone is. (DM’s discretion)
I’m Tougher Than I Look
Gain 2 healing surges.
Damn Elves
You ignore difficult terrain until the end of the encounter.
Finding Nemo
You do not have to make swim checks for 1 day.
Drow Eyes
You gain darkvision for 1 day.
Its All in the Wrist
You gain +2 to your critical range for the duration of the encounter.
My Name is Enigo Montoya
You can keep fighting even while at negative hit points. You still make death saving throws.
I Spent Years Building Up a Resistance to Iocain
You are immune to poison effects until the end of the encounter.
Dread Pirate Roberts
Push any enemy adjacent to you 1 square at the start of your turn.
Only Slightly Less Known…
Know all facts about enemy.
I Am Not Left Handed Either
You can make one basic melee attack as a minor action each round until the end of the encounter.
Copy Cat
Select and copy fun card from other PCs.
Double the Fun
Roll twice on the Fun List
Immunization Shots You are immune to disease until the end of the encounter.
Keep a Clear Head You are immune to daze until the end of the encounter.
Third Eye You are immune to blind until the end of the encounter.
Eyes in the Back of Your Head You cannot be flanked until the end of the encounter.
I Am Wolverine! You have regeneration 5 until the end of the encounter. (10 at paragon, 15 at epic)
Just Try Stopping Me You are immune to immobilize until the end of the encounter.
I Get Knocked Down, But I Get Up Again Stand up from prone as a free action until the end of the encounter.
I Shall Not Suffer Frailty You are immune to weaken until the end of the encounter.
I’m Too Fast For You You are immune to slow until the end of the encounter.
Focus, Just Focus You are immune to stun until the end of the encounter.
Hulk Out You are immune to restrain until the end of the encounter.
Your Cheap Tricks Won’t Work on Me You are immune to dominate until the end of the encounter.
I’m Not Done Yet Recharge an encounter attack power.
Take That…Again! Recharge a daily attack power.
I’m Full of Useful Tricks Recharge a utility power.
Look What a Good Night’s Rest Can Do Gain extra hit points for the day equal to your healing surge value.
99 Undaunted You ignore fear effects until the end of the encounter.
100 You Win D&D Succeed at anything (DM’s discretion)

House Rules for the Empyrean Age

The Empyrean Age Pneumaz