Arcane Ritualist (3.5e Class)

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Arcane Ritualist[edit]

The archetypal spellcaster trained in a formal academy or secretive cabal, the ritualist is a proud practitioner of The Art, and learns to manipulate potent, dangerous magics with which wiser or more cautious mortals might fear to tamper. The ritualist practices complex, often-dangerous spells, crafts mighty magical items, and regards magic as a mark of his elite place in society. Often aloof and separate from the common folk, ritualists see themselves as concerned with weighty events and philosophies even when they possess little real power or influence. A ritualist might be an isolated mage living in a lonely tower, an accomplished artificer who forges the weapons of heroes, a mighty king’s personal wizard, or a bold planar traveler who crisscrosses the multiverse in search of eldritch lore.

Making an Arcane Ritualist[edit]

Abilities: Intelligence and Charisma are the most important abilities for a ritualist, as they determine how powerful a spell or ritual he can cast and how hard his spells are to resist. Intelligence is also useful for many of the ritualist's class skills. A ritualist benefits from high Dexterity and Constitution scores much as a sorcerer or wizard would.

Race: All races boast ritualists among their numbers, half-orcs boast few ritualists, as members of that race have little interest in arcane magic. Elves, half-elves, gnomes and humans make perhaps the best ritualists, since their natural talents make good use of the class’s strengths.

Alignment: Any.

Starting Gold: 5d4 x 25 gp

Starting Age: Complex.

Table: The Arcane Ritualist

Hit Die: d6

Level Base
Attack Bonus
Saving Throws Special Craft Reserved Spells per Day
Fort Ref Will 0 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th
1st +0 +0 +0 +2 Item familiar, magecraft, reserve magic 20 3 1
2nd +1 +0 +0 +3 40 4 2
3rd +1 +1 +1 +3 60 4 2 1
4th +2 +1 +1 +4 Spontaneous conversion 1/day 80 4 3 2
5th +2 +1 +1 +4 Circle ritual +1 100 4 3 2 1
6th +3 +2 +2 +5 150 4 3 3 2
7th +3 +2 +2 +5 200 4 4 3 2 1
8th +4 +2 +2 +6 Spontaneous conversion 2/day 250 4 4 3 3 2
9th +4 +3 +3 +6 300 4 4 4 3 2 1
10th +5 +3 +3 +7 Circle ritual +2 400 4 4 4 3 3 2
11th +5 +3 +3 +7 500 4 4 4 4 3 2 1
12th +6/+1 +4 +4 +8 Spontaneous conversion 3/day 700 4 4 4 4 3 3 2
13th +6/+1 +4 +4 +8 900 4 4 4 4 4 3 2 1
14th +7/+2 +4 +4 +9 1200 4 4 4 4 4 3 3 2
15th +7/+2 +5 +5 +9 Circle ritual +3 1500 4 4 4 4 4 4 3 2 1
16th +8/+3 +5 +5 +10 Spontaneous conversion 4/day 2000 4 4 4 4 4 4 3 3 2
17th +8/+3 +5 +5 +10 3500 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 3 2 1
18th +9/+4 +6 +6 +11 3000 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 3 3 2
19th +9/+4 +6 +6 +11 4000 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 3 3
20th +10/+5 +6 +6 +12 Circle ritual +4, Spontaneous conversion 5/day 5000 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4

Class Skills (4 + Int modifier per level, ×4 at 1st level)
Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Decipher Script (Int), Knowledge (arcana) (Int), Knowledge (nobility and royalty), Knowledge (the planes) (Int), Profession (Wis), Speak Language (n/a), and Spellcraft (Int).

Class Features[edit]

All of the following are class features of the arcane ritualist.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: The ritualist gains proficiency with the club, dagger, dart, heavy crossbow, light crossbow, light mace, and quarterstaff, but not with any armor or shield. He suffers a chance of arcane spell failure when attempting to cast spells while wearing armor or using a shield.

Spells: A ritualist casts arcane spells, which are drawn from the sorcerer/wizard spell lists in the Player’s Handbook and Spell Compendium. Like a wizard, you must prepare your spells in advance.

To learn, prepare, or cast a ritualist spell, you must have an Intelligence score of 10 + the spell's level. The Difficulty Class for a saving throw against a ritualist’s spell is 10 + the spell's level + the ritualist’s Cha mod. Like other spellcasters, you can cast only a certain number of spells of each spell level per day, as shown on the table above. You can gain bonus spell slots from your item familiar (see sidebar). You can only learn and add to your spellbook a number of spells per spell level equal to 10 + your Intelligence modifier (including inherent bonuses but discounting other types of bonuses). If you attempt to cast spells while wearing armor, you suffer an arcane spell failure chance.

A ritualist’s spellcasting is more structured than that of a wizard. You do not gain bonus spells per day for having a high ability score. You may cast no more than one ritualist spell per round, even if you would otherwise have enough actions available to cast more than one. Casting a spell with a casting time of 1 immediate action counts as your use of a spell on your next turn. Like a wizard, you can learn additional spells during play, but unlike a wizard, you may only attempt to learn them from scrolls, not from spellbooks. Furthermore, deciphering a spell from a scroll is an unpredictable process, and you may not take 10 on Spellcraft checks made to learn a new spell in this fashion.

To ready his spells each day, the ritualist must have 8 hours of rest, and must spend 1 hour studying his spellbook. Spells used within the last 8 hours are not refreshed and count against your daily limit.

Spellbook: A ritualist must study his spellbook each day to prepare his spells. You cannot prepare any spell not recorded in your spellbook.

A ritualist begins play with a spellbook containing all 0-level spells on the sorcerer/wizard spell list located in the Player’s Handbook and Spell Compendium, plus six 1st-level ritualist spells of your choice. At each new ritualist level, you gain one new spell at any level you can cast for your spellbook. If you acquire a scroll of a new ritualist spell, you can add it to your spellbook by spending 8 hours and making a Spellcraft check (DC 15 + spell level). However, you cannot take 10 on this check and the scroll is consumed regardless of whether the attempt is a success or a failure. Effects that improve your Spellcraft check will only benefit this roll if the effect is active for the entire 8-hour period. You can only learn and add to your spellbook a number of spells and rituals per spell level equal to 10 + your Intelligence modifier (including inherent bonuses but discounting other types of bonuses).

You can prepare multiple spellbooks to guard against the risk that your primary spellbook might be destroyed, lost, or stolen, but owning multiple spellbooks does not enable you to learn or scribe any more spells. You do not need to have your primary spellbook at hand in order write spells that you know into a new spellbook.

Craft Reserve: A ritualist receives a pool of points he can spend instead of experience points when crafting a magic ring, rod, or staff, or when using a circle ritual (see below). Each time you gain a new level, you receives a new craft reserve; leftover points from the previous level are lost and do not carry over.

Item Familiar: A ritualist can enchant a permanent item to serve as a magical fetish, enhancing his mastery of The Art. Any sort of item can serve as an item familiar, but it must meet at least one of the following requirements:

  • Be of at least masterwork quality;
  • Be a magical item;
  • Be worth at least 100 gp.

Bonding with an item familiar requires an 8-hour ritual of meditation and focusing. A ritualist may only ever be bonded with one item familiar at a time. See the item familiar sidebar for the benefits provided by an item familiar.

Item familiars are magically linked to their masters, for a ritualist binds some of his own magical power into the familiar. This is why, for example, the ritualist gains additional spell slots from his familiar and can eventually empower the familiar to cast those spells itself. An item familiar is a normal item that gains new powers and becomes a magical item when bonded to a ritualist. It retains its appearance and original functions (including any magical powers).

Table 2: Item Familiar
Ritualist Level Ability
1st bonded item; skill bond; spell bond (bonus slots)
4th Call item (30 feet), channeling bond
8th Call item (line of sight), craft bond
12th Call item (same plane), ritual bond
16th Call item (any plane), spell bond (contingency)
20th Call item (reconstruction)
Item Familiar Abilities

Bonded item: The potent arcane energies within an item familiar render it extremely resistant to harm and allow its owner to sense its nearness. An item familiar has +5 hardness and ten times the normal hit points for an item of its type. When unattended, it is treated as an attended item and uses the ritualist’s saving throw values if they are better than its own. The ritualist is always aware of the exact direction and distance to his item familiar and is automatically aware of any attempt to pickpocket the item from him through the Sleight of Hand skill, although magic that obscures divinations can disrupt this awareness.

Skill bond: At each level, the ritualist gains two +1 insight bonuses which he may apply to any skill, although he may not apply more +1 bonuses to a skill than he has ranks in that skill. The assignment of these bonuses is permanent, but the ritualist receives the bonuses only while wielding or carrying the item familiar. Furthermore, if he loses the item familiar, the ritualist only benefits from half his skill ranks in each of his class skills until he regains possession of it.

Spell bond: While wielding or carrying the item familiar, a ritualist gains two bonus spell slots: one slot of the highest level of spells he can cast, and one slot of the level immediately below it. If he loses the item familiar, the ritualist cannot prepare or cast spells from these bonus slots until he regains possession of it.

Upon reaching 16th level, the item familiar is able to cast the spells in the ritualist’s bonus slots automatically. On his turn, the ritualist can use a free action to mentally command the familiar to cast a spell, or he may set a prearranged condition under which the familiar will cast each spell (as with the contingency spell).

Call item: As a standard action, the ritualist can call his item familiar into his possession as long as it is within 30 feet, although if the item is in the possession of another creature, that creature may make a Will saving throw (DC 10 + ½ ritualist level + Cha modifier) to negate the effect. The item appears properly equipped on the ritualist if there is space for it, or on the ground in his square otherwise. When the ritualist reaches 8th level, he can call the item provided is it is anywhere within his line of sight. Upon reaching 12th level, he can call it from any distances so long as it is on the same plane. Upon reaching 16th level, he can call it even from other planes of existence. Upon reaching 20th level, the item reforms whole in his hands when called even if it has been destroyed or disjoined. Effects that ward against teleportation or planar travel may prevent call item from working as expected.

Channeling bond: The ritualist can use his item familiar to channel his ray spells and touch spells, and gains a +1 insight bonus per four ritualist levels on attack rolls when doing so. If your item familiar is a weapon, you can channel a melee touch spell while making a normal attack. At the DM’s discretion, you may also be able to deliver a channeled touch spell through an unarmed strike with the appropriate part of your body if your item familiar is a worn item (such as a ring or a pair of boots or gloves).

Craft bond: The ritualist may bond an enchantment when enchanting his item familiar. A bonded enchantment costs 25% less gp and xp to create (and thus 25% less time as well), and the ritualist can never incurs the +50% cost increase for applying secondary enchantments to an existing magical item. However, a bonded enchantment functions only for the ritualist.

Ritual bond: If wielded or worn while casting a circle ritual, the item familiar counts as a secondary caster participating in the circle ritual.

Destruction of an item familiar If an item familiar is irretrievably destroyed, the ritualist may not bind a new item familiar for 30 days thereafter.

Replacing an item familiar If a ritualist has his item familiar at hand and wishes to transfer his bond to a new item, he may do so by repeating the bonding ritual with both items present. Any bonded skills, spell slots, and enchantments (if applicable to the new item) are transferred to the new item familiar. If he does not have his item familiar at hand when he bonds, he may still bond a new item, but may not transfer bonded enchantments. Enchantments bonded to the old item are lost forever.

Magecraft: A ritualist learns to create all manner of magical tools and enchanted items. You may ignore Item Creation feat prerequisites when crafting magic items or qualifying for feats, prestige classes, or other special features.

Reserve Magic: A ritualist has a broad grounding in a variety of magical disciplines, and in most situations he can recall some relevant expertise with a good night's rest and some meditation to clear his mind. Select any reserve feat intended for arcane casters, ignoring prerequisites. You gain this feat, and may charge it with an appropriate spell of any level (ignoring the minimum spell level set by the feat). You may retrain this feat to a different qualifying reserve feat whenever you first ready your spells each day. The feat granted by reserve magic cannot be used to qualify for any other feat, prestige class, or special ability.

Spontaneous Conversion (Ex): A ritualist of 4th level or higher can restructure stored spell energy to cast a spell that he did not prepare ahead of time. You can “lose” any prepared spell in order to cast any other spell in your spellbook of the same level or lower. You can use this ability once per day per four levels you have.

Circle Ritual (Su): Ritualists practice and understand a form of High Magic called circle rituals, a system of inscribed power circles used to augment a spell. Upon reaching 5th level, you can add a power circle to a ritualist spell. This grants you one circle bonus point, but increases its casting time and cost. For every five levels you have above 5th, you can choose to take more time and pay extra cost to gain another circle bonus point. Spells with a casting time of one swift or immediate action cannot be cast as circle magic.

For one point, you can increase the spell’s caster level by 2, set its base save DC to 10 + 1/2 character level + your Charisma bonus, or double the cap on the maximum number of HD affected or dice rolled by the spell. You may also double the spell’s range (1 point), duration (2 points), or area (3 points), but these benefits can only be purchased once.

Inscribing a circle takes time; every circle bonus point increases the spell’s casting time by one step on the Circle Magic Casting Times table below.

Table 3: Circle Ritual Casting Times
Normal Casting Time Circle Ritual Casting Time
standard action full-round action
full-round action one full round
one or more rounds +1 round

Drawing a circle requires special chalk costing (10 * circle bonus points * spell level) in gp, and a surface of several square feet upon which to draw (which means you cannot scribe a chalk circle in midair or underwater). Alternately, you can scribe a power circle in the air before you using pure magical energy, which costs (2 * circle bonus points * spell level) in xp. A ritualist may spend points from his craft reserve in place of his own experience points. Circle components are consumed when the spell is begun and are not refunded even if the casting is disrupted or abandoned.

If the spell to be cast has a casting time of one minute or longer, you also require a number of secondary casters to assist with the ritual equal to the number of circle bonus points to be obtained. Secondary casters need not be ritualists (or even spellcasters), but must stand adjacent to you and chant for the duration of the ritual’s casting (this requires a full-round action each round from each secondary caster). If a secondary caster drops out during the casting of the ritual, the ritual does not fail, but the number of circle bonus points you obtain is reduced accordingly.

A ritualist of 12th level or higher with an item familiar can use the item familiar as a secondary caster in a circle ritual he is casting.

School Specialization A ritualist may specialize in a school of magic just as a wizard can and gains the usual benefits for doing so (see PH 57 for details). However, a ritualist who specializes in a school of magic must select three prohibited schools, and must select a key skill. The ritualist gains a +2 bonus on skill checks with his key skill, and it becomes a ritualist class skill for him if it is not one already. Key skills for each school are:

Table 4: Specialist Key Skills
School Skill
Abjuration Concentration or Knowledge (arcana)
Conjuration Craft (any one) or Knowledge (the planes)
Divination Knowledge (any one) or Spot
Enchantment Bluff or Sense Motive
Evocation Intimidate or Knowledge (the planes)
Illusion Bluff or Hide
Necromancy Intimidate or Knowledge (religion)
Transmutation Craft (any one)

Epic Arcane Ritualist[edit]

Table: The Epic Arcane Ritualist

Hit Die: d6

Level Special
22nd Bonus Feat
24th Spontaneous conversion 6/day
25th Circle ritual +5
28th Spontaneous conversion 7/day
30th Circle ritual +6

4 + Int modifier skill points per level.

Arcane Ritualist Starting Package[edit]

Weapons: .

Skill Selection: Pick a number of skills equal to 4 + Int modifier.

Skill Ranks Ability Armor

Feat: .

Bonus Feats: .

Gear: .

Gold: .

Campaign Information[edit]

Playing a Arcane Ritualist[edit]

Religion: Ritualists who see their magic as a source of spiritual inspiration may worship Boccob, Wee Jas, or Vecna. Those who meddle in the powers of life and death might worship Nerull, while those devoted to traveling the multiverse in search of advancement might take Fharlanghn as their patron. Other ritualists take their inspiration where they find it, and might worship any deity.

Other Classes: Ritualists tend to regard magicians with a sort of condescending pity, and there is little love lost between these practitioners of different forms of magic. Ritualists appreciate fighters, paladins, and rangers for the fighting strength they offer, but tend to view them more as pawns than as equals. They have little use for monks or rogues. Ritualists respect the prowess of clerics and druids, regarding members of these classes as worthy compatriots.

Combat: Similar to Wizard.

Advancement: The ritualist is a character who regards reality as his plaything and the multiverse as his personal workshop. He is adept at bending and breaking the natural laws of the world, and brings powerful, flashy magics to his adventuring group, easily manipulating elemental energies, summoning outsiders, and reshaping battlefields. However, a ritualist often needs time to prepare and the assistance of others to work his magic, so he benefits strongly from the aid and support of a group.

Arcane Ritualists in the World[edit]

"Even when our eyes are closed, there's a whole world out there that lives outside ourselves and our dreams."
—Edward Elric, Human Alchemist

Daily Life: Because ritualists often seek lost knowledge or potent artifacts to further their goals, the adventurer’s path may prove expedient to them as a means to an end. If a ritualist is a court mage, he may adventure to fulfill a king’s quest. Still other ritualists may have been driven from their crumbling towers by mobs of suspicious citizens and see adventuring as a method of rebuilding their power base.

Notables: Gandalf.

Organizations: Although some rare talents demonstrate the ability to learn High Magic quickly and easily, most ritualists learn through painstaking study and collaboration with others of greater experience. Ritualists generally are members of a league, college, or cabal of their peers, which may be a formal, tightly knit organization or a loose confederation of spellcasters who convene only infrequently. As fellow practitioners of The Art, ritualists see themselves as common members of an elite group even if they are members of different races or cultures. However, different groups of ritualists are often competitive or even hostile towards one another, as each group sees its practices as the “best” way to approach High Magic.

Arcane Ritualist Lore[edit]

Characters with ranks in can research to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including information from lower DCs.

DC Result
5 .
10 .
15 .
20 .

Arcane Ritualists in the Game[edit]

A ritualist is typically the center of a party’s power, capable of powerful effects that other classes can’t duplicate but dependent on the protection and support of his team to succeed. A ritualist doesn’t have the spellcasting stamina to solve all the party’s problems, but when another team member can’t handle a problem unassisted, or when the party finds itself in a no-win situation and needs to redefine what’s possible, the ritualist can reshape reality to turn an impossible challenge into a clean victory.

Adaptation: .

Sample Encounter: .

EL : .

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