Author Topic: [Circle of Hands] Question: Non-Circle Characters Casting Rituals  (Read 588 times)

Paul Hedrick

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Hi Ron,

I'm one Venture into GMing a Circle of Hands game. Our second Venture is going to have an Rbaja zone and a wizard, which leads me to a question. Since out-of-scene spellcasting does not exist, how would you recommend approaching rituals -- such as the Demon spells that named characters can learn from Imps in the zone -- being cast by non-Circle characters? It seems to me that the necessary casting time would make using rituals by the GM's characters difficult to fold into in-scene play.

Not that I'm planning any particular event to happen, of course; I'm just trying to anticipate the possibility.

Any advice is welcome. Thank you!


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Re: [Circle of Hands] Question: Non-Circle Characters Casting Rituals
« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2017, 05:33:50 PM »
Hi Paul

I'd be very surprised if the 'no out-of-scene spell casting clause' applied to NPCs.

This bit of the rules:

"During play, there is no such thing as out-of-scene spellcasting. Statements like “Every morning I cast Store” are not valid contributions to play. Nothing stops a player from tactically preparing for a confrontation with magic, but it must be played continuously. When the player wants his or her character to get a spell into action, then it’s time to begin the scene in which it takes place, with its own location and its own specific time in the action as it proceeds, subject to Crossing and other techniques described in Chapter 4." p119 squarely aimed at *players* to head-off manipulation of the spell system for riskless, cost-free benefits, not as a rule about magic and spellcasting in the general fiction. Seems to me, anyway.

NPCs could reasonably be doing a whole load of stuff off-screen during a venture, I'd have thought, ritual spellcasting included.
The consideration would be whether the NPC has the time available amid all the other goings-on, not whether the Circle characters see them doing it during a scene.

Unless I've misunderstood the thrust of your question? Or, for that matter, the thrust of the rules. :)



Paul Hedrick

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Re: [Circle of Hands] Question: Non-Circle Characters Casting Rituals
« Reply #2 on: March 14, 2017, 10:28:27 AM »
Hi Gethyn,

Thanks! I was being overly generous with my definition of "player," including the GM as one too. So this is a restriction on Circle characters, not on non-Circle characters. Got it. That makes my GMing life much easier. :)

Thanks again,


Ron Edwards

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Re: [Circle of Hands] Question: Non-Circle Characters Casting Rituals
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2017, 02:38:24 PM »
Wellll, hold on there, speedy. The principle that makes this rule good for those people with player-characters may hold for the GM too.

So, first and minor point is, sure - if an NPC is doing a ritual, then it's not like lightning will get you if you have the ritual's effects hit the situation from off-screen, as it were. But ... I suggest not doing that.

The second, primary point is that Circle of Hands is all about the immediacy of intentions. If one of my NPCs were doing a ritual, then there is no way that a bunch of preparatory events and a bunch of during-event phenomena would be intrinsically invisible to the player-characters. Wizards, in particular, have senses that tune into such significant actions, within the whole range of the venture. Less direct means apply as well, in that beginning such an activity changes relationships, changes the circumstances, changes the balance of social power. People respond to that and react strongly with goals of their own, and Circle knights, especially if they're from the region and/or the relevant social ranks, see those responses as clearly as anyone.

Don't think of these as clues or hooks. Think of them instead as nothing happening in isolation in the venture, ever. The wizard in question has relatives, acquaintances, and local history, right? (Rhetorical question. He or she must.) They are invested in the ritual too, in any way you can think of.

The third, supporting point is that we're not talking about back-story in this post at all. If a ritual is part of the back-story, then fine, it is, or rather, it was, effects and all. But if you're going to say this, then be sure the ritual is over and all that's happening is aftermath.

OK - so how, then? Basically, you're starting a scene which includes the wizard engaged in the ritual, as well as Circle knights who are currently not perceiving that this is so. The only issue, then, is to go right ahead and start playing those hours during which the ritual is under way. The wizard is doing. The Circle knights are doing ... what? Whatever the players say, based on what the knights see and do. What happens?

I think you'll find the ritual doesn't stay off-stage for long.

Best, Ron

Paul Hedrick

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Re: [Circle of Hands] Question: Non-Circle Characters Casting Rituals
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2017, 10:12:10 AM »
Excellent practical advice, and more in keeping with my initial concept of "players." Thanks, Ron.