World-building essay incoming, critiques and counterarguments welcome:

World-building essay incoming, critiques and counterarguments welcome:

World-building essay incoming, critiques and counterarguments welcome:

“Is there a Place of Power nearby?”

I’ve played in a few one-shots and dropped into a couple of longer games over my time here, and it seems like every session with a Wizard (or anyone else with the Ritual move) involved has this question pop up. Now, I get that Ritual is an awesome little swiss army knife of a move, but for me, personally, the answer is always going to be:

“If you have to ask, the answer is no.”

I can understand the argument that Power can be likened to a natural resource, like an aquifer, so there’s a chance that you can Ritual it up a bit in a given location even if it looks on the surface to be pretty mundane. And on a more meta level, it’s true that you don’t want to put the kibosh on one of the PC’s signature moves too often. But to me, Places of Power should be strange, eldritch places, dripping with some flavor of the otherworldly. They’re landmarks, the sorts of places that have tales written about them. They’re the enchanted grove where hypnotic laughter can be heard by moonlight, the ancient battlefield where the dead never rest and the clouds never break. You might see a city built on such a place, but if you do, it’ll be a very strange city.

Mind you, draw maps and leave blanks, so the PCs can still find such places that the non-adventuring populace knows nothing of. But they’ll know it when they see it; they won’t have to ask.

Fortunately for the budding Ritualist, such places tend to attract the sorts of terrifying monsters and wondrous treasures that make Rituals most needed. And at times, of course, questing to a Place of Power and seizing control of it for long enough to complete a vital Ritual is reward enough in and of itself.

6 thoughts on “World-building essay incoming, critiques and counterarguments welcome:”

  1. I had some games with a Wizard player, and he often asked me for power places.

    I used a two way compass for this situations.

    the first is “Portray the fantastic”, and the second is my girlfriend’s religion which talks about places of power. these can be o fany size, and are very personal, as in “MY place of power” sentence.

    So, for me it’s quite automatic, I start to give a place of power when requested, and then another, making it different, with player’s help.

    Then, when they become “too many”, the group as a whole raises a magic eyebrow. If no one complains, I go on giving when requested.

    Works for me.

  2. IMO, as a player, “If you have to ask, the answer is no.” seems like a horrible answer. Would you answer a fighter the same way if he asked if he could bend bars, or the rogue if they tried to find traps? It feels like a lazy answer designed specifically to keep one of the classes from using one of its moves, and that is just flat out anti-fun. 

  3. It depends whether i play a one-shot or a longer game. In a one-shot there is always a place of power “nearby” if you are playing a Wizard. If the Wizard doesn’t ritual in a one-shot they are missing out on the class. 

    If we play a longer game there won’t always be. The more mundane a place is the smaller the chance. 

  4. You know, I think you guys–especially Joshua Slane–have opened my mind on this a lot. I still want Places of Power to be meaningful, but I think I’ll enforce that in a softer way by making Rituals, especially larger and more narratively significant ones, easier in more potent Places:

    “You want to cure the King’s blindness? Yes, you can do that through the palace’s scrying pool, but it’ll take weeks to draw out the necessary power, and the northern army is getting closer by the day. Though, your knowledge of the arcane would suggest that such a feat would be much easier in, say, the Heart of the World, four days’ journey to the east. What do you do?”

    I should really have a huge sticky note posted every time I run something, reading “Carrots are more interesting than Sticks.” I seem to keep forgetting that. :\

  5. “Is there a Place of Power nearby?”

    Immediately I’m thinking: “You tell me.  What do you know about a place of power that would  be nearby?”

    And I might be using this wrong, but then I’d ask them to Spout Lore.  On a full success what they narrated is true.  On a partial success there is some complication (an unwelcome truth?).  On a miss there is something critical, but interesting that they missed.

    “No, you’re wrong.  There’s nothing there.” doesn’t seem like an interesting way to fail.  Maybe the site has been overrun by enemy forces?  Maybe it’s been cursed, or trapped?

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