Boil and Bubble: Ritual Path Magic, Wishes, and Permanently Granted Traits

Inspired by +Peter V. Dell’Orto‘s posts about Wishes (you can read them, here, here, and here), as well as this post and this thread (which ultimately didn’t pan out for the reasons I discussed in there), I got to thinking: What would a “wish” spell look like in Ritual Path Magic? It almost certainly would require a ton of energy…but let’s look at what a wish is exactly. So let’s look at three different game spells (AD&D, D&D 3.XX, and GURPS 4th edition)

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons

Wish (Conjuration/Summoning)
Level: 9
Components: V
Range: Unlimited
Casting Time: Special
Duration: Special
Saving Throw: Special
Area of Effect: Special
Explanation/Description: The Wish spell is a more potent version of a Limited Wish (q.v.). If it is used to alter reality with respect to hit points sustained by a party, to bring a dead character to life, or to escape from a difficult situation by lifting the spell caster (and his or her party) from one place to another, it will not cause the magic-user any disability. Other forms of wishes, however, will cause the spell caster to be weak (-3 on strength) and require 2 to 8 days of bed rest due to the stresses the wish places upon time, space, and his or her body. Regardless of what is wished for, the exact terminology of the Wish spell is likely to be carried through. (This discretionary power of the referee is necessary in order to maintain game balance. As wishing another character dead would be grossly unfair, for example, your DM might well advance the spell caster to a future period where the object is no longer alive, i.e. putting the wishing character out of the campaign.)

Dungeons & Dragons 3.XX

Level:     Sor/Wiz 9
Components:     V, XP
Casting time:     1 standard action
Range:     See text
Target, Effect, or Area:     See text
Duration:     See text
Saving Throw:     See text
Spell Resistance:     Yes

Wish is the mightiest spell a wizard or sorcerer can cast. By simply speaking aloud, you can alter reality to better suit you. Even wish, however, has its limits. A wish can produce any one of the following effects.

  • Duplicate any wizard or sorcerer spell of 8th level or lower, provided the spell is not of a school prohibited to you.
  • Duplicate any other spell of 6th level or lower, provided the spell is not of a school prohibited to you.
  • Duplicate any wizard or sorcerer spell of 7th level or lower even if it’s of a prohibited school.
  • Duplicate any other spell of 5th level or lower even if it’s of a prohibited school.
  • Undo the harmful effects of many other spells, such as geas/quest or insanity.
  • Create a nonmagical item of up to 25,000 gp in value.
  • Create a magic item, or add to the powers of an existing magic item.
  • Grant a creature a +1 inherent bonus to an ability score. Two to five wish spells cast in immediate succession can grant a creature a +2 to +5 inherent bonus to an ability score (two wishes for a +2 inherent bonus, three for a +3 inherent bonus, and so on). Inherent bonuses are instantaneous, so they cannot be dispelled. Note: An inherent bonus may not exceed +5 for a single ability score, and inherent bonuses to a particular ability score do not stack, so only the best one applies.
  • Remove injuries and afflictions. A single wish can aid one creature per caster level, and all subjects are cured of the same kind of affliction. For example, you could heal all the damage you and your companions have taken, or remove all poison effects from everyone in the party, but not do both with the same wish. A wish can never restore the experience point loss from casting a spell or the level or Constitution loss from being raised from the dead.
  • Revive the dead. A wish can bring a dead creature back to life by duplicating a resurrection spell. A wish can revive a dead creature whose body has been destroyed, but the task takes two wishes, one to recreate the body and another to infuse the body with life again. A wish cannot prevent a character who was brought back to life from losing an experience level.
  • Transport travelers. A wish can lift one creature per caster level from anywhere on any plane and place those creatures anywhere else on any plane regardless of local conditions. An unwilling target gets a Will save to negate the effect, and spell resistance (if any) applies.
  • Undo misfortune. A wish can undo a single recent event. The wish forces a reroll of any roll made within the last round (including your last turn). Reality reshapes itself to accommodate the new result. For example, a wish could undo an opponent’s successful save, a foe’s successful critical hit (either the attack roll or the critical roll), a friend’s failed save, and so on. The reroll, however, may be as bad as or worse than the original roll. An unwilling target gets a Will save to negate the effect, and spell resistance (if any) applies.

You may try to use a wish to produce greater effects than these, but doing so is dangerous. (The wish may pervert your intent into a literal but undesirable fulfillment or only a partial fulfillment.)
            Duplicated spells allow saves and spell resistance as normal (but save DCs are for 9th-level spells).

Material Component: When a wish duplicates a spell with a material component that costs more than 10,000 gp, you must provide that component.

XP Cost: The minimum XP cost for casting wish is 5,000 XP. When a wish duplicates a spell that has an XP cost, you must pay 5,000 XP or that cost, whichever is more. When a wish creates or improves a magic item, you must pay twice the normal XP cost for crafting or improving the item, plus an additional 5,000 XP.

GURPS 4th edition

Great Wish (VH)
This spell can do just about anything.
In particular:
(1) It can be used to cast any one spell, at no energy cost, with automatic
success and no chance of resistance (for spells with variable cost, the maximum energy available is 1,000). The caster does not have to know the spell, or even have it in a book – he just has
to know the spell exists. If the spell is a “continuing” one, it is up to the GM to determine how long it should last.
(2) It can permanently improve a character’s scores. It will increase any one attribute by 1 level, or any one skill or spell by 3 levels. It can also reduce an enemy’s scores, but only if that enemy is present when the wish is made.
(3) It will grant any one advantage worth 20 points or less, or remove any one disadvantage worth 20 points or less. An enemy can likewise be cursed by losing an advantage or gaining a disadvantage, but only if that enemy is present when the wish is made. The enemy does not get a chance to resist!
(4) It can do absolutely anything else that the GM feels will not ridiculously unbalance the adventure or the campaign!
Though incredibly powerful, this spell is not used often. It can never be learned at a level better than 15. Furthermore, any failed roll when creating a Great Wish costs the caster, and each helper, 1 point of IQ and 6d damage! Critical failures have toppled civilizations. Great Wishes are not normally found for sale. If they are, the price should be at least $100,000.
Cost: 2,000.


Prerequisites: Magery 3, Wish, and a combined DX and IQ of 30+.
Looking at all three versions tells us a few things that they all have in common. They can…
  • Raise the dead.
  • Grant permanent bonuses/powers/effects on a subject.
  • Allow the casting of other spells that the mage may or may not know.
  • Undo events of the past.

Other stuff is also possible (obviously), but based wholly on the GM’s judgement. Going from there we can then assume that a Ritual Path Magic “Wish spell” should be able to do, at minimum, any of those things. But more importantly, it should be able to do all of those things. This can cause problems though because the way Ritual Path magic works is to define the effects of what you want to do so that you can define the spell. So a single spell that can do multiple things is actually kind of problematic. Were I too try to design such a spell I’d probably apply the rules for Alternative Abilities to Spell Effects/Paths/Modifiers. For example, if a Fireball-type spell allowed you to pick between it having fragmentation damage or piercing armor, it might look something like this:

Spell Effects: Greater Create Energy.
Inherent Modifiers: Damage, External Burning (Armor Piercing (5) or Hot Fragmentation, 10d (0.2)).
Greater Effects: 1 (x3).

This spell conjures a bolt of fire that the caster can then throw at a target. It does either 6d(5) burning damage or 6d [10d(0.2)] burning damage.

Typical Casting: Greater Create Energy (6) + Damage, External Burning 6d (Armor Piercing (5) or Hot Fragmentation, 10d (0.2)) (40*). 138 energy (46×3).
* This includes 1/5 the cost of the Hot Fragmentation enhancement.

Going with that you could then create a “Wish” type spell – though it may not be enough. Since a Wish spell can do basically anything you’d need to extend the Alternative Abilities logic a bit more. Perhaps (and I haven’t playtested this so I have no idea how it might work) charging a energy cost equal to five times the normal amount and requiring a Greater Transform Magic effect to achieve the desired results. So a “wish” ritual might look like:

Spell Effects: Greater Transform Magic.
Inherent Modifiers: Meta-Magic.
Greater Effects: 1 (x3).

This spell allows the caster to recreate the effects of any other spell of up to 200 energy.

Typical Casting: Greater Transform Magic (8) + Meta-Magic, 200 energy (1000). 3,024 energy (1.008×3).

…which is a lot. Which may be a indicator that the spell might be a bit too much. I don’t know – it needs playtesting (and please let me know if you do!).

For spells that grant the subject permanent traits, either use the Slow and Sure Enchanting (GURPS Thaumatology: Ritual Path Magic, p. 34) if it grants the caster permanent abilities or require that casting such a spell costs the caster a number of unspent character points equal to the amount whatever trait it grants gives. Alternatively, a hybrid of the two could be used, using Slow and Sure Enchanting to gain the points that the spell would require. Even more optional might be to allow a spell to grant permanent traits by multiplying the final cost of the trait by five. If you use any of the following, please shoot me a email, comment below, or drop me a line on the forums – I’ll be very interested in knowing what worked well, what broke, and what just didn’t work.

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