Thursday, January 31, 2013

Carcosa Rehab: Instead of Violation & Murder, the Ritual Requires


(art by Glyn Smith)

Do you have a game that includes rituals that feature human sacrifice and violation? Do you find that oogie or at least boring? I'm here to help. When you come across something you aren't down with in the ritual's description, roll on this table and replace the offending article with the result.

d100
Instead of Violation & Murder, the Ritual Requires...
01-02
You must gather ten teeth from gladiators who died in an arena fight; these teeth must be ground into a paste along with certain herbs and natural pigments. This paste must be used to draw the unholy symbols required by the ritual.
03-04
You must melt the sacred wax of Mehl-Yung in a copper bowl inscribed with profane sigils. When the wax is liquid it must be smeared across your body in the proscribed motions; once the wax has hardened, you must engage in the Dance of Darkened View until every piece of wax has fallen away from your body.
05-06
You must acquire the relics from four saints. These relics must be broken while you intone various profanities and blasphemies. You must then take the broken remnants of the relics and bake them into wafers which you will consume at the ritual's conclusion.
07-08
To prepare for the ritual beforehand you must find an ancient skull that has been in the earth for no less than a hundred years. The skull must be studded with precious jewels and silver. The skull must be presented and held aloft at the culmination of the ritual.
09-10
You must build a pyre from the wood of a desecrated confessional booth. As the pyre burns you must cast a symbolic effigy into the fire as you read from the Feverish Book of Wrathful Thoughts.
11-12
You must have a kimono fashioned from fabric that has been stained by the blood of a religious martyr. To finish the ritual you must engage in the Dance of Meht-Sahrnoth, a forbidden dance that requires you to shed the garment at its last step.
13-14
You must bring a golden mirror of great value to the site of the ritual. You will black the mirror's surface with black pigment. As you recite the ritual's incantation you must scrape a bit of the black paint from the surface of the mirror. Take care to remove the last bit of pigment from the mirror as you utter the last word of the incantation.
15-16
You must fashion a mask from the combined skins of a mammal, an amphibian, and a bird. The mask will be worn only during the first part of the ritual; after this the mask must be consumed by the sorcerer before the ritual can continue.
17-18
To proceed with the ritual you must read from the Tome of Vile Inclinations. After each page is read you must tear it from the book and let the page be consumed in the flames of a torch fashioned from ghostwood.
19-20
You must have a idol carved from stone brought from the Quarry of a Million Tragedies. While the ritual is completed you must prostrate yourself in front of the idol and then act like an animal, bleating and mewling as you run about on all fours.
21-22
You must prepare a canvass by stretching it by hand. You must then paint the portraits of three women on the canvas with paint into which they have each willingly contributed drops of their blood.


23-24
You must acquire a rope used to hang a condemned criminal. As part of the ritual you must offer the Fourty-Two Prayers of Baleful Recurrence as a chant over the rope. At the final stages of the ritual you must practice self-strangulation with the rope until it chokes the concluding words of the rite in your throat.
25-26
The ritual must be performed as you stand atop of mound of stones stolen from a king's funeral barrow. While performing the ritual you must sing the Imprecations Against the Dead Sun in a fluttering falsetto.
27-28
You must craft a drum from the skin of a mutant beast. You will play the drum as you chant the ritual's incantation. As the ritual moves to fruition the drum will animate and begin to play itself in a fearful tattoo.
29-30
You must prepare face paint from the rare flowers that grow in the Devourer's Grove. You will paint your face with the prescribed patterns as you coldly read the protective incantations found in the Book of Absolute Harrowing.
31-32
Collect enough corn husks to fashion thirteen dolls. These dolls must be bathed in a succession of liquids: sour milk, watered-down honey, grain alcohol, animal urine. At the ritual's conclusion the dolls will animate and engage in ritual combat with the sorcerer.
33-34
Salvage wood from a shipwreck and fashion the timber into a crucifix. You must have a masked assistant nail you to this cross while the disparage you with a litany of your earthly failings. The ritual incantation may then begin.
35-36
Erect yourself a throne made from the bones of dogs long dead. You must sit upon this throne as you complete the rest of the ritual's requirements. When sitting upon the throne you may only speak in a high-pitched, child-like voice.
37-38
You must prepare a perfume from the sweat of three brothers. Adorn yourself with both this perfume and costly jewelry. Perform the ritual while wearing clothes that belong to the opposite gender.
39-40
You must create a candle from fat gathered from the hollows of a grave. As the candle burns you must verbally recall the content of all your worst nightmares. These nightmares will be replayed in your mind. As the candle gutters out the ritual may be completed.
41-42
You must stitch together two used funeral shrouds into a hooded garment. Don the garment and perform the rest of the ritual in a graveyard. At the conclusion of the ritual you must dig a fresh grave, bury the garment, and perform the last rites for it as if it were a living man. To do otherwise invites a dreadful curse.
43-44
Recruit twelve thespians to enact the play The Yellow King's Triumph. At the conclusion of the play, you may read the ritual's incantation and fulfill any other requirements it might demand.
45-46
Dose yourself in the sweet fumes of burning death's head poppy and utter the words of astral transmission. Once upon the astral plane, seek out your animus-ganger and murder it. When you have returned to your body you may complete the ritual.
47-48
You must carve a flute from the bone of a dinosaur. You will then play the tuneless Song of Blood Abjectness while solemnly dancing erratically. You may then proceed with the rest of the ritual.
49-50
As part of the ritual you must prepare yourself by taking a purifying bath in the holy mud of Tam-Zhuul. You must keep this mud upon your body for a week before the ritual is performed.


51-52
You must locate an Ebony Shard of Pish-Katelle and gaze into its murky depths while whispering the words of power. A demonic servant will appear within the Shard; the demon will require you to sacrifice one of the memories of your childhood to proceed with the ritual.
53-54
You must cleanse your physical form in the the Waters of Tenebrous Baptism. After your baptism you must howl to the moon until your throat becomes raw. Only then can you recite the concluding incantation.
55-56
Imbibe the intoxicating Powder of Gozitt Rhen until the veil that separates the worlds falls away. While your mind is on the brink of drifting into the ether, quickly perform the ritual before you fall into unconsciousness. Ignore the chirping of the demonic mantises you see on the edges of your vision at all cost.
57-58
You must order the construction of a princely crystalline sculpture that you will fill with various liquors of rarity and delicacy. As you read the incantation aloud the crystalline sculpture will begin to ring with the music of the spheres. It is vitally important to stopper your ears and finish the ritual quickly.
59-60
In the week leading up to the ritual you must subsist on a diet of locusts, flies, and larva. If you become sick from this diet you must not perform the ritual; instead, begin the diet again when you are healthy.
61-62
Before beginning the ritual you must bathe your hands in the tears of thirteen virgins. Your hands will become dirty in the magical workings of the ritual; you must again bathe your hands in the tears of thirteen virgins at the conclusion of the ritual.
63-64
In the ten days leading up to the ritual you may only eat foods prepared from the recipes found in the Book of Edible Mysteries. If you become sick from this diet you must not perform the ritual; instead, begin the diet again when you are healthy.
65-66
You must become catastrophically drunk on alcohol consumed from clay pottery made by the People of Zhemin-Kafar. In the morning after, while you suffer from the after effects of you imbibing, perform the incantation and the ritual's requirements; interspersed throughout the ritual you must beg forgiveness of the spirits that govern drunkenness.
67-68
You must offer up blood split from your wrists into a chalice of silver or gold; half of this blood must be poured out onto the ritual diagrams that accomplish the magical working, the other half you must drink in between reciting the words of the rite.
69-70
During the course of the ritual you must summon the spirits of your ancestors according to the instructions provided in the Scroll of Elder Scorn. You must listen to your ancestors list both your failings and your accomplishments before proceeding with the ritual.
71-72
In the three days leading up to the ritual you must fast, drinking neither water nor eating of any food. During the ritual itself you must rend your clothes and loudly proclaim your existential insignificance. When you are in a state of abjection you may finish the ritual's incantation.
73-74
Purchase a splendid white horse. Anoint the horse with the cinnamon-scented Oil of Derlak Dugarh. At the conclusion of this ritual you must free this horse to flee in whatever directions It wishes.
75-76
As the ritual proceeds you must handle venomous snakes and present them to the Guardians of the Cardinal Directions. If you are bitten by the snakes, cease the ritual instantly or face a dire doom.


77-78
You must etch the runes the ritual requires into a tree of the sacred type known as Queen of the Darkling Wald. These runes will bleed as if cut into the flesh of man. Drink deeply of this blood-sap and continue with the ritual's incantations and gestures.
79-80
Craft a large effigy of an owl from wicker. Debase yourself shamelessly before the owl; even when the owl begins to move, so not cease your debasements. Only when the owl's mouth opens may you safely stop; now feed the owl on carrion until it is sated. Once the owl refuses further food you may proceed with the rest of the ritual.
81-82
You must eat of the hallucinogenic Worms of Nethren-Vhaal until the world wheels and spins around you. Address your visions—be they monsters or angels—as “Master.” Do as they bid you. When the world returns to its normal function, complete the ritual.
83-84
Mortify your flesh with a whip of thorns. Display your wounds proudly to the demons and entities brought forth by the ritual's workings. Let them admire your dedication and handle your abused flesh. Once you have met their approval you may proceed with the ritual's other requirements.
85-86
As you burn the incense of Zalamphel a demonic servitor will appear and demand that you sacrifice one of your senses for a year. When you have named the sense to be stripped away, the demon will vanish and you may complete the ritual.
87-88
Within the month before the attempt the ritual you must reconcile two foes and end their enmity. However, during the ritual itself you will bind their names upon a parchment with a curse of eternal hatred. Once this has been accomplished the ritual may proceed.
89-90
You must sculpt tablets out of clay, powdered lead, and rosemary leaves by your own hand and let them dry in the heat of a blue flame before you scribe the needed runes on them with the thorn of a bromelihag plant harvested during the monsoon. Only this will open the gates the ritual requires.
91-92
The ritual must feed of love's strife. In the ritual's preparatory stages, you will receive a vision of a friend or associate who is smitten. You must prevent their love from being reciprocated/consummated. To do otherwise invites personal ruin.
93-94
Utter your lamentations before a candle sculpted into the shape of Princess Nar. When your lamentations are complete, wash your hands in a iced water held in a basin of bronze. At last you may begin your ritual work in earnest.
95-96
Place a crown of starmetal upon your brown and array yourself in robes of brilliantly-colored silk. No matter what the beings summoned onto our plane by the ritual threaten you with, remain imperious and commanding. They will eventually relent and grant you the key to the ritual's completion.
97-98
Bottle the water of a mountain stream; at the ritual site mix the water with the ashes of a slain monster. Drink this mixture while making noises that correspond to the type of slain beast within the elixer. Once imbibed the way is clear to complete the ritual.
99-100
Stitch a doll out of the finest leather and stuff it with broken shells. Live with it in your house for three days and nights. At midnight on the last night, bury the doll in desecrated ground. The site is now prepared properly for the ritual incantation.

I crowd-sourced a few of these on G+.  Thanks dudes.

21 comments:

  1. Oh yes! Thanks for this!
    I'm not necessarily put off by human sacrifice and transgressions at the altar... but a little goes a long ways and it's nice to have options.

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  2. Very nice options for the rituals. I like the originals, too. But sometimes it is very annoying to enslave enough people of the right colour as victims.
    I think, this list is also a very nice inspiration for a lot of magic rituals, so I will try to use it on my Cimorra-Setting. Thank you very much!

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    1. Let me know if you make use of these!

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  3. Awesome - i guess carcosa is trying to be explicit when unspeakable has been a teasing shorthand for a hundred years. But its not that interesting whe you get it. I still say stormbringer makes carcosa seem tame.

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    1. I think "unspeakable" still works pretty well in fiction (like Thomas Ligotti's stories) but has never worked all that well in gaming. Stormbringer has definitely gone unrecognized for exactly how weird it really is.

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  4. Let me add my voice to the chorus: Good Stuff!

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  5. Nice stuff - won't it make people want to play sorcerer though?

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    1. In your Carcosa game - not some kind of bad scene Mazes & Monsters thing.

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    2. I'm leaning toward using the usual LL classes and having rituals be available (if found) to anyone who is literate.

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  6. Great stuff Mr. Shear. I'll definitely use this for campaign and quest ideas.

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  7. really good stuff, it's gonna be used a lot at my table :)

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  8. I've been delighted by the content of the two volumes of "Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque".
    Amazing !

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