Reconciling the Examples & the Ceremonial Magic Rules

I think I understand ceremonial magic, but certain things in the listed examples in the HFH confuse me in that they seem inconsistent with my understanding of ceremonial magic. I don't know if these things that confuse me in the examples are oversights, or, I'm minunderstanding some aspects of ceremonial magic.

For example, my impression is that your traditional implements are not something you normally carry on you when dungeon delving and wilderness adventuring, that is, they primarily stay at your base (or whatever). Perhaps I have this wrong? The reason I ask is because on p. 111 HFH in an example concerning purifying yourself of stigma, it states:

"He and Algernon make camp for the night, and after a good night’s rest of 8 hours, Balbus spends 1 hour praying to Ammonar. His stigma is reduced to 0."

In this example, I'm just curious if Balbus has his traditional implements on him, given he's "making camp for the night." Can you purify yourself using a talisman? I've failed to see that written anywhere. I only read that you need your traditional implements in order to purify yourself.

Another example that throws me off is, on p. 109 HFH, it has an example of Ra-Ramases performing Choking Grip on a merchant in a shop, and in the example's equation there is no sign of any kind of talisman bonus, as if he is using his traditional implements in the shop when performing the ceremony, which seems odd.

I could be missing something obvious. My confusion could be due to smal oversights in the examples (but I'd place my bet on I'm missing something).


Traditional implements weigh 1 stone (HFH page 78, and also page 107).  In order to perform a ceremony, a ceremonialist must have implements of a level equal to or greater than the ceremony he is performing (also page 78, and also page 107).  

Page 107 calls out that you must normally have the required traditional implements to perform a ceremony.  

Possessing a talisman of a type, and using it in performance of a ceremony, allows you to perform that ceremony without access to your traditional implements (page 115).

Short version of this:  Yes, normally, you carry your traditional implements around and you use them whenever you are performing a ceremony.  If you have a talisman for that type of spell, you don't need to use them, but normally you need your implements.

Really, it's normal to lug all your traditional implements around with you? Not in my world, surely. (And, yes, I'm aware of talismans). It's just that lugging all that stuff around doesn't make much sense to me unless you're on a journey (and it's all packed away).

Like in the one example (below) in the shop (p. 109): the ceremonialist is actually taking out an  altar cloth, book, candle set, censer, chain, dagger, perfume casket, pitcher, quill and ink, ritual chalice, scourge, scrolls, unholy symbol, unholy water or oil?

The merchant should've known something was up!

EXAMPLE: Ra-Ramses is annoyed with a merchant’s bargaining tactics. He hastily performs a ceremony of choking grip. Completing the ceremony will require one round and a successful ceremony throws. Consulting the Ceremony Performance table, the occultist sees that the ceremony throw has a target value of 2+. Ra-Ramses gains a +2 bonus on the die roll from his WIS modifier, but a -4 penalty from haste, so he effectively needs a 4+. His range of automatic failure is increased to 1-3 so any failure will be a botch! Ra-Ramses rolls a 5 and succeeds.

He has all his implements out, inside the shop? Or, if he's using a talisman, where is it's bonus listed in the example?

Or is just a flawed example?


Ah, I think I see the problem.  The list there is a list of example items, not a comprehensive index.  Remember, any individual ceremonialist's implements weigh 1 stone.  The full list there would certainly weigh more than one stone.

In other words, that's a list of items that might be part of implements for that tradition.  Any specific ceremonialist will have traditional implements that contain some, but probably not all of them, and you certainly don't need to use every single part of it for every single ceremony.  You just need to have access to it.  Think of it like consulting a book; you don't need to read through the entire ACKS core book to look up a single rule, but unless you have the book with you, you're not going to succesfully look up the rule in it.

For a hasty ceremony, as was performed in the example, he most likely pulled out a single item (such as his unholy symbol) and used that.  Remember that a hasty ceremony only requires as much time as casting a spell.

Ah, I had an inkling that something like that was probably the case (because I knew, ultimately, it was my bad). 

So, when you purchase your implemets how many do you select? One stone's worth? Btb, you only need one traditional implement item in order to perform a ceremony?  But more implements can be manipulated for flair? (And/or judge's discretion).

I don't believe there is a specific, detailed list of how many 'implement items' are required to perform a ceremony.  I'd say it's Judge's discretion, depending on the circumstances.  Generally, I would expect that the longer the ceremony, the more items you used as part of it. 

If you want to specifically itemize exactly what items are part of your traditional implement set, then yes, as a Judge I would say that you should select one stone's worth of items.

(Note:  In this post I have departed from RAW citations and am not an Autarch, it is just my opinion.)

Most ceremonialists are going to end up using talismans in any event, except for purification, which can only be done via traditional implements.

I don't know who is an Autarch, beyond Mr. Macris. But I consider your insights the next best thing (along with a few other people). 

Ary's got the right of it I'd expect, as far as the 'fiction' around what all that implies. The "carry stuff equal to 1 stone" is mostly just a bit of a balancing act to ensure the ceremonialist has something invested in GP and in encumbrance.

How many items in a set of traditional implements would it take to be able to purify oneself, in your opinion? 

As the other fine gentlemen have said, your traditional implements encompass what you'd need for any conceivable ceremony in your repertoire, but they would not be used in every ceremony.

The way I intended it was that the time required for the various ceremonies (hasty, etc.) is in part determined by how much you are laying out and interacting with your traditional implements. 

Let's say your traditional implements are altar cloth, book, candle set, censer, chain, dagger, perfume casket, pitcher, quill and ink, ritual chalice, scourge, scrolls, unholy symbol, unholy water, and you want to cast animate dead.

If you spend six hours, you are probably laying out the altar cloth, pouring the ritual chalice with blood from cutting yourself with the dagger, setting out and lighting candles in the censer, spraying perfume over the bones, then sprinkling them with unholy water, repeating that while chanting for hours while holding your unholy symbol.

If you spend 10 minutes, you probably fill the ritual chalice with blood from cutting yourself with the dagger, spray perfume over the bones, then sprinkle them with unholy water, then chant for 10 minutes while holding your unholy symbol.

If you spend one round, you probably just hold out your holy symbol and chat.

I didn't go into this in explicit detail because the system is intended to be generic enough to be useful for any type of magic, from fantasy or the real-world. So it's really up to the Judge and his game world.

If it came up in play, I would probably permit a hasty ceremony if the ceremonialist had access to only 1 item from his implements, but I'd probably increase the risk of botch as a penalty. 

You need all your implements to purify yourself.

I find your facility with describing exactly how it might work with animate dead disturbing!

Sounds good. Thanks!


I find your facility with describing exactly how it might work with animate dead disturbing!


Too many horror movies!