Ritual magic (also known as an occult ritual) is a powerful form of occult magic that holds a prominent role in Golarion's history. While less common in modern times, it remains one of the easiest—and dangerous—ways for people to achieve feats of great magical power. Its dangerous nature inspires groups of all types to hunt and control or destroy ritual instructions.
Most believe that there are only three types of spellcasting: divine, arcane, and psychic, and that all spellcasting requires either innate ability (such as that possessed by a sorcerer), or years of study (like that of a wizard). There is, however, a fourth type of magic that is buried in forgotten libraries or heard in the ramblings of the insane, and which can be practiced by anyone: occult rituals. Most traditional spellcasters fear occult rituals, and see them as the last refuge of the foolish, as they are hard to control, can grant incredible power, and allow anyone to tinker with the underlying fabric of magic.
Due to its origins in the distant past and active efforts to destroy knowledge of ritual magic, the history of ritual magic is difficult to ascertain. Some scholars believe serpentfolk or cyclopes introduced the practice on Golarion, and many past civilizations—including Azlant, the Jistka Imperium, Ancient Osirion, Sarkoris, the Tekritanin League, and Thassilon—relied on the art to expand and enrich their empires.
Design and practice
Each ritual has an associated school of magic. Rituals take at least 10 minutes to complete, but can take up to several hours. Once started, a ritual can be difficult to stop. Disruptions make the ritual more difficult, but need not necessarily stop a ritual in progress.
- The Erutaki-derived Hearthfire of Valenhall ritual imbues a lantern with a magical, protective fire that cannot be extinguished for an entire year. It involves hours of performance and fire-building.
- Kuthonite priests have been known to perform an occult ritual known as call the darkness, capable of temporarily merging an area of the Material Plane with the Plane of Shadow.
- The obscure Dreamlands excursion ritual is known to be able to transport one to the Dreamlands, a little-known section of the Dimension of Dreams.
- The Dance of the Dawnflower Dervish ritual proves that not all occult rituals are sinister. This one strengthens warriors devoted to Sarenrae for future battles.
- Breach the veil of dreams transports one to a random location within the Dimension of Dreams.
- Aiudara activation is a ritual known to the Ekujae and elves of the Mordant Spire, and is used to activate dormant elf gates.
- The heartbond ritual binds two willing creatures in sincere affection while in possession of a physical token representing the bond, and can sense each other's relative position and condition.
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