Jenna and I stayed up all night making ritual mechanics. She's playing a Holy One with a special ritual that gives her a powerful connection to the spirit world.Sioux Ritual Magic
Rituals are practiced for the purpose of maintaining a connection with the Great Spirit. What follows are descriptions of specific rituals; each is a separate Ritual Magic skill. There are also descriptions of the significance of specific elements of rituals; use these to improvise in the field.
Jenna’s character has her own unique ritual that isn’t shown here (because It's A Secret).Mechanically Important
Rituals can be attempted once per day.
Holy One – a revered shamanist or medicine man/woman. Born with affinity for connecting to the spirit world and with extensive training in the practice of shamanism. All rituals are more effective on a success if lead by a Holy One, but only some advanced rituals require it. For example, a blessing gained from the Mother Earth dance will last longer if led by a Holy One. Being a Holy One confers +1-4 status.
Fasting – going without food (and in extreme cases, water) for extended periods of time. Fasting opens up the body to the spirit world. Rituals led by someone who has fasted can be attempted once every twelve hours.
Sweat Lodge – sitting in a contained environment such as a sealed teepee with hot coals in the center. This raises body temperature, allowing ritualists to sweat out impurities. Rituals in which all major participants (anyone besides a dancer) have been in a sweat lodge for at least an hour that day roll at +1 to succeed.Relevant ritual elements (with no specific mechanics):
Ceremonial pipe – a sacred symbol that carries prayers and good thoughts to the celestial beings for every important occasion in life, especially important ceremonies. Ritual smoke – such as that burned in a pipe – proceeds directly to the spirit world.
Bones – symbolize death and rebirth. They are used in the Sun Dance and often worn by those expecting to face death.
Ritual Circle - a sacred space in which the ritual takes place. Rituals calling for a circle can be created either by drawing a circle around a perimeter with a stick, ash, branches, etc, or by having ritualists hold hands around the edge and dance.
Drums – These created a pleasing sound for good spirits and direct dancing in rituals. A drum circle consists of at least 4 ritualists sitting around a large drum beating it together. Rituals with drum circles usually don’t need ritual circles.
Bells – These create an unpleasant sound that wards off evil spirits. They are used in the Ghost Dance and often rung around places where evil spirits are especially dangerous, such as the birth of a child.
Sage – purifies the soul and body. Used for ambitious rituals requiring the positive attention of spirits.
Medicine Wheel – A symbol of great spiritual significance. The shape of the wheel represents the circle of life and death, which is considered to be never ending and most importantly represents the unity of the Great Spirit. Can only be used by a Holy One.
- Red: Wisdom, place where ancient ones passed over
- White: Youth, friendships
- Yellow: Beginnings, family
- Black: Solitude, adulthood
Wakanpi - Holy spirits in control of the earth.
Wanka Tanka - all that is holy and mysterious; “the Force” of Sioux shamanism. The Ghost Dance
cleanses a place of evil spirits.
- Apply red paint to every members face.
- Two circles must be formed: an inside drum circle and an outside circle of dancers holding hands and wearing clothes with bells on them.
- Inside the circle The Ghost Dance drum beat and song begins.
- The outside circle begins dancing to the left.
- The leader motions when to abruptly stop.
On a success, evil spirits within 1d miles of the ritual are driven away and are reticent to return.The Sun Dance
is the most important Sioux ritual. It is used to connect to the Great Spirit and is a symbol of death and rebirth. It is the most reliable way to have a vision. Sun Dances happen at the summer solstice each year and typically last 4-8 days.
- Every member of the ritual must be wearing bison bones in some fashion.
- Create a ritual circle.
- Erect a pole in the center of the circle and attach leather strips to the top of the pole with bone skewers hanging down.
- There is drumming, dancing, and feasting in the evenings.
- Any man that is strong and able-bodied is expected to slide the bone skewers under their own skin and fall backward. Refusing to participate – or removing the skewers before success – is disgraceful.
- Their feet may be touching the ground but they have to be hanging by the leather strips.
- After several days of fasting and hanging they will pass out from the pain and experience a powerful vision given to them by the Great Spirit.
- They may then unimpale themselves.
The ritual leader must roll Ritual Magic (Sun Dance) to begin the ritual. If it fails, the dance cannot proceed.
When a ritualist is impaled, they have -4 to all skills. Every 12 hours, they take 1 basic damage and lose 1 FP. They may then roll Dreaming (Default Will-6, p. 188) to try to pass out and experience a vision. If they fail, they may wait 12 hours and try again. Each roll after the first adds +1 chance to success. On a success, impaled ritualists experience a powerful vision directly from the Great Spirit.The Mother Earth Dance
is used to give thanks to Her and the Great Spirit. It is a way of paying respects and is a common practice among the Sioux.
- Create a drum circle.
- The Leader or the Holy One burns sage in a small bowl and cleanses their drum with it.
- The sage is then passed around the circle and every member must cleanse their spirits and bodies by applying the smoke to their face and head using circular motions.
- The Leader hits the drum one time to let the spirits know the ritualists are about to enter their realm.
- The drummers then begin to beat the drum steadily.
- The Leader will begin singing – others then join.
- The Leader will motion with their hand when to change the beat temporarily.
- Dancers will enter forming a circle around the drummers.
- They will dance by spreading their arms out (like a bird) shifting their weight and hopping from foot to foot.
- The Leader will motion when to abruptly stop.
On success, all members of the ritual are blessed by Mother Earth for 1d days, gaining one level of the Luck advantage (p. 66). The Summoning Dance
summons a spirit from wherever they are wandering. The summoned spirit can be spoken to or invited to channel through the ritual. The Summoning Dance must be led by a Holy One.
- Create a drum circle.
- The Holy One burns sage in a small bowl and cleanses their drum with it.
- The sage is then passed around the circle and every member must cleanse their spirits and bodies and applying the smoke to their face and head using circular motions.
- The family members of the deceased spirit apply yellow paint to their faces, then form their own ritual circle by sitting crossed-legged facing one another.
- The Holy One hits the drum one time to let the spirits know the ritualists are about to enter their realm.
- The drummers then begin to beat the drum steadily.
- During this time the family members pass a token that belonged to the deceased around the circle. (This can be something the deceased wore or owned.)
- The family member holding the possession will call out to the deceased, reminding them that they are related.
- Once the Holy One senses the presence of the spirit he will then either begin speaking with the spirit or will allow the spirit to speak through him.
- Once communication is complete, the Holy One will motion when to abruptly stop.
On success, the selected spirit draws close and can be spoken to or channeled.
The Spirit Empathy and Channelling advantages are useful for this ritual.Vision Quest
is not a ritual, but a crucial right of passage. Pubescent Sioux seek out a solitary place and fast for days. They don’t end their vision quest until they experience a vision of their animal guide – a sacred personal figure that will assist them for the rest of their lives.
Sioux on a Vision Quest must fast for 2 days before rolling. They then roll Dreaming (Default Will-6, p. 188) to try to experience a vision. If they fail, they may wait 12 hours and try again. Each roll after the first adds +1 chance to success. On a success, they experience a powerful vision of their animal guide, who typically gives them a message or a symbol to aid them.
There are a ton of play options besides Holy One and Jenna's character is a Holy One, so you should consider exploring other directions with your character. That said, there's room for two Holy Ones in a party. If you want to go that route, talk to me about ways to differentiate your character and if you want to create your own personal ritual.