Today we have another informative post from Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Soulbound producer Elaine Lithgow.
Greetings mortals and monsters, welcome back to another #MortalRealmsMonday. Last time, we took a look at the resplendent Ossiarch Bonereapers. You can get your skeletal hands on these necromantic Archetypes in Warhammer Age of Sigmar Soulbound: Champions of Death.
This week, we are going to peel back the curtain on a new mechanic only usable by these new and… morally flexible champions — Dark Rituals!
A Different Way to Play
‘O Great Nagash! Undying King above all! I beseech you! Grant me the power to raise my army! In your name! By your will! The Dawnbringers shall fall!’
— Sabbeta Seagrave, Soulbound Necromancer
It’s safe to say that playing as a Champion of Death is a very different experience from playing as a Champion of Order. After all, it’s not every day that you step into the ossified feet of a flying 12-ft tall skeletal harbinger of death, powered by dead wizards’ skulls trapped within your ribcage.
But there is more to being a Champion of Death than simply looking the part, and being a horrible undead monstrosity — you have to act the part as well. That’s where Dark Rituals come in.
Should an undead champion encounter a problem, they do not simply charge towards it like some weak, fleshy brained mortal would.
No, a Champion of Death is a true villain, far more methodical, with centuries of experience behind them and an eternity to prepare for the worst. They lurk within their deathly lairs, plotting and planning, amassing power over weeks, even months, before finally unleashing it upon their unsuspecting enemies, and watching all their petrified opponents kneel before them, or crumble to a fine and dark dust.
That is where Dark Rituals come into play.
Preparation and Power
Raising a hoard of Deadwalker Zombies to march upon your enemies, turning mortals into Soulblight Vampires with the Blood Kiss, and stitching together a horrifying monster are just some of the Dark Rituals available to suitably skilled Champions of Death. All they need is time to prepare and a bit of luck.
Mechanically, Dark Rituals function similarly to Endeavours, in that they take place over a period of a week or more, and are resolved efficiently through a series of Tests.
Unlike Endeavours, Dark Rituals are not only available in downtime sessions. Instead, they are a useful tool that players can use during the course of their adventures to overcome problems. Yet, ensuring the smooth completion of a Dark Ritual is not without its challenges. They are much harder to complete than most Endeavours, requiring the various contributions of the whole party, even if that is simply hauling corpses, or protecting the ritual site. Remember: the Mortal Realms are just crawling with nosey do-gooders, or even rival evil-doers, who would love nothing more than to see all your hard work ruined before your master stroke is complete.
But if you can gather the correct materials, succeed at weaving the arcane ritual, and prevent interruptions, you can wield dark and terrible power that no Binding of Order has wielded before. The possibilities are endless, if you set your ghastly mind to it:
- Host an Abhorrent Feast to found a new flesh-eater court to do your bidding.
- Embrace the role of Nighthaunt and haunt a chosen area, spreading fear and wearing down the spirit of those you seek to destroy.
- Raise entire fortifications from nothing but bone and necro-alchemy.
Warhammer Age of Sigmar Soulbound: Champions of Death comes with nine separate Dark Rituals for the player and GM to use in their adventures, and advice on how to integrate them into your games to make them a key feature of Death aligned play. So be sure to check them out when the accursed tome in question releases soon.
Elaine Lithgow, Producer on Warhammer Age of Sigmar: Soulbound