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I encountered this issue while looking for ways to be able to cast spells requiring many successes in just one turn (in danger basically, not necessarily combat). While the most common ways are:

  • Trigger spell,
  • Ward,
  • Wonder,

...I was also suggested that one could start the ritual in a safe zone and then only make the last roll (thus finishing the ritual and actually casting the spell) in the thick of things. I was only able to find this in a book for so called "Great Works" though, so here I am, asking whether this is RAW/RAI (as in, this rule applies to all Rituals) or just popular interpretation bordering on house-rule.

If you have sources that elaborate on this topic, please quote.

CONTEXT: We play MtA 20th Anniversary, but GM is open to using stuff from older editions if it makes sense and isn't completely broken from MtA 20th perspective.

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    \$\begingroup\$ RE: "I was only able to find this in a book for so called 'Great Works' though…." Which book? If it's of reasonable length, could you cite the passage? (I'm really interested in if the text places any limit on the number of rituals that the mage can start then finish later. The game's pretty unbalanced anyway, but the game essentially saying You're also even more powerful the more time you have to prepare takes the game to another level!) \$\endgroup\$ Dec 2, 2022 at 17:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @HeyICanChan "this book" is M20. It's pages 541-542. It's an optional rule for how to handle different sizes of rituals. It suggests three, from smallest to biggest: brief rite, ceremony, Great Work. The criteria is how many successes the Effect would need. \$\endgroup\$
    – VLAZ
    Dec 2, 2022 at 17:21

1 Answer 1

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Pg 538 MtA 20th: "By definition, ritual refers to a practiced sequence of events with a desired end."

Pg 539 MtA 20th: "Some rituals involve brief activity, and others can take hours or even days."

If the ritual itself involves breaks, pauses, or has checkpoints that can be paused and resumed later, then you can wait to complete the ritual in the manner you describe. So if the ritual is defined as being able to complete it ahead of time and then releasing the effect of the ritual at-will at a later point in time, then you're able to do what you're wanting.

The example in the book states creating a summoning circle to commune safely with an angel without your head exploding requires carefully writing protection runes and sigils over a period of time. After writing the sigils, you can pause indefinitely until you're ready to proceed to the next phase. But once you start the incantation, you have to continue until you're finished or you lose the successes for that portion of the spell. You can't hold back that last syllable to invoke the angel on a whim; if you stop the incantation, the "angelic operator" drops your call and you have to start dialing all over again.

This boils down to how your ritual is defined. If you must use a burning sprig of rosemary to light your target's picture on fire while reciting ancient Babylonian, then throw the ashes at them to activate an effect, your storyteller could call for all the successes to be rolled during the burning, then once you collect the ashes the effect is locked and loaded to use when ready without having to "roll the last success".

The example you brought up in the comments also works this way. You have to program a reality-altering executable. All the rolls and magic happen during the programming part while you're making something like Intelligence + Computers and making an arete roll on top of that. Once the program is finished, the ritual is locked and loaded and ready to use whenever you press the button. No roll should be needed to use the effect (unless the effect itself needs aimed or thrown or whatnot).

I can provide a better answer if you explain what you're trying to accomplish it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ But since spells are completely freeform in MtA, I (as a player) can define the ritual as "everything is ready, incantation is ready, now I only need to break a mirror to release the stored energy" or any random instant finishing activity like that. So can I assume your answer is: "yes, rituals can be 99% done beforehand and finished instantly later on"? \$\endgroup\$
    – Nec Xelos
    Dec 12, 2022 at 22:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ To be as correct as possible, the ritual is complete (all arete rolls finished) when the effect is stored in the mirror and it is ready to be broken. But effectively yes, you can be 99% done and finish it instantly later on if that's the way it's been defined and the storyteller agrees. \$\endgroup\$
    – JRodge01
    Dec 13, 2022 at 23:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ My mage is reality hacker from Virtual Adepts. Basically all my magic boils down to "I write an app, when I click on .exe effect happens". So the way I understand it, I can effectively "cast" all of my spells in advance and activate them in an instant whenever I want? \$\endgroup\$
    – Nec Xelos
    Dec 30, 2022 at 10:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you can add results from our small exchange in comments to the answer I will mark it as Correct Answer, so it doesn't hang :) I would only skip "ST agrees" part, as by RAW, ST has no say in this, if rules say it's doable and you create your "procedure" to use rules to your advantage, you're golden. \$\endgroup\$
    – Nec Xelos
    Jan 3, 2023 at 23:19
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NecXelos Done! Added a paragraph to explicitly use your example. \$\endgroup\$
    – JRodge01
    Jan 5, 2023 at 15:11

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