Friday, November 22, 2019

Tricks of the Trade: Ritual Caster Q&A- Christopher “Janus” Donnelly

[Editor's Note: This is the first of a new interview series focusing on the different types of spellcasting in the Realms. The goal is to have experienced casters from all over the Realms chime in to teach us about their experiences, techniques, and tricks of the trade so that we might learn or be inspired to try something new! Please enjoy, and let’s kick off this series by diving into the art of Ritual Casting!]

1.) How long have you been a ritual caster and what drew you to the role in the first place?

I’ll be honest, and say I am not actually sure how long I have been a ritual caster, because over time I have found myself slowly doing it more and more.  As for what started me down this path, the answer is definitely flexibility.  Rituals for me have been a way to interact in a less rigid manner than I would have otherwise.

2.) What was the best ritual you have ever done and, in your opinion, what made it so successful?

So, the best ritual I’ve ever done was at Queen of Hearts when I was running for Champion Mage years ago.  Unfortunately, I believe the video of it has been lost to time(if anyone has a copy of it, please send it to me), but it was designed to be “the worst ritual ever” where every imaginable thing went wrong.  Steps were done out of order.  I dropped my note cards, had to publicly skip steps that were impractical (for example, meditating for one hour), had things occur well outside the ritual instructions, and had a few visual gags as well.  What made it work was knowing the environment, taking a new twist, and committing.

3.) How do you decide when the “right time” is to do a ritual?

This is tough, but it varies.  Sometimes it is because I have an idea that I want to see come to fruition.  Other times it is because there is an obstacle that we are having trouble with that we can’t come around to.  Other times it’s just because I want to have a conversation with a being to learn about something.  In general though, it’s when I have a goal I can’t solve just by talking to other people (and sometimes having them do what needs to be done.)

4.) What backs or powers your rituals?

For the most part, it is Chronos, although I have been known to call upon other powers when on other planes or when it felt more appropriate.

5.) Would you be willing to walk us through your thought process when faced with creating a ritual? Where do you start?

So, the first thing I look at are any external requirements.  Do I have to be sneaky to do it?  Do I have to be quick?  Do I have plenty of time?  Once I understand these external requirements, the next question I have is what resources do I have available to me.  Do I have people to help me, rope, or any other physical items?  Next, I think what type of symbology I can evoke.  Often times recently I have been using pocket watches to form the symbol of Chronos.  But I will take all these things, and at a certain point, I’ll just decide that putting more work in will have drastically diminishing returns and just start.  

6.) How do you decide what to ask for in your rituals? What is the oddest thing you’ve ever asked for?

In general, the answer is I don’t ask for specifics, but ask for ways to achieve a goal.  Asking for specifics might get you that specific thing, but won’t lead you to your goal.  Although, there have been a few times I have asked for an odd thing, the strangest of which might have been when I asked to temporarily borrow Indana’s spells after she went to sleep for the night.

7.) Can you describe a time when your ritual failed? Why do you think that happened?

Yes, there have been several times.  Sometimes I have tried to bend magic beyond where it will go, like when I tried to do a reverse ritual of banishment to summon a person who had just escaped.  Sometimes the ritual will have an effect, but would be essentially failed as I misunderstood the situation as a whole.  Other times I just didn’t put enough forethought into the ritual, or had to end it soon.  What is important is to learn from your mistakes rather than avoiding them all together.

8.) What ritual prop have you made that you are most proud of? Can you tell us about a ritual prop that holds the most meaning for you personally?

I personally have not made many ritual props and will rely on what I happen to have acquired over time.  That said, the ritual prop that has the most meaning for me personally is a sand timer that flows backwards, due to its symbolic connection to Chronos.

9.) What do you think the most important skills are for a ritual caster to have/master?

Confidence and improvisation.  Both help with covering mistakes when they are made and moving forward swiftly.  Some types of rituals are really just putting a show on for the Gods, so treat it as such.

10.) What advice would you give to a new ritual caster or someone looking to get into ritual casting?

Mistakes are how we all grow.  Early on, I made a ton of mistakes.  But in the end, I have learned from almost all of them.  That said, rituals are the same way.  You’ll make mistakes, but it will lead you to your own personal style of casting a ritual, so don’t be afraid of making a mistake and don’t wait for perfection.

11.) Who would you like to see our next interview be with?

Rosetta, as his style of ritual is drastically different than mine.