An Ancient Druidic Rite: the Communion
Closely related to prehistoric pagan shamanism and ancient witchcraft, a Communion is a Ritual still performed by modern Druidic sects to contact and commune with the world as a whole entity. Not merely a limited divination gleaning information from the local lands and skies, the rite beseeches the collective spirit of the entire world to give wisdom and guidance to its caretakers: those who serve the will of Nature.
School divination; Level 8
Casting Time 80 minutes
Components V, S, M (incenses worth 5,000 gp burned in a wooden basin filled with grave earth, dry-rotted oak bark and pulverized anise, a soporific tincture steeped of wormwood, rare truffles worth 5,000 gp and honey for each caster, rainwater thickened by the blood of a dryad), F (a pure Jade grail carved of a single piece worth 25,000 gp from which the caster drinks his tincture and a circle of Hallowed standing stones: a druidic henge within which the ritual is performed, centered upon a stone altar), SC (an exact multiple of 13)
Skill Checks Knowledge (Religion) DC 25, 2 successes; Knowledge (Nature) DC 25, 2 successes; Spellcraft DC 25, 2 successes; Heal DC 25, 2 successes; see text
Duration 8 hours; see text
Saving Throw Will negates or none; see text Spell Resistance no
Backlash The primary caster becomes exhausted until the next Veiled Turning.
Failure An animate dream appears at the site of the ritual and attacks the casters. The animate dream may vary significantly in power or be accompanied by fellow animate dreams, or both. Additionally, the primary caster becomes exhausted until the next Burthoven.
This ritual must be cast by an initiated druid (the primary caster who leads the ceremony) and begun during a seasonal solstice or equinox. The casters begin chanting the mantra as the incense burns within the basin. The casters then mix the ashes of the incense with the soil and powder and combine the dusty mixture with the blood of the dryad and rainwater to create a thick, smooth paste. They then use this paste to anoint the body of the primary caster, drawing an elaborate woad upon them from head to toe. When the woad is completed, the primary caster drains his grail of the tincture and lies down upon the altar. The secondary casters then drink their wormwood tinctures and meditate in a circle about the altar, droning the mantra until the primary caster awakens… or dies.
Success indicates the primary caster manages to submerge their spirit within the Stream of the Cycle, anchored to the world of the living by the ongoing meditations of the ritual's participants.
Once per hour during the duration of the ritual, the dreaming druid may commune with the Stream to glean the answers to one short, simple question to the limits of the combined knowledge of the world's souls. Although not omniscient, the souls which respond respect the intentions of an initiated druid as the consecrated shepherd of the world's best interests and will not knowingly seek to mislead or obfuscate the answer: the collective voices of the world's souls do not necessarily have special insight into the workings of a particular mind, especially the minds of Outsiders and other non-native beings, and they don't necessarily know the truth. For each such question asked, the druid must make a Will save (DC 18 + his Wisdom modifier) or take one temporary negative level. This energy drain cannot be prevented (such as by Death Ward or similar effects) or cured (such as by Restoration) during the ritual, though it is treated normally after the ritual ends. If he volunteers to fail this save, the negative level bestowed is permanent, and he draws forth a mote of spiritual essence to condense within the ritual grail. Each such mote retrieved from the Stream is worth 1 Soul Power and at the end of the ritual they permanently coalesce into a crystalline chunk within the grail. If the dreaming druid desires to awaken early, he may do by making a Concentration check of DC 25, with a bonus on this check equal to the number of hours he has passed so far.
There are many ways to make rituals easier. The skill check DCs listed above already take into account a number of factors and represent the baseline difficulty of the ritual if performed using only the baseline requirements shown above. By adding another 13 secondary casters, for example, the DC could be lowered by another 2 points. Performing the ritual on an accessible Ley Line would provide a further bonus depending on the strength of the Ley Line (typically a bonus between 1 and 5). Furthermore, the caster level of the druid who must be the primary caster also factors into the ease with which they perform the ritual, gaining a bonus of +1 for every five caster levels they have.
For more information about the terminology and mechanics of learning and performing occult rituals, refer to the rules on the SRD.