What kind of Ritual is this about? How can it have mass in order to have an Impulse? And what does that impulse impart? The Ritual Impulse is one of the metaphysical materials you can collect in the game Control, turned into an “item” to use in your roleplaying games. Read more about the idea behind it – and the whole list – here.

How a Ritual Impulse happens

Ritual Impulses are created when things should go terribly wrong but don’t. In other words, they provide an additional margin of error to arcane rituals. Whenever someone conducting ritualistic magic expends too much energy – through their inherent sources or by using too much of the ingredients – the volatile result can offload the excess power into a Ritual Impulse.

This happens naturally and without conscious thought involved. The energy pulse flies off in a random direction, but has been known to curve for reasons that scientists have been unable to ascertain. The generally accepted theory is that the magic energy tries to stay close to their origin, or to similar outbursts of energy. As it travels, it only interacts with sources of magic, and only makes itself known or felt when it hits another ritual being conducted, and only when it impacts in exactly the right moment.

Capturing a Ritual Impulse

Since there is no way to predict the movement of a Ritual Impulse, there is no way to chase and capture a specific one. Instead, the method of choice is to set up traps for them near hotspots of arcane magic. Schools and Colleges of Mages are prime candidates here, especially since they also provide a good number of Ritual Impulses being created there.

These Impulses travel at great speed, but there is one thing they interact with beyond active rituals. They are prone to reflecting off of crystals, and that property allows for the creation of traps that let an impulse refract into a crystal container but prevent it from ever leaving. Once caught, an Impulse can be separated into a smaller, handheld crystal. In this form, it can be carried, sold, and eventually used.

ritual impulse reflection

Black Impulse Market

The concept of Ritual Impulses is known in the places where they are mostly create, and aforementioned scholarly institutions do not look kindly upon strangers trying to siphon off their excess arcane energy. In the past, they have taken down crystal traps, to eventually replace them with their own, magically warded against tempering.

Those seeking to collect Impulses have since taken to hiding their own traps next to the official ones. They rely on superior crafting of their own as well as subtly damaging the rival traps to gain the upper hand. The concepts thus captured go for a high price on the black market, and are frequently used against those who seek to put an end to the practice.

Influencing a Ritual

A Ritual Impulse contains a decent amount of arcane energy. If one is released close to an ongoing ritual, there is a good chance that it will strengthen the magic, while also preventing a new ritual impulse from being created. The science behind that is very complicated and not fully understood, but the effect is powerful enough to explain at least the existence of a black market dealing with it.

There are different effects an unleashed Ritual Impulse can have. Depending on the ritual or spell, some might not feel worth the effort, while others blow the effect way out of proportion – sometimes literally. But since every roleplaying system is different, here are a few ideas regarding what the use of a Ritual Impulse could do. The magic…

  • … deals double the damage it would deal normally (double the number rolled).
  • … deals the maximum amount of damage that it can deal (maximize the dice).
  • … becomes harder to resist (as in disadvantage or malus on saving throws).
  • … lasts twice as long (double the duration).
  • … behaves as if it was cast at a higher level (if applicable).
  • … doubles its range or area of effect.

There are two things to keep in mind.

  • An impulse will do a lot more when used on a proper ritual as opposed to a spell. Either pick multiple improvements from the list above, or go all out on a single one.
  • If used on a spell, there is a small chance that it shoots right past where it was needed and escapes without interaction. For that, I’d recommend rolling a d6. On a 6, the impulse is lost.

Give me a Feedback Impulse!

I think the best way to introduce this is to give one or two to a spellcasting enemy and let them use it to do things that the party does not expect. The best place to give me feedback is my Discord server! Also make sure to check out the other Control materials, and check out my more general inspiration.

Thanks for stopping by, and remember to Be Inspired!