Howling Despite of the Yawning Maw
Winter Magnitude 50
Performing the Ritual
Performing this ritual takes at least 2 minutes of roleplaying. This ritual targets a character, who must be present throughout. The target character must be a contributor participating in the performance of the ritual.
This spell is an enchantment. A target may only be under one enchantment effect at a time.
This enchantment allows the target to call MASS WEAKNESS once during the duration. The character must be able to cast spells to make this call - it explicitly will not work if they are wearing armour.
While under the effect of the enchantment, the target experiences a role-playing effect: the target finds themselves urged towards savagery. They feel an urge to mercilessly slaughter anyone who threatens them, their friends, or their family. They find it easy to suggest courses of actions that others might view as atrocious, if those actions would destroy or weaken their enemies. The longer the enchantment remains without being unleashed, the more bloodthirsty they become. When they do use the power granted by the ritual, they feel an almost irresistible urge to voice a savage howl, yell, or bellow. This effect is particularly pronounced among characters of the draughir lineage, and has in the past prompted physical violence between high lineage winterborn and anyone they perceived as threatening "their" people.
The effect lasts until the end of the next battle, skirmish or quest the character participates in; or until the end of the current event, whichever is sooner. The power of the ritual can be invoked only once during this time.
The ritual can affect additional characters from the same coven. Each additional character increases the magnitude of the spell by 30. Additional characters must be present throughout, and each must contribute to the performance of the ritual.
Any caster who has mastered the ritual may choose to substitute beggar's lye for crystal mana when contributing to it. Every 2 measures of beggar's lye spent counts as 1 crystal mana when contributing to the ritual.
If you enter a battle, skirmish or quest with one of these enchantments active on you, you must let a referee with a radio know about it shortly before or after your passage through the Sentinel Gate.
If you are expecting to deploy one of these effects, you are invited to bring this to the attention of any nearby referee or marshal shortly before you do so; they will then be able to assist the targets in taking the call correctly
This battlefield ritual allows a powerful magical attack to be unleashed against a group of enemies, weakening them and leaving them incapable of casting spells, using enchanted items or performing heroic deeds.
For many Winter ritualists, the Howling Despite of the Yawning Maw is superior to both the weakness spell and rituals such as Hungry Grasp of Despair because it spreads the curse of weakness among many enemies at the same time. Used wisely, this ritual can neutralise an elite band (such as an orc chieftain and their bodyguards), or cut-off an entire enemy coven from their magic. It is at its most useful when combined with a keen awareness of enemy capabilities.
The late enchanter Bauris d'Werwell made good use of the ritual when facing the Jotun on the western front. His knights would identify and taunt groups of barbarian Ulvenwar, luring them into a charge against their apparently exposed position. At the last moment, the Earl would unleash the power of this ritual, depriving them on their strength and making it impossible for them to smash through the Dawnish defences. The startled orcs could then be quickly slaughtered. Eventually, the Jotun refused to charge any group they saw in the black-and-silver cockatrice heraldry of House d'Werwell at all - which the canny strategists of the house quickly found new ways to exploit. Sadly the majority of the noble house died fighting the Thule alongside Empress Britta during the fall of Skarsind.
Howling Despite of the Yawning Maw also sees some use when fighting supernatural threats. It can prevent a mob of husks from rising again when they are struck down, for example. While it is an expensive option, the curse the ritual unleashes can weaken a magician, magical healer, or creature with dangerous powers lurking within a group of other opponents - the ability to weaken everyone within range should not be overlooked. There are very few other ways for magicians to exert their power beyond the reach of their implement, after all.
When the power of this ritual is unleashed, the ritualist doing so often feels an overpowering urge to unleash a screaming howl. This has lead to some concern that the ritual in some way draws on the power of the Wendigo, and calls for it to be subject to interdiction, given Wendigo has the enmity of the Conclave. Extensive research by Torval of Highwatch was presented to the Conclave in Autumn 348YE that demonstrated that the ritual is not associated with Wendigo directly, despite the boons that creature claimed to be able to offer to enhance its performance.
When performing this ritual, the coven often invokes forces of despair, fear and hunger. Oppressive music or thundering rhythms that begin fast and become slower and slower, symbolic of the way power ebbs from those effected by this curse, are common; so are frenzied dances that reach a climax with the performers collapsing as if from exhaustion. The slow ringing of bells often accompanies this ritual.
The target of the ritual is always a contributor, and the ritual should reflect that. Some ritualists, especially in Varushka use the target's implement as a focus, passing it from magician to magician, whispering curses and dire promises of doom to the tool before returning it to the ultimate target. Others might prepare an infusion of bladeroot which is drunk by the magicians, and causes them to experience momentary symptoms of nausea, weakness, and uncertainty.
Other elements might include the runes Kyrop or Naeve, or a dramaturgical scene in which the Captain succumbs to despair and frailty. For an astronomancer, the ritual has a clear correspondence with the Drowned Man constellation. Some Dawnish - and even a few Highborn magicians - consider evoking the spirit of the malign manticore.
If the coven intends to draw additional power through the use of beggar's lye, it is not uncommon to dilute the lye in water and use it to paint designs on the skin of the target. If the concentration is high enough, the caustic solution will cause slightly painful minor burns that fade over the course of an hour or so - tracing runes in this way is especially appropriate. Some covens take the risky decision to prepare an extremely dilute solution, often in a central cauldron, which the target drinks a little of at the climax. Any physick would counsel against consuming what amounts to a poisonous acid, but the belief is that the magic of the ritual protects the subject from the worst effects of consuming dilute beggar's lye.