This ritual was interdicted by the Imperial Conclave in Autumn 381YE. It is currently illegal to perform this ritual or any arcane projection which substantially replicates its effects. It is not illegal to master the ritual or to possess a copy of its ritual text.


Spring Magnitude 50

Performing the Ritual

Performing this ritual takes at least 10 minutes of roleplaying. If the ritual is cast using the Imperial Regio it requires at least 5 minutes of roleplaying instead.

During the ritual the casters must be in a strong Spring regio. This ritual targets a territory, and must be performed at a regio in that territory. If the ritual is used to target an Imperial territory, it may instead be performed at the Imperial regio at Anvil.

This effect is a curse. A target may be under more than one curse at a time.


The ritual targets a single territory. Over the course of the next few days a powerful curse settles over the territory. All casualties suffered by campaign-level armies fighting in the targeted territory are doubled.

Navies are only affected by this curse if they are taking a coastal order, rather than a maritime order. The curse does not affect casualties caused by environmental factors, or by an army disbanding due to lack of support.

The effects of the ritual are obvious to anyone living in or passing through the territory. As with any effect that targets an entire territory, there may be unanticipated consequences to this ritual. The nature of the area and the current situation there may prompt additional unpredictable effects, often resulting in an entry into the following seasons Winds of Fortune.

The effect lasts until the start of the next Profound Decisions Empire event.

Removing the Curse

Rivers Run Red removes Rivers of Life, and is also removed by it. Note that neither curse replaces the other. If a coven wishes to have Rivers Run Red take effect on a territory currently under Rivers of Life, they would need to cast the ritual twice (once to remove Rivers of Life, and once to place the Rivers Run Red effect).


Where Rivers of Life fills the water in a territory with potent life-giving power, Rivers Run Red poisons the water. Worse, it encourages rivers, streams, and lakes to break their banks, causing widespread flooding. The watercourses rush fast and strong, overwhelming simple fords and threatening to sweep away bridges. Lowlands become mired with mud and marshes swell. Worse, the water itself encourages minor pestilence, the birth of venomous insects, and wounds that fester or become infected.

Like many similar rituals from the Spring Realm, Rivers Run Red must be used carefully. It is most effective when the allied armies greatly outnumber their enemies; while the ritualists' allies will suffer a little from the ritual, the enemies may be effectively devastated by the increased casualties. The Druj in particular are known to make regular use of magic similar to this ritual, ensuring that those who dare to engage them in battle pay a terrible price for doing so, even as their own warriors die in their droves.

For the common inhabitants, this means a miserable time. Death is significantly more likely from otherwise preventable causes, and sickness runs rampant. Its effects are of particular worry to the commanders of armies. The stinking mud and noisome rivers drain energy and slowly poison soldiers in the area. Even bottles of wine, barrels of beer, or fresh water in waterskins may be slowly influenced by this curse. Warriors who receive severe, but not life-threatening, injuries often succumb to them rather than recovering. Even relatively minor wounds can become infected, leading to fever, delirium, and death. There are cases of simple insect bites that lead to a doughty warrior taking ill in the evening and being dead by the next morning.

Much as with Rivers of Life, the ritual has fascinated Imperial magicians for centuries. It has a dramatic impact, but creating similar magical effects in other realms or which impact different elements of a military campaign have proved impossible without peculiar and unpredictable conjunctions. Attempts to codify magic such as the Winter wind that exacerbated the situation in the Mournwold, for example, have been fruitless. Likewise, efforts to create similar curses or enchantments that fill a territory with magic in the hope of influencing the effectiveness of armies have ended in failure. It is possible there is an eternal involved, but unlike rituals such as Forge the Wooden Fastness there has never been any hint that this is the case. Perhaps, like the peculiar properties of Traitor's Fate that allow its effects to be made permanent for a single ring of ilium, this is simply an example of a deeper mystery that will never be solved.

A Poor Template
Rivers Run Red parallels Rivers of Life, although it is much clearer that it is a curse. Like that ritual, it directly impacts the outcome of a campaign battle by changing the way casualties are calculated, and some of the commentary around that ritual also applies here. Going forward, it's worth noting that unlike other magical effects from multiple sources, it is not possible to "stack" several effects that change casualties in a territory. Only the most powerful applies a reduction (or increase) to a campaign battle. Like Rivers of Life, it doesn't work quite the same way as other large-scale magics do and anything that draws on it for inspiration has a high risk of failure. Sometimes magic is just like that.

In Winter 380YE, Rivers Run Red was one of two rituals cast on the Mournwold during the bloody battle with the Jotun. An absolutely astonishing number of people - orcs and humans alike - died as a direct consequence. The combination of Rivers Run Red and an eerie, sighing Winter wind killed a sixth of the civilian population across the Mournwold as well as more than half of the remaining population of the Greensward where most of the fighting took place. There was extensive backlash from the Marches, and Empress Lisabetta herself became involved. Ultimately the Conclave chose to interdict the ritual, which helped to salve some of the anger from the Mournwold, but it quickly became clear that if that interdiction were removed any time soon there will be significant consequences. Indeed, questions about the Conclave's commitment to the interdiction arguably led to renewed calls for the creation of the Declaration of Remorse as a way to permanently remove the ritual and similar curses from Imperial lore. One positive consequence of the enduring interdiction, at least in the Marches, is that it encouraged some landskeepers to offer to help farm owners there augment their land with specially crafted menhirs. These allowed them to diversify their farms so that they could produce small amounts of crystal mana to support magicians who worked to keep the ritual from ever being performed again.

Common Elements

Liquid of some kind often serves as a focus for this ritual. Pure water or fine wine that is befouled with mud or blood during the performance is especially popular. Symbols of death and sickness may be used, especially invocations of flies, mosquitos and other vermin. A map or symbol of the target territory may be employed, ultimately drenched or destroyed with filthy liquid or blood. The malign nature of the ritual often sees magicians wearing masks or cowls - which serve the dual purpose of guarding them from any potential for stray strands of magic that might sicken them, and protecting them from identification by those who might oppose the casting.

The runes Rhyv, Kyrop and Mawrig are commonly used during this ritual, and the constellation of The Drowned Man is often evoked. A heraldic magician might evoke the hydra or the manticore, while a master of beast magic would invoke venomous beasts (although Marcher magicians also include those vermin dangerous to crops such as crows and rats). A dramaturge likely evokes the Garden, subverting it with sickness and poison and perhaps ultimately transforming it into the Tomb with the use of the Cup. While a goetic magician most likely evokes Arhallogen, or perhaps Llofir, the malign nature of the ritual means that [the Thrice-cursed Court]] or Agramant might also be evoked despite the ritual being firmly part of Spring magic.

Further Reading