Ties that Bind
Autumn Magnitude 6
Performing the Ritual
Performing this ritual takes at least 2 minutes of roleplaying. This ritual targets a character, who must be present throughout.
This ritual allows the coven to divine information about the bonds of a single character. It will answer some or all of the following questions:
- Is this person bonded to any magic items? Are any of those items visible right now? Which ones are they?
- Is this person part of any bands? Are they part of a banner? A sect? A coven? What are the names of those bands?
- Is this person an Imperial citizen? If so, which nation do they belong to?
- Is this person a creature of the realms? If so, which eternal are they responsible to?
- Does this person bear the Arcane Mark of a conclave order? If so, which one?
Each contributor receives the same information.
If the character is protected by a shroud, the ritual determines the realm and magnitude of that shroud. If an object or band they are bonded to is protected by a shroud of a higher magnitude than the ritual, the ritual determines no information about that object or band, beyond the fact it exists and is shrouded (along with realm and magnitude as normal) - it still provides other information about bonds that are not shrouded.
Information about the bonds of a character is always available - detect magic may occasionally indicate that there is some additional piece of information that could be found with this ritual.
You may increase the magnitude of the ritual to penetrate more powerful shrouds or masks.
The target character must be present throughout but need not be a willing participant. The referee may take a moment to confirm certain information with the target. If the coven wishes to determine if a character is bonded to a specific magic item, it is a good idea to let the referee know that in advance of performing the ritual.
This divination allows the contributors to analyse the network of bonds and connections that surrounds most living beings. Bonds created by magic are easiest to divine, but there are other connections the ritual will track. It can tell if someone is an Imperial citizen, for example, by divining the bonds and sympathies that define cultural identity - it can even determine which nation an Imperial citizen belongs to. It can identify a creature of the realms as distinct from a human or orc, and reveal which eternal the herald is tied to, generally by their most commonly known name.
The ritual can also divine social connections - it can trace the delicate strands of band affiliation, revealing membership of a coven, sect, or banner and providing information about the name of that band. Likewise, it is effective at determining membership of a Conclave order - much more effectively than a mere detect magic; if the target belongs to an order it reveals which one, regardless of the order affiliation(s) of the contributors.
The ritual has some weaknesses, of course. If someone is not an Imperial citizen it does not provide any other information - although there are stories that similar rituals exist in most other nations that instead provide information about the gross affiliations of their countryfolk. For example, it is widely believed that barbarian orc magicians can perform a version of this ritual that reveals tribal affiliation. Academic magicians theorise that the rituals are actually the same, and it is the nature of the contributors that determines what information they receive about nationality.
Magic that misleads divination can confuse this ritual - but unless the target person is fully shrouded, it will only conceal some threads from the prying gaze of the ritualists. A target's membership of a certain sect may be concealed, for example, or their tie to a certain sinister magic item shrouded by an enchantment, but even in such cases a powerful enough performance can force its way through the shroud to reveal the connection. Incidentally, magicians practicing this ritual have reported that they most commonly encounter shrouds specifically concealing this kind of information when dealing with heralds of the Night realm - especially those who later prove to be associated with Sung or the Whisper Gallery.
According to one apocryphal tale from the wily Suaq magician Belus Redsparrow (archmage of Autumn 53YE to 56YE), the ritual was cast on the eternal Prospero as the result of a certain favour being called in, and the sheer volume of information it provided proved impossible to discern in any detailed sense, and did little more than confirm that the individual the magician was dealing with was Prospero, and was connected to a great number of heralds. The truth of this tale is difficult to confirm or deny.
In pre-Imperial times, the ritual was commonly used in Urizen and the League, primarily for investigative purposes. In Urizen it is sometimes seen as a manifestation of the Net of the Heavens, while in the League (where it was coincidentally known by the same name even before the creation of Imperial lore), it is often discussed in meditations of the bonds of loyalty and obligation that surround all civilised individuals.
As a divination, runestones and cards may be employed, or the ritualists may reflect the target in a mirror or other reflective surface, or study the magical auras around them with lenses or crystals. A lone ritualist performing Ties that Bind will often stare into a bowl of water, often with a golden coin at the bottom, while a practitioner of another tradition might spatter a little of the target's blood into a bowl of water, or the surface of a mirror, and study the resulting patterns.
The rune Queros is often evoked with this ritual, but the Lann rune also has some resonance. The dramaturgical personae of the Prince and the Doctor are particularly appropriate, as is the Instrument of the Ring or the Throne of the Chamber, where things are revealed. Wise totems such as sphinxes, owls, the names of paragons or exemplars of Loyalty or Wisdom, and the name of the eternal Prospero are likewise commonly evoked.