Winter 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 Winter 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 unleashes a potent curse on a territory. Malignant spirits emerge from Winter regio to torment people. Crops fail, animals sicken and die; human and orc inhabitants suffer malaise and nightmares; unseasonable weather causes floods and droughts. Preserved foodstuffs are ravaged by rot and mould, as are buildings; pit props and support beams alike weaken or collapse; parasites and diseases bedevil trees and plants. Misfortune, weakness, hunger, and dread run rampant. Tempers fray, and everything goes wrong at once

All personal resources belonging to characters in the territory except for congregations have their production reduced. Each farm and business provides 36 fewer rings; each forest and mine produces two fewer measures or ingots of the base material; each mana site produces one fewer crystal mana; each herb garden provides 2 fewer herbs; and each fleet and military unit based in the territory loses one rank from its production (which also reduces its effective strength by 20).

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.


This potent curse channels the worst resonances of Winter magic to bring misery to an entire territory. While it takes its name from the way it unleashes minor entities from the Wasteland, freeing them to bedevil and harass mortals as they see fit, these creatures are not actually ghosts as priests understand them. On rare occasions where there is a chance to examine them, the insight ceremony makes it clear they are creatures of the realms rather than lingering spirits of humans or orcs.

The curse also brings with it an oppressive malaise that encourages hopelessness, and spreads misfortune and subtle destruction wherever it goes. When cast on an Imperial territory, it often encourages those exposed to its effects to seek out spiritual support - while everything else is breaking down, priests of the Way often find their services in particular demand. While liao ceremonies provide no particular protection from the misfortune caused by the curse, consecrated areas or personal anointing can give much needed assistance in enduring the oppressive malaise that often accompanies it.

The spirits unleashed by this ritual are rarely visible, nor entirely material; they sometimes appear as emaciated shapes, sometimes skeletal, sometimes with obvious unnatural features such as twisted horns or glowing eyes. Others manifest as nothing more than howling winds and whispered threats, or looming presences that surprise lone travellers. They never actually attack anyone, but where they pass misfortune follows.

Rarely, a more potent denizen of the Winter realm might appear as part of the curse, and such entities may remain behind once the effects of the ritual end. Likewise, while the tormenting spirits usually return to their homes when the curse has run its course, there have been incidents where they have battened on to particularly potent sources of magic. In both cases, Imperial heroes may be called on to directly deal with the threat - before it gets even worse.

Some scholars believe that these are similar kinds of spirits that Quickening Cold Meat binds into corpses to create undead. Others argue that the spirits are individually quite weak, and show little interest in inhabiting dead bodies; they are much closer in character to boggarts (minor denizens of the realms often analogous to vermin, but magically potent). The precise source of the spirits is unclear; creating a ritual that allows denizens of the realms to be called to the mortal world invariably requires the assistance of an eternal of that realm. The ritual texts that detail Winter's Ghosts don't make any reference to such a bargain: there is no indication of an assurance that would cause the magic to fail, and there is no indication that it is directly drawing on an eternal's power. Scholars of the Unfettered Mind cautiously suggest that while the ritual must have been created with the aid of an inhabitant of the Wasteland, once that assistance was secured the eternal was not required to let the ritual work. In this it is similar to rituals such as Conclave of Trees and Shadow, Carve the Crystal Guardian, and even Foam and Spittle of the Furious Sea.

That said, several Winter eternals are known to favour the curse and may offer boons to make it easier to perform. Agramant, the members of the Thrice-cursed Court, and Sorin are all said to provide such boons, although their reasons for encouraging its use vary significantly. In the event that an Imperial magician wanted to make a more potent version of this curse, they are the obvious entities to speak to.

Common Elements

The ritual releases uncontrolled spirits across a territory. Grim, throbbing musical rhythms, slow threatening movement, and invocations of dread and hunger are all used to raise and direct this malign power. Focusing the desire for retribution, or feelings of hatred and malice towards those who live in the territory may help empower the magic; a recitation of grievances is particularly appropriate. Destroying or damaging a symbol of the target's prosperity - literal or metaphorical - works well with this ritual. A curse against Tassato may involve contemptuously trampling coins into the mud, for example, as a reference to the presence of the Imperial Mint in the city; a curse against Upwold or Mitwold might involve the careful, malicious wasting food raised in the territory.

The constellations of the Wanderer and the Drowned Man are both useful adjuncts to the magic of the curse, although some magicians favour the Three Sisters especially when considering the low-level harm the misery the curse causes may inflict on families and communities. It is common to evoke the Rune of Hunger for obvious reasons, but Ull, Gralm, or Mawrig also resonate with the ritual. A dramaturgist may find the Doctor to work well with the ritual, especially if the coven include elements of retribution or "just desserts" as part of their performance.