Summoning the Wild Hunt

and how to survive the process


This text (c) Copyright 1997, Bent Dalager.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

This text is designed as a supplement to a role playing game. Its purpose is to demonstrate for the players the cruelty of evil cults and give them a way to foil their plans. It is in no way intended to be practiced in real life, and should not be considered encouragement to practice like rituals. Such activity is generally illegal in most regions and in any case involves cruelty to animals and other unacceptable activity which I do not like to hear of and much less want to encourage.

Anyone may feel free to use this text for any gaming purpose, in its original or in modified form. If you do decide to use it, please drop me a line and let me know. I would be delighted if you wrote a short resume of how you used it and what happened, but failing that, a short line telling me you used it is very appreciated.


The following describes the Ritual for summoning the Wild Hunt as best a quill-pen and parchment lets me recount it. It summons forth and grants control over one of the most terrifying and destructive Reawakened forces known.

Preparatory steps

Obtain a number and type of hounds wanted for the hunt. Hounds should be adult for best results. The Hunt may well be of mixed breeds. Hounds should be of medium or larger size for best results.

Starve hounds to death. Make sure they die of starvation and not other secondary causes (like thirst, exhaustion, etc.). Make sure hounds are in separate quarters, or they will kill eachother for food and be useless for the ritual. Hounds are also somewhat likely to kill themselves in a berserk rage caused by starvation. This must not be allowed to happen, and is best avoided by not providing their quarters with sharp edges, hard surfaces, etc. The losses from unuseful forms of death may be partially compensated for by using a larger number of hounds than required for the ritual. If no measures are taken to prevent useless forms of death, one can not hope to get a higher yield than one out of every four hounds involved. If the most basic precautions are taken, seven out of ten should prove useful. Even the most stringent measures are unlikely to get a higher yield than nine out of every ten hounds.

Performing the Magic

  1. Each hound must be placed in a simple magical circle. Such a circle will take an accomplished circle master two minutes to draw per hound. A faulty circle will cause its hound not to rise into the Hunt. A complete failure may see the hound animated, but in a berserk state. For this reason, since it is impossible to be guaranteed success, armed guards should be present throughout the ritual. Spaces may be provided for guards within the focusing circle - see below for details. Guards may not leave these spaces without the risk of disturbing the ritual. Bowmen or wielders of ranged spells are therefore suggested.

    Note:
    If a live - but obviously restrained - sentient is placed with each hound prior to the ritual, any berserked hounds will most likely attack and devour this being first, giving guards time to respond and neutralise it. The more sentient sacrifices with the hound, the more time it will be distracted. However, any hound circle with sentients within them will take one half extra minute per sentient to draw, and there is a very real chance of live sacrifices ruining the circle by their movements, unless sedated. Also, all sacrifices in hound circles with hounds that rise to the Hunt are likely to be devoured by the hound, so there will not be many leftover sacrifices.

  2. All spell casters involved in the ritual must be within a magical circle that encompasses all the hound circles and the complexity of which depends upon the number of casters. The time needed to draw this circle for an accomplished circle master is fifteen minutes per spell caster involved, not counting the ritual master, plus one half minute per hound involved plus one minute per guard within the circle plus one hour. This magical circle does not provide any protection from undead creatures, its only purpose is to channel the magical energies needed to raise the Hunt. There is no known way to incorporate a protection circle into this design without ruining the ritual. If any individual ritual participants have undead protection magic on their persons these spells are highly likely to interfere with and destroy the ritual, as these spells hinder the channeling of power to and from the spirit plane of the undead. Great care should be taken in the drawing of the focusing circle. Failures may give results that range from simple ineffectivity to disastrous and utterly dangerous effects. Backfires have been known to happen, as have the opening of random portals, and worse.

  3. The ritual must start, with all spell casters in their appointed positions. After the circle has been drawn, the number of participating casters is set. If there is to be a change to this number, either way, the focusing circle (but not the hound circles) must be drawn anew. Likewise, if the number of hounds is to increase, the focusing circle must be modified. This should take the accomplished circle master five minutes per new hound to add. This includes the drawing of the new hound circle. The ritual takes a minimum time of one half minute per hound circle to complete. It is worthy of note that the time requirement is NOT per hound - the number of hound circles is always equal to or greater than the number of hounds. One should take great care not to rush the ritual, and it is suggested that even if the number of hounds should indicate a short time of incantation, one should take the minimum time normally suggested for a ritual of this kind. Ignoring this advice will lead to disaster more often than not. The power needed to raise the hounds depends only on the number of hound circles and the nature of the dead hounds. If the guidelines above were followed in killing the hounds, the cost is moderate. The effort must be doubled if the hounds have died by other means and have since been possessed by spirits summoned specifically for the task. Such hounds are also more likely to go into a berserk state upon awakening. If the effort is doubled again, the ritual master also gains full control of the Hunt once it animates, see below. The casters involved may be exchanged during the ritual. The ritual master is restricted as during any other ritual of this kind, the details with which the reader should be familiar.

  4. Upon completion of the ritual, all the hounds are animated and, if enough power was spent per hound circle, bound to the will of the ritual master. If they were not bound, the Hunt will be in a berserk state and will most likely attack the nearest sentients. They will not attack the ritual members that participate in the maintenance ritual, see below, but any guards or resting spell casters are prime targets. When no valid targets remain in the vicinity, the Hunt will tend to roam the countryside for as long as they are maintained.

On the Controlling of the Hounds

This point assumes that the Hunt was controlled. If it was not, disregard the following.
At this point, the ritual enters the maintenance and control stage. The ritual master MUST be exchanged with another master. The previous master is now the controller, and has complete control over the actions of the Wild Hunt as long as he is able to communicate with them. He must concentrate to maintain control, but is allowed to cast spells to maintain contact with the Wild Hunt (this includes casting flying spells to accompany them, scrying spells to watch them at a distance, and so forth). As long as the controller is in contact with one individual of the Wild Hunt, he is in control. This hound is then the hunt leader, and if slain, control is lost. If he is in contact with several, he must choose one as the hunt leader, and if this hound is slain, he may immediately appoint a new hunt leader from the other hounds he is in contact with. If control is lost, it may not be regained. The Hunt enters berserk mode, but will not attack any casters currently involved in the maintenance ritual, see below. The former controller is far from safe, though.

Control over the Hunt is a difficult process. The Hunt is by nature berserk and uncontrollable. They live to eat living flesh, and left to their own devices, this is what they will do. If the controller has no other means of communication than the ordinary ones (speech, gestures, and so forth), control is very limited. He may point the Hunt in specific directions and command attacks. He may not command the Hunt not to attack, however (that command is simply not in their 'vocabulary'). The Hunt will not attack the ritual casters, but is very likely to view any guards or other bystanders as tasty morsels. If the controller, however, has a way to exercise mental control over the Hunt (or the hunt leader), he has a much more detailed control. The Hunt will follow their leader, and if he does not attack, they will also not. The Hunt is still horrifyingly unsubtle though. All the control in the world will not make them sneak up on their prey, although various spells can help them achieve this involuntarily (mass invisibility, silence, and so forth). Do note that these spells must be cast by someone other than the controller, he may only cast spells that help him communicate with and control the Hunt.

Any controller in direct mental contact with any of the Hunt hounds risks his sanity. The impact upon any given controller depends heavily upon his experience with the Reawakened and his mental defenses. It has proven efficient to have dedicated controllers that have intimate understanding of the ways of the Hunt. Unfortunately, these people can be quite difficult to understand or communicate with for ordinary people and often prove to be as uncontrollable as the Hounds themselves.

On Maintenance of the Ritual

At all times after the completion of the ritual, the spell must be maintained. This involves a ritual which is a natural continuation of the summoning ritual, and which costs about one fifth of the power needed to raise the Hunt, per ten minutes. It is worthy of note that as members of the Hunt are destroyed, the remaining hounds become easier to maintain. In other words, power is only expended to maintain those hounds that are still roaming with the Hunt. If the maintenance ritual is discontinued, the hounds immediately become ordinary, dead dogs. The exception is immediately after the completion of the summoning ritual, when the Hunt will be active for at least ten minutes regardless of maintenance. Do note however, that if maintenance is not undertaken immediately after the summoning is complete, the Hunt will deanimate after ten minutes, even if maintenance is started during this ten minute period. Also, if maintenance is not started OR if it is discontinued for any reason during the first ten minutes, the Hunt will be uncontrolled and berserk during the remainder of its existence, and will have no qualms about attacking the ritual participants. Only while they are actively maintaining the hounds are the casters safe from attack.

Notes on the Aftermath and Preparation for future Summonings

After the Hunt deanimates, it is wise to collect their bodies for future rituals, as it will save you the arduous process of raising and starving new hounds. Only intact bodies may be used - slain hounds are useless unless repaired somehow. Hounds that have fallen out of the sky after deanimating - that is, they did not land first - will most often be destroyed beyond use without extensive magical repair.


Useful GM notes

PP cost of summoning:

A number of power points equal to 5 (or 10 for the 'inconveniently dead') per hound circle must be expended before the ritual is complete. Double this if the Hunt is to be controlled.

The maintenance ritual costs one power point per remaining ('living') hound per ten minutes.

Time cost of summoning:

As given in the text above, but may not be less than the normal minimum casting time for this type of ritual (as hinted to in the text). If one tries to rush the ritual, the GM could increase the failure chance or just have something nasty happen.

(In)sanity

Any controller in mental contact with any of the Hunt hounds risks his sanity. The details of this are left to individual GM discretion, but having intimate mental contact with a berserk undead being of animal intelligence should not be something you walk away from without some scars. Of course, a truly insane and experienced controller may be a lot better at it that a sane amateur.

Dead Dog Acquisition

It is not absolutely necessary to create hound bodies by starvation. Any reasonably intact hound carcass may be used. However, any hound carcasses whose soul (or animal equivalent) did not die from starvation will need to be possessed by a soul not their own. This results in a doubled PP requirement for summoning and maintaining these hounds. They are also twice as likely to become berserkers due to sloppy hound circles.

Any damaged hound carcass used in the ritual will result in a hunt hound with less than maximal health (HP). They may be repaired before the ritual starts, or may be left to heal naturally (as all undead) after the forming of the Hunt. Hounds that have taken lethal physical damage may not be used in the ritual unless repaired first.

Optionally
The controller needs only concentrate when actually giving commands. In between of commands, he may do whatever normal actions he wishes, but while not concentrating, the Hunt will follow its natural instincts. They will not attack the controller unless he actually loses control though. If contact with the Hunt is broken, he will still lose control permanently.

Solitary hound separation

Hounds that are separated from the Hunt (GM discretion) will no longer receive maintenance (as maintenance power is directed at the Hunt proper) and will deanimate or go berserk (if ten minutes have not yet passed since being summoned), and in this case is likely to attack the ritual participants if they are the closest thing resembling food.

Hound Hunger

In the previous descriptions, the hounds are described as wanting to eat the nearest living sentients. This is primarily because I have trouble picturing a hunt hound nibbling on a rabbit. Your mileage may vary, of course. You may wish to let live animal sacrifices take the place of sentient ones. Especially large animals (i.e., deer, moose, etc.) would be likely sacrifices in this case. The 'inconveniently dead' dogs may be put to this use if one allows even dead beings/animals to be used.

Times of Awakening

The above text assumes that the hounds are all awakened at the same time. This needs not be so, there is nothing to say they can't wake up at intervals during the entire ritual. No hounds should awaken before the minimum casting time has passed though. If they awaken in this fashion, it might be possible to end the ritual prematurely and move into the maintenance phase with a smaller number of hounds than originally intended. One should probably divide the time difference between the total casting time and the minimum casting time into the total number of hound circles, and this is the time period between each awakening, beginning at the minumim casting time. Other possibilities than this linear model exist of course, such as a gauss curve or a proper probability distribution, etc.

Random thoughts

A lot of game mechanics have been left out, primarily because I don't have my books handy. Among the obvious questions are;

Finishing remarks

None of this has been playtested, just an attempt to do something useful with my spare time. Although the ritual has been described in much detail, it was primarily intended as an NPC thing. I have tried to make the main description similiar to what would actually be found on a scroll in some obscure library, I`m not sure how successful it was.
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Last modified: Fri Jan 31 16:51:06 MET 1997