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.
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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
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.
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
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.
- 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.
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.
A lot of game mechanics have been left out, primarily because I don't
have my books handy. Among the obvious questions are;
- how difficult are the circles to draw?
- how difficult are they to verify?
- what is the likelyhood of a berserk hound due to faulty circles?
- ritual type, difficulty, bonus aids, etc.
- what is the likelyhood of sacrifices/guards/protection magics
interfering with the ritual?
- what exactly happens if one ritual participant drops out and there
are no replacements?
- what are the exact mechanics for going insane after mental contact
with the hounds?
- and probably more.
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.
Last modified: Fri Jan 31 16:51:06 MET 1997