Research and Ideas/Numeric Ritual Difficulty Modifiers By Mishal

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We've all seen the "It seems somewhat easier to perform divine hand because you are near profane ground." messages when performing rituals. The details of them differ from god to god, but the basic premise is the same: rituals become easier or harder to perform based upon your current circumstances (location, minions, etc).

A long-standing theory amongst priests is that the duration of a Major Shield perform is precisely equal to the performer's relevant bonus. Using this theory as a basis, I set out to time the duration of my major shield in various situations, recording the results in the hope of putting numbers to the different modifiers. These are my results.

Note that these values have the potential to be slightly out. Very little of it was repeated, let alone repeated multiple times, and since the duration was measured using the timestamps in MUSHclient, they could have been affected by lag.

Additionally, it is unknown whether the numbers below represent absolute values or percentages. Would someone with a 500-odd bonus in see totally different numbers to me with my 338 bonus? If anyone with considerably higher bonuses cares to repeat this experiment, we can get that question answered! (I don't include people with significantly lower bonuses, here, because you'd be unable to even perform Major Shield...)


  1. Get set up for a specific situation.
  2. Use an alias of "get mounted pewter shield from backpack; wear flat cap; perform major shield on me; remove flat cap; put mounted pewter shield in backpack" to perform major shield on myself.
  3. Note down the difficulty modifier message and the timestamp for the "You are protected by the power of Sek." line.
  4. Wait for major shield to expire and note the timestamp for the "Your divine protection expires." line.
  5. Calculate the difference, in seconds, between the "expires" and "protected" lines to determine an "effective bonus", and compare it with my base bonus (while wearing a flat cap) - i.e. 338.


Modifiers Minimum Modifier Maximum Modifier Average Modifier
Using an actual shield 20
Recently prayed 6
In combat (Sek's unique bonus) 3
Recently ritburied 0
In a defiled place (high altar) 0
Near profane ground -6 -4 -4.7
With 1 minion -5 -4 -4.3
With 2 minions -9
None -12
With 3 minions -15 -14 -14.5
With 4 minions -16
Far from profane ground -16
Using yellow baton -17
Far from the eyes of any god -44
Using a paper shield -46
A place consecrated to another god -58


  • "Near profane ground" was tested at a few distances from the nearest high altar, with results that seem to indicate that this isn't a fixed value: the closer you are to the nearest high altar, the better your difficulty modifier.
  • Similarly, "far from profane ground" was tested at a couple of locations, but no difference was noticed, unlike with "near profane ground".
  • The type of minions controlled seemed to have no effect. The numbers varied slightly, but I could spot no pattern; one minion made a -4 or -5 point difference, two was -9, three was -14 or -15, and four was -16.
  • The similarity between the "with 3 minions" and "with 4 minions" modifiers have piqued my curiosity. Only 1-2 points difference, compared to ~4-5 points between one and two minions, and between two and three minions. Perhaps the modifier is largely capped at 3 minions.
  • With the "actual shield" and paper shield tests, I didn't use the major shield alias, as that was written to use the mounted pewter shield. Instead, I tyepd each part of the alias manually, but the flat cap was still used. This should not have made any difference.
  • Another oddity is that despite getting a message when performing major shield immediately after ensumpfing a corpse (the commands were queued), there was no visible difference to the duration of the major shield. At the time I was standing near profane ground, however "near profane ground and actively worshipping Sek" and simply "near profane ground" gave me exactly the same duration for the same location. I wonder if this is a bug in the MUD or with my research.
  • Where only one test was performed, or all tests returned the same value, the "Max" and "Average" columns weren't filled in.
  • The pale yellow baton is the best affinity for Major Shield, hence it being used here.
  • I would like to add a poor affinity baton (e.g. a dull grey baton) to the results, but I don't have sufficient skills to bestow Major Shield onto a dull grey baton.
  • I have also not added being almost out of alignment to this research, primarily because I didn't want to deal with the hassle of being out of alignment.

Raw Results

I've made my raw results file (an Excel 2007 .xlsx file) available for download. It isn't necessarily easy to understand, but it may help people spot mistakes in my work or repeat the experiment themselves.