Runes and Magic
Runes are the bedrock of creation, reality and magic. They are deeply connected with the workings of the universe and those with an understanding of them can bend the world to their will. It is said that Runes Wrote the World, and even the Gods came after them; that in the beginning there was a formless void in which only the timeless Runes existed, swirling and tumbling until they spelled the Word, the Word that Wrote the World.
The writing and use of Runes required skill, knowledge and discipline and can result in unforeseen disaster if performed incorrectly. Uncontrolled writings can change the world, kill and destroy, warp and alter reality. This is why writing is taboo. It is said that writing was the reason that the Thosians, the wise and mighty ancestors of Humani were driven from the Valley and their legendary City of Pillus, and forced to make their way alongside the other Races of the World. It is also said that there is a word, made up of all the Runes that if discovered and understood, will allow a Runemaster to have total mastery over all creation.
The basic use of Runes involves learning the meanings of the Runes and how to channel and focus one’s spirit power through them to focus the effect on a target. This brings us to the fundamental principle of magic, power, focus and effect. The power is usually provided by the Runemaster from their spirit. The target can be an item, a being or animal, or even a task or action. The effect is provided by the Runes and influenced by the fickle hand of fate.
Levels of Rune Magic
This is the entry-level form of Rune use. This involves drawing Runes from a personal set of specially carved runes, and using this random selection to produce an effect. For example one may draw Jera and Laguz when faced by an angry bear and call upon the aspects of ‘change’ and ‘emotion’ (see the diagram above) to induce fear in the target (the bear) and scare it off. A Runemaster may draw as many Runes as they like to exert a change, but a skill roll must be made for each, and a broken link in a chain of effect may prove disastrous, so typically Runesters draw 2 or 3, and sometimes one is enough. It is a question of constructing a coherent action form the aspects associated with the Runes that the user has drawn on. The game mechanics are explained in more detail below.
The creation of a set of Runes requires the Caster to carve a set from a suitable medium, and paint the carvings with his or her blood. Also, a special bag has to be created by a Runemaster to contain them safely.
Runes are intricately tied to Fate, this is why, when casting, the Runester must draw the Runes blindly, or they do not work.
Runesmithing allows a Master to call upon the aspects of a Rune, or series of Runes with more speed and certainty. To do this the individual first has to ‘Master’ the Rune in question. This Mastery involves training, meditation and sacrifice, but once a rune is mastered the individual has a deep and fundamental connection with that Rune and an intrinsic understanding of all it’s aspects. Runesmiths usually carve the Runes that they have Mastered into personal objects that they carry with them and this carving, like Runestones requires sacrifice to be effective. Alternatively, some Runesmiths tattoo their arms and hands with Runes. These carved or tattooed Runes are known as Foci.
Multiple levels of mastery are possible, each requiring an epiphany, or quest for understanding and sacrifice.
Once a Rune is gained in this way, a skill roll is unnecessary if the rune is drawn during a Runecasting attempt. The caster also produces a greater effect for their spirit power expenditure (see game mechanics, below). The Smith can also use the Rune at will, without casting, by concentrating on their Focus. A skill roll is required when using a Focus.
Gaining Mastery is achieved through vision-questing, training and meditation, all intended to produce a fundamental connection with, and understanding of a particular Rune. Usually a questor will have to seek out a master who is willing to be a guide and instructor.
The player draws a random selection of Runes and looks at them. The effect is determined by constructing an action from the words or aspects associated with the Runes. The caster then declares how many points of spirit power are going to be invested in this action. Finally, the caster defines the target of the effect and makes a skill roll for each Rune drawn. Depending on each roll, the GM determines what the effect actually is.
Power expenditure will effect duration, area covered by the action or damage done or prevented, or reversed. As a general guideline only, the table below indicates what can be achieved. Additional power has to be expended for each extra effect, so if you want to hit two targets who are close together but a slingshot away, it will cost at least 4 points, 1 for the basic effect, +1 for two targets close together and +2 for the range. If you want to burn to a crisp a group of people who a long way down the road from you, it will set you back about 14 points.
Some spell examples
A caster drawing Eiwaz and Daguz can use them to slow down or speed up a target (change & time), or to make an action lucky or unlucky (change & success) or as a charm spell (love/partnership & success).
Fehu and Algiz could produce protection from fire, or a barrier of fire
Fehu and Laguz could call on water and material needs to protect from thirst
When using a mastered rune, the Runester requires one less point of power per level of mastery than a Runecaster. Thus, a level 1 caster could act on 2 targets for 2D8 damage with only 1 point of expenditure, provided no ‘un-mastered’ Runes were used to create the effect. Alternatively they could use the minimum affect at no cost.
The Master does not draw the rune, but just concentrates on the relevant Foci to achieve the effect. A skill roll is still necessary.
Rune masters can also reverse a Rune’s aspect, either when cast, or using the Foci. This required an additional skill roll, and one point of power for each aspect reversed. This means that the Master could use Algiz (a protective Rune) to make a target vulnerable, for instance.