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Runes… as in battle runes for weapons and armour…


Jegergryte

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Hi.

I'm an old HARP player (insofar as that is possible, the game is scarcely old enough to have "old" gamers…).

Coming from that game I have an idea for using runes on weapons (and armour), that are simply drawn or etched into them… then after a certain duration they disappear. These also reproduce unscaled versions of spells, so a "rune of cloak of night" could only reproduce a level 1 version of the spell, a +20% bonus.

There are two things I miss in BRP so far, or haven't found a way of doing (the way I want to at least)…

I want a skill for reading and creating (copying, there is no need to know the spell as a sorceror, but that of course is an advantage), and casting magic through the runes… that is, only being able to activate the runes to cast the embedded spell.

This in and of itself might not be too difficult to implement… a variation of a sorcery artefact perhaps… ?

The problem is this: when I started the current gaming group we didn't know BRP through and through… seeing as it is a low-magic world I let no one start with spells, yet one of the guys is from a civilization that has knowledge, albeit limited, about magic and its existence. So backstory rant turned into short thing: he is in possession of a rune stone… that is a 10x10cm tablet of stone with a big rune on it… of course it started out as a plot device… when in contact with wood and other such flammable material, it would slowly catch on fire, first smoke, then small flame, then the house burned down. Brilliant. So, how to make this into a viable artefact without giving too much, I like low-magic and it ain't supposed to be easy to become a sorcerer in my world… I want things to go story-friendly slow…

Now, my first idea was to let the artefact be inert, its out of power points… so let him do a was pow vs pow, his versus the artefact's… So, if he succeeded he could learn a spell to refill the artefact with power points, I was thinking Brazier of Power … but after reading it properly I found it to be… well, too big really… this is a small item with a beardy spell in it for sure, but still, its not like its a doomsday device, nor is he supposed to use the artefact as a battery to store his juice in it… so then… should I invent a spell to infuse power points into runes? or could a rune skill include the infusion? how then to refill a rune that's run out of milk?

The guy is going to become a sorcerer, its where he is headed, no question about it, its the right kind of spells and its the right kind of doom.

I am in serious need of advice on this…

"What about the future...? We only hope, we cannot however account for the minutiae of the quanta, as all accidents in an infinite space are inevitable."

Jegergrytes Creative Cubicle

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Yes I've read that somewhere, but I have yet to find a site where I can get hold of a pdf version… so at the moment that book is not available, and unless its released next week I must find some other solution… thing is I don't want a whole system or tradition of spell casters, more like a possible way for the "lay hero" to place boosts on his equipment without having to know a bunch of spells and the like… a skill that with for every x% gives him the ability to engrave a magical rune. Lets say for every 15% he knows a rune, that replicates a spell like effect, for use on weapons and armour mostly, like a level 1 versions of sorcerers armour, sorcerers hammer etc.

Although more powerful rune magic is cool too, I'm not too keen on the whole big old tradition notion, which in turn I guess must limit the power of such a thing...

In my setting Sorcery is "evil", in so far as "evil" exists, but it is related to the "Monster Lords" or the "Void", not certain yet… but this is meta-plot stuff, but basically sorcery potentially corrupts and causes insanity, unless used very carefully… I'm looking at the Witchcraft book, its great stuff!

"What about the future...? We only hope, we cannot however account for the minutiae of the quanta, as all accidents in an infinite space are inevitable."

Jegergrytes Creative Cubicle

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Ahhh... runes, so many people want to make them all powerful gimmicks. We have used runes in all my games, and used them alot in C&S. I would consider some of them as skill. Or alternate as quick spellls. I would look at a copy of Authentic Thaumaurgy by Bonewits. For ideas. Also, in the links there is a great site, Vikings and Skraelings, he does extensive work in runes. Also there all sorts of "runes". There is a great book, magical alphabets by nigel pennick, it is available thru amazon. The work for you is manyfold though, for us the runeworker has to know his runes and as he gains in knowledge he can do more works. And there is one more thing, your player has a permanent runestone, how does he feed it? Is there a salamander, or djinn or other fire elemental enclosed within. Things could get messy. I will try to pull my notes together, and give you some ideas, if you need them. If you are using regular runes, I would suggest figuring their meaning in your world. Each is a separate lore, and then there isa general runelore to get them to interact with each other. Could get messy!!!

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Hmm since your world of sorcery is evil, I dont know which way I would go with that. Like I posted before, I think each rune is a separate skill. Peter Maranci had some great ideas about runic sorcery,I have his stuff somewhere or saw it online. I would hate to use it since I think there maybe a copyright issue but the idea is that rnes have Nouns, verbs and adjectives. Hey I found it, and it can be distributed. But it is in not pad. I'll convert it over, and post it. It is almost identical to what I have already been doing.

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You could take a look at MRQ2 Vikings. I included a comprehensive section on Rune Magic which includes a cap on the number of runes you know dependant on your skill. I believe they are selling it cheap at the moment, $9.99 for the pdf at RPGNow.

Edited by Pete Nash
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Just make it a skill eg: Rune Casting. Start with POW x2%. No MP to use. Then work out the magnitude of the magic within it, eg: 2 pt spell effect etc. Pretty simple.

Or you could make the Rune an enhancement for casting magic with that sphere eg: Fire Rune grants +25% to any magic involving fire. Not sure how that will go for characters with limited initial magic abilities though.

Both options require some tweaking, but they will work. Not all that flavoursome the way I've portrayed them however, but that'll be your job.

I see you played HARP. You can easily port over concepts from HARP and tweak it for the BRP setting, most of the stuff will take no time to port over as BRP is a fairly intuitive system once you get the hang of it. If I can't find a rule in BRP, I often check either HARP or GURPS to see how they have done it and look at porting over some version of that for BRP. After playing HARP you'll love how BRP combat doesn't require you to check a table every time you hit something (unless you fumble). I find BRP a much better rule base than ICE rules, but you've still got a lot of concepts in those ICE products that you can easily tweak for this system.

But, regarding this system, the options suggested by other posters will lead you to some ready-made rune rules for BRP, which takes all the hard work out of evoking good descriptions for rune magic, I'ld go with either of the following myself:

I would certainly try and get your hands on Chaosium's 'Bronze Grimoire', its a great addition for Stormbringer magic, got a very sorcerous atmosphere, and definately has runes you can port over directly for this kind of thing, it may be your best bet if you like dark fantasy sorcery.

I would also have to agree with Pete Nash about having a look at the 'Vikings' book he wrote for MRQ2, most of it is quite compatible with core BRP, and the rune magic in that is quite flavoursome if you want to have a less sorcerous angle on the runes. I quite like how he explained runes for that setting. It's a great source book, and there's stuff in there that you're bound to port over into other aspects of your game - the Drive.Thru.com deal is quite reasonable for the ammount of info you get out of that book.

Edited by Mankcam

" Sure it's fun, but it is also well known that a D20 roll and an AC is no match against a hefty swing of a D100% and a D20 Hit Location Table!"

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Agreed about Bronze Grimoire. It basically treats Runes like Sorcery spells. It has rules for rune decay, rune triggers, what sort of objects can hold rune spells and a slew of rune spell examples.

Some ideas based on your first post. What about tying rune life to an initial infusion of magic points at the time of the rune inscription? Completely random numbers here to use an example, but say 1 MP equals 1 day, so a fellow with a POW of 10 can write a run that could be active for a bit over a week depending how many magic points they invested in it at the time they wrote it. Say our rune scribe puts 3 MP into their rune? The rune is 'live' for three days and then goes dormant. Runes can be recharged through the act of someone studying and meditating on the rune (while reinvesting the rune with their own magic points).

Depending on what the runes do, I'd possibly make it a bit more of an investment. For example, if a rune inscribed on a weapon allows the user to trigger it to temporarily increase their attack or damage, I think the above structure could work very well. If the rune on the weapon grants a permanent +15% or a +1d6 to damage or something to the weapon by virtue of just being there, then I suggest an permanent POW loss of 3 point at the time of inscribing.

I see two skills in play, Inscribe Rune (INTx1%), which allows an individual to write a rune on an object. When using this skill, the inscriber of the rune decides how much power they will invest in the rune. This skill involves both artistic talent and skill with common material. If the rune is being written in stone or metal, the Inscriber must have some amount of understanding of the medium they are working with. This is represented by at least 20% in an appropriate Art or Craft skill. This Art or Craft skill is not rolled at the time of the rune inscription, but is necessary for the inscriber to use the medium.

Runic Magic (POWx1%) allows an individual to understand and access the power of an inscribed rune. When a character comes across an unfamiliar rune, they may roll Runic Magic. On a Success, they understand the complexities of the rune and can attune themselves to the power of the rune. The rune now acts as a spell resource for the user and the abilities of the rune are fueled by the user's MP. So, say Snoggard the unlucky finds a statue with Rat Vision inscribed on it. Snoggard makes her Runic Magic roll and is attuned to the rune. While the statue is in her possession, she can expend 1 MP and cast Rat Vision. If she looses the statue, or the rune is destroyed she no longer has the ability to cast Rat Vision.

In general, I'd also consider including a Luck roll (or Runic Magic roll) at the time of recharging a rune. On a Failure or a Fumble the process destroys the rune and it can not be used again.

Also note, you mentioned that this is a low magic world but also say you want the ability to inscribe a rune to be a mechanical process that anyone can do regardless if they can cast it or not. You could restrict the flow of magic by having Rune Magic only usable by someone with a POW of 16 or more, but then you loose the whole 'anyone who can find a rune can pick it up and use it' feel that I think you might be going for.

Another way around this is to say that only people with a POW of 16 or more can successfully inscribe a Rune.

So, that fire rune stone your character has could be a rune that the inscriber made permanent with a sacrifice of 3 permanent POW points. To refill it, the character would have to succeed on a Runic Magic roll and refill it with MP. But I think this is an opportunity for you to make the fire stone a little bit different, much like that silly ring Bilbo found in Gollum's cave. If it doesn't play exactly by the rules that other magic items seem to play by, it's for a reason...

Anyway, if you'd rather not use the Sorcery rules from the BGB you could do something similar with by grafting the BGB Magic rules. If you go the route of runes as skills, I think I would still have an overarching Runic Magic skill. Then, you would start developing sub skills for rune spells.

So, say Snoggard found that rat statue. She succeeds in her Runic Magic skill and attunes herself to the rat statue rune allowing her to cast Rat Vision. She writes down the spell Rat Vision in her spell list. She currently has Rat Vision at 00%. However, her statue gives her a +20% bonus on casting Rat Vision, so she effectively can cast at 20%. Characters can carry around multiple runes of the same spell, but they do not stack. A character with a rune at 20% and a rune at 15% of the same spell can cast the spell with a 20% bonus, not a 35% bonus. As she adventures with the statue and continues to cast and contemplate her rat vision rune she develops some level of skill with it. Let's say she's rolled enough increases to get her own skill up to 30%, giving her an effective casting skill of 50%. If her rune breaks (through a Luck roll or some sort of rune degradation system), she can use Inscribe Rune to create a new rune to cast through.

Actually, you could tie the the effectiveness of a rune to the Rune Mages' skill in the rune. The bonus a rune gives to the caster is equalled to 1/5 the skill of the original inscriber. The fellow who inscribed the statue that Snoggard found was a weaselly little mage named Hrastal. Loved him some rats and used them as messengers across the city. His Runic Magic: Rat Vision skill was at 100%, so when he inscribed his statue, the Rune gave him a bonus of 20%, bumping his effective casting level to 120%. The rat statue was a gift to one of Hrastal's street informants. Unfortunately, Snoggard the Unlucky put a knive in said street informant's back. It's only a matter of time untill Srastal starts looking around to see what happened.

Meanwhile, Snoggard is going to inscribe a Rat Vision rune of her own. Had she not been busy, who would have copied the master rune over while it was still working, giving her another rune with a 20% bonus. Unfortunately, she must now inscribe the spell using her own skill in the spell as her base (30%), giving her a rune that provides a 6% bonus to casting. She can now cast Rat Vision again, but her effective skill has gone from 50% to 36%.

If you go this route, I would take a look at adapting the costs for making a staff over to making your fire stone.

Just some really rough idea sketches.

Peter Maranci had some great ideas about runic sorcery,I have his stuff somewhere or saw it online. I would hate to use it since I think there maybe a copyright issue but the idea is that rnes have Nouns, verbs and adjectives. Hey I found it, and it can be distributed. But it is in not pad. I'll convert it over, and post it. It is almost identical to what I have already been doing.

Just wanted to add that Pete Maranci is a great guy.

70/420

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Thanks guys! I've only skimmed through all this goodness now, I'm at work at the loony-bin at the moment, so no time to properly go through everything nor thank you guys enough.

A lot of good ideas here, many thanks for pointers towards other sources (I am trying to get filthy hands on some of that stuff now), and especially to those that fleshed out some nifty ideas and examples! Awesome!

Again, thanks!

-Audun

"What about the future...? We only hope, we cannot however account for the minutiae of the quanta, as all accidents in an infinite space are inevitable."

Jegergrytes Creative Cubicle

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Actually, the rules for Baltic Pagan magic in "Crusaders of the Amber Coast" do exactly what you are looking for. Since only gifted individuals can learn true Sorcery, but warriors definitely need magic to stay alive, the Wise Women can inscribe a rune on an object (usually one of some mythic significance, like oak bark for the Thunder God Perkunas) and make it magically powerful by embuing it with one use of a sorcery spell. Once the spell is cast, a Witch or Shaman may empower it again with a new casting, for a price.

A list of the common sorcery spells and the corresponding Futhark rune is included, too. The spells detailed in "Crusaders" are connected to the Baltic deities, but it would be rather easy to adapt them to the Norse or Celtic pantheon.

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…… X( and I have that book…… ARGH!

Oh well… thanks for the tip, and thanks to everyone else! With a bit of tweaking I think I have everything I need.

For ease of [my] mind (and more fitting for my setting) I will switch the appropriate craft and perform (ritual) skills to the suggestions by Chaot: Inscribe Rune and Rune Magic. Fits the bill for the flavour of my setting.

There must be some more tweaking for my player to refill his rune and make runes last longer than a one-use affair, but that should work out somehow I guess. With the expenditure of permanent POW when creating the rune it receives a power point pool for multiple castings… lets say you sacrifice 1 POW you get a pool of double the power points needed to cast the spell, hence you get two castings from it instead of one before it needs to be refilled… or is it too expensive?

Refilling should be through a rune magic roll? mediation? simple transference as per the artefact rules in BGB? suggestions?

I'm also thinking that one can learn runes through the use of the Rune Magic skill, by attuning to the rune, then trying to replicate it with Inscribe Rune (modified somehow, perhaps difficult or just a negative modifier), to do this one must have the original rune present, if one gets a succeeds one has reproduced it, with a special or critical one has learned the rune… if that makes sense.

If one knows a sorcery spell one can, if one succeeds in a Rune Magic check, create a rune/charm, without the need to replicate an existing rune.

Again, thanks to everyone for helping me out!

"What about the future...? We only hope, we cannot however account for the minutiae of the quanta, as all accidents in an infinite space are inevitable."

Jegergrytes Creative Cubicle

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There must be some more tweaking for my player to refill his rune and make runes last longer than a one-use affair, but that should work out somehow I guess.

A one-use affair is only a problem if the user does not know where to refill the rune. As a matter of fact, this is a trick that can be used to keep a player in touch with his or her community - something that has been traditionally a distinctive feature of RuneQuest along the ages.

Remember, runes are not the Real Thing, they are the human representation of the Real Thing, how they trade knowledge to the generations to come - so they are intimately connected to traditions: not really fit for reclusive sorcerers who have little or no contact with other members of humanity. If your PC wants to become the classic "sorcerer-in-a-tower", he has little use for runes: he should seek the actual sources of magic, not their representation.

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Yes, but now we are venturing into conceptions of magic and sorcery… and here there is no "right" or "wrong", only differing notions of what magic is and how it affects the world (and vice versa).

Runes may not be the "real thing", yet the "real thing" is nothing but a pale shadow of the source from whence it came, which yet again is fuelled and sustained by the energy of the beings to which the "real thing" was a recurring gift, because of this perpetual source of "creation" the beings, or souls, represented in the everlasting conflict against the nothing… and so on and meta-plot of magic is and isn't technology… doom.

Runes, best described in the world I'm playing is something of an attempt to use tech as magic; using tools to shape creation… which of course works perfectly well, if you're good enough at it. A bit much to get into here.

"What about the future...? We only hope, we cannot however account for the minutiae of the quanta, as all accidents in an infinite space are inevitable."

Jegergrytes Creative Cubicle

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And also, my gaming group is going to travel quite a bit, its an exploration type of game, developing a world simultaneously as it is experienced so to speak. A sand-box world kind of, but not entirely, as the "sand" stays in place once has been moulded, for future reference and new campaigns. So staying in one place and being tied to a community is not really going to happen, perhaps a short-term commitment, staying for a couple of months perhaps (depending on weather and seasons), but no more than that really.

"What about the future...? We only hope, we cannot however account for the minutiae of the quanta, as all accidents in an infinite space are inevitable."

Jegergrytes Creative Cubicle

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And also, my gaming group is going to travel quite a bit, its an exploration type of game, developing a world simultaneously as it is experienced so to speak. A sand-box world kind of, but not entirely, as the "sand" stays in place once has been moulded, for future reference and new campaigns. So staying in one place and being tied to a community is not really going to happen, perhaps a short-term commitment, staying for a couple of months perhaps (depending on weather and seasons), but no more than that really.

This was a problem in the original RQ(1-3), too. The necessity to go back to a temple to regain magic, although it is a great tool to keep you tied to your community, greatly hampers your ability to face very long adventures in the wild. If this is your goal, then it is absolutely necessary that your runes can be recharged while in the wilderness.

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