The Power of the Runes

When Isembard the dwarf was first rolled in Dragon Warriors, he ended up with 18 intelligence, leading us to an unusual background story involving the All Thumbs Hindrance. The PC’s owner now wants to bring in some rune magic and I’ve been toying with the idea during our summer hiatus.

The basis for my Savage Warriors Arcane Background is the Alchemist of Fantasy Companion fame, who could brew potions up to his or her PP in advance to use, with the drawback that preparing potions could blow up the lab. Trying to map something similar to SW I’ve made the following adjustments:

The runes are engraved on the armour, weapon or whatever in advance using certain materials, a process that takes an hour. The rune then lies dormant in that state until activated. The only ‘in game check’ is the Vigor role to activate the rune to avoid interrupting game play too much. ‘Excellent’ materials are limited availability.

The main mechanic difference to the Alchemist is that there is no backlash at creation but there is at activation. Also, activation is a free action. (Still not sure about that one.)

Should be appropriate to the rune being used. For example, for a fire rune the material can be:

  • Trivial (burnt twig – 1 use, -2 penalty to inscribe)
  • Good (piece of charcoal – 1d6 uses, no penalty)
  • Excellent (lava stone, infinite uses – but see below for critical fail, +2 to inscribing roll)

Inscribing a rune:
Use Rune skill to inscribe the rune on the blade, armour, etc.

  • success – creation worked, 1 charge of material used
  • success with raise – one beneficial effect (+2 damage, double duration, easier to activate…)
  • fail – 1 charge of material used, no rune inscribed
  • critical fail – material disintegrates

Activating a rune:
A free action, requires a successful Vigor check (explains why only dwarves can use rune skill – requires high constitution);

  • success – works
  • raise – one beneficial effect (as above)
  • fail – shaken, but rune not used (activation failed)
  • critical fail – shaken and take a wound, rune consumed

New Edge:

‘Rune Activator’ – +2 to Vigor checks to activate runes

There are also elements from the Hellfrost Rune Mage – each Rune is a separate Skill and must be learned separately. Increasing Skill in the Rune gives the caster access to more Powers. The Runes themselves are taken from the d20 Spells and Magic from Bastion Press (an excellent resource full of ideas for other magic systems, including mirror magic, shade magic and spellsinging), and adapted to SW.

About Mike Page

I’m a Christian, a father, a husband, a biochemist (PhD), a photographer, a gardener, a lover of good rock music, food wine and beer, an ex-pat, a lousy pianist and a patent examiner.
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1 Response to The Power of the Runes

  1. Pingback: Links of the Week: October 17, 2011 | KJD-IMC - KJDavies "In My Campaign" Articles

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