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Rune magic is the study of harnessing and directing magical energies using a set of written symbols called runes. These runes allow someone knowledgeable in their use to channel great amounts of magical energy, but doing so can be very dangerous. A demanding area of study, it requires great mental strength and physical endurance to undergo the rigors of casting magic using runes. Rune magic is not for the weak of heart.
Rune magic is a mixture of both divine and arcane magic. Runes are the tools of the gods of magic, wisdom, or nature, but they are occasionally put in the hands of worthy mortal servants of such powers. These followers expand their magical might by learning the powers of various runes and becoming a rune caster. Each rune is able to shape and control a certain aspect of power, using both arcane energies and divine energy to do so. Each rune is associated with specific spells and powers, which a rune caster unlocks by studying its secrets. The rune caster must understand fully the rune’s significance as a symbol of magical power, a facet of nature, and how it represents the god to which the rune caster is beholden. Each rune mastered expands the rune caster’s power, allowing the rune caster to cast a wider variety of spells and to call on the powers associated with the rune.
Unfortunately, rune magic exacts terrible costs. Many of the most powerful rune casters remove one of their own eyes in pursuit of greater comprehension, allowing them to experience the world in the two dimensional fashion in which runes exist. Others cause themselves permanent damage by trying to use too many runes at once, causing their body to overload with magical energy. Runes are the tools of the gods and mortals risk much by using them for their own ends. For the power hungry, runes offer many roads to selfdestruction paved with their own greed. Rune magic is utilized by groups on the edges of civilization. They are rarely found in magical schools or academies, instead being taught in the wilds where the connection each rune has to nature can still be felt. Because of this, most rune casters are sorcerers as opposed to wizards. The primal nature of the sorcerer lends itself far more readily to the practice of rune magic than the studious ways of the wizard. Rune magic requires a deep connection that cannot be learned in a school; it must be experienced. Clerics of gods of magic, wisdom, or nature may become rune mages but, like sorcerers, druids perform better at rune magic than their clerical counterparts because of the basic connection they have to their magic.
Rune casters are solitary folk, living the lives of hermits on the highest peaks or the deepest forests. They rarely traffic with other people, using their solitude to contemplate the deeper meanings of the runes. Powerful rune casters are sought out for their advice or magical prowess, though they charge very high prices for both. Considering the price that many rune casters have paid for their power, this is understandable.
Casting Rune Spells
To perform rune magic a character must take at least one level in the rune caster prestige class. Other characters may take the Activate Rune feat to use inscribed runes but may not then cast rune spells or use runestones.
Rune magic uses a set of specific symbols, the runes, to focus magical energies and use them to cast spells or create other effects. Each rune has a certain type of energy it channels, granting the rune caster using it access to a certain set of spells and abilities. Beginning rune casters only know a handful of runes while the more experienced rune caster may know a dozen or more.
Unfortunately, a rune caster may only focus the energies of a limited number of runes at a time, forcing rune casters to pick and choose which runes they would like to use from their available supply.
There are twenty four runes available to rune casters to learn, each of which is based on a rune from the Elder Futhark runic alphabet. The process of learning a rune is a difficult one, requiring deep and lengthy contemplation and meditation. These assist in the formation of a deep magical and intellectual connection with the concept embodied by the rune. You do not just need to know how to draw the rune; you need to understand the meaning it holds and what it can do. To learn a rune the rune caster must spend one week contemplating the single rune he wishes to learn. During this week, the rune caster must meditate and pray at least eight hours a day and cannot undertake any strenuous activity or travel. Also, the rune caster must fast, eating nothing and drinking only water during this time. At the end of the week, the rune caster must make a Knowledge (Runes) check (DC 15 + the number of runes the rune caster already knows). If this check is successful, the rune caster has learned the new rune and may use it as normal. If the check is unsuccessful, the rune caster must try again by spending another week in contemplation.
If a rune caster fails to learn a rune after five tries, the rune is beyond his comprehension and he can never learn it. A rune caster may generally know no more runes than their level in the rune mage prestige class plus their Intelligence modifier, though certain feats may allow a rune caster to learn more runes.
Arik, a 4th level sorcerer, 3rd level druid and 6th level rune mage wishes to learn the Ansuz rune. Arik knows five runes currently, but his 17 Intelligence allows him to know nine runes total (6 for his 6 levels in rune mage +3 for his Intelligence bonus). Ansuz spends a week in meditation and makes his Knowledge (Runes), in which Arik has a +10 bonus. The DC is 20 (15 +5 for the runes Arik already knows). Arik rolls a 3, failing to learn the Ansuz rune. Arik recuperates from his week of fasting and tries again, this time rolling a 14. Arik learns the Ansuz rune after the second week of contemplation. If Arik had failed his check five times he would be incapable of grasping the meaning and powers of the Ansuz rune.
Once a rune caster has learned a rune, he can begin casting rune magic. Each rune provides a list of spells it allows the rune caster to cast, a special ability the rune caster may use, and a skill that the rune caster gets a bonus to, but these powers are only available if the rune caster is currently attuned to that rune. A rune caster may know many runes, but he can only be attuned to a num ber of runes equal to his Constitution bonus plus his highest rank in the Attune Rune ability. To attune, the rune caster must have a runestone, which is a small enchanted stone bearing one of the runes. The runestone must be held in hand while the attuning takes place. Attuning to a rune requires a fullround action (provoking an attack of opportunity) and a Will save (DC 15 + number of runes to which the rune caster is currently attuned). Failing this roll causes a number of hit points of damage to the rune caster equal to the amount by which the check was failed. If a rune caster is ever knocked unconscious by failing an attunement check, they lose one point of Constitution permanently.
Preparing to go into a fight, Arik wishes to attune to the Thurisaz rune, which he has already learned. Arik can be attuned to four runes simultaneously (2 because of his +2 Constitution bonus and 2 from Attune Rune II ability) but he is already attuned to three runes. To attune to the Thurisaz rune Arik must use a fullround action and make a Will save (DC 15+3 for the runes to which Arik is currently attuned, or 18). Arik’s Will save is +9, but he rolls a 4, meaning he fails the check by 5 points. Arik takes 5 hit points of damage for his failed attempt to attune. He tries again the next round and roll a 14 on his attune check, successfully attuning himself to the Thurisaz rune.
Rune casters create their own runestones, and more powerful rune casters are able to simply draw the rune in the air to invoke its power. Powerful rune casters may craft runestaves, which carry multiple runes engraved into their surface. (Such a runestaff may hold one to five runes but only counts as one rune in terms of determining how many runes are currently attuned to a character.)
The rune caster must hold in his hands those runestones (or the runestaff) for each rune to which he is attuned. Dropping or putting away a runestone (or runestaff) immediately severs the character’s attunement to the runes the item contained. Wise opponents do their best to knock such items out of a rune caster’s hands or stun the rune caster so that he drops whatever he is holding.
Once a rune caster is attuned, he may cast spells from his rune spell slots using the spell list for that rune. Casting spells using rune spell slots acts as normal spell casting, requiring Concentration checks and possibly provoking attacks of opportunity. Each rune has a special ability, similar to those granted by clerical domains, which may only be used while the rune caster is attuned to the rune. Lastly, each rune provides an enhancement bonus to a specific type of skill check to any rune caster attuned to the rune. A rune caster may try to attune to more than his normal allot ment of runes, but doing so inflicts one hit point of damage per extra rune per round that the extra runes are attuned. A rune caster remains attuned to his runes until he wishes to remove the attunement or he drops the runestones or runestaff.
While attuned to a rune, it also affects the rune mage’s behavior. A rune mage who attunes himself with Thurisaz becomes more destructive in his actions, while a rune mage attuned with Isa tries to overcome any obstacle. This is merely a roleplaying effect but it can provide quite a challenge for the player of the rune mage.
Adding Runes to Normal Spells
When a rune caster casts a spell using his available spell slots, he may augment them using the runes. If, at the time of casting, one of the caster’s attuned runes has the spell being cast on its spell list, the spell may be augmented by the power of the rune. The rune caster has two choices of how to augment the spell.
The first option is to apply metamagic feats he has to the spell, making up the spell levels needed for the metamagic feat by expending spell levels from his rune magic spell slot. So, if a rune caster wishes to maximize a fireball while he has the Thurisaz rune attuned he may do so by expending 3 levels worth of Thurisaz rune spell slots. (A 0 level rune spell slot counts as half a level for this purpose.) Augmenting a spell in this fashion requires no actions beyond those of casting the spell normally.
The second option is to apply a metamagic feat he does not know to the spell. This requires a Will save (DC 15+ the level of the spell + the number of spell levels the metamagic feat adds to the spell’s effective level). Failure results in the spell being cast normally, without any enhancements from the metamagic feat. If the Will save succeeds, then the spell is cast with enhancements from the metamagic feat. In either case, the rune mage takes a number of hit points of damage equal to twice the number of levels the metamagic feat adds to the spell level. . Any levels needed by the metamagic are filled by taking spells from the rune mage’s available rune spell slots.
Runes may also be inscribed on items, creating a stored spell that may be activated later. To do so the rune caster must be attuned to a rune that would allow him to cast the spell to be inscribed. Once he is attuned, the rune caster uses a full round action per spell level to draw the rune on the item on which the spell is to be stored. Some form of mark must be left on the surface where the rune is inscribed; the rune mage cannot simply run his finger over a surface to inscribe a rune. In situations where the rune is already drawn, such as a rune carved into a wall or a shield, the rune caster need only trace the rune with his finger. With the actual drawing of the rune complete, the rune caster must use one of his rune spell slots of the spell level to be inscribed to cast the spell into the rune. At this time the rune caster spends XP equal to the spell level times (caster level of the rune mage x5) to power the rune. Once the experience points are spent the rune is inscribed and remains active for a year per caster level or until the rune is used. If a rune is carved into an item, the destruction of that item destroys the rune and its power.
Once inscribed a rune may be activated by anyone capable of casting rune spells (or anyone with the Activate Rune feat) as a fullround action.
Arik wishes to inscribe a 3rd level rune. Arik is a 6th level rune mage so inscribing the rune costs him 90 XP (3x6x5). Inscribing the rune takes 3 rounds to complete.
Rune Mage Prestige Class
Rune mages (also known as rune casters) are the true masters of the art of rune magic. While they begin their studies in the more mundane forms of arcane and divine magic, most rune mages make the study of runes their life’s work after they learn the basics. The runes, as tools of the gods and symbols of their power, hold a far deeper meaning than simply being a conduit for magical energies. They offer a mixture of philosophy, guidance, and information about the structure and function of the universe. To rune mages, studying dusty tomes in dark libraries pales in comparison.
Beginning rune mages learn their craft from the solitary hermits who make up the upper echelons of the rune mage hierarchy. These hermits have only one or two students at a time and spend years forcing their students to perform menial tasks like cleaning and caring for the livestock. Suffering is an important part of rune magic, so rune mages wish to know their students can take some punishment before imparting real knowledge to them.
Rune mages spend their time in pursuit of complete comprehension of the runes, but this study takes many forms. Some sit on high mountaintops and watch the fury of nature about them, trying to see how each rune connects itself to the world. Others involve themselves in great quests using the magical properties of the runes to better understand them. In either case, while worldly goods are sometimes important to a rune mage, they mean nothing before the value of knowledge.
Sorcerers and druids are the most likely to take up the study of runes because their magical gifts are of the same primal nature as rune magic. Sorcerers do not have to study books for their power but instead master their own internal powers while druids are already deeply involved in the study of nature. Wizards and clerics also become rune mages but do not take to it like sorcerers or druids. Bards rarely study runes because it detracts from their other pursuits, but it is possible for bards to become rune mages. Other classes cannot become rune mages without first multiclassing to sorcerer, bard, wizard, cleric, or druid.
Rune mages of all alignments can be found, but most lean in some fashion toward the neutral alignments. The majority of rune mages are human, yet a sizable number of dwarves can be found. Despite not being fond of arcane magic, dwarves find the permanent and steady nature of runes attractive and employ them in magically enhancing items. Elves and gnomes occasionally practice rune magic, while halfling and halforc rune mages are almost unheard of.
Hit Dice: d6
To qualify to become a rune mage a character must fulfill all the following criteria.
Spellcasting: Ability to cast second level arcane spells and second level divine spells.
Knowledge (Arcana): 4 ranks
Knowledge (Nature): 2 ranks
Will Save: +5
The rune mage’s class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Alchemy (Int), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Decipher Script (Int), Intuit Direction (Wis), Knowledge (Arcana) (Int), Knowledge (Runes) (Int), Knowledge (Nature) (Int), Profession (Wis), Scry (Int), Spellcraft (Int), and Wilderness Lore (Wis).
Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 2 + Int modifier.
The Rune Mage
|Class Level||Base Attack Bonus||Fortitude Save||Reflex Save||Will Save||Special|
|1st||+0||+2||+0||+2||Runecasting, Create Runestone, Attune Rune I|
|5th||+2||+4||+1||+4||Attune Rune II|
|10th||+5||+7||+3||+7||Attune Rune III|
|12th||+6/+1||+8||+4||+8||Rune Mastery I|
|15th||+7/+2||+9||+5||+9||Attune Rune IV, Rune Mastery II|
All of the following are class features of the rune mage prestige class.
Armor and Weapons Proficiencies: The rune mage is proficient with simple weapons but not armor or shields. Armor of any type interferes with a rune mage’s arcane gestures, which can cause his spells to fail. Note that armor check penalties for armor heavier than leather apply to the skills Balance, Climb, Escape Artist, Hide, Jump, Move Silently, Pick Pocket and Tumble. Also, Swim checks suffer a –1 penalty for every five pounds of armor and equipment carried.
Rune Spells (Ex): Rune mages cast spells using runes to focus magical energies. These spells are a mixture of the arcane and divine. A rune mage’s spells are limited to those made available by runes he is currently attuned to. A rune mage may only be attuned to a number of runes equal to his level in the Attune Rune class ability plus his Constitution bonus. Each rune has a list of ten spells, one of each level, that are available to the rune mage who is attuned to the rune. The rune mage may use his rune magic spell slots to cast any spells made available to him by his attuned runes.
Rune mages begin with the number of rune spell slots listed for a first level rune mage. Wizards, bards, and clerics keep their original spell casting abilities and may use them normally. Druids and sorcerers may keep their original spell casting abilities if they choose, or they can choose to transfer their caster levels to rune magic. When sorcerers and druids take their first level in rune mage they may choose to reduce their caster level in their original classes and add them to their caster level in rune mage. This does not affect the class abilities, Hit Dice, saving throws or attack bonuses of the character, merely their effective caster level and number of spell slots. This allows sorcerers and druids to become far more effective rune mages than other classes. Each level in rune mage the character gains increases his rune mage caster level by one, increasing the number of available spell slots.
Hengar is a 4th level sorcerer, 3rd level druid and just became a 1st level rune mage. He has 5 0level rune spell slots and 3 1st level rune spell slots. He also has 6 0level, 6 1st level and 3 2nd level sorcerer spell slots. Lastly he has 4 0level, 2 1st level and 1 2nd level druid spell slots. Hengar chooses to change two of his sorcerer caster levels and one of his druid caster levels over to rune mage. Hengar now has the spell slots of a 4th level rune mage, 2nd level sorcerer, and 2nd level druid. He has the class abilities, hit points, attack bonus and saving throws of a 1st level rune mage, 4th level sorcerer and 3rd level druid. When Hengar goes up another level he is a 2nd level rune mage, 4th level sorcerer and a 3rd level druid but has the spell slots of a 5th level rune mage, 2nd level sorcerer and 2nd level druid.
A rune mage casts spells spontaneously, in the same fashion a bard or sorcerer does, but only those spells available to the runes the rune mage is attuned to. The rune mage receives bonus rune spells based on his Wisdom, Charisma, or Intelligence whichever is higher. So, Arik (with an 18 Wisdom) would have a bonus 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th level spell.
A rune mage may cast a lower level spell using a higherlevel slot if desired. For purposes of all Concentration checks and sav ing throws, the spell level is considered that of the lower level spell, but the higherlevel spell slot is used.
To cast a spell from an attuned rune, a rune mage must have an Intelligence or Charisma (whichever was the primary attribute of the rune mage’s arcane magic class) and Wisdom equal to 10 + the spell’s level. The Difficulty Class for saving throws against rune mage spells is 10 + the spell’s level + the Intelligence, Charisma, or Wisdom modifier of the rune mage, whichever is higher.
If a rune mage wishes to use a metamagic feat on one of their rune spells and the spell takes 1 standard action to cast, they must instead spend a full round action casting the spell. If the spell re quires more than a standard action, then an extra full round action is added to the casting time for the spell.
Rune Magic Spells Per Day
Runecasting (Ex): In addition to using runes to work magic, rune mages may use the runes to perform a type of divination called runecasting. Runecasting does not actually predict the future but allows the rune mage to look back on what he has done, see what he is doing, and what path he is on. The rune mage may then choose to try to alter this path. It does not give a glimpse of a certain, unchangeable future. Instead, it helps the rune mage puzzle out what is likely to happen on his own, allowing him to take appropriate actions.
Casting runestones takes at least ten minutes of uninterrupted concentration. The rune mage must sit comfortably and concentrate for a few moments, after which he tosses all of his runestones to the ground, reading the placement and orientation of the runes. The rune mage then makes a Knowledge (Runes) check (DC 15). If successful, the rune mage has gleaned some guidance from the runes. The rune mage gains a +1 insight bonus to: 1) all skill checks, 2) all attack rolls, or 3) all saving throws for a 24hour period at the discretion of the rune mage. Once chosen, the bonus cannot be switched. The GM should feel free to impart some real wisdom on the rune mage if he feels the future holds something important.
Runecastings may be performed for others as well, but they do not receive the inspiration bonus unless the dungeon master feels they have a suitable faith in the runes (anyone with the rune mage prestige class or who has the Activate Rune feat qualifies).
Create Runestone (Ex): Rune mages (except the highest levels) cannot work their magic without runestones. Runestones are small stones, about the size of a coin, inscribed with a single rune on one side. They are made from smooth stone but may be made from metal, wood, or even bone. A rune mage may only attune to runes for which he has an appropriate runestone (or runestaff, see below). Because of this, making runestones is one of the first things a rune mage learns. Rune mages are given a set of runestones by their instructor , but soon prefer using runestones made with their own hands. When using a runestone made by someone else, rune mages suffer a –1 penalty to attunement
Creating a runestone requires a complete day of work during which the rune mage may cast no spells and undertake no strenuous activity or travel. The process takes eight hours, during which the rune mage meditates and carefully carves the rune. Runestones may be made from almost any material, but stone is the most common. At the end of eight hours, the rune mage must make a Knowledge (Runes) check (DC 10). If successful, the runestone is properly made. The rune mage then spends 100 XP to bind it to him. If the check fails, the rune mage starts again another day and the material used is destroyed.
Runestones are made from materials that have some link to the rune to be inscribed, such as Hagalaz rune inscribed on a piece of wood from a tree struck by lightning. Such runes are more powerful than normal runestones. They can add anywhere from a +1 too a +5 bonus to attunement checks when using that runestone depending on the power of the connection the material has to the rune. Creating such runestones require more XP, costing 500 XP per point of bonus.
Inscribe Rune (Ex): At third level a rune mage is able to inscribe runes, as detailed above.
Attune Rune (Su): A rune mage may know many runes but can only use a certain number at a time. Each level of Attune Rune allows the rune mage to attune to one rune, enabling him to use the powers of that rune. A rune mage may only attune to a number of runes equal to his level in Attune Rune plus his
Draw Rune (Sp): Once a rune mage reaches 8th level they are no longer tied down by needing runestones. If the rune mage does not have the correct type of runestone on hand, he simply draws the rune on any available surface. The rune must be visible; meaning a rune mage cannot simply run his fingers over a surface. This takes a standard action. The rune mage then attunes the rune (as long as he is within ten feet of the drawn rune and the rune remains intact). Any marring of the drawn rune destroys it; any creature within 5 ft. of a rune may take a partial action to render it useless.
Create Runestaff (Ex): Powerful rune mages create rune staves, enabling them to attune to runes in greater numbers. A runestaff is one foot long for each rune they carry. Creating a runestaff is a long and difficult process that only the most powerful rune mages dare attempt.
The staff itself must be made out of a very stout substance, such as oak, metal, or stone. Most runestaves are wood. Once a suitable staff is obtained, the rune mage must spend one day per rune inscribing each rune carefully on the staff. At the end of each day a Knowledge (Runes) check must be made at DC 25 plus the number of runes on the staff. If successful, the rune mage spends 1,000 XP to empower the rune and continues to the next.
If the roll fails the staff is ruined and must be started over completely any XP spent on the process thus far is lost. If all the runes are inscribed correctly, the staff is enchanted over the course of five days, during which the rune mage must fast. At the end of this time, the rune mage makes a Knowledge (Runes) check (DC 25 + the number of runes on the runestaff) and a Fortitude Save (DC 15+ the number of runes on the staff). If both checks are successful, the runestaff is complete. If either check fails, the rune mage starts again from scratch and any XP or material costs are lost.
Once created, a runestaff allows the rune mage who constructed it to attune to all the runes on the runestaff by simply attuning to the staff once, which also only counts as a single rune in terms of how many runes the rune mage may attune to. So, a runestaff with four runes on it allows the rune mage attuned to it to use any of the four runes on the runestaff but it only counts as being attuned to a single rune. A rune mage may only attune to one runestaff at a time.
If a rune mage finds a runestaff built by another mage, he may attune himself to it by spending one full day in meditation and 500 XP per rune on the staff. Until then, the rune mage cannot use the staff.
If used in combat runestaves with 13 runes count as clubs and those with 45 runes count as staves. A finished runestaff is treated as having an enhancement bonus equal to the number of runes inscribed upon it when determining if the runestaff breaks. Other enchantments may be added to a runestaff later, if desired, up to a maximum of 5 runes. The process of adding runes to a staff is the same as above.
Rune Mastery (Su): The most powerful rune mages learn to find the power of the runes inside themselves, allowing them to permanently attune themselves to a rune. This is done with a rune that in some way embodies the beliefs of the rune mage; warriors bond to the Thurisaz or Uruz rune while a nomadic rune mage may master the Raidho rune. In any case, the rune mage brings the power of the rune into himself, forever altering his relationship with the world.
Mastering a rune requires permanently inscribing the rune on the surface of the rune mage’s body. This is done with tattoos or scarring. Once this is accomplished, the rune mage retires to an area to which his chosen rune is linked (such as a glacier or snow capped mountain for the Isa rune). The rune mage invokes his chosen rune, pulling its power into himself. The rune mage then meditates and prays for five days. Each day, he must make a Fortitude save (DC 20 + the number of previous days spent in meditation) to withstand the energy of the rune seeping into him.
Failure causes a number of hit points of damage equal to the amount by which the rune mage failed his Fortitude Save. After making five successful saves in a row, the rune mage is permanently linked with the rune and gains mastery of it. The rune mage is permanently attuned to this rune, which does not count against his normal allotment of attuned runes.
Rune Mastery II allows the rune mage to forge a permanent bond with a second rune if desired, using the process described above.
Each of the 24 runes has several sections within its entry. Each begins with a rough description of the area of influence of the rune; what types of things the rune holds power over, and what types of actions it favors. Each description also provides some ideas on how the rune affects the personality of those to which it is attuned.
Special Power: Each rune has a special power it grants to those attuned to it. The rune caster must be attuned to a rune to activate its special power and must maintain this attunement for as long as the power is active. If the attunement is broken, the effects of the power end immediately.
Spells Available: Each rune has a list of spells, one per level available to a rune mage who is attuned to that rune. These spells are cast using the rune mage’s rune spell slots. Some spells listed under certain runes are divine spells, but for purposes of rune magic, they are considered arcane. Any damage that would be divine is instead energy damage of a type appropriate to the spell. For example, the divine damage from flame strike becomes flame damage instead. If the damage from a spell consists entirely of divine energy, it is instead considered a force effect when the spell is cast by a rune caster.
Associated Skill Bonus: Each rune provides a bonus to one skill. This bonus may only apply in certain situations.
(The runes below are based on the Elder Futhark runic alphabet, but some liberties were taken with some of their meanings for increased playability.)
Defenders against evil, those who favor Algiz work against the dark forces in the world and protect the good. Those attuned to Algiz stand steadfast against all evil, allowing them do no wrong without resisting.
Special Power: While attuned to this rune, the character may detect evil within a 60 ft. radius as a fullround action.
|1||Protection from evil|
|3||Magic circle against evil|
Associated Skill Bonus: +2 bonus to Spellcraft.
Ansuz is the rune of air and communication, drawing its power from the power of the wind. Politicians and leaders favor Ansuz. Those attuned to the Ansuz rune are talkative, sometimes to the point of annoyance.
Special Power: Rune mages attuned to Ansuz may attempt to control or rebuke air elementals as an evil cleric controls undead. This ability may be used a number of times per day equal to the rune mage’s Constitution modifier.
|9||Elemental swarm (Air elementals only)|
Associated Skill Bonus: +2 bonus to Diplomacy.
A rune of plenty and fertility, Berkana is favored by farmers and druids for the effects it has on nature. Those attuned to Berkana become very animalistic and gain a distinct dislike for civilization
and all its trappings.
Special Power: If a rune mage sows a field while attuned to Berkana, that field produces twice as much food as normal during the next harvest.
|5||Commune with nature|
|6||Summon nature’s ally VI|
|9||Summon nature’s ally IX|
Associated Skill Bonus: +1 bonus to Wilderness Lore and Heal checks.
Dagaz is the rune of beginnings, endings, and awakenings. It is popular amongst with a number of groups because its area of influence is so large. Those attuned to Dagaz always see things through to the end, but after finishing one quest are left yearning to start another.
Special Power: While attuned to the Dagaz rune, the character receives a +2 enhancement bonus to any saving throws against mindaffecting spells or spelllike abilities.
|5||Contact other plane|
|8||Polymorph any object|
Associated Skill Bonus: +2 bonus to Decipher Script checks.
The rune of the horse and movement, Ehwaz is favored by nomads, cavalry and messengers. The rune stands for all domestic animals in addition to horses, making it popular amongst farmers. Those attuned to Ehwaz tend to be very friendly with animals and prone to not staying in one place for too long.
Special Power: While attuned to the Ehwaz rune the rune mage may take 10 on any Riding check no matter the situation. He is also considered to have the Mounted Combat feat while attuned to this rune.
|7||Summon nature’s ally VII|
|8||Summon nature’s ally VIII|
Associated Skill Bonus: +1 bonus to Ride and Handle Animal checks.
Rune of protection and endurance, Eihwaz is popular with rune warriors and the more combative rune mages. Those attuned to Eihwaz tend to be very steadfast and protective of others while always willing to demonstrate their own endurance.
Special Power: While attuned to the Eihwaz rune, runecasters may reduce the chance of arcane spell failure due to armor by 20%.
|3||Protection from elements|
|6||Guards and wards|
|8||Protection from spells|
Associated Skill Bonus: +1 to all Constitution based skill checks.
Fehu is the rune of wealth and possessions, and is related specifically to livestock. Those who pursue the accumulation of possessions through honorable or dishonorable means favor this rune, but the possessions must be gained by one’s own actions. Rune mages attuned to Fehu are constantly on the lookout to add to their property.
Special Power: While attuned to this rune the rune mage may detect the presence of any items worth 500+ gp within 10 ft. of the rune mage with a Intelligence Check (DC 10). Using this ability requires a standard action.
Associated Skill Bonus: +2 bonus to Appraise skill checks.
Gebo is the rune of interaction between people and of society as a whole. This rune gives those attuned to it power over the actions of others, making this rune one which can be easily abused. Those attuned to Gebo are talkative and interested in the affairs of everyone around them.
Special Power: While attuned to Gebo, the rune mage gains a +2 enhancement bonus to any skills based on Charisma.
Associated Skill Bonus: +2 bonus to Sense Motive checks.
The rune of storm and earthquake, Hagalaz represents the anger of nature. A popular rune with Warriors, this rune is a powerful if clumsy force. Those attuned to Hagalaz are violent and destructive but also respectful toward nature.
Special Power: While attuned to the Hagalaz rune, the rune mage receives a +4 enhancement bonus to all saving throws made to resist damage from exposure to the environment.
|0||Inflict minor wounds|
Associated Skill Bonus: +2 bonus to Wilderness Lore checks.
Ingwaz is the rune of earth, popular with miners and engineers. Those attuned to Ingwaz become very stoic and quiet, but act with great determination when called upon.
Special Power: While the rune mage is attuned to Ingwaz he may rebuke or control earth elementals like evil cleric of the same level can rebuke or control undead. This ability may be used a number of times per day equal to 3 + the rune mage’s Constitution modifier.
|3||Meld into stone|
|5||Wall of stone|
|9||Elemental swarm (earth elementals only)|
Associated Skill Bonus: +1 bonus to all Constitution based skill checks.
Isa is commonly known as the rune of ice, but it also has influence over challenges and obstacles. Woodcutters, explorers, and those who enjoy a good challenge in the wilderness favor it. Those attuned to Isa can be distant and unfriendly, but they are always up for a challenge or contest.
Special Power: While attuned to the Isa rune, the character receives a +2 enhancement bonus to any saving throws against spells with the Cold descriptor.
|0||Ray of frost|
|1||Endure elements (cold only)|
|2||Resist elements (cold only)|
|5||Cone of cold|
|9||Elemental swarm (Water elementals only)|
Associated Skill Bonus: +2 bonus to Concentration checks.
The rune of peace and healing, Jera is a popular rune with rune mages because of the healing powers it makes available. Those attuned to Jera tend to become less violent and more concerned with the well being of others.
Special Power: Any healing spells cast while the rune mage is attuned to this rune are cast at +1 caster level.
|0||Cure minor wounds|
|1||Cure light wounds|
|2||Cure moderate wounds|
|3||Cure serious wounds|
|4||Cure critical wounds|
Associated Skill Bonus: +2 bonus to Heal skill checks.
Kenaz is the rune of vision and light, bringing forth illumination so knowledge can be found. Sages and scholars of all types favour Kenaz. Those attuned to Kenaz try to educate their fellows, always willing to broaden the knowledge of those around them.
Special Power: While attuned to Kenaz, the radius of any light produced by an item carried by the rune mage (either magical or otherwise) is doubled.
Associated Skill Bonus: +2 bonus to Scry skill checks.
The rune of water, Laguz is popular amongst sailors and alchemists. Those attuned to it change behavior quickly, going from calm to raging in mere seconds. This behavior makes others uncomfortable around
rune mages known to favor Laguz.
Special Power: Rune mages attuned to Laguz may rebuke or control water elementals as an evil cleric of the same level rebukes or controls undead. This ability may be used a number of times per day equal to 3 plus the rune mage’s Constitution bonus.
|1||Endure elements (cold only)|
|5||Wall of ice|
|9||Elemental swarm (water elementals only)|
Associated Skill Bonus: +2 bonus to Swim checks.
A favorite of wizards and scholars, Manaaz is the rune of intelligence and awareness. Those attuned to it become obsessed with learning from the world around them, always willing to take on some new mental challenge.
Special Power: While attuned to the Manaaz rune, a rune mage may take 20 on any Knowledge skill checks without increasing the amount of time necessary for those checks. The character must abide by all other restrictions for taking 20.
Associated Skill Bonus: +1 to all Knowledge checks.
Nauthiz is the rune of conflict and confusion, spreading strife and pain in its wake. It is not a widely favored rune because it does not spare the rune mage from its influence. Those attuned to Nauthiz tend to be argumentative and difficult, sometimes even betraying their friends for the sake of creating conflict. A rune mage attuned to Nauthiz may be attuned to Teiwaz at the same time.
Special Power: While attuned to the Nauthiz rune, the rune mage gains a +2 enhancement bonus to all saving throws against spells with the Law descriptor.
|9||Cloak of chaos|
Associated Skill Bonus: +2 bonus to Intimidate.
The rune of unearned possessions, Othala is favored by thieves, the greedy, and the paranoid. Those attuned to it become suspicious of others, thinking everyone is after their wealth, which they are always yearning to increase.
Special Power: Any time one of the trapstyle spells of the rune mage, such as alarm or fire trap, are triggered, the rune mage is permitted a Wisdom check (DC 15) to sense the activation. The rune mage knows the spell has triggered regardless of distance.
|6||Guards and wards|
Associated Skill Bonus: +2 bonus to Pick Pocket checks.
Rune mages who favor Perthro are interested in secrets and mysteries, particularly those that deal with the occult or supernatural. They seek knowledge mortals were not meant to know despite the dangers in doing so. Those attuned to Perthro become very curious, even about matters in which curiosity may prove dangerous.
Special Power: By spending five minutes talking with another person, be it a social discussion or interrogation, a rune mage attuned to Perthro may attempt to compel the person to tell the rune mage a single secret. The rune mage cannot force a specific secret to be revealed, but it is valuable to the rune mage in some way. The rune mage and his target make opposed Will saves. If the rune mage wins, the secret is revealed.
Associated Skill Bonus: +2 bonus to Knowledge (Arcana)
The rune of movement, Raidho draws its power from the action of changing location. Wanderers and nomads favor it. Those attuned to this rune suffer from wanderlust, always wanting to see what is over the next hill.
Special Power: For one round per day per rune mage level you may ignore any magical effects that impede movement. This ability activates anytime it is needed and the rune mage is attuned to Raidho. It deactivates as soon as it is no longer needed. This is a spelllike ability.
|4||Freedom of movement|
|6||Find the path|
|7||Teleport without error|
Associated Skill Bonus: +2 bonus to Wilderness Lore checks.
Sowilo is the rune of victory and the sun, favored by warriors and generals. Those who are attuned to Sowilo became intent on winning and jubilant when they are victorious. They rarely back down from a challenge, especially a martial one.
Special Power: After succeeding in a battle with foes with a CR greater than the rune mage’s level, or succeeding at a skill check DC 30 or better, the rune mage may hold his Sowilo runestone aloft in direct sunlight and pray for one full round. The rune mage then gains a +1 sacred bonus to either all saving throws, all attack rolls, or all skill rolls until the next sunset.
Associated Skill Bonus: +1 to all skill checks made in direct sunlight.
The rune of law, justice, and responsibility Teiwaz is favored by leaders and judges. Many rune mages who favor Teiwaz serve as the lawgivers in their home areas. Rune mages attuned to Teiwaz become very concerned with upholding the law and seeing that justice is carried out. A rune mage attuned to Teiwaz may be attuned to Nauthiz at the same time.
Special Power: Once per day, the rune mage may create a zone of truth. This spell operates exactly as the spell of the same name.
|5||Mark of justice|
Associated Skill Bonus: +4 to Sense Motive checks when detecting lies.
Thurisaz is the rune of ruin and flames. It is primarily concerned with destruction so the old can be moved aside to make room for the new. Those attuned to the Thurisaz rune seek to destroy, especially those that are corrupt or already damaged.
Special Power: Rune mages attuned to the Thurisaz rune may attempt to control or rebuke fire elementals as an evil cleric controls undead. This ability may be used a total number of times per day equal to 3 plus the rune mage’s Constitution modifier.
Associated Skill Bonus: +8 to Wilderness Lore checks made while lighting a fire.
Uruz is the rune of strength and health, embodying the idea of a perfectly fit physical form. Warriors, laborers, and healers favour this rune. Rune mages attuned to Uruz show off their strength at every opportunity, even when it is unnecessary.
Special Ability: When the power of the Uruz rune is activated (as a standard action), the rune mage gains a bonus to his strength equal to that of a bull’s strength spell. This ability may be used up to three times each day.
|3||Protection from elements|
Associated Skill Bonus: +1 bonus to all Strength based skills.
The rune of joy, Wunjo is associated with celebrations and fellowship. Wunjo is considered the rune of the common people who take such joy in the things it symbolizes. Those attuned to Wunjo are upbeat and always willing to help a friend. They also work well as part of a team.
Special Power: While attuned to the Wunjo rune, the rune mage receives a +4 bonus to all saving throws against fear or fearlike effects.
|0||Purify food and drink|
Associated Skill Bonus: +2 to Perform checks.
Running a Rune Magic Only World
In Norse or Viking campaigns, rune magic could be used as the primary form of magic, replacing divine and arcane magic. Such a transition is relatively simple. The spell and skill requirements for the rune mage prestige class are removed and characters take it at character creation. Characters start with the spell slots of a first level rune mage and advance as normal. Inscribed runes would replace scrolls as treasure but most other forms of magical treasure would remain the same.
In societies where only rune magic exists, rune mages are not solitary but instead take an active hand in the affairs of civilization. They function as advisors or wise men, and a rune mage with the right runes could become a very effective war leader. Others become shamans and religious leaders, channeling the power of their gods through the runes. rune mages are accorded high respect by most people because they use the tools of the gods, and a person who does so is not one to trifle with.