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This is simplistic type of magic that served as a basis for the more advanced casting employed in the modern era of magic domains. A more rigid form of magic that lacks the same flexibility, it’s roots can be found in the way magic items are crafted. Primarily used within primitive cultures and by some monster races, there is a crude elegance to this type of magic that some find appealing.

Runecasters are typically part of the elite warrior class, combining a ferocious thirst for battle with a spiritual intelligence. The magic foundation these casters employ plays a strong role in how the magic is perceived and will often help to define their personality. This section includes the mechanics and effects of wielding runic magic as well as the available spellbook.

It should be noted that a series of Scholarly background skills are required for both acquiring new spells and the basic ability to read from the spellbook. These include, but are not limited to, Archivist, (S) Bookbinding, (S) Scribing, Language – Magic, and (S) Literacy – Magic. Of course, some of this depends on the nature of the spellbook, Profession skills such as Artistry and (S) Tattooing, or Crafting skills such as Tailoring and (S) Weaving could be substituted.

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Crafters

Rather than spending their time studying tomes to learn the processes of casting and practicing in labs, Runecasters must first acquire the skills needed to craft their runes. Although some runes can be crafted in multiple mediums, most have a particular crafting method the character must have in order to use that specific rune. For this reason, it is strongly recommended for Runecasters to have all of the following Background Skills:

• Artistry
• (S) Carving
• (S) Sculpting
• (S) Tattooing
• Jewelsmithing
• (S) Engraving
• (S) Lapidary

Without these skills, the character may be unable to craft the required runes, though it is possible to select a subset of Runes based on only specific Background skills. For those who want to be Runecasters, it is important to note that it is far easier to pick up the required skills during character generation than trying to pick them up later. These skill requirements can take a while to achieve while adventuring and will slow the advancement potential.

Foundation

Although defining the magic foundation for the Runecasters is required, it is primarily an aesthetic choice. Mechanically speaking, all of the foundations function in the same way, but a sigil that takes on the appearance of burning embers is going to look very different than one that ices over or glows and pops with mystic energy.

It is up to the player to define the aesthetic value of the foundation, and it makes sense that it would be incorporated into the character’s personality. A Runecaster whose sigil takes on a living plant-like quality will tend to be more appreciative of nature, while one whose sigil takes the form of lightning bolts spreading across the surface might be a little more dynamic. There is no right or wrong, just the opportunity for the player to find ways to incorporate the foundation in their general character theme.

Philosophy

This type of magic might be simplistic when compared to the others that are available, but that doesn’t mean less useful. This particular type of magic is meant to be used in conjunction with other combat styles, either melee or ranged. Among the available effects of the runes are several combat enhancements that provide bonuses in much the same manner as magic items.

For the most part, those who learn runic magic are going to either come from less civilized areas or be associated with such a person. And those who use it are typically viewed in more of a spiritual light rather than magical, making them a subject of awe among these faraway places.

More Bestowing than Casting

This type of casting is more than simple spell variants, it’s a different way of dealing with magic. Runes are better described as bestowing magic onto something to create a temporary effect, rather than casting a spell to create a temporary effect. Most often, the objects of the casting, called rune vessels, are mundane materials such as minerals, stones, pieces of ivory, or a low-quality gem of some type. At higher levels of expertise, these can include specially crafted items and armaments.

The runes themselves are specialized sigils that shape the mystical energies to produce the effects. The endowment and use of the magic depend greatly upon the skill of the crafter and the rune vessel onto which the sigil is crafted.

Rune Vessels

Before any of the runes can be cast, it is necessary to craft the vessel or fashion the sigil, requiring the use of crafting skills as defined on the A Different Magic tab. A rune vessel is an item used to convey magic, while a sigil is a symbolic process that shapes the magic.

Rune vessels can take many shapes and forms, but the sigils are specific to the particular effects of the rune. It’s the combination that allows the Runecaster to direct the magic to produce the desired effect. Most often runic vessels and sigils are crafted ahead of time and carried by the Runecaster, who can then endow them with magic when needed.

Crafting

All rune vessels and sigils require a specific length of time to prepare depending on their degree of intricacy. As this process would be nearly impossible to complete during combat, runic vessels must be prepared off-panel or during rest periods. As a basic rule of thumb, Crafted items will take 3-5 hours to complete, while Mundane items only need 3-5 minutes. When a sigil is needed but no vessel it will usually take a minimum of one minute to craft, perhaps longer depending on the material and complexity. All of this assumes access to the raw materials, required tools, and a place with light in which to work.

Unless otherwise noted, a prepared vessel remains ready until the rune magic is channeled into the sigil. If the vessel is not consumed by the magic and the rune has not been marred, that runic vessel may be repeatedly bestowed with magic, without requiring a further Craft skill check after the magic has faded. Runes typically have a one-minute (6 rounds) cool-down period after the magic fades, before it may be imbued again.

Imbuing the Magic

Channeling magic into a sigil to activate the effect on the vessel is mechanically similar to spell casting, with two steps required to cast a rune.

  1. Choose a rune to cast
  2. Roll the dice to make the skill check

The skill check represents the processes of channeling magic into the sigil to activate the vessel effect. If the skill check fails, the vessel remains dormant.

All runes require one action to activate and remain active until their individual effect ends or the Runecaster stops channeling the magic. This latter may be voluntary, requiring one Free action, or involuntary as the result of losing consciousness, being dispelled, or an interrupt effect.

Runecasters can maintain a number of simultaneous runes based on character level – Novice 2, Expert 3, Master 4. Switching between active runes requires one action and a skill check.

Casting State

Much like other magic disciplines, the moment the Rune Casting skill is used, success or fail, the character enters a casting state. This state marks the beginning of the Encounter, imbuing the caster with the ability to charge runic vessels with magical energies. Whenever a Runecaster enters a casting state, any runes on their person will take on an aesthetic glow, the color of which may be defined by the caster and is based on their magic foundation. This effect may be diminished if the Runecaster chooses to cover the runes with cloths or leathers.

Encounter

For Runecasters, an encounter begins with the onset of the Casting State and resets six rounds after the last rune effect is completed or released. This represents the amount of time it takes for the magic energy to disperse from the sigil, ending the Casting State. At this point, all runes cease their glow. If the character is forced to begin an additional casting state before the Encounter ends, the original Encounter continues, adding each round to the previous number for determining the onset of sigil fatigue.

Sigil Fatigue

With the onset of the casting state, a gateway into the realm of magic is opened, making the Runecaster’s body a continuous conduit for that power. But since the sigil contains, controls, and shapes the magic, the stresses on the Runecaster are much lower than with other types of magic. This means that the longer the casting state lasts, the more pressure there is on the sigils, which will cause them to erode after a number of rounds equal to the Runecaster’s skill rank, which includes the 6 round cool-down period. This affects all sigils on the caster’s person and tossed away sigils still have the six-round cool-down. An eroded sigil must be re-crafted.

All runes are composed of six parts:

Rune Name 
Vessel:Sigil:
Structure:Skill:
Duration:Casting Time:

Vessel. The item or object upon which the sigil is placed and into which the magic is conveyed. The range of vessels is extensive and may be simplistic, metaphoric, symbolic, or literal in nature, depending on the purpose of the rune.

Sigil. This is the crafted symbol that contains, controls, and shapes, the magic effect upon the vessel. Basic runes fall into the three prime characteristics, Divination, Enhancement, and Protection, while advanced runes are gathered into a broader characteristic set referred to as Tempest, as is defined below:

Divination: magic that augments the runecasters range of perception based on the vessel.

Enhancement: magic that augments the physical capabilities of an individual or item.

Protection: magic that augments the defensive properties of an individual or item.

Tempest: magic that has been specially shaped to produce a series of specific effects.

Material. There are three types of vessels that may be prepared with a sigil, crafted, mundane, and derma, as is defined below:

Crafted: these are items that have been fashioned by someone that is skilled in a trade to serve as the vessel, requiring the more delicate Engraving or Lapidary skills to add the sigil.

Mundane: these are simple materials that can be found or shaped with little effort to serve as the vessel, requiring Carving, Sculpting, or Lapidary skills to add the sigil.

Derma: embossing the epidermis of an individual to serve as the vessel, requiring the Tattooing skill to add the sigil.

Skill. This is simply skill required to apply the sigil to the vessel. While it is possible (and likely) for a crafter to be hired to create specialized rune vessels, the Runecaster must craft the sigil.

Duration. This defines the amount of time that a cast rune will endure, and is defined by three factors, Active, Passive, and Instant, as defined below:

Active: when cast, the Runecaster channels the magic into the sigil per round until it is dropped or interrupted.

Passive: once cast, the sigil remains active for a set period of time, as defined in the rune.

Instant: the cast rune effect is resolved immediately and does not continue beyond the casting action.

Casting Time. As has been noted, all runes require one action and a successful skill check to activate, however, some runes have additional steps or requirements to complete the rune casting.

Basic and Advanced Runes

In the collection of known Runes there are two types available as defined by their sigil. Basic Runes conform to the three prime characteristics of runic magic, while Advanced Runes exist outside of these prime characteristics, requiring a more advanced level of skill to master. As such, the Basic Runes are available to characters who have purchased the Runic Lore skill tree, although the list may be limited for starting characters at the GM’s discretion.

Advanced Runes are marked with an “A” and the Runecaster must have acquired the Runic Sagery skill before gaining the ability to learn these runes. Each has been crafted for a particular purpose and it should not be assumed that a Runecaster immediately gains access to these upon acquiring the skill. A degree of training by a specific instructor or some learned object in the Tempest characteristic is required, which may involve a quest of some type. The point is that gaining Advanced Runes should be accompanied by a story element that is worked out between the player and GM.

Spiritual Archetype

In truth, Runecasters don’t really have an archetype. They are people who embrace a primitive, spiritual, or elementary form of magic (depending on the setting) and typically combine it with a group of combat skills to make for an unpredictable foe. From a brutal club-wielding fighter to an angry plate-clad warrior to the serene archer, there is always room and reason to add runic magic to the arsenal.

So who are Runecasters?

The answer is simple, traditionalists. Those who choose to follow the path of runic magic will have some connection to it in their past, an appreciation of history or ritual, and a passion for tradition. All Runecasters know that those who dwell within the modern era of magic have little respect for those who embrace this form of magic, but what it lacks in flair, raw power, and versatility, it makes up for with a crude elegance and lots of surprises.

The Artistry of Runecasting

When it comes to magic there is always a degree of customization, whether in defining aesthetics or through the use of additional magic skills. With Runecasters though, there’s more than just an immaterial effect brought about by casting. Their vessels are a part of the magic, giving these characters the opportunity to take crafting background skills to truly customize each aspect of it.

This gives the character goals to accomplish outside of game-play adventures. Whether it is establishing a relationship with local crafters to utilize their resources, setting up their own workspace, or spending downtime on the trail working on their crafts, the opportunity to continuously evolve their vessels adds a personal aspect to the casting. Add to this the opportunity to create vessels  that can be given to allies and activated in combat, and the ability to customize them makes the magic process more meaningful.

This list represents a collection of the known runes available. The wide range of effects offered in it is tempered by the skill requirements for crafting specific sigils, rank requirements to access the Advanced Runes, and the limited number of starting runes. During character generation, players get a number of starting runes equal to the Knowledge score /2, rounded down. New runes may be acquired during gameplay by spending skill slots to purchase runes at a 2:1 ratio (2 skill slots for 1 rune)

Players who pick up the Runic Lore skill tree must select a Magic Foundation and may only choose this spellbook. Additional magic skill trees are required to cast from different spellbooks. Although defined as a book, the collection of runes could be a series of intricate knots, tattoos, cards, etc., and can be based on culture, school, or master, limited by the player’s imagination. The most important thing is that the formulaic processes of the rune exist in some physical form.

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Basic Runes

Alarm
Ale Rune
Armor
Direction
Durable
Fade
Quicken
Runic Mark
Sight
Strengthen
Warmth
Whetstone

Advanced Runes

(A) Animate
(A) Blinding
(A) Change
(A) Dance
(A) Enthrall
(A) Freedom
(A) Message
(A) Purify Water
(A) Runic Lock
(A) Siege Stone
(A) Spirit Transfer
(A) Transference