Ruins of Adventure
There is still at least one great power the sorcerers of Faerûn have yet to tap-a stable, ancient power that neither ebbs nor flows. A power that radiates from all creatures and things evenly, and has the potential to be grasped and harnessed by us all. I speak, of course, of the power of truth.
Truth holds the multiverse together. Truth is what makes a tree a tree and a man a man. In its whole, truth is irrevocable, unalterable, and eternal. The learned know that truth is organized into great patterns and orders. Nothing is true without a chain of truths to proceed it. The simple statement “I am a man” isn’t true unless the statements “My father was a man, My grandfather was a man, My great grandfather was a man, and so forth” ad infinitum are true as well. More complex chains of truth lie beneath all things that are, and all things that might be.
Anyone who comprehends the truth on this level is capable of summoning and controlling enormous power. Such temporary insights into the most simple and secret workings of the universe provide direct access to the godhead and its limitless energies. In fact, the giants
theorized that god and mortal were divided only by the extent to which they could accept and harness the truth.
This is the theory behind Rune Magic. The runes are not letters (as often supposed), but diagrams-scale models of the relationships between ancient and undying cosmic forces. By properly etching a rune, the caster demonstrates his understanding of the truths underpinning these forces and their relationships to each other. Like a trained beast recognizing its master, the truths then bow down to the caster, enabling him to temporarily and subtly alter them and all the truths connected to them in series.
Base Class Statistics:
- Ability Requirements: Dex 12, Int 13, Wis 13
- Alignments: Any
- Experience Chart: Wizard
- Hit Dice: d4
- Maximum Hit Dice: 10d4
- Additional Hit Points: +1 per level beyond 10th
- Attack: as Wizard
- Paralyzation/Poison/Death: as Wizard
- Rods/Staves/Wands: as Wizard
- Petrification/Polymorph: as Wizard
- Breath Weapon: as Wizard
- Spell: as Wizard
- Weapons, Initial: 1
- Weapons, Advancement: +1 per 6 levels
- Non-Weapon, Initial: 4
- Weapons, Advancement: +1 per 3 levels
- Bonus Proficiencies: Dwarven Runes
- Non-weapon Proficiency Groups: General, Wizard
- Allowed Weapons: Any
- Allowed Armor: Chainmail or lighter, Shields
Obviously, a runecaster cannot inscribe a rune he does not know, and learning a new rune is much more difficult than simply memorizing its pattern. Rune magic does not work without a deep understanding of the essential truths and relationships that the pattern of the rune represents.
All 1st-level runecasters automatically know one rune, plus a number of bonus runes determined by their Intuition score. They may attempt to learn one additional rune each time they advance in level, just as wizards may attempt to learn new spells. To learn a rune, casters must pass a Chance to Learn Spell roll based upon their Knowledge score. Runecasters who fail this roll may never make another attempt to learn the particular rune in question; it’s simply beyond their grasp. Note that it is impossible to learn some runes without first learning the specified prerequisite runes listed in their descriptions, and some runes may be learned more than once, allowing the caster to use such runes to greater effect. In essence, he has an increased understanding of the truths underpinning the rune and the forces it represents.
In any case, the essential truths that power rune magic are remarkably difficult to grasp. In order to learn a new rune, one must either: Have access to a teacher who already knows the rune, or complete an epic quest that ends with the appropriate revelation or insight. In either case, the runecaster may never learn more than a single rune per level.
See Runes for a list of available runes.
Actually using a rune is a much more involved process than simply scribbling it out. To be effective, a rune must be specially modified to fit the circumstances surrounding its use (even a slightly different situation might mean different truths are at stake in the casting). Scribing a rune is a three-step process known as skapeng (shaping). The first step is the gormeng (planning). During this stage, the caster begins to concentrate on the essential truths and modifies the rune’s ideal image in his mind in accordance with the circumstances. The second step is the skrapeng (scraping), during which the rune is actually carved, drawn, or inscribed. No special tools or items are necessary to shape most runes (any old carving knife or quill will do).
The third step is the virkreng (activation); only then does the caster summon forth the rune’s power. The final step in any activation is wetting or “baptizing” the rune to release its energies. Any non-poisonous liquid is quite suitable for this purpose (ale, water, blood, or even saliva will do). Any rune not baptized within five rounds of its shaping loses its potential and becomes useless. After baptizing the rune, the caster makes a save vs. spells (the “activation roll”). If the save succeeds, the rune becomes active. If it fails, the rune is useless and the caster must begin all over again.
The exact amount of time it takes to shape a rune varies. If the caster is significantly interrupted (surprised, attacked, etc.) during the shaping, all his work is lost and the entire process must begin anew. While shaping runes that take more than a single day, the caster is allowed to eat and sleep normally, but any major diversion from his work (such as training, crafting other objects, or rushing off to adventure) is considered an interruption.
Unlike other magical writing, once a rune has taken effect, it does not disappear. Once its effects are exhausted, however, the rune becomes an ordinary carving with no magical properties. To renew the rune’s power, the caster must shape it all over again. Unless otherwise specified, a rune may be used one time only, though the rune may stand ready in its activated state for years before its power is called upon. Note that at any given time, a runecaster may keep a maximum number of active runes equal to his level. Should the caster shape more runes, the power automatically fades from one of his earlier runes.