Runes

The ultimate sources of magic are the runes. The runes are the building blocks of creation, metaphysical powers that, when channeled, manipulated and combined, create all things. The Earth rune, for instance, is the basis for the physical world. Combine that with the Water rune and oceans are possible. Introduce the Fire rune and the sun provides light and warmth to allow life to prosper. Bring in the Air and Fertility runes and the world has rain-bearing winds and plants that grow and foster more life. Add the Man and Beast runes and all manner of life can proliferate. If a benevolent god introduces the Harmony rune then all these things will live in peace and balance. Should another god introduce the Disorder rune then mayhem and war might result. Despite all these runes and their combinations, everything is still immortal, incapable of dying; so introducing the Death rune completes the natural cycle of birth, life, death and decay.

Runes are the archetypes of creation, power and definition. Magic is the way of connecting with these archetypes and either tapping or manipulating their essential natures. A Fly spell in a sorcerer’s grimoire will be represented as a formula; that formula will include the Air and Motion runes, allowing the caster to defy gravity and soar into the sky. A Fly miracle granted by a god will mean that that deity has control over the Air and Motion runes. A diabolist might call upon a flying demon to carry him into the sky.

The runes, therefore, are at the heart of all magic. Their presence is generally subtle and requires little conscious reference by the magic caster; because the runes’ innate power has been transmitted through a prayer, a formula, or a spirit or demon.

Mortals cannot possess runes but they can gain great affinity with them, usually through cult membership, study and deliberate questing or sometimes through the gifts of gods, demons or the other supernatural entities that have direct control over the runes. That is why this system is called RuneQuest because, to attain the greatest power possible short of becoming a god, one must create and develop such a runic affinity.

List of Runes

Not all runes are alike though; some are more powerful than others; some are antagonistic and some are dependent on the existence of others. Despite their metaphysical nature, all runes can be categorized.

Elemental Runes

The base components of creation.

  • Air
  • Darkness
  • Earth
  • Fire
  • Moon
  • Water

Form Runes

These describe the differing shapes living beings take.

  • Beast
  • Dragon
  • Man
  • Spirit
  • Plant

Power Runes

Runes of Power are arranged in diametrically opposed pairs. These runes derive from, and are influenced by, the Elemental Runes and influence the Form Runes. The runes in each column are complimentary with each other (e.g. Fertility and Harmony). There is interaction between runes in different columns, but two directly opposed runes cannot be combined.

Harmony Disorder
Movement Stasis
Fertility Death
Truth Illusion
Law Chaos

Condition Runes

The Condition Runes define how gods, cults, or individuals interact with the preceding runes. Each works in different ways.

  • Infinity (mark of the gods; freedom from bounds of material realm; reserved for gods and demi-gods)
  • Magic (closely affiliated with transformation; the ability to command, shape, and control other runes but on a temporary basis)
  • Mastery (prowess over a particular Form, Power, or Condition rune; indication of ascendency)
  • Communication (language, diplomacy, and trade; willingness to enter dialogue and to bargain or compromise)

Runes

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