There are fast spells, which have effects that spring into the world quickly to do their deeds (like Fireball), and then there are slow spells, which linger or wait for some condition to be met before releasing their power. Runic Wizardry is the latter.
For this style of magick, an ancient alphabet is used. Many runes are tied to unique concepts such as the rune for blocking a particular effect or target or the rune designed to anchor a magical force to a particular place. Other runes correspond to a rough alphabet of sounds for “spelling” words to be used in conjunction with the conceptual runes. Some have said that this is why it is good to have a true name long enough that even a runic wizard wouldn’t want to spell it out.
There is no real reference that collects all of these runes in one place. Wizards spend lifetimes gathering a small library so that they may perform this kind of magick. And powerful wizards of other disciplines have been known to employ runic mages that can enhance, harness, and control the powers they cannot.
The difficulty with runes is the time and resources involved. Each rune takes at least a minute to construct. Some, such as permanence, take an hour to complete. And each rune must be drawn in a precious metal such as silver or gold on a natural, unmodified, immovable surface. Stone works best. For example, ground that has been walked on still exists in its natural state because a person hasn’t deliberately modified the ground even if they’ve left footprints. However, a street paved in cobblestones or otherwise modified would make the ground incapable of accepting runic magic.
The realms of dwarves are said to be littered with runes in the forgotten places. Mines carved deep in the earth hold innumerable surfaces ready to accept such magick.
Once a rune is set down, it will last for a day unless made permanent. And once a runic spell is drawn, it disappears from natural sight and becomes closed to additional modification. So it is confined to a specific area and cannot move or be changed once established.
The trick is constructing them in such a way that their energy is received by the universe. Everything has a true name that can be leveraged, from the wind to the rock to the spirits of the dead. It’s finding the names and ways to represent them that’s the challenge.
Runic wizards spend years researching a single thought to its conclusion, attempting many variations until they hit upon the right combination of lines, swirls, and intent. And many of these same wizards jealously hold on to the secret names of everything under the sun (and many things beyond it).
A few of the more common symbols and combinations include:
- Ward + Animals forms a spell that keeps all animals from seeing or entering the affected area.
- Block + Spirits safeguards an area from the disembodied dead.
- Explode + Evil sets off an explosion of magical energy whenever a character or creature with an evil alignment enters the area.
- Block + Cold would create a warm area even in the coldest conditions.
- Dispel + Hate creates an area of positive energy.
Magic-Users with the spell “Detect Magic” can see these runes in an area and you will discover that some wizards become very paranoid if they survive their first accidental encounter with runic wizardry. Even the slightest brush with such magick can leave its mark.
You will rarely find a runic mage alone in the world simply because of the amount of concentration it takes to do their magick. They require protection to complete each and every spell, which is exhausting…
I would love to find a way to make this type of magic work in the land of OSR gaming and Mazes & Perils but it definitely doesn’t fit in with the other styles of magic. So I need some help in bringing this to light.
Any ideas? I’m all ears.