Last week I brought up the idea of migrating the Runic Wizardry spells from the old (now defunct) Moebius Adventures RPG over to an OSR-approach with Mazes & Perils and the community did not disappoint with a few options to explore…
- David Welborn suggested I take a look at Swords & Spells, which is an old 0e supplement from TSR (1976!). As he says = “in a nutshell: higher-level spells are slower than lower-level spells. Spells stored in devices cast quicker; on scrolls, slower.” He also suggested I look at casting times in AD&D for ideas.
- Gabriel Roark suggested I look at Dwarven Glory in the New Searchers of the Unknown RPG Collection for the section on runic magic.
- Tony Rowe suggested I look at the Vikings supplement for 2e AD&D, which has a “runecarver” magic user class that could work.
- And Kasimir Urbanski suggested I look at the demonology rules in Dark Albion, which uses a non-instant approach to magic.
So now I’m going through those ideas and seeing what might work… and I think I’ve come up with something.
A first cut of a Runic Wizard might look something like the following. Please let me know what you think.
Vince, I’m hoping you can chime on this as well. 🙂
Runic Wizards have discovered not only that everything in existence has a true name but that you can gain power over things with those names. With this knowledge, they have mastered the art of empowering symbols with magical intent. A symbol of a true thing made manifest can control it in surprising ways.
These are not your typical, flashy wizards of myth and legend. These are scholars and students, quietly gathering a collection of runes to do amazing things. But they are limited in their abilities. Such control has a cost. And the cost is speed and specificity.
A Runic Wizard can choose to memorize runes from their magical tome each day or they can take their time and find the right rune for the job at hand. But they must be careful and choose the most correct symbol or the intended result may not be what they achieve. To gain specificity requires detail and detail may require more than one rune. Each rune takes a portion of the wizard’s power for the day, so each one is precious.
The full Runic Library is forever incomplete. You may encounter a Runic Wizard who has a few runes here and another who has a completely different set. Here are the rules to follow:
- Scribing a memorized rune takes a full turn to complete. So to scribe a multi-rune spell will take a full turn for each rune.
- Scribing a non-memorized rune takes two full turns to complete. The caster must look up the rune in their tome in the first turn and scribe it in the second.
- Each rune must be drawn in a precious metal such as silver or gold on a natural, unmodified, immovable surface. Stone works best, such as that found deep in a dwarven mine. A street paved in cobblestones or otherwise modified would make the ground incapable of accepting runic magic.
- The wizard must not be interrupted while casting. If interrupted, the runic spell becomes closed to further modification and possibly incomplete. For example, should you be casting the runic spell “Heal + Friends” and be interrupted in the second rune, the spell would heal any creature or individual who triggers it instead of just the first “friendly” creature or character.
- Each runic spell lasts for up to 1 day per level of caster or until the effect is triggered, unless the Permanence ability is used.
- To make a runic spell permanent requires the Permanence ability (gained at 5th level), which takes a full hour to compose. If the wizard is interrupted during this process, an explosion occurs causing damage equal to the number of runes in the original spell times d6. So a “Heal + Friend + Permanence” rune, if interrupted, would cause an explosion doing 2d6 damage in a 10′ radius around the caster.
- The number of spells a Runic Wizard can cast is directly related to their spell level. A 1st level wizard can cast a single rune per day. A 12th level wizard can cast 12 runes per day.
- The number of spells a Runic Wizard can learn is directly tied to their Intelligence score. A wizard with an Intelligence of 6 cannot learn nearly as many runes as a wizard with an Intelligence of 18.
A short library of runes might include:
- Block – prevents a desired effect or conscious target from entering (or leaving) the spell area
- Cold – instantiates a drop in temperature in the affected area by 10 degrees per level of caster
- Evil – limits the effects of the previous rune to only affecting evil-aligned creatures or individuals (such as “Block + Evil”)
- Fire – causes 1d6 points of fire damage to a creature or individual
- Friend – limits the effects of the previous rune to only affecting those creatures or individuals the caster deems “friends”
- Heal – heals 1d6 hit points for the next creature or individual who enters the spell area
- Inward – directs the power of the runic spell inward on a flat plane to the spell area affected
- Outward – directs the power of the runic spell outward on a flat plane
- Sky – directs the power of the runic spell upward towards the heavens
- Sound – directs the power of the runic spell to affect hearing
- Ward – prevents conscious discovery of the spell area
Independence Day Runic Spells
Here are a few runic spells I created just for the 4th of July:
- Fire + Sky = Fireworks
- Cold + Friend + Permanence = Air conditioning
- Block + Evil = Prevents any party crashers
I wish everybody a very happy and safe 4th of July!