Hitler was noted as using runes during his reign to send cryptic messages from one camp to another. Also, since long before the association with Nazi Germany, the swastika has been a world wide symbol of good luck and happiness. The ancient symbol has also represented the sun, the four winds, the four seasons, and the four directions of the compass. Some say that its original affiliation was with Thor's Hammer.
A man named "Herman Pohl Magdeburg" sold bronze amulets with runes etched on them to soldiers during World War I for protection in battle.
An occultist named "Seigfried Adolf Kunner" created and taught a whole series of rune exercises. While contorting their bodies in rune like shapes, his pupils would yodel which they believed released magical energy.
The "" symbol that you associate doctors and prescriptions with is a sign used in Italy which stands for "Recipe". The symbol's origin is with ancient Roman times. Physicians of that time used this sign of Jupiter "" to summon the help of Jupiter himself (father of all Roman Gods). It was also believed that the planet Jupiter was made of tin and so tin was added to many prescriptions in belief that it would invoke the healing power of Jupiter. During the middle ages, the symbol changed until it took the form that you see doctors use today.
Another modern day use of a runic alphabet can be found all over Ozzy Osbourne's "Speak of the Devil" album. His message is of the loss of his guitarist Randy Rhoads. He has some other cryptic text on the back cover which I believe is Arabic. On his "Diary of a Madman" album, a good portion of the inside sleeve has the Arabic style type. In addition, there are astrological type charts and more cryptic messages written in a form of the Theban alphabet.
Still another band that is using an unknown alphabet to encrypt a message is "Crimson Glory" on their "Transendence" album (great album).
Just recently the back page of a tabloid newspaper caught my interest. For just under $20.00 you can buy a magical charm with many ancient mystic symbols in it. The manufacturer claimed "Everything, absolutely everything you ask for will be granted!", and they backed up with a 30 day money back guarantee! WHAT!?!?!?
I would suggest that each player have a 1% - 5% chance of knowing each letter in a specific alphabet per their characters knowledge points or pick one player character to know a written language; preferably the character with the highest intellect. Then any maps, notes, or wall carvings that contained runes would be decipherable by that character only. This way the party would have to depend upon him to translate what the message says. If that player character would happen to be of an evil or chaotic alignment, it might be rather interesting to watch the results.
1) No item can become magical by a player character unless it has a specific, essential purpose for the author who carves it. For instance, an attempt can be made at a "vs Barbarians" weapon to pay vengeance against barbarians who killed a persons wife and family. (Note: The weapon's magic will still be in effect even after all the guilty barbarians and/or the author has been killed).
2) The author must have a deep personal passion behind the carving of a rune at the time of its carving. (If someone is deeply moved by a situation being experienced by someone else, they may possibly attempt a carving).
3) The carving of a rune can only be made once over a certain situation. (If it is an ongoing vengeance, attempted once per year). Note: In a situation of war, a carving can possibly be made by each soldier that is emotionally moved by the situation.
4) The motivation behind the carving of a rune must be serious. Nothing short of the loss of a major prized possession or the death of a close friend should precede any carving attempt. If the threat of loss moves a person enough he may possibly attempts a carving. (Such as an evil tyrant threatening to take over a town of people).
5) Blood must be spread among and into the runes.
6) The author must be in contact with the blood stained letters he carved for one hour alone while in meditation reflecting on the purpose of the rune's carving. (Note: He cannot walk, talk, or do anything but mediate).
You, as the game master, may decide weather a player may attempt carvings upon multiple weapons and armor. The gamemaster must also decide if a failed attempt can be tried again on a different item. I suggest following this chart.
|01||-||02||=||Bad fortune. Item adds a -2 to its roll.|
|03||-||05||=||Bad fortune. Item adds a -1 to its roll.|
|18||-||19||=||Good fortune. Item adds +1 to its roll.|
|.||.||20||=||Good fortune. Item adds +2 to its roll.|
If a "Bad fortune" roll would actually benefit an item, such as if armorment in your system benefits from negative, then the system's chart would have to be reversed. Depending on the magical power endowed upon the person carving the runes, or if you allow the carving to be aided by a spell, you might want to adjust the chart appropriately.
Note: There are claims that each of the five points symbolize the earth, air, fire, water, and spirit regardless of it being inverted or not. Others claim that if the point faces upwards it symbolizes feminine energy (goddess) and when the point faces downwards it is reference to male energy (god). Please note that the intent desired varies upon the user and the religion.
The circle has been said to be the most powerful of all symbols. It represents infinity, eternity, unity, and perfection. The circle is believed to contain and focus magical energy.
Formed by interlocking two triangles is the hexagram. Also known by most people today as the Jewish star of David. In hebrew it is called Magen David, or David's Shield. This symbol is believed to protect against fire, fatal weapons and the hazards in travel.
The triangle represents the number three. It also relates to the Past, Present, and Future; Wisdom, Love and Truth; Body, Mind and Soul. In addition, it stands for the Holy Trinity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
One of the oldest symbols known to man is the cross. It represents Jesus and God and is also an emblem of good fortune. Some believe it represents the four quarters of heaven and can invoke heavenly powers. It truly is the most powerful protector against all forces of evil.
Made by combining two ancient magical symbols - a circle atop which stood for eternal and a "Tau" or "T" shape below which stood for "life", was the "ankh". People believed that the ankh was a symbol of eternal life. The term for joining two magical symbols to create an alternate symbol is "bindrune".
A type of bindrune still in use today is the constantine cross. In the year 312, before his victory at Milvain Bridge Emperor Constantine said the cross appeared to him in a vision. It is composed of two initial Greek letters of the name of Christ, rho (P) and chi (X).
The advantages of using bindrunes over rune scripts is this: Bindrunes take up far less room than a magical message written out in script form.
Because of their unique concealed appearance, bindrunes can be displayed openly without their function being reviled. If you by chance were trying to hide the function of a symbol, making a bindrune commonly produces an attractive looking symbol which can be hidden in decoration.
Its disadvantages are that they cannot contain more than five characters. The reason for this is because it is important that each character should retain its own original individual significance while still blending with the harmony it creates with the other runes. When binding runes together, be aware that you may be creating hidden runes that will conflict with desired ones. NOTE: When a character creates a bindrune, the gamemaster should try to find hidden runes within it. In finding one/some, he as gamemaster should change, reverse, lessen or cancel the magical properties within the bindrune.
= vs weakness (adds strength)
= aids in warning
= aids wisdom
= protects traveler
= vs cold
= partnership strength
= aids stamina
= vs fire
= vs evil
= aids accomplishment
= aids strength/health
= strengthens family
= strengthens spirit
= vs multiple foe (often used on war related weapons).
Note: Once foes within sight of the sword are reduced to one, then the item does not have a bonus.
= induces misfortune/hardship
Note: Since this rune is used as a weapon of assault, the assailant must find a way for his victim to carry it.
Keep in mind that none of these runes should act as 100% effect, Just a bonus (+1 or +2 toward saving throw)
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