Runesmith

Requested by Historian: Lyraine Alei

A runesmith is a devout follower of a deity who has been blessed with ancient knowledge of how to inscribe runes of power into objects, people and locations to bestow the power of the gods onto it. Runesmiths are much respected in society and most everyone carries at least a small trinket with a protective rune on it.

Even carved runes without power are popular trinkets to wear.

"Curse you and your lord!"   The witch was cornered and had nowhere to run. She spat at the three guardsmen approaching her, spears at the ready.   "The sun will drown! The oceans will run red with your blood! CURSE YOU!" she screamed and threw a handful of salt towards the guards.   Invisible tendrils shot out of the ground, wrapping themselves around the legs of the soldiers.   "You will never catch me! Your gods have no power here. This is our lands! Your persecution of our people is at an end!" Desperation made her voice crack, but there was a fanatical undertone to it.   The soldiers' screams of horror was silenced by the Etlha stepping into the alleyway.   "Be silent, men! This heretic will burn, as was ordained" He strode towards the witch, seemingly unaffected by her witchcraft.   The witch recoiled as her magics veered away from the approaching man.   "No!" The witch clasped her hands in front of her and uttered "Førsvi!", the vekjan word for "disappear" or "begone".   Whatever she expected to happen did not come to pass. Instead a black smoke surrounded her, pouring out of her like dark ink. Her face contorted in agony and she fell to the ground, convulsing. The earth around her suddenly shone a golden light, revealing a circle of runes.   "Did you really think that you could use your vile powers to escape your just punishment, witch?" The etlha contemptfully smirked at her. He took a spear from one of the soldiers as he passed.   "Ohria has no mercy!" he yelled as he thrust the spear through the agonized woman's chest.
— A runesmith sanctifying ground to prevent fay magic.

Purpose

The runesmiths were originally ordained by the gods. Which god specifically is debated, but it is at least clear that the very first runesmiths were a gift from the gods to devoted people. A reward for loyal worship.

Over time, the runesmiths and the champions have become the symbol of the covenant between the gods and the mortals. The runesmiths, and by extension; the champions, are the gods' gift back to the mortals as a reward for their worship.

Type
Religious
Tools and materials Runic Inscriptor
 
Qualification Devotion
Intense study
Steady hands
 
Spread Most of the world but more common in the Gimroan Basin than other regions.

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Qualifications

While it is believed that only the most fitting and suited will be chosen and it is the gods themselves that make the choice of who is to become a runesmith, those wishing to be granted this boon spend almost every waking hour studying the arts. Being given the power to etch runes isn't the only thing you need to become a runesmith. You must also learn of all the myriads of materials required, the long and taxing rituals, the dangers of certain chemicals used and the precise shapes of the many runes used.

It has been shown that if a person is dedicated and skilled, they stand a far greater chance of being chosen than someone who does not devote themselves in the same way.

Career Progression

Age is usually the only progression within this particular profession. Those who are chosen take their job very seriously. They have been individually chosen by the gods and devote their entire existence to perfecting their profession. No smith is above another, but with age comes experience, and there are certainly those who are both old and venerated.

While most runesmiths have studied diligently even before becoming ordained, there is always more to learn and more to study. Most runesmiths spend every waking hour either carving and etching runes or studying ancient texts to try and recreate more powerful, lost runes.

Payment

As the chosen of the gods, the runesmiths never need anything again. They are cared for by the people through alms and taxes. Technically they own nothing as their lives belong to their gods, but even the newest, greenest and freshest runesmith will live like a king next to the commoners.

Tools and materials

Runesmiths use divine tools called "inscribers". These are like a hammer and chisel and are tools blessed by their respective god. They use this to carve or engrave the rune shape into the object. Different inscribers are used for different materials and different rune sizes and any smith worth his salt will have a large collection of inscribers.

The runesmiths need many, many different materials to make their runes as they must perform rituals to etch the energy and material into the shape of the rune itself. These materials vary with what rune is made, and some can be extremely rare and expensive. Worse yet, the act of etching a carved rune actually consumes the materials needed, dissolving them into the rune itself to hold its power, so rarer and more powerful runes are not only expensive in terms of knowledge, but in terms of materials as well.

Runesmiths need access to good lighting and good ventilation due to the detail required for the work and the smoke that is often produced by the etching process and even sometimes of the engraving itself. These gases can be quite toxic to inhale, so often runesmiths work in very well ventilated rooms or even completely outside.

Examples

Typical runes that are common to see are protective runes, meant to ward off the fay and their vile witchcraft. These vary in power from small runes that alert the wearer of the presence of fay up to greater sanctification runes that can completely block any witchcraft attempted within its presence.

Other examples include runes meant to provide a blessing from the gods in general, such as giving good luck or fortune. Soldiers may carry trinkets with protective runes on them, meant to shield them from harm or even carry power runes inscribed onto their weapons to guide their hands in battle.

Many nobles hire runesmiths to inscribe their homes with powerful protective runes to keep out assassins, evildoers and fay.



Cover image: "My name is Gaukr Goldenbeard" in ósleiðr script. by Tobias Linder

Comments

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9 Aug, 2020 13:25

What happens to people who spend their lives studying to be a runesmith but aren't chosen? How do they make their living?

Author of Fillimet, bright fantasy land of possibilities
9 Aug, 2020 13:55

Ooh, good question! I must delve into that. adds to to-do list

Author of prize-winning RPG settings Dark Shadows and Cinders of the Cataclysm. Designer of the narratively focused Celenia D10 RPG System.
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