Runeclaws Species in Oniran | World Anvil
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The Apex of Wizardry

"Holy shit that thing can cast spells."
— Novice Adventurer (Dead)
f I may be so bold as to posit a question, what do you have when you run into an apex predator twice the size of a valkyrian man fused with the near infinite potential of magic and runestone?
A fuckin' problem. Perhaps even a situation. A raid boss, if you will.
Those who know where they come from might call it a "Dragon Bear", but the name you'll hear a hell of a lot more is "Runeclaw". With unmatched strength and an ability to use magic, this beast is a crowning achievement for hunters, adventurers, and wizards alike.


Marked by Dragons

Runeclaws are pretty easy to understand, all things considered. You'll know you've found one when you see its intimidating size, red-orange mane, the runestone pillars jutting out of its back, and the signature claw. That being said, if you're close enough to notice these details in the first place then you better get ready for a fight. And it will be a fight.
They show up every now and then when a particularly ill-tempered bear is either born with or touched by dragon magic. This in itself isn't really wild, draconic magic seeps into shit all the time, but I can count the animals that can use said magic on a single paw. At least from my own experience. That's what separates Runeclaws from other beasts, those that can use magic aren't nearly as physically formidable as those that can't. Bears normally go in the "can't" category. So the fact that this thing goes in both makes them particularly dangerous.

Unknown Origins

It isn't really known where they came from, my guess is somewhere East since draconic magic is stronger there. But elves would probably know more about that than I do. Where you can find them now are extremely dense environments, usually forests, that have a bit of a magical touch to them. Forests like Stonewood and Sporegrove are good examples. You can find the magical beast in the magical place, who knew.

Territorial Ferocity

Unlike regular bears, which are usually shy, predictable, and have little desire to interact with us, Runeclaws are extremely aggressive and will pick a fight with basically anything made of meat. Unfortunately, this includes us. They're also silmultaneously nomadic and territorial, meaning the danger zone is always moving. They're solitary and its senses aren't always the best, so if you run into one and you're particularly dexterous you always have the option of escape. Keep that in mind.

Primal Wizardry

A runeclaw's magical ability is thanks to the runestone. The pillars on its back act as conduits that channel any ambient magic into the bear's body, and the claw acts as both the spellcasting focus and the spellbook. It's also kinda important to note that there are a handful of spells out there that came from runeclaws. Not exactly exclusive to them, buuuuut you kinda have to fight one to see if it does anything wacky and then copy that wacky thing from its "spellbook." That spellbook being the aforementioned claw.
The runeclaw is not a fan of this.

The Runeclaw Spellbook

Their magic varies in elements but never stray too far from Evocation or Enchantment, so in a fight it'll prioritize damage and making itself stronger. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't prepare for any surprises.
Here's an ever-changing list of all the spells runeclaws have been known to cast. If you ever fight one and it casts something new you should absolutely spread the word, adventurer's code. The tavern I got this from also did what knights do best and organized the shit out of them. Which is great cause I'm not really a magic guy.

Regular Spells

  • Prestidigitation for some reason
  • Electric Arc (3 targets)
  • Magic Missile (Upgraded)
  • Gale Blast
  • Scorching Ray
  • Crashing Wave
  • Fireball (Upgraded)
  • Lightning Bolt (Upgraded)
  • Wind Wall (Weakened)
  • Lightning Rod
  • Frozen Storm
  • Wall of Fire (Weakened)
  • Runic Resilience (Upgraded)
  • Stoneskin
  • Haste
  • Jump
  • Arcane/Flame Wisp (Upgraded)
  • Scorching Fists (Claw)
  • Weapon Storm (Claw)
  • Wall of Thorns (Weakened)
  • Wall of Water (Weakened)
  • Sea of Spikes

Runeclaw Spells

  • Flaming Charge
  • Wreathes itself in flame and charges.
  • Chromatic Blast
  • Arcane blast of a random element.
  • Elemental Arena
  • Empowers a specific element when used around it. Goes both ways.
  • Elemental Conduit
  • Absorbs elemental magic from oncoming attacks and redirects it.
  • Elemental Shockwave
  • Absorbs elemental magic from the environment to release a wave of destruction. Can be used after Elemental Arena/Conduit.
  • Chain Lightning
  • Lightning Bolt that can bounce between numerous targets. Used after Lightning Rod.
  • Wizard's Claw
  • Upgrades its claw, increasing range and adding an elemental effect.
  • Chromatic Armor
  • Arcane armor of a random element.

Okay now hear me out
This is totally the song that plays when you fight one

Hunting Strategies

As you could probably sniff out, the hide of a runeclaw is thick and tough to penetrate. Piercing weapons might be ideal, but if you're that insistent you might be able to make do with slashing or bludgeoning if you can swing hard enough in the right spot.
Keeping your distance might be the safest strategy though, the tradeoff for it's size, strength, and magic is a slow and lumbering movement. And that claw makes it extremely difficult to climb as well as literally any other bear.
Your party's composition is also super important. You're gonna want some experience on your team if you're thinking of taking one on. At least one magic user is ideal, especially one that can counter or dispel. That being said, be careful with the type of magic and only use your strongest spells, thanks to the runestone there's always a chance that weaker magic can be absorbed and used against you.
Depending on your party alchemists might be more favorable for you. Any alchemical items help significantly and you'll want to stack a hell of a lot of statuses on 'em. You'll also want some form of healing for obvious reasons, the fight can and will get ugly.
If all else fails, you could never go wrong with someone who can tank both the spells and the bear.

Potential Loot

While there won't really be a nearby cave filled with the loot of past adventurers, the rewards are still pretty good. The runestone conduits are still completely functional and give magic users a way to learn and copy any new spells, even spells that only the runeclaw could cast. These spells can also fetch a high price if you go to the right wizard or magic shop.
The runeclaw itself is also a huge win, aside from the obvious maiming you could do with one, a crafty adventurer can also take advantage of its magical potential and use it as a big ass spellbook.
And of course the hide can make for a nice rug or a solid set of leather armor. Super comfortable, too.

Master Jontaro

While I would love to go on an adventure, writing them is enough for me.



Cover image: by Myself


Author's Notes

One of my favorite Magic cards, Runeclaw Bear, hasn't been reprinted since 2015 and I don't think it ever will. So I'm invoking squatters rights and making the concept even cooler. I love being an artist.

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