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Rune magic

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Chessie, Oct 24, 2013.

  1. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    Hi everyone, so part of the magic system I've created for my WIP includes runes. There are only a handful of them that can be used to power certain objects for magical use. They are tiny animal symbols and the source of their power are the auroras. The light is harvested into these runes when the lights are out in full force, and certain colors have specific powers, etc. These runes must be carved on the objects by Shamans as it is a specialized skill in my world.

    But my concern is that this type of magic has been done to death in fantasy. I'm not sure if its original or creative enough. I would love some ideas thrown out that I could play with to add more of a twist in. Thank you!
    Samantha Raspe likes this.
  2. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    How about different kinds of light? Sunlight does one thing, moonlight another, starlight a third (no moon). For more fun, add firelight or magically-generated light.
  3. Addison

    Addison Auror

    It's your story, you're a voice no one has heard or read, you're already original so don't worry about that. I actually have never read a story with that kind of magic and it sounds cool.
  4. Kn'Trac

    Kn'Trac Minstrel

    I wouldn't worry too much about not being original. I've read my fair share of fantasy works and this is the first time I see the aurora's involved in the empowerment of runes. And as Addison said, it's your story anyway.

    Go ahaid with it, I like the idea, it's fresh.
  5. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

    I love the idea of rune magic, but I rarely see it done right or given the attention it deserves. It seems to me that people just throw around the word rune for any form of written or engraved magic without giving it much thought. Of course, as a corollary to that, if it is done right then it's quite refreshing. Personally between the animal shapes and the shaman stuff and all that I think you might be better off going with calling it totems. Runes to my mind suggest a more scholar-y approach to magic while what you're describing sounds more along the lines of nature magic.

    Hmmm.... let's see, what else? If you're worried about not being creative enough then I would suggest looking back to the original source of runes, Norse Mythology, and drawing inspiration from there. I don't know the specifics, but I believe the tale goes something like Odin first discovered runes after sacrificing himself to himself by nailing himself to the tree Yggdrassil for nine days on his spear Grungir. Just glimpsing at that there's several elements you can take inspiration from. Sacrificing himself to himself? That's some crazy cosmic hacking right there. Or there's just the idea of sacrifice on it's own. You could try to implement something to do with spears, or special trees.... There's all sorts of possibilities there.

    That said though, I'm a lazy bastard so I'd just keep it the same and change them to totems rather than try to re-imagine the whole thing.
  6. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    Totems are large carvings--wooden statues if you can call them such. These inscriptions are much smaller and carved into items. But thank you for the suggestion. :)

    So true this is my story and I'll tell it in my own way. Thanks for the reminders! And Skip.knox, I like the starlight idea, going to play around with that. Thanks!
  7. ascanius

    ascanius Inkling

    I have a rune/ward system that is part of the overall magic system. its not quit a true rune system though due to the way my magic system works. do the effects of different light affect a single tune differently?
    you could have different sources of change the effects of runes in different ways, or maybe the color is what is important, maybe both. what about stringing different runes together like a sentence or maybe a single hybrid rune, maybe that hybrid is then added to a rune sentence.
  8. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    Hmm, I hadn't thought of perhaps putting them in a sentence or hybrid. Interesting. Hybrid seems like it would match what I've got going on. The runes (carvings in the story) harvest the lights of the auroras for magical use. Each color has the ability to summon different types of ancestral spirits and powers.

    EDIT: After a bit more research, I think magical staves is more what I'm going for. Runes are different...so I guess it helps to know that!
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 25, 2013
  9. shangrila

    shangrila Inkling

    Honestly, I haven't seen this type of magic done very often. Sanderson does it in Elantris, kind of, but I wouldn't worry about it being done to death or anything.
  10. teacup

    teacup Auror

    I've not exactly read too many fantasy books, but still, I've never actually read one using rune magic.
    If you feel it's been done to death, you could maybe put your own twist on it, or play off the fact that it's done a lot.
  11. Chad Lynch

    Chad Lynch Dreamer

    With magic there should always be a how (it works/ is done), a source for the power, and a cost. The first and the last can sometimes be combined. Perhaps the light from a burning sacrifice can provide more power than sunlight. Greater power, but the cost can be terrible.
  12. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

    Just to add another wrinkle, maybe pure starlight's effect could vary based on which constellations were in the sky. Also, the nature of the rune could be different depending on the lighting conditions under which it was carved (and the material, of course).
  13. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    Ah yes! The idea I have is that the carvings are done when the lights are out. Only thing is the auroras come out a handful of times during the winter...so something like starlight would add to the efficiency of the magic system.
  14. Ankari

    Ankari Hero Breaker Moderator

    Don't worry about an idea being done to death. Every idea has been done to death. For instance, I have rune magic in my world as well.

    Just create the mechanics of your magic system, stick to it, and write your story.
  15. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

    I think physical tools for magic are absolutely appropriate and cannot be done to death. For example, cards, tea leaves, runes, sticks, bones... They all have different "feels" to them and so by choosing a particular tool, you are actually conveying a lot already. The fact that you chose to combine runes with animals (several of the old Norse runes were animals) and light, makes this system unique. Also... am I understanding correctly? Are your mages carving little animals? Or are they using runic symbols for animals? I wasn't totally clear on exactly what it's like.

    Anyways, the Norse runes could be combined to form sort of compound runes, incorporating several runes into one bigger symbol. "Rune rigs" still exist, fields in the countryside in England, where they're divided into triangle plots and squares.

    There are a lot of examples of how runes have been used and recycled, as magic tools for different people, both magical and not (Nazis used runes for the "SS" and the swastika). I think you can use the word if you like t, but I'd encourage you to come up with some word other than "rune' because I think the magic you're inventing is truly unique and it's perhaps too mundane a word for something so different?
  16. Chessie

    Chessie Guest

    Hi Caged Maiden, thank you. Yes, the runes are carvings of mostly animals (symbols of them). For now I'm calling them carvings for simplicity's sake, but I want the name to include the light somehow. I'll look up the ideas you gave. :)
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 27, 2013
  17. Leslie Vingerhoets

    Leslie Vingerhoets New Member

  18. Leslie Vingerhoets

    Leslie Vingerhoets New Member

    That sounds very intreaging. Myself, I'm slowly diving into the Roots of RUNE writing, to omit it and teach it to others like you perhaps. Here is an example:

  19. Leslie Vingerhoets

    Leslie Vingerhoets New Member

    • That sounds very intreaging. Myself, I'm slowly diving into the Roots of RUNE writing, to omit it and teach it to others like you perhaps. Here is an example :

  20. Vaporo

    Vaporo Inkling

    The problem I always have with runic magic systems that nobody even bothers to explain their origins. What makes these arbitrary lines and shapes so special? Are they a fundamental part of the universe? If so, we should probably see them appear in nature. Are they an ancient dead language? If so, what makes this particular language magical? How did the language become so thoroughly bound up with the universe that simply writing in it can have an effect.

    In one WIP setting that's been rolling around in the back of my mind, I take the "fundamental part of the universe" approach. In that setting, "runes" are crystal-like mathematically definable patterns that appear in nature all the time. New "runes" are discovered on a regular basis by experimentation and mathematical extrapolation.

    Unfortunately, since you're specifically using animal symbols I don't think you can take this approach. So, what causes animal symbols to absorb light? Is there a particular spirit that likes the drawings? Did some ancient artist drop his sketch book into an interdimensional portal and unwittingly bind his drawing up with with the very fabric of the universe?

    Also, after typing this I just saw how old this thread is. I'm sure OP has figured out what they're going to do by now.

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