True Understanding > Runes

Do the rune carving rules in Barbarian count as casting a spell for the purposes of the True Understanding talent?

I would rule no because I would count Rune Casting as spells and therefore not subject to that talent. The name of the talent necessary to make runes seems to imply this.

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What talent is necessary to make runes? I’m not aware of any. Just an excessive number of successive skill checks. The runecasting talent tree in Barbarian seems to be unrelated to making magic runes—it just makes you a divination con artist.

Yes, this system seems a bit odd since other ways to practice “magic” rely heavily on talents. Perhaps one could add a prerequisite talent that requires the user to speak Nordheimer and have 1+ in Lore focus, and eliminate the need for a Linguistics test.

The topic isn’t house rules to change rune crafting, just how it actually works in the game as written. Specifically does it count as spells for the purpose of that one talent. Someone said there’s a talent somewhere in the game that is both a prerequisite for using the rune crafting rules and explains why they should be considered spells for that talent. Drifting off topic into things that aren’t part of the game will make it difficult to get a clear answer about what is.

Runecasting. It is the second talent in the Skald talent tree. You can find the tree on page 16 and the talent itself on page 17. Honestly, when I first read the talents in the book I completely overlooked the rune casting talent until someone in a game I play brought up runes. The player in question has a habit of rules bargaining and power gaming that makes me immediately cautious of anything they present so I looked into it. At first I didn’t realize that it was part of a talent until I decided to check because it read too much like magic for it to not have some kind of required training.

That talent has nothing to do with creating runes. I said that in my first reply. It’s for trickery and deception and pretending to use runes and has utterly nothing to do with actually making runes, just pretending to use them for divination. Nothing in the rune rules requires a talent. The only requirement seems to be succeeding on the series of checks and maybe knowing the nordheimer language.

Here is what the book says:
Prerequisite: Skald
Maximum ranks: 2
Experience point cost: 200

Runecasting is the act of seeking inspiration from drawing a run and interpreting its meaning. While some sorcerors might use runes to seek out a divination, the bard draws runes as an act of theater. Judgement is pronounced as if from the gods themselves. Runecasting reduces the Difficulty of Persuasion tests against the superstitious by one step and increases the mental damage of all threaten actions by +1.

Targets with willpower 11+ or an Insight Sorcery, or Thievery Focus 3+ are immune to these effects, unless you have runecasting 2, at which point even they are convinced of your trickery.

The requirement of this talent or the at least the ability to use sorcery to make runes is implied. But of course that is my personal opinion based on the fact that everything in Conan has some sort of cost and allowing anyone to cast runes just because trivializes how rare and dark magic is in general in Hyperborea.

I don’t think inscribing Runes counts as sorcery. To me they seem more akin to Petty Enchantments or even normal skill tests since they are not that strong.

Normally you get +1 to a skill test for one use. And there are pretty hefty requirements:

  • Successful D2 Sorcery test
  • Successful D1 Craft test
  • Successful D2 Lore test that must yield Momentum
  • Gain 1 Wound and 1 Trauma

I think meeting those prerequisites is tough enough. In my opinion, it is not sorcery and any character with an appropriate character can do it.

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No it is pure charlatanism. Thats why it’s the path of trickery. The exact opposite is said. The actual text exactly says it’s an act of theater. You quoted that line. That means it’s fake. It’s acting. The point of anyone who knows enough sorcery, insight, or thievery skill being immune that they know you character is making stuff up.

Your argument is based solely on a talent having a name with the word rune in it instead of the text of the talent or the context of the talent (a set of talents based on fooling people). The talent would say something like “required to do magic runes” if it were required—or would actually have some effect on making magic runes if it had anything at all what so ever to do with the rules in the later chapter about doing real magic runes.

I wasn’t arguing. I was stating my opinion based on what was actually said within the rune casting ability. That being said, why did you ask for people’s opinions if you had already made your decision? The sentence you are referring to states that bards use it theatrically while some sorcerors use it magically. This implies some kind of training is necessary regardless. Addtionally in the first paragraph regarding runes implies much the same thing:

“Runes are markings inscribed onto stone, wood, metal, bone or tattooed or even scarred onto living flesh. The skalds use the runes as a secret language and they are said to have magical properties. They decorate weapons, buildings, grave-sites, marker stones and poles and are worn as pendants. Some people use small stones to divine with runes.”

The way it is stated runes themselves are not known by everyone and are a secret language. This implies that some training is necessary to even attempt them. It is my opinion that because of this not just anyone can run around inscribing runes on things. This includes untrained pcs. I appreciate your opinion but I simply cannot agree with you that anyone can create runes. It cheapens what they do and what sorcerors have to sacrifice to do what they do.

In the Secret of Iron (pages 38-39) section of the book it is mentioned that a caste of smithes use runes and other petty enchantments. Later it is also mentioned that the Volva, the barbarian equivilant of a witch also uses rune. Perhaps it is the intention that they are supposed to be added to the list of petty enchantments a character can learn. That is purely supposition though as that is the only reference ever made to that which I could find.

On page 44 as part of the features of a nordenheimer village it is stated that a village will often have a sorcerer and as part of that list they mention a rune-carver.

If you go to page 83 there are stats for a Rune-Carver. One of their abilities specifically mentions the mechanics of the Rune-Carver creating what would be the equivilant of a D5 Rune at the cost of a wound to himself.

Over and over again the carving of runes is mentioned as some kind of petty enchantment/sorcerous act. It simply does not make sense for someone to be able to do it untrained. In hindsight I might also allow a character to craft runes if they have the appropriate language and take it as a petty enchantment. The ruling is entirely up to the GM of course but that is how I will be running my games.

I read it as pure trickery. Something like:

And so the priest drew a rune in the earth beneath his feet, he seemed to not be in control of his arm. His eyes grew bigger as he finished drawing, the looked accusingly at the newly arrived adventurers, pointed his finger at them and began shouting: “You! You will bring doom to us all! Leave here now, or by the gods we will all perish! So the gods foretold! Leave or we will make you!”

Clearly a charlatan, that does not want the Party to intervene in his plans.

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My disagreement with you has nothing to do with my original question. It’s simply that absolutely nothing in the book says the talent that itself says it is a lie has nothing to do with actual magic is required to make runes. Just sufficient training to succeed at all those checks. All those other rune-carvers are probably actual rune-carvers, not lying bards pretending to use runes to con people. Except when they are liars and the runes they carved for the PCs do nothing except get them to run off into danger for the fake rune caster.

That has nothing to do with whether True Understanding counts runes as spells.