Runequest Thursday #191 - Runic Artifacts for Older School and RQG games!

Clint Staples

In this RQT, I took a shot a writing up rules for Runic Artifacts that could work in Older Runequest Systems like RQ2 or RQ3 as well as for the latest version, which folks are calling RQG!

Now, I admit I have been too busy to allow myself to get lost in RQG yet, so I may not have a handle on how things should work. But the mechanic I chose is the ability for working the RQG version of the Artifact is the Runic Passion, and the ability to Invoke it to gain a bonus in game. Each artifact confers a number of abilities, some of which must be triggered by the Attuner of the Artifact, but one of which functins as long as the Artifact is on the Attuner's person.


Runic Artifacts


Below you will find several powerful magic items, such as would be suitable rewards for certain successful heroquests, the attainment of Runelevel status, or similar. These artifacts are reasonably powerful, and should never be available for “sale”,  as it were. Rumor of their appearance is generally enough to bring powerful parties in search of them, so possessing one “paints a target” on one’s back!


Note that each artifacts works best in the possession of someone who embodies that Rune. In older School Runequest, this means being a Rune level or Acolyte in a cult that holds that Rune (examples: Death Humakt, Air for Orlanth). In RQG, this means Someone having a passion for that Rune at 80% or higher. HOW the person accesses that rune is not important, so a sorcerer with a runic connection is as viable as attuner as is a cultist.


Runic Artifacts are associated with a single rune, and are often considered sacred to a cult that embraces that rune, but the artifact itself is not affiliated with the cult, only the rune. ANY cult expressing that rune can access the artifact.


Accessing a Runic Artifact:


In order to Access the powers of a Runic Artifact, it must first be Attuned. This requires and Attunement ritual, in which the hero attempt to comprehend the expression of the Rune that she shares with the artifact. This takes 3d8 hours, and requires a significant investment of ritual materials and practices sacred to the cult (the details of which the player of the hero is encouraged to imagine).


At the end of the Rite, the hero should roll POW x5% or less (in Older School) or against the  percentage Runic Passion. On a success, the Artifact is attuned, and the hero immediately loses 1 to 3 Permanent POW, which infuses the Artifact and powers the Attunement. In addition to binding the hero to the artifact, these POW constitute a repository which the possessing her may use to access the powers of the Artifact. So the more of the hero’s POW investing in the Artifact, the more often the hero can benefit from its effects.

I provided two sample artifacts, but people can make more using the formula - and I probably will!


Use of Artifacts:


In order to use an artifact, an attuned hero must fulfill all of the following.

  • The artifact must be on the attuner’s person.
  • The Attuner must have Magic Points available and be conscious, or in RQG games, her Passion for the attuned rune must be accessible (not exhausted through use).
  • Each artifact has a Passive Effect. Regardless of whether the other powers are available to the attuner, she can always benefit from the Passive Effect, simply by having the Artifact on her person.
  • The artifact may be used once for each POW in the Artifact’s Attunement, which lasts for up to 10 minutes x the number of POW attuned into the artifact. Exhausted uses may be recharged in Older School games by devoting 10 Magic Points to the Artifact per POW to be recharged, or in RQG when after the interval in which you would recover your attuned Rune.
  • Artifacts of greater POWer capacity are possible, as is the possibility of increasing the strength of the attunement. If the GM and player are enjoying the artifact, it might also be possible to “unlock” further abilities with more POW sacrifice.'


Sample Artifacts:


Cat’s Paw (Beast)

This wizened talisman appears to be a cord of woven tendon and catgut, on which is strung a small mummified feline talon. It expresses the Beast Rune: Cat, might be coveted by a Basmoli lionman, Hsunchen Pantherchild, Lunar Tiger Cultist, even a Yinkin Acolyte.

  • Passive Effect: The attuner’s Move Silently skill is increased by 10% x the number of POW in the Attunement.
  • Cat’s Paw: Allows the attuner to mentally possess (with a POW contest if the cat resists) the body of a single feline within her POW x 10 yards. Though she remains within her own body and may still act normally, while within range, she can also act through the cat. The attuner can even take action in both forms, but no matter what, can only take the same total number of actions as ever, simply split between the two forms as she wishes. While within range, she can perceive through the cat’s senses, but using her own Perceptions skill(s).
  • Optional “Unlockable”: Cat’s Talon: Allows the attuner to manifest a feline talon, either a glowing semi-transparent physical talon, or one of flesh and blood, that seamlessly blends with the arm of the attuner. The Talon does 1d10+1 damage (not including damage bonus), counts as a magic weapon, and confers a stackable enhancement not unlike Bladesharp, adding +5% to hit and +1 Damage per POW in the Attunement.


Light of Day (Fire/ Sky)

This medallion is of gold and emblazoned on each side with a sun in splendor, its rays extending to the edges of the medallion, its humanoid features stern and implacably. To each holder of Light of Day, the face displayed appears to be an idealized version of the deity they imagine to embody Fire and Sky. So a Yelmalion might perceive a beardless youth with a powerful stare, while a cultist of the Sundragon would see note the wyrmish slit eyes, the long snout, prominent teeth and scales of the inhuman head.

  • Passive Effect: As long as Light of Day shines, the attuner has a Bonus to Visual Perception equal to 10% x the now of POW in the Attunement.
  • Light of Day: Shines with all the powers of true Daylight, creating a lighted area with a radius equal to 10 yards x the POW in the Attunement. Within this area, creatures (like trolls and vampires) who suffer from daylight are fully afflicted. The direction of the light is from the medallion, so shadowed areas are horizontal from the medallion. If there is other daylight, this will make it all but impossible to avoid exposure. If there no other source of daylight, shadowed areas are determined with the medallion as the light source.
  • Optional “Unlockable”: Gaze of Skyfire: A single beam of solar energy may be directed at a single target, doing 4d6 Fire damage to its target’s total Hit Points on a POW contest success. If the target is susceptible to fire or daylight, even a failed attack does half damage.