Questions on Vitkir rune magic

I'm planning on having some rune wizard NPC's (from HMRE) in my game. To get a handle on how they work I made a list of things that I imagined my NPC's doing and tried to do them with the system. Some fit into rune magic easily (e.g. heal a wound or make a horse - in fact they are absolutely amazing at healing wounds and manufacturing horses.)

But some are not so clear. I'm going to list some of these here in hopes that someone who has used the Vitkir reads my post and has some feedback.

Spy on a distant location: I first thought that one of my vitkir could put a subtitle little rune in a location then spy on their rune using a rune script. This feels in character to me yet I don't see any appropriate guidelines. I was thinking of letting my NPCs use the Sowilo (Sun) rune for this.

Break an arcane connection to one of their runes: I didn't see a guideline for this. It makes sense that if the rune wizards had a way to turn off their distant runes, one of their greatest weaknesses becomes much less easy to exploit. It would have been silly for the author (flip flip ..Hey, it's Erik Dahl, I know him!) to include a way to counteract it. Yet if the rune was carved into a piece of wood, I feel ok letting the Vitkir develop an Ihwaz spell to alter the underlying wood - thereby destroying the rune indirectly.

Fly: I see nothing, none of the runes look like they're set up to do this. Vitki can move really fast using Raido, they can "summon" people to them (is that supposed to be teleportation or something akin to a mentem spell compelling them to make their own way to the vitkir?). They can even transform themselves into another living creature of approximately the same size. So if you have appropriately sized wyvren in your game, vitkir can fly using wings. Perhaps with a few more magnitudes turning yourself into an eagle is doable. But flight, as in wizard soaring through the air under their own control by the power if their magic, that seems to be akin to a hermetic developing a "protection from traps" spell. Their tools aren't set up to work that way,

Have any of you worked with this tradition? Can you tell me stuff about it that I'll be glad to know?


Hi Erik! Glad to help, though keep in mind it has been more than twelve years since I wrote it. After so much time, I'm not much of an authority any more. :slight_smile: I have used their powers on occasion, though, so I hope to be able to give you useful feedback and ideas that you can use in your game!

I get why Sowilo seems appropriate to you, but I think I would be more inclined to use Ansuz ("Mouth") myself. The target is communicating with you, as I see it, transmitting the information from another place. Since your vitkir wants visual images rather than audible images, I'd add a magnitude for complexity, basically imagining that the arcane connection is describing what it can see.

Ooo, clever idea! My read of Ihwaz is that it targets the dead through their resting places, but isn't particularly suited to destroying or ending things. I imagine a vitkir as clever as you are would use Kauno ("pain") to set a wooden target on fire. There might be some tricky aspects to the spell regarding things being arcane connections to each other, though. The vitkir would probably need to keep a separate arcane connection to the stick with the first effect on it, so that he could use the second arcane connection to destroy it from afar.

I agree, the myths upon which the rune spells are based don't really have rune-wizards flying through the air like Marvel's Thor. If memory serves, most of what they do is shapechange into birds when they want to fly (Loki, Freya). I applaud and sympathize with wanting to adapt and improve the rune guidelines to do more stuff, but there should be just as many things they can't do that Hermetic magic can as the other way around, right? Maybe this is one of those things?


I've used a fair bit of rune magic in my current saga and this is one thing we explicitly don't allow Vitkir to do. The reasoning being that clairvoyance seems a better fit for Seiðr than for rune magic, due to Seiðr being a practice that involved divination of various types (among other things). Seiðr was very much a taboo practice for men which would make it unpalatable for many Vitkir (unless in your saga most Vitkir are women, that is).

Most of the scrying type magic in our saga has been from Seiðkona who have either the Nightwalker or Divination & Augury virtues rather than by rune wizards. This was partly for gameplay reasons as it gives the Seiðkona an advantage to counter the fact that rune magic is generally more powerful than folk witch magic. If you are only using Vitkir and not other norse magical traditions that's not going to be a concern.

There's a lot of fuzzy overlap between different norse magical practices and I think clairvoyance via rune magic being possible makes perfect sense - but that it may be slightly taboo for cultural reasons. Alternatively you could keep them separate and allow some Vitkir (who have "studied Seiðr") to be initiated into the Divination & Augury ability.

As for which rune would cover it, @Erik_Dahl's suggestion of Ansuz makes sense to me (plus he did write the rules, so...). I also think Ihwaz might be appropriate because some Seiðr practices involved summoning or commanding spirits so perhaps in the Vitkir spells of this type it actually summons a very minor spirit which the Vitkir sends out to "spy" on distant events, with higher levels allowing more of the senses of the place to be transmitted by the spirit.

Or just use the Ihwaz "summon a spirit" guideline and have it go spy on people and report back. It's not full blown clairvoyance, but maybe it's the best Vitkir can do.

edit: One other option I thought of is that in Thrice Told Tales it has some guidelines for magic based on the extra letters in the Anglo-Saxon runic alphabet, and the Cweorth rune has a guideline that temporarily grants the Nightwalker virtue. You could add Cweorth as a rune, or maybe include that guideline under another rune instead?


I like it! This would also work with bone and leather - just about anything short of stone or metal.

And yes, I think these connections are the main weakness of Vitkir. And as such am very ambivalent about getting rid of them.

Yes! So very yes!
In the norse myths (at least the versions I grew up with), if you need to fly, you shapechange into a bird.
Literally they put on a "fugleham" - which more or less translates into a "bird's skin".


If you include TTT runes, would Ear runes work to destroy an AC? Both of the level 20 guidelines might be relevant/combined to create a new one? - one can erode 'magically strengthened' objects the other might be (liberally) interpreted as to make the AC 'forget' its attachment?

Or ride some sort of beast or vehicle. Thor famously rides in a chariot pulled by two goats, Odin rides a flying (8-legged) horse and IIRC there are also some version claiming that Freya rides a chariot pulled by (2) cats.

I think there is some ambiguity regarding the bird's hides too. Sometimes they seem to be actual hides that someone can put on and thus turn into a bird. In one story Loki has to borrow Freya's falcon hide in order to be able to turn himself into a bird and thus fly. In some other stories and with some other characters it seems like the person just has an innate ability to change shape.

Thus I think there is room for both innate shapechanging and what is essentially magic items that turn the wearer into an animal, such as a bird.

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That may well be an ambiguity in the wording of the sagas. The Norse word is presumably «ham» which could be used both for the hide and for the shape. It is somewhat archaic today, but the uses still exist.

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Ye-es. Except. From how I understand it, these conveyances do not so much fly as simply ignore gravity/the need for support. A subtle difference, I guess. But potentially a significant one for mythological purposes.

That's what I was trying to decribe.

Fewer of those that I can recall? Valkyries maybe?


Ye-es. Except. From how I understand it, these conveyances do not so much fly as simply ignore gravity/the need for support. A subtle difference, I guess. But potentially a significant one for mythological purposes.

I am not going to argue against your position except to point out that whether or not the conveyances themselves ignore gravity or not the effect of them is to allow a person (or god) inside to travel through the air.

Fewer of those that I can recall? Valkyries maybe?

The best examples I can think of is Odin turning into a bird after stealing the blood of Kvaesir and a vague memory of some Jotnar turning into animals seemingly instantaneously and with a broader range of options available to them.

If you want to Spy from a long distance, there is the Cweorth rune that grants the Night Walker virtue as a guide-line in Thrice-Told-Tales. Be warned, it is a Saxon rune so you need a (I assume) minor virtue. There is also the fact that Saxon runes are probably lost, but perhaps a Saxon rune wizard imparted his knowledge of these runes into a "Calc" rune as a summa or colelction of tracti of Rune Magic.

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To my knowledge you need to be able to read runes to understand the information in a Calc rune. So you can't really have a Calc rune that teaches you how to use runes.

This is probably correct, which would mean that the prospective vitkir would probably need to learn the language (I imagine old saxon or old english) or a language close to it high enough to understand the runes, probably.

The Script (for writing) is part of the Artes Liberales Ability. Knowing a Language that uses it is normally a requirement, though might be ignored in some cases based on the SG. That would normally be for things like trying to learn how to read a dead language with no way of learning the spoken form.

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