Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Serendipity: Runes

I was perusing the Carmina Gadelica in search of something that might pass for "three lullabies in an ancient tongue" when I ran across an interesting term: rune. I, being a grumpy old RPGer, think of something like this when I hear that word:

I also associate runes with magic (being an old stand-by for explaining how Dwarves are so good at making magical weapons even in worlds where they can't cast spells).

However, Webster also defines rune as a song or a poem. Lo and behold, the Carmina Gadelica has several examples. What struck me about these examples is how Christian and Trinitarian many of them are. For example:
I am bending my knee
In the eye of the Father who created me,
In the eye of the Son who purchased me,
In the eye of the Spirit who cleansed me.
In friendship and affection.
After doing a little research, I found out that a runic alphabet was in use in Southern France several centuries prior to the assumed time frame of Averoigne (circa AD1100-1300). Therefore, not only do I have several possible "lullabies" but an ancient script with which they can be recorded.

I am not going to stop there, however. Take a look at this rune:
Today is the Day of Bride,
The serpent shall come from the hole,
I will not molest the serpent,
Nor will the serpent molest me.
Note the implied Protection spell (from Dragons? Devils?). It suggests that this rune (a poem) unlocks a rune (a letter carved into an item) in order to get a runic (spell) effect. This sets up a very cool built-in quest to magical items that also gives players a clue as to what an item does: the rune (poem) gives a clue as to the effect of the rune (letter) and these two can be in different locations.

In context of the Chateau des Faussesflammes, I plan on using this construct primarily with the Purple Piper, who will be a source of runes (poems), but not necessarily runes (letters).


ERIC! said...

You have some of the coolest finds...


Russ said...

Cool. Very cool.

Russ said...

As your version of Averoigne becomes more developed through play, do you think you might consider publishing it?

I know people have done D&D and other RPGs with explicitly Christian themes, but I don't think it's something we've seen from the OSR.