Rune Casters learn the shapes of the ancient runes and the forgotten chants that give them power. A properly carved rune holds its power in check until the Rune Caster breaks it, and then the rune's power is released to change the caster and the world.
Harken now to the words of Egil Erglandisson, Thane of the Hjaldikar, blood of Eglador, the greatest living Rune Caster of the Northmen. Hear you, and learn, and always remember.
"The word that is written is never forgotten,
the name that is graven in stone lives forever.
Man's name holds his wyrd: his soul, fate, and nature,
all words are but names for the things of the world.
Look at the runes: the All-Father's great gifting,
the treasure he wrought for the Northmen, his children.
A word or a name is the thing that it stands for:
here is the magic - this is the great wisdom.
Carved true by the crafter, our names are immortal.
So we live forever, the runes make us as Gods.
But listen to wisdom, you who would learn true rune making:
remember that this is the least of their power.
Ye shall find runes and signs to read, signs most mighty, signs so strong,
Which the Soothsayer colored, the All-Father made, and the Old Ones carved.
Do ye know how they should be carved?
Do ye know how they should be read?
Do ye know how they should be colored?
The runes are the All-Father's greatest gift to his children, and the key to the power of Making and Unmaking. Any man may write his name upon a stone or shield, but only a Rune Caster can bring forth the primal power of these ancient signs, the power to shape yourself and the world. All of the lesser magics of the weak men of the South have grown from the runes - the sigils of the sorcerers, the formulae of the alchemists, and the terrigan marks of the shapers are all corrupted shadows of the All-Father's Runes, the signs of power. Soon, apprentice, you will learn the runes, and the secrets of talismans, redes, and shaping.
Six times six were the runes the All-Father first carved at the dawn of the world, and they are used by the Northmen in their writing to this day. Five of these are Runes of Power, whose making will bring potent magic and power to the maker. The redes that empower the other one-and-thirty runes are the prized secret of the greatest Rune Casters, and some have been forgotten. Look ye, then, on the five Runes of Power:
) is the old word for need or necessity, and this rune symbolizes the endurance that brings the hero through suffering and need. This rune will aid you when your foes are strong: carved and sung rightly, it will heal the shaper, restoring his vigor for battle.
) is the name of the All-Father's favorite children, and this rune refers to man: the caster, another, or even the All-Father, the first man in the world. Through this sign the shaper can draw upon the will and strength of all men. As the All-Father endured the madness of the Serpent, so shall your mind resist evil influences with a will as strong as iron.
) is the old name or the aurochs, the wild oxen, which our fathers tamed so long ago to serve us with meat and labor. Though they lost their will to resist, the tame ox retains his strength. Make this sign rightly, and you shall gain the strength of an ox, which shall make you mighty indeed.
) is the true name of the birch tree, which burgeons in spring, when the weather is mild and the world is renewed. The making of this rune brings the maker the comfort of spring: neither the coldest frost of winter nor the scorching sun of the uttermost South will cause you harm.
) is a mighty rune, that only the mightiest masters can work. Behold the sword of Treythind Truesword, mighty warrior in the service of the All-Father. Iron is the bane of magic: as the Truesword's iron blade kept him safe from evil spells, so this sign will block the influence of evil magic, and make you proof against the sendings of witches and sorcerers.
Here is the secret of rune casting. First comes the Making, when the caster carves the rune onto a talisman. Once the Making is done, the power will wait, frozen, until the Unmaking. To release the power of the rune, the caster must sunder the talisman. Talismans of bone will crack in fire, while works of clay or stone should be shattered by a hammer or maul. Beware, young shaper: among the tools of your craft, always carry two hammers, for if the hammer that drives your chisel in the Making is the same that sunders your talisman in the Unmaking, the power will be ill wrought, and will ever bring ill fortune.
Know that only the lesser men of the South draw signs of power on paper, parchment, or vellum. Runes drawn on these will be no more than letters. Likewise, some believe that sign drawn in chalk or charcoal will hold the power of Making and Unmaking - they are wrong. Carve your runes onto talismans that are of the earth: stone, clay, bone, wood, or even the flesh of the runecaster. A drawn sign is not enough - the rune must be scratched, cut, ground, or chiseled into the talisman. Your will must change the substance of the talisman in order for the magic of the sign to change the substance of the world.
The carving of runes and the singing of redes is an art that can be mastered quickly by one with the knack, but there are many higher secrets known only to master shapers. Learn then, rune caster, how to make your rune castings more potent. As iron is the bane of magic, never use a tool of iron to carve a rune, save in the direst emergency. Carve with sharpened awls of bone or wood, and save an iron chisel for only the hardest stone. Also, as the All-Father carved the Weltwyrdangssaga in the night before the first dawn, runes carved by moon and starlight work truer than runes carved by sun. And just as the Serpent's wisdom came to the All-Father through the wound in his left hand, any rune caster who can learn to carve runes true and straight with their left hand only will find their craft made much more potent.
As you work your runes, you act as the All-Father himself, shaping and turning the destiny of the world. It is a high calling, and a great burden. Use the power of the runes well, and always remember - your fate and the fate of every man and beast was carved long ago in the Weltwyrdangssaga, and it will never change. Be wise, therefore, and strong, and never be afraid.