Symbology is the ancient art of manipulating the world through the writing of runes, as used by a long-lost civilisation. A rune-writer is used to draw a runic phrase into a sphere of the mysterious black substance known as “Testament”, which is then consumed to make the event or action described by the phrase occur.


The exact extent of Symbology's power and potential is unknown, indeed there may be no upper bound to it at all. Generally just about anything one can think of can be expressed somehow through runes, although anything beyond a certain level of detail will start to become complicated and lengthy to research. As such, most of the runes which you see around are common, basic runes which can be combined to produce a wide variety of effects, but are in themselves somewhat generic and open to interpretation. With effort, you can create your own runes to represent more specific things, provided you have a suitable basis to work from, such as a similar rune. This will generally be a particularly small build project, although is less of a “Make the Rune for a Bear Wearing a Bowler Hat with Grapes for Eyes and a Button Nose” sort of thing and more of a “Try to Work Out a Rune for Heat Instead of Fire” sort of thing.

You should get a GM call as to whether you can successfully develop your own rune to represent something based on your current knowledge before trying to turnsheet to do it.


Usage of Symbology is limited by four things:

  1. Runes known.
  2. The level of the Symbology skill.
  3. The capability of the rune-writer used.
  4. The amount of Testament available.

Known Runes

Obviously, in order to be able to write a rune you must know what the rune looks like. Simply seeing a rune and making a copy for future reference is enough to know a rune, but it is unwise to try to use it without knowing what it does or what its purpose could be. Once you have an idea of what a rune does, you will also have a better idea as to where and how it can fit into a runic phrase.

Symbology Level

Symbology is akin to a skill with three levels, although unlike a normal skill it can not have specialisations. The level at which you have the skill determines when, where and how quickly you can use it, as opposed to how much you can actually do with it.

Skill Level Use
1 You can carry out basic Symbology. With an appropriate writing ritual, carried out as a 2 AP action, you can write a runic phrase.
2 You are capable of writing runes with greater speed and accuracy. For 2 AP you can write a runic phrase, even as part of another action, although this requires time and a suitable place to concentrate and cast.
3 You have mastered the art of quickly planning runic phrases and writing them. For 2 AP you can write a runic phrase, even as part of another action.

Training can be done through direct study and practice at writing the runes (although not necessarily in Testament). To gain level 1 Symbology costs 2 AP worth of study, level 2 costs 4 AP and level 3 costs 6 AP. This can be split across multiple turns. The initial first level requires some resource from which the skill can be learned. This can be another person if 1 AP is spent by that person to teach.

Each level of the skill also grants a special rune or related ability. Level 1 grants basic runic grammar and the Linking rune for connecting other runes together in meaning and effect, level 2 grants a rune which can be used to remove existing runic effects where there are runes representing them, and level 3 grants a means of further reducing Testament costs through tracing (as detailed below).

At any point, you can also spend an additional 2 AP to study and learn a special rune which can be linked to others, increasing the level of their effect without requiring higher level rune-writers but for a greater Testament cost.

Rune-Writer Capability

Runes have varying degrees of complexity, and can so be grouped in terms of Minor, Significant and Major runes. Rune-writers are limited by the complexity of the runes they can write, and some of the more powerful effects may require you to find a more powerful rune-writer to achieve. Some runes can be made more or less complicated, with more ornate variations tending to be more powerful, although also requiring more capable rune-writers.

Testament Quantity

Each rune also has a Testament cost, representing the amount of Testament required to write the rune, which will be used up on completion of the runic phrase. If you see a rune, you can also tell how many units of Testament it will require to draw, given sufficient time to study it (enough to make passing glances and in-session calls out of the question, but not enough to cost AP) and as such any runes you know will automatically have their costs specified. The amount of Testament needed is reduced through a process known as “tracing”, whereby some slight additional detail is added to a rune, resulting in that rune being marked or carved somehow on the finished product or object affected. Obviously, if there is no direct target for the Symbology this will not work, and so some runes or phrases can not be traced.

Testament is a relatively rare substance, and supplies may be very much limited.

Using Symbology

Any runic phrase can be written by spending 2 AP, although the circumstances in which this can be done depend on your skill level, as described. At level 1, it must be done as a separate action. If the phrase is syntactically incorrect or erroneous, or an insufficient capability rune-writer is used, the action will simply fail, whilst if insufficient Testament is available the action may still occur up to the point in the runic phrase reached before running out, so care should be taken.

Some phrases begin with special actions which affect the way in which the entire phrase works. For instance, some may begin with the “Create” rune which is used to create new objects entirely. If a phrase lacks an action at the beginning but is still valid it will instead affect or change in some way the closest appropriate thing to the Testament, which if care is not taken may well be the person writing in it. It may be possible to specifically target runic effects with further runes, but otherwise the best method is to place the Testament against the target and write in it at as furthest a distance from it as possible.

When specifying a runic phrase on a turnsheet, you can list each rune used as square brackets containing the name of the rune, or at least the placeholder name (which will be specified in your list of known runes). For example, ”[Fire]”. Linked runes can be represented with a hyphen between these runes, and for variable level runes you should also state whether you are trying to use the Minor, Significant or Major level. For each rune you can also specify whether you wish to trace that rune to reduce Testament cost or not. If you do, the rune will appear on the result. The default if this is not specified is to do so, and as such any rune costs known are based on this. Opting not to trace the rune will cost an additional 20% of the Testament for that rune on top of the known cost.

To avoid wasted effort, you can get a GM call on a runic phrase before writing it, to determine whether or not it is syntactically correct and will actually work. No indication will be given, however, as to what effect the phrase may actually produce if it works or whether using it would actually be a good idea.

game2/symbology.txt · Last modified: 2009/03/12 02:20 by gm_chaos