Spell casting is an integral part of the diet of any healthy fantasy setting and there have been numerous different approaches to it in computer role playing games. To us, the systems where you pick a spell from a list have always felt very mundane: invoking magic should feel like you’re messing around with mystical forces instead of a spreadsheet! Runes are true and tested vessels for arcane power and they certainly make your imagination run wilder than text printed with Arial, size 12, so using them was a pretty obvious choice for us from the get go. And despite them being more abstract than writing, they still have the opportunity of having a logical underlying structure that prevents the spell casting system from turning into a bewildering mess where the player doesn’t have a chance to figure out what he’s actually doing. I’m here to explain a little bit of how we handle that logic and what our runes are.
How the runes are laid out in a 3 by 3 grid is already a major part of the logic since the placement of the runes bear a meaning. The pattern has a center rune and that center is surrounded by other runes along the outer edges of the pattern. The outer runes always have an opposite: the opposite of the rune in the lower left hand corner is the rune in the top right corner and so on. But maybe I’m getting a little ahead of myself now, it’s probably just better to go through the individual runes first and then we’ll get back to this.