In ancient times, humanity knelt at the precipice of extinction. Lacking the innate talents enjoyed by elves, dwarves, and other creatures, humans faced a grim future in a cruel, hostile world. A powerful being—a god, a titan, the first druid, a fallen angel, or perhaps an archdevil, forged a series of magic blades and gave these mighty weapons to mankind’s surviving heroes. Each of these swords, known as runeblades for the sigils etched into their steel, possesses different powers. The heroes who wielded the first runeblades went on to carve their sagas across the pages of history.
Although most runeblades have vanished or been destroyed, a handful yet survive. When fate or some hidden power intervenes, one of these potent weapons finds its way into the hands of a new hero. The warrior entrusted with a runeblade faces a dangerous—and often brief—life, for he carries in his hands the power to change not only his destiny, but the destiny of entire civilizations.
Each blade possesses unique powers, and it is said that the runes provide magic to suit the individual wielding it. Whether these legends are true, one cannot deny the raw power and deadly combat magic of a Runeblade wielder.
When you choose this archetype at 3rd level, you acquire a runed blade of a type of your choice.
Work with your GM to determine how you came to possess the blade—was it a gift, a trophy taken in battle, did you steal it, or did you find it? You and your GM should create a name for your weapon as it is a unique magic item.
Owning a runeblade represents a serious commitment; there is no shortage of people and monsters willing to murder you to possess this weapon.
Each runeblade possesses sentience, a fact you learn when the blade accepts you as its wielder.
Once you accept the blade, you become bonded to it for life, or until you disgrace the weapon.
Starting at 3rd level, your runeblade carries two runes carved into its blade; all runeblades come with the same first two runes. As you gain levels, your blade acquires additional runes. Each rune provides a different feature. The first runes are described below.
Bound Blade. The sword is bonded to your soul.
This bond exists until you die or the sword abandons you for disgracing it. You can call the blade to your hand by speaking its name as an action. The sword appears in your hand the next round, regardless of distance separating you from it, or what means are taken to restrain the blade.
This feature recharges after you finish a long rest.
Lore Rune. Your sword has observed centuries of epic events and has much to teach, whispering its ancient knowledge into your mind. As long as the sword remains on your person, you are considered to have proficiency in your choice of Arcana, History, Nature, or Religion.
Restrictions And Taboos
A runeblade carries a few restrictions and taboos or rituals you must observe. If you disregard these, you lose access to some or all the weapon’s runes.
If you push the sword too far with such disrespect, it may abandon you. If this occurs, you lose the runeblade and thereafter become a fighter of a different archetype.
The restrictions associated with being a runeblade wielder are described below.
Jealous Devotion. You may not own or wield another magical sword. If you grip another magical sword, the runeblade pulses an empathic surge of jealous anger at you; if you disregard this warning, you lose access to the blade’s runes until you discard the offending weapon. You can, if done with proper respect, own a magical weapon other than a sword. If you wield this weapon, it must always be in your off-hand.
Obsessive Care. You must care for your runeblade with religious devotion. Clean, sharpen, and oil the blade after every use. Purchase for it the best scabbard gold can buy. Never use it for mundane tasks such as chopping wood or whittling on sticks. Do not allow other people to use the runeblade except under extreme circumstances.
Ongoing Legend. Once per level, commission a bard to write a song, poem, or saga regarding your runeblade. Provide her with your patronage and support so she can perform her work across the land. The amount of gold you spend should be approximately 100 gp per character level, although your runeblade always appreciates greater generosity on its behalf.
Punishment. If you ignore or otherwise disregard a taboo, a ritual, or one of the expectations described above, the runeblade blocks your access to one of the highest-level runes available to you. For each day you continue this disrespect, you lose access to another of your highest-level runes. Should you lose access to all available runes, you have disgraced your blade and it leaves your possession, at which point you must either find a way to atone or become another fighter archetype (most likely Champion). The GM has final say as to what atonement might be required, but it usually involves a major quest or mission.
Taboos and Rituals. Your runeblade imposes a taboo on you, or requires you to perform a regular, set ritual in its honor. To you, this taboo may make little sense, but the blade expects you to observe these expectations. Here are a few suggestions, but feel free to create your own.
- Abstain from alcoholic beverages.
- Donate a tithe of your wealth to a worthy cause.
- If you draw the runeblade and fail to use it in battle, you must cut yourself for 2 hp of damage to honor the weapon.
- Never cut your hair.
- One day in seven, perform a purification ritual of fasting and meditation.
- Perform a purification ritual for your runeblade at the end of the day (performed as part of a short or long rest).
- Remain chaste.
- Select one creature type, including aberration, fiend, or undead. After you’ve used the runeblade against a creature of that type, you must spend a bonus action the round after the creature falls cleaning your sword.
- Whisper a quick prayer each time you draw or sheathe the runeblade.
- Compose a constantly evolving song, poem, or ballad to honor the best (and worst) of your enemies.
In addition to the runes described above, at 3rd level two additional runes appear on the weapon, chosen from the list below.
- Blade Ward. As an action, you can cast blade ward. At 10th level, you can activate this rune as a bonus action.
- Earth Rune. You can activate this rune as a bonus action. Upon so doing, you gain resistance to your choice of one of the following damage types: acid, cold, fire, lightning, or thunder. This benefit lasts up to 1 minute and recharges after a short or long rest. In addition, as long as this rune remains in effect, you automatically stabilize if you fall to 0 hit points. At 10th level, you can gain two different resistances, or you can gain immunity to one damage type, as long as the rune remains active.
- Eye of Night. As long as you grip the runeblade, you possess darkvision. You can see in dim light to a range of 60 feet as if it were bright light, and you can see in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness—you only see in shades of gray. At 10th level, the range of your darkvision extends to 90 feet.
- Fire Rune. Flames wreath the blade upon your command as a bonus action. While ablaze, the sword inflicts an extra 1d6 of fire damage to any target it strikes and grants the bearer resistance to cold damage. The flames last for up to 1 minute, although you can extinguish them as a bonus action. The flames illuminate the surrounding area with bright light in a 10-foot radius, with dim light out to another 10 feet. This feature recharges after a short or long rest. The extra fire damage increases to 2d6 at 5th level, 3d6 at 10th level and 4d6 at 15th level.
- Frost Rune. When you activate this rune as a bonus action, the sword inflicts an extra 1d6 cold damage on a hit. In addition, you gain resistance to fire damage as long as you grip the sword. This feature can be used once, lasts for up to 1 minute, and recharges following a short or long rest. At 10th level, the cold damage increases to 2d6, and at 15th level, this increases to 3d6.
- Good Fortune Rune. Whenever you make an attack roll, ability check, or saving throw, you can activate this rune to roll an additional d20. You can choose which of the two rolls to accept as the result. You can use this feature once, and it recharges after you finish a short or long rest. At 10th level, you can use this feature twice before it needs to recharge.
- Light Rune. As a bonus action, you can command the blade to shed light equal to that of the light spell. You can dismiss the light as a bonus action. As an action, you can command the blade to emit light as per the daylight spell. This can be done once, and recharges after a short or long rest. At 10th level, this feature allows you to inflict an additional 1d6 of radiant damage upon each successful hit, and at 15th level, this increases to 2d6 radiant damage.
- Lightning Rune. Upon command as an action, the sword unleashes a lightning bolt in a line 5 feet wide that extends from the sword tip to a target within 120 feet. Each creature caught in the line must make a Dexterity saving throw, taking 4d6 lightning damage on a failed save, and half as much damage on a successful save. This feature can be used once, and recharges after a long rest. Staring at 10th level, this feature also recharges following a short rest.
- Hunter’s Rune. As a bonus action, you can mark an enemy creature for the combat, as described in the hunter’s mark spell. You only gain the extra damage when attacking with your runeblade. This feature lasts up to 1 hour. At 10th level, this feature lasts up to 8 hours.
- Portal Rune. You can make short-range teleports as a bonus action, as described in the misty step spell. This feature can be used once, and recharges following a long rest. At 10th level, this feature also recharges after a short rest.
- Shield Rune. So long as you wield the runeblade, you are considered to be wielding a shield. If you already wield a shield, this rune provides no benefit. At 10th level, you can cast the shield spell once as a reaction. It recharges after a short or long rest.
- Skirmisher Rune. Upon activating this rune as a bonus action, you can take the Dash action. This feature recharges after a short or long rest. At 10th level, your speed also increases by 10 feet as long as you carry the blade in hand.
- Thunder Rune. When you activate this rune as a bonus action and then attack, you imbue the runeblade with the effects of the thunderous smite spell.
- Wind Rune. As an action on your command, the sword unleashes gust of wind, as per the spell. This feature recharges after a short or long rest. At 10th level, you can cast fly once as an action.
This ability lasts up to 10 minutes and recharges following a long rest.
At 7th level, the runeblade gains the Ensorcelled Blade and one additional rune, chosen from the list above or from those described here.
- Ensorcelled Blade. All runeblades acquire this rune when you reach 7th level. The sword becomes a magical weapon for purpose of overcoming damage resistance and immunity to nonmagical attacks and damage.
- Mana Drinker. As an action, you can cast dispel magic against one creature, object, or magical effect within your sword’s reach. Use your choice of Wisdom or Charisma as your ability check against the magical effect’s DC (10 + the spell’s level). If your ability check succeeds, you end the magical effect or remove it from the creature, object, or area. Unlike the spell, you must make this roll for any level of effect you are trying to terminate, not just those of 4th level and higher.
- Night Rune. As a bonus action, your runeblade creates a zone of darkness that extends in a 15-foot radius sphere for up to 1 minute. The darkness spreads around corners. Other creatures cannot see through this darkness, even if they possess darkvision. Magical light does not illuminate this zone. You, however, can see through the darkness as if it wasn’t there. This feature can be used once, and recharges following a short or long rest.
- Purifying Flame. With a touch of the blade, you can eliminate poison or disease from yourself or another creature. When you activate this rune as an action, the blade becomes white-hot. The subject takes 1d8 of fire damage, but can then reroll a saving throw to eliminate the poisoned condition or a disease afflicting it. If the target fails this saving throw, you can make one more attempt. At this time the creature takes 2d8 of fire damage, but rolls the saving throw with advantage. If the target fails this saving throw, then this feature provides no benefit until after 24 hours. Once used, you must finish a long rest to recharge it.
- Devourer of Souls. You can activate this rune as a bonus action and it remains in effect for up to 1 minute. Each time you strike a target with the runeblade and inflict damage, you gain 6 temporary hit points. As usual, temporary hit points do not stack. The temporary hit points last until removed through damage or 1 hour after you activate this rune, whichever comes first. At 15th level, a hit against your nemesis grants you 9 temporary hit points.
At 10th level, the runeblade gains two additional runes. You may select these runes from those described below, as well as from previous lists.
- Bane. Choose one creature type from the following: aberration, construct, dragon, fey, fiend, giant, humanoid, monstrosity, or undead. Against creatures of the chosen type, you do an additional 1d6 damage with your runeblade. You can select this rune multiple times; each time, choose another creature type for the bane.
- Quick Strike. When you activate this rune as an action, you gain the benefits of the haste spell. The effect lasts up to 1 minute. This feature recharges following a long rest.
- Razor’s Edge. Your weapon attack with the runeblade scores a critical hit on a roll of 19-20.
Upon achieving 15th level, select two more runes your blade acquires, chosen from those described below and any of the previous lists. None of the options described below provide a magic weapon bonus (i.e., +1, +2, or +3).
- Bringer of Ruin. When you strike a creature of good alignment with your runeblade, you inflict an additional 2d6 damage.
- Harbinger of Chaos. When you strike a creature of lawful alignment with your runeblade, you inflict an additional 2d6 damage.
- Lawgiver. When you strike a creature of chaotic alignment with your runeblade, you inflict an additional 2d6 damage.
- Avenger. When you strike a creature of evil alignment with your runeblade, you inflict an additional 2d6 damage.
If your campaign assumes that characters will possess magic weapons with a plus to hit and damage at a certain average level, then you should allow the Runeblade Wielder to use the Ensorceled Blade rune to make his weapon +1. Then, at 10th level, he can use another of his runes to make the weapon +2. Finally, at 15th level, he can use another rune to make his weapon +3. This might help reduce the sting a player may feel at not being able to acquire a shiny magic sword as part of treasure or some other reward.
Also as you may notice, the Runeblade Wielder devotes himself entirely to his runeblade, and that weapon restricts how he can use other weapons (he can’t own another magic sword) and in what fashion (he can only wield a different weapon in his off-hand).
Fighter Folio © 2018 Total Party Kill Games; Authors: Brian Berg, Mark A. Hart.