Living Rune

Tiny construct, unaligned

Armor Class 16 (force barrier)
Hit Points 110 (13d8 + 52)
Speed 20 ft., climb 20 ft.

1 (-4) 20 (+5) 18 (+4) 15 (+2) 14 (+2) 20 (+5)

Skills Arcana +6, Stealth +8
Damage Resistances bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage from magical weapons
Damage Immunities cold, fire, lightning, necrotic, poison, radiant; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage from non-magical weapons
Damage Vulnerabilities thunder
Condition Immunities blinded, deafened, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned
Senses blindsight 60 ft., darkvision 60 ft., tremorsense 60 ft., passive Perception 17
Languages truescript (see below)
Challenge 12 (8,400 XP)


  • Amorphous. The living rune is immune to critical hits and to any spell or effect that would alter its form.
  • Camouflage. The living rune can shift its coloration to blend into its surroundings, granting it advantage on Stealth checks if it does not move. If a creature moves into its space, the living rune has advantage on attack rolls against it.
  • Magic Resistance. The living rune has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
  • Innate Spellcasting. The living rune’s spell casting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 17). It can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components: At will: comprehend languages (written language only), illusory script, telekinesis 3/day: glyph of warding (cast at 6th level)
  • Symbolic Healing. A living rune is never harmed by glyph of warding or symbol spells. Instead, a glyph of warding or symbol spell heals the living rune 7d8 hit points. Hit points beyond its maximum are gained as temporary hit points.
  • Truescript. A living rune can sculpt its form into complicated scripts and pictographs that can be understood by any creature with the ability to read written language. A living rune can also understand any written or spoken language.
  • Two-Dimensional. A living rune only exists in two dimensions and has some qualities in common with incorporeal creatures. It cannot move in three dimensions (such as jumping or flying) and can only navigate along solid surfaces such as floors, ceilings, and walls. It can only attack creatures by entering their squares and touching them directly. A living rune can crawl onto solid surfaces that can then themselves be moved (such as onto a book or scroll). It cannot fall or take falling damage and cannot Shove or Grapple creatures or be Shoved or Grappled itself. It cannot take any physical action that would move or manipulate an opponent or the opponent’s equipment, has no weight, and does not set off traps that are triggered by weight.


  • Glyph Touch. Melee Spell Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 18 (3d8 + 5) lightning damage.
  • Symbol of Power. Ranged Spell Attack: +9 to hit, range 60 feet, one target. Hit: The living rune can shift its form into a variety of harmful eldritch runes. Each round the living rune can choose a new effect, but a particular symbol form can only be used once every 4 rounds.
  • Fear: The target takes 13 (3d8) psychic damage, or half as much with a successful DC 17 Wisdom saving throw. A target failing its save is also frightened for 2d6 rounds.
  • Pain: The target takes 13 (3d8) necrotic damage, or half as much with a successful DC 17 Constitution saving throw. A target failing its save is wracked with pain, gaining 1 level of exhaustion for 1 hour.
  • Persuasion: The target takes no damage but is charmed by the living rune for 2d6 hours if it fails a DC 17 Charisma saving throw.
  • Slow: The target takes 13 (3d8) force damage, or half as much with a successful DC 17 Dexterity saving throw. A target failing its save is also slowed (as the slow spell) for 1 minute.
  • Stunning: The target takes 13 (3d8) radiant damage, or half as much with a successful DC 17 Constitution saving throw. A target failing its save is also stunned for 1d6 rounds.
  • Weakness: The target takes 13 (3d8) necrotic damage, or half as much with a successful DC 17 Strength saving throw. A target failing its save is weakened for 1 hour, having disadvantage on Strength checks and saving throws and dealing half damage with melee weapon attacks.


Whether first scribed by some forgotten deity or birthed by magic glyphs long soured, living runes are among the most stubborn and arrogant of dungeon denizens. Though two-dimensional and lacking any sort of real body, the creatures are sentient, but with a venomous hostility toward the so-called “lesser races” they feel are corrupted forms of the universe’s first words of creation. Appearing as magical glyphs, animated pulsating runes, etched hieroglyphics, or even ancient cave art, these creatures live to prey on lesser beings for no other reason than to prove their superiority over flesh-and-blood creatures.

Deadly Script. Living runes are ambush hunters, lying in wait amid ancient graffiti and faded pictographs, or even on the pages of ancient texts and tomes. They use their mutable forms to camouflage themselves—often changing texts with illusory script to lead adventurers into nearby traps or hazards or lacing important sources of information with explosive runes and then striking at trespassers when they have triggered the dangerous glyphs. Immortal unless destroyed, the creatures do not need sustenance in a traditional sense, though, like their will-o’-wisp cousins, they seem to feed on the terror and pain they induce in their victims. In addition to fear and pain, living runes feed on the written word (which they can erase through this consumption or leave unharmed). Living runes reproduce by a strange sort of mitosis, where two creatures merge to create complex sentence structures and concepts before splitting a portion off each of their malleable bodies to create a new unique rune that contains the knowledge of both parent runes.

Destruction of Knowledge. Most commonly found in deserted ruins—in particular old alchemical labs, forgotten temples, and musty libraries— living runes prefer to live isolated existences, feeding on lost knowledge, consuming it slowly over the years before erasing or altering it, then hoarding the truth within themselves to tease races seeking to recover it. For this reason, they prefer to haunt the fringes of civilization, where they may terrorize lesser creatures in this manner— particularly arcane spellcasters. They derive a sick pleasure from the mental and physical torture of humanoids; in particular, they enjoy cornering humanoids in debates and wrapping them in riddles with the promise of shared knowledge or information, before ultimately growing bored and attacking the intruders with their myriad abilities. Such communications always begin—in the living rune’s unique form of communication—with scribbled inquiries trespassing creatures will understand, and this somewhat playful and innocuous introduction often draws explorers to their deaths when they assume they are conversing with some benign artificial intelligence. In instances becoming horrifically frequent, archivists have discovered previously unheard-of colonies of living runes deep in the bowels of urban libraries and archives, hiding out for years in an attempt to learn more of modern civilization, with unknown motivations that may hold terrible consequences for civilized races.

Section 15: Copyright Notice

Ultimate Treasury (5E) © 2023, Legendary Games; Authors: Jason Nelson, Loren Sieg, Pedro Coelho, Matt Goodall, Linda Zayas-Palmer, Thurston Hillman, Jeff Ibach, and Alex Augunas

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