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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Planetar

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    Default Runeblaster: A Handbook for the D&D 3.5 Runecaster

    The Runecaster Handbook


    And Moses said unto the children of Israel, See, the LORD hath called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah; And he hath filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship; and to devise curious works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, and in the cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of wood, to make any manner of cunning work.”
    --The Book of Numbers

    Why the Runecaster?
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    The Runecaster is a prestige class from the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting and using a subsystem of magic – Rune Magic – that comes from that setting.

    Of all the prestige classes in D&D 3.5, the Runecaster best represents in fluff if not crunch the mysterious magic ascribed to runes – the rock-carved symbols from Nordic mythology drawn on by Tolkien to represent the language of dwarves in Lord of the Rings. A player who wants to create a “Nordic” magic user invested in this sort of mythology is best matched to the Runecaster, even moreso than the similar Runesmith mainly because the Runecaster is divine-based; runic magic traditionally was based on the Norse gods.

    It is also a satisfying prestige class in crunch terms for a divine-based caster who’s interested in invoking godly power without resorting to a standard CodZilla powered by Divine Metamagic. In particular it’s suited to a caster interested in sharing the benefits of his power around with his partymates. A Runecaster has a very strong capacity to maximise his effectiveness under the action economy, principally because of the RAW flexibility surrounding Rune Magic generally and Runecasters in particular.

    Why did I decide to do this handbook? Pretty much for the above reasons. Runes are just cool. Also, as far as I know the potential of the Runecaster hasn’t really been looked at systematically at either the GITP or MinMax boards.

    It’s not a well-known PrC, and should you choose to wheel it out for a DM, there are several features to it that can very quickly invite a nerfing or total banning of the character. If you know the class’s limitations – and there are some -- you can better negotiate controls on its use while still pulling some nice tricks. Even with conservative readings of its class features a Runecaster is able to hold two full sets of spells ready and available at the beginning of an adverturing day: the ones in his runes, and the ones in his head.


    Why should I play a Runecaster rather than a Runesmith?
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    Several reasons:
    - You don’t have to be a dwarf.
    - You’re a divine caster, so your versatility is far greater.
    - You can get most salient arcane spells a Runesmith might use onto the Runecaster’s list.
    - You don’t have to carve runes into your flesh to make them permanent.
    - You don’t have to spend metamagic spell levels to make them permanent.
    - You don’t have to spend any casting time at all when you want to trigger a rune.


    Why runes and not traps?

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    Runes share a number of common aspects with the creation of magic item traps, which have been (and often are) similarly exploited, even to the point of founding the Tippyverse. Here’s a couple of benefits runes have over traps, though:
    - The crafting time (absent Time Stop or demiplane shenanigans) is much less: 10 minutes plus casting time of the relevant spell, as opposed to one week minimum for magical trap creation.
    - Unlike a trap, the damage a rune does has no impact on its cost. Maximise Rune is a free class feature to the Runecaster.
    - All permanent runes are effectively auto-reset spell traps that have “never miss” hardwired into them, with no onset delay. These features raise an equivalent trap’s costs in gold piece or action economy terms.
    - Runes generally have a lower Craft DC than the equivalent trap that fires the same spell, being a simple DC 20+Spell Level.
    - Unlike magic traps, runes used in “offense” draw no saving throw of themselves. They use only the saving throw of the spell cast into them.


    Colour Coding, for your Convenience:
    Red = This is a suboptimal option. Odin does not smile upon this, even one-eyed.
    Black = This is standard. Meh.
    Blue = This is a good option. Get it.
    Purple = Are you kidding? Get this, you fool, Odin has it inscribed on the inside of his eyepatch.

    Index
    Post 1 - About the Runecaster and why this handbook exists
    Post 2 - Prestige Class Features
    Post 3 - Rune Magic’s features
    Post 4 - Entry Requirements and Entry Paths
    Post 5 - Attributes
    Post 6 - Races
    Post 7 - Feats
    Post 8 - ACFs and Domains
    Post 9 - Skills/Skill Tricks
    Post 10 - Spell Choices
    Post 11 - Desirable Equipment
    Post 12 - Sample Builds and Sample Gear
    Post 13 - DM negotiations
    Post 14 - Changelog, spare box

    The Runecaster can be found in the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting or the Player's Guide to Faerun.

    Important Links to other threads:

    The Cleric Handbook
    The Archivist Handbook
    The Druid Handbook
    The Complete Cost Reduction Handbook
    Divine Magician spell list
    The Metamagic Cost Reduction Handbook

    Thanks to:
    Kansaschaser in this thread for providing the inspiration for this one! (Even if he never got to play his Runecaster :( )
    Dictum Mortuum for the template
    Ed Greenwood and friends for the Forgotten Realms
    Gary Gygax. Because.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Troll in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Runeblaster: A Handbook for the D&D 3.5 Runecaster

    Prestige Class Features


    d8 hit dice – same as a Cleric, and there’s nothing inherent in the class itself to really fix this. However, as a divine caster, and gaining more spells level-by-level as a divine caster, it's not really a problem. And it’s an improvement on an Archivist’s hit dice.

    Same save progression as a Cleric – see above about hit dice. Once again, not the greatest saves in the world, but again you’re a divine caster so you’ve got means to deal with this.

    Same BAB as a Cleric – and see above about hit dice and save progressions. This is even less of a problem since Divine Power is as useful to you as a Divine Metamagic Persist cleric -- and you’ve got ways of making it even more versatile.

    2 + INT mod skill points per level – uggggh. Yet again, the same as a cleric’s, but Runecaster is much more dependent on Craft skills in particular, so this is unfortunate.

    Skills: Your class skills, once more, are the cleric class skill list with all that entails.

    Weapon and Armor Proficiency: None added. Not a disadvantage if you’re entering by cleric or druid, but more of an impost if you’re coming at the PrC via Archivist.

    Full divine caster levels. Yep, 10/10. You’re a divine caster, which means you have massive range already available to you from entering as a cleric, or you have a massive range from your diligent efforts to expand your prayerbook as an Archivist.

    Rune Craft: Basically, at level 7 you’ve picked up the equivalent of Skill Focus (Craft). At least you don’t have to spend a feat slot on it, and it offsets the crappy skill points you have.

    Improved Runecasting: The most precious feature of the prestige class. It opens wide the available conditions for triggering a rune, which is what gives the runecaster its tremendous versatility. At level 3 you can get multiple charges out of a single rune and trigger the rune when it’s read or passed within 30 feet; at level 8 you’re able to make X-use-per-day runes, or more significantly, permanent.

    Rune Power: over 10 levels, you get +3 to beat spell resistance on a rune’s target and a +3 to DC to disable or destroy the rune. By the generally accepted “break point” at level 8 you’ll have 2 out of the 3, and in particular you’ll only really be worried about disabled or destroyed runes if you have a bastard for a DM and no way to move runes out of reach of Dispel Magic. In the latter case there are other methods to keep your lovely runes out of harm’s way.

    Maximise Rune: Free Maximise Spell feat applied to a rune’s spell without having to waste a single spell level on it – just an increase of +5 to the Craft check. We know direct damage is “meh” except on the Mailman, but enemies can trigger runes whenever passed within 30 feet. Maximised Flame Strike, anyone? Maximised Shivering Touch?

    Rune Chant: Increase a spell’s casting time to a minimum of a full round action for a mere +3 to beat spell resistance? When you’ll be about level 15 or 16? Yeah, um, no thanks, this is part of the reason the break point on this PrC is level 8.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Planetar

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    Default Re: Runeblaster: A Handbook for the D&D 3.5 Runecaster

    Rune Magic – an overview


    Normally you wouldn’t see an assessment of a whole subsystem of magic in a handbook, but the Runecaster’s tricks are bound up in rune magic’s rules. It’s important to understand it if you’re going to exploit it fully. It also needs careful reading because it's been subject to half-baked errata by WOTC over the years. Colour-coding is again included to draw your attention to the most salient bits. Heavily spoilered for reading length...

    A rune contains the spell cast into a rune.
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    This is the RAW wording, and it's important to understand its implications. Unlike a scroll, you are casting the full spell into the rune when you create it. This is why the spell's effects are available instantly when you touch the rune.

    Per that same rule, metamagic cost reducers or Divine Metamagic lower the spell level and caster level of the rune for the purposes of calculating the rune's price.

    Normally a single-use rune containing a level one spell with a Persistent Spell metamagic feat in it would have a price of 5 [level +4] x 9 [Minimum CL to cast a fifth level spell] x 50 = 2,250 gp. But Divine Metamagic (Persistent Spell) removes the additional spell levels, substituting Turn Undead uses. The DMM version of the same rune therefore costs 1 [spell level] x 1 [CL] x 50 = 50 gp. That is, it's literally 28 to 32 times cheaper. No other type of magic item -- not scroll, potion, wand, or anything else -- has this benefit available to it.


    A spell in a rune has no casting time when it's activated.
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    You fully cast the spell, by RAW taking the full casting time of the spell, when it first goes into the rune. Consequently the casting of the spell itself consumes no time when the rune is activated - otherwise you'd be casting the spell twice. In the case of use-per-day and permanent runes, this is a major break of the action economy for any spell that normally takes more than a standard action to cast. Touch the rune, the spell's effects are available instantaneously.

    For example, the Summon Monster line of spells: normally the casting time is a full round, and you have to waste feat slots (Quicken Spell, Rapid Spell) to get it down to anything less. With a permanent rune, the casting time is spent when you first create the rune, and it's only spent once. Hit the rune, the summoned creature is instantly there and acts on your initiative count. And you can do this every single time you touch the rune. This feature is a free Rapid Spell feat at least even if your DM says it's a standard action to activate a rune (see further down about this.)


    A rune can contain any divine spell the caster has access to.
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    Unlike Persistent Spell, there's no restriction on the spell in the rune having to be touch range, personal range, instanteous duration, or so on. The cleric list of divine spells is huge and fully available every morning to most clerics. And “any divine spell” is even wider if you are an Archivist and can get a non-cleric, but still divine spell into your prayerbook.

    Then there are “arcane” spells that crop up on cleric domain lists. Are these divine spells? If you have a reasonable DM, yes. The general view is that it's a divine spell by definition if you can cast it from a domain slot, and for gods of magic (whose portfolios include Spell and Magic domains) the argument is even stronger. If your DM still rules against you on this, one feat solves the problem. The errata'd wording of Inscribe Rune in The Player's Guide to Faerun provides that when making a rune you are only required to prepare "the spell", not prepare it as a divine spell. Southern Magician (Shining South) allows you to cast an arcane spell as a divine one even if it was prepared as an arcane spell. Failing that, Alternative Source Spell (Dragon #325) takes it one step further and outright allows you to prepare an arcane spell as a divine spell. You are therefore casting a divine spell into the rune.

    That’s leaving aside other Archivist exploits using cooperation with certain classes to turn arcane scrolls into divine scrolls, and which are likely to be thumped with the DM’s banstick.


    The caster must prepare the spell to be placed in the rune.
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    Can (divine) spontaneous casters qualify for Runecaster?

    Yes: the PrC's prerequisite is the capability to cast third level divine spells, and Inscribe Rune's prerequisite (in what is probably a misprint) is "divine spellcaster level 3rd".

    Can spontaneous casters actually make runes, given this rule that you have to prepare the spell that goes into the rune?

    Yes. But only if:

    (1) they take Magical Training (or dip an arcane casting class) and
    (2) take Arcane Preparation and their DM rules the feat applies to all spontaneous spells they know and not just the arcane ones. (By RAW, the feat's benefit allows it, but the feat's description and prerequisites refer only to arcane spellcasting.) Arcane Preparation then makes their spontaneous spells preparable and thus able to be crafted as runes.

    (Paradoxically, it's simpler to get arcane spells into runes: Arcane Preparation and Alternative Source Spell, the latter feat explictly allowing you to prepare your arcane spells as divine spells.)


    A rune can be triggered by touch and lasts indefinitely until triggered.
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    No Use Magic Device is required to trigger a rune, meaning any of your partymates can use the runes they carry without spending skill points. Runes being touch-activated allows much better economies of scale than carrying and accessing spells on scrolls.


    Activating a spell cast into the rune is a standard action if triggering the rune deliberately, no action to trigger otherwise.
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    "Triggering a rune deliberately is a standard action." This single line was added by the errata to the FR Campaign Setting, and was left in place by PGtF. At first glance it would seem to hobble the use of runes in tactical combat.

    Fortunately, all is not as it first seems. There are several highly debatable questions to be asked of your DM in relation to this errata:

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    • If you didn't create the rune, how can you "deliberately trigger" it? The errata should not be read in isolation. It was added to the end of a paragraph that sets a technical meaning for "triggering a rune deliberately". In context, "triggering a rune deliberately" is said to be something the rune's creator can do, as opposed to touching a rune without triggering it. The wording is not "any act intended to trigger a rune deliberately by anyone" - it's, in context, only the act of deliberately triggering a rune by the rune's creator. So while the runecaster can decide whether he triggers a rune he touches, his allies cannot. Therefore, whenever anyone but the creator of a rune touches that rune, it triggers automatically - and costs no actions. Thus your barbarian buddy can trigger the True Strike rune you made for him at a glance because he's not the rune's creator. He can't decide whether or not to trigger the rune, it just happens. (Thanks to Urpriest on this.)

    • If you don't trigger the rune, how can you deliberately trigger it? Only specific people can "trigger" a rune: "Whoever touches the rune triggers the rune and becomes the target of the spell placed in it." So: what if the runecaster presses a rune against his ally without telling his ally he's going to do it? The person touched by the rune triggers it, and becomes the target of the spell placed in it. But they didn't do so deliberately, so they pay no standard action to activate the rune. The runecaster might have acted deliberately, but he didn't trigger the rune -- the ally he pressed it against did. So the rune's creator doesn't take a standard action either.

    • Would a Contingent Spell amount to deliberately triggering a rune? Amanuensis sets off reading-based magic traps inside books, and runes are explained by both Complete Arcane and the FRCS to operate as simple magic traps. Craft Contingent Spell applied to Amanuensis set to fire whenever you shout some speculation on your opponent's parentage is not you triggering the rune deliberately, it is the spell firing on a defined contingency.

    • How can an object ever deliberately trigger a rune? Per the RAW: "If the spell only affects objects, then an object must trigger the rune." An object by definition can't trigger a rune deliberately. An object has no sentience, and can't take any actions. Therefore: when an object triggers a rune, it has no activation time. When you draw your sword from its scabbard, brushing it against the rune of Greater Magic Weapon scribed at the top, the rune fires without consuming an action. A further buttress to this argument lies in the SRD principle that if a magic item's activation is subsumed in its use, it costs no actions to activate it.

    • If you have to trigger a rune in order to use an object at all, how is it deliberately triggering that rune? Write a touch-activated rune on a returning weapon's handle. It's a free action to catch the weapon as it returns. You catch the weapon and touch the rune. It was not your intent is not to trigger the rune, it was simply to catch your weapon. Thus: no standard action consumed, because no deliberate triggering. Same probably applies to a rune teleported two feet above your head which then drops; you didn't deliberately activate the rune, so it fires automatically.


    A rune is a use-activated magic item. It is not a spell completion item, spell-command, or command word item because it is activated by touch. Per the SRD: "This type of item simply has to be used in order to activate it. A character has to drink a potion, swing a sword, interpose a shield to deflect a blow in combat, look through a lens, sprinkle dust, wear a ring, or don a hat. Use activation is generally straightforward and self-explanatory."

    A rune's activation is the very definition of self-explanatory: you just have to touch it, and the spell within it fires instantly.

    Also per the SRD, "activating a use-activated magic item is either a standard action or not an action at all." The only interaction with a rune assigned to take a standard action is deliberate triggering of a rune. Therefore: if you don't deliberately trigger a rune, it's not a standard action; and therefore, by default, it costs no activation time at all. That aside: per the SRD, if a magic item's activation is subsumed in its use, it costs no actions to do so. In the case of a rune, since it fires instantaneously, the magic effect occurring instantaneously, no magical effect happens without the use of the rune. Its activation is subsumed in its use.

    This is obvious enough in the case of runes designed to operate as magical traps, or those with the "read/pass" trigger - there's no deliberate activation, so there's no standard action to be paid. But exactly the same thing applies to an item with a rune inscribed such as to make it impossible to use it without touching the rune and thus triggering it - say, on the handle of a sword, or the arrowrest of a bow. Or on the interior of your armour.

    If your DM concedes one or more of these points, it's a major advantage. For example, if you're not the creator of a rune, all you have to do to fire off an otherwise-difficult six spells in a round is swipe your hand across six runes without paying a standard action for them. Or if you are the rune's creator, you simply finagle six runes onto the handle of a returning weapon. Or have a buddy press runes against you. This is perhaps the strongest argument that a Runecaster makes for a good PC, but an even more powerful cohort - since then you'd be using all the cohort's runes and won't be creating them yourself.

    The time it takes to physically reach up and touch a rune has no definition – it may be open to you to negotiate it as a free action, similarly to the manner in which a Duskblade may take a free action to remove one hand from a two-handed weapon to cast a spell. Even if your DM is conservative and calls it a swift action that’s an immense advantage on normal casting time. Touch attacks consume a standard action, certainly, but in touching a rune you're generally not attacking anyone.

    Note: some, if not most of these conclusions may well be contentious with some DMs. The author believes the points made above are solid conclusions to be drawn from the RAW, but in any event it is advisable to get DM clearance on the interpretations before you start down the Runecaster path, mainly because it determines how you build your runes. Runes are very solid options even having to spend a standard action on their activation, mainly because they free up space in your own spell slots and they are tremendously cheap to make as permanent items.


    And whatever the DM's ruling on these points, the "rune as minefield" approach still takes effect without a standard action, because the opponent is not deliberately triggering the rune.


    A single Medium-size or smaller object can hold only one rune. Larger objects can hold one rune per 25 square feet of surface area,”.
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    By RAW you can fit only one rune on a medium-sized object or smaller -- but it doesn’t set a limit on how small that object can be. For example, a Tiny object. Or a diminutive object. Or an ioun stone. To say nothing of how runes written by a small or diminutive Runecaster (a pixie or a halfling) might be exploited. In particular the RAW does not define what an "object" is, or whether two objects held together with, say, glue, are one object for the purposes of runecasting.

    Consider buttons sewn on a vest, which you only need to wipe your hand over in one sweep to hit every rune for certain since your fingertip will be bigger than the rune on the button. Is the object the vest, or are the buttons individual objects? Or consider making books with multiple runes by laying out huge bits of paper, putting one rune on per 25 square feet of surface area, and then cutting up the paper to bind into a book. Hell, the most glaring example of how this can be exploited is the Campaign Setting's own example of a runecaster: Gerti Orelsdottr on page 167 of the FRCS, whose items include a "rune necklace (usually holds 4 runes of cure critical wounds and 2 of raise dead (!)"

    Probably you won’t get away with 20+ runes inscribed on each plate of your armour, but as demonstrated there’s plenty of ways to exploit this with a little imagination. The main reason you can get away with this is because runes in essence (if not explicitly) are slotless items; there's no theoretical upper limit on how many you can carry around because they can't be tied down to a particular body slot.


    The price of a single-charge rune for a Runecaster: Spell level x caster level x 50 gp.
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    This cost is dictated by Players Guide to Faerun, which supersedes the FRCS. For a runecaster, the cost to create a rune are as follows, again following FRCS and its errata being superseded by PGtF:


    Number of uses/trigger Base Price
    One Spell level x CL x 50 gp
    Charges Spell level x CL x charges x 50 gp
    Charges Per Day Spell level x CL x charges x 400 gp
    Permanent (until dispelled) Spell level x caster level x 2,000 gp
    Works when touched Base Cost
    Works when read or passed Base Cost x2

    For example, a +4 STR item normally costs 16,000 gp. A permanent rune of Bull's Strength, touch-activated, will cost a runecaster 2 x 3 x 2,000 gp = 12,000 gp (and 24 XP). The price is less and the spell can be renewed forever. It gets even better once you start factoring in spells that function 1 hour/level or better, since then you don’t even need a permanent rune: you can just give however many charges per day are needed for the character to get through 24 hours.) A permanent rune's cost is more economical than any permanent magic item that provides the same effect, and doesn't require Use Magic Device for another character to gain the spell's benefit.

    Permanent runes in particular are, depending on the type of spell put in, outrageously cheaper than equivalent custom magic items. Custom magic items supplying permanent, at-will use spells have cost multipliers increased several times that of a permanent rune -- that is, anywhere between 2 and 4 times more expensive.

    Frugal players will note that it's cheaper to make a scroll, potion, wand, or staff of a spell than it is a single-use or multiple-charge rune of the same spell - the price per charge is markedly less in all cases. However, this ignores that -- unlike potions or wands in particular -- runes are not restricted to fourth-level spells or lower, and that runes are in themselves magic items with no space limitations, which would otherwise double the cost of an equivalent custom magic item. The Campaign Setting itself lists explicitly the existence of Raise Dead runes on a sample NPC. On top of that, runes can be triggered (i.e. used) by any character, do not have any casting time, and can contain any preparable divine spell, regardless of its range. And there is no potion, scroll, wand, or staff in existence which offers endless uses-per-day or at-will charges.


    The caster must spend 1/25 of the rune’s price in XP and pay the costs set out in the Runecaster table.
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    Again, it's the PGtF table that counts. However, the errata caused an advantageous oversight. A rune's "price" is explicitly set by Inscribe Rune as spell level x caster level x 50 gp. The XP spent on the rune is calculated as 1/25th of that amount.

    But the raw materials cost is defined by the table set out above. That table doesn't use the phrase "price" -- and therefore does not alter the XP spent on the rune even if the rune has higher raw material costs.

    That's significant since XP is generally harder than gold to acquire or regain once spent. And by RAW, feats used to discount the crafting cost of magic items reduce the base cost the Runecaster pays. You can't use the old trick of crafting an item for use by a particular class in order to bring its cost down, because runes are not custom-built magic items, but there's still plenty of other RAW alternatives to get your gear cheaper. (See the Cost Reduction Handbook for more details on this - a link is supplied above.)


    Runes can’t be placed on a weapon with the intent of triggering them when the weapon strikes a foe, but can be set to trigger when read or passed.
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    Putting runes of Entangle on arrowheads with the intent they gum up the opposition on a hit are out … but with a "passed" trigger, you can just aim at the spot five feet in front of the opponent (generally an AC of 5). It all but circumvents the restriction. This is particularly handy for archer builds where a spell has to be delivered outside its normal casting range: as an extreme example, consider Blasphemy, normally a 40-foot range spell, delivered by a Cragtop Archer from half a mile away by the expedient of the archer hitting the ground in front of an opponent, thus triggering the spell.

    And note than only triggering when the weapon “strikes a foe” is verboten. A rune designed to trigger when an arrow hits an object by RAW does not infringe this rule. Possibly triggering when the arrow hits an object the foe is holding might be RAW legal too. Consider the druid's Rusting Grasp spell, which only affects objects: against regular shields, armor, or weapons, a successful shot now rusts out the target.


    Untriggered runes are subject to targeted dispelling but not subject to area dispels.
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    Again, this is more of a problem if you have a bastard for a DM, but still: even if a Dispel Magic is targeted at you, it doesn’t wipe out your runes any more than a Dispel Magic thrown at you wipes out your +1 longsword. So if a dispel erases your Divine Power, guess what? Tap your Divine Power rune once and the enemy is down one spell with nothing to show for it. And there are plenty of ways to keep your precious runes out of sight or out of range of a dispel magic effect: Bag of Holding, or indeed just a piece of cloth to cover the rune and thus block line of sight and therefore line of effect.

    Important note: it may be open on RAW that while a normal rune is subject to dispelling, a permanent rune -- being, y'know, permanent, and a rune being a magic item of a kind -- is only suppressed by a dispel magic rather than destroyed as all other permanent magic items are. If you can get this ruling, you basically need no longer worry about protecting your runes at all since the worst an enemy can do (absent Ungentlemanly DM Tactics like Disjunction) is stop you using one of them for 1d4 rounds.


    When making the rune, you make any choices you would normally make when casting the spell.
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    So spells capable of variable effects -- Major Creation or the Summon Monster line -- are locked down to one choice, i.e. when you make the rune of Summon Monster I, you have to specify where the creature will always appear and what creature it's going to be; Major Creation is going to be a button of whatever item you feel you need again and again on an urgent basis. This cuts down runes' versatility somewhat (and not at all if you rely, as many summoners do, on a single workhorse monster for kicking butt) but for fixed-benefit spells such as True Strike it's not an impost. And there might well be some wiggle room if, as with Divine Power, the spell's effect is tied to a number that's variable -- Divine Power, for example, making your BAB equal your character level, whatever that happens to be at that point. And this rule is insignificant for offensive-use runes which work when read or passed - whoever passes or reads the rune becomes the target of the spell placed into the rune, up to 30 feet away.


    The caster needs the Inscribe Rune feat.
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    This explicit rule in relation to rune magic means it's impossible to retrain it or Dark Chaos Shuffle it away. The feat is of very limited use outside Runecaster; it's basically a feat tax, which is a pain given casters are low on feats. Its only positive feature is that, as an [Item Creation] feat, it opens runes to most options which reduce magic item creation costs.


    Inscribing the rune takes a Craft check of DC 20+spell level.
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    Runecasters get low skill points -- but you'll probably be pumping INT anyway, and Craft is a class skill for virtually all classes. The highest DC you'll ever have to hit is 34, and that only if you're using a 9th level spell and you want the rune Maximised. If you're a cleric or can finagle access to Divine Insight (or its big brother, Guidance of the Avatar) this is a trivial concern.


    Improved Runecasting:
    The Runecaster gets this at levels 3 and 8. When he does, it gives him many more options for triggering runes.

    From level 3, he can make a rune that works when read or passed.
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    * “Read” includes any attempt to study, identify, or fathom a rune’s meaning. So glancing at a rune counts as reading it. How about glancing at a permanent rune of True Strike etched on a weapon between every swing you make?
    * “Passed” includes – but is not by RAW limited to – passing through a portal that bears the rune. A rune must have unbroken line of effect to a target, and the target must be within 30 feet. The easiest way to exploit this ability is to carve pass-activated runes on your ioun stones. They thereby become permanent sentries whirling round your head as you wander round dungeons. If something ugly charges you, depending on the conditions you attach to the rune triggering, life becomes a series of small explosions or debuffs ranging out at 30 feet. Alternatively, and more controversially, while you can’t craft a rune to activate when it hits someone, you don’t have to hit them anyway, because if the rune passes them on an arrowhead, they arguably are “passing” it.

    A rune with the "passed" trigger can be set to almost any special conditions the runecaster specifies. The only restrictions are that they cannot be set to trigger on a given class, Hit Dice, or level. They trigger to invisible creatures normally but not an ethereal. Nothing in there to say Nondetection or Mind Blank affects this by RAW, either. You can put a password or phrase that protects a creature using it from triggering the rune.


    From level 8, a Runecaster can make a Permanent rune.
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    Very important misconception to clear up here, one that probably leads people to overlook the PrC.

    “Permanent” here does not mean "a rune containing a permanent spell".

    It means a rune with unlimited charges, i.e. unlimited castings of the spell contained in the rune, instantaneously.

    That is, any divine spell you can think of can be made an at-will spell cast instantaneously. Even with the increased cost this option makes Persistent Spell, Quicken Spell, and Rapid Spell metamagic obsolete and Extend Spell just a luxury (and the Divine Metamagic versions of those feats even more useful since they reduce the rune's price.) This is the standout feature of the PrC, the engine that powers Runecaster's breaking of the action economy, spell slots, and item costs -- and it's also the reason you don't go any higher in the PrC than level 8. Frankly, up to level 8 runecasting is fairly pedestrian. It becomes a whole new ball game once you've got this ability.


    Also at level 8, the Runecaster can make use-per-day runes.
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    These are significantly cheaper than permanent runes: the cost for use-per-day keys off multiples of 400 while permanent runes key off multiples of 2,000 gp. At CL 12 (which you will be by the time you hit the PrC's break point at level 8) hour/level spells combined with Extend Spell come up with exactly the same effect as a Persisted spell at a much cheaper price. Permanent runes are powerful, but they're only really necessary if you need to reliably cast a given spell more than four times in a day: at that point, the costs are the same whether you make a permanent rune or the use-per-day option. Not all your runes have to be permanent. It's probably a lot more economical to have a once-per-day DMM Persisted Divine Power rune and a permanent True Strike rune -- and the latter rune will be vastly cheaper than the former.

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    Default Re: Runeblaster: A Handbook for the D&D 3.5 Runecaster

    Entry Requirements


    Spellcasting: Ability to cast 3rd-level divine spells. (Thus, lowest possible entry at level 5 for most divine spellcasters, which is a reasonably early entry.)
    Skills: Spellcraft 8 ranks, Craft 8 ranks (Again, lowest possible entry at level 5). Divine casters are usually starved for skill points. Craft would be a red option if it wasn’t already a class skill, because it’s INT-based. Spellcraft is blue because odds are on you’ll be maxing this out anyway.
    Feats: Inscribe Rune, which itself has prerequisites of INT 13, a Craft skill, and a 3rd level divine spellcaster. Inscribe Rune is obsolete from about level 3 in the PrC but can't be retrained. The INT requirement also means you can’t dump the stat as most divine casters do.

    Entry Paths

    Archivist 5:
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    The Archivist is less MAD than a cleric going into the PrC: Archivists’ spells key off INT though they are divine casters, which has a better synergy both with the Craft checks innate to Runecaster and the fact Inscribe Rune requires an INT 13. This is doubly so if you pick up Academic Priest out the Dragonlance books, which allows bonus spells to key off INT rather than WIS. Archivists also have an inherently better range than Clerics by virtue of being able to scribe any divine spell, not just the ones on the cleric list.

    On the flipside, an Archivist is going to be more heavily taxed cashwise than a cleric or druid entry, since they have to spend cash on their prayerbook and on making runes. Since rune prices in part are derived from caster level, the frugal Archivist who diligently seeks out spells at the lowest possible level also saves himself money on runecrafting. The Archivist Handbook tells you to expect to spend half your WBL on expanding your spell list; expect a very large proportion of your remaining WBL to go on making runes (on the other hand, given you’ll be sporting at-will spells everywhere you go, it might well be worth the sacrifice.)


    Cleric 5:
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    This is the most natural entry class to the PrC, and out of the box clerics have more immediate versatility for preparation of runes. Judicious selection of domains also adds to this versatility: there’s a strong flavour and crunch argument that the Knowledge, Spell, or Magic domains are thematically in keeping with a runecaster. The Cloistered Cleric ACF in particular with its extra skill points and addition of the Knowledge domain has a nice synergy with Runecaster. And if you start spending some cash on Domain Draughts (see the Items section below) your versatility just gets stronger.


    Divine Bard 7: (Variant Bard)
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    This entry path is dubious: while you'd be able to access and make runes of bard-only spells, your bardic music -- one of your most potent class strengths -- stops dead in uses and varieties at a fairly low level, when you could be doing stuff like Seeker of the Song, Virtuoso, or even Fochlucan Lyrist in the meantime. Even multiclassing in bard and cleric and then using Initiate of Milil would be superior to this. Hell, one level in Heartfire Fanner would be superior to this. And even if you do qualify, as the Rune Magic section indicates above, you're going to be stuck with at least two additional feats to be able to make runes at all: Magical Training and Arcane Preparation.


    Druid 5:
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    This path is black because it depends on your focus. Don't do it if you’re planning on Wild Shaping, because this PrC only advances your spellcasting and you become eligible for it right when you get your first Wild Shape. For the buffing or blasting druid, though, it has the same efficacy as it would for a cleric. If you’re intending seriously on summoning, it’s sheer awesomeness in a can (or a written symbol, rather) because all the casting time for the summoning – the biggest drawback of a summon in combat -- is over and done at the point of crafting the rune.

    Let’s make a permanent, touch-activated rune of Summon Nature’s Ally I for the piddling base price of 4,000 gp. Now see how many times you can touch the stone in six seconds, conjuring up a creature with every tap of your finger. The skill trick “Never Outnumbered” now applies to you in a very literal way. And things like Greenbound Summoning, Ashbound Summoning, or Rashemi Elemental Summoning do not raise the caster level of a summoning and therefore do not raise the cost of a rune.


    Favored Soul 6:
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    No. You have a small, practically-fixed list of spells known, which runes can do for you and more since they can be made permanent. Favored Soul is already Cleric with a C minus, don't make it worse by putting Runecaster on it. On top of that: spontaneous spellcaster, so 2 feat taxes apply to you being able to make runes.


    Mystic 6: (Dragonlance Campaign Setting)
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    Blue only because if you're going with a spontaneous spellcaster entry this is the best of a bad lot. Mystics are a bit ... odd. High WIS doesn't give the Mystic any bonus spells, but they come with more spells per level than a bog-standard cleric gets. But Mystics have more flexibility than other divine spontaneous spellcasters because they still use domains and domain spells. So, like a Cleric, a Mystic can use Domain Draughts to cherry-pick the best domain spells in the multiverse for creation as runes. As with any other spontaneous spellcaster, you're stuck with taking Magical Training and Arcane Preparation.


    Mystic Ranger 6: (Dragon #336)
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    Ideally you'd also take Wildshape Ranger (Unearthed Arcana). While you'd initially have Ranger-only spells, some of these work very, very well as at-will buttons: consider auto-critting at least one shot every single round by tapping a permanent rune of Hunter's Mercy affixed to your bow. Or consider giving the party rogue a permanent rune of Hunter's Eye. And Mystic Ranger allows you to get at least some fifth-level spells.

    However, if you take Sword of the Arcane Order, combined with Alternative Source Spell, you're able to convert all the party mage's spells (up to fifth level) into permanent runes. (Similar tricks -- picking up free metamagic for your runes -- are possible by dipping good arcane PrCs like Abjurant Champion, too, albeit the build starts getting crowded.) Either way, with a Mystic Wildshape Ranger, most of the ranger's spellcasting comes frontloaded, making early entry viable.

    The sole drawback is that when you enter Runecaster your BAB and save progression drops back to a cleric's, with no native spell-based way of alleviating that as Divine Power allows a cleric to do. (On the other hand, Runecaster is a 10/10 divine casting PrC and you can choose which divine casting progression to advance, Cleric 3/Mystic Ranger 6/Runecaster 8 would alleviate the problem: Mystic Ranger starts getting 5th level spells at Mystic Ranger 10, and Clerics access Divine Power from Cleric 7.)


    Paladin 11:
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    No. For a start, you get decent spells too late. And with its INT focus this class makes you even more MAD than you already are.


    Ranger 11:
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    Dear God, no -- unless you plan to use the “Never Outnumbered” thing mentioned in the druid section above to send Dire Rats against CL 15, 16 targets or something.


    Shaman 11: (Oriental Adventures)
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    If you're running a Rokugan game, runes can be transcribed rather flavourfully into kanji, and Shaman is the Rokugan cleric analogue. The late entry at 11 is simply so the Shaman still gets his two bonus feats and the third domain; it's possible to qualify as early as Shaman 6.


    Spirit Shaman 6:
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    As spontaneous spellcaster entries go, the Spirit Shaman runs a close second to Mystic -- and only because a Mystic can craft arcane spells as runes via Domain Draught and Greater Anyspell ab/use. Spirit Shamans use the druid list and can change their known spells daily, which dovetails with runecasting's short turnaround times. Spirit Shamans also get more skill points than clerics do, and most of their decent class features are online by the time they hit the earliest Runecaster entry point at level 6. The drawback is the same as all spontaneous caster entries to Runecaster: the feat taxes of Magical Training and Arcane Preparation.


    Bring Forth The Brie: Early Entry
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    Absent some seriously strong shenanigans, about the earliest you can possibly get into this class is Cleric 3 as far as I can tell. The reason for that is Inscribe Rune, which has "divine spellcaster level 3rd" as its most significant prerequisite. That aside, taking Mad Faith then gives you "able to cast 3rd level divine spells" if you take severe depravity, and the sole remaining trick is getting Spellcraft and Craft up to their required levels. Cloistered Cleric 3 gets you most of the way there on skill points, but Dusk Giant Polymorph followed by Psychic Reformation nets you all the required skill points to then hop into the PrC from there.

    For what it's worth, this same tactic also makes it possible to enter at Ranger 4 or Paladin 4, mainly because while both these classes are divine casters, they don't become eligible for Mad Faith until they're capable of casting first level divine spells.

    And as an early exit strategy, Cleric 7/Illithid Savant 3 gives you all the significant benefits of the Runecaster while saving three levels or so on the investment. In essence there are only three things you need out of Runecaster: the Inscribe Rune feat, a high enough Craft skill, and the Improved Runecasting class feature from a level 8 runecaster. The 7 levels in cleric give you the 3rd level divine spellcasting required.


    The Runecaster as cohort:
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    There is a good argument that a Runecaster is a decent PC, but an even better cohort, especially if your DM rules that only a runecaster can deliberately trigger a rune - i.e. if his allies activate them, they're free actions. If so, though, it's important to remember that you're only going to get access to a Runecaster with permanent runes out of the gate when you are character level 15, since you can't pull a cohort more than 2 levels below you. In addition, your cohort will have to be using most of the tricks in this handbook anyway. Your spell list isn't going to be of much help to the cohort absent Archivist shenanigans as expressed above or Mystic Ranger/Sword of the Arcane Order/Alternative Source Spell builds where you're a wizard yourself. On the other hand, if you're intending on playing with a Runecaster cohort who will be coming up with cup-a-soup runes for party members (say, a one-use Holy Sword rune for the fighter who's likely to be facing demons soon) you can get some decent benefits out of having a Runecaster at lower levels. Hell, an Archivist Runecaster who starts inscribing runes from an Elf-domain cleric is going to be able to give partymembers True Strike runes from the moment he sets foot in the PrC for 50 gp and 2 XP each.

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    Default Re: Runeblaster: A Handbook for the D&D 3.5 Runecaster

    Attributes


    For a Cleric or Druid method of entry:
    STR: Important stat if you’re focusing on melee combat. If you’re going ranged or you’re not planning on being involved in damage dealing of combat, much less so.
    DEX: You came in here via cleric. You’re proficient with heavy armour. Use it.
    CON: Blue stat regardless of class, especially so for the Runecaster who gets the same hit dice as a cleric.
    INT: This has to be a minimum of 13 to get you Inscribe Rune, so you’re stuck with it. And Craft keys off the INT skill anyway, so this is the biggest difference from the bog-standard Cleric advice to dump this.
    WIS: You’re a divine-based caster, so boost your primary stat.
    CHA: Dump it. Yes. I mean it. Stop trembling and pointing at your handbook where it says a cleric can’t live without a huge Turn Undead bank balance to power Divine Metamagic. You can make permanent runes that are touch-activated. Seriously, the idea with a Runecaster is to carry your spells around with you all day long, not carry them in your CHA bonus and Nightsticks.

    For an Archivist method of entry:
    STR: Dump it, unless you plan on being a gish of some kind.
    DEX: Handy to boost your horrible Reflex save and for ranged touch attacks.
    CON: Blue stat regardless of class, though you got an improvement on hitpoints the moment you became a Runecaster.
    INT: This would already be a primary stat for you, and it’ll still be important because it still controls your spell DCs. Not to mention you need 13 in it for Inscribe Rune and your Craft checks key off it.
    WIS: This controls your bonus spells per day as an Archivist, so it’s important to raise it.
    CHA: Again, dump it unless you’re desperately needed for Diplomacy. You can't turn undead, so you can't get Divine Metamagic anyway.

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    Default Re: Runeblaster: A Handbook for the D&D 3.5 Runecaster

    Races


    In general, if a race works well for archivist or cleric, it should work okay for a Runecaster. But races giving a CHA bonus assume much less importance in a Runecaster build, and CHA penalty races may become just a little more attractive. Similarly, INT-bonus races become just a bit more important given you need INT 13 to get Inscribe Rune and the prominence of the Craft skill. That said, some observations--
    Spoiler
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    Beguiler: No, not the class. The magical beast from Shining South, which looks rather like a cross between Elminster and Rocket Raccoon. This choice as a player race will likely get DMGs thrown at you since it comes with Small size, +6 DEX, +2 INT, -4 STR, +8 racial to Hide and Climb checks, darkvision, low-light vision, and constant true seeing for no level adjustment and no racial hit dice ... but it makes for an excellent Runecaster cohort mainly because it has bonuses to INT, can write tiny-sized runes, and can stay out of trouble by hiding somewhere until the fighting is over. And by RAW it's meant to be a cohort. And because he's the cutest little cohort you'll ever adventure with.

    Deep Imaskari: Nah. While it's got a synergistic +2 INT, you pay for it with -2 DEX, making it debatable for Cleric entry and probably horrible for Archivist or ranged entry. And while it probably makes you [human] for the purpose of spell effects, you're giving up the human's bonus feat and skill points in exchange for low-light vision and a 1st-level Pearl of Power that doesn't run out. Deep Imaskari work best as wizards in low-level campaigns (or as sorcerers with Versatile Spellcaster) against DMs who like to make arcanists run out of gas -- but a Runecaster by definition will never be playing at those levels. Runecasters benefit a hell of a lot more from the bonus feat and additional skill points that humans get.

    Dwarf: +2 CON and -2 to CHA which you’re probably not going to need anyway. (Desert, Dream, and Gold dwarves don’t suffer a CHA penalty). Also, and most relevantly for Runecaster, +2 on Craft checks "relating to stone and metal". This doesn't necessarily mean you have to take Craft (metalworking) or Craft (stoneworking) -- it can be argued drawing on a rock or bit of steel is a Craft check "relating to stone or metal." Gold Dwarf in particular may be useful thanks to its racial feat -- Gold Dwarf Dweomersmith -- outlined below, and Shield Dwarf due to its own racial feat -- Shield Dwarf Warder -- also.

    Grey Elf: The only elf worth going with for an Archivist entry to Runecaster, given it’s a -2 STR, +2 DEX, -2 CON, +2 INT character. No other elves should be considered for Runecaster.

    Human: Bonus feat at least pays for the entry tax of Inscribe Rune, and you're going to need those extra skill points. Humans are always a solid choice.

    Illumian: An Illumian has a couple of sigils that can be handy for Runecaster (those acting as a bonus to caster level and INT, respectively). While at first blush the Illumian's racial Glyphic Resonance ability appears a problem -- it triggers on encountering symbol-based spells which arguably by RAW, "spells cast as a rune" covers -- it doesn't actually result in an issue for an Illumian Runecaster.

    Kobold: Good for clerics, archivists, or Runecasters with the Dragonwrought feat, and just as good for Runecasters given the portfolios of the gods they worship…

    Lesser Aasimar: +2 to WIS and CHA with no penalties. CHA doesn’t really matter, but WIS does.

    Midgard Dwarf (Frostburn) Not as a player race, but as a cohort. Midgard Dwarves are horrible PC options because of their LA +4 and 8 Racial Hit Dice. And you can only get one as a cohort after you've reached character level 14. So why would you ever take one on? Because:
    • You're going to be very close to character level 14 when you access Permanent runes anyway; and
    • a Midgard Dwarf has Craft Wondrous Item (among several other handy item creation feats) -- and Midgard Dwarves are by explicit RAW considered to meet all prerequisites for making all items under their item creation feats, even if they lack access to the spells or class features required to make a particular item.
    This means a Midgard Dwarf cohort can craft a Domain Draught of any domain for your Cleric/Runecaster to chug. It means unfettered access to arcane spells under Anyspell and Greater Anyspell via Domain Draughts, to say nothing of a lot of other handy domain spells past fifth level if you go and take a look. A pet Domain Draughtsman Draughtsdwarf Draughtmaker is a grand final addition to a Runecaster build. And it's thematically appropriate, since runes and the Midgard Dwarf both derive from the same source: Nordic-themed magic. And for goodness sake, you get access to spells by chugging dwarven-made drinks. Can't get a lot more dwarfy than that.

    Raptoran: Runecaster has some interesting implications for the Raptoran-only PrC Skypledged -- in particular, the Divine Spellpool class feature that gives you access to all cleric and druid spells (but not Anyspell, which is exclusively a domain spell and not on the cleric/druid list). It's similar to - but easier to exploit - than Mage of the Arcane Order's corresponding Spellpool feature. Its main control is that you have to cast a spell from the Spellpool in less minutes than your CL, or else it fades from the spell slot. Happily, runes have a crafting time of 10 minutes + casting time of the spell, so from roughly the point where you can make permanent runes this time limit is no longer a problem. Making permanent runes of spellpool spells gives you continual access to them without ever having to pay the Spellpool Debt again. The only hurdle is whether Spellpool spells are "prepared", since a runecaster has to prepare the spell that goes into the rune -- and Arcane Preparation + Alternative Source Spell might well get you over that hurdle if you discuss it with your DM first.

    Shifter: No. No, no, no. Access to the Transformation domain means more options for your runes, but not at the price of -2 INT and -2 CHA, especially for a cleric entry. Pony up 3,000 gp for a Domain Draught instead and save yourself the trouble. Unless you are for some weird reason going into the Moonspeaker PrC after this, stay away.

    Strongheart Halfling: Bonus feat and small size. The Human, More Compact Edition. Good choice.

    Whisper Gnome: +2 DEX, +2 CON, -2 STR, -2 CHA, small size. Just a solid all-round race for any purpose, not just Runecaster. And as a gnome, if you're going an arcane-heavy build, a one-level dip into Maester (Complete Adventurer) loses you a caster level but gives you a bonus item creation feat for free...which then nets you Inscribe Rune, explicitly an [Item Creation] feat. By RAW it may even allow you to cut the creation time for a rune down to 5 minutes plus the casting time of the spell. That said, it's a hell of a lot easier and more useful if you persuade your DM to adapt (as the PrC allows) Maester into a divine-based PrC, in which case the dip becomes Runecaster level 0.

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    Default Re: Runeblaster: A Handbook for the D&D 3.5 Runecaster

    Feats


    There’s a lot in common between the recommendations for feats at the cleric or archivist handbooks and this one. It would be pointless to just repeat every feat that’s appropriate for those classes here. The feats below are those that occurred to me as particularly relevant for Runecasters. When it comes to feats focusing on runes, you’re looking for three types of feat, in the following order of priority: feats that reduce magic item costs, metamagic handy for runes you want to make a lot of, and feats which make it harder to dispel or destroy the rune without raising the spell level if possible. The list below has those three purposes in mind. If you want to look for feats that better enhance the class you entered by, seek out the handbooks on those classes; some are linked above.
    Spoiler
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    Alternative Source Spell (Dragon Magazine #325) - If you have access to it, this feat is insanely useful for getting around DM objections to arcane spells not being divine spells, mainly because it allows you to prepare any arcane spell as a divine spell, or vice versa. And as extra gravy, it knocks the CL of the altered spell down by one -- which is a saving of at least 2,000 gp for any permanent rune you pick since rune price and costs key off caster level. You do have to be able to cast arcane and divine spells to get it, and a converted arcane spell still uses up an arcane slot, but for builds involving Mystic Theurge this is very useful.

    Apprentice (Craftsman) (DMG II) –The apprentice's mentor grants the apprentice a +2 to Craft checks and a 10% discount on raw material purchases for Craft items or item creation fets, which is right up the Runecaster's alley. The feat also adds Appraise and Knowledge (architecture and engineering) as class skills, which are useless.

    Arcane Preparation (CArc, PGtF) - This feat is pretty much the only way you're going to be able to play a Runecaster entering as a spontaneous spellcaster. There is, unfortunately, no divine equivalent of this feat - but the feat's benefit by RAW renders any "spell you know" as a preparable spell -- making no distinction between arcane and divine. (That said, the feat description refers to arcane spells and you need arcane spellcasting ability to qualify, so this may be contentious with DMs). At least (using Alternative Source Spell) you'd be able to make your arcane spontaneous spells into runes: Arcane Preparation converts a spontaneous arcane spell into a preparable spell, and Alternative Source Spell then allows it to be prepared as a divine spell, qualifying it for injection into a rune. Either way, to avoid having to dip an arcane class to get this feat, take Magical Training.

    Craft Contingent Spell (CArc)– This feat is arguably more broken than the entire Runecaster class. Assuming your DM is insane enough to allow it, its easiest use is as a cost-heavy way of protecting your runes, if you Craft Contingent Spell upon a Dispel Magic keyed to counterspell whenever an opponent targets one of your runes. It's double the cost of your runes: a Contingent Spell costs spell level x CL x 100 gp, but some of your cost reduction feats can apply to this as well since it qualifies as a magic item. It’s probably a lot cheaper to just buy yourself a Bag of Holding, keep the rune out of line of sight, or just build a permanent rune on an ioun stone, triggering to counterspell on the condition of an incoming Dispel Magic targeted on your runes. And Craft Contingent Spell isn’t available until CL 11, although by that point you’ll be about ready to start making runes worth protecting. However, Contingent Amanuensis attached to firing on a book of your runes is probably a cheap, easy way to get an instant set of buffs up on you when confronted by an opponent (remembering you can only have as many contingent spells on you as you have HD.)

    Divine Metamagic (CDiv) – The efficacy of a Divine Metamagic feat in a Runecaster build comes down to how your DM interprets Divine Metamagic’s effect on a spell cast into a rune. Unlike most magic items, a rune is explicitly a spell "cast as a rune". Divine metamagic substitutes increased spell and caster levels for turn undead attempts. A rune's cost depends on the spell's level and the caster level -- and therefore, a Divine Metamagic rune costs orders of magnitude less than a regular metamagic rune. If that's your DM's interpretation, certain metamagic feats become very useful because they don't cost you any extra cash to shoehorn them in. Even then Divine Metamagic Persistent or Divine Metamagic Extend may be not worth the lost feat slots to obtain given the Runecaster's ability to create Permanent runes. If your DM rules that DMM still raises the level of the spell for rune creation purposes,don’t take Divine Metamagic for runecasting purposes.

    Extend Spell (PHB) – This has a black rating only for hour/level spells. In its Divine Metamagic form, it rises to blue assuming you've got an open-minded DM. In most orthodox entries to Runecaster, you’ll hit caster level 12 around level 7 or 8 of the PrC; at that point, hour/level spells Extended become the same as Persisted spells because the duration in both cases is 24 hours. Not bad -- but it's going to cost you another 2,000-4,000 gold to do this because of what it does to the spell and caster level. The DMM and Sudden versions of this feat eliminate that added cost. And remember: if you can consistently get a finger to a permanent rune the round or the second before the spell expires, you’ve got a Extended or Persisted Spell to all intents and purposes.

    Extraordinary Artisan (ECS) – Cuts magic item costs by 25%, which is very useful combined with the Magical Artisan feat. Would be purple if it wasn't from Eberron, making it harder to shoehorn into a Forgotten Realms PrC.

    Fell Drain (Lib. Mort) – Probably more useful for Runecasters focusing on making offensive runes. But the Fell line of metamagic is always interesting, and viable with Maximise Rune on save-and-suck spells.

    Gold Dwarf Dweomersmith (RoF) - +1 CL if your rune creates a weapon or enhances an existing one. The feat explicitly allows you to exceed normal caster level limits for such spells. But the real benefit of this is the somewhat expanded spell list: Bless Weapon, Magic Weapon, Keen Edge, Greater Magic Weapon, Holy Sword, Spellstaff, Changestaff, Mordenkainen's Sword, without having to go through any arcane-to-divine shenanigans. Also a 5% cut in GP price for magic weapons you make.

    Greenbound Summoning (LEoF) – If your entry is via druid and you want to summon stuff, this is awesome, no-spell-level-increase stuff. Similar can be said about Ashbound Summoning and Rashemi Elemental Summoning.

    Heighten Spell (PHB) – Probably more useful to “offensive” uses of runes, since you generally need to overcome spell resistance or saves. For “defensive” Runecasters who use runes purely to buff themselves or their parties, it’s to be skipped unless you have a metamagic cost reducer.

    Invisible Spell (Cityscape) – The potential breakage of this feat is well known, but consider what happens if your DM agrees a rune is a “visual manifestation” of the spell cast into it. If an enemy can’t see the rune, they have no line of sight to it, and therefore no line of effect for pesky targeted Dispel Magics.

    Item Familiar - One of the most useful feats in the game, it's particularly handy early in the Runecaster's career since it alleviates the need to continually pour all one's skill points into Craft. That said, if you're casting or have a rune of Guidance of the Avatar, this becomes an option rather than an essential. Even so, on top of that, there's the XP boost. And if you're inclined to get this once you have permanent runes for some odd reason, a permanent rune by RAW qualifies as an item familiar since it'll invariably be worth 2,000 gp, have a permanent magical effect, and will always be usable by the character.

    Magical Artisan (PGtF p.41) – cuts the base price by 25% for an item creation feat you have. Inscribe Rune is by RAW an item creation feat. That therefore cuts the XP cost, too, which is the most significant impost. And it’s even from the same setting.

    Maximise Spell (DMG) - You have a class feature, Maximise Rune, that gives you this feat for free in any rune you choose to make.

    Mentor (DMG II) - Unlike Apprentice which matches this, this requires you to spend your precious skill points on something other than Craft - specifically, a semi-useless Knowledge check, Appraise, or a Profession check. It adds +2 competence bonus to your checks on these. About the only reason you'd take this is if you plan on getting a cohort (via the apprentice) without taking the Leadership feat. Two runecasters are more broken than one, I suppose - but given the way apprentices work you're unlikely to get a second runecaster until well into epic levels. One of its few benefits is that you can leave an apprentice at home happily prepping runes for you, unlike a cohort, but even this is minimal since runes only take about 10 minutes to craft.

    Persistent Spell (FRCS) – Unless you have (a) a DM who likes to spam Dispel Magic, both against your buffs and against your runes specially, and (b) literally no time to even touch a rune, it is utterly pointless to have this feat except – and only except – as a feat tax for its Divine Metamagic form. It is far, far cheaper to just craft a Permanent rune and touch it every so often to renew the desired spell.

    Quick Draw (PHB) – mainly so you can pull lots of touch-activated rune-holding stones out of your Bag of Holding in quick succession. Not necessary if you're at all creative in finding ways to hang runes off your person.

    Quicken Spell and Rapid Spell (CArc)– Don’t. Not for runes. Not even in their Divine Metamagic versions. Runes can be triggered on touch or on being passed, and the relevant spell's effect happens instantly. The activation time is at maximum a standard action depending on how harsh your DM is, so Quicken Spell either can't match that or is irrelevant. And Rapid Spell is its poorer cousin. This is one of Rune Magic’s biggest strengths, so don't waste feats on this stuff. The only scenario I could see this being useful is if -- as is the RAW with Wands containing Quickened spells -- you can get your DM to houserule that a rune with a Quickened Spell in it takes only a swift action to activate rather than a standard action as the RAW dictates.

    Residual Metamagic (CMage) - Remembering that spells cast into runes are completed spells, this feat is grand. Prepare the same spell twice on your rune-making day, applying any metamagic you've got to the first spell. Cast it once, away from the rune. Then the next round, cast it again, into the rune, thus wiping out orders of magnitude on the rune cost because all your metamagic went into the rune for free. Brilliant for an Archivist runecaster in particular who won't have access to Divine Metamagic.

    Sanctum Spell -- +1 to the CL of your spells while in your sanctum; -1 to the CL of your spells while you’re out of it. You, of course, will always make runes outside your sanctum. Handy for lowering item creation costs once you’re into expensive runes.

    Shield Dwarf Warder (RoF) - Corresponds to Gold Dwarf Dweomersmith above, except this time with magic armor or shields. +1 CL when it creates or enhances a suit of armor or a shield, adding Entropic Shield, Mage Armor, Shield, Shield of Faith, Magic Vestment, Stone Body, Iron Body, Shield of Law. Again, 5% discount on GP costs for magic armor or shields you make.

    Southern Magician (RoF) – you might have to pick up this feat along with its restrictive prerequisites if your DM gets picky about how Anyspell works, i.e. whether Anyspell actually turns an arcane spell into a divine spell or whether it just allows you to cast a particular arcane spell from a domain slot (remembering that a rune by RAW can only be made from a divine spell.) Frankly Alternative Source Spell is superior since Southern Magician doesn't allow you to actually prepare the spell as divine. If your DM has an open mind about Anyspell, for God’s sake don’t take this feat.

    Sudden Empower, Sudden Extend (CArc) – Only usable once per day in each case, but if you’re creating a permanent rune incorporating this metamagic it basically circumvents that restriction because it applies the benefit of Empower Spell or Extend Spell to the spell you cast into the rune. And they explicitly do not raise the level of the spell, thus saving you at least 2,000-4,000 gold on each rune. Handy fallback option if your DM rules DMM still raises the caster level and spell level for rune-making purposes -- Sudden Empower is meaty combined with the Maximise Rune class feature.

    Sudden Quicken, Sudden Silent, Sudden Still (CArc) -- No to all three. Sudden Quicken is pointless for the same reason as Quicken Spell. Sudden Silent and Sudden Still are pointless because you do your spellcasting back when you're making the rune, not while the enemy has chucked a Silence effect or is grappling you.

    Sudden Widen (CArc) -- Black and deserves a separate mention because of how rune magic works. Explicitly, when a rune is triggered, the person triggering it becomes the target of the spell placed in it. Obvious enough for personal, touch, ray-based spells, etc, and probably intuitive to rule on for burst-based or area-based spells (the spell's burst likely detonates centred on the poor sod who triggers the rune), but for line, cone, etc, it's not as clear. Widen has some implications for this since it affects the latter spells. If your DM's ruling is that a rune's spell affects only the person who triggers the rune and is no longer an area-based spell, this feat (and Sculpt Spell, obviously) becomes completely redundant. If they rule otherwise, this feat might well be useful for offensive-based spells.

    Twin Spell (CArc) – Not useful unless in its Divine Metamagic form. And even then, why bother? If it's a buffing spell, generally Twin Spell won't make it twice as effective on you. The feat might be of use in some offensive runes if you want to hit the enemy with two Flame Strikes rather than one, but only then. The way offensive runes work, it will always be cheaper to craft two runes, each triggering on the same event. You literally could craft five permanent magic missile runes sitting on ioun stones for the same price it would cost to craft a single permanent Twinned magic missile rune.

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    Default Re: Runeblaster: A Handbook for the D&D 3.5 Runecaster

    Alternate Class Features


    As with feats, there’s plenty of discussion in the relevant handbooks about the right Alternative Class Features and domains to take for a cleric, druid, or archivist. At this heading, we are mainly concerned with looking for ACFs or domains that increase the range of arcane spells available to a Runecaster, because some arcane spells are enormously broken when you can cast them more or less at-will, which is the net effect of a permanent rune. There are also some other useful bits and pieces as well.

    Divine Magician (Complete Mage p.33) – the simplest way to get access to arcane spells as a cleric. Don’t like the spell list of one of your domains? Create one of your own. You don’t get access to every spell in existence, of course, but the list of spells that can be accessed is impressive and can be found here.

    Cloistered Cleric (UA) – Instant access to the Knowledge domain, all Knowledge class skills, a few random arcane spells (including the handy fox’s cunning to help with INT checks and stick on the party’s arcanist), and a seriously big whack of skill points. Your hit dice goes down, but Runecaster will bring it back up again.

    Cleric of Mystra (Faiths and Pantheons) - Just in case you needed any more reason to worship Mystra than the Spell domain, consider this extract from p. 51 of Faiths and Pantheons: "Any spell cast within [a temple of Mystra] by her clerics can benefit from one metamagic feat without needing to take up a higher-level spell slot; the benefit ends if the recipient leaves the location of the temple." Hello, 28-to-32-times-less-expensive Persistent Spell runes! And also consider: if you're a cleric of Mystra, who says you can't set up your own temples wherever you decide to park your tent for the night? Or for slightly less blue-veined cheese, get an Acorn of Far Travel from one of your ranger buddies.


    Domains
    Domains that offer access to significant arcane spells or other interesting features (and remember, if you're an Archivist entry, you can scribe to your prayerbook from scrolls of these domain spells from clerics of these domains):

    Spoiler
    Show
    Celerity domain: One of the best defensive domains out there. Expeditious Retreat, Cat's Grace, Blur, Haste, Wind Walk, and eventually Time Stop ... none of which are on the normal clerical list.

    Craft domain: Not much in domain spells, but Skill Focus for one Craft skill of your choice is nice.

    Dwarf domain: Gets you Magic Weapon and Greater Magic Weapon, which are perfect as permanent runes to touch against a big hunk of steel or wood to hit people with.

    Earth domain: Stoneskin at sixth level, Iron Body at eighth.

    Elf domain: TRUE STRIKE AS DOMAIN SPELL. This is one of the simplest ways to break combat in D&D: inscribe a permanent rune of True Strike on the handle of your two-handed weapon, touch-activated. Get a +20 insight bonus on every strike every time you take your hand off the weapon and put it back on (a free action for Duskblades, so a free action for you). There’s also Cat’s Grace for all your DEX needs, too.

    Fate domain: TRUE STRIKE, and you pick up Uncanny Dodge.

    Fire domain: Produce Flame at second level. Maximise Rune that, and Fell Drain it. Hello, flames-that-make-me-suck-on-tap. Or Fire Shield. Or Fire Seeds.

    Force domain: None of this sucker’s spells come off the divine caster list. Imagine permanent runes of MAGE ARMOR on defence, MAGIC MISSILE on offense.

    Forge domain (Dragonlance): +2 insight bonuses to Craft checks relating to stone or metal - although this doesn't stack with Divine Insight. In terms of spells, Magic Weapon, Keen Edge, Minor Creation, Major Creation.

    Glory domain: Holy Smite, Holy Sword, Bolt of Glory, Crown of Glory…

    Greed domain: Knock spell at level 3. Make a Rock of Knock, and verily the door shall be opened unto you while the party rogue sits and glowers at you from the back rank.

    Joy domain: significant only for Distilled Joy, which fuels XP in magic item creation.

    Knowledge domain: Detect Secret Doors, Detect Thoughts, Divination, True Seeing, Legend Lore. Making permanent runes of this sort of stuff is like having an always-on cheat mode for the campaign. Remember, cloistered clerics get this one free.

    Liberation domain: two standouts here are Rage – make you or your buddies barbarian lite – and Freedom of Movement to keep from anyone stopping you.

    Luck domain: Entropic Shield, Mislead, Spell Turning…

    Metal domain: Magic Weapon, Keen Edge, and Iron Body on permanent touchtone, anyone?

    Passion domain: oddly appropriate stuff if you’re on the offensive. Tasha’s Hideous Laughter, Confusion, Crushing Despair, Greater Command.

    Planning domain: aside from the free Extend Spell bonus feat, there’s augury, clairaudience, status. Blue rating is for the Extend Spell bonus feat, because, well, it’s free.

    Pride domain: Eagle’s Splendor, Heroism, Mass Reduce Person…

    Rune domain: oddly enough, it’s completely crap for runecasters.

    Scalykind domain: Permanent magic fang, greater magic fang, poison, or shapechange are probably rather useful for the unarmed runecaster, not so for anyone else.

    SPELL DOMAIN: Incredibly useful if not essential for a cleric-entry Runecaster, mainly because of the level 3 and level 6 domain spells: Anyspell and Greater Anyspell.

    Strength domain: several domain spells not normally accessible to a divine caster, and handy for a runecaster making permanent runes here: Enlarge Person, Bulls Strength, Magic Vestment, Spell Immunity, Righteous Might, Stoneskin.

    Time domain: nets you True Strike, Haste, Permanency, Contingency, Legend Lore as spells.

    Travel domain: Permanent or at-will Longstrider, Fly, Dimension Door, Teleport, Find the Path would be handy.

    Trickery domain: At-will invisibility, disguise self, nondetection are worth the price of entry alone.

    Wrath domain: Rhino’s Rush for chargers, Bull’s Strength, Rage, Shout, Righteous Might. Also has a very weird Power-Wisdom-Attack domain power.

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    Default Re: Runeblaster: A Handbook for the D&D 3.5 Runecaster

    Particularly relevant skills for the Runecaster


    CRAFT (any skill related to writing stuff): The big one, seeing as no successful Craft check = no rune. Fortunately, Craft is a class skill to pretty much everyone in the world, and certainly is for any of the entry paths to runecaster.

    The maximum DC you ever need to beat is DC 34: 20 +spell level+5 (if you want to use Maximise Rune; if not, it's DC 29). You'll have at least a +9 modifier to your Craft check when you first enter Runecaster (Level+3, and since you need minimum INT 13, that gives you another +1). The PrC gives you 3 more by level 7. Keeping the skill maxed every level, by the level 8 break point your check will be 1d20+17 (Level +3) -- before counting racial bonuses, magic item enhancements, PrC class features, or Master Craftsman's kits.

    How do you get those numbers up? For a start, be an Archivist - and find the lowest level version of the spell possible. After that, or alternatively, cast Divine Insight. If you can get 3.0 material in, go even further and cast the Cleric 2 spell Guidance of the Avatar which will give you a +20 on the check.)

    Which Craft skill do you get? Rune Magic tells us the skill can be "anything appropriate to the task of creating a written symbol on a surface (metalworking, calligraphy, gemcutting, stonecarving, woodcarving and so on.)" Dwarves get a +2 to craft checks related to stone/metal, which might be handy if you're really determined to save on your skill ranks. However, it's probably more versatile to take Craft (calligraphy), Craft (painting), or Craft (Crayons) as your way into the feat. You can probably more easily draw on stuff than carve it.

    Spellcraft: Still handy throughout to have.

    Concentration: Almost redundant for a Runecaster since your casting time with a rune is 0.

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    Default Re: Runeblaster: A Handbook for the D&D 3.5 Runecaster

    Spell Choices


    For a Runecaster, deciding what spells to have comes down to three questions:
    (1) What spells would I like as at-will abilities the whole day long?
    (2) What spells would my buddies like as at-will abilities all day long such that they’d be willing to pony up some gold pieces for the privilege?
    (3) What spells will reduce my item creation costs or expand my range of available spells?
    Let’s deal with the last question first:

    Substitute Domain (CC) –Shuffle your accessible domains around among your god’s various portfolios, during which period of time you can go and make permanent runes from the domain spells you otherwise couldn’t get hold of.

    Anyspell and Greater Anyspell (FRCS) – These are available only to divine casters with access to the Spell domain, but so worth it, and by far the easiest “native” way to get access to a huge array of arcane spells. They literally allow you to prepare and cast ANY (arcane) SPELL up to fifth level in your domain slot, and therefore put said any spell into a rune (although note the discussion about Southern Magician up in the feats section on this one). And let’s get you salivating about turning Anyspell itself into a permanent rune.

    Distilled Joy (BoED) – It’s a little tricky to arrange the circumstances BoED probably intended are required to produce the ambrosia. Lacking Romeo and Juliet, great artists, or a nearby brothel (or all three), runes of Elation or Good Hope cast on yourself could well do the job - after all, Distilled Joy says that the circumstances of intense pleasure differ from one person to the next; perhaps your supreme joy in life is casting spells and building beautiful runes? Or make a Pendant of Joy (MiC). Or you could just charge commoners for castings of the spells, which would help offset some of the gold costs. Either way, once you’ve built a permanent rune of this spell, you pretty much don’t have to worry about XP costs for your runes ever again, because the product of the spell provides the XP, and a permanent rune takes out the 1 day casting time. You can just tap the rune sixty times or so and set up a big bunch of vials to collect your own ambrosia second by second.

    Guidance of the Avatar (Web) or Divine Insight (SpC) – Permanent rune of these, and you’ll never fail a Craft check to make a rune, especially as their respective +15 and +20 bonuses stack with each other, being insight and competence bonuses respectively. If forced to one of the two, Guidance of the Avatar is to be preferred since its +20 is always given; Divine Insight requires you to be CL 10 before it starts putting out the maximum +15 bonus.

    Leaving those aside, here’s a quick brainstorming list for spells that might be a bit handy in an at-will and touch-activated form:

    Spoiler
    Show
    Protection from Evil
    Shield
    Wraithstrike
    Mage Armor
    Freedom of Movement
    Mount, for everyone
    Unseen Servant, for however long you want it
    Color Spray, stunning every round
    Shield of Faith
    Entropic Shield
    Entangle
    Divine Power
    Righteous Might
    Conviction
    Haste
    Holy Weapon
    Bulls’ Strength
    Owl’s Wisdom
    Eagle’s Splendor
    Fox’s Cunning
    Bear’s Endurance
    Enlarge Person
    Lesser Vigor
    Vision of the Omniscient Eye
    The Cure X Wounds line – hell, Heal itself.
    Summon Monster I – IX.
    Enervation, applied by an undead PC against himself, supplying himself with multiple iterations of 1d4x5 temporary hitpoints


    Basically, any spell you would otherwise Persist or Extend as a clericzilla is a perfect candidate for making into a permanent rune, but that’s the simplest and easiest way to exploit the Runecaster. There are many other options along these lines if you’re willing to be creative about how you work within the rules strictures. As mentioned before: just go back to the spell list of whatever class you used to enter the PrC and see them all as potentially at-will spells, and work from there. This is what I would mostly term defensive uses of runes.

    Offensive use of runes requires a little more creativity, but only around what constitutes “passing” something. The simplest form is passive (heh heh) aggressive use of the rune.

    Carve a rune of Shivering Touch with a “trigger when passed” condition on an arrowhead. Fire the arrow into (or, hell, next to) the path of a pursuer, or on a path you know the enemy is coming down. The Shivering Touch DEX damage -- 3d6 -- is maximised for free from Maximise Rune. The enemy doesn’t even see the arrow and all of a sudden has no DEX score when it takes its first step within 30 feet of the rune and therefore “passes” it. That sort of rune would cost you 3 [spell level] x 5 [minimum CL] x 2 [pass trigger] x 50 = 1500 gp base price. But once you apply discounts from Magical Artisan (25%), Extraordinary Artisan (25%), and Apprentice (10%), that 1,500 base price becomes a base price of 759 gp, of which you pay 379 gp and 50 XP. Castings of Distilled Joy reduce the XP cost or negate it entirely. Very cheap investment for a spell effect that doesn't require a spellcaster to deliver and which can utterly clown a mid-range dragon in one round.

    Multiple runes, carved on ioun stones and triggering on "when read or passed", are occupying different objects. When circling your head they form a sentry cordon that can start blasting away simultaneously against any target that steps within 30 feet of you since they all trigger on the same set of conditions. For spells whose effects stack with one another -- hitpoint damage, ability damage, or multiple fear effects -- this enables you to Gatling-gun damage or debuffs on an opponent in the space of one free action since enemies don't trigger runes deliberately any more than an enemy deliberately triggers a trap.

    Alternatively, if you can obtain some sort of immunity to a particular form of elemental damage, you can then simply press a rune of (say) Fireball. The spell targets you, thus exploding ... but also blowing up anything right next to you.

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    Default Re: Runeblaster: A Handbook for the D&D 3.5 Runecaster

    Desirable Equipment


    Masterwork Craftsman’s Kit: +2 to Craft checks, for a piddly gp outlay. At least until you get your Permanent rune of Divine Insight built.

    Grey Ioun Stone: Grey ioun stones are burnt-out, hence the 25 gp pricetag. But they still levitate. And you can have six of them whirling round your head at any one time. Remember how any attempt at studying a rune counts as reading it? Well, just try and focus on a single ioun stone carved with a rune, and its blessings are yours. Up to six times.

    Sectioned Armour
    (3.5 Planar Handbook): masterwork full plate armour that can be stripped down to medium or light armour. Big deal. But add the Called armour quality (MiC) to it, and carve your touch-activated runes on the inside of the armour, and you arguably can call each piece of the armour to your body one part at a time, activating the runes you want as you go. This may well get around the objection that a set of full plate armour amounts to one “object”. (And as a bonus you get to play Tony Stark in Iron Man 3.)

    Bag of Holding (PHB): for holding your runes and keeping them safe from Dispel Magic shenanigans. Heward’s Handy Haversack can serve the same purpose for much less if you’re devoting it solely to runes.

    Pearl of Speech (MiC): 300 gp and you can only have one of them at a time, but since it dissolves into your tongue on touch, it serves as a nice place to inscribe your rune thus keeping it from harm and a good way to touch-activate it when you want to.

    Plain old copper, silver, or gold rings: a single object can hold only one rune. But an object with a rune doesn’t become a magic item – it’s only the writing that’s magical. You can only have one magic ring on at a time, but you can have up to ten mundane rings on at a time, each with a touch-activated rune scribed on the outside or inside. And you can inscribe runes on magic rings, no problem. You could get them all to activate just on clenching your fists. Become the Mandarin! Get ten rings! You have a reason to do so now!

    Weapon Crystals, Armour Crystals, Cognizance Crystals, Potion bottles in bandolier belts:
    (MIC and PHB) they count as objects, they can carry a rune each (with the right Craft skill, of course).

    Sovereign Glue: (PHB): One object can only hold one rune. Fine. So get two objects with one rune each and slap the buggers together forever.

    Caltrops: They’re not weapons, but they count as objects. Nice receptacles for rune storage … and if you use them offensively, say with a single-use Maximised Shivering Touch…

    Blast Globes (MIC) Nothing says you can’t inscribe a rune on these suckers, say, something like a 1/day Chain Spell Maximised Rune Shivering Touch, activated on passing. The Blast Globes move to their target, drop the target’s Reflex save via the rune, detonate for full damage, then reform right next to you.

    Blessed Bandages (MIC): In theory a rune can be inscribed to one of these, and there’s no limit how many blessed bandages you can tie on a person.

    Daern’s Instant Tent: It’s a 20-foot square tent, so it probably has more than 25 square feet of material in it. Paint some graffiti on it while it’s up to heal the party when they go in for the night.

    DOMAIN DRAUGHTS: (MIC, p.156) For a one-time cost of 3,300 gp YOU GAIN ACCESS TO ALL OF A DOMAIN’S SPELLS FOR 24 HOURS IN YOUR DOMAIN SLOTS. Unimpressive for a vanilla cleric due to its relatively short duration, limited for an archivist due to the shenanigans required to pick up domain slots, but insanely good for a Cleric/Runecaster who can make Permanent runes in 10 minutes + casting time of the spell and can therefore cherry-pick his way to the best spells out of the myriad domains of the multiverse, removing the need for serious domain-acquisition shenanigans. You’re probably stuck with full retail price for these, though, since while they can be made using Craft Wondrous Item, you need access to the domain of which you're making the draught. (That said, there is a cohort who would be excellent for this purpose: a Midgard Dwarf.)

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    Default Re: Runeblaster: A Handbook for the D&D 3.5 Runecaster

    Sample Builds and Sample Rune Items


    …taking suggestions!

    Whatever the build, it is recommended you don’t pursue the class to its end point at level 10. Level 8 gives you permanent or per-day runes, which are the biggest boons the class can offer. And with a level 8 end, you’re generally going to be out by level 12 or 13 or so and able to pursue other interesting cleric, druid, or archivist options from then on. Really the last five levels are open, though for full rune benefits you should be looking at a further class that fully advances casting. (NB: if you have a DM willing to take a generous interpretation of how bloodlines work, and you just want to get your hands on Permanent runes, the way Improved Runecasting is written theoretically allows you to do this by taking the PrC to level 3 and then 5 levels of bloodline feats. I can't think of many reasons why you'd do this unless you're dipping an insane number of full-divine-caster PrCs, but it is possible nonetheless.)

    One possibility is Cleric of Mystra 5/Runecaster 8/Dweomerkeeper 7. You might have to argue “Heisenberg’s Mage” to get this combination without having to dip Wizard by reason of Anyspell, but otherwise the prerequisites are natural fits to Dweomerkeeper – Inscribe Rune being an item creation feat and Magic and Spell being Mystra’s domains.

    Ur-Priest works well as a dip and to accelerate access to spells. (As an aside, it's also a very potent cost-saver if your DM agrees that the Ur-Priest's minimum CL to cast his spells equals his Ur-Priest level. A rune of Dispel Magic made by a cleric has a base price of 3 [spell level] x 5 [minimum cleric CL to cast] x 100 gp = 1,500 gp. The Ur-Priest, however, making the same rune, would pay 3 [spell level] x 3 [Minimum Ur-Priest CL to cast] x 100 gp = 900 gp.)

    Say Cleric 5/Ur-Priest 2/Runecaster 8 gives 9th level casting by level 15, with the last five levels open. The second level in Ur-Priest is not really needed if you don't particularly care to access Divine Metamagic. An Ur-Caster can make runes of all cleric spells irrespective of alignment.

    Another for early 9th level spells is Duskblade 2/Hexblade 2/Wizard 1/Ur-Priest 3/Runecaster 7/Mystic Theurge 1/Runecaster +1/Mystic Theurge +3, ensuring you pick up something like Southern Magician or Alternate School Spell to allow you to make all your arcane spells into runes. This build is feat-intensive by reason of the Ur-Priest addition, but stuff like using an Otyugh Hole for Iron Will helps a bit. Nice and gishy.

    Whatever your build, though, it's recommended you don't actually use or make a lot of runes until you hit the break point unless for the purposes of demonstrating to your partymates the benefits of runecasting and (maybe) securing their cash to pay for ones they want from you. Save your money for permanent runes.

    Some sample stuff a fully-kitted-out Runecaster can pull together:

    My Telephone To God
    Spoiler
    Show
    Three uses per day, touch-activated, Miracle:
    9 [spell level] x 17 [Minimum cleric CL] x 50 = 76,500gp price.
    9 [spell level] x 17 [Minimum Cleric CL] x 400 [charges per day cost] x 3 [charges per day] + 3 x 5,000 [XP x charges] = 198,600gp Cost to Runecaster.
    Cost to Runecaster after discounts are applied (Artisan, Magical Artisan, Apprentice/Mentor): 100,541 gp.
    Final cost to Runecaster: 50,270 gp + 3060 XP (+ 5,000 XP from initial Miracle’s cost) = 50,270 gp + 8,060 XP.

    Three Miracles per day at a touch of an old rock that feels nice in your hand. Compare the Ring of Three Wishes at 97,000 gp retail, or 11,000 gp + 15,000 XP to create, and which can only be used three times. Indeed the costs for a rock of three wishes per day come out identical provided you can find a way to get Wish onto your spell list. If you feel you only want one Miracle per day, of course, the costs mentioned above drop to one third of those mentioned above.



    The Good Book: Reading Several Runes at once
    Spoiler
    Show
    Get 150 square feet of paper, thus giving space for eight runes (1 per 25 feet). Fold up or cut up the paper so seven of the eight runes on eight pages of a bound book, retaining all the other pages blank, and thus complying with the rule of 1 rune per 25 square feet. Seven are read-activated, being 6 x Cure Light Wounds spells and 1 x Sanctuary. The last, on the cover, is a touch-activated Scholar’s Touch. At a single touch, Scholar’s Touch triggers and reads all seven runes at once. You are healed 54 hitpoints (6D8+6) at a single touch and made the subject of a Sanctuary spell, and can repeat this as often as you wish.

    Does it all go off as one standard action? By RAW: yes. Activating the Scholar's Touch rune deliberately is a standard action, and what then follows is the spell activating the CLW runes -- not the user. Consequently no action accrues, because the user did not deliberately trigger the rune. If the user is not the rune's creator, then no standard action at all is required.

    Costs:
    Price: 1 x 1 x 50 x 8 = 400 gp.
    6 x Cure Light Wounds: 1 [spell level] x 1[Minimum Cleric CL] x 2,000 [Permanent] x2 [Trigger on Reading] x6 = 24,000 gp Cost to Runecaster.
    1 x Sanctuary: 1 [spell level] x 1 [Minimum Cleric CL] x 2,000 [Permanent] x2 [Trigger on Reading] = 4,000 gp Cost to Runecaster.
    1 x Scholar’s Touch: 1 [spell level] x1 [Minimum Cleric CL] x 2,000 [Permanent] = 2,000 gp Cost to Runecaster.
    Total Cost to Runecaster price = 30,000 gp.
    Cost to Runecaster after discounts are applied (Artisan, Magical Artisan, Apprentice/Mentor): 15,187 gp.
    Final cost Runecaster must pay: 7,593 gp + 16 XP.

    Note that Scholar’s Touch’s precise conditions are ideal for this trick to be done with any combination of runes in the book so long as they are read-triggered. The spell does not provide a perfect reading, but it does not have to be: “any attempt to study” a rune triggers it. The spell can’t be used to prepare spells or cast magical scrolls, nor does it work when you read a magical book – but a set of runes falls right between the cracks on all of these counts, being not a scroll, being already prepared, and only being magical writing on particular pages of an otherwise mundane book.

    And lastly, if you can convince a DM that each side of the paper counts as "surface area", you can pile double this number of runes into the same book, because you can use both sides of the paper.


    The Archer Of A Thousand Shadows
    Spoiler
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    As an Archivist inscribe a Rune of Arrowsplit (Champions of Ruin) on the opening of a quiver, Maximised, Permanent, touch-activated, and a Rune of Shadow Arrow (again, Champions of Ruin) on the arrow rest of a bow, Maximised, Permanent, touch-activated. Every masterwork arrow drawn from the quiver will split into 5 separate arrows mid-flight, since the spell was cast while the arrow was still a masterwork arrow. However, when the masterwork arrow touches the arrowrest, it is transformed into a Shadow Arrow … and therefore splits into 5 Shadow Arrows mid-flight, each striking as a ranged touch attack and each doing 6 STR damage. Even War Hulks will fear you after one attack doing 30+ STR damage in a single standard action.

    No activation of any rune here takes a standard action; in each case the target and "user" of the rune in each case is an inanimate object. Objects cannot take actions. Consequently the rune fires without attracting a standard action.

    Costs:
    Market prices of runes: 3 x 5 x 50 + 4 x 5 x 50 = 1,750 gp.
    Rune of Arrowsplit: 3 [spell level] x 5 [minimum Archivist CL] x 2,000 gp [Permanent] = 30,000 gp Cost to Runecaster.
    After discounts are applied (Artisan, Magical Artisan, Apprentice/Mentor), Cost to Runecaster = 15,187 gp
    Runecaster pays: 7,593 gp + 70 XP.
    Rune of Shadow Arrow: 4 [spell level] x 5 [Minimum Archivist CL] x 2,000 gp [Permanent] = 40,000 gp Cost to Runecaster.
    After discounts applied (Artisan, Magical Artisan, Apprentice/Mentor), Cost to Runecaster = 20,250 gp
    Runecaster pays: 10,125 gp + 70 XP.

    Compare the Splitting enhancement which requires Precise Shot, fires two arrows, and costs 9000 gp + 720 XP to craft at a minimum, purchaseable as a +3 bonus.


    The Daimyo of Duels
    Spoiler
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    As a cleric of Mystra using Anyspell, inscribe a permanent, touch-activated rune of Divine Insight on the scabbard of your katana, close to the top. Inscribe another permanent, touch-activated rune of True Strike on the handle of your katana. Finally, inscribe a permanent DMM Persisted rune of Nerveskitter on the middle of your kamikaze headband (NB: this assumes touch range qualifies for Persist, which is contentious.) and ensure you tap it every morning.

    Combat begins. Nerveskitter fires. You win initiative. You move in on your target, which is still flatfooted because it hasn't acted yet. You grip your scabbard to hold it still for the weapon draw, thus firing Divine Insight. You elect to add a +15 insight bonus to your Iaijutsu Focus skill check if you hit. You grip the weapon's handle, thus firing up True Strike for a +20 insight bonus to your attack. You elect Power Attack.

    You draw. You go two-handed. You attack and hit, due to True Strike. You roll for Iaijutsu Focus. Due to Divine Insight, you're getting an automatic +15 to your skill check and therefore an additional +3d6 at least in Iaijutsu Focus damage on top of whatever you would have rolled on your skill check. You get 1.5xSTR bonus, 2xPA penalty, 1d10 damage from your katana. Whatever was unfortunate enough to go second dies.

    Costs:
    Permanent touch-activated rune of True Strike: 1 x 1 x 50 = 50 gp price.
    DMM Persisted Permanent touch-activated rune of Nerveskitter: 1 x 1 x 50 = 50 gp price.
    Permanent touch-activated rune of Divine Insight: 2 x 10 [CL] x 50 = 1000 gp price.

    Runecaster Cost:
    True Strike: 1 [spell level] x 1 [CL] x 2,000 [permanent] = 2,000 gp.
    Nerveskitter: 1 [spell level] x 1 [CL] x 2,000 [permanent] = 2,000 gp.
    Divine Insight: 2 [spell level] x 10 [CL for +10 bonus] x 2,000 [permanent] = 40,000 gp.
    44,000 gp costs total.
    44,000 after Magical Artisan, Artisan, and Apprentice are applied: 22,275 gp.
    Final cost Runecaster pays: 11,137 gp + 44 XP.

    Note also the additional advantages of this arrangement: a katana normally requires EWP to wield one-handed but can be used normally two-handed. If one does not take the relevant EWP feat, then with judicious placement of the True Strike rune it becomes impossible to wield the weapon without activating the rune, therefore giving the wielder a True Strike effect after each hit by the expedient of taking one's hand off the handle and then putting it back on (similar to a Duskblade). Divine Insight, being a permanent rune, may also be applied for a +15 to any skill roll the wielder chooses with a touch of the scabbard. In combat situations, no actions are wasted on activation of relevant runes, whether True Strike or Divine Insight. The only standard action "lost" is upon deliberate triggering of Nerveskitter at the start of the adventuring day.


    "Fun With Jack and Jane", a first reading book for War Hulks
    Spoiler
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    Assuming your DM allows your party's beatstick to qualify for War Hulk and that the PrC does not disappear from his CS when he falls out of Large size, instead remaining dormant until you meet its prerequisites, here's a nice book for the War Hulk to read each morning...

    Get 150 square feet of paper, thus giving space for six runes (1 per 25 feet). Fold up or cut up the paper so five of the six runes are on five pages of a bound book, retaining all the other pages blank, and thus complying with the rule of 1 rune per 25 square feet. Five runes are read-activated. The last, on the cover, is a touch-activated Scholar’s Touch. At a single touch, Scholar’s Touch triggers and reads all five runes at once. (Yes, I know there are only four spells mentioned below. War Hulks can't count good. You got something to say about dat? Huh?)

    Costs:

    Divine Metamagic (Persistent Spell) Divine Power: 4 [spell level] x7 [CL] x 50 = 1200 gp. (48 XP)
    Divine Metamagic (Persistent Spell) Haste: 3 [spell level] x5 [CL] x 50 = 700 gp. (28 XP)
    Divine Metamagic (Persistent Spell) Enlarge Person: 1 [spell level] x 1 [CL] x 50 = 50 gp. (2 XP)
    Divine Metamagic (Persistent Spell) Righteous Wrath of the Faithful: 5 [spell level] x9 [CL] x 50 = 2,250 gp. (90 XP)
    Scholar's Touch: 1 [spell level] x 1 [CL] x 50 = 50 gp. (2 XP)

    Costs to Runecaster:
    Persistent Spell Divine Power: 4 x 7 x 400 (1/day use) x2 (Read-activated) = 22,400 gp
    Persistent Spell Haste: 3 x 5 x 400 (1/day use) x2 (Read-activated) = 12,000 gp
    Persistent Spell Enlarge Person: 1 x 1 x 400 (1/day use) x2 (Read-activated)= 800 gp
    Persistent Spell Righteous Wrath of the Faithful: 5 x 9 x 400 (1/day use) x2 (Read-activated)= 36,000 gp.
    Scholar's Touch: 1 x 1 x 2000 (Permanent) = 2,000 gp.

    Total Costs to Runecaster: 73,200 gp.
    After Magical Artisan, Extraordinary Artisan, and Apprentice/Mentor discounts applied: 37,057 gp.
    Runecaster must pay: 18,529 gp + 170 XP.

    Every morning, the party War Hulk just has to touch the Scholar's Touch rune carved on the front of the book. When he does, his size increases to Large, he gets a +6 enhancement bonus to STR, he gets BAB equal to his character level, he gets an extra attack per round (from Haste or Righteous Wrath), and gets morale attack and damage bonuses as all the runes fire at once. And because each is persisted, they will last 24 hours each (thus the 1/day references. If needed, one could increase the prices for 2/day uses or more.) These are massive boosts to War Hulk's sheer beatstick quality. The only book the War Hulk will ever need to read.


    The Magic Missile Massacre Turret
    Spoiler
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    As an Archivist, obtain six grey ioun stones. Inscribe Maximised, Permanent, Fell Drained, Sanctum Spell runes of Magic Missile on each one, triggering on passing evil alignment creatures.

    Costs:
    Cost of magic missile: 1 [spell level] x 1 [CL] x 50 x 6 = 300 gp (12 XP)

    Runecaster costs: 6 x 1 [spell level] x1 [CL] x2 [Read or Passed] x 2,000 [Permanent] = 24,000 gp.
    After applying Magical Artisan, Extraordinary Artisan, and Mentor/Apprentice feats: 12,150 gp.
    Runecaster costs: 6,075 gp + 12 XP.

    The six ioun stones constantly circle the runecaster's head. If any encounter against an evil opponent begins at more than 30 feet, the Runecaster stops still. Any evil opponent closing in to 30 feet or closer is then struck by 6 Magic Missiles, one from each stone, for 6 damage each. If any of these missiles does damage, the creature loses 1 level per missile, per Fell Drain, as each magic missile rune constitutes a separate spell -- not a missile originating out of the same spell. In optimal circumstances the creature will lose 6 levels. The Runecaster then disengages and retreats to more than 30 feet distant. When the creature attempts to close in, the 6 missiles strike again. For an expensive, but far more devastating version of this, substitute Enervation spells in place of Magic Missile.


    "Gather 'round, children, I've a story to tell..."
    Spoiler
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    The cleric of Mystra, using Anyspell, gets up in the morning and sets her four ioun stones to pass round her head, each inscribed with a rune. She whistles to her friends to come and grab the morning meal.

    3/day DMM Persisted rune of Wraithstrike: 2 [spell level] x3 [CL] x1,200 [3 uses per day] x2 [Read or pass] = 14,400 gp
    3/day DMM Persisted rune of Greater Invisibility: 4 [spell level] x7 [CL] x 1,200 [3 uses per day] x2 [Read or Pass] = 67,200 gp
    3/day DMM Persisted rune of Shield of Faith: 1 [spell level] x7 [CL] x 1,200 [3 uses per day] x 2 [Read or Pass] = 16,800 gp
    3/day DMM Persisted rune of Enlarge Person: 1 [spell level] x1 [CL] x 1,200 [3 uses per day] x2 [Read or pass] = 2,400 gp

    All runes are keyed to trigger on the condition "my allies".

    Total price of runes: 100,800 gp. (XP 84),
    Runecaster cost after Magical Artisan, Extraordinary Artisan, and Apprentice are applied: 51,030 gp.
    Runecaster pays: 25,515 gp + 84 XP.

    As each party member walks over to the cleric, they turn invisible, they are enlarged, get +3 to their AC, and their weapons turn insubstantial and strike at touch AC for the whole day. If they lose these conditions over the course of the day, they can just walk up to within 30 feet of their friend and all the buffs are restored, up to three times.


    The Chicken Gun
    Spoiler
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    A rather high-level Cleric/Runecaster comedian (perhaps a cleric with the Trickery domain, or having ingested a Domain Draught of that domain at some point in the past) picks up his crossbow and looks at the business end. On this end of the crossbow is a large ring through which all the crossbow's bolts must fly. There is a single rune inscribed inside the ring: a Permanent rune of Polymorph Any Object keyed to the special conditions of "triggering when passed by a crossbow bolt within the ring it is scribed upon".

    Cost of Polymorph Any Object: 8 [spell level] x 15 [CL] x 50 = 6,000 gp (240 XP)

    Runecaster costs: 8 [spell level] x15 [CL] x2 [Read or Passed] x 2,000 [Permanent] = 480,000 gp.
    After applying Magical Artisan, Extraordinary Artisan, and Mentor/Apprentice feats: 243,000 gp.
    Runecaster costs: 121,500 gp + 240 XP.

    Any crossbow bolt fired through the ring is polymorphed in flight into a chicken. Or a gelatinous cube. Or 1,500 cubic feet of stone. Or any other creature or item within the constraints of the spell one might pick as a missile on an ongoing basis.


    Count Maximus Hitpointus, the Vampire
    Spoiler
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    The Count, an undead Archivist Runecaster who has in the past finagled access to Enervation via Anyspell, crafts a little rock with a permanent rune of the spell, using Maximise Rune.

    Cost of Enervation: 4 [spell level] x 7 [CL] x 50 = 1,400 gp (56 XP)
    Runecaster costs: 4 [spell level] x 7 [CL] x 2,000 [Permanent] = 56,000 gp.
    After applying Magical Artisan, Extraordinary Artisan, and Mentor/Apprentice feats: 28,350 gp.
    Runecaster costs: 14,175 gp + 56 XP.

    Every hour or so, or anywhere up to an hour before he's due to enter combat, the Count takes five minutes to tap his little rock. 5 minutes = 5 x 12 rounds = 60 standard actions, so conservatively pressing it 60 times. Because Enervation grants undead temporary hit points for an hour, and the person triggering the rune becomes the target of the spell, the Count is now walking around with 60x1d4x5 temporary hitpoints to go into combat with. Oh, and since Maximise Rune maximises variable effects of the spell for free, it's actually the full 20 (1d4x5) hitpoints per tap of the rock. The Count therefore has 1,200 temporary hitpoints.


    The Rune of Infinite Blasting
    Spoiler
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    A Cleric/Wizard/Runecaster with Alternative Source Spell who favours Fireball a lot and always likes to have a spell of it available creates a little rock of Mage's Lucurbation.

    Cost of Mage's Lucurbation rune: 6 [spell level] x 11 [CL] x 50 = 3,300 gp (132 XP)
    Runecaster Costs: 4 [spell level] x 10 [CL -1, Alternative Source Spell] x 2,000 [permanent] = 80,000 gp
    After applying Magical Artisan, Extraordinary Artisan, and Mentor/Apprentice feats: 40,500 gp
    Runecaster costs: 20,250 gp + 132 XP.

    Every time he casts Fireball -- or indeed any spell up to fifth level that he loves to have on tap -- he taps the rune. Mage's Lucurbation goes off and recalls the spell for him, every time, all day, every day. Consider in combination with the Fiery Burst reserve feat, or indeed any other elemental reserve feat.


    The Portable Death Zone
    Spoiler
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    A Cleric/Runecaster creates a permanent rune of Forbiddance, touch-activated, Maximised.

    Cost of Forbiddance rune: 6 [spell level] x 11 [CL] x 50 = 3,300 gp (132 XP)
    Runecaster costs: 6 [spell level] x 11 [CL] x 2,000 [permanent] = 132,000 gp
    After applying Magical Artisan, Extraordinary Artisan, and Apprentice feat: 66, 825 gp
    Runecaster costs: 33,415 gp + 132 XP.

    Any time he taps the rune, the Runecaster becomes the target of the spell placed in it. Forbiddance creates a 60-foot cube/level sealing against planar travel and blasting those who enter it with many d6s of untyped damage. Because it's maximised, every five feet an enemy with an opposed alignment moves in on the caster takes 72 hitpoints of damage. If the runecaster is said to be at the centre of the cube, this is massive damage against anything that wants to close to melee range. And the cube remains forever. And if the caster moves out of the cube, so what? He taps the rune again, creating another iteration of the spell, walking through the world absently tapping his permanent rune from time to time and creating swathes of road where creatures of opposed alignments to his feel sick to walk and cannot teleport into or across.

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Troll in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Runeblaster: A Handbook for the D&D 3.5 Runecaster

    Negotiating with DMs


    Runecaster (if not Rune Magic generally) is one hell of a target for DM nerfing early on in the piece depending on how flamboyantly you play your character. This is a bit unfortunate since it's a big investment in character levels for the ultimate payoff: eight levels when you could be doing other stuff like Contemplative or even investing in a different base class altogether like Artificer. So here are some suggestions for discussing the PrC with your DM ahead of time. It's strongly suggested that you talk to them along these lines before setting up the character to begin with, since your tactics and build as a Runecaster will vary not-inconsiderably depending on how hard your DM is going to be on Rune Magic generally.

    DM's Objection: there's no way I'm letting a rune fire as a free or swift action when you or your allies are the ones setting them off.
    Spoiler
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    Okay, then: if triggering a rune deliberately is deemed a standard action, you take four lines of approach:
    (1) Ask whether multiple runes firing as one standard action is okay -- see the "reading several runes at once" item above. If it is, start using Scholar's Touch runes a lot and hang books off your person.

    (2) Ask if that stricture applies to objects triggering runes. If not, then tactics like jamming the stock of a crossbow bolt against your shoulder patch (which has a rune of Greater Magic Weapon on it) should be okay.

    (3) Concentrate on freeing up your spell slots by inscribing runes of your persistent buffs and touching them outside combat or touching them each morning to fire them up, when time is not an issue. The one drawback to true Divine Metamagic Codzilla ownage is that involves a lot of accountkeeping and a lot of Turn Undead attempts, and your spell list for a seriously good set of buffs basically becomes fixed because you have to put on Divine Power et. al. every morning. Runes free all of that space up in your spell slots, allowing you to take a bunch of other interesting and/or useful spells.

    (4) Concentrate on offensive, "sentry turret" style uses of runes, for example the Magic Missile Massacre Turret, by using ioun stones. One thought is that given the way fear works in D&D -- see Caedrus's Fear Handbook for a detailed discussion -- you can become a devastating fear-blaster in combat without having to lift a finger because separate fear spells, if failed, stack, moving a target from shaken to frightened to panicked to cowering. As an example, consider the Magic Missile turret above but with Fell Frighten metamagic replacing Fell Drain. As far as rune magic goes, this should not be objectionable since runes are explicitly meant to function as simple magic traps and don't draw a standard action when it's an enemy setting them off. The real power of this use of runes is that, effectively, this use of runes applies the benefits of Reach Spell to any spell put into a rune, since a rune has no strictures about what spell can be placed in it and "whoever triggers the rune becomes the target of the spell placed in it."


    DM's Objection: No Permanent runes. It's too powerful.
    Spoiler
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    (1) If so, then ensure you can still get multiple-use-per-day runes. Use-per-day runes are still mindblowingly good for your persistent buffs applied outside combat, particularly when DMM Persist metamagic is applied to them. Remember: permanent runes are only needed if you want to cast a spell reliably more than precisely four times per day. (You pay a multiple of 400 gold for a use-per-day rune, and a multiple of 2,000 gold for a permanent rune.) Persisted spells reduce this needed number, albeit not if your DM decides to bombard you with Dispel Magic a lot. If the DM balks even at use-per-day, you honestly might as well forget about Runecaster unless you have a particular hankering to craft a somewhat wider (and not cheaper) range of potions or scrolls; the PrC just does not offer enough to make it a reasonable choice compared with other Cleric or Archivist options.

    (2) Agree to trade off permanent runes for free action/swift action activation of runes, if possible. Then pursue the path of getting multiple runes to fire at once. So what if you can only use that set of runes four times a day? If it's an encounter-ending blastfest capable of delivery in one round, four dangerous fights ended in the blink of an eye is still pretty damn good. And for fighter-y types, an instant True Strike for all of them, simultaneously, by the expedient of gripping the handle of their sword, might be worth it as well.

    (3) If permanent runes are out, the PrC's power is significantly reduced - so try to get the use-per-day runes class feature available to you a level or two earlier, since the rationale for waiting 8 levels is much reduced. It'll get you out of Runecaster quicker and onto stuff that can either expand your spell range or generally make you a better caster.


    DM's Objection: Divine Metamagic does not reduce the price of runes.
    Spoiler
    Show
    If so, go with Residual Metamagic instead, and focus on cost-reduction methods for item creation. At least you won't have to waste the feat slots on DMM. Alternatively, start pointing out the benefits of Runecaster to your partymates and look for contributions from them. Maybe you can afford that Persistent spell rune if the party barbarian ponies up for a permanent rune of True Strike on his axe which he doesn't even have to UMD.


    DM's Objection: This class is just too unbalanced.
    Spoiler
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    Not when you consider the following:
    (1) It takes a long investment in levels - eight of them, in a divine spellcasting class. And you can't generally qualify before fifth level, which is not the earliest of PrC start points. And -- until level 8 -- the unique abilities you gain are not a patch on the abilities you could easily get from another PrC. Up until level 8, the class is very pedestrian.

    (2) It takes a lot of investment in gold to get good runes. Runes themselves cost cash, and you'll need to put a decent number of feats into it to get the numbers down to decent levels, as well as a fair amount of cash getting access to the spells you need or want (whether by Archivist prayerbook scribing, or multiples of 3,300 gold in Domain Draughts for a cleric.)

    (3) Unlike normal magic items, permanent runes are not merely suppressed by a targeted dispel magic - they're dispelled entirely. So as a player you'll have to spend time and resources protecting and keeping your runes from harm. They are vulnerable.

    (4) Runes are tied to the item they're written on. While the RAW is silent on the subject, breaking the item that holds a rune might well destroy the rune itself. Disabling or dispelling the rune might not be necessary if you'vebeen silly enough to write your rune on a piece of paper and an enterprising BBEG tears the paper in half.

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Troll in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Runeblaster: A Handbook for the D&D 3.5 Runecaster

    Spare Box



    ...That's it, guys, take it away!

    Also, guys, this is my first handbook for a PrC, so ... suggestions, builds, ideas, brickbats, bouquets are all very welcome!

  15. - Top - End - #15
    Titan in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Runeblaster: A Handbook for the D&D 3.5 Runecaster

    Swanky handbook! You should mention Mystic Ranger in the Ranger section, especially Wildshape Ranger + Mystic Ranger because they get most of their benefits by level 5.

    Domain Draught + Permanent Runes is an awesome ability!
    Quote Originally Posted by The Glyphstone View Post
    Vibranium: If it was on the periodic table, its chemical symbol would be "Bs".

  16. - Top - End - #16
    Troll in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Runeblaster: A Handbook for the D&D 3.5 Runecaster

    Thanks, Tvtyrant, I've had a look at Mystic Ranger and incorporated it into the entry classes section!

  17. - Top - End - #17
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Runeblaster: A Handbook for the D&D 3.5 Runecaster

    Here's one of the only threads I could find on the Runecaster. It may be of some help if you haven't seen it already.

  18. - Top - End - #18
    Troll in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Runeblaster: A Handbook for the D&D 3.5 Runecaster

    Thanks for the link in any event; I did review that thread - indeed that's where the "Archer of a Thousand Shadows" build above comes from, albeit I have tuned it somewhat after running into some potential problems with the order in which the spells in that build fired.

    Namely, Arrowsplit has to be cast on a masterwork arrow only, so any magic on the arrow has to be slapped onto it after the spell has been cast. Hence, Arrowsplit on the quiver's opening and Shadow Arrow on the bow's arrowrest.

    As it is a conservative DM might object to this combination by saying "Hang on, Arrowsplit turns the arrows into five masterwork arrows, your Shadow Arrow just becomes five masterwork jobs again mid-flight". This is more a problem with the combination of Arrowsplit + Shadow Arrow than with runes per se, but I think it does demonstrate the potential power of runeblasting. If anyone's got a better build or wants to talk over specifics, by all means, do so right here -- this handbook is as much about talking runecasting and builds as it is me telling people how to do stuff.

    I've also added "The Flash" to the builds section, too. Feel free to evaluate, nitpick, object, etc.

  19. - Top - End - #19
    Colossus in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Runeblaster: A Handbook for the D&D 3.5 Runecaster

    I'm sure that relativistically, an arrow passing a person counts as the person passing the arrow, but I doubt many DMs will see it that way...
    Quote Originally Posted by Inevitability View Post
    Greater
    \ˈgrā-tər \
    comparative adjective
    1. Describing basically the exact same monster but with twice the RHD.
    Quote Originally Posted by Artanis View Post
    I'm going to be honest, "the Welsh became a Great Power and conquered Germany" is almost exactly the opposite of the explanation I was expecting

  20. - Top - End - #20
    Troll in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Runeblaster: A Handbook for the D&D 3.5 Runecaster

    True enough - it's why for that sort of "offensive" use, you're more or less obliged to just shoot rune-holding arrows in front of an opponent that still has to move in. That, at least, is simple enough: AC 5 to hit a particular patch of ground, so generally you probably need to come up with creative mine-laying uses. If you do get a DM who's willing to think in relativistic terms, consider yourself lucky.

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    Titan in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Runeblaster: A Handbook for the D&D 3.5 Runecaster

    A Permanent rune of Major Creation would be awesome, as you can simply tap out whatever item you need at any point. Fairly expensive (90,000 GP), but cheaper than magic pigments in the long run.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Glyphstone View Post
    Vibranium: If it was on the periodic table, its chemical symbol would be "Bs".

  22. - Top - End - #22
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Runeblaster: A Handbook for the D&D 3.5 Runecaster

    I would like to point out conflicting points in your guide.


    You mention craft skills being important during your 2+int skill segment, and that skill points get tight. You also mention that scry is a "unique " skill to use and why not use it!.

    The skill is not unique, it was tossed out during the 3.5 rewrite for being considered a unnecessary skill. Also if you are tight on skill points anyways, you CAN use the skill untrained.

    I also have not taken the time yet to see your entire guide, but in the errata to deliberately trigger a rune was a standard action.
    Last edited by CyberThread; 2013-08-04 at 10:48 PM.

  23. - Top - End - #23
    Troll in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Runeblaster: A Handbook for the D&D 3.5 Runecaster

    You might not necessarily need it to be permanent. It depends how long you want the object to last or what you want to create with it. Greater Anyspell can be used to grab this spell for a cleric, which means if you're looking to minimise the costs your permanent item would cost:

    5 [Spell level] x 9 [Minimum cleric CL] x 2,000 = 90,000 gp * 0.43 (Discounts with item cost reductions = 38,700 gp, of which the Runecaster pays 1548 XP + 19,530 gp.

    Thing is, in theory it doesn't need to be a permanent rune until you're certain you'll be casting a given spell more than 4 times per day. X Charges Per Day items are spell level x CL x 400, so at the point where you know you'll want a spell available 5 times a day it's just as good to get it permanent.

  24. - Top - End - #24
    Troll in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Runeblaster: A Handbook for the D&D 3.5 Runecaster

    CyberDrag, which errata? I went through MoF and PGtF, but if there's an errata that addresses the point I'd certainly like to see it.

    EDIT: Never mind, I've found it and I'll look into it...

    -- p.36, "Market price" is substituted for "Base Price", cut the last sentence which otherwise says a rune's base price matches its market price...

    -- p. 52: "Runecaster Base Price" becomes "Runecaster Cost to Create"...

    -- p. 58: "Triggering a rune deliberately is a standard action". Hmmm.

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    Default Re: Runeblaster: A Handbook for the D&D 3.5 Runecaster

    Quote Originally Posted by Saintheart View Post
    You might not necessarily need it to be permanent. It depends how long you want the object to last or what you want to create with it. Greater Anyspell can be used to grab this spell for a cleric, which means if you're looking to minimise the costs your permanent item would cost:

    5 [Spell level] x 9 [Minimum cleric CL] x 2,000 = 90,000 gp * 0.43 (Discounts with item cost reductions = 38,700 gp, of which the Runecaster pays 1548 XP + 19,530 gp.

    Thing is, in theory it doesn't need to be a permanent rune until you're certain you'll be casting a given spell more than 4 times per day. X Charges Per Day items are spell level x CL x 400, so at the point where you know you'll want a spell available 5 times a day it's just as good to get it permanent.
    True, but the thing about the Button of Everything is it can fix almost any problem. Need to block a rampaging monster? Press the button for 4 full squares of adamantine each turn (2,400 HP a block.) Block an entrance with adamantine (or obdurium,) create gold coins or diamonds and buy stuff with them, make a mithral boat, a ballista, a house. Clothes last long enough you could keep them the entire day. Touch the Button instead of casting a shaped Wall of Iron and trap an enemy.

    A lot of this is redundant at the level you get it, but I still think it is worth the 90K.
    Quote Originally Posted by The Glyphstone View Post
    Vibranium: If it was on the periodic table, its chemical symbol would be "Bs".

  26. - Top - End - #26
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    Default Re: Runeblaster: A Handbook for the D&D 3.5 Runecaster

    Something else I did like to add, on my second read through I did not notice any mention of it*I think*

    Normal crafting , you can add things like making so only certain races can activate, or certain pepole, and cut the cost of making an item or scroll, also various things you see in artificer guides on how feats can cut the cost.


    Do rune's count for similar cost cutting measures?

  27. - Top - End - #27
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    Default Re: Runeblaster: A Handbook for the D&D 3.5 Runecaster

    I think it's at least arguable that they do; indeed it's part and parcel of the discounts I had been factoring in to many of the items in the guide. The Inscribe Rune feat is explicitly an [Item Creation] feat on its own wording. Magical Artisan, at least, out of that setting says "Choose an item creation feat you have." If you can use "only X race can use this item" as a means to reduce scroll costs -- a magical writing that contains a spell -- it's a bit odd to say that a magical writing you carve on a rock can't.

    Where it starts to get murky, and where I suspect I'm going to have to horribly back down on half my stuff mentioned here, is that they also substituted "base price" for "market price" in the errata. I don't think they're the same thing at all IIRC.

    At the very least, them declaring deliberate triggering of a rune as a standard action is a serious nerf via errata that probably affects a lot of the strategies I mentioned here. It's something I frankly didn't anticipate and which I have to look at carefully now.

  28. - Top - End - #28
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Runeblaster: A Handbook for the D&D 3.5 Runecaster

    Magic supplies for items are always half of the base price in gp and 1/25 of the base price in XP. For many items, the market price equals the base price.


    Armor, shields, weapons, and items with a value independent of their magically enhanced properties add their item cost to the market price. The item cost does not influence the base price (which determines the cost of magic supplies and the experience point cost), but it does increase the final market price.


    In addition, some items cast or replicate spells with costly material components or with XP components. For these items, the market price equals the base price plus an extra price for the spell component costs. Each XP in the component costs adds 5 gp to the market price.

    The cost to create these items is the magic supplies cost and the base XP cost (both determined by the base price) plus the costs for the components. Descriptions of these items include an entry that gives the total cost of creating the item.
    only real thing I found on it

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    Default Re: Runeblaster: A Handbook for the D&D 3.5 Runecaster

    I can remember that bit. Yeah; it looks like the errata really did the dirty on this PrC...

    Inscribe Rune after the errata, on cost, reads: "The rune has a base price market price of spell level x caster level x 100 gp. You must spend 1/25 of its base price market price in XP and use up raw materials costing half this base price market price. A rune's market value equals its base price."

    And when you go to the Runecaster's own table for creation, the heading that once read "Runecaster Base Price" now reads "Runecaster Cost to Create".

    Wait a second: this makes things really weird, and possibly more advantageous, because cost to create is not necessarily identical to half the market price.

    Say you've got a 1st level spell in a rune. The market price of that rune would be 1 x 1 x 100 = 100 gp. The XP to make it would be 1/25 of the market price, thus, 4 XP.

    But that same rune, made permanent, per the "Runecaster Cost to Create" -- not market price -- costs the runecaster 1 x 1 x 2000 = 2000 gp, but still costs only 4 XP to make. And you've self-evidently spent 50 gp, which is half the market price. Which makes it even cheaper in XP terms to replace Persistent Spell with runes, because making a permanent rune doesn't raise the spell level if a runecaster creates it. A rune's market price for a first level spell with Persistent Spell in it would be 5 [1 +4 spell levels] x 9 [minimum CL to cast a fifth level spell] x 100 = 4,500 gp, resulting in having to spend 2,250 gp + 180 XP. But a "Runecaster's Cost to create" is less than that in both gold and XP terms.

    Thoughts?

  30. - Top - End - #30
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Runeblaster: A Handbook for the D&D 3.5 Runecaster

    you should PM urpriest and ask him to make a comment here

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