Developing Runic Spells

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A runic spell is developed from smaller pieces called seeds and connecting pieces called factors. Every runic seed has a base Spellcraft DC, and every factor has a Spell-craft DC adjustment. When a desired spell is developed, the spellcaster spends resources and time to assemble the pieces that make up the runic spell. The base Spellcraft DCs of each seed are added together; then the DC adjustments of the factors are added to that total. The sum equals the final Spellcraft DC for the runic spell.

Runeweaving Runic Spell Mechanics
Developing Runic Spells Runic Seeds
Runecrafting Runic Item Creation

The final Spellcraft DC is the most significant gauge of the runic spell’s power. A spellcaster attempts to cast an runic spell by making a Spellcraft check against the runic spell’s Spellcraft DC. Thus, a spellcaster knows immediately, based on his or her own Spellcraft bonus, what runic spells are within his or her capability to cast, which are risky, and which are beyond him or her. Runic casters don’t commit time and money to develop runic spells until they are powerful enough to cast them.

All the runic spells described here can be developed independently by a character who spends the necessary time, money, and experience points. Alternatively, a character can use those spells as a starting point when creating customized versions of the spells.

Table: Runic Seeds

Seed Base Spellcraft DC Seed Base Spellcraft DC
Afflict 4 Energy 19
Animate 15 Foresee 17
Animate dead 13 Fortify 17
Armor 4 Heal* 25
Banish 17 Life* 27
Compel 9 Reflect 27
Conceal 7 Reveal 19
Conjure 11 Slay 25
Contact 13 Summon 14
Delude 4 Transform 21
Destroy 19 Transport 27
Dispel 9 Ward 14

Development Time: Developing an runic spell takes one day for each DC point.
Adding Seed DCs: When two or more runic seeds are combined in an runic spell, their base Spellcraft DCs are added together. Both contribute toward the spell’s final Spellcraft DC.
Determining School: When combining two or more seeds to develop an runic spell, the school of the finished spell is decided by the caster from among the seeds that make up the runic spell.
Combining Descriptors: When two or more runic seeds are combined in an runic spell, all the descriptors from each seed apply to the finished spell.
Combining Components and Casting Times: Almost every runic spell has verbal and somatic components regardless of the number of runic seeds combined.
Combining Range, Targets, Area, and Effect: One seed might have a range of 1,000 feet, another seed might have a range of 400 feet, and a third seed might not have a range at all. Likewise, some seeds have targets, while others have an effect or an area. To determine which seed takes precedence in the finished runic spell, the character must decide which seed is the base seed. The seed most important to the spell’s overall purpose is the base seed, and it determines the casting time, range, target, and so on. The other seeds apply only their specific effects to the finished spell. It is occasionally difficult to determine a base seed by examining the spell’s effects. If no one seed is most important, simply pick one seed for the purposes of making this determination.
Combining Durations: When combining two or more seeds to develop an runic spell, the seed with the shortest duration determines the duration of the finished runic spell. If any seed of an runic spell is dismissible by the caster, the runic spell is dismissible.
Saving Throws: Even if more than one seed has an associated saving throw, the final spell will have only a single saving throw. If two or more seeds have the same kind of saving throw (Fortitude, Reflex, or Will), then obviously that will be used for the spell’s saving throw. If the seeds have different kinds of saving throws, simply choose the saving throw that seems most appropriate for the final spell.
Spell Resistance: When combining two or more seeds to develop an runic spell, if even one seed is subject to spell resistance, the finished runic spell is subject to it as well.
Factors: Factors are not part of runic seeds, but they are the tools used to modify specific parameters of any given seed. Applying factors to the seeds of an runic spell can increase or decrease the final Spellcraft DC, increase the duration, change the area of a spell, and affect many other aspects of the spell.
There are three kinds of factors:
1. Those that can affect a number of seeds.
2. Those that can only be used with specific seeds.
3. Those that reduce the Spellcraft DC rather than increasing it. These are referred to as mitigating factors. To calculate the final Spellcraft DC of an runic spell correctly, it’s important to determine the mitigating factors last, after all the factors that increase the DC have been accounted for.
Development Is an Art: Many times developing a completely new runic spell requires some guesswork and rule stretching. As with making and pricing magic items, a sort of balancing act is required. Often the description of a seed will need to be stretched for a particular spell. If necessary, assess an “ad hoc” Spellcraft DC adjustment for any effect that cannot be extrapolated from the seeds and factors presented here—the example spells use ad hoc factors frequently. In all cases, the GM determines the actual Spellcraft DC of the new spell
Approval: This is the final step, and it’s critically important. The runic spell development work and reasoning must be shown to the GM and receive his or her approval. If the GM doesn’t approve, then the runic spell cannot be developed. However, the GM should explain why the runic spell wasn’t approved and possibly offer suggestions on how to create an runic spell that will be acceptable.

Table: Runic Spell Factors

  Spellcraft DC Modifier
Casting Time  
Reduce casting time +2
1-action casting time +10
Quickened spell (limit one quickened action/round) +18
Contingent on specific trigger +15
Components No verbal component (1) +2
No somatic component +2
Increase duration by 100% +5
Permanent duration (apply this factor after all other runic spell factors but before mitigating factors) x5
Dismissible by caster (if not already) +2
Range Increase range by 100% +5
Add extra target within 300 ft. +10
Change from target to area (pick area option below) +10
Change from personal to area (pick area option below) +15
Change from target to touch or ray (300-ft. range) +4
Change from touch or ranged touch attack to target +4
Change area to bolt (5 ft. x300 ft. or 10 ft. x150 ft.) +2
Change area to cylinder (10-ft. radius,  30 ft. high) +2
Change area to 40-ft. cone +2
Change area to four 10-ft. cubes +2
Change area to 20-ft. radius +2
Change area to target +4
Change area to touch or ray (close range) +4
Increase area by 100% +4
Saving Throw  
Increase spell’s saving throw DC by +1 +2
Spell Resistance  
Gain +1 bonus on caster level check to overcome target’s spell resistance +2
Gain +1 on caster level check to beat foe’s dispel effect +2
Scribed onto object x2
Increase damage die by one step (d20 maximum) +10

Unless stated otherwise, the same factor can be applied more than once.
1 Each contingent spell in use counts as a slot used from the caster’s daily runic spell slots.
2 Seeds that already have an instantaneous or permanent duration cannot be increased.
3 When changing a targeted or area seed to a touch or ranged attack, the seed no longer requires a save if it deals damage, instead requiring a successful attack roll. Seeds with a nondamaging effect still allow the target a save. Area spells changed to touch or ranged attacks now affect only the creature successfully attacked.
4 When changing a touch or ranged attack seed to a targeted seed, the seed no longer requires an attack roll if it deals damage, instead requiring a saving throw from the target. On a failed saving throw, the target takes half damage. Area seeds changed to targeted seeds now only affect the target. The GM determines the most appropriate kind of saving throw for the runic spell.
5 Runic spells may only be inscribed on solid object. Spells scribed on solid objects can be dispelled by defacing or destroying the object. Once a spell is so inscribed, it can only be activated by verbalizing the runic structure.

Table: Runic Spell Mitigating Factors

  Spellcraft DC Modifier
Backlash 1d6 points of damage (max d6 = caster’s HD x2)1 –1
Burn 100 XP during casting (max 20,000 XP) –1
Increase casting time by 1 minute (max 10 minutes) –2
Change from target, touch, or area to personal –2
Additional participants (ritual) see Table: Additional Participants in Rituals
Decrease damage die by one step (d4 minimum) –5

Note: Mitigating factors are always applied after all runic spell factors (see above) are accounted for in the development of an runic spell.
1 The caster cannot somehow avoid or make him or her self immune to backlash damage. For spells with durations longer than instantaneous, the backlash damage is per round. If backlash damage kills a caster, no spell or method exists that will return life to the caster’s body without costing the caster a level—not even wish, true resurrection, miracle, or runic spells that return life to the deceased. Spells that normally penalize the recipient one level when they return him or her to life penalize a caster killed by backlash two levels.

Additional Participants: Runic spells can be developed that specifically require additional participants. These spells are called rituals. A runic spell developed as a ritual requires a specific number of additional participants, who each must use up one spell slot of a specified level for the day. During an runic spell’s development, the spell’s creator determines the number of additional participants and the level of the spell slots to be contributed. If the exact number of spellcasters does not partake in the casting, or if the casters do not each contribute the proper spell slot, the runic spell automatically fails. To participate, each participant readies an action to contribute his or her raw spell energy when the primary caster begins the runic spell. Additional participants in a ritual spell reduce the Spellcraft DC, as shown on Table: Additional Participants in Rituals. Each additional participant may only contribute one spell slot. It doesn’t matter whether the additional participants are arcane or divine spellcasters; only the level of the spell slot contributed matters. A contributed spell slot is treated as if normally cast. A wizard may contribute either a prepared, uncast spell slot, or an open, unprepared slot. The Spellcraft DC adjustments for each additional participant stack.

Special: A ritual runic spell that takes longer than 1 standard action to cast requires all extra participants to stand as if casting for the same amount of time. If an extra participant is attacked while contributing a spell slot, the participant must make a Concentration check as if casting a spell of the same level as the slot contributed. If the attack disrupts the participant in the ritual, the runic spell is not necessarily ruined. However, the Spellcraft DC reduction that would have been provided by that additional participant cannot be applied to the final Spellcraft DC of the runic spell. Thus the ritual runic spell will be harder for the primary spellcaster to cast.

Table: Additional Participants in Rituals

Spell Slot Level Contributed Spellcraft DC Reduction Spell Slot Level Contributed Spellcraft DC Reduction
1st –1 Runic Slot –10
2nd –3 6th –11
3rd –5 7th –13
4th –7 8th –15
5th –9 9th –17