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Runic Magic

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In Real Life, runes are the letters of the ancient Germanic alphabets — most famously the ones used by the ancient Norse, but continental and later English tribes used related systems. Their origins are not entirely clear, but they generally seem to be a descendant of ancient Italic alphabets, probably either the Latin or Etruscan ones, and ancient symbols already in use, that was modified to be easily carved in wood and stone, giving runes their distinctive angular shapes. As wood decays much faster than stone erodes, old runes carved into stone are more likely to survive to the present day. They were eventually replaced with the modern Latin alphabet and ultimately were simply another writing system. In common use, the term "runes" is often conflated with "hieroglyphics", a term which itself has been conflated with other lexigraph-based forms of writing and then finally appropriated to include systems in cultures other than exclusively Ancient Egypt. some purists, however, may insist on reserving the term "rune" exclusively for the ancient Germanic systems.

In modern fiction, runes have become strongly associated with magic, being either something used to write magical spells in or magical in and of themselves. How this works varies from case to case, but the most common form is that you write or engrave a rune on something and that this makes that something magical, or at least better. Typically, this is explained as working through the rune's specific form resonating with, channeling, shaping, containing, or otherwise interacting with magic in a specific way to produce a desired effect, either by naturally drawing magic in, by generating it itself, or by having a certain amount of magic stored within it at some point. In these cases, runes are not usually letters and do not form words or a language — they are rarely placed in groups and never as actual words, with each rune being a magical "statement" in and of itself. Some works maintain historic runes' simple angular shapes, but others shed this aspect entirely; it's not uncommon for "rune" to end up meaning just "magic symbol". Sometimes they glow.

It's very common for runes to exist alongside other magic systems. Typically, runes are presented as a Boring, but Practical alternative form of magic; an individual rune may take a long time to inscribe and create, compared to quicker spellcasting, and they may not produce equally potent effects, but runes will also be portrayed as much safer and more reliable than other magic. This may be particularly emphasized when regular magic is already depicted as difficult to use and prone to dangerous failures. Runes also tend to be specialized for enhancing or altering the objects they are inscribed upon — you won't be able to shoot fireballs with runes, although you may be able to use them to create a Flaming Sword.

Runic magic is often associated with Nordic or otherwise Germanic characters, Fantasy Counterpart Cultures thereof, and beings from Germanic mythology. Due to their shared association with northern Europe and the Norse, safe but undramatic reliability and contrast with flashy and active magic, it's very common for runes to also be extensively used by dwarves.

Note that there are reasons to believe that there was a tradition of runes being used in magic in real life; however, evidence for this is somewhat scattered, and it's also very common for major languages to gain associations with magic and mysticism once they fade from common use. It is likelier that runes gained their modern associations through a combination of this process, of the romanticization of ancient cultures, and of the admittedly rather impressive appearance of large, decorated, and rune-inscribed stones left behind by Germanic peoples. Further, in preliterate societies, the skill to send exact words across time and space (writing) was powerful. Thus, what we call "magic" seemed only a small additional step.

A subtrope of Functional Magic. Compare Geometric Magic. If magic spells and effects manifest as runes when they're cast — in other words, if magic causes the runes instead of runes causing the magic — then that's Instant Runes. And because runes are ultimately letters used to spell words, they can serve as the written form of tropes dealing with magic words and speech. Symbol Face may be the rune that is the source of the magic. Compare Language of Magic, Magical Incantation and I Know Your True Name.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Black Clover: Mana Method is a technique used by the Heart Kingdom that forms runes out of natural mana that add effects to and increase the power of spells derived from magic attributes found in nature, at its peak forming the real element cast by the user. After the Clover Kingdom and Heart Kingdom form an alliance, it's taught to some Magic Knights.
  • A Certain Magical Index: Stiyl Magnus uses runes for his magic to define zones that perform certain functions, like allowing his summon, Innocentius, to manifest, and People-Clearing Fields to ward off Muggles.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Under the sense that Alchemy Is Magic, the series plays with this in combination with Geometric Magic. The exact science isn't crystal clear, but generally, to cast alchemy, one requires "circles" to be drawn (including a literal circle and usually other accompanying shapes) and an accompanying set of runes, which presumably complete the desired effect. The nature of the runes is briefly discussed in a conversation regarding the "hand-clap" form of alchemy, where a handful of characters (specifically those who have seen the Gate of Truth) bypass this requirement and are able to transmute things with a single clap of their hands. The characters interpret the hands pressed together is what forms the circle but, while questioning where the runes are formed from, Izumi claims that perhaps she herself constitutes the runes (likely due to her being loaded with vast alchemical knowledge from seeing what lies beyond the Gate).
  • Overlord (2012): Runic magic has been replaced by tier magic, which is a more efficient method of enchanting items (although rune magic doesn't require material components). Ainz tries to reignite interest in rune magic (and sell the rune weapons he has) by finding the one dwarf craftsman who still practices it and bringing him to Nazarick and ordering his demonic-looking minions to fake a weakness to rune weapons.

    Comic Books 
  • In The Mighty Thor, both Odin and Thor have used the power of the runes, which grants a variety of abilities including summoning spirits. When using this power source, they are some of the strongest gods in existence.
  • In Thor: Vikings, the entire miniseries comes about because of a misuse of rune magic, as Doctor Strange explains.
    Doctor Strange: The powers that serve the runes are alien. No love for humanity constrains them. Think of a genie released from its bottle, granting its rescuer three wishes. Its immediate instinct is to twist and misinterpret the wording of those wishes, in order to shaft the poor bugger royally. Rune magic is not unlike that. So cursing a band of Vikings to everlasting pain results in unstoppable undead warriors. Though you sail for a thousand years you shall not reach the land you seek means they arrive at the end of the thousandth year.

    Fan Works 
  • Daily Equestria Life with Monster Girl: Runes light up on a magical magic analysis device when it detects something.
  • A Diplomatic Visit: Swift-Pad is a Rune Caster, able to channel his inner magic through the proper runes (which have to be carefully carved and the magic infused into them while doing so), and it's a relatively common skill in the Packlands. He begins teaching Twilight the ability later on.
  • The Dresden Fillies: In the prologue of False Masks, a door "covered in runes" that give off "mystic power" is mentioned as protecting a location.
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami:
    • Instant Runes are made as part of the most common summoning spell.
    • Snyder hammers some runes into stone to use in magical wards.
  • Oversaturated World: Transmission Spectrum: In "Ultraviolet", Magic "raced along the runes" of a Magic Mirror as it activated.
  • The Palaververse: Takins are naturally gifted towards creating magical runes; in The Tempest, while talking about how he'd have dealt with Discord's statue, the Capricious Crown mentions sealing it in a safe inscribed with "strengthening and anti-magic wards and runes".
  • In Paradoxus, it is restricted to people with Asser blood and makes use of Norse runes. For example, Isa unleashes ice capable of peeling off the victim's skin. So, the runes are powerful but excessively mana-costing to the point of burning out an inexpert caster. They can also be used to divine the future of a person as long as it's made immediately after the person's birth at the sacred mount Ignis in Domino. The runes predict that Altalune wasn't going to follow her mother's steps and will forge her own path. Years later, Altalune rejects the Dragon's Flame and chooses ice as her elemental affinity.
  • Story Shuffle: In "In the Details", the summoned demon's skin "glow[s] with abyssal runes".
  • Under the Northern Lights: One of the heavily Norse-inspired reindeer's main magical traditions is rune-crafting, which consists of imbuing special properties into objects by carving them with specific symbols; this can range from carving runes of death onto a weapon to make it deadlier to carving runes of seeing into a building's walls to create a surveillance system. It is one of the few methods of magic that the normally sorcery-fearing reindeer trust.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness: Tying into the WandaVision example below, the fact that the monster Gargantos is covered in runes tips off Wong and Strange that they are dealing with Witchcraft, which is a distinct practice of magic than the Sorcery used by the students of Kamar-Taj.

  • Halloween: Starting in the fifth film, Michael Myers is shown to have a tattoo of the thorn runenote  on his right wrist upon waking up from his year-long coma. The next film reveals that Michael was put under a curse by a cult of druids that compels him to wipe out his bloodline.
  • Stardust: Lamia is shown using a set of runes to find her way to the fallen star. Septimus's soothsayer also uses them, but Septimus quickly susses out that the man has been paid by Septimus's brother to lead him astray, so he has the soothsayer throw his runes while Septimus asks him some control questions to determine how they land when an answer is correct/incorrect (symbols up = correct, symbols down = incorrect), before asking him the serious question. When the runes land symbols up, Septimus kills him.

  • American Gods: In one chapter, Mr. Wednesday — Odin — draws some runes in salt on a restaurant table in order to seduce a waitress who proved resistant to his normal charms. Later, he shunts himself, Shadow, and the Winnebago they're driving into an alternate plane to avoid a roadblock by sketching runes in chalk on the dashboard.
  • "Casting the Runes", by M. R. James: Papers with strange runic letters on them are used by a shady alchemist to place people who have crossed him under a curse.
  • The Death Gate Cycle involves rune magic. While both the Sartans and Patryns use rune magic, the former draw them in the air, sing them, dance them, etc, while the latter inscribe them on their own bodies for use later. Some discussion is had about the importance of fitting runes together properly but in the end, the whole thing is just window dressing for a quantum superposition-based magic system in which wit and elegance trump raw power.
  • The Dresden Files: Rune magic is one of the many types of magic that exists within the setting. It's considered extremely ancient and powerful magic and requires considerable amounts of preparation and care to do right, but the effects can be incredibly powerful. As such, few magic users can master it. The Valkyrie Sigrun Gard (who is somewhere over a thousand years old) is one of the few people Harry knows who can use it, with him describing her doing so as "devoting them the care and attention one would to military-grade explosives".
  • Egil's Saga: Several times, Egil displays his knowledge of the magical use of runes.
    • Attending a feast at Atloy-Bard's, hostility builds up between Egil and Bard until Bard puts poison in Egil's drink. Egil is suspicious and stabs the palm of his hand with his knife, carves runes into the drinking horn, smears them with his blood, and speaks a skaldic verse. The horn shatters, implying the runes magically detected the poison.
    • After King Erik has banished Egil from Norway, Egil curses Erik and Gunhild by erecting a wooden "scorn-pole" with the severed head of a horse on top while chanting a curse on Erik and Gunhild, and additionally carving the same curse on the pole with runes.
    • On their journey to Varmland, Egil and his companions are taken in by a farmer whose daughter is sick and has not been getting better for a long time; the farmer, Thorfinn, explains that the son of one of his neighbors tried to cure her by carving runes into a piece of whalebone and putting the bone into her bed, but she has only been getting worse since then. Egil examines the runes and declares that they have been carved incorrectly by a hack, and that is what is making the daughter sick. Egil scrapes off the runes and burns the bone, then carves another rune bone and puts it under the daughter's pillow. She immediately begins to feel better. On the return journey, Egil again meets Thorfinn and learns that his daughter has made a full recovery, and also that the neighbor's son had tried to carve a love-spell, but screwed it up because of his lack of expertise.
  • Elantris: AonDor is a form of magic used by Elantrians, which allows them to draw glowing runes in the air to coax certain effects out of the Background Magic Field. It's been described as being similar to a programming language, as using multiple "Aons" in conjunction with each other to modify their effects in certain ways can allow an Elantrian with enough knowledge of the language to do pretty much anything. It's easily the most flexible magic system in the larger Cosmere. It also works if inscribed somewhere, and the city of Elantris is filled with Aons that do various things, such as teleport people who touch them to other parts of the city. The entire city itself is an enormous Aon Rao, the Aon that boosts the power of other Aons, which explains why AonDor seems to get weaker as one gets further away from the city.
  • Harry Potter: Ancient Runes is one of the subjects taught at the Wizarding School of Hogwarts. However, since it's an optional course that Harry doesn't take, we never see how runic magic actually works in the setting.
  • Her Crown Of Fire: Rose's chosen major. Runes is a subject generally avoided by the students of the Academy, although that may be more due to the eccentric Rune Master than a widespread disdain for rune magic.
  • Heimskringla: In the first part, King Granmar's death is foretold by the fall of runic chips.
  • Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: Hearthstone, a light elf from Alfheim, does magic using stones engraved with runes. He uses Ehwaz, a rune representing a horse, to summon a steed for the characters to ride.
  • The Mortal Instruments: This is the primary form of magic employed by the Shadowhunters, who use Angelic Runes to perform a variety of functions, including giving themselves superhuman physical abilities.
  • Old Kingdom: Charter Magic works by using Charter Marks, runic letters and pictograms, to manipulate the Charter and cause specific effects to happen. Charter Marks can be written, spoken, sung, or even whistled, though physical marks always appear as part of the spellcasting even if they haven't been literally written. Free Magic relies chiefly on raw willpower, but Free Magic sorcerers sometimes use written runes to help focus that power; they're described as resembling twisted or corrupted Charter Marks.
  • The Poetic Edda includes many references to rune magic:
    • In the Sigrdrífumál, the Valkyrie Sigrdrifa presents Sigurd with a memory-draught of ale charmed with "gladness runes" and then goes on to list victory-runes to be carved on a sword-hilt, runes to protect against bewitching ale, runes to facilitate childbirth, runes to protect ships...
    • In the Hávamál Odin mentions runes used for divination, healing, and Interrogating the Dead.
  • Princesses of the Pizza Parlor: As shown in Princesses in the Darkest Depths, kobolds use runes on tiles for magical attacks like "trap runes".
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: House Royce of the Vale owns several sets of bronze-colored armor with runes inscribed on them, which are believed to magically protect the wearer from injury. This claim is doubtful, since several Royces have died in their rune armor, but the runes are considered important enough that the Royces put runes on their sigil and named their castle Runestone.
  • Stardust, like its film adaptation above, includes the casting of runes to find one's way. Unlike the film, however, Primus is the only character to use them, both to guide him to the stone (as Septimus did in the film) and to determine Tristran is safe to take as a passenger.

    Live-Action TV 
  • WandaVision introduces runes as one of a magic user's tools of trade; when used to bind a specific place, said place will only allow whoever casts the runes to use magic, and prevents other magic users inside from using their powers. Agatha demonstrates this against Wanda when she traps Wanda inside her basement, which already has runes in place. Wanda later flips this against Agatha by etching runes into the barriers of the Hex, rendering Agatha powerless.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Ars Magica: Norse rune magic is Old Magic that predates the Order of Hermes' unified magic system and has been largely lost. Though less flexible than Hermetic magic, it can create enchantments that last as long as the rune does without some of the usual Item Crafting requirements, making it a tempting prize for any magical research to try to integrate into Hermetic theory.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • In 3rd edition, runes are often associated with dwarves and giants, with Races of Stone having the Runesmith Prestige Class for dwarven arcane casters and the Forgotten Realms setting having the Runecaster for dwarven and giant divine casters, both based on inscribing runes to create potent magical effects.
    • In 5th edition, magical runes are predominately related to giants, with one Fighter archetype, the Rune Knight, drawing magical power via carving or marking appropriate runes on their weapons and armor. Mostly this manifests a them growing a size or two in battle, and giving unique abilities to the weapons and gear that carry the runes on them.
  • GURPS: Various GURPS supplements have included rules for rune mage; GURPS Thaumatology takes the Nordic "Futhark" runes as a working example of an alphabet that can be used with the generalised rules for "symbol magic".
  • Iron Kingdoms: All magic involves runes in some way: Magical and Magitek items work by inscribing runes on the items themselves or on magitek circuit boards, and even spellcasting involves the brief appearance of glowing runes. Some factions have thematic variants instead, like the trollkin having "pillars" of glowing runes erupt in a way that evokes the standing stones they record their history on.
  • Magic: The Gathering: Magic runes turn up on cards from time to time, typically as enchantments — that is, cards that create persistent magical effects — and usually as ones that must be assigned to a creature card in order to confer that effect to it.
    • Notably, only a small group of rune cards are actually typed as Runes — specifically, five depicting artifacts from the Viking plane of Kaldheim. These depict items marked with engraved runes that confer some magical ability to their wearers, and can be applied to either creatures or items — Rune of Flight is a necklace that lets its wearer fly, Rune of Might is a helmet that makes its wearer mightier, Rune of Mortality is a sword that lets its wielder kill anything it touches, Rune of Speed is a bracer that makes its owner faster, and Rune of Sustenance enchants a creature so that damage to it gives equal life to its player.
    • There are several additional enchantments named as and depicting runes, which often work in mainly the same manner, but they don't share the type. These include the Runemarks from the Fate Reforged set, which grant creatures they're given to a power boost and some additional abilities; the Runes of Protection from Urza's Saga, which ward against damage from specific sources; and Runes of the Deus, which make creatures they're inscribed on tougher and stronger.
  • The One Ring: Dwarves of Erebor can learn fragments of old magic as a cultural Virtue, including runic inscriptions to conceal objects or set a silent alarm. These runes are among a very few feats of genuine magic available to player characters.
  • Pathfinder: In 2nd edition, runes can be etched into weapons and armor to give them magic properties.
  • Warhammer: Dwarfs cannot cast spells like elves and humans do, as they are fundamentally incapable of channeling magic. Instead, they have mastered the craft of inscribing complex angular runes into objects and using them to trap and bind the Winds of Magic, allowing them to achieve supernatural effects in a much safer and more reliable manner than active magic, which is notoriously prone to backfiring disastrously. These runes need to be inscribed onto objects through complex rituals and methods kept jealously secret by the Guild of Runesmiths, who are the only dwarfs to know the secret of this practice. Runic objects can be imbued with many qualities and improvements — a weapon may be made into a Weapon of X-Slaying or given the ability to fly through the air and return to its master's grasp, armor made stronger or immune to rusting, war machines made capable of shooting burning or homing ammunition or of self-destructing to avoid capture and the like. Runes take on a pale blue glow when first activated, which fades should the rune be damaged or depowered.
  • Warhammer 40,000: The Seers of the Aeldari craftworlds use runes caved onto coin-sized shards of wraithbone to enhance their psychic abilities, focusing and channelling the power of the warp through the rune's shape. In addition to this, the most powerful psykers are able to use their runes to disrupt enemy psychic abilities and predict the future in a similar manner.

    Video Games 
  • The Binding of Isaac: In Rebirth and the DLC, runes appear as stones with runes from the Elder Futhark alphabet carved onto them. They are consumable items with a variety of benefical effects, such as shielding the player and removing curse effects.
  • Diablo II: Runes are small stones engraved with runes that give items with sockets magical boosts when placed into those sockets. Additionally, some runes create runewords when placed into an item in a particular order, which gives boosts above and beyond the runes' normal enhancements.
  • Epic Battle Fantasy:
    • Viking Monolith enemies have runes engraved on them that glow when they cast magic.
    • The Rune Blade weapon greatly boosts the power of magical attacks. Presumably because runes.
    • The elementally magical Rune enemy class don't actually appear to involve carved runes and instead resemble small clusters of floating stone objects.
    • The Dark Rune item is a chunk of black stone carved with complex red lines that is used to craft Dark-aligned items.
  • Fate/Grand Order: Several Servants utilize the eighteen Primordial Runes received from Odin to perform magical spells. As magecraft from the Age of Gods, their might far outstrips modern magecraft. The etching of runes also allows users to bypass the chanting used by other styles of magecraft, making it suitable for direct combat. As a result, most of the users of Primordial Runes in the story are Magic Knights. The Caster version of Cu Chulainn in particular uses runes to send out fireballs, summon flaming giant wicker men, and even imitate his teacher's Noble Phantasm.
  • God of War (PS4): Due to taking place in a setting based on Norse mythology, much of the game runs on this. Sand bowls need to be traced by Atreus with the appropriate runic words to solve riddle-based obstacles, Nornir chests can only be unlocked by hitting a series of rune-etched bells in proper order, and traveling to other realms with the Bifrost is impossible without the proper rune to initiate the magic; since the rune for Jotunheim, Kratos and Atreus's final destination, is missing, it becomes as much of a MacGuffin for them as finding a working portal to the realm or a crystal to filter the light through. Baldur, the story's main villain, is absolutely covered in woad-blue runic patterned tattoos across his bare flesh, which glow brightly when he uses magic, and a few larger ones in red, relating to the curse of invulnerability that drove him mad.
  • Heroes of Might and Magic Ashan: The Dwarven Fortress faction have access to the 'Rune Magic' ability, allowing them to spend resources to give their units temporary buffs during combat.
  • The Keep combines rune magic with an Inventory Management Puzzle. Each rune is an item that gets placed on a grid inventory, and using the touchscreen to swipe runes in certain combinations allows more complex spells to be cast, so positioning the different runes in a way that makes it easy to cast all the spells you need is a big part of the game's challenge. Visually, these runes are just the generic "magic symbol" variety, they don't resemble letters at all, and each of them represent an entire concept.
  • Perihelion: The emotions which drive the party's psi-powers are represented as runes. You are only told what spells correspond to which combination of runes in the manual, and this information doubles as the game's copy protection; furthermore, what class is required to even use psi-powers can only be found through experimentation, an external guide, or the psi-power guide helpfully provided by one of the developers on his personal website.
  • Pokémon: Yamask native to the Galar region evolve into Runerigus, a spirit haunting a runestone resembling the type created by historic Germanic people and engraved with runes said to be cursed.
  • The Seven Deadly Sins: Grand Cross: Rune Orbs are common pieces of equipment in the form of globes each inscribed with a mystic rune, and grant various effects depending on the type equipped.
  • Suikoden: Runes are the primary magic system, allowing those who use them to cast spells or imbue their weapons. There's also the True Runes, unique and powerful runes that are often a focus of the plot such as the Soul Eater Rune from the first entry in the series.
  • Titan Quest: As part of the Ragnarok Downloadable Content:
    • Rune Mastery magic is available to the player.
    • The Dvergr Runestones weapon are throwable runes that deal elemental damage and boost a "Magical Charge" skill.
  • Ultima Underworld: To cast spells, you need a rune bag and to have collected the appropriate rune stones for the spell you want to cast. You can have one spell 'prepared' at any given time; to change spells, you have to change which runes are prepared.
  • Warcraft III: Runes are one-use powerups with various effects, from providing area healing or mana to spawning an invisible spy ward to resurrecting dead units or even a powerful monster under the player's control.
  • World of Warcraft: The Hero class Death Knights uses runes as a resource that gradually recharges, as the creators wanted the Death Knight to be a unique playing experience. Originally there were different runes that corresponded with the class' specializations, but that was removed in Legion, and from then on it's only a single type of rune that's needed for performing special abilities.

    Visual Novels 
  • The Familiar of Zero: Void familiars, as part of the Magic Kiss of familiarization, get runes with the name of their power on some part of their body. Left Hand for Gandalfr. Right Hand for Vindalfr, Forehead for Mjöðvitnir, and Chest for Lífþrasir.
  • Fate/stay night: Lancer can use runes to supplement his immense skill with the spear. A single fire rune, Ansuz, is enough to burn down an entire castle, and he can also use runes to create barriers and force a one-on-one confrontation where no one leaves until either he or his opponent is dead.

  • Aurora (2019): Runes are a system of inscriptions consisting of complex patterns of dots and looping lines (except for stone and lightning runes, which tend to feature angular patterns and dashes), which are used to shape and direct the flow of elemental magic in objects. They are believed to have been the original language of the Primordials, and individual runes can still be combined into more complex arrays. Runes allow magic to be reliably channeled in specific manners, without introducing the risk of accident inherent in manually redoing a single ritual again and again, by providing strict limitations for what magic is called upon and how and to what degree when the runs are activated — for example, a set of fire runes may be used to create a Flaming Sword by specifying for flame to be created around the blade, burn continuously and spread no further. Each element also has a unique master rune that, when activated, simply gathers ambient magic and stores it within its object until deactivated. Master runes are typically inscribed on lacrimas, magic-storing crystals which are then inscribed with other runic patterns to allow them to be used as directed spell batteries, or tattooed by mages upon themselves to provide them with a constant source of magic for their spells. Active runes also glow in their associated element's color — red for fire, blue for water, white for stone, purple for air, green for life, and yellow for lightning.
  • The Order of the Stick: The dwarves use faux-runic engravings on stone walls or floors to create permanent Protective Charms on the Temple of Firmament and the Clan Elders' council chamber. Early in the strip, one of V's favorite spells is Explosive Runes, which inscribes magical runes on something (usually a document, but walls or doors work as well) that explode when read. Although in that case the magic is in the writing itself rather than the meaning of the writing, so V will often make the text mock the person who reads it.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: Runes are an important part of the Icelandic magic tradition, and usually take the form of complex circular diagrams adorned with a variety of curving and angular shapes. Their powers are usually passive or indirect, and focus on things such as creating mental suggestions or warding away dangerous magical influences. Most runes seen on-page are fairly large, inscribed or painted over vehicles or around campsites, and are intended to do things such as preventing ghosts from entering a site or creating a mental suggestion for wandering monsters to steer around the area where the rune is inscribed.

    Western Animation 
  • The Dragon Prince: Primal magic users rely on runes to cast magic. Mages must draw the rune by hand in the air and recite a draconic incantation in order to cast spells. Runes can also be placed on an object to enchant it, such as the Moonstone Path into Xadia, which glows under the light of the moon, and the magic mirror. Runes can also be drawn on a person in order to give them magical abilities, such as Sky mages drawing runes on their arms to grow wings for flight.
  • Hilda: A rune stick is a key component for summoning ghosts from their graves, which is done by rolling the stick over the grave while chanting a summoning spell.
  • Samurai Jack: The Scotsman's sword is etched with Celtic runes to give it supernatural sharpness and durability, allowing it to clash evenly with even Jack's blessed sword meant to slay Aku.
  • The Owl House: Luz, being a human, does not have the organ that witches on the Boiling Isles use to access and store magic and has to rely on the older technique of drawing a circle with a rune (or glyph as Luz calls it) inside to invoke a particular spell. These glyphs occur in nature if you know where to look, and while there are only four known (Light, Ice, Plant, and Fire), they can be modified and chained together in larger spell circles to theoretically cast any spell. Lilith even theorizes that the glyphs are like words in a language (albeit a very context heavy one given that a glyph's location on a larger combo can completely alter the properties it imbues into a spell) that commands the magic around them. Once a glyph has been inscribed in something, the effect remains dormant until "activated". This makes it function like a scroll and allows Luz to build a stockpile and use them as spell "grenades". Also, the fact that they rely on the Background Magic Field of the Titan to power them means that they're rendered inert on Earth or the In Between Realm (unless you happen to have some Titan's Blood nearby, as it's magically potent enough to power glyphs a short distance away even in an environment that is otherwise devoid of magic).

    Real Life 
  • Magic spells written in runes on wood, bones, and, in rare cases, stones have been discovered in Scandinavia. They are mostly from the Bergen region in Norway and the Uppland region in Sweden. Most of them are healing spells against sickness, though a love spell and protective spells have also been found.