Campaign of the Month: October 2010
Wyrmshadow Campaign Setting
The Arcane Science of Runometry
Everything; absolutely everything in existence was, at one point, brought into being through use of an unknowable force of power called the Creation. The Power of Creation is responsible for trees and air, for the forces of gravity and inertia, for all the elements and, yes, for all life. The Creation is, as said, unknowable. We do not think of the Legendary Wyrm’s “creation” of Wyrmshadow as the Creation of All Things. Even the Wyrm came from something, and that something came from something before, something ancient by ancient standards. Therefore, the Power of Creation is, essentially, the most potent, wondrous, and potentially catastrophic form of power in existence.
Examine the Cosmos of Wyrmshadow, and you will find that the realms are separate, yet bound in fearful symmetry. Each realm fulfills a vital task for the maintenance of Creation, just as vital organs to a living being. One of these realms, one of the organs keeping the being of Creation alive, is called Etheria. Etheria is the realm of magic, a place wholly consumed in a raging torrent of mystical forces. From Etheria, magical energy travels to the other realms (save Infernia) in the form of mana, streaming in great mystic rivers along the realm of dimensional corridors binding the realms to one another: The Gates.
Magic is a method of augmenting the forces of Creation to suit the will of the caster. When a wizard casts a levitation spell, he uses mana to alter the force of gravity, even if only for a moment, tampering ever-so-slightly with the primordial laws set in motion by the Powers of Creation. In studying magic, in its myriad forms, mystics and sages grew more adept at twisting reality around their will, bending the rules of Creation to suit their own ends, even at the expense of the balance that held all of Creation in place to begin with.
The Ancients were beings of incredible power and wondrous variety. They were the first children of the Legendary Wyrm, and one of them, the Phoenix, inherited from the Wyrm a most precious and sacred gift: The Power of Creation. The Phoenix, like the Wyrm, had in his grasp the power to alter the rules of reality to suit him, not through magic, but by tapping into the very framework of Creation and modifying it to create his desired effect. In real-world terms, the Phoenix was like a character in a video game becoming self-aware, hacking into the code of the game, and changing the rules to further his own ambitions. The Phoenix would be the first of the Ancients to experience death, but due to a manipulation he made prior to his demise, the Phoenix would rise again, born anew in an unending reincarnation cycle, always coming back in times when his power was needed to confront something that threatened Creation.
A group of mystic sages calling themselves the Luminati devoted themselves to the study of the Phoenix and of the Power of Creation. One of their members, Augus Dennshray, discovered through bizarre circumstances a theoretical form of mystical mathematics, a magic-rich realm’s approximation of the real-world studies of Galileo, Newton, or Einstein. This arcane science was dubbed Runometry. Through Runometry, Dennshray was able to discover the runic equations that represented some of the laws governing certain aspects of Creation and, by making even the most minor adjustments to the equation, drastically alter said aspects. In his studies, Dennshray was driven mad. He wrote an equation that allowed him to see all things indefinitely. All things. He is looking at you reading this, at me writing this, and at himself looking at both of us, forever.
What is Runometry? Runometry is a method of measuring Creation from end to end. It is an arcane science that allows for the discovery of runometric equations that define the existence of a specific aspect of Creation and, at the runometrist’s whim, alter certain portions of that aspect. If, for example, a runometrist discovered the runometric equation that represented liminality (the period of time it takes to make a transition from one state to another), said runometrist could change a scaling rune or an operator, altering the amount of time and making it so that a pot of water boiled the instant a source of heat was applied to it.
First, a runometrist must learn to understand the language of the math involved, including the symbology and the mathematical operators used to ensure the runes form an equation and not an inequality. Next, the runometrist must learn to write the runes themselves, often done through use of a magical ability to create glowing, floating text in midair. Then, the runometrist must experiment to discover an equation, first by studying the object, being, or concept they are interested in runometrically equating, then by accounting for all factors and dividends of said object, being, or concept, and finally, by combining these discoveries in the form of a complete working equation.
Once an equation is discovered, it is embedded in the core consciousness of the runometrist, and he or she can recreate the equation at will. However, just as in all forms of math, runometry is subject to simple foibles, small errors like misplaced decimals or incorrect exponents which can cause an equation to become an inequality, rendering the entire equation inert. These mistakes are rarely dangerous, but if an inequality is incorrectly repaired, the results can be catestrophic. For example, of one side of an equation is mistakenly off by a factor of x, rendering it into an inequality, the runometrist can fix that side of the equation with no problems. However, if the runometrist instead repairs the equation by modifying the runes on the other side to incorporate the factor of x (rather than removing it), the runometrist has essentually altered reality on a permanent basis. In this way, Runometry could accidentally erase entire beings, or entire races, or all life from existence. Because of the volatile nature of Runometry, its study is universally forbidden. The Luminati, once responsible for the discovery of the arcane science, is now devoted to hunting down rogue runometrists and stopping them from continuing their studies by any means necessary. The current leader of the Luminati is Melchior Martok, a fact that is perhaps one of the world’s most closely guarded secrets. So, don’t tell anyone. Thanks.
As mentioned previously, the Phoenix is was able to tap into the Power of Creation naturally. In modern terms, such a being would be called a Natural, or Innate Runometrist. The Innate Runometrist is a rare and wondrous being indeed. Though some of these beings actually write out equations to augment reality to their whim, the Phoenix (and the Shadow Knight) simply will the changes they desire into being.
One iteration of the Phoenix, the human hero Idrahl (for whom the island nation of Idrahall is named) used his Innate Runometric abilities to erase the long-standing animosities between elves and men. To this day, the effects of Idrahl’s reality manipulation can be felt and seen. Elves and humanity are stalwart allies even in the most troubled of times.
By contrast, the Shadow Knight, a twisted version of the Phoenix brought into being by the fallen Archangel, Belthazar, used his Innate Runometric powers to make himself more powerful than any living being, using this power to ascend to Arcadia and murder all the angels and gods in a single, bloody battle.Truly, the Innate Runometrist is the most potentially powerful being in existence, dwarfing the power of even the gods themselves. It is worth mentioning that the Legendary Wyrm, the creator of Wyrmshadow, was itself an Innate Runometrist. Therefore, as dangerous as the Innate Runometrist may be, these beings are also responsible for the very existence of Wyrmshadow and all the lives in it.
The Modern Runometrist is a being who lives and studies in the shadows of secrecy, hording scraps of data scavenged from the notes of Dennshray. They are hunted by the Luminati, shunned from society, and often hostile toward those who attempt to dissuade their further research into Runometry. They are, thus, amateurs in the craft, which makes them the most dangerous individuals in Wyrmshadow. Period.
The one most telling example of the threat posed by the Modern Runometrist is the tale of Old Shidi Ma and the tragic end of the hero Crossel.
During the Liberation War, the God of Justice, Draconius, led a force of Liberators to Shidi Ma, an island nation caught in the stranglehold of a Shadow Imperial potentate. When they arrived in Shidi Ma, they were shocked to find the entire southern half of the nation utterly deserted save for an army of odd Samurai warriors. Draconius was stunned by this army, because every one of them had the same soul; not twins or other forms of kin, but tens of thousands of actual clones of the same being. This was a sacrilege that Draconius could not overlook.
The clones were created through use of Runometry. Auriq Sinystre, a student of Silas Vale and a powerful Modern Runometrist in his own right, recognized that the work was done by someone sloppy with the runes, someone in too much of a hurry to run a check to ensure a proper equation, someone who could easily misplace an integer or improperly factor a polynomial without realizing the danger inherent in doing so. Sinystre left to investigate this amateur Modern Runometrist, the Potentate himself, who was using Runometry to instantly create his vision of the city of the future.
Accompanied by Caerdwyn Martok and the Zardian, Crossel, Sinystre made his way through the surreal array of sky-scraping towers to find the Potentate amid a room filled with hastily scrawled floating runes. Sinystre saw what the Potentate had done, his eyes wide with mortal fear, and he told Caerdwyn to find Draconius and tell him to get as many people off Shidi Ma as he was capable of. This amateur Runometrist accidentally stumbled upon an equation that was capable not only erasing Shidi Ma from existence, but if left unchecked, undoing the very framework of Creation itself.
This was the Anti-Life Equation.
Sinystre managed to correct a few syntax problems and localize the devastation to just Shidi-Ma, but in order to prevent the chaotic mess of runes from drifting back into in inequality (which would instantly erase all reality. All reality, including the one where you are reading this and I am writing this), Sinystre had to physically remain in contact with several errant runes, holding them in place. Suddenly, the Zardian Crossel took Sinystre’s place, holding the runes and forcing Sinystre to make good his own escape from Shidi Ma.
As mentioned above, once a Runometrist discovers an equation, it becomes etched into his mind and can be recreated whenever the Runometrist chose to do so. Sinystre pleaded with Veil, the God of Death, to tear the Anti-Life Equation from his mind forever, so that he would never be tempted to use it for his own ends.
The Anti-Life Equation is Runometry’s answer to a doomsday weapon.
Elements of Runometry
Runes are arcane symbols that depict different aspects of a given object, being, or concept. If Runometry is an alphabet, the runes are the letters of the alphabet. Some runes are simply mystical analogs for numerical symbols found in normal mathematics. Others represent simple concepts like hope, fear, pride, and loss. Runes are pictographs that are not invented, but are discovered through mystical divination and experimentation. Simply scrawling the shape of a rune onto a piece of parchment does not give the rune any power. Only through use of Runescript, the arcane ability to draw runes with the tip of one’s finger, do the runes possess any real power. Runes may be written in midair or on any person or object.
Some beings have ornate runic symbols etched into their very flesh, either by their own doing or as a result of some strange release of Creation power involving said beings. These Runescars provide a tremendous and potent boon to the being that bears them, granting them enhanced abilities, extended lives, or even Innate Runometry. An example of a Runescarred being is S’zeves V’destrii (prior to the Great Change).
As in all forms of mathematics, Runometric equations are comprised of symbols related to one another via a system of operators. These operators can be as mundane as a multiplication mark or as complex as a quadrene-dichotomication symbol-set. Through use of these operators, a Runometrist can string together interrelated runes to create an equation. Of course, the most important operator in forming such an equation is the equal sign.
Scaling can be very important in Runometry, as it determines the area of effect of a given equation or alteration. If a runometrist decides, for example, to walk on the bottom of the ocean, he would want to write the equation that enables him to breathe air and modify it to include the ability to breathe water. He would also write the equation that represents the tensile strength and pressure resistance of his blood vessels and musculoskeletal system to allow him to survive in the heavy deep-ocean atmosphere. However, if the scaling of the equation isn’t right, the Runometrist might accidentally alter every being of his race to suit these conditions.
Equations are the key to a Runometrist’s understanding of a given law of reality. A Runometrist can study for his or her entire life and never discover a unique equation of their own. Since the Luminati hunts down Runometrists and destroys as much of their research as possible, building on the work of previous Runic scholars can be a daunting task. One of the most successful Modern Runometrists, Auriq Sinystre, overcame these obstacles by first discovering an equation allowing him to slow the passage of time within a localized area, a small study in his home.
Within his time-dilution chamber, Auriq’s body aged very slowly, but his mind moved in real-time, allowing him to accomplish over fifty years of intense personal research in only six short months. In the process, Sinystre developed a staggering number of sound theoretical Runometric equations. After his sacrifice in Sylverton, the Luminati built a secret repository of his research hidden in a compound beneath Auriq’s statue in Drogynia, on the site of his death decades earlier. The Luminati, now under the watchful leadership of Melchior Martok, seeks an understanding of the arcane science, but it seeks this understanding without desiring knowledge of the practical aspects of Runometry. It is the official policy of the Luminati that Runometry should die with Auriq Sinystre. However, as S’zeves V’destrii would soon prove, that policy was merely wishful thinking.