Thera: The Runelord Epic Class

The Theran Epic Hero:

   Beyond Twentieth Level :

   Theran characters may take a maximum of 20 “normal” class levels. Any levels beyond that must be taken in one of Thera’s two, mutually exclusive, high-level Classes – Epic Hero and Rune Lord. While it is possible – at least in exceptional cases – to start taking levels in these classes at level fifteen, it’s unusual. Characters who don’t qualify for Epic Hero or Rune Lord can’t advance beyond level 20 on Thera.

The Rune Lord:

   Bound to the powers of order and embodiments of the Runes which make up Thera’s structure, Runelords have great influence over the world about them, but are bound to that world – and pay a price for their power, both immediately, in the form of Divine Drawbacks, and in millennia to come. Over the ages, a Runelord will gradually grow into, and be transformed by, their rune or runes – slowly merging with the magical structure of Thera. Eventually, their Runes will spawn subrunes, new branches of magic will arise, and the elder rune will slowly be forgotten as it grows into something else – and its associated Runelord will pass on at last.

  • Requirements: Level 15+, completion of an Epic Quest, total attribute modifiers of plus ten or more, and attunement to at least one unclaimed Rune (The other two “attunements” may overlap but this will conflict with the power of the existing Runelord – who won’t like it. Both lords abilities will become unreliable).
  • Attack Bonus: +(L/2). Doesn’t raise the number of iterative attacks available.
  • Base Caster Level: +(L/2)
  • Save Bonuses: +(L/2)
  • Skill Points: +(Int Mod) per level.
  • Hit Dice: d8
  • Special: Gain one Feat, one Divine Power, six points of Resistances (energy forms, damage types, poisons, attribute drain or damage, environmental problems such as lack of air or food, and types of physical damage are all eligible), and one Divine Drawback per level.
  • Immunities: Aging and Disease, with a permanent “Death Ward” and “Mage Armor” effect. As expressions of universal energies, they’re resistant to both magic and psionics (Spell and Power Resistance of = 10 + Level).
  • Drawbacks: All Runelords are foci of vast (and quite detectable) forces, are watched by virtually everyone, are vulnerable to some specific form of attack (GMO, but this varies with the Runelord), and are difficult to heal or transform, as they can’t drop their spell resistance versus such effects.

Divine Powers:

   Astral Realms; Shaping the formless energies of the Astral Plane requires an unshakeable will and a great deal of belief – but Runelords generally have ample access to both. Powers on this list include:

  • Avatars; You may have up to (Intelligence) Avatars of yourself (treat as Simulacrums, but with a mental link to you) active at any given time. These take a week each to make, but there is no associated cost.
  • Minions; You control a variety of “Astral Constructs”. While these are semi-intelligent and quite powerful – an effective manifestation level of (user level/4, 10 maximum) – they’re shaped by the belief of your followers, not entirely by you. You gain one such construct per active major temple dedicated to you.
  • Realm; You control a private realm on the astral plane; within it your Talent Feats are much enhanced (half cost or double effect) and you can manipulate the environment at will. Deceased followers tend to turn up there. You may take a Talent Feat to gain the ability to gate back and forth between your realm and Thera.
  • Wrath; Those who anger you or violate the tenets of your faith will be stricken by some form of supernatural punishment (a disease, a bolt of lightning, a curse, etc).

   Followers; Runelords tend to develop cults and followings among those who find their runes important. Some take advantage of this Powers on this list include:

  • Cultists. You’ve got a group of fanatics. At any given time you can call on 3D6 devotes to undertake even the most suicidal missions.
  • Disciples. You have a direct bond with a small group – equal to your charisma score at any given time – of your priests, and may speak or channel your power through them at will as well as know what’s happening about them.
  • Faithful. You have a religion, and may call on great numbers of ordinary people, considerable reserves of money, and other resources, as required.
  • Investment. Your followers supply 1000 EP per day that you may use to cast spells, make items, or invest in mortals – raising them to a maximum of level 15. Sadly, you can not add it to your personal EP total.

   Mindspeech; The presence of a Runelord has strange effects on reality – and on minds. Some Runelords learn to use that psychic impact. Powers on this list include:

  • Adjutant; You may designate any one being at a time as your Familiar, Companion, or Mount, and grant it the relevant bonuses at an effective level equal to your total level. If you take this more than once, you can so imbue that many creatures at a time.
  • Divine Aura; You “radiate” an emotion, an aura of disguising illusion, or a Consecrate/ Desecrate effect in a radius of (10 x Charisma) feet. If relevant, standard saving throws for innate charisma-based powers apply.
  • Gift Of Tongues; You may communicate with any creature with a mind, listen in on hidden thoughts, and either Enthrall, Fascinate, or inflict Suggestions or Commands, on those you speak to. Perhaps fortunately, standard saving throws against innate-charisma based powers apply.
  • Spirit Sight; Your senses extend into the Astral and Ethereal planes. As a Feat you may learn to extend your touch and magical/mental talents to those levels as well.

   Runebond; The bond with their runes is the core of a Runelords power. Powers on this list include:

  • Awareness; While a Runelord automatically becomes aware of “major” activities involving his or her rune – the researching of great spells, relevant natural disasters, major battles, etcetera – this allows them to “sense” minor activities, involving otherwise-unimportant individuals. This also covers the symbolic activities of Theran “prayer”. (E.G.; “Praying” to a wargod involves at least a good practice bout – while praying to a deathgod usually means killing something or other).
  • Influence; You may manipulate events on a global scale, granting those you favor a “+3” bonus on rolls related to one of your runes and inflicting a “-3” penalty on those you oppose or disapprove of. For example, a god of Trade can influence relevant Diplomacy, Navigation, and Profession checks. Those he favors will get rich, those he opposes will run into menacing customs agents and upset customers all day.
  • Mastery; Reduces the “effective” level of personally-cast spells involving one of the user’s runes by 3 levels. If this reduces it to below zero, it becomes an extraordinary – rather then super- natural – effect. Mastery may be taken up to three times, twice provides reductions of 6/3 spell levels for the primary/a secondary rune – and three times provides a 9/6/3 level reduction for the users primary/first secondary/second secondary runes..
  • Returning; You’re very difficult to kill. Unless someone else claims your runes, or you are killed in some specific manner (GMO), you will eventually return even without help. If you are helped, your return will be quick.

   Metamorphosis; Runelords are always transformed into runic embodiments to some extent, but can limit it to the more or less cosmetic level if they choose. Some choose otherwise. Powers on this list include:

  • Ascension; You gain an appropriate plane-touched template (often Aasimar or Tiefling), without an ECL adjustment. This can be taken twice, in which case you get the appropriate “Half-Whatever” template, also without an ECL adjustment. Runelords can gain lycanthropic, half-dragon, and similar templates, as well, but cannot gain more then one. Runelords with this ability always appear quite monstrous, more so if they belonged to a monster species to start with.
  • Embodiment; You take on a monstrous form, and a variety of special abilities derived from it. Such forms usually include a few enhanced attributes, “natural” weapons and armor and a few physically-oriented “Feats”. Of course, quite a lot of equipment – such as armor, weapons, and magic items, will become unusable, and most people will react quite strongly to you.
  • Runemark; You gain +2 to a chosen attribute appropriate to one of your Runes. You are also blatantly changed by this; you may acquire a distinctive glowing aura when your abilities are in use, be physically warped, have glowing runic tattoos all over your skin, or whatever Mark the game master decides is appropriate.
  • Runeward; You may make saving throws against spells and effects which do not normally allow them. Moreover, whenever you make a saving throw against an effect which would normally produce a partial effect, the effect in question is entirely negated.

The Price Of Godhood:

   Runelords normally have more problems then heroes do. A god must take on one limitation from the list below per level in the Runelord class.

   Bond Of Faith; Runelords often get trapped in the nature of their runes, and in the role their followers expect them to play. Limitations on this list include:

  • Unable to resist Wyrd; You are unable to go against the nature of the runes you’re attuned to. For example, a death goddess might find herself unable to aid her own dying child, a sun god might be unable to “intervene” during the night, and a a war god might find himself unable to work towards a peaceful solution.
  • Metamorphic Cycles; You undergo a regular sequence of transformations, such as a sun god who starts each day as a child and dies of old age each night – although that’s extreme, even for gods, and probably counts as several choices.
  • Personal Artifact; A sizable part of your personal power becomes bound into an artifact of some sort. While this increases the effects of those abilities by 50%, it can be stolen – and those powers are not available without the artifact.
  • Distinctive Features; You are easily seen for what you are – no matter how you disguise yourself or shapechange.

   Immortality; The energies coursing through a gods body have a physical impact as well. Limitations on this list include:

  • Impervious; You are resistant to growth, as well as to aging and harm. You gain experience points at only one-third the normal rate.
  • Lost Slots; The innate magic of your body blocks the use of many items. Slotless items must be put into one at first, after that you will lose two slots per time this is taken.
  • Fertility; Like a dragon, you are fertile with almost anything. Unlike them, any liason with a mortal WILL result in a child. Such children will inherit a natural link with you and a certain amount of power – although how it will express itself is unpredictable.
  • Ascension; The oldest, and most powerful, Runelords tend to merge with Thera itself – and must be invoked before they can manifest. As a side effect they’re near-indestructible.

   Relationships; “Immortality”, coupled with slow inhuman transformation and vast personal power – some of it inheritable – is hard on a gods social life.  Limitations on this list include:

  • Divine Spouse; You’ve married another god of some sort. At best this takes up a lot of your time. At worst, well, Hera and Zeus are a fairly mild example.
  • Offspring; You have troublesome children, ranging from kids who disrupt your rituals or find weird trouble to get into to offspring who hate you, and want to usurp your position.
  • Callousness; You’ve watched mortals come and go for millenia, and have ceased to care. This does not endear you to those around you.
  • Divine Awe; You may be beautiful, inspire awe, or be unbelievably ugly, but those about you have massive emotional reactions, despite any disguise. In rare cases, this can kill.

   Reputations; While gods inevitably acquire reputations, things can get a bit extreme. Limitations on this list include:

  • Well-understood; Those opposing or dealing with you can be expected to know your abilities, tactics, psychological “buttons” and other relevant information in fair detail.
  • Nemesis; You’re opposed by another entity of similar powers – typically a god embodying an opposing rune, but sometimes simply a hero or god with an opposing personality.
  • Outlawed; You and your followers are wildly unpopular, and will attract endless opposition.
  • Overrated; People overestimate both what you can do and what areas you influence. This is likely to irritate other powerful entities and to attract unwanted trouble.

   Megalomania; As limited aspects of reality fall subject to a runelord’s will, it becomes hard to avoid feeling that the rest should be equally obliging. Limitations on this list include:

  • Irrational; You tend to stop thinking and lose all sense of restraint and discretion when you’re defied or offended.
  • Transcendent; You see yourself as “above” law and custom; you are a GOD, such pettiness does not apply!
  • Arrogant; You tend to treat all “mortals” as your personal servants and property. If they don’t like it, you can always find some more.
  • Lordly; You demand worship and respect from all those around you of lesser stature – and if they aren’t gods or epic heroes, they’re lesser.

   Unfocused; Runelords are personally linked with events going on throughout the world. As a result, they often find it hard to focus on anything in particular. Limitations on this list include:

  • Absent Minded; You tend to forget things. A LOT. You may forget your gear, your friends names and to refresh your spells unless you can make some very good wisdom checks.
  • Distracted; You suffer a -3 circumstances penalty on anything not directly “related” to one of your runes and must often make concentration checks to pay attention to what’s going on around you.
  • Oblivious; You suffer a -4 penalty on all Spot, Listen, and similar rolls.
  • Invoked; You’re subjected to random calls on your attention and power as you’re invoked for various purposes.

   Responsibilities; Runelords are important people, and their link with an aspect of reality often places demands on them. Limitations on this list include:

  • Committments; You have a lot of things to do, and often do not have time for “personal” adventuring or projects.
  • Runic Backlash; You’re affected by events which impact your rune; For example, a sungod might be severely weakened during an eclipse.
  • Primal Link; Your emotions and well-being touch the world about you through your runes. Minor disturbances will reveal your motives and emotions,
  • Marked; Your runes have set their mark on you; you will find it difficult or impossible to use opposing powers.
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