Runes are cool too

I’ve been playing my Rune-keeper some more in Lord of the Rings Online and I’m rather taken with the style of the character’s attack animations. Lots of cool but mostly quite subtle spell effects involving glowing runic symbols. Spells as actual letters or words strikes me as a more Eastern rpg thing, in Western gaming culture spells are usually abstract or elemental in nature.

World Boss is imprisoned in FFXIV ARR intro video (~4:58) by gigantic floating runes…

I’m attracted to such things because I’m an amateur history fan, always have been since early childhood. I remember clear as day being fascinated by picture books on Romans, Aztecs and Vikings. I even grew up in a town that had a Viking connection as it was part of the Viking settled areas of England back 1,100 years or so.  So runes appeal to me on several levels when used in games as some kind of magical language.

As I stated runes as spells seems pretty rare in the MMORPGs that I’ve played, but magical runes or symbols are used often enough. Most of the spells my low-level character has are more subtle, but Essence of Winter in particular is pretty fancy. I remember there being some controversy on the forums about Rune-keepers when they were first introduced as being too ‘showy’ for a game based on Tolkien’s writings. That may be fair, but from my comparative perspective even Rune-keepers are positively understated compared to the Mages of World of Warcraft or the Control Wizards of Neverwinter (hurling miniature black holes at your enemies is not subtle magic).

In World of Warcraft’s last expansion, Legion, a new type of runic puzzle was introduced. This has been reused in Battle for Azeroth in, for example, the Drustvar zone.

A runic portal key

These games both offer, in these specific examples at least, a different style of magic from the elemental fireballs or raw bolts of arcane energy normally associated with wizards, but one that I appreciate nonetheless.


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