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The flames from Hannele's torch flickered, causing crazed shadows to jump around the chamber like wild animals leaping from one great stanchion of ice to the next. She reached out to trace her fingers along the path gouged into the frozen snow. The ice was cold, but its power was so strong to the touch, it felt like honey in her mouth. Tykonus. She murmured its name softly, as if to greet an old friend.

How long ago had this been carved into the ice here? Why did he do it? She remembered as a child asking the village mystic why the paragon had carved these great runes. She could still remember his answer to this day, word for word.

"Doubt alone, is what gives life meaning. We honour Isenbrad because we know nothing about him. If we knew him at all, he would just be a man. You only follow someone if you don't know the path they are on."

She'd been fascinated by the runes since that day. It was her way of following the paragon without knowing what path he had been on. Carving the runes into metal and wood became her world... At least until the Thule came. She shook the dark thoughts from her mind; those days were behind her. She was determined to walk away from them, just as she had walked out of Otkodov.

She turned then to the last pillar and stared at it. Twenty seven great pillars, carved from the ice itself - forming a beautiful spiral as they held the roof aloft. Each one with a single rune perfectly cut and shaped. All facing inwards, towards a single point, the great column of ice at the centre of the chamber.

She walked round the central column running her hand over the ice but felt... nothing. There was not a single mark visible anywhere on its surface. The ice was smooth and featureless as if the whole thing were unblemished marble.

The last rune. The Unnamed. The Unknown. The Unknowable. Why had Isenbrad chosen this rune for the centrepiece?

It is doubt alone, that gives life meaning.
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Some say that the art of crafting magical items was invented in the north, long before Isenbrad found the runes or carved his laws on the walls of ice beneath Runegrott.
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Some say that the art of crafting magical items was invented in the north, long before Isenbrad found the runes. Steinr legends say they brought the skills with them when they fell to earth. Suaq legends say they stole the knowledge by trickery from Hyrdin the Unthinkable, whoever that was. And Kallavesi legends say they found the arts in the place where they had been all along. The stories are undoubtedly apocryphal, but the runesmith has a revered place in Wintermark culture in part because the Steinr especially prize beautiful objects. Those who can make something truly extraordinary, be it jewellery, armour or weapons, a banner or a bracer, a girdle or a garment, quickly win the respect of their peers.

When the Thule took Skarsind they enslaved many of the greatest runesmiths in Wintermark, dragging them back to Otkodov in chains. This terrible blow robbed Wintermark of its place as one of the most important sources of magic items in the Empire. After years in decline, and perhaps inspired by the construction of the Spiral Sword in Redoubt, the nation began to seriously consider what might be done to create a runeforge in the north and reclaim their status as master crafters. In the process they identified five significant tasks - each of which would help to ease the cost and burden of creating a runeforge or make the impact of building more significant. With four of those five tasks complete, the time is drawing close to restore Wintermark's rightful place as the home of the greatest artisans in the world.

Runegrott Forge
Commission Type: Runeforge
Location: Hahnmark, Northspires, Runegrott
Cost: 30 white granite, 30 mithril, 60 weirwood, no labour costs, a year to complete
Effect: Creates a runeforge at Runegrott in Hahnmark, and creates a National Position for Wintermark
Opportunity: If a inspirational memorial is consecrated for Isenbrad, the amount of weirwood is reduced to 45 and additional opportunities are unlocked

Five Tasks

  • Four of the five tasks related to building a runeforge at Runegrott have been completed

A runeforge is a huge undertaking, requiring 60 wains of mithril, white granite and weirwood, 45 thrones and taking a year to build. But there were five crucial tasks that Wintermark could attempt to mitigate some of these costs if they chose to build the runeforge at Runegrott, beneath Northspires in Hahnmark. The walls of this vast labyrinthine chamber of ice are carved with runes and guarded by an order of runesmiths, many of whom seek to emulate Isenbrad, the most famous Wintermark artisan who ever lived.

Four of the five tasks are now complete. Three of them will reduce the costs needed to build a runeforge. The Rime Hammer is now back in Wintermark's hands. The Gildenheim artisans have been freed by the Thule and have returned to Wintermark. The ruins of the Gildenheim Runeforge have been moved to Runegrott. Barien's challenge has been completed and the reward collected. Completing these three tasks means the cost to construct a runeforge at Runegrott is "only" 30 wains of white granite, 30 wains of mithril, and 60 wains of weirwood. It would still take a year to complete, but it wouldn't require any additional funds for labour.

Heirs to Isenbrad

  • The artisans taken by the Thule during the fall of Skarsind have returned to Wintermark
  • The paragon Isenbrad does not have an inspirational tomb
  • If Isenbrad's tomb is consecrated with true liao, the returned artisans will help establish Runesmith's Law - a set of magic items only available to Wintermark artisans

When the Thule Dragons outlawed slavery, a fourth challenge was overcome: the return of the lost artisans. When the Thule armies attacked Skarsind in 373YE, and conquered Gildenheim, they captured many of the skilled artisans and runesmiths who lived and worked there. Their raid against the forges at Treji at Hercynia in particular saw several masters of runic lore fall into the hands of the orcs of Otkodov. These prisoners were taken north at the command of the Dragons, and forced to toil as slaves in the workshops of Nithoggir. Now their release has finally been secured and they have come home to Wintermark at last. With Gildenheim now in Imperial orc lands, most have chosen to settle at Runegrott, creating a unique opportunity for Wintermark to benefit from their mastery of the crafters arts.

These smiths know how to make a number of unique magic items that are not familiar to the artisans of the Empire as a whole. They are prepared to share their knowledge with their fellow Winterfolk, but not the wider Empire. They take great Pride in their abilities, and many of them feel great Loyalty to Wintermark and their fellow runesmiths. Several of them have carefully guarded their particular lore for centuries - they will to share their knowledge but only to restore the prominence and importance of Wintermark as a nation of extraordinary artisans.

Claiming a direct line of descent from the paragon Isenbrad, the smiths of Runegrott have long desired for the site to be consecrated as the memorial of Isenbrad. No other community in the Empire has as strong a claim on this important figure. If the caves under Runegrott were consecreated with true liao, the people of Runegrott would make good on their offer to provide fifteen wains of weirwood toward the runeforge. More importantly, however, the presence of the master runesmiths liberated from the Thule would allow the creation of what they have tentatively called The Runesmith's Law.

The Runesmith's Law would represent a unique body of knowledge similar in some ways to that possessed by the Urizeni. This would consist initially of schema shared by the lost smiths of Gildenheim. As long as Isenbrad's tomb remained consecrated with a true aura, however, the people of Wintermark could add further knowledge to The Runesmith's Law. It would mean that any artisan in Wintermark could opt to master those skills and create the items in question, but only as long as they remained a member of the nation. If they left for another nation, they would no longer be able to create the items since the skills would be useless to them without access to the understanding of the runes granted by access to Isenbrad's tomb. No eternal would be involved; this would be a body of lore created and curated by the runesmiths at Runegrott; it would be a consequence of the hallowed tomb and the legacy of Isenbrad.

The Wintermark National Assembly could chose to endorse the following mandate:

The knowledge of the runes is the legacy of Isenbrad, paragon of Wisdom, and inspires our people to this day. All knowledge is incomplete, but with the Runesmith's Law we commit Wintermark once more to the mastery of the crafter's art. We send (named priest) with one dose of True Liao and 4 crowns to consecrate the caves beneath Runegrott as an inspirational tomb for the first runesmith.

Synod Mandate, Wintermark National Assembly

This mandate will remain available until the situation at Runegrott changes. If the caves are consecrated with true liao, then the runesmiths returned from Otkodov will work with those at Runegrott to establish The Runesmith's Law. Initially this would consist of seven unique magic items whose secrets they share with their peers in Wintermark. Once the Runesmith's Law is established, it would be possible for Wintermark to expand the magic items available through it, provided they can gain access to appropriate schema.

This opportunity is not reliant on the runeforge being built, although obviously doing so will add additional ways to create new items for The Runesmith's Law. The smiths returned from Otkodov are not prepared to share the secrets of their unique magic items with the rest of the Empire. In the event the Empire declined to support the consecration of Isenbrad's tomb, the artisans would keep their knowledge. It might be possible to persuade them to create these magic items under certain circumstances, but that would require additional opportunities.

The Runesmith's Law

Stalwart's Sword

  • Description: A one-handed weapon - which need not necessarily be a sword - that provides the bearer with the will to stand firm in the face of danger.
  • Form: Weapon. Takes the form of a one-handed weapon. You must be wielding this weapon to use its magical properties.
  • Requirement: Any character can bond to this item.
  • Effect: You gain one additional hero point. The weapon counts as a source of spiritual strength for overcoming roleplaying effects that cause fear.

Hero's Hauberk

  • Description: A suit of heavy armour, usually a chain hauberk over leather pauldrons - that helps the wearer stand firm against the most terrible wounds.
  • Form: Armour. Takes the form of a suit of heavy armour. You must be wearing this armour to use its magical properties.
  • Requirement: Any character can bond to this item.
  • Effect: You gain one additional rank of endurance. The armour counts as a source of spiritual strength for overcoming roleplaying effects caused by traumatic wounds.

Runesmith's Glare

  • Description: Usually a kite shield, Runesmith's Glare is often decorated with a bird device, or even eyes painted on it, often with runes emblazoned or painted onto the rim.
  • Form: Talisman. Takes the form of a full-sized shield. You cannot make a magic buckler. You must be wielding this shield to use its magical properties.
  • Requirement: You must have the shield skill to bond to this item.
  • Effect: You gain one additional rank of the endurance skill and one additional hero point.

Isenbrad's Legacy

  • Description: This smith's hammer is traditionally made with a stylised white head as if carved from a block of ice.
  • Form: Talisman. Takes the form of a tool. You must be holding this item in hand to use its magical properties.
  • Requirement: You must be have the artisan skill to bond to this item.
  • Effect: When bonded to this item, you can cast Timeless Hammer Rhythm on yourself once per summit.

Three Tears

  • Description: This powerful magical standard usually displays the three tears, the traditional symbol of the Wintermark people.
  • Form: Magical standard. The phys-rep requirements for a magical standard are more stringent than those of similar items. You must be bearing this banner aloft to use its magical properties.
  • Requirement: Any character can bond to this item.
  • Effect: While wielding this standard you gain four additional hero points.

Mediators Purse

  • Description: This item usually includes a broad leather hero-belt marked with the runes of Lann and Sular.
  • Form: Armour. Takes the form of a suit of light armour. You must be wearing this armour to use its magical properties.
  • Requirement: Any character can bond to this item.
  • Effect: You gain one additional rank of endurance. The armour counts as a source of spiritual strength for overcoming roleplaying effects that would cause you to become angry or confused.

Four Spirit's Mask

Click Expand to see a summary of the items that the smiths of Gildenheim propose to use as the basis of The Runesmith's Law.

The Ethengraw

A final opportunity relating to the runeforge, connected to the Ethengraw sept of orcs, can be found in the All too well wind of fortune.

Further Reading