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Rune Mage (Alchemist/Magus)

This content was created by the MultiClass Productions fan group.
While most alchemists practice in mainstream alchemy–extracts, mutagens, and bombs–some diverge into the obscure path of magic that combines both alchemical knowhow with arcane runes. Rune mages have adapted the alchemist’s magical techniques to create a new method of spellcasting that employs rune inscribed tokens and stones to unleash magical effects, powerful explosions, or charge his weapon with runic energies. Despite their newly emerging expertise, rune mages are often viewed by other alchemists as having abandoned the pure path of alchemy in favor of one that is more spell-based and less exact. Fortunately, rune mages are just as ambitious and stubborn as their alchemic brothers, allowing them to openly work or adventure alongside other conventional spellcasters and gain the respect of mage and warrior alike. (Original Concept by Elghinn Lightbringer)

Primary Class: Alchemist.
Secondary Class: Magus.
Alignment: Any.
Hit Dice: d8.

Bonus Skills and Ranks: The rune mage may select three sorcerer skills to add to her class skills in addition to the normal magus class skills. The rune mage gains a number of ranks at each level equal to 2 + Int modifier.

Table: Rune Mage
Level Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Special Spells Per Day
0th 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th
1st +0 +0 +2 +2 Alchemy, explosive rune 1d6, rune tokens, scribe scroll3 1
2nd +1 +0 +3 +3 Discovery4 2
3rd +2 +1 +3 +3 Inscribe runes, rune of power4 3
4th +3 +1 +4 +4 Explosive rune 2d64 3 1
5th +3 +1 +4 +4 Discovery4 4 2
6th +4 +2 +5 +5 Bonus feat5 4 3
7th +5 +2 +5 +5 Explosive rune 3d65 4 3 1
8th +6/+1 +2 +6 +6 Discovery5 4 4 2
9th +6/+1 +3 +6 +6 Rune of power5 5 4 3
10th +7/+2 +3 +7 +7 Explosive rune 4d65 5 4 3 1
11th +8/+3 +3 +7 +7 Discovery5 5 4 4 2
12th +9/+4 +4 +8 +8 Bonus feat5 5 5 4 3
13th +9/+4 +4 +8 +8 Explosive rune 5d65 5 5 4 3 1
14th +10/+5 +4 +9 +9 Discovery5 5 5 4 4 2
15th +11/+6/+1 +5 +9 +9 Rune of power5 5 5 5 4 3
16th +12/+7/+2 +5 +10 +10 Explosive rune 6d65 5 5 5 4 3 1
17th +12/+7/+2 +5 +10 +10 Discovery5 5 5 5 4 4 2
18th +13/+8/+3 +6 +11 +11 Bonus feat5 5 5 5 5 4 3
19th +14/+9/+4 +6 +11 +11 Explosive rune 7d65 5 5 5 5 5 4
20th +15/+10/+5 +6 +12 +12 Discovery, grand rune5 5 5 5 5 5 5

Weapon and Armor Proficiency

The rune mage is proficient with all simple weapons and explosive runes. The rune mage is also proficient with light armor, but not with shields.


A rune mages does not cast spells like other spellcaster, but instead inscribes runes (see Rune Tokens) that duplicate the effects of arcane spells. A rune mage casts arcane runes drawn from the magus spell list and adds the following spells to her list at the indicated spell level:
0 level—arcane mark
1st level—bomber’s eye*, crafter’s fortune*, detect secret doors, erase, keen senses*, targeted bomb admixture
2nd level—acute sense#, heroic fortune*, kinetic reverberation†, perceive cues*, protection from arrows, resist energy, shadow bomb 
admixture†, symbol of mirroring#
3rd level—absorbing touch*, draconic reservoir*, explosive runes, glyph of warding, lightning lash bomb admixture†, rune of durability±,
rune of warding±, secret page, sepia snake sigil, tongues
4th level—freedom of movement, spell immunity, symbol of revelation#, symbol of slowing #, viper bomb admixture†, vitriolic mist#
5th level—elude time*, languid bomb admixture†, magic jar, overland flight, planar adaptation, polymorph, resurgent transformation*, 
spell resistance, symbol of scrying#
6th level—analyze dweomer, caging bomb admixture†, greater glyph of warding, shadow walk
(*Advanced Player’s Guide, #Ultimate Magic, †Ultimate Combat, ±Dwarves of Galorian)

Like other spellcasters a rune mage can cast only a certain number of runes of each spell level per day. Her daily allotment of runes is given on Table: Rune Mage. She also receives bonus runes per day if she has a high Intelligence score. A rune mage otherwise prepares runes as an alchemist equal to her rune mage level prepares extracts.

Alchemy (Su)

Rune mages are masters of creating mundane alchemical substances and gains a competence bonus equal to her rune mage level on the Craft (alchemy) check. In addition, a rune mage can use Craft (alchemy) to identify ceramic, crystal, or glass items as if using detect magic. She must hold the item for 1 round to make such a check. A rune mage cannot create mutagens, extracts, or bombs. This ability and rune tokens replace the alchemist’s alchemy ability.

Scribe Scroll

At 1st level, a rune mage gains Scribe Scroll as a bonus feat. This ability replaces brew potion.

Explosive Runes (Su)

In addition to creating rune tokens, a rune mage can swiftly create explosive runes. These runes are quickly scribed into her palm and manifest as a red glowing rune that she can hurl at her enemies. A rune mage can create a number of explosive runes each day equal to her rune mage level + her Intelligence modifier. Explosive runes are unstable, and if not used in the round they are created, they degrade, become inert, and vanish—their method of creation prevents large numbers of explosive runes from being created and stored.

Inscribing an explosive rune and throwing it requires a standard action that provokes an attack of opportunity. Thrown explosive runes have a range of 20 feet and use the Throw Splash Weapon special attack. Explosive runes are considered weapons and can be selected using feats such as Point-Blank Shot and Weapon Focus. On a direct hit, a rune mage’s explosive rune inflicts 1d6 points of fire damage + additional damage equal to the rune mage’s Intelligence modifier. The damage of a rune mage’s explosive rune increases by 1d6 points at every odd-numbered rune mage level (this bonus damage is not multiplied on a critical hit or by using feats such as Vital Strike). Splash damage from a rune mage explosive rune is always equal to the explosive rune’s minimum damage (so if the explosive runewould deal 2d6+4 points of fire damage on a direct hit, its splash damage would be 6 points of fire damage). Those caught in the splash damage can attempt a Reflex save for half damage. The DC of this save is equal to 10 + 1/2 the rune mage’s level + the rune mage’s Intelligence modifier.

Rune mages can learn new types of explosive runes as explosive discoveries (see the Discovery ability) as they level up. A rune mage’s explosive runes, like rune tokens, become inert if used or carried by anyone else.

Alternatively, a rune mage can trace a series of explosive runes upon a book, map, scroll, or similar object bearing written information. These explosive runes remain until they are read at which time they detonate, dealing an amount of fire damage as listed on Table: Rune Mage. Anyone next to the explosive runes (close enough to read them) takes the full damage with no saving throw; any other creature within 10 feet of the explosive runes is entitled to a Reflex save for half damage. The object on which the explosive runes were written also takes full damage (no saving throw). The rune mage and any characters she specifically instructs can read the protected writing without triggering the explosive runes. The rune mage can remove the explosive runes whenever desired. Another creature can remove them with a successful dispel magic or erase spell, but attempting to dispel or erase the explosive runes and failing to do so triggers the explosion.

At 3rd level, a rune mage can, as a standard action, create a blast rune in any adjacent square. Any creature entering this square takes damage equal to her bomb rune damage. This rune deals either acid, cold, electricity, or fire damage, decided when the rune mage creates the rune. The rune is invisible and lasts a number of rounds equal to the rune mage’s level or until discharged. A rune mage cannot create a blast rune in a square occupied by another creature. This rune counts as a 1st-level spell for the purposes of dispelling. It can be discovered with a DC 26 Perception skill check and disarmed with a DC 26 Disable Device skill check. Creating a blast rune counts against the number of explosive runes she can create per day.

At 7th level, as a swift action, a rune mage can change the location of one of her blast runes. The rune must be within 30 feet. The rune mage can place the blast rune in any square adjacent to her, including one occupied by another creature.

At 9th level, when a creature is damaged by a rune mage’s blast rune, it cannot attack her for a number of rounds equal to 1/2 the rune mage’s level unless it succeeds at a Will save, as per the spell sanctuary. Using this ability is an immediate action when a creature triggers one of the rune mage’s blast runes. The ability does not prevent a rune mage from being attacked or affected by area of effect spells or abilities. A rune mage can use this ability once per day at 7th level, plus one additional time per day at 13th level and 19th level.

At 11th level, a rune mage can, as a swift action, attach another rune that she can cast to one of her blast runes, causing that rune to affect the creature that triggers the rune, in addition to the damage. This rune must be of at least one level lower than the highest-level rune she can cast and it must target one or more creatures. Regardless of the number of targets the rune can normally affect, it only affects the creature that triggers the rune. This expends a rune slot equal to the level of the rune that is attached to the blast rune.

This ability otherwise functions as and replaces the alchemist’s bomb ability and replaces mutagen and persistent mutagen.

Rune Tokens (Su)

In addition to alchemical substances, a rune mage can fashion small chips or tokens of polished bone, ceramic, or stone etched with a rune on which to store spell effects. In effect, a rune mage prepares her spells by inscribing runes onto a number of tokens, and then “casts” her spells by releasing their effects from within the token. When a rune mage inscribes a token with a rune, she infuses the token with a tiny fraction of her own magical power—this enables the creation of powerful effects, but also binds the effects to the creator. In many ways, rune tokens behave like spells in stored form (similar to a ring of spell storing), and as such their effects can be dispelled by effects like dispel magic using her rune mage level as the caster level.

A rune mage can create only a certain number of rune tokens of each level per day (see Runecasting). When a rune mage inscribes her runes, he infuses the tokens with magic siphoned from her own magical aura. A rune token immediately becomes inert if it leaves the rune mage’s possession, reactivating as soon as it returns to her keeping. A rune token, once inscribed, remains potent for 1 day before becoming inert, so a rune mage must re-prepare her rune tokens every day. Inscribing a rune token takes 1 minute of work—most rune mages prepare many tokens at the start of the day or just before going on an adventure, but it’s not uncommon for a rune mage to keep some (or even all) of her daily rune slots open so that she can prepare tokens in the field as needed.

Although the rune mage doesn’t cast spells in a conventional manner, she does have a rune list that determines what runes she can create. A rune mage can utilize spell-trigger items if the spell appears on her rune list, but not spell-completion items (unless she uses Use Magic Device to do so). A rune is “cast” by breaking or shattering the token, which requires a standard action—the effects of a rune mage’s token exactly duplicate the spell upon which its rune is based. The rune mage uses her level as the caster level to determine any effect based on caster level. Creating tokens consumes raw materials, but the cost of these materials is insignificant—comparable to the valueless material components of most spells. If a spell normally has a costly material component, that component is expended during the consumption of that particular rune inscribed token. Runes cannot be made from spells that have focus requirements (runes that duplicate divine spells never have a divine focus requirement). A rune mage can prepare a token of any rune she knows.

To learn or use a rune, a rune mage must have an Intelligence score equal to at least 10 + the rune’s level. The Difficulty Class for a saving throw against a rune mage’s runes is 10 + the rune’s level + the rune mage’s Intelligence modifier. A rune mage may know any number of runes. She stores her runes in a special tome called a rune book. She must refer to this book whenever she prepares a token but not when she activates it.

A rune mage begins play with all 0-level runes and two 1st level runes of her choice, plus a number of additional runes equal to her Intelligence modifier. At each new rune mage level, she gains one new rune of any level that she can cast. A rune mage can also add runes to her book just like a wizard adds spells to his spellbook, using the same costs and time requirements. A rune mage can study a wizard’s spellbook to learn any rune that is equivalent to a spell the spellbook contains. A wizard, however, cannot learn spells from a rune book. A rune mage does not need to decipher arcane writings before copying them. This ability otherwise functions as and replaces the alchemist’s extract ability.

Discovery (Su)

This is exactly like the rune mage ability of the same name, except that a rune mage can select a discovery at 2nd level and every three levels thereafter. Any bomb discovery she chooses is applied to her explosive runes. Also, whenever a rune mage could select a discovery, she can select a magus arcana in place of a discovery.

A rune mage is restricted to the following discoveries: Blinding Bomb#, Concussive Bomb*, Confusion Bomb#, Defoliant Bomb±, Delayed Bomb*, Explosive Bomb*, Fast Bomb*, Immolation Bomb†, Inferno Bomb*, Precise Bomb*, Shock Bomb*, Smoke Bomb*, Sticky Bomb*, Stink Bomb*, Strafe Bomb*, and Sunlight Bomb#. A rune mage may also choose from the following magus arcana by Super Genius Games: Enruned Dagger, Enruned Great Weapon, Greater Enrune Dagger, and Greater Enrune Great Weapon.

In addition, a rune mage can choose one of the following cipher lore from the Cyphermage prestige class (see Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Inner Sea Magic) in place of a discovery or magus arcana: Analyze Scroll, Bypass Symbol, Defensive Scrollcaster, Enhance Scroll, Extended Scroll, Focus Scroll, Glyph Finder, Insightful Scroll, Rune Trap, Swift Scrivener, or Swift Scroll.

Inscribe Runes

At 3rd level, a rune mage gains Inscribe Runes as a bonus feat. This ability replaces throw anything.

Rune of Power (Sp)

Starting at 3rd level, a rune mage learns the secret of powerful rune magic established by an ancient and mystic cabal known simply as the Runelords. These magical runes of power can temporarily be inscribed upon a single individual (or object) for a 24 hour period or until activated, whichever comes first. Each rune grants the recipient certain benefits or causes certain effects for a number of minutes equal to the rune mage’s level. Once inscribed, the recipient can activate the rune as a spell-trigger item or by the rune mage as indicated in its description. Unless noted otherwise, the effect of a rune of power lasts for 1 minute per level of the rune mage that inscribed it, and affect only the recipient.

At 3rd level, and every six levels thereafter, a rune mage learns one of the following runes of power.

  • Rune of Authority: The bearer of this rune is cloaked in an illusion of authority. Others perceive the bearer to be a legitimate figure of authority—a higher-ranking official, a religious figure, a more powerful warrior. This illusion grants you a +5 bonus on all Diplomacy and Intimidate checks. If the bearer attempts to disguise himself as a specific authority figure, he gains a +10 competence bonus on the Disguise check and any Bluff check related to impersonating that authority figure. In addition, others are uncomfortable acting against the bearer of the rune. Creatures with an Intelligence of 4 or more must make a Will save or take a –2 penalty on all opposed checks against the bearer. This rune can be activated by the bearer. The rune mage must be at least 3rd level to learn this rune of power.
  • Rune of Compulsion: This rune plants a subconscious directive in the bearer’s mind that forces him to act as the rune mage dictates when specific circumstances arise. The bearer can be either conscious or unconscious, but must understand the rune mage’s language. Upon inscribing this rune, the rune mage must state a course of action she wishes the bearer to take. This course of action must be described in 20 words or fewer. Rune mage must then state the condition under which the rune mage wishes the target to take this action, also describing it in 20 or fewer words.
Actions or conditions more elaborate than 20 words cause the rune to fail. A rune of compulsion cannot compel a target to kill himself, though it can compel him to perform exceedingly dangerous acts, face impossible odds, or undertake almost any other course of activity. The rune mage cannot issue new commands to the target after the rune is inscribed.

If the bearer fails his save against this rune, he is not compelled to act in any way, has no knowledge of the details of the spell affecting him, and has no memory of the last 10 minutes (although he might come to notice the missing time or the presence of the caster).

He can function as he wishes until the events the rune mage detailed as the condition takes place. Upon experiencing the prerequisite condition, the bearer is forced to perform the course of action the rune mage described as per the spell dominate person. For the next hour, the bearer acts as the rune mage dictated, doing all it can to fulfill her command. If, at the end of the hour, the bearer still has not completed the rune mage’s command, the bearer is released from the enchantment and the rune ends. Once the course of action is completed the rune ends. The bearer has full memory of acts performed during this hour.

For example, a rune mage might use a rune of compulsion on a farmer, giving him the order “murder the king” to be acted upon “when you hear church bells strike noon.” Thus, the next time the bearer hears church bells strike noon, the enchantment activates and for the next hour he does all he can to murder the king in the most effective way possible, with the spell ending either when the king is dead or the hour passes. How the bearer acts is wholly relative to the individual and the circumstances. This could lead the bearer to perform an assassination attempt or, if he’s some distance away from where he thinks the king is, ride for one hour at full speed towards the land’s capital.

It’s difficult to detect a rune of compulsion. Casting detect magic on someone affected by this rune only reveals an aura of enchantment magic if the caster of detect magic has a higher caster level then the caster of the rune. Even if the rune is detected, it can only be removed by break enchantment, limited wish, remove curse, miracle, or wish. Dispel magic does not affect a rune of compulsion. This rune is activated by the prerequisite condition detailed by the rune mage. The rune mage must be at least 12th level to learn this rune of power.
  • Rune of Contingency: The bearer of this rune gains the effects of the feather fall and water breathing spells. In addition, if the bearer of the rune is reduced to 0 or fewer hit points and is not killed, the rune is immediately activated and he turns into a cloud of vapor as per the spell gaseous form for 5 rounds. He remains conscious during this time, but after 5 rounds returns to his normal form and is unconsciousand dying. This rune can be activated by the bearer. The rune mage must be at least 6th level to learn this rune of power.
  • Rune of Conveyance: The bearer of this rune can summon a floating, semi-real palanquin for 1 hour per level of the rune mage that inscribed it. This conveyance has all the special abilities of a phantom steed and can hold the bearer and up to 150 additional pounds of weight. Other creatures can ride the palanquin as long as the total weight is less than 150 pounds. The palanquin can be dismissed at any time as a free action. The look of the palanquin is decided when the rune is inscribed, though it usually takes the form of a regal, comfortable-looking litter that moves without the need for bearers. This rune can be activated by the bearer. The rune mage must be at least 15th level to learn this rune of power.
  • Rune of Inscrutability: The bearer of this rune confuses all attempts to divine information about him. This functions as a permanent misdirection spell, which the bearer can change the target of (and thus what he is detected as) at will. In addition, whenever the rune’s bearer enters an area affected by a divination (scrying) effect or anytime a creature casts a divination (scrying) spell that targets him, the scrying spell’s caster must make a DC 18 Will save. If this save fails, the rune’s bearer realizes that he is being scryed upon, knows what spell is in effect, and knows the name of the spell’s caster. This rune can be activated by the bearer. The rune mage must be at least 6th level to learn this rune of power.
  • Rune of Obedience: Designed as a foolproof means of ensuring absolute loyalty, even from those ordinarily immune to compulsion and mind-affecting magic, this rune is infused with a single specific prohibition when first inscribed. This prohibition must be stated in 10 words or fewer and the bearer must agree to it of his own free will. From then on, if the bearer breaks this prohibition, he is afflicted with searing pain, taking a –4 penalty on attack rolls, skill checks, and ability checks for as long as he is in violation of the prohibition and for 5 minutes thereafter. This rune affects any creature who agrees to bear it, and can be activated by the rune mage. The rune mage must be at least 9th level to learn this rune of power.
  • Rune of Razing: This rune grants the bearer the ability to ignore hardness and damage reduction for the duration of the rune’s effect. This rune can be activated by the bearer. The rune mage must be at least 12th level to learn this rune of power.
  • Rune of Resistance: This rune grants the bearer resistance 5 to two energy types chosen at the time that the rune is inscribed. At 9th level, this resistance increase to 10. This rune can be activated by the bearer. The rune mage must be at least 3rd level to learn this rune of power.
  • Rune of Spell Pilfering: Anytime a harmless (so noted by a spell’s saving throw description) spell of 3rd level or lower is cast by a spellcaster within 30 feet of the bearer of this rune, he may choose to immediately gain the benefit of that spell as if it had also targeted him. The intended target still gains the effect of the spell. This rune can be activated by the bearer. The rune mage must be at least 9th level to learn this rune of power.
  • Rune of Spell Power: The bearer of this rune can cast spells at a higher caster level. The bearer gains a +1 bonus to his caster level for the next spell he casts. At 12th level, this bonus to caster level increases to +2, at 18th level this bonus increases to +3. This rune can be activated by the bearer. The rune mage must be at least 6th level to learn this rune of power.
  • Rune of Susceptibility: Three times per day, the bearer of this rune can cause a creature he touches to take a –4 penalty on all Will saves made against spells of the enchantment school for the next 24 hours. This rune can be activated by the bearer. The rune mage must be at least 9th level to learn this rune of power.
  • Rune of Wrath: This rune forcibly repulses all creatures within 30 feet of the bearer, an object, or a location. The rune is triggered whan any creature not designated as an ally comes within 5 feet of the bearer or site of this rune. All creatures within the effect’s area take 1d6 points of force damage per level of the rune mage that inscribed it (maximum 15d6) and are subjected to a bull rush that attempts to push them directly away from him. The blast’s bull rush effect is treated as having Strength 25 + the rune mage’s Intelligence modifier, but gains no other bonuses for size or charging. The rune mage, bearer, and any designated allies are unaffected by both the rune’s force damage and bull rush effect. This rune is activated by any creature within 5 feet of the rune that is not designated as an ally of the bearer or inscriber of the rune. The rune mage must be at least 12th level to learn this rune of power.

Upon reaching 6th level, and at every three rune mage levels thereafter (9th, 11th, and so on), a rune mage can choose to learn a new rune of power in place of one she already knows. In effect, the rune mage loses the old rune in exchange for the new one. The new rune’s level must be the same as or lower than that of the rune being exchanged. A rune mage may swap only a single rune of power at any given level, and must choose whether or not to swap a rune at the same time that she gains a new rune of power. This ability replaces bomb 3d6, 5d6, and 7d6, swift alchemy, swift poisoning, and instant alchemy.

Bonus Feats

At 6th level, and every six levels thereafter, a rune mage gains a bonus feat in addition to those gained from normal advancement. These bonus feats must be selected from those listed as combat, item creation, or metamagic feats. She must meet the prerequisites for these feats as normal.

Grand Rune (Su)

At 20th level, a rune mage’s knowledge of rune magic greatly increases. The rune mage can choose two additional discoveries, magus arcana, or cipher lore of her choice. In addition, the rune mage can select one of the following spells which she can inscribe onto her rune tokens as a 7th level rune once per day: guards and wards, instant summons, planar binding, symbol of fear, symbol of pain, symbol of persuasion, symbol of sealing, symbol of sleep, symbol of stunning, symbol of weakness. This ability replaces grand discovery.


A rune mage can use a runestone of power (as per the magical item) to spontaneously cast a spell of a particular level as if she were a spontaneous spellcaster. A rune mage can also expend a runestone’s daily charge to cast a single rune or power that she knows without expending a use of her ability. The rune of power must be of a level equal to or lower than the spell level of runestone. In addition, when a rune mage that attempts to gain control of a rune guardian that is under another spellcaster’s control while in the possession of a runestone, she gains a bonus equal to the spell level of the runestone when she makes the check.