Modern Magic


One of the things I am going to need to do for my modern setting is to figure out what kinds of magic are possible, and how to implement them in Runequest.

I think Runecasting would be possible in the modern world, but not easy because the secrets have been lost for millenia. It would be require a Legendary Ability for a modern character to master the secrets of runecasting, with requirements like INT 15+, Occult 90%+, Archeology 90%+, and at least one archeology specialty (e.g. Egyptology) at 90%+, plus the expenditure of 10 Hero Points. Note: Runecasting is essentially the same as Glyphcasting; it just depends on which culture the powered symbols are. Also, the modern runecaster gains the ability to make her own runes, without having to rely on finding runes left by the gods.

(perhaps it is reasonable that a rune or glyph must be made with at least 1/4 ounce of gold in its makeup per magnitude of the spell that it is capable of channeling, or 2 ounces to channel a magnitude 8 spell, so that runes can not be just churned out without consideration of the cost.)

The other types of magic I think are possible in the modern world include the following:

Witchcraft includes black magic, white magic, shamanism, voodoo, and any other magic dealing with spirits.

Wizardry is the ability to channel energy from the environment using mystic words and gestures.

Ki is the ability to channel energy from ones internal states to achieve mystical effects. This would also include bardic magic, using the power of song to achieve its effects.

Psionics is the ability to use the power of ones own mind to achieve effects, divided into psi-kappa and psi-gamma abilities. This is the easiest form of magic to pick up in the modern world.

Ultra-powers operate similar to super-powers. Central features of this type of magic is how it is tied into the character's costume and mask, requiring the character to maintain a secret identity.

Modern magic does NOT include either of the following:

Stage magic is simply a skill. A trick may be easy (+50% to perform) or difficult (-50% or more to perform), and may be impossible without learning the secret. But stage magic does not include spells, or cost Power.

Holy magic in the modern world also does not work like regular magic. A character's deity simply grants the character the ability to achieve an effect, and that is that. Since one deity pretty much controls most of the modern world, whatever he says, goes.


Technomagic, I kind of like that idea. I'll have to add that to the list.

I'm not sure the best way to define an alternative to runecasting. I suppose what I need are the following:

1. Requirements to become a caster,

2. Skills needed to learn and cast spells,

3. Spells available via this discipline.

Am I leaving anything out?


Making a rune should probably cost several POW (permanent loss) and several Hero Points... but begin with it already integrated.

I'm suddenly minded of the Arisian Lenses... (EE "Doc" Smith, Lensman series.)


Making a rune should probably cost several POW (permanent loss) and several Hero Points... but begin with it already integrated.

One of the problems that modern runecasters face is that they can't just go to the big city and buy a rune. There aren't any broo that they can kill and take runes from. There won't be any runes lying around where the blood of the god touched the earth. So without the ability to create their own runes, modern runecasters would be sunk.

Another concern is that according to the Mongoose rulebook: ".. runes can also take the form of leaves, a chunk of bark, a sea shell or other natural objects. All, however, will be marked with the symbol of the rune, the emblem that gives them power." This does not match my concept of what a modern era runecaster is like.

Runecaster seems reminiscent of the ancient Nordic myth of Odin discovering the power of runes. The theory is that the predecessors of the Norse knew how to place power in certain markings, perhaps as evolved from the ancient shamans who made those ritualistic paintings and markings in caves in Europe. Other cultures, such as the Egyptians, the Mayans, and the Chinese, have their own symbols, but also have ancient secrets to power them.

I also think it should be possible for a runecaster to leave a rune somewhere where it would continue to express its power. Destroying the rune would end its effect, but return the power to the runecaster.

I'll probably have to go line by line through the Magic section of the rulebook and figure out all the changes required for modern runecasters.