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There are several dedications and classes that allow you to pick up free consumables, alleviating the need for trips to town for refills. Adventuring gear can often be found in dungeons and treasure hoards. Food and water can be found in the wilderness. Runes, however, always necessitate downtime, unless you can count on finding the magic items you need in the wild or for sale in a shop. Etching a new rune takes 4 days of downtime + additional to decrease the cost, and even transferring a rune to or from a runestone takes 1 day + additional to reduce cost- which, if your group is anything like mine, is tough to fit in to a campaign fraught with high stakes and danger.

Enter the Pragmatic Runesmith! Chiefly concerned with keeping the adventure flowing by allowing players to use the runes they find more easily, they also gain abilities later to allow them to etch new runes on the go and even spice up their battles with runic flair. This dedication is intended to be in the vein of Talisman Dabbler, Poisoner and Scrounger.

My main goal with this question is to assess whether the effects are appropriate for archetype feats, and if so whether the levels they become accessible are in line with other archetype or class feats. Thanks for reading my wall of text!


Pragmatic Runesmith Archetype

Accustomed to long days on the road, you have dedicated yourself to finding ways to make the long and vital process of etching runes quicker and easier to fit into a busy adventurer’s schedule.

6- Pragmatic Runesmith Dedication
(prerequisite: Magical Crafting skill feat)
You have learned the ins and outs of etching runes efficiently, as well as how to create runestones quickly and easily. You gain the following benefits:

  • You know the formulas for fundamental runes of your level and below. Additionally, you memorize the formulas for all runes you know, and do not need a formula book to contain them.
  • You become Trained in Rune Lore. You can use Rune Lore to recall knowledge when identifying magical runes instead of the usual Arcana, Religion, Occultism, or Nature roll to identify magic.
  • You have a set of etching tools you can use to make improvised runestones. You can create up to one improvised runestone each day during your daily preparations for no cost, functioning like a normal runestone. This runestone will lose its function if you create another improvised runestone, unless it is inscribed with a rune, in which case it becomes permanent. Permanent runestones created this way are only usable by you, and are worthless to anyone else. You must still pay the gold cost of etching or transferring runes onto your improvised runestones as normal.
  • Finally, you can transfer runes between items quickly. Instead of taking one day for the initial crafting check, you require only 2 hours to transfer a rune. Subsequently you can reduce the cost of the transfer in one-hour increments instead of one-day increments.

8- Find the Time
You are skillful at finding moments throughout your day to work on runes you are etching. You can etch runes into one of your improvised runestones without spending downtime days, instead using your daily preparation time and whatever spare time you have throughout your adventures, such as while keeping watch or riding in a wagon.
You may only use this feat to etch runes into your improvised runestones. Etching a rune in this way takes a number of adventuring days equal to the rune’s level. During each day that you work on the rune, you cannot create a new improvised runestone. You must pay the crafting costs of etching the rune as normal, and may not spend extra days of crafting to reduce the cost.

10- Temporary Runes
You have learned to quickly scrawl temporary runes. During your daily preparations, you may use your etching tools to inscribe one temporary rune of a level up to half your level that you know the formula for on a weapon or set of armor. The rune has no effect until the person wielding the weapon or armor uses a free action with the envision trait to activate it, upon which the rune will affect the weapon, armor, and/or wielder as normal for one minute. After the minute has passed, or if the rune has not been activated before your next daily preparation, the rune burns away and disappears with a dim purple flame. You may not inscribe a temporary rune on the same day you use Find the Time to work on a rune, and the temporary rune must follow all the usual rules for which runes can affect an item.

14- Rune Eater
You have learned to siphon energy from runes to supplement your life force. You gain the Siphon Runes action below.

Siphon Runes
1 action, envision.
Requirements: you are wearing or wielding a piece of equipment that is benefiting from etched runes
You absorb energy from all the runes on a piece of equipment you are wearing or wielding. You heal for a number of d6 depending on the equipment, plus your level.

  • Weapon- potency value+damage dice+number of property runes
    (ex. +2 greater striking ghost touch scimitar, heal 2+3+1 = 6d6+lvl)
  • Armor- potency value +resilience bonus +number of property runes.
    (ex. +1 explorer’s clothes of readiness, heal 1+1 = 2d6+lvl)

After you are healed, the runes become dormant and must recharge. They have no effect on the equipment they are etched into, and any requirements they have are waived. They remain inactive for eight hours, after which they regain their effects as normal. If you siphon a temporary rune from the Temporary Runes feat, it is completely consumed and disappears.

14- Twice as Bright
You have learned how to manifest the magic from runes on your equipment. You gain the Ignite Runes action below.

Ignite Runes
1 action, envision.
Requirements: you are wearing or wielding a piece of equipment that is benefiting from etched runes.
You cause all the runes on a piece of equipment you are wearing or wielding to ignite, flaring with potent magical energy.

  • If you ignite a weapon, it gains a bonus to damage equal to the number of damage dice plus one for each property rune plus its potency bonus. If the weapon has a rune that adds damage of a certain type, the extra damage is one of those types of your choice. Otherwise it is fire damage.
    (ex. +2 greater striking ghost touch scimitar, 2+3+1 = 6 added fire damage)
  • If you ignite a piece of armor, it grants a status bonus to AC and saving throws equal to the number of property runes etched into it.
    (ex. +1 explorer’s clothes of readiness, +1 AC and saving throws)

The effects last for one minute. Afterwards, the runes become dormant and must recharge. They have no effect on the equipment they are etched into, and any requirements they have are waived. They remain inactive for one hour, after which they regain their effects as normal. If you ignite a temporary rune from the Temporary Runes feat, it is completely consumed and disappears after the duration.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I guess you mean "property runes" with "effect runes"? \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Oct 28, 2022 at 10:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ > "If you ignite a weapon, it gains a bonus to damage equal to its damage dice plus one for each effect rune plus its potency bonus." This sentence is confusing to me. If you have for example a +2 greater striking battle axe with Holy and Impactful runes you would deal in total... 3d8+strength+1d6 good+1d6 force+(3d8+2+2) (good or force) ? this contradicts your example with the scimitar. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 28, 2022 at 12:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ I did indeed mean property runes, edited to reflect this. The damage from Twice as Bright as intended to include the number of damage dice, not double them up. Edited to clarify this. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 28, 2022 at 18:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @LLamablaster LO: Impossible Lands has a similarish feat to your Rune Eater that might interest you: 2e.aonprd.com/Feats.aspx?ID=4049 \$\endgroup\$
    – ESCE
    Nov 21, 2022 at 22:29

2 Answers 2

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It is rather weak

  • Dedication: it is borderline useless in a slow paced campaign, formulas are cheap, runestones are cheaper. Add an extra property rune slot to one of your items, but it only fits a rune up to half your level
  • Find the Time: again, it is borderline useless in a slow paced campaign with lots of downtime
  • Temporary Runes: this seems to be somewhat useful, but very weak. This has two limitations, lasts 1 minute and the rune has to be up to half your level. Champions of this level can take Radiant Blade Spirit, which gives them a 11th level rune for a full day. Increase either your time for a full day, or the level of the rune to yours. Make clear this does not count against the limitation on the number of property runes
  • Rune Eater: I would not want to remove all the magic from my main item for a day for a bit1 of healing. Using a secondary item is fine, but those rarely have as many runes as the main items, so the amount still might not worth the action
  • Twice as Bright: probably fine. +2 (you should be able to afford two property runes by this level) status bonus to AC and saving throws is huge, but you usually do not know if you have another encounter in the next hour. If you can use this on secondary items, limit it to once per hour

I think you should just have a discussion with your DM

I do not think this archetype is useful even after making it stronger:

  • If there is enough downtime, the archetype is mostly useless
  • If he thinks the adventure should have such a time pressure that you do not have time to get runes in the usual way, he will not allow this archetype anyway
  • If he thinks the adventure should be fast paced, but you should have a chance to get level appropriate items, he will just waive the time requirement, as mine did

  1. On this level you should have a +2 greater striking weapon with 2 property runes, which is 7d6 (24,5) HP. A Heal spell on this level would heal 7d8+56 (87,5) HP for 2 actions. Battle Medicine with master proficiency and Assurance would heal 2d8+30 (39)
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    \$\begingroup\$ There are a ton of rather weak Archetypes: this one doesn't stand out as weaker than average to me (but is indeed weaker than what you would usually get from class feats or from the strong ones among archetypes). \$\endgroup\$ Oct 28, 2022 at 12:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ I think the main issue is that this should not be a homebrew class, this should be a homebrew rule for transferring/creating runes \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Oct 28, 2022 at 14:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for the feedback. I would like to clarify that in my experience adventurers often have several backup weapons 'worn or wielded' in addition to the one in their hand, such as a sidearm on their belt or dagger in their boot. My intent is that Rune Eater would allow the user to heal by consuming runes from any and all of these even when not in the hand, giving them a ready supply of hit points without risking their primary weapon. This is the reason I kept the healing as low as I did. Does this change your opinion of that feat at all? \$\endgroup\$ Oct 28, 2022 at 18:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ @LLamablaster, yes, I assumed "worn" is just for armor, but you are right, seathed weapons also count. Do you need an empty hand for that? \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Oct 28, 2022 at 18:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @András No, I did not intend for a free hand to be necessary. Similar to the activation of many talismans the action only has the envision trait, which also adds the concentrate trait. That and the worn or wielded rune are the only requirements. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 28, 2022 at 20:13
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Weak, but Definitely Salvageable

First off, there are a lot of great ideas here - it seems pretty clear that you erred on the side of being conservative with their power, which is a great place to start. The flavor is also excellent, especially with the two level 14 feats. Here are my recommendations:

Dedication

I would make this a Skill Feat, for what it gives currently. Keeping it at level 6 and requiring Magical Crafting and Expert Proficiency in Crafting is fine, but I would recommend lowering it to level 4. Otherwise, I would buff it significantly - perhaps adding the effects of Rune Eater here. Adding Rune Eater would also give incentive to take this dedication in a slow campaign.

Find the Time

Again, this needs to be a Skill Feat. It's not worth a class feat as currently written. That means someone will take it if they find themselves crunched on time in their campaign - fitting the sort of niche applicability for skill feats. I would keep it at 2 levels above whatever the dedication feat is, just for practicality, but it's not really strong enough to compete with master skill feats (imo) - compared to things like Battle Prayer or Sacred Defense, this feat seems weak, and even those two are on the weaker side.

Temporary Rune

I think this is fine as a level 10 (or maybe even level 7) skill feat. It's vaguely similar in usefulness to Battle Prayer - it'll mostly be used to hit a specific weakness, I imagine. If you want to keep it as a Class Feat, then follow @Andras's advice. (I'm operating under the assumption that this still has to follow the property rune limitations - if it doesn't, it might just be worth a lower level class feat, maybe 4 or 6).

Rune Eater

This is a bit weaker than Battle Medicine, as @Andras points out. I would just make one property rune dormant, and allow the user to consume any number of property runes they have (on weapons or armor). This would make it much more on the level of a level 14 class feat, but it'd still be on the weaker side imo. I love the flavor, and don't want to compromise that. If you want to lower the feat level, I'd look at making it comparable to Healing Grace from the Soulforger Dedication.

Twice as Bright

Both of these effects seem very strong. Maybe on par for a level 14 feat, but I'd consider tuning it down if playtesting reveals it's strength. I would personally make the runes dormant for eight hours - in slow campaigns, that sort of adds a cost to the feat, whereas in my current campaign this could have been used in each of the last several combats without dealing with the drawbacks. Alternatively, you could make the weapon consumption like Harmful Malice and the armor portion like Healing Grace (or any of the other essence powers) from Soulforger if you want it to be accessible at an earlier level.

General Feedback

If you take my above recommendations, I would try to add a few more feats to the archetype. I think Soulforger is probably a good equivalent - you could even just make the runes not go dormant at all, but limit the ability to once per day, and then just straight up rip off Soulforger. Also, what you call "effect runes" are actually called "property runes" I believe.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ +1, great idea with the skill feats. \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Oct 28, 2022 at 18:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for the feedback. I agree that skill feats are a good avenue to explore, I will consider that as I rewrite. I also like the ideas in Soulforger quite a bit, and you are correct that there is some parallel flavoring. That will be useful as well. Both you and @András have brought up comparisons to class feats, which are of course stiff competition for most archetype feats. How do you feel this archetype compares to other free-item archetypes such as Poisoner or Talisman Dabbler? \$\endgroup\$ Oct 28, 2022 at 20:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ @LLamablaster I don't have table experience with those (or, presumably something like Scroll Trickster), so it'd mostly be conjecture, but I can add some conjecture if you'd wish! \$\endgroup\$
    – ESCE
    Oct 28, 2022 at 20:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ FWIW, though, I don't really see it as paralleling those archetypes. Those are really oriented around the daily creation of consumables - this is much more akin to the Champion's Blade Ally, for instance, as a daily changeable rune. \$\endgroup\$
    – ESCE
    Oct 28, 2022 at 21:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ESCE I welcome conjecture! You make a good point though that this class really isn't focused on creating consumables, the parallel with those archetypes to me was the generation of gold value in the form of time, which I was comparing to the gold value of the consumables. No idea if that's a valid comparison though. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 28, 2022 at 22:08

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