Alathrien Druanna, the Rune Mistress

A minor, nearly forgotten member of the Seldarine, Alathrian Druanna is the goddess of writing, subservient to Labelas Enoreth in his role as keeper of history. Because of her portfolio on writing, she has come to hold the fields of conjuration, geometric, and runic magic as well, although only a small number of elves still follow her tenets.

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Alathrien Druanna (PDF Version)
(The Rune Mistress, the Lady of Glyphs)
Demipower of the Arborea, N(G)

Portfolio:                 Conjurations, rune magic, geometric magic, writing
Aliases:                     None
Domain Name:           Olympus/Arvandor (the Spiral Castle)
Superior:                   Labelas Enoreth
Allies:                       Boccob, Deneir, Dugmaren Brightmantle, Gond, Maanzecorian, Nabu, Odin, Oghma, Thoth, the Seldarine
Foes:                           Druaga, Karontor, Talos, Velsharoon, various fiendish lords
Symbol:                     Silver quill tracing elven runes upon paper or a stick tracing geometric lines upon the ground
Wor. Align.:             Any

Nearly forgotten by the common elven populace today, Alathrien Druanna remains known to the scholarly- and magically-inclined as the elven goddess of writing and conjurations. She is known as the Rune Mistress, for she endeavors to re-introduce the nearly lost art of runic magic to the elven peoples and has begun to expand her influence among practitioners of the newly developed magical school of geometry.

Of the same generation, or nearly so, as Erevan Ilesere, Solonor Thelandira, and Aerdrie Faenya, worship of Alathrien has atrophied over the past few millennia. Increasingly elves have turned to Corellon Larethian as god of magic and knowledge, putting her in danger of fading away and leaving nothing but a stony corpse drifting in the astral plane. However, she has recently become more active in promoting her worship among the elven peoples; some scholars credit this to the recent development of the magical school of Geometry magic, while others suspect her experiences during the Avatar Crisis on Toril are the cause. Whatever the cause, her small faith has expanded considerably in recent years; while still small, it is likely large enough now to protect her from vanishing due to lack of belief.

Because of Alathrien’s obscurity few elven myths revolve around her, although she is mentioned as a minor actor in a handful. The only myth that involves her speaks of her creation of elvish writing as a gift to Corellon Larethian, which she then followed with a quest in order to grant him the power to infuse the written word with magic. The Lady of Glyphs had companions on this quest, but they often vary in the telling, although Tarsellis Meunniduin and Erevan Ilesere are among her most common companions. The adventure took them far into colder lands, inhabited by a pair of strange dragons who could use such written magic; upon defeating them she was able to wrest some of this knowledge from them but it was not enough to achieve her goal. Along the way she was aided by one-eyed wanderer on a similar journey; together they eventually met a great, ancient giant who possessed the knowledge she desired. After she and her companions completed a set of challenges posed by the giant, he acknowledged the skill they possessed and granted the knowledge they sought, naming her Rune Mistress in the process.

Because of her interests in writing and magical symbology, Alathrien maintains correspondence with various other gods with similar interests. She has always been eager to learn new styles of writing and infusing magic into the written word, and Alathrien is a regular visitor to Thoth’s Estate, Oghma’s House of Knowledge, Nabu’s Scrivener’s School, and Deneir’s Library of All Knowledge. It is even said she counts Maanzecorian the Philosoflayer among her allies. However, while her relative obscurity has protected Alathrien to an extent, her interests have brought her to the attention of some malicious powers. She has drawn the ire of many fiendish lords of the Abyss, Baator, and other infernal planes for her mastery of summoning magic and protective circles, and the so-called Ruler of the Devil World, Druaga, hates Alathrien because he feels those portfolios infringe on his domain. Her obscurity has also worked against her at times; her relative weakness has caused some other powers to see her as easy prey for their own ambitions. Among those who have designs on her are Karontor the Deformed One, Talos the Destroyer, and Velsharoon the Vaunted. Karontor covets Alathrien’s powers of rune magic, a gift he believes she learned from Annam himself. Regardless of the truth, he desires this power for himself and has long plotted to gain it for himself. Alathrien is well aware of this fact, and it is said the pair faced each other in the far northern wilderness of Faerûn during the Time of Troubles. Talos, in the guise of the ascended drow demipower Malyk, and Velsharoon both have set their sights on gaining her magical portfolios in order to expand their influence against Mystra. Neither is aware of the other power’s plot and even Alathrien only has her suspicions since neither has moved openly yet; the rumors have been enough to cause one significant change in the Rune Mistress’s activities, however.

For centuries at least, her Spiral Castle was an obscure landmark on the Outlands, surrounded by a vast maze of thorny hedges. Alathrien long preferred the central location, relative privacy, and close proximity to a number of allies that the Outlands provided. However, in recognition of her lack of personal power and the increased danger she faces, her tall grey castle and its hedges vanished from the Outlands and returned to its original location tucked away in a corner of Arvandor so that she could benefit from the protection from the Seldarine as a whole. This has also served to put her closer to her nominal superior Labelas Enoreth. While always amicable, the pair had drifted far enough apart that they rarely had contact due to her increased interest in the magical arts, rather than the mundane art of recording history. Whether this renewed contact will have any meaningful effect on Alathrien is yet to be seen.

The Rune Mistress is not active on the Prime Material Plane unless seeking some lost runic magic or acquiring a new geometric spell. She prefers to stay in her castle, using her powers to summon knowledgeable individuals to her for consultation or service. Despite her demipower status, her mastery of conjuration magic allows her to send her lone avatar to the Prime Material Plane as she wishes.

Alathrien’s Avatar (Conjurer 23, Geometer 23, Cleric 16)
Alathrien appears as a pale, agelessly beautiful silver-haired elf with an undecorated hooded black robe or a red dress that is elegant in its simplicity. She has dark eyes and never wears much jewelry. She always has writing instruments of some sort with her. She draws her spells from all spheres and schools.

AC −1; MV 12; HP 109; THAC0 10; #AT 1
Dmg 1d6+4 (staff +4)
MR 40%; SZ M (5 feet tall)
Str 15, Dex 19, Con 16, Int 22, Wis 21, Cha 18
Spells P: 10/10/10/8/5/3/1, W: 7/7/7/7/7/7/7/7/5*
Saves PPDM 4; RSW 3; PP 5; BW 7; Sp 4
* Numbers assume one extra conjuration/summoning and geometry spell per spell level.

Special Att/Def: Alathrien wields Runeik, a smooth ash wood staff +4 that can strike out any runes, symbols, or protective circles with a touch, unless created by a greater power. This instantly destroys runic magic, symbols, glyphs of warding, wizard marks, and similar magic. She avoids engaging in melee whenever possible, preferring to use her magic to escape or protect herself in dangerous situations.

The Rune Mistress can make use of any common rune (see HR1 Vikings Campaign Sourcebook and Giantcraft, as well as the totem magic in Elves of Evermeet) once per day, although she must follow the listed shaping times and she does not need to check for success. If runes can be learned multiple times, she has learned them multiple times to the limit of the rune; if there is no limit, she uses them as if she has learned them three times. Once per day she can cast symbol, monster summoning VII, maze, and conjure elemental. Three times per day she can create a globe of invulnerability around herself. Finally, she can cast explosive runes, sepia snake sigil, and protection from evil (or good), 10′ radius at will.

Alathrien is immune to mind-affecting spells and psionics, and no summoned creature of 10 HD or less will harm her unless magically compelled by another power or near-power. She is immune to non-damaging negative effects from conjuration/summoning, geometric, and runic magic; she suffers direct damage from such effects normally, however.

Other Manifestations
The Rune Mistress favors aiding her followers through symbols and writing rather than obvious displays of power. She has been known to cause runes to appear on surfaces as a guide for a follower seeking shelter or aid; such runes can only be seen by the follower, and they glow with a pale grey or red light. Such runes may also hold messages to the insightful or wise follower, if they can correctly interpret them. If a more direct method of aid is necessary, she has also been known to cause creatures to appear (as the various monster summoning spells) and defend a follower or distract pursuers. Finally, she has also been known to use her power to protect followers via glyphs of warding, powerful symbols, and similar magical effects.

The Seldarine call on agathinons, asuras, and ancient treants as their preferred servants, but Alathrien is also served by aasimar, baelnorn, eladrins, electrum dragons, elementals, frost linnorms, land linnorms, mephits, phirblas, and translators. She displays her favor through the discover of perfect crystals of all shapes, but especially those in shades of red and grey, as well as lost historical texts, unexpected carved runes on surfaces and objects, and magical writings of all sorts but especially scrolls. She displays her disfavor through the discovery of ruined geometric designs and flawed red crystals of all sorts.

The Church
Clergy:                      Clerics, specialty priests, mystics, conjurers, geometers, runecasters
Clergy’s Align.:      NG, CG, N, CN
Turn Undead:           C: Yes, SP: No, Mys: No, Conj: No, Geo: No, RC: No
Cmnd. Undead:         C: No, SP: No, Mys: No, Conj: No, Geo: No, RC: No

All clerics, specialty priests, and mystics of Alathrien receive religion (elf) and reading/writing (elvish) as bonus nonweapon proficiencies.

Virtually unknown outside of elven civilization, Alathrien’s faith has little bearing on the day-to-day lives of most elves. Her priesthood keeps mostly to themselves studying magic, and only wizards, scribes, and historians call on her with any regularity. For those not practiced in the magical arts, she is simply the elven deity of writing and records; even those skilled in magic are more likely to call upon Corellon Larethian when studying the magics of conjuration these days. To most elves, her importance is steadily being eclipsed by Labelas Enoreth.

Temples dedicated to the Rune Mistress are exceptionally rare, and likely to be found only in the oldest of elven cities, many of which are now in ruins. They typically take the form of a small magical school, with laboratories, school rooms, lecture halls, and the like, although those still in operation are rarely close to capacity. They are elegantly built in a plan that forms some sort of rune or symbol, and they are decorated with the same throughout. The worship chamber is always circular, with the floor inlaid or inscribed with a complex magical circle, a round white marble altar in the center, and a dozen brass braziers set equidistantly around the chamber. To those uninitiated in her faith, temples of Alathrien generally look like any other small elven school of magic. Shrines are more common, and are typically found in the chapels of larger secular elven magical colleges. These shrines typically have a recessed alcove set with a complex arcane circle of inlaid silver, while the back of the alcove is covered with swirling lines of magical runes and symbols. A grey candle is always kept burning in the center of the circle.

Novices in the service of Alathrien are called the Unwritten, while full priests are called the Inscribed. In ascending order of rank, the titles used by the Alathrienar clergy are Sorcerous Stylus, Blessed Bocstave, Enchanted Symbol, Warding Glyph, Magical Sigil, and Thaumaturgic Rune. High-ranking priests have unique individual titles. Specialty priests are known as jadir, and there are a small number of totem sisters dedicated to Alathrien as well. The clergy of Alathrien is composed primarily of grey elves (52%), high elves (41%), and half-elves of those ancestries (6%), with only a small smattering of other elven subraces (1%), including half-elves of those ancestries. The Rune Mistress’s small priesthood is fairly evenly divided between specialty priests (30%), mystics (25%), geometers (22%), and clerics (including multiclassed half-elven cleric/mages, 20%), as well as a small portion of half-elven conjurers (2%) and an extremely small number of runecasters (less than 1%) found only among elven populations who have rediscovered the ancient art of rune-shaping.

Dogma: Symbols and words hold great power, both magical and mundane. They can teach, warn, protect, and bind. They can record thoughts, deeds, and secrets; preserve and decipher texts for you own edification as well as that of future generations. The power of symbols lends itself well to magical pursuits; stud the arts of geometric and conjuration magic and learn how such complex patterns can be used.

Day-to-Day Activities: The priesthood of Alathrien tends to be academic in nature. They spend most of their time in study, debate, and collaborative learning. If they cannot do this together as a clergy, members seek out institutions that lend themselves to such activities. They are often well-versed in written languages, especially ancient tongues, as well as theories of magic relating to symbology, numerology, and geometry, especially where it concerns summoning and conjuration.

Important Ceremonies/Holy Days: Once per year, the Alathrienar clergy sponsors a feast called the Feast of the Stylus. This feast highlights achievements in writing and mathematics, inviting authors, poets, mathematicians, and sages to present their latest works to a dining audience, often other scholars, dignitaries, and nobles. This feast was held monthly in centuries past when the Rune Mistress’s following was more well-known; the modern church generally can’t afford such frequent events however. In some ways, this feast is becoming more of a secular event, as some communities that lack members of Alathrien’s church still hold the Feast of the Stylus.

Among themselves, the Rune Mistress’s clergy hold private celebrations once per month; it is said this was once an extension of the Feast of the Stylus limited to high-ranking priests, but with the shrinking of the church over the centuries it has become a general event. This celebration has no name, but it is typically held in a central location, and all members of the clergy within a day’s travel are expected to attend. These celebrations offer members an opportunity to catch up with their fellows and share notes and discoveries, as well as discuss plans for future expansions of the church.

Finally, the church of Alathrien declares a holy day with the announcement of some great magical discovery, especially if it is in the realms of runic, geometric, or conjuration magic. These are solitary days, and do not re-occur; they are instead held to draw attention to and revel in the act of magical discovery. Most elves pay little attention to these proclamations, but these days are especially popular in magical colleges run by the Rune Mistress’s clergy, as it means a day free from classes.

Major Centers of Worship: Large, ancient elven cities are the most likely places to find temples or shrines dedicated to Alathrien Druanna. On the elven island of Evermeet on Toril, there exists a small but very old magical school dedicated to studying the arts of conjuration/summoning, and more recently, geometric magic. This school, known as the Circles of Magic, can be found in the City of Magic, Taltemple. Built of grey stone, the structure is circular with eight spiraling spires rising above the peaked roof. Only a half-dozen or so members of the clergy call this structure home, teaching the 20 or so students studying at the school at any one time. It is not uncommon for a visiting mage or scholar to also teach classes while studying in the extensive library the temple-college holds. The current dean, High Rune Viarthia (N em P11) is relatively young at only 270 years old, and has been working to expand his faith’s influence with younger generations of elves.

Enstad, the capital of the elven nation of Celene on Oerth has a similar ancient pedigree, and here can be found the Geometric Tower of Conjuration, a small, thousand-year-old temple to the Rune Mistress. In addition to operating as a small magic school, it also boasts a large library that would make sages of many subjects envious. Of the subjects the library focuses on, history, literature, mathematics, engineering, and magic are the most prominent. Headed by Sagacious Sigil Melorada (N ef P12), this temple is little utilized by younger elves, who often prefer more vigorous faiths and magic schools for their learning and research.

Affiliated Orders: Alathrien’s priesthood is too small to sponsor any martial or monastic orders, but many elven schools and colleges receive donations and support from the church, even if it is relatively minor.

Priestly Vestments: When conducting ceremonies or performing other official duties, the clergy of the Rune Mistress wear brilliant white robes with red mantles. Real or costume jewelry adorns the mantle, typically in colors or designs that indicate rank; this is not required however. Many members also embroider the hems of their robes or mantles with runes or other protective sigils. The holy symbol used by the clergy is a silver pendant of a stylus overlaid a circle.

Adventuring Garb: The priesthood of Alathrien rarely adventures; those members who do favor light utilitarian garb, leather armor if possible, and staves. They typically have copious pockets or pouches in their clothing for spell components, chalk, charcoal, note paper, and other supplies that would serve the adventuring scholar well. As few members of the priesthood take up adventuring careers, they are more often found in the robes common to teachers in schools of magic or scribal garb, with leather aprons suited for preventing most ink stains on their clothing. If members of the clergy expect to engage in a battle of magic against a strong force, they will typically mark their skin, exposed and covered, with runes, sigils, and other symbols of protection and power using henna, woad, and other natural pigments.

Specialty Priests (Jadir)
Requirements:          Intelligence 12, Wisdom 13
Prime Req.:                Intelligence, Wisdom
Alignment:                NG, N
Weapons:                   Dagger, dart, knife, long sword, quarterstaff, rapier, short sword, sling
Armor:                       Leather or elven chain mail, no shield
Major Spheres:         All, astral, divination, guardian, healing, numbers, summoning, wards
Minor Spheres:         Law, necromantic, sun
Magical Items:         Same as clerics, plus wizard scrolls (see below)
Req. Profs:                Reading/writing (any one contemporary language)
Bonus Profs:             Reading/writing (any two languages, including ancient languages)

  • Jadirs must be elves or half-elves. While most jadirs are high elves or grey elves, elves and half-elves of every subrace are called to be specialty priests in Alathrien’s clergy.
  • Jadirs are not allowed to multiclass.
  • Jadirs may select nonweapon proficiencies from the wizard group without penalty.
  • Jadirs can cast wizard spells from the schools of conjuration/summoning and geometry as described in the Limited Wizard Spellcasting section of “Appendix 1: Demihuman Priests” in Demihuman Deities. They are limited to spells of levels 1st through 5th.
  • Jadirs can read and cast spell scrolls from the schools of conjuration/summoning and geometry as a wizard of the same level. They do not need read magic to identify these spells; instead they must spend an evening in uninterrupted prayer and meditation before a night’s rest to identify these spells. Spells from schools besides these two remain indecipherable to a jadir.
  • Jadirs gain a +2 saving throw bonus against runic magic (HR1 Vikings Campaign, Giantcraft, and totemic magic from Elves of Evermeet) and spells based on writing or symbols (explosive runes, glyphs of warding, symbol).
  • Jadirs can cast comprehend languages or copy (as the 1st-level wizard spells) once per day.
  • At 3rd level, jadirs can cast erase (as the 1st-level wizard spell) or moon rune (as the 2nd-level wizard spell) once per day.
  • At 5th level, jadirs can cast lesser sign of sealing or sepia snake sigil (as the 3rd-level wizard spells) once per day.
  • At 7th level, jadirs suffer only half damage (or a quarter if a save is allowed and made) from rune- or writing-based magic. This includes death and exploding arrow runes (Giantcraft), as well as explosive runes, glyphs of warding, etc., but not cursed scrolls or harm caused by handling a magical book unsuited to their class.
  • At 7th level, jadirs can cast greater sign of sealing (as the 6th-level wizard spell) once per day.
  • At 10th level, can cast avoidance (as the 5th-level wizard spell) or elemental forbiddance (as the 5th-level priest spell) once per day.
  • At 12th level, jadirs can cast symbol (as the 7th-level priest spell) once per week.
  • At 14th level, jadirs may dual-class as either jadir/conjurers or jadir/geometers, despite the normal restrictions on elves and half-elves dual-classing. All normal restrictions on utilizing the previous class’s abilities apply, although these restrictions are lifted once the jadir achieves 7th level in their new class rather than needing to exceed their old class level. They continue to advance in their new class as normal, and are thereafter known as Jaradir, a feat virtually unheard of. Note that restrictions on casting wizard spells still apply despite the priest class’s ability to wear armor.

Specialty Priests (Totem Sisters)
Requirements:          Wisdom 12, Charisma 15
Prime Req.:                Wisdom, Charisma
Alignment:                N
Weapons:                   Any
Armor:                       Hide, leather, padded, studded leather, or chain mail, shield
Major Spheres:         All, animal, charm, elemental, healing, plant, sun, weather
Minor Spheres:         None
Magical Items:         Same as clerics
Req. Profs:                Long bow, spear
Bonus Profs:             Artistic ability (general)

Totem sisters of Alathrien Druanna are effectively druids. The abilities and restrictions of totem sisters, aside from the changes above and later in this section, are summarized in “Appendix 1: Demihuman Priests” of Demihuman Deities and detailed in the entry for druids in the Player’s Handbook.

  • Totem sisters must be female high elves or sylvan elves.
  • Totem sisters are not allowed to multiclass.
  • Totem sisters can use totemic magic, a type of magic similar to rune magic. (Totemic magic is discussed in Elves of Evermeet.)

Alathrienar Spells
2nd Level
Detect Runes (Pr 2; Divination)
Sphere:                    Divination
Range:                     0
Components:           V, S, M
Duration:                 3 rds.
Casting Time:          1 rd.
Area of Effect:         20-ft. radius
Saving Throw:        None

By means of this spell, the caster causes all magical runes, symbols, glyphs, sigils, and other sorts of short writing to glow with a pale silver radiance, about as bright as candle light. This reveals all such magic, even if the rune is invisible or covered, but does not reveal any messages that such writing might contain. For example, if this spell is cast in the presence of an invisible wizard mark the size and location of the mark can be determined, but not its shape. In addition, the magic does not reveal the nature of the magical symbol; for example, a wizard mark would be indistinguishable from a glyph of warding. This radiance is visible to all creatures, not just the caster.

The material component for this spell is a small piece of chalk or charcoal.

Runestrike (Pr 2; Alteration)
Sphere:                    Guardian
Range:                     Touch
Components:           V, S, M
Duration:                 Instantaneous
Casting Time:          5
Area of Effect:         1 rune, glyph, or symbol
Saving Throw:        None

With this spell, the caster touches a magical rune, glyph, sigil, or similar symbol with an adamantine stylus causing it to be struck through or cut and nullifying its magic. Against such sigils and symbols, runestrike acts as a dispel magic attempt, but the roll is made as if the caster were 5 levels higher. For example, an 8th-level priest attempting to strike out a glyph of warding cast by an 11th-level priest would make the check as if they were 13th level. If the attempt fails, any harmful effects are set off against the caster regardless of whatever trigger conditions may have been set. The caster must be aware of the presence of the particular rune or sigil in order to strike it out.

The material component for this spell is an adamantite stylus. This spell can also be cast using a magical staff; in such a usage, the staff is not consumed.

5th Level
Conjurers’ Bane (Pr 5; Abjuration)
Sphere:                    Wards
Range:                     0
Components:           V, S, M
Duration:                 1 hr./level
Casting Time:          1 turn
Area of Effect:         15-ft. diameter circle
Saving Throw:        None

With this spell, the caster can create a circular barrier against creatures and objects summoned by other spellcasters. This barrier is fixed and does not move; should the caster or any companions leave the circle, they lose the benefits it offers. Any creature within this circle cannot be physically struck by a summoned creature, whether it is brought in by spells such as monster summoning, conjure animals, conjure elemental, or similar effects. Such creatures can utilize indirect means to harm protects creatures, such as magic or missile weapons, however. Further, magic spells of 6th level and lower that are solely from the school of conjuration/summoning cannot penetrate the barrier; they either fail completely or dissipate upon crossing the circle of protection. A spellcaster within the protective barrier cannot summon anything inside the circle, but they can cast conjuration/summoning spells that have their whole effect outside of the barrier. For example, a wizard within the confines of the conjurers’ bane cannot cast a Melf’s acid arrow at all, but they can summon creatures with a monster summoning I spell so long as they appear outside of the barrier.

The material components for this spell are the priest’s holy symbol, chalk to draw the complex circle pattern, and a mixture of salt and diamond dust worth 100 gp.

8 Responses to Alathrien Druanna, the Rune Mistress

  1. Alzrius says:

    An excellent entry, as usual. Nice job folding in runes and totem magic, something the original entry overlooked but which fits perfectly.

    One minor critique is that several of the spell-like abilities that jadirs can use at later levels (i.e. the ones listed in the second-to-last, third-to-last, and fourth-to-last bullet points) should be italicized.

  2. William says:

    Which publication changed her from the Outlands to Arvandor, or is that a new concept?

    • AuldDragon says:

      That was my choice. Most of the elven deities back in Dragon #155 (which Alathrien was not part of) had them on Arborea, but then when they were updated to 2e in #236, many were moved out to planes matching their alignments, but that doesn’t feel reflective of the solidarity most of the Seldarine has, so I’ll be moving most of them back to Arvandor. Especially the weaker, vulnerable ones who are still in good standing, but not those like Darahl Firecloak.

      • WIlliam says:

        Well it’s better than fading away to a dead goddess floating on the Astral. Johnny Tek also moved some elven gods to Arvandor in his Dungeon Masters Guild Forgotten Realms deity writeups: Naralis Abalor (OK), Eilistraee (always seemed odd she lived in Ysgardian caverns, given she wanted drow on the surface), Fennimar (not sure about that one, he’s a loner, and I liked the thought of a rogue elven realm in Limbo), and even Vhaeraun (who’s too evil for Arborea IMHO).

        • AuldDragon says:

          Naralis is one I should have moved, and will probably do so when I go back and do an editing pass when I compile these. Eilistraee was moved back to Arvandor officially in 3e, although I always felt Svartalfheim worked because otherwise there’s no deity for the dark elves who live there.

  3. Richard says:

    Thanks for all the work you’ve put into this! I wish I’d known about your blog much earlier. Current AD&D content makes my heart happy.

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