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Runes

Source Core Rulebook pg. 580
Most magic weapons and armor gain their enhancements from potent eldritch runes etched into them. These runes allow for in-depth customization of items.

Runes must be physically engraved on items through a special process to convey their effects. They take two forms: fundamental runes and property runes. Fundamental runes offer the most basic and essential benefits: a weapon potency rune adds a bonus to a weapon’s attack rolls, and the striking rune adds extra weapon damage dice. An armor potency rune increases the armor’s item bonus to AC, and the resilient rune grants a bonus to the wearer’s saving throws. Property runes, by contrast, grant more varied effects—typically powers that are constant while the armor is worn or that take effect each time the weapon is used, such as a rune that grants energy resistance or one that adds fire damage to a weapon’s attacks.

The number of property runes a weapon or armor can have is equal to the value of its potency rune. A +1 weapon can have one property rune, but it could hold another if the +1 weapon potency rune were upgraded to a +2 weapon potency rune. Since the striking and resilient runes are fundamental runes, they don’t count against this limit.

An item with runes is typically referred to by the value of its potency rune, followed by any other fundamental runes, then the names of any property runes, and ends with the name of the base item. For example, you might have a +1 longsword or +2 greater resilient fire-resistant chain mail.

Rune-etched armor and weapons have the same Bulk and general characteristics as the non-magical version unless noted otherwise. The level of an item with runes etched onto it is equal to the highest level among the base item and all runes etched on it; therefore, a +1 striking mace (a 4th-level item) with a disrupting rune (a 5th-level rune) would be a 5th-level item.

Each rune can be etched into a specific type of armor or weapon, as indicated in the Usage entry of the rune’s stat block. Explorer’s clothing can have armor runes etched on it even though it’s not armor, but because it’s not in the light, medium, or heavy armor category, it can’t have runes requiring any of those categories.

Click here for the full rules on Runes.