I would first like to say, don't mind my horrible diagrams and appalling handwriting. These diagrams were done free hand. Second, this explanation is lengthy, and will be added to periodically. It covers both Patryn and Sartan runes, which will be distinguished by who posts. Orlah will post Sartan, LarLan will post Patryn. Understanding both is essential to understanding the basis of rune magic. It is unclear who penned these works (numerous authors are evident), but after much searching and no small amount of luck, Patryn and Sartan found these old and priceless notes.
MAGIC IN THE SUNDERED REALMS AN EXCERPT FROM A SARTAN'S MUSINGS
Magic is a thunder heard in each of the sundered realms. Its power reverberates through the foundations of all Existence. It echoes the lightning of creation itself. In its voice is heard the promise of life and death. It is a power to be coveted and feared.
Theorists tell us that magic draws its power from the original creation of the Omniverse. In the beginning, Elihn, God in One, stretched out his hand amid the Chaos. The motion of his hand ordered chaos into infinite possibilities of creation. This motion was the first Order out of Chaos. It is called the Wave Prime or more often simply the Prime.
Elihn saw in the Prime the creation of the ethereal and the physical, and the seeing of it made it so. In the creation of the spiritual and the physical, the Prime split into two sets of waves, each infinite in their possibilities. The two waves curved away from each other and back again. The waves crossed and where they crossed was created time and space. Thus was Reality woven from the forces of all possibilities.
With delight and wonder, Elihn looked again upon both waves. In the ethereal he saw the creation of Air and Fire; in the physical he saw Water and Stone...and the seeing of it made it so. Again, in its creation, the waves of ethereal and physical possibilities split into four new waves, each with infinite possibilities of new creation. Elihn again wove these new possibilities together. In the intersection of the waves was born Life, Death, Power and Mind.
The longer Elihn looked upon the weave of Reality, the more possibilities split into being. Stars, world, life - in short, all creation - was thus woven from infinite possibilities. So it was in the beginning and so it continues today.
Reality is simply the manifestation of intersecting waves of possibility. It is a vast and almost incomprehensible weave of solid physics in the midst of a myriad of infinite potentials. Science, technology and biology all use the woven rope of reality.
Magic, on the other hand, functions by reweaving the fabric of reality. A wizard begins by concentrating on the wave of probabilities rather than on reality itself. Through his learning and his powers, he looks out upon the myriad waves of infinite possibilities to find that part of the wave where his desired reality would be true. Then the wizard creates a harmonic wave of possibility to bend the existing wave so that what was once only possible becomes part of what is true. In this way the magician weaves his desire into existence.
For example, a wizard stands on a field of battle against a great knight. The spell caster, wearing only his robes is at the mercy of the armored and more powerful knight. This is reality and, if left alone, the knight will most likely slay the wizard without much resistance. However, the wizard knows from his study where the possibility (desired effect) of a protective shield exists on one of the countless waves of possibility. The wizard sets up a harmonic wave of possibility through his motions, thoughts, words, signs and other aides. This magic alters the possibility wave so that what was once the possibility of a magical shield is woven into reality. The new reality includes the desired effect and so the magical shield now guards the wizard.
Although, to the outside observer, the protective shield seems to spring up around the wizard from nothing, it would be more accurate to say that the possibility of such a field has been called into reality from the infinite possibilities of the Omniwave.
To use magic, one must be able to find and weave the appropriate portion of the Omniwave in some small degree. This is far from omnipotence or omniscience, even among those who see a vast section of the Wave. Being able to function in the discipline of magic does not explain why magic exists or its origins. It does not lead one to the reason for being. Just as knowing a rock will fall when dropped does not tell us why gravity exists or what intelligence brought such order out of chaos, so it is, too, with magic.
Only the Sartan and Patryns understood magic to the fullest degree. Having seen magic from the center of the Omniwave, we mastered the art in the most elemental and powerful form. No others have seen as much of the Omniwave as we have.
The fundamental relationships of magic are seen in this drawing. The closer to the center the magic is, the greater its power. Rune magic, the most elemental and centered of all magics, is thus the most powerful and commands the most far reaching effects.
Each great level of understanding is designated as a House. Each of these houses can be thought of in terms of how much of the Omniwave the user of that level of magic perceives. The more central the house, the more of the Wave Prime they can perceive and use.
The greatest force of all is the magic of House Rune, which combines the waves of Life, Power, Mind and Death into a comprehension of the central weave of reality and a clear picture of the infinite possibilities of the Omniwave. Those who have mastered rune magic are said to have reached the Ninth Mastery or the Final Mastery. The knowledge and potency of the Rune Disciplines are all tied directly to the rune siglas which are used in the casting of such spells. With the Sundering of Time, however, only we (the Sartan) and the Patryns (if they still exist) have knowledge of rune magics.
The unified magic of House Rune is then divided into the four Lesser Houses of Firmament (Air), Sun (Fire), Spring (Water), and Dark (Earth). Together they are known as the Sovereign Masteries. The Sovereign Masteries represent the Eighth Mastery and are second only to rune magic in power. Each of the Sovereign Masteries is then further divided equally into Spiritual and Physical Masteries. The Spiritual Masteries tend toward mental and emotional manipulation of the world about the magician. The Physical Masteries tend to use and make use of physical objects in the world and about the wizard.
Both Spiritual and Physical Masteries are further divided into the greater and lesser disciplines in each House. Greater Disciplines are known as House Advocate while the Lesser Disciplines are referred to as House Servitor. House Advocate includes Fifth through Seventh Masteries while House Servitor is made up of First through Fourth Masteries. The terms 'greater' and 'lesser' are somewhat deceptive in that the Lesser Disciplines are the broadest based and most commonly used of the magics. The Greater Disciplines, while more powerful, also tend to be more specialized.
After the Sundering of Time, the Patryns vanished and the Sartan jealousy guarded rune magic from mortal learning. This brought about the loss of any magic greater than Seventh Mastery in any of the realms as now constituted. Rune magic is now unknown among any of the mortal peoples of any realm. It remains a carefully guarded secret.
Rune magic is the most powerful manifestation of all the magics present in the realms. Rune magic weaves all the elements of the various House Sovereigns into a single magic whole. As such, rune magic touches on the fabric of all creation. It was this rune magic which was the instrument by which the unified creation was sundered into its current parts.
The key to rune (or runic) magic is that the harmonic wave that weaves a possibility into existence must be created with as much simultaneity as possible. This means that the various motions, signs, words, thoughts and elements that go into making up the harmonic wave must be completed as close together as possible. The more simultaneous the harmonic wave structure, the more balance and harmony will be maintained in the wave and the more powerful the magic itself. This is rather like the difference between throwing a football end over end and spiraling it. A wheel which is rolled straight will roll further than one which is sent wobbling.
To attain this simultaneity, both the Sartan and the Patryns have developed magical languages and structures to convey their magic. Used only for magic, this language is unlike any other used in any of the realms. A second, more traditional language is used for standard communication by both of these races. The rune language is not so much spoken (although that is one element) as it is performed.
The common element in both languages is their simultaneity. Traditional languages are sequential in their structure along single-channel, linear lines. When one reads words on a page, he reads letter after letter, word after word, sentence after sentence to build up a complete thought or meaning of the text. This means he is taking in the message through only one channel or source of experience at a time. When people watch a play, however, they are taking in several channels at one time (the words spoken, the gestures and poise of the actor, the lighting of the scene). One might also get multiple messages over a single channel at one time (seeing the actor, the actor's chair and the backdrop of the stage all at the same time). The play's messages are all hitting the audience simultaneously. For this reason the play is said to have simultaneity in its communication of ideas.
The complexity, balance and harmony of magic requires perfection in simultaneous communication of the magician's harmonic waves. This is generally conveyed through performance of the magic by the magician through words, tones, gestures and motion. In rune magic, the simultaneity is bound up in the concept of a non-linear written language.
The rune languages have evolved into two separate types along the lines of the Sartan and Patryn cultures. Both operate the runic principles of the universe but their structure and methods are somewhat different.
SARTAN RUNE MAGIC
The Sartan use a hexagonal structure which is generally conveyed through six channels of communication at the same time. This involves the use of runes which are either drawn into or on an object or created in the air through performance art. In performance, the casting wizard is limited to three channels which include sound (auditory with complex harmonics), shape (gestures and dance positioning), mind (telepathic projections). The use of structured runes at the same time (sigla inscribes on objects such as staves, wands, rings, clothing, or any other properly positioned object) can communicate the remaining three elements of the pattern.
All Sartan rune structures are built in a hexagonal pattern emanating from the Fountain or Root Rune. This rune is the source of the magic being cast and the point from which all the magical structure springs. The Fountain Rune determines the thrust of the spell structure. In rune magic, this Fountain Rune may be of any type from any of the Houses of magic. In complex spells, then, it is essential in the reading of the spell that one understands which rune is the Fountain Rune. Two separate spells which have identical runes in identical positions may have vastly different effects if they have different Fountain Runes.
Root structures bring the power of magic into the complex of the rune spell. These structures begin with Root itself: a rune which designates the source of magic coming from either Power, Mind, Life, or Death.
This Root Rune, or as it is more often called, the Fountain Rune, is flanked on its lower left side by its Patriarch (the rune preceding it as seen in the illustration). It id flanked on its lower right side by its Matriarch (the rune following the Patriarch for that Root). These support the root and give direction to the power of magic welling up from the runes below it.
Directly below the root is the Dom or Master. The top of the Dom borders the bottom of the Root and touches on both the Patriarch and the Matriarch. This rune determines whether the nature of the power called forth will be Spiritual or Physical in nature and completes the Root structure. Nearly always, other runes connect to the Dom from below to further define and amplify the power of the magic being cast.
The Fountain Rune is flanked on its upper left side by Dawn and on its upper right by Dusk. These runes determine the amplitude (how much power) and vector (direction) to which the harmonic wave will be applied into the complex where the Root structure is found.
Between the Dawn and Dusk runes is the Head which completes the Root structure. The Head is part of a further complex of runes which transfers the elements of the Root structure into the general harmonic of the magic being called into existence.