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Giant Runic Alphabet - The Language of Ostoria
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Giant Runic Alphabet - The Language of Ostoria


Giant society and culture in the Forgotten Realms is partially based on the Scandinavian peoples of the Viking Age and time periods prior to that, be it as a direct reference to the sea-and-plunder lifestyle of raiding norsemen represented by the frost giants or the more spiritual and contemplative seers in the figure of the storm giants who look for signs of events yet to come, which is far from something unheard of in the folklore of the real world.

One aspect of said inspiration is the fact that giants use runes for such form of magic. It is a well-known fact that Scandinavians employed runes for supernatural purposes such as imbuing objects with power, warding off evil, bestowing curses upon their enemies and lastly for ordinary writing, since the runes formed indeed an organized alphabet called Futhark. This is a point where the fictional lore of the giants diverges from their real world counterpart, as stated by Learned Rundigast, sage of Waterdeep, in his “Reflections Upon the Secrets of Old Ostoria”:

"This is the theory behind the rune magic of the Jotunbrud. The runes are not letters (as often supposed), but diagrams - scale models of the relationships between ancient and undying cosmic forces." (Giantcraft, TSR, 1995)

The adventure Storm King's Thunder further expands the runic lore by presenting the twenty now-called diagrams used by giants in their runecasting. These characters each appear to represent a meaningful concept in giant life and philosophy, such as “Kong” which means “king” and “Fjell” that stands for “mountain”. While there is no mention that the featured runes in fact comprise all of them, similar attempts to codify the alphabets of the Elvish, Dwarvish and Draconic scripts in the Player's Handbook make it seem likely.

However, Rundigast's account clearly states that the giant runes are not letters, therefore the previous statement might not have any foundation. But what if this particular Waterdhavian sage was ultimately wrong? After all, the real world Futhark runes were as much letters as symbols of power, each having its own meaning besides functioning as an indicator of a particular phoneme.

The goal of this study is to make an attempt at codifying the giant runes into a usable alphabet, while exploring the fragmented bits of the giant language known to the small-folk of the Realms. Additionally some proposals will be made on how the old language of Ostoria might have been written and even constructed and spoken.

Hopefully the reader will find it an entertaining and informative mental exercise and perhaps use the ideas presented herein when assuming the role of Dungeon Master for Storm King's Thunder if the insertion of rune puzzles during the campaign seems appealing.

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File Last Updated:
January 23, 2017
This title was added to our catalog on January 24, 2017.