Spell Foci

I’m a big fan of details that add colour to the game. The world is part of the reason why people are playing RuneQuest, not any other game. One that I like, and lean on, is Spell Focuses. My PC has a lot of them, and they are mostly tattoos. She’s got her Heal matrix in the shape of a scar on her right thigh. She was nearly killed in a bar fight by someone with a broken amphora, and to remind herself, and to focus on the learning, she had the scar filled in with woad, and it’s how she focuses on the healing magic.

A later major injury lead to her having Heal Body cast on her, meaning that the scar vanished, but the tattoo did not. It’s added a layer of complexity to the thinking.

She also has Bladesharp on her right hand. When she was captured by a troll, he chewed the tattoo off, while he was crippling her sword hand. It was a horrific double insult/injury, and they both knew it.

Other people have different focuses. For an adventurer, a tattoo is a thing that it’s hard – although not impossible – to take away. One of the PCs in a game I run has a magic point matrix tattooed onto his hand. I’m keeping track in case it’s ever damaged.

Here are a few other suggestions which I heard on the Discord server, for one PC:

Befuddle – a curiously shiny stone with a hole in the middle, worn smooth in a river, on a ribbon around her neck. She looked at people through the hole to confuse them.
Heal – a Harmony rune tattooed on the back of her right hand.
Mobility – a silver charm depicting a leaping horse and rider worn on a chain at her ankle. It was passed down to her from her mother, who told her it’s Grazelander work and it belonged to her grandfather (who died heroically defending the Feathered Horse Queen at Grizzly Peak).

Someone else there reckons that that carving the foci into lead beads, and wearing them around the wrists, and ankles would be a fun flavorful foci for a Zorak Zorani. My own Zorak Zorani cultists often use bits they have taken from their enemies, with tattoos still on them. If you ever see a troll with hands or fingers attached to lead piercings in a game I am running, you know what you’re getting into. Don’t come crying to me when he uses your tattoos as trophies.

But what are they? Why do they matter? Should you REALLY be able to have multiple foci? What’s the correct plural anyhow?

Dumb questions aside, Berra, there’s a question here which I’m unsure about. Should you really be able to have multiple foci? I didn’t think so, because I reckoned it would be something more holy, but May Stab Mountains pointed out to me that spirit magic is spirits but they’re the barest wisps– the spirit is basically just the spell itself, and it only exists while it is being cast by you.

I think I like that way of putting it. I had a different understanding of what spirit magic was, because it’s not really clear in the core rulebook that you’re apparently binding spirits to you. I was assuming that a CHA limit was what your spirit could hold, not a representation of the strength of the spirits you could bind. So now, looking at spirit magic as mere wisps, and thinking of the focuses as tools, I’m less convinced you can’t have multiple focuses. It’s probably a perfect chance to show how different cultures do things differently.

I think, though, that no matter how many you have, you should have consistent rules on how you respect them. You’re using a tool to reach a part of the universe that gives you power. Even the Zorak Zorani will respect them in a way – they may have multiple Protection 3 Matrices, because they’ve killed many people with tattoos that look like shields or tough skin or rhinos. They’re using those decorations to show off their power. It’s just that sometimes they also use them as snacks.

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