Runepriest (5e Class)

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These are the words... formed of the gods tongues. They empower and drain all strength and spell alike.

Ulfgar Brambleron pins his body to the side of the wall in an attempt to escape the notice of the rampaging dragon. The beast's rage has spent his companions, and one lays near death, crushed under a fallen piece of debris. The elven ally shouts to the dwarf and lets loose an arrow, striking the dragon's eye. In that moment, a divine symbol, or rune, appears atop Ulfgar's polished head. With a glow in his eyes, he rushes to the center of the fray.

When he strikes the rod of his hammer onto the ground with a thunderous gesture, the rune above his head glows bright as the sun. The light flows from the rune into his allies and their former vigor returns. Whilst they resume their struggle against the dragon, Ulfgar slips to pull out his fallen companion from the debris. A different rune appears over his head and he murmurs some of the ancient forgotten language. As if spoken back to life, his ally's eyes flutter open and breath returns to their body.

Get up now. Tis not a time to rest yet.

Creating a Runepriest[edit]

Design Note: This class is designed as a partial port of the 4e runepriest class from the Player's Handbook 3.

Runepriests are users of an ancient and primordial power: the divine alphabet of runes. They are common sights in holy libraries and sacred forges, where these divine symbols are revealed in their true splendor. These runes were alleged to have been set up by gods and imbued with powerful core energies. However, after their war with the primordials, much of these runes were lost, scattered into the realms, awaiting new discovery. Runepriests are those who pursue these letters and symbols of power, whether by infusing it into their weapons or armor, or using it to call the gods themselves.

How did you come across your obsession with runes? Did you work over a dwarven forge as an apprentice and learn of them as you were inscribing them onto tools? Perhaps you came upon some that were scratched onto trunks of an ancient and hallowed forest. You learned the methods of which to use these runes for your own benefit, and now you are striking out to discover more of this mysterious power.

Note: Rune magic is dangerous, as it was meant solely to be used by gods and their best servants. Runepriests handle only the weakest of these, lest they risk their soul and bodily health.
Quick Build

To make a runepriest quickly, follow these instructions: First, your highest score should be Strength, followed by Wisdom. Second, choose the archaeologist background from Tomb of Annihilation.

Class Features

As a Runepriest you gain the following class features.

Hit Points

Hit Dice: 1d10 per Runepriest level
Hit Points at 1st Level: 10 + Constitution modifier
Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d10 (or 6) + Constitution modifier per Runepriest level after 1st


Armor: light armor, chain mail, shields
Weapons: simple weapons
Tools: smith's Tools
Saving Throws: Strength, Wisdom
Skills: Choose three from Religion, Insight, Athletics, Perception, Arcana, Nature, and Medicine


You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background:

Table: The Runepriest

Level Proficiency
Rune Slots Stances Features
1st +2 3 0 Runic Artistry, Rune Master
2nd +2 3 1 Rune State
3rd +2 5 1
4th +2 5 1 Ability Score Improvement
5th +3 6 1 Runic Artistry feature
6th +3 6 2
7th +3 7 2
8th +3 7 2 Ability Score Improvement
9th +4 7 3
10th +4 8 3 Runic Artistry feature
11th +4 8 3
12th +4 8 3 Ability Score Improvement
13th +5 9 4
14th +5 9 4 Runic Ascension
15th +5 11 4 Runic Artistry feature
16th +5 11 4 Ability Score Improvement
17th +6 12 5
18th +6 13 5
19th +6 13 5 Ability Score Improvement
20th +6 15 5

Rune Master[edit]

Starting at 1st level, you command the power of runes. Using these symbols, you command forces of nature and beyond with the authority of old divinity.

Acquiring and Using Runes

Runes are symbols that you gain with experience and knowledge. Perhaps you find new powered runes in your latest adventure, which you add to your repertoire of known characters. You can use as many runes as listed under Rune Slots in the runepriest class table. Some runes are intrinsically connected with each other or with attributes that serve as prerequisites. You need to fulfill any prerequisites present to use a rune. Runes recharge at different rates, usually depending on their power. To use a rune, you must declare the rune, as if fulfilling the verbal component of a spell, and draw the rune, as if fulfilling a somatic component. Some runes are instantly applied upon being learned, and their benefits are passively present.
Some runes force saving throws. The DC for these saving throws is equal to 8 + your Wisdom modifier

Swapping Runes

At each level where you would learn new runes, you can also swap out a number of runes you can use equal to your proficiency bonus.

You start knowing 3 runes of your choice from the following options:

  • Rune of Sacrifice: You can choose either yourself or one other willing creature within 30 feet of you as an action. The target chooses to expend up to 5 of their hit dices. Choose up to two creatures other than the target within the same range. They regain hit points equal to the maximum value of the hit dice expended, divided between them. You must finish a long rest after using this rune to use it again.
  • Rune of Binding: As an action, you imbue your weapon with this rune and strike, making a weapon attack as normal. If you hit with this weapon, the target takes weapon damage as usual, and also becomes grappled by the rune's power until the end of your next turn.
  • Rune of the Bulwark: As an action, you summon power of the rune on yourself and gain resistance to all damage until the end of your next turn. You must finish a short or long rest after using this rune to use it again.
  • Rune of Thunder: As an action, you imbue your weapon with this rune and give it thunderous power. For 1 minute, the imbued weapon deals additional thunder damage equal to your Wisdom modifier. You must finish a short or long rest after using this rune to use it again.
  • Rune of the Sun: Invoking your strength as fuel, you imbue fire into your weapon as an action before striking at a foe within its range. On a hit, the weapon deals fire damage instead of its usual damage type, and the creature is blinded until the end of your next turn. The intense heat of this attack still harms enemies so that even if you miss, the target still takes fire damage equal to your Strength modifier. You must finish a short or long rest after using this rune to use it again.

Runic Artistry[edit]

There are three main traditions of runepriests are that of Defiant Word, Wrathful Hammer, and Shan Zi. Choose one of these traditions as your subclass, all detailed at the end of the class description. You gain features and additional runes from your selected tradition at 1st, 5th, 10th and 15th levels.

Rune State[edit]

Starting at 2nd level, you can take on a series of forms initiated by the power of powerful runes that force your body and mind to enter a sort of trance. These are called rune stances. They serve to emulate the power of runes over a period of time. You know as many stances as shown under the Stances column of the runepriest class table. You start knowing one of the three stance options below; choose either the Stance of Protection, Destruction, or Bravery. You learn a new stance at levels 6, 9, 13 and 17, choosing from the Runic Stances listed at the bottom of the class description. You can only enter one stance at a time, using an action to activate them. Every stance lasts for up to 1 minute, or until you dispel them with a bonus action. After you have used a stance, you cannot use any more stances until you have finished a short or long rest, at the end of which you regain the rune states. You must spend at least 30 minutes of the rest meditating to regain use of your runic stances.

Stance of Protection

While adjacent to you, allied creatures gain a +1 to their Armor Class

Stance of Destruction

Allied creatures have advantage on attack rolls against creatures adjacent to you.

Stance of Bravery

You can add your Wisdom modifiers to all your saving throws, and double your modifier for Wisdom saving throws.

Ability Score Improvement[edit]

When you reach 4th level, and again at 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th level, you can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or you can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1. As normal, you can't increase an ability score above 20 using this feature.

Runic Ascension[edit]

Your delve into the power of runes allows you to uncover a new class of them, known as archaeorunes. Starting at 14th level, you learn 2 Archaeorunes of your choice from the list below. Everytime you would take new runes, you can also take archaeorunes. Due to their power, some archaeorunes take up more rune slots. However, with your newfound power, some runes no longer require so much maintenance from you. You may choose two non-archaeorunes you know in your slots and have them no longer count towards your total rune slots. You can repeat this with two more runes at levels 17 and 20.

Defiant Word[edit]

The tradition of defiance for runepriests is to fight in the front lines. They are likened to a parchment containing runes that endures the cold, rain, and flutters, clinging to the eaves in the wind. This speaks volumes of their persistence in the face of danger, and they have no qualms supporting allies amid the fray.

Runes of Tradition

You can add the following runes to your list of starting options for your Rune Master feature:

  • Rune of Exchange: You choose one creature within 30 feet of you, excluding yourself, without needing to expend an action. Until the end of your next turn, the targeted creature has advantage on their attack rolls. However, attack rolls against them roll with advantage as well. Once you use this rune, you must expend a hit die to use it again, either as part of a short or long rest or an action.
  • Rune of Dawn: You choose a point within 60 feet of you. A rune appears and spreads up to a radius of 10 feet from that point. All creatures friendly to you within the area of the rune have advantage on all saving throws until the end of your next turn, when the rune fades. You can use this rune a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus, and you regain all uses after you finish a long rest.
Pact of Peace

Starting at 1st level

Starting at 5th level

Rune of the Fortress

Starting at 10th level

Rune of Defiance

Starting at 15th level,

Wrathful Hammer[edit]

Runepriests of the wrathful hammer inscribe their powerful runes on tools of metal, stone, and wood which can contain the energy's channeling. They tend to lead their allies into battle rather than support them, and they stay at the forefront of the fight.

Runes of Tradition

You can add the following runes to your list of starting options for your Rune Master feature:

  • Rune of Vengeance: When a creature you can see within range of your weapon successfully makes an attack on you, you can expend your reaction to strike back.
  • Rune of Shielding: As an action, you can bless yourself with a powerful runic ward. For 1 minute, you gain a bonus to your AC equal to your proficiency bonus. You must finish a long rest to use this rune again.
Executioner's Rune

Starting at 1st level, you can mark those who you deem worthy of your wrath. As a bonus action, you give a mad cry and mark one creature within 60 feet of you with the rune. You have advantage on all weapon attack rolls against the marked target, and you deal an extra 1d6 damage to the target whenever you hit it with a weapon attack. This rune lasts up to 1 hour, during which you must focus on maintaining it, as though concentrating on a spell. You can use this feature a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus. You regain all uses of this feature after you finish a long rest.

Starting at 5th level

Rune of the Pheonixian Phalanx

Starting at 10th level

Rune of the Iron Giant

Starting at 15th level, the runes of powerful defenses cover your body and bolster you. You gain proficiency in Constitution saving throws.

Shan Zi[edit]

Shan zi runepriests are a lot who tend to be more educated than the average person. This tradition hails from Kara-Tur, where runes are seen as a divine power to shape life. Runepriests of this artistry see it as a way to follow enlightenment. An alternative name of this runic artistry is the Serene Blade.

Runes of Tradition

You can add the following runes to your list of starting options for your Rune Master feature:

  • Rune of the Celestial Armor: Your Armor Class while you are unarmored is equal to 10 + your Dexterity + your Wisdom modifier.
  • Rune of Diminishment: As no action on your part, you apply this rune onto a weapon you are proficient in. When you successfully hit a creature with this weapon, their strength is sapped by the rune on your weapon. Until the end of their next turn, their attack rolls are made with disadvantage. This effect does not stack if you hit a creature multiple times via features like extra attack. This rune on your weapon persists for 1 minute or until you dispel it woth no action necessary. You must finish a short or {long rest to use this rune again.
Astral Wind Rune

Starting at 1st level

Rune of Preservation

Starting at 5th level

Anthemic Rune

Starting at 10th level

Rune of the Karmic Word

Starting at 15th level


Bolstering Rune
Cloud Step Rune
Rune of Elemental Warding
Rune of Hope
Rune of the Dead Man
Rune of the Icon
Rune of the Pallbearer
Rune of the Pyre
Rune of the Undertaker


These are souped-up runes afforded to you by your Runic Ascension feature.

Rune of Celestial Lightning
Rune of the Corpse
Rune of the Solstice
Rune of the Timekeeper

Runic Stances[edit]

Some stances have prerequisites, which must be fulfilled for you to learn them.

Stance of Fidelity

For the duration of this stance, your entire being blazes with the fires of loyalty to what you hold dear. Your weapon attacks deal additional fire damage equal to your Wisdom modifier. When you successfully hit with these weapons, you regain hit points equal to your Wisdom modifier.

Stance of Belittlement

Prerequisite: 17th level rune priest
For the duration of this stance, after you hit a creature with a weapon attack, the creature is considered vulnerable to the damage type you hit it with until the end of its next turn.


Prerequisites. To qualify for multiclassing into the runepriest class, you must meet these prerequisites: Strength 13, Wisdom 13

Proficiencies. When you multiclass into the runepriest class, you gain the following proficiencies: Simple weapons, light armor

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