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A venerable Runelord.

The Runelords are the greatest of the Runesmiths.


A Runelord candidate may only be promoted with the death of an existing Runelord, so this position is highly coveted and contested. Among the Dwarfs, Runelords are equal to kings, and so they move through Dwarf society as some of its most esteemed members. A few Runelords withdraw from the world, sequestering themselves away to learn the deeper secrets of the Master Runes and perhaps create a few of their own, further diminishing their numbers as their names become legend.[1a]

These elder masters do superlative work and are accorded the sort of reverence normally reserved for the Ancestor Gods. When a Runesmith judges the time is right, he chooses a young relative to be his apprentice and reticently teaches him, for an apprentice has to prove his worthiness to wring out even the most basic steps of the craft from his Master. Many powerful runes have been lost over time simply because a Runesmith could find no one he considered worthy enough to gain his innermost knowledge. Luckily, unless slain in battle, Runesmiths tend to live for a very long time, although they grow progressively more obstinate as they age. Currently, the most prolific of still-working Runelords is Thorek Ironbrow of Karak Azul, but the oldest living Runesmith is Kragg the Grim, Master Runelord of Karaz-a-Karak. Despite being a living link to a bygone era, Kragg has grown so stubborn as to be unbearable.[2a]

A Day In The Life

A runelord may take one of two paths in his life. The majority, choose to live among their fellow dwarfs, where they are figures of legendary power. While they do continue to hone and practise their craft, for the most part, it is the refinement of an already refined art.[3a]

They serve as advisors, arbiters and symbols of all that it means to be a dwarf, and their day is filled with meetings, tours of the community, checking and overseeing the works of the runemasters, and so on. Only during rare interludes can they actually turn to their tools and forges and craft new items – and given the Rule of Pride, it is very rare they come up with an item they have never made before over their long career.[3a]

A fair number, perhaps a quarter or so, do not take this path. They retreat from the community into deep study, sequestering themselves inside workshop-libraries located in the deepest heart of the most secure dwarf holds. They will ring themselves with masters, journeymen and apprentices, who will eagerly labour for months just to hear a single word of praise or helpful advice from their reclusive lord. Such runelords will emerge from their self-imposed exile once a year, or sometimes less, to fulfil with great reluctance their ceremonial or symbolic duties, and then return.[3a]

Rarest of all are the adventuring runelords. It takes a lot to get such a skilled individual to travel dark and dangerous paths; their motivations are unique and often inscrutable. Any band of travellers who has such a companion is blessed, and there is no telling how long they will continue to spend time away from their families and studies.[3a]

Little Known Facts

Runelords are strongly encouraged to take a wife and produce heirs. Even the most reclusive and curmudgeonly will honour this duty if at all possible; to fail is too great a shame to bear or mention.[3a]

It is rumoured that the oldest and greatest runelords do not die; rather, after too long without hearing from them, the most senior masters in a community will enter the lord’s work area, to find nothing there but his final work, and carry on his legacy from that moment onward.[3a]



  • 1: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- Realms of Sorcery
    • 1a: pg. 217
  • 2: Warhammer Armies: Dwarfs (8th Edition)
    • 2a: pg. 36
  • 3: Warhammer Fantasy RPG 2nd ED -- Career Compendium
    • 3a: pg. 180
  • 4: Total War; Warhammer II