Rune (video game)

Rune (video game)

cleanup = April 2008
unreferenced = April 2008
Infobox VG| title = Rune

developer = Human Head Studios
publisher = Gathering of Developers
engine = Unreal Engine
released = November 18 2000
genre = Hack and slash
modes = Single player, Multiplayer
ratings = ELSPA: 15+
ESRB: Mature (M)
platforms = Linux, Mac OS, PlayStation 2, Windows
media = CD-ROM
requirements = K6-2 / Pentium II 300 MHz, 64 MB RAM, 8 MB video card, 100 MB hard drive space
input = Keyboard, mouse

"Rune" is a third-person action computer game developed by Human Head Studios which was released in late 2000. A standalone expansion to the game, called "", was released in 2001.


Human Head Studios licensed Epic Games' "Unreal Tournament" engine and made several enhancements to it, including a skeletal animation system, a new particle effects system, and an enhanced shadowing system. Although made using the Unreal Engine, "Rune" is a third-person perspective game without any shooting. The weapons used in the game include swords, axes, maces, and other mediæval/fantasy melee weapons. Despite using an engine made for shooting, the interface lends itself well to a playing style consisting of running, jumping, and hacking at opponents.

An innovative feature of the game is that anything dropped by a dead opponent can be picked up and used. This extends to include body parts. Limbs can be swung as clubs, and grotesquely enough, heads can be carried and used as weapons. Although the game includes no ranged weapons, any weapon can be thrown. The handaxe is a commonly thrown weapon because of the range and speed with which it travels through the air.

Both "Rune" and "Rune: Halls of Valhalla" (HOV) were released with their own "RuneEd" toolkits which the community quickly used making several popular multiplayer mods (coop, CTT--capture the torch, 'bots, etc.). Although a few single player addons have been made, it is "Rune"'s multiplayer aspect has been the focus of several mutators, skins, and hundreds of maps that are available through many clan and resource websites.


"Rune" multiplayer is a game of spatial orientation in which opponents manoeuvre around each other, feinting and swinging in and out of range and attempting to score hits on each other. There are only a few practical attacks available to the player at any one time, dictated by the weapon they hold at that moment. Unlike more traditional fighting games, it is not the variety of moves but range and position that determine the winner. While combos exist, they are simplistic to execute and are secondary to position. The geometries of each swing are immutable - thus players are able to fine tune their movement to precisions of a few pixels, and accurately behead their opponents. The inclusion of instant death via beheading or one-hit-kill weapons has an interesting effect on gameplay - no matter how much of an advantage a player has over an opponent, there is always the risk of loss.

The actual playability of the multiplayer aspect of "Rune" is also quite an important feature of the game, and is especially influenced by the vast majority of the "Rune" gaming community. Originally, the multiplayer aspect of "Rune" began as a casual gaming experience. Gradually, however, a growing number of gamers eventually grew attracted to the game, and those players who chose to play "Rune" on a prolonged time-frame eventually formed specific groups of close-community players often referred to as "clans" (or just as commonly, "hordes"). As time progressed from the original date of release of "Rune", the popularity of "Rune", especially the multiplayer aspect, began to expand, especially due to promotion of the game from many long-term and casual players who enjoy playing the game on a daily basis. The multiplayer community eventually began to thrive, but as the game increased in popularity, some players began to exploit flaws in the game's code in order to give themselves unfair advantages over other players. This trend was essentially halted when a few specific players that took offense to these actions began to develop anti-exploit server add-on programs for the whole of the "Rune" community that effectively re-allowed enjoyable gameplay. To this day, the negative impact of exploiters still somewhat affects the "Rune" community, but the number and depth of anti-exploit programs has increased significantly and has spread to many casual and especially dedicated, hosted servers since the beginning of "Rune"'s multiplayer history, and the multiplayer community continues to thrive to this day.

There had been demand to have a Cooperative (Coop) Teamplay mode added to the Multiplayer aspect. However, the developers were unable to make one in time before the game's October 29, 2000 release. Some community members decided to make one instead and a "Co-op" team was organized to take on the challenge. Upon learning about the project, Human Head Studios offered the team any help needed to complete the task.

Based on the Single Player 45 levels and content (with a few alterations) the "Rune Cooperative Teamplay" was one of the first major mods. Within a few months after "Rune"'s release, a full 45 level "Coop" Mod conversion was completed and [ announced] as a free download June 11, 2001. However, to play it, a special 1.07 patch would have been needed to install. Yet despite this, the Coop, (along with other "Rune" mods) have added to the game's popularity and continuing gameplay over the years.

Single player

The game casts the player as Ragnar, a young Viking warrior. It follows a fairly generic fantasy plot based on Norse mythology. The various enemies Ragnar faces include man-eating fish, goblins, zombies, Norse dwarves and other Vikings.

As the game goes on, as in most games of its type, better weapons are accumulated. Late in the game you find yourself wielding weapons of enormous size, even thought some weapons maintain its usefulness to the end, like the Viking Longsword that is two handed, long range but allows the use of a shield protecting the head, and its power is one of the best, drainlife.

Although rather linear, Ragnar does not need to kill everything in sight (common in games of the time) to travel from one level to the next. In some levels, players have found alternative ways of getting through to the next level. However, particular scripted pawns must be activated (killed, moved or tripped) in key ones to initiate certain actions to continue and move the story along.


The story begins when the player, as Ragnar, is initiated into the Odinsblade, an order of warriors sworn to protect the runestones, magical creations of Odin which bind the evil god, Loki and prevent him from unleashing Ragnarok - the end of the world. Ragnar then must face Ulf, the strongest fighter in the village, to be truly considered a warrior. After the battle is concluded, a warrior bursts into the scene and informs the two that a Viking known as Conrack and his men are attacking an allied village. The three then depart for the village's longship, to do battle.

Ragnar, his father, Ulf and the rest of his village's warriors encounter Conrack and his men at sea. Ragnar's father is about to order his men to attack, when Conrack calls upon Loki and destroys the ship with a surge of lightning from above. All the men on the longship die, and slip into the sea. After a while, Odin calls to Ragnar, telling him it is not yet his time to die. Ragnar recovers and swims to safety in an underwater cave. Ragnar then proceeds through the caverns, doing battle with a vast array of monsters. He eventually enters the land of the dead, domain of Loki's daughter, Hel.

Passing through the Underworld and facing the ghastly undead, Ragnar learns the enemy's plan: Conrack's carnage sends many dishonored souls to Hel's domain, who in turn gives them to Loki to transform into an army which will conquer the world. After fighting his way through Hel, Ragnar is captured by goblins and fights their beast in the trial pit. He defeats the beast and escapes goblin lands riding on a giant flying beetle. When he emerges from the caverns, he stands before Thorstadt, the mountain fortress of Conrack, and fights his way through it to a Temple of Loki. Inside, Sigurd - Conrack's right arm - confronts his master about all the destruction and asks him to drop the charade of worshipping Loki. Conrack states that Sigurd has outlived his usefulness, and sends two of the transformed dishonored to kill him, then escapes. Ragnar enters the scene and stands before the dying warrior. Sigurd informs Ragnar that he is the last of the Odinsblade, and saving the world is up to him, then dies.

Ragnar follows Conrack, and ends up in the land of the Dwarves. In "Rune", Dwarves are depicted as short, stocky, purple beings. He travels through the industrial powerhouse of the dwarven land and learns that the dwarves are supplying weaponry and armor for Loki's new sinister armies. Odin then tasks Ragnar to murder the dwarf king, whose will holds the dwarves' allegiance to Loki together. The king has apparently proclaimed himself a semi-god, and resides in a great temple dedicated to himself. Ragnar enters battle with the king, and he uses the great machine that bestows the king's powers upon him to destroy him.

Ragnar travels deep below the earth and to the castle of Loki himself. Odin tells Ragnar that even he will not be able to contact him whilst he transverses through Loki's realm. Ragnar discovers that it is Loki's blood that transforms Hel's undead warriors to the monsters of Loki's armies. He passes through the castle and Loki's maze, arriving at the holding chamber of Loki himself. It is here Ragnar faces Conrack at last, and attacks him. Conrack soon learns that he is no match for Ragnar's power, and is knocked into a river of Loki's blood, which, at first, is agonising for him. However, the great stone snake which binds Loki drips acid onto his gaping chest wound, causing him to scream with rage. The spectacle turns the green blood purple. Conrack rises out of the river, reborn in Loki's image as a hideous monster. Conrack reveals to Ragnar that Loki's armies are invading Midgard and are destroying Odin's runestones left and right. He leaps over Ragnar onto a high cliff, and escapes. Ragnar is then attacked by two of his creatures, but bests them. He, however, is trapped in the pit of Loki. With no other choice, he leaps into the purple blood.

Ragnar emerges from the river as a powerful being, but an abomination, one of Loki's creatures. Loki tries to persuade Ragnar to stay with him and join his armies. He refuses and leaps from the pit, chasing after Conrack. He escapes from Loki's castle and makes his way through caverns out into the world above. He then stands witness to the devastation wrought by Loki's armies. Loki mocks him, but he presses on. His fellow warriors no longer recognize him, and attack him on sight. Ragnar finally arrives home, only to see it totally destroyed. Loki offers one last time to join him, and Conrack sends his men forward to destroy the runestone and Ragnar. There are two possible outcomes of the game, depending on what the player does here.

Canonical good ending

Ragnar marches forward upon Conrack's men and destroys them utterly. He then turns his sights upon Conrack and does battle against him. Conrack is still no match for Ragnar and is defeated. Odin speaks to Ragnar, telling him that the people of his village are safe in the hands of his servant Bragi. He informs Ragnar that he has succeeded and Ragnarok has been averted. Loki, full of bitterness and rage, has his cave filled in by Odin, thwarted for the time being. Odin then opens up a portal in his last runestone, telling Ragnar to step through and join him at his side as the first living warrior to enter Asgard. Ragnar complies. Ragnar enters Odin's realm and finds himself restored to his human form. Beckoned by Odin, Ragnar runs over the rainbow bridge and enters the Halls of Valhalla.

Bad ending

Ragnar strides up the hill toward the last runestone and shatters it. As soon as this happens, Loki is freed from his underground prison. The last we see of Ragnar is that he is crucified in the cave Loki was captive in. Loki then takes over all of Midgard.


Weapons in "Rune" are divided into three categories: swords, axes, and maces/hammers. Each of the three classes have five weapons, ordered below in increasing size. Each weapon has a unique "Rune Power" that can be activated for a short period of time when the player has gathered sufficient energy from runes. Shields may be equipped along with weapons, provided that the weapon is one of the three smaller weapons of a class (tier 3 or below, but does not work with Viking Broad Sword). Besides these standard weapons, other items such as torches and severed limbs may also be equipped to be used as weapons. After some time spent in multiplayer, you will find out that each weapon can be used successfully, as long as the rune weapons have some sort of balance - bigger means better only in single player. Players that managed to use the speed of a weak weapon can well overtake a player using a big weapon. Although it takes a little more practice and patience to learn using small weapons - some players have dedicated themselves to "low caliber" (a popular "slow down" mutator). But still, "Rune" has some "top" weapons which are being used by the majority of players, such as Dwarven Work Sword, Dwarven Battle Axe, and Dwarven Battle Hammer.


The sword class is noted for fast combination hits and a characteristic horizontal spin attacks.
*Viking Short Sword: Fastest of the swords, but does the lowest damage and has the shortest reach. Rune Power: activates an impregnable magic shield.
*Roman Sword: Similar to the Viking Short Sword, but does more damage. Rune Power: ignites the sword with fire that burns enemies upon contact.
*Viking Broad Sword: Has significantly greater reach than the previous swords and greater damage per hit. Able to kill multiplayer opponents in two hits, the Broad Sword is an extremely deadly weapon. Rune Power: vampyric attack that adds life to the user when an enemy is hit.
*Dwarven Work Sword: Greater damage per hit than its predecessor while keeping the same reach. It is considered to be the best combination of speed, reach, and power among swords. Able to kill in a single spin attack or decapitating slash, the Dwarven Work Sword is a dominating weapon in "Rune" multiplayer. The DWS was toned down in damage in the expansion pack, Halls of Valhalla. Rune Power: lightning attack that does damage to nearby enemies.
*Dwarven Battle Sword: Does the most damage per hit among swords. Its attack power is useful in single player and in multiplayer. In multiplayer it is often referred to as the "Noob Sword" because of its strength. Rune Power: throws an avalanche of rocks against opponents.


Axes generally move more slowly than swords, but do more damage per hit. Axes, along with hammers, share an angled jump-spin attack different from those of swords.
*Hand Axe: The most basic axe, it does the least damage and has the least reach. The handaxe is the basic spawn weapon in multiplayer. This weapon is often thrown at the enemy due to its fast and straight trajectory. Rune Power: renders the user partially invisible and invulnerable to enemies.
*Goblin Axe: While lacking the reach of bigger weapons, the Goblin axe sports a deadly attack combo that is extremely fast and easy to connect, making it an extremely formidable weapon. Its attack damage was decreased in "Halls of Valhalla". Rune Power: allows the user to repeatedly throw "ghost" versions of the axe at the enemy.
*Viking Axe: Has greater reach than the Goblin axe, but slower speed and poor ground combos makes it arguably less powerful than its predecessor. Rune Power: converts enemy monsters into allies in single player and your enemy getting hurt by himself when he hits you in multiplayer.
*Sigurd's Axe: Uses similar ground combos as the Dwarven Work Sword, but with a shorter reach. Since it cannot kill multiplayer enemies in one jump-spin hit (unless the bloodlust meter is partially filled) or throw, it is considered to be one of the lesser of the "big weapons." Rune Power: freezes the enemy for a one-hit kill.
*Dwarven Battle Axe: A ferocious two-handed axe that appears last in the single player campaign. Use speed of Battle Axe is similar to Work Hammer and its superior reach and one-hit-kill damage makes it one of the most dominant weapons in all versions of "Rune". Rune Power: increases the damage to allow one-hit kills of any enemy, including powerful monsters in single player.

Maces and hammers

Compared to axes, hammers do greater damage per hit, but have less reach.
*Rusty Mace: Nicknamed "old rusty", the rusty mace does relatively weak damage and has the shortest reach of any weapon in the game, making it arguably the weakest weapon. Rune Power: generates shockwaves that forces the enemy back.
*Bone Club: An improved version of the rusty mace. Rune Power: generates sonic blasts that hits enemies at a distance.
*Trial Pit Mace: While still lacking in reach, it is the only tier 3 weapon that does enough damage to kill enemies in one hit in multiplayer gameplay. Rune Power: a flaming attack that inflames nearby enemies. Using this power, it is the only weapon that can damage players protected by the invulnerability conferred by the Hand Axe rune power.
*Dwarven Work Hammer: Has shorter reach than the Viking Axe, but does more damage, enough to kill enemies in one hit. It is also the only tier 4 weapon that can kill an opponent in a single throw, making it ideal for throwing. Rune Power: creates projectiles that travel on the ground.
*Dwarven Battle Hammer: Does the most damage of any weapon in the game. In multiplayer, the Battle Hammer is functional and works fine in pretty much every situation. Rune power: Eliminates the enemy by turning it into stone.

External links

* [ The official website of "Rune"]
* [ "Rune" Clan listings and information]

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