Why Language Matters
Language is the most essential element of sapient communication, and it is also inherently tied to magic. Some forms of magic derive power from describing things, and some react to the intent of the one wielding it. Each plane and each power that presides over it has their own relationship to language, meaning, and definition, and that relates to how their powers originate and are wielded. It may also influence how those powers can be bound and restricted.
Developing a thematic archetype for each kind of magical language helps people to engage with the cultures and minds that produced it.
The runic alphabet of Demons is fitting of the way in which Vul'karik rules. In his obsessive quest for dominance, there can be nothing which is not named, and the language is insistent upon both correctness and standardization. There are no loan-words in Necromantic Runes, and there is no innovation which does not originate from existing forms. Every spell or enchantment is a derivation on a set number of original phonemes that were laid down by Vul'karik himself at the dawn of time.
In many ways that makes this the closest runic language to the original language of the Eidolons before their separation, as Vul'karik is averse to change. Though, as it's impossible to reduce the vast power of the ancient Eidolons down to a single alphabet, such a comparison is somewhat misleading. Still, the language of demons and necromancers retains original thought-forms (in the form of basic runic symbols manifesting their intent) from the earliest known era of the universe.
A mastery of the exacting and precise symbology of Vul'karik can confer substantial power on a master of the Necromantic craft, though the study required to reach that level of technique is staggering and books on extraplanar language are rare indeed. There are also rumors that the inner part of a demon's chitinous shell grows natural runic patterns, making them invaluable for those who wish to learn the dark arts, but since none have been seen in a long time it is difficult to say how true this is.
If there is anyone who stands on ceremony, it is Grand Mistress Fel. The language of her Phantoms, in contrast to Vul'karik's Demons, is based almost entirely on intent rather than definition or symbology. However, unlike the intent-based magic of Titania (the closest comparison), Fel Magic is much more focused on ritual than any other form of magic. One may sign over their soul in any known language, with blood or ink or a simple promise made with full desire, but it is the act of promising and pact-making which gives it power.
This is part of the reason why Phantoms and other minions of Fel are so skilled in trickery and so seductive to mortals. Understanding the nature of intent means quickly learning and adapting to the belief-systems of Rhyst's natives, and their edge is in showing mortals what they want in order to put them in the right frame of mind to commit to the ritual.
Whereas a Necromancer might spend a decade learning the right runes to inscribe on a dead man's skull to raise him in service to the Dark Lord, a Fel Mage only needs to know that sacrificing in the name of the Fel Mistress will give the rush of immediate power. It is a much faster path to strength, but can lead to practitioners not being well-versed in self control. Most of these practices are passed down from person to person in covens rather than recorded in texts, as the experience teaches more than the description ever could.
The only Eidolon who can compare to Vul'karik in grandiosity and power is Oberon, and it is fitting that their magics both rely heavily on rote. Oberon's runic alphabet is substantially different from Vul'karik's, and its philosophy originates with Oberon's style of rulership.
Runes and grammar are prescriptive rather than descriptive: to Oberon, his Truth is the only truth there can be. No other meaning exists but that which he has spoken. In the past Oberon named each concept of importance personally, though now there is a bureau ministry among the High Faerla dedicated to dreaming up and presenting appropriate names to the Eidolon for approval. On the other hand, if a thing is hated enough it will never get a name or symbol at all and is referred to by High Faerla only through allusion.
The naming and writing of words of power is a means by which Oberon asserts his dominance over existence, and as such orderly naming is a keystone of his magic. Practitioners are expected to understand the complex diction of the High Faerla, and the expert may even be able to assert new symbols and phonemes that fit the essence of Oberon's magic to form new concepts from nothing. They are only useful for momentary magic however, as amateur additions fade quickly and are considered offensive vulgarities by the High Faerla.
It is said that the easiest way to learn High Faerlan runes is through their poetry, which is written in magic. The accomplished scholar or bard might even pick up a few conceptual fragments of Oberon's power through the confluence of Rhystborn Faerla and Aurien tales passed down over the ages. However, the quickest way is through the tutelage of the High Faerla themselves. This is not often given, and there is always a price to be paid.
The Fairy Queen is known for her boundless forests and her chaotic trickery, not so much for her commitment to rote and knowledge. Titania's domain is the knowledge whispered to others in confidence; the kind of intimate passing of words from lips to ears that is overheard and passed on again. Her magic and the language it inspires comes in much the same form. Mystery, riddle, and whisper identify Fairy Magic from Fae Magic.
Much like Paschia Fel stands on ceremony, the symbols of Titania's magic are more important for their meaning than their appearance. Every carving, no matter how subtle, carries a meaning that is meant to be understood by those who know. And with Titania, if you know you know and if you don't you never will.
What this means for Mages chasing her power is that it often comes when one least expects it. The unlucky practitioner stumbles upon a fairy ring and becomes a part of a game far greater than they can possibly imagine. The lucky one listens to the whispering of tavern gossips and the flutter of wings in the still forest air, extracting knowledge from the susurration of secrets being told.
The path to her magic, much like the path to her home, is never straightforward. The forms that it takes have no definition. The people who practice it are either madmen or web-spinners, and while Oberon may lay claim to Truth, Titania's lies and secrets are sometimes far too real.
The manifold magics of Rhyst defy all rules of the outer planes. Each sapient species carries their own culture, their own rote, and their own ritual. On Rhyst, unlike in the Void or Feywild, no power oppresses the creative efforts of the native peoples. It is from this roiling stew of magic and language that Rhystian Runes have come to be.
No-one can agree on a full alphabet for the amount of runic patterns that exist in Rhyst. What is known is that there are a number of original phonemes and symbols which seem to date back to the magic of the Rhystian Eidolons, as well as some originating with Vul'karik and Oberon due to planar incursion or a common linguistic ancestor. All current symbols and phonetic runes used in Rhystian magic are permutations and inventions based loosely on the original forms, with some errant symbols emerging seemingly from nothing. The infinite variation allows for incredible feats of synergistic magic, and combinations of forces that would not be allowed under a more restrictive system.
So too do the rituals differ wildly between groups of practitioners. Though the founding of great nations has led to standardization of language and some standards in magical training, one will still find substantial differences between cultural practices in runewriting and enchanting rituals. The materials used, the pronunciations of words of power, and even the shape of certain symbols can change dramatically depending on how a person was trained. Shockingly none of these differences seem to impact the validity of these schools for performing magic.
In essence, Rhystian magic has evolved with Rhyst's peoples and their needs. Though seeming to originate from the same source, many possibilities are open for the practiced Mage to explore. There is far more room for experimentation and creation here, where the powers that created the plane are less active in restraining and guiding it.
Almost nothing is known about the runes of Limbo. Some of the runic forms used in Ashwalker writing are claimed to come from visions of their ancestors. Some symbols used on grove-markers in Arlandria, on memento mori in Isegrad, and on headstones in certain other places are also said to be ways to propitiate or protect the dead. However, in the case of many of these symbols they share marked similarities to antecedents, whether they be warnings against Necromancy in the language of Vul'karik or the lingering Faerla influence in Ashwalker dialects.
However, some symbols do seem to stand the test of authenticity. They are similar to the earliest and simplest types of runic forms, but share few commonalities with known runes of Fae, Void, or Rhyst. Perhaps it is to those one should look if one wishes to seek the truth of the matter.