Monday, January 28, 2013


I like logic puzzles. Not easy logic puzzles. Not super-tough logic puzzles. I like logic puzzles that require effort, but not a great amount of mental strain. So I play sudoku. But I play sudoku with runes instead of Arabic numerals.

I call it RuneDoku. Silly, I know, but it's not your ordinary sudoku. Here's a link to the PDF pictured above which gives the rules. If you want to play RuneDoku all the time, go to and download HoDoKu. Then, if for some reason you haven't installed my NuRunish font yet, install it now and change HoDoKu's properties so it uses the font. Sorry, you will have to set the font size to 50 or 60.

The result looks like this.

This will help you learn the order of the first nine runes and also give a sense of numeric value for the runes.

Monday, October 15, 2012

My First Runish Font

If you open my notebooks or journals you will see they are written in Runes. I have adapted the Runes for writing modern English and have even begun using Rune numbers. But recently I decided I wanted to write in Runes on my computer. There are actually many fine Runic fonts available, but they are lacking the punctuation I use and they do not use a doubled thorn for the Dagaz Rune. The other fonts are also lacking the Rune numbers that I use. So, long story short, I made my own font.

I used the free tools at FontStruct to make the font I am calling Nu-Runish. This is my first full font and the tools at FontStruct are pretty primitive. The font feels fairly clunky, but still feels more like "my Runes" than any of the polished fonts I can find. This font is released under the creative commons license. If for some reason you do not see the font embedded in this post, find it at FontStruct here:

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Versatile Blogger Award

Polyphanes over at The Digital Ambler nominated me for a Versatile Blogger Award. I have been sort of slow in the accepting process. Real world, blah blah blah...

First, thank you Polyphanes! You are a very crafty sort and I am glad you can appreciate and bring into the real world some of the things I dream up. I'm sure you will be interested in some of the things I have on the back burner. Expect to see them some time after I find a place to live and finally move there.

Fifteen Blogs...

In keeping with the VBA rules, I am supposed to list 15 blogs I have either recently discovered or follow regularly. To be honest, I don't follow any blogs regularly. I read the internet and everything on it. I spend a great deal of time on wikipedia, tutorial sites, YouTube, and google books. But I will start my list and leave space for more as I come across them. The first four blogs have been in my bookmarks for years. I really like them and hope you do too.
1) Grim Reviews:
2) Papers Falling from an Attic Window:
3) Propnomicon:
4) The Steampunk Workshop:
5) The Digital Ambler:

Seven Things About Me

Here are seven things about me. You might not ever know any of these things about me if you just read the other posts on this blog.
1) My only pet is a leopard gecko named Texas.

2) I like H.P. Lovecraft. I discovered Lovecraft right before high school and have been reading his work off and on ever since.

3) I drink coffee. Not just a little coffee. I have gotten into the habit of drinking a pot at a time. I recently threw away my twelve-cup coffee maker and started using a single-cup pour over setup to slow down my consumption. I think it's working.

4) I play video games. I have about a dozen NES consoles to be refurbished and resold on eBay soon.
I am currently playing through Skylanders on the Wii. I know, "it's not a real Spyro game", but I like it and my daughter likes it. I guess that can be number 5...

5) I am a father. A single father. And I'm OK with that now.

6) I find ciphers and logic puzzles entertaining. When I was a kid I learned the pigpen cipher from my mom and then went on to learn more about ciphers and codes. About a year and a half ago I started playing sudoku to take my mind off of the real world (hint: thing #5) and that hooked me on logic puzzles.

7) My favorite food is hot dogs with Mexican cheese and taco sauce.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Elder Futhark Hexadecimal Multiplication Table

I have been playing again. Actually, I'm trying to decide on a consistent Runic number system for my personal use. I have not decided yet, but here's an Elder Futhark hexadecimal multiplication table just for the fun of it.

This was going to be part of a longer article on modern Runic number systems, but I don't know who my audience might be.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

HandWriting: Thursday, April 19, 2012

To the outside observer my life is falling apart and I must look like someone to feel sorry for at the current time. My life is not falling apart. It is dissolving. It is not an accident. Look closer. I am still smiling.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Hahalruna and Persian Khatt-i-Shajari

 I recently wrote about Hahalruna and El-Mushajjar, showing how the Arabic tree writing was a perfect port of Norse hahalruna (cipher runes) into Arabic writing. While writing that article I became aware of a very similar Persian cipher called Khatt-i-Shajari (Tree writing). Just as the Germanic people devised many variations based on the concept behind hahalruna (iisruna, lagoruna, etc), so too did the Persians. The Persian adaptations include smoke signals, hand signs, and tapping that sounds oddly like Morse code. I have read that the Celts used similar methods to communicate their Oghams. I see no reason to believe the Old Norse did not also communicate their runic ciphers in just as many creative forms. Even if they did not, perhaps modern Rune Masters should.

Although Sir Richard Burton and others mention this Persian code, the best description I have found is in A Year Amongst the Persians:
impressions as to the life, character, and thought of the people of Persia, received during twelve month's residence in that country in the years 1887-8. (Edward Granville Browne, published 1893) :

While I am on the subject of these linguistic curiosities, I may as well mention a method of secret communication sometimes employed in Persia, the nature and applications of which were explained to me by my Erivani friend a few days before his departure for Mashhad. Such of my readers as have studied Arabic, Persian, Turkish, or Hindustani will know that besides the ordinary arrangement of the letters of the Arabic alphabet there is another arrangement called the "abjad" (from the four letters alif, ba, ,jim, dal which begin it) representing a much older order. The order of the letters in the abjad is expressed by the following series of meaningless words, consisting of groups of three or four letters each supplied with vowel-points to render them pronounceable :—abjad, hawaz, hoti, kalaman, sa'fas, karashat, thakhadh (sakhaz) dhadhagha (zazagha). In this order each has a numerical value ; alif= 1, ba = 2, jim = 3, dal = 4, and so on up to ya = 10 ; then come the other tens, kaf= 20, lam=30, and so on up to kaf= 100; then the other hundreds up to gheyn=l000. The manner in which, by means of this abjad, words and sentences may be made to express dates is familiar to all students of these languages, and I will therefore only give as a specimen, for the benefit of the general reader, the rather ingenious chronogram for the death of the poet Jami, premising that he was a native of the province of Khurasan ; that "smoke" or "smoke of the heart" is a poetical term for sighs; and that to "come up from" in the case of a number means to be subtracted from.

This, then, is the chronogram: "Dud az Khurasdn bar amad," "Smoke (sighs) arose from Khurasan," or "dud (dal = 4, vav=6, dal = 4 ; total 14) came up (i.e. was subtracted) from Khurasan" (kha= 600, ra= 200, alif= 1, sin =60, alif= 1, nun = 50; total 912). Taking 14 from 912 we get the date of Jami's death, a.h. 898 (= a.d. 1492).

The method of secret communication above alluded to consists in indicating first the word of the abjad in which the letter to be spelt out occurs, then its position in that word. In communicating by raps, a double rap knocks off each word of the abjad, while on reaching the word in which the desired letter occurs its position in that word is indicated by the requisite number of single raps. An instance will make this clearer. It is desired to ask, "Nam-i-tu chist ?" (" What is thy name ?") : the letters which spell out this message are—niun, alif, mim, ta, vav, jim (for chim), ya, sin, ta. Nun is in the fourth word of the abjad, and is the fourth letter in that word (kalaman). It is therefore indicated by three double raps (removing or knocking off the three first words, abjad, hawaz, hoti, and thus bringing us to the next word, kalaman), followed by four single raps (showing that it is the fourth letter in this word). The remaining letters are expressed in similar fashion, so that if we represent double raps by dashes and single raps by dots, the whole message will run as follows: — — — • • • • (nun); (alif) ; — — — • • • (mim); — — — — — • • • • (ta)  • • (vav); • • • (chim or jim); — — • • • (ya); — — — — (sin); — — — — — • • • • (ta).

Messages can be similarly communicated by a person smoking the kalyan or water-pipe to his accomplice or partner, without the knowledge of the uninitiated. In this case a long pull at the pipe is substituted for the double rap, and a short pull for the single rap. Pulling the moustache, or stroking the neck, face, or collar (right side for words, left side for letters), is also resorted to to convert the system from an auditory into a visual one. It is expressed in writing in a similar fashion, each letter being represented by an upright stroke, with ascending branches on the right for the words and on the left for the letters. This writing is called, from the appearance of the letters, khatt-i-sarvi ("cypress-writing") or khatt-i-shajari ("tree-writing"). In this character (written, in the usual way, from right to left) the sentence which we took above ("nam-i-tu chist ?") will stand as follows :—

From the description given by Mr. Browne I was going to make a nice table with Persian letters and their khatt-i-shajari equivalents. The only problem is I did not know what letters to use. Sir Richard Burton gives us a version of the cipher (HERE):
As with the cipher preceding it in Burton's article, this cipher only has 22 letters. Of this Burton writes "it contains only the ancient and universal Semitic letters, lacking the last six of Arabic". Sir Burton then tells us the cipher I just showed you above "is applied to Pehlevi or old Persian". When I did a google search for Pehlevi and Old Persian I got about twenty different scripts and not knowing much about Old Persian, I didn't want to make a guess at which one might be correct. 
From the information supplied by Mr. Browne I see that the Arabic letter jim is used in place of the Persian letter chim. The other variant letters probably also use the Arabic letter they resemble. So, using the information supplied by Mr. Browne, I have retrofitted the old Arabic cipher given by Ibn Wahshiyah simply by removing one limb from the right of every tree in the El-Mushajjar cipher, thus:

As you can see, the Persian version of the cipher is a slightly more economical variation of Arabic tree writing.
Anyway, it seems I have gone another night without sleeping. If you have feedback or more information on any of the codes and cyphers I have written about, please let me know.

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Hahalruna and Persian Khatt-i-Shajari by Jason Bales is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Elder Futhark Rune Dice

In October of last year an idea crossed my mind. I thought of making dice with the Runes of the Elder Futhark. Not the usual 6 sided dice, but three dies of eight sides. That's 3d8 for those of you who have played table top RPGs.

Each d8 represents an Aett of the Elder Futhark. Each die has 24 angles and represents the whole Rune row. Freyr's Aett has the Runes Fehu through Wunjo and the numeric values on the Runes on any two opposite side is 9. Hagal's Aett contains the Runes Hagalaz through Sowillo and the sum of opposite sides is 25. Tyr's Aett contains the Runes Tiwaz through Othala and the sum of opposite sides is 164. The sum of all Aetts is 300. The following table shows the pairs and sums:

Frey'rs Aett
Rune PairsFehu & WunjoUruz & GeboThurisaz & KenazAnsuz & Raidho
Numeric Value and Sum1 + 8 = 92 + 7 = 93 + 6 = 94 + 5 = 94 * 9 = 36

Hagal's Aett
Rune PairsHagalaz & SowilloNauthiz & ElhazIsa & PerthoJera & Ihwaz
Numeric Value and Sum9 + 16 =  2510 + 15 = 2511 + 14 = 2512 + 13 =254 * 25 = 100

Tyr's Aett
Rune PairsTiwaz & OthalaBerkano & DagazEhwaz & IngwazMannaz & Laguz
Numeric Value and Sum17 + 24 =  4118 + 23 = 4119 + 22 = 4120 + 21 = 414* 41 = 164

All 3 Aetts add to 300

I searched all round online and the first mention I found that sounded similar to my 3d8 was on Witch School. The post popped up in a google search and reads:
Does anyone use rune dice? I just purchased a set of futhark 3 dice which are 8 sided. They haven't arrived yet for UK, I live in the USA. So I am not sure how to read them. My intial thought is a 9 rune spread, with 3 rolls of the dice. I am very connected to Dragons and I expect my Dragon guides to give me push in the right direction. But was hoping this group might have some information.Brightest Blessing, Runestar 

So I joined the website just to ask about these Rune Dice. No answer yet.

I have been making the dice in paper and clay since October of last year. I would really love to make them of wood, but I have no idea how to go about that.

A couple of hours ago I found a patent in google patent search. It's the exact same layout as I have. I can't find them for sale anywhere, though. You can find it HERE.

Anyway, I have been making my dice from Premo Sculpey clay. I just knead them until they feel and look right, bake them and then sand them down and paint on the Runes with paint markers.

As you can see from the picture, I've worked everything out on paper first before marking the Runes on the clay dice. I made my dice extra large because I like the over-sized feel.

If you would like to see what the 3d8 Rune dice look like, print this out, cut and fold. I'm sure you can figure it out.

Of course, the first thing that one tries to work out is a system of divination, but I am now playing with concepts for true Rune Games. I'm working on unique dice notation and figuring out the probability distributions. Is there already a Beowulf RPG? I need to do more googling.

Creative Commons License
Elder Futhark Rune Dice by Jason Bales is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at

Addenda: On further inspection, the patent does not match my dice in the Rune forms or in their pairings based on Runic Numbers.

7-2-2012: I just found these on Etsy. They also do not match my design, but they look cool. No, I don't know this person and I won't make any money if you buy from him (seems to matter to some people).