Fiction: Dialogue script for cinematics in Rune
(Human Head Studios, 2000)
Working from notes and a rough draft by Rune art lead Ted Halsted I produced fifty pages of screenplay-like dialogue scripts for the game's cinematics. Presented here are the opening monologue and the dialogue of the evil goddess Hel, heard while the player wanders her domain.

Finally, I also include the original script for the travelling scene near the beginning of the game, written when the team was uncertain they would have time to do an animated cinematic. Later they requested I write a tighter script for a smaller scene that conveyed the same information. Thanks to the Herculean efforts of the team and level designer Dave Halsted, this was the version that made it into the game (I include the original here as a historical curiosity for any Rune fans who might stumble across this site.)


Characters: Narrator.
Setting: The Circle of Odin, Wotankeld--Night
Speaking Characters: Narrator

The Narrator--Description: An older man, with a storyteller's voice. He should be strong and subtle (not over the top). His voice will set the tone for the story, so it is important that he not sound superficial or melodramatic.

Midnight in the Circle of Odin at the center of Ragnar's village, Wotankeld ("Odin's Well"). The Runestone of Odin is surrounded by a circle of smaller runestones, each depicting visual scenes from the narration framed between vertical lines of runes. Near the ground, the camera tracks around the outside of this circle to view these smaller stones as the dialogue progresses, each illuminated by small fires burning at their bases. As the narration ends we push between the final stones and tilt up the enormous glowing Runestone of Odin at the center, stars visible beyond the peaks in the background.


From birth the Children of the North hear tales of the end of the world.


When wolves will swallow the sun and the moon. When the stars will be snuffed and the earth will tremble. When the gods will face the tribes of giants in a final battle that will ravage all the Nine Worlds.

Allfather of the gods, Odin has always smiled upon the human race. To the most devout of his followers he entrusts stones inscribed with his personal Rune, a mark of his power in the human world of Midgard. These Runestones are protected by only the most valiant of human warriors, until the day they are taken by the Valkyries to fight alongside Odin at Ragnarok.

Of all creatures, only one does not fear Ragnarok, the evil god Loki. Bound deep in the bowels of the earth by Odin himself, only Ragnarok will set Loki free to have his revenge on gods and man alike.

And it is only the power on Midgard of Odin and his Runestones that holds Ragnarok at bay . . .

For a moment we hold on the Runestone of Odin, glowing in the darkness.

Suddenly there is a flash of white. When it fades, the sun hangs above the peaks. The glow of the Runestone has vanished in the bright afternoon sun and the smaller stones hold only runes; the magic of the night has passed.

This leads directly into Script 2.


Characters: Ragnar, Village Elder, Jarl, assorted Vikings.
Setting: Same as above; same load, identical map on the side
Speaking Characters: Village Elder

The camera pans down the Runestone and pulls back for a high crane shot of the Circle of Stones. The island is now crowded with miscellaneous villagers and the below characters. (This is done by having identical maps side by side.) Ragnar is down on one knee before the village elder

Village Elder--Description: The village elder is the high priest of Odin in Wotankeld and one of the oldest men in the village.


People of Wotankeld, we gather this day to honor one from our midst. Younger than any ever so honored, he is yet wise and strong beyond his years. He has carried shields in the battles at Hyndall and Utherby, and aided in the fortification of this village following the dark tales we have heard from the northlands. Through trial by single combat, he has proven today that he is ready to take a place among the warriors of this village.

Ragnar, son of Jarl, kneel here before the Runestone of Odin and hear me. You must now put aside all childish things. Swear yourself to protect this stone and the village that surrounds and upholds it. Swear to stand beside your swordbrothers until death to defend this holy shrine of the Allfather.

Raise now your sword and take up the glorious duties of the Odinsblade!

Ragnar stands and raises his sword. The assembled warriors and villagers cheer and gesture.


Speaking Character: Hel

Hel--Description: While Ragnar is navigating her realms, Hel will be speaking to Ragnar. Trapped in her underground domain for more than a millennia, she is equal parts sultry, cunning. . .and completely mad.

As Ragnar makes his way through Hel:


There is a strange presence in my realm. . .a living presence. Why, it's a mortal! A lone warrior. . .all alone. I shall send you some company, lone warrior.

The living have no place in Hel's domain, young warrior.

There are many you know in my realm, warrior. Perhaps you might even find your father among the dishonored souls you slay with such abandon. . .

You have the stench of the Allfather about you, warrior. Perhaps you expect Odin to lead you from my domain? I am the only other living being he has cast into this accursed realm, and I have awaited my release for a thousand years!

The dead do not welcome the presence of the living, warrior. You remind them of all they have lost. And though you may be strong, their numbers will take their toll eventually. . .

Many are sent to Hel, young warrior. But I allow none to escape. . .

For the Marching Room (Looking at the scrying pool):


You see, them warrior? Odin will rue the day he gave me so many subjects. . . Now I send them to serve a new master, my father, Loki. The dark powers of his allies will transform these walking husks into the tools of our revenge.

So many new dead. . . so very, very many. Each hour marks the passage of a thousand more through these gates, thanks to that wonderfully bloodthirsty Conrack. Can you imagine the destruction, warrior? Can you see how Midgard will be ravaged once we have unleashed this horde?

For the Overwhelming Room:


I tire of toying with you, Ragnar. I shall divert a few souls from their march to Loki. Where you have conquered a small number, I now give you a legion! Soon you will fall, and you will join their ranks!

(mad cackling)

Speaking Characters: Narrator, Jarl, Conrack, Ulf, Sigard, Loki, Alric, misc. vikings

NOTE: This narration of this flic will be over hand-drawn artwork that depicts the events described

NOTE TO ARTIST: Brace yourself. We're going to try and cram a lot of information into just a few words and pictures here. Let me know if you have any questions or problems.

Over the black continued from the last script we hear

SFX: the crashing of waves on the beach, and angry gulls wheeling overhead. (The gulls should only be heard momentarily; the surf will continue throughout this first Picture.)

Picture 1 fades up: Sails down, two score Viking warriors row a longship away from Wotankeld--we can see the beach Ragnar explored earlier in the near background.

As it fades up, the Narrator begins:


The warriors of the Odinsblade sailed within the hour, twoscore vikings heaving at the oars. Were there wind the village of Kopperud would be but two hours' sail up the fjord, yet the clouds stood still in the sky this night, and the water was strangely calm...

Picture 1 fades to Picture 2: Ragnar at lower left in a three-quarter shot facing the camera-center, his face locked in grim determination as he rows. (Perhaps we can see other Vikings--Alric?--rowing in the rows before or behind him.)

Behind Ragnar, his mind's eye portrait of the village of Kopperud. It is named after a pit mine in the hillocks beyond it, but we see its shoreline. A collection of longhouses and other buildings spread to either side of a rocky promontory that rises forty feet above the sea, twice as high as the buildings. It is daytime, and we can clearly pick out that atop the rocky outcrop is the village's Circle of Odin, and in its center another gigantic Runestone.

As for sound, the crashing of the waves faded with Picture 1, to be replaced here by

SFX: forty oars dipping in the water, perhaps in time to a quiet, gutteral war chant


Many times Ragnar had sailed with his father to Kopperud. As he rowed in time to the war chant, he could picture the fishing village in his mind, children playing among the boats beached on the shore. High above the village rose the rocky outcropping crowned by a circle of runestones whose metal inlays gleamed in the midday sun. And at its center, the enormous white Runestone of Odin, a beacon for miles around.

Picture 2 gives way to Picture 3, which is both strikingly similar and disturbingly different. Ragnar is now in the lower right and we see him from behind. Before him is the 'skyline' of Kopperud--but the village is silhouetted in the night against flames leaping up from the burning wrecks of longhouses and boats. The largest fires are atop the outcropping, where we can make out the shattered remains of the runestones, the Runestone of Odin cracked like a broken tooth. We might also be able to make out the small figures of Dark Vikings darting among the wreckage, and the villagers of Kopperud hanging from x-shaped crosses erected along the beach.

SFX: The chanting stops. The oars continue to dip and stroke, and in the distance we hear the crackling of flames (quietly; it will pick up in a moment), and perhaps a scream or two carrying across the water near the end of this bit of narration.


A glow in the distance lit the dark clouds above, and as Kopperud came over the horizon Ragnar saw the village had already fallen to Conrack and his armies. Kopperud's longhouses and its proud stave church burned brightly against the darkness. Boats lay broken on the beaches. Most terribly, the village's Circle of Odin and its Runestone had been shattered, and Conrack's dark warriors were hurling the pieces into the surf far below.

Ragnar's father turned to the warriors of the Odinsblade:


Prepare to destroy the enemy.

Picture 3 fades, to be replaced by Picture 4: Sleipnir crashing through the surf, Jarl at the prow, one hand on the dragonshead carved into the prow and the other brandishing his axe. Sigard and Ulf have set aside their oars and gathered up weapons to protect their chieftain. Already waiting on the beach is a lone figure--Conrack.

As the picture fades up, we hear new background sounds:

SFX: The flames crackle louder now, and the surf crashes once more. Screams are more frequent--and closer. These sounds will last throughout in the background until Picture 9.


On the beach waited CONRACK DESCRIPTION

NOTE: Descriptive text will be written once the appearance of Conrack has been finalized by the art staff.


The Betrayer.

(a beat)

Sigard, Ulf--with me.

Fade directly to Picture 5: Jarl and his men stand on the edge of the surf, just out of sword's reach from Conrack. In the background is the inferno that was Kopperud, and silhouettes of the crosses—we can almost make out the horrible details. There should be some debris nearby large enough to conceal two or three Dark Vikings (see Picture 7.)

Jarl is roaring at a calm Conrack. Behind Jarl stand Ulf and Sigard. Ulf's lips are pursed, his brow is knit, and he brandishes a sword in one hand and an axe in the other. Sigard is behind them both, his broadsword held at the ready. Perhaps we see a slight smirk. . .

SFX: As before.


Conrack! We fought side by side in many battles. Never would I have guessed that a Viking warrior could so betray every belief we served.

And there is your problem, old man--no longer will I be but a servant. Not to you, not to the village, not to Odin himself. I have only your Runestone left to destroy before all of Midgard will call me master.

Fade to Picture 6, Jarl flanked by Ulf and Sigard, Sleipnir fifty long yards behind them down the beach. We see Conrack from behind, and he is gesturing offhand--in Sigard's direction, and we will see in a moment that the movement is more than casual. . .


I have forty men within an axethrow of your heart, Betrayer.

Forty men. Hmmm. I need but one to kill you. Sigard?

A flash frame or two of red before we snap to Picture 7, from the same 'camera angle' as Picture 6, but Sigard has stepped forward and thrust his broadsword through Jarl, the blade protruding from the startled cheiftain's chest. Conrack remains smug and relaxed as his enemy is dispatched. If Ulf is visible, he has been ambushed by two Dark Vikings.


And I give your 'forty men' to another.

Conrack begins a deep, gutteral chant.

(NOTE: I am attempting to get somebody from the university to translate this into Old Norse for me. I'll keep you apprised of progress, but go ahead and record in English if you don't hear from me.)


I call on the dark one--

The trickster trapped below--

And offer these his foes--

To his insatiable hunger...

As soon as Conrack begins chanting, we hear

SFX: The wind picks up quickly and lightning booms. Conrack's chanting becomes deeper, more gutteral, booming, fading down as another sound fades in: hideous, mocking laughter (a mixture of Hel and Loki's--although only Conrack might know that.) These sounds continue into the next Picture.

SFX: We also hear a lot of angry Viking warriors, curses and exclaimations of shock mixed together into a chaotic tummalt.

As the chanting turns to evil cackling, cut directly to Picture 8--back again to an over-Ragnar's-shoulder POV. Ragnar is enraged at what has just transpired on the beach and is about to leap over the gunwales, Alric close behind. We can see Sigard's silhouette standing over Jarl's corpse, and Ulf being overpowered by Dark Vikings. Conrack has thrown his arms high as he calls on the power of the dark gods.

The sudden magical gale makes the flames consuming Kopperud appear to reach out for the longship, and the waves are rolling strangely outward from the shore.

(Note to artist: Yes, I've gotten entirely out of control. I give you all this detail just for a sense of scene. Do what you can, and what you will.)

Quick dissolve to Picture 9. The power of the dark gods is blowing Sleipnir out to sea, the wind shredding its woolen sails. Waves rise higher than the longship's mast, crashing over the gunwales, tossing Vikings into the sea.

SFX: The wind howls, waves crash, and we hear the occasional 'AIEeee!' from a viking launched overboard. In the background is a building roar.


Gods! Ragnar, look!

Cut to Picture 10. The sea has opened wide, an enormous whirlpool more than a mile across. The broken form of Sleipnir is little more than a speck riding the rim of the chasm.

SFX: The whirlpool is a hollow roar of white noise. In the dim distance we might hear Viking curses and shouts.

As Conrack speaks (see line below) we dissolve to Picture 11, coming closer as Sleipnir is broken in two and the warriors of the Odinsblade are tossed into the roiling water. Then dissolve to Picture 12, Vikings desperately trying to stay above the surface--and failing; Ragnar is in the extreme foreground.

Over everything we hear Conrack's booming, echoing voice:


Hear me, "Defenders of Odin", as you drown like rats. There will be no glorious warrior's death for those who defend the Runestones. You have shamed Odin, and you will never see the halls of Valhalla. . .

As Conrack's line ends, dissolve to Picture 13, Ragnar's outstretched hand the last thing visible above the waves.

SFX: The wind and the whirlpool still roar and fade to silence as we

Fade to black.