Cracking the code: X52

Page X52 of the Modlvay/Cook/Marsh “Expert” rule book has an illustration by Bill Willingham of part of a castle.  The border “frame” of the picture has some runes written around it, and they are more or less the “Futhark” Viking runes, with a few idiosyncrasies.

As best as I can make out, the runes say (starting at the top left of the frame):

This Is The Z of T The W Pzotektor of D A of War Who R The North I

Probably “pzotektor” should be “protector,” right?  What the Z, T, W, D, and A stand for is anyone’s guess.  I was hoping the inscription would be more coherent but I think it must refer to some game or campaign Willingham was playing.

Update: checked Dragonsfoot, where a poster interprets the inscription as:


I would agree that the rune “T” also stands for Tyr, and I know old inscriptions used a lot of abbreviation, so this looks very probable, although I’d love to know how he got “giant” from “W”.

Published in: on July 3, 2011 at 2:01 pm  Comments (12)  
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  1. Taking a look at this now. That “w” looks like it could just as easily be thorn “th” to me, although Willingham eschews using thorn all the other chances he gets, so I guess it is a “w.” Since Tyr is a war god, I’d expect it to stand for something like warrior instead. I’m sure the T stands for Tyr since his name is the name of the rune itself (Tiwaz/Tiw). Whatever is going on with Z (X if this is Anglo-Saxon futhorc) is just weird, since he uses R elsewhere.

    The only epithet of Tyr/Tiw that I am aware of is “the one-handed.” I’d be curious if anyone knew of any others.

    • Yeah, I noticed the odd T-H’s but began to wonder if the thorn had special rules about when a /th/ was a thorn and when it was not …

  2. Too bad the Z/X is not an L. Then it would read “The Leavings of the Wolf,” which indeed was kenning used of Tyr (his hand was bitten off by Fenrir.)

  3. “…and I know old inscriptions sued a lot of abbreviation…”

    “…although i’d love to know how he got “giant” from “W”.”

    • Runecarvers were notoriously litigious.
      OK, thanks for the corrections!

  4. Very cool. I wish more ‘easter egg’ runes would appear in game artwork…

  5. I looked at that a few months back and was similarly confused. I figure that how you get “Giant” is that the rune is a Th, not a W. So it’s a thurs, which is a way of calling giants in Old Norse. I think there’s also some etymological link between Thor and thurs in that he’s the god most like the giants in terms of strength and stature.

    • Interesting possibility, although, you would use thorn for “the,” if I recall correctly.

      • I suppose you would, but Willingham has ‘the’ spelled out T-H-E all three times. He uses the thorn only in this case and at the end of ‘north’, for whatever reason.

        • Great point. It looks like he is using t-h when th is voiced and thorn when th is unvoiced! Now I’m not sure if Willingham was off or if my memory is off.

    • There is a link between Thor and thurs, probably, because he was the god that was most active at killing giants, from what I remember.

      • And Thursday = Thor’s day, or so I am told.

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