Inscriptions are activated abilities available to all characters, which provide general purpose help for the character. They include healing, removal of bad status effects, shielding from damage, increased visibility in dark areas, increased movement speed, teleportation, and elemental damage attacks.
ToME4's inscription system is one of the biggest gameplay changes from traditional roguelike games. First introduced in beta 14, the inscriptions (infusions and runes) replace potions and scrolls. The design goal behind inscriptions is to eliminate the time spent by the player "farming" potions and scrolls in weak zones, in order to make a run at a tougher zone. They are unlimited in use, but have cooldowns attached, so you must carefully time your use of them to survive. Unlike many other RPGs you cannot rely on a large stack of potions to get you through a tough battle. Mastery of the inscription system is a key step towards mastering ToME4.
Inscriptions come in two flavors: runes and infusions. Runes are magical glyphs drawn on the body like temporary tattoos. Infusions are natural substances smeared/attached to the body, like nicotine patches.
Inscriptions work like talents: they have a cooldown period before they can be reactivated. Stunning can put your inscriptions on cooldown just as it does to talents. Some inscriptions have a duration as well as a strength to their effect, such as a rune that activates for 100 shielding over 6 turns. Some attack inscriptions have ranges of effect. Evaluating which infusion to equip can involve careful comparison of effect, cooldown, range and duration.
The character starts with 3 inscription slots. Each slot may hold a single infusion or rune. Infusions and runes are objects that may be found in dungeons or bought in stores. Using one will add the inscription to your body, using up a free slot. If you have no free slots, then you may choose to destroy one of your existing inscriptions in order to make room for the new inscription.
Additional slots may be purchased for the cost of a talent category point, up to a maximum total of 5 slots. Category points are gained at levels 10, 20 and 36, and Cornacs also start the game with an extra category point.
You may not have more than 2 of the same type of infusion or rune. E.g. you may have 1 healing infusion and 2 regeneration infusions, but you may not have 3 regeneration infusions.
Activating an infusion gives you an effect called Infusion Saturation. Using another infusion while this effect is still active causes its cooldown period to be longer. Likewise, the Runic Saturation effect increases the cooldown periods of runes. The goal of this is to reduce "healing/regen spam" as a technique for outliving all incoming damage. Before you think But I want to survive forever! keep in mind that monsters use infusions too. If fighting an enemy who frustratingly keeps using a regeneration infusion remember that its cooldown will keep getting worse and worse as it uses it more, eventually allowing you to do sufficient damage to kill it before it heals again.
Race and Class Restrictions
Each character starts with either 2-3 infusions or runes on its body, depending on race and class. Shaloren, ogres, skeletons and ghouls start with runes (1 shielding and 1 phase door), all others races start with inscriptions (1 regeneration and 1 wild) and mana-using characters also start with a manasurge rune.
Skeletons and Ghouls may not use infusions at all. Their undead bodies cannot accept nature's balms. This means they require very carefully timed use of shield runes to survive the early game. Shield runes are essential to prevent taking damage in the first place, so that healing is made unnecessary.
Characters who take the vow of Antimagic may not use runes.
Note that an alchemist's golem also has 3 rune slots (they cannot have infusions) and more can be granted through talents. You must switch control to your golem to attach a rune. Popular golem runes include shields, heat beam and acid wave.
Like any other item, inscriptions can have an ego. Inscriptions egos give them increased power, based on the value of a specific stat (according to the ego). For example, "... of the sneak" increases the power based on your cunning. Sometimes they can scale much higher than regular inscriptions, making an ego relevant to your class especially desirable.
Infusions are natural inscriptions. They only work on living things, so the undead and constructs such as golems cannot use infusions.
|Activate the infusion to heal yourself for x life over y turns.|
|Activate the infusion to cure yourself of one random (physical, mental, magical) effect and reduce all damage taken by y for z turns.
Also removes cross-tier effects of the affected types for free.
|Activate the infusion to heal yourself for x life.|
|Activate the infusion to increase movement speed by x for y game turns.
Any actions other than movement will cancel the effect. Also prevent stuns, dazes and pinning effects for z turns. Note: since you will be moving very fast, game turns will pass very slowly.
|Activate the infusion to increase three of your primary stats by x for (7-14) turns.
Also while Heroism is active, you will only die when reaching z life. However, when below 0 you cannot see how much life you have left, and you will die if you did not heal before the effect ends. It will always increase your three highest stats.
|Activate the infusion to spit a bolt of poison doing x nature damage per turns for 7 turns, and reducing the target's healing received by y.
The sudden stream of natural forces also strips you of one random detrimental magical effect.
Wild Growth infusion is obtained from the alchemist quest.
|Activate the infusion to cure yourself of one random (physical, magical, mental) effect and increase affinity for all damage by x% (scales with Constitution) for y turns.
Also removes cross-tier effects of the affected types for free.
Runes are magical inscriptions. You may not use runes if you are Antimagic. Unlike infusions, runes can be used by the undead and constructs such as golems.
|Activate the rune to create a protective shield absorbing at most x damage for y turns.|
|Activate the rune to teleport randomly in a range of (x-y).
Afterwards you stay out of phase for y turns. In this state all new negative status effects duration is reduced by a, your defense is increased by b and all your resistances by c.
|Activate the rune to teleport randomly in a range of x with a minimum range of y.
Afterwards you stay out of phase for z turns. In this state all new negative status effects duration is reduced by a, your defense is increased by b and all your resistances by c.
|Activate the rune to unleash a manasurge upon yourself, increasing mana regeneration by x over 10 turns and instantly restoring z mana.
Also when resting your mana will regenerate at 0.5 per turn.
|Activate the rune to become invisible (power x) for y turns.
As you become invisible you fade out of phase with reality, all your damage (dealt) is reduced by 40%.
|Activate the rune to get a vision of the area surrounding you (x radius) and to allow you to see invisible and stealthed creatures (power y) for z turns.
Your mind will become more receptive for a turns, allowing you to sense any (one creature type) around.
|Controlled Phase Door|
|Activate the rune to teleport (to target tile) in a range of x.|
|Activate the rune to fire a beam of heat, doing x fire damage over 5 turns
The intensity of the heat will also remove one random detrimental physical effect from you.
|Activate the rune to direct a cone of chilling stormwind doing x cold damage.
The storm will soak enemies hit reducing their resistance to stuns by 50% then attempt to freeze them for 3 turns with an apply power of y. The deep cold also crystallizes your mind, removing one random detrimental mental effect from you.
|Activate the rune to unleash a wave of acid in a cone of radius x, doing y acid damage.
The corrosive acid will also disarm enemies struck for z turns with an apply power of a. The surge of natural acids will remove one detrimental magical effect from you.
|Activate the rune to fire a beam of lightning, doing x to y lightning damage.
Also transform you into pure lightning for z turns; any damage will teleport you to an adjacent tile and ignore the damage (can only happen once per turn)
|Rune of the Rift|
|Inflicts (150 + Willpower*4) temporal damage. If your target survives, it will be sent 4 turns into the future.
It will also lower your paradox by 60 (if you have any). Note that messing with the spacetime continuum may have unforeseen consequences.
|Activate the rune to create a protective shield absorbing and reflecting at most x damage for y turns.
The effect will scale with your magic stat.
Taints are corrupted versions of runes, magical inscriptions tainted by darkness.
|Strip the protective barriers from your mind for 5 turns, allowing in the thoughts all creatures within 10 squares but reducing mind save by 10 and increasing your mindpower by 35 for 10 turns.|
The following Taint is found only on the Withering Beast and unable to be acquired by the player.
|Activate the taint on a foe, removing x effects from it and healing you for y for each effect.|