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Runes are a kind of alphabetic form of writing used by various Germanic speaking groups since as early as the mid second century AD. The letters are arranged in an order different from the letters of the Latin alphabet, and this arrangement is called a futhark after the first six runic characters. Runes are thought to have descended from one of the northern Italic alphabets some time before the second century, though even this origin is unsure.

Several authors and conlangers have used existing futharks or have devised new ones for their works. Of note are J.R.R. Tolkien's Cirth, a runic alphabet devised for the Dwarvish languages. Another are the Britannian runes used in the popular Ultima series of computer games.