Diablo 3 Skill Rune Guide
Runestones or more commonly, Skill Runes are runes that can be attached to abilities in Diablo 3 to give them different effects and make them more powerful. Every ability in Diablo 3 will be able to have a Runestone attached to it which will change that ability in some way. Previously in the earlier stages of beta Runestones could only be gathered from mob drops and they were very rare to come across but more recently you will unlock different Skill Runes as you level up throughout the game.
Each Skill Rune in the game will do something different either making the current ability you have stronger, making a simple melee hit an AoE melee hit or even something like adding a DoT (Damage over time) effect onto an ability. Each Skill Rune is different and it is more of a pick what fits your playstyle best type of system rather than the usual Blizzard cookie cutter you have to have this or you suck that we see in World of Warcraft. Players are able to interchange their Skill Runes at any time during the game but when they do the ability will be placed on a thirty second cooldown (preventing them from switching in the middle of a fight to cycle through powerful abilities).
Everyones first Skill Rune is unlocked around level 5 and they can be seen in the Skill Window after you click on any of your abilities. Below is a picture of the window where you can find the Skill Runes available for your Skill. If the picture is difficult for you to view you will have to click on it to enlarge it.
As you can see in the window there are five different skill runes for the ability I have chosen, Cleave. Also in the picture I am mousing over the first of those Skill Runes which is called Rupture. This ability says "Enemies slain by Cleave explode". While it is rather vague and sounds like it would be more fun than actually useful I can assume that when an enemy explodes it probably deals AoE damage to those around it. The second most important thing I want you to see in this window is that each of the Skill Runes past Cleave have a level requirement on them.
Those that did previous research on Diablo 3 might remember the old system where all Skill Runes were found and none were gained through simply leveling up. This has all changes now and Skill Runes are acquired through leveling. Now as I mentioned before you should pick the Skill Runes that best fit your playstyle rather than what you're told is great. If you enjoy farming more than PvP it would probably be smarter to pick a Skill Rune that deals AoE damage so you can take out large packs of mobs. Since there are hundreds of Skill Runes in the game I won't go through all of them but I would like to show you the few that are available to the Cleave ability for Barbarians.
The below pictures will give you an idea of what you should expect from the different types of Skill Runes in the game. You have already seen Rupture so I am going to start with the next Skill Rune, Reaping Swing.