See the link below for the common Futhark runes.
Basically, I'm claiming that the army is using the runes as a sort of shorthand alchemy. This is psuedo Britian in psuedo streampunk Victoriana. Colonies, racism, military conflicts in the colonies - all that.
Since some people claim the runes can have double meanings, I'm sort of claiming that each rune could be used in a positive and negative way (so say ansuz isa mannuz would ask God to protect someone from ice.) Now, the runes may not have the Norse meanings, or the Norse _order_ of spelling things, since this is more a way for someone to translate desire into magic.
I bet if someone wasn't taught the full meaning of a rune, you might get runes that either 'look different' to someone else, or a rune that _seems_ to do the 'wrong' thing. Since the result of a rune is dependant on the meaning attached to it, that could mean that runes could be used in the 'wrong' manner.
If the rune meaning is constant, then people may be able to get more complex spells via using them in more subtle manners. So, for example, 'cen' could be used to find someone via 'lighting' a path.
Rune magic is probably considered to be less elegant compared to circles since it has a shorter prep time, and is usually used in a very plain manner. I suspect the mental composing takes longer.
Combining runes with circle magic could also have complications especially since the rune could be both positive and negative. Some people may create a specific 'positive' symbol.
So - what happens if someone has a cryptic document, and has someone draw a rune as part of a long set of instructions? Could you booby trap things that way?
But yeah - basically, nifty ideas.