I enjoy the base game, but sometimes you just want to have a big fight for the runes.
Here's a variant I came up with to help with that.
At the start of the game, players receive 0-1 dragon runes depending player preference.
Assemble the map, place starting locations. Then after home realms are down, take the quest card for each space you're using (not just setup quests, but the ones that include tiles like 4C, 8D, etc...) and put them in a deck and shuffle them.
Draw a quest card, the location of which determines where a dragon rune will be, placed face up. Once a map segment (the first number, 1-9) has a dragon rune in it, it is no longer eligible to have another dragon rune on that whole segment. Keep drawing until you get a space that you can place a rune on, following the same rule.
For example, if 5B gets a dragon rune on it, 5A, 5C, and 5D cannot have a rune on it.
Once these dragon runes are placed, they cannot be moved by any means.
Otherwise, receive other dragon runes as normal, either using fake runes or using the variant in the rulebook.
Either way, this variant is designed to get some big fights for locations early, instead of some players holding back. This method also still limits starting runes to 2 per player, but if you want those starting runes, you gotta go get them, and hold them.
Then, you still have that time limit and finesse strategy since you can still gain dragon runes normally.