The Blood Wood
Just about every fantasy game on the market has Elves in it in some way and
every game tries to depict them in some unique fashion. Earthdawn gives you a
choice, you can play the usual proud, haughty, aloof daisy muncher or you can
now try out a totally corrupt, near immortal being that has thorns bursting out
of its skin and lives in constant agony. Oh yes, you can't ever leave your home
land either. Excellent! Where do I sign up?
The centre of Elven life and culture is the Blood Wood, ruled over by it's
beautiful Queen Alachia. Once the glorious Wyrm Wood, it was changed forever by
the Scourge and the Ritual of the Thorns that its people underwent to protect
themselves against the Horrors when their wooden kaer fell. Now the Elves of
the Blood Wood are outsiders to the rest of Barsaive, shunned and feared for
what they are and what they did. This sourcebook provides all the info on the
Wood and its more infamous denizens.
Every section is prefaced by a short piece of fiction, presented as a journal
entry by various characters. These set the tone beautifully, some of them
horrifically as we find out the inner workings of the lives of the corrupted
Elves. The Ritual of the Thorns is described fully as is its effect on the mind
of its recipient, and those who see the results. Unsettling stuff.
The areas of the Blood Wood are split up geographically. First is the Elven
Court itself, and we are immediately plunged into fantasy stereotype.
Apparently the Queen has lots of appointed advisors, some of them support her
policies, some don't. The Noble houses idea is given yet another outing. Big
deal; every character portrayed is as dull as ditchwater, an unforgivable crime
given the setting. Things improve dramatically with the description of the
Forest's Heart, the centre of the woods corruption. The very ground bleeds here
and the trees constantly writhe in agony. This is what I call a fantasy setting
just ripe for adventuring in, if only some plots had been provided. The other
areas of the wood are broken down into north, west and south and are as tedious
as you could imagine. There's literally nothing I can draw your attention too
as it's all far too dreary.
Finally there's the game information itself with rules for playing a Blood Elf
(you must be joking) and all the beasties that are out to get you when you
start trespassing hereabouts. Top marks for the Death Daisy and the Giant
Carnivorous Squirrel though!
Overall: This is the collective work of seven different authors and it shows in
the varying quality. None of the book ever rises above merely interesting
however. What a shame, as the concept of the Blood Wood is fabulous, but this
treatment is strictly uninspired, which is probably why there are no adventure
ideas. Interesting but unnecessary.
Review by Barry Stevens