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Valkyrie Magazine and RPGnet are happy to provide this review.

The Blood Wood

Earthdawn Sourcebook

FASA Corp.

148 pp

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

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