I do not know very much about the origins of Blood Sword, but the first book was published in 1987-88 by Knight Books (as far as I can ascertain). They were priced very reasonably for such good quality and thick books (£2.95)
They were authored by Dave Morris & Oliver Johnson, and illustrated by Russ Nicholson. The maps were suplied by Geoff Wingate.
Although it was a short series (of 5 books), it succeeded in immersing the players in the world. All the books were of high quality with respect to content. The books are long for a gamebook - more than 500 sections on average. However, they accomodate a wealth of detail and keep the reader engrossed.
The series has a compelling story, with elements primarily of Christian, Greek, Roman, Viking and Arabian mythology. It is an Alternative Earth where magic works (as is usual in Fantasy novels) and the aforementioned mythologies are real (reading the books, you will encounter numerous mythic references). The year is around 1000AD and the Judgement Day is nigh. You retrieve the Blood Sword, to save the world from the coming of the True Magi, who were killed in a Cataclysm 1000 years ago and now want to rule the world on their return. Only the Sword of Life - the Blood Sword, can stop them, apparently by giving life to that which is dead (or more precisely, undead).
The System ( A summary )
What THEY say: "Blood Sword can be played either solo or in a team of up to four people, providing the most exciting challenge yet in role-playing adventures, combining the best of role-playing, gamebooks and boardgames"
Up to 4 people can play in this unique gamebook system, and each player has different points of view for some paragraphs. More specifically, there are sometimes private sections for individual players to read, and they can choose whether or not to reveal the information to their team mates. There can be up to 4 player characters, with each player controlling one or more player characters OR with more than one character being controlled by a player. The authors seem to think this an arduous task, as they recommend that only advanced players try this (hmmph). The characters are anonymous, remaining nameless through the series. This makes for some interesting situations where you can see how the authors resolve this problem when the PCs talk with NPC from their past.
There is a level and experience point system, with players gaining experience when completing a book, OR when they perform an exceptional deed. An interesting rule implemented means that the more player characters that are in play, the weaker each is. An example : In Book 4, you can choose between 1 Level 20 character, 2 Level 10 characters, 3 Level 7 characters or 4 Level 5 characters.
There are 4 unique classes - the Warrior, the Trickster, the Sage and the Enchanter. The first is your typical bash-and-hack bravo. He fights well and is a damage absorber. The second is a thief. Despite the nice sounding title of "Trickster", this character remains a thief. However, he is supposed to be a thief with a heart. Sages are monkish sorts with mystical powers. Enchanters are the obligatory mages.
There are four attributes - Fighting Prowess, Psychic Ability, Endurance and Awareness. Fighting Prowess is a measure of how powerful a fighter the character. Psychic Ability is an indicator of the character's resistance to attack spells and (in the case of an Enchanter, his or her aptitude for magic). Awareness is "a difficult concept", as it encompasses quickness of thought, dexterity and general nous. Endurance is the attribute measuring the character's state of health; wounds are deducted from Endurance, and if it reaches zero then the character dies. Attributes are dependent on your level. This makes for simpler gameplay and admittedly has a certain charm about it, but you cannot "customise" your character by say making him a slightly better fighter.
There is a combat grid which shows the relative positions of the characters and monsters, even incorporating things such as obstacles (impassable squares) and areas which only monsters can position themselves in, but not player characters (like sea squares for water elementals).
Perhaps one flaw of the system is that it fails higher levels. In the book, armour serves to reduce damage sustained, and as an example, chainmail reduces damage sustained by the player by 3. However, this is of little use at higher levels. In addition, the combat system is rather simplistic - you roll your fighting prowess or under on two dice. The skill of the enemy is not taken into account, only your own. Thus, it is as easy to hit (but not to kill) a Frost Giant as a rat. As many magical weapons increase fighting prowess, a high level Warrior with a magical weapon can always hit his enemies. Another flaw is that of the movement grid. You can move an unlimited distance across the battle grid in one round - ridiculous.
There are touches of the authors' wry humour all around - at one point in Book 2, an imp asks you a question. The entry you turn to when you've written down your answer reads "If your answer is 'fire', turn to xxx. If it is something else, turn to xxx". Surprisingly, "fire" turns out to be the wrong answer. This probably made many a cheater grimace or laugh. None of the puzzles in Blood Sword irritate the reader (unlike Fighting Fantasy).
NB: The Associate would like to add: i might add, blood sword is related
to the dragon warriors rpg series.
the two of them created a six-book pack of sourcebooks related to an rpg world set in the blood sowr dworld of legend. you might want to toss that in.
|Number||Title||Do I have this?|
|1||The Battlepits of Krarth||Yes|
|2||The Kingdom of Wyrd||Yes|
|3||The Demon's Claw||Yes|
|5||The Walls of Spyte||Yes|
Handrawn Geographical Map of Legend (No, not by me)
Click on thumbnail for larger version (212KB)
EVEN larger version (947KB) (Any idea how long that took to upload? :) ) [Ed: Sadly, this was lost in an accident. Please be satisfied with the half-sized version.]
Handrawn Political Map of Legend (Not by me either)
Click on thumbnail for larger version (75KB)
EVEN larger version (298KB) [Ed: Sadly, this was lost in an accident. Please be satisfied with the half-sized version.]
For more Blood Sword maps, try:
Some material used with permission from Morgan's Virtual World (site now down)
Assistance in typing of some rules from nw.t who loves anonymity and esotericity (sic)
Unknown site not updated since Sept 1998 - URL unknown