The Blood Wood
An Earthdawn Sourcebook
- Writers: Rob Cruz, Roger Gaudreau, Jennifer Hartshorn, Ian Lemke, Diane Piron-Gelman, Louis J. Prosperi and Sharon Turner Mulvhill
- Number of Pages: 152
- Year of Publication: 1997
After reading this volume, I wonder how I could have ever considered Barsaive (the boxed campaign set) complete. The amount of information packed in this weighty volume is astounding. Before I launch into the details of the book, I want to get a minor gripe out of the way -- the lack of colour plates.
I remember welcoming each new Earthdawn volume with anticipation, knowing I would get another eight, full colour plates. Beautifully drawn, they would be the icing on the cake. The icing isn't here folks. It isn't bad that they didn't -- they don't add any new information -- but they make the volume all the more pleasant. The rest of the artwork is up to their usual standard, though there seems to be a little less of it than usual.
To the heart of the matter. The book is divided into nine logical sections, after the obligatory introduction that is pretty self-explanatory. The first section is the Overview which describes the blood elves as a race and how they fit into the larger canvas. It's basically a recap of what has been said before, but leads well into the rest of the book.
Next comes History, where we get to learn about the full history of the elves from where they began to the present day. There is a lot of detail here, and gives the Games Master a lot of information about the motivations of the blood elves. There is a large emphasis on the transformation and their present, but for good reason. This is the information that will be of the most value.
From the past we move firmly into the present with The Elven Court, heart of the lives of all elves (blood or otherwise). It explains how the court operates and its role in elven society. Each of the ranelles are detailed (elven houses) as well as the blood warders, exolashers and the courts dealings with other nations.
The next four sections deal with the four quarters of the forest proper -- The Forest's Heart, The Northern Reaches, The Western Borders and The Southern Fringe. Each deals with that area with the forest, with details on settlements, major houses, and its role in elven society as well as its historical place.
The final two sections round the book out with the all-important gaming information -- Game Information and Falor and Fauna. The first has statistics for blood warders and exolashers as well as new talents, magical items and the most important of all -- how to play a blood elf. The last section has statistics for the new flora and fauna.
Each section starts with a story to introduce the section (expect for the last two) which I found to be excellent. It gives an idea of what the section is going to be about, as well as getting to know more first hand information about the lives of blood elves. There are lots of adventure ideas in them. Its been a long time since I've read an Earthdawn sourcebook and found so much information.
I would love to see what the Earthdawn crew could do if they brought all this background information into a number of volumes. The Complete Guide to Barsaive. But I'm dreaming.
Summary: A must have volume, especially if you want to run adventures in Blood Wood. Even if you don't, this gives a great insight in playing blood elves (as NPCs) as well as their political place on the chessboard that is Barsaive. Well done.