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Saturday, 5 June 2021

Hard-as-nails heroes wanted

New news about Blood Sword 5e, the D&D-style RPG version of the Blood Sword gamebook saga. I've just been looking at the Quickstart and it's pretty impressive how this project is shaping up. The team is doing a stunning job, the chosen artists are top-notch and their styles mesh well with Russ' original illustrations. The 5e rules developed for the setting balance perfectly the Old School flavour of the series with a more fresh and modern RPG system, and as for the adventure -- well, I was expecting a simple adaptation or a sort of remake, and it would have been fine, but the authors have gone a lot further. “The Cursed Temple” isn't just a prequel of The Battlepits of Krarth, it rivisits the setting entirely with a brand-new plot and a truly grim, anti-heroic spirit that powerfully emerges from the story and from the characters' backgrounds. If you're into D&D-style roleplaying (90% of the gaming community these days) I think you're going to love it. 

The Quickstart is free with subscription to the project newsletter. You can also try it this weekend on Discord -- the one-shots are free to play (though with limited slots, so it's first-come, first-served) and you can also invite your friends. For once I'm leaving comments on to get your feedback. 


  1. If I were to rewrite Book 5, how would I go about it?
    Do I have to pay you royalties?

    1. You'd have to license it if you wanted to do it commercially, but not if it's just being issued as a free fanfic thing. And tbh it would not be worth doing commercially. My advice, if you want to put in the effort of writing a gamebook, would be to do an original one of your own devising. Paul Gresty offered to rewrite Book 5 using my notes, and I had to talk him out of it because it would have eaten up months of his time for no reward. Anyway, I've given my rewrite notes to the guys at Tambu (also available on my Patreon btw) so those ideas might make it into the RPG.

  2. I've just remembered something. This story is very strange but its 100% true. What do you think?

    Back in 2,002 I got hold of A Copy of Bloodsword Book 2, I'd heard that The Bloodsword Books were very difficult and figured The Book would give me a very good challenge

    But I was wrong. That's because in my 1st and only playthrough I somehow managed to follow the optimum path through the book without using a guide

    After finding it very easy to beat A Book that's supposed to be very hard I was very disgusted by how easy it was and binned it

    1. Nice story! Aren't comments great?

    2. Cocky little one aren’t you?
      The essence of role playing is to enjoy the adventure... to breathe in the cold winter air as Uraba the deer passes you the Iron Bell.
      Book 2 was not easy but I took the liberty of getting Augustus to fly me to the shores of Wyrd before I fried him with a Nemesis Bolt.
      I then collected his Magic Carpet and the white amulet and dragged the carpet to Crescentium (I still count it as 3 items of encumbrance).
      I use the carpet (flown by Shanhans) in Book 3 along with the flying horse to remdezvous with Hunguk.
      After that, Shanhans flies me by carpet to Hakbad but we also stop by to get the Tree of Life from the Magians. And the High Priest’s wand.
      I also kick the bottle and get 3 wishes. But this time I need for use the Genie for transport nor to fight against the Magians.
      And the wand is used against the 7-in-one, expending its power.
      I now use the wand in 2021, having modified it to harness the rays of the sun, to charge my smartphone via USB...

    3. Damn autocorrect.
      Need not use the Genie.

    4. I'll be interested to see how the Tambu team handle Saiki and Aiken -- and Augustus too, come to that. He always struck me as a "Graham Greene" type character; I mean like one of the supposedly incidental but very vivid characters GG would put in halfway through a novel.

    5. Augustus is a badass, being able to Hotwire the magic carpet.
      His spells though.... ladies drinks....

  3. I played the series through again and again, enjoyed the story more than the victory. Glad i didn't forgo the pleasure i got after the first time i completed themby binning them

    1. Kind words, thanks. I think there ought to be more to a good gamebook than solving it like a puzzle. Exploring the various story threads is also fun -- for some of us, anyway.

  4. I played a good session of the quickstart last night. It got quite grimdark early on with a couple of near deaths, but we managed to creep through to the end.

    1. I keep hearing this word grimdark. I'm not sure if I feel confident enough to use it in a sentence myself, though :-)

    2. Just ease yourself into it. Perhaps a few reps in front of the mirror before joining grimdark company. A couple of grimdark bon-mots written on your shirt cuffs. You'll soon be out and around in grimdark society!

    3. Maybe my first step should be to switch from shorts, t-shirt and baseball cap. I just don't feel it's the right look. (My wife will enthusiastically second that, seeing as the man she married was more a black-jeans-and-cowboy-boots type.)

    4. I tried Mork Borg for the first time the day after, that got grimdark even quicker. I'm not sure grimdark may even be the right word.

      As for Bloodsword. There's a lot of familiarity there baked in. I think that some sacrifices were made to get the quickstart out and familiar to the 5E crowd, so I'd like to see what happens with the full rules. Trying to get our heads round being Audacious or Shivering.

    5. We've seen our share of miserable, untrumpeted, futile deaths in Legend games, though I usually feel they're more "Battle of Maldon" than "grimdark" as such. Just a question of terms, perhaps.

    6. Miserable, untrumpeted, futile deaths are what make the true moments of glorious triumph so much sweeter.

  5. Back in 2,000 I found Over The Blood Red Sea's in A Local Library, I spend many happy hours in Book 3, I made loads of notes on her, renewed them every 4 years and the notes I made are listed below

    Copies of these notes are below. I have all 8 Books, I want to start using her again and I want to know if she's good enough

    She has the same 1st name as my favorite, at the time, Female Character from The Bill, as her Middle-Name I gave her The 1st Name of my Favorite, at the time, Bill Character that got murdered and as her surname I gave her the same surname as my favorite, at the time, male Character from The Bill

    My favorite, at the time, Female Bill Character was June Ackland, my Favorite, at the time, Bill Character that got murdered was Joe Morgan and my favorite, at the time, Male Bill Character was Reg Hollis, which is why she got the character the name June-Joe-Hollis

    I got her to Rank 13, but I only had access to Book 3 and even worse is that it was A Library Book, it wasn’t A School Library Book and I couldn’t borrow the book as often as I would have liked

    She’d gotten A Brigatine on Vervayens Isle that had started with A Average Quality Crew and now has A Excellent Quality Crew but after being A Guest of The Reavers of The unnumbered Isles she joined The Reavers whilst they were made Slaves

    She also has 1 Barque with A Poor Quality Crew at Dweomer and 1 Barque and 1 Brigatine at Smogmaw, both with A Poor Quality Crew

    Stat wise she’d increased her Ch to 12 by constantly rescuing The Ships Surgeon, her Magic to 12 via training in Dweomer, her Combat to 12 by constantly fighting Press-Gangs in Smogmaw, her Scouting to 12 by constantly getting lost in The Bluewood and finding her way out and gained +1 Thievery for catching A Killer

    The last time I used her she was Rank 13, she’d reached Rank 6 fighting Pirates in A Pub, reached Rank 10 by constantly fighting Pirates, reached Rank 12 by constantly fighting Slavers and Rank 13 by learning Secrets from Specters

    Her Stamina was 16, for gaining 10 ranks she gained +4 4 times. +5 3 times, +6 once, +3 once and +1 once, or +41 Stamina, which gives him 57 Stamina and she gained another 4 Stamina for entering The Sacred Chamber at The Heart of The Sleeping Isle whilst at full health, which gives her a total of 61 Stamina

    On her is 601,352 Shards, 1 +5 Magic Celestium Wand, 1 suit of +5 Defence Plate Armour, 1 +4 Combat Sword, 1 +3 Scouting Sextant, 1 pair of +1 Thievery Lockpicks, 1 +1 Sancitity Holy Symbol and 1 Lantern

    She has 1 House on Vervayens Isle and in it are 25,753 Shards, 4 Witch’s Hands, 1 Black Cat, 1 Mariners Rutter, 1 Smoulder Fish, 1 Pirate Captains Head, 1 +0 Combat Club, 1 Deck of Marked Cards, 1 Bottle of Wine, 1 Sea Green Lens and 1 Spectral Veil

    She has Quarters in 1 of Dweomers Magic Colleges and in it are 23,014 Shards, 4 Witch’s Hands, 1 Black Cat, 1 Mariners Rutter, 1 Smoulder Fish, 1 Pirate Captains Head, 1 +0 Combat Club, 1 Deck of Marked Cards and 1 Bottle of Wine

    She has A Shack in Smogmaw and in it are 26,211 Shards, 4 Witch’s Hands, 1 Black Cat, 1 Mariners Rutter, 1 Smoulder Fish, 1 Pirate Captains Head, 1 +0 Combat Club, 1 Deck of Marked Cards, 1 Lump of Copper, 1 Bottle of Wine and 1 Chunk of Selenium Ore

    She has no god but she does have 3 Blessings and they are 1 of Safety From Storms, 1 of Luck and 1 of Magic

    She has The Title Savior of Verayens Isles

    She has 13 Ticks in Book 3 and they are at 57, 494, 680, 659, 651, 56, 84, 68, 105, 120, 183, 470, 509 and 571

    She has 13 Codewords in Book 3 and they are Citrus, Cynosure, Calcium, Cerumen, Crag, Cheops, Cull, Cyclops, Catalyst, Curdle, Chance and Cithara

  6. I missed the Discord thing at the weekend, Dave, so hard lines I guess. Or Tosh Lines, perhaps.

  7. There was a mention of a reschedule on Discord. Fingers crossed for you.

    Tosh Lines! That's a name I haven't heard in a long time.

  8. Thanks for this, Dave! Also coming to this a bit late, but looking forward to trying it out!

    Interestingly I felt really weird having a Dwarf and Half-Elf among the pre-generated characters. It hadn't really struck me before how little I associate them with Legend as PCs! Still, I guess if you're aiming for the 5e crowd, dwarves and elves is maybe something they expect. I'd be interested to know how others feel about it.

    Also, I've never really associated Legend with "Grimdark". I tend to be a bit cynical about the term, associating it with attempts to be edgey - maybe others use it in a different way. If you mean high risk combat in a unforgiving world, then Dragon Warriors and Legend definitely give that.

    Plus Bloodsword is about the Apocalypse, so you know - it's always going to be bleaker than your average Legend game.

    1. Dwarves and elves aren't "races" in my Legend, Ray, as I'm sure we've discussed here before. People do get suspected of having faerie blood, but it's like the historical Middle Ages: superstition is the usual explanation. Certainly you would never meet a D&D style group of adventurers like that in a DW or Jewelspider campaign. Every adventurer is human -- or mortal, to use the term people from that world do. The only PC dwarf you'd ever meet in my Legend would be like Tyrion Lannister, a normal person with achondroplasia. Most of the people he or she met would probably accuse him/her of being part-faerie... but a "real" dwarf in Legend is far, far stranger than that.

      But as it's D&D I suppose players expect to have PC halflings and orcs and dwarves and whatnot. And alignments, which don't have any meaning in my Legend. But it's dawned on me recently that most people don't play in my version of Legend, they do use something much nearer to Blood Sword and/or D&D. I'm in no doubt that the Blood Sword 5e game will be played by hundreds of times more gamers than will even give Jewelspider a second glance.

      As for "grimdark" -- I'll hold up my hand to "grim" and "dark", and especially "bleak", but I don't roll them all together like that.