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Literature / Blood Sword

Blood Sword is a series of gamebooks created by Oliver Johnson and Dave Morris and published by Knight Books in the late 1980s. It is set in the invented fantasy world of "Legend", the authors' own fantasy world, which was the setting for their Dragon Warriors role-playing game too. The storyline involves a group of adventurers who, after emerging victorious from a grueling adventure in the Battlepits of Krarth, stumble by pure chance upon the plot of the five True Magi, evil entities who were thought to have been destroyed during a catastrophic magic explosion centuries before, and are now trying to reincarnate on Earth and bring about eternal damnation. After surviving an attack from a couple of henchmen of Blue Moon (the eldest and most powerful of the Magi), the adventurers are given the scabbard of Blood Sword, the only weapon the True Magi actually fear, by an old man mortally wounded in the attack... and from thereon, begin their quest to reunite the pieces of the sacred sword and stop the True Magi before the end of the Millennium and the coming of Judgement Day.

The books are designed for multi-player, co-operative play, though there was also a single-player option, and one player could control more than one character at a time. A party could consist of up to four players, with each player being either a Sage, Enchanter, Trickster or Warrior. Each of the classes is well-balanced and offer a different playing style from the others. Characters advance in level, gaining power as the series progress, and are carried forward from book to book, giving the experience of one long story.

Each player is autonomous — often paragraphs will be for one player's eyes only, and he'll be privy to some information that he is free to withhold from the rest of his party.

The first three books were also adapted into a children's book series (also three books) called The Chronicles of the Magi in the late 1990s by Dave Morris. They feature several of the events and plot points used in the Blood Sword series, although with some change in the order they happen in. Two original characters, Altor and Caelestis (a warrior-monk and a thief), take what would be the player's role in the story.

The series has been reprinted by Fabled Lands publishing, with the first 4 having been done so far.

Blood Sword provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Action Girl: Possibly. The gender of the adventurers is unspecified, so you can imagine some or all of them to be female. In the reprint, "he or she" is the third person.
  • Always Accurate Attack: Because the combat rules have your characters roll against their skill in attacking (a roll of equal or lower than your skill means a success), your characters (except the Sorcerer) can reach a high enough experience level that they will NEVER miss their attacks even without a magic weapon. Unfortunately there are quite a few enemies who are equally skilled and your character will be taking damage each round, unless you elect to dodge that turn.
  • Angel Unaware: An archangel and Thor are all seemingly human characters who help you out. Fatima is a very powerful sorceress who initially acts like defenseless woman.
  • An Axe to Grind: In the 2nd book, if your party goes through the gate of carnage and has a Sage and a Warrior, they can find and make the most use of the legendary Axe of Heraklos. This is a magical golden axe that gives a bonus to aim in most character's hands. However if the Sage is present, he realizes that it's no standard magic axe and in the hands of a Warrior, the axe can be thrown up to 2 squares away and return to his hand.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: In this case, it's an arrogant samurai-wizard. Icon the Ungodly is from Yamoto, the expy Japan and he's about as arrogant as he is vengeful - which is really saying something. Your characters are astonished at the heights of his arrogance, when he pronounces that for your last duel it is appropriate that someone with the pedigree of the Angel of Death bears witness.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: The True Magi; the "real" wizards who practiced a form of magic lost to the present; escaped from a botched Summoning Ritual to become Celestial Bodies, stars/comets in the sky that affect the word. They actually did it on purpose to learn The Music Of The Spheres
  • Attack Backfire: In one of the gamebooks you can try dealing with a huge Djinni by blasting it with the Orb of Fire. He finds it refreshing and it doesn't end well for the character attempting it...
  • Cool Sword: Most of the magic weapons you can find are a Cool Sword of some kind with a legendary background. There's an invisible, crystal sword used by Loge Skyrunner (Loki), Blutgetranker - a sword made from a sliver of the divine sword of the god Frey, a non-magical sword with a specially forged blade that's so flexible it can be worn as a belt, some generic magic swords that give decent damage bonuses and of course the Blood Sword and its twin, the Death's Claw.
  • Curse: Curses show up fairly frequently in the series. Examples include, Hungkuk the Pirate King who is doomed to forever sail across the dimensions (and you could end up sharing his fate...) and you can find a sacrificial knife on the altar of an evil god. If you decide to pick it up, then the curse on this knife will destroy all your current and future possessions except the Blood Sword parts (you can eat food and drink a potion on the spot though). To slightly make up for this major curse, the knife does give a small bonus to hit and damage.
  • Crossover Cosmology: Greek mythology; Norse mythology; Babylonian, Christianity and more. They'll have Fantasy Counterpart Culture names though.
    • Often brought up in Contemplate Our Navels fashion. Good characters will discuss how Truth can have many forms. Evil characters will state men shape myth into what they want.
  • Badass Normal: The Warrior and the Trickster.
  • Bag of Spilling: Total inventory loss between the 4th and 5th book; except for the Blood Sword. Although you keep your stats and experience.
  • Balancing Death's Books: You can't bring someone back from Sheol without leaving someone behind.
  • Big Bad: The True Magi, though Blue Moon is the most prominent.
  • Celestial Body: The True Magi are comets/stars whose light can influence things. And they can direct their servants personally.
  • Charm Person: The Servile Enthrallment spell. Not surprisingly, it's the hardest spell to cast.
  • Combat Medic: The Sage.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Several demons and gods in the series give special commentary on this should you beat them.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The True Magi were humans once, but now they have become this. It was actually their plan all along.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: The end of the Millennium is coming. Somewhat played with in that you are not out to prevent it, but rather to make sure the True Magi cannot infest the world with their evil, so that when God comes to judge humanity, He will find it worthy of Heaven.
  • Evil Prince: Susurrien
  • Failed a Spot Check: Despite having such cunning and intelligent people in your party like the Trickster and Sage, it takes the summoning of the Faltyn to find out that the sorceress Psyche is not that world's equivalent of a Greek. If you summon the Faltyn you find out that her name had been mispronounced and is actually Saiki, she's racially Yamato and she's the sister of your arch-enemy Aiken (aka Icon the Ungodly). Otherwise you never find out this information, despite her not disguising herself.
  • Fantasy Metals: In Book 5, your party can find mithril armour. This gives the best armour rating in the game. For the Enchanter, they can get a suit of electrum alloy which has an enchantment to recover some hit point after each battle.
  • Fighting a Shadow: It's mentioned in the last book that killing a demon sends it to Hell for 100 years. ...however, if you succeed in your quest; no demon will ever enter the physical plane again.
    • Susurrien uses Magi Babble to explain that he created avatars of evil gods that weren't really them.
  • Fire and Brimstone Hell: Red Death's personal domain.
  • Forgot About His Powers: There are times when the Enchanter apparently forgets s/he has a teleporting spell.
  • Genre Shift: The series starts as a typical Sword & Sorcery, moves into All Myths Are True, and then Messiah Creep has the last book somewhat remniscient of The Last Battle.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: Of the "collect the parts" style; starting in the second book you are collecting the scabbard, hilt, and blade of the Blood Sword; aka the Sword of Life.
  • Guile Hero: The Trickster.
  • Highly Visible Ninja: The assassins from Book 1 are all black body suits, throwing stars and, according to a victorious barbarian, jump kicks. Of interest is that they are likely NOT from Yamoto. In the Dragon Warriors rpg (which Bloodsword evolved out of), yes Yamoto has the assassin class, but they stay in Yamoto. Assassins encountered are either locals or from the world's expy of India or Arabia.
  • Hopeless Boss Fight: You cannot beat Angvar, aka Tor; aka Thor. But he will respect you if you survive his beating down on you. (and even more so if you surrender only after you fought your fullest, ie, more than half of your HP is gone.)
    • Technically, the only thing "preventing" you from beating him is his high Endurance; 950. Using the returning throwing Axe of Heraklos from the second book combined with the enchanted mask that gives you two moves per round; you could step away from Angvar and throw the axe indefinitely, per the rules of combat. This is not considered.
  • Hope Is Scary: In book 4, your guide describes hope as the cruellest of the evils to escape Pandora's Box since it only makes the others more painful.
  • Honor Before Reason: The Warrior class is essentially a questing knight and should act accordingly. If he does something cowardly or dishonourable, then there's a chance he'll get an experience point deduction penalty.
  • Immortality: The books have almost every version, including an unkillable (but defeatable) pirate called Hungkuk the Pirate King.
  • Infinity+1 Sword: The Blood Sword, the sword created by the Archangels to destroy the living dead. It starts off as the Sword of Plot Advancement; (and just losing the pieces gives a Non Standard Game Over) but once you complete it; the game admits you are now strong enough to challenge the True Magi without it. Indeed, it is possible to beat the final book without ever using it; but only if you do everything perfectly. That said, you want to have the Blood Sword. It has the greatest bonuses out of any weapon you can find and better yet, if you are a Warrior you can have it and its twin for double the effects.
  • Jerkass: You will hate the Faltyns.
  • Master of Illusion: Blue Moon.
  • Matryoshka Object: The final boss of the 3rd book, is a semi-divine statue called the Seven-in-One. It lives up to its name as each time you kill it, it breaks apart to reveal a smaller but much quicker statue inside.
  • Nintendo Hard: These gamebooks are hard. They become really hard when you don't have a Sage.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: In Book 4, your characters can imitate Achilles and take a dip in the river Styx. This has a chance of killing you instantly, but if you are lucky then you have a 1 in 6 chance of taking no damage from an attack when you are hit in battle. You then have the option of bathing in the Styx again. Your chance of dying goes up, but if you succeed then you get a 2 in 6 chance of being immune to a strike. If you are still greedy for more invulnerability, well 3rd time in the Styx is automatic death.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: In the remake of the first book, Sages can now Levitate away if they Exorcise the spirit of The Man Behind the Man instead of being trapped forever. But only the Sage, Immediate Deliverance, aka Teleport, can't go far enough.
  • One-Hit Kill: If you can get the Charm Person spell; Servile Enthralment; to work; unless you command that character to attack it's friends, it will not attack you anymore and you can kill it at your leisure. Latter book "boss" enemies are explicitly immune.
    • One should note; the fight against three avatars of evil gods summoned by Susurrien is possible when you consider two of them are not immune; but it would take rolls higher than 9 or 10 to succeed.
    • Some enemies can do the same on you, including Nasu an avatar of a disease god. His touch can instantly kill you by infecting you with an insta-kill disease, unless you resist it.
  • Only Mostly Dead: There are very few one-use items that can being someone back from the dead; if their body isn't destroyed; and they're all gotten (and can be missed) in the first 2 books. One can also reverse a ritual to turn a party member into a zombie in the second book; resulting in a resurrection, this makes that party member stronger because they "no longer fear death."
  • Orphean Rescue: In the 4th book; you have to go to Sheol to get the Blood Sword back. The only person who can send you there in a way that allows you to return wants you to bring back a loved one of his.
  • Our Giants Are Bigger: There's at least one opponent of this type in every book: Skrymir in Book 1, Thanatos in 2, the female cyclops in 3, Typhon and Garm in 4, Snorrid in 5.
  • Plaguemaster: Plague Star. Also Nasu, on a smaller scale...
  • Recurring Boss: Icon will make your life hell in both Books 1 and 3. And even Book 4, while he's at it.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Icon lives and breathes this trope...
  • Scars Are Forever: In the 3rd book, if you are still on the djinn when the cult uses powerful fire-based magic on it, your party will be badly burnt and scarred leading to a permanent reduction in your hit points. Permanent until you are brought back from the land of the dead with completely new bodies.
  • Shock and Awe: The Enchanter's most powerful spells, Sheet Lightning and Nemesis Bolt, are all electricity-based.
  • Shout-Out: In the first book; you encounter a group of Barbarians who comment that the Battlepits aren't as hard as Deathtr..., he doesn't finish; but it's likely Deathtrap Dungeon.
  • Spin-Off: The Bloodsword series is a spinoff of Morris and Johnson's Dragon Warriors rpg books, with a few changes and more fleshing out.
  • Squishy Wizard: The Enchanter.
  • Staying Alive: Icon just won't die. He'll animate his body/turn to mist if you "kill" him; then regenerate. Not even directly getting thrown into the Gate Of Death killed him. It's implied that his final defeat he lets you kill him permanently since he thought it was poetic.
  • Take a Third Option: Every book has a final boss (1 - Skyrmir (though he's an optional opponent), 2 - Witch King, 3 - Seven-in-One, 4 - Icon the Ungodly, and 5 - The True Magi). With the exception of Icon the Ungodly, every final boss can be instantly defeated without swinging a sword at them. The True Magi and Skyrmir can even defeated without entering combat at all.
  • Took a Level in Badass: At the end of Book 4, your characters have been changed by their return from the Land of the Dead. Each one of them gets a new ability. The Sage has improved skill in healing, the Trickster gets a greatly improved dodge, the Enchanter has an easier chance of casting a spell, and the Warrior gets a major upgrade. He no longer gets a skill penalty when unarmed and can use a weapon in each hand for dual attacks (including having 2 of the Infinity+1 Sword).
  • Thanatos Gambit: One of the possible endings of the series. Remember, the final judgement is minutes away so if the last of the True Magi currently exists only as an illusion in your mind, dying before he can become physical can win you the game.
  • The Undead: Blood Sword is particularly effective against them... and the True Magi are among their number!
  • Updated Re-release: The Fabled Lands Publishing reprint has a few corrections made. One of the reasons the 5th book is taking longer is that it will have the most updates, according to Word of God.
  • Worthy Opponent: Icon seems to consider you this after you defeat him for the final time in Book 4.
  • Disc One Nuke: Multiple Adjust scrolls, (found early in the first dungeon), can make the Enchanter able to keep in mind and cast the best spell in the game in both the first 2 rounds of a combat with negligle chance of failure. One shot will kill almost anything, 2 will kill everything except Angvar.