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.
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • 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
  • 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.
  • 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.
      • The rules do state though that you can only move to either engage someone or flee.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Jerkass: You will hate the Faltyns.
  • Master of Illusion: Blue Moon.
  • Nintendo Hard: These gamebooks are hard. They become really hard when you don't have a Sage.
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • 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 Deathtrap..., he doesn't finish; but it's likely Deathtrap Dungeon.
  • 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.
  • 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.