This series of adventures, more than any other, holds a special place in my heart; It is my “grail game.” The first book, H1 – Bloodstone Pass, is inspired by the Akira Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai” a film about a small band of heroes saving a poor farming village from a marauding group of bandits.
My good friend Matt had played through it with his other gaming group; the “cool kids” that were all a little older than me (Matt, Granger, Brian, Jeremy, Chris, and I’m sure others). Matt’s tales of fighting the Grandfather of Assassins, foiling an Arch-Liches plot, and eventually confronting Orcus, filled my head with wonder and a desire to navigate the mix of politics, military conquest and individual heroics.
I remember helping Granger photocopy the adventure so he could give a bound copy to Matt for his birthday. We spent quite a bit of time at Augsberger’s making those copies, all the while, I was hoping that I’d get a chance to play.
Eventually, through some convincing, Matt and Granger decided to co-DM this adventure for a new generation: Andreas, John, CJ, Jeremy, Geoff, Jason, Brian, and likely a handful of others. Granger was in charge of running the larger story, and where needed, Matt would pull a group of characters aside and run a side-scene. For me, the result was magical.
Our group had many colorful characters: a powerful, and completely insane, transforming wizard who had crafted a handful of powerful spells; a familiar of the wizard who single-handedly helped us successfully negotiate with the other fairy dragons; a priest of unfettered luck who complimented the obscene power of the wizard with added versatility, a dog-riding halfing clearly cribbed from Sir Didimus of the Labrynth, a failed assassin, and an impoverished viscount.
These characters combined to create an all-time favorite scene of our group: The Stone Giant smoothy. In exploring the caverns, the group had just turned the corner and at the end of the corridor was a room packed with Stone Giants. We were likely out of our league. But we quickly attempted a last ditch defense. My priest decide the best option was to drop a blade barrier in the giant filled room. The wizard thought it would be best to run, and opted to create a wall of force that would buy us all enough time to flee. The initiative fell, and the blade barrier went off, then the wall of force. The dimensions of the blade barrier perfectly fit the room, and all we could do is stare at the invisible barrier as the frost giants met their doom.
To date, I have been part of 4 instances of Bloodstone; We rarely make it past H1, but each time we enjoy the mass combat and seeing how the story unfolds: There was the Clan of the Sundered Shield, and their blood-feud over a rooster throwing contest; Witnessing the raw power of a mid-level druid as they work to take out a larger more capable force; Watching as the players try to work out who the traitor is.
Even now, I stare at that bound copy that Granger made (Matt gave it to me to run Bloodstone once upon a time) and the tattered remnants of H1 – Bloodstone Pass and think “Well, when am I going to run or play in this again?”
I hope someday. Maybe with my son. I guess with the Old School Revival, I could even play the game with the Rules as Written.