2019-12-20 Earth Blood

Björn Buckwalter recently asked me for more info on the Earth Blood I keep mentioning in monster descriptions and elsewhere.

It goes back a long way. I think it was also mentioned in the Tomb of Abysthor by Necromancer Games which I read way back when. It’s never quite explained and I think that’s OK. I can keep adding properties to it. 🙂

In general, when reading some other setting material, I don’t enjoy reading long sections about the origin of magic or pseudo-scientific explanations about things. Remember how orcs and goblins are born out of mud in the Lord of the Rings? There is precious little explanation given for this and that’s great.



When I see/hear the term “Earth Blood” or something like it, it reminds of the book series “Thomas Covenant: Unbeliever” by Stephen R Donaldson. In the second book “The Illearth War”, the protagonists seek a magical construct called The Seventh Ward to defeat a great evil. It is the “Blood of the Earth”, the source of the power that the Lords of Revelstone wield.

Anonymous 2019-12-20 13:46 UTC

Oh! I think I’ve read the first Thomas Covenant trilogy! Indeed, perhaps some of that remained stuck in my memory, too.

– Alex Schroeder 2019-12-20 20:15 UTC

Many thanks for this Alex. 🙂

In many ways what you describe, especially with the veins and the intersections thereof, is quite similar to Monte Cook’s Earthblood, but I like how you tie pre-existing phenomena (goblins, ettins, magic) to it rather than add new feats and spells around it.

Do you envision Earth blood as something physical (as opposed to just a torrent of immaterial energy)? I envision something that looks like blackish mud, probably warm, often bubbling. Maybe I am reading too much between the lines of your Goblin post.

Finally, to the extent it is featured in Halberds & Helmets the effects of Earth blood seem to be mainly perverting or corrupting (see, for example, chimera or goblins) while as described on this page it seems to be more weird and magic rather than inherently corrupting or “evil”. I infer that in its natural milieu (the veins) it is a neutral force, but when Earth is wounded and Earth blood leaks forth it spoils and becomes corrupting just like an untended wound will fester and leak pus.

Björn Buckwalter 2019-12-20 22:40 UTC

You’re welcome! I think I’d play it as a natural force like lava or radiation: it’s not good or bad but it’s not a place for humans to be. I mean, to the goblins, it gives life. I’m enamoured with the idea of spontaneous generation. But it’s like vivimancy: just because it is the opposite of necromancy doesn’t mean that it’s benevolent. Life can be cancer, disease, parasites, fungus infections. I guess I also want to bring two ideas together: magic is dangerous and deadly, and at the same time, spells work and can be relied on. How can the two be reconciled? Well, if the known spells are basically the safe techniques magic users and elves have discovered, then the remaining vastness of magical energies are mutagenic and dangerous. We all need warmth but the inner core of the Earth is deadly, the surface of the sun is deadly. In my fantasy setting, we control only a tiny bit of magic. The rest is earth blood, or elemental energies like fire and ice. Thus, if there is a spill site of earth blood, then not only would all sorts of mutations and monsters abound, perhaps there will also be gates to other realms, and passages into the netherworld. All of which can be a source of power, and all of which is super dangerous for mortals to handle. I like the idea of treating it like a festering wound. From the perspective of human settlements, it sure must seem like that.

As for it’s manifestation, I’ve never given it much thought. If you think of it as bubbling mud, it might work, but at the same time the physicality might invite things like transportation, bottling, and other such things. That might work for your campaign, but it also makes it more mundane. In order to be as terrifying as radioactive material, it might be more interesting to treat is as the agent that turns cold earth to bubbling mud: an invisible, ether-like substance that cannot be interacted with directly.

Food for thought in any case!

– Alex Schroeder 2019-12-20 23:29 UTC

Indeed! I certainly like that it “cannot be mined and transported elsewhere, thus explaining why it cannot be bought and sold”.

Björn Buckwalter 2019-12-20 23:43 UTC

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