Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Lost Gem: Everstone: Blood Legacy

Today I want to discuss a game many gamers may have never heard of. It was produced during the d20 boom, and quickly dropped into near-obscurity. It was one of the best iterations of the d20 rules I have seen to this day.

Everstone: Blood Legacy was a not-quite-kitchen-sink d20 fantasy world, complete with plenty of rune technology and powerful weaponry. It retained a slight Iron Kingdoms-meets-Eberron vibe, but for that pulpy, fantasypunk feeling, I think it did it better than Eberron ever did.

The rules to Everstone largely revolved around the BESM d20 ruleset, but moved it more in line with standard d20. There was a basic, unified level progression. You customized your character with specific class abilities using Character Points, awarded at each level. Some class abilities had ranks, meaning you received extra bonuses the more times you invested in a specific talent. So, it was possible to create a very different class variant as you chose what class abilities were important to you. Hit dice were racial, which always made sense to me—why should a gnome barbarian have more hit points than a half-orc rogue? The system always struck me as potentially being able to handle Rifts—no mean task for d20 without a lot of work, normally!

Sure, the game had some typos, wasn’t supremely organized, and wasn’t totally polished, but few first efforts are. More importantly, it had a good system, great ideas, and a fun setting. I actually interviewed Jason Moon once on my old site, and got into the game quite a bit before getting a bit burnt out on d20-based products for a while. With a flooded market, and wanting to try new things, I lost track of it for a while. It happens.

So what happened to this game?

Well, from what I can gather, the author, the aforementioned Jason Moon, was unfortunately a victim of the Guardians of Order fiasco. I don’t know what else went on in the man’s life, but whatever it was, he hasn’t been heard from in any known gaming communities for a few years now. I’ve tried to track him down, but so far without success. I’ve been looking for The Shroud, which supposedly had some playtest copies circulating, but to no avail (if anyone knows where I can find a copy, I’d be supremely grateful). All is not lost, however.

The book is available on Amazon for only a few dollars used, and I most highly recommend picking it up if you want a d20 variant that’s highly playable right out of the gate. The Lannith Companion, detailing the world of Everstone, is still available at RPGNow. There is talk of someone working on an SRD for Everstone’s open game content. You can find the Everstone Companion as a pdf on the new Everstone Group (the old one was taken over by spammers). And there’s always the Wayback Machine, which allows us to check out some of the source material and downloads at the now-defunct Iron Golem Games.

Everstone: Blood Legacy isn’t Dead, it just turns out it's Mostly Dead. There have been a few folks who have stumbled upon it fairly recently, as well. I don’t know if it’ll ever be anything more than that, but I know I’m glad I rediscovered it. Lost gems are like that. For every game that’s still supported, there’s plenty that are simply gone. Their publishers or authors had an idea, went for it, and for whatever reason, pulled up stakes and disappeared. It’s almost like an archaeology study—it’s the same feeling I get when I see all those here-today gone-tomorrow RPGs advertised in old Dragon Magazine.

If you’re reading this, Jason Moon, thanks for Everstone. I hope you make your way back to it someday.


James V said...

At these prices?

Zachary The First said...

Rock. I hope you enjoy it!