104 pages, 2003, $19.95
Of all the fantasy races present in tabletop role-playing, Elves
are perhaps the favorite of the most players. Numerous books are written with
this thought in mind, and Green Ronin's Bow & Blade - A Guidebook to Wood Elves
is no different. However, some odd choices in feats and prestige classes to include may leave
fans of Elves scratching their heads.
This book offers numerous new options for the player wanting to add some new flavor to his elf character, or the Game Master
wanting to inject some new life into a race that is prone to falling into a
stereotypical role. Opening with ideas for
modifying and customizing the Wood Elf race, it also includes five new sub-races: the
elemental Elves (Fire, Metal, Water and Wind) and the Feral Elves. It even includes
the option of converting Wood Elves to a type of elemental Elf. The only drawback to
these new races is the level adjustment attached to
each one (+2 for the Feral Elves and +3 for the elemental Elves). Sub-races with a
lower or non-existent level adjustment would go a long way to making Elven characters
that stick out from the typical expectation of elves easier, without greatly unbalancing
Over forty new feats are introduced in Bow & Blade including two new types
of feats: the Blood Magic and Soulbond feats. Surprisingly, and perhaps for the best,
a large number of these feats are not Elf race specific; but fans of Elves will probably
be disappointed. Some of the feats are duplicates of ones found in other sourcebooks,
but the variety is bound to provide something for everyone.
Joining these feats are seven new martial and magical arts styles along with seven new
prestige classes. Like the feats, the magical and martial arts styles are open to most
races. However, they have strict skill, feat, or spell level requirements. Strangely, in
a book dedicated to wood elves, none of the prestige classes require the character
to be of the elven races. Most also introduce a new concept; that of multiple entry
and progression paths, based on what entry prerequisites were met.
As one would expect, Bow & Blade provides several new creatures, although
only a few are truly memorable. Also, new spells, equipment and magical items are
detailed, and these are more likely than most of the other content to make it into
multiple adventures. Perhaps the single best content provided by the book is the
list of NPCs, with stats for levels one through twenty.
Despite the overall quality, it is bewildering to note the relative lack of Elven-specific
material in a book written as a guide especially for Elves. The material provided is
enough to interest many gamers, but a fan of Elves
might be better served by looking elsewhere.