Malice From The Middle Vale

Set in the magical fantasy realm of Yarnia, Malice From The Middle Vale is the first book of the Scythe-Bearer Trilogy by David Sharrock. A gamebook consisting of 650 paragraph entries and 538 pages, you will explore the world of the woven yarn, seeking endless adventures and the life of a hero.

You have come of age and can finally choose freedom over a life of servitude toiling on your father’s farm. The world of Yarnia is a strange and tantalising place, but your experiences beyond the borders of the small village of Breetun are limited. You aim to change this, setting out for the city of Verdandi in the hope of finding work and coin enough to fund a life of adventure.

But dark events are in motion and a looming tragedy is about to steal away your dreams. The forces of chaos are about to be unleashed…

Joe Dever’s Lone Wolf, together with the roleplaying game Wyrd (previously sold by Forever People), largely inspired the Woven Paths series of gamebooks. The setting is Yarnia, a place where magic, mysticism and reality meet, with hints of British history mixed with high fantasy bordering, at times, on horror.

This first trilogy in the Woven Paths series follows the exploits of the Scythe-Bearer, a former farmhand whose family is killed when a coven of monstrous witch-like creatures attack his village and abduct his younger brother. The Scythe-Bearer must embark on a cross-country quest to rescue his brother, starting in the dangerous wilderness south of his village before culminating in the lost dungeon known as the Vallorn Road. Along the way he learns of a deeper mystery and with the help of a druidic wizard named Glyph Schema, discovers that there is a disturbing reason for his brother’s abduction.

Book 2, Nemesis of the Nin Witch and book 3, Quest for the Quintessence, will follow the Scythe-Bearer as he chases the Irgin Crone Malice Valicella-Zoster across the wastelands of Mortun Pandi and into the dark and dangerous city of Gungingeth.

The unique Woven Paths game system is more complex than that used by the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks, but no less easy to learn. In place of Skill, Stamina and Luck, there are six core Characteristics, which can be boosted individually by equipping weapons, armour, artefacts and other items. In addition the use of talismans can boost all Characteristics with one overall bonus.

The Woven Path also introduces some unique fantasy ideas, including spells as wild living sprites that must be captured and converted into the form of rune stones in order to be cast. Another original aspect is the Soul Stone, a nugget of raw chaotic energy that resides at the heart of certain monsters in the Yarnian bestiary (namely, the Fell – a type of monster that crawls into the world from the seemingly bottomless chasm known as the Gungin Gap). Soul Stones can be reaped by slaying monsters and can then be used to empower bonuses and heal damage.

Each Woven Path book also has a unique structure wherein the reader can take a break from the main quest, all within the context of the ongoing story. This unusual element will eventually join each book together, allowing the reader to move from one book to another without returning to previous adventures.

In addition to the main books, a series of accompanying A4 Adventure Companion booklets will also be released – the first of which contains larger character sheets, aide memoires and full size maps. Later booklets will expand on the Yarnian lore and will also provide exclusive bits and bobs to enhance the reader’s enjoyment of the main gamebooks.

Featuring black & white artwork from illustrator Johan Tieldow (shown at top), and maps by the author David Sharrock (below), Malice From The Middle Vale is now available in paperback from Lulu, and as a pdf from DriveThruRPG. You can also find out more information about the Woven Paths series at the publisher’s website.

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