The Blood of Vol is an idiosyncratic and decentralized religion that worships the "divinity within", rather than an external higher power. The religion was made the state religion of Karrnath by Kaius I at the start of the Last War, but this status was revoked by Regent Moranna. Worshipers are known as "Seekers", short for "Seekers of the Divinity Within".
The history of the Blood of Vol is little known. Unlike Vassals or Purified, Seekers do not see their faith as explaining the fundamental mythology of the world. The disjointed and individualistic nature of worship reinforces this, leaving the true history of the faith a mystery.
Long ago, the Qabalrin elves of Xen'drik mastered the necromantic arts. While their civilization in the Ring of Storms has not survived, their use of undeath as a form of immortality persisted into the elven emigration to Aerenal.
The Line of Vol
On Aerenal, the line of Vol arose as political rivals to the Undying Court. The family and its allies drew upon the power of Mabar to create undead, taking from the living rather than relying on devotion like the Court. The court's ties to Irian made them natural enemies, a tension that only grew when the line of Vol developed the Mark of Death
The creation of the half-dragon Erandis Vol was a line too far gone. The Undying Court acted in concert with the dragons of Argonnessen to end the threat, killing not only Erandis but every elf who shared her bloodline. This unprecedented purge of political rivals led many elves to flee the island. Some traveled to mainland Khorvaire, while others fled to the Lhazaar Principalities. Minara Vol and her families close allies fled to Farlnen, forming the basis of the Grim and the Bloodsails.
The Faith spreads in Khorvaire
- Keith Baker's commentary.
The exiled elven necromancers shared their story with their new human neighbors - that "the heroic family of Vol had sought to attain godhood, only to be destroyed by the jealous gods." This telling was especially popular where cruel warlords propheted the empty promises of the Sovereign. While the elven necromancers drew upon purely the power of Mabar and saw undeath as immortality enough, the newfound Blood of Vol sought something more - the Divinity Within. To the surprise of the elves, these new clerics found divine power.
While Seekers can be found anywhere in Khorvaire, the faith has always been associated with Karrnath. Not only did the land's harsh climate foster belief that the gods were cruel and uncaring, but the faith actually transformed the Mabaran manifest zones of the nation from a blight into a resource.
The Last War
Early in the Last War, Karrnath's overwhelming military might was held back by famines and plagues at home. Seekers today point out that some of the warlords of Karrnath turned temples and towns devoted to the Blood of Vol into military garrisons, heedless of the rituals and practices meant to contain Mabaran manifest zones. Many Karrns though believe the official proclamations of Moranna and Kaius III, that the plagues and famines were engineered by the leaders of the faith to force Karrnath to accept it as the state religion.
The truth of the matter is difficult to ascertain given Lady Illmarrow's secretive involvement. Erandis Vol forced Kaius to not only accept the Blood of Vol as the state religion (See the "Hierarchy" section), but turned the power-hungry king into a vampire.
Once established as the state religion in 897 YK, the Blood of Vol not only addressed the abundance of disease and shortage of food, but equipped the Karrnathi army with the first major technological development of the war - the widespread use of undead. The then-living Malevanor worked with Gyrnar Shult to create the Odakyr Rites to create more capable undead out of the corpses of Karrnathi patriots.
This all began to fall apart in 976 YK, when Regent Moranna outlawed the Order of the Emerald Claw. She presented evidence of the order's crimes and seized their strongholds and arrested its leaders. While Moranna was not the most popular ruler for these actions, Kaius' III trend of decreasing the influence of the religion in Karrnath removed it from its official status entirely.
Conflicts within Canon and Kanon
Player's Guide to Eberron contradicts other sources by saying King Jaron renounced the faith in 964 YK, before the 976 YK date involving Moranna or the 991 YK date involving Kaius III. Furthermore, Rising from the Last War doesn't credit Moranna at all, simplifying the story to only involve Kaius. While ordinarily the later source would take precedence, the change in Rising appears to be a simplification rather than intentional change to canon.
- Everyone has a spark of divinity. Find that power within.
- Death is the end, Dolurrh is oblivion, and if the gods exist, they are cruel. Stand with those you care for; all we have is this life and each other.
The core doctrine of the Blood of Vol is that the promises of other faiths are simply lies - mortality is a curse inflicted by uncaring gods who jealously hoard immortality and the potential of divinity.
Seekers and the Undead
The widespread use of undead by Seekers in both labor roles and the military has caused a great many misconceptions that Seekers worship the Undead in some way. In truth, while Seekers do believe that a person's body belongs to their community after death, and intelligent undead hold prominent roles within the faith, the undead are seen as martyrs - not saints. Seekers believe true immortality can only be achieved by the living, and that undeath is but a pale shadow of that. However, undead faith leaders are respected as martyrs for giving up their chance at true immortality to lead others over time.
Rites and Prayers
Look not to the skies, nor to the depths below, nor even to the distant past or future. Seek the divine within, for the blood is the life, and in its call can be heard the promise of life eternal. One has but to listen.
This mantra is a common to Seeker rites and rituals. Seekers do not pray, as they do not believe in benevolent external forces.
The most important ritual in Seeker communities is the Sacrament of Blood, an irregularly practiced rite which involves each member of the community contributing a small amount of blood by cutting themselves with a bloodfang dagger. After a purification ritual performed by the priest, each member then takes a sip from the chalice to receive a transcendent, revelatory, or even prophetic vision. What many don't know is that leftover blood is stored in barrels of preserving pine to be used in necromantic rituals and to sustain the undead martyrs of the faith.
As the Blood of Vol is a highly individualized religion, each cleric chooses their own holy symbol. However, symbols related to blood or souls or colored red and black are popular.
Conflicts within Canon and Kanon
While the exact details of faith have changed over editions, the biggest changes have come in the symbology.
Faiths of Eberron states that "Despite its lack of organization, the Blood of Vol maintains a surprisingly consistent symbol for its faith worldwide. Every Vol cult I have seen or read about used at least a variation of the same icon—a stylized dragon skull resting atop a glowing red teardrop-shaped gem meant to symbolize the blood that is central to the beliefs of the faith."
By contrast, the Eberron Campaign Guide says
"Although the Blood of Vol frequently makes use of its traditional symbol—a dragon skull surrounding a blood-red gem—individual priests are allowed to choose their own symbols. This practice is encouraged partly to hide the religion in areas where Seekers are persecuted, but primarily to highlight the fact that the Seekers are praying, not to any higher power, but to the divinity within themselves."
Most recently, and thus taking precedent, Rising from the Last War says
"The power of a cleric of the Blood of Vol comes from within them. As such, every cleric chooses a unique holy symbol—an object that resonates with them. More generally, the faith is represented by a tear-shaped red gemstone or shard of glass. Priests of the Blood of Vol wear robes of red and black."
More broadly speaking, the faith has been recast from a shadowy and villainous cult (as represented by its tag as a Lawful Evil religion in the Eberron Campaign Setting) to a more neutral group that simply rejects the other dominant faiths of Khorvaire.
Most Seekers only understand the faith as a decentralized religion. Secretly, Lady Illmarrow pulls the strings, manipulating the faith towards her own schemes.
Most priests of the faith know nothing about Lady Illmarrow's schemes, simply serving their community by leading rituals and guiding the faithful towards achieving the Divinity Within.
Abactors are priests of particular import, leading temples and presiding over regions. The Crimson Covenant controls the promotion to this status, only allowing those who have been inducted into the "truth" of the faith's purpose to serve Lady Illmarrow and work in concert with the Order of the Emerald Claw.
While Lady Illmarrow sits at the center of the conspiracy, she is assisted by a group of thirteen known as the Crimson Covenant. Each member is either undead or a powerful necromancer and directly serves the Queen of Death and furthers her schemes. In return for their service, the Lich Queen provides them with potent resources and magical protections.
Conflicts within Canon and Kanon
Early sources describe Erandis Vol as a leading figure within the faith and direct object of reverence. More recent sources, both canon and kanon, have states that "Followers of the Blood of Vol who have heard of Lady Illmarrow believe that she's a champion of their faith, but they don't worship or serve her." This makes the status of the Abactors in more doubt, leaving it up to the Dungeon Master to what degree the faith is controlled by Lady Illmarrow.
While the Seekers of the Divinity Within are the most common group of worshippers of the Blood of Vol, there are a number of related faiths throughout the continent
The Order of the Emerald Claw is a terrorist organization that claims Karrnath was better led while the Blood of Vol was the state religion. In truth, the organization exists solely to further Lady Illmarrow's schemes.
|Faiths of Eberron|
|The Silver Flame | The Sovereign Host | The Dark Six | The Blood of Vol | The Cults of the Dragon Below | The Path of Light | Path of Inspiration | Undying Court | The Lord of Blades | The Becoming God | Keepers of the Past | Thir | Druidic sects | Vulkoor|
- Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford (2014). Player's Handbook (5th edition). (Wizards of the Coast), p. 296. ISBN 978-0-7869-6560-1.
- Keith Baker, Jeremy Crawford, & James Wyatt (2019). Eberron: Rising from the Last War. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 141. ISBN 0786966890.
- Jennifer Clarke Wilkes, Ari Marmell, & C.A. Suleiman (2006). Faiths of Eberron. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 75–87. ISBN 0-7869-3934-6.
- Keith Baker (May 2005). “The Ring of Storms”. Dungeon #122 (Paizo Publishing).
- Keith Baker (2006/01/30). Libris Mortis, Part One. Eberron Expanded. Wizards of the Coast. Archived from the original on 2016/11/01. Retrieved on 2021/08/15.
- Keith Baker, Jason Bulmahn, & Amber Scott (2006). Secrets of Xen'drik. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 52–53. ISBN 0-7869-3916-8.
- James Wyatt and Keith Baker (2009). Eberron Campaign Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 174–175, 248–250. ISBN 0-7869-5099-4.
- Keith Baker, Jeremy Crawford, & James Wyatt (2019). Eberron: Rising from the Last War. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0786966890.
- Keith Baker (2020). Exploring Eberron. (Dungeon Masters Guild), p. ?.
- Keith Baker (October 2011). “Eye on Eberron: Fort Bones” (PDF). Dungeon #195 (Wizards of the Coast).
- James Wyatt, Wolfgang Baur, Ari Marmell (2007). The Forge of War. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-4153-7.
- Keith Baker, Bill Slavicsek, & James Wyatt (2004). Eberron Campaign Setting. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 70, 178, 228. ISBN 0-7869-3274-0.
- James Wyatt, Keith Baker, Luke Johnson, Steven Brown (2006). Player's Guide to Eberron. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 22–23. ISBN 0-7869-3912-5.
- Keith Baker (March 2005). “The Bloodsail Principality” (PDF). Dragon #410 (Wizards of the Coast).