How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Eberron
Blood of Vol
Many religions preach of a world controlled by fate and the gods, by immense powers beyond the comprehension of the average citizen. But the Blood of Vol, in its public form, preaches almost absolute self-determination. The origins of this religion stretch back thousands of years. Hundreds of years ago, House Vol was a powerful dragonmarked house on the island continent of Aerenal. The church tells the tale of a woman, Erranis d’Vol, who sought to untap the power of her blood, but the envious and superstitious elves and dragons struck her down. They cite this as the beginnings of their church, fighting to help all people discover the divine power within their own blood, rejecting the oppression of the gods and their servants. Most of the public strongly doubts this story.
During the Last War, the faith made a controversial public choice when its clerics helped develop the necromantic military operations of Karrnath. This choice, however, granted them legal status in the northern nation, allowing other countries (with the notable exception of Thrane) political cover to allow the faith a public forum all over Khorvaire.
- The Doctrine of the Divine Within: “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 eternal life. One has but to listen.” The prayer opens all Vol masses, and encompasses the religion’s rejection of gods, the afterlife, and powers outside of one’s self.
- Dolurrh is seen as a cruel and arbitrary punishment for those who believe in the Sovereign Host, and tapping into the Divinity Within can grant the Seeker a path to their own paradise after death.
- In a very literal way, Seekers worship blood. They believe it to be the soul of life, the gateway to power and everlasting life, and any creatures without it (constructs, oozes, etc.) are disconnected from its divine power.
- One of the confusing points of church dogma for outsiders is the use of necromancy and its undead members, who are without blood. This is explained as a powerful sacrifice on the part of the undead Seeker, who wishes to advance the cause of Vol by continuing to live in the world, despite forever being kept out of paradise.
- Blood of Vol followers are called Seekers, alluding to their constant seeking for eternal life and divinity within. They are often seen in red and black (blood’s most common colors), and the most pious usually shave their heads as a sign of reverence to their own blood.
- Hierarchy: Most clergy are church members with a good amount of faith and knowledge of the faith’s teachings, who apply to a local temple head. After a rigorous application process and a Sacrement of Blood, the applicant takes 1-2 year apprenticeship in the church, and if deemed worthy, will be initiated. Temple heads and priests answer to abactors, Vol clerics who oversee large parishes and regions. An important distinction is that abactors are not bishops, but agents of the Crimson Covenant, the ruling council of the church who adminsters the religion’s functions from Atur in northern Karrnath.
- Prayers and rituals: Most Vol prayers are directed to the Seekers themselves, used as a mantra to remember their blood’s power. Masses are expansions on this theme, but also include special focus on recent births and deaths, sometimes within the parish, but sometimes for seemingly random individuals outside the faith. Other life events, like weddings, are not celebrated by the church, as they have no direct tie to life or death.
- Above all these rituals is the Sacrement of Blood. During every mass, a large chalice is passed among the Seekers, and everyone who is physically able cuts their flesh and gives an amount of blood (some faithful feel the need to give large amounts, but this is not explicitly encouraged).
- This ritual is enchanted on the faith’s only “holiday”: Revelations on Zarantyr 13 centers on a Sacrement of the Blood where the blood is collected, enchanted, and then consumed by the Seekers. The resulting hallucinations are used by the faithful to look within themselves for truth.
- Although rarely used, Vol has one of the oldest continuous calendars on Khorvaire. The years are dated from -1400 YK, with the annotation “FH” for “Fall of the House [of Vol],” making this year 2398 FH. They also use an ancient monthly calendar called the Qabalrin Wheel, which has 13 lunar months, alluding to a time when the moon Cyra still orbited Eberron.
- Evangelism: Contrary to some of the faith’s stereotypes, Vol does not forcibly convert people, as the faith requires conscientious inner contemplation and blood given of free will. They also have nothing to gain from gathering up scores of worshippers, since there is no central force or god to channel power into.
- Temples vary in size and design, but one of the key features of all Vol churches are a candle for every Seeker who regularly worships there. Each candle represents their divine inner nature, yearning to be made whole. When a person ascends to immortality, the candle is extinguished. When a person dies before achieving full divinity, their flame is treated to burn black (silver in the case they were killed by Silver Flame zealots).
- A point of contention during the Last War was a suspected connection between Vol and the Order of the Emerald Claw, causing some people to suspect it was a paramilitary arm of the religion. The Church vehemently denies these accusations.