[Eberron] The Blood of Vol

Wolfwood2

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#1
So in my "return to 3.5 campaign" I am playing a cleric of the Blood of Vol. He is actually a scion of House Deneith (Favored in House, but not dragonmarked) who has embraced the Blood of Vol because of its ideal to conquer death itself for its followers. What makes this particularly interesting is that our initial group of continuing baddies is... the Emerald Claw. (Already Gerold is tsk-tsking that misguided clerics of his religion appear to be helping this terrorist group.)

Gerold does rebuke/command undead, and has the Death and Necromancy domains, so the whole undead thing is important to him. Right now he sees undead as failed, flawed, steps in the right direction towards the conquest of death. Obviously all the faithful becoming undead that feed upon the living isn't ideal, nor is the fact tht most undead are out of control and slaves to their instinct.

What are some good ideas and resources for fleshing out the religious practices of the Blood of Vol? Any good web articles out there?

Also, one interesting point I don't recall reading about. Isn't the Undying Court pretty much exactly what the Blood of Vol hopes to accomplish? It seems like from a BoV side, any cleric who knows about the Undying Court (and they do get K:Religion as a class skill) is going to be saying, "That. That is what we want for the future."

Or am I off-base? How does the end goal of the Blood of Vol (as known to the common, idealistic cleric as opposed to Erandis's pawns) differ from the set-up in Arenal?
 

Anglachel

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#2
Basically the Blood of Vol thinks that the Undying Court has a major flaw in it's system. That flaw being that the Undying Court is reliant on large part of the worship they receive to keep going. Also remember that the undying court more or less has to stay on their manifest zone to the postive energy plane as well.

The Blood wishes to be truly independent and everlasting without the need of worshippers. They view undeath as a means to establish true independence absent from the need of worshippers and manifest zones.

Edit:

As far as I understand it the end goal is all about Eranis's Vols plan to realize the full power of her lost dragonmark of death. Remember that Dragonmarks are the embodiment of the Draconic Prophecy which was great enough that the 3 great dragons felt it good enough to fight over. Once the Liche achieves true mastery she can then fully control Death and the negative energy plane. Current undeath is a kind of compromise where one uses the power of death to prevent death. The consequences of that compromise are all the assorted nastiness of undead. Vol with her dragonmark could instead of compromising/using death MASTER it. Creating perfected Undead by using her marks power to refuse to allow Death and Negative energy to touch that which she does not desire it too. Such perfect Undead would not have the normaly rot and decay of normal undead. They would presumably have all the advantages and non of the disadvantages.

Of course the Undying Court claims that Negative energy only partially powers Undead and that they drain energy from Eberron itself. To the Undying Court Undeath is simply a deal one strikes with the Negative Energy plane where you drain the world and it accepts your offerings instead of taking you. However even if they are right Vol's plan could still work if her Mark can indeed grant her true dominion over all Death like she thinks it does.
 
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Hellcow

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#3
I don't have time to respond to this in detail at the moment. I will say that my first 4E group had a paladin of the Blood of Vol, who was likewise opposed to the Emerald Claw; I see nothing strange about that. One point I will make:

Right now he sees undead as failed, flawed, steps in the right direction towards the conquest of death.
Which isn't how I see it at all. In my opinion, the fundamental principle of the BoV is that living beings hold the spark of divinity within their own blood. That we could all be as the gods - but that the jealous gods cursed us with mortality to keep us from ever matching them. The goal of the BoV, long term, is to shatter that curse and to allow everyone to reach the full potential of the Divinity Within.*

The key is that this divinity is IN THE BLOOD. Once you're undead, you've lost it. The undead are ideal. Mindless undead such as skeletons are tools, nothing more. The BoV has no romantic thoughts about corpses; once the blood stops flowing, all that's left is meat and bone. If you can put it to use, you should. The sentient undead, on the other hand, are martyrs and mentors. In accepting undeath they have given up any chance of ever truly attaining the power of the Divinity Within, in order to overcome death in the short term. But the random farmer doesn't WANT to be a vampire. He wants the paradise that awaits us when death is finally defeated. So undeath isn't a satisfactory end result; it's a tool used by martyrs to help acheive the long term goal.

Aside from this, one key thing I would call out is that IMO the Blood of Vol is VERY community oriented. The essential premise is that when you die you are gone forever (as opposed to the Silver Flame which says you join the Flame, or the SH folks who believe you pass through Dolurrh to join the Sovereigns). Death is the end. And if there are gods out there, they hate us and are playing cruel games with us. All we have is this life, and all we have is each other. So stand by your neighbor. This ties to the use of skeletons. When I die, if my corpse can help my friends, use it. Let me continue to help until my bones are ground to dust.

Also, one interesting point I don't recall reading about. Isn't the Undying Court pretty much exactly what the Blood of Vol hopes to accomplish?
Nope. Check my posts in the Valenar thread. The Undying Court is very limited. The Deathless exist by directly drawing on positive energy (IE, manifest zones like the one Shae Mordai is built on) and the devotion of their living descendants. Kill all the living elves - or have the living lose their belief - and the UC would be clinging to the manifest zones like life rafts, which might not be enough.

The line of Vol originally called this out, saying they wanted their greatest to be able to survive on their own (in the case of vampires, needing others but at least having the power to TAKE what they need). The beliefs of the modern BoV (which is a evolved version of the original Vol faith) holds that people should be able to realize the full potential of the Divinity Within. The UC doesn't have that. They are corpses/spirits sustained by an outside force. The BoV wants you to find the god within.

* One slight note: The BoV want us to attain our true potential and be like the gods. You may say "If you eliminate death, what about overpopulation?" and any number of other excellent concerns. However, once we are like the gods, well, the gods don't walk the world. It's not just about *ending death* - it's about achieving our own divine destiny, which could involve ascending to a higher plane and form of existence.
 
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Wolfwood2

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#4
Basically the Blood of Vol thinks that the Undying Court has a major flaw in it's system. That flaw being that the Undying Court is reliant on large part of the worship they receive to keep going. Also remember that the undying court more or less has to stay on their manifest zone to the postive energy plane as well.

The Blood wishes to be truly independent and everlasting without the need of worshippers. They view undeath as a means to establish true independence absent from the need of worshippers and manifest zones.
That appears to be a difference of means rather than goals, though. A Blood of Vol follower might agree that it's unfortunate that the Undying Court has to depend on manifest zones and worship. They're not there, not perfect, and worse they seem to have given up on trying to overcome these limitations.

But still, aren't they a lot closer than anybody else has ever gotten?


As far as I understand it the end goal is all about Eranis's Vols plan to realize the full power of her lost dragonmark of death. Remember that Dragonmarks are the embodiment of the Draconic Prophecy which was great enough that the 3 great dragons felt it good enough to fight over. Once the Liche achieves true mastery she can then fully control Death and the negative energy plane. Current undeath is a kind of compromise where one uses the power of death to prevent death.
Well yes, but Vol is only the secret master of the BoV. All (most?) of the top church leaders answer to her, but she pronounces to them, who pronounce to those below, and pretty soon the relgiion is what its followers want it to be and may have only limited connection to what she wants it to be.

This also brings up the interesting question of what happens when a hotshot young cleric, advancing as fast as PCs do, begins to gain power as a champion of the faith. How do you bring a rising star like that in line? What if he doesn't like what the Church's top leaders are selling? Do you brand him a heretic? Try to kill him?

And how many of those top church leaders have been chafing at Vol's control, waiting for an alternative who is powerful enough to challenge the lich ordering them around?

Just a thought....
 

Ascanius

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#5
What are some good ideas and resources for fleshing out the religious practices of the Blood of Vol?
The chapter in Faiths of Eberron is pretty good, if you can get hold of it. Its version of the Blood of Vol is somewhat different* from Keith Baker's version (which I also prefer), but it's still very usable.

The one thing I would say is that the typical attitude of a follower of the Blood of Vol towards the undead is different than your idea. That's not to say that you're wrong, but generally speaking?

The Blood of Vol teaches that the body is just a shell for the spirit. Once you're dead, you have departed that shell - and so they don't have any qualms about using your body as a zombie or skeleton. Zombies and skeletons are just animated by magic, it's not like your spirit has been trapped in the corpse - it's gone, which means that you're gone, and what happens to your body doesn't matter.

Intelligent undead, though, are a different case. The typical Blood of Vol attitude is that self-willed undead belonging to the faith are martyrs - they've chosen to step off the path of the Divinity Within and remain in the world in order to guide the faithful with their wisdom and insight, and help the Blood of Vol in the fight against death however they can. When a community of the Blood of Vol donates their literal blood to keep a vampire sustained, it's done out of respect and reverence for the sacrifice of that vampire, who has given up the potential divinity within his own living blood.

Choosing to become undead and remain in the world - which the Blood of Vol teaches is a harsh, dangerous, inimical place where survival is a struggle and pain is a constant - is definitely a serious sacrifice. In all honesty, for all that death brings annihilation, many members of the Blood of Vol would prefer to simply die than remain in the world, especially given that many of the fleeting pleasures that life does offer are forever lost of the undead.

Intelligent undead from without the ranks of the faithful aren't going to be viewed as martyrs. Their existence won't precisely offend the Blood of Vol's beliefs, either - pity might be the most appropriate emotion, because even the most accomplished lich has lost his chance at the divinity within for a shadow of existence within the world.


* Primarily, if I recall correctly without getting off my butt and taking the book off the shelf a metre away, the Faiths of Eberron version is presented as much more atheistic - denying the existence of the gods other faiths believe in, and claiming there's only the divinity within - than Keith's version, which has the Blood of Vol believing the gods are real, but malevolent, having cursed living creatures with death so that they could never reach the same level of power and challenge the gods. You could call Keith's version maltheistic.
 

Hellcow

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#6
As far as I understand it the end goal is all about Eranis's Vols plan to realize the full power of her lost dragonmark of death.
That's Erandis' goal - the common follower knows nothing about Erandis. The common faith is a twisted version of the beliefs of her family, and it was these beliefs that led to them tying to create a child who could be the bridge between life and death. But again, the goal of the common faith is to defeat death and harness the Divinity Within; Erandis' goal is her personal goal. She's convinced some of her followers that the two are one and the same, but it's not universal.
 

Hellcow

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#7
Primarily, if I recall correctly without getting off my butt and taking the book off the shelf a metre away, the Faiths of Eberron version is presented as much more atheistic - denying the existence of the gods other faiths believe in, and claiming there's only the divinity within - than Keith's version, which has the Blood of Vol believing the gods are real, but malevolent, having cursed living creatures with death so that they could never reach the same level of power and challenge the gods. You could call Keith's version maltheistic.
This is true, and I like "maltheistic" - I'll have to pick that up. But yes, I prefer the "Gods hate us" viewpoint (which IIRC is spelled out in Sharn: City of Towers), but the faith as presented is more atheistic. I consider them to be two sects within the faith.
 

Wolfwood2

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#8
Which isn't how I see it at all. In my opinion, the fundamental principle of the BoV is that living beings hold the spark of divinity within their own blood. That we could all be as the gods - but that the jealous gods cursed us with mortality to keep us from ever matching them. The goal of the BoV, long term, is to shatter that curse and to allow everyone to reach the full potential of the Divinity Within.*

The key is that this divinity is IN THE BLOOD. Once you're undead, you've lost it. The undead are ideal. Mindless undead such as skeletons are tools, nothing more. The BoV has no romantic thoughts about corpses; once the blood stops flowing, all that's left is meat and bone. If you can put it to use, you should. The sentient undead, on the other hand, are martyrs and mentors. In accepting undeath they have given up any chance of ever truly attaining the power of the Divinity Within, in order to overcome death in the short term. But the random farmer doesn't WANT to be a vampire. He wants the paradise that awaits us when death is finally defeated. So undeath isn't a satisfactory end result; it's a tool used by martyrs to help acheive the long term goal.
That's very helpful, actually.

Though a slavering ghoul gnawing on human flesh in a dungeon doesn't seem like much of a martry and mentor, but rather a warning of how powerful the instincts of the undead are. (Which I don't think you're arguing with, but those mid-level undead that aren't unintelligent but are not exactly people do present a horrifying middle ground.)

Aside from this, one key thing I would call out is that IMO the Blood of Vol is VERY community oriented. The essential premise is that when you die you are gone forever (as opposed to the Silver Flame which says you join the Flame, or the SH folks who believe you pass through Dolurrh to join the Sovereigns). Death is the end. And if there are gods out there, they hate us and are playing cruel games with us. All we have is this life, and all we have is each other. So stand by your neighbor. This ties to the use of skeletons. When I die, if my corpse can help my friends, use it. Let me continue to help until my bones are ground to dust.
Also very helpful.

The line of Vol originally called this out, saying they wanted their greatest to be able to survive on their own (in the case of vampires, needing others but at least having the power to TAKE what they need). The beliefs of the modern BoV (which is a evolved version of the original Vol faith) holds that people should be able to realize the full potential of the Divinity Within. The UC doesn't have that. They are corpses/spirits sustained by an outside force. The BoV wants you to find the god within.
I think I do understand the distinction, but nonetheless, it seems like a pretty fine distinction. You have to really understand about manifest zones and the power of worship to totally get what the Undying Court is doing "wrong" (from a Blood of Vol perspective). I mean, you really have to have a good grasp on how Deathless work, magically speaking, to realize that they aren't harnessing the power within.

Now you could say (would you say?) that it is the hidden influence of Erandis that helps spread the knowledge of what the Undying Court is doing "wrong" and making sure that none of the lower ranks gets enamored with it.

One slight note: The BoV want us to attain our true potential and be like the gods. You may say "If you eliminate death, what about overpopulation?" and any number of other excellent concerns. However, once we are like the gods, well, the gods don't walk the world. It's not just about *ending death* - it's about achieving our own divine destiny, which could involve ascending to a higher plane and form of existence.
The BoV is possible the most ambitious of the Eberron religions, I'll give it that. I don't think any of the others has such a grand vision!
 

Ascanius

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#9
This is true, and I like "maltheistic" - I'll have to pick that up.
At least my being a graduate student in religious studies has some purpose, then! ;)

In all seriousness, though, I believe we've talked about the fact that Eberron's religions are a big part of why I like the setting so much. These threads are great!
 

Hellcow

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#10
Though a slavering ghoul gnawing on human flesh in a dungeon doesn't seem like much of a martry and mentor...
He's not. Just like a vampire who preys on innocent farmers isn't; such a creature is a monster to be destroyed - and as a priest of the Blood of Vol, it would be your duty to destroy that beast if he's threatening your people. There's nothing sacred about the concept of undeath; you are a martyr only if you accept undeath to serve the good of the faith and its followers. This is where the inner circle of the Emerald Claw betrays the principles of the faith; its members typically want undeath for selfish reasons - for the personal immortality and the power they gain - and have little interest in the greater struggle.

I think I do understand the distinction, but nonetheless, it seems like a pretty fine distinction. You have to really understand about manifest zones and the power of worship to totally get what the Undying Court is doing "wrong" (from a Blood of Vol perspective). I mean, you really have to have a good grasp on how Deathless work, magically speaking, to realize that they aren't harnessing the power within.
Not really. They are withered corpses who can only leave their island home if there's a big enough population of elven worshippers to support them. That's not what the farmer wants. He wants to be a divine being, unbound by the limitations of the flesh. For all of their power, the Deathless are still bound to the flesh. And while the Aereni have learned to look beyond appearance - to the point of artificially inducing decomposition to remind us that the flesh is just a shell - most of the common BoV worshippers are still creeped out by mummies. They get that it's a way to overcome death temporarily - but it's not what THEY want.

Now you could say (would you say?) that it is the hidden influence of Erandis that helps spread the knowledge of what the Undying Court is doing "wrong" and making sure that none of the lower ranks gets enamored with it.
I wouldn't. I think most people down below don't know anything about it. Those who do - who have limited religion - aren't going to see it as a particular improvement over the mummies and vampires who help them. These people are withered corpses; they guide their followers; and it's not a universal gift. Remember that the energy of zone and faith can only support so many deathless, and as a result VERY few elves join the Undying Court. Thus, it doesn't solve the BoV goal of breaking the curse of mortality; it's simply another form of undeath, another imperfect attempt to hold it off.

So I think the typical BoV follower, told about the UC, is going to say "Oh, you mean a mummy... like Malvenor, high priest of Atur." From his point of view, they are both withered corpses unnaturally sustained, not beings who have achieved personal divinity. And bear in mind that while I've just said the UC is like a living god, that's the UC as a gestalt entity; individual members are powerful, but not divine. And Malevenor does have some things in his favor. He could, for example, go visit a small village in Thrane if he wanted to; his movement is unrestricted. The Deathless Councilor has to stay close to the manifest zone or somewhere with enough elves to sustain him (as noted in the Stormreach book), or he'll fall into torpor.
 
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