IFAQ: The Crimson Covenant

My last IFAQ dealt with the role of mummies in the Blood of Vol. This ties into another question that’s equally relevant to the season: How would you use the Crimson Covenant in your Eberron?

Information about the Blood of Vol is wildly inconsistent across canon material. You can find some of my thoughts on this in this article. My vision of the Blood of Vol is articulated in Exploring Eberron. In short, the Blood of Vol was created in Eberron, when exiled elves fleeing the destruction of the line of Vol settled among humans and dwarves living in a harsh land, long oppressed by tyrants who used the Sovereign Host to justify their rule. The elves shared a tale of a champion who attained divine power only to be crushed by the existing gods, and the humans recast that to fit their reality. In their story, Vol isn’t an elf with a dragonmark who fights the Undying Court, but rather is a human who finds a spark of divinity within and fights the Sovereign Host. The NAME is there and the bones of the story can be seen, but the truth that iinspired it is long forgotten. The elves shared some of their necromantic traditions with the humans, and that aspect of the faith has its roots in Aerenal. But it was only in the synthesis of the cultures and traditions that the faithful actually found the Divinity Within. The Aereni line of Vol were NECROMANCERS; they never harnessed this power.

So: the Blood of Vol was is something entirely unique to Khorvaire, something formed by the blending of Vassal heretics and exiled elves. When this religion was taking root, Erandis Vol was hiding from the Undying Court and building her strength; it was many centuries before she would stumble across the faith that carried her family’s name. She sees the Blood of Vol as a useful tool and is happy to manipulate them, and the result of this is the Order of the Emerald Claw. But she didn’t create their faith and she doesn’t share it. She aspires to be a goddess, but it is her apex dragonmark that is her path to divine power, not some universal Divinity Within.

The Blood of Vol has always been a religious of the downtrodden, of those who believe that the gods are cruel and the universe is unforgiving. Its strongholds lie in Mabaran manifest zones, shunned lands no one else could tame. As discussed in Exploring Eberron, the structure of the faith is far looser than that of the Church of the Silver Flame. Some priests are trained in one of the great temples such, such as the Crimson Monastery of Atur; others have never met a priest from beyond their village, and learned the faith from their local abactor. So, what then is the Crimson Covenant?

The basic principle of the Blood of Vol is that every mortal holds a spark of divinity within their blood, and the goal is to unlock that Divinity Within. But few can accomplish that in their lifetime, and death is oblivion. Some champions of the faith become undead—typically vampires and oathbound mummies—to live beyond what their mortal span would allow. This is a form of martydom; an undead creature has no spark of life, and loses the Divinity Within. But they gain time, and can guide and protect other Seekers. The Crimson Covenant are the oldest and most powerful of these undead champions, some of whom were guiding the Seekers before Erandis Vol even knew the faith existed.

Among most of the faithful the Crimson Covenant is little more than a legend; most seekers believe that Hass Malevanor, High Priest of Atur, is the greatest spiritual leader of the faith. There is good reason for this secrecy. First and foremost, there are many—the Aereni Deathguard, templars of the Silver Flame, paladins of Dol Arrah, and other champions of the light—who would see these elders as monsters to be destroyed. But there is another aspect: all undead aren’t created equal. We think of things in terms of stat blocks and rules, under which a lich is a lich is a lich. But the necromancy of the early Seekers was adapted from Aereni techniques; it was never as sophisticated as the techniques used by the Bloodsails or the Line of Vol, and has its own quirks. The most ancient member of the Crimson Covenant, Duran, was its first lich; but while his will is strong, his enchantments are unable to maintain his body and he exists now as a demilich. Most of the members of the Crimson Covenant are oathbound, and many of their oaths are quite restrictive. Beyond this, many members have had their humanity slowly worn away by the passage of time, and they know it; it is difficult for them to interact directly with the living. With this in mind, Malevanor ISN’T a member of the Crimson Covenant; he is still young, still comfortable with the world. But he and other priests protect the Covenant and rely upon it for guidance, and the Covenant does perform the most sacred rituals of the faith. The core of the Covenant resides in the catacombs below Atur, and it is their devotions that contain and channel the dreadful powers of this sunless land.

So for the most part the Crimson Covenant are masterminds and advisors. They can cast spells and perform rituals that are far beyond Malevanor’s powers—but only a few of them are actually capable of freely moving within the world. As such, they generally support the faith by creating magic items, raising undead (they were certainly an important part of raising the first armies for Karrnath), and casting divinations and other rituals. They teach the most promising students in the Crimson Monastery. But there are only a few—such as the Silent Knight and Lady Dusk—who often act in the outer world. There have been others—there were a few members of the Crimson Covenant who rose from their chamber to lead Seekers in the Last War—but they have been destroyed.

So, to go back to the original question, How would I use the Crimson Covenant in my Eberron? I would use it as something the adventurers hear of in whispers. Seekers may receive guidance from the Crimson Covenant; I might even choose to say that when a Seeker priest casts commune, it’s the Covenant that answers. Its possible they won’t even believe it exists until one of these ancient champions actually DOES appear to assist a group of seekers… or alternately, until one of them is discovered and destroyed, and the Mabaran manifest zone they were containing becomes a threat. Beyond that, it would depend on the relationship between the adventurers and the Seekers. If the adventurers are fighting the Emerald Claw, I’d probably start by having them believe that the mysterious Crimson Covenant is their enemy, perhaps the true leaders of the Emerald Claw. But eventually they would finally meet the Covenant, and if they walked the proper path it could be a powerful ally in the question to put an end to the threat posed by the Claw. With that said…

What’s the relationship between Lady Illmarrow and the Crimson Covenant?

Originally, none. The Crimson Covenant are elder Seekers, many of whom have served the faith for longer than Illmarrow has been aware of it. However, Lady Illmarrow is a mastermind, and over the course of centuries some of her handpicked agents have risen to join the Crimson Covenant. It is through these agents that Illmarrow knows the plans of the abactors and influences the faith to her own ends. It is Illmarrow’s agents who have prevented the Covenant from taking any action against the Emerald Claw, convincing the others that they must wait and see, and that perhaps Illmarrow is acting as a champion of the faith. Some of those councilors slain in the Last War were victims of schemes laid by their fellow councilors, because they posed a threat to Illmarrow’s plans. So the point is that Lady Illmarrow doesn’t control the Crimson Covenant… But she is influencing it, and in many ways slowly poisoning it to help with her agenda. So again, if I were running a campaign in which the adventurers were fighting Illmarrow and the Emerald Claw, an important piece of the endgame would be identifying and destroying her agents in the Crimson Covenant, at which point its surviving members could be valuable allies.

Likewise, I could certainly see a member of the Crimson Covenant who is suspicious of Illmarrow’s influence but unable to act openly serving as a patron for a group of adventurers—potentially using the Immortal Being group patron, or serving as an Undying patron for a warlock or a personal spiritual guide for a Seeker paladin or cleric. Such a patron could direct adventurers to operations of the Emerald Claw or to expose other agents of Illmarrow within the faith.

What’s the relationship between the Blood of Vol and the Bloodsail Principality? Also, the article “Dolurrh’s Dawn” has an individual named Ashalyn Vol who’s said to have created some of the core principles of the Blood of Vol. How’s that work with this interpretation?

Well, I DID say canon was inconsistent! Having said that, let’s take a look at what the canon Bloodsail article says.

The religion known as the Blood of Vol is a bastardized version of the beliefs of the elves of Farlnen, and it has grown and changed over the centuries. Bloodsail priests are far more pragmatic than are their Karrnathi counterparts. They shape their divine spells from the raw energy of Mabar, and whereas the Seekers of Atur try to unlock the immortal potential of the Divinity Within, the priests of Port Cairn are content with the simpler immortality of undeath. Nonetheless, the two faiths share some common practices, and followers of the Blood are treated with respect in Farlnen.

The bolded element is the key. After the line of Vol was eradicated in Aerenal, the Undying Court allowed elves allied to the line but who didn’t carry its blood to either swear fealty to the Court or to accept exile. Some of these went directly north to Farlnen and became the Bloodsails. Others landed in Lhazaar and migrated west, mingling with humans and dwarves. The Blood of Vol arose from that mingling of traditions, and the Divinity Within was a discovery of this new faith. So Ashalyn Vol WAS a cleric and did set the first cornerstones of the faith. But those cornerstones were about channeling the power of Mabar, not about finding the Divinity Within. The idea of fighting against death was there, but how you do it is very different. The Seekers see undeath as a sacrifice; the Bloodsails see it as entirely satisfactory and don’t believe in a divine inner spark; they don’t believe the oathbound gives anything up by becoming undead, and their divine magic isn’t drawn from the same source as that of a Seeker priest. So as noted, the Bloodsails RESPECT the Seekers and recognize their common roots; but they also think the Seekers are, well, crazy humans with bizarre conspiracy theories. “The Sovereigns cursed people with mortality, so they couldn’t become gods themselves” — that’s just a ridiculous idea!

Part of the point of this is to challenge the concepts of Elven Exceptionalism and that Things Were Always Better In The Old Days. I like the idea that the blending of elf and human beliefs and ideas created something new—that this fusion allowed them to DISCOVER the Divinity Within, which is a real divine power source that the line of Vol never knew about or harnessed. To me this is more compelling than saying “Oh, an elf discovered it five thousand years ago – we’re just following in their footsteps and we’ve never really made any sort of improvements.” The Bloodsails ARE just following in Ashalyn’s footsteps, because that’s what elves do; they cling to the traditions of their ancestors. But the Blood of Vol did something NEW. And part of MY idea is that they are continually improving their techniques—that Duran the demilich is a demilich because their original lich technique was flawed and that they’ve gotten better at it — that the techniques used to produce Malevanor were superior to the oathbound rituals they used centuries ago.

What’s the relationship between the Crimson Covenant and Kaius III? How does the Covenant feel about Lady Illmarrow and the Emerald Claw?

In thinking about the Crimson Covenant, it might be helpful to look at the US Supreme Court. It’s a small body of people who are experts at what they do (we hope) but who have differing opinions and who were appointed in very different times. It’s a lifetime position, and in this case, when we say lifetime, we mean eternity—or until you get taken down by a paladin of Dol Arrah. There are members of the Crimson Covenant who are older than Galifar, and at least one who’s older than Karrnath. For these people, the events of the last ten years—the Order of the Emerald Claw, Kaius III—are a tiny drop in the bucket of time. It’s only been a decade; let’s see how it plays out in another decade.

You definitely have factions in the Covenant. There are those who argue that the Covenant should be focused on teaching the living—that it’s not its place to intervene directly. There are those who say that they should be trying to find a way to destroy the Sovereigns directly, those who say they should undermine the institutions that encourage worship of the Sovereigns, and those that say that all this discussion of the Sovereigns is ridiculous, because they don’t exist. There are those who believe Lady Illmarrow poses a threat to the faith, and those who argue that she’s a champion and that the Covenant should be supporting her—along with those who say “Let’s see what happens in the next ten years.”

So there are definitely enough members on the Covenant who support Illmarrow or at least want to wait and see to keep the Covenant as a whole from acting against her. But there’s certainly members of the Covenant who ARE worried about Illmarrow and the Emerald Claw. Such a member might well be secretly working with Kaius III, and might very well work as a patron for an adventurer or a party of adventurers. They can’t convince the majority of the Covenant to take action, but they do believe that something should be done.

What stops the Crimson Covenant from using some preexisting D&D 5e methods of achieving effective immortality, such as the Reincarnate and Clone spells?

Part of the idea of Eberron has always been to consider magic as a tool and a science—which means that we add limitations to it that aren’t necessarily obvious from the rules. If you’re making a character you can be a druid, just like that. But in the WORLD, druidic magic comes from ancient traditions. A random person in Sharn can’t just say “I’m going to be a druid” and start casting thorn whip; they need to LEARN these traditions from someone else. There is no established druidic tradition in Karrnath, therefore, the Crimson Covenant has no druids and no idea how to cast reincarnate. On the other side, clone is an 8th level spell, which is far outside the common power level of the Five Nations—which is normally 1st-3rd level spells are common tools, 4th-5th are attainable but rare. On that scale, clone is the stuff of legends. Even if we assume that there are a few members of the Crimson Covenant who have gained the power to cast 8th level spells, the next point of considering arcane magic as a science is that just because there’s rules for a spell doesn’t mean that every culture has developed every spell. This is something we called out in earlier editions with the idea of limiting certain rituals to character with dragonmarks. As a PLAYER CHARACTER, your wizard can learn any spell on the wizard spell list. And in my Eberron you can be sure that Mordain the Fleshweaver has discovered clone. But beyond that, it’s up to the DM to decide what spells are available to NPCs. If you want to have a member of the Covenant who uses clone as a path to immortality, tell that story! But in my campaign, no one in the Covenant has discovered how to cast that spell.

Ultimately, remember—the rules are a tool for the DM to use to tell a story. It’s always up to us to decide which elements we want to use and which we choose to ignore. I prefer to think of each wizard spell as a scientific discovery, and to consider that different traditions—the Twelve, Arcanix, Aerenal, the dragons—may know spells that the others haven’t yet mastered. Again, player characters can choose any spell—but that’s part of what makes them remarkable.

That’s all for now! My next major article (as chosen by my Patreon supporters) will deal with Ghost Stories of Eberron. And tomorrow I’ll have a few announcements about other things I’m working on!

47 thoughts on “IFAQ: The Crimson Covenant

  1. I love this interpretation of the Crimson Covenant so much. It’s a beautiful answer both to why the Deathguard, CotSF, and other anti-Mabaran undead groups wouldn’t be constantly hunting them, and why these beings don’t take a firmer hand. Plus the rather murky question of how the Emerald Claw became devoted to Lady Illmarrow. I can’t wait to incorporate this into my Karrnath campaign!
    If the Crimson Covenant mainly focus on manifest zone containment, in what way do they operate outside of Karrnath? Do they prefer to keep their presence completely secret from the locals, do they only go places there are established Seeker communities, etc.?

    • If the Crimson Covenant mainly focus on manifest zone containment, in what way do they operate outside of Karrnath?
      Generally, they don’t. They’re few in number, and many are oathbound in ways that prevent their straying too far from their sanctums. Given that, their focus is on protecting and guiding the existing seekers of Karrnath and Lhazaar. They generally keep their presence secret even FROM Seekers; usually only abactors and other champions of the faith will know about the presence of one of the Covenant.

  2. I know this is just an IFAQ but can we get some tidbits of some of the Crimson Covenant members named in this article? (Similar to that of the “Inner Circle Exclusive: Royals of Galifar” or the “Inner Circle Exclusive: Denizens of Shavarath”)

  3. Ever since I started reading your articles and coming to really enjoy and try to understand Eberron I’ve loved the Seekers, so it’s nice to explicitly state the circumstances that created them.

    I hadn’t considered the dwarves being strong followers of the Blood of Vol as well but am certainly digging the idea now. Do the dwarves constitute a notable part of the Seeker faithful? Is the Blood of Vol present in the Mror Holds (as it is in Lhazaar and Karrnath, the bordering nations)?

    Is the Blood of Vol a uniquely “humanoid” faith that has difficulty translating to the other group persecuted by the Vassals and Purifiers, the monsters of the Cazhaak cults? Distance aside it seems that a shared distrust of the “good and faithful” Sovereigns would lay fertile ground for cross-pollination

    I must say I’ve always liked the Seeker emphasis on agricultural community (working together, materialist philosophy about trusting in yourself and your community). Is this strong social bond alongside agricultural skill part of why the faith succeeds in Mabaran zones? Pushing back against the natural decay and entropy? If so is this part of the faith (working with things the Sovereigns shun) or a happy byproduct of their core values?

  4. Would it be that Ashalyn Vol a figure unknown to the current Crimson Covenant, or is her role replaced by Illmarrow?

    Would it also be that Erandis followed Ashalyns teachings in her youth?

    • In Dolurrh’s Dawn Ashalyn is a cleric but for your eberron she would be a wizard? And the techniques she developed lead to Vol being incompatible with the undying court? And should the covenant/seekers find Dolurrh’s Dawn it’d be a scholar rather than a prophet?

      And for my eberron the blood of vol is the name of the entire faith, the seekers and bloodsails are sects of the faith.

      • So when I first responded I hadn’t thought about Ashalyn for a while and I was actually playing a D&D game at the same time I wrote the answer. I’m actually going to remove my previous answer because it’s mistaken. I have added a detailed explanation of how she and the Bloodsails fit into the Blood of Vol at the end of the article. Ashalyn was a priest and DID create some of the cornerstones of the faith, which are shared by both the Bloodsails and the Seekers — but she knew nothing about the Divinity Within.

  5. How does the lich in Dreadhold play into it all, is she under orders to wait and bide her time- has Lady Illmarrow been in contact with her by proxy?

    • That is DEFINITELY something that the DM needs to decide based on the story of the campaign. On the surface, Saeria Lantol is held in one of the deep cells of Dreadhold, which is as secure as Khorvaire has to offer. It’s definitely shielded to prevent mystic communication, and Saeria is silenced and bound; it’s not like she’s there willingly. You could DECIDE that it’s all part of a SUPER-long con, that Illmarrow has a way to contact her and that she COULD leave at any time. Or it could be exactly what it seems, that she was defeated and is being held in the one place that has sufficient security to contain a lich.

      Note that Saeria wasn’t part of either the Blood of Vol or the Crimson Covenant. She was from Farlnen — IE she’s a Bloodsail elf — and was part of the Talons of Ice, a “cabal of necromancers who served the Queen of the Dead”… essentially, the first draft of the Order of the Emerald Claw. She “spread fear and death” across Karrnath until she was defeated. Presumably she was enacting a plan of Lady Illmarrow’s; the question is whether her defeat meant the plan was foiled, or if Illmarrow is, again, playing that long game and got what she wanted, and now hundreds of years later is enacted the next step of her plans.

  6. Beyond Eradis Vol objectives and true believers there that just want spread the faith, do you see other possible objectives and factions inside the Crimson Covenant?

    • And do you think that there is undead from other origins, as Katashka the Gatekeeper or from the Kech that knows more about necromancy, on Crimson Covenant?

    • Beyond Eradis Vol objectives and true believers there that just want spread the faith, do you see other possible objectives and factions inside the Crimson Covenant?
      Not especially, no. First of all, by canon there’s only around TWELVE of them — it’s a very small group. Second, they are the MOST DEVOTED PRIESTS OF THE BLOOD OF VOL. It’s the same way you don’t see a cardinal of the Silver Flame inside the Undying Court; they aren’t actively recruiting people from other religions! Ultimately they are SEEKERS FIRST and necromancers second; necromancy is a tool that they use, but their goal is to protect and guide Seekers.

        • According to Faiths of Eberron, yes. In my personal campaign, no. There’s no actual reason for the Covenant to be limited in that way; its members aren’t connected to the planes, moons, or dragonmarks, and for me the general principle of the Baker’s Dozen is that things are CONNECTED. The main limitation on the Covenant would be survival, because again, there ARE forces that would destroy them, and because of the concept that undeath isn’t actually easy — that the enchantments of the oathbound keep them from dying, but they won’t keep them from going mad.

    • Actually, I was a little short-sighted. Yes, they are ALL SEEKERS — you won’t find Kech Nasaar or servants of Katashka on the Crimson Covenant. However, the SEEKERS do have different beliefs. Notable, there are some that believe the ultimate goal is helping mortals unlock the divinity within — and others who believe the ultimate goal is to DESTROY THE SOVEREIGN HOST, blaming them for all human suffering. Those in the former group don’t actually believe the Sovereigns exist, which is where you get division; how can you destroy something that doesn’t exist? So, you certainly have philosophical division on that point.

  7. What are some ongoing projects of the Crimson Covenant, which could be used as significant plot hooks? Are they trying to do anything about, for example, the dark powers of Mabar, or the followers of the Gatekeeper Katashka?

    • So their first focus is quite narrow: they teach. Powerful champions of the faith — paladins, clerics, etc — likely study with the Crimson Covenant to learn higher level abilities, and they’d teach the more significant rituals used by unclassed NPC adepts.

      Their second focus is on protecting Seekers. What that looks like will depend on what is currently threatening Seekers. If, say, the warlords of Karrnath suddenly descided to blame all of Karrnath’s problems on the Blood of Vol, then the Covenant want plan to do something to stop them. If there’s a plague, they’d try to help contain it. During the war, some of them fought in the war, because that was what they needed to do to protect the Seekers. So what that looks like will depend on what they feel they need to do to protect the innocent.

      Their grandest goal is to end suffering and death… which at least some of them believe means destroying the Sovereign Host. That could be breaking the connections between Dolurrh and Eberron so all dead souls linger as ghosts. It could be about finding some way for all humanoids to transcend their physical existence. Or it could be literally ending disease and death and granting everyone physical immortality (maybe starting with just a few people). Or if you feel that the Sovereigns are real, they might be able to actually DESTROY THE SOVEREIGNS — and if the Sovereigns ARE real, what would that do to the world? In all cases they are trying tomake things better, but this level of metaphysical meddling could easily make things worse.

      • What would it actually take to break the connections between Dolurrh and Eberron? Who else in Eberron would actually support such a brazen goal? Would this be influenced by the properties and/or Dark Powers of Mabar in any way?

        • Heck considering that the Giants broke all gates between Dal Quor and Eberron but the metaphysical ties fully remain and people still dream there every night, I’d assume that destroying a moon and breaking all connections to Dolurrh would only make the plane remote. Souls would still travel there. Seems like it would take something even more drastic.

          Would be fun to explore a Miracle Day (Torchwood anyone?) version of Eberron where the Covenant succeeds and no one really can die.

      • What stops the Crimson Covenant from using some preexisting D&D 5e methods of achieving effective immortality, such as the Reincarnate and Clone spells?

  8. Some questions that appear now after some thoughts about this post.

    1. Some members of the Crimson Covenant have a public face? Of course, not as member of the Crimson Covenant or as a undead, but do you see something as the warlord of Atur, a old general, a old noble family that have always sons very equal to them fathers or other political figure being one of them?
    2. One thing that always sound strange to me is Kaius III continuing using seekers or believers from blood of vol in things as his private harem. After all that happens to him, sounds strange he share his secret with them. Even if they are supposedly loyal to the crown. In same time, this article gives a answer, he could have a ally that is from the Covenant and a enemy of Vol. Still, it is strange all actions against Blood of Vol and a ally there. Do you have thoughts about it?

    • I mean you could simply have a sect of Vol worshippers who are loyal to Kaius first and consider him a martyr trying to save Karrnath from constant war. I’d assume that many if not most Seekers do not at all appreciate how the Emerald Claw essentially justifies all the worse stereotypes about the Blood of Vol to outsiders after all. And like a cult they probably have a different set of beliefs; perhaps they think that at some point Kaius will reveal his vampire nature and make the Blood an official faith again or that he is working to restore the faith away from the violence that was associated with the War.

      • Yes, I think this are good Nym. But I always think strange you know. From Kaius’ perspetive, looks to me that he probably would think that Vol controls blood of vol. After all, he was turned on the Crimson Monastery, there is agreement from the Crimson Covenant to become allies… Sound strange after all this Kaius think is safe found and make a group of loyal blood of Vol worshippers as your private harem. I don’t know if I’m losing some point here, but seems to me a bad move. And don’t make a lot sense with Kaius officially weakened the Blood of Vol.

        • I agree with Nym. First of all, I call out in Exploring Eberron that the BoV doesn’t have an absolute strict doctrine. Some people believe in the idea of fighting the Sovereigns; others don’t believe the Sovereigns exist. It is a core shared principle that there are undead champions of the faith who fight for the good of the Seekers. I believe that Kaius’ blood donors see him as just sucha champion. They BELIEVE that he is acting in the best interests of Karrnath and potentially the Seekers themselves, even as he is weakening the influence of the faith. They know that Lady Illmarrow does have a poisonous influence, and want to help Kaius fight her. They are a subsect of the faith, following their own path even though they adhere to the common beliefs. It’s also quite likely that some of them believe that through this position they can help counsel and influence Kaius for the good of the faith overall.

          • Interesting. Make sense, I always forget the descentralized nature of Blood of Vol.

            So, Kaius’ Harem is confirmed as a excellent group patron from adventures in Karrnath? Hahahaahah

          • So, Kaius’ Harem is confirmed as an excellent group patron from adventures in Karrnath?
            The harem isn’t a PATRON. The patron is Kaius III (Head of State) or a member of the Crimson Covenant (Immortal Being). The party of adventurers would BE Kaius’s harem.

    • Maybe a easy way to understand my question 2 would be elaborated it in this way: “what is the relationship of Kaius I and the Crimson Covenant beyond Vol? How much they know what she did, there is some of them that are possible allies to Kaius and helped him, maybe explaining things as the harem? Maybe part of them not like the idea of Blood of Vol become a official state religion.”

      • In thinking about the Crimson Covenant, it might be helpful to look at the US Supreme Court. It’s a small body of people who are experts at what they do but who have differing opinions and who were appointed in very different times. It’s a lifetime position, and in this case, when we say lifetime, we mean eternity—or until you get taken down by a paladin of Dol Arrah. There are members of the Crimson Covenant who are older than Galifar, and at least one who’s older than Karrnath. For these people, the events of the last ten years—the Order of the Emerald Claw, Kaius III—are a tiny drop in the bucket of time. It’s only been a decade; let’s see how it plays out in another decade.

        You definitely have factions in the Covenant. There are those who argue that the Covenant should be focused on teaching the living—that it’s not its place to intervene directly. There are those who say that they should be trying to find a way to destroy the Sovereigns directly, those who say they should undermine the institutions that encourage worship of the Sovereigns, and those that say that all this discussion of the Sovereigns is ridiculous, because they don’t exist. There are those who believe Lady Illmarrow poses a threat to the faith, and those who argue that she’s a champion and that the Covenant should be supporting her—along with those who say “Let’s see what happens in the next ten years.”

        So there are definitely enough members on the Covenant who support Illmarrow or at least want to wait and see that the COVENANT isn’t acting against her. But there’s also certainly members of the Covenant who ARE worried about Illmarrow and the Emerald Claw. Such a member might well be secretly working with Kaius III, and might very well work as a patron for an adventurer or a party of adventurers. They can’t convince the majority of the Covenant to take action, but they do believe that something should be done.

  9. “Ghost Stories of Eberron.”

    Ah yes, an excuse to actually talk about exercising the idea Ghostwalk halfheartedly presents of grafting its ideas into an existing setting and how to work it into Eberron! (That’s a joke. In seriousness, some side effect of The Mourning seems sufficient an excuse if someone really wanted to do it)

  10. Hi Keath! Thanks for sparking a light on a very shadowy point of Eberron. I think that in Faith of Eberron it’s good that Erandis Vol drives the Crimson Covenant and only the highest priests of the Covenant knows the identity of Vol, but I know that you didn’t work on that book. What I’d like to ask you is why, in your Eberron, Erandis choose Bov. There are many other institutions, both more powerful and with no Covenant of Undeads to protect them.

    Second question: always in Faith of Eberron is told of an heretic sect of bov that venerates both bov and The Keeper. I guess you wouldn’t use it, but can you make any sense for it in your Eberron? Is it Erandis idea?

    Third and last: I always have been fascinated with this concept of bov fighting GODS. Gods we can’t see, we don’t know if they exist. How can this be done? How would you start a campaign about that: a group of bov players on a mission against gods?

    Thanks in advance!

    • What I’d like to ask you is why, in your Eberron, Erandis choose Bov.
      Because it was easy for her to do so. Erandis is a powerful necromancer stationed in northeastern Khorvaire, with many powerful undead allies and the ability to create or control undead. The Blood of Vol is an institution based in northeastern Khorvaire that uses necromancy as a tool and whose most powerful advisors are undead. Just looking to the present day, part of the point is that the Blood of Vol has a tradition of powerful undead champions that protect and guide they people, so they believe that’s what Lady Illmarrow is. It’s part of their tradition that oathbound SHOULD serve the common good, and it’s not like they have some way to look at a mummy and say “Oh, no, THAT one’s a jerk.” So essentially, it was extremely easy for Erandis to slip into the BoV because it’s a faith that has been taught to RESPECT undead and she has powerful undead allies. It’s not like the Aurum or the Church of the Silver Flame was going to say “Hey, maybe we should put mummies and vampires in charge of our group. Whaddya think?”

      always in Faith of Eberron is told of an heretic sect of bov that venerates both bov and The Keeper. I guess you wouldn’t use it, but can you make any sense for it in your Eberron?

      There’s VERY little that I agree with in Faiths of Eberron when it comes to the BoV. If you really wanted to pursue such a sect, though, sure, why not? It would be a variation of the Restful Watch, which maintains that the Keeper snatches souls on their way to Dolurrh not out of greed, but to preserve them from destruction.

      I always have been fascinated with this concept of bov fighting GODS. Gods we can’t see, we don’t know if they exist. How can this be done?
      It’s an excellent question, which is why they haven’t DONE it yet. If you want it to be a part of a campaign, you as DM need to DECIDE how it could be done. It could be that the Sovereigns DO exist on a higher level of existence that lies beyond the planes we know, and the challenge is reaching that plane. It could be that it’s about destroying the institutions that promote worship of the Sovereigns—that you destroy them by destroying beleif in them. Or it could be that in each generation fifteen children are born who carry the essence of the Sovereigns, and if you can find them all and kill them, you destroy the Sovereigns for a generation. What do you WANT the story to look like?

      • I love your answers so much

        May I ask you what story would YOU like to tell, if any? And, incidentally, do you think dragons/lords of dust would do anything about?

  11. This is a great look into how Erandis interacts with the upper echelons of the Blood of Vol. I have a campaign that might transition to dealing with Erandis’s schemes, and this gives me some great ideas to work off of.

  12. Re: BoV and the Sovereigns. Would it make sense for someone raised in the BoV to imagine, “If I could ascend and take the place of (fill in name of Soverieign), I wouldn’t be cruel! I’d be kind and generous and end disesase and death itself!” and make as their goal unleashing their Divinity Within to be come the firs of the New Sovereigns, the GOOD Sovereigns? Or is the core of BoV teaching that gods are inherently cruel, enemies of humanity – that becoming a Soevereigh would be the equivalent of a Middle-earth hero taking up the One Ring?
    Trivial side question: If theire are nine Sovereighs, why is their symbol an Octogram? The symbol of the Dark Six has six points, after all.

    • Faiths of Eberron has some ideas for why the symbol of the Sovereign Host is an octogram: it represents the first eight deities of the pantheon before Kol Korran was born, it represents the eight levels of souls inhabiting reality (angels, beasts, demons, dead souls, the progenitor dragons, fey, gods, and mortals), the octogram is meant to represent sixteen overall entities since it has eight points and two colors that overall represents the Nine and Six and/in One. The levels one is quite strange and is called out as eccentric in the text.

    • The symbol for the Dark Six is five bones crossed over a red blood smear, the five Sovereigns and the Traveler apart.

      Similarly going by Faiths of Eberron’s assorted symbols for the Host (different colours), I’d imagine the colour represents one Sovereign and the eight points the others. The yellow and blue one is Aureon, the head of the pantheon.

      The six pointed H is the symbol of a specific sect, the Schismatists, who worship a unified pantheon of the Dark Six

  13. Question: If creatures lose the spark from within when they die, how would you (or in-world characters) explain Blood of Vol undead who still maintain the divine powers from being a cleric or paladin that they had in life?

    • There’s two easy options. The first is, as you have suggested, is that the SOURCE of their powers change; that the vampire priest draws their magic from Mabar instead of from their blood. The other, as called out on page 58 of Exploring Eberron, is that they rely on the blood of the faithful as a source of their magic—that vampires drink the blood of the faithful and oathbound bathe in it—and that if they are cut off from blood for an extended time they could lose their spells. The main thing here is that while the spells may function the same regardless of source, they should LOOK different. Spells channeling the Divinity Within should generally have crimson energy manifestations; spells channeling Mabar should have shadowy manifestations and a chilling effect.

Leave a Reply to Mariam O. Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.