Sacrifice to Preserve Life
Far from the judging eyes of society, blood hunters have mastered the secretive techniques of hemocraft, finding blood magic’s esoteric nature effective against evils that resist divine rebuke or arcane bindings. Through careful study and practice, blood hunters hone the rites of hemocraft into unique combat techniques, forfeiting a portion of their own health to call blood curses down upon their enemies or summon the elements to aid their strikes. Willing to suffer whatever it takes to achieve victory, these adept warriors have forged themselves into a potent force dedicated to protecting the innocent.
A Monster to Fight Monsters
Whether driven by the wish to make a difference, the need to take vengeance, or the hope of finding a place to belong in an uncaring world, every blood hunter has their own reasons for undertaking the ritual of the Hunter’s Bane that starts them on this path. In joining an order of blood hunters, one also joins a family bound by service to each other and a common cause. For many, this might be the only family they have left—or have ever known—making the kinship felt between blood hunters an all-but-unbreakable bond.
Outside the camaraderie of their orders, however, the life of a blood hunter is not an easy one. The ritual of the Hunter’s Bane can leave a character visibly changed, and prone to unsettling the people around them. Likewise, witnessing hemocraft can invoke superstitious fears from even the most learned scholars. While some cultures have come to accept the good deeds of many blood hunter orders, many blood hunters hide their calling unless absolutely necessary. They feel more comfortable in the wilds and wastes of the world, or drift through the outskirts of society, protecting the poor and defenseless from dark intention and the corrupting touch of fiends.
In choosing this path, every blood hunter irrevocably gives a part of themself to their cause—physically, emotionally, and sometimes morally. Each order of blood hunters practices its own ideals and methods, often employing techniques with dark origins that test the strength and will of those who employ them. Many wrestle with the fear of losing this struggle. And so a life of discipline and vigilance drives a blood hunter’s travels as they wander the countryside, in search of like-minded adventurers and whispers of dark deeds afoot.
Blood Hunter Orders
A handful of secretive orders shape and define the knowledge of the blood hunters, their members all guarding unique arrays of cryptic techniques and rituals. Characters must seek out one of these orders to even be granted access to the Hunter’s Bane rite that starts each blood hunter’s journey. But only once a blood hunter has proven their dedication and worth will an order’s most powerful secrets be revealed.
Order of the Ghostslayer
The Order of the Ghostslayer is the oldest of the blood hunter orders, its members having originally rediscovered the secrets of hemocraft and refined them for combat against the scourge of undeath. Ghostslayers seek out and study the moment of death, obsessing over the mystery of the transition from life, and the unholy power that can cause the dead to rise once more. These zealous blood hunters make it their life’s work to destroy the scourge of undeath wherever it is found, tuning their abilities to engage undead creatures and those who manipulate the necromancy that creates them.
Order of the Lycan
The ancient curse of lycanthropy is feared by nearly all peoples and cultures, passed through blood and seeding a host with the savage strength and hunger for violence of a wicked beast. The Order of the Lycan is a proud group of blood hunters who undergo “the Taming”—the ceremonial infliction of lycanthropy by a senior member of the order, for those who do not already carry the curse before seeking this path. These hunters then use the magic of their blood to harness the power of the monster they harbor, without losing themselves to it. Using intense will and secret blood magic rituals, members of the Order of the Lycan learn to control and unleash their hybrid forms for short periods of time. Enhanced physical prowess, unnatural resilience, and razor-sharp claws make these warriors a terrible foe to any evil that crosses their path. Yet no training is perfect, and without care and complete focus, even the greatest of blood hunters can temporarily lose themselves to their own hunger.
Order of the Mutant
The process of undertaking the Hunter’s Bane ritual is a painful, scarring, and sometimes fatal experience. Those who survive are irrevocably changed—and not always for the better. Over generations of experimentation, a splinter order of blood hunters honed the way in which hemocraft alters the body, using corrupted alchemy and toxic elixirs to alter their blood even further. Over time, they have modified their capabilities in battle, becoming something beyond what they once were. Calling themselves the Order of the Mutant, these blood hunters now specialize in assessing the strengths and weaknesses of their foes, altering their biology to be best prepared for any conflict.
Order of the Profane Soul
Blood hunters belonging to the Order of the Profane Soul have pushed the limits of hemocraft for use against some of the most terrifying creatures corrupting the world. Ancient fiends and cruel magic-users have long counted on their ability to meld into the background and escape those who hunt them, vanishing into noble courts without a trace, or bending the minds of the most stalwart warriors with but a glance. So the blood hunters who founded this order trusted to their resilience as they delved into the same well of corrupting arcane knowledge, making pacts with lesser evils to better combat the greater threats. And though they might have traded a part of themselves for their power, the members of this order know the benefits of that power far outweigh the price.