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Excerpt from The Hero’s Handbook: Blood Sacrifices

Sooner or later, heroes going on adventures will have to spill blood voluntarily. Shrines, spells, and making vows all require willing bloodshed. The outcome of a quest is often hanging by a thread. You can’t avoid blood sacrifices, so you should prepare for them. When it comes time to spill blood by choice, there are bad habits that many adventurers use for voluntary blood spilling. However, there is a better way to perform blood sacrifices, be they for temples, magics, or oaths.

If you are searching for an artifact or knowledge, a temple is a good bet. Unfortunately, many temples have altars. To get past one of these shrines, somebody has to place an offering. Some altars require things such as a memory, identity, or important object, but most shrines require- yep- blood. The first rule of altar blood is that if you (or a friend) already have a bleeding cut, you should use that. You might have one because of a recent fight, or you take a wrong step on some littered bones. It may be awkward lifting one of your feet, or your face, or wherever you have a cut over an altar, but it minimizes the pain and decreases your chances of dying of blood loss. If nobody has a bleeding injury, you will probably have to make one. The best place to do this is on the back of your arm. It has the least nerve endings, so it will hurt less, and, as opposed to your hand, isn’t needed to grasp a weapon for those sword fights you heroes find yourselves in so often. You may find yourself thinking, “alright, one big ugly gash on the back of my arm coming right up!” You might even be reaching for a knife. Don’t do that dear hero! It is more prudent to give yourself a small cut. If you have a piece of paper, attempt to use that to give yourself a tiny paper cut. If you must use your battle knife, try to wipe it off on your shirt first. Infection is not a good thing to have when adventuring. A paper or tiny knife cut will work for most altars. All of this advice is very good, except in one situation: what if you need to fill an entire bowl? Do not use all of your own blood. If you are caught on the spot, try to split up blood with your companions. Even better, if you have time to prepare, fill a jar, one drop at a time. You can take it with you on adventures for situations like these. Perhaps the best and least macabre solution is to take some coconuts with you! Coconut juice can be used as a substitute for blood plasma, though it lacks red and white blood cells. Use it instead of blood or to make blood offerings seem larger. (It will fool the magic.) Use the back of your arm, make small cuts, and prepare beforehand when offering blood to altars!

For you heroes in fantasy, you may need to attempt or help in the attempt to cast a ritualistic spell. This might even be why you start your quest. While this guide cannot guide you on where to find materials, it can tell you that typically, an ingredient is blood. Rituals are pickier than shrines. With rituals, amount, freshness, and location matter. So if you only need a couple of drops of blood, it is wise to just give yourself a small cut on your hand. This way it is easier to place the “ingredient” where it needs to go. It is harder to control the back of your arm. If you need a lot of blood, things get more complicated. You can’t split up the blood, because if you do that, it’s harder to be specific. You might want to have some blood on hand for transfusion if you’re in a sci-fi fantasy setting. If you are stuck in medieval fantasy, you might be out of luck. If the blood doesn’t have to be human, you can take some farmer’s cow. (And yes, it’s hard to aim a cow. The guide’s panel of adventurers has tried this first hand.) 

Vows might just be the most versatile of the Sacrifices. Traditionally, a blood oath is a binding promise between two people, the person making the oath, and the person the oath is to. The two take a knife and split their palms open. Try to avoid this if you can, dear hero. If you die of blood loss, you are not going to save the world. First, ask yourself a question: does this promise have to be binding, or is this just for effect? Effect is a useful tool, but it often usurps a hero’s goals. If the answer to the first question is yes, then ask yourself a second question: can you use a different binding promise? If you are in a fantasy setting, perhaps you can cast a binding spell (as long as it doesn’t involve blood). Maybe you could make a pinky promise. If your contract has to be in blood, here is one last question: can you tweak the oath in some way? Instead of cutting open your palm, could you give yourself a paper cut? Could you use the back of your arm? Only make a blood oath when it is absolutely necessary; otherwise, try to utilize their flexible natures. 

Be careful when it’s time to perform blood sacrifices. Prepare for altars. Use magic spells sparingly. Take advantage of blood oaths. Be responsible when it comes to any blood sacrifices: especially temples, magic spells, and promises!

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