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|“||On your hand...that is the Brand, yes? The mark is proof that you descend from dragons, our gods of yore. I, too, carry the Brand. The blood in my veins entitled me to wield the divine blade that led me to victory. But it also cursed my to a lifetime of tragedy... Namely, my father's death and a terrible war with my half-brother. So much blood spilt over blood...||”|
— Seliph asking the Avatar in Awakening about their mark
The Holy Blood system is a gameplay mechanic of Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War and a story element of it, Thracia 776 and Awakening. It deals with the genealogy of the descendants of the Twelve Crusaders and the ability to inherit their "holy blood", the connection with the dragon gods bestowed upon the Crusaders at the Miracle of Darna. Possession of holy blood increases the combat abilities of an individual and allows them to wield the holy weapon of their ancestors.
In Jugdral, there are thirteen lines of holy blood: the twelve lines of the Crusaders themselves, and that of their enemy Loptyr, passed on through the emperors of the Loptyr Empire and linked into the modern day by Saint Maira. The lineages of the Crusaders were preserved through their assembly of various kingdoms and noble houses across Jugdral, while the descendants of Maira secluded themselves into Verdane's Spirit Forest to prevent the Loptyr bloodline from influencing the world. Most of the lines are simply named for their Crusader originator, for example "Baldur blood" for the lineage of Baldur; the exceptions are Heim and Ced's lineages, which are instead named for the dragons with whom they blood-bonded, Naga and Forseti. Outside of Jugdral, there exists two further holy blood lineages not associated with Loptyr or the Twelve Crusaders: that of the royal family of Ylisse, whose ancestor also blood-bonded with Naga, and that of the Fell Dragon Grima's vessels.
Major and minor blood
Holy blood manifests in two distinct forms: minor blood and major blood. While both carry power, minor blood carries signficantly less. Possession of major blood grants an individual the ability to wield the holy weapon wielded by their Crusader ancestor, whereas minor blood does not. Generally, even in direct lineage, major blood is significantly rarer and, in groups of children of a given bearer of major blood, will often only manifest in just one of the children, with no criteria as to on which child it will manifest. Major holy blood in children will manifest either if one parent possessed major blood themselves, or if both parents possessed the same type of minor blood; Manfroy of the Loptyrians used the latter to his advantage in the sect's scheme to revive the Loptyr lineage, by having two bearers of minor Loptyr blood reproduce to produce a child bearing major Loptyr blood, able to wield the tome and become a vessel for the dark god.
In the Miracle of Darna, each Crusader received a holy weapon alongside their blood bond from their respective dragon, each incredibly powerful and boosting the natural abilities of their wielder even further. These twelve weapons all contain a dragonstone from their creator dragon, and are sealed in such a way that only possessors of major holy blood in the matching bloodline are capable of wielding them. Additionally, the connection to the holy bloodlines can enable the weapons to restore lost memories of their wielder; for example, wielding Yewfelle helped restore the memories of Briggid after being raised by the pirates of Orgahil.
By the era of Awakening, however, the sealing of the weapons to the holy bloodlines appears to have faded, as five of the weapons were wielded by the Deadlords and can be subsequently used by any member of Chrom's army of suitable skill.
Possession of holy blood manifests physically by the appearance of Brands on the bodies of their possessors, appearing at a varying point in their life and acting as proof of their holy lineage; however, in rare cases the Brand will not appear on a descendant, but will still show up on the descendant's own children. The placement varies based on the individual: Deirdre and Emmeryn's Naga Brands appeared on their foreheads, Galzus and Mareeta's Odo Brands are on their backs, and Chrom and Owain's Naga Brands are located on their upper arms, Avatar's Grima's brand is on the back of their hand. It is unclear whether only major holy blood causes Brands to appear or whether they are present on minor holy blood possessors too.
As obvious distinguishing traits of holy blood lineage, the people of some countries, like Agustria, have historically taken advantage of this in witch hunts to find and burn bearers of Loptyr blood, though generally unsuccessfully and never capturing actual possessors of Loptyr blood. Arvis, a possessor of minor Loptyr blood, was paranoid about his Loptyr heritage being revealed despite also possessing major Fala blood, and so made an effort to keep his Brands hidden.
For the second generation, a child unit will, unlike the lore might suggest, inherit all of the holy blood types held by both of their parents. A child will always inherit at least minor holy blood of these blood types; to inherit major holy blood, one of a handful of circumstances will allow them to do so:
- If a parent of the same sex as the child has major holy blood, the child will also have it.
- The exceptions to this rule are the children of Briggid and Ethlyn. The former's son will always inherit her major Ulir blood and if her husband has major blood, it will be inherited by her daughter instead. As for Ethlyn, her daughter will always inherit her husband's major Noba blood while her son will only have minor Noba.
- If both of their parents possessed the same type of minor holy blood, the child will have major holy blood.
- Ares and Shanan are fixed characters, completely independent of the love and inheritance system, and will always have major Hezul and Odo blood respectively. From a story perspective, both fit the first criteria: Ares's father was Eldigan (major Hezul), while Shanan's father was Mariccle (major Odo), and neither of their mothers are known to have had any holy blood of their own.
- The parents of Seliph and Julia are fixed, and so they will always inherit from their parents the major holy blood matching their weapon type (Baldur and Naga respectively). Additionally, neither will inherit Loptyr blood from their mother or, in Julia's case, her father.
With major holy blood, there is some inconsistency in the ability to use their matching holy weapon. For example, Larcei and Ulster are both Myrmidons, and if Holyn (who has minor Odo just like their mother) is their father, both will inherit major Odo blood. However, only their cousin Shanan is allowed to use the matching holy weapon, assuming a glitch to move Balmung into their inventory is not used. Also, even if a character had the needed major blood to wield a holy weapon, they are unable to wield it unless their class is able to use its weapon type.
While all holy blood types except Dain are available in playable units, there are five where it is impossible for a player unit to have major holy blood. No playable unit can have major Tordo, Fala, Neir, Dain or Loptyr holy blood, as there is either no access to parent units who possess major holy blood of these types, or because there is no access to two parent units of different genders who both possess minor holy blood of these types.
Substitute units, of course, do not inherit anything as they are static characters who are not the product of playable parent units being paired up. Linda and Amid are the only substitute units to possess any holy blood at all (both have minor Tordo), for story reasons to adequately fulfill their role as substitutes for Teeny and Arthur.
Each type of holy blood is associated with a set of growth rate bonuses, with each totalling up to a 50% overall bonus. A unit in possession of minor holy blood in a bloodline will have these growth rates added to their own base growth rates; for example, Ayra possesses minor Odo holy blood, so she gains a further 20% HP growth and 30% Skill growth added on top of her own base growth rates of 50% HP and 30% Skill.
The same principle applies for units in possession of major holy blood; however, the growth rate bonuses are doubled for such units.
- For example: Larcei, Ayra's daughter, will by default inherit minor Odo holy blood from her mother and will gain the +20% HP and +30% Skill growth bonuses. However, if Holyn (minor Odo) is her father, she will instead inherit major Odo holy blood, doubling the bonuses given to +40% HP and +60% Skill.
The growth rate bonuses will stack, so units in possession of multiple holy blood types will gain the growth bonuses from both types.
- For example: if Larcei's father is Lex, she will inherit minor Neir as well as minor Odo, giving her the stacked bonuses of +40 HP, +30 Skill and +30 Defence.
As a general rule, a unit in possession of a line of holy blood will receive an increased weapon rank in the line's matching weapon type if they are capable of using said matching weapon type in their base class.
- For example: Patty (minor Ulir blood by default) will receive an increase in her sword rank if Holyn (minor Odo) is her father as she, a Thief, is capable of using swords, but she will not receive an increase in her wind magic rank if Lewyn (major Forseti) is her father, as she is incapable of ever wielding wind magic.
If this criteria is met, a unit in possession of minor holy blood will have their matching weapon rank increased one rank from its base value, and a unit in possession of major holy blood will possess a ★ rank in their matching weapon type, granting them access to the matching holy weapon.
- For example: Teeny and Arthur both normally possess a C rank in wind magic. If Lewyn is their father, both will inherit his Forseti blood, but only Arthur will receive major blood while Teeny will receive minor blood, as above. If this is the case, Teeny will possess a B rank in wind magic because of her minor blood, while Arthur will receive a ★ rank because of his major blood, allowing him to use the Forseti tome.
If children obtain new weapon types upon promoting, they will also gain the weapon rank boosts afforded by their holy blood. Additionally, should their promoted class increase the weapon rank of their current weapon types, their rank boost will added to their new base rank.
- For example: Arthur is a Mage and thus would normally have a C rank in fire, wind and thunder magic. Suppose that Holyn is Arthur's father, thus he possesses minor Tordo and minor Odo. As a Mage, he would now have a B rank in thunder magic (base rank C + 1 from minor Tordo) prior to promotion; when promoted to Mage Knight, a class which has base B ranks in swords, thunder, fire and wind, his holy blood increases will boost him to an A rank in swords and thunder instead.
|Note: A bold name means that character possesses major blood, while an italics name marks a nonplayable character, or a character unseen in the gameplay of Genealogy of the Holy War who has been confirmed to possess that holy blood by other material like Thracia 776 or official artbooks explaining backstory.|
|Emmeryn, Chrom, Lissa, Lucina, Owain, Ophelia|
|N/A||Validar, Avatar, Morgan|
|Note: No clarification has currently been made in any source material as to whether these characters possess major or minor blood; it is implied that most of these characters possess major blood, however nothing has been confirmed.|
- "Additionally, it doesn't matter if the person is the eldest child or if they're male, there is no rule, so often there are occasions where the direct family has no successors of the holy weapons. For instance, the Nordion Royal Family are all branch descendants of Black Knight Hezul (the direct descendants are the Agusty Royal Family), but they are the sole inheritors of the pact-forming blood (of Hezul who formed a patch with the dragon tribe) that allows them to wield Mystletainn." - Designers' notes from a Genealogy of the Holy War playing guide, as translated by Serenes Forest
- "Q: How do the Holy Weapons work?"
'"A: The dragon tribe has the ability to transfer their power and will into dragon stones (what humans refer to as orbs). The Falchion from Mystery of the Emblem and powerful magic like Aura, as well as the orbs on the 13 Holy Weapons of Jugdral, are all dragon stones. Humans can obtain tremendous strength from these dragon stones, but they are also in danger of losing their own will. Usually, only those who have formed blood pacts with the dragon tribe can use the power of the dragon stones, but there are exceptions if the seal on the orb has been broken." - Designers' notes from a Genealogy of the Holy War playing guide, as translated by Serenes Forest
- "A mark known as a Brand surfaces on their bodies, which is the proof of forming a blood pact with the dragon tribe. Although, the time of appearance of the holy markings differs wildly for each person, sometimes appearing during their youth or even when they're in their old age." - Designers' notes from a Genealogy of the Holy War playing guide, as translated by Serenes Forest
- "Owain: Oh, right! Sorry. Guess I should have shown you before. It's my Brand. The one carried by House Ylisse. So no more need to worry, eh?
Lissa: Th-then you know? That I don't...
Owain: That your Brand never surfaced? Yes, you told me as such. You said it always weighed on you... You should have seen how happy you were the day mine appeared! You were sobbing and laughing for an hour without pause!
Lissa: I was kind of hoping to grow out of the crying thing...
Owain: Yes, well. No more worrying. It was by chance alone your Brand never surfaced. We're all family, linked by blood. You really are Chrom's sister. My Brand proves our lineage." - Owain and Lissa, Fire Emblem Awakening
- "I wonder if there still are any blood relatives of the Dark Lord Loptyr around... Each year big towns like Agusty and Mackily hold witch hunts and arrest a ton of people. Then they burn 'em at the stake for doin' what? Absolutely nothin'! Is that nuts or what!?" - A villager, Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War
|Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War|