The Society of Blood (affectionately known as the SOBs) is much more benign than its name sounds. Initially created as an award of valor for common foot soldiers, membership requires independently confirmed kills of 10 individual enemies in direct combat (hand weapons or bare hands), and also nomination by both a commanding officer (need not be SOB) and a separate SOB member. The award is based on demonstrated bravery, simple folk honor and martial skill; wanton killers and psychopaths (at least at the time of consideration) are generally excluded. Any cowardly or knowingly dishonorable action will permanently eliminate a candidate from consideration: Hence, membership is not granted until the soldier is mustered out of service. The award is infrequent, perhaps 1 soldier in 50, but based solely on merit of the individual: Twice, the entire surviving cohort of a company was inducted after particularly bloody campaigns.
Acceptance into the SOB is accompanied by a fairly elaborate (and drunken) ceremony involving pledges to live life honorably and in fellowship with other SOB, and results in a prominent “SOB” tattoo, typically on the inside swordarm wrist, and also the award of good weapons and armor.
If this was where it ended, it would have become just another boring army drinking club.
The Great War lasted many more years than expected, and took both men and women away from their families, fields and forges for several seasons. Many who had survived battles returned to find their families relocated and their fortunes usurped and plundered, frequently quasi-legally at the hands of some corrupt petty official. The lords of the estate were still off at the War, and fair resolution, if possible, would have to await their eventual return. A returning SOB, however, found most issues quickly resolved themselves to a proper state. The SOBs rarely, almost never, had to enter into any fights: Seems few people back in the village wanted to tangle with an armed warrior with proof of 10 or more individual kills.
The SOBs decided to make themselves a benevolent, protective order for all veterans. They quickly united informally and, without any bloodshed or even any overt threats, restored order and fairness for veterans through all the lands.
Not that all SOB’s are paragons of virtue. SOBs, being drawn from farmers and shopkeepers, drovers and laborers, have few common traits beyond combat skill and bravery. Some are braggarts, some are silent; some are cultured, some are crude; some are naturally honest, and a few are less so. One important political implication is that a serf who makes SOB is granted full freeholder status, along with immediate family (spouse and children). Any commoner, of any demeanor, may be SOB. However, most appear to take their oaths seriously, and avoid besmirching the SOB.
Today, though the Great Wars ended years ago, the SOB still provide suitable burial benefits for veterans, and sustenance for widow(er)s and orphans. They also provide aid and comfort especially for other SOB’s that have fallen on hard times, or to drink, or are unable to overcome their demons and nightmares. They accept no gifts or donations, since an early situation that appeared to be extortion based on threat. They SOB’s are still held in high esteem by both commoners and lords, and frequently enjoy important positions and burghers and elders, and, naturally, more than a few gained additional fame as extraordinary adventurers.