The Camarilla's archenemy is the monstrous sect known as the Sabbat. Perceived as mindless savages and bloodthirsty fiends by the Camarilla and independent clans alike, the Sabbat is vilified among the society of the Damned, and for good reason. They're just not the reasons other Kindred claim. While the "Kindred" of the Camarilla espouse concealing themselves among mortals and maintaining the tattered vestiges of their Humanity, the Sabbat favors a different philosophy. Not content to cower like beaten dogs from humans, nor to act as pawns in the schemes of their elders, Sabbat vampires instead prefer to revel in their undead nature.
As the Sabbat reasons, vampires are a cut above mortals, who are merely food or diversion. Isn't Kindred vitae more powerful than mortal blood? Don't vampires have unnatural powers with which to assert themselves over the bovine masses? Who needs petty mortal morality when one is a blood-drinking, immortal monster? The Sabbat, though, involves far more than a simple carte blanche to behave as abominably as one chooses. Sabbat vampires are inherently alien, and their behavior reflects this.
Sabbat vampires wish no place among humans or those who pretend to be humans. They loathe humankind except as sustenance, and they lack the ability to relate to vampires who cannot accept their natures. They even rebel against their own solitary unlives, traveling in wild nomadic packs instead of eking out secretive, isolated existences. For this reason, tensions run high in the Sabbat, and the sect's surroundings often suffer for it. Cities held by the sect are some of the most violent places in existence, challenged for this dubious honor only where Sabbat and Camarilla vie for supremacy. A city under Sabbat control or conquest is an explosive, volatile place; murders occur nightly, and rape and robbery are to be expected at every turn. In the World of Darkness, these cities have themselves grown toward the alien and away from the human, abandoned as they are to the depredations of the monsters who prowl their alleyways.
Unlife in the Sabbat is wild and dangerous. Most Sabbat vampires do not exist long after they have been Embraced. Younger members are considered the most expendable. Constant fighting with the Camarilla and other foes, such as the Inquisition and Lupines, forces Sabbat to live on the edge. While the Camarilla vampires fear Final Death and seldom take great risks, the Sabbat's basic beliefs lead all sect members to do whatever it takes to carry out the mission of saving Cainites from Gehenna. According to the sect, anyone who is not serving the Sabbat is serving the Antediluvians and must be converted or destroyed. The Sabbat continues to plan and raise sieges against Camarilla-held cities in hopes of achieving this end. The Sabbat's primary goals include destruction of Camarilla Elders, Methuselahs and Antediluvians.
Practices and Organization Edit
Sabbat culture revolves heavily around the twin principles of loyalty and freedom. Vampires, as superior beings, are free to do as they please, but they must also remain tme to the Sabbat, lest their freedom be jeopardized by the machinations of the elders. Above all, the Sabbat refuses to be placed under the yoke of the Antediluvians; many of the sect's schemes involve means of frustrating, or at least surviving, Gehenna. The sect's two founding clans, the Lasombra and Tzimisce, are said to have diablerized and destroyed their progenitors, and the other Sabbat vampires follow their lead, hoping that they may one night do the same.
The Sabbat has very firm beliefs concerning all outsiders. Its members are known for their distinct separation of everyone into "them or us." To the Sabbat, all non-Sabbat are "them," regardless of whether "they" are vampires, Lupines, mortals or whatever. The Sabbat does have a few allies, but the sect cooperates only to a limited degree, and only when it is to the Sabbat's advantage. However, internal rivalries, power plays and ancient vendettas rend the sect from within, and the Sabbat often takes two steps back for every three it takes forward. The sect has no true, all-encompassing guidance; it is a hydra, doubling back to bite itself and its foes even as it gains in membership and influence.
Sabbat vampires themselves, with the exception of the Lasombra and Tzimisce shepherds of the sect, mockingly claim to be "anti-clans," or antitribu, of their parent clans. Some Sabbat vampires openly involve themselves in Satanism, paganism or other deviant faiths to spite the propriety of those who stand against them. Perversion and brutality are the Sabbat's tools,and the sect uses them with merciless cunning.
From the day a Sabbat vampire is Embraced, she has certain responsibilities. All Sabbat must uphold pack tradition and practices. They must choose and support leaders who serve the good of the Sabbat as well as the good of the pack itself. They must challenge weak and incompetent leaders as well as those who serve only their own interests. They must perform missions for their leaders. They must work to destroy all the enemies of the Sabbat. Finally, they must be willing to give up their immortal lives for their sect.
The nucleus of the Sabbat's organization is the "pack," a loose confederation of vampires nominally united toward a single goal. Sabbat packs may be nomadic, traveling from city to city leaving death and fire in their wakes, or they may settle in one location on a permanent basis. Because vampires are primarily solitary predators, forcing themselves into each other's company for prolonged periods of time certainly takes its toll on the individual Kindred who make up the packs.
Several political factions divide up the seemingly unified Sabbat; while some of the distinctions may seem arbitrary to an outsider, the political stance a member of the Sabbat takes is no less important to them than their pack, their path of enlightenment, or their clan. Central to this political debate are the dual, and frequently opposing roles of the two main Sabbat ideals:
- All vampires must be free.
- All must be loyal to the Sabbat.
These two forces continue to actively divide the Sabbat in different directions to this day, reaching down to such small things as how a member of the Sabbat views status, who they will take orders from, if they will take orders, and when. Thus, knowing what political faction your character belongs to is just as central as their nature and demeanor in determining how they will react to a situation within the game.
There are five major factions within the chronicle:
- The Pander Movement
- Status Quo
Code of MilanEdit
The Code of Milan is the basis upon which the Sabbat the governed. The Sabbat for all that it espouses individuality and freedom is extremely harsh against those it deems are trying to undermine the sect and who against the sects best interest.
The Sabbat, for all its disorganization, maintains numerous positions for its members. Each pack usually has a priest, who leads the pack in its rituals and sometimes its other affairs. The offices of archbishop (the vampire who oversees Sabbat activity in a given city) and bishop (a vampire who assists the archbishop and carries out her will) command great respect among vampires in a city where these Kindred are encountered. Above these offices are those of the cardinal, who coordinates Sabbat influence over a given region; and the prisci (singular priscus), who act as advisers to the "supreme" leader of the sect, the regent.
The martial arm of the governing body comprises the templars and paladins, who serve as assassins and bodyguards for the regent, prisci and cardinals Worrisome references are made to a "sect within the sect" known as the Black Hand, but these are often simply confused references to the sect itself, which has used that moniker before.
Ranks and StatusEdit
Despite its open structure at the bottom, the Sabbat maintains several Ranks, listed from "high" to "low" in the sect organisation.
Though there have been several Regents through out the history of the Sabbat, there is only ever one at a time. It is essentially the "Leader" of the Sabbat, assuming one can control the force that is held within under a strict (or any for that matter) set of laws. The Regent always keeps a fairly large advisory staff. (Normally a handful of Prisci and some "trusted" Cardinals.)
A practical Head of State within the Sabbat. It's formal duties are to hold major Ritae and rule over a designated area under Sabbat control. A prestigious title, one will normally find a Cardinal's territory ranging from a European Country to a Single Major City or to something along the lines of the Entire Eastern Coastline of the USA. (ex. His Excellency Cardinal Polonia.)
Similar to a Bishop, but higher in status and prestige. The Priscus' (pl. Prisci) job is one of advising to rulers. Most have a designated area of influence, as well as a leader they are related to. A good Priscus works with a Cardinal. However, one of less substantial standing may work with an Archbishop.
Similar to that of a Camarilla Prince, the Arch-Bishop's job is to rule over, most likely, a Sabbat held city of some importance. An Arch-Bishop may also extend his "diocese" into smaller surrounding regions. Normally keeping a Bishop or two around as advisors, or helping hands in keeping track of surrounding territories in and outside of Sabbat control.
An advisory staff member with some political standing. Becoming a Bishop is not easy, it is, however, almost always the stepping stone for getting any higher in Sabbat politics (excluding a few monomacies here and there.) Bishops are known to work with Archbishops in an area, and can sometimes earn the honor of keeping track of important resources, varying from territory to important tasks necessary for the improvement of the Sword of Caine (and one's own standing, of course.)
Paladin referring more to a bodyguard and Templar referring more to an assassin of the Sabbat. These positions are held by members who work directly for important standing Cainites. They may hold little political power on their own right, but a good servant always has the ability to ask his Lord for a favor. An extremely experienced or well trained Paladin/Templar may work for a Cardinal, while a new recruit may simply serve alongside a Bishop. Paladins and Templars are always tested for their loyalty, and it is almost assured that if you have one under your rulership, you have them until Final Death (yours or theirs.)
Basic minion to all above them, and drill sergeant to all beneath. A Ductus' (pl. Ducti) job is to lead a Sabbat Pack. Sometimes the job of Priest and Ductus fall on the same person, and sometimes the Preist may actually lead and the Ductus just has the title in word alone. These instances are not near as common as simply having the Ductus lead their Pack.
A Pack's spiritualist. Versed at least somewhat in Sabbat Lore and Ritae. A Priest's job is to learn the Auctorius Ritae and administer them to the Pack when necessary. Most importantly this means leading in the Vaulderie, the blood tie that keeps a Pack together through forced loyalty.
Brothers and SistersEdit
Shovelheads. Rabble. Children. Meat shields. Grunts. Or simply Brothers and Sisters in Caine. These are the Sabbat with no actual status. They are members of a Pack. They have yet to earn anything, and more than likely in these Final Nights they shall meet Final Death before ever having the chance. Survival rates are grim, at best, among a Sect like the Sabbat. However, there are always paths to power. Whether it be diablerie, or a lucky Monomacy, it's possible to move up in rank with a Sect with such high turnover. Just remember no matter how ruthless these Brothers and Sisters may seem, the only reason higher ups don't seem so out right evil is because they have simply learned to hide it better.
Sabbat vampires, upon their Embrace, are unceremoniously buried in the ground. The subsequent rite of having to claw her way out of the cold, blind earth after having her head dashed open with a shovel strips away much of a Sabbat neonate's Humanity. She is then ready to join her Sabbat sectmates as a monster rather than as a feeble, mewling kine.
The Sabbat corrupts and distorts many conventions of the institutions that stand against it. Many of the rituals and practices of the sect stem from the Catholic Church, including partaking of the VauLderie, a corruption of the Eucharist in which vampires drink from a chalice of their commingled vitae to strengthen loyalty.
The vampires of the Sabbat also participate in numerous other rituals, of which there are a seemingly endless number. The sect regularly makes use of fire, serpents, violence and blood at its rituals, which may take the form of fire dances, snakehandling, torture, ceremonial killing or other debased practices. The rituals' purpose is to create solidarity in the packmates, who lead tense, hostile unlives and are prone to fractiousness and mistrust.
The Sabbat has developed many rituals the sect celebrates as a whole and are called the Auctoritas Ritae.
- The Blood Bath
- The Blood Bath is held whenever sect leaders recognize a Sabbat Vampire as having rightful claim to a title. All the Sabbat who will be under the leadership of the vampire are invited to attend the ceremony. Each subservient vampire is brought before her superior. The superior recognizes the vampire and proceeds to give praise and advice. The titled vampire then shares in the Vaulderie with all present. After this, the vampire is actually led to a pool of blood and he or she bathes in it.
- All ranking vampires will be treated to this ritual upon their taking upon their rank. It will be attending by all vampires who are able to be in attendance, whether they will be subservient to that vampire or not.
- The Blood Feast
- The Blood Feast is held at almost all important gatherings. Humans, and possibly an enemy Kindred, are chained and hung from the ceiling upside down. The Sabbat at the gathering are allowed to bite open the victim and fill their glasses with blood. It is customary to lick the wound closed when finished, so as not to waste any vitae. The Blood Feast is blood on tap.
- The Creation Rites
- This ritual is used when recruiting new members for the sect. In it, all those chosen to become Sabbat are drained of their blood and then given a small amount of vitae from their sires. The Sabbat then bludgeon the chosen ones until unconscious and bury them. Those who claw their way to the surface are knocked out again. They are taken to the secret haven of the pack, where they are awakened and their new status explained.
- The Vaulderie
- Of all the Auctoritas Ritae, the Vaulderie constitutes the most important ritual the Sabbat practices, for it is the source of their freedom and solidarity. In fact, it is essential to what the sect is, the foundation for Sabbat society and success. It is a ceremony of Blood Bonding with all other Sabbat present. The Vaulderie breaks all other Blood Bonds and establishes a Vinculum (bond) between all Sabbat taking part in the ritual. The feeling the Vaulderie creates is one of fellowship, comfort and intense loyalty. It raises the morale of the participants and gives them a tremendous rush. The loyalty created by this bond is far beyond any human emotion and therefore, much more profound.
- Games of Instinct
- Sabbat believe the strong alone survive. The Games of Instinct test vampires to see who among them are the strongest. The games are meant as competitions and many place bets on who will win. There are many types of games, and Sabbat are always inventing new ones. The games test such things as hunting ability, resistance to pain, fighting ability, bravery and wit. The Games of Instinct are like sport for the undead.
- Monomacy is the method for handling grievances among Sabbat vampires through combat. It allows vampires to challenge each other in duels to settle their differences.
- Sermons of Caine
- All vampires in the Sabbat know the story of their origins from the Book of Nod. The Sabbat often gather to hear sermons on their history to remind them of who and what they are. The sermons are used to strengthen Sabbat loyalty and ideology. Sermons of Caine are usually carried out by Sabbat priests following the Path of Caine, and by higher-level leaders during other rituals. Sermons of Caine are always followed by the Vaulderie.
- The Wild Hunt
- Sabbat vampires seldom turn traitor, but those who do rarely survive. The Sabbat is a sect which protects its secrets. If a member reveals something to the enemy that could harm the sect, she is punished severely. Should the enemy ever manage to gain something of vital importance from a Sabbat vampire, the Wild Hunt is called. The Wild Hunt is much like a Blood Hunt, except the Wild Hunt targets all those who may possess the secret knowledge. The hunt is truly wild. The Sabbat stop at nothing to destroy all who possess their secrets, especially the Sabbat traitor who revealed the secrets in the first place.
Other rituals may be observed on special occasions, such as:
- Festivo dello Estinto
- The Festivo dello Estinto or "Festival of the Dead" occurs during the entire second week of March. All Sabbat in the area take place, and nomadic packs make their way to the nearest Sabbat-held city to attend as well.
- During the festival the attendees revel in being a vampire and celebrate by laughing in the face of death and decay. The celebration always ends in a Blood Feast and Vaulderies take place on a nightly basis in the collected packs.
- The nightly "festivities" are at once cruel and inhuman and creative. Ritual scarification, fire dancing, the digging up of the dead in cemeteries, and re-enactments from the Book of Nod are just some of the activities that occur during this week-long feast of blood.
- Palla Grande
- The Palla Grande is the highlight of the Sabbat social calender. This ball takes place on All Hallow's Eve and all the Sabbat in the city and any nomadic packs nearby are expected to attend.
- This yearly ritual must take place in the open, in an area (such as a civic arena or public park) anywhere that it can be in full view of as many humans as possible. Many take place during raves or public festivals, and the Sabbat has been known to even charge admission to the event to mortal attendees.
- The Sabbat members who attend the ball are to come in costume and there is often a great of competition between sect members for the honor of most original costume.
- The mortal attendees, often lured there on the pretense of being invited to an exclusive party, are in reality the main component of the Ball. The Palla Grande always culminates in a Blood Bath. The main ingredient being the blood of the wannabe vampires, witches and party-reveling Goths who attend the affair, unknowing of the true purpose.
- The Archbishop in attendance is the centerpiece of the Blood Bath. He or she climbs into a vat of the blood of the mortals who now are fully aware of the malicious purpose of the ball as their blood flows into a large, ornate bath. Each vampire in attendance adds their blood to the mix. It is rumored that this ritual imbues the Archbishop with certain mystical powers that dissipate at the next sunrise.
- At the conclusion of the Blood Bath, all Sabbat in attendance begin a frantic dance of undeath. Eardrum splitting music is played and the vampires drink from the archbishop's bath and from the now nearly dead mortals suspended from the ceiling..and from each other. Many frenzy in this vile and violent atmosphere charged with the electricity of depravity. The room itself becomes bathed in blood, with the thick liquid congealing all around the participants in pools and small streams upon the floor and walls.
The Ignoblis Ritae are the common rituals that are used by packs in the Sabbat. Unlike the Auctoritas Ritae, these rituals and their execution vary from pack to pack and are overseen by the pack's Priest.
- Acceptance Ritus
- This rite welcomes a new member to the pack, or recognizes the ascension of a recruit or acknowledges any change in power or membership. Each member of the presiding pack acknowledges the new position of the pack member in some personal way. This could be sharing their blood or the giving of a gift.
- Allegiance Ritus
- This ritus is the first ceremony a newly embraced vampire goes through, even before the Acceptance Rite. This Ritus is especially important for Camarilla defectors. This Rite is long and involved and it may in fact go on for years before the recruit is allowed to take the Acceptance Rite and be welcomes as a full member of the Sect. Part of the ritual involves the permanent addition of some sort of secret mark to the vampires body through either tattooing, scarification or branding and the use of Vicissitude so that is can not be healed.
- Before receiving this Ritus, the initiate must stand to the rear of his pack mates during other rituals, he must drank last in the Vaulderie, and may not contribute any of his own blood to the ritual. In addition, he may not read or discuss any passages of the Book of Nod.
- Contrition Ritus
- This Ritus is also known as the Ablution or Unction Ritus. This Ritus allows for a Sabbat member to atone for sins or indiscretions they've committed, much in the same way that Confession works in the Catholic Church. This Ritus is considered to be the most important of all the ignoblis ritae as Inquisitors, Black Hand operatives, priests and ducti offer a choice of contrition or death to Sabbat who have committed wrongs. All Sabbat take these ritae seriously for only by the graces of their betters, can they continue to exist.
- Welcoming Ritus
- This rite is mostly a social thing. Priests invoke it whenever two packs meet to spend time together. This Ritus reinforces the Sabbat ideology that respects individuality while requiring and creating unity to achieve the purpose of the Sect.
- Ritus of Thanksgiving
- This Rite is actually less a thanksgiving than a chance a brag and boast of what ones has achieved or of daring exploits. This giving of thanks usually begins with the invocation, "I thank Caine for his favor when I..." and then usually leads to a exaggerated or aggrandized speech detailing the speakers prowess and bravery.
- Martial Ritus
- During times of war, a Sabbat pack tries to increase its strength by any means possible, and often do this by creating a sense of kinship found only in combat. The Martial Ritus accomplishes this by whipping the Sabbat into a fervor that heralds the destruction of its enemies. The Rite usually begins with chanting a mantra such as, "strength, fire" or "muscle and hate". This is accompanied by the beating of drums and chanting.
- Spilling of Blood
- When two or more Sabbat hunt and feed together, they sometimes will recognize the sharing of a mean by saying, "Hot blood that spurted from Abel at his time of death, sustain for the will of the Sabbat."
- Stealth Ritus
- In the interest of maintaining silence, some packs use the Stealth Ritus to ensure this. In this ritual, the participating vampires bite out each other's tongues and spit them into a fire. This causes no levels of damage, the injured vampire loses one blood point to signify the bleeding and healing. Some packs have thus developed elaborate and complex hand signals to communicate to each other.
- Sun Dance
- This ritual tests a Sabbat members endurance and bravery. During this Ritus, vampires create a hypnotic dance around a symbol for the Sun from sunset to sunrise without stopping until they collapse in an exhausted heap, covered in blood sweat.
- This ritual always take place on the Full Moon and pack members usually dress for the occasion and wear frightening masks or red body paint.
- Tests of Pain
- Sabbat Priests use these grueling and tortuous ritae to test the spirits of their pack maters. These rituals very from pack to pack, but all are painful and draining as well as test the courage of the subject being tested.
- The Asp's Blessing
- By some accounts the Sabbat likens themselves to a serpent and thus many packs practice ritae that involve snake-handling. In this ritual the Priest holds a poisonous serpent and kisses it and then holds it before each member of the pack, who must then in turn kiss it. It the snake bites an unfortunate vampire, this mean that Caine holds disfavor for that person and thus is also harboring a secret transgression. Some Sabbat go so far as to bring mortals to this Ritus, in the hopes that they will be bitten, thereby signifying Caine's disdain for mortal.
The Black HandEdit
A secret organization within the sect, the Black Hand remains a mystery even for most members of the Sabbat itself. Assamites make up the majority of this group, which is rumored to form packs of its own. Only the most powerful, cunning, loyal and intelligent of vampires may be able to join. Its true purpose remains unknown, but it is believed by most of those who have heard of it that it serves as the sect's assassin squad. Some also believe that the leaders of this "Sect within a Sect" report directly to the Regent of the Sabbat.
Also a primary mission of the Black Hand is the supposed hunting and elimination of the Antediluvian's, beyond all other Sect laws. Is important to remember, as mentioned in the Code of Milan "All Sabbat shall support the Black Hand."
The Black Hand is known to be very secretive and organized. Mobilizing any larger part of the Hand is known as "bringing out the big guns". They have their own hierarchy that exists independently from the Sabbat ranks.
The Regent is still the official head of all Sabbat, including the Black Hand.
All members of the Black Hand wear a crescent moon mark on one of their palms, which is magically burned into the flesh at the initiation ritual. This is why many Black Hand wear gloves a lot of the time. This ritual also includes an oath each member must swear, that they have now died twice, for their unlife belongs to the Hand and none other.
Most Black Hand members are still members of a normal Sabbat pack and their pack mates have no idea about their special involvement.
Clans of the SabbatEdit
The Sabbat is smaller than the Camarilla, but is composed of more clans. The majority of the vampires within the Sabbat are of the Lasombra or Tzimisce clans, but almost every other clan is also represented. The Sabbat vampires of the more well-known clans are different from their brethren outside the Sabbat. They are even referred to differently. They are of the antitribu, or the "opposite tribes" of their former clans.