Sabat vs Camarrilla
1.1 The Generic Sabbat
1.2 The Purchase Pact and the Code of Milan
2.1 Dark Ages and Renaissance
2.2 Victorian Era
2.3 Final Nights
3.1 Core Clans
3.2 The antitribu
3.3 Additional Bloodlines
4.1 Concerning Antediluvians
5.2 Ranks and Status
5.3 The Black Hand
6 Sect Culture
6.2 The Big Party
6.3 Games of Instinct
7 Sabbat the World Over
7.1 Ritae and the Vaulderie
7.3 Quotes and Criticisms
7.4 Notable Sabbat and Packs
7.5 Non-Canon Notable Sabbat and Packs
The Sabbat is a loose sect of vampires that believes Cainites should accept their vampiric nature and subjugate humanity as the inferior species. Also known as the Sword of Caine, the sect has the stated goal of destroying the Antediluvians, who they believe are the masterminds behind the Camarilla and the Jyhad.
The Sabbat is at best ironic, at worst dangerously hypocritical. It is composed of both the oldest and the youngest vampires in the world, who rejoice in their damnation while fearing for their souls, and fight against the Antediluvians, the elders, and their own pack members.
The Generic Sabbat
The Sabbat is represented most appropriately by its most common and fervent follower: the pack member. It’s such a pity, then, that there is no one archetypal pack member to be found anywhere in the Sabbat’s ranks. Whatever one pack member chooses to believe in, there is another who postulates the exact opposite. Whatever style of appearance one pack member adopts, there is another who dresses provocatively in opposing fashion. For each new shovelhead brought into the fold, there is an elder shepherding him towards a grisly doom.
The Purchase Pact and the Code of Milan
The two most important documents of the Sabbat, which brought an end to the First and Second Sabbat Civil Wars, respectively. The Purchase Pact was a simple non-aggression treaty observed by the Sabbat of the early 1800s, which supposedly ended the infighting that was masked by the American Revolutionary War. It was a direct result of the Camarilla pushing on the new-born United States, a coup which they were very successful at. In response, the Regent of the period, Gorchist, and several noted Sabbat leaders signed the Purchase Pact (named for the Louisiana Purchase), the purpose of which was to once again curtail the aggressiveness of the Sabbat against its own members and redirect them against the Camarilla and the Antediluvians.
The Code of Milan was created to be the modern constitution of the Sabbat, the general gist of which is to foment peace and mutual aid among all members of the Sabbat. It also deals with the punishment of cowards and traitors (by blood hunt and execution), uphold traditions of brotherhood and hospitality, and establish the hierarchy of the Sabbat from the Regent on downwards (the Regent will be elected by the Council of Prisci; all other positions may be obtained with the rite of Monomacy). A plethora of Cardinals, Arcbhbishops, and witnesses observed the signing of the Code, making it the single most unified effort the Sabbat has ever undertaken.
Dark Ages and Renaissance
Prior to the Convention of Thorns, the Sabbat is believed to have its roots in a death-cult popular among Cainites of central and southern Europe. The feudal system in force during this period was extremely popular among the Tzimisce, who regarded themselves as lords and nobles of eastern Europe, and the Lasombra, puppetmasters who infiltrated the burgeoning Catholic Church.
The Anarch Revolt and Formation of the Sabbat
The Sabbat was founded in 1493, largely in reaction to the Convention of Thorns which founded the Camarilla. They are the remnants of the Anarch Revolt of the time. Unlike the Camarilla, however, which declared all vampires automatically members, those who joined the Sabbat did so at a much slower pace, due to inefficient communication and, frankly, suspicion of the Anarchs. The Sabbat didn’t gain significant power until several decades later. Worthies of the period include Moncada, a Lasombra elder, and Vykos, a respected, if radical, Tzimisce scholar.
Please see Victorian Age: Vampire.
The First Sabbat Civil War
The Second Sabbat Civil War
Almost every other Clan in the World of Darkness has a presence in the Sabbat to a greater or lesser extent, including the Ventrue and Toreador. These splinter groups are known as “antitribu”, because they have turned their backs on their parent Clans’ sects and joined opposing ones. Note that Lasombra and Tzimisce antitribu may join the Camarilla or even the Inconnu, though these are much, MUCH rarer than antitribu of other Clans. The Lasombra antitribu are hunted down relentlessly by the Clan, and among their number is the Methuselah Montano.
- Assamite antitribu
- Brujah antitribu
- Gangrel antitribu
Technically speaking, there are no Gangrel antitribu, since the Gangrel as a Clan ascribe to no sect or political entity. Practically, the Gangrel who belong to the Sabbat are regarded as traitors by the Camarilla, and held in some suspicion by the Sabbat. The Gangrel regard themselves as Gangrel: they are the hunters, the takers of prey, and the survivors. If the best way to fulfill that role is to join the Sabbat, so be it.
The City Gangrel are an offshoot of the main Clan that belongs almost entirely among the Sabbat. They have a rivalry with the “Country” Gangrel, especially since the latter have been joining the Sabbat in greater numbers since 1999, moving in on what the City Gangrel see as their territory. If the night comes when the City Gangrel believe themselves to be backed into a corner, the results will be similar to any other threatened rabid animal.
- Malkavian antitribu
The Camarilla Malkavians are bad. The Malkavian antitribu are even worse.
- Nosferatu antitribu
There is almost no noticable difference between the Camarilla Nosferatu and the Sabbat Nosferatu – excepting perhaps that the Sabbat Nosferatu look kinder and gentler by comparison to the rest of the sect.
- Panders (Since the late 1950s. Previously merely Caitiff)
So named for their charismatic leader, Joseph Panders, the Caitiff of the Sabbat are united only by the fact that the rest of the sect doesn’t particularly like them very much. This in no way prevents bishops and war leaders from collecting the Panders and using them as cannon fodder, however. Far from being insulted by this role, the Panders as a group are very interested in the chance to prove themselves as a “Clan” and stake their claim in the Sabbat hierarchy.
- Ravnos antitribu
- Salubri antitribu (Since 1999)
- Serpents of the Light (Since sometime in the 1970s)
- Toreador antitribu
- Tremere antitribu (Until 1998)
If any Tremere antitribu survive, they do so only as the most paranoid and isolationist Cainites in the world.
- Ventrue antitribu
The Ventrue antitribu are now what the Brujah Clan was in ages past: scholar-knights, warrior-poets, possibly even a witch-king or two. The antitribu Blue Bloods uphold the feudal mindset, establishing themselves as holy crusaders setting out to dismantle the corrupt and stagnant Camarilla as managed by their Ventrue counterparts. In this capacity, many Ventrue antitribu serve as paladins and templars, inquisitors, and chiefs of War Parties. They value mental and social achievements as well as the physical, so Ventrue antitribu can be found in any walk of unlife among the Sabbat.
Harbingers of Skulls (Since 1999)
“City” Gangrel (since the mid-to-late 1800s)
All Sabbat adhere to a code of conduct called “The Code of Milan”, which preaches loyalty to sect and packmates, and to one’s own freedom within the sect, as long as one’s own good is never placed above the good of the Sabbat itself.
In addition to a very firm “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” mentality, the sect considers vampires to be a higher form of life than humanity, and is based upon the principles of Loyalty and Freedom. Loyalty to the sect and to one’s comrades is one of the important aspects of the sect, and the Sabbat vampires maintain this loyalty through a ritual called Vaulderie, where strong emotional bonds are created between members of the Sabbat. Freedom is preached in accordance to the Sabbat belief that every vampire is free to create their own destiny without being hindered by the reputations of their elders, and that no Sabbat has to lay down their life for cowards who cannot take care of their own matters. Of course, it does not always work like this in practice.
Unlike the Camarilla, the Sabbat believes in Antediluvians, and for the most part considers them a great threat. This is unsurprising, especially considering that the Sabbat was formed in the wake of the Anarch Revolt, and both of the core clans (the Tzimisce and Lasombra) claim that their clan founders were killed long ago (though in the case of the Tzimisce founder at least, that doesn’t seem to stop it).
The Sabbat as a whole is not a very structured sect. Though their leadership lacks the iron-handed authority that can be found in the Camarilla, the Sabbat does not regard generation (potency of vampire blood) as a guideline for promotion. Instead, simply the most capable of vampires fill the positions they are most suitable for. It is purest coincedence that those of lower generation happen to be the most qualified.
The cornerstone of Sabbat organization is the pack; Sabbat packs are organizations of 3-10 vampires mutually bound through the standard blood-sharing rites of the cult. Packs have a ductus, who is the pack’s warleader, and a pack priest who reminds the pack of its responsibilities to Caine. The members of the pack are bound together by blood-sharing ceremonies known as the “vinculum” or the “Vaulderie”. Each pack has its own prescribed ritual to undertake the Vaulderie, and it is an important part of each individual pack’s culture. Packs generally occupy communal havens; given the Sabbat’s rejection of human mores and its use of artificial loyalties enforced by the vinculum, there is less need for privacy.
Above the pack is a set of hierarchical titles specifically mocking the titles of the Catholic Church. Bishops oversee multiple packs and may also have a specific portfolio; overseeing the Bishops are Archbishops, generally holding a position analagous to Prince for a city. Above the Archbishops are the Cardinals, who oversee large geographic regions (such as Canada, or the Eastern Seaboard). Above this level are the Prisci, a circle of advisors to the Sabbat’s nominal leader, the Regent. The higher ranks of the Sabbat enforce their will through agents commonly called Templars.
These titles are formally recognized, but also generally involve a certain degree of self-selection. The Sabbat has a formal rite for recognizing Bishop and higher ranks, but any Sabbat may claim a title and try to defend it. However, the higher the rank claimed, the more likely the claimant will meet a gruesome end. The Prisci, in particular, are selected only by other Prisci.
In addition to this structure, two parallel organizations exist within the Sabbat: the Inquisition and the Black Hand. The Sabbat Inquisition investigates vampires within the Sabbat for any signs of demon worship or other deviance from the moral structure set up by Sabbat elders. The Black Hand is a sect within the sect, and operates semi-independently from the Sabbat, which it predates. Rumors persist that it stands as the remains of an even older group known as the Tal’Mahe’Rah; this group claims entire bloodlines as its members, though these bloodlines are all but nonexistent in the modern nights.
As with all Vampiric organizations, organization eventually bows to the demands of power. While most Sabbat belong to packs, elder Sabbat are more likely to live and work without packmates. At the higher levels of the organization, the difference between Camarilla and Sabbat elders is negligible, regardless of how different it may appear in the trenches.
Perhaps the most unique part of the Sabbat structure is the formation of so-called Packs of vampires. Sometimes the formation of these Packs happens on a voluntary basis, while at other times, Pack members are simply appointed. The Vaulderie ritual ensures loyalty to the Pack. Packs usually stick to one place and do not move around much, instead making one location their base of operations. Every Pack has a Ductus (a vampire of higher status and experience who functions as leader) and most Packs have a Priest. Priests lead or oversee the rituals of a Pack. There are some universal rituals within the Sabbat, but Packs usually develop their own, with a wide variety of uses.
Ranks and Status
Despite its open structure at the bottom, the Sabbat maintains several Ranks, listed from “high” to “low” in the sect organisation.
Regent: 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 without a strict (or any for that matter) set of laws. In the End of Times, the final Regent was Melinda Galbraith, a Toreador antitribu. She was killed, though the perpetrators and motives remain unknown. The Regent always keeps a fairly large advisory staff (Normally a handful of Prisci and some “trusted” Cardinals.)
Means of address: “Most Distinguished Excellency”
The Consistory: the group of Cardinals and Prisci that serve as direct counselors to the Regent
Cardinal: A practical Head of State within the Sabbat. The formal duties of the position 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 Eminence Cardinal Polonia.)
Means of address: “Your Eminence”
Priscus: 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 substatinal standing may work with an Arch-Bishop.
Means of address: “Very Reverend Sir/Madam”
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.
Means of address: “Your Excellency”
Bishop: 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 Arch-Bishops in an area, and can sometimes earn the honor of keeping track of important resources, varying from territory to important tasks necessary for the improvment of the Sword of Caine (and one’s own standing, of course.)
Means of address: “Your Excellency”
Paladin/Templar: Paladin referring more to a bodygaurd 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 til Final Death (yours or theirs.)
Means of address: “Sir
--/Lady --” (as with a knighthood) (ex: “Sir Talley”, a Lasombra templar)
Ductus: 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.
Means of address: “Ductus”, “Boss”, “Head Honcho”, “Papa”, etc, etc.
Priest: A Pack’s spiritualist. Versed at least somewhat in Sabbat Lore and Ritae. A Priest’s job is to learn the Auctoritas 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. They also create and lead the pack’s individual ignoblis ritae.
Means of address: “Reverend [Sir/Madam]”
Brothers and Sisters: 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.
Means of address: None (“Brother/Sister”, “Grunt”; as a group “Coven” or “Pack”)
Shovelheads: There is one catgeory of Sabbat vampires below even the Brothers and Sisters: the shovelheads. These are the vampires who have been mass-Embraced during a time of war and have not yet suffered the trials that will make them True Sabbat. So named for the practice of Embracing a group of mortals, knocking them unconscious by means of a shovel to the head, and then burying them in shallow graves. Those who fight their way to the surface, blood-mad and near Frenzy, are used as footsoldiers in a Sabbat campaign.
Means of address: None (“Shovelhead”, “Grunt”, “Meatshield”, “Bitch”, etc, etc.)
The Voivode of Clan Tzimisce: the titular “leader” of the Clan, who is supposed to oversee intra-clan affairs and maintain the peace. Once a position of real secular power, it has since been degraded to a figurehead. All voivodes are required to learn the koldunic school of sorcery before they can even be considered for the position. Previously, the Clan was ruled by a Council of Voivodes, headed by the Viceroy or the “Voivode of Voivodes”.
Les Amies Noir/Amici Noctis: the “Friends of the Night”, a secretive organization within Clan Lasombra. The Friends serve as judges in cases where one Lasombra wishes to diablerize another, convening a “Court of Blood” comprised only of Friends. They also operate as an illuminati organization, manipulating their clanmates for their own ends.
(Sources for titles: Guide to the Sabbat, pgs. 30, 46-49)
The Black Hand
A secret organisation within the sect, the Black Hand remains a mystery even for most members of the Sabbat itself. Assamite antitribu make up the majority of this group, which is rumoured 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 Antediluvians, 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.
The four Seraphim are the leaders of the Black Hand and report directly to the Regent.
A Dominion is responsible for a certain area and all Black Hand in it (The head of Dominions in that area is called Watch Commander).
A Shakar is a Black Hand assassin.
A Remover is a special type of Black Hand agent who is sent to remove major obstacles (usually this does mean actual physical obstacles)
An Agent is a normal member of the Black Hand and can be used in any sort of operation.
A Mustajib (meaning “deserving one”) is a newly initiated Black Hand member that has to prove its worth.
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. The mark can only be seen through oracular or an archmage level of magick, or by those who have the mark themselves.
Most Black Hand members are still members of a normal Sabbat pack and their packmates have no idea about their special involvement.
It has become quite the affectation among younger Sabbat (particularly those of Clan Lasombra) to wear crucifixes somewhere on their person – a necklace, an earring, even a tattoo. The irony of being damned but bearing the symbols of salvation is a source of great amusement to these vampires, especially if the bearer is a pack “priest”. Older, more mature Lasombra regard the practice as irritating or outright blasphemous, even if they wear such a cross themselves. Their argument is that the neonates don’t believe in their own damnation, or in God’s immortal power over their souls.
The Sabbat has many ways of identifying its members: the sect has an official color (purple), an official symbol (an inverted ankh), and dozens, if not hundreds, of specific signs, passwords, and gestures that theoretically let one member identify another. In practice, few Sabbat can recognize more than a few of these signs – most learn to identify one another by face at ritae or other sect gatherings. (Though with the powers of Vicissitude at their beck and call, it’s touch-and-go with the Tzimisce.) Typically only a Bishop or Archbishop will be able to positively identify any vampire in their domain as Sabbat or non-Sabbat – in the case of nomadic packs, even this becomes a chore. Additionally, each of the individual packs of the Sabbat can assume their own particular symbol, gesture, or other way of identifying themselves. Packmembers who are undercover have even more obscure and hard-to-spot ways of making their identities known or passing along information.
Many neonates in the sect wonder why they have to bother with all these trappings of espionage: isn’t the Sabbat’s mission statement to tear down the Camarilla and its Masquerade and rule humans openly? Sabbat elders who lived through the Inquisition do not dignify these questions with an answer, and even bishops are hard-pressed to come up with a convincing response. The typical attitude is that being a True Sabbat is a matter of importance and distinction – you don’t want just anybody coming in and claiming all the rights and privileges of Sabbat without having proven themselves first. Also, given the pack structure of the sect, many members think of themselves as a collection of gangs or neo-feudal warbands, complete with initation rites and other ways of making themselves feel special.
The higher up one goes in the Sabbat ranks, the less frequently such symbols are seen, and the “us against the world” outlook of the young packs becomes more and more “me against the world”. In order to survive long enough to achieve position and age within the sect, a vampire must learn how to live for themselves, and to fight for every scrap of profit or slightest advantage. Unlike the Camarilla, there is no rigid hierarchy in place to promote or control the ambitions of Sabbat vampires – the only rank and title a Sabbat holds is what they have the power to take. Both the Tzimisce and the Lasombra encourage this dog-eat-dog culture, as it seems to ensure that only the strongest, smartest, and most capable lead the sect, and all the rest are fodder for the appetites of their betters. The only time Monomacy can be suspended is during a Crusade, and even then, all the reckless charges and Wild Hunts tend to have a way of weeding out the slow and weak from the Sabbat’s ranks.
Countering this anarchic atmosphere are the ritae and the Vaulderie (see “Ritae and the Vaulderie” below). Even the elders learn to (temporarily) put away their feuds with each other when the Regent declares the beginning of the Palla Grande. There are still a few elders who, in nights past, were members of the same pack, and will occassionally work together and share the Vaulderie. Younger vampires, who are living and fighting together as one unit, develop a fierce protection of one another, or else. If you cannot rely on your packmates, or their loyalty is in question, then the only thing stopping them from being ripped to shreds is the Vinculum bond they share with the rest of the pack. In the World of Darkness, being part of a pack is sometimes the only thing these vampires have going for them.
The Sabbat is the most religiously-oriented of all the vampiric sects. The Lasombra have a long and intimate history with the Catholic Church, even after that same church persecuted them as blood-sucking devils. The Tzimisce, on the other hand, practiced smaller, more personal faiths, even ancestor-worship to a degree. This discrepancy is one of the largest antagonisms between the Clans; antitribu joining the Sabbat are often forced to choose sides on religious issues. The Lasombra have gone so far as to model the Sabbat hierarchy on the ranks of the Church – from laymen and “priests” at the bottom to “archbishops” at the top. A few especially powerful Sabbat have even taken the rank of Cardinal (such as Kyle Strathcona, a Ventrue antitribu elder).
The Sabbat’s religious background is founded in three separate traditions: the Cainite Heresy of the Dark Ages, Tzimisce koldunism, and Lasombra Roman Catholicism. The Cainite Heresy contributed the claims of Cainite sanctity, justifcation for rampant indulgence, and the doom-and-gloom prophesies of Caine’s Third Coming, called “Gehenna” and/or “Judgment Day”. Koldunism is the source of many ignoblis ritae, and is the occultist, witchy branch of Sabbat religion. Roman Catholicism is the single largest influence on Sabbat religious culture, as seen by the hierarchial system of Sabbat leadership, responsible for uniting the sect behind a common set of religious ideals. Collectively, the Tzimisce and Lasombra anarchs constructed the ideological war against the Antediluvians, proclaiming them the source of all problems in the vampiric world and generally turning them into thirteen different heads of one devil-figure.
The Big Party
This Sabbat tradition goes by many names, depending on where in the world it is held, and who is hosting it. Palla Grande, Carnival, Festival, Bacchanal, Mardi Gras, Saturnalia, Magna Pars… The names are many and obscure, but the central idea is simple: this is the night, once a year (typically held on All Hallow’s Eve), where the Sabbat can truly go wild. Bishops assemble their packs and lead them to a central location: for the American Sabbat, this has historically been Mexico City, while European Sabbat tend to have smaller ones based in each country. The event can last from a single night to a week, depending on which ancient ceremony it’s based.
The festivities themselves include, of course, massive amounts of blood-drinking, the fire-dancing ceremonies, games, tests of strength, drunken brawling, necking in the corner, and all the concentrated debauchery of a year’s pent-up rage. More sedate Carnivals – such as those officiated over by a Cardinal – are deeply religious affairs, easily on par with such major holidays as Christmas and Easter. Those united by the Catholic faith take communion, sing, receive confession, and are led in prayers by the host. Other religious groups within the Sabbat celebrate their traditions in their own ways.
Aside from the sheer fun of the event, Carnival is a chance for separated pack members to meet and share the Vaulderie, bishops to give orders to their packs and reinforce loyalty, archbishops to see what the “little people” are up to, and where Cardinals, prisci, and the Regent can meet and plot in less suspicious surroundings. Surprisingly, there are few (Cainite) casualties during these events; only the most crazed or irreverent Sabbat shovelhead would even attempt to break the sacred tradition of partying to satisfy some personal grievance.
Games of Instinct
The purpose of the Games of Instinct, if one listens to the priests and bishops, is to solidify unity and loyalty to the cause among and between packs. In groups, they foster teamwork and trust, and allows each packmember to learn their fellows’ strengths and weaknesses, important information for the next Crusade. It also sparks a competitive flame in the breasts of packs, who are all rivals for the attention of their bishop. Few Sabbat are humble or unambitious, and the Games of Instinct allow them to hone their skills while at the same time proving themselves faster, stronger, and smarter than their peers.
In practice, the Games of Instinct are all these things and more: they are a way for Sabbat vampires to while away the nights of eternity, let of steam, and engage in a little “ennertainment.” The Games, brutal, cruel, and dangerous as they are, help Sabbat shake off the remaining morals and perceived weaknesses of the human outlook. Why not waste the lives of a dozen mortals in the Rat Race? Who cares who gets in the way of a friendly, welcoming drive-by shooting? The Sabbat’s lack of regard for the kine who surround them is a key component to the Games, as well as a certain reckless approach to their own safety and well-being. Sabbat labeled as cowards do not enjoy the respect of their pack for very long.
Playing in Traffic – Exactly what it sounds like: Sabbat vampires assemble and divide themselves into two teams, then proceed to play some sort of physical sport like soccer, football, tennis, or even golf. In the middle of a busy highway. Getting hit by a vehicle usually results in the loss of a point for the victim’s team, and any driver who accidentily pops or squishes the ball typically becomes the new focus of the packs’ attentions. Celerity is the favored Discipline of Playing in Traffic atheletes.
First Timers – One of the more sadistic Games of Instinct, not that any of them are exactly humanitarian. “First Timers” involves embracing a group of fledgelings, and then taking them to werewolf territory and pairing them off with a more experienced Cainite. The goal is to lure in a werewolf by using the fledgeling as bait, and while it is busy disassembling the poor bastard, tag it with a silver stake, dagger, or sword. (Some Sabbat have custom-made silver brands for added embarassment and bragging rights.) A vampire who tags multiple werewolves, or the same werewolf over multiple games, gets the culmulative titles “Second Timer”, “Third Timer”, and so on. If, by some miracle, the experienced Cainite dies, but the fledgeling lives, they are offered the older Cainite’s place in the pack.
Barrel of Monkeys – Named for a children’s toy, where little red plastic monkeys are strung together to form chains, this Game of Instinct pits the Cainite’s strength and endurance against that of a ladder made of living mortals strung up against the side of a building or cliff-face. They are melded together hand-to-foot using Vicissitude, and the Cainite’s job is to reach the top of the ladder in record time. Unfortunately, the more times the ladder is used, the weaker it becomes, and it’s considered an automatic loss if the athlete breaks the ladder midway up. Athletics is the favored talent of master climbers.
Food for Thought – less an actual Game, and more of a sick pasttime, Food for Thought requires the use of Dominate, Presence, or possibly Thaumaturgy. Each vampire who possesses such a power selects a mortal (oftentimes members of the same family) and manipulates them into performing the most perverted and brutal acts the vampire can imagine (such as cannibalizing a family member raw, or making a mother and daughter duel to the death using nothing but knitting needles). The goal is to desensitize the vampires to mortal pain and suffering, as well as to establish who among the pack has the strongest will, the best manipulation techniques, and the sickest imagination. Occassionally, this Game takes the form of a competition, where a pair of vampires will attempt to Dominate or persuade the same mortal to attack the contender, or perform some other hazardous action (such as jumping off one side of a bridge over the other). A strong Willpower and even stronger stomach are required to succeed at this Game.
Sabbat the World Over
Ritae and the Vaulderie
The Vaulderie is, fundamentally, a simple blood-sharing practice overbuilt with excessive ceremony. The specifics vary from pack to pack and clan to clan, but in its most basic form, all vampires of the pack spill a good portion of their blood (at least 1 Blood Point’s worth, in game terms) into a communal bowl. Once all members have done this, the blood is mixed and passed around again, so that each member may drink and share a sort of group-wide Blood Bond. However, given the dilution of blood, this is not nearly as powerful as a full one-on-one Blood Bond, nor does it grant any benefits of ghoulification or diablerie. It does, however, have the added benefit of breaking any other Blood Bonds the vampire might be suffering under – it seems sheer numbers can actually overcome a single, strong Bond.
The Creation Rites
The Creation Rites come in two separate, but very distinct, stages: first, the actual act of creation, where a pack will Embrace a group of mortals, smack them with a shovel, then bury them “alive”. The ones who crawl out of the dirt are shepherded together and sent out into the night to serve the Sabbat’s interests. The second part is only for those who survive this test: now that they have proven themselves willing and capable of serving the Sabbat, these neonates are branded on their foreheads and swear an oath of loyalty to the Sabbat in the presence of a pack priest. If there are only one or two surviving vampires, they are typically added to the pack that Embraced them; three or more are introduced to the resident bishop and confirmed as their own pack.
In spite of this easy way to gain vast influence in a short amount of time, most bishops restrict the performance of the Creation Rites to war time or if they need a specific suicidal task performed. After all, are the newbies going to be loyal to some distant overlord, or the vampires with whom they’ve shared the Vaulderie? As with that ritual, sheer numbers can, and have, overcome single, strong vampires.
In addition to the Creation Rites and the Vaulderie, the Sabbat as a whole also observes many other “formal” ritae. These occur whenever the Sabbat gathers in numbers, whether for social or martial purposes. Most of them have to do with putting on a great display of hospitality, and are drawn from diverse Tzimisce and Lasombra customs. The largest and most important of these ritae are the Palla Grande, the “Grand Ball” held once a year on All Hallows’ Eve, and Festivo dello Estino, the “Festival of the Dead” held in March. Ironically, the Festival is held to celebrate being a vampire, hence being immortal and free from death.
The ignoblis ritae are simply those ceremonies and practices not officially sanctioned by the Sabbat authorities. They include pack ritae and many ceremonies that indulge in Satanic, pagan, or animist faiths. Prevalent among very young Sabbat and very old Sabbat.
Note that the rituals that transform vampires into the Ahrimane, Blood Brothers, or Gargoyle bloodlines are all considered ignoblis, and are not condoned by the Sabbat command structure (at least not publicly).
Pack ritae are, naturally, performed only by the individual pack which creates them. They are typically informal affairs – a simple chant, a few drops of blood being spilled, praying over a relic sacred to the pack, etc, etc. They develop out of a mutual desire to mark an event, person, or idea, and all members take part.
The Pack of Uglies, for example, holds a yearly ritual of scarification, after which they channel the pain and rage into a brief stint of mass murder and other bloody crimes against humanity.
Cities Held by the Sabbat
Cities Under Contention
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. Mexico City, Detroit, Miami and Montreal are all under the purview of the Sabbat. Cities in contention include New York; Washington, DC; Buffalo; and Atlanta. A city under Sabbat controlor 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.
Quotes and Criticisms
“The mind is its own place and in itself / Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven… Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven!” – Paradise Lost, by John Milton, Book I, lines 254-263
“F*ck that.” – Mikey, Nosferatu neonate
“The young ones are punks – I ate those kinds of wannabes for breakfast even when I was still breathin’. The old ones… Man, I met an old Tzimisce once. Couldn’t sleep for two days straight afterwards.” – Rick Gentle
“I got your ‘Gehenna’ right here. Come and get some.” – Sabbat packmember
“Flame, fire, power. Flame, fire, power. Flame, fire, power…” – chant sung at a Fire Dance ritus
“What’s this ‘antitribu’ sh*t? I’m Brujah – I’m what it really means to be Brujah.” – Bishop Paul Shendricks, Brujah antitribu
Notable Sabbat and Packs
PRISCI, SERAPHS, AND THE REGENT
Melinda Galbraith, Regent (currently being impersonated by Zachary Sikorsky)
Sascha Vykos, Noddist scholar and Tzimisce priscus
Jalan-Aajav, Gangrel Seraph of the Black Hand
Djuhah, Seraph of the Black Hand
Izhim abd’Azrael (Izhim ur-Baal), Seraph of the Black Hand
Elimelech the Twice-Damned, Seraph of the Black Hand
Francisco Polonia, Cardinal of New York and the Eastern Territories
Ambrosio Luis Moncada, Cardinal of Madrid (recently deceased)
Kyle Strathcona, Cardinal of Canada and the Northern Territories
Velya the Vivisectionist (and Elaine Cassidy), Cardinal of the Land Beyond the Forest
ARCHBISHOPS AND BISHOPS
Lucita of Aragon, Archbishop of Aragon as of 1999.
Borges, Archbishop of Miami (recently deceased)
Fabrizia Contreraz, Archbishop of Miami (newly appointed)
“Black” Wallace, inquisitor
The Little Tailor of Prague, genius of fleshcrafting
Non-Canon Notable Sabbat and Packs
Dontien a’Constino, Lasombra elder
Gustavo Ionescu, Tzimisce ductus of the Cruentus Pack
Mohomat, Brujah antitribu of the Cruentus Pack
Sir Ricardo de Anglique, Lasombra of the Cruentus Pack
Vichel Tabara, metamorphosist
Lydia Apegos, Lasombra sophomora
Paul “Drumsticks” Shendricks, Bishop of Tempest Coast
Sir Xerxes Arajo, Bishop Shendrick’s bodyguard
Steven Hallwood, City Gangrel ranger
the Pack of Uglies, comprised of Tzimisce, Nosferatu, and Gangrel
the Cellar Shadows Pack – four East-coast Lasombra, one Nosferatu antitribu. Do the math.
Sarah-Marie, ductus; Mason Johnson, priest; Harvey Grant; Cybil Ford; “Bugger”
the Bone Chain Pack – all Tzimisce, all the time!
“Grimbones”, ductus; “Scratch”, priest; “Heavy”; “Suxxx”; “Screwdriver”
the Blood Honors Pack
Da Bruisahs Pack – if it can’t be broken, beaten, or made to bleed… it doesn’t exist.
the Refectory Pack – a Pack founded in the Renaissance, and which counts an ancient monastery as their haven
the Black Circle Pack
the Dread Bread Cred Pack – Infernalists and cannibals who pervert the Catholic ritual of Communion
the Dow’ Deep Pack – an Australian pack out to prove that South Pacific Cainites have got it, too