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 The Sabbat

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yanamari

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PostSubject: The Sabbat   Thu Mar 26, 2015 2:12 pm

Traditional Strongholds: Detroit, Miami, Mexico City, Montreal, Madrid

Opposite the Camarilla stand the Sect of inhuman vampires known as the Sabbat. Most of the vampiric factions believe that the so-called “Sword of Caine” is a collection of mindless barbarians and ultraviolent fiends, or even demon worshippers bent on bringing Satan to earth. As such, the Sabbat are vilified all throughout vampire society. They’re right to fear the Sabbat, but not for those reasons.

While the “Kindred” (a term the Sabbat despise) of the Ivory Tower cower among mortals and cling to outdated Traditions, the Sabbat prefer to indulge in their vampiric nature. They refuse to wear the tattered rags of humanity or to act as slaves and cattle to their elders. Besides, vampires are clearly and openly superior to mortals — do humans lie down with cows and call them brother? As such, Sabbat vampires consider mortals to be tools and food at best, and have little tolerance for “Cainites” who pretend to be human. They are inherently alien and literally inhumane. But the Sword of Caine isn’t just a collection of gore-streaked psychotics running around shopping malls with chainsaws. They reject humanity as a moral basis for their lives, so they have turned to other alternatives. They adhere to a wide variety of Paths of Enlightenment, philosophical tenets that force the Beast into a narrow channel and allow the Cainite to maintain a day-to-day existence that resembles stability (if not sanity). Further, the Sabbat not only rebel against morality, but also against their own inclinations towards solitude. They frequently join together into packs that act as one part religious cult, one part political faction, and one part combat unit. Between moral devotion, pack loyalty, and the need to rebel, Sabbat cities are devoid of the calm, quiet society of the Camarilla court. Tensions are always high in Sabbat “dioceses,” and the Cainite’s surroundings often reflect their explosive natures. In cities controlled by Sabbat, murder, robberies, rape, and assault are commonplace. The Sword of Caine threatens every city it possesses, insinuating itself into urban landscapes until they become nothing but raw resources for the eternal crusade. Although the Sabbat might not be any more “evil” than some of the elders of the Camarilla, they are certainly more overt with their acts of destruction and elaborate games of terror.

Because of these tensions, the Sabbat is hardly a unified entity, and the Sect is home to numerous factions of vampires united under the Sabbat’s banner. One of the most feared is the Black Hand, a special militia hidden within the packs of the Sword of Caine. All members of the Black Hand bear a distinguishing mark — a permanent, mystical sigil on the palms of their right hands. Although this brand may be concealed or made over, it may never be removed — once you’re in the Hand, you’re a member until Final Death. The Sabbat also has its own Inquisition, a small faction of Cainites charged with rooting out heretics and infernalists. If it labels someone as an infernalist, the accusation is unlikely to be denied, and the faction uses torturous tactics to gain the confessions it needs.

The Loyalist faction believes that it is the “true” Sabbat, claiming that each vampire is his own master. They preach that the freedom to do whatever you want belongs to all vampires, and they tend to act against their leaders’ orders just because they feel they should. There is also the Status Quo faction, who accepts the nature of vampires and knows that shaking the foundations of the Sabbat serves only to distract it from its greater goal.

The Moderates oppose the encroachment of rules and guidelines that have no place among such creatures as vampires, resting between Loyalist dogma and Status Quo conservatism. Finally, the eldest members of the Sabbat belong to the Ultra-Conservatives, those who favor centralization and authoritarianism in order to turn the Sabbat into a military force against the Antediluvians and the Camarilla.

The thread that holds the Sabbat together is a religious zeal to tear down the Antediluvians. When packs or ideologies threaten to explode into all-out civil war, the Sabbat manage to pull together around their common hatred for the Camarilla (who they view as puppets of the Antediluvians). The entire Sect claims that Gehenna is coming, and that they must prepare for those end times when the Antediluvians awake and destroy the world. When the time comes, the Sword of Caine will save the world and take their rightful places as the vampiric lords of the night.

And the Sabbat has proven to be a serious threat to the Camarilla. Neonates disgusted with staring at the same elders every night dangling power eternally out of their reach have openly joined the Sabbat. Every Prince grows increasingly terrified that one night the Sabbat will show up in his Elysium and murder him. Various cities that have stood as Camarilla strong-holds for years are contested or have fallen into Sabbat control. As the nights roll on, the Camarilla has been forced into harsh measures, killing vampires with known (or even suspected) Sabbat affiliation outright. Some Kindred use this increasingly hard-line stance to help remove rivals or better themselves in the eyes of their sires, but for every Sabbat Cainite killed, more join their ranks.

Practices
Everything in the Sabbat points back to two key (and often conflicting) principles: freedom and loyalty. Their set of laws, the Code of Milan, reinforces these two points. Cainites are free to do what they wish, but they must always remain loyal to the Sword, because only the Sect can protect free vampires from manipulative elders, especially the Antediluvians. Two of the most influential Clans of the Sect, the Lasombra and the Tzimisce, are believed to have destroyed their Antediluvian progenitors and diablerized them, setting the example for the other Sabbat vampire Clans to follow.

But principles and fervor don’t always hold the Beast at bay. Just like the Camarilla, the Sect contains its own rivalries and political maneuvers, as well as religious and philosophical conflicts that can become just as bloody. These conflicts constantly tear at the Sword, often setting them back from their goals as much (or more) than their enemies do. Although the Sect has organization and structure, each Cainite has too many conflicting loyalties to support a rigid structure. The Sabbat is constantly struggling against itself, only coming together when an enemy appears. The core of the Sabbat is the pack, a collection of vampires bound by Vinculum and common interest. Packs are such an integral part of Sabbat society that Cainites without a pack are often viewed with suspicion and distrust. Each pack usually fights within itself until some authority rises to the top, such as a priest to conduct rituals and a Ductus to lead in secular matters. Higher positions exist, but unlike the Camarilla where all power stems from the Prince, in the Sabbat positions tend to build upon the packs.

Some dioceses forego higher positions entirely, choosing to have the packs manage and police themselves (often with very mixed results). Outside of the Lasombra and Tzimisce, most Sabbat vampires consider themselves to be the “anti-Clans” or antitribu of their parent Clans. Some pervert the expectations of their Clans, while others take the core ideas of their lineage to their most monstrous extreme. A few have even become new bloodlines, manifesting different Disciplines because of their place within the Sabbat.

Rituals
Unless they are hasty war-time “shovelheads” that are Embraced, hit over the head with a shovel, and forced to dig their way out of their own grave, most Sabbat vampires go through Creation Rites designed to prove themselves True Sabbat. The rite forces the vampire to prove himself to his new sire or pack, often in a way that strips away much of his Humanity, turning the fledgling from a weak, pathetic human into a proper monster worth of the Sect.

Out of mockery of human religious belief, many of the rituals (or “ritae”) and conventions of the Sabbat are perversions of those of the Catholic Church. One of the most notable is the Vaulderie, a corruption of the Eucharist in which Cainites pour their blood into a chalice and then each drinks the commingled vitae in order to strengthen their loyalty to each other. They also participate in a wide variety of other rituals. Fire, blood, and violence are common themes in their “ritae,” and the rituals involved range from fire dances to ceremonial killing to the corruption of existing games and sports into excuses for violent, bloody slaughter. Their unlives are tense and hostile, and ritae allow Cainites to blow off some steam and reconnect with other vampires before heading back down a road towards mistrust and internal conflict. The goal of these rituals is not only to help create solidarity among Sabbat vampires, but also to push the boundaries of their vampiric bodies and test their capabilities for war.
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