10 Misconceptions about Sabbat

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In this article I will attempt to explain the Sabbat from the Sabbat's perspective and attempt to identify many of the common misconceptions which seem to cause the most confusion about what the genre is all about. Ultimately I intend to do my very best to change your mind about the Sabbat, and to get you as excited about playing in the venue as I am. Below are 10 of the most common misconceptions about the Sabbat.


1) The Sabbat is a sect of mindless killers.

This is, in fact, a combination of Camarilla propaganda, and the fact that the front-line grunts rarely see the complex machinations in the shadows just out-of-sight. While it is true that Clans such as the Brujah antitribu, the Malkavian antitribu, the Malkavian antitribu,and the Panders are fierce warriors and dangerously unstable killers, they are not the only Clans of the Sabbat. The Tzimisce have almost an equal level of occult knowledge as the Tremere. The skilled puppet-masters and manipulators among the Lasombra could outwit nearly any Ventrue. The Harbingers, though rare and subtle, possess almost as much necromantic skill as the Giovanni. The Assamite Antitribu specialize in subtle assassinations. The Sabbat also boasts the greatest surviving number of Ravnos. Not to mention the Nosferatu antitribu, the Kiasyd, the Blood Brothers... I think you get the point. The sheer diversity of the Sabbat actually gives it more leeway than the Camarilla. Instead of having seven (well, six) large specialized Clans, the Sabbat has nearly 14 smaller specialized Clans. This latitude offers them powers, abilities, and layers of subtle manipulation most Camarilla Neonates can only dream about. Sabbat are judged not by strength alone, but by their total value to the sect. Foolish muscle often finds its way into the meat-grinder of the front lines... while others find their own niche. There is a reason chess is the Lasombra's favorite game. So many pieces... each with its own strengths and weaknesses. Patterns of movements. Strategy becomes the ultimate force. THAT is what the Sabbat truly is.


2) The Sabbat's main focus is personal freedom.

This is the party-line of the Sabbat, when trying to recruit Camarilla Neonates or Anarchs. It is also a blatant lie. While the original Anarch Revolt was about freedom from the demands and commands of their Elders, the Sabbat has long since left those ideals behind. In order to survive, the Sabbat became an army - and armies do not - cannot - operate as a democracy. Order is necessary. Hierarchies, chains-of-command, laws and punishments - all of these are necessary to maintain the chaotic unity of the sect. And, in its own way, the Vaulderie also chips away at personal freedom. The unnatural chains of blood between packmates robs them of some of their free-will. But such is a necessary evil - else the Sabbat would tear itself apart in less than a week. The Sabbat Loyalist movement tries nightly to restore the ideals of the original Anarchs to the Sabbat - but find most of their demands ignored or shouted down by the Traditionalists.


3) All Sabbat are considered equal.

The companion lie to the above, the Sabbat are also known to parrot this one to foolish Neonate Kindred. Age means nothing - the Sabbat is survival of the fittest, and all True Sabbat have the same say in things. The Sabbat is about service and survival - vampires who survive 200 years in the Sabbat are obviously more worthy than neonates. Plus, a Lasombra who opens doors to a successful Sabbat Crusade will be considered more valuable than a Pander grunt - even if they were Embraced on the same night. This fact, combined with the hierarchies and control mentioned in the previous misconception, result in a highly stratified sect - with elders and skilled Ancillae finding themselves rising into the upper echelons - while neonates and less useful ancillae languish in the trenches. It is not unheard of for a Ductus of a pack to actually be younger than some of his packmates. The Sabbat is almost two sects - the powers-that-be, and the grunts-who-do. Age plays a role - the original Anarchs and their contemporaries find themselves with honorary positions as Prisci and Archbishops. Clan plays a role - the vast majority of powerful positions within the sect are held by Lasombra and Tzimisce (and, to a lesser extent, by the more political Toreador antitribu and Serpents of the Light). Even lineage plays a role - as the Childer of a politically powerful Sabbat will find their own way to power easier than someone Embraced by a complete idiot of a grunt. It is facts like these that have the Loyalists grumbling that the Sabbat has, in modern nights, evolved into a dark reflection of their enemies, the Camarilla. If you consider the modern day Anarchs to merely be the rebellious lesser members of the Camarilla (as the Camarilla itself does), then the Loyalists are not very far from the mark.


4) The Sabbat is a brotherhood. The Sabbat is a family. All Sabbat are loyal to one another.

And if you believe this, you've never seen True Sabbat. The Sabbat are monsters who've left behind their humanity. They're predators - who were never meant to travel in packs. Among such violent warriors, social stresses and conflict would lead to almost nightly battles among packs. The Camarilla would merely need to sit back, watch, and chuckle. So why is the Sabbat so tightly-knit? The power of the Vaulderie is not to be under-estimated. Vinculums among packmates are often almost as strong as a regular Blood Bond. They are left free to hate each other - they may argue, insult each other, and be fiercely competitive - but when push comes to shove, there is an almost inhuman loyalty there. It is as if they are saying, "He may be a dick, but he's OUR dick." The Vaulderie also engenders an unnatural loyalty to the sect itself - making it almost impossible for a Sabbat to betray the sect. Those few who do usually do so after some traumatic shattering of their Vinculums - such as the obliteration of their packmates around them in battle. Even then, the sect loyalty often remains - as most Sabbat are in the habit of committing the Vaulderie with any traveling Sabbat they meet.


5) The Sabbat does not believe in the Masquerade.

Then why aren't there nightly reports of vampiric murders in New York City? Or Philadelphia? Or in any of the other cities the Sabbat controls? The truth is, the Sabbat decries the Masquerade as a joke - monsters of the darkness hiding from the searching eyes of the Kine. The wolves hiding from the sheep. But even so, they also realize the danger of having so many mortals wise to the existence of vampires. Numbers do matter, and there are always other things out there that might decide to take matters into their own hands (the Garou, the Technocracy, the Inquisition, etc.) The difference is, while the Camarilla move mortal pawns quietly, trusting to bribes, ghouls in positions of power, and subtle applications of Presence and Dominate, the Sabbat prefers the direct approach. A mortal finds your haven? One less mortal to trouble the world. It's that simple. Of course, the Lasombra, Tzimisce, Ventrue antitribu, Malkavian antitribu, and Kiasyd all possess Dominate - so it isn't as if the Sabbat can't tinker with mortal minds when necessary. In Sabbat cities, they often do have a measure of control over local authorities... it's just that they tend to rule through fear, and have little regard to the fate of the local juice bags. It's also appropriate to point out the penalties for breaching the Masquer... errm, allowing news of the Sabbat's presence in a city to leak out can be quite severe.


6) A Sabbat skilled at Monomacy can rise rapidly in the ranks.

Quite true. However, the secret to this is not to use Monomacy too often - and to pick your targets well. Consider - is it likely that a 500-year old vampire, who has seen lesser vampires come-and-go, will really lose in a one-on-one challenge? Another problem is that a vampire who climbs up purely through Monomacy will present quite a clear threat to those above him - especially those directly above him. Powerful and cunning Sabbat are not adverse to sending such individuals (and their packs) on important (in other words, suicidal)missions, having "evidence" of serious wrong-doing turn up, or even have a skilled assassin "remove" the threat entirely. And one last note: a challenge of Monomacy isn't always a physical battle to the death. Cunning vampires can easily maneuver their enemies into Monomacy challenges they can't win - such as a Brujah antitribu killing machine challenging a crafty Lasombra - and finding himself battling for his life... in a game of chess. Older Sabbat have survived for a reason, and Sabbat in positions of power didn't earn them by being weak or stupid. The prospective ladder-climber has been warned.


7) All Sabbat are Embraced, beaten with shovels, and buried alive.

Completely untrue. Of course, in times of Crusade, or open war, this is the most expedient method of Embrace. The entire pack Embraces multiple candidates, and only the ones strong enough to dig their way out are chosen. In fact, the number of True Sabbat whose unlives began in such a manner is quite high - and is probably the origin of such a belief. But in founded packs, where the Sabbat control the city they are in, and there is no immediate threat, such an Embrace is unnecessary, and even impractical. In such situations, the prospective Sire often crafts intricate Creation Rites that would make an artist weep. Each is, in its own way, both original and personal (though, on occasion, a particularly creative Creation Rite will inspire copy-cats). A Ventrue antitribu might have to spend a night in a chapel dedicated to Caine, guarding his armor in silent vigil through the night. A Brujah antitribu might send their Childe out to kill a Camarilla vampire in single combat. Indeed, as long as the Rite emphasizes the goals and ideals of the Clan in question, almost any potential test is valid. It is, in a very real way, the new Sabbat's right-of-passage.


8) The Sabbat have no dealings with mortals.

True, the Sabbat doesn't riddle the mortal world like termites investing a wooden house (like the "illustrious" Camarilla does), but they too share a number of connections with the day-lit world. After all, not everything can be accomplished at night. On the personal level, it is mostly forbidden for Sabbat to possess ghouls. With proper permission from a Bishop or higher, a vampire may ghoul a mortal - but said mortal has little or no rights, and is often considered pack property, instead of belonging to only one member of the pack. Also, any mistakes or crimes the ghoul commits can result in their own death, but also punishment for their Domitor. This fact alone encourages most Sabbat to view ghouls as more trouble than they are worth. However, what of the Lasombra, who often have personal assistants (or even groomers - it sucks to preen when you have no reflection), or the Tzimisce, and their motley assortment of deformed servants, handmaidens, Szlachta, and Vozhd? Each Clan within the Sabbat has its own penchant for ghouling now and again. While other Sabbat may look down upon a vampire with ghouls (they would be considered weak and sentimental), there is no actual rule against it. Bishops and higher-ranking Sabbat often ghoul key influential mortals, and rule them through Dominate, the Blood Bond, or even simply fear. These mortals allow the Sabbat some latitude during the day - though not nearly as much as the Camarilla. And before we end this discussion, there are also the revenants to consider. Not quite mortals, not quite ghouls, they do indeed provide valuable service to their masters in the Sabbat. Though they are scarce these days, their particular skills make them valuable in their personal fields, while their powers allow them an advantage that mortals lack. In other words, the best of both worlds. And, for the most part, completely loyal to the Sabbat.


9) The Sabbat revel in animalistic bestiality.

In point of fact, the Sabbat don't. They do, however, deny their lost humanity, and revel in what it means to be a vampire - a creature of the night. As similar as these two concepts sound, they are actually quite different. A vampire giving in to the Beast is a far cry from the Sabbat who ponders the meaning of life and death, or who dedicates his unlife to unlocking the secrets of Caine. Different Sabbat interpret this in different ways - hence the number of Paths of Enlightenment open to the Sabbat. In fact, in a twisted way, the Sabbat is far more spiritual than the Camarilla. The rank systems of each reflect this: Justicar, Prince, Primogen, Sheriff - all of these speak of secular rule, the rule of Law, and a materialistic view of the world. But Cardinal, Bishop, Priest - these ranks bespeak of a spiritualistic attitude. Paths such Death and the Soul, Cathari, Caine, Lilith - they are almost mini-religions in and of themselves. And even the supreme leader of the Sabbat: the Regent. The term meaning one who does not rule in their own name, but presides over for someone else. In the Sabbat, the Regent rules in Caine's place. And what is Caine, other than a venerated God-king, like the rulers of ancient empires? There are any number of Sabbat who revere Caine more than some Christians revere Christ. And they fear and hate the Antediluvians - their own demons and devils. Meanwhile, the Camarilla denies the existence of the Antediluvians entirely, and even questions the existence of Caine. Perhaps, then, the Sabbat is actually the Church of the Damned.


10) The Sabbat are the Bad Guys.

A very simplistic perspective. And the one most engendered by the Camarilla, who portrays the Sabbat as boogey-men, demons, infernalists, and anything else likely to scare the shit of Neonates. The fact that many Sabbat practices seem to agree with such beliefs doesn't help. But in fact, look at Sabbat history and goals. The sect was founded from the ashes of the original Anarch Revolt - where younger vampires revolted against the harsh treatment by their elders. Blood bound, left behind to die in the Inquisition's flames as their Sires fled... those Neonates and Ancillae who survived cried out for justice. For freedom. After the Betrayal of Thorns, the Anarchs who remained true banded together to form the Sabbat. Finally seizing the freedom they always wanted, they stalked the night, Of course, they were forced to travel in well-knit packs, to protect themselves from the Camarilla, Lupine attacks, and other dangers. Over time, this became the core of their social system. Over the years, the Sabbat has come to see it's true goal as defending the world against the inevitable coming of the Antediluvians, and the Final Nights of Gehenna. This also includes the overthrow of the Camarilla - an obvious tool of the Antediluvians. Thus, all of their work, all of their rites, all of their battles - are merely to make them strong for the Final Battle. So what if uncounted mortals and Kindred die to fuel this war machine? After all, it is a small price to pay for the salvation of the world. And, of course, once the Antediluvians are destroyed, the Sabbat will take its place as the rightful rulers of the Kine once more. On the personal level, there are, of course, vampires who rarely see beyond their own personal goals, or beyond the chance to exert a little righteous violence. But then again, that also describes most of the Camarilla. In truth, the two sects are far more alike than either realizes - or would care to admit. The only differences lie in how they accomplish their goals. The Camarilla values stealth and manipulation of the foolish mortals - the Sabbat values force and cunning. So which one's "good" again? The moral of this story Ladies and Gentlemen, is that all vampires are the bad guys.






VST Christopher Foster US2002034558