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Harold Zettler

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  • Harold Zettler

    Bringing this up here because its a crossover issue...

    Has any book ever dealt with how Zettler's Sabbat status was 1Eism where the "evil vampires" and "evil werewolves" were pals, and that as the Sabbat was eventually fleshed out, Zettler is the embodiment of everything the Sabbat Inquisition is trying to eradicate?

    I wonder if the Sabbat is just a cover of convenience for him since his diablerie stained aura isn't a problems other them that it would be in the Camarilla, or if he actually has a Sabbat-related goal/ideology where he's courting the Wyrm and the Apocalypse against the Antedeluvians, and he imagines Vampires reigning in the eternal night to follow?

    Has Zettler ever been mentioned in Vampire material outside of his VDA20 Tome of Secrets cameo?

    Check out my expansion to the Realm of Brass and Shadow

  • #2
    I recall seeing Zettler listed as the author of one of those quotes about other clans/sects in a Revised book, but don't remember where. It is possible my memory is faulty. Even if it is true and someone can find it, a single quote isn't much.

    PENTEX is mentioned briefly in the first Storyteller's Guide to the Sabbat, but it's just a throw away line that Sabbat working for PENTEX regularly fight Lupines. But this does reveal that there must be a substantial number of Sabbat vampires involved with PENTEX.

    The original 1st edition Book of the Wyrm provides more information as to the Sabbat's relationship with PENTEX. It says the Sabbat is involved in many of its activities, and that they believe the powers available at PENTEX will be useful to use against the Antedeluvians when they awaken. So it appears that the leadership of the Sabbat has made a conscious decision to use PENTEX as an ally. It's possible they were introduced to PENTEX through their allies in the Black Spiral Dancers. It would explain a lot of things.

    We're told Zettler has been a vampire for over three hundred years and has been "in the direct service of the Wyrm" for the last sixty years (as of 1993, it'd be almost 90 now). The Urge Wyrm of Cruelty is mentioned as his patron. All the old Board of Directors had one of the Urge Wyrms as their patron who rewards them for their service. If you weren't controlled by an Urge Wyrm, you weren't on the Board. We're also told that Zettler became a member of the Board of Directors in 1947, effectively making the sect one of its partners.

    Reading between the lines, this is how I interpret things. The Sabbat knows PENTEX has a lot of supernatural power. Their allies in the Black Spiral Dancers told them about it, perhaps as a deliberate ploy to get the Sabbat to make first contact. Zettler, a skilled Thaumaturgist, was selected to contact PENTEX and learn if they could be useful. He reported back that they could, and the other Sabbat leadership put him in charge of the relationship. At some point, Zettler fell into the power of the Urge Wyrm of Cruelty. It probably occurred in 1933 and by 1947 the Urge Wyrm's control was sufficient that Zettler was "allowed" to be on the Board. From the Sabbat perspective, this likely seemed like a big coup that expanded Sabbat influence and power. They now had someone who could utilize the company's resources for them. Hooray. They didn't realize this was a ploy to allow PENTEX to exploit the Sabbat for its own purposes.

    We're also told that PENTEX has no intention of ever being used against the Antedeluvians ("Pentex would never go to war against such powerful creatures.") Zettler has to know this, but doesn't care as he now serves the Urge Wyrm of Cruelty and is basically its extension in the physical realm. So he's actually a traitor to the sect at this point. There's a good chance the other Sabbat who work with PENTEX are also corrupted. This would have to include his childe, Persephone Tar-Anis, who works as Pentex's security chief. She's also said to have "cemented" the Sabbat's ties with the Black Spiral Dancers.

    The first edition Book of the Wyrm says Zettler is a Priscus, but I notice the White Wolf wiki says he's been offered to be Priscus but has not accepted. This is either a retcon, or Zettler stepped down at some point and other Sabbat are trying to get him to take back his position. It's possible the "job" of representing the Sabbat's interests at PENTEX has just gotten so big he had to relinquish his other roles in the sect. Regardless, he must be extremely influential in the sect. While not mentioned, he may even hold a title like Archbishop of Pentex. That would establish his authority among the many Sabbat who work with PENTEX.

    Regardless of whether Zettler (or other Sabbat who work with PENTEX) is on the Path of Evil Revelations (we're told his childe Persephone Tar Anis is on the Path of Power and the Invoice), he clearly serves the Urge Wyrm of Cruelty (who is probably seen as an infernal demon by the Sabbat) and is a traitor to the sect. He'd be targeted for destruction for multiple reasons if any of this was known. But the Sabbat don't know about this. The vast resources and influence Zettler brings to the sect likely overwhelms their judgment, and he likely has lots of supernatural benefits that help him cover up anything suspicious. He likely has other corrupted Sabbat working with PENTEX that provides him protection and additional influence in the sect.

    This doesn't mean that prior to being involved with PENTEX that Zettler wasn't a loyal Sabbat. Sabbat elders are rare so he must have done well for the sect by the time when the sect began its involvement with PENTEX. I think Zettler was unlikely to have originally been embraced as one of the 5th generation, so he must have done well at hunting Methusalehs and Elders for diablerie. His childe Persephone is 6th generation and embraced in the early 1800s. This would indicate he had been a very successful Sabbat by that point. He was likely selected to contact PENTEX because of strong loyalty, competence, and supernatural knowledge. By now though, he's clearly a slave to the Urge Wyrm of Cruelty and abandoned any loyalty he once had for the sect. It is possible that the Urge Wyrm of Cruelty had been influencing Zettler prior to his contact with PENTEX though.

    That's how it appears in first edition Book of the Wyrm. But it's entirely possible that revisions to PENTEX in subsequent sourcebooks may have retconned or changed things.


    • #3
      I've considered the possibility of having the Sabbat Inquisition crack down on BSD consorting Cainites because they BSDs make no secret of being (what the Sabbat defines as) Infernalists, casting those who run with their packs as suspect, and that lead them to close in on Zettler and other Pentex integrated Cainites, pushing Zettler to cut ties with the Sabbat and close ranks inside Pentex.

      The biggest argument against using said plotline would be that it's actually redundant with what happened to the Malfean Nephandi who had to jump ship from the Syndicate as they were being closed in on and go all-in with Pentex.

      Check out my expansion to the Realm of Brass and Shadow


      • #4
        There's certainly a logic to that, but if you go by early edition lore, there's some problems and the Sabbat would be harming itself immensely.

        First, the Black Spiral Dancers make it clear they believe the Sabbat serves the Wyrm, but the Sabbat doesn't know what to make of that since from their perspective they do no such thing. It's a meaningless myth to them. What does that really mean? On what basis can the Sabbat Inquisition proceed if they go after people on that principle? It could be used against anyone. If the Sabbat doesn't believe in the Wyrm, then how can it be defined as infernal? It's like saying they are going to purge the Sabbat on the basis the Flying Spaghetti Monster is infernal. The Sabbat Inquisition likely does not have enough information to operate on an acceptable legal and occult basis within the Sabbat. It'll be opposed by its political rivals within the Sabbat to prevent it from purging whoever they want. As far as the Sabbat knows, the strange religion of the BSDs compel them to make allies with the Sabbat which they ordinarily wouldn't have. Why is that a bad thing? Because some in the Inquistion equate the Wyrm with Satan?

        Let's imagine that some Sabbat do learn a little about the rites and worship of the Black Spiral Dancers. They learn they worship the Whippoorwill. Or sometimes Bat. Or maybe an ancestor figure like Hakaken. Most totems won't scream "demon worshippers." Koldunic sorcery is supposed to be based on a lot of the same types of spirits the Dancers use. Does that mean Kolduns will be next on the hit list?

        The Inquisition can certainly make an argument, but it'll be hard. Especially since the Black Spiral Dancers don't try to put Sabbat on the Path of Evil Revelations or put religious demands or tests on them (like actual Infernalists do). Can you really be an infernalist if you're not on a Path like that? Even if certain packs or certain individuals in close association with the Dancers can be proven to be infernalist, what about all those that can't? Does this mean that if a pack has a single member who is secretly infernalist, the Inquisition is going to go after the rest of the members? What precedent is being set here? Is the rest of the sect simply going to let the Inquisition do whatever they want?

        Second, the Black Spiral Dancers have been allies of the Sabbat since the 1700s. That's a lot of time for the Dancers to have won some respect and favors from a lot of Sabbat. Sure, the Sabbat's alliance has always been pragmatic and opportunistic as opposed to real values, but it's still been very useful. There should be a lot of pushback from a lot of Sabbat who have seen real benefits from this alliance. Ties have always waxed and waned depending on what the Sabbat needs right now, but they've never been totally cut. The Gangrel anti-tribu and the nomad packs seem to be the core of their sect's ties to the Dancers. They certainly receive the most benefits and will be most harmed if those are lost. There is a considerable political support for keeping such an alliance. Does the Inquisition truly want to take on all of these people?

        Third, the BSDs will clearly understand that destroying their best friends means they have been designated enemies. The Sabbat will be instantly transformed from an ally to an enemy. And by now the Black Spiral Dancers have a lot of information on the Sabbat. They could do a lot of damage when the retaliate. And keep in mind what will the targets of the Sabbat Inquisition do first after being hit? They are going to go to their friends in the BSDs and ask for help. In a war between the Inquisition and the Dancers (and their Sabbat friends) what will the other Sabbat do? Remain neutral? Aid one side or the other? Attack one side or the other? It's not exactly clear the Inquisition will survive, much less win.

        Fourth, the Sabbat now loses all the benefits it receives from their association with the Dancers. It's unclear whether or not the Sabbat understands PENTEX/BSD relationship,so maybe they don't realize PENTEX will likely just cut them off. (PENTEX and the BSDs are not the same thing, but PENTEX realizes any action against friends of Wyrm Minions means they'll eventually be put on the target list.) But they do know that they gain a lot of benefit from having the Dancers help them travel through wilderness, combined attacks on common enemies, protecting certain packs during the day, and lots of other favors the tribe (and their kinfolk) can do. And since Zettler is influential, what happens when he begins to intrigue against the Inquisition? How many political enemies can the Inquisition stand at one time?

        From the perspective of most Vampire games, I don't think the negatives of this move are apparent. I don't think I've ever been in Vampire game where the Sabbat got tangible benefits from the Dances because STs just ignore this crossover element. Even in the very few Sabbat games I've participated in, this is not brought up. Certainly this was a setting element ignored since Revised. So for a lot of people the Sabbat Inquisition purging the closest allies of the Dancers seems immaterial. It's never been an element to their games so it won't be missed.

        But if you start from the perspective that this alliance has been there (and you have to if this is a plot point), then effectively destroying it causes immediate blow back that damages the sect. And maybe creates an enemy that can plague them for generations.

        The Inquisition is a powerful faction within the Sabbat, but it has many enemies most of which are more powerful then they are.

        I think its fine if the Inquisition has a lot of suspicions and concerns about the Dancers. But I think moving against the closest Sabbat allies of them will cause them immense problems. Even if they succeed, the Inquisition will likely have suffered major losses. The Sabbat as a sect will be heavily damaged. And now they turned an ally into an enemy. Overall, the Sabbat likely has lost a lot of power for little identifiable gain.

        I think the smart play is to only target individuals they know they can truly claim are Infernalist themselves. And then begin to argue against continued dealings with the Black Spirals (which won't happen, but perhaps after enough centuries they may finally win the argument, and the next time their ties wane they are just left to wither, and the BSDs wonder they never hear from their old allies).

        But if you start with different assumptions about this, you can make anything work.
        Last edited by Black Fox; 05-20-2021, 07:44 PM.


        • #5
          I think its important to remember why the Sabbat Inquisition is a thing. Its not a holy enemy of wickedness. Its a subset of caninte "Freedom" if every mortal on the planet were infernalist it wouldn't really matter. Its about how any infernalist engages with the lines of vaulderie when they put something above themselves. So I imagine the BSDs and formori are just treated as more random bullshit to throw at the enemies of the sword of caine like blood brothers, or schlatka or whatever. He's just another elder who can throw some crazy shit out there for a seige.

          Now I imagine if his personal practices on the wyrm were revealed well that would be bad for him. He's an infernalist who has broken the rules.


          • #6
            As of W20's edition of Book of the Wyrm, Zettler is primarily occupied with his duties as head of Pentex's Special Projects Division because of the outlet that experimenting on live subjects with corporate funding offers to his incredible sadism.

            Zettler has been offered a Priscus position due to what certain Sabbat Elders see as potential in him. In what is otherwise a very slim entry because they're trying to cover the entire Board of Directors in limited space, the authors go out of their way to mention that the Sabbat does not understand the nature of the entity Zettler serves, and that Pentex would be unlikely to welcome the deeper Sabbat scrutiny into Pentex affairs that would follow if he accepted the position.

            So I think the canon material supports keeping the barrier between Pentex and the Sabbat pretty impermeable, going along with the already mentioned negelct of Pentex and the Black Spiral Dancers in Sabbat content after the earliest editions.

            All of this is also quite old now, of course, and subject to revision in the name of the passage of time, if you like.

            I also have to say that a Sabbat vs Pentex war storyline would have been an amazing supplement; like Under A Blood Red Moon, but on hallucinagenic toad squeezin's.
            Last edited by Reasor; 05-27-2021, 08:07 PM.


            • #7
              I think, Sabbat vs Black Spirals, the Inquistion would dislike the Spirals, but the Spirals aren't exactly proselytizing or anything. They occasionally show up, do their own thing and then leave. It's an alliance of convenience, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend, at least for tonight," kind of thing. For the most part the two groups stay at arms length of one another and those who have close ties between the two groups are exceptions. The Inquistion would probably be somewhat suspicious of any vampires who have extensive ties to the Black Spirals, but then I imagine the Inquisition would be somewhat suspicious of anyone that had extensive ties to any other supernatural group or organization.
              Last edited by AnubisXy; 05-29-2021, 11:28 AM.