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  • Black Hand/True Black Hand history help

    Hi guys,

    I started reading deeper into oWoD, Vampire Revised Edition. I got very confused about the Black Hand/True Black Hand/Tal-Mahe-Ra.

    I know people hate the Dirty Secrets book, and that people like that the sect(one of the mentioned) got erased. Can someone help me with the ingame information, and how the authors contradicted/errated each other?

    I know this is a conspiracy in the Sabbath, but not much more. Please enlighten me

  • #2
    That's a pretty loaded question. :P

    Ok, so before we get started, a few things that might help clear it up. The "True" Black Hand and the Tal-Mahe-Ra are the same thing, a super secret Sect that has infiltrated both the Camarilla and the Sabbat. They mainly operate out of, or at least used to, the spiritual remainder of the city of Enoch in the Underworld. When something of significant emotional importance dies in the physical world, it sometimes leaves an echo of itself in the Underworld, the place where ghosts linger and dwell. A group of vampires found, (or at least think they had found) the remains of Enoch in the Underworld, and along with Mages and Wraiths inhabited it.

    This became the Tal-Mahe-Ra, who had all kinds of unknowable plans and schemes and did stuff no one else could possibly fathom and blah blah blah. In addition to that, they found both the Camarilla and the Sabbat that came along some thousands of years later to be stupid and wrong. So, they infiltrated both groups at the top levels, and played big parts in creating a lot of the Sabbat's beliefs. In particular, the Sabbat's most awesome warrior-cult, the Black Hand, the big guns that the Sabbat calls in when they want something done right is actually just a Tal-Mahe-Ra front, with about half the members of the Black Hand being Sabbat and the other half being Tal-Mahe-Ra who are actually anti-Sabbat (and anti-Camarilla), and actually doing all sorts of super secret stuff that's so cool and so unknowable that we can't even tell the STR and the Players reading the book, . . . it might blow their mind.

    Ghosts found out there is a secret Vampire city in the Underworld and bombed it to hell. 99% of all Tal-Mahe-Ra in the Underworld at the time got axed. No one blinked an eye. Most of the other Tal-Mahe-Ra in the world that had not been in the Underworld at the time, all of the sudden have no leadership and no super secret hidden Underworld City to go to. No one cares. They continue doing <stuff>.

    Onyx Path puts out a 20th Anniversary book on the Tal-Mahe-Ra that has Enoch and the Tal-Mahe-Ra kind of survive, and amps up the "the Tal-Mahe-Ra really does super secret stuff" to an 11, and they apparently are all buddy-buddy with Lilith feminists and Baali.
    Last edited by Beckett; 05-14-2017, 12:47 PM.


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    • #3
      Originally posted by Beckett View Post
      Onyx Path puts out a 20th Anniversary book on the Tal-Mahe-Ra that has Enoch and the Tal-Mahe-Ra kind of survive, and amps up the "the Tal-Mahe-Ra really does super secret stuff" to an 11, and they apparently are all buddy-buddy with Lilith feminists and Baali.
      They also have their own True Mage group - the Idran!
      And the three Liches, who are also True Mages.

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      • #4
        I've never quite known what to do with the regular black hand. I mean, a fanatic Sabbat who looks for heresy in his packmates? Doesn't that describe most Sabbat? I've never understood what makes these guys worth creating as a distinct group in the first place. I've actually gone so far as to refuse to let players play them, not because I thought it would be overpowered, but because it seemed like a pointless waste of background points.

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        • #5
          The lost tribe, false hand or whatever you call them can be really good, depending on how you run sabbat.

          An average sabbat doesn't care much about fighting the good fight. It's not a top priority. They aren't bored sitting in Sabbat territory, anxiously waiting for the next crusade.

          The licks in Mexico City or Montreal aren't all fanatics who live to kill the servants of the antediluvians and drink their hearts blood. They're Vamps who are preoccupied with the Liberty of being above the kine. They have schemes, just like their cam counterparts. They have realtionships (which are all sorts of fucked up due to the viniculum. Everybody gots the hots for everybody, and none of them really know how to deal with that). They have personal goals and vendettas that don't advance the sabbat. Some of them just want to hold up, study some noddist literature, and wait out gehenna. Some want to adventure! and hunt for ancient torpid methushelas.

          In short, the average Sabbat doesnt really want to get into a Crusade and maybe come out deader then dead. Or lose a pack mate.

          The False Hander, He or She of the Lost Tribe, the millitant warrior who truly BELIEVES! they, they aren't supposed to have those problems. (Obviously, they still do, and that leads to the fun of Roleplaying them). They tasted Zillah's tears. Everything they have is for her. For Caine. For vengeance.

          They have nothing beyond the Black Hand, no schemes, no hope of ever getting with the malk which fate gave them an undying love for. Theyre sworn to keep their membership secret, to lie to their fellows, all for Caine.

          The Sabbat stands for freedom. In the end, no matter the issue with viniculum, the blood bond is a matter of true slavery. Viniculum, everyone is bound to each other, blood bond is unequal, an exertion of power. Slavert. The Black Hand accepts that blood bond to Zillah, giving up their freedom so others can have it. Sorta. :P

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Beckett View Post
            Onyx Path puts out a 20th Anniversary book on the Tal-Mahe-Ra that has Enoch and the Tal-Mahe-Ra kind of survive, and amps up the "the Tal-Mahe-Ra really does super secret stuff" to an 11, and they apparently are all buddy-buddy with Lilith feminists and Baali.
            Actually in V20, the destruction of relic-Enoch did not happen, at least as far as the V20 book on the Tal-Mahe-Ra is concerned. Since of course it would be hard to do a book on the organization that has been nearly completely wiped out.


            Homo sapiens. What an inventive, invincible species. It's only a few million years since they crawled up out of the mud and learned to walk. Puny, defenceless bipeds. They've survived flood, famine and plague. They've survived cosmic wars and holocausts. And now, here they are, out among the stars, waiting to begin a new life. Ready to outsit eternity. They're indomitable. Indomitable.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by CajunKhan View Post
              I've never quite known what to do with the regular black hand. I mean, a fanatic Sabbat who looks for heresy in his packmates? Doesn't that describe most Sabbat? I've never understood what makes these guys worth creating as a distinct group in the first place. I've actually gone so far as to refuse to let players play them, not because I thought it would be overpowered, but because it seemed like a pointless waste of background points.
              I see the Black Hand as the elite warriors of the Sabbat. The entire sect is made of warriors - theoretically - but the Black Hand are the equivalent of the special forces. They get the best training, the best intel, and have a tight-knit network of fellow Black Hand members to call upon if needed. While the Sabbat as a whole is on an eternal war footing, that doesn't mean individual packs are that professional or interested in the war itself. Some of them are wild marauders, more of a bludgeon than the Black Hand's precise knives in the back. Some packs only pay lip service to the fight against the Camarilla and Antediluvians, while spending most of their time indulging their vampiric urges or pursuing Paths of Enlightenment. What this means is that if a Bishop needs something done - and needs it done well - she's likely to grab a couple of these random packs to create a diversion, while the Black Hand make the real progress.

              If you want to see the group that's actually interested in policing the Sabbat for heretics, look at the Inquisition. The Black Hand does a bit of it, if they happen to see something, but mostly it's the Inquisition that does investigations into treason, heresy, and infernalism. Not surprisingly, they distrust the secretive Black Hand immensely.


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              • #8
                To me, the True Black Hand are guys with at least one goal that's good (squashing infernalism) and a bunch of cryptic bullshit around it. I do think some of the criticism is undeserved, however, because I feel it can add some depth. I actually like their treatment of the Order of Moloch (Baali that believe in suppressing and fighting demons, rather than awakening and serving them), and think that the whole Sect can make things interesting for Chronicles dealing heavily with Noddist or infernalist themes. I feel that the sometimes frustrating ambiguity of the Sect can give the Storyteller a lot of creative freedom, and make certain types of character (Baali, characters using Dark Thaumaturgy, etc) more playable in a greater variety of settings. While the True Black Hand had a hand (pun unavoidable) in forming the Camarilla and Sabbat, and has agents in both (including organizations such as the Camarilla Archons and Alastors and the Sabbat Inquisition and Black Hand), it's up to the Storyteller to say how heavy this influence is today.

                The False Hand always felt to me like the Sabbat version of Alastors: a somewhat secretive group that crushes important problems. I envision the average False Black Hand member to be a strong but unassuming (for Sabbat) guy who occasionally takes orders from higher up to serve the greater good of the group. I see them as definitely different from the Inquisition in that they're less specialized both in role (general troubles vs infernalism) and training (generally better than average vs trained to deal with infernalism). I make this distinction because I think it's easy to paint the False Hand as "the Inquisition, but for other stuff" when they can easily be "the guys who snuff out a serious threat when necessary". Basically, a warrior fraternity.

                Tl;Dr: True Black Hand is an old club of smart guys in Enoch. The False Hand is a bunch of tough guys in the Sabbat.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Bluecho View Post
                  I see the Black Hand as the elite warriors of the Sabbat. The entire sect is made of warriors - theoretically - but the Black Hand are the equivalent of the special forces. They get the best training, the best intel, and have a tight-knit network of fellow Black Hand members to call upon if needed. While the Sabbat as a whole is on an eternal war footing, that doesn't mean individual packs are that professional or interested in the war itself. Some of them are wild marauders, more of a bludgeon than the Black Hand's precise knives in the back. Some packs only pay lip service to the fight against the Camarilla and Antediluvians, while spending most of their time indulging their vampiric urges or pursuing Paths of Enlightenment. What this means is that if a Bishop needs something done - and needs it done well - she's likely to grab a couple of these random packs to create a diversion, while the Black Hand make the real progress.

                  If you want to see the group that's actually interested in policing the Sabbat for heretics, look at the Inquisition. The Black Hand does a bit of it, if they happen to see something, but mostly it's the Inquisition that does investigations into treason, heresy, and infernalism. Not surprisingly, they distrust the secretive Black Hand immensely.
                  The thing is, in practice problems are going to be solved by the player-characters.

                  If those player-characters are combat-monsters, then they will be the elite forces who get sent in to deal with things militarily, whether they take the BH background or not.

                  If those player-characters are social manipulators, then the Black Hand can be the guys they manipulate into doing the combat stuff, sure, but they could just as easily manipulate a pack known for its military prowess.

                  Thus there is a kind of clunky pointlessness to the Black Hand.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Locke View Post
                    Hi guys,

                    I started reading deeper into oWoD, Vampire Revised Edition. I got very confused about the Black Hand/True Black Hand/Tal-Mahe-Ra.

                    I know people hate the Dirty Secrets book, and that people like that the sect(one of the mentioned) got erased. Can someone help me with the ingame information, and how the authors contradicted/errated each other?

                    I know this is a conspiracy in the Sabbath, but not much more. Please enlighten me
                    Enoch is the penalty box you go to when you lose the Jyhad.

                    The operators there are very convinced of their self-importance, but reading the text it is very clear that the Tal'Mahe'Ra is a massive clusterf*ck who were cryptic to the point of no longer having a coherent ideology or driving forces and is now just literally Pandemonium with infernalists, anti-infernalists, various necromancers, anti-Antediluvian crusaders and Antediluvian worshippers all crammed into a single city.
                    Last edited by Hideamuro; 05-15-2017, 04:08 AM.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Hideamuro View Post
                      Enoch is the penalty box you go to when you lose the Jyhad.

                      The operators there are very convinced of their self-importance, but reading the text it is very clear that the Tal'Mahe'Ra is a massive clusterf*ck who were cryptic to the point of no longer having a coherent ideology or driving forces and is now just literally Pandemonium with infernalists, anti-infernalists, various necromancers, anti-Antediluvian crusaders and Antediluvian worshippers all crammed into a single city.
                      Well, the V20 text. Dirty Secrets gave their self-importance validity.


                      Scion 2E: What We Know - A wiki compiling info on second edition Scion.

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                      • #12
                        My two cents of the history of the two groups, which the thread is named after, is as follows: The False Hand is basically a schismatic Assamite Cult of Zillah/Caine that joined up with the nascent Sabbat and was responsible for it even surviving the early years due to their fanaticism and combat prowess. Without them, the Sabbat would be a bunch of crazed rabble rousers, but the Path of Caine that Anosh brought with the Hand is what actually solidified Sabbat culture and brought all these rebels together under a unified flag. The trouble later on was a lack of an effective centralized control structure over recruitment etc, which allowed a lot of Assamite Antitribu who were still on the Path of Blood (and thusly in essence Antedilluvian worshippers) to join up with the Hand and the Sabbat, and these were led by Ur-Baal, who had millenia of plotting experience on Anosh and armies of loyal Antitribu under him, to basically infiltrate his way to the top of the Hand and start the whole True Hand thing without anyone being the wiser.

                        I imagine anyone who got wind of this whole thing was simply removed (something the Hand is particularly good at), and Ur-Baal's motives and actions in the Jyhad were too far removed (Enoch) and nebulous (recruiting mages and obscure bloodlines without anyone noticing) to even be percieved by anyone who wasn't a Methuselah anyway. The Antitribu who were on the Path of Blood either masqueraded as being on Caine, or in more cases, just didn't discuss their Path with others and stuck to Kamuts made of their own numbers, and there were probably enough of them to make anyone sceptical enough about them to say anything think twice. By the time the Hand became a global body with members of all kinds of Clans, they were infilitrated enough that the Neonate recruits didn't even think about the issue, and even Anosh, who reputably excells at Auspex, didn't see any options but to fake his own death and try the investigation from a new perspective.

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                        • #13
                          Dirty Secrets was a more of a cross over tool, the Tal-ma-Rah had Kindred, Mages, Mummies, Wraiths and an Abomination. The True Hand was in Enoch, and the False hand was used to control the Sabbat. The Black Hand seemed oppose to the Inconnu, Baali, Setites, (False)Brujah and Anarchs.

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