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  • I don't get the Sabbat

    While I probably shall have my delicate arse severely scorched for this topic, I would still like to point out that the intention is not to troll the forum, but actually to have a debate about the topic.

    I have never understood the point of the Sabbat - neither as playable faction nor as antagonists. Though the WoD is parallel to this existence, it still draws on our history and our civilization - and in that I cannot see the room for such widespread Anarchy - or obvious display of vampiric presence.
    And why Tzimisce and Lasombra? Okay, I can get some of the appeal for the Tzimisce as their domination of the old dark Carpathians could somewhat resemble such view on Cainites and mortals, but the Lasombra have always reveled in leading from the shadows as Kingmakers and plotters ... why the sudden change? The only other Clan - apart from Tzimisce - that I see in such a setup are the Tremere with their many rituals and gargoyles ... but I recon 1. Ed. placed them in the Camarilla.
    And how the fuck can the "loosely organized" and blatant Sabbat rule the biggest Power Center on Earth, namely New York???

    Sorry about the swearing.

    Sometimes, while going through the old WW books, I get the distinct notion that utter lack of an editor present while writing the thing, lead the authors to brain-storm for themselves on what would be kewl to see in the game, rather than what actually makes sense for the overall WoD ... "There's lot of crime in New York so why not have these rogue vampires roam the streets and rule it from the skyscrapers?".

    Please enlighten and educate me - what is remotely interesting about the Sabbat, and how do you fit them into a world that has to resemble ours?

    V


    "They do say, Mrs. M, that verbal insults hurt more than physical pain. They are of course wrong, as you will soon discover when I stick this toasting fork into your head."

    --E. Blackadder

  • #2
    I think it helps, in modern political terms, to think of the Sabbat as libertarians, not anarchists (as might be noted by their being a literal Anarch faction and all that isn't them).

    Their history makes more sense when you consider that what is now the old guard of the main bodies of their founding Clans (I say this to separate them the Old Clan Tzimisce) are the ones that overthrew their predecessors after European vampire society collapsed with the Inquisition and subsequent upheavals, and there have always been members of other Clans involved since the founding, the Lasombra and Tzimisce dominate because they're the ones that the majority of their Clans opted to side with the Sabbat way of things.

    Basically, when the individual fiefdoms of vampire Kings and Princes fell as humanity finally had the power to push back against the vampires that rules over the night, a few essential responses occurred: Unification to regain control by ceding individual power to a communal entity (aka the Camarilla), rejecting the idea of needing to rule over humans at all and prove vampire superiority in different expressions (aka the Sabbat), blend in (what most the Independent Clans were already doing), and hide (the Inconnu, True Black Hand).

    So the Sabbat are far from "loosely organized," as the Camarilla would deride them, but their organization is fluid based on their twisted concepts of meritocracy. The Sabbat are only as blatant as their leadership allows them to be, and their leadership only has power as long as they can demonstrate they deserve it. This makes the Archbishops great at controlling cities, even compared to Princes, because you have to be extremely capable to survive Sabbat politics to even get to consider being power playing for the job, let alone taking it and holding it from challengers. Sabbat know not to shit where they eat. Being overt and blatant is what they do in non-Sabbat territories to make life harder for their enemies.

    Of course, the Sabbat are also a mess of four editions worth of writing, "this is awesome toss it in," and retcons too.

    The most interesting thing about the Sabbat is that for the most part they're actually right more than they're wrong. There's no real advantage to clinging to humanity when you can choose to be the vampire you want to be. There's no reason to be as up-tight as the Camarilla about secrecy when humans deceive themselves all on their own. The Camarilla stiffle you with self-perpetuating bureaucracy that has no real goal but to continue offering no higher purpose. The Anarchs claim to promote freedom but the Barons all just want to be local Camarillas and not have to pay into the franchise. Worse neither group is paying any attention to the dangerous of the ancient vampires out there; you can be truly free if some ancient super vampire can wake up at any moment and take your power, so you need to be powerful to get them first.

    That's when they're the best as antagonists: the ones that actually have the best idea of what the vampire world needs... are the absolute worst vampires on Earth to be in charge of what to do with it.

    Comment


    • #3
      Im personally not a Sabbat fan, but some folks do not want to play the game as involved with retaining humanity, or boardroom politics, or other aspects. I will say I think Revised did the best job at presenting the Sect both as a realistic threat and as playable, toning down some of the gonzo or easy mode aspects, giving good reasons why they do not simply do _______, and highlighting that as much as they pretend otherwise, the Sabbat is not all that different than the Camarilla.

      As for why people like to play Sabbat, it is different than the base game, allows for a stronger look at being evil/monstrous, allows a lot more playable options (clans, bloodlines, paths, etc), and just appeals to different playstyles.

      The Sabbat "controls" a city similarly to how any other group does, but favors brutality and intimidation over negotiation, favors, or blackmail. The Sabbat tends to go towards areas where violence, disappearences, the homeless population, and corruption run rampant, (or, more accurately the Sabbat's presence causes these things to prosper). Hence New York, Mexico, and a few other sort of notorious bad areas. New York is (was**) more of a contested city, with both a Camarilla and Sabbat powers, but more Sabbat and Independant. I think this was initially because early editions attempted to make the Sabbat allies of the Black Spiral Dancers/Wyrm/Pentex, and New York was a Werewolf centric setting.

      ** In the middle of Revised era, via the Clan Novel series, the Sabbat went on a massive East Coast US Crusade, taking over a bunch of cities and destroying a lot of the Camarilla over a few nights. They "took" Washington DC, but when the Camarilla was able to regroup and fight back, lost New York. Revised ended before it really got a chance to explore this, but the Sabbat was not able to hold all of the cities or states it had gained.

      I believe you mentioned in another thread you had skipped Revised. I know it is not super popular here, but my personal opinion is the Revised is hands down the best edition, and offered a lot of awesome as far as story/setting/world progression, as well as removing 1st and 2nd Ed "gonzo" BS.

      I highly suggest:
      The Gilded Cage
      Midnight Siege
      Time of the Thin Blood.

      I think they are some of the best VtM books publushed across editions, with Sins of the Blood a close runner up. Guide to the Sabbat is also pretty good, but a bit pricey if you are not a Sabbat fan.

      Comment


      • #4
        I like the Sabbat because they are a study in hypocrisy. They formed when younger vampires got tired of the fact that the power structures of Vampire society had basically calcified and locked them out of any real power. Fast forward to today, and who is in charge of the Sabbat? A bunch of old vampires. What's the "proper" way to resolve disputes in the Sabbat? Monomancy. Who tends to win at Monomancy? Older, more powerful vampires. The zealots claim they are the Sword of Caine, preparing for the return of the Antediluvians, but 99% of the Sabbat aren't doing that. They're either fighting each other or the Camarilla. They claim to not care about the Masquerade, but they maintain their own brutal version of it. They've become the monster they fought way back when. I find that really fascinating as a player to explore.

        All of that is why the Lasombra are in charge. They've created a shadow Camarilla and are ruling it and controlling it in ways most of the Sabbat don't see.

        I also like that packs make a really good way to get characters to work together. They may not like each other, but they are bound to each other by the Vaulderie.

        Comment


        • #5
          I can only guess at some aspects of why they were added, though I know why I like their inclusion as a group.

          The way I view it is that they should be viewed like the Camarilla, as a reactionary movement to the Anarch Revolt. Some were content resolving the issues the Inquisition was causing by furthering the Masquerade, forming new hierarchies, and largely espousing Humanity as the proper way of safeguarding their kind. And even many Anarches were able to accept this in the face of war. Whereas some (being largely the Tzimisce and Lasombra) were more-so devoted to their superiority, inhumanity, and pride.

          Pride is kind of the key for 'why them' to me. Both clans have a history of believing themselves superior, often to other Cainites, but for sure in regards to kine. Bowing down to other clans, leaving their roads, and hiding away from kine like scared children? That's not their way. Then one has to factor in their success in regards to their supposed victories against their antediluvians. It really just boils down to that, the Sabbat are just another ideological variance. Camarilla for order/humanity/masquerade/control, Anarches supporting self-government, and the Sabbat being about freedom/equality (nominally)/superiority to kine. One also has to distinguish between on the ground packs (like an average gang pack led by a guy named Shovel Face) and the leadership (like many Bishops) who have a greater degree of control and vision.

          As for their purpose as antagonists and players, it depends on what you want from them. The clearest thing is their being more inhumane overall as Cainites than the Camarilla. And to serve as an organized group in opposition to the Camarilla. They can also serve as a temptation (the Vaulderie does break blood bonds, a vexation for many). As for playing, it can either be fun to embrace that inhumanity or see how people react to it. There is also a good deal of cool mysticism (in the form of ritae and what have you) and hypocrisy (espousing freedom, but demanding Pack obedience) that can be fun to explore.

          As for New York, a lot of it (imo, and kind of applying to their general major cities) is the strength of packs. A group of 5-6 Cainites bound together is inherently a pretty useful force. A bunch of them is even better. They only require so much direction. The cellular operation can make things easier to control.

          Comment


          • #6
            To use Babylon 5 as a reference point, the Camarilla are the Vorlons and the Sabbat are the Shadows. Except in this case rather than order vs chaos it is humanity vs embracing ones vampiric nature.

            Over time the Sabbat had stuff retroactively added to its history and backfilled with meaning so that they were theoretically more nuanced, but in truth it all really boils down to the game design having a group of vampires who want to hold on to their humanity and a group that wants to be something else. Basically there is a group for the role players who want to play out their characters eternal torment and there is a group for the people who think the movie "The Lost Boys" is the right way to go through eternity.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Vincent View Post
              While I probably shall have my delicate arse severely scorched for this topic, I would still like to point out that the intention is not to troll the forum, but actually to have a debate about the topic.
              Oh, please. In this joint? Just don't use the words "Ravnos" and "rhymes with Broblematic" in the same sentence, and we all tend to be pretty civil.

              Originally posted by Vincent View Post
              I have never understood the point of the Sabbat - neither as playable faction nor as antagonists. Though the WoD is parallel to this existence, it still draws on our history and our civilization - and in that I cannot see the room for such widespread Anarchy - or obvious display of vampiric presence.
              It's important to understand that early VtM arose from the cultural and political milieu of the US, and, in some ways, the white, protestant, middle class culture of the US. The writers wrote what they knew, as every writer does, and some of their viewpoints and expectations inevitably seeped into their work.

              If you look at the early depictions of the Sabbat, from a Doylist perspective, they had a few things in common:
              • In the context of middle American culture in the late post-war period (white bread, protestant, middle class, call it what you will...), the Sabbat tended to be attached to places perceived as "other", "culturally transgressive", or simply impoverished. So, the Sabbat were placed in the rust belt cities of the northeastern US (Detroit, Cleveland, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, etc.), the Francophone parts of Canada, all of Mexico (except the anglo tourist destination of Vercruz), heavily Spanish speaking parts of the US (the desert southwest, Miami), and New York, which had recently come out of its Fort Apache the Bronx phase and was settling into its big money and modern gomorrah image. The Camarilla regions included pretty much everywhere that could be considered staunchly waspy. So, the North American heartland from Texas to Canada's prairie provinces, the US south (which has a large black minority, but that has been a stable part of the culture for 300 years), and the western US and Canada, including the Pacific coast.
              • Within those regions, the Sabbat was focused on ethnic minorities who had been "othered": Latinos and Eastern Europeans, in the role of Lasombra and Tzimisce. This was also applied to all non-Camarilla in late first and early second edition. All four indies, plus the sabbat clans, were strongly identified with particular ethnic groups. None of the Camarilla clans had such strong ties. Now this needn't be interpreted as racist. IMO, it wasn't, at least not consciously. It could be argued that humans raised within peripheral cultures are better able to make the transition to separatist and exceptionalist views of vampirism.
              • The Sabbat also was identified with religious iconography, specifically the Catholic faith. The Camarilla, otoh, was staunchly secular and modernist. The early editions were published during the "culture wars", when one of the main faultlines of American culture was the split between conservative Christians and, well, everybody else. The fandom of the time tended to be heavily allied with the "everybody else" side of things, so, the Sabbat is organized into dioceses by Bishops. The Sabbat in second edition, went from a vaguely defined "death cult" to the go-to place for STs to explore organized vampiric religion, aka Paths. The conservative Christianity of the time was heavily millenarian and endtimes oriented, thus the Gehenna angle. (It should be noted, that the indie clans were all "assigned" faiths, with the exception of the Ravnos. Their identification with Hinduism and dharmic culture came later.)
              • The debates within the various liberation movements (black power, gay power, etc.) over taking an MLK inspired "integrationist" path, or following a Macolm X inspired "nationalist" path, were still in recent memory. This debate was front and center in the Camarilla/Sabbat split. This was a surprisingly common theme within fan culture of the time, btw. (see also Xavier/Magneto)
              So, a thumbnail sketch of the Sabbat might, at the time, have reasonably been: "A vampiric death cult in the middle ages staged a coup against their elders. Now, they explore the religious and philosophical implications of vampirism, often straying into ritualism, extremism, millenarianism, and militancy. In anticipation of an end-times battle against the most ancient vampires, they maintain a militant and violent outlook. They find it easiest to recruit among disenfranchised and peripheral members of society, whether alienated by race, class, ethnicity, non-cis gender, or simple eccentricity. They mostly agree that vampires do best when building their own culture and society separate from, and superior to, human society. Individually, Sabbat vampires are organized into small packs, who share blood bonds with one another. The sect as a whole is structured in a manner similar to (and is a parody of) Catholic polity."


              Originally posted by Vincent View Post
              And why Tzimisce and Lasombra? Okay, I can get some of the appeal for the Tzimisce as their domination of the old dark Carpathians could somewhat resemble such view on Cainites and mortals, but the Lasombra have always reveled in leading from the shadows as Kingmakers and plotters ... why the sudden change? The only other Clan - apart from Tzimisce - that I see in such a setup are the Tremere with their many rituals and gargoyles ... but I recon 1. Ed. placed them in the Camarilla.
              And how the fuck can the "loosely organized" and blatant Sabbat rule the biggest Power Center on Earth, namely New York???
              Switching gears into a Watsonian analysis, those two clans are built around their signature disciplines, both of which are quite alienating. If you can wake up one night and decide you'd rather move your eyes so you can see from the palms of your hand, or can reach into the cold void of an alien dimension to bring forth semi-sentient shadows to do your bidding... well, thinking yourself clearly inhuman gets much easier.

              Well, rule isn't exactly accurate for what the Sabbat does. Few Sabbat have the mayor and chief of police on speed dial. It's more like they deny the other vampires access to territories. There's a big difference.

              Originally posted by Vincent View Post
              Sorry about the swearing.
              I'm clutching my pearls and gasping.


              Originally posted by Vincent View Post
              Sometimes, while going through the old WW books, I get the distinct notion that utter lack of an editor present while writing the thing, lead the authors to brain-storm for themselves on what would be kewl to see in the game, rather than what actually makes sense for the overall WoD ... "There's lot of crime in New York so why not have these rogue vampires roam the streets and rule it from the skyscrapers?".
              Preaching to the choir!

              Originally posted by Vincent View Post
              Please enlighten and educate me - what is remotely interesting about the Sabbat, and how do you fit them into a world that has to resemble ours?

              V
              Well, frankly, the motivations for playing Sabbat vary. At one end are the power fantasy folks who play them like a particularly gruesome first-person shooter, all the way to using them as a metaphor for the search for meaning in the context of sterile, secular modern society. Choose your own adventure!

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Florin View Post
                I like the Sabbat because they are a study in hypocrisy. They formed when younger vampires got tired of the fact that the power structures of Vampire society had basically calcified and locked them out of any real power. Fast forward to today, and who is in charge of the Sabbat? A bunch of old vampires. What's the "proper" way to resolve disputes in the Sabbat? Monomancy. Who tends to win at Monomancy? Older, more powerful vampires. The zealots claim they are the Sword of Caine, preparing for the return of the Antediluvians, but 99% of the Sabbat aren't doing that. They're either fighting each other or the Camarilla. They claim to not care about the Masquerade, but they maintain their own brutal version of it. They've become the monster they fought way back when. I find that really fascinating as a player to explore.

                All of that is why the Lasombra are in charge. They've created a shadow Camarilla and are ruling it and controlling it in ways most of the Sabbat don't see.

                I also like that packs make a really good way to get characters to work together. They may not like each other, but they are bound to each other by the Vaulderie.
                Great insights. I love how they became the 'new boss, same as the old boss,' in a sense.

                It also totally fits the egos of the Lasombra and Tzimisce that they'd create their own club, after finding out that they couldn't be the leaders of their own club.




                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Florin View Post
                  I like the Sabbat because they are a study in hypocrisy. They formed when younger vampires got tired of the fact that the power structures of Vampire society had basically calcified and locked them out of any real power. Fast forward to today, and who is in charge of the Sabbat? A bunch of old vampires. What's the "proper" way to resolve disputes in the Sabbat? Monomancy. Who tends to win at Monomancy? Older, more powerful vampires. The zealots claim they are the Sword of Caine, preparing for the return of the Antediluvians, but 99% of the Sabbat aren't doing that. They're either fighting each other or the Camarilla. They claim to not care about the Masquerade, but they maintain their own brutal version of it. They've become the monster they fought way back when. I find that really fascinating as a player to explore.

                  All of that is why the Lasombra are in charge. They've created a shadow Camarilla and are ruling it and controlling it in ways most of the Sabbat don't see.

                  I also like that packs make a really good way to get characters to work together. They may not like each other, but they are bound to each other by the Vaulderie.
                  You are partially right, but there is a lot more to it. It started with a lot of young vampires being enslaved by their sires. When danger came, the Sires would command their Childer to fight to the death to defend them, enforced by Dominate, Presence, and the Blood Bond, and then they themselves would flee to safety. That is why they hated the Elders, and largey why it was Lasombra and Tzimisce.

                  The Sabbat does not believe titles or rank (on their own) hold much meaning. They also had some major Sabbat on Sabbat blood baths that almost destroyed the Sect. That is why they use Monamacy. If an Elder can hold their own, they are worthy of their position. If not, they were weak, but at least their blood can still strengthen the Sect.

                  If a younger Cainite wins, they deserved it and did Sect a favor. If the younger Cainte looses, its sort of 50/50. They were either too damn stupid to survive, or the Elder might admire their grit, and take them under their wing.

                  As far as fighting the Cam, itself, and not the Antes that is a bit of a misnomer. The Sabbat believes the Antes are using the Camarilla to prepair the world for their return. Getting things set up so when they awaken, they can feed freely and rule. So by fighting, weakening, distracting, and hurting the Camarilla and Elders, they are hurting the Antediluvians in the only real way they can right now.

                  At the same time, the Sabbat has no time for weak links, and if a Sabbat can not hold their own they gotta go so someone else can do the job better, (thats where the calcification comes in).

                  The more cities the Sabbat holds, the less the Antediluvians will have when they rise, and the more logistics the Sect will have to fight and bite them.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Beckett View Post

                    You are partially right, but there is a lot more to it. It started with a lot of young vampires being enslaved by their sires. When danger came, the Sires would command their Childer to fight to the death to defend them, enforced by Dominate, Presence, and the Blood Bond, and then they themselves would flee to safety. That is why they hated the Elders, and largey why it was Lasombra and Tzimisce.

                    The Sabbat does not believe titles or rank (on their own) hold much meaning. They also had some major Sabbat on Sabbat blood baths that almost destroyed the Sect. That is why they use Monamacy. If an Elder can hold their own, they are worthy of their position. If not, they were weak, but at least their blood can still strengthen the Sect.

                    If a younger Cainite wins, they deserved it and did Sect a favor. If the younger Cainte looses, its sort of 50/50. They were either too damn stupid to survive, or the Elder might admire their grit, and take them under their wing.

                    As far as fighting the Cam, itself, and not the Antes that is a bit of a misnomer. The Sabbat believes the Antes are using the Camarilla to prepair the world for their return. Getting things set up so when they awaken, they can feed freely and rule. So by fighting, weakening, distracting, and hurting the Camarilla and Elders, they are hurting the Antediluvians in the only real way they can right now.

                    At the same time, the Sabbat has no time for weak links, and if a Sabbat can not hold their own they gotta go so someone else can do the job better, (thats where the calcification comes in).

                    The more cities the Sabbat holds, the less the Antediluvians will have when they rise, and the more logistics the Sect will have to fight and bite them.

                    Yes, that is how it is supposed to work. I don't know about the rulebooks, but the clan novels showed a much less idealized version of the Sabbat. The leaders were in it for their own personal power, and maybe one or two were in it to actually deny the Antediluvians a snack.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Vincent View Post
                      While I probably shall have my delicate arse severely scorched for this topic, I would still like to point out that the intention is not to troll the forum, but actually to have a debate about the topic.

                      I have never understood the point of the Sabbat - neither as playable faction nor as antagonists. Though the WoD is parallel to this existence, it still draws on our history and our civilization - and in that I cannot see the room for such widespread Anarchy - or obvious display of vampiric presence.
                      And why Tzimisce and Lasombra? Okay, I can get some of the appeal for the Tzimisce as their domination of the old dark Carpathians could somewhat resemble such view on Cainites and mortals, but the Lasombra have always reveled in leading from the shadows as Kingmakers and plotters ... why the sudden change? The only other Clan - apart from Tzimisce - that I see in such a setup are the Tremere with their many rituals and gargoyles ... but I recon 1. Ed. placed them in the Camarilla.
                      And how the fuck can the "loosely organized" and blatant Sabbat rule the biggest Power Center on Earth, namely New York???

                      Sorry about the swearing.

                      Sometimes, while going through the old WW books, I get the distinct notion that utter lack of an editor present while writing the thing, lead the authors to brain-storm for themselves on what would be kewl to see in the game, rather than what actually makes sense for the overall WoD ... "There's lot of crime in New York so why not have these rogue vampires roam the streets and rule it from the skyscrapers?".

                      Please enlighten and educate me - what is remotely interesting about the Sabbat, and how do you fit them into a world that has to resemble ours?

                      V


                      I agree with your confusion about why the Tzimisce and Lasombra are in it, since I always felt their clans go completely against what the Sabbat stand for. I mean, sure, you overthrew your predecessors, congratulations. But then you became your predecessors, so your revolution was more about staging a coup than about fighting for freedom.

                      But you're misinformed about the Sabbat involving wide spread anarchy and obvious displays of vampiric presence.


                      The Sabbat proper only utilize such tactics during times of war, and they direct it towards the enemy's side of the fence, thus drawing the attention of hunters over towards Camarilla territory. There are at least 3 major cities that are under Sabbat control (Mexico, New York and Detroit), and yet contrary to what the Camarilla would have you believe, the Masquerade still holds true. I mean, I'm pretty sure most people aren't hearing stories about a bunch of psychotic vampires running around in the streets gorging themselves on mortal blood for sport. The Sabbat recognize the importance of why the masquerade exists, they just don't support the idea that it should be a permanent solution. Vampires thrived in the open once before, and the Sabbat believe they may do so again, once the threat of Gehenna has been dealt with.


                      If you're going to question how the disorganized Sabbat are able to hold any territory, you might ask the same of the Anarchs.

                      At least the Sabbat have some kind of hierarchy that directs their operations. While the Anarchs seem to only value the ideal of self rule, which one could argue makes them far less organized.
                      Last edited by Nyrufa; 06-08-2018, 04:58 PM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I think to understand the sabbat you need to grasp the Sabbat is not a sect. Its a bunch of contrast minisects that happen to all hate the Camarilla more than they do each other and use the same branding. Of course the fact that there have been 3-4 Sabbat civil wars should tell you how well this works. This is why there's such a great variety of scenarios

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I think first edition mostly left to the ST was the best version of the Sabbat.

                          I think they were better as a dangerous outside force bent on destroying the Camarilla. Second editions Players Guide to the Sabbat made them far far less cool to me. The Sabbat should be made up of the same clans as the Camarilla just belonging to a different group.

                          Lasombra and Tzimisce seem very alien and ill fitting to the look and feel of the original game. The powers are too cartoony. The original game was very Anne Rice and was the better game for it. I know I always felt Lestats Mom was Gangrel sleeping in the dirt out in the wild, Lestat was obviously a toreador, Louis was more Ventrue, etc...

                          The game had a really good horror vibe, that I think second edition and especially third edition ruined. The Sabbat as a competing sect makes sense since not everyone will agree with the rulers of the Camarilla in politics or method, yet also not want to go it alone as a anarchist.

                          First edition also screwed up with the players guide clans, it wasn't free of mistakes. Giovanni should just be a large family of Ventrue, Assamites are a bunch of Brujah assassins, Ravnos are a group of Gangrel, Salubri were just bad since the clan is so not player friendly and doesn't fit the feel of the world.

                          Having read posts I think (without ever playing it) VTR had the right idea on a handful of clans and a bunch of groups made up of people from those clans. It's really a shame VTM got so bloated with clans bloodlines and disciplines.

                          I think the best use of the Sabbat is to completely make up your own version from scratch. The Cannon one has no place in my games, but I think the Sabbat as I made them are a crucial part of my game.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Vamps Like Us View Post
                            Having read posts I think (without ever playing it) VTR had the right idea on a handful of clans and a bunch of groups made up of people from those clans. It's really a shame VTM got so bloated with clans bloodlines and disciplines.
                            Well, generalization and reductionism isn't inherently better. For myself, I prefer the clans of VtM to Requiem's. I'm not saying that clans=archetypes and bloodlines=smaller concepts are worse (it works as a design perfectly well and I see the positive sides of it, totally) than mixing it as VtM did, but I prefer that. It feels more organic to me, that some of the clans are just quasi-archetypes and largely disorganized and some of them are close-knitted famlilies and everything in-between. It's just delightfully chaotic, just as life and history is.

                            Also, since I started with Revised, I never had a problem with the non-core-7 clans and never felt, for example, Obtenebration cartoonish. Why a shadow-manipulating power is more cartoonish for a vamprie than sprouting claws, moving at super-speed, or throwing fireballs?


                            If nothing worked, then let's think!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I think people need to consider what the purpose of the Sabbat to the game might have been in the minds of the early developers. What was it supposed to add to the game outside the original seven clans and the Camarilla. I can't say for certain, but this is how I understand it, and it underlines how I portray the Sabbat in my own chronicles.

                              I think originally many things in the game served as a toolkit to allow players to emulate certain kind of vampires in fiction. The Camarilla (and in particular the Toreador clan) was obviously the Anne Rice style vampire. Very human seeming vampires that cooperated to an extent made an RPG possible using vampires as the PCs. The Sabbat was a way to have the more traditional kind of vampires that predated Anne Rice in movies and fiction. In those movies and books, vampires would move in, act monstrous, infect others, and were destroyed. People did not have interviews with them. They did not live as rock stars or write bad poetry. They were the vampires in Stephen King's Salem Lot, the Hammer Dracula movies, Count Yorga movies (and a thousand other Dracula spin offs), and The Last Man on Earth (and its literary precursor I am Legend).

                              These are vampires that are obviously monstrous (Paths of Enlightenment), infect people indiscriminately (shovel heads), and were often outright satanic (the infernalism within the sect). The organization we see I think was a very clever way to have a framework that still allowed for an RPG if people played those kind of vampires.

                              Why did the Sabbat control New York? The cities controlled by the Sabbat in the early WoD generally had one thing in common - they were in economic decline with out of control crime. Thus Detroit was controlled by the Sabbat. While its Midwestern rival Chicago, which retained its middle class, was more prosperous, and kept crime more under control, was in the hands of the Camarilla. Many (though not all) fit into this dynamic. It wasn't a perfect analogy, but fit well enough to be true. There were exceptions (Montreal did not really fit that, at least as well as its American counterparts). Rural Maine was Sabbat - which seems strange until one remembers Maine is the setting of many Stephen King stories, including Salems Lot. Los Angeles, which was economically prosperous but with high crime, fit somewhere inbetween that spectrum and was in fact not ruled by either faction, but the home of the Anarch Free State.

                              If you take that as a premise, it is obvious why New York City was Sabbat - crime was completely out of control. It was in the grip of urban decay. Just watch the movie Wolfen (1981) to see what the Bronx was like. You'll see abandoned urban landscapes that looks like the aftermath of a war. You can also see it in movies like Escape from New York (1981 as well), The Warriors (1979), Taxi Driver (1976), and Fort Apache: the Bronx (1981). That is the New York of the Sabbat. This was what pre-Giuliani New York was like, or at least the most popular cultural description of which.

                              Of course, there was a different New York. A prosperous, culturally vibrant New York based in Manhattan. And who controlled Manhattan? Not the Sabbat. It was the last remaining stronghold of the Camarilla. The important part of New York - Wall Street, the world renowned universities, Broadway, the important cultural centers - were controlled by who'd you expect them to be. The areas of the New York that were a byword for urban decay, poverty, crime, and social problems was the home of the Sabbat. Of course, Manhattan was vulnerable too. Times Square was filled with seedy porn clubs.

                              The fear of the Camarilla towards the Sabbat, and the seeming triumph of the Sabbat over its rival, mirrored the fear Americans had of urban decay, out-of-control crime, and economic decline.

                              Of course, just as the game was published, things began to change. The urban decline that afflicted America from the late 1960s to the early 1980s - and which stabilized but didn't seem to get better in the rest of the eighties - reversed in the 1990s. Crime declined dramatically, cities revived as the financial industry boomed,and young people whose parents moved out of the city began to move back in and gentrify neighborhoods. The dynamics in many, though not all, of these cities drastically changed.

                              I think the original setting of vampire really made sense. It reflected reality. What didn't make sense was the Sabbat revival of Revised era's metaplot. Instead of new Sabbat Crusades taking many cities, what we should have seen was a reengaged Camarilla taking back some of the cities they had lost previously (although in this regard, the metaplot did one thing right - the Camarilla expanded their power in New York).

                              I think the Sabbat works as originally designed - a hodge podge of vampire concepts that don't fit the Anne Rice style vampires of the Camarilla. These varying elements do NOT agree with one another, and this cripples their ability to function coherently. How well the sect does really depends on key individuals at specific times and specific places taking advantage of times of crisis in Camarilla cities. The real world urban collapse in America of the sixties and seventies allowed the sect to spread there. What doesn't really fit is the Revised era's "Sword of Caine" which clashes with real world history, and can only really work in chronicles where metaplot/GM plot considerations (the end of the world is coming) override the world outside our door.

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