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[V5] The Sabbat thread

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  • Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
    Dumb thought I had while making supper... just how does a shovelhead party work? I never got the impression that it takes a lot of time for someone embraced to wake up as a vampire. But filling in a hole takes time. Even with celerity and potence helping, wouldn't the vampires start waking up before they were good and buried? Do the Sabbat use cranes and backhoes? Is there a way t0o make a slow embrace, say, only giving the embracee a very small amount of blood? Am I overthinking things again? WILL I EVER STOP?

    I suppose the obvious answer is the fact that they did the hole before they kill their prey and dump them in. I also assume that most Sabbat, contrary to the image of shovels, probably use the equipment for digging. Though I'm now imagining that Gangrel can bring someone down with them using Merge with the Earth and that saves time considerably.




    I think the idea is that they whack them in the head with the shovel hard enough to require quite a bit of unconscious healing, which will take all day, and then they claw their way out the next night.

    On the other hand, my take has always been that the impromptu “shovel party” is largely Camarilla propaganda. Most Sabbat actually do take care with whom they embrace and the burial thing is an old initiation rite, like an anti-baptism, that non-Sabbat types don’t properly understand and have turned into a joke. Or a scare tactic: the idea that if you let the Sabbat in, they’ll start recruiting by the dozens and shred the Masquerade, which isn’t the case because they’re not actually suicidal morons and don’t want to recruit lots of members they’ll just have to put down anyway. But the baptism by soil remains an important rite all true Sabbat can claim to have gone through, many of them willingly.
    Last edited by Black Flag; 04-03-2021, 03:47 PM.

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    • Originally posted by Black Flag View Post
      I think the idea is that they whack them in the head with the shovel hard enough to require quite a bit of unconscious healing, which will take all day, and then they claw their way out the next night.

      On the other hand, my take has always been that the impromptu “shovel party” is largely Camarilla propaganda. Most Sabbat actually do take care with whom they embrace and the burial thing is an old initiation rite, like an anti-baptism, that non-Sabbat types don’t properly understand and have turned into a joke.
      My take is they actually DO use a backhoe and kill the bodies at the site.

      Mostly because the Shovel-Head nature of the Sabbat is that waking up, buried alive, suffering the Beast, clawing your way, and then given the Vinculum means that you will almost certainly be willing to do almost anything when you get out.

      At least a few nights before the crazy wears off.


      Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

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      • Yeah, the shovelhead is something that's never really made sense, both because vampires would wake up long before being buried, and because you really shouldn't be able to knock a vampire out with a shovel to begin with. These are creatures who can shrug off bullets to the head so long as the bullet isn't so big as to qualify as decapitation.

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        • Originally posted by Black Flag View Post
          On the other hand, my take has always been that the impromptu “shovel party” is largely Camarilla propaganda. Most Sabbat actually do take care with whom they embrace and the burial thing is an old initiation rite, like an anti-baptism, that non-Sabbat types don’t properly understand and have turned into a joke. Or a scare tactic: the idea that if you let the Sabbat in, they’ll start recruiting by the dozens and shred the Masquerade, which isn’t the case because they’re not actually suicidal morons and don’t want to recruit lots of members they’ll just have to put down anyway. But the baptism by soil remains an important rite all true Sabbat can claim to have gone through, many of them willingly.
          I've always assumed it's a thing the Sabbat does. Not frequently, but it's incredibly vulgar and the only time the Sabbat does it is when they launch sieges against the Camarilla (which are really rare). Thing is, for many in the Camarilla, these sieges are about the only time they really interact with the Sabbat. So the Camarilla thinks shovel parties are much more common than they actually are.

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          • Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post

            My take is they actually DO use a backhoe and kill the bodies at the site.

            Mostly because the Shovel-Head nature of the Sabbat is that waking up, buried alive, suffering the Beast, clawing your way, and then given the Vinculum means that you will almost certainly be willing to do almost anything when you get out.

            At least a few nights before the crazy wears off.

            I kinda think they drain the bodies, throw them in the hole, and spill blood in the loose soil, like a Gu/Jincan poison where you throw a lot of poisonous stuff together and the last remaining of survivor holds the most potent dose, but in this case the "sealed" dudes get the blood (or maybe they put some goddamn straws/tubes or small holes to feed them from) and the most "potent" get out, almost frenzied (or indeed in frenzy). I guess it could even be more alike those sharks that eat their brothers before coming out of their mothers (except I don't think shovelheads each other, maybe)... which makes the whole process look like a Baali ritual (the supposed mutual enemy to all big sects).

            We can call this "event" a sort of ritae? Because the collective burying and giving blood to the earth (and in fact Embracing) seems like one. But I guess if you throw a handful of blood in the face of the future vampires and immediately start throwing dirt (maybe the first shovel throw holds the blood? and goes right in their face) they will end the Change only after they have enough earth on them to be restricted, and by the time they already try to get out the hole is refilled. The Embrace is something really mysterious, even if it has been talked about a lot and well, happens all the time, so sometimes we really can't say how much time it takes. I only know that the more potent the blood, the fastest it Changes the Embraced.


            Strange... When coincidence seems too convenient, I prefer to call it fate.

            -Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain d=

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            • Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
              Mostly because the Shovel-Head nature of the Sabbat is that waking up, buried alive, suffering the Beast, clawing your way, and then given the Vinculum means that you will almost certainly be willing to do almost anything when you get out.
              Is that really true, though? People are a lot less predictable than that, and the vinculum isn’t strong enough to be an assurance of anything. A new vampire that comes out in a state of frenzy, with nothing to guide them through it, isn’t good for much other than fucking shit up in someone else’s territory. Which, you know, is fair enough, but hardly a sacred rite.

              I do think the Sabbat would use various techniques to strip away fledgelings’ identity and encourage them to identify with the cult, but that sort of thing takes a certain amount of finesse. If you just break someone down and don’t build them up again in your image, they just stay broken, and broken, traumatized vampires aren’t much good to the cause.

              That’s why I think the burial rite makes more sense as a voluntary thing that initiates go through to show their dedication, like a baptism. But in order for the symbolism of dying to the mortal world to mean anything, the initiate has to understand it as such. The stereotypical shovel party isn’t something the average vampire would even *remember*, much less derive a sense of group identity from.
              Last edited by Black Flag; 04-03-2021, 07:25 PM.

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              • I think that dramatically understates the Vinculum. I've always run the Lowest Levels of the Vinculum as stronger than anything but the strongest relationships in a person's life.

                After all, this stranger is someone you trust more than most of your friends even if you have no reason to do so.

                However, I also treat the shovel-heads as the "Silent Majority" of the Sabbat, especially since 1999. The Sabbat added a huge number of new people during the East Coast Crusade and the numbers generated have created a somewhat "new" Sabbat that hasn't had time to be carefully indoctrinated. Some people don't like shovelheads because they're not "real" Sabbat but conscripts during wartime but I think that exploring that versus those that have had time to be indoctrinated completely like the Followers of Set's cultists is an interesting angle to explore.

                Mind you, I also note my Sabbat games also tend to make the Sabbat treat shovelheads horribly. Like, when they wake up, throw them in a place where they will murder a bunch of innocents with their first Hunger.

                Because....why not?
                Last edited by CTPhipps; 04-03-2021, 07:47 PM.


                Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

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                • The vinculum’s never been portrayed as that strong. The Vaulderie’s original purpose was to break and prevent blood bonds, with a sense of group solidarity being a nice bonus. It’s never been portrayed as strong as an individual blood bond (and even those don’t start out that strong). But the Sabbat have a long history of civil wars and succession through monomachy despite the vinculum being spread around well beyond the pack level.

                  I’m sure it does help with indoctrinating fledgelings, but by itself, especially without a context, it probably won’t keep them from running off. It’s just one part of the process. It certainly won’t provide the context by itself.

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                  • Yeah, the Vinculum is implicitly more like smoking a peace pipe. It works well enough to keep a sect of creatures on very different paths from tearing itself apart, but it's not even close to as powerful as a blood-bond, or else the Sabbat would be waayyyy different than it is. Sabbat vampires can, despite the Vinculum, eventually grow to hate each other enough to kill each other.

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                    • Originally posted by CajunKhan View Post
                      Yeah, the Vinculum is implicitly more like smoking a peace pipe. It works well enough to keep a sect of creatures on very different paths from tearing itself apart, but it's not even close to as powerful as a blood-bond, or else the Sabbat would be waayyyy different than it is. Sabbat vampires can, despite the Vinculum, eventually grow to hate each other enough to kill each other.
                      Indeed, fully indoctrinated members have little trouble killing each other over ideological differences or “for the good of the sect,” some of which is bound to be rationalization of personal grudges. There’s no way an unindoctrinated fledgeling is going to be less of a liability.

                      Sure, recruiting in the field while on crusade is a thing the Sabbat has done, but far less often than legends about them would suggest, and those field recruits seldom survive to become full members and aren’t expected to. The real sect is a cult that is careful about whom it accepts and relies on, with ideology and faith being a far more important adhesive than the vinculum.

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                      • Like I said, I think the shovelheads and their Embraces should be the majority of the sect by Revised. It would explain a lot about the changes that the sect underwent from 2nd Edition to Revised.

                        Even then, I note that the Vinculum is something that is mostly shared between pack members and those who are directly working together. If a Lasombra Pack defects to the Camarilla, they won't be torn up about betraying the SABBAT. They'll be torn up about betraying maybe their local bishop and some neighboring packs that they shared blood with three months ago. Indeed, the intense emotional bonds of the Sabbat are a major reason why civil war is inevitable.

                        Antitribu: THEY KILLED DAVE MAN! Those bastards killed Dave! They executed him!

                        Lasombra: You barely knew Dave!

                        Antitribu: I'm gonna get them for it! THEY KILLED DAVE!
                        Last edited by CTPhipps; 04-04-2021, 09:35 AM.


                        Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

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                        • Don't you lose bonds once the guy dies?
                          As for shovelheads being the majority of the Sabbat... That's a tall order.
                          It might be true for the Brujah, the Malks, the Toreador, the Gangrel... but it's an unlikely act for the Lasombra, Tzmisce, Tremere antis, Ravnos, Ventrue and Nosferatu. Granted, the Brujah and Toreador of the first list each probably outnumber the first five of the later clans combined (pre-week of nightmares even), but then you consider shovelhead attrition rates and we're all normal again.


                          Throw me/White wolf some money with Quietus: Drug Lord, Poison King
                          There's more coming soon. Pay what ya want.

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                          • Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post
                            Don't you lose bonds once the guy dies?
                            As for shovelheads being the majority of the Sabbat... That's a tall order.
                            It might be true for the Brujah, the Malks, the Toreador, the Gangrel... but it's an unlikely act for the Lasombra, Tzmisce, Tremere antis, Ravnos, Ventrue and Nosferatu. Granted, the Brujah and Toreador of the first list each probably outnumber the first five of the later clans combined (pre-week of nightmares even), but then you consider shovelhead attrition rates and we're all normal again.
                            Depends on how you consider the effects of the East Coast Crusade. Note also that I said the shovelheads and THOSE EMBRACED BY THEM. The Tremere Antitribu for example were completely eradicated. Definitely, the Sabbat took some hits metaplot wise. As you may note that I don't much care for "metaplot agnostic" vampire. I prefer events happening like how the Tremere Antis were replaced by the Salubri Antitribu who are ALL new and out of the ground before being brainwashed for war.

                            As for the Lasombra and Tzimisce, both of these do shovelhead Embraces too. The Lasombra especially are perfectly happy to let you sink or swim as you will.


                            Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

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                            • Shovelheads arent that likely to embrace. High gen, low status, perhaps some shellshock in there.

                              Some clans just dont do well as shovelheads. Nosferatu shovelheads are just a bad idea (and we all know how little the nos care for the sects). Similarly Tzmisce and Tremere are too reliant on knowledge to be half as good as generalists like the Toreador or Brujah.
                              The lasombra are happy to shovel but generally prefer to select normally. (and by normally i mean victimizing their prospects for half a decade to see if they can handle it)


                              Throw me/White wolf some money with Quietus: Drug Lord, Poison King
                              There's more coming soon. Pay what ya want.

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                              • Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post
                                Shovelheads arent that likely to embrace. High gen, low status, perhaps some shellshock in there.

                                Some clans just dont do well as shovelheads. Nosferatu shovelheads are just a bad idea (and we all know how little the nos care for the sects). Similarly Tzmisce and Tremere are too reliant on knowledge to be half as good as generalists like the Toreador or Brujah.
                                The lasombra are happy to shovel but generally prefer to select normally. (and by normally i mean victimizing their prospects for half a decade to see if they can handle it)
                                What's wrong with Nosferatu shovelheads? They're not going to have anywhere else to go.


                                Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

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