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My review of SABBAT: THE BLACK HAND 4.5/5

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  • Was that a retcon? From what I recall the Brujah Council explicitly never claimed to be an Anarch territory and their actions generally went against most of the typical Anarch ideals. The Camarilla labeled them all as Anarchs, but they always firmly rejected the label. They were closer to something like the Ashirra, a different sect entirely, rather than a group focused on rejecting the Camarilla (which is what distinguishes Anarchs from members of sects that are completely removed from the Camarilla/Sabbat).

    Though seeing as how the Brujah Council was utterly wiped out I suppose it's more of a historical footnote either way.

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    • Originally posted by AnubisXy View Post
      Was that a retcon? From what I recall the Brujah Council explicitly never claimed to be an Anarch territory and their actions generally went against most of the typical Anarch ideals. The Camarilla labeled them all as Anarchs, but they always firmly rejected the label. They were closer to something like the Ashirra, a different sect entirely, rather than a group focused on rejecting the Camarilla (which is what distinguishes Anarchs from members of sects that are completely removed from the Camarilla/Sabbat).

      Though seeing as how the Brujah Council was utterly wiped out I suppose it's more of a historical footnote either way.
      Afaik they never called themselves Anarchs, the Cam called them that, but they didn't have much in common with 'mainstream' Anarchs.

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      • Originally posted by Taggie View Post

        Afaik they never called themselves Anarchs, the Cam called them that, but they didn't have much in common with 'mainstream' Anarchs.
        Anarchs Unbound stated that the Brujah Council was financing the Anarch Movement in dozens of other countries and was heavily involved in shaping their ideology.

        So V20 made them Anarchs.


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

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        • That's interesting and does push theAnarch timeline back by about 20 years. They're still very modern as a faction compared to the Camarilla, Sabbat, Ashirra, etc. Still, I guess the Brujah Council would serve as a historical inspiration for modern Anarchs, sort of like how Carthage does.

          That said there's some serious irony in the fact that in the US, at the time of the "Red Scare" people were terrified at the idea that the Russians were secretly funding and assisting people in America for the goal of overthrowing the government and overturning society. That was almost entirely bullshit. Meanwhile in vampiric society, that's literally exactly what was happening. 🤣
          Last edited by AnubisXy; 10-14-2021, 03:51 AM.

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          • Originally posted by AnubisXy View Post
            That's interesting and does push theAnarch timeline back by about 20 years. They're still very modern as a faction compared to the Camarilla, Sabbat, Ashirra, etc. Still, I guess the Brujah Council would serve as a historical inspiration for modern Anarchs, sort of like how Carthage does.

            That said there's some serious irony in the fact that in the US, at the time of the "Red Scare" people were terrified at the idea that the Russians were secretly funding and assisting people in America for the goal of overthrowing the government and overturning society. That was almost entirely bullshit. Meanwhile in vampiric society, that's literally exactly what was happening. 🤣
            I mean, is it weird I think this means the Anarchs seem less useless? I say that as an Anarch fan but conquering LA is not enough for 600 years of work.

            Interestingly, they also were but the Communist Party funded by the Soviet Union in the USA collapsed before WW2 when they ordered them to not support the New Deal. (They assumed that Roosevelt reforming capitalism would hurt them)

            The Americans locals thought this was....well, stupid.



            Oddly, I suppose this means Salvador Garcia probably WAS an agent of the Russians in the Anarch Free State.
            Last edited by CTPhipps; 10-14-2021, 04:07 AM.


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

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            • I don't know "useless" is a word I'd use to describe the Anarchs. The thing is, for most of history the Anarchs weren't a sect or organization. Individual cities had Anarchs, and those Anarch groups may have had politics and such, but those were all about local issues. For most Anarchs their beef was with the local Prince. There wasn't some global Anarch conclave where Anarchs got together once every twenty years to chat and hash out plans.

              So the Anarchs in Berlin didn't necessarily have much to do with the Anarchs in Paris. There would have been some ideological sense of solidarity in the way both were "sticking it to The Man" but for the most part, Berlin's Anarchs weren't going to to be directly interacting with or helping Paris' Anarchs. And if the Anarchs did manage to overthrow a Prince it was only a matter of time before the Camarilla or Sabbat would move back in because the Anarchs lakes those sorts of global resources. I don't think that's really a problem. In fact trying to turn the Anarchs into a major sect like the Camarilla, Sabbat, Ashirra, etc is more problematic and awkward because, again, there's not really a sense of the Anarchs as a distinct sect.

              So again, I think the best thing to do is to play up that sense that this sect is basically just now getting its legs under it, it doesn't have a strongly defined ideology other than rejecting the Camarilla and Sabbat, so the sect could end up going anywhere and becoming anything and, oh yeah, the PCs are in on the ground floor and can try to help raise this thing into something they like.
              Last edited by AnubisXy; 10-14-2021, 04:38 AM.

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              • To put it another way the most distinguishing and defining aspect of the Anarchs is that power and prestige are determined by deeds, not by blood or age. In the Camarilla in 10 years someone could go from being Prince's Lacky #27 to being Prince's Lacky #19. If you've just been turned into a vampire and have very high generation, it's going to be a long, long time before you can realistically get power.

                In the Sabbat power is determined by survival. If you survive long enough you deserve power. But of course age and generation equal survival. The Sabbat make a big show about equality but it's all a lie.

                With the Anarchs even some high generation vampire who just turned a few weeks ago can start amassing political and social power depending on what he does. I think the Bloodlines game highlights that. If the Protagonist had chosen to side with the Anarchs and stick around she'd easily be a leading figure even though she just became a vampire a few nights before. That's what the game needs to highlight and push, that player Anarchs are going to have a large amount of self-determination, and as a result the Chronicle is going to be very different from a Camarilla or Sabbat one.

                Yeah the Anarchs don't have the history or politics of other sects, but the players and their ST are the ones who will be creating that to some degree.
                Last edited by AnubisXy; 10-14-2021, 05:02 AM.

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                • Originally posted by AnubisXy View Post

                  Yeah the Anarchs don't have the history or politics of other sects, but the players and their ST are the ones who will be creating that to some degree.
                  Which from historical trends we know leads to games gravitating away from the anarchs to sects with actual fluff and crunch since homebrews arnt practical for such a large part of the game. Books cost money.
                  Last edited by Ragged Robin; 10-14-2021, 06:56 AM.

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                  • Does it? I mean the Anarchs are very popular.

                    The developers went away from the Anarchs because they fell in love with the Sabbat and intersect warfare.



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

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                    • Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
                      Does it? I mean the Anarchs are very popular.

                      The developers went away from the Anarchs because they fell in love with the Sabbat and intersect warfare.

                      I'm not convinced they are. The online scene seems (ish it's worth noting the that a some of what we see online is native advertising )supportive but my IRL experiance people tend to nudge toward ivory tower games for v5 or simply not running v5 full stop. It's also going to be developing problem going forward if they want to keep selling books since if they won't flesh out the anarchs
                      I must admit this is partly speculative or anecdotal since we've only done this cycle once before but we're already seeing trends emerging circa 93, the sabbat and carmarilla are still better written despite the developers best efforts to poison the well and people still want to play them. It's going to be interesting to see if the underwritten anarchs are able to carry the game forward as the default group and I don't think they are.
                      Last edited by Ragged Robin; 10-14-2021, 07:16 AM.

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                      • All three of the major sects are popular. But that's largely because they're big and inclusive and your city is going to be dominated by one or more of the three 99% of the time. Conversely The Followers of Set are one of the best written sects, but their lack of popularity is largely due to their status as a minority sect. They don't get a lot of representation, they're not especially at odds with anyone, and their lore is pretty high-level, but the issue isn't much of a problem for the Camarilla and the last isn't a problem for the Sabbat. It's a combination of these issues.

                        That said, Of the three big sects, the Anarchs are probably the least popular. The Cam is what if Anarchs were successful and the Sabbat is what if the Anarchs had depth and became interesting.

                        The Anarchs don't need a lot of writing. They're people who disagree with the status quo and there's a lot of ways you can interpret that. Rather than defining the Anarchs (or the Camarilla for that matter) it's much better to offer hooks, concepts, ideas and loose boundries on how storytellers want to interpret these factions.


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                        • From what I gathered the Anarchs seem pretty popular, especially with the female audience. I think that the moment you have anarchs take and govern cities, offering only loose boundries is too little.

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                          • The problem with the Anarchs as I see it, basically dates all the way back to when they started developing the Sabbat. The short version is, they gave away all the factions and elements that should have been the Anarchs.

                            Take the Vaulderie as an alternate to blood bonds and on loyalty to your pack, the reformers and the radicals, the Inquisition hunting infernalists, the elders scheming to use the movement for their own ends, the cults and Noddist scholars suppressed by the Camarilla, the secret society of the True Black Hand.

                            Just leave the anti-Humanity bias and about half the fanaticism and most of misanthropy to humans off and the Anarchs would have looked like a real viable faction with interesting things going on.

                            Instead they bolted all of that onto the 30 Days of Night/ravening packs of wights boogiemen and because all that stuff was interesting, the players gravitated to the Sabbat and the Anarchs withered on the vine because most people at least like a subject when they’re given a blank canvas and most would also just prefer a gallery of finished paintings.

                            I’ve mentioned my solution to this before… if V5 is bound and determined to make the Anarchs a thing and the Sabbat unplayable, then have the metaplot move the moderate elements of the Sabbat over to the Anarchs as a sort of “remnant” with varying motives and plans. This would give the Anarchs an infusion of culture they very much lack and give the Sabbat players a place to go where large amounts of Sabbat culture can still be found while still leaving the fanatical death cult we get in this book.
                            Last edited by Chris24601; 10-14-2021, 10:02 AM.

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                            • Originally posted by Ragged Robin View Post
                              Which from historical trends we know leads to games gravitating away from the anarchs to sects with actual fluff and crunch since homebrews arnt practical for such a large part of the game. Books cost money.
                              I do think that better material must be written about the Anarchs, but I don't think this open-ended state is a bad thing or drives players away.

                              Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post
                              The Followers of Set are one of the best written sects, but their lack of popularity is largely due to their status as a minority sect.
                              By the way, my favorite sect, even not being my favorite clan (those are Salubri and Tzimisce).

                              Originally posted by MyWifeIsScary View Post
                              The Anarchs don't need a lot of writing. They're people who disagree with the status quo and there's a lot of ways you can interpret that. Rather than defining the Anarchs (or the Camarilla for that matter) it's much better to offer hooks, concepts, ideas and loose boundries on how storytellers want to interpret these factions.
                              Agreed.


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                              • Originally posted by Chris24601 View Post
                                The problem with the Anarchs as I see it, basically dates all the way back to when they started developing the Sabbat. The short version is, they gave away all the factions and elements that should have been the Anarchs.
                                I've always found this line of argument ridiculous, and dangerously close to the sentiment that occasionally pops up in V5 discussions that everything after the 1991 core book was a mistake.

                                Steven C. Brown did not steal anything from the anarchs when he and Andrew Greenberg first dreamed up the Sabbat. The Vaulderie, the Inquisition, the Infernalists, the Noddist scholars, the Black Hand; none of these concepts existed somewhere in the ether as the rightful property of the anarchs, they were made up wholesale in order to make the Sabbat more interesting than just "ravening packs of wight boogeymen." It's not the fault of the writers who created the Sabbat that nobody to this day has managed to produce equally compelling material about the anarchs.

                                The anarchs are not "owed" a goddamn thing. If it's not possible to make them interesting without poaching ideas from the Sabbat, maybe that's just a sign that the anarchs are a crappy excuse for a sect.

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