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How to adjust the "classic" Sabbat to the V5 Sabbat

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  • #76
    Originally posted by sathriel View Post

    Seriously, if that us the reason it's beyond retarded. Hey I am an Anarch player and I want to have Free States in Chicago, hey Paradox could you remove that fascistic Camarilla out of my city?

    I hope that it's just your interpratation of what has happened because that explanation is just mind-numbingly stupid if it really is true.
    The CHAPTERS thing resulting in Montreal's "defection" is 100% what happened according to an interview. The rest is my tinfoil hat conspiracy thinking.

    Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
    Unfortunately it's not stupid. The definition of the Sabbat cities have been a sore point for a huge fanbase for a long time. It is a complex and very delicate matter for them.

    It isn't just about giving the players the faction they want, it goes deeper.
    It's been long contemplated that Sabbat cities essentially got thrown everywhere "Not America" even though a lot of the cities in America fit the definition better than the places reimagined as urban hellscapes.

    Mind you, I actually feel like they didn't go Requiem ENOUGH there as if you could have separate courts for the Anarchs, Camarilla, and Blood Cults in a city then the issue of "what sect is a city" becomes moot.
    Last edited by CTPhipps; 11-06-2021, 12:17 PM.


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    • #77
      Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
      Mind you, I actually feel like they didn't go Requiem ENOUGH there as if you could have separate courts for the Anarchs, Camarilla, and Blood Cults in a city then the issue of "what sect is a city" becomes moot.
      I actually agree with that. First that I've said before that I always thought it silly to separate clans by to which sect they belong.

      Clans shouldn't belong to sects. Individuals should belong to sects.

      Otherwise I have a standing problem with V5 choosing to never go all the way down any particular path, with a few exceptions. It is all kinds of things at once, classic, masquiem, post-Gehenna, new, Broken Masquerade...

      But it never commits to any of those completely. That harms a lot of its potential.


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      • #78
        I'm currently working on a Guide to the Gehenna fronts and no small part of that is trying to address these sorts of questions. What did the transition between the old and new Sabbat look like? How did it occur? What were the responses on the ground? What happened in the Fourth Civil War, etc. (Note I've edited a few quotes for brevity!)

        Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post

        1. The Sabbat Civil War was won by the Loyalists
        The Sabbat Civil War predicted in BJD could have ended with the Loyalists making another play for control of the Sabbat. It's very possible that the Antitribu "won" this round and instituted a bunch of reforms based around their ideas of how the Sabbat should proceed.

        * All of us are Antitribu. There are no Clans among us.
        * The Path is a much bigger focus of our lives.
        * A focus on the pack at the expense of the national
        * A maximization of freedom at the expense of territory and hierarchy.
        * A renewed focus on the war against the Ancients.
        As others have said, it appears more so that Conservative faction of some stripe has ultimately won out initially. De Pollonia's advocating for the Gehenna Crusade certainly wasn't aimed at what the Loyalists wanted (he still wanted the Regency after all). I think if anything the lack of ranks and hierarchy is down to a few things:
        1) Casualties & Isolation: The Sabbat is suffering horrendous casualties at such a rate that any centralised command structure simply isn't effective. A Bishop is appointed only to die three nights later. Combine that with an inability to communicate due to SI monitoring, the remoteness of Gehenna fronts, their often being in active warzones, and centralised leadership doesn't make sense.
        2) Outsider's perspective: The depiction we receive in Renegade's guide is largely the view of an outsider. Why would they know what the Archbishops, Prisci, Dominions, and Seraphs are doing?
        3) New blood: So many Sabbat brought in have been shovelhead embraces used as canon-fodder. If their commanders are killed there's simply no one to teach them of the more advanced parts of the hierarchy.
        Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
        2. The False Black Hand was defeated

        The Special Forces of the Sabbat was something we learned were compromised completely by the True Hand and Jalan Aajav was going to war within his own faction in order to purge them from his ranks. The Black Hand was defeated and forced either underground or disbanded due to the tremendous casualties they suffered. They might also have had a number of their members Beckoned themselves.

        Also, as much as I love the SI, I fully believe that it would be the True Hand manipulating them that resulted in Jalan's execution. The remaining True Hand proceeded to become the Servitors of Irad and Children of Enoch from the Blood Cults books.
        I think if anything the opposite is likely to have happened, now is the age of the Black Hand. Two main ideas:
        1) The True Black Hand have been utterly routed:
        1.1) Dastur Anosh was coming for them we know he was doing considerable damage to them in Montreal.
        1.2) Jalan Aajav was also onto them and trying to purge his sect clean of their influence.
        1.3) The True Hand took great casualties (we can expect) during the Week of Nightmares and the rise of the Ravnos Antediluvian.
        1.4) The True Hand has since lost Enoch, as the city was destroyed just before the Sixth Great Maelstrom. (We know this defeat has been so through as to leave those who survived, suffering from something akin to C-PTSD. Not to mention rejecting necromancy the source of much of their power.)
        2) The Black Hand are arguably the best suited amongst the Sabbat to the new war:
        2.1) Good at subtle strikes and moving without being detected.
        2.2) Trained in: infiltration, sabotage, assassination, terror tactics, battle-field training. (Succinctly, they are trained in the same style of warfare as most modern special forces troops.)
        2.2) Utterly lethal warriors trained to a standard that can easily match any SI kill team, or Archon hit-squad. (In one on one combat, a Black Hand operative is probably one of the deadliest Cainite warriors in existence.)
        2.3) Utter fanaticism reinforced by the Vaulderie, Paths, and unique subsect rituals.
        2.4) Well-equipped, but with members that can readily fight unarmed if necessary.
        2.5) The sect is well versed in espionage, codes, and going hidden. Keeping information from the enemy is bread and butter stuff to a group that often had to hide from their brothers and sisters.
        2.6) The sect is well versed in Middle-Eastern lore and culture. The entire subsect has strong ties to the part of the world, prizing Arabic language and poetry in particular.

        3. Polonia was the last Regent

        Going with 1#, Polonia managed to persuade a huge chunk of the Loyalists to rally behind him and the Gehenna War because that was the only way to direct the angry masses of Panders, Antitribu, and other rabble.

        Polonia was one of the Regents to die by violence, possibly killed by the Lasombra Antediluvian himself, and thus the Sabbat were once more leaderless. At that point, though, no single Cardinal could forward themselves as an alternative and were already engaged in battle with so many other Elders.
        I can see this being the case, alternatively, I can also see no Regent actually managing to emerge from the Fourth Civil War before the entire sect gets dragged into the Gehenna War. Once they're fighting that war, most Sabbat are only going to care who the commander in their particular theatre is, beyond that it doesn't matter to them.

        4. The Gehenna War is multiple fronts

        The Gehenna War has multiple enemies:

        * The Shepherds of Ur-Shulgi and other Loyalist Assamites
        * The Ashirra
        * The Elders Beckoned to the Middle East and Northern Africa who didn't disappear. They were summoned and fight anywhere their Masters compelled them.
        * The Camarilla (which is the same people they've always been fighting)
        * The remains of the True Hand who are still pretty potent Elders and now have the aid of Moloch's Baali.
        * Places where ancients were spotted like Russia and going after Baba Yaga's childer along with the Crone herself (who probably used Obfuscate and/or Dominate to escape the Nictuku)

        Destroying someone like Menele is a pretty huge commitment of resources for the Sabbat even if they succeed.
        There are plenty of enemies to be sure (you can add certain Anarchs and the SI to that list), but those same groups also have their own problems to deal with. Many have been hit by the SI or actively fight one another as well as other rival cults. Whilst the Sabbat are faced by enemies on all sides, it's important to remember that their enemies aren't doing much better either.

        At the same time, the Sabbat can create new waves of warriors with very little effort. If you kill my 10 shovelheads but not me the veteran Sabbat, I'll just embrace another 10, and another 10, and another. You'll break eventually and I will have lost nothing.

        5.
        The Gehenna War is going well-ish
        In the past 15 years, the Sabbat have destroyed dozens of Methuselahs of both the 4th as well as 5th generation. Arguably as many as they've destroyed in the past 600.

        Their casualties have been IMMENSE. Much of their Ancilla population and countless Neonates have been destroyed but it has permanently changed the Jyhad. At least as far as they're concerned.
        I think as far as the Sabbat is concerned yes the war is going reasonably well. The sect has had to evolve significantly to better meet the enemies it finds itself fighting, but that's not really an issue to them. Whether that's true in the long run is quite another matter, especially with the ominous allusions as to where all the spilt blood is going.

        6. Abandoning territory was a strategic decision

        The Camarilla broke virtually every one of their own self-stated rules by giving the Second Inquisition massive amounts of information on Sabbat strongholds thorughout the New World. It was a stupid and short-sighted decision that certainly solidfied the SI's impresion "blanks" were incontrovertibly evil as well as real. However, it also failed to do what the Camarilla thought. Yes, the Sabbat have abandoned Mexico, Montreal, and most other major cities. However, this is because they're an army of the march. Sabbat now "live off the land" and have far less need for domain than typical Kindred. It has also resulted in the Camarilla overstretching itself.

        It still does hold SOME territory but its consolidation in those cities is to provide money, IDs, and other things. It only need about 20% of its former territory because it's focused on all out war.
        This a pretty accurate summary really. The Sabbat shifting to an all-out war footing means it needs muster points and locations to seize war materiel that's about it. Unlike a mortal army, it doesn't need to worry as much about supply lines, especially if it finds itself fighting in areas where mortals are already delivering plentiful ordinance, it also doesn't lack recruiting grounds all things considered.

        7. The Sabbat leadership has pulled back

        The percentages of shovel-headed brainless cannon fodder to genius eldritch priests of darkness has shifted a bit but it's not been lost. Basically, the Sabbat have a substantial number of "armchair generals" who are the ones pulling the strings on their army of zerg. Vykos and the False Lucita are just some of them but they are in no danger of being the brainwashed stooges that other Sabbat are stereotyped as.

        The shovelheads have gone from, say, 20% of the Sabbat ranks to 60% but it doesn't matter because they're disposable minions from beginning to their end. The remaining 40% are protected by their "essential" positions and carrying out the sect's real business.
        Again I think this hits the nail on the head, I'd also add in the Sect leader's innate cowardice. They've seen what happens to beckoned elders on the front line, seen the SI burnout their diocese. Better to fight from behind a horde of minions and through proxies and then fight directly only when necessary. Also, add in the points about the inefficacy of maintaining an extensive hierarchy at the moment, many Sabbat power-players are probably focussed on maintaining their local power at the moment more than jocky for positions in a non-existent Consistory.

        8. The defections are not ideological

        This is just me but virtually every Lasombra defector is stil on a Path and there's no plans to change. They just claim to be "human" and carry on their previous beliefs in secret. The Sabbat who have defected whether Vasantasena (who recognized what it was becoming and failed to save it) or the Lasombra generally did so because they recognized the Sabbat no longer had a place for them. They are practical not ideological. Indeed, the Camarilla and Anarchs have both become a LOT more Sabbat-like due to the defections rather than the opposite.

        Against the rules or not there's a bunch of Path followers in the Anarchs and Camarilla now.
        This entirely depends on where the writers choose to take them in future I think there are a few explanations for the defections in my view, and they could be true in combination or in part:
        1) Cowardice - The leaders said it's time to fight and die and many just didn't have the stomach for it. Those with power and influence fled for the Camarilla, those who didn't looked to the Autarkis or the Anarchs.
        2) Self-Preservation - I differentiate this from the above, because instead of running in fear defectors just think their survival is better served in another sect. They're not cowards per-see, they just disagree with the Sabbat's new direction.
        3) Rise of Faith - Amongst both the Anarchs and Camarilla cults have become more common. For highly religious vampires, there are now many more beliefs competing for their faith and loyalty. A Sabbat Cainite might be introduced to options they never considered before.
        4) False-Promises - Many Sabbat questioned why Gehenna hasn't come as their leaders once preached it would. There's been no apocalypse, now there's just an ongoing war with no clear end in sight.
        5) Infiltration - Many of the 'defectors' are little more than opportunistic spies, assassins, and sabateurs. They know that the Anarchs and Camarilla are both in dire need of veteran warriors, willing to risk their humanity to do what must be done. Camarilla and the Anarchs don't have the luxury of turning down warriors and occultists of the Sabbat's character. All the while these Sabbat infiltrators can feedback information to their brothers and sisters wreaking devastation, covering up the eventual destruction with the SI, or the turmoil of the Gehenna war.
        9. The Inquisition was betrayed

        Lucita's faction of Sabbat reformists were primarily based around the Inquisition and those who wanted to make sure the Sabbat's principles of freedom as well as fighting the Antediluvians plus other supernatural evils were carried on.

        Who profited from the destruction of one of the Sabbat's oldest and most venerable institutions? Is Lucita dead? Who is the fake Lucita? Vykos herself? Veyla? Gratiano? The Sybil? A revived Melinda Gailbraith?
        I think in no small part they're not really sure what to do with Lucita and the Sabbat Inquisition. The former is a massively popular canon character beloved by the fans. However, we've been told she's been murdered, and that someone claiming to be her rules Madrid, in short order. What's more, she's problematic with the new depiction of the Sabbat. Ravening semi-wight fanatic, the Lucita fans love, is not. She is the quintessential complex morally-nuanced Sabbat character, which doesn't really work with their portrayal solely as an antagonistic force of monstrosity.

        As for the Sabbat Inquisition, they fall into a similar trap. There's no sense in depicting them in a nuanced manner because they were mostly a force focussed on purging their own ranks of infernalism and heresy. On occasion, they'd persecute outside groups as well, but these weren't commonly groups played by players. (I've yet to hear of an Infernalist Chronicle with Sabbat Inquisitors as the bad guys.) On those occasions where the Sabbat Inquisition might attack players (because they're part of a new cult introduced in CoB) the experience now would be little different than getting attacked by Sabbat pack #103. There's no need to add the complexities of their ways because they'll be rarely relevant.

        That said, I personally think depicting a Sabbat pack made out of surviving Inquisitors would be an excellent chronicle. I can see them declaring a Holy War on the faith hunters of the Inquisition. A literal theological war pitting the servants of the Dark Father against the Church of Paul. I can also see them attempting to keep what remains of the Sabbat pure, fighting a losing battle against a rising tide of infernalism amidst the newly decentralised Sabbat.

        10. The Vinculum SHOULD have stopped the Lasombra defection

        It didn't. Indeed, Sabbat loyalists (small l) like Talley didn't show any hesitation.

        Why?
        I think the issues with the vaulderie do warrant some greater explanation or investigation. The cornerstone of the entire sect has been ignored somewhat, though there are few good explanations that have been mentioned:
        1) New Blood - Many Lasombra defectors are extremely young, they're the childer of powerful Sabbat, or escaping shovelheads. They haven't been Bloodbound for whatever reason.
        2) Rituals to break the Bond - Rituals like the Severed Hand do allow for the dissolution of Vaulderie ties. It would be hard to enact en-masse but if done cleverly, the Lasombra could've freed key clanmates and then freed others as needed.
        3) Casualties - The Vaulderie doesn't engender innate loyalty to Sabbat ideals but to comrades, if those comrades have died in the Gehenna war, little will stop you from defecting.
        4) Mass-Defection - Addendum to the above mono-clan packs aren't unheard of, if an entire pack chose to defect together their vaulderie ties might've made them more prone to do so together, rather than less.
        11. The Serpents of Light defection

        This will probably be controversial but I think the Ministry should include a huge number of the former Serpents of Light. They broke away from the Followers of Set because they were a bunch of crazy blasphemous psychopaths worshiping an evil god, so the idea of joining with the other breakaway polytheists strikes me as very probable. The remaining SoL have since started calling themselves Setite Antitribu and are really pissed about this.

        12. The Harbingers noped out the fuck out of there

        This is pretty much confirmed as canon but the Harbingers of Skulls managed to ACHIEVE their goal of destroying their Antediluvian enemy. They were also pretty old blooded vampires as well. The Sabbat have some respect for this action but are still furious that they're no longer supporting the suicide crusade. I wouldn't be surprised if there's a treaty that most younger Sabbat don't feel obliged to honor. Technically, though, the Harbingers are the most successful Sabbat of all time.
        I think both of these Clans can justify leaving in decent numbers having served their ends or seeing better alternatives opening to them. Some might remain out of true belief (especially amongst the shovelheads), but I can see many leaving. The Harbingers in particular can declare their war has been won and to hell with the rest.

        13. The Sabbat has an Antediluvian on its side

        Tremere in Goratrix's body is pulling the strings of the Sabbat as the leader of House Goratrix. He could probably rule the entire sect if he wanted (except remove the could) but has no desire to. Instead, he's the guy who has pointed the Sabbat at so many other Ancients and the Banu Haqim in particular.
        It certainly helps explain the resurrection of House Goratrix and the damage done to the mainline Tremere in recent nights. It also ties nicely into the whole Sabbat hypocrisy theme, they've been ruled by an infernalist, now they're secretly 'ruled' by that which they despise most!

        14. The Salubri Antitribu have probbaly failed

        I feel kind of maudlin here but my idea is that Adonai's plan to avenge his Clan has failed. Not for lack of effort on his part but because the Salubri Antitribu have been absorbed into the greater Sabbat. You can't really indoctrinate an army of Neonates to believing you should avenge your Clan when everyone else is telling you that your clan is bullshit. Now most Salubri Antis are indistinguisbale from other shovelheads. I imagine Adonai himself is dead or been forced into hiding.
        I'm not sure whether the whole anti-clan rhetoric will have been as thorough as suggested to us so far. I'm certain that in some quarters it will have survived in some way shape or form. I could definitely see a fringe or group rallying around Adonai, if not within the new Sabbat, then as a Sabbat-adjacent cult at the very least.

        15. The Sabbat leadership is aware of the Tzimisce and Lasombra Antediluvians survival

        Basically, due to the events of Beckett's Jyhad Diary, the Sabbat is aware that both their claimed Antediluvians are still alive. This is kept from the Sabbat at large even as rumors are still around. Still, plenty of Lasombra and Tzimisce Elders have vanished to the Beckoning. Vykos is one of the few left and believes the Dracon is out to get them.
        This is more or less confirmed I think with the new write-ups on the followers of Death & The Soul. They place a great emphasis on working out how to keep something dead after having actually killed it. This makes me think that the Sabbat are looking at the apparent failures of the Lasombra and Tzimisce, then comparing this to the nascent Hecata and the surviving Ravnos, looking at how they can make things 'stick' as it were.


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        • #79
          House Goratrix is Camarilla aligned in V5, implied at in their clan's writeup and confirmed by Word of God. So it doesn't make much sense that they'd still be Sabbat, all signs point to them defecting to the Camarilla as well, which would be inline with Tremere controlling them.

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          • #80
            I wonder if many of the Sabbat bloodlines would stick after the civil war, actually. I don't think many of them would have that big an interest in the new direction or be easily influenced en masse into buying into it. As I see it, only the Bloodbrothers would largely stay in the Sabbat.


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            • #81
              Originally posted by SetiteFriend View Post
              House Goratrix is Camarilla aligned in V5, implied at in their clan's writeup and confirmed by Word of God. So it doesn't make much sense that they'd still be Sabbat, all signs point to them defecting to the Camarilla as well, which would be inline with Tremere controlling them.
              That is a very large leap from the bit about them written up so far.

              Also, where does Word of God confirm it?


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              • #82
                Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post

                That is a very large leap from the bit about them written up so far.

                Also, where does Word of God confirm it?
                Matthew Dawkins on the WoD discord said so. Link
                Last edited by SetiteFriend; 11-08-2021, 12:15 AM.

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                • #83
                  Cool beans. Thanks for that.


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                  • #84
                    If I wanted to go with a "wait what the heck happened to the Sabbat in V5?" as an answer. To me clearly what happened is what was proposed as an ending to the 4th Sabbat Civil War in Mexico City by Night. There is no Regent, Jalan-Ajav took direct control of the Sabbat with his black hand after solidifying power in the subsect. He slowly started to mold the Sect into the Black Hand (hence the name of the v5 book.,..) and started the Gehenna Crusade. What no one expected was Jalan died or vanished...so it was a half finished project. The end result? The Sabbat that exists now IS the Black Hand with no real leader. As the one guy who consolidated all power to himself...is gone.

                    That's what makes the most sense to me.

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                    • #85
                      Originally posted by Karos View Post
                      2.2) Utterly lethal warriors trained to a standard that can easily match any SI kill team, or Archon hit-squad. (In one on one combat, a Black Hand operative is probably one of the deadliest Cainite warriors in existence.)
                      I think that's overstating the matter a fair bit. Training and fanaticism will see Black Hand members who specialize in combat (rather than espionage, etc.) punching above their weight class, but I don't know that they're individually any better than a given Templar or other martially-inclined vampire of similar age and generation. The subsect's big advantage was that it was an organization, with packs/teams trained to work together as disciplined units under a cohesive strategic command.

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                      • #86
                        Yeah, that's the thing. Individually members of the Black Hand are pretty badass. But the thing is you're likely not just facing one guy but a whole pack. And 5 or six badass Black Hand members working together is something that would give even a Methuselah pause.

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                        • #87
                          Originally posted by AnubisXy View Post
                          Yeah, that's the thing. Individually members of the Black Hand are pretty badass. But the thing is you're likely not just facing one guy but a whole pack. And 5 or six badass Black Hand members working together is something that would give even a Methuselah pause.
                          I never thought the Black Hand had enough operatives to work as teams. They were always working solo because their numbers were so small.


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                          • #88
                            Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post

                            I never thought the Black Hand had enough operatives to work as teams. They were always working solo because their numbers were so small.
                            Individually they're normally just part of regular packs, but when warfare calls they form all-Black Hand warbands called Kamut. Such warbands can have anywhere from 3-12 members. And even for some ancient hoary elder would probably be shitting blood at the thought of having to fight a dozen Black Hand members.

                            I guess instead of saying "likely" the phrase, "depending on the situation" might be more accurate. Primarily though when the Black Hand takes action though it's in the form of Kamut rather than sending individual vampires out to do something. So if you are facing the Black Hand, you're very likely facing a Kamut.

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                            • #89
                              This is where I actually think V5 did a decent job with Ur-Shulgi because the Sabbat fighting a Gehenna War against the Methuselah-worshiping Assamites and it lasting twenty-years with immense casualties is probably the only thing about the Gehenna War that would make perfect sense. It also would mean Ur-Shulgi wasn't sitting on his ass this entire time.

                              Depending on whether Goratrix/Tremere or Shaitan was aiding the Black Hand, it also explains why Ur-Shulgi might not have been able to personally intervene.

                              Though the Three-Eyed Witch implies a Salubri Methuselah may have also been involved.


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                              • #90
                                It just occurred to me that most likely the Black Hand (meaning the "False Hand", the paramilitary unit of the Sabbat) shouldn't exist anymore. Once it becomes known that the entire leadership of the Black Hand and many of its members belonged to a pro-antedeluvian cult (the True Black Hand), that they were effectively controlling the sect, and had destroyed any Sabbat vampires who came close to discovering the truth, that there is no way the organization could continue to survive. The Sabbat would need to clean house and start brand new. Otherwise it would risk allowing enemy agents to survive and reestablish enemy control over the institution. Who could you trust? No one.

                                The most likely outcome would it be being disbanded entirely, and if the Sabbat wanted a new paramilitary group, they would create an entirely new organization whose membership would exclude previous members of the Black Hand. And there would be a inquiry and purge of anyone suspected of being part of the True Hand. Given the political enemies the Black Hand had, there would be a good level of payback even for members who were innocent. And there's a very good chance that the Sabbat would decide to not replace the Black Hand at all. Even loyal members of the Sabbat Black Hand might be forced to flee into exile to escape destruction.

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