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

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  • CTPhipps
    started a topic How to adjust the "classic" Sabbat to the V5 Sabbat

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

    I'm presently debating doing another one of my articles for running the Sabbat in V5. However, I'm actually more interested in how to create a timeline for the events of the V20 Sabbat becoming the Sabbat of V5 as well as the consequences thereof.

    Here's some ideas I've been exploring:

    1. The Sabbat Civil War was won by the Loyalists

    There's a joke that V5 has been everything coming up [strike]Milhouse[/strike] Anarchs and that is interesting to explore as a concept applying to the Sabbat as well. 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.

    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. This actually might be the start of the Gehenna War. After all, what would be a more accurate target for the Black Hand's wrath than the True Hand that worships Enoch and the Middle East? Unfortunately, with the rise of Ur-Shulgi, defection of the Assamite Warriors back to Alamut, and the fact the True Hand in V20 is NOT silly then its entirely possible Jalan lost this battle. 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.

    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. However, what he intended as a snipe hunt became an all-consuming war once they arrived and ended up battling so many Elders summoned by Methuselahs in the Middle East as well as Ur-shulgi's armies.

    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.

    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.

    5. The Gehenna War is going well-ish

    One of the biggest issues the Sabbat have ever faced is the fact that it is actually quite hard to find and fight vampires hidden across cities. The Gehenna War, by contrast, is quite easy to find 1000+ year old vampires who seem to be coming out of the woodwork to do battle. Almost like they have been summoned to kill and die by forces that feed on violence rather than just vitae (ahem). 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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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. The True Hand (now corrupted by the Baali), Shaitan, Montreal, or Mary the Black may have been the parties behind it but whatever the result was the Inquisition was the first against the wall when the revolution came.

    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?

    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?
    Last edited by CTPhipps; 11-04-2021, 07:54 AM.

  • monteparnas
    replied
    I'll give my own personal take, but does anyone feels like another question s needed? I actually added a couple more.

    Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
    1 - What happened to the Withering?
    I'd say it lasted about a year, maybe less. This is enough to leave a number of scars in Kindred society without collapsing it. Overall disciplines above level 5 seem to have been completely lost, although diablerie may temporarily give an elder access to them as per the Withering rules. Same for other higher traits. Disciplines up to five were recovered afterwards without much of a fuss, though.

    But the other effects didn't faded without lasting consequences. Some Kindred stayed with the Thin Blood Flaw permanently, regardless of generation, mainly those who tried to stave off the Withering through diablerie repeatedly. Half of all Blood Bonds and Vaulderie breaking each month ravaged Kindred society, each side taking the toll on its own way, and the Bond never recovered the same strength (it's weaker already in V5).

    Kindred society was ravaged by the sudden break of Bonds and eventual Diablerie scandals (I don't think they were that many, for several reasons, but they were a huge thing still), but even more by fear of the Withering. It may return, and indeed I think it may still exist as a plague that spread across cities sometimes and fades after unpredictable intervals.

    Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
    2 - How to rework properly the Week of Nightmares?
    Mostly I think it should be taken at face value with only two caveats. First that there was probably a large amount of locals involved, instead of white knights all over the place plus a bunch of Asian-but-still-foreign participants.

    Second that it should be definitely high profile, not something swept under the rug. The effort of the Technocracy and others into covering it up worked for a time, but not without costs and not forever. It went to the news still as the most catastrophic typhoon in human history and got a lot of constant attention from rescuers, scientists, politicians and religious zealots.

    By now its magical nature is known, although most details may still be missing for the general public.

    Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
    3 - What are the Antes and Methuselah doing now?
    Personally I don't like to boil this down to a standard answer for all, or even many, of them. I'd like instead to finally formalize a list of Antes and their current shenanigans.

    My idea is that each Ante is now the focus of a bunch of plots and at least one faction, outside eventual cults or wannabe hunters, but factions directly related to their exploits.

    For each of them I intend on writing a Revelation, how they became known, a Status & Agenda, how are they and what they're personally doing now, and a Forces, a write-up on people working under their command.

    Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
    4 - How screwed is Old-style Masquerade?
    For me, totally.

    The world knows.

    Now back to business.

    I don't think the Masquerade would hold just on society unwillingness to accept the truth. Also, exploring this Brave New World of a humanity on the know is half the fun of going forward with the metaplot at this point.

    But I don't think this changes too many things, either. Vampires still have many secrets to guard from humanity, and many will want to remain in the shadows whatever comes their way, so there is still a sense of secrecy, a New Masquerade.

    Something about getting as much as possible under the radar, presenting a fake face that can survive the call for destruction, and overall keeping the mortals out of your business.

    Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
    5 - What happened to the Sabbat factions?
    Other will work the details better than me, some have already done it, but in general I think the Sabbat fragments. This isn't always to say it shrinks, lose cohesion or even weakens, but it changes with factions old and new becoming more independent.

    Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
    6 - How the Family Reunion and Lasombra Defection played out?
    I don't know yet, although I think the Family Reunion mostly works out as intended. I also think they would send envoys to other sects and relevant groups to establish diplomatic relations. I don't see the necromancers being complete isolationists, never saw it making sense.

    The Lasombra would have better written terms of defection.

    Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
    7 - What are the many groups doing about the above?
    First, freaking out. The Withering and the Fall of the Masquerade are a lot to digest. Then adapting and deciding what to do about the new factions the Ancient brought with them.

    I think the Camarilla would come out to formalize its position at a higher level, while at a city level Princes would try to keep as much of their power and their way of life intact. First behind the scenes, then publicly, the Cam would send envoys to governments and international alliances to talk about vampiric law and partnership.

    Most of it would boil down to pretend openness while working most the same as always, only with a few tweaks in the concept of Masquerade and maybe making Justicars and Archons into more-or-less public offices known to mortals.

    Some Sabbat would double down on their depredations and stay at war with mortals, but many would find some sort of compromise to keep their lives. The default would probably be staying out of sight, although some of the Paths could actually try to find a niche to exist more or less openly. At the end of the day the sect itself would be seen as a loose coalition of cults, extremists and undead terrorists.

    Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
    8 - How or when does the Beckoning works, and when it doesn't?
    Actually I like the idea of the Beckoning being more a strange phenomenon than a conscious interference by the Ancients. Affected elders suffer from a compulsion they can't understand. It directs them to travel to a certain place and start a seemingly meaningless pattern of behaviors.

    Some are strange projects with a sense of finality, like building something. Other are just weird routines they take every night. Others are rituals that have no apparent purpose. And all that may very well not have a purpose. Nothing should guarantee this is anything more than a new derangement.

    Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
    9 - What happened to the Red Star?
    First talking about canon, since early in its plot the Red Star is intended to be a real object, 28978 Ixion. This thing seems literally to be a giant ice rock covered in red organic slime, which in the real world do not means life by itself and certainly doesn't in its particular case.

    So you can take the plots on mortal observations at face value: it was first seen by mortal astronomers as a comet, then it was confirmed to be just a particularly big chunk of ice in the Kuiper Belt. There is no explanation for Ixion being visible at naked eye for a period, and the end of the Masquerade may bring this up to mind.

    IRL there are talks about a space mission to Ixion launching sometime between 2035 and 2040, with arrival there taking between 10 and 25 years. I think this would be of much interest for vampires, that can still see the damn thing with Auspex, but may want a closer look. Someone is trying to develop an Auspex power that works through an unmanned spacecraft.

    Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
    10 - How did the Red Sign (Conspiracy and spell) affected the world?

    Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
    11 - What happened to Afifa's child?

    Leave a comment:


  • CTPhipps
    replied
    Originally posted by AnubisXy View Post
    Do we know for sure that A) Augustus is dead or that B) he wasn't diablarized by Lazarus or someone else in the Hecata?
    1. It said the "Death of Augustus" in the Reunion loresheet as you attending the ritual.

    2. It wouldn't work really since Augustus never devoured Cappadocias' soul so he's never been a "real" Antediluvian.

    Leave a comment:


  • AnubisXy
    replied
    Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
    6a. I feel like the Hecata is a big success for the Cappadocians. They're a Blood Cult, sect, and Clan all in one with Augustus Giovanni now destroyed. However, the end of theri Antediluvian may prove to be a loss in the long run since it just means that they are now vulnerable to the manipulations of the others of their kind.
    Do we know for sure that A) Augustus is dead or that B) he wasn't diablarized by Lazarus or someone else in the Hecata?

    Leave a comment:


  • CTPhipps
    replied
    Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
    I think this is already material for another thread, how we could have done the Gehenna War and, overall, the new metaplot, in a way better anchored in the style and lore of V20.

    Questions to answer, and I have my take on them:

    1 - What happened to the Withering?

    2 - How to rework properly the Week of Nightmares?

    3 - What are the Antes and Methuselah doing now?

    4 - How screwed is Old-style Masquerade?

    5 - What happened to the Sabbat factions?

    6 - How the Family Reunion and Lasombra Defection played out?

    7 - What are the many groups doing about the above?

    8 - How or when does the Beckoning works, and when it doesn't?
    1. I think the Withering is no longer canon in the universe and was only canon in Gehenna but it seems strange that they incorporated so much from those scenarios but they skiped over this. Especially when you could do what the Times of Troubles did in AD&D Second edition. Basically, the Withering could be used to explain away a lot of changes to Disciplines and rules in-universe.

    2. I think the Week of Nightmares just has to be accepted as something that was meant to be gonzo and reflective of the world of darkness being different from the real one. Even so, I do change the location of the events to a rural area rather than the middle of one of the largest cities on Earth. Possibly reducing millions of casaulties ot hundreds of thousands.

    3. In my games, the Antediluvians are summoning their childer to them and judging them worthy or unworthy then eating the unworthy. As we see with Augustus Giovanni being destroyed and Saulot/Kupala or whatever defeated in Vienna, there have been some serious changes to the Jyhad but it will carry on to the next millennia.

    4. I think there's a very interesting arguement that the Masquerade will be preserved not by the Kindred but the fact that people don't want to believe in vampires. Millions of people could be informed about their existence but push the idea of their existence to the back of their heads because they don't want to believe it. That's a bit Requiem, though.

    5. Well, I gave my thoughts on that.

    6a. I feel like the Hecata is a big success for the Cappadocians. They're a Blood Cult, sect, and Clan all in one with Augustus Giovanni now destroyed. However, the end of theri Antediluvian may prove to be a loss in the long run since it just means that they are now vulnerable to the manipulations of the others of their kind.

    6b. I think the Lasombra are going to find themselves adjusting to life in the Camarilla very well. I don't think the Ventrue will try to punish the Lasombra because they're too interested in promoting their own power and the Banu Haqim have no issues with the Clan. I do think they're in for a few rough decades rebuilding, though, but the best of the Lasombra will survive.

    7. I think the Camarilla will survive as an Invictus-level group but the Anarchs are going to get worse the more they organize and more Sabbat-like.

    8. The Beckoning is just when the Antediluvians call you and its inconsistency is just when their attention comes to you. They'll get to everyone...eventually.

    Leave a comment:


  • Taggie
    replied
    Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
    I think this is already material for another thread, how we could have done the Gehenna War and, overall, the new metaplot, in a way better anchored in the style and lore of V20.

    Questions to answer, and I have my take on them:

    1 - What happened to the Withering?

    2 - How to rework properly the Week of Nightmares?

    3 - What are the Antes and Methuselah doing now?

    4 - How screwed is Old-style Masquerade?

    5 - What happened to the Sabbat factions?

    6 - How the Family Reunion and Lasombra Defection played out?

    7 - What are the many groups doing about the above?

    8 - How or when does the Beckoning works, and when it doesn't?
    1) leave it as a mystery, it may return, it may not.

    2) The Ante rose, got pulled into the Umbra by the KJ and/or Beast Courts via... terrifying ritual something...then the beat down via everyone who can step sideways and bring serious juju commences, Spirit Nukes, Bodshivitas, Umbrood of all types, the. 'leakage' gives pretty much the entire world nightmares of the war going on in the Umbra, and the death throws of the Ante plunges the lot into a Nihil, with the backlash hitting the Clan.

    3) Antes: wanting none of what was just dished out, so sending out agents and playing Jyhad in a way they haven't done since at least the Long Night.

    4) Very, and also not really, it is know something is going on, but the Technocratic Union, Glass Walkers etc can keep a lid on it for now, and will do, for their own reasons.

    5) not sure how to rescue that one.

    6) family reunion, make it less 'oops we all have the same clan now lolz' and more a coup d'etat by returned Cappie Meths, Harbingers and abused underlings, make the Hecata a sect and move on.

    7) tbd

    8) mystery and fiat, like tbe withering.

    Leave a comment:


  • monteparnas
    replied
    I think this is already material for another thread, how we could have done the Gehenna War and, overall, the new metaplot, in a way better anchored in the style and lore of V20.

    Questions to answer, and I have my take on them:

    1 - What happened to the Withering?

    2 - How to rework properly the Week of Nightmares?

    3 - What are the Antes and Methuselah doing now?

    4 - How screwed is Old-style Masquerade?

    5 - What happened to the Sabbat factions?

    6 - How the Family Reunion and Lasombra Defection played out?

    7 - What are the many groups doing about the above?

    8 - How or when does the Beckoning works, and when it doesn't?

    Leave a comment:


  • adambeyoncelowe
    replied
    Originally posted by Bluecho View Post
    I little while ago, I considered writing a post about how I would have done the Gehanna War/Sabbat Civil War (but then just kind of didn't, because I'm lazy). My idea takes a few different points touched on by people on this current page of the thread.

    The idea is that the Sabbat Civil War happens, but it's an ongoing thing and by no means decisive. The point of presenting a metaplot change in a game is to make a "game state" that provides plenty of story opportunities. So having either a Civil War or Gehenna Crusade happen "off-screen" is just a mistake all around. It should all be happening RIGHT NOW, whenever "now" happens to be. A status quo based on persistent conflict. Somewhere between total war and cold war, because there's too many sides, too much ambiguity over alliances, and precious little information to go on.

    My idea says that the Sabbat fragments. It doesn't dissolve, that would be little better than what V5 presents now. It fragments. All the old factions within the Sword of Caine are still around, they've just turned into their own mini-Sabbat sects. All claiming to be the True Sabbat. The Black Hand, the Inquisition, the Loyalists, the Ultra-Conservatives, the Panders, etc. The tension between them that has built over centuries boils over, and now they're all at each other's throats.

    Sometimes. The way you make it stable anarchy is to make the conflicts wax and wane. After initial attempts to wipe out their rivals, the factions (or more likely the individual instances thereof in any given locale) have found that just destroying each other isn't as easy as they thought. Crusades declared against opposing Sabbat sects falter, lose momentum, and are pushed back. While in some corners of the world Sabbat packs need to become mobile (as V5 intended it), others dig in and try to rebuild power bases.

    None of this means the Sabbat, as a collective, aren't also fighting their traditional enemies. Indeed, it creates instances where those Sabbat sects who are formally at war can make and break alliances, in order to fight, say, the Camarilla.

    Large numbers of Sabbat, across faction lines, becomes embroiled in a "Gehenna Crusade". Not a single "let's go to the Middle East and fight a final war for all the marbles" deal, but a series of battles fought literally everywhere on the globe. (Yes, even Antarctica). Various groups of Sabbat, through means unknown and deliberately left mysterious, discover where the agents or assets of Antedeluvians are hiding. Often, they need to do a lot of investigative work to follow trails between hotspots, because the Antes aren't going to make this easy. Many times, the results are them fighting battles against ancient vampires that serve the Antes. (This would serve the double purpose of explaining the Beckoning, except with Elders being called to many different places or being made to fight and/or die where they are. They aren't just being called to the Middle East for undefined fighting, as if the Middle East is a Bermuda Triangle spatially separate from "The Real World" that the PCs exist in.). You can even have it happen in the heart of locations normally unused in the Jyhad, like in Wan Quei held Asia, or Ravnos controlled India, or deep in Drowned Legacies dominated South America. Or it can be right in the PCs's own backyard.

    Basically, use the Gehenna Crusade as an actual plot device to get PCs involved. And because it's an asynchronous conflict spanning the globe, it can be drawn out however long it needs to be for setting reasons. It's probably been happening for over ten years, with seemingly no sign of slowing down. Rather than a background element that comes and goes, with no involvement from the PCs.

    Another idea I had was to make the Vaulderie more unreliable. Vinculum bonds kept the Sabbat together in spite of its internal pressures for centuries. To allow it to fragment, you'd need to find a way to weaken it. The easy way is to just proliferate the canonical ritual that breaks Vinculum bonds. Whole swathes of Sabbat learn the ritual to selectively sever connections with factions they despise, so they may reaffirm bonds of their own choosing.

    I imagine groups like Clan Lasombra would have done it in an attempt to acquire more freedom of activity, only for many of their Clanmates to use the opportunity to abandon the Sabbat entirely and flee to the Camarilla. With those remaining loyal to, if not the Sabbat as a united sect then "Sabbat-ism", being outraged at such a betrayal. The Friends of Night has fractured, now Cohorts of Night engage in literal shadow wars against one another.

    The breaking of Vinculum bonds allows other groups to defect from "Sabbat-ism", as well, as constant infighting and ongoing Gehenna Crusades that offer no end in sight leave many disillusioned with the Sword(s) of Caine. In other cases, as the fighting intensifies in places, Sabbat groups churn through mass embraces at an alarming pace. Until whole packs are operating with little or no personal understanding of what the Sabbat is or why their wars matter. Because entire generations of "Full Sabbat" have been lost, and their knowledge wasn't passed down. Whole cells of Sabbat vampires are left in cities, unmoored from even the fragments of the sect they nominally owe allegiance to by writ of descent. They didn't even need to have bonds broken with Sabbat outside of their packs, because they had few to begin with by that point. So for these neonates, there's little tying them to "Sabbat-ism", allowing them to filter out into sects like the Anarchs or the Camarilla.

    There might be more "Sabbat" vampires than ever before, but they're all over the place.

    Again, none of this to say that the Sabbat has lost any of its complexity. The factions still exist, and many hold strong. They still, on occasion, even work together. But more than before, it's clenched-teeth cooperation. They all identify as Sabbat, but increasingly deny that classification to their rivals, except where it's convenient in the moment. Divided as they are, they're allowed to become more extreme and more different. Their differences start to become more pronounced. They start to become effectively different cultures. All with their own preoccupations, in addition to smacking the "False Sabbat" around.

    It's a scheme that increases the complexity and texture of the Sabbat, rather than flattening them. It preserves what made the Sabbat interesting, but also exaggerates it. It's the same Sabbat, only MORE.
    Couldn't the Withering have made Vinculi more unreliable in general? Every month, you roll, and on a 1 they may shatter entirely, perhaps?

    It sure would increase the paranoia if you never know who's going to be free of their ties to you, even as you're still tied to them.

    Leave a comment:


  • Bluecho
    replied
    Addendum to the above:
    If anything, under my scheme, there are MORE factions in the Sabbat.

    Since the Inquisition cannot just storm into a Sabbat domain and demand compliance - because the Inquisition is in some state of war with all other Sabbat - their ability to police Infernalism and other prescribed practices is diminished. Practitioners of Dark Thaumaturgy and adherents to the Path of Evil Revelations - long in hiding after the wide purges of the 90s - flourish anew. Vampires turn to such forbidden arts and crooked deals to gain power in a age of uncertainty and constant conflict.

    You can easily have the V1/V2 state of affairs, where roving bands of Satanist Sabbat cause mayhem for the hell of it. Under my scheme, 1st Edition lives again, without giving up everything invented later.

    How's THAT for bringing VtM back to its roots?

    Obviously, the Inquisition isn't going to stand for this. It's why they're at war with everyone. Because they (often correctly) see Infernalism everywhere, having corrupted other factions. They have to hunt these diabolists down. But they no longer have the recognized authority to force compliance. They have to engage both more militantly and more subtly, using both fire and diplomacy (such as is possible for the Sabbat) to accomplish their goals.


    Another new faction(s) are the multiple branches of the Black Hand. With the heavy infiltration by both the Web of Knives and the True Black Hand coming to light, the Sabbat Black Hand has to go to ground. Members disappearing, sometimes for years. Quietly attempting a purge of traitorous elements. Except, just as the Inquisition declared war on the Black Hand out of distrust, cells of Black Hand members start to distrust each other. Who is loyal to the ideals of the Black Hand, and who's a traitor?

    Knowing you can only possibly trust someone you've trained yourself, cells of Black Hand operatives start embracing and training new clutches of warriors, and indoctrinating them in their own ways. Developing whole new and distinct cultures, so as to cleanly identify pretenders or enemies. New secret codes and signs, new rituals, new shibboleths. A conscious attempt to make different branches of the Black Hand distinct and identifiable, so they cannot be infiltrated by rivals. Either within the Black Hand, the True Black Hand, the Web of Knives, the Antedeluvians, Infernalists, or other groups.
    Last edited by Bluecho; 11-22-2021, 05:41 AM.

    Leave a comment:


  • Bluecho
    replied
    I little while ago, I considered writing a post about how I would have done the Gehanna War/Sabbat Civil War (but then just kind of didn't, because I'm lazy). My idea takes a few different points touched on by people on this current page of the thread.

    The idea is that the Sabbat Civil War happens, but it's an ongoing thing and by no means decisive. The point of presenting a metaplot change in a game is to make a "game state" that provides plenty of story opportunities. So having either a Civil War or Gehenna Crusade happen "off-screen" is just a mistake all around. It should all be happening RIGHT NOW, whenever "now" happens to be. A status quo based on persistent conflict. Somewhere between total war and cold war, because there's too many sides, too much ambiguity over alliances, and precious little information to go on.

    My idea says that the Sabbat fragments. It doesn't dissolve, that would be little better than what V5 presents now. It fragments. All the old factions within the Sword of Caine are still around, they've just turned into their own mini-Sabbat sects. All claiming to be the True Sabbat. The Black Hand, the Inquisition, the Loyalists, the Ultra-Conservatives, the Panders, etc. The tension between them that has built over centuries boils over, and now they're all at each other's throats.

    Sometimes. The way you make it stable anarchy is to make the conflicts wax and wane. After initial attempts to wipe out their rivals, the factions (or more likely the individual instances thereof in any given locale) have found that just destroying each other isn't as easy as they thought. Crusades declared against opposing Sabbat sects falter, lose momentum, and are pushed back. While in some corners of the world Sabbat packs need to become mobile (as V5 intended it), others dig in and try to rebuild power bases.

    None of this means the Sabbat, as a collective, aren't also fighting their traditional enemies. Indeed, it creates instances where those Sabbat sects who are formally at war can make and break alliances, in order to fight, say, the Camarilla.

    Large numbers of Sabbat, across faction lines, becomes embroiled in a "Gehenna Crusade". Not a single "let's go to the Middle East and fight a final war for all the marbles" deal, but a series of battles fought literally everywhere on the globe. (Yes, even Antarctica). Various groups of Sabbat, through means unknown and deliberately left mysterious, discover where the agents or assets of Antedeluvians are hiding. Often, they need to do a lot of investigative work to follow trails between hotspots, because the Antes aren't going to make this easy. Many times, the results are them fighting battles against ancient vampires that serve the Antes. (This would serve the double purpose of explaining the Beckoning, except with Elders being called to many different places or being made to fight and/or die where they are. They aren't just being called to the Middle East for undefined fighting, as if the Middle East is a Bermuda Triangle spatially separate from "The Real World" that the PCs exist in.). You can even have it happen in the heart of locations normally unused in the Jyhad, like in Wan Quei held Asia, or Ravnos controlled India, or deep in Drowned Legacies dominated South America. Or it can be right in the PCs's own backyard.

    Basically, use the Gehenna Crusade as an actual plot device to get PCs involved. And because it's an asynchronous conflict spanning the globe, it can be drawn out however long it needs to be for setting reasons. It's probably been happening for over ten years, with seemingly no sign of slowing down. Rather than a background element that comes and goes, with no involvement from the PCs.

    Another idea I had was to make the Vaulderie more unreliable. Vinculum bonds kept the Sabbat together in spite of its internal pressures for centuries. To allow it to fragment, you'd need to find a way to weaken it. The easy way is to just proliferate the canonical ritual that breaks Vinculum bonds. Whole swathes of Sabbat learn the ritual to selectively sever connections with factions they despise, so they may reaffirm bonds of their own choosing.

    I imagine groups like Clan Lasombra would have done it in an attempt to acquire more freedom of activity, only for many of their Clanmates to use the opportunity to abandon the Sabbat entirely and flee to the Camarilla. With those remaining loyal to, if not the Sabbat as a united sect then "Sabbat-ism", being outraged at such a betrayal. The Friends of Night has fractured, now Cohorts of Night engage in literal shadow wars against one another.

    The breaking of Vinculum bonds allows other groups to defect from "Sabbat-ism", as well, as constant infighting and ongoing Gehenna Crusades that offer no end in sight leave many disillusioned with the Sword(s) of Caine. In other cases, as the fighting intensifies in places, Sabbat groups churn through mass embraces at an alarming pace. Until whole packs are operating with little or no personal understanding of what the Sabbat is or why their wars matter. Because entire generations of "Full Sabbat" have been lost, and their knowledge wasn't passed down. Whole cells of Sabbat vampires are left in cities, unmoored from even the fragments of the sect they nominally owe allegiance to by writ of descent. They didn't even need to have bonds broken with Sabbat outside of their packs, because they had few to begin with by that point. So for these neonates, there's little tying them to "Sabbat-ism", allowing them to filter out into sects like the Anarchs or the Camarilla.

    There might be more "Sabbat" vampires than ever before, but they're all over the place.

    Again, none of this to say that the Sabbat has lost any of its complexity. The factions still exist, and many hold strong. They still, on occasion, even work together. But more than before, it's clenched-teeth cooperation. They all identify as Sabbat, but increasingly deny that classification to their rivals, except where it's convenient in the moment. Divided as they are, they're allowed to become more extreme and more different. Their differences start to become more pronounced. They start to become effectively different cultures. All with their own preoccupations, in addition to smacking the "False Sabbat" around.

    It's a scheme that increases the complexity and texture of the Sabbat, rather than flattening them. It preserves what made the Sabbat interesting, but also exaggerates it. It's the same Sabbat, only MORE.

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  • monteparnas
    replied
    Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
    V20 Compliant Gehenna War Theory
    I like this idea, although I would still give the "last shot" of this particular war to the SI if they're a thing. It could start with intensified attacks on Sabbat targets by the Assamites, some empowered by excessively powerful rituals as Ur-Shulgi knows shit about subtlety or keeping from rising stakes.

    But I do think this should be the beginning of the actual Gehenna, whatever it means. The last time we had a sudden bloodshed of Kindred an ante arose in Bangladesh. Why not have the old plot of a Methuselah sleeping in a hidden alcove be played simultaneously all over the place?

    That can be done in several ways, and we can have a split in the remaining Sabbat based on preferred targets and chosen strategies, something that don't even need to be an actual schism, but instead different flavors of Sabbat at different fronts.

    One thing I always found lacking in V5 is that now would be the time to start writing down some antes more explicitly and their shenanigans, along with any faction under their respective wings.

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  • CTPhipps
    replied
    The Great Schism and the Gehenna War

    One thing I am thinking about is the possibility of going in reverse with V5. Specifically, that elements of V5 can be incorporated into V20 style plot beats in a way that is closer to the way that they were presented in BJD.

    An interesting take on the Gehenna War would be to make it not against a nebulous bunch of "Ancients" in the Middle East that they somehow trip over and wage a fifteen odd year war against (since it started before 2005). Instead, another way of doing it would be to have the Sabbat very specifically head to the Middle East to do battle with Ur-Shulgi and the Web of Knives. THAT would be an interesting way of following up on the plot of the Great Schism.

    On one side, you have the second largest sect of the Kindred with its own Special Forces in the Black Hand as well as many battle hardened veterans as well as powerful occultists. On the other, you have 1/3rd to 2/3rds of a clan that include the deadliest killers on the planet and virtually the entirety of the Warrior Caste plus a substantial chunk of the Sorcerer caste. People who are trained for years in Alamut and Embraced at the top of their ability.

    Now you could easily have this be "the" Gehenna War as the Sabbat defines it. Sure, there's Ashirra and old as shit vampires in Cairo and Jerusalem and other parts of the Middle East.' The Web of Knives is a bunch of Antediluvian worshiping trained killers that are determined to wipe out the worst of vampirekind (which the Sabbat certainly could qualify as) versus people who would consider Ur-Shulgi the embodiment of what they despise.

    It could easily last a decade and a half and explain why the Web of Knives, which should have been waging a war against the Camarilla this entire time, has been preoccupied. Personally, assuming Ur-Shulgi can't wave his hand and wipe them out, I give the victory to the Sabbat. However, I give the victory a Pyrrhic one. Possibly explaining why the Sabbat has been left in shambles (albeit not to the level in V5).
    Last edited by CTPhipps; 11-21-2021, 11:54 PM.

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  • Karos
    replied
    Originally posted by Banu_Saulot View Post


    Yeah, I agree with ya.
    I'm not exactly pro end of the Sabbat either, even if I really like the new "form" it has in V5. To me, the sect is shattered, like the Tremere, but it's parts aren't necessarily unmade. Of course, some implications and some direct affirmations express the end of the sect, but a Mortal Inquisition and Immortal Revolt created it, so I don't think a Mortal Inquisition and Immortal War will destroy it. Hell, they might scatter now, each city it's own Sabbat, the old groups of the Sabbat being only faintly related but independent; but they could come back stronger.
    I like the new form its taken in some regards, but not others. I think a more feral and fanatical Sabbat can certainly be interesting, I also understand why the creators have taken it that way, moving away from the more playable versions we've seen. That said, I do hope we see official playable Sabbat down the line. I'm very much hoping that this feral-face to the Sabbat is just the outside perspective and that on the inside a lot of the nuance and structure has remained intact if changed.

    I'd like to see something like
    1) Inner Council of Elders
    2) Sub-Sect Commanders (Black Hand/Inquisition)
    3) Sub-Sect Veterans (Black Hand/Inquisition) with their ideals, and culture still surviving just changed.
    4) A corps of surviving veterans that have generally gone to ground or stepped into arm-chair veteran roles.
    5) The masses of half-feral Sabbat we see presented in the V5 guide, that make up the public face of the Sect to its enemies.

    Like, those that aren't destroyed in the Beckoning Zones could come back quarter-dead (cuz they already are half-dead... sorry) but pumped full of old blood, "real" proof of the danger of the ancients, and riddled with zeal and passion to bring vamps into their ranks backs. It could even be kept pro status quo of the setting and give tidbits that maybe these returning Sabbats are either telling the truth (or are insane),
    I think that's hinted at in the Chicago Lasombra write-up, Little Lamb talks of a few Sabbat coming back gorged on vitae. But for each that came back a score were killed, their blood going to who knows what beneath the sands. Some sort of Sababt reformation spearheaded by the Crusaders could be interesting, but it would be weird to have the feral Sabbat return and then suddenly switch from savagery back to the dark church they once were.

    are servants of whatever was there, or simply lied and ate their fellow Sabbat and came back with wild stories of ancients threats. So that the Schrodinger's Lore (do the Antediluvians exist or not?) is kept intact.
    It definitely could be an interesting rumour or tidbit to include, if left murky and uncertain. If Sabbat are getting subverted by their ancient enemies, that needs to be only in a few cases, otherwise, the sect is just undermined yet further.

    So we could pass through all of this and get the Sabbat back.
    I think we'll struggle to go back to the Sabbat we once knew if this new presentation is true of the entire sect, if it's just the external perspective and we later learn the internal truth? Maybe we could get more of the traditional Sabbat back.

    And since Camarilla is all cloak and shadows now,the Anarchs and the many Cults would be the Sabbat's biggest enemies.
    I have to disagree somewhat, the Camarilla is openly starting to accept and promote ancestor worship. Methuselah cults, veneration of elders in Elysia, etc. It's all becoming very blatant, any Sabbat worth their salt is going to go 'We told you so!' the moment they see that. After all, they've been telling everyone since Thorns that the Camarilla is nothing but a pawn of the Antediluvians, now their behaviour confirms it!

    The Anarchs are in an interesting position. On the one hand, they're competing with the Sabbat more directly: for territory, for recruits, etc. But on the other, they're also managing to stand up to the Camarilla for the first time in centuries. I think the Sabbat will largely be divided some eager to massacre Anarchs others keen to convert them.

    As for all the new minor Cults, I could easily see the Sabbat Inquisition going to town against all the newly arisen heresies. Personally, I think that would be an awesome game. Your cult is attacked by these fanatics freshly returned from the Gehenna Fronts. At the same time, playing an Inquisition Pack that finds itself attacked by other faiths flips the script nicely.

    But know I'm going way into headcanon here. But yeah, the V5 Sabbat made me want to play and storytell Sabbat, even if many of the things I would like to see would have to be "brought back", dug up from editions, or reinvented. It would be weird seeing the "moderate" Sabbat have a new Civil War to "calm" this extremist and even more warheaded Sabbat.

    All I'm saying is... we could really do with a new setting book with options and some explanations, like a 2nd BJD.
    I think we're largely on the same page, I certainly wouldn't be opposed to a more thorough setting book, but I doubt we'll get one as it restricts the creative freedoms of everyone using the setting. Even if it would preferable to some in the community (like ourselves) to have a more definitive canon.

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  • Banu_Saulot
    replied
    Originally posted by Karos View Post


    On the one hand, I agree that we likely don't get to see the Civil Wars that have resulted in the new V5 Sabbat and that's a shame. However, I have to respectfully disagree that the dissolution of the sect would be an interesting story to play out, at least cannonically.

    Within the context of a home game, I absolutely agree that would be a fascinating story to explore and has lots of real-world parallels that you could draw upon. However, in terms of canon, I think that would do a great disservice to those players that are truly invested in the Sabbat because at that point the Sabbat is no more. The moment the in-built hypocrisies become known to the rank-and-file the sect shatters. In such an irrevocable way as to make any reformation effectively impossible. Any new sect would be exactly that, a new sect with allusions to what came before.

    After all, this would mean that:
    1) Sabbat leadership is utterly shattered, the office of the Regent is forever tainted. Anyone attempting to claim the office would be seen as a pretender to a tainted throne.
    2) The special forces, the true Zealots of the Sabbat, the Black Hand are forever attainted. Relegated to go the way of the True-Hand, meaning the sect loses all the intrigue and complexity that goes with that particular mystery-cult.
    3) There is no commonality binding the Sabbat, they utterly dissolve into squabbling warlords. Meaning that they're essentially nothing but edgier Anarchs.

    To me that seems a step too far, it'd be like having the Inner Circle of the Camarilla get-wiped out by the Second Inquisition. A potentially fascinating story for a chronicle, but not really suitable for official canon in my opinion.

    Yeah, I agree with ya.
    I'm not exactly pro end of the Sabbat either, even if I really like the new "form" it has in V5. To me, the sect is shattered, like the Tremere, but it's parts aren't necessarily unmade. Of course, some implications and some direct affirmations express the end of the sect, but a Mortal Inquisition and Immortal Revolt created it, so I don't think a Mortal Inquisition and Immortal War will destroy it. Hell, they might scatter now, each city it's own Sabbat, the old groups of the Sabbat being only faintly related but independent; but they could come back stronger.

    Like, those that aren't destroyed in the Beckoning Zones could come back quarter-dead (cuz they already are half-dead... sorry) but pumped full of old blood, "real" proof of the danger of the ancients, and riddled with zeal and passion to bring vamps into their ranks backs. It could even be kept pro status quo of the setting and give tidbits that maybe these returning Sabbats are either telling the truth (or are insane), are servants of whatever was there, or simply lied and ate their fellow Sabbat and came back with wild stories of ancients threats. So that the Schrodinger's Lore (do the Antediluvians exist or not?) is kept intact.

    So we could pass through all of this and get the Sabbat back. And since Camarilla is all cloak and shadows now, the Anarchs and the many Cults would be the Sabbat's biggest enemies. But know I'm going way into headcanon here. But yeah, the V5 Sabbat made me want to play and storytell Sabbat, even if many of the things I would like to see would have to be "brought back", dug up from editions, or reinvented. It would be weird seeing the "moderate" Sabbat have a new Civil War to "calm" this extremist and even more warheaded Sabbat.

    All I'm saying is... we could really do with a new setting book with options and some explanations, like a 2nd BJD.

    Leave a comment:


  • Karos
    replied
    Originally posted by Banu_Saulot View Post
    If I had to come up with a scenario or theory about the Sabbat's internal affairs I would say either after the events of BJD or simply before V5's events, there were some pretty serious political matters that we sadly didn't get to see. Just like Jocastians or Red Question sharing and distributing subversive material, someone might have blown the whistle. Regent is dead, Black Hand is infiltrated by a cult of Antes worshippers (or simply "enemies"), the Sabbat is rigged... et cetera. So not a single Civil War occurs, but a great dissolution and fragmentation all over thee globe.

    That would be pretty awesome to storytell about, it's every Hand for itself, and who is the true prophet and wielder of the Sword of Caine is anyone's guest. Each city faces it's own chaos and old politicking, each pack has to decide it's allegiance. It's either go to war with Sabbat, with Antes, with another Sect or time to desert.

    On the one hand, I agree that we likely don't get to see the Civil Wars that have resulted in the new V5 Sabbat and that's a shame. However, I have to respectfully disagree that the dissolution of the sect would be an interesting story to play out, at least cannonically.

    Within the context of a home game, I absolutely agree that would be a fascinating story to explore and has lots of real-world parallels that you could draw upon. However, in terms of canon, I think that would do a great disservice to those players that are truly invested in the Sabbat because at that point the Sabbat is no more. The moment the in-built hypocrisies become known to the rank-and-file the sect shatters. In such an irrevocable way as to make any reformation effectively impossible. Any new sect would be exactly that, a new sect with allusions to what came before.

    After all, this would mean that:
    1) Sabbat leadership is utterly shattered, the office of the Regent is forever tainted. Anyone attempting to claim the office would be seen as a pretender to a tainted throne.
    2) The special forces, the true Zealots of the Sabbat, the Black Hand are forever attainted. Relegated to go the way of the True-Hand, meaning the sect loses all the intrigue and complexity that goes with that particular mystery-cult.
    3) There is no commonality binding the Sabbat, they utterly dissolve into squabbling warlords. Meaning that they're essentially nothing but edgier Anarchs.

    To me that seems a step too far, it'd be like having the Inner Circle of the Camarilla get-wiped out by the Second Inquisition. A potentially fascinating story for a chronicle, but not really suitable for official canon in my opinion.

    Leave a comment:

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