The Sabbat values its bonds of loyalty and fraternity above all else. To this end, the Sect has established many rituals, which reinforce pack and Sect solidarity. The entire Sect observes the same auctoritas ritae, while the ignoblis ritae vary greatly in number, subject, and observation from pack to pack. Packs observe the auctoritas ritae at common times — at esbats (Sabbat gatherings), before sieges, or when bringing a new member into the pack, for example. The ignoblis ritae may occur at any time, usually when the Pack Priest believes them to be most appropriate. Some packs observe greeting or parting ritae, feeding ritae, ritae of diablerie, and any number of variations. Basically, any event of import, common or otherwise, might have an associated ignoblis ritus in a given pack. System: Ritae may be conducted by anyone, in theory, though their mechanical effects only occur when presided over by a vampire with the Rituals Background. You can’t just mix a bunch of vitae in a paper cup and have a Vaulderie.
The vampires of the Sabbat take their nightly struggle seriously — so seriously that they tolerate no dissent in their ranks. From the lowliest new recruit to the most exalted Cainite, the Sabbat ensure loyalty to one another through a bloody rite known as the Vaulderie.
The Vaulderie is similar to a blood bond, though it differs in intent and function. No Sabbat would ever voluntarily succumb to a blood bond, reasoning that such bonds are the tools the elders use to enslave their childer. Rather, the Sabbat swear the Vaulderie to each other, bonding themselves to the pack instead of an individual, and, thus, to the Sabbat’s greater cause.
Those who are ignorant of the Vaulderie’s finer details believe it to be a simple commingling of vampire vitae in a vessel and the subsequent drinking of it. In truth, the matter is far more mystical. To start the ritual, the priest takes a tool used specifically for the Vaulderie and nothing else and cuts her wrist. The ritual cutting tool could be a small knife, silver straight razor, or awl. To impart more gravity to the rite, many packs use elaborate ritual bloodletters decorated with engraved swirls, spirals, or blood droplets. The priest then bleeds into a vessel and passes the cutting device to each Sabbat member present, who pierces his own flesh and bleeds into the chalice. The vessel is then passed around the pack until everyone has poured their blood in, before the priest recites an incantation over it, consecrating it as a terrible sacrament before every member of the pack draws a draught.
Vaulderies take place at any time — before assaults, during important Sabbat gatherings, at the initiation or Creation Rites of new members, and almost infallibly at pack gatherings. This rite is perhaps the foundation of the Sect, and it is afforded the most reverent status.
The result of this rite is known as a Vinculum, or bloodtie. These ties connect each member of the pack to one another, engendering a mutual loyalty in addition to bolstering pack morale. Because of the mystical nature of the Vaulderie, however, Vinculi are imperfect — what one pack member feels toward another one night may pale in comparison to what he feels toward her the next. Vinculum ratings may change every time the rite is observed.
Without the Vaulderie, the Sabbat would probably collapse under its own weight and dogma — the chaos and anarchy that follows the Sect would erode what little organization it has without the loyalty and sympathy created by the rite. Those who refuse the Vaulderie or oppose it are not viewed favorably by other Sabbat. Vampires who refuse to partake of the Vaulderie at least monthly suffer ostracism from the pack at best — and may be destroyed outright at worst.
The first time a character observes the Vaulderie (or during creation of a Sabbat character), roll a die for each character whose vitae is part of the rite. That number reflects the Vinculum the character feels toward the individual whose blood she ingested; see the chart for effects generated by individual Vinculi. Every time a new member participates in the Vaulderie, each player should roll a die and record the score for her Vinculum rating toward that character.
Afterwards, each time the pack partakes of the Vaulderie, each player should roll one die for each of her Vinculi. If the result is higher than the Vinculum score, increase that Vinculum score by one (to a maximum of 10). If the result is a 1, lower the Vinculum score by one (to a minimum of 1).
It bears mention that, like the emotions engendered by blood bonds, these feelings are artificial, as they are created through ingestion of blood. It is quite possible for a character to utterly hate someone for whom she would risk her unlife, just as it is possible to have immense love for someone who has little in the way of Vinculum. Players are encouraged to explore the full range of these complexities in their packs through roleplaying.
At times, a character may be at odds with herself over how to react to a given situation because of Vinculi she possesses toward another vampire. In cases such as these, the player should decide which party her character would favor outside the Vinculum. The character then rolls a number of dice for each party equal to her Vinculum score for that individual against a difficulty of 5 (for the party favored regardless of Vinculum) or 7 (for all other parties). The individual who receives the greatest number of successes earns the character’s aid. Such is the nature of the Damned and the Vinculum — a character who knows better may sometimes be forced into an obviously bad course of action by following her emotions. Storytellers should consider Vinculum rolls for matters of dramatic significance, but too much reliance on Vinculum rolls may leave players upset at being railroaded by dice rolls.
The Vaulderie can also corrode existing blood bonds. Multiple draughts of the Vaulderie may be required, but sooner or later, the pack‘s blood will overcome all but the most potent of vampiric vitae. A vampire wishing to break a blood bond via Vaulderie must have no more than one blood point in his blood pool, and must ingest six points of Vaulderie vitae. At that point, the old blood bond fades rapidly, replaced almost as quickly by Vinculi toward those whose blood composed the Vaulderie. On the other hand, a vampire attempting to replace Vinculi with a new blood bond is in for a disappointment — unless her blood is powerfully potent, Vinculi may not be so easily erased. Unlike normal blood bonds, Vinculi do not fade over time — a Vinculum left after a Vaulderie with a vampire in nights hundreds of years past is still as potent as the night it arose. Indeed, many elder Sabbat have vast webs of Vinculi connecting them to Sect members across the world.
The Blood BathEdit
This ritus is performed whenever Sect leaders wish to recognize a Sabbat vampire’s claim to a title, such as Bishop or Cardinal. The Blood Bath formalizes the vampire’s new status in the Sect. As many Sabbat as possible who will serve under this new leader must attend the ceremony, for failing to do so without an adequate reason is a grave slight to the leader in question. Starting with the priest conducting the ritus, attendant Sect leaders and other Sabbat take turns coming forward, kneeling in front of and expressing their endorsement of or allegiance to the Cainite, and contributing a quantity of blood into a large vessel. The newly titled vampire gives praise and/or advice to each of the vampires present, emphasizing the benefits the Sabbat stands to gain through the sharing of her wisdom. She then bathes in the blood donated to the pool. Following the ceremony, all vampires present drink from the bathing vessel (the blood in which is sometimes consecrated as a Vaulderie), symbolizing that they willingly partake of everything the new leader has to offer.
System: Most Sabbat refuse to acknowledge a leader who has not been confirmed through a proper Blood Bath ceremony, if they have reason to suspect such
No formal Sabbat gathering would be complete without a Blood Feast. It serves both as sustenance and as a vehicle to express the Sabbat’s lust to exist as the ultimate predator. The Blood Feast is a ritual “meal,” in which captured vessels are suspended from the ceiling, bound to sculptures, or otherwise immobilized and fed from at the leisure of all vampires present. The feast itself is as much social gathering as it is a structured ritus, and many Sabbat make grand entrances, wearing the best of their finery.
In preparation for a Blood Feast, a specially created pack or hunting party will have collected humans or even a rogue vampire or two the night before the feast. Much shouting, cheering, and baring of fangs occurs as the hunting party makes a formal presentation of the night’s feast to the highest-ranking Sabbat present. The official receives each victim and thanks the giver by kissing her forehead. He then hands the victims over to assistants, chosen to prepare the victims for the feast. They bind the victims’ hands and feet together and hoist them up on chains to hang at head level, or they tie (or nail) the victims to objects that prevent movement.
The night after the preparation, ghouls or low-ranking Sabbat prepare the feast location by placing the vessels. After all the guests have arrived — it is considered grievously poor form to be fashionably late — the priest, Bishop, or Archbishop holding the service conducts the ritus, dedicating the vessels to the Sabbat. Cainites at the gathering then bite open the victims and feed on the fresh vitae, often licking the wounds closed so as not to waste. There is usually one victim for every three vampires present at the feast; the presiding priest, Bishop, or Archbishop gets first choice of the night’s treats, and he draws first blood.
Some Cainites of the Sabbat have been formally censured by higher-ranking Sabbat and even members of the Inquisition and Black Hand for relying too heavily on the Blood Feast. To be sure, mass-kidnappings and the blood-stained halls left behind can lead vampire hunters to the trail of careless vampires.
System: Each blood point a Blood Feast victim possesses mystically transforms into two as it leaves his body. By the third night after a Blood Feast, however, the blood once again condenses back down to its original amount (if it hasn‘t been used and remains in a vampire’s body).
To hear vampires outside the Sect talk, all Sabbat are created on the fly, with recruits being drained, fed, bashed over the head with a shovel, buried, and left to claw their way to the surface in a starving frenzy. This is not always the case. Most Sabbat use the “shovelhead method” only in times of war. This infamous method consists of collecting a number of victims, Embracing them with the tiniest quantity of blood possible, bashing them over the head with a shovel (to knock them unconscious before they frenzy), and burying them in a mass grave. The newly Embraced Cainites rouse quickly, and they must dig themselves out of the grave to sate their frenzy, often at the expense of the weaker vampires entombed with them. This method is simple, relatively quick, and quite effective at stripping victims of their Humanity. In any event, vampires created this way have not actually received their Creation Rites. In fact, the Sabbat does not even consider them vampires yet, and it has little reservation against throwing legions of these frenzied horrors against their foes.
The Creation Rites themselves are much more serious, marking the passage from nonentity into True Sabbat. After the Embrace, the new vampire is eligible for the Creation Rites only after he has demonstrated his worth to the Sect — perhaps the very night of his Embrace, perhaps years afterward. The ritus itself is quite simple — the priest merely touches a flaming brand to the initiate’s head and leads him in an oath of allegiance. The ceremony that precedes the Creation Rites, however, varies widely, and it is wholly in the hands of the Cainite’s sire. Some Panders and Brujah antitribu have ceremonies not unlike gang initiations, which involve pummeling the vampire in question until the sire decides he’s had enough. Tzimisce ceremonies are much more civil and formal affairs, often involving recitations of one’s lineage and praise of one’s sire. Some vampires require no ceremony at all, deciding that they have all the proof that they need from a given vampire’s performance, while still others require Byzantine trials or bizarre acts like bestiality, kidnapping, murder, self-mutilation, or other depravity.
The Rites serve several purposes, both practical and symbolic. The flames help reduce the new Sabbat’s fear of fire, while the ceremony teaches him what is expected of a Sabbat member like himself. Immediately following the Creation Rites comes a Vaulderie, which binds the Cainite to the pack — his new, immortal family.
System: Without the Creation Rites, a vampire is not truly a vampire in the eyes of Sabbat. Such an unfortunate may not participate in Sabbat ritae or functions until he has received the Creation Rites, and is often kicked about, abused, and ordered around at any of the “real” vampires’ whims.
To most vampires, fire is something to be feared and avoided, yet not to the Sabbat. While they still fear it, they are not above turning it loose on their enemies. To be fully Sabbat, one must face the Rötschreck and master it.
To enact this ritus, the priest lights a large bonfire in a place secure from mortal eyes. Through the rhythmic beating of a drum, chanting, or both, participating Cainites enter a trance-like frenzy, whirling around the flames, writhing before them and even prostrating themselves in front of the blaze. As the ceremony reaches its peak, the vampires rave and chant, and encourage each other to jump through the flames. They make fantastic leaps, some even turning aerial somersaults over and over again to the point of exhaustion.
The Fire Dance comes to a close when the last vampire present has jumped through the flames and collapsed from all the activity.
System: For a vampire to even approach the blazes, the player must succeed in a Courage roll (difficulty only 5, because of the trance-frenzy). For a vampire to successfully leap the flames, the player must make a Dexterity + Athletics roll (difficulty 6 to simply jump the flames, though Storytellers should feel free to increase the difficulty if the character tries to leap in a particularly dramatic or acrobatic way). After a Fire Dance, characters who leapt through the flames gain a temporary bonus point of Courage for the three nights following the ritus. This bonus point may even exceed the normal Virtue limit of 5.
Games of InstinctEdit
The vampires of the Sabbat engage in numerous sanctioned “games,” adjudicated by their Pack Priests to maintain their predatory edge. These games take various forms, and different packs practice different styles — everything from parodies of children’s games or sports to completely unique vampiric tests of skill
can be made into a Game of Instinct. The only commonality between the games is that the priest presides over them, consecrating them as righteous exercises. Here are some common examples:
- Cowboys and Indians/Cops and Robbers: The object of Cowboys and Indians is to capture or incapacitate (but not kill) as many members of the other side as possible. Because of vampires’ innate resistance to damage, this is easier said than done, and bullets aplenty fly during these games. The team that knocks the other out of commission is the winner.
- Demolition Derby: Starting at opposite ends of a street or parking lot, pack members set their cars on fire and charge another team’s car. After much bashing and crashing, one team inevitably has to flee their car or burn to death; the first team to exit its vehicle loses.
- Dogtagging: The object of the game is to capture a werewolf, tag its ear (with tags similar to kind used by cattle ranchers), and turn it loose.
- Rat Race: A human is sealed in a labyrinth of some sort, such as an abandoned factory or part of a sewer system. The human is given weapons that can hurt vampires, such as handguns, knives, blow-torches, or chainsaws. The participating vampires, starting in different locations in the maze, hunt the human, while the human tries desperately to escape the vampires. Whichever vampire captures and drains the human first, wins. An alternative to the Rat Race — the Bat Race — involves vampires only.
- Rousing the Beast: The participant has to dig up the victim of a failed mass-Embrace. Once the crazed creature breaks the surface and frenzies, it is up to the game participant to immobilize her and destroy her.
System: Storytellers and players are encouraged to develop their own Games of Instinct; basically, any mayhem works for this ritus as long as the Pack Priest recognizes it and bestows her blessing upon it. Once completed, for the duration of one story, the winner(s) of a given Game of Instinct receive one bonus die to the dice pool of the Ability they used the most during the game. A player may not have more than one Skill augmented in this way for any given story.
It is inevitable that, among vampires as headstrong and violent as those of the Sabbat, differences of opinion occur. While the vast majority of these conflicts are handled with all the civility and reason a Sabbat can muster, some grievances are so deep as to warrant a more serious solution. When two (or more) Sabbat are unable to come to a resolution, the ritus of Monomacy serves to settle the issue.
Monomacy is usually practiced by only ranking members of packs. Many young Sabbat are too violent and hotheaded to recognize the gravity of ritual combat to the death, and would resort to it every time a packmate took blood from a vessel they decided they liked. As such, this ritus is conducted by the Pack Priest (or a higher ranking Sabbat, if the challenge is cross-pack), to whom a challenge is issued simultaneously with the challenge to the rival. The priest then decides whether or not the grudge is worth Monomacy, and whether or not she chooses to preside over the ritual. Should the priest deem the cause worthy, the challenged vampire may decline. In theory, there is nothing wrong with declining a challenge, but unless the challenger is of such little consequence as to be below the challengee’s notice, declining usually involves a great loss of face (and perhaps an unsanctioned duel afterward).
The actual practice of Monomacy varies widely — no formal code exists as to the choice of weapons, locations, or even terms of victory. Most often, Monomacy duels are fought to Final Death in some ridiculously dangerous or highly inaccessible place like an iron foundry or atop a skyscraper. Whether or not the vampires may use weapons, Disciplines, or other assets is typically the decision of the challenged. On the priest’s invocation, the combat begins, and the last vampire standing is declared the winner, usually followed by other ritae and celebration.
System: The details of Monomacy are best left to the story — troupes should be encouraged to add all the pomp and circumstance they wish to the ritus, though the exact details differ from pack to pack. The challenger decides upon the time and location of the duel. The challenged decides whether or not weapons will be used and what they will be, as well as any other details (until first blood instead of Final Death, no Disciplines, participants must wear blindfolds, participants must ride the wave of frenzy during the duel, etc.).
The priest administering the ritus is an adjudicating official — the duel begins and ends on her word, and it may be aborted at any time. It is even within the priest’s power to declare a Monomacy null and void after the fact, but the priest who does this to favor her own candidate is looked upon with extreme displeasure thereafter by other Sabbat.
Sermons of CaineEdit
Some members of the Sabbat value their knowledge of the Book of Nod. Others don’t know or care about the book, and they see their role in the Sabbat as one of endless war and violence. Those members who take the story of their origins very seriously often gather to hear sermons on their history to remind them who and what they are. This reminder serves to strengthen their loyalty to the Sect and their ideology. Pack members take turns reciting from the Book of Nod, while the others sit in a semicircle holding lit candles and meditating on the passages. The sermons are sometimes followed by the Vaulderie, and, among more intellectual packs, intense deliberation. Pack members often discuss the passages read during the ritus almost until dawn.
Vampire history, particularly as far back as Cainite legendry is largely an oral tradition — very few copies of the Book of Nod actually exist. Few, if any, Sabbat packs can agree unanimously on the exact phraseology of a given passage from the book. The Sect is divided on this matter — some Sabbat believe that as long as the spirit of the Book of Nod is preserved, the letter is irrelevant, while others maintain that for all Sabbat to have the same reference, a standard book needs to be decided upon. This schism, of course, results in a wide variety of individual positions on the matter, from violent support on both ends of the spectrum to a profound ambivalence for anything outside one’s pack‘s take on the matter.
System: While this ritus does not require a system for a mechanical effect, some Storytellers may wish to award experience points toward the Expert Knowledge: Noddist Lore or a specialization in Occult for participation in this ritus. Otherwise, this convention is simply an opportunity for Storytelling, roleplaying, and revealing bits of the great Cainite mystery
The War PartyEdit
The Sabbat thrives on diablerie and the destruction of elders, and this dangerous ritus serves to facilitate both of those urges.
War parties consist of multiple packs that vie for the blood of a non-Sabbat elder. Packs participating in the War Party compete against one another for the privilege of killing and diablerizing the elder, but rarely do the packs come into deadly conflict with each other, reserving their violence for their target.
In preparation for a War Party, the participating packs gather and celebrate. They may also perform the Fire Dance, listen to Sermons of Caine, and participate in a Blood Feast or Vaulderie. The chief of the War Party, usually the most accomplished or highest-ranking priest among the packs, offers the assembled packs the challenge. She stands before the individual packs, each lined up behind their leaders, and asks each of the packs’ leaders in turn, “Do you come freely to war, and do you take up this noble cause, never resting until the blood of our enemy is spilled?” The leaders respond with a forceful “We do!” Only after the packs have committed to the hunt does he reveal the identity of their target. A pack suffers great humiliation if it backs out of a challenge after its members have committed themselves to this most dangerous game. For the remainder of the night, the vampires hold a revel, preparing themselves for the hunt the next evening holds in store.
The War Party sets out after its prey on the night following the challenge — the hunt has begun. Sabbat vampires on the warpath stop at nothing to take down their prey. They kill, burn, smash, and overturn anyone or anything that stands between them and their target. The winning pack is the one whose member consumes the elder’s blood first. The target, unliving or dead, or some recognizable portion of the target, must be brought back to the place where the packs accepted the challenge. The Chief of the War Party accepts this trophy and bestows her blessing over the winning pack. Once the chief recognizes the winner, all bets are settled and another celebration is held.
System: The vampire partaking of the diablerie gains the benefits of committing the Amaranth. Vampires who belong to the winning pack gain a temporary point of Sabbat Status. This point disappears at the end of the next War Party (unless the same pack wins again), or at the end of the next grandiose Sabbat affair. At the Storyteller’s option, this Sabbat Status point may be made permanent if the hunted elder was of exceptional power or reputation.
The Wild HuntEdit
One of the greatest crimes a Sabbat can commit is to turn traitor, and the Sect protects its secrets. If a member reveals a Sect secret to the enemy, she is punished severely. If a Sabbat leaks information of a vital nature, a priest may call for a Wild Hunt. The Wild Hunt is much like the blood hunt, but ends with the eradication of the offending Sabbat Sect member, as well as anyone — Kindred or kine — who may have knowledge of the betrayal. The gravity of the Wild Hunt depends upon the traitor in question — the packs are expected to police their own ranks, while high-profile turncoats receive the attention of Archbishops, Prisci, Cardinals, and all those who serve them.
The priest assembles the local Sabbat and formally calls them to the hunt, which is sometimes similar to the preface of a War Party. Once caught, the offending Sabbat is staked and immobilized. The pack takes her before the Ductus and Pack Priest (or Bishop, etc.), who recite her crimes to her packmates. The pack then torments the offender in whatever manner it deems appropriate — hot irons, Vicissitude, and mutilation are the least-creative forms of vengeance a righteous pack can inflict on a traitor. Finally, the pack destroys the traitor by throwing her (still staked) on a consecrated burning pyre.
After the traitor meets her end, the Sabbat pursues those who either learned of the secret or were involved. Sabbat justice is relentless — the Sect stops at nothing to ensure their security. Naturally, the Sabbat cannot know about every little (or even many of the big) secrets that slip through the cracks. Frustration over this fact often makes things doubly bad for those they do catch.
System: Sabbat who are subject to the Wild Hunt are no longer Sabbat, and thus, no longer considered by the Sect to be vampires at all. No amount of groveling can convince the Sect to take back a traitor, though this harsh reality comes more out of security than bullheadedness.
The Sabbat grows nightly in strength, due to its unity of mind and ambition. All members of the Sabbat from the lowliest surviving recruit to the regent herself, participate in the Binding. Group participation and familiarity with the ritual helps unify sect members in a similar fashion as the Vaulderie. In essence, the Binding is a formal oath of allegiance to the sect, whereby the vampires swear fealty to the Sabbat. The event serves as a sober reminder of why the Sabbat exists as they do
The ceremony opens with a recitation of the packs interpretation of the Sabbat's creedo. (Although no formal written code exists, most Sabbat have enough presence of mind to compose a summation of the sect's doctrine. These may be anything from long, prosaic accounts to fervent one-sentance rallies of vengeance)
The event occurs on Winter Soltice night. In larger Sabbat held cities, nomad packs in the region attend with the local founded packs. If possible, this important ritus is overseen by a member of higher status than pack priest, like a Bishop or Archbishop. Ideally the rite takes place at a beach, riverbank or by a waterfall. If such is impossible, a fountain will suffice. Especially desperate packs may use a simple square of white cloth. The water (or cloth) present represents the implacable nature of the sect - water always finds a way to flow around an obstruction, just as the Sabbat will one night find a way to surmount its terrible progenitors.
The ritus often ends with an observation of the Vaulderie and the swearing of an oath to protect the Sabbat's secrets unto Final Death.
System: For the month following the Binding, all Viniculum scores for vampires present at the ritus are increased by one. For this reason, many overt Sabbat war efforts take place in the winter to better capitalize on the righteous wrath engendered by this Ritus
Festivo Dello EstintoEdit
The "Festival of the Dead" occurs during the entire second week of March. All Sabbat in a city take part, and nomadic packs make their way to the nearest Sabbat-held city to celebrate. The purpose is to revel in being a vampire, celebrating immortality by laughing in the face of death and decay. The celebration culminates in a Blood Feast of epic proportions, and nightly Vaulderies take place among (and sometimes between) the collected packs of the Sabbat. The revels are tailored to each individual pack, and the even has many differences in celebration as it has comonalities. Some packs participate in ritual scarification. Some may waltz in slow circles around a bonfire, using disinterred corpses or bodies borrowed from the local morgue for dance partners. Others will re-enact passages from the Book of Nod. Against the backdrop of all this revelry, the Bishops and Archbishops watch with interest, encouraging their malignant "children" to indulge in what it truly means to be a vampire while participating in their own bacchanalian excesses. One popular event uses up to six Sabbat "contestants", each with a live human victim. The vampires use whatever means they can come up with to dismember and kill the victim, causing the most suffering and wasting the least amount of blood to spillage. The results are voted on by a panel of judges. The winner recieves the honor of drawing first blood in the nightly blood feast.
Sabbat spend the entire week socializing and gorging on vitae. The packs hunt at will giving little thought to hiding from the eyes of mortals. Often mortals are singled out and used for games of fox and hound. Anything relevant to vampiric nature goes on at this celebration of immortality, and packs often mingle to trade war stories and concoct secret plans of their own.
System: The festivities of Festivo dello Estinto open once the highest-ranking priest in town declares it underway. For this week very little is taboo, and as much happens behind closed doors as does amid the festival's events propper. Generally this is a time of undead celebration - rivalries are put aside, Monomacies are forgotten as the Sabbat unite in a show of solidarity to bring Hell to Earth
Of the 13 auctoritas ritae the Palla Grande is the highlight of any Sabbat coven's ritual year.
The "Grand Ball" takes place on All Hallow's Eve, and all Sabbat in the city are expected to attend. Nomadic packs, not wanting to miss the festivities, travel to the closest Sabbat city to attend. The highest-ranking Sabbat in the city preside over the affair, and the city's most renowned Priest opens the celebration. It is held in a public place such as a civic auditorium or a public park, as long as most of the revels take place in full view of as many humans as possible. In fact, most Sabbat arrange their Grand Balls like raves or public festivals, sometimes even charging mortals admission for the secretly malignant priviledge of attendance. The vampires often go the whole nine yards when creating this party atmosphere, hiring bartenders and providing liquor and other refreshments for guests.
As the Palla Grande is a major social event, the Ventrue and Toreador Antitribu, Lasombra and Tzimisce usually find themselves with the responsibility of planning the affair. In true high-society fashion, many vampires also compete with each other for the most elaborate costumes. Often the most spectacular and unusual displays are by one or two Elder Tzimisce skilled in the art of Fleshcraft, but it is not unheard of for a Toreador antitribu to exchange favors with a tallented Tzimisce "artist" to create a finely fleshcrafted face or costume for the party. Indeed the regent herself is rumoured to have once had 50 mortals fleshcrafted to resemble her at a Grand Ball in the interest of "being everywhere and talking to everyone - and leaving an indellible impression"
Hidden away from the public debaunchery, the Sabbat also consecrates a Blood Feast at the Palla Grande. The "kine kegger", as the younger Sabbat call it, capitalizes on the public location of the masquerade ball. Victims of the feast are often vampire wannabes, drunken revelers, and "witches" out for a good time on Halloween night. These victims are often lured to the feast under the pretense of being invited to attend and exclusive social affair. They have no idea just how fleeting the honor is to be. Other possible sources of vitae for the blood feast include retainers or ghouls selected from the Sabbat covens' own members who may be of no further use to the sect (or are too dangerous to allow to live).
The main event, which kicks off the event at midnight, is the re-enactment of an event from vampire legend or history. This stage play could be anything from the slaying of Abel by Caine as told in Biblical terms to the dramatic interpretation of signs and portents of Gehenna. It is completely organized, acted and choreographed by a group of vampires, though "audience participation" in events depicting sacrifice or feeding does occur, with the "guest actors" being whisked away or quietly disposed of after their debut.
After the final act of the historical play, all Sabbat present retire to the Blood Feast for a special version of the Blood Bath. This night the Archbishop bathes in the vitae, as a symbol of the sects power and vitality. The ritual begins with the blood from the victims suspended overhead flowing freely into a large ornate receptacle where the archbishop reclines. Each vampire in the coven adds some of his own vitae to the bath, first bleeding into a ceremonial Vaulderie vessel, then tipping it into the bath. The archbishop performs various rituals and incantations while this process proceeds - details vary from city to city. It is rumoured that the Palla Grand Blood Bath imbues the archbishop with certain powers until the next sunrise, such as the ability to see into the realms of the dead.
At the conclusion of the Blood Bath, all Sabbat at the Palla Grande begin a frenetic dance of undeath, dancing to near-deafening music and drinking insatiably from the Archbishop's bath, from the hanging vessels, and from each other. Many of the participants fall into frenzy, driven on by the violence of the dance and the scent, sight and feel of blood coagulating on the floor, caked on walls, and splashing from the carpets as dawn draws near.
Once the nights revels conclude, Sabbat ghouls take care of the clean-up. Any potential loose ends are swiftly dealt with over the next couple of nights through death, the Discipline of Dominate, or the Embrace, depending on the extent of the problem and potential use of the individuals involved.
System: In addition to the benefits gained from the Blood Feast and Blood Bath, Sabbat vampires who attend the Palla Grande completely replenish their Willpower
Unlike the auctoritas ritae, the “low” or “common” rituals vary widely from pack to pack. Several of these ritae show up in some form or another in every Sabbat pack, but many of them are unique to regions or even individual packs. Storytellers and players are encouraged to adapt or create their own ritae, to give a sense of camaraderie and significance to the pack.
This ritus welcomes a new member to a particular pack, to recognize the ascension of a recruit, or any time a change in power or membership occurs (such as a new Ductus or Pack Priest). Each member of the pack must recognize the new position of their fellow Sabbat in a personal manner, be it by sharing blood, the giving of a gift, or whatever. The Sabbat being accepted must make an oath of allegiance to each member of the pack, and to the Sabbat cause in general. The Acceptance Ritus differs from the Creation Rites because it is more social than supernatural. A Sabbat may have received his Creation Rites, but may be snubbed by a pack that refuses to extend him the ritus of acceptance.
Even Sabbat commit sins and indiscretions, for which they sometimes need to atone. The Contrition Ritus allows for this, much in the same manner a Catholic confession works. This ritus is perhaps the most important of the ignoblis ritae, as many Inquisitors, Black Hand operatives, Pack Priests, and Ducti offer a choice of contrition or death to Sabbat who have committed wrongs upon the Sect. All sensible Sabbat take these ritae as seriously as they would any other, for only by the grace of their betters can they continue to exist. Of course, many disingenuous Sabbat may make an insincere act of contrition, but they might not be extended the option next time.
In the interests of maintaining silence, some packs take extra precautions and invoke favorable omens. In the Stealth Ritus, all participating vampires bite out each other’s tongues and spit them into a fire. Though this causes no health levels of damage, the immediate bleeding and healing consumes one blood point. The Pack Priest or Ductus usually bows out so he can issue orders, but some packs have developed complex hand signal systems so they may communicate silently while on stealth-intensive activities.
The Sun Dance tests Cainites’ endurance and bravery. During the ritus, vampires writhe and gyrate in a hypnotic dance around a symbolic inscription of a fiery sun from sunset to sunrise without pause, until they collapse in exhausted heaps, covered in blood sweat. The ritus always takes place during a full moon, and pack members usually dress for the occasion, wearing frightening masks or red body paint. Pack members prove their courage by seeing who among them, after an exhausting night’s dancing, can remain in the open the longest. A Blood Feast sometimes follows the Sun Dance (especially when it is performed at heavily attended Sect functions), as the vampires must replenish their spent energy constantly for the duration of the ritual.
This ritus is largely a social convention. Priests invoke it whenever two Sabbat packs meet to spend time together, such as when pilgrim packs stay within a city for a time, or packs unite toward a common short-term goal. The Welcoming Ritus reinforces the Sabbat ideology that respects individuality, while requiring unity to achieve the sect's purpose. Most packs carry this ritus out quite informally, with the pack leaders sharing blood while their packmates bear witness, but there are two incidents of protocol which typically must be met. At the opening of the ritus, all pack members greet each other individually, stating their names and home (if any). This provides the members with a sense of location - where they come from and to where they may travel. At the height of the celebration, a gift is exchanged from pack to pack. It could be a weapon or a treaty, or the head of an enemy. The gift is presented from a pack's True Sabbat to the other pack's ductus under the priests' supervision. Ducti and priests often use this ritus as an opportunity to discuss Sabbat plans.
Ritus of ThanksgivingEdit
This ritus is actually less a thanksgiving than a session to boast of one's exploits. The thanksgiving usually comes under the auspices of "I thank Caine for his favor when I..." stories, which usually exaggerate or agrandize the speaker's prowess. The ritus of Thanksgiving generally precedes esbats or other gatherings of the Sword of Caine.
Before the Acceptance Ritus occurs, a vampire already Embraced but not yet Sabbat must go through the Allegiance Ritus. This ritus is especially important for Camarilla defectors. The Allegiance Ritus is long and involved, and it may go on for years before the recruit is permitted the Acceptance Ritus and welcomed as a full member of the sect. Part of the process involves the implanting of a secret mark on the body of the defector (a tattoo, scar, brand, etc) through the use of vicissitude so it will be permanent. Before recieving this ritus, the initiate must sit or stand to the rear of his packmates during auctoritas ritae. He must drink last at the Vaulderie, and may not contribute himself. He may not read or discuss passages from the Book of Nod aloud. The time involved in confirming the initiate's commitment to the Sabbat makes it all the more difficult for him to leave the Sect
In times of war, a Sabbat pack tries to increase its strength in any way possible, often by creating the sense of kinship found only in combat. The Martial Ritus serves to whip the Sabbat into a fervor that heralds destruction for its enemies. The ritus begins with chanting a mantra such as "strength", "fire", or "muscle and hate". The beating of drums, usually led by the priest, acompanies the chanting. Packs sometimes decorate each other's faces and bodies with blood, paint or henna.
Spilling of BloodEdit
When two or more Sabbat feed together, they sometimes recognize the sharing of their blood meal, saying together "Hot blood that spurted from Abel at his time of death, sustain us for the will of the Sabbat"
Tests of PainEdit
Sabbat priests use these grueling ritae to test how strong of spirit their packmates are. Different packs use the ritae in different ways, some for those claiming leadership, others as punishment. One such test is the Indian Stick trial: The pack suspends the subject from a timber forced through his chest at dusk, and he remains immobilized until they release him just before sunrise (Truly brutal subjects tear their bodies from the pinion before sunrise, and may subject themselves to other tests). The Trial by Fire involves the ritual singeing of various body parts by the pack priest. The Gauntlet sees Sabbat Cainites line up in two rows while individual vampires run between them, suffering punches, kicks and stabs from the vampires in line. Priest characters and Storytellers are encouraged to create their own Tests of Pain for use in their packs.
The Asp's BlessingEdit
In some accounts, the Sabbat likens itself to a serpent, and many packs practice ritae that involves snake handling. This ritus, however, fits with the more traditional and occult ritual of the sect. The priest raises a (usually poisonous) snake before the pack, asks for Caine's watchfull eye to preside over the assembled vampires, kisses the snake and holds it before every member of the pack, who must kiss it themselves. If the snake bites an unfortunate vampire, it is believed that Caine holds disfavor for that vampire, and that he has caused the snake to bite her for some past or secret transgression. Some Sabbat even bring humans into this ritus, in hopes that the snake will bite them and symbolize Caine's disdain for mortals, the Children of Seth.
This ritus ensures the honesty of a statement to be revealed (much like the swearing in of a witness at court - it doesn't truly "compel" truth in a mechanical manner). If a priest doubts an individual's statement's veracity, the victim writes her statement upon a piece of paper given her by her acuser, in her own blood. The priest then burns the paper, sometimes in a censor. If the smoke burns black, the statement is a lie. If white, it is the truth. In truth, the power of the pack's belief in their packmate and his statement determines the outcome of the revelation, and this ritus is seldom employed for truly grave matters
Special Sect PracticesEdit
Many lesser rituals other than the ritae unite the Sabbat. These practices resemble the trappings of secret societies, and they are usefull in identifying another individual as a sect member. Even though younger Sabbat consider these practices antiquated and out of place in modern society, they still find them usefull when they meet strange vampires. The greatest problem among these formalities lies among their colloquialism - members of the Tombstonz are unlikely to share the same secret manerisms as the Koenigen den Ungeheuer. For this reason many Sabbat contest their use, and more than one Sabbat has met a gruesom (and undeserved) end when unable to provide the accepted regional or pack-specific variation required of him.
Sabbat Oath of LoyaltyEdit
Sabbat vampires swear a special creed at sect meetings to profess support of the Sect. The oath includes identifying the individual, naming his place in the sect and pledging allegiance to the Sabbat
Symbol of the SabbatEdit
The Sabbat has a special symbol any member may wear to identify him as such. It may be in the form of a body piercing, watch, ring, pin, tattoo or a design on a piece of clothing. The symbol is often worn at times of Jyhad to allow other Sabbat to recognize fellow sect members. Unlike other pack secrets, this symbol is universal; an inverted Ankh bearing stylized adornments
Test of VerificationEdit
To ensure one is in the presence of another Sabbat, the sect has established a series of questions for identification purposes. The questioning occurs where no outside ears may overhear, and it allows both Sabbat to know it is safe to discuss sect matters. The test is always given to strangers who say they are Sabbat, and sect business is never discussed until after the individuals have passed the Test of Verification
Localized Signs and TagsEdit
Many young packs (and a few old ones) have adopted the insignia habits of mortal street gangs. These packs have unique hand signals and graffiti symbols used to identify their territory and members. For example the Young Gods may mark their turf with purple crosses, while the Wulfpak identifies each other by throwing a hand sign that resembles a "W".
In theory, the Sabbat's "color" is purple - members who wish to be identified may merely wear a garment of purple hue (usually hidden, as its not always healthy to advertise). In practice, this doesn't happen too much. Many sect elders consider the brazen display vulgar or childish, while some young sect members believe it to relegate the sect to gang status, which demeans the holy war they fight each night. The most strict adherents to the purple-garment practice are often young Sabbat who actually enjoy the identification with gang culture or self-indulgent. Victorian Sabbat, who carry on as if they're getting away with some subtle but grandiose ruse
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