"Fuck damnation, man! Fuck redemption! We are God's unwanted children? So be it!"
-- Tyler Durden, Fight Club
The Anarch Revolt happened alongside the
Inquisition; it was quite literally a hell of a time to be a Cainite. Elder vampires used their childer as cannon fodder
and shields against the hungry fires of the witch hunters, and not all
childer were very happy about it. Some younger vampires
found a way to overcome the blood bond and they rose up against their sires with murderous glee, looking to avenge years of mistreatment and frustration with a tide of diablerie. The elders eventually started to form the Camarilla as a different kind of shield and with their new organization they won the first round of the fight, officially ending the Anarch Revolt. Some anarchs refused to be brought back into the same smothering fold, however - they had tasted freedom and the delight of murder and there was no going back. Those
anarchs grouped together to become the monstrous sect known as the
The Sabbat teaches that it is a vampire's place to be a monster; to pretend to be otherwise is futile at best. Cainites were given the Beast for a reason, as an expression of their nature and their place at the top of the food chain. And make no mistake, mortals are food to the Sabbat and they could care less of their food is treated humanely - even the mortals they keep around as ghouls are abused abominably. Sabbat vampires see themselves as children of death, hatred, and violence, and in order to fulfill their purpose they need to be. See, they believe that the Antediluvians are real and are using the Camarilla to keep younger vampires weak. When the apocalypse of Gehenna comes at last, the Antediluvians will rise from their hiding places and take out their thirst on all vampires they come across - unless they are stopped. This is what the Sabbat plans to do and they certainly aren't strangers to fighting against great odds; the Sabbat has been outnumbered since its inception but it has made great strides anyway. Once it has done away with the Camarilla, the Sabbat will be able to move against the Antediluvians and secure freedom from the Jyhad.
It's no wonder that the Camarilla ignores the signs of Gehenna and claims the Antediluvians are nothing more than boogeymen. It's just like their precious Masquerade: the vampires are able to manipulate mortals even more when they keep the mortals in the dark. As far as the Sabbat are concerned, the Camarilla keeps its members in the dark to keep them docile and deluded, like cows for the slaughter. The Sabbat know better, supposedly, and they are free in all of the ways that the Camarilla Kindred are not - or are they? The Sabbat places great emphasis on freedom, especially freedom from the rule of elders. Still,
it's impossible to ignore the fact that the sect is largely controlled by elders who are loathe to give up their power. Although the elders also participate in the Vaulderie they still have free will and they still hold the reigns, but most Sabbat vampires brush this concern aside. There's no way that the Sabbat is under the same sort of control. After all, Sabbat elders let the rest kill and rule mortals pretty much as they please. There's no way that the Sabbat is pressed under the same ancient thumbs. Right?
Fun With Shovels
Most Sabbat vampires are brought into the sect through the same sort of process, called a "shovel party," which goes a little something like this: mortals are grabbed off the street and brought to a central location where they are beaten and Embraced. Around that time they are knocked out (sometimes with a shovel, sometimes not) and buried. Those poor gibbering bastards that somehow make it to the surface are on their way to serving the Sabbat, but those that don't make it are left behind. The petty details of a shovel party often change - sometimes mortals are lured, sometimes they are buried in public parks or deserts instead of cemeteries, other times they are given lethal doses of drugs instead of shovels - but the basic premise remains the same.
Regardless, the experience is so disorienting, frightening, and overwhelming that it begins the process of stripping the Humanity from vampires. If the new recruits are able to survive long enough, they are usually instructed in a Path of Enlightenment to keep them bestial but functional. The Sabbat suffers from a particularly high mortality rate, however, since vampires are Embraced en masse and then sent out against superior foes. The Sabbat swells its ranks with temporary members knowing that most of them are going to die
and invests in the survivors. While members from other sects sometimes join, they make up only a scant proportion of the whole. So far, contrary to the Camarilla's expectations, the shovel party method has worked and the Sabbat continues to grow.
The Power Structure of the Sabbat
Regent: The current regent is
Melinda Galbraith, who resides in the great Sabbat-held Mexico City. Since the Sabbat is constantly at war, the Regent is something a grand military leader - she might not make all of the decisions but she oversees the war as a whole. She has to have a lot of power behind her in order to keep her place in the sect but so far, she's managed to stay in the saddle.
Cardinals: The cardinals manage Sabbat concerns depending on their location; each cardinal is responsible for a large area and for bringing cities in their region under Sabbat control. They tend to work through underlings, of which they have many, so the average Sabbat on the street probably doesn't even know what the cardinal of their region looks like. With so much power at their disposal, cardinals are meant to be Storyteller characters.
Prisci: A priscus serves as advisors to the highest levels of the sect, usually from archbishops and higher. Prisci have little interest in planning the crusades and more interest in making sure the Sabbat succeeds, even as its leaders kill and backstab each other. Although the title isn't a flashy one, a priscus is respected for their sheet strategic skill and for their ability to see who should ascend in the halls of power and who shouldn't.
Archbishops: These Cainites lead the Sabbat vampires in a particular city, which is not an easy job even for the most powerful. Archbishops are much more accessible than the distant cardinals or the regent - which means that archbishops make closer targets. Still, the power of the position can make it worth the trouble. Archbishops aren't normally meant to be portrayed by player characters but advanced players in higher-level chronicles might be able to pull it off.
Bishops: In second edition Vampire, bishops advise or oversee particular matters for archbishops. In third edition, a small council of bishops rule a city when there is no archbishop. This difference might seem small but it can be quite large, seeing as how the third edition version gives bishops a bit more standing. The second edition version seems more suitable for player characters, at any rate.
Priest: A priest leads a pack in rituals and the Sabbat have a great number of them. It might seem odd that such a bloodthirsty sect would have rituals or any sort of spiritual leader but the rituals actually serve to bring members together (especially the Vaulderie). This is not a bad place for a player character to be.
Paladins: These Cainites serve as assassins and bodyguards for the regent, prisci and cardinals.
Regular Sect Members: Again, most Sabbat vampires live their lives night to night, following their own interests until the sect requires them to do otherwise, and most player characters will start out here. A character's earliest nights can be quite horrific and disorienting but as time goes on most Sabbat develop a taste for power. It isn't much easier to ascend in the power structure of the Sabbat than it is in the Camarilla but showdowns in tend to be more violent and frequent in the Sabbat.