In the previous design blog, I talked about how hard it was to pin down what “Classic Sabbat” really meant, since they had changed so much in the last 27 years. So, how are we, the writers and creators of The Night In Question, going to depict them? What kind of monsters are we asking you all to play?
The Essence of Our Sabbat
Below are the key parts of our Sabbat. We are mostly drawing from the Second Edition version of the Sabbat, the version focused on twisted ideals of freedom, contempt for humanity and the sect as anti-hero monsters. But we take ideas from elsewhere, and extrapolate a bit on our own. Most changes made to the Sabbat to support long-form chronicle play have been removed – here, we are playing straight to the hilt. We only have one night, and it’s going to be incredible.
Imagine a Bowie knife covered in blood, being licked clean; pale predators, fanged mouths howling in the night, grinning with blood-soaked teeth.
The Sabbat are the punk edge to contrast against the gothic stoicness of the Camarilla. They are apex predators and they revel in it. They are proud of their nature, and respect no one’s weakness. Everything the Sabbat does focuses on the vampire as the highest form of life. All attempts to blunt their nature, to tame them, is oppression. All attempts to curtail their natures is defiance of the Dark Father’s guidance and a violation of his gift to each and every Cainite.
Caine As Father And Hero, Not God
Imagine a sermon given in an abandoned warehouse, speaking of the trials of Caine, the first vampire. Imagine the priest challenging the listeners, shouting at them, calling them out through fanged teeth; not reverence only for these stories, but pure will, coming from that crowd; feeling deep in your veins potential to become like that great creature that defied even God.
Yes, the Sabbat is religious, but in a far different way than mortal churches. Their beliefs are more akin to Gnostic self-focus or Satanic ascension of the individual. Every Cainite knows that within them is the blood of the Dark Father, and the essence of that great predator. The way the Sabbat honors Caine is not only through their war against the Antediluvians, but also through emulating him as the role model for all vampires.
The Sabbat have been chosen by Caine to be his favored childer and to ascend to stand by his side. Thus, the beliefs of the Sabbat drive the members embrace the darkness within them and find power and focus in their blood. This is a deeply personal journey, but also one each Sabbat shares with their pack and their priest. It is ultimately an attempt to walk the path that Caine has walked, not to simply worship him.
Caine does not need worship. He needs Cainites who are worthy to stand by his side, who have the will and purpose to defy even the angels.
Freedom and Dynamism
Imagine the swing of a fire ax down on a unworthy leader’s neck, and the decapitated head being lifted aloft in front of a bonfire as it decays into ash; the screams of freedom and death to tyrants from a crowd, raising their crimson fists.
The Sabbat embrace freedom through raw predatory power and their ability to transgress infinitely farther than the mortals and the weak vampires who still attempt to preserve their humanity. The sect operates by a brutal form of Social Darwinism, and are utterly unapologetic about it.
The sect is decentralized, held together by reputation, adherence to common rites and hatred of their enemies. The Sabbat cannot be ruled, only briefly led. Every elder knows that the younger vampires surrounding them will destroy and diablerize them in a moment if they are identified as an oppressor.
Strange Rites and Monstrous Honor
Imagine a leather-clad biker surrounded by ring of burning gasoline, spouting ancient rites full of ancient names; raising a centuries-old silver chalice filled with blood, under a bright autumn moon.
The rites of the Sabbat stand in contrast to their appearance. The words and motions are obviously much older than those who perform them, refined and carefully preserved from pack priest to pack priest. The ritae of the Sabbat lie somewhere between Satanic ritual and gang initiation rite. Their strange pageantry is not to be denied – and every Sabbat pack finds a foundation in those rites.
But beyond this reverence, there is an awareness these rites are the only thing holding the sect together. A dedication to freedom and a defiance of authority has led to the Sabbat needing rules, fanatically strictly enforced rules. The Monomacy, the Vaulderie, and other rites form the means by which these cruel predators can coexist, at least most of the time. It is the ritae that have been the secret of the Sabbat’s cohesion for so long.
A unique interpretation? Kind of.
This isn’t exactly the Sabbat from the Second Edition, but it is very close. Those early books were incredible, but we need a firmer vision than a Storyteller playing around a table with their friends needed. This feels right to me, it feels fun and interesting, it feels true to the original ideas, and it feels like something that we can build off of to make an awesome experience. If you have questions and comments, feel free to message me as Creative Lead at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Until then – May the Dark Father guide you. May Caine guide us all.
The Night In Question is an immersive one-night Vampire: The Masquerade horror LARP focusing on the fiendish vampire sect of the Sabbat. Tickets are still available here.
Photography links: Fatal Christine (Photographer), Allison Even Mollet (Model)