From The Sabbat of OWbN
The following is a list of the 13 Accepted High Rituals of the Sabbat, or the Auctoritas Ritae as they are more commonly known. Note, if you are not actually a member of the Sabbat, Sabbat Ritae does not work for you as per OWbN Bylaws. We have inserted into some of the ritae below some common clarifications for Storytellers and players to choose to use. However, they are not required to do so. For more in depth information of the Ritae of the Sabbat please consult both the Mind's Eye Theater Sabbat Guide as well as the Table Top Guide to the Sabbat.
In 2015, the Montreal Accord elevated the Allegiance ritus to an Auctoritas Ritae.
(See page 155 of the Mind's Eye Theater Sabbat Guide for the Mechanics, See page 159 of Table Top Guide to the Sabbat for more in depth description)
The Blood Feast
The Blood Feast often accompanies other ritae; in some cities, the bishops celebrate this on its own. This ritus combines an opportunity for formal gathering with a stark celebration of vampires’ predatory natures.
The Blood Feast itself is the vampiric equivalent of a formal dinner. The guests dine on the blood of captured men and women suspended over a dining table, bound to statues or otherwise immobilized.
Preparations begin well before the feast. For several nights before the feast, a specially constituted hunting party rounds up humans (and, when the opportunity arises, vampires outside the Sabbat). It’s an honor to be chosen to take part in the hunt, and it takes great self-restraint to deliver the captured prey alive and as unharmed as possible. The hunters present their prey along with demonstrations of martial prowess and boasts of their exploits to the highest-ranking Sabbat member present. She receives each victim and gives the vampire who brought the victim a kiss of thanks of the forehead. Vampires then secure the prey safely until the night of the Blood Feast.
On the night of the feast, ghouls or low-ranking vampires arrange the prey at the Blood Feast’s location. The nature of the meal makes tardiness a grave offense against hospitality; guests arrive early or on time. The presiding official dedicates the prey to the glory of the Sabbat and the participants in the ritus. She may deliver a Sermon of Caine at this time, depending on how self-controlled the participants are in the face of imminent feeding. The presiding official gets her pick of the vessels and draws first blood. Once she’s begun, the guests set in.
Tradition calls for a minimum of one vessel per three participants in the Blood Feast. Some groups favor more. The ratio depends partly on how tidily or messily the participants feed. Some groups feed directly from the vessels while others drain the blood into champagne flutes or other containers. The presiding official may mandate a particular method of feeding or allow diverse styles as she deems fit.
The priestly blessing at the beginning of the Blood Feast somehow intensifies the vessels’ blood as it leaves their bodies; it gains double normal potency. The Sabbat hierarchy appreciates the merits of the Blood Feast but censures groups that engage in it too often. Too many kidnappings and gore-spattered meeting halls attract mortal attention even in thoroughly cowed cities.
- System: The priest’s ceremony at the start of theritus transforms the blood of victims bound and presented for the Blood Feast. Each Blood Trait of a vessel so consecrated becomes two Blood Traits as it leaves the vessel’s body. Vampires who drink the consecrated blood get the benefit of two Blood Traits even though it only occupies one Blood Trait’s worth of capacity in their own bodies. Participants in the Blood Feast generally feel unusually energetic; the extra blood can take them beyond their normal generational limits for vitae. Any doubled Blood Traits unspent at the end of the third night after the Blood Feast collapse back into single Blood Traits.
(See page 141 of the Mind's Eye Theater Sabbat Guide for the Mechanics, See page 147 of Table Top Guide to the Sabbat for more in depth description)
The Blood Bath
Sect leaders perform this ritus to confirm a vampire’s appointment to a bishopric or higher office. All Sabbat members who can attend the Blood Bath do so; avoiding it unnecessarily may strike the new leader as an insult. Each participant in the ritus steps forward, kneels to the new leader, expresses praise for or confidence in the recipient and offers blood into a common vessel. The leading priest acts first, followed by attending sect leaders and then by everyone else present. The vampire receiving the new title offers a response of praise or advice to each vampire present, emphasizing her wisdom and how she benefits the Sabbat. He then bathes in the pool, and all participants drink from it. Sometimes the priest consecrates the pool as a Vaulderie, sometimes not.
Fervent Sabbat supporters often refuse to acknowledge leaders who cannot produce evidence of having undergone a proper Blood Bath.
- System: Each participant must contribute at least one Blood Trait. If the pool is consecrated as a Vaulderie, follow the Vaulderie system.
(See page 141 of the Mind's Eye Theater Sabbat Guide for the Mechanics, See page 147 of Table Top Guide to the Sabbat for more in depth description)
In 2015, the Montreal Accord elevated the Contrition ritus to an Auctoritas Ritae.
(See page 156 of the Mind's Eye Theater Sabbat Guide for the Mechanics, See page 159 of Table Top Guide to the Sabbat for more in depth description)
Outsiders assume that the Sabbat’s “shovel party” is the standard way of making new Sabbat members. The sect knows otherwise. The process is inefficient; a lot of victims don’t make it out. Many of those who do survive emerge permanently insane.
New recruits to the Sabbat don’t join as full members until they’ve proven themselves in combat or intrigue. Until they complete the Creation Rites, they’re on probation. They can be destroyed at any time for disobedience, creating childer of their own or even for getting in the way of their elders. The probation lasts at least for several days, often for weeks and goes on for years in areas with very strict leadership. A sire may require his childe to display her newfound strength and nature by performing in a test of his choosing before he considers her ready for the rite.
A priest administers the Creation Rites. She touches a flaming brand to the initiate’s forehead and leads her in an oath of allegiance. The phrasing varies; the key points include loyalty to one’s pack leader, to the chain of command and to the principles of the Sabbat as they’ve been taught to the recruit. Once branded, the initiate becomes a true member of the Sabbat, with all the risks and benefits that implies. The priest follows the branding with a Vaulderie.
Sires and packs often add celebrations or other rites of their own. Young urban packs perform gang-style initiations while dignified elders present their upper-class childer in formal gatherings. In their various forms, such supplemental commemorations both congratulate the new recruit and remind her that she is still at the bottom of the pile.
- System: The branding requires the new recruit to succeed in a two-Trait Rotschreck test. A recruit who panics gets a second chance, albeit with asubstantial stigma for cowardice. Failing the test a second time brings immediate destruction. Some bishops like to form new packs in a special version of the Creation Rites. Each member of the pack-to-be gets drained and buried as if the victim of a shovel party, and must dig her way out. With the benefits of vampiric strength, a vampire undergoing re-creation must win or tie two out of three Simple Tests with the Narrator (rather than having to win two out of three). Like a mortal in the same situation, the vampire can spend Physical Traits for retests. When (and if) all the members of the pack emerge, their designated priest brands himself and the other members of the pack and leads them in a Vaulderie. Since there’s always the risk of losing vampires in this process, bishops in areas of active conflict or reduced numbers of members frown on the practice.
(See page 142 of the Mind's Eye Theater Sabbat Guide for the Mechanics, See page 148 of Table Top Guide to the Sabbat for more in depth description)
- Modern Form Creation Rites
- This is the version of the creation rites involving the ritual initiation and acceptance of new True Sabbat as described on pages 21-22 and 140-141 of the Mind’s Eye Theatre Sabbat Guide.
- Old Form Creation Rites
- This is your typical mass embrace or shovel party, in which each new Cainite has a single sire, as described on page 49 of the Player’s Guide to the Sabbat (2nd Ed) and pages 21 and 140 of the Mind’s Eye Theatre Sabbat Guide. In modern nights, some Sabbat clergy are calling for this version of the Creation Rites to be an Ignoblis Ritae reserved for the time just before a siege. These clergy often insist that a cainite created in this manner is not True Sabbat, not until they have undergone the Modern Creation Rites.
- Ancient Creation Rites
- During the Sabbat-Camarilla Wars, the Creation Rites required the Cainite-recruit be drained of all of his blood and embraced with the blood of the entire pack. The newly embraced Cainite was then bludgeoned and buried in a shallow grave. Those that dug themselves out were accepted. This created an intense Viniculum but an equally high chance that the Cainite would be Clanless. Following the end of the Sabbat-Camarilla Wars, the Creation Rites were modified into the old form that was subsequently changed into the modern form. Despite these changes, some Pander still use the ancient creation rites to embrace new recruits. See page 45 of the Player’s Guide to the Sabbat (2nd Ed) for reference to the Auctoritas Ritae actually changing.
- Mechanic: The recruit is drained of all their blood and embraced with a consecrated mix of the pack’s blood. The new vampire rises with a viniculum rating no lower than three to all Cainities that contributed Vitae. The Cainite will likely be clanless, drawing their disciplines and any supernatural flaws from those who contributed Vitae.
Fire is one of the great enemies to vampire, a danger to flee. The Sabbat believes in mastering that fear. In times of war, Sabbat vampires use fire as a weapon against their enemies. In between battles, they perform the Fire Dance to show their triumph over the weaknesses in their souls.
A priest can call a Fire Dance at any time, whenever she judges the pack in need of some morale boosting. Bishops generally celebrate a Fire Dance just before a War Party, bringing together all the packs who will fight in the upcoming assault. Given the Sabbat’s emphasis on individual freedom, the convening priest never forces a vampire to take part in the ritus until she feels truly ready for it. Most vampires somehow find the resolve to participate anyway; their packmates do not tolerate cowardice, and too many refusals of the Fire Dance can get a vampire exiled or destroyed.
The convening priest lights a bonfire somewhere away from mortal eyes. Participants set a rhythm with drumming, chanting or other regular music. They circle the fire, working themselves into a trancelike frenzy. They close in on the flames until primitive instinct forces them away; some make obeisance to the fire as if it is a god they hate but still venerate. As each participant feels ready, she jumps through the flames. The more vampires make it through, the more they encourage (and challenge) the remaining participants to do so. Particularly devoted or entranced vampires jump again and again; some perform the most exotic stunts along the way. The n’tus ends when every vampire has jumped.
Sometimes a vampire simply can’t muster the courage to jump. Tolerant packs throw him through so as to honor the spirit of the occasion. Less tolerant packs slaughter him as an inferior breed or pin him down in the fire to help him overcome his weakness.
- System: Once the fire’s started and the revels begin, participating vampires must make a Courage test against two Traits to approach the fire. (Their trance state reduces the normal difficulty.) Actually jumping through the fire requires a Static Physical Challenge against five Traits. The Storyteller should increase the difficulty of complex maneuvers; if they work, the participant gains one or more bonus Social Traits for the rest of the night. All participants who voluntarily leap through the fire get a bonus Courage Trait for the rest of the night and for three nights after that. This bonus can exceed the usual Virtue limit of 5. Do not, under any circumstances, actually go leaping through bonfires. Use your imagination to capture a sense of the experience without the prop of real fire.
(See page 144 of the Mind's Eye Theater Sabbat Guide for the Mechanics, See page 150 of Table Top Guide to the Sabbat for more in depth description)
Games of Instinct
The Sabbat glorifies achievement. Thinking grand thoughts doesn’t mean anything without action. Therefore, the ceremonial demonstration of one’s physical, mental and social prowess is a religious act. The label “Games of Instinct” applies to all competitions in which participants compete against each other and the surrounding world in ways that exemplify the Sabbat’s ideas.
Note that Games of Instinct do not include random carnage for its own sake. The Sabbat does not believe in the Masquerade as a goal, but sect leaders aren’t stupid and know that there are very firm limits to how far vampires can go without bringing down massive reprisals. The Sabbat does not value stupidity and won’t reward it, let alone treat it as a matter of spiritual importance.
The priest presides over each game, blessing the participants and instructing them in the terms of this particular game. The practice should resemble the ancient Olympic games in which participants demonstrated physical excellence as an act of worship. The games are vigorous, enthusiastic and often bloody, but never frivolous. Holy joy in one’s superiority is far more than simple bloodthirst.
- System: The specific mechanical aspects of a Game of Instinct depend on the nature of the game. All games share a specific feature. The winners of a game get a one-Trait bonus to one Ability they used during the game. This bonus lasts for two weeks of game time. A vampire can only enjoy this benefit for one Ability at a time, no matter how many games she participates in.
(See page 145 of the Mind's Eye Theater Sabbat Guide for the Mechanics, See page 150 of Table Top Guide to the Sabbat for more in depth description)
- Capture the Ductus
- This game pits two packs against each other. The priest designates territory, generally a few square blocks. Each pack aims to present the ductus of the other to the priest; the first pack to do so wins. Inflicting Final Death on any participant automatically costs the destroyer’s pack the game (plus the rage of the offended pack). The priest has discretion in setting boundaries for mortal awareness. Particularly challenging games require that no mortal ever know the game’s being played while other times, for games of terror, the priest actively condones displays of vampiric power.
- The Rat Race
- At the beginning of the game, participants unleash one or more humans in a bounded, labyrinthine space -an actual maze, a factory district or someplace else with complex terrain. The humans get piles of weaponry capable of actually hurting the vampires. Then the vampires go in unarmed and hunt the humans. Each vampire who drains a human wins. It’s “legit” to cripple or maim competing vampires, but not to torpor or destroy them. A more extreme form of this game requires vampiric participants to draw straws, with the one who gets the short straw becoming the designated victim. The vampiric variety seldom proceeds to Final Death except as a punishment (in which the draw of straws is usually rigged).
- Rousing the Beast
- Each participant must dig up a victim of a failed hovel party. The participant must then immobilize and destroy his victim. Keep in mind that the victim emerges weak but in frenzy. The process of consecrating disinterment as a rim somehow strengthens the victim, who regains one Trait per turn until at full strength and suffers half normal wound penalties.
- The Spire
- The priest designates some target to climb that human beings cannot achieve without elaborate tools, such as the tallest skyscraper in the area. The participants must scale it using only their own bare hands and feet, their Attributes, Abilities and Disciplines. The first one to the top and back down wins. Climbing barehanded up modern buildings (stone, glass and metal, etc.) requires a Simple Physical Test every 10 feet or so. The difficulty varies, from six Traits for conveniently sized bricks up to 12 or more for sheer featureless walls. Using Disciplines stylishly doesn’t guarantee a win, but earns the respect of competitors.
- Boarding Party
- The pack begins by selecting a port of harbor. This may be literal port if they are playing on the water or it may be a parking lot if operating on land. Next they designate a certain vehicle as the "ship". The ship will typically be controlled by a mortal at the start of the game. The object of the game is to be the cainite in the drivers seat when the ship arrives at port. The pack then sets out on smaller vehicles, cars, jet skies, motorcycles, etc, and try to board and take the ship. At first the pack must over take the operator of the ship but ultimately they must face off against each other to control the driver's seat. The team variation of this game pits two packs (or teams within the pack) against each other. Each team has its own port and the pack that gets the ship to their port first wins.
- Cattle Ride
- The pack takes to the highway on motorcycles with the goal of corralling a target car "the bull" to a specific location.
- Base Jumping
- Pick a building, pick a floor, jump off. Who ever walks away from the highest floor wins. For added fun, include bonus floors for landing on and taking out passers-by.
- Capture the Ductus
The High Holidays
In 2015 the Montreal Accord established that The Binding, Festivo de Estinto, and Palla Grande were grouped together and to be known as the High Holidays.
On the night of the winter solstice, Sabbat members gather for a public reaffirmation of their oaths to the sect. Just as the Vaulderie unites members of a pack, the Binding ties together all the oath-taking vampires in the community.
The ceremony begins with a recitation of the group’s interpretation of the Sabbat credo. Each group does this a little differently. Some work it out in liturgical form while others present each point in metaphorical language or in the form of a parable. Military-style gatherings shout out the credo in call-andresponse style. Sometimes the recitation takes an hour or occupies just a few angry sentences.
Founded packs host nomadic packs, where possible, although the negotiations beforehand to allow safe passage seldom go smoothly (very few occasions could encourage such mutual restraint). Tradition calls for performing the Binding near water - a beach, riverbank or waterfall if possible, a fountain if there’s nothing else. Water symbolizes the sect’s implacable determination, eroding or flooding all opposition just as the Sabbat must in the end triumph completely.
Vaulderie and a separate oath to protect the sect’s secrets to Final Death almost always follow the Binding. Major Sabbat war efforts also often begin at the Binding, exploiting the unity of purpose the ritus creates.
- System: The Vinculum ratings of all participants in the ritus increase by one (to a maximum of l0), and remain elevated for the next month.
(See page 140 of the Mind's Eye Theater Sabbat Guide for the Mechanics, See page 146 of Table Top Guide to the Sabbat for more in depth description)
Festivo Dello Estinto
The Festival of the Dead occupies the entire second week of March; it’s second only to the Grand Ball as an opportunity for participants to celebrate their trans-human abilities. All the Sabbat vampires in a city gather, setting aside usual disputes for the week of the Festival, and nomadic packs come into town to celebrate with their urban brethren.
The Festival begins as soon as the highest-ranking priest in town declares it underway. He gives a single instruction to the assembledparticipants: Revel. This is the time for vampires to set aside their normal restraints and find out just what they can do to themselves, to each other and above all to the mortals around them. Each night includes a Blood Feast and a celebration of the Vaulderie after the night’s exertions, scheduled as late as possible given the need of the participants to settle down for the day.
In principle, the Festival’s participants should act utterly without regard for anyone’s concerns but their own. In practice, the world is still there even while vampires celebrate. The Sabbat uses the Festival partly to weed out the vampires who cannot distinguish between the freedom to choose their own course of action and consequences to their choices. Vampires who bring out mortal hunters or other supernatural beings in response to Festival behavior deserve what they get, the sect’s teachers say.
Festival events vary widely. Fire Dancing takes place almost everywhere, often coupled with dances pairing vampires with unwilling mortal partners. Packs whose members know Necromancy often raise zombies to provide accompaniment. In many cities, packs compete to present reenactments of passages from the Book of Nod and Sabbat history. Vampires who fancy themselves great hunters set out on special hunts, going after specific sorts of victims - teen mothers, bald priests, married computer programmers or some other specialized category of mortal. Vampires with experience in butchery, surgery and the like oversee competitions to kill victims with a minimum of blood spilled or to remove of as many internal organs as possible while keeping the victim alive and conscious.
Presiding archbishops and bishops watch the various competitions and award victors with the right of drawing first blood at the next Blood Feast. Insome cases, aparticularly good performance wins the victor apromotion on the spot while an appalling failure may lead to demotion or to the loser becoming one of the next Blood Feast’s vessels. Elders look with favor on competitions to hunt as widely and freely as possible without attracting mortal attention. Success in this sort of challenge requires developing and presenting a plausible cover story, such as a terrorist attack. The Sabbat hierarchy admires and rewards the ability to use mortal institutions without becoming tangled in mortal values or concerns like the Camarilla.
- System: Resolve the various competitions as seems appropriate. The Festival is as much an occasion for roleplaying as for number-crunching. Note that many Festival sports require a fair number of Storyteller mortal characters, so plan ahead to have enough Narrator support.
(See page 143 of the Mind's Eye Theater Sabbat Guide for the Mechanics, See page 149 of Table Top Guide to the Sabbat for more in depth description)
The Grand Ball - Palla Grande to Sabbat elders and others who like to retain a European flavor to their rim - marks the end of the Sabbat’s year. On All Hallows Eve, all the vampires in the city gather for a two-part celebration. Some archbishops summon all the vampires in their territory to celebrate in a single city; others encourage separate celebrations in each city. In either case, attendance is not optional. Nomad packs converge on the nearest city holding a Grand Ball. The most renowned priest in the city (who may not be the highest-ranked) oversees the ritus.
The night before the Grand Ball, the presiding priest and her assistants prepare incense burners. The burners hold an exotic mix of herbs and chemicals designed to weaken mortals’ willpower and skepticism and induce a mild hallucinogenic state in which acquiescence and belief come easily. As she blesses each burner, the priest adds a Blood Trait of her own to start the mix’s transformation.
The first part of the Grand Ball takes place in public, often staged as a festival, a rave or some other gathering open to the general populace. The Ball’s vampiric hosts generally put on a fancy spread in whatever idiom they choose, with the best music, plenty of free food and drink and so on. Almost all Grand Balls emphasize costumes, going beyond fancy wardrobe to include physical transformation through Vicissitude and the illusions of Obfuscate and Chimerstry . Each vampiric participant in the ritus adds a Blood Trait of his own to one (or more) of the incense burners. The air takes on a very slight pink tinge and all mortals in the area experience a mild form of the surrender that comes with the Embrace.
The second part of the Grand Ball takes place away from mortal eyes. The priest convenes a Blood Feast for the vampires of the area. Daring groups snatch their vessels from the nearby crowd or from the unlucky recipients of invitations to a “special private gathering” associated with the ball’s public face. Sabbat communities who face more serious challenges from hunters or whose leaders believe in not creating unnecessary risks round up their victims for weeks beforehand. Sabbat vampires, retainers and ghouls who’ve committed flagrant offenses also become vessels for the occasion.
At midnight, individuals chosen by the presiding priest present a reenactment of an event from Cainite legend or history. In some cities, would-be actors compete for the priest’s favor; in others, theatre duty is as much a punishment as a reward. Caine’s murder of Abel outstrips all other topics in popularity, with the diablerie of the Tzimisce and Lasombra Antediluvians close behind. Gehenna scenes attract both favor and controversy, with some elders (and devout neonates) arguing that too much attention to future troubles undermines morale. Most theatre groups include some element of audience participation, seizing prepared targets for use as disposable props.
After the show, the archbishop or ranking bishop present receives the Blood Bath. The recipient reclines in a tub, pool or other large container. Attendants bleed out selected victims to fill the pool. Each vampire present contributes vitae to a Vaulderie cup, whose contents then join the mortal blood. The recipient maintains a steady chanting all the while, and takes in a bit of the essence of the other participants.
At the conclusion of the Blood Bath, the participants join the bath‘s recipient in a final pre-dawn dance, generally very noisy and almost always ending in a frenzied attack on the unfortunate mortals saved for the consummation of the rim. In most cases, the participants collapse in the ball’s private space and rely on ghouls to take care of guarding them and cleaning up during the following day. Over the next several days, vampires and ghouls charged with attending to the aftermath use a combination of lethal force, mental Disciplines and occasional Embraces to tidy up loose ends.
- System: Grand Ball participants gain the benefits of the Blood Feast and Blood Bath as usual. In addition, they completely replenish their Willpower. Each participant must contribute at least one Blood Trait to the cloaking incense burners, and may contribute more. The recipient of the Blood Bath can make a Mental Challenge against any of the other participants; if she succeeds, the recipient can use any oracular powers the target possesses, like Auspex and some Thaumaturgical Paths, as if they were her own for the night. She does not gain fine control, seeing random moments of the coming year that warrant her attention. The Storyteller should feel free to make the resulting images symbolic and allusive, and to allow circumstances to render them null and void.
(See page 146 of the Mind's Eye Theater Sabbat Guide for the Mechanics, See page 152 of Table Top Guide to the Sabbat for more in depth description)
The Sabbat’s internal disagreements don’t always erupt into war, contrary to the popular opinion among outsiders. Most conflicts find fairly quick and fairly peaceful resolution, through a combination of actual persuasion, use of Status and the occasional push with Disciplines. When two individuals can’t settle a quarrel, often their authorities, starting with the pack leader and priest, can. Sometimes all efforts at mediation fail. Monomacy provides the ultimate resolution: Combat to the death.
Monomacy isn’t just a duel to the death. Through careful authorization of Monomacy, the Sabbat applies a limited form of evolutionary selection to its ranks. The duels purge individuals who were too physically weak or too crippled by bad ideas to make effective use of their abilities. The sect grows stronger as the weak and inefficient fall - better to lose them in an internal dispute than to suffer them in crises to come. Strong leaders and strong followers keep the sect strong as well.
Monomacy is a genuine rim, not a right anyone can claim on their own. The Sabbat denies the opportunity to young, unproven recruits who don’t appreciate the gravity of what they’re doing. If everyone could get their leaders’ blessings for the sacred duel, in short order most packs would lose all their members over trivial matters. The pack priest must formalize any effort at Monomacy. The challenger presents her claim to the priest and the target simultaneously. The priest decides whether the point of conflict warrants Monomacy, and if so, whether the priest will preside himself or appoint a substitute. If the priest is himself the challenged party, the ductus presides or refers it to another pack‘s priest.
The defender doesn’t have to accept just because the priest approves. Declining involves some loss of status, since bystanders assume cowardice or some shameful secret must contribute to the refusal to take part in an important ritus. The defender encounters fewer hassles if the challenger is of much lower rank. Leaders can brush off even genuinely serious claims as just another case of a youngster being uppity.
When the challenger and defender belong to the same pack, it’s easy to pick the right authority to arbitrate: Their pack priest does the job. Matters get more complex when the disputing parties belong to different packs. In theory, a bishop should hear such cases. In practice, most bishops feel they have better things to do with their time and respond unfavorably to all but the most urgent or illuminating claims. Rivals often do better to seek out the priest of a third pack, preferably but not always one they both know, and ask him to perform the ritus.
The definition of the ritus leaves the setting and method of combat open. As long as it satisfies the participants and the overseeing priest, it’s fine. The challenger sets the time and place; the defender rules on weapons and other details. The defender can ask for the duel to be to first blood rather than Final Death. In such a case the loser faces exile. A defender who takes such a wimpy course of action loses respect whether he loses the duel or not. More impressive restrictions include fighting while blindfolded, fighting surrounded by fire, fighting only with out-of-clan Disciplines and the like. The priest declares the duel begun and finished. Priests and archbishops can declare a Monomacy null and void, but doing so for any reason short of proof of direct cheating by a participant invites new Monomacy-worthy challenges against the priest.
Sometimes Monomacy takes on strange forms. Lasombra elders may choose to duel with life-sized chessboard populated by living pieces, moved by threat or command. A famous conflict between a Tzimisce and a Ventrue Antitribu ended in a Monomacy in which each took turns shooting one of the other’s ghouls. The Tzimisce won when the last of the Ventrue’s ghouls succumbed to his wounds and fell over.
The winner of the Monomacy gets his pick of the loser’s possessions. This doesn’t include diablerie unless the priest approves it as a term of the contest. Custom suggests but doesn’t require offering a cut to the presiding priest.Anything left over goes to the loser’s packmates and any scavengers who can stake a claim.
Monomacy settles all sorts of serious disputes within the sect. Would-be ducti, pack priests and bishops bring out their grievances (and generally lose). Individuals contesting points of influence take it to a duel if their priest deems the issue important to Sabbat activity in the area. Rumor says that the current regent took her position after besting her predecessor in a simple no-weapons physical battle.
- System: This ritus calls for very little mechanical adjudication. The form
of the fight itself suggests what sorts of challenges the participants should
make. The priest’s player should emphasize the seriousness of the occasion
with proper pomp and circumstance. This isn’t just a rumble, it’s a rumble with
profound religious significance. Whatever theme and style a pack presents -
urban gang, enthusiastic cult, disciplined military team or something else -
should color the proceedings. The priest should feel at liberty to add plausible
restrictions, perhaps postponing the battle to the next new or full moon or
requiring the setting to incorporate sacred numbers.
(See page 147 of the Mind's Eye Theater Sabbat Guide for the Mechanics, See page 151 of Table Top Guide to the Sabbat for more in depth description)
Sermons of Caine
Caine the historical (or at least mythical) figure matters very much to some Sabbat members, not at all to others. Among the vampires who care enough to argue theology, some treat Caine as the biggest, oldest and therefore worst menace of all, while others find in him the example of true freedom and individuality. Vampires who do care about origins and do take Caine as their inspiration gather regularly to listen to teachings about him. This ritus renews their conviction and provides them with the shared attitudes and ideas to resolve disputes.
In some packs, the priest always delivers the sermon. In others, pack members share the duties. Each one in turn recites some favored passage from the Book of Nod and offers comments about its relevance to the pack‘s situation. Depending on the pack‘s preferences, the speaker may get an uninterrupted audience, or the rest of the pack may argue back. After the sermon, the priest may perform the Vaulderie. Enthusiastic pack members may continue the “discussion” until the approach of dawn.
Vampiric society has very few written records. The Book of Nod isn’t a single text - it’s a mass of fragments and an attitude about Cainite origins. Sabbat packs argue constantly about the best, truest or oldest phrasing of a passage, and about whether a passage belongs in canon at all. Some believers argue that the sect must establish a single authoritative reading and make sure everyone studies it. Others claim, with just as much fervor, that the spirit of the work transcends any specific text, so competing searches for illumination serve the sect’s best interests. Arguments on these points sometimes destroy packs and fuel inter-pack wars.
- System: This ritus doesn’t really require any mechanics. If Storytellers want, they can ask for Performance tests to see how effectively a speaker communicates her point. Regular exposure to the Sermons of Caine might raise a participant’s Sabbat Lore, up to a limit of one or two levels less than that of the pack priest. This ritus is primarily an occasion for roleplaying.
(See page 149 of the Mind's Eye Theater Sabbat Guide for the Mechanics, See page 153 of Table Top Guide to the Sabbat for more in depth description)
- Example Sermons:
The Vaulderie defines the Sabbat as a group. Vampires who partake show that they are part of the sect; vampires who refuse the cup can never really belong. The Blood Bond as Camarilla and independent vampires use it binds the subject as the slave of his regnant. It reinforces the static hierarchy of elder over childe. The Vaulderie makes the participants equal, uniting them in their shared cause. It also introduces a constantly shifting mosaic of relationships as the vampire who held another in highest esteem last night has a new target of supreme devotion tonight. The bonds don’t erode; they do gain rivals of equal or greater intensity.
Simply mixing vitae isn’t sufficient for the Vaulderie. The presiding priest must use a cutting tool and cup dedicated to this specific purpose. Priests generally decorate their tools with hieroglyphics and artwork that expresses their pack concerns. (Artisans who produce tools that express a pack‘s shared sense of self gain high status. The Sabbat never has enough creators to match its ranks of corruptors and destroyers.)
The priest takes her ritual tools, makes a cut in herself and drains out as many Blood Traits as she cares to contribute. Once the priest begins the ceremony, she passes the cup and tool to each participant in turn, who contributes as many Blood Traits as he chooses.
Contributing only one Blood Trait looks bad - do you have something to hide? Contributing five or more Blood Traits, except when duty requires, looks bad, too - are you angling for control? The ductus must contribute at least one Blood Trait per participant (down to a minimum of one Blood Trait remaining), and generally aims to put in more than anyone else as a show of dedication and primacy of place. Trying to put in someone else’s blood, from a concealed pouch or other source, doesn’t work. The cup erupts and splashes the blood everywhere. Everyone loses the blood they put in. The priest must start the ritual again, and the offender probably faces swift destruction.
The priest takes the filled cup and performs a simple ritual over it that merges the blood together. Real magic happens at this point. Even if the priest was chosen on the spur of the moment by packmates interested in renewing their Vinculum, a priest performing the ritual makes it work while someone not chosen as priest could perform the same ritual but get no results. The priest offers a brief blessing on each participant as she drinks from the cup. The ritual gives back to each participant as many Blood Traits as she put in.
Every Sabbat member takes the Vaulderie seriously. Even the most feral wanderers or rowdy urban punks settle down for this ritual even if they’re never serious at any other time. This is what it’s all about.
The Vaulderie generates the Sabbat’s alternative to the blood bond, the Vinculum. Each vampire takes away from the ritual a special bond to some other members of the pack (or whatever group performs the ritual). In game terms, each participant has a Vinculum rating of 1-10 with each of the other participants. The stronger the bond, the more firmly the participants feel bound to each other. At the high end, the Vinculum ties individuals together even more tightly than the blood bond. Note that Vinculum ratings aren’t symmetrical. Andrew can have a Vinculum rating of 6 to Bettina, indicating a very strong attachment to her, while she has only a rating of 1 to him, indicating the minimum possible result from sharing the ritual.
- System: The system given here supercedes that in Laws of the Night, p. 224. The player of a vampire taking part in the Vaulderie writes the character’s name on an index card to represent one Blood Trait added to the cup. Find a container big enough to hold the cards players contribute -a typical chalice will overflow. Don’t carry the roleplaying of bloodletting to an extreme, and whatever you do, don’t really drain any blood for this purpose (or any purpose in the game). The player of the priest mixes the cards together, generally with some ritual. The level of ceremony depends on the group’s preferences. The priest’s invocation may be a simple “Grant us the strength to defeat all our enemies through unity of purpose” or a full-blown recitation from the Book of Nod about Caine’s refusal to bow to God’s threats. Likewise, the blessing can range from “Take courage to perform all your duties well” to complete Latin renderings of liturgical prayers adapted to the Sabbat’s worldview. Each participant draws out one card for each one he put in. If you want to work with religious themes, choose your place carefully. Don’t freak the bystanders and people not taking part. Save the funky stuff for private spaces. The first time a vampire takes part in the Vaulderie, she gets a Vinculum rating of 1 toward every other participant, plus one for each Blood Trait she drank that belonged to a particular individual. In later performances of the Vaulderie, she makes a Static Challenge of her current Vinculum rating toward a particular individual against a total of one plus the number of Blood Traits she drank that belonged to that individual this time. If she loses the challenge, her Vinculum rating toward that individual rises by one. If she ties, her Vinculum rating remains the same. If she wins, she can (at her discretion) make two Simple Tests. If she wins both, her Vinculum rating toward that individual falls by one; otherwise it remains the same. Her Vinculum rating toward a fellow participant in this Vaulderie can never fall below 1. The player cannot spend Willpower or Traits for retests in these challenges. Optionally, you may simplify proceedings. You can have each player test for her character’s Vinculum rating toward everyone involved in the ritus by a single Static Challenge against the highest total of Blood Traits she drew. Keep in mind that this cuts out many layers of inter-personal intrigue that give Sabbat games an important part of their flavor. Discuss it with players before adopting it. Vinculum ratings don’t fade over time. Only a feat of will in the celebration of the Vaulderie lets a vampire break some of her ties to others. Packs that regularly celebrate the Vaulderie develop very close ties, and the Sabbat’s elders retain a network of deep connections to each other. Rumor attributes a Vinculum-breaking ritual to Nosferatu Antitribu, the Sabbat Inquisition or both. Allegedly, the Inquisition uses it to break ties between loyal Sabbat members and infernalists, but it is considered rumor at this point. A character attempting to destroy another vampire to whom he has any Vinculum rating at all must spend two Willpower Traits. Acting less terminally against the interests of a vampire to whom he has a Vinculum rating of three or more requires spending one Willpower Trait, and acting against a Vinculum rating of six or more requires two Willpower Traits. The only exception is Monomacy performed under the supervision of an approved Sabbat official. When a character with Vinculum ties to several individuals faces a choice between them, she draws on the Vinculum to settle her conflicting impulses. She makes an Extended Challenge of her Willpower against each of the Vinculum ratings involved (adding two to her Willpower when testing for the individual she favors most). Whichever individual wins the most successes in the challenge gets her loyalty in that situation. She may also simply go with whomever she has the higher Vinculum rating for, especially if the difference is two or greater. The Vaulderie gradually breaks down blood bonds. A vampire seeking release from bondage must put in at least six Blood Traits and reduce himself down to one Blood Trait remaining. Taking in six points of Vaulderie consecrated blood negates the effects of one draught of an individual vampire’s blood. Doing this three times, therefore, completely breaks a blood bond (and generates very strong Vinculum ratings).
Vinculum Rating Effects
- 1. Virtually no bond exists, though you may be fond of the individual.
- 2. You have a feeling of kinship for the individual, but not strong enough for you to go out of your way to help him.
- 3. You are basically loyal to the individual as long as that loyalty does not interfere with your own plans.
- 4. You will aid the individual if you are asked to do so and there is no personal risk involved.
- 5. You respect the individual and help her whenever you can, even if it involves minor risks.
- 6. You have strong feelings for the individual and help him even at costs to yourself. You will gladly fight for the individual.
- 7. You are willing to put yourself in moderate danger for the individual and will kill for her.
- 8. You will gladly donate any resources or influence you might have to aid the individual.
- 9. You will do virtually anything for the individual, even putting yourself in great danger.
- 10. You will readily give your unlife for the individual
(See page 150 of the Mind's Eye Theater Sabbat Guide for the Mechanics, See page 154 of Table Top Guide to the Sabbat for more in depth description)
The Following are suggestions for certain issues concerning the Vaulderie. These suggestions are based upon the vast material written for the Vaulderie across several sources.
- Viniculum never breaks like a Blood Bond. They are for life and never degrade over time. When a person who has a Viniculum to another dies, the other Cainite (the one surviving) instead feels a pull on that bond, knowing something terrible has occurred.
- The Vinculum prevents new full Blood Bonds from taking into full effect. The only exception to this is if a Vampire is "Fully Bound" to someone before partaking in the Vaulderie. In that case, until they perform the version of the Vaulderie that removes Blood Bonds, they will have both (Viniculi and Blood Bonds). Also, while the Viniculum prevents full Blood Bonds from occurring, it does not stop partial ones.
- The Merit Unbondable makes one immune to Viniculum and Blood Bonds.
The War Party puts Sabbat doctrine to practical use. Multiple packs compete for the blood of a designated non-Sabbat elder, with the winners getting the benefits of diablerie. Hunting elders isn’t easy - they generally didn’t survive all those centuries by being careless or stupid, after all. In addition, while rival packs seldom use outright lethal force against each other, they can and do sabotage each other’s efforts with means that stop short of destruction.
A Sabbat member of bishop or higher rank declares a War Party after identifying an elder whose removal would benefit the sect. (Almost every non- Sabbat elder poses a threat to the sect in some sense.) Preparations usually include a Fire Dance, a Sermon of Caine and a Blood Feast or Vaulderie. The chief of the War Party - usually the highest ranking priest involved, though sometimes ducti or bishops lead more politically oriented hunts - addresses the assembled packs. He asks each ductus one of the few ritual questions that actually has a standard phrasing throughout the sect: “DO you come freely to war, and do you take up this noble cause, never resting until the blood of our enemy is spilled?” Each ductus answers with “We do!” After this expression of commitment, the War Party leader identifies the target and presents information that might help the hunt.
A ductus can decide to withdraw her pack from the challenge. She faces ridicule for this, and any packmates who call for Monomacy generally win approval on the spot. The packs who remain celebrate the rest of the night and embark on the hunt itself after rising from sleep on the following night.
The War Party makes every tactic legitimate if not automatically wise. Hunting packs can inflict whatever collateral damage they deem necessary on their way to the target, and when the destructive action shows courage and forethought, packs not participating in the War Party often help clean up the damage. In the final approach to the target’s haven, competing packs often dispense with niceties like doors if they have members with the strength to break through barriers. Note that sometimes, brute force is very unwise. A well-protected target calls for approaches emphasizing stealth and treachery. Some War Parties last for weeks or even months rather than a few violent nights.
Only one member of the winning pack gets the full benefit of the diablerie, of course. Sabbat tradition generally recognizes success, and awards the kill to the first vampire to get her fangs into the victim. Pack members need not sit idly by, however. Tradition also endorses vigorous competition, and it’s not uncommon for a hunt to end with only one pack member still mobile enough to actually commit the deed.
The target elder seldom acquiesces calmly to her fate. Entire city blocks sometimes collapse in rubble in the ensuing struggle. Depending on their personal styles, targeted elders may unleash Master-level Disciplines or potent bribes in various coins. Every so often, a winning pack gets a good enough offer to betray the Sabbat and defend the elder, though they usually don’t survive long after that.
The War Party ritus comes to an end when the winning pack presents tangible evidence of their kill to the War Party leader. The leader accepts the token after examining it for signs of fakery and blesses the victors. All surviving packs gather for another round of revels as soon as news of the War Party’s resolution spreads.
- System: The individual vampire who actually diablerizes the target gets all the usual benefits of diablerie. The members of the winning pack get the temporary Status of Martial, which lasts until the next War Party, Grand Ball or Festival of the Dead. Particularly prominent targets like Methuselahs win permanent Status for the victors.
(See page 153 of the Mind's Eye Theater Sabbat Guide for the Mechanics, See page 156 of Table Top Guide to the Sabbat for more in depth description)
The Wild Hunt gives force to the Sabbat’s emphasis on devotion. A member who betrays the sect’s secrets risks this ultimate sanction.
A priest calls the Wild Hunt. Generally the highest-ranking priest in the vicinity does so, and she’d better have the support of her superiors before accusing another Sabbat member of treachery or face the same punishment herself. All loyal sect members in the area must hunt down the traitor and anyone, Cainite or mortal, to whom he may have given the information. Overzealous vampires who destroy a Wild Hunt target before interrogation risk Final Death themselves. The traitor’s contacts are exterminated only after examination makes sure that they haven’t spread the leaked information further.
The Wild Hunt seldom takes place in the risky and yet exuberant atmosphere of a War Party. Treachery exposes the whole sect to risk. Whatever preparatory rites take place, their priests perform them solemnly. Vaulderie is essential, and Fire Dancing usually accompanies it.
The vampire who captures the traitor and his contacts bring their prisoner back to some central meeting place for questioning. The ductus and priest, and any superiors who wish to take part, recite the traitor’s crimes and use torture to extract confirmation. Hot irons, mutilation, Vicissitude and a multitude of other means come into play. Once the traitor confirms his sins and the Sabbat establishes the spread of his leaked secrets, torture becomes straightforward punishment, lasting as long as anyone involved has ideas about how to hurt the traitor. Vampiric collaborators also face torture while mortal allies generally meet quick, if painful, ends.
After tormenting the traitor, his former packmates throw his staked body onto a consecrated funeral pyre. An attending priest recites the Book of Nod’s Chronicle of Caine to remind all involved that victory requires unity and that distrust makes unity impossible. Vaulderie follows to reestablish the bonds of mutual commitment.
- System: Some regions practice the ignoblis ritus of Contrition, to allow traitors to make amends. Storytellers may allow the targets of a Wild Hunt to invoke this or not, at Storyteller discretion. For minor offenses, allowing contrition with punishment balances severity with the avoidance of hasty character death. More serious offenses should bring a more serious penalty: The Sabbat is not a place where “do as you please” flourishes without qualification, and sometimes nothing short of character death makes the point clear. Never arrange a character’s death lightly, but don’t hold back when it’s truly earned.
(See page 154 of the Mind's Eye Theater Sabbat Guide for the Mechanics, See page 157 of Table Top Guide to the Sabbat for more in depth description)
Part of the Sabbat Genre Guide