Monday, July 22, 2024

5 Ways To Embrace The Darkness With ‘Sabbat: The Black Hand’ & ‘The Book of Nod’

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The Sabbat. Apostates. Monsters. Cultists of Death. Amongst all the vampires of the world, few are as feared as this group of Caine worshippers who reject the rules of the Kindred and instead operate on their own terms as wild cards. There are many paths and groups within this grouping, and they frustrate the hunters of the Second Inquisition to no end. Players of Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition may encounter some form of this group in their travels, and new books from Renegade Games have been released to help Storytellers weave them into their stories.

The first is Sabbat: The Black Hand, a source book detailing every way they can be used as fearsome foes for your coterie. The second is The Book of Nod, an in-universe tome of ancient texts used by Noddists both within and without the Sabbat which supposedly chronicles the origins and history of Caine and the birth of the vampires. Renegade was kind enough to send a copy along for me to check out, and there is a LOT of cool stuff in here for you to use in your VtM games. It’s hard to capture all of it, but here are some of the darkest, most fascinating things the Sabbat can bring to the table.

1) Engage Deeper With The Law Of Caine

The Book of Nod isn’t necessarily something you give out to your players. You may not even end up giving a little piece of it to your players unless one of them is interested in studying these scriptures. Instead, it’s a fantastic way to add some genuine mysticism to the world of VtM that isn’t just generic vampire lore. You can give villains little quotes from it, or even use it as a driving ethical force behind an antagonist. The texts within can be a great MacGuffin for your group, letting your explore this part of the world in an exciting way. Hell, if you’re extra fancy, spring for the Artifact version and make them really feel like a vampiric Indiana Jones.

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2) Go Primal

The Paths of Enlightenment give Storytellers new ways to make engaging and utterly terrifying Vampires. These are how they organize themselves in antithesis to the Clans of the Antediluvians. These include the literally bloodthirsty Path of Caine, the sadistic scientists of the Path of Death and Soul, and the ambitious and controlling Path of Power and the Inner Voice. One especially interesting path is The Path of the Sun, which is full of “thin-blooded” vampires who openly walk in the sun, bearing their burns proudly in defiance of others. They see themselves as the future of vampires, and can be a truly alien encounter for your more traditional group.

3) Ancient Monsters

It wouldn’t be a sourcebook without some new beasties to encounter. Maybe you’d like to throw a Blood-hound at your Kindred, empowered by Vitae and supernaturally stronger than normal. Or maybe have them face off with a Cathari Vampyre, who embraces the pop culture stereotypes of vampires to throw off hunters (nobody wants to accidentally kill the local goth). Scariest of all, you could set them against Fleshweld Ghouls, a seemingly normal but identical group that can easily transform into a massive, hungering beast formed from the flesh of the dozen or more forms that make it up. This is where VtM goes almost a little Delta Green, and it’s great seeing some true weirdness enter the picture in this book.

4) It’s The End Of The World As We Know It

Any sense of organization has been lost as the Sabbat have declared war on the Camarilla, Anarchs, and all others not of their ways. Sabbat: The Black Hand puts this guerilla war into perspective with its truly international scale. You might have them manipulating the cartels in Mexico City, exploiting chaos in the Baltics, or picking off entire villages in The Maghreb. Each location has a little hook attached perfect to get your group interested, allowing you to explore the many-faceted machinations of the Sword of Caine.

5) Eye Spy

Even if you don’t use the specific setting hooks in the rest of The Black Hand, you can still use some new tools to enhance your storytelling. I’m a fan of the deeper focus on underground espionage work. The Sabbat works under the noses of the rest of the world, trying to remain undetected in their war until it’s too late to stop them. Rather than the top-down subterfuge you’ll see among the Kindred, this work resembles more closely a resistance working against oppression. Which, of course, the Sabbat believe that they are.

You can grab a copy of Sabbat: The Black Hand and The Book Of Nod on the Renegade store as well as at your FLGS, with the Artifact version of The Book Of Nod available for pre-order!

Images via Renegade Games and White Wolf

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