Known to many as the Black Hand, the Sabbat is rumored to have evolved from a medieval death cult. Little of its nature has changed since then. It is the largest sect next to the Camarilla, and is aggressively attempting to increase its domain.
The Black Hand rules through fear, hatred, anger and physical violence. In North America, it holds undisputed control over Detroit, Toronto, Montreal, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Portland, and is close to gaining supremacy in Boston and Baltimore. Until recently, Miami was also under Sabbat control, but recent events have caused a swing in the power balance there. Mexico is firmly under control of the Sabbat, with Mexico City standing as the sect’s power base in the New World.
The Sabbat is organized in units known as “packs” which are strongly loyal to one another, feeding and traveling as one group. Indeed, in the Camarilla, it has become a derogatory term to call a coterie a “pack.”
Members of the Sabbat come from many different bloodlines, though two clans dominate the organization: the Lasombra and Tzimisces. Though it may be possible to join the Sabbat, almost all members are created. The Black Hand requires strict devotion and adherence to the will of the group.
The Sabbat initiation procedure is designed to destroy any of the vestigial will in a new vampire. Initiates are slain, slowly and painfully, and then given the Blood. This blood doesn’t come from one member of the Sabbat, but from as many as are present at the initiation, combined into a chalice. Once the Initiate has been given the Blood, he is buried alive, and must crawl out in order to live. Those who do not spend eternity buried under the earth. The process of digging oneself from a grave tears the Initiate’s humanity from him and opens him to the subjugation and brainwashing of the Sabbat.
Once the Initiate breaks free, he is Blood Bound to the pack that Embraced him. In a strange ritual, which occurs over two more nights, the Initiate is given more blood.
The Black Hand is concerned solely with power in all its forms. It is actively engaged in diablerie and has a fanatical opposition to life and its trappings. The Sabbat views mortals as lesser beasts to be dominated and used as the need requires. The Sabbat worships at the places of the dead—cemeteries, tombs and charnel houses. The members of the Sabbat understand themselves to be undead, and behave accordingly. Any who oppose them are burnt; indeed, the Sabbat packs seem to have a fascination with fire, though they are no more immune to it than any other Kindred.
The members of the Sabbat revel in being vampires and living out their instincts. They find other Kindred contemptible because they try so hard to retain their humanity. For the Sabbat, this is the greatest blasphemy.
The Sabbat often sends packs into cities held by the Camarilla, either to scout out the opposition or to hunt for those who have fled from the covens. Camarilla politics are invariably complicated by the presence of Sabbat Kindred.
The Sabbat is said to engage in a strange sort of diablerie, wherein its members ritually butcher the elders of their kind so that stronger, more aggressive and younger Kindred may take their place. However, like so much else spoken of among Kindred outside the Sabbat, this is unconfirmed. The princes of the major cities worldwide would give much to gain hard facts about the workings of the Sabbat. All of them fear the danger of its steady growth.
In the end, nothing certain can be said of the Sabbat. Indeed, all that the Camarilla believes about it could be false, rumors spread by Antediluvians who wish the two sects to fight. It is unlikely, but all too possible.