The Black Hand Review – Playing the Sabbat

This Storyteller’s Vault offering comes with a very experienced pedigree. Not only is there a...

This Storyteller’s Vault offering comes with a very experienced pedigree. Not only is there a lot of experience on the writing team, but one of them also worked on the official Sabbat book.


FULL DISCLOSURE: I know members of the writing team.

After the Camarilla and Anarch books it was hard to know what we’d get with the Sabbat book. The previous books were very thin on actual detail and rules apart from offering a new clan each. But the Sabbat book was a lot more detailed. So you might be forgiven for thinking you didn’t need anything more about the Sabbat so soon. But the detail here is so useful I find myself wishing we could have had a double size Sabbat book that included all of this.

While this book does have a wealth of Storyteller information, the core of it offers a solid player’s guide. It provides a series of options and examples for Sabbat versions of several of the character creation options. While the corebook options usually still suit Sabbat characters, the options here are a lot more appropriate. You may even find a lot of the detail here useful for a slightly darker Camarilla or Anarch game too.

The book is divided into four chapters: Creation Rites (character options), Vaulderie (Pack and group creation options), Blood Feast (a toolbox of new disciplines, rituals and advantages etc.) and War Party (campaign guidance and loresheets).

Chapter One: Creation Rites​

In chapter one – Creation Rites – we take a look at playing a Sabbat character. There is an investigation of the Paths and what they mean, along with options to take new advantages based on Paths in a similar way as loresheets. Although my favourite part of this section is the way it deals with Touchstones. Given that connecting to humans just doesn’t work for Sabbat, instead they connect to certain rituals to maintain their centre. Each Path description also details particular rituals that suit that path too. Then we move onto a collection of new Sabbat specific predator types, about eight in total, so more than enough to have something different for each character. The rest of the chapter takes a look at every clan (and bloodline as well as thin-bloods) and how they function within the Sabbat. While clan lines aren’t quite as important in the Black Hand they still matter and this section offers a good ‘boots on the ground’ look at where each character might fit in.

Chapter Two: Vaulderie​

In chapter two – Vaulderie – we look at Sabbat packs, from the ground up. There are new pack types as well as notes on creating a Sabbat pack with new pack advantages. As with predator types, there are more than enough options here to stop you reaching for the Corebook, as well as a look at the dynamics of the Sabbat pack as opposed to a Camarilla coterie. Following that and making up nearly half the chapter is detail on the various Sabbat rituals. A few rituals from the Sabbat book get a second look here but most are new and the section greatly expands the ritualistic nature of life in the Sabbat.

Chapter Three: Blood Feat​

In chapter three – Blood Feat - we open with a large selection of new discipline powers that takes us to more rituals and thin blood alchemy options. There is a lot of new stuff here as well as the return of a few favourites (like ‘Mirror Walk’). This is followed with a look at how to put a Sabbat twist to the background advantages from the Corebook. The chapter closes with a great toolbox of bits and pieces for the players and Storyteller, looking at explosives and weapons, relics, and some stock NPCs.

Chapter Four: War Party​

In chapter four – War Party – we look at building and running a Sabbat campaign. There is a rundown of character creation and how to connect together all the new Sabbat options. Then there is a look at safety tools that doesn’t offer anything new but is worth adding in a Sabbat book. Sure, a Sabbat game might usually be way past use of the X card for some, but there is no reason to play the most brutal version. The chapter ends with 22 new Loresheets, including House Goratrix, Lilith and Genevra among other new and established characters.

Should You Buy It?​

In conclusion, this is a very worthy addition to any Vampire game. If you already have the Sabbat book it is the perfect companion, adding to and expanding it rather than trying to rewrite or convert it. If you are running a Camarilla game and using the Sabbat as NPCs there is some useful detail here if you want a little more detail than the Sabbat book. But if you are running a Sabbat campaign, it is absolutely essential.

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Andrew Peregrine

Andrew Peregrine

Von Ether

Opening up the Sabbat and using the Paths instead of Humanity changed the vibe for the rest of Vampire's run in our local meta, that's for sure.

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