The Sabbat, also known as the Sword of Caine, are a very loose, angry group of Kindred who fucking HATE the traditions set by the Camarilla. They're also batshit crazy, and cause a shitload of ruckus and trouble for other Kindred. Their main goal is to fuck up the Camarilla as much as they can.
The Sabbat was founded in 1493, mostly as a reaction to the Convention of Thorns, which was the founding of the Camarilla. They made up the members of the Anarch Revolt who were still pretty pissed. The leaders of the endeavor were members of the Tzimisce and the Lasombra clans. Both of whom had destroyed their Antediluvian founders and accepted there was no going back. The Tzimisce weren't going to give their lands to the Tremere, who they outright fucking *hated*. The Lamsobra had invested way too much into the revolt to just give up their success to a bunch of old assholes. In the words of their representative, "I came to negotiate, not to surrender." Delegations from both clans met up at an Island near Spain and started making up their own negotiations, along with some still-annoyed Anarchs. These Anarchs either didn't want to surrender to the Elders, or didn't agree with their Clan's choices. Others joined up to escape the Blood Bond practice, and even a few elders showed up. Namely, the Malkavian Vasantasena, the Tremere Goratrix, and the Ventrue Dominique Touraine. These groups basically lived innawoods, doing hit and run tactics on the holdings of the Elders and anyone who had sided with the Camarilla. Mortals named them "Sabbats" due to their crazy behavior, and the way they flaunted how inhuman they were. Slowly, the packs were brought together and eventually the remnants of the Anarch Revolt became the Sabbat. A sect dedicated to warfare against the Camarilla, their Elders and Antediluvian leaders, and everyone else involved.
A bitter war was raged between the newly-made Sabbat and the not too much older Camarilla. The Inquisition kept fucking up Kindred populations while all of Europe's vampires started to choose sides. The Camarilla started to get a better hold on major cities, and the Sabbat were forced onto the defensive. Despite open protests against it as a tool of the Antediluvians, the Sabbat Elders realized keeping Vampires a secret was maybe not such a terrible idea after all, and tried it out for themselves. Besides Spain, mostly controlled by the Lamsobra, and Eastern Europe/Scandinavia, full of Tzimisce, most packs traveled to the new world. And, for a good while, the Sect did great. Due to the Revolution and war happening, it was super easy for them to hide.
The large numbers of Sabbat in the Americas did cause a couple of problems though. Soon a bunch of Camarilla vampires started coming over too, hoping to carve out their own legacies away from the Princes of Europe. Because of a lack of organisation, an internal struggle between the Lamsobra and Tzimisce ensured. Which then resulted in the First Sabbat Civil War. The war did so much damage to themselves the Cammies were able to take a ton of territory of off them. After 30 years of infighting, a 'Purchase Pact' was made forbidding Sabbat members to attack each other. Of course, War brings out the worst in people, and Kindred too.
Sure enough, yet another wave of in-fighting happened causing the Second Sabbat Civil War. Grouping together in New York, while the Sabbat had managed to hold their own just barely, High-Ranking Sabbat started to reconsider some things. Namely if they still agreed with the Sect's actual cause. Not happy to just sign another goodwill agreement, they took a long, hard look at what had happened to the 'Sword Of Caine'. So, they did something completely unheard of before. A congregation of Sabbat got together to make the 'Code Of Milan'. In theory, it was meant to be what the Sabbat actually stood for. It was approved by the new Regent of the Sabbat, Melinda Galbraith, as well as several members of the Black Hand. (The Sabbat's Combat arm.) It also established Mexico City as being the official unofficial capital of the Sabbat.
During times of struggle, the Sabbat had managed to hold onto some of the Major cities even through their internal wars. Some, like Philadelphia remained in Sabbat control 'cause of the sheer number of Black Hand members living there. The Sabbat began to develop along two lines - city Kindred and nomadic Kindred. Most of the nomadic Kindred were packs that fled their cities after being defeated by the Camarilla, or other Sabbat members. The city Kindred maintained permanent havens, and started to seem more and more like the Camarilla. They inserted themselves into the infrastructure of their cities, while the nomadic Kindred traveled the land, never staying in one place for too long.
The Third Sabbat Civil War was the shortest of the three, only lasting for 100 nights in 1957. It was caused by a failed Coup performed by Brujah Sabbat members, and lead to a ton of violence yet again. The war was ended due to a peace treaty involving Caitiff and the unified Lamsobra and Tzimisces.
In the modern nights, the Sabbat have taken a metric ass-ton of offensive fronts to the Camarilla, but also suffered from internal disputes. They gained Atlanta and Washington D.C, but lost New York City and Milan. The Destruction of the Tremere Sabbat and attacks on Mexican Sabbat holdings by unknown parties have sucked, but there have also been a few good things.. They gained some new allies. The Salubri Sabbat, and the Harbingers of Skulls, who joined the Sabbat to exact vengeance against their enemies. The Black Hand, once a super-stable part of the Sabbat, have fell into some troubles. There's been a lot of in-fighting due to the 'True' Black Hand. And to add Icing to the cake, The Regent has been slain, but only the one who did it and is pretending to be her knows that. Waiting for the moment when her charade, (Or Masquerade) falls through.
The Sabbat, despite what you might expect, actually have a lot of ways to show they're on the same side. They have their own gang colour (Purple), an official symbol (See image), and tons of gang-signs, code words, passwords, gestures, secret handshakes and more that are *supposed* to help them identify each other. In reality though, very few Sabbat members know all of them, and have to learn to recognize one another by face. Usually only a Bishop or Archbishop (Think more or less a Sabbat Baron/Prince) can recognize every single Sabbat member in their domain, which of course is a total pain in the ass to do. Even worse so with nomadic packs of 'em. On top of all this, the individual packs of the Sabbat can have their own symbol, gesture, or other way of identifying themselves. Undercover Sabbat packs have even more secret and complicated ones.
Its become common for younger pack members to start wearing crucifixes, or have them tattooed somewhere. They do it because they find it hilarious, the irony of being damned but wearing something symbols of God and Salvation. Older, more mature Lasombra think the pratice is annoying as hell, or sometimes even blasphemous, even if they wear such a cross themselves. Fucking hypocrites. Their argument is that the neonates do not believe in their own damnation, or in God's immortal power over their souls. And they... apparently do? Weird cunts.
A lot of neonates in the Sabbat wonder why they need to be so damn sneaky all the time. The whole point of the Sabbat, after all, is to tear down the Camarilla and Masquerade and rule humans openly. Sabbat elders don't give an answer, given they lived through the Inquisition, and even some Bishops struggle to think up a good response. The typical attitude is that being a 'True Sabbat' is a matter of importance and distinction. You can't just have anyone and everyone waltzing in and claiming all the rights of being a Sabbat member if they haven't proved themselves. And given the pack structure of the Sabbat, many members think of themselves as being in a gang, or warband. Even have their own initiation rites and other ways of making themselves feel more special. D'aww.
The higher up one goes in the Sabbat ranks, the less frequently such symbols are seen, and the attitude of "Us against the world" turns into "ME against the world." In order to survive long enough to even reach that high up, a Kindred needs to be able to live for themselves. Fight hard for every single scrap of profit or any advantage they can get their grubby hands on. Unlike the Camarilla, the ranking isn't as rigid and as such there's no one to promote each other. The only rank and title they have is what they have the power to take. Both the Tzimisce and the Lasombra encourage this dog-eat-dog culture, as its almost like a form of natural selection. In their eyes, this way only the strongest, smartest and most capable sabbat end up leading. The rest are useless canon fodder.
The Sabbat loves their ideas of loyalty and bonds above all else. To help with this, the sect's created a bunch of rituals, basically team building exercises.
The Sabbat see themselves as the Army Of Caine, and as such try to make themselves as tight-knit-group. The Sabbat is mainly full of kindred from Clans Tzimisce and Lasombra and numerous antitribu from Clans normally independent or associated with the Camarilla. Sabbat can sire childer like normal, and are no less picky than other vampires about it. However, during a War effort, they often perform a mass embrace. These poor bastards are usually knocked over the head, embraced and then buried. By the time the so-called 'Shovelhead' has clawed back up, he's understandably pretty pissed and confused. They're then pointed in the direction of the enemy and sent loose. Most Shovelheads don't survive their first few weeks and are considered to be 'False Sabbat', and are given no respect at all from other members. Once they have proven themselves multiple times, they're taken in, given rites, etc etc. Childer who are specifically chosen to be Embraced don't have to prove themselves, as they were picked rather than mass embraced.
The cornerstone of Sabbat organization is the pack; groups of 3-10 kindred, all mutually bound by blood-sharing rites of the sect. Packs have a warlord leader, known as a ductus, and a chaplin known as a Pack Priest. The latter's job is to remind the pack of their responsibilities to Caine. As mentioned earlier, the Pack is bound a blood-sharing rite. Its called a vinculum, and is like the mortal equivalent of blood brothers. Just a bigger deal and a lower risk of getting HIV. Packs generally occupy communal havens.
Above the pack is a set of hierarchical titles specifically mocking the titles of the Catholic Church. Bishops oversee multiple packs, and overseeing them are Archbishops, who are almost the Sabbat equivalent of a Prince. Above them are the Cardinals, who oversee rather large areas. Such as Canada, or the East Coast, stuff like that. They make up the Consistory, the governing body that selects the Regent. Advising the Regent, Consistory, and Archbishops, or other leaders are the Prisci. A group that are Elders and other well-respected Sabbat who both advise and act as Judges. The higher ranks of the Sabbat enforce their will through agents commonly called Templars or Paladins, depending on rank.
The hierarchy from Highest to Lowest is as follows:
- Priscus (Singular Prisci)
- Pack Priest
- Ductus (Pack Leader)
- True Sabbat
- False Sabbat
While the titles are formally recognized, a lot of the titles are self-selected. They have a proper process for Bishop and higher, but any other rank a Sabbat is free to claim and try and defend. Of course, the higher the rank, the more chance the Kindred in question is gonna get shanked. While most Sabbat belong to packs, elder Sabbat are more likely to live and work without packmates. And as the ranks get even higher, the differences between the Sabbat and the Camarilla become less and less.