The Black Hand, or simply The Hand, comprise a special subdivision of the Sabbat, a sect within a sect. They are an elite group of vampires recognized as separate from all other members of the sect. They are, essentially, the Sabbat military.
The Black Hand is not truly a separate body from the Sabbat, since all its members are loyal to the Sabbat over all else. Until recently, this sub-sect was composed primarily of Assamite antitribu, as well as many of the more militant vampires from other clans. The members of the Hand do not exist in packs of their own. Rather, they are members of normal Sabbat packs.
Nonetheless they may form temporary packs composed of solely Black Hand operatives. These warbands are usually referred to as the Kamut to clearly distinguish it from the ordinary Sabbat packs to which Black Hand members also belong. A kamut can be as small as two or three members or as large as a dozen, depending on the mission involved. Most (but not all) kamuts are temporary, assembled by a Dominion for a particular mission, and then dissolved when the mission has been completed.
Put simply, the Black Hand is a special militia that the leaders of the Sabbat can muster in times of need. Hand members are rumored to be particularly skilled in the ways of war. The members of the Black Hand themselves select the Sabbat vampires who are to be offered a chance to join the Hand. The Black Hand puts all candidates through a rigorous series of trials which test cunning, willpower, physical prowess, and martial skills. Those who pass these trials are inducted into the Black Hand; the new member receives detailed instruction in the order's ways, and he must come when the Hand calls him to action.
The roots of the Black Hand lie in the so-called Lost Tribe. This tribe was essentially a group of Kindred (mainly rogue Assamites) centered around the Weeping Master and his disciple Dastur Anosh. These Kindred found an ancient and mysterious valley in which the Weeping Stone stood.
This stone cried drops of blood which filled the drinker with sorrow, rage, and regret. The Weeping Master believed that this stone was the petrified Zillah, preserved by Caine after she had witnessed the slaughter of her brethren by the unfaithful Third Generation. The Lost Tribe believed that by drinking the blood they severed their ties to the cursed Antediluvians and instead formed a covenant with Caine himself, destined to stand by his side during Gehenna and his judgement of the Antediluvians and their progeny.
The apocalyptic message of the "Black Hand" resonated within the nascent Sabbat and the Black Hand joined the rogue Anarchs a short time after the Convention of Thorns, serving as a semi-independent sub-cult within the sect that acted mainly as assassins.
Unbeknown to them, another, much older, sect had begun to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Hand, the Tal'Mahe'Ra. Slowly the corruption spread, until half of the highest Seraphim had forsaken their original mission for the goal of the "True" Black Hand: serving the Antediluvians during Gehenna and to propitiate them by sacrificing their ill-begotten progeny.
As the methods and goals of both sect seemed to mirror each other closely, few amidst the sect suspected about this infiltration until many of the Hand who had been secretly part of the True Black Hand – including two Seraphim – suddenly vanished after the first spirit nuke hit their hidden headquarter in the Shadowlands during the events that lead to the creation of the Sixth Maelstrom.
The true strength of the Black Hand has never been in numbers. Being small – several hundred members at most – it has never had an elaborate organizational structure. Flexibility is of far more value to the subsect's leadership than tiers of hierarchy.
Most of its agents are distributed throughout the Sabbat as members of ordinary Sabbat packs and are only called into active duty as needed. When the Black Hand acts, it acts primarily at the level of the kamut, a pack summoned into existence for a specific and finite purpose and then disbanded, its members dispersed back to their original Sabbat packs.
Extraordinary circumstances might call for more than one kamut to be assembled for a more complex mission, such as the recent (and highly successful) Sabbat drive up the East Coast, but such occasions have not been frequent in the faction's history.
Only two intermediary tiers of command stand between the common Black Hand member and the Council of Seraphim: the Dominions; and the ductus of their kamut (if they are on active assignment), or the local Watch Commander (for those who are not).
It is a council of four powerful Cainites who rule the Black Hand. These four are known as the Seraphim, and act as generals for the order, serving the Regent directly (at least in name). The First Seraph will serve as the highest-ranking member of the Seraphim, with three others of his choosing to serve as his advisors.
All Hand members are immune to the Vinculum when it pertains to the direct orders given to them by the Seraphim. The members of the Hand answer only to the Seraphim when conducting Hand business. Other than that, they are bound by the Vinculum and Sabbat codes of justice like all the rest. The leaders of the Sabbat do not like it either; the Hand could easily wipe out the entire lot of them in a night. The Hand's members are usually give solo assignments directly from the Seraphim or her messengers and are rarely called together as a group.
- Watch Commanders or Ductus
- Shakar (Assassin)
- Rookie (Mustajib)
Most members of the Black Hand, known as operatives, agents, rafiq, brothers, sisters, or even comrades, do not hold any special rank; they are all equal in the service of Caine.
- Death's Head: The sliced face and front part of the skull of those assassinated by the Black Hand. Made into masks and used during the Danse Macabre. Often painted and decorated in some way.
- Dance Macabre: This ritual requires members to dress as the dead and perform a ritualistic dance, similar to the Sabbat's Dance Macabre. Death Heads are worn during the ritual as horrific music and chanting always accompany the dance.
- Sacrificial Offerings: Black Hand members often sacrifice living beings in respect for Caine and the Antediluvians. Young Kindred and/or ghouls could be considered lesser or greater sacrifices dependent on how many. There is great ceremony involved which include chanting, music, a special service, and even costuming.
- Vision Seeking: Ingesting LSD-laced Blood to produce a vision in a way of seeking answers to questions of the soul.
- Blood Hunt
- Oath of Loyalty: Some leaders of the Hand insist that operatives reaffirm their commitment to the Hand when they are given important missions.
- Spiritual Propaedeutics: Help in transitioning to a Path of Enlightenment from Humanity.
- Tess of Verification: With no secret handshakes or code words, the Black Hand uses a combination of body, eye, and mouth movements as well as word phrasing to indicate to others that they are in the same organization.
|Vampire: The Masquerade Sects|
|Anarch Movement • Ashirra • Camarilla • Independent Alliance • Independent Clans • Sabbat|
|Inconnu • Lost Tribe (Black Hand) • Tal'Mahe'Ra|