Dirty Secrets of the Black Hand is a sourcebook for Vampire: The Masquerade that details for the first time the Black Hand... and the True Black Hand, whose influence extends well beyond the reach of the Sabbat.
Although earlier Vampire books had featured options for characters who belonged to esoteric bloodlines or who had some knowledge of the greater World of Darkness, this book was the first and only book to treat as default characters who hailed from obscure backgrounds and who had intimate, secret knowledge of the other, non-vampiric denizens of the World of Darkness. This book is largely seen as the apotheosis of the "Vampions" era, in which Kindred and other supernaturals banded together across lines of sect and splat to fight against even greater evils: in this case, the alien Souleaters, which originated from the Deep Umbra.
From the White Wolf catalog:
- Synonymous with terror and destruction, for centuries the Black Hand has struck fear in the still hearts of Camarilla's vampires. What would the members of that august sect give to know the role the Black Hand has played in its own history?
- The Black Hand is far more powerful than the Camarilla or even the Sabbat suspect, and its role tonight is even more critical than ever.
- Dirty Secrets of the Black Hand includes:
Chapter One: You Are One Of Us Now!Edit
This is the history of the Sabbat version of the Black Hand, the True Black Hand, its Internal Structure, and the Lexicon of the Sect.
Chapter Two: Unlife Within the Black HandEdit
This chapter explains life within the Black Hand. It's Ideology, Agenda, the Crusade. It talks about Joining the Black Hand, serving the Black Hand, how to gain power within the sect, secret practices, as well as Law and Order and Secret mysteries.
- Anele of Purification: Hand members who undergo extreme trials are given a vial of vitae from the Del'Roh. The practitioners anoint themselves with the blood in hopes it will give them strength to succeed. The vitae is often awarded to those who atone for past dishonours as a symbol of respect and forgiveness.
- Blood Hunt
- 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 terrible 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Test 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.
Chapter Three: The Blood of Our OwnEdit
This chapter describes the bloodlines of the Black Hand in addition to the non-Kindred of the Sect.
- Assamite antitribu
- True Brujah
- Daughters of Cacophony
- Gangrel and Country Gangrel antitribu
- Malkavian and Malkavian antitribu
- Nosferatu and Nosferatu antitribu
- Ravnos antitribu
- Toreador and Toreador antitribu
- Old Clan Tzimisce
- Ventrue and Ventrue antitribu
Chapter Four: Building Better BastardsEdit
The creation of Black Hand Characters. Includes:
- New Bloodlines (True Brujah, Nagaraja, Old Clan Tzimisce);
- New Paths of Enlightenment (The Path of Lilith, The Path of the Scorched Heart, The Path of Self-Focus);
- New Abilities, new Disciplines (Nihilistics, Temporis);
- New Thaumaturgical Paths (Biothaumaturgic Experimentation)
- New Thaumaturgical Rituals (Preserve Corpse, Black Water, Moonlight Dancers, Shadowgate, Haunting Breeze, Shadowland Passage, Mass Grave);
- New Merits and Flaws;
- New Ghoul Revenant Families (Enrathi, Marijava, Rafastio)
Chapter Five: Enoch, The City That Caine BuiltEdit
Chapter Six: TemplatesEdit
Ten generic characters that could be played or used as NPCs.
- "The Antiquarian" - 9th Generation Gangrel
- "The Corporate Conspirator" - 8th Generation Lasombra antitribu
- "Coup Leader" - 8th Generation Nosferatu antitribu
- "Doting Mentor" - 7th Generation Nagaraja
- "Globe-Trotting Assassin" - 7th Generation Malkavian
- "Government Leader" - 8th Generation Ventrue
- "Jyhad Fanatic" - 7th Generation Assamite antitribu
- "Seller of Secrets" - 7th Generation True Brujah
- "Shadow Crusader" - 7th Generation Old Clan Tzimisce
Appendix One: Those You Should FearEdit
- Vardek - Extremely old vampire who calls himself Qadi of the Ventrue and claims that most of the Camarilla princes are his descendants. Some say he has foul plans in the works that have the Del'Roh in secret dealings with the Aralu. When he is not in Enoch, he is on Earth presiding over judgment over those he claims against the interest of the Black Hand. Some say he is just eliminating his enemies but he is the one who called for the crusade over the Souleater
- Si'Djeha - She is the Seraph for the Eastern Black Hand and has been a leader within the region for centuries. She is responsible for most of the bloodshed in the region but considers her efforts an attempt to maintain balance between the Assamites, Followers of Set, Baali, and others. There are rumors that she has attained Golconda. If this is true, her goals and methods may lead to even more upheaval.
- Khunufseh - Egyptian mage who established a chantry in Paris and actively recruits other mages into the Black Hand. He is most likely of the Euthanatos tradition but there is no proof to that. The Qadi have called for his head but rest of the Hand is reluctant to do so, meanwhile Khunufseh continues to search for more mages.
- Zubeida the Abomination - A Silent Strider who centuries ago quested to bring about some sort of unification of the disparate tribes of Africa. She unfortunately was Embraced in the shadow of the Sphinx by the Followers of Set. For centuries she served her masters until the Black Hand destroyed the temple and freed her to tear out her intestines. She was prevented from her destruction and constantly watch her for reoccurrences. She does serve the sect willingly because she feels it does some good. However, if the vigilance on her were ever to relax she would do the honourable thing and destroy herself at once.
- Inauhaten - A Mummy who lead the True Black Hand to Enoch and holds a place of respect and reverence among the Kindred of the Black Hand. He sits on the council of the wazirs but is not one of them.
- Marge Kahn - A dangerous Malkavian, who claims to be Toreador, is a mission overseer for the Hand. She is power-mad and egotistical who has moved up through the ranks through lies and deceit. She betrayed her first partner and taking credit for their successes. She has many capable retainers and field agents but always takes credits for their successes but quickly turns on them for any blunders. Her corruption is running rampant through the sect.
Also included in this Appendix are stats for stereotypes of different Black Hand members.
Appendix Two: The Hidden AgendaEdit
This section gives examples of different kinds of Souleaters.
- Fleshy Collectives - Huge, sentient blobs of oozing, free-floating flesh and guts. They absorb others and those who are absorbed do not die are remain conscious and in extreme pain.
- Ghastly Babies - They look like infants at first glance but their faces are quite inhuman. Heads are almost rectangular, tiny black orbs for eyes, and mouths that are downturned maws. They have two runny slits that are blackish-red for noses. Hairless and pale. They must kill and consume fresh flesh.
- Shamblers - The creature resembles humans with melting skin.
A truth that's told with bad intent bears all the lies you can invent.
- William Blake, Auguries of Innocence
I love treason but hate a traitor.
- Julius Caesar, Plutarch's Parallel Lives
The world wants to be deceived.
- Sebastian Brant, The Ship of Fools
Let them hate, so long as they fear.
- Lucius Accius, Fragment
The gods visit the sins of the fathers upon the children.
- Euripides, Phrixus
I have seen no more evident monstrosity and miracle in the world than myself.
- Michel de Montaigne, Essays, To the Reader
What do good and evil mean to an ordinary mortal? To the vampire, whose life is anything but ordinary, they mean everything.
- Michael Romkey, I…Vampire
The prince of darkness is a gentleman.
- William Shakespeare, King Lear
Tut! I have done a thousand dreadful things as willingly as one would kill a fly.
- William Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus
Her lips were red, her looks were free, her locks were yellow as gold: her skin was white as leprosy, the nightmare Life-In-Death was she, who thicks man's blood with cold.
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
- Djuhah, Sabbat Seraph
- Crenshaw Ghast, Lillian and Camarilla Primogen of Dallas, Texas
- Nostoket, unforgiving Nosferatu Shakar
- Juleidah, Dominion of the Eastern Black Hand
- Vardek, a Qadi of the sect
- Si'Djeha, the Seraph for the Eastern Black Hand
- Khunufseh, an Egyptian mage
- Zubeida the Abomination, a Silent Strider Abomination
- Inauhaten, a Mummy and discoverer of Enoch
- Marge Kahn, a Malkavian and corrupt mission overseer
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