War party is a term used to describe a Sabbat ritae in which packs and fearless individual cainites compete with each other in the hunt for a specific target. At the end of a war party, the target is destroyed and the victor(s) drink(s) its blood.
The Sabbat thrives on diablerie and the destruction of elders, and this dangerous ritus serves to facilitate both of those urges. War parties consist of multiple packs that vie for the blood of a non-Sabbat elder. Packs participating in the War Party compete against one another for the privilege of killing and diablerizing the elder, but rarely do the packs come into deadly conflict with each other, reserving their violence for their target.
In preparation for a War Party, the participating packs gather and celebrate. They may also perform the Fire Dance, listen to Sermons of Caine, and participate in a Blood Feast or Vaulderie. The chief of the War Party, usually the most accomplished or highest-ranking priest among the packs, offers the assembled packs the challenge. She stands before the individual packs, each lined up behind their leaders, and asks each of the packs’ leaders in turn, “Do you come freely to war, and do you take up this noble cause, never resting until the blood of our enemy is spilled?” The leaders respond with a forceful “We do!” Only after the packs have committed to the hunt does he reveal the identity of their target. A pack suffers great humiliation if it backs out of a challenge after its members have committed themselves to this most dangerous game. For the remainder of the night, the vampires hold a revel, preparing themselves for the hunt the next evening holds in store. The War Party sets out after its prey on the night following the challenge — the hunt has begun.
Sabbat vampires on the warpath stop at nothing to take down their prey. They kill, burn, smash, and overturn anyone or anything that stands between them and their target. The winning pack is the one whose member consumes the elder’s blood first. The target, unliving or dead, or some recognizable portion of the target, must be brought back to the place where the packs accepted the challenge. The Chief of the War Party accepts this trophy and bestows her blessing over the winning pack. Once the chief recognizes the winner, all bets are settled and another celebration is held. The vampire partaking of the diablerie gains the benefits of committing the Amaranth. Vampires who belong to the winning pack gain status within the Sabbat - at least until the next War Party (unless the same pack wins again), or at the end of the next grandiose Sabbat affair. This gain of status might be permanent if the hunted elder was of exceptional power or reputation.