Sassafras Consensus Protocol

Created: 2023-09-06
Updated: 2024-01-04

Sassafras is a novel consensus protocol designed to address the recurring fork-related challenges encountered in other lottery-based protocols.

The protocol aims to create a mapping between each epoch’s slots and the validators set while ensuring that the identity of validators assigned to the slots remains undisclosed until the slot is actively claimed during block production.

1. Motivation

Sassafras Protocol has been rigorously detailed in a comprehensive research paper authored by the Web3 foundation research team.

This RFC is primarily intended to detail the critical implementation aspects vital for ensuring interoperability and to clarify certain aspects that are left open by the research paper and thus subject to interpretation during implementation.

1.1. Relevance to Implementors

This RFC focuses on providing implementors with the necessary insights into the protocol’s operation.

In instances of inconsistency between this document and the research paper, this RFC should be considered authoritative to eliminate ambiguities and ensure interoperability.

1.2. Supporting Sassafras for Polkadot

Beyond promoting interoperability, this RFC also aims to facilitate the implementation of Sassafras within the Polkadot ecosystem.

Although the specifics of deployment strategies are beyond the scope of this document, it lays the groundwork for the integration of Sassafras into the Polkadot network.

2. Stakeholders

2.1. Blockchain Developers

Developers responsible for creating blockchains who intend to leverage the benefits offered by the Sassafras Protocol.

2.2. Polkadot Ecosystem Contributors

Developers contributing to the Polkadot ecosystem, both relay-chain and para-chains.

The protocol will have a central role in the next generation block authoring consensus systems.

3. Notation and Convention

This section outlines the notation and conventions adopted throughout this document to ensure clarity and consistency.

3.1. Data Structures Definitions and Encoding

Data structures are primarily defined using standard ASN.1, syntax with few exceptions:

  • Fixed width integer types are not explicitly defined by ASN.1 standard. Within this document, U<n> denotes a n-bit unsigned integer.

Unless explicitly noted, all types must be serialized using SCALE codec.

To ensure interoperability of serialized structures, the order of the fields must match the structures definitions found within this document.

3.2. Pseudo-Code

It is advantageous to make use of code snippets as part of the protocol description. As a convention, the code is formatted in a style similar to Rust, and can make use of the following set of predefined functions:

  • BYTES(x: T): returns an OCTET_STRING that represents the raw byte array of the object x with type T.

    • If T is a VisibleString (ASCII string), it returns the sequence of octets of its ASCII representation.
    • If T is U<n>, it returns the little-endian encoding of the integer U<n> as n/8 octets.
  • U<n>(x: OCTET_STRING): returns a U<n> interpreting x as the little-endian encoding of a n bits unsigned integer.

  • SCALE(x: T): returns an OCTET_STRING representing the SCALE encoding of x with type T.

  • BLAKE2(n: U32, x: OCTET_STRING): returns the standard Blake2b n bytes hash of x as an OCTET_STRING (note this is not equivalent to the truncation of the full 64 bytes Blake2b hash).

  • CONCAT(x₀: OCTET_STRING, ..., xₖ: OCTET_STRING): returns the concatenation of the inputs as an OCTET_STRING.

  • LENGTH(x: OCTET_STRING): returns the number of octets in x as an U32.

3.3. Incremental Introduction of Types and Functions

More types and helper functions are introduced incrementally as they become relevant within the document’s context.

We find this approach more agile, especially given that the set of types used is not overly complex.

4. Protocol Introduction

The timeline is segmented into a sequentially ordered sequence of slots. This entire sequence of slots is then further partitioned into distinct segments known as epochs.

The Sassafras protocol aims to map each slot within an epoch to the designated validators for that epoch, utilizing a ticketing system.

The protocol operation can be roughly divided into five phases:

4.1. Submission of Candidate Tickets

Each of the validators associated to the target epoch generates and submits a set of candidate tickets to the blockchain. Every ticket is bundled with an anonymous proof of validity.

4.2. Validation of Candidate Tickets

Each candidate ticket undergoes a validation process for the associated validity proof and compliance with other protocol-specific constraints.

4.3. Tickets and Slots Binding

After collecting all valid candidate tickets, a deterministic method is used to uniquely associate a subset of these tickets with the slots of the target epoch.

4.4. Claim of Ticket Ownership

During the block production phase of the target epoch, validators are required to demonstrate their ownership of tickets. This step discloses the identity of the ticket owners.

4.5. Validation of Ticket Ownership

During block verification, the claim of ticket ownership is validated.

5. Bandersnatch VRFs Cryptographic Primitives

This chapter provides a high-level overview of the Bandersnatch VRF primitive as it relates to the Sassafras protocol.

It’s important to note that this section is not intended to serve as an exhaustive exploration of the mathematically intensive foundations of the cryptographic primitive. Rather, its primary aim is to offer a concise and accessible explanation of the primitive’s role and usage which is relevant within the scope of this RFC.

For an in-depth explanation, refer to the Ring-VRF paper authored by the Web3 foundation research team.

5.1. VRF Input

The VRF Input, denoted as VrfInput, is constructed by combining a domain identifier with arbitrary data through the vrf_input function:

    fn vrf_input(domain: OCTET_STRING, data: OCTET_STRING) -> VrfInput;

The specific implementation details of this function are intentionally omitted. A reference implementation is provided by the bandersnatch_vrfs project.

Helper function to construct a VrfInput from a sequence of data items:

    fn vrf_input_from_items(domain: OCTET_STRING, items: SEQUENCE_OF OCTET_STRING) -> VrfInput {
        let data = OCTET_STRING(SIZE = 0); // empty octet string
        for item in items {
            data.append(LENGTH(item) as U8);
        return vrf_input(domain, data);

Note that each item length is safely casted to an U8 as:

  1. In the context of this protocol all items lengths are less than 256.
  2. The function is internal and not designed for generic use.

5.2. VRF PreOutput

Functionally, the VrfPreOutput can be considered as a seed for a PRNG to produce an arbitrary number of output bytes.

It is computed as function of a VrfInput and a BandersnatchSecretKey.

Two different approaches can be used to generate it: as a standalone object or as part of a signature. While the resulting VrfPreOutput is identical in both cases, the legitimacy of the latter can be confirmed by verifying the signature using the BandersnatchPublicKey of the expected signer.

When constructed as a standalone object, VrfPreOutput is primarily employed in situations where the secret key owner needs to check if the generated output bytes fulfill some context specific criteria before applying the signature.

To facilitate the construction, the following helper function is provided:

    fn vrf_pre_output(secret: BandernatchSecretKey, input: VrfInput) -> VrfPreOutput;

An additional helper function is provided for producing an arbitrary number of output bytes from VrfInput and VrfPreOutput:

    fn vrf_bytes(len: U32, input: VrfInput, pre_output: VrfPreOuput) -> OCTET_STRING;

Similar to the vrf_input function, the details about the implementation of these functions is omitted. Reference implementations are provided by the dleq_vrfs project

5.3. VRF Signature Data

This section outlines the data to be signed utilizing the VRF primitive:

    VrfSignatureData ::= SEQUENCE {
        transcript: Transcript,
        inputs: SEQUENCE_OF VrfInput


  • transcript: a Transcript instance. In practice, this is a special hash of some protocol-specific data to sign which doesn’t influence the VrfPreOutput.
  • inputs: sequence of VrfInputs to be signed.

To simplify the construction of VrfSignatureData objects, a helper function is defined:

    fn vrf_signature_data(
        transcript_label: OCTET_STRING,
        transcript_data: SEQUENCE_OF OCTET_STRING,
        inputs: SEQUENCE_OF VrfInput
    ) -> VrfSignatureData {
        let mut transcript = Transcript::new_labeled(transcript_label);
        for data in transcript_data {
        VrfSignatureData { transcript, inputs }

5.4. VRF Signature

Bandersnatch VRF offers two signature flavors:

  • plain signature: much like a traditional Schnorr signature,
  • ring signature: leverages a zk-SNARK to allows for anonymous signatures using a key from a predefined set of enabled keys, known as the ring.

5.4.1. Plain VRF Signature

This section describes the signature process for VrfSignatureData using the plain signature flavor.

    PlainSignature ::= OCTET_STRING;

    VrfSignature ::= SEQUENCE {
        signature: PlainSignature,
        pre_outputs: SEQUENCE-OF VrfPreOutput


  • signature: the actual plain signature.
  • pre_outputs: sequence of VrfPreOutputs corresponding to the VrfInputs found within the VrfSignatureData.

Helper function to construct VrfPlainSignature from VrfSignatureData:

    BandersnatchSecretKey ::= OCTET_STRING;

    fn vrf_sign(
        secret: BandernatchSecretKey,
        signature_data: VrfSignatureData
    ) -> VrfSignature

Helper function for signature verification returning a BOOLEAN value indicating the validity of the signature (true on success):

    BandersnatchPublicKey ::= OCTET_STRING;

    fn vrf_verify(
        public: BandersnatchPublicKey,
        signature: VrfSignature
    ) -> BOOLEAN;

In this document, the types BandersnatchSecretKey, BandersnatchPublicKey and PlainSignature are intentionally left undefined. Their definitions can be found in the bandersnatch_vrfs reference implementation.

5.4.2. Ring VRF Signature

This section describes the signature process for VrfSignatureData using the ring signature flavor.

    RingSignature ::= OCTET_STRING;

    RingVrfSignature ::= SEQUENCE {
        signature: RingSignature,
        pre_outputs: SEQUENCE_OF VrfPreOutput
  • signature: the actual ring signature.
  • pre_outputs: sequence of VrfPreOutputs corresponding to the VrfInputs found within the VrfSignatureData.

Helper function to construct RingVrfSignature from VrfSignatureData:

    BandersnatchRingProverKey ::= OCTET_STRING;
    fn ring_vrf_sign(
        secret: BandersnatchRingProverKey,
        signature_data: VrfSignatureData,
    ) -> RingVrfSignature;

Helper function for signature verification returning a BOOLEAN value indicating the validity of the signature (true on success).

    BandersnatchRingVerifierKey ::= OCTET_STRING;

    fn ring_vrf_verify(
        verifier: BandersnatchRingVerifierKey,
        signature: RingVrfSignature,
    ) -> BOOLEAN;

Note that this function doesn’t require the signer’s public key.

In this document, the types BandersnatchRingProverKey, BandersnatchRingVerifierKey, and RingSignature are intentionally left undefined. Their definitions can be found in the bandersnatch_vrfs reference implementation.

6. Sassafras Protocol

6.1. Epoch’s First Block

For epoch N, the first block produced must include a descriptor for some of the subsequent epoch (N+1) parameters. This descriptor is defined as:

    NextEpochDescriptor ::= SEQUENCE {
        randomness: OCTET_STRING(SIZE(32)),
        authorities: SEQUENCE_OF BandersnatchPublicKey,
        configuration: ProtocolConfiguration OPTIONAL


  • randomness: 32-bytes pseudo random value.
  • authorities: list of authorities.
  • configuration: optional protocol configuration.

This descriptor must be encoded using the SCALE encoding system and embedded in the block header’s digest log. The identifier for the digest element is BYTES("SASS").

A special case arises for the first block for epoch 0, which each node produces independently during the genesis phase. In this case, the NextEpochDescriptor relative to epoch 1 is shared within the second block, as outlined in section 6.1.3.

6.1.1. Epoch Randomness

The randomness in the NextEpochDescriptor randomness is computed as:

    randomness = BLAKE2(32, CONCAT(randomness_accumulator, BYTES(next_epoch.index)));

Here, randomness_accumulator refers to a 32-byte OCTET_STRING stored on-chain and computed through a process that incorporates verifiable random elements from all previously imported blocks. The exact procedure is described in section 6.7.

6.1.2. Protocol Configuration

The ProtocolConfiguration primarily influences certain checks carried out during tickets validation. It is defined as:

    ProtocolConfiguration ::= SEQUENCE {
        attempts_number: U32,
        redundancy_factor: U32


  • attempts_number: maximum number of tickets that each authority for the next epoch is allowed to submit.
  • redundancy_factor: expected ratio between epoch’s slots and the cumulative number of tickets which can be submitted by the set of epoch validators.

The attempts_number influences the anonymity of block producers. As all published tickets have a public attempt number less than attempts_number, all the tickets which share the attempt number value must belong to different block producers, which reduces anonymity late as we approach the epoch tail. Bigger values guarantee more anonymity but also more computation.

Details about how exactly these parameters drives the ticket validity probability can be found in section 6.2.2.

ProtocolConfiguration values can be adjusted via a dedicated on-chain call which should have origin set to Root. Any proposed changes to ProtocolConfiguration that are submitted in epoch K will be included in the NextEpochDescriptor at the start of epoch K+1 and will come into effect in epoch K+2.

6.1.3. Startup Parameters

Some of the initial parameters for the first epoch, Epoch #0, are set through the genesis configuration, which is defined as:

    GenesisConfig ::= SEQUENCE {
        authorities: SEQUENCE_OF BandersnatchPublicKey,
        configuration: ProtocolConfiguration,

The on-chain randomness accumulator is initialized only after the genesis block is produced. It starts with the hash of the genesis block:

    randomness_accumulator = genesis_hash

Since block #0 is generated locally by each node as part of the genesis process, the first block that a validator explicitly produces for Epoch #0 is block #1. Therefore, block #1 is required to contain the NextEpochDescriptor for the following epoch, Epoch #1.

The NextEpochDescriptor for Epoch #1:

  • randomness: computed using the randomness_accumulator established post-genesis, as mentioned above.
  • authorities: the same as those specified in the genesis configuration.
  • configuration: not set (i.e., None), implying the reuse of the one found in the genesis configuration.

6.2. Creation and Submission of Candidate Tickets

After the beginning of a new epoch N, each validator associated to the next epoch (N+1) constructs a set of tickets which may be eligible (6.2.2) to be submitted on-chain. These tickets aim to secure ownership of one or more slots in the upcoming epoch N+1.

Each validator is allowed to submit a maximum number of tickets, as specified by the attempts_number field in the ProtocolConfiguration for the next epoch.

The ideal timing for a validator to start creating the tickets is subject to strategy. A recommended approach is to initiate tickets creation once the block containing the NextEpochDescriptor is either probabilistically or, preferably, deterministically finalized. This timing is suggested to prevent to waste resources on tickets that might become obsolete if a different chain branch is finally chosen as the best one by the distributed system.

However, validators are also advised to avoid submitting tickets too late, as tickets submitted during the second half of the epoch must be discarded.

6.2.1. Ticket Identifier Value

Each ticket has an associated 128-bit unique identifier defined as:

    TicketId ::= U128;

The value of the TicketId is determined by the output of the Bandersnatch VRF with the following input:

    ticket_id_vrf_input = vrf_input_from_items(

    ticket_id_vrf_pre_output = vrf_pre_output(AUTHORITY_SECRET_KEY, ticket_id_vrf_input);

    ticket_bytes = vrf_bytes(16, ticket_id_vrf_input, ticket_id_vrf_pre_output);
    ticket_id = U128(ticket_bytes);


  • next_epoch.randomness: randomness associated to the target epoch.
  • next_epoch.index: index of the target epoch as a U64.
  • attempt_index: value going from 0 to attempts_number as a U32.

6.2.2. Tickets Threshold

A TicketId value is valid if its value is less than the ticket threshold:

T = (r·s)/(a·v)


  • v: epoch’s authorities (aka validators) number
  • s: epoch’s slots number
  • r: redundancy factor
  • a: attempts number
  • T: ticket threshold value (0 ≤ T ≤ 1) Formula Derivation

In an epoch with s slots, the goal is to achieve an expected number of tickets for block production equal to r·s.

It’s crucial to ensure that the probability of having fewer than s winning tickets is very low, even in scenarios where up to 1/3 of the authorities might be offline.

To accomplish this, we first define the winning probability of a single ticket as T = (r·s)/(a·v).

Let n be the actual number of participating validators, where v·2/3 ≤ n ≤ v.

These n validators each make a attempts, for a total of a·n attempts.

Let X be the random variable associated to the number of winning tickets, then its expected value is:

E[X] = T·a·n = (r·s·n)/v

By setting r = 2, we get

s·4/3 ≤ E[X] ≤ s·2

Using Bernestein’s inequality we get Pr[X < s] ≤ e^(-s/21).

For instance, with s = 600 this results in Pr[X < s] < 4·10⁻¹³. Consequently, this approach offers considerable tolerance for offline nodes and ensures that all slots are likely to be filled with tickets.

For more details about threshold formula please refer to the probabilities and parameters paragraph in the Web3 foundation description of the protocol.

6.2.3. Ticket Body

Every candidate ticket identifier has an associated body, defined as:

    TicketBody ::= SEQUENCE {
        attempt_index: U32,
        erased_pub: Ed25519PublicKey,
        revealed_pub: Ed25519PublicKey


  • attempt_index: attempt index used to generate the associated TicketId.
  • erased_pub: Ed25519 ephemeral public key which gets erased as soon as the ticket is claimed. This key can be used to encrypt data for the validator.
  • revealed_pub: Ed25519 ephemeral public key which gets exposed as soon as the ticket is claimed.

The process of generating an erased key pair is intentionally left undefined, allowing the implementor the freedom to choose the most suitable strategy.

Revealed key pair is generated using the bytes produced by the VRF with input parameters equal to those employed in TicketId generation, only the label is different.

    revealed_vrf_input = vrf_input_from_items(
        domain: BYTES("sassafras-revealed-v1.0"),
        data: [ 

    revealed_vrf_pre_output = vrf_pre_output(AUTHORITY_SECRET_KEY, revealed_vrf_input);

    revealed_seed = vrf_bytes(32, revealed_vrf_input, revealed_vrf_pre_output);
    revealed_pub = ed25519_secret_from_seed(revealed_seed).public();


  • next_epoch.randomness: randomness associated to the target epoch.
  • next_epoch.index: index of the target epoch as a U64.
  • attempt_index: value going from 0 to attempts_number as a U32.

The ephemeral public keys are also used for claiming the tickets on block production. Refer to section 6.5 for details.

6.2.4. Ring Signature Production

TicketBody must be signed using the Bandersnatch ring VRF flavor (5.4.2).

    sign_data = vrf_signature_data(
        transcript_label: BYTES("sassafras-ticket-body-v1.0"),
        transcript_data: [
        inputs: [
    ring_signature = ring_vrf_sign(AUTHORITY_SECRET_KEY, RING_PROVER_KEY, sign_data)

RING_PROVER_KEY object is constructed using the set of public keys which belong to the target epoch’s authorities and the zk-SNARK context parameters (for more details refer to the bandersnatch_vrfs reference implementation).

The body and the ring signature are combined in the TicketEnvelope structure:

    TicketEnvelope ::= SEQUENCE {
        ticket_body: TicketBody,
        ring_signature: RingVrfSignature

All the envelopes corresponding to valid tickets can be submitted on-chain via a dedicated on-chain call (extrinsic).

6.3. Validation of candidate tickets

All the actions in the steps described by this paragraph are executed by on-chain code.

Validation rules:

  • Tickets submissions must occur within a block part of the first half of the epoch.
  • Ring signature is verified using the on-chain RING_VERIFIER_KEY.
  • Ticket identifier is locally (re)computed from the VrfPreOutput contained in the RingVrfSignature and its value is checked to be less than the tickets’ threshold.

Valid tickets bodies are all persisted on-chain.

6.4. Ticket-Slot Binding

Before the beginning of the next epoch, the on-chain list of tickets must be associated with the next epoch’s slots such that there must be at most one ticket per slot.

The assignment process happens in the second half of the submission epoch and follows these steps:

  • Sorting: The complete list of tickets is sorted based on their TicketId value, with smaller values coming first.
  • Trimming: In scenarios where there are more tickets than available slots, the list is trimmed to fit the epoch’s slots by removing the larger value.
  • Assignment: Tickets are assigned to the epoch’s slots following an outside-in strategy.

6.4.1. Outside-In Assignment

Given an ordered sequence of tickets [t0, t1, t2, ..., tk] to be assigned to n slots, where n ≥ k, the tickets are allocated according to the following strategy:

    slot-index  : [  0,  1,  2, ............ , n ]
    tickets     : [ t1, t3, t5, ... , t4, t2, t0 ]

Here slot-index is a relative value computed as:

slot-index = absolute_slot - epoch_start_slot

The association between each ticket and a slot is recorded on-chain and thus is public. What remains confidential is the identity of the ticket’s author, and consequently, who possesses the authority to claim the corresponding slot. This information is known only to the author of the ticket.

In case the number of available tickets is less than the number of epoch slots, some orphan slots in the middle of the epoch will remain unbounded to any ticket. For claiming strategy refer to 6.5.2.

6.5. Slot Claim Production

With tickets bound to epoch slots, every validator acquires information about the slots for which they are supposed to produce a block.

The procedure for slot claiming depends on whether a given slot has an associated ticket according to the on-chain state.

If a slot is associated with a ticket, the primary authoring method is used. Conversely, the protocol resorts to the secondary method as a fallback.

6.5.1. Primary Method

Let ticket_body be the TicketBody that has been committed to the on-chain state, curr_epoch denote an object containing information about the current epoch, and slot represent the slot number (absolute).

Follows the construction of VrfSignatureData:

    randomness_vrf_input = vrf_input_from_items(
        domain: BYTES("sassafras-randomness-v1.0"),
        data: [

    revealed_vrf_input = vrf_input_from_items(
        domain: BYTES("sassafras-revealed-v1.0"),
        data: [
    sign_data = vrf_signature_data(
        transcript_label: BYTES("sassafras-claim-v1.0"),
        transcript_data: [
        inputs: [
    ); Ephemeral Key Claim

Fiat-Shamir transform is used to obtain a 32-byte challenge associated with the VrfSignData transcript.

Validators employ the secret key associated with erased_pub, which has been committed in the TicketBody, to sign the challenge.

    challenge = sign_data.transcript.challenge();
    erased_signature = ed25519_sign(ERASED_SECRET_KEY, challenge);

As ticket’s ownership can be claimed by reconstructing the revealed_pub entry of the committed TicketBody, this step is considered optional.

6.5.2. Secondary Method

By noting that the authorities registered on-chain are kept in an ordered list, the index of the authority which has the privilege to claim an orphan slot is:

    index_bytes = BLAKE2(4, CONCAT(epoch_randomness, BYTES(slot)));
    index = U32(index_bytes) mod authorities_number;

Given randomness_vrf_input constructed as shown for the primary method (6.5.1), the VrfSignatureData is constructed as:

    sign_data = vrf_signature_data(
        transcript_label: BYTES("sassafras-claim-v1.0"),
        transcript_data: [ ],
        inputs: [

6.5.3. Slot Claim Object

The SlotClaim structure is used to contain all the necessary information to assess ownership of a slot.

    SlotClaim ::= SEQUENCE {
        authority_index: U32,
        slot: U64,
        signature: VrfSignature,
        erased_signature: Ed25519Signature OPTIONAL

The claim is constructed as follows:

    signature = vrf_sign(AUTHORITY_SECRET_KEY, sign_data);

    claim = SlotClaim {


  • authority_index: index of the block author in the on-chain authorities list.
  • slot: slot number (absolute, not relative to the epoch start)
  • signature: signature relative to the sign_data constructed via the primary 6.5.1 or secondary (6.5.2) method.
  • erased_signature: optional signature providing an additional proof of ticket ownership (

The signature includes one or two VrfPreOutputs.

  • The first is always present and is used to generate per-block randomness to feed the randomness accumulator (6.7).
  • The second is included if the slot is bound to a ticket. This is relevant to claim ticket ownership (6.6.1).

The claim object is SCALE encoded and sent in the block’s header digest log.

6.6. Slot Claim Verification

The signature within the SlotClaim is verified using a VrfSignData constructed as specified in 6.5.

    public_key = authorities[claim.authority_index];

    result = vrf_verify(public_key, sign_data, claim.signature);
    assert(result == true);


  • authorities: list of authorities for the epoch, as recorded on-chain.
  • sign_data: data that has been signed, constructed as specified in 6.5.

If signature verification is successful, the validation process then diverges based on whether the slot is associated with a ticket according to the on-chain state.

For slots tied to a ticket, the primary verification method is employed. Otherwise, the secondary method is utilized.

6.6.1. Primary Method

This method verifies ticket ownership using the second VrfPreOutput from the SlotClaim signature

The process involves comparing the revealed_pub key from the committed TicketBody with a reconstructed key using the VrfPreOutput and the expected VrfInput. A mismatch indicates an illegitimate claim.

    revealed_vrf_input = vrf_input_from_items(
        domain: BYTES("sassafras-revealed-v1.0"),
        data: [

    reveled_vrf_pre_output = claim.signature.pre_outputs[1];

    revealed_seed = vrf_bytes(32, revealed_vrf_input, revealed_vrf_pre_output);
    revealed_pub = ed25519_secret_from_seed(revealed_seed).public();
    assert(revealed_pub == ticket_body.revealed_pub); Ephemeral Key Signature Check

If the erased_signature is present in SlotClaim, the erased_pub within the committed TicketBody key is used to verify it.

The signed challenge is generated as outlined in section

    challenge = sign_data.transcript.challenge();
    result = ed25519_verify(ticket_body.erased_pub, challenge, claim.erased_signature);
    assert(result == true);

6.6.2. Secondary Method

If the slot doesn’t have any associated ticket then the validator index contained in the claim should match the one given by the rule outlined in section 6.5.2.

6.7. Randomness Accumulator

The first VrfPreOutput which ships within the block’s SlotClaim signature is mandatory and must be used as entropy source for the randomness which gets accumulated on-chain after block transactions execution.

Given claim the instance of SlotClaim found within the block header, and randomness_accumulator the current value for the randomness accumulator, the randomness_accumulator value is updated as follows:

    randomness_vrf_input = vrf_input_from_items(
        domain: BYTES("sassafras-randomness-v1.0"),
        data: [

    randomness_vrf_pre_output = claim.signature.pre_outputs[0];
    randomness = vrf_bytes(32, randomness_vrf_input, randomness_vrf_pre_output);

    randomness_accumulator = BLAKE2(32, CONCAT(randomness_accumulator, randomness));

The randomness_accumulator never resets and is a continuously evolving value. It primarily serves as a basis for calculating the randomness associated to the epochs as outlined on section 6.1, but custom usages from the user are not excluded.

7. Drawbacks


8. Testing, Security, and Privacy

It is critical that implementations of this RFC undergo thorough testing on test networks.

A security audit may be desirable to ensure the implementation does not introduce unwanted side effects.

9. Performance, Ergonomics, and Compatibility

9.1. Performance

Adopting Sassafras consensus marks a significant improvement in reducing the frequency of short-lived forks.

Forks are eliminated by design. Forks may only result from network disruptions or protocol attacks. In such cases, the choice of which fork to follow upon recovery is clear-cut, with only one valid option.

9.2. Ergonomics

No specific considerations.

9.3. Compatibility

The adoption of Sassafras affects the native client and thus can’t be introduced just via a runtime upgrade.

A deployment strategy should be carefully engineered for live networks.

This subject is left open for a dedicated RFC.

10. Prior Art and References

11. Unresolved Questions


While this RFC lays the groundwork and outlines the core aspects of the protocol, several crucial topics remain to be addressed in future RFCs. These include:

12.1. Interactions with On-Chain Code

  • Outbound Interfaces: Interfaces that the host environment provides to the on-chain code, typically known as Host Functions.

  • Unrecorded Inbound Interfaces. Interfaces that the on-chain code provides to the host code, typically known as Runtime APIs.

  • Transactional Inbound Interfaces. Interfaces that the on-chain code provides to the world to alter the chain state, typically known as Transactions (or extrinsics in the Polkadot ecosystem)

12.2. Deployment Strategies

  • Protocol Migration. Exploring how this protocol can seamlessly replace an already operational instance of another protocol. Future RFCs should focus on deployment strategies to facilitate a smooth transition.

12.3. ZK-SNARK SRS Initialization

  • Procedure: Determining the procedure for the zk-SNARK SRS (Structured Reference String) initialization. Future RFCs should provide insights into whether this process should include an ad-hoc initialization ceremony or if we can reuse an SRS from another ecosystem (e.g. Zcash or Ethereum).

  • Sharing with Para-chains: Considering the complexity of the process, we must understand whether the SRS is shared with system para-chains or maintained independently.

12.4. Anonymous Submission of Tickets.

  • Mixnet Integration: Submitting tickets directly can pose a risk of potential deanonymization through traffic analysis. Subsequent RFCs should investigate the potential for incorporating Mixnet protocol or other privacy-enhancing mechanisms to address this concern.