Gangrel Newsletter: September 2002

"Welcome, brother. Come sit by my fire and share tales of old. We are
the Gangrel, we are the beast."

In this issue:

Section 1.1 - Fiction - "Yawn"

Section 1.2 - The Feral Whispers

Section 1.3 - Card of the Month

Section 1.4 - Vampire of the Month

Section 1.5 - On the Wind

Section 1.6 - Deck of the month

Section 1.7 - The End


Section 1.1

"Yawn"

Two figures pick their way through the darkened wood. One, a young
girl called Ramona, is limping, looking over her shoulder nervously
with every second step. Her eyes glow a dim red in the dark, echoing a
wan lonelyness. The second figure is big. Really big. Unquestionably
not small.  He / she towers above his comrade, and yet his / her
features are obscured by a trenchcoat and a wide - brimmed hat. Even
in the dark, the occasional ray of the moon gives a glimpse of skin in
the cracks of the coat... or is it fur?

Ramona is clearly leading the way, cautiously, slowly. She comes to a
path of ground and sniffs the air. She points: "Here. One is here".
Her large companion tears off his coat to reveal a terrifying creature
- tall, feral, terrifying. His skin is mottled, oily and foul and a
stench, hitherto unnoticed, spreads around like a farmer tilling his
field. His voice, cracked and rasping, seems to emminate from his
belly: "Let's get to worrrrrrk".

The two sprout claws and rip into the soil of the clearing, creating
an eerie tableau in the pale moonlinght - as if they were digging a
grave. After a few seconds there is a sound unlike any other, almost
as if reality itself were being rent asunder, and a third figure
appears between them. It lets of a howl and instinctivly pushes to two
figures to the flaw. "Who disturbs the rest of Xavier? Who woul DARE
disturb me at rest?" He has also sprouted claws and in the poor light
he appears to have the visage of the devil himself - bat faced and red
eyed.

Ramona and the creature cower before the might of the elder.
"Pppplease, Xavier, sir, it's me. I am Gangrel Like you - we've met
before, remember? This is my friend... an ally - I don't know what he
is, but he helped me find you." Xavier stares hard and clenches his
fists at their throat. He pauses and then releases them. They swiftly
move away, quickly, but cautiously out of reach.

"I remember," growls Xavier "but why do you disturb me? Where are the
others?"

"Sir, this creature and myslef are the only of our kind I have found
on my travels - an I don't rigtly know what he is. We ahve been
searching for other Gangrels, but we can't find any. There are some
elders, but they are all living amoungst the Camerilla in the cities,
and they have been so wrapped up in their petty struggles it's almost
like they're not there!"

"So why do you trouble me, cub? What concern of it is mine?"

Ramona starts, as if she had never thought this through before. "Well,
I just wanted to find others like us. Are there others like us? Are we
alone?"

"Nay, childe," Says the elder, softly "but our time has not yet come.
Soon, many of us will rise to carry on the battle. At that time, we
will bring the old Camerilla (*spitting blood*) kin along with us or
they will be erased. However, the time has not yet come. Leave me be -
I will rest some more. But when I return, it will be the herald of a
golden time for Clan Gangrel. In the meantime, keep strong, my child,
keep safe".

Before Ramona can say another word, Xavier slopes into the soil
twisting as he goes. The creature tries to grab him, but he slips
through their fingers and slips through the soil out of sight, out of
reach.

"Welllllll," says the creature "we bessssst wait".

And they still do.


Section 1.2

Feral Whispers. 

I haven't done one of these for a while because the Gangrel just
shifted off my radar. I hadn't done anything remotely Gangrel for a
long time, so I was very surprised when I found I had designed 3 new
Gangrel - ish decks lately. One is posted below, others are to follow
in future months. Of course, the BIG NEWS at the moment is all about
the Camerilla set... but there's no Gangrel related stuff in it all is
there? Well, lets see:

Booo! - No new Gangrel Vampires

Hurray! - But the promise of lots in the upcoming Gangrel set

Booo! - But that's 9 months away

Hurray! - But we have a fairly good idea the Xavier is going to be in
it and he looks like a hose-beast!

Booo! - Still no new Protean or Animalism or Fortitude library cards

Hurray! - But Raptor is reprinted, and Will of the Council is almost
Tailored for Wynn. Oh, and Tension in the Ranks kicks ASS!

So, it's not all bad, and the future looks fairly bright! I hope you
enjoy the newsletter.
        

Section 1.3

Card of the Month.

BEAST MELD

Discipline(s): Protean + Animalism
 
Blood Cost: 2

Rarity: Rare

Artist: Brian LeBlanc
 
Set Introduced: Bloodline

Card Text: 

Basic: +1 stealth. If this action is blocked, this vampire may prevent
1 damage during the resulting combat.
 
Superior: Only usable when the acting vampire's action is announced.
Not usable on a bleed action. Vampires cannot block this action.

Really, it's only the superior that is worth looking at. This card
looked so-so when it was released because it was nothing new. For 2
blood more, you could get Horrific Countenance (making it COMPLETELY
unblockable and even bleed). If you wanted to risk torpor, you could
Dare the Dawn or make it a Day Operation. However, for 2 blood and
having to have 2 superior disciplines, you would at least be expected
to bleed (and since only the Gangrels have PRO and ANI, it's hardly
likely to be abused much unless you have Stanislava on the table).

However, I started thinking about what actions you COULD use with this
card using in-clan or disciplineless cards, and came up with quite a
nice list:

Support / Indirect Actions:

Hunting - Don't make me laugh! Even with the Inbase Disco up, you lose
(having wasted an action and a card!). No, not a good idea.

Restoration - Pointless - you might as well hunt - but useful if
someone has a bucket-load of Foul Bloods... of course, very few people
DO have Foul Bloods a plenty, so why prepare for it...

5th Traditions - Again, roughly no use in about 2 weeks time - 3 blood
for 4 blood - but WAS great.

Shadow of the Beast - Well, I can't see that this would be blocked in
the first place (most folk just go "Yeah, sure" and breathe a sigh of
relief that you aren't rushing them!), but a good saver in an
equipment-heavy table if you only have Drawing out the Beast...

Army of Rats - Would you want to pay 2 blood for it? Most of the time,
people are happy enough for you to waste the action and burn it
whenever.

Sanguine Instruction - Not a bad call in an intercept heavy
environment, but is it worth 2 blood on a normal day? A skillcard
could cover the bases cheaper and easier.

Equipping (X) - Earth Control will usually do the job anyway (3
stealth at superior) making it cheaper, but when it absolutely,
positively has to be there this turn, Beast Meld is good.

Votes - Powerful for this, but can the Gangrel reasably expect a
vote-lock?

Eating Vamps in Torpor - No card needed, great idea, but again, the
vote lock is tough to manage.


Directed Actions:


Arson - OK, hardly THAT great, but useful versus Ventrue HQ's,
Ecoterrorist-styled locations, and Hunting Grounds.

Rushes - Not earth-shattering, but it means you actually get your man.

Tier of Souls - A good choice, since you get 1 of the 2 blood back and
stack up for a +1 Bleed at superior.


And that's about it. Sure, there are a few other things, but these are
all the common "useful" actions. None of these, I would argue, are
game breaking or overpowered for getting through unblockably.

However, then I started thinking a little harder about out-of-clan
stuff. There are 2 "dominant" O-O-C disciplines with the Gangrel -
Potence (7 vamps, all inferior) and Dominate (4 vamps, only 1 at
superior - however, there are also 2 Gangrel Antitribu vamps who would
benefit under the same criteria - Caitlin and Genevive). I'm sure you
can already see where this is heading, since Potence has roughly 1
action card which is as about as good as Arson! Using Superior
Dominate, only Stanislava would benifit from Beast Meld (nothing a
little Sanguine Instruction or Skillcard couldn't fix). But what a
benfit! Lets see:

Dominate Kine / Kine Dominance - AWSOME! I'll have your Ventrue HQ /
Hunting Ground / Elder Library / Barrens / Creepshow Casino GUARANTEED
(unless allies are in play) for 4 blood. Pricey, but the benefits are
enormous.

Govern the Unalligned / Scouting Mission - Again, tasty! 2 or Three
blood on your vampires for the same cost in blood. Not bad.

Graverobbing - VERY cool: steal a vampire for 2 blood, get upright for
4 blood. Well worth the spend.

Slaughtering the herd - Offset the high cost of this combo by making
your predator give you blood... or cost him a fair bit to shift it!

Mind Rape - Who's The daddy? Really awesome - steal a vampire and get
him to Rave his blood onto your vampire! Or bleed. Or Vote. Or
Diablerise. Or dance a merry jig ("Dance, damn you, DANCE!"). A
worthwhile use of 4 blood any day.


As you can see, Beast Meld is full of unblockable goodness, but best
used with the kickass wonders of Dominate. Or as the kind people at
Pentex (TM) would put it - "Dominate - It's been messing up everyone
else's night since 1993".


Section 1.4

Vampire of the Month

Sebastian Goulet

Clan: Gangrel-Antitribu
Capacity: 8

Sabbat

Group: 3

Ability: Allies and retainers cost Sebastian 1 less blood or pool to
employ or recruit. Once each action, he can burn 1 blood to get +1
bleed.

Artist: James Stowe
 
Set Introduced: Camarilla 

Disciplines : 

Inferior Celerity
Superior Dominate
Superior Obfuscate
Inferior Presence
Inferior Protean

OK, he's not strictly speaking Gangrel, he can't use Beast Meld, and
he's rubbish in combat (from the looks of him). However, he is another
"missing link" in the !Gangrel catalogue of skills. For a start, he
has DOM and OBF. Cool, a bleed monster! This is reflected in his 2nd
special. In fact, I expect his 2nd special is the one that will get
used the most, since there are very few Allies or Retainers that the
!Gangrel are concerned with. Of course, if he Clan Imp-ed to Gangrel,
got Charismatic, and went looking for a Rengade Garou, I would laugh
my arse off! Let's face it, though, it's unlikely to happen except in
the wackiest of decks.

The other "neat" thing about him is the presence. That makes 2
!Gangrel with presence, and a step close to the vote deck that could
actually use Gangrel City Connections. Huzzah!

Not much good for a straight Gangrel deck, but again with a Clan Imp
would make a terrific addition to the pool of sanguinely instructable
disciplines. Expect him to show up in more Malkavian O-O-T decks with
a Clan Imp.


Section 1.5 

On the Wind
   
OK, I am the first to admit I can't wait for the Anarch set. I am
itching to see the new Gangrels and see if there are any new toys (and
can't wait to get hold of the old toys easier!). In the meantime I can
dream. And so can you! Here's a stupid competition to keep you busy
for 5 minutes: Design a Gangrel - related library card that really
should be in the next set. Something cool to do with the backstory
would help. Bonus points will be given for the completeness and
tidyness of the entry (things like "good flavour quotes" will
definitely get a thumbs up). If I get lots, I'll post them up next
month. I will give a Gangrel-ish prize to the best. You have until
September the 29th to send me your entries. All entries are NOT to be
poisted here, but are to be sent to davecrazy@hotmail.com.


Section 1.6

Deck of the Month

Using Beast Meld to obscene levels, here's a deck that I made in
answer to Matt Green's recent spate of Mind Rape decks. The only clan
he didn't seem to try is the Gangrel, so here's my attempt:

"You've been Beast-Raped"

Stanislava x4
Ingrid Rossler x2
Mirembe x3
Faruq x2
Illiana

Masters:  18

Minion Tap x6
Heidleburg Castle, Germany x4
Backways
Ecoterrorists
Golconda
Information Highway x2
Parthenon
Serpentis
Sudden Reversal
Zillah's Valley

Library: 71 

Dominate Kine x2
Govern the Unalligned x2
Graverobbing x2
Heart of Darkness x2
Mind Rape x8
Rave x4
Sanguine Instruction x3
The Fifth Tradition: Hosptiality

Protect Thine Own
Banishment

Beast Meld x6
Daring the Dawn x4
Earth Control x4
Freak Drive x4
Rapid Change x4

Form of Mist x5
Earth Meld 
Quick Meld x3

Deflection x5
Obedience x4
Wake with Evenings Freshness x5


So, there you are. The key factors...

1 - Get Stan into play.

2 - Get a Heidlburg up (or steal one with a Dominate Kine).

3 - Mind Rape (using Beast Meld) the biggest vampire controlled by
your prey

4 - Get them to do something useful (bleed if nothing else!) 

5 - Tap the Heidleburg to move all the blood and anything useful to
Stan.

Variants on this are manifold - if they have Fortitude, Rave whilst
Daring the Dawn at inferior (BURN!). If there is a vamp in topor, eat
it and call a blood hunt. Etc. It's quite powerful, but I have yet to
fully road test it (it has a little trouble going forward). You may
well be asking about the Serpentis. This is purely in there to make
sure you get a 12 capacity vampire so you can steal ANYONE. Mirembe is
in there to ensure you get the Serpentis option if need be (since she
is the only Gangrel vampire with an O-O-C superior for Sanguinely
Instructing Stan), but it is fairly easy to remove and replace with
something else (it's just Heart of Darkness works well with Daring the
Dawn for even more unblockability).

Give me your comments either here or privately.


Section 1.6
 
The End

I hope you've enjoyed this sojourn from torpor. Comments are welcome
here or privately at davecrazy@hotmail.com. Until next month!