Gangrel Antitribu Newsletter



	Walther von Aachen reined in his horse at a bend in the track and gazed
back in the direction he had come. Far below, another mounted figure was
toiling upwards, and the knight sighed inwardly at his companion's
slowness. Still, there was no doubt that Friar Joachim was a persuasive
speaker, and on this mission it would be Joachim's abilities that would
determine success or failure. So he waited patiently, and as he did so
he let his gaze rise up to the endless horizon of Tartary out of which,
like a mighty wave, the Carpathian mountains swelled. Walther permitted
himself a grim smile. Since King Sigismund of Hungary had granted the
Teutonic Knights this fief on the edge of his lands, hard up against the
Golden Horde, the Knights had learned how a chess-piece feels when it is
interposed to counter a check.

	At last Friar Joachim caught up with his escort and together the two of
them forged on along the track. Night was falling but at least, removing
their all-enclosing helmets, they could now see their destination, a
brand-new stone castle conspicuously surrounded by scarred earth and
tree-stumps, some five miles distant. Both the Brothers noted the
extreme modernity of the design, incorporating all the latest ideas from
the towering fortifications of Outremer. Evidently Count Miroslav's
reputation as a learned man was well-earned.

	As they grew closer the darkness thickened, and mounted figures could
just be made out against the snow, riding out of the thick forest to the
right of the castle. A welcoming party? But no, those were horse-archers
- the accursed paynims of the Horde! The two Brothers loosened their
swords, but for now the Mongols seemed preoccupied with something else -
a lone horseman was riding among them, swinging a great broadsword. As
they watched, a Mongol toppled from his saddle, clutching at his throat.
His feet drummed desperately on the snow for a few moments, and the lone
rider swept over him with a thin cry. In a few more minutes all was
over. Six Mongols lay dead upon the ground, and the horseman sheathed
his sword, dismounted and drew a dagger. Then seeming to catch sight of
the Teutonic Knights for the first time, he waited for them to draw

	"Welcome to my demesne! I am Count Miroslav, and by your badges I see
you must be Brethren of the Nobel Teutonic Order! A Hundred Times
Welcome, indeed! Soon I will see to your refreshment, for it is a long
and cold journey from Si-, I mean, Hermanstadt, but first, if you will
forgive me, I need to give meaning to the wretched Godless existences of
these flat-faced scum".

	The Brothers bowed politely, and Miroslav got to work. From the sockets
of each Mongol he prised out the eyeballs, which he carefully stored in
a little leather bag. Since eyeballs are slippery and some of the
Mongols were not quite dead, this took some time. By the end of it the
Brothers were as white as their woolen cloaks, and disappointed ravens
were pecking at the bloody faces of the dead. Satisfied, Count Miroslav
remounted his horse and gestured for the Brothers to ride abreast of
him. Feeling the need to say something, Friar Joachim indicated one of
the bodies which was still twitching a little.

	"A most .... effective demonstration, My Lord. Do you find that this
keeps the Paynims off your land?"
	Count Miroslav looked surprised.
	"Probably it would, if I let any escape, or left the bodies to rot. But
I do neither. Later the Schlachta will conceal the remains. For I don't
wish to lose my main source of experimental material."
	He shook the bag and chuckled.
	"Material, my Lord?"
	"O yes, for the elixirs, you know. But perhaps you don't read Arabic? I
must admit that obtaining the latest texts from Alexandria and Damascus
has also become difficult of late thanks, in part, to your Order's
efforts. Well, you shall see, when we reach the castle."

	Into the castle they rode, and after seeing to the comfort of their
horses all three went up into the Great Hall. Servants bustled around,
laying two places for the Brothers.

	"Aren't you going to eat, Lord Miroslav?"
	"No indeed, I have already dined, and I do not drink wine."
	"Pardon us, Noble Lord, but at this season of fasting we too are unable
to do your hospitality full justice!"
	"A pity! But of course I respect your Holy Vows. Perhaps, then, you
would like to see my workshop, and then we can talk of the weighty
matters that have brought you here?"

	Taking a lighted torch from the wall the Count led the two Knights up a
spiral staircase to a wooden door which he opened with a key. Inside lay
a firelit chamber, and beside the fire three Ladies were busy at their
embroidery. They rose and curtseyed: the Knights bowed.

	"Ah my dears, please let me present Walther of Aachen and Friar
Joachim, Knights of the Teutonic Order. My friends, allow me to name the
Lady S-, the Lady M- and the Lady V-."

	All three women were exceptionally beautiful and uncannily pale and,
after a few conventional pleasantries, the Count indicated that they
should leave, which they did. Once the door was shut Count Miroslav drew
his guests towards an arras behind which he passed, beckoning them to
follow. Another firelit room lay beyond, and here was obviously the
Count's workshop. Scroll-racks covered the walls, except where shelves
held books, curios and alchemical equipment. A much-scored table was in
the centre, and an unpleasant acrid smell filled the air. The Count
busied himself among the shelves, collecting a stone mortar and several
little bottles containing coloured powders or viscous liquids. Setting
these on the table he drew the leather bag from his robe and tipped the
eyeballs into the mortar, then added carefully-measured quantities of
material from each of the bottles, consulting a book between each

	" ..... two grains of Cinnabar .... one of Mithridate .... there, all
finished. Now, grind widdershins 7 times, pour into the copper cauldron,
and heat for three hours. Yes my friends, as you see Ibn Shazar is most
explicit in his instructions. The principle as I expect you realize is
that the Essence of Eternal Youth is to be found in the sparkling eyes
of the young. It is simply a question of finding the right extraction
procedure. And I believe I HAVE found it. Let me show you!"

	Count Miroslav showed the two Knights a pair of jars. In one, labelled
"Elixir - 2 grains" a fat green caterpillar crawled among much-chewed
leaves. In another, labelled "Solvent - 2 grains" a faded butterfly
tapped listlessly at the glass.

	"This has been my most successful experiment, and after a sufficient
number of repetitions I intend to try it on my wives. I have previously
essayed other treatments for them, partially successful if at all, and
with certain unfortunate side-effects - I'm sure you noticed the
unhealthiness of their colour? But Eternal Life is a subject very close
to my heart."

	Brother Joachim inclined his head.

	"Most commendable, Great Prince. And so it is to ours. Indeed, it was
to offer you a gateway to eternal Life that we came here. For eternal
Life can be yours, if you will but accept the contents of this package."

	Count Miroslav took the linen package and unwrapped it. Inside was a
white wool surplice with black silk crosses sewn before and behind.

	"A pretty thing, indeed. Perhaps some Theological riddle?"

	"No Sir, no riddle! Do but take the cross, fight God's Holy War against
the Unbeliever, and Eternal Life and the Kingdom of Heaven shall be open
to you! As the Blessed Holy Father saith, by a General Indulgence shall
all the sins of our former existences be washed away, and no present sin
shall contaminate us!"

	"ALL sins?"

	"Indeed! Brother Walther and myself were both sinners and damned for
all eternity before we took the cross. And since then, slay as we might
in the Lord's name, we have remained spotless as the snows on the high
peaks. Only believe, take the cross and so it shall be for you!"

	Count Miroslav bowed.

	"You show me too much honour, my friends. And let me assure you that we
fight shoulder to shoulder against the Heathen, and doubtless at the
last we shall all meet in Heaven where eternal life waits for us. But we
must travel by different routes, and I must decline your most generous
invitation. Come, let me show you to your quarters."

	"I'm afraid that refusal is not an option available to you, respected
Count Miroslav."

	The Count turned, amazed at the insolence of Walther of Aachen, and his
jaw dropped. A Hideous fanged beast stood where the Knight's voice had
come from, and with a shout the Count reached for his sword. At that
moment the strong rubbery arms of Friar Joachim wrapped around him, and
cold prehensile lips explored his throat in a ghastly parody of an
erotic kiss. Shuddering with revulsion and yelling with panic, the Count
felt an unbearable pain in his neck. Being a strong man well-trained to
war he struggled against the two Vampires for fully a minute before they
drained him.

	The next night, three pale riders wearing black crosses left the silent
and deserted castle, and rode to the east.


Happy Families is a deck-constructing formula that aims to build a
flexible playable deck around a given selection of vampires. Usually
these will all be vampires of one clan. Basically you choose the vamps
you want to play with, and the library size you want to use, and then
you determine the cards in the library as follows:

20% or so should be master cards

The remaining 80% or so should be minion cards, divided up with respect
to discipline in the following way:

Count the number of vampires in your crypt: Call this number p.
Count the number of vampires with the most common discipline in your
deck: call this number q.
Count the number of vampires with the second most common discipline in
your deck: call this number r.
Count the number of vampires with the third most common discipline in
your deck: call this number s.
Count the number of vampires with the fourth most common discipline in
your deck: call this number t.

Now if 80% of your chosen library size is a, then you want

[(p/[p+q+r+s+t]) x a] cards that require no discipline to play
[(q/[p+q+r+s+t]) x a] cards that require the most common discipline to
[(r/[p+q+r+s+t]) x a] cards that require the second most common
discipline to play
[(s/[p+q+r+s+t]) x a] cards that require the third most common
discipline to play
[(t/[p+q+r+s+t]) x a] cards that require the fourth most common
discipline to play

Of course this is not a totally formulaic method: you can have more or
fewer disciplines, and you probably are going to favour particular cards
within a discipline at the expense of others, depending on how you
visualise the clan, how you like to play, and what cards you actually
have. Additionally, a lot of the art of Happy Families comes from
choosing what master and non-discipline cards to pick. Basically you
have a choice of making these cards strengthen whatever your vamps
already do well, or else trying to compensate for whatever they do
badly. Personally I tend to go for the latter, but I'm far from sure
that's strategically right - it's the old question of focus versus
flexibility. Nevertheless this method REALLY WORKS, creating fun decks
that are ideal for teaching, that actually work OK at playgroup level
and even, sometimes, do surprising and thought-provoking things [Blood
Brother Ambush playing Burning Wrath is one that springs to mind].

Currently we at Legbiter Mansions are playing with 12 Happy Families
decks and others have been made for Andrew Sparkes' playgroup at Safeway
head Office. Here is the Gangrel antitribu HF deck which, having six
disciplines instead of the usual 4, generally bombs, but tonight stormed
to a sweep in a five-player at Louisa's house.

CRYPT [12 Vamps]

Shane Grimald

LIBRARY [70 cards - usually we play threesomes at home]

Twisted Forest
Blood Doll x 2
Pentex Loves You!
City gangrel Connections
Haven Uncovered
Gangrel Conspiracy
Minion Tap

Saturday Night Special
Black Spiral Buddy
Computer hacking x 2
Wake With Evening's Freshness x 2
Bum's Rush
Gas Powered chainsaw
Laptop Computer
Shadow Court Satyr
Sengir Dagger
Leather jacket

Govern the Unaligned
Grave Robbing

Claws of the Dead x 2
Shadow of the Beast
Bone Spur x 2
Wolf Claws x 2
Earth Control x 2
Rapid Change

Carrion Crows x 2
Murder of Crows
Cat's Guidance x 2
Army of Rats
Rat's Warning x 2
Guard Dogs x 2
Raven Spy

Skin of Rock x 3
Superior Mettle
Restoration x 2
Hidden Strength

Spirit's Touch
My Enemy's Enemy
Aura Reading

Cloak the Gathering
Faceless Night
Swallowed by the Night
Lost in Crowds
Spying Mission

Now i know this looks like a pile of shit and often it plays that way
too: it's also most definitely the weakest of the HF decks. But
sometimes, like tonight, it REALLY kicks against quite competitive
opposition. A key play is often Caitlin doing a bit of graverobbing. The
difficulty of course is the enormous diversity of !Gangrel disciplines
[there are actually two mini-bloodlines, the city and country gangrel],
and yet this is also the source of the deck's flexibility and fun-play
factor. i am always happy when i beat John Eagles but to do so with this
deck, tonight, was absolutely tip-top fun, MUCH better than having
afternoon sex with a gorgeous 21-year old blonde. Actually no, that was
a slight exaggeration, but it WAS a good game. Happy Families decks can
be evolved, too, and for that idea see one of the earliest !Gangrel
newsletters of all, maybe July 98.


	Here is another of my decks that aims to give a Jyhad twist to Magic. I
like Magic, really i do, but i'd rather be playing Jyhad, most of the
time. This deck allows me to do both, effectively, because if the
Recycle/Spellbook combo comes off i redraw every time i play a card.
It's a vampire deck in the sense that Drain Life and Animate Dead are
key concepts in it, and it also contains some vampiric creatures.
Furthermore, it explores an aspect of the vampire myth that's neglected
by White Wolf but not by Gothic literature - the Necrophage. Best yet is
a 36/36 Kabal Ghoul. Fun! Not really competitive, i should add, but ok
for multiplayer games in a relatively friendly environment.

Wall of Roots x 3
Recycle x 3
Verdant Force
Quirion Elves x 3
Volrath's Gardens
Ashen Ghoul
Demonic Tutor
Dark Ritual x 4
Necrite x 2
Basal Thrull x 4
Drain Life x 4
Blood Pet x 4
Khabal Ghoul
Animate Dead x 2
Ravenous Vampire x 2
Ebon Praetor
Squandered Resources
Book of Rass
Spellbook x 3
Swamp x 11
Forest x 8

Here Endeth the lesson for this month. Next month's will contain
whatever fevered nonsense happens to be coursing through my brain at the
time, plus probably the rules for Pokevamp. Michael [Anklebiter] played
in a Pokemon tournament at school yesterday.