OFFICIAL VEKN GANGREL-ANTITRIBU NEWSLETTER VOLUME 6 NUMBER 1, JANUARY 2003 In This Heavily-Hungover Issue: FICTION: Beyond the Wall AT THE SIGN OF THE BLACK LION: An Edinburgh Christmas Beyond the Wall. Darkness fell early, replacing the routine gloom of the Caledonian winter day with the impenetrable finality of night. Torches and bonfires sprang up along the wall, and here and there behind it, but no light shone in the wasted lands to the North. Yet here too there was life, lank, drooling and barely-human as it seemed. Out of a spiral stone souterrain it crawled, a skeleton with Vast mad eyes, raising a skinny fist against the dark turf rampart where the soldiers of Rome stamped and blew their hands against the icy wind. Crab-like the figure scurried back into its tunnel, emerging with an armful of roots and leaves, which it began to arrange, pinioning them upon sharpened sticks which it pierced into the earth. A satisfactory arrangement having been made, the figure squatted and began to sing or chant in a strange throaty voice which did not carry, except into the earth, into the tunnel of the souterrain, where it boomed and reverberated as though giant hands were slapping a gong behind the tunnel wall. At the end of the tunnel a pile of old leather boots gleamed in the light of a single torch. Or no, not boots: the peat-preserved cadavers of strangled or disembowelled sacrificial victims, perhaps a dozen, gleaming with oil, or maybe slime. And could one have watched, one would have seen a disturbance, slight at first after an hour or so of chanting, and then less slight .... a congealing, it seemed, a transformation, a distinct directionality of horror ...... At the mouth of the tunnel the crazed figure continued its chanting, as a groaning, slopping sound began to echo back from the tunnel. And to the one mad voice another now seemed to give reply, a high chittering giggle, within which as an occasional bass note came a deep, gutteral boom. A black froth bubbled out of the mouth of the tunnel, accompanied by a sudden cooling of the air and a vile stench .... and then, inexorable as the avalanche, a black figure formed, multi-headed, multi-limbed, protean and vile. The mad druid ceased to chant and gazed up at what it had summoned. And the summoned thing gazed back, from several angles. "Why hast thou done this, little meat-thing?" "Desolation." The summoned figure bent grave eyes set in many heads upon the mad druid. "Art thou mad, little creature? Or art thou God?" "No God." It raised its enormous bulk and seemed to gaze around. "Indeed ... you are ... not mistaken ...." Seeming to reach a decision, the great shape swelled and cracked into several pieces. Some of the pieces seemed to rush into the dark, fast as eels: others hovered like dark shapes on the edge of nightmare, and one, like a hand made all of thin dark fingers reached out and seemed to probe the mad druid until it found the cracks in his soul, into which it flowed. Then several figures seemed to stand together, flanking that of the druid, whose shadow seemed to have grown and to be partially-independent of him. Together, they drifted towards the wall, and vengeance. *************************** AT THE SIGN OF THE BLACK LION: Christmas in Edinburgh i'm writing this on the last afternoon of 2002, having spent Christmas with my parents in Edinburgh. To read the papers you would think that the Athens of the North was reduced to a smoking ruin but actually only a shortish block of a rather undistinguished, not to say slummy, quarter of the Cowgate was touched by the fire, and now if you gaze down Blair Street you get quite a good view of the old college, which you never used to be able to see from there. We had rather vile weather whilst in Scotland which meant lots of time for games, including one with the gracious Prince of Edinburgh [Shevaun Frazer] whom we arranged to meet at Black Lion Games in Buccleugh Street [prop: Liam, Shevaun's fiance] the Monday night after we arrived. Black Lion Games is a jolly good shop with a distinctly-local flavour, for example lots of Celtos miniatures and, at least while we were there, AMAZING bargains [like, 80+% discount] on Stuff You Might Like [in our case it was scenery, big lumps of it at 5GBP a throw, and Crimson Skies miniatures at 1GBP each]. Thoroughly-recommended! i had built two Christmas decks for the purposes of this game, the one i transcribe below for me, and a virtual clone of Ben Peal's "The O-Line" Gargoyle deck for Sarah. The latter deck is very fine IMO, and it really is true as Ben says that a non-Ben player can field it and still do well. In the event, however, Sarah opted to stick with her relatively-bleedy Tzimisces, Michael played his Kiasyds, Shevaun went with a big Nosferatu bloat-vote deck, and i played the Other Christmas deck i built. And after a protracted struggle i won, though not by a sweep: Sarah got Shevaun, and i got the other three VP. Here's my deck, a marginally-accelerated Euro-Brujah affair which includes some of the less-fashionable Brujah in addition to the Usual Suspects. DECK NAME: "Breast or Thigh, Sir?" CREATED BY: Legbiter CONCEPT: Brujah-with-dominate ["EuroBrujah"] Happy Families deck [ie built by mathematically-regulating the proportions of cards of different disciplines according to the crypt one has chosen, it's all explained under Happy Families at legbiter.tripod.com], constructed on the base of the CE Brujah starter which my mother gave me for Christmas, augmented with cards that were lying around waiting to be filed. Heavy dominate-bleed, deflect, ranged combat with multi-strikes. Probably needs to lose the blurs for more Pursuit, needs to lose a few masters for Tastes of Vitae or something, but actually is quite functional as it stands. CRYPT [12 cards] Anvil x 2 Constanza Vinti x 2 Don Cruez, the Idealist x 2 Donal O'Connor x 2 Theo Bell x 2 Tura Vaughn x 2 LIBRARY [90 cards] MASTERS [18 cards] Blood Doll Celerity Dominate Fame Golconda Haven Uncovered KRCG News radio Legendary Vampire Minion Tap x 6 Warzone HG Zillah's Valley x 3 MINION [72 cards] ACTIONS [10 cards] Blood Hunt Bum's Rush x 3 Govern the Unaligned x 5 Rampage POLITICS [3 cards] Anathema Kindred Restructure x 2 ACTION MODIFIERS [4 cards] Command of the Beast Conditioning Foreshadowing Destruction x 2 COMBAT [41 cards] Blur x 4 Flash x 9 Lightning Reflexes Pursuit x 4 Taste of Vitae x 2 Thoughts Betrayed x 4 Thrown Gate x 8 Thrown Sewer Lid x 9 EQUIPMENT [3 cards] .44 Magnum Flak Jacket Leather Jacket REACTIONS [11 cards] Deflection x 2 Redirection x 3 Second Tradition x 2 WWEF x 4 *************** Michael, who has been reading this over my shoulder, rightly insists i point out that this was the ONLY game i won all holiday long. In our only other VTES game his Kiasyds beat my Nosferatu Kagemusha deck and Sarah's/Ben's Gargoyles, and he won [by ONE point] at Civilisation the Board Game, and by streets, or possible reels, whenever we played Cannibal Pigmies in the Jungle of Doom. **************** And that's it for january! A Happy New Year to all of you! O, and no moaning about there not being any Gangrel-antitribu content in this issue, IF you please. Go back and read the fiction CAREFULLY, and if you STILL don't then read the Chronicle of the Black labyrinth and the new Demon: The Fallen book, both available from White Wolf.