Official VEKN Gangrel-antitribu Newsletter Volume 6 Number 10 October 2003. *************************** In This Misty and Mellowly-Fruitful Issue..... THE CASE OF THE HAND ON THE DOOR [Fiction, a transcription of episode 1 of the current d20 CoC game at legbiter hall] GANGREL ANTITRIBU DECKS IN THE 2003 STORYLINE TOURNAMENT [Editorial, and two decks with playing notes] *************************** THE CASE OF THE HAND ON THE DOOR [Fiction]. On a cold and misty afternoon in October 1904, some years after the Affair of the Baluchistan Anomalies, Dr Shona MacConochie, sub-curator of Middle Eastern Antiquities at the British Museum, was working late at her typewriter. A lady no longer in the first flush of youth, she sighed and pushed back the return. What she had initially thought would be only a half-day's work of tidying-up had turned into a frustrating and doubtful total revision of the manuscript. It all rested on the dam'd inconsistency of the Hebrew and Han pseudo-texts - and in this case it was critical that Caeleno was meant, and not Ka-Leng, for her argument to hold weight. It was at times like these that she missed poor Calum, silly old ranting fool that he was. But he had been a good linguist, a solid scholar of the pre-human paramythos, and he hadn't deserved the, the, no, that wasn't to be thought about, and anyway it was all a long time ago ..... "A quarter to five, Dr MacConochie, will you be much longer now?" She started, having not heard the attendant knocking at her door. For certain there was something odd about the acoustics of this room, where poor Robinson had spent the last months of his life. A touch of Dundonian asperity crept into her voice as she replied; "Us mich l'ng'r as ah need, Mr Aitch'son." That had been cruel, she reflected as Aitchison mumbled an apology and plodded off into silence, what with the new granddaughter and the weekend coming on, of course the puir man had a reason to want to get off at the right time for a change. Alright, ten more minutes, and then she would go ..... Some time later, Shona started as a dull booming sound echoed through the museum. Suddenly she realised that a full two hours must have passed, that it was dark, and that Aitchison had not been back. A bad sign, she thought, rising swiftly from her seat and pulling the sharpened fire-axe from the desk-drawer where she always kept it. Surprisingly gracefully for a middle-aged woman, she pushed open the door of her office and padded off in the direction of the strange sound. At this time of evening the museum was generally empty but nevertheless noisy, the creaks and groans of the structure echoing and reverberating as it cooled in the night air. Whether it was nervousness or not Shona couldn't say, but sometimes she fancied that on this continuo a certain extra set of sounds was superimposed, perhaps a strangled cry, a ripping noise, a thump, and maybe something else, indescribable and perhaps unthinkable. On the other hand perhaps it was the distorted echo of her footsteps, and anyway there was no way of determining their direction. Some minutes of careful creeping later, Shona became aware of a door which ought to have been locked, but wasn't. Connecting the public and private parts of the museum, it was chained from the inside [her side] but slightly opened. Cautiously she approached, and realised that a reddish sticky pool was congealing on both sides of the door. As she unhitched the chain there was a soft plopping splash accompanied by a faint click, and a human hand, severed at the wrist, fell from the outside handle to which it had been attached, into the pool. A wrinkled, pinkish hand, cleanly severed from the arm as if by a gigantic sharp-edged fancy cake-cutter .... and now Shona became aware of the smell, a seaside-smell of ozone, mingled with that of fresh blood. Gingerly she stepped around the pool, and peered to left and right in the corridoor. Running away from the pool in one direction was a trail of blood, which she followed, fire-axe to the fore. The trail turned a corner and ended in a pile of empty clothes - an attendant's uniform, certainly Aitchison's, empty and intact but for certain peculiar incisions, for all the world as if a sadistic tailor with a giant set of pinking shears had been working on the right sleeve and breast of the uniform. Abruptly the museum was quiet, as if an awkward pause had arisen in its private self-conversation .... except that from the street outside, one could clearly hear the clip-clop-clip of a Hansom cab being driven at speed. And now the complete insanity of a 45-year old woman wandering alone amongst the evidence of grisly murder became apparent to her and she fled, dropping the axe, back to her office and frantically to the phone ... which was dead, as dead as poor Aitchison himself. Some time later, out in the street and unaware of how she came to be there, Shona found herself being steadied by a large rain-cape clad policeman, and pouring out her grisly tale. And it would be some further time before she would come to terms with those events, particularly given the troublesome disappearances from the Egyptian section, which had apparently taken place that very same night. ********** Also that evening, a little earlier, First Lieutenant Colum O'Keeth of the King's North West Frontier Rifles had been making his way in the direction of the British Museum, under the erroneous impression that he was proceeding from his club towards the hotel where he was lodging. It was very nearly his last mistake as, crossing an unfamiliar road in the fog, a Hansom cab driven at high speed hurtled past, almost striking him. He had a fleeting impression of the occupants, two figures, and then they were gone, except for a little silvery object which struck the ground at his feet and lay there - a ring, decorated with a stylised scarab. In the course of time this ring made its way, via the police, to the Curator of Egyptian Antiquities at the British Museum, who immediately recognised it as coming from the mummy which had gone missing the night of Aitchison's murder, that very old, odd and unassigned mummy which poor Robinson had acquired on his last trip to Cairo, and upon whose peculiarly-inscribed cerements he had based that very unsettling last monograph. The ring was on the curator's desk when Dr Jack Jefferson, his friend and an expert in forensics, knocked on his door and opened it, smiling broadly. "Beezers, old fruit! You remembered, didn't you?" "O, Jeffers, good to see you .... yes, now let me see ....." The curator opened a large chest under the window, and began to rummage. As he did so, Jefferson picked up the ring and looked it over, then the slim book upon which it lay ..... "Found it!" "O, how perfectly spiffing! What a magnificent specimen!" And it was, a superb Bennet and Anderson under-and-over snap-breech fowling piece, complete with case and cartridge-casting machinery. "Alright, that was Grand-Uncle Toby's so don't you go breaking it or losing it!" "No fear! By the way, what's this Robinson monograph? Seems to be half gibberish, and that's the bit that's written in English." "Yes, poor fellow, he was very ill when he wrote it ... really it's just notes for the work he would have written had he lived. Odd business throughout ... the work is mainly, as you see, a transcription of the indecipherable but definitely pre-pharaonic hieroglyphs on the cerements of a mummy he picked up from a trader in Cairo, stolen of course, no papers or pedigree whatsoever. The ring was on the mummy too, yes that ring, and they were both stolen a few nights ago. In fact you have a link to all this, because it was your friend O'Keeth who brought the ring in - seems he was nearly run down by the thieves making their getaway, and they dropped the ring in the process." "Golly, how very odd! It's actually O'Keeth who I'm going shooting with this weekend, the reason I wanted to borrow your gun!" "Going somewhere nice?" "O, mutual friend and distant relative of mine, lives down on Windhover Hanger, Petersfield way." "This hospitable chap, it wouldn't be a fella called Harnden, would it?" "Yes, actually. Do you know him?" "O yes, cultured fellow for a soldier, though I think he's retired now - nerves, I understand. Wrote quite a good paper on the Shoshonaland expedition, was pally with that Kelly chap, the one there were all the nasty rumours about. Protege of Brown, the Colonial Office bigwig. Anyway he was with our poor dear Dr MacConochie on the Baluchistan expedition, and I think that was pretty much the end of his army career. In fact, in fact .... I wonder if you might do me a favour, since you're going to visit Harnden. Could you take the book and the ring down, ask the old fellow to give them a look-see? Sho-, erm, Dr MacConochie and I both think he's the only man alive who might be able to throw some light on them, and it seems quite important now." Having been involved in the aftermath of the murder in the museum, Jefferson understood his friend perfectly. "Certainly I'll do that, if at all consistent with the laws of hospitality." "Thanks, Jeffers! That's ever so decent of you!" ************ That very Friday Dr Jefferson and Lieutenant O'Keeth boarded the 5.15 to Portsmouth from Waterloo, a fast train that rattled out of the station enveloped by a great cloak of smoke and steam, through the brash brick suburbs of London, over the vast heaths of Surrey and then began to climb up the chalk hills into the beautiful county of Hampshire. The pusillanimous busyness of the capital seemed to shrink to negligibility behind them, and a deep peace settled on both men as they gazed out on the damp woods, steep hills and ancient villages of that forested land, in no important respect changed since Saxon farmers settled there. O'Keeth puffed contentedly on a cheroot, while Jefferson toyed with an unlit oval turkish cigarette. "What's the matter, old man?" "O, work stuff .... that hand, you know, all that was left of the museum attendant. I understand from Beezers that you know a bit about this? Well, it was sunburnt, you know - TERRIBLY sunburnt. Just can't work that one out, been troubling me for a good fortnight." "Hmmm, strange things happen to a man's skin when he's been out East, what?" "Hahaha, jolly droll. But I mean red-sunburnt, and RECENTLY, within MINUTES of his death. Never seen anything like it. By-the-by, d'ye think four-across could be ANARCHIST - the clue's "a new chief is beginning to track revolutionary" - yes, A, N is a new, ARCH is chief, IS obviously, and the beginning of track is T - an anarchist is a revolutionary, cracked it!" After this breakthrough the London Times crossword kept the two friends busy for the rest of the journey, and when the train pulled into Selbourne station at 7.32 they had completed the grid, with only one answer in slight dispute. Alighting, they were greeted by Harnden's driver, who was waiting for them alongside a smart new Renault motor car, which drew admiring comments from both young men. Pleased by these the driver was tempted to show off, achieving a giddy 25 mph on some of the straighter bits of the 4-mile journey to High Force Hall, the Queen Anne country house where Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Albert Harnden MM DSO, late of the Fourth Hampshire Fusiliers, awaited them. Light blazed from the hall as they drew up before the great door, and the driver took their bags as they walked up to it. Before they could knock it swung open, and a blast of heat rushed out to greet them. "Come in! Come in, dear chaps! How super of you to come! Gurminder, the gentlemen's bags are to go up to their chambers, and see that the fires in their rooms are stoked, and the warming-pans placed in their beds, there's a good fellow. I hope you like curried partridge and pale ale?" The speaker was a wiry man in his fifties, luxuriantly moustachio'd and naked except for a linen loin-cloth and a moleskin smoking-cap. Huge blue eyes lit up his coffee-brown face. "Through here, through here! Your coats and hats can go on this rack, your sticks here - now, please to be seated and without further ceremony, get stuck in! The potatoes in the Sag Aloo I grew myself, can't be too careful about food I always say, especially the dam' patridges. I've had my eye on 'em for quite a while now, ever since those bloody Fitzgerald shysters took the old Varney place at the other side of the hanger. It's the calls in the night that are the give-away, don't you find? Anyway these chaps are alright, shot 'em myself. Plump, ain't they? We should have some good sport tomorrow." O'Keeth and Jefferson exchanged glances, which their host seemed to notice with amusement. "Ah, think I'm off me rocker, eh? Well I would have every right to be, given the things I've seen. But I ain't, and you'll have to put up with a few of my little ways while you are here, that's always assuming you'ld like to leave with the majority of your limbs and marbles still attached. A little more ale? Got a taste for this out in Shoshonaland, water wasn't safe you know. Too many dam' crocodiles." And it was an exceptionally palatable pint, perfect with the curry. Soon all three men were stuffed like plum puddings and gleaming with ghee and good fellowship, the kind that materialises at about the three-pint stage and survives for another five or so. Harnden was an excellent host despite his eccentricity and soon the conversation was flowing over all the topics under the sun, oiled by enough beer [and later madeira, claret and port] to preserve the mood, but not so much as to smother it. Somehow it became the most natural thing in the world for Jefferson to produce the ring and the book, and to pass them over to Harnden, who turned them thoughfully in his hands, and then rose to fetch a book of his own. "The script is that of the Pnakotic fragments, of course, but in mirror-form, d'ye see? I think they wrapped our gippo friend up the wrong way round. The language is English, however, no vowels of course but I'm still surprised no-one noticed that, too odd I suppose. Some kind of forgery for sure, and yet .... no, it must be a forgery, there's several different versions of the Old Bad Book here, this is original Dee, this passage is from the Starry Wisdom edition, this bit is from the so-called Joanna Southgate's Apocrypha. Looks old enough, though. VERY strange. And stolen, you say? Hmmm, bad business. Everything to do with the Necronomicon is a bad business, especially those who want to READ the wretched thing." A chill seemed to creep over the room at these words, and it became difficult to draw much more out of the old soldier, though he remained civil enough. A decent half-hour or so later, Harnden rose to show the young men to their rooms. These were on the first floor; sitting on the steps to the second was a small black man dressed in French military uniform. "Atim Kwende Batatzi, M'Kwazi?" "Batatzi Kai Chele, Ba'lai!" Harnden nodded, and indicated for his guests to proceed him to the left. "That was M'Kwazi, sound chap. You don't sleep-walk, either of you? Well I should lock the jolly old doors anyway if I were you, and don't go doing any daft investigating stuff, ESPECIALLY not up on the second floor. I have another guest, you see, but he's not really the sociable type, not yet anyway. Good night, sleep tight! Early start tomorrow!" Once in their rooms Jefferson and O'Keeth had barely time to undress and to slip into their nightshirts and caps, before delicious langour overcame them, and clean sheets drew them in to their warm embrace. As their eyes closed the dancing firelight seemed to promise exotic eastern delights, but their sleep was deep and dreamless, untroubled by any strange titterings, scratchings, chantings or bestial rending sounds which might or might not have been heard in other parts of the house. ************** As the sun rose next morning the hunters were already tucking into a breakfast of devilled kidneys, kippers, scrambled eggs, hot coffee and buttered toast with marmalade. Then it was out onto the porch to meet the gamekeeper, ghillie and hounds. Mr MacAndrew, a large red man, shook the guests by the hand and then with a few exquisitely-subtle questions determined whether or not they could actually shoot. Harnden and MacAndrew then discussed the route to be taken, over the old chalk-pits up to the top of the hanger, luncheon at the Labour in Vain, then down through the beech wood and back along the Roman road [not so good for shooting, but a decent chance of picking up some wild mushrooms to complement the meal], and finally back up to the house in time for afternoon tea. Harnden was still clad in his loincloth but the smoking cap had been replaced by a deerstalker, woollen socks and stout walking boots were on his feet, and a capacious Aberdeen was thrown over all. The morning was misty and cold, but with a strong feel of future sunshine once the mist lifted, and as they approached the gate to the old chalk-pits it was apparent that this promise would be fulfilled. Large orange butterflies which Harnden identified as Brown hairstreaks were fluttering sluggishly around the Hemp Agrimony. A little further on another gate led into a wheat-stubble field and here they started a partridge, which Jefferson dispatched with a perfect head-shot. This proved to be the first of several, and by the time they reached West Hanger's End even the gamekeeper was moderately pleased with the morning's sport. They sat out in the wan autumn sunshine at the sign of the Labour In Vain, drinking beer and eating steak and eel pies, then began the homeward leg of the expedition. ************ The path zig-zagged steeply down through the beechwood, and in the shadow of the trees the five men soon began to feel the season's chill. Still they were warmly clad, and there were interesting fungi to admire and occasionally collect. The party began to string out somewhat as the prospects for further shooting declined, and Jefferson found himself walking with MacAndrew. "Shouldn't touch that one, sir! Death cap, even a pea-sized piece can mess one up!" "Thanks, MacAndrew, you really do know this district, don't you?" "Actually only been here as long as Lieutenant-Colonel Harnden sir, I served with him you see, and when he left it seemed to quite a few of us that our paths lay with him. But I do know about living off the land. You had to, in our line of work." "What line of work was that, MacAndrew?" MacAndrew looked at Jefferson oddly. "Army work, sir, for the Queen-Empress, God rest her soul. Hope you won't think me impolite if we talk about something else?" "Indeed, I quite understand. We have these areas of necessary reticence in my profession too, y-" "Aya.....AIEEEEEE......get it off, off OFF MEEEEEEEEEEeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!" To Jefferson's complete astonishment, MacAndrew was writhing on the ground in front of him, wild-eyed and frothing, beating maniacally at his abdomen where something was wriggling and burrowing under the heavy Harris tweed. As Jefferson bent to help something whirred past his ear and there was a shot, and some shouting. Spent lead pellets struck his cheek, but he ignored them, intent upon helping MacAndrew. Ripping open the coat he saw a spreading red stain and something feathered and vile which was positively DELVING into the gamekeeper's flesh. Suppressing the urge to vomit he seized it and ripped it free, then hurled it to the side and bent to patch the wound. So he did not notice the headless partridge pick itself up and then stomp, with horrible undead purposefulness, towards him. Elsewhere in the beechwood the other hunters were fighting for survival. A heaving mass of feathered zombies marked the last battle of Shackleford Rex, the oldest dog and father of the two pups who fought on. Fury in his eyes, Harnden stepped forward and levelled an elephant pistol at the throng around the old dog's body. Bla-TAMMMMMM!!!!!!!!, and only a cloud of feathers and a mist of blood and gently-spattering body-fragments remained. "Go with God, brother", murmered Harnden as he quickly reloaded. O'Keeth and the ghillie were already out of ammunition and the ghillie was sheltering behind the soldier as he hacked and cut with his sabre at the zombie-birds. As the last one fell he saw Jefferson's danger, and shouted a warning .... but there was no need. Three great strides to get close enough, and then a second shot from the elephant pistol, ended the battle of West Hanger's End. "How are you, old man?" "Mustn't grumble sir, not sure if I can walk though." "Nonsense man, you don't have to! Jefferson, can you patch him up so that his guts don't spill out?" "Done it." "Then up, friends, and back for tea! Jamie, you run on for the car, have the driver meet us at the summer house, and phone the hospital, we'll need Professor Ramanishi from Guy's, tell them I'll cover all the expenses. Well, jump to it! Any partridges left? Ah well, we still have the mushrooms. Told you the patridges were suspect, didn't I?" Too dazed to reply, Jefferson and O'Keeth helped MacAndrew to his feet, and they began to make their way back to the house. But Harnden's eyes were steely-cold, and as he gazed around he noted the great black stones circling around the place of slaughter. So that's your game, you bloody bog-trotters. Alright, round one to you, but I'll be back - Ooooo yes. ..... TO BE CONTINUED [a reasonably-faithful transcription of our current d20 Call of Cthulhu game's first session. The game will continue next weekend, as part of the celebrations for Michael's birthday]. ***************************** GANGREL ANTITRIBU DECKS IN THE 2003 STORYLINE TOURNAMENT [Editorial, and two decks with playing notes] I'm as proud as punch of the winners of the !Gangrel Quebec city and Rekjavik storyline tournaments, and as soon as i have their decks to hand they will be featured here with big gold stars attached. But i'm also very pleased to feature two finalising !Gangrel decks from either side of the big pond - thanks to Scott and Dave, and without further ado, here they are! ***************** Deck Name: Scratch Patch Created By: LSJ Description: Storyline Fall 2003. Optimal combo: Rush, Flesh of Marble, Weather Control, Shadow Feint, Maneuver as necessary, Blood Ire for 1 or more aggravated damage (even under Immortal Grapple) at First Strike that cannot be dodged or prevented by cards that require Fortitude. Flesh + WC protects against retaliatory damaging First Strikes, but is typically used as a substituted for Shadow Feint (that is, use Feint or Weather Marble). Psyche! to overcome Combat Ends (or, as in my game, to press so as to prevent Fatima's Psyche! at superior which would allow her to re-use the maneuver on the Assault Rifle). Hidden Lurker for particularly defensive foes. Amaranth and Sacrificial Lamb for mop up, of course (titles and Gangrel Conspiracy to wave off the blood hunts). Crypt: (12 cards, Min: 25, Max: 40, Avg: 8.42) ---------------------------------------------- 1 Scarlet Carson O'Toole CEL pro 4, Gangrel Antitribu 1 Pieter for OBF PRO tha 6, Gangrel Antitribu 1 Zachary CEL for OBF PRO pre 7, Gangrel Antitribu 2 Sébastian Goulet cel DOM OBF pre pro 8, Gangrel antitribu 4 Samantha ani CEL OBF PRO tha 10, Gangrel Antitribu, Bishop 1 Bajazet al-Nasir cel for OBF pre QUI 8, Assamite 2 Thetmes CEL dom OBF pot QUI 10, Assamite, 2 votes Library: (90 cards) ------------------- Master (20 cards) 2 Blood Doll 1 Campground Hunting Ground 1 City Gangrel Connections 1 Depravity 2 Gangrel Conspiracy 1 Golconda: Inner Peace 1 Haven Uncovered 1 Information Highway 1 Malkavian Dementia 2 Minion Tap 1 Regent 3 Thaumaturgy 1 Underworld Hunting Ground 2 Zillah's Valley Action (13 cards) 2 Ambush 5 Bum's Rush 2 Legal Manipulations 4 Sacrificial Lamb Action Modifier (5 cards) 2 Bribes 2 Hidden Lurker 1 Mask of a Thousand Faces Political Action (8 cards) 1 Ancient Influence 2 Cardinal Benediction 1 Political Stranglehold 1 Reins of Power 1 Snipe Hunt 2 Templar Reaction (3 cards) 1 Elder Michaelis's Hold 2 Wake with Evening's Freshness Combat (40 cards) 3 Amaranth 3 Blood Fury 3 Blood Rage 1 Chiram's Hold 4 Claws of the Dead 4 Flash 7 Flesh of Marble 6 Psyche! 1 Quick Meld 3 Shadow Feint 4 Weather Control 1 Wolf Claws Combo (1 cards) 1 Ritual of the Bitter Rose *************************** "Take you out behind the woodshed and have a real good time" Created by: Dave Hammond Genevieve x2, 10, aus ANI dom FOR PRO, potentially 4 votes! Hakur Mortenson x2, 8, ANI FOR PRO, Cool Special Omaya x3, 7, ANI AUS FOR pro, Cool Special Caitlin x2, 6, aus ANI dom PRO, Bishop Luther, 6, ANI for obt pro, useless special Monique, 5, aus ani for pro Sadie, 2, pro Masters: Auspex x3 Blood Doll x3 Campground Hunting Ground Gangrel City Connections Heidleburg Castle, Germany Hungry Coyote Minion Tap x2 Path of the Feral Heart x2 The Rack Twisted Forest Other stuff: Army of Rats Pulse of the Canaille x2 Sanguine Instruction Shepherds Innocence Palatial Estate Raptor x8 Owl Companion Earth Control x2 Rapid Change x2 Read the Winds x4 Forced Awakening x5 Cats Guuidance x3 Eagles Sight x3 Telepathic Misdirection x3 Delaying Tactics x2 Carrion Crows x5 Scorpion Sting x5 Flesh of Marble x5 Rolling with the Punches x2 Skin of Steel x3 Wolf Claws x2 Claws of the Dead x2 Bone Spur x2 Body Flare x3 Taste of Vitae x3 Form of Mist x3 It only occured to me how good Omaya with a pack of Raptors and a Path in play could be the other day. She blocks EVERYTHING, and either aggropokes for free, or soaks up her mandatory one. The others are supposed to swiftly get AUS asap so they can also Read the Winds properly and bounce as a last resort. Hakur is a godsend as far as pool goes. With him Blood Dolled with the Hunting Ground and Rack in play, you have an Ecoterrorists, and a pool machine that just doesn't stop. In one game, he completely did me proud, bringing me back from 1 pool to about 20! Down sides are obvious: the crypt is a little on the big side, and I would have like to have included a PB Montreal, but didn't have any spare. Also, I found pool gain a little on the tight side unless conditional elements were in play. When I got home, the Gangrel City Connections came out and another Blood Doll went straight in, and I changed a couple of Raptors for Raven Spies (lighter on Blood). I'm also thinking of changing a few of the biggies for Dr Allan Woodstock or Gunther, the Beast Lord. It got to a final. It's a Storyline deck. But by jingo, ANI / AUS / PRO rocks! ************* And no argument there! Which pretty much brings us to close of play for october. Next month, it's the Black Hand. Some churlish souls will mutter, moan and bitch that only the !gangrel will lack a precon after this expansion, but i think they'll find they will be wrong to do so. See you all in november!