OFFICIAL VEKN GANGREL ANTITRIBU NEWSLETTER VOLUME 4 NUMBER 9 SEPTEMBER 2001 IN THIS ISSUE .... EDITORIAL: A Gamer's thoughts about Evil DECK: Legbiter's least unsuccessful deck from GenconUK 2001 [Tzimisce sealed-deck]. EDITORIAL: A Gamer's thoughts about Evil This newsletter is late because i was at UK GenCon in early September, where i had a good time and played some fine games [though i only actually won ONE game of VTES and that was in the sealed-deck]. Talk about being overtaken by events! i'm finally getting round to writing something three days after the appalling attacks on the United States and consequently i haven't the heart to write the usual jokey fiction and game-geeky stuff. In fact my first inclination was to write nothing at all, but now i've decided that there is something worth saying from the gamer point of view about the events leading up to and around Tuesday, and those that are about to unfold. To keep this on-topic i will not here be talking about our collective sadness and anger except obliquely [as some of you will know, i have done this in private emails and in another forum]. Why might a person who plays the vampire card-game have anything useful to say about an incredible act of mass terrorism? i suggest that there are two insights that we can bring to the matter. The first relates to the fact that we play a game where we pretend to be evil. This game springs from a very clever role-playing game which explores the process by which ordinary people become evil. Actually, i often think that Vampire: The Masquerade is TOO good a game for many of those who play it, since some of them clearly think it is cool and groovy to be evil. Some such people i hope will now see that they were mistaken, and that in fact [and as shown by a proper reading of VtM] evil destroys and degrades not only its victims but also its perpetrators, and even their history. The REAL point of VtM is, of course, that from very minor initial lapses of conscience and humanity there springs the most appalling and essentially inevitable progression to personal destruction. i'm therefore suggesting that we know better than many of our fellow citizens how one MIGHT become evil and what being evil feels like from inside. Properly deployed, such knowledge/empathy could even be useful in fighting evil ["Look, i understand and sympathise with the fact that initially all you wanted was to stay young/glorify God/liberate your homeland/save the cute monkeys but the point you don't seem to have grasped is that now you are a completely worthless degenerate monster who brings nothing but shame and degradation upon yourself and all that you claim to care about"]. The second relates to the nature of our game, which is about the use and denial of resources. In my opinion resource denial is the only likely tactic that can defeat terrorism. i've been struck by the widespread sense that the proper response to the hurt that terrorism has inflicted upon us is to hurt it right back. At the risk of upsetting people here who have been bereaved, i have to say that in my opinion this is the wrong response which will [a] not work, and [b] make things worse. To explain why i think this, let's explore what resources the terrorists actually have. It won't take long, since there are only two; they have People and they have Motivation. In fact they have two kinds of people: a very small number of individuals who go around killing others [or training people to kill others], and a much larger number who support them with money and other services. This larger group is the one that should worry people most, since from it can spring an essentially inexhaustible supply of new killers. Once we find out who has done this terrible thing it will be a simple matter to identify the larger group of supporters and drop bombs on them; unfortunately while this might have cathartic value for the bereaved it will not stop terrorism but, rather, actually help it by creating more recruits for the cause and post facto "justifications" for the initial attacks. Instead, i'd like to suggest that resource denial be implemented against terrorism and that there are two ways to do this, in both of which we, as individuals, can play a role. We need to deny the terrorists their people, and we need to deny them their motivation. How might we deny them their people? A good start is to show everyone who wants to see what the human impact of these attacks has actually been. For every nutcase who claps and ululates in glee there will be 100 normal people who will suddenly see that NO cause is worth indiscriminately slaughtering and bereaving other normal people. But there is also a battle of ideas that could, i think, be won. Suppose, for the sake of argument, that the WTC and Pentagon attacks turn out to have been the work of Muslim fundamentalists. If that is so, we need to drive a wedge between the terrorists and their supporters, and we will do this most effectively, i suggest, by exposing how very wrong and un-Islamic is the view of these people and how, by contrast, we ourselves understand and even like certain aspects of the most modern of the world's great religions; the guiding principle of this approach being, of course, that you get respect by showing respect. As an example of how this might be done, Osama Bin-Laden preaches a holy war against America because he says the Gulf War alliance desecrated the Holy Places of Islam when Americans went to Saudi Arabia. He is just plain wrong about this being un-Islamic; Islam reserves Mecca and Medina for the faithful [where non-believers may not go, and have not gone, except like Burton in disguise] but it says nothing about any other place in the world. In short he's a heretic and not a Muslim at all; and as it states in the Qu'ran, believers are allowed to dine with non-Muslims like Bin Laden, but if they persist in attacking or misrepresenting the faith, even when politely told that their views are offensive, then the true Muslim is enjoined to make his/her excuses and leave. If it turns out that another anti-capitalist or anti-american group is behind the attack then the details of how we go about driving a wedge between the lunatics and their supporters will be different, but the principle of engagement with their beliefs, and rational explanation of why the crazies are actually their enemies, will be the same. The terrorists themselves will, of course, have to be killed, which in a way is a pity because it's what they WANT, but it can't be avoided because if you stick them in gaol their chums will just perpetrate further crimes to try to get them out again. If their second resource is motivation, how might we deny them that? In a curious way the successful attacks on the centres of American capitalism and defence may actually make this easier. Tactically this was quite brilliant [MUCH better than Pearl Harbour, though in my opinion, and like Pearl Harbour, a TERRIBLE strategic mistake], achieving essentially complete operational success, and killing large numbers of important soldiers and capitalists. From a terrorist point of view it can't GET any better, and if our aim is to break their hearts and spirits we need to show them, by rebuilding and recruiting, that even their very best still just isn't good enough. Further, we must show the terrorists that their actions have not made the American military and capitalism weaker, but rather stronger [and i write these words as an avowed anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist, recognising like most such people that there are worse things in the world, and common enemies of ALL humanity against whom we should and must unite - again, ideas that are not unfamiliar to the players of VTES]. There will be no harm in laying it on REALLY thickly when we explain just what completely pathetic no-brain deluded LOSERS the terrorists actually are, and it will not be hard. [You knock a wing off the Pentagon? Man, that's another few billion USD into the defense allocation, no questions asked. Bring down a couple of NY skyscrapers? Show me the end of the queue to buy shares in construction and real estate companies. Hey, did i mention that you are a pathetic no-brain LOSER already?]. Nor will it hurt to engage with non-violent ideological competitors of the terrorists in such a way as to allow them [and not the terrorists] some genuine measure of success. Encouraging the democratic palestinians to take up Israel's offer of joint sovereignty over the contested bits of Jerusalem might be a good place to start [Hey, not only are you a no-brain pathetic loser but look, geeky peaceful Jo Ben-Slow who you bullied at school is a big-time success and national hero, howdja feel about that?]. And that's pretty much all that i think i can contribute as a gamer. i certainly have not [and did not intend to] say everything that might be said about why all this happened and what we can do to stop it happening again, because i do share Scott's belief that this is a NG about the VTES game, and that OT posts should usually either reflect things that other games can tell us about our game, or things that our game can tell us about other matters. i've at least tried to do that here and i apologise in advance to those who find that i have failed. One final practical thing is that Mr Powell is IMO quite right to say that this will be a long struggle, which may well mean that some of you non-Brits find yourselves delayed for lengthy periods of time at one or other of London's airports. If that happens you are all ESPECIALLY welcome to come and stay at my place till your plane can leave again [we are about 90 minutes drive from Heathrow and Gatwick]. Just drop me an email from your laptop or an Internet cafe, and it will be my pleasure as well as duty to come to pick you up. You will have to endure my cooking of course, but you're not compelled to let me win at VTES and it will be a LOT cheaper and better than sleeping on an airport couch or paying London hotel prices. DECK: Legbiter's least unsuccessful deck from GenconUK 2001 [Tzimisce sealed-deck]. We had a good series of games at GenconUK 2001 but i personally got soundly thrashed in pretty much every form i played. Good reasons for that: i was playing the Giovanni as a last-minute stand-in in the clan wars and didn't have a really competitive and tested deck to play, as it turned out; and for NL reasons essentially i tried to play a weenie animalism !Gangrel deck in the constructed deck, which turned out to be WAAAY off beam for the actual metagame. 1 VP from each of those tourneys, but i did better in the sealed-deck, and but for contesting in the final i might have won that [the other Tzimisce deck did win, in the end]. i did enjoy seeing Rob's deck in action, and was also heartened by the strong showing of the Ravnos, Assamites and Setites. Dave Hammond [who did well with the assamites] also IMO deserves special mention for daring to play his Compelled Escaped Mental patients deck in the constructed event, and pulling off the combo to some effect; Oliver and Karsten from Germany played some nice decks too, and as mentioned elsewhere by Matt and Adrian, Michael aka Anklebiter made a good show with the Ventrue in the clan wars, and will probably be playing this clan rather more in the future. White Wolf and the organisers did a great job with the venue and prize support and the Hated Coupe, beneath whose iron heel the Kindred of Central England Nightly Groan, did his usual excellent judgy thing. Here is the Tzimisce deck which i constructed and with which i achieved the only sweep, a five-player, in the sealed-deck heats. It's obviously based on the Tzimisce precon plus some starters [i forget how many, 4-6 i think] with a smidge of presence and some other stuff which reflects my relatively-successful sealed-deck philosophy. This was a fairly competitive game with Mike Nudd playing a Ravnos sneak-bleed deck as my prey, Martin Cubberley playing a !Brujah bleed-bash deck as his prey, Barney playing weenie Ravnos toolbox next, and finally Phil playing another !Brujah deck. It was also a good game with no unsatisfactory deals and everyone getting a chance to show what their deck could do ... sadly, i can't say the same about ANY other competitive game i played in over the three days, and take no pride in my other two VPs which were down to filthy sneak-bleeding somebody who had no real defense in one case, and a dodgy [but legal] deal with Rob in the other. But Matt and Phil and i had a fun friendly in between clan-war rounds, and then they showed me how to play Munchkin - GREAT fun. CRYPT [13 vampires]: Lambach Angela Decker Meshenka Corinne Marcon Devin Bisley Violet Tremain Dragos Terrence Stravinsky Anton Lolita Houston Wendy Wade Horatio LIBRARY: MASTERS: Animalism Auspex Blood Doll Elder Library Information Highway Library Hunting Ground Minion Tap Pentex loves You! Powerbase: Mexico City Presence Sudden Reversal Vicissitude DISCIPLINELESS: Ambush Arson Brass knuckles Cardinal Sin: Insubordination Combat Shotgun Computer Hacking Dead-end Alley Eternal Vigilance Fake Out Femur of Toomler Forced Awakening x 5 Laptop Computer Leather jacket Lucky Blow Meat cleaver Revenant War Ghoul ANIMALISM: Army of rats Canine Horde Carrion Crows x 2 Cat's guidance x 4 Drawing out the Beast Guard Dogs x 3 Rat's Warning Song of Serenity x 2 Wolf Companion AUSPEX: Enhanced Senses x 2 Precognition x 2 Primal instincts Pulse of the Canaille Revelations Scrying of Secrets Spirit's Touch x 2 PRESENCE: Media Influence Social Charm VISCISSITUDE: Blood of Acid Body Arsenal x 2 Bonecraft Breath of the Dragon Changeling x 2 Chiropteran Marauder x 3 Fleshcraft Horrid Form Inner Essence Kraken's kiss x 2 Meld with the Land x 2 Plasmic Form x 2 A fun deck to construct and play, and definitely one for the collection. ****************** i end as i began with the attacks on the USA, to say that i've just heard that, mercifully, that fine player and gallant gentleman Stephen Buonacore, who worked in the WTC, managed to get out alive. i tried to email him personally to express my relief but alas telecommunications to NYC are still not all that they might be. i do so publicly, now. For a' that, and a' that, a time will come for a' that When Man to Man shall Brithers Be The time will come for a' that.