After so much time dealing with the Garou, I got cocky when it comes to the Kindred known as the Gangrel. I had went to deal with the clan and thought that because they are close to the beast, they would parlay freely. Well, that does not seem to be the case as I was punched in the head hard enough to knock me reeling. Well, to say he was not friendly from that point on is an understatement. Then again, I was not the most polite guest. Especially after I found out my sharp tongue could literally drive my host Blaine into fits of feral rage.
I heard once that there is nothing sharper than an Irish tongue. Well, they have not felt the claws of the Gangrel clan, twisting and drilling it’s way into my hand as the Kindred laughed in delight. His face, at first normal like any human’s, had shifted to have lupine ears and eyes like a cat with the various aggressive roars of frustration my insults and unwillingness to cooperate had brought forth from him. This man, no, this beast is only wearing a thinly held back visage of civility ready to fade away like a mirage. And like such illusion, once the truth is seen it is forever feared by the prey and the predator alike despite any collar one can put on it.
Heaven help those that bear the curse of the Gangrel, for they are doomed to an eternity not of the world of man, or beast, but a world alone forever.
There is a beast within every vampire, and then there is the beast known as the clan Gangrel. See, where other clan’s let their kindred hide their beast on the inside, the Gangrel personify it inside and out. This is a nice way of describing the extra bit of nastiness that the curse of clan Gangrel is, the ever lasting fear that the next frenzy will leave it’s mark and turn their greatest gifts against them in the ultimate form of karma. Course karma is a beast unto itself.
Now the Gangrel clan of vampires, or “Outlanders” as they are typically called, are not an organization per se. They are however a genus that knows that there is safety in numbers. Even if the numbers are made of a whole lot of ones all standing together. This is not to say that they are on their own from the get go, but they are a clan that accepts members known for their ability to survive from the word go. The tough guys, the survivors of prison, those who loners who make their way off the land. Those are the targets of the Gangrel Vampire. For these people have a certain mentality, that the world can move all it wants, and the Gangrel will continue. Though this is not to say that the Gangrel will not act, no, they are feral beyond compare. This is just to say that their eye is not on the spotlight like the Brujah, these vampires have their eyes on the game of eternity and they play to win. That game however, changes based on what rules they are playing by, and now that the Gangrel have semi formally, though not uniformly, left the Camarilla, the Gangrel can be found anywhere from the cities of the Sabbat to the bottom of the ocean. I really wish I was joking about that one but… seriously they are down there. Though a bit of warning, the Gangrel are not the scariest thing down there. Not by a frightening long shot.
The fun part is, the Gangrel are like the beast they are oft referred to as when it comes to their record keeping. As such, they do not have much official history listed in the Vampire: The Masquarade 20th Anniversary book. Though this does not mean they do not have a history, beings without a written history but marked intelligence (human level) such as the Gangrel vampire clan typically follow a line of tribal and apocraphyl knowledge. This is passed down by word of mouth, each retelling getting bigger and more dramatic. This should be reflected in your character, namely he should listen to words and speak of things in such a manner that it conjures imagery to those you speak to. Not grand verbosity, but simply in colorful adjectives. We all know that person who holds their history in tales, and that is how the Gangrel vampire are.
Remember how I spoke of the greatest gift of the Gangrel? Well the Gangrel have learned to focus the beast in a unique way, to become it. The ability to shapechange, or Protean, is a fascinating and amazing gift. One the Garou take for granted but the Gangrel are able to use despite the ever static nature of the vampire. Why does this warrant a paragraph unto itself? Because when all you have is a hammer, all the world looks like a nail. When you have an ever expanding tool box, the world is a source of endless possibilities. To be a Gangrel is to think constructively outside the box. You are locked out of a warehouse? Well why not pop those claws out and dig through a wall or climb to the roof? The world is not some linear A leads to B situation, and this clan has the ability to get you there.
Well the next power of the Gangrel vampire is part of what makes them a total beast in combat. The gift of Fortitude is something that changes you on more than a physical level. Using cinema of various formats as an example, you can see those like Fantastic Four’s “The Thing”, Luke Cage, and Superman as examples you can see how those who are supernaturally tough become fearless. Bordering on the over confidant, those with Fortitude tend to go directly toward threats as they are not expecting to even be hurt. Just like you do not shy away when something as harmless as a cotton ball is thrown at you, a Gangrel would not flinch at gunfire. I am sure you can see how that would change roleplaying on multiple levels.
Moving on to the final ability of the Gangrel, and one of the most underutilized powersets in my oppinion, the ever versatile Animalism. What this is, is all the abilities of Dar the Beastmaster, and so much more. You can talk to animals, see through their eyes, and just when you think the fun is over you go and possess them. Well, this one changes your roleplay style too, as someone with this is likely going to be watching all the animals around, and, more so, will probably have a trusted animal companion they keep around at all times. The fact that you can ghoul, granting a measure of the powers of the vampire, any animal you can come across means that something like an owl can become a serious threat. Not to mention how a Ghoul’d animal would not age or pass away like a normal animal would. I can only imagine the bond I’ve had with my favorite dog multiplied by the ages. Imagine a pet person, taken to the extreme, and you would have the basis of the Gangrel who specialize in this discipline.
Finally, we speak of the dark side of the protean power. See like all vampire clans, the Gangrel have a weakness. Namely, that everytime they lose themselves to the Beast, they come back a little more familiar with it. The Gangrel will develop a bit of animal like features. Cat eyes, a tail of the dog, or shell of the turtle. The possibilities are endless and rarely positive. Though some changes have benefits, those are the exception to the rule and not regular occurrences. Speaking of regular occurrences, the Gangrel will rarely keep the changes, but the possibility and fear of said possibility means that every Gangrel fears the beast coming out to play on a permanent basis. For this reason, Gangrel try to isolate themselves away from things that can cause frenzy like fire and other such threats to a vampire’s unlife. Imagine if the next time you lost your cool, you were cursed with snake skin for the rest of you life? Yeah, you would try to play a bit of the Bruce Banner calmness too.
Interesting note is that there is a city born version of the Gangrel. These blokes have a different power set entirely. They have the powers to hide in plain sight through Obfuscate and the power of super speed like the Brujah. Though in exchange they have lost the power of Fortitude and Animalism. Their weakness is similar but the changes reflect creatures of the city such as cats, crows, dogs, and most commonly the ever prevalent city rat. Of course the city Gangrel would act different. More prone to hiding and striking when the time is right I’d say.
Alrighty, I will be moving on from the Gangrel, who are interesting in that they live in the moment more than most clans of vampire. Thus why there was not alot of bloody history for me to go over on this one. That being said, we are gonna be going to a clan that has thoroughly invaded the city Seattle that I call home-ish… The Toreador. Artsy, beautiful, and every bit the seductive predator, the Toreador vampire will be a fun bit. See you next week.
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