Excellent Things: The Gangrel

Open Development, Vampire: The Masquerade

First, a quick note: I’ll be closing comments on the Lasombra page as soon as I post this. As I mentioned previously, I’m going to try to keep to about a week’s time of open development so that I can keep things moving.

Following the vigorous discussion of Clan Assamite for Lore of the Clans, we have Clan Gangrel, written by Ree Soesbee. The link to the Google Doc containing her material is here:

Edit: Link removed now that open development is closed. Thank you!

Ree’s actually about a thousand words under, and she’s admitted that she has room for some more material. I have some ideas of what to fill that space with, but I’m curious what you think. I’ll close comments on this one on Friday, August 1st. I’ll put a big note on the document when I close it so it’s clear.

A few things to keep in mind (and I’ll be repeating these points a lot):

Comments only: Everyone (except me) is restricted to comments only. Some people seem to be able to edit the document, but I’d ask that you do that sparingly. Don’t resolve someone else’s comments or mine, but feel free to discuss whatever makes sense. Please keep it civil, though, even if you disagree.

Keep calm and carry on: This is a preliminary draft. Things will likely change between this draft and the final book. If you see something weird or that you don’t agree with, don’t freak out. Just comment on the concerning area, and I’ll look into it. Certainly don’t give the writer shit for it or claim they don’t know what they’re talking about. There’s a possibility that we have something else in mind and it’s just not coming through.

Substance over style: I’m focusing purely on the content, not punctuation or grammar. That kind of refinement of the material will happen in a later draft. Don’t worry too much about commenting on those concerns, unless something makes the material confusing to understand.

Cards close to my chest: Because I don’t want to bias the discussion, I’m keeping my thoughts on how I want to redline this chapter to myself. I’ll certainly answer questions and help steer conversation away from unproductive avenues, but in general I want to see what you think, not tell you what I think.

  31 comments for “Excellent Things: The Gangrel

  1. JezMiller
    July 25, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    About what to fill the missing space with?

    Gangrel are lorekeepers, but their greatest historians are covertly targeted by the Camarilla. Gangrel are also messengers, and have been for centuries. A significant faction of the Gangrel has been interested in cyphers and encryption for almost as long, – second edition clan book talks about them lurking around Bletchley Park.

    What if a younger faction of the clan has hit on the idea of using encrypted communications to spread the old knowledge, with less risk of Camarilla retaliation? With or without the support of their elders?

    • Mu
      July 26, 2014 at 3:33 pm

      I don’t see a Gangrel all night enclosed in a basement with a computer. Best said, there could be one or two, but the instincts of a Gangrel is more to stay outside and share with friends than to be connected to a computer.

      • JezMiller
        July 28, 2014 at 6:05 pm

        I was thinking more of cellphones and tablets, actually. Basements and PCs are soooooooo last-century, dahhhhh-ling… ooops, sorry, that’s my Toreador voice, not my Gangrel one 🙂

  2. Valismedsen
    July 25, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    Loved this, it really elevates the Gangrel as a clan in the Modern nights, especially in the Camarilla and as independents. However, and this is my suggestion on how to fill the word count, the role of the Gangrel in the Sabbat is missing. Why they joined? What do they do? More monstrous? More animalistic? How did the Coyotes spread beyond the Sabbat, and how did Sabbat Gangrel and the sect as a whole react to it? Gangrel as members of the church of Caine. Gangrel membership in the Black Hand. There is a lot to explore there.

    • July 25, 2014 at 6:03 pm

      The Assamita text talked about the antitribu, but I think all the antitribu are treated somewhere else on the book. I hope they have some decent space.

    • Pierre
      July 26, 2014 at 8:07 am

      “Eddy Webb
      July 15, 2014 at 3:21 pm
      There will be a little bit on key “bloodlines” (mainly the various antitribu), but the focus will primarily be on the core 13. As for making it deluxe, that’s all on the business end to decide, but since this is such a key book, I suspect there will be some special things in mind for it. :)”
      “Eddy Webb
      July 15, 2014 at 3:36 pm
      Well, Antitribu are part of the outline, so that’s not an issue. ”
      But not sure if antitribu will get their space apart or are they been included in main tribe section?

      • July 28, 2014 at 7:50 am

        Antitribu are not getting their own section. I asked the writers to at least mention the antitribu in their chapters, where it makes sense.

        • Pierre
          July 28, 2014 at 8:17 am

          It makes sense. Hope they got the background they deserve in Sabbat V20 😀 Sabbat fans need some V20’s love! The Blood Rites section, has left us with long teeth.

        • July 28, 2014 at 12:22 pm

          AFAIR, the Assamites chapter is the only one that talked about the antitribu. If there is enough space, I think it is a good topic, specially for sabbat fans.

          Specifically for Gangrel, the Antitribu shows the other side of the Beasts. Gangrel embraced Humanity and are walking between both sides. Gangrel antitribu, on the other hand, are the ultimate beasts. In my opinion is worth mentioning.

  3. July 25, 2014 at 6:28 pm

    Good work!

    I like very much this chapter. It’s well thought and expressed. Cool without the need to introduce weird things.

    And Gangrel are (or were) my favourite clan, so this means even more, as I am not easy to please.

  4. Fen
    July 25, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    Oh man, I didn’t know Ree was writing on this project. Huge fan of her L5R work from way back when. Chapter looks good thus far but since Gangrel are one of the few VtM clans I enjoy, I may be biased.

  5. Stella
    July 25, 2014 at 10:24 pm

    Could we get a merit that would allow Gangrel to ghoul plants? I saw in Requiem and I think it could be a good addition to the oWoD as well

  6. Thiago Gueiros
    July 25, 2014 at 11:55 pm

    Hello,

    Where do I send Rites of the Blood text that need corrections?

    Enjoyed Assamites a bunch, now to Gangrel!

    Regards,

  7. Mort
    July 26, 2014 at 2:05 am

    So weird question. Even though they are not a “Clan” per-say will the Caitiff get a section? I was going to post that in one of the sessions but didn’t want to disrupt the flow of the material. Likewise Baali? One is more close to my heart then the other naturally but I figured I’d ask about both.

    • July 28, 2014 at 7:50 am

      Only the core 13 Clans are getting chapters. Caitiff and Baali will not, alas. Maybe another book.

  8. atamajakki
    July 26, 2014 at 2:31 am

    White Wolf quit referring to the Ravnos and the Rroma people using the G*psy slur sometime before Revised came out; it’s depressing to see Onyx Path regressing on the racism front for V20. Please rectify this.

    • July 26, 2014 at 5:47 am

      Why is “gypsy” racist? It comes from Egyptians, as people used to think those people were originated in Egypt. It is believed that the same Romani favoured this confusion because it brought them more prestige.

      I don’t find anything offensive in that. In my country, “gitano”, of the same exact etymology is beared with pride among these people.

      • atamajakki
        July 26, 2014 at 6:30 am

        Fun fact: you don’t get to decide what people are allowed to be offended by. G*psy is an outside moniker applied to the Romani people, and is almost never seen as anything other than a slur by them (source: my boyfriend is Romani, and is an outspoken social justice sort in many Romani circles). Just because /you/ see no problem with it does not mean /they/ are not allowed to say that it is unacceptable. One should also note that g*psy neatly never ysed positively; it’s never just ‘g*psies,’ it’s ‘dirty g*psies’ or ‘thieving g*psies.’ Gypped refers to this slur and neans ‘to be conned, tricked, or ribbed,’ yet you deny that it has negative connotations?

        White Wolf stopped using g*psy for a reason (its got phased out of being the Ravnos clan nickname in Revised, and believe WW at one point apologized for the existence of the titular standalone book), and it’s distressing to see OPP slip on that.

        • JezMiller
          July 26, 2014 at 11:09 am

          Since some people would be offended by the use of the word “gypsy” and nobody is likely to be offended by the use of the word “Romani”, changing it seems a no-brainer. Avoiding needless offense is simple good manners.

          I would like to make a slightly more subtle point, though. You made a bald statement that the word “gypsy” IS a slur. Innately. Irrespective of context. In so doing, you skirted dangerously close to accusing the writer, perhaps even OPP itself, of bigotry, since the intentional use of a clearly bigoted word is by definition a bigoted act. Yet you yourself needed to contextualize the word with “dirty” or “thieving”, or with the etymology of a slang term that most people who use it probably aren’t even aware of, in order to justify labelling it as offensive. (A negative contextualization which is, I’d also note, absent from the text you’re criticizing). The fact that the word is a label applied by outsiders and not the Romani’s own name for themselves is a fair point, but not by itself evidence of prejudice. “German” isn’t the Germans’ own name for themselves, either.

          No, I don’t get to decide what people are allowed to be offended by – nor, for that matter, do I wish to. But by the same token, neither you nor I nor anyone else get to decide, like the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland, that “words mean what I say they mean”, rather than what the dictionary says they mean, or what the majority of people who use them in the entirely non-pejorative way defined by the dictionary, intend them to mean.

          I don’t deny that the word *can* have negative connotations in the right – or perhaps I should say the wrong – contexts. It can also have connotations that are exotic, alluring, romantic and attractive, as I point out below. (And interestingly, I don’t think the positive ones are context-specific, since I came up with them through word-association with the term itself). I doubt whether either set of connotations have much more to do with reality than the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland. But however passionately you believe in the negative rather than the attractive connotations of the term, to accuse someone who doesn’t share your (re)definition of it of racism is needlessly inflammatory. And somewhat offensive, when I see nothing in the text that would justify an accusation of bigotry other than the use of the word itself.

          Had you pointed out that the term carries negative connotations for some, perhaps the majority of Romani (although not, as far as I can see from even a short period of Googling, all of them), and that it would be better to change it to something more neutral, I wouldn’t have thought twice. But there is a line between “I know from personal experience that this will cause needless offense to a large number of people, please respect their feelings and change it” and “you are regressing on the racism front” – an accusation of racism in all but name. I do feel you could have accomplished your objective here without stepping across that line.

          • Mu
            July 28, 2014 at 4:05 am

            Very nice and complete reply.

            I would add that the energy would be better expend in criticize the uses of gypsy in a negative sense, that in banning the word of all uses.

            Example:

            Speaker 1: I got gypped at the party.
            Speaker 2: Hey, associating gypsies with robbery or trickery is racist!

        • July 28, 2014 at 4:36 am

          Fun fact: you can write the whole word “gypsy” at least when you’re talking about the term, because you are not applying it to anyone, you’re talking about the word.

          Wikipedia says that many Romani organizations use the word “Gypsy” on their names, so I don’t believe that “is almost never seen as anything other than a slur by them”.

          An important note. I never ever said nor will say that people are not allowed to say they are offended by something. I am no one to allow or forbid people to express their opinion, and I have not tried to. I just expressed my opinion as you expressed yours, and I am glad you did.

          Of course “dirty gypsy” is racist, just as “black whore” is extremely racist, but “black woman” is as perfectly acceptable as “white woman”. As I said, Roma in my country wear the “gitano” name proudly. Of course, there’s a lot of despective use of the term, lots and lots of them, but aware people defend the good gitano names and combat the bad ones.

          I must say also I’m very surprised that you found a concern on the Ravnos nickname, just because of the nickname. Do you really think the real issue of a romani clan addicted to deliquency is that they are nicknamed “gypsies”? Would you find ok if that clan of addicted robbers were called “Roma”? If that, I suggest you to check your priorities.

    • JezMiller
      July 26, 2014 at 6:21 am

      Yes, I wondered that too. The n-word is purely and simply offensive, without any positive connotations at all. I did a word-association game with the images that the word “gypsy” brings to my mind. I came up with:-

      – Beautifully painted wagons.
      – Loose, brightly coloured silk clothing, usually red.
      – Lots of gold jewelry
      – Athletic campfire dances involving violin music
      – What the WoD calls hedge magic – fortune telling, crossing someone’s palm with silver, lucky charms
      – Swarthy complexions and black hair

      Stereotypical, wildly inaccurate in a majority of cases? No doubt. But negative? Certainly less so than certain stereotypes that Hollywood applies to my own nationality…

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Bls1KKDwmo

      Why is it supposed to be racist?

      • July 28, 2014 at 7:51 am

        To keep this conversation from getting out of hand: I do plan to remove all uses of the word “gypsy.”

        • Pierre
          July 28, 2014 at 7:43 pm

          You will remove all uses of “europeans”, “africans”, “americans”, etc also? That’s is silly. I hope that you refer to comments and not in the book. A bit of gypsy lore:
          http://youtu.be/JNPzDXXM9V4 Camarón de la Isla & Paco de Lucía ‘Esa gitana morena’ (Gypsy brunette)

          • July 29, 2014 at 7:59 am

            At this point, I think this conversation has lost usefulness. I’d like folks to move on to other topics. If I have to delete comments to keep it productive, I will, but I’d rather not have to go that route.

  9. JezMiller
    July 26, 2014 at 5:15 am

    Excellent, indeed. A distillation of all the appealing elements of the clan with some interesting new twists thrown in.

    Some high points

    – The stereotypes *aren’t* stereotypical, yet they do a first-rate job of showcasing the diverse range of possibilities that the clan offers, and how some of the clan’s traditional specialties (such as transportation) have adapted to the modern world. In fact, adaptation to the modern world is a theme running through this section.

    – Not only are the Gangrel conducting a quiet campaign against the Tremere, but their tactics owe more to the Lone Gunmen from the X-Files than Attila the Hun. Story possibilities aside, the Gangrel are too often stereotyped as stupid – to the extent that it was even their original clan weakness in Requiem (Yes, that’s a different game world, but it still drew inspiration from the cWoD IRL). Good to see them approach a problem in a way that’s crafty, strategic, and long-term.

    – The internet revolution does a 180 turn, from being a threat to their traditional role as couriers to an opportunity, as paranoid elders seek ways to communicate that can’t be intercepted or traced. (By the way, how about a Protean/Fortitude combo Discipline that duplicates the Level 6 Blissful Slumber power?). Handy for higher-generation vampires travelling in cargo holds).

    – The opening story. *Very* well done. Captures their essence beautifully. Shows the savage nature of the clan, its affinity with beats and the wild and its aloofness from vampire society, but also shows that they DO have a moral side that they might not even admit to themselves. (He didn’t *have* to let that woman go, after all. Cold logic would have suggested eliminating the witness to the Masquerade breach, not taking a chance that she’d stay intimidated).

    Things I didn’t like so much:-

    “We’re animalistic and feral, we’re cold-blooded killers of every stripe, and we don’t care about honor or duty – we care about survival”. Don’t overdo that. It’s not just Tarzan noble savages who break that stereotype. Sabbat Gangrel on the Path of Honourable Accord – or Dark Ages Sabbat on the Path of Chivalry, like the Knights of Avalon – might be cold-blooded killers, but they care about honour and duty a hell of a lot. Beckett might care about survival and not give much of a damn about honour or duty, but dismiss him as “animalistic” and he’d probably correct you at some length. In Latin. And ancient Greek. With obscure allusions to Plato, Aristotle, Bentham, Descartes, and Locke woven into his narrative at various points. To be fair, you did an fine job of showcasing that diversity at other points through the text (I especially liked the reference to the Lycaeon as philosophers), but the paragraph implying that morality was the preserve of the young and Edgar Rich Burroughs romantics jarred a little.

    – As I commented in the document itself, the implication that the Gangrel primarily adopted Humanity after the Convention of Thorns contradicts a large amount of previous material, and is also somewhat incongruous with the later section talking about their philosophical differences with the Ravnos.

  10. Possessed
    July 26, 2014 at 5:22 am

    Excellent work! The Best one of these so far. Not only did the whole text echo through the older material, it shows that the writer actually knows of previous material on the Clan which was sadly lacking in the Assamite text, it brings it nicely to modern times.

    I really liked the alternate animal forms stats we got, though the flying squirrel should perhaps be replaced by something else like a Rat form, and I really liked the merits we got like the Skald. Personally I also liked the merit Hive Mind as the City Gangrel have been described with more insectoid features so it fits nicely.

  11. Pierre
    July 26, 2014 at 7:52 am

    From RAE
    Gitano (Gypsy).
    (From egiptano because they believed came from Egypt).
    1. Adj. Is said of the individuals of a native people of India, spread over different countries, which maintain a largely nomadic and have retained their own physical and cultural features.
    Gypsy is not negative term. And the gypsies I know are proud of been gypsies.
    http://youtu.be/P-qC2XnOLVg

  12. Mu
    July 28, 2014 at 3:42 am

    Great chapter. It explains very well the Gangrel way of unlife, doing an interesting text without having to resort to invent strange things.

    The only thing I have protested is that the Greek Gangrels and City Gangrels are portrayed as philosophers and business man respectively, and I would like them to be also savage and animalistic. Well, with the City Gangrel I am perhaps taking too seriously one phrase, but maybe it could help to expand a bit the text to speak of the City Gangrel way of life, more now than they are allowed into the Camarilla. I also think it should be explained the reaction of the other Gangrels to that, and the relation of the two groups, including if the Camarilla Country Gangrels acknowledge them as clanmates (I have proposed the Coyotes are seen as a menace, since their disciplines make them more fit to the city, which still is the place than most Camarilla Gangrel live). A few words about the antitribu would be nice, too.

    But, besides that, it was a wonderful chapter.

  13. tau neutrino
    August 4, 2014 at 2:35 am

    I missed the chance to put this in the comments, but shouldn’t Blood Talons prevent further claw attacks, like Wasp Talons in W20? How long and how much blood does it take for the claws to grow back for vampires?

  14. the viking anach
    September 19, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    when will discuss the einheryar from the dark ages supplement wolves of the sea

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