Clan Gangrel

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Clan Gangrel Empty Clan Gangrel

Post by Hero on Fri 31 Aug 2012, 2:23 pm

gangrel: Middle English, "A vagabond; a drifter." Possibly from gangen, "to go."
Nordic myth (the "Prose Edda", Penguin Classics, by Snorri Sturluson, translated by Jesse Bylock, copyright 2005) - "Gylfi named himself Gangleri, saying he had travelled over trackless paths...", pg. 10

There are many ways to describe the vampires who make up Clan Gangrel, but few of them are overtly complimentary. The phrases "feral", "bestial", "violent", "animalistic", and "god damn those furry loner bar stewards" are the most common. However, these terms are also very appropriate for the Clan that is infamous for its strong connection to the animal kingdom and the natural world. Since the nights of prehistory, the Gangrel have been the Clan that has shunned civilization and all the comforts that make the other Clans soft. The Gangrel are a clan of survivors and hunters, who enjoy the chase at least as much as the hot rush of blood as they tear into their prey.

Few Clans get along with the Gangrel, but this suits the Outlanders perfectly fine. They have little presence in the Jyhad, and prefer to keep it that way. Where other Clans may focus on the nightly social oneupsmanship called Elysium, or the orgiastic rites of the Sabbat, the Gangrel generally prefer to spend time on their own, purusing their own agendas. Many Gangrel go completely wild, and scorn all human and vampire contact for decades at a time. The eldest Gangrel seek out the most isolated and undeveloped places in the world they can find. As long as they have a regular supply of blood and a safe place to rest for the day, few Gangrel have political aspirations beyond keeping their territory safe from Cainite poachers.

The reason why the Gangrel are shunned by the other Clans is their penchant for delving too deeply into their animalistic and predatory natures. Where a Toreador luxurizes in the pretensions of high society, or a Brujah wallows in an ear-pounding rave, a Gangrel looks to the dark, close forests and the beasts of the night which occupy them for inspiration and emulation. Gangrel are frequently associated with wolves, to the extent that most vampires recognize a wolf's head as the symbol of the Clan. However, Gangrel have lessons to learn from the rest of the animal kingdom as well, and there are scavengers, ambush predators, and even vampire "vegetarians" among the Clan.
Disciplines

Bullets thudded into the wild-haired man's hide, blasting through his torn jacket. No blood jumped out from the wounds, refusing to be evicted by the high-velocity rounds. Six shots took the man in the chest, another two in one arm, and one sunk itself into the dead-white cheek. "Damn", spat the stranger, probing a finger into the gap. "That one actually hurt." A diabolic crimson glow lit up his eyes, turning them into spotlights of anger in the poorly-lit alley. The last thing the would-be murderer clearly saw were ten shredding claws leaping for his face.

The central Bloodline of Clan Gangrel relies upon the Disciplines of Animalism, Fortitude, and Protean. Animalism refers to the ability to communicate with and manipulate the animal kingdom; powerful practioners of this Discipline have also been known to be able to influence humans and even other supernaturals. Fortitude is a vampire's natural resistance to harm and effects of the environment. Protean has a variety of useful abilities, such as being able to turn oneself into mist or grow bestial claws for battle. Protean has its roots in the ancient Grecian stories of Proteus, a god of the sea that could shapeshift at will. Gaelic myth also makes reference to sorcerers and shaman possessed of "great and protean power". The durability and strength provided by these Disciplines make the Gangrel respected and sometimes feared by other Clans.

"City Gangrel" provide the second most prolific Bloodline, primarily among the Sabbat and younger generations. City Gangrel are predators adapted to a different style of environment - that of the urban jungle. Their Disciplines reflect this change, turning them from hunting predators into ambush predators. Protean, Celerity, and Obfuscate allow them to attack quickly and without warning from the shadows, slaughtering their enemies and fading back into the darkness to strike again. City Gangrel spies among the Camarilla often study Animalism or Fortitude to maintain their cover.

Obfuscate in particular has proven of great use to the City Gangrel. Given the Clan's instinct to frenzy, and the animalistic mutations that spawn from it, being able to disguise oneself becomes very important to those vampires surrounded by gun-toting mobs of kine (and sometimes, other Kindred aren't much better). Coupled with the shapeshifting powers of Protean, some City Gangrel manage to give the Nosferatu a run for their money as spies (or even the occassional contracted killer).

Gangrel choose secondary Disciplines that they think will help them survive in an uncaring world: Celerity, Potence, and Obfuscate are favorites. Camarilla Gangrel, as a necessity of existence, sometimes opt to learn about the Dominate or Presence Disciplines. In salons and meeting rooms, it is considered poor form to beat the nearest snot-nosed Toreador into submission, so sometimes a more subtle route of establishing dominance is required.

Sabbat Gangrel might be interested in learning the basics of Vicissitude for the same benefits as Obfuscate - or at least to "know thy enemy" where the Tzimisce are concerned. Low-key rituals of Blood Magic have been taught to the few Gangrel that serve as pack Ducti or Priests by Tremere antitribu. Beckett is believed to know a few rituals that he has found useful in his archeological studies. Elder Gangrel have likely picked up a few tricks that help them survive in the Final Nights, but - depending on their mental state - may be unwilling or unable to share them with younger Clan members.

Eyes in the Dark - Early History

Wolves have howled in the darkness since time immemorial, and so have Gangrel. In the thousands of years of history preceding Rome, the origins of Clan Gangrel have been lost in the mists. Many Gangrel can trace their lineages back to the Viking lords of northern Europe, but legends of those people say they originally came from fabled Troy, a city in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. African and Asian Gangrel have their own creation tales, but European Gangrel usually fall in with the Biblical tradition: Caine murdered his brother Abel, and was cursed by God with an unholy lust for blood. Caine created more like himself, who then sired their own childer. One of these was Ennoia, a proud and independent spirit with an affinity for animals. Exactly how far this "affinity" went is the subject of some conversation between knowledgeable Gangrel, given the Clan's control over the animal kingdom and ability to shapeshift into animals. Pagan Gangrel typically attribute their existence to the intervention of animal spirits, or perhaps even more esoteric gods.

No matter the exact origins, it was during this stage of the growth of the Clan that cemented its nomadic nature and disdain for the expansion of civilization, which so many other vampiric lineages adored. Gangrel have always taken to the feral side of their natures, and the Clan was all but unknown to "civilized" vampires until the Roman Empire began pushing into mainland Europe and northern lands.
Raised by Wolves - the Roman Empire

The Gangrel had almost nothing to do with the development of the Roman Empire, though occasionally a Brittaniac, Gaulian, or Gothic Gangrel would nose around Rome in the hopes of catching a young neonate off-guard. If there were any Gangrel in the city itself, they were likely attached to any one of the "slave" races - mainland Europeans, Africans, Middle Easterners, or even more exotic peoples. Even so, young Gangrel need to take stories of the "old days" with a grain of salt - your grandsire might spin a mighty yarn about how he was a gladiator in Rome, but how exactly did he fight in those famous, epic battles... held at noon?

The Ventrue like to claim credit for "persuading" the Gangrel to fight for them during the Punic Wars and their conflict with the Brujah in Carthage, but one should always ask: Were the Gangrel fighting for the Ventrue, or were the Gangrel just fighting? Certainly, the Gangrel received no rewards and no praise for their part in razing Carthage, though it did establish their reputation among the Brujah. The surviving Rebels have never forgiven the Gangrel for their part in destroying their paradise, but at the same time, have MUCH more hate to direct at the Ventrue and Toreador.

For many Gangrel, this was their first time setting foot on the African continent, and it is believed that several stayed. This may be the origin of bloodlines such as the Laibon, though it's easily possible that they are even older still.
Sanguine Wolf Rampant - the Dark Ages

Very few records were kept of the Gangrel during the Dark Ages, for obvious reasons. What is known has been passed down from sire to childe for hundreds or perhaps thousands of years. The Gangrel had a bloody Clan rivalry with the Tremere, since the Tremere were believed to have used Gangrel in experiments to create the Gargoyles. Sometimes, the Gangrel and Tzimisce made alliances of convenience against the Tremere. Even in modern nights, certain elder Gangrel and Tzimisce may celebrate a particular conquest or fond memory together.

The Gangrel were most often found in populations that make their homes in Northern Europe - Nordic tribes (modern day Denmark, Sweden, Norway), the Picts (Scotland), the Welsh (England), and the Celts (Ireland). Given the Clan's propensity to wander, though, Gangrel could be found among peoples in almost any part of the world, including the "Anda" from Mongolia, scattered communities in Africa, and various other individuals brought into the Clan from all over the Old World.

During the time of the Inquisition, those Gangrel that traveled close to cities were often singled out as being "spawn of the devil" - sometimes by other vampires. Like the Nosferatu and Tzimisce, the Gangrel grow to be some of the most obviously inhuman monsters of the night. Ventrue, Toreador, and Lasombra Princes, eager to set the hounds of the Inquisition on another trail, were willing to sacrifice members of the "Low Clans" to prove their own piety. It never helped that most Gangrel were Embraced from populations that were violently non-Christian; as such, they were just as often hunted down by for being pagans as much as they were for being vampires. Often, this persecution came at the hands of Clans that took to Catholicism - the Ventrue and Lasombra. These attitudes merely confirmed a long-held belief of the Gangrel: the other Clans aren't worth the trouble, and most of them are backstabbing, holier-than-thou curs to boot.

The Anarch Revolt and Creation of the Camarilla

During the Dark Ages, most Gangrel were not formally Anarchs. However, they also weren't afraid to deal with the Anarchs. This put them in basically the same camp as far as the Ventrue and Toreador were concerned. They called the Gangrel one of the "Low Clans", and many refused to allow Gangrel to enter their cities. The Gangrel didn't care, and snuck inside where the hunting was good and it was easy to hide.

When the Anarchs rose up and overthrew various Antediluvians, there were surely some Gangrel who took advantage of the situation to diablerize their sires or other elders. As far as anyone remembers, however, Ennoia herself was not consumed - indeed, she wasn't even found. When Hardestadt and de Corazon founded the Camarilla in response to the Revolt, they sent agents to track down Gangrel and bargain with, convince, or threaten them to join. Milov Petrenkov was the only Gangrel of suitable age and authority to show up. Though the word "Camarilla" was thrown around as early as 1440, the Convention of Thorns in 1493 marked the official establishment of the Camarilla as a political and social power, a large enough contender to have imposed sanctions on the Anarchs and Assamites.

Clan Gangrel wasn't really pleased to be a part of the Camarilla, but neither were they very displeased. Most Gangrel weren't influenced by the decision one way or another. Typically, only the Gangrel hiding out in Ventrue-, Toreador-, or Lasombra-controlled cities were bothered. With the two former, they could now come out of their hidey-holes and maybe visit Elysium once in a while. In the case of the latter, they either left of their own free will or were killed soon after being discovered.

Straining at the Leash - Victorian Age

In the rapid growth of cities and technology that marked the Victorian Age, very few Gangrel had any interest in staying in towns and hamlets that became industrial centers almost overnight. Additionally, though there were few documented cases of mortals possessing "true faith", the growth of religious influence made many Gangrel cringe, wary of another round of the vicious Inquisitorial practices of the Dark Ages. Only the scholar and theology debator Beckett was known to have any regular dealings with "proper" Kindred society during this period; most other clanmembers hied it to the wilderness to wait out this newest burst of human ingenuity and religious fervor.

There is some debate that this period in time saw the rise of the "City Gangrel" bloodline. Gangrel historians point to the Victorian Age as a "new era in Gangrel evolution", arguing that just as mortals grew more urban-centric and technologically skilled, so too did the Gangrel adapt to hunting in cities with larger concentrations of Kindred and Kine. It was also seen as the very beginnings of Gangrel as political and economic powers. The old, out-of-the-way regions rich in metal and fuel resources fell directly under the province of Gangrel packs and elders. Even if they did not profit directly from such findings, the influx of mortals with loose morals proved good feeding; likewise, richer persons moving to the country to get away from the city light and noise may have found themselves automatically under the supervision of Gangrel trying to hold on to their territory.

The Concrete Jungle - Final Nights

The Gangrel survive and thrive in the Final Nights, as is their wont. In 1999, Xaviar, the last surviving Gangrel Justicar, removed his entire Clan from obedience to the Camarilla, calling the Inner Council liars and manipulators. However, as is usual for the Clan, each member has decided for him- or herself where their allegiances lie, and many have stayed with the sect. Others, now freed from the Traditions, find purpose in their unlives as members of the Sabbat or do as they damn well please as Independents.

In the Final Nights, several Gangrel have made names for themselves as warriors and survivors. Ramona, a young female Gangrel, has taken it upon herself to spread the word of what really happened in New York in 1999 - the event that caused Xaviar to remove the Clan from the Camarilla. Xaviar himself has gone into hiding, and many young Gangrel attempt to seek him out and join his pack of followers. Karsh, Warlord of the Camarilla, has taken Xaviar's defection as a personal insult, and punishes any "wayward" or "traitorous" Gangrel with a heavy hand. Beckett went missing for a few months in the mid-2000s, and since he has shown up again, his skeptical attitude about Gehenna and the destruction of the world appears to have evaporated; now he is a major agitator for preparing against the End Times. Mark Decker remains Prince of Milwaukee, holding off the near-nightly attacks of Lupines from the Great Lakes region, keeping nominal ties with the rest of the Camarilla when given the chance. A group calling itself the Valkyrie (led by one "Brunhilde") has sent representatives around the world from their home base in Scandinavia. These Gangrel warrior-women believe that Ragnarok is nigh, and are preparing the Clan so that they may survive the Twilight of the Gods. Little has been heard from the wise elder Inyanga, but it is assumed that she is on another one of her world tours, perhaps back home to her native Africa.

Sects

Sect boundaries blur where the Gangrel are concerned, especially in the wake of Xaviar's removal of the Clan from the Camarilla in 1999. As with the Nosferatu, Gangrel are predisposed to cooperating with fellow clanmembers, regardless of sect affiliation. Just as when two dogs meet, however, there is always the chance that it will descend into bloody violence. In the Final Nights, the Gangrel don't seem to have an overwhelming presence in any sect - just as many have stayed in the Camarilla as others have joined the Sabbat, the Anarch Movement, or gone Independent. If anything, sect affiliation relies more on region than it does personal preference - when you're down in Atlanta, it's better to be on good terms with the Sabbat overlord; on the U.S. West Coast, Anarchs are more likely to let you put your feet up for a night or two.

On the Camarilla

Before leaving the sect officially in 1999, Clan Gangrel was, if not a fan of the Camarilla, then at least wise enough to know that the organization benefited them more than it harmed them. The Gangrel fit in well within the structure of the Camarilla, exchanging their services as protectors, warriors, and couriers for the benefits of the Masquerade. Though Clan Gangrel did not particularly like any of the other Clans, they were a valuable asset that the elders of the Camarilla were displeased to see leave their camp.

The Gangrel who have remained in the Camarilla are facing increasingly common displacement, in almost the exact same way that wild animals face urban encroachment. Gangrel territory and domain is being gradually overtaken by demands from the Brujah, Malkavians, and Ventrue, who decree that this is for "the greater good" - a good that no longer includes the Gangrel clan. Gatherings have a more martial tone in modern nights, and mutterings about whether Gangrel should fight for what is theirs or join the Sabbat have gotten steadily louder.

On the Sabbat

There are quite a few Gangrel who are attracted to the ideals that the Sabbat espouses: to exist as a vampire openly, and give in to their instinctual need for blood. The Gangrel role in the Sabbat is almost identical to their role in the Camarilla: they are front-line fighters who are sent to protect Sabbat interests around the world. In particular, the City Gangrel bloodline belongs almost exclusively to the Sabbat, though "Country" Gangrel numbers have been increasing since Justicar Xaviar removed the Clan from the Camarilla in 1999.

On the Anarch Movement

Gangrel value freedom, and the Anarchs offer freedom. This is a simple enough choice for some Gangrel to make, since they can no longer rely on the favor of the Camarilla or the sometimes-fickle Sabbat. The nomadic nature of Anarch packs and groups is likewise appealing to Gangrel, as it gives them the opportunity to exercise their exploratory instincts. Greater numbers of Gangrel have joined up with the Anarch movement, traveling to the United States West Coast and helping to keep the borders of the Anarch Free State secure against other political regimes.

On Independents

Being Independent seems to be the ground state for most Gangrel. However, making it on one's own isn't easy under the best circumstances, and with the elders of the Camarilla on the one paw, and the ravening packs of the Sabbat on the other, only Gangrel who are supremely confident in themselves dare to prowl the night alone. However, there are a great many self-confident Gangrel abroad... it's not an unlife of leisure, but that's the price you pay for not having some pushy Ventrue not breathing down your neck.
City Gangrel and Other Bloodlines

The City Gangrel most likely split from the main Clan sometime during the mid-to-late 1800s. Certainly no Gangrel before then evinced the same combination of Disciplines as the City Gangrel do - Celerity, Obfuscate, and Protean. Gangrel are free to study and adopt other Disciplines just as any other vampire is, but Clan Bloodlines generally include Fortitude and/or Protean at the very least. Regional adaptations in the disciplines of shapeshifting and survivability are common, resulting in variations on the basic Clan Bloodline.

Elder Gangrel - those who have been around for a few hundred years - tend to look upon the City Gangrel with some suspicion, since this Bloodline marks a definite departure from the standard "old blood" of the Clan. Camarilla Gangrel, at least, have good cause to be wary, as most City Gangrel tend to arise from the Sabbat.

Culture

Gangrel reject the idea of a clan-wide "culture", instead relying on meetings of clanmembers called "althings" or "gatherings" to share news and reinforce unity between individuals and Clan. Clan loyalty is important to the Gangrel, primarily because only other Gangrel can understand exactly what it is each clanmember goes through as part of their clan "flaw". Even though they are considered outcasts among proper Kindred society, the idea of a pack or herd comes naturally to the animalistic Gangrel, and these gatherings are as much social affairs as they are political or martial. Aside from gatherings, however, most Gangrel are content to let each other alone. After all, too many predators cooped up in one space for too long only begs for trouble and bloodshed.

Gangrel are predators in the most literal sense (or at least scavengers). Rites of combat to establish hierarchy are common place when Gangrel first meet. Only very rarely are these carried out to the death; generally only Gangrel from rival sects are willing and eager to risk ashing a fellow clanmember. These rites are instead used to create a pecking order - the more clanmembers you defeat, the more influence you have at the gathering. Anything from simple staring contests to all-out, no-holds-barred brawls have been known to occur, but once the order is established, it is likely adhered to strictly - younger clanmembers, especially, do not have any particular desire to be beaten again. It is considered bad form to use guns or other weapons; if a Gangrel can't survive and fight with her own two fists, then they're obviously not well-equipped to make it in the World of Darkness. Weapons can always be lost or taken, but claws are forever. The truest mark of prestige and awe, however, is if a Gangrel shows up to a gathering and nobody wants to fight him. Only vampires on par with Karsh and Xaviar typically enjoy this kind of fearful respect, however.

Gangrel views on property vary widely from clanmember to clanmember. Some are very territorial, and refuse to allow anyone else to use what is "theirs". Others adopt a more easy-going attitude: "I'm done using it, so here you go." The only universal constant in Gangrel possessiveness seems to be with prey and kills. If a Gangrel is interrupted during feeding, they grow especially rude and prone to violence (even for Gangrel). Likewise, if a clanmember interferes in another's duel, there is a fair chance that instead of being thanked for their help, they'll be next on the victor's list for needing a good smackdown. Pushy, greedy vampires are no-one's friend, and in Clan Gangrel, those are useless personality tics that need to be beaten out.

Given the distinctly rural nature of Clan Gangrel, the observer may be surprised to learn that many higher-generation Gangrel are adept at managing modern technology such as cell phones, computers, and cutting-edge vehicles. Clan Gangrel has realized that knowledge of technology is an important aspect of survival in the modern nights, and even the eldest Gangrel know how to work a microwave. Granted, they may explode a blood bag or two, but they understand the concept of pushing buttons.

Gangrel culture is primarily an oral culture; the paper-trail left by the Clan is largely limited to scientific reports written by Beckett or Dr. Woodstock. Storytelling and being able to hold a crowd are considered fairly valuable social currency, as there is little else to do in gatherings out in the wilderness besides entertain each another with bravado and song. Most of these stories are true, but a good, satisfying tale is regarded as more important than the facts of the details. Gangrel don't lie, precisely, but embellishing the truth is a good way to sound much more impressive, in the same way a cat puffs up its fur to look more threatening. Keeping to one's spoken word is also highly respected, as when all is said and done, the only thing stopping another vampire from screwing you over is their own sense of honor.

As a Clan made up of mostly independent and self-assertive vampires, Gangrel have a healthy respect for the individual. This said, there is widespread prejudice against Clans such as the Toreador (who are regarded as effeminates that don't dare to be what they are), the Ventrue (who have taken on the worst aspects of humanity, and discarded the better animal traits), and the Tremere (whom the Gangrel just plain don't like). This respect is tempered by a keen awareness of the relative power between individuals. "Omega" Gangrel, like wolves of the same rank, are not quite second-class citizens, but they are as close as the comparatively progressive Gangrel come. Likewise if, as an individual, someone chooses to point a gun at a Gangrel, the Gangrel will, as an individual, take appropriate offense and make aggressive attempts to ensure that the right kind of choice is made. Everyone is free to choose what they will - only some people make really, REALLY bad choices.

The surest way to get Gangrel to talk about you is to do something worth talking about. This isn't as easy as it may seem, especially for Clans such as the Ventrue and Toreador. Where a Ventrue may gain face by putting a C.E.O. under his thumb, or a Toreador by spending a decade perfecting a single sculpture, such things are considered less than worthless by the Gangrel.

Gangrel may gain favor with their Clan by performing deeds of great personal strength or by doing something that benefits the entire Clan. However, a Gangrel can also develop a bad reputation if such things go badly. Joe Gangrel manages to give a beating to a Lupine, and the werewolf ends up surrendering the battle. That's several high marks in Joe Gangrel's favor. But then, if the rest of the Lupine's pack turns around and makes an example of Joe Gangrel, his story is used as a cautionary tale instead of one about great strength and vigor.

Physical feats are most popular among the Gangrel, and many tales are spread of how Beckett once ran across a football-field-sized meadow in full sunlight, or how many Lupine scalps Mark Decker has collected. However gauche and savage these social trophies may seem to the Toreador, they are valuble to the Clan that knows just how important survival is. Fill up your existence with pretty, shiny things, but don't expect the Gangrel to praise you for any of it.

A second good way to gain points in the Clan is to do something for the Clan itself. Participation in war parties, helping out a fellow clanmember, or getting something done for a respected elder ensures that the Gangrel's name will be known. Though word about such deeds is spread slowly, usually by word of mouth, noteworthy Gangrel can expect a near-legendary reputation once their story has been thrown around for a while. This is an excellent way to gain Clan Status, and even if no other Clan even notices the Gangrel, the champion can be sure of a high position at the next Clan gathering.
Style and Appearance

No vampire of any other Clan would ever think of using the words "style" and "Gangrel" in the same sentence. Then again, neither would Gangrel. It's simply not a great concern to a Clan that spends most of its time in the wilderness, where velvet collects dirt like nothing else and heels are downright deadly. Flat shoes - or even better, hiking boots - are common among the Clan, and are thoroughly worn through use. Running, climbing, and sneaking around are nightly hazards for Gangrel, so tight and rugged clothing is definitely preferred.

Inch-thick denim is the item of choice for most Gangrel, who like to wear clothes that are at least as durable as they are. This is closely followed by khaki, hiking gear, and black leather. (Some ancient Gangrel - Viking-age or older - still go so far as to wear actual animal furs and skins.) Pockets are more than something to put your cold hands in, and Gangrel typically fill them with all sorts of personal knick-knacks ("My sire gave me this wooden bear when I joined the Clan") or small but useful gadgetry, such as Swiss Army Knives, miniature flashlights, or even the odd hairbrush. (Ironically, more Gangrel break out a comb 1950s-style than the Brujah and Giovanni combined.)

Some Gangrel can be persuaded to take a little more concern with their appearance, especially if they serve as a sheriff, primogen, or other noted figure. Though rare, these Gangrel can easily match the Brujah in terms of raw style, and compete with the Toreador for originality. These "tamed" Gangrel are sometimes mocked by the more rural clanmembers with the term "bow-wow" (believed to arise from the small, yappy canines that fashionable women carry around in purses).

No matter their position in society, Gangrel tend to stand out(side). This is because of a Clan-wide consequence of being so close to the Beast Within: Gangrel develop animalistic appearances such as wolf claws, snake fangs, bird feathers, or insectoid eyes. Some of these mutations become very hard to hide, resulting in the Gangrel being outcast from mortal company and snubbed in the vampiric. Elder Gangrel are hardly distinguisable from beasts, though they become much more monstrous than even the ugliest bear. Their appearance among other Kindred is uncommon and unsightly, driving them to the wilderness in an effort to escape the disgusted stares and hateful whispering.

Religion and Philosophy

Gangrel, as with most other vampires, hold to the faith they had in life. Whatever religion they have adopted, they chose for good reason and, like a well-worried bone, Gangrel don't give up things that they like. If it helps them resist the Beast one more night, then it's all well and good, whatever faith it is.

"Philosophy" is a dirty word to most Gangrel; it just smacks of the human need to justify what is with what might be. The Gangrel are driven by instinct more than any other vampires, so the "whys" and "what ifs" of feeding, the Embrace, and the Final Death are pointless wastes of time compared to the nightly realities of hunger, propagation, and survival. There's nothing really against a Gangrel developing their own philosophy; many are the fledgelings with theories concerning what Gangrel should and should not do. Elders tend to grit their teeth and calmly point out the furry ears the neonate garnered as the result of a blood-crazed frenzy. This tends to shut up the more vociferous ones rather quickly.

Religion in the Dark Ages

Christianity, to the average Gangrel, means mortals waving torches and calling her a "spawn of the Devil." No few mutated Gangrel have lost their unlives because they are seen as unholy, impure, or just plain ugly. Christianity holds no real draw for Gangrel, who, as a Clan, adapt remarkably well to becoming a bloodthirsty predator. Redemption and eternal life are all well and good, but why bother when you can have blood and eternal life? If someone were to dare tell a Gangrel that they have "sinned", the usual response is for the Gangrel to sin all across their face. With sharp claws.

Gangrel tend to come from populations that have resisted Christianity for decades, if not centuries. Followers of the Norse pantheon, druidic nature worshippers, or reborn pagans, Gangrel are content to follow their own philosophies. The Gangrel that buys into the idea of being a "sheep" in need of a "shepherd" likely won't be too popular at gatherings of the Clan.

Gangrel: Beasts among Men

"Respect" is a word that defines many Gangrel relationships. You respect your sire for his experience and strength, you respect your packmates for their trustworthiness and comradeship, and you respect your enemy because if you don't, you're probably dead. Note that the words "like" or "appreciate" are not mentioned anywhere above. When most of your time is spent alone or out of contact with the rest of the Kindred, you have to learn to rely on others during any infrequent explorations into the social sphere. Building trust and honesty is usually something Gangrel seek in their relationships - for older Gangrel, clearly defined roles are easier on the animal mindset.

This is not to say that the more socially-inclined Gangrel can't learn to play Jyhad. In fact, many enjoy (or at least grudgingly accept) the great masquerade ball of betrayal, conspiracy, and power struggles that define so much of Kindred existence. Beckett, for example, is well-known for his ability to get what he wants, in spite of everything in his way. His contacts and friends show up in surprising situations, often to the detriment of his enemies. Mark Decker has likewise built up a formidable team to pursue his objectives even though it would be much simpler to take things into his own hands.

The "average" Gangrel, if there is such a person, is seen by the outside world as a sullen, twitchy individual with severe hair problems. For those accepted by clanmembers, however, they discover what it means to be part of the pack. Depending on the exact relationship, Gangrel fill any of several niches: leader, warrior, counselor, mentor, or enforcer. Though it would be hard to define any vampire as "good" or "a nice person", at least with Clan Gangrel, you always get what you pay for. Those who deal cheaply or dishonestly can expect unenthusiastic cooperation or, more likely, fangs on their jugular. Those who prove themselves to a Gangrel, or otherwise make themselves valuable, can expect a similar degree of provision and respect. This may be as shallow as "I'll wait to kill them tomorrow", but it's more consideration than one can expect from many other Kindred.

Beauty and the Beast: Gangrel in Love

Love is a touchy subject among Gangrel. The Clan runs the entire gamut; everything from absolute devotion to a loved one to serial rapists to complete apathy. It's not easy for animalistic, mutated vampires to find someone who accepts them for who they are, and it's even rarer for the Gangrel to really appreciate these people. Often, the physical needs or desires of a relationship come first - will both partners provide for the other in the form of blood, havens, and companionship? Only if the Gangrel is careful, and can maintain their humanity, will this progress to anything more.

Devotion to a loved one is respected, as it is a sign of the lover's ability to be loyal and work for the common good. However, love doesn't help win battles, and it can sometimes be a serious detriment to survival when a Gangrel puts the life of their companion ahead of the mission. This devotion frequently grows into a possessive fixation (even without the added pressure of a Blood Bond, which many vampire lovers exchange). This is shown as a tendency to demand the attention of the loved one, and to grow hostile at any sign of disloyalty or someone else expressing interest. Though Gangrel do not usually "breed for life" like some animal species do, they will mourn companions as deeply as they loved them, and it may be centuries before the Gangrel is ready to move on.
Gangrel Combat

Anyone who has seen a cornered, rabid animal has some inkling of what the Gangrel can do when threatened. They tend to emobdy all the very worst myths about animal attacks - rats that leap for the throat, wild dogs eating babies, insects and arachnids swarming over innocent bystanders. The Beast within roars constantly, and all Gangrel give in to their primal urges at one point or another.

There are two things a Gangrel in combat will focus on: killing or incapacitating an enemy, and staying alive during the process. Thanks to Fortitude and Protean, they are very good at both aspects. Gangrel tend to favor hand-to-hand over guns or more ancient styles of ranged combat. Their ability to grow bestial claws means that no Gangrel is ever unarmed, and many Clan mutations enable them to attack their enemies in surprising ways, such as knocking them down with the sweep of a tail, carving furrows in their neck with outsized fangs, or letting bullets bounce off an insect-like carapace. Perhaps the single greatest threat of Gangrel in combat is their simple staying power: they will not run out of ammo, they are not easily wounded, and when provoked, they will not retreat.

Other Clans rightly fear leaving a Gangrel antagonist alive; the Clan is not bound by the social conventions of other Kindred, and often takes insults very personally. Though the Gangrel are not as close-knit as the Nosferatu or as co-dependent as the Giovanni, word eventually gets around, and any person or group that targets Gangrel should be wary when meeting any of the Clan. There's a fair chance they'll walk away from the confrontation with a few new scars (if they walk away at all). Many Gangrel feel at least a tacit loyalty to the Clan, and in times of great threat, Gangrel "war parties" assemble to confront them. It's not a pretty sight to see a pack of howling beast-men rampaging towards you, no matter how powerful you are.

Guns are iffy for Gangrel: ballistic weapons are almost useless against any serious foe the Gangrel will face: vampires, werewolves, or even stranger opponents. On the other hand, they make a satisfyingly loud "boom", and are useful as distractions or giving enemies a parting shot to remember them by. If a Gangrel uses a gun in combat, it's generally not with much skill; shotguns and semi-automatics are preferred to keep an enemy's head down while the Gangrel charges in, claws unsheathed.

Of course, this penchant for engaging in visceral combat does wonders for inciting Gangrel to frenzy; some don't even need the excuse. Wounded Gangrel, or those low on blood, won't think twice about draining the nearest source of blood when gripped by violence - many Gangrel have unwittingly killed innocents or committed diablerie. Such is the trail blazed by the Beast within.
Embraces

The Gangrel are famous - or at least mostly blamed - for siring the greatest numbers of Caitiff. Common practice among the Clan is to stalk a potential mortal, learning about their habits, personality, and strengths. If they are found acceptable, then the Gangrel will typically Embrace them as a childe, then leave them immediately, to test their ability to adapt and survive in the World of Darkness. Should this training session be successful (i.e. the novice Gangrel manages to stay alive and relatively sane), then they are welcomed as clanmembers. If they do fail this test, then they are left alone with no knowledge of their sire or Clan, resulting in Caitiff. Extreme cases of insanity or mutation are culled. Loose cannons are too much of a risk in a Clan well-known for their ability to survive in adverse circumstances.

The Embrace is... unnerving for most Gangrel. This is the first real exposure they've had to their own inner Beasts, and many Gangrel of each new generation simply can't handle it the first time around. Fledgelings often Frenzy immediately after becoming a vampire, usually resulting in a loss of their humanity as they feed on those they loved, or becoming mutated and deranged as a result of frenzy. It is not uncommon for young Gangrel (under 10 years dead) to be deformed in bestial ways.

The Gangrel do not display any certain preference for nationality and gender. The wanderings of the Clan have put them in contact with every culture and ethnicity in the world, and thus the Clan as a whole is actually very cosmopolitan, even more so than the Toreador or Ventrue, who seem perfectly happy to play only with Western European stock. There is a somewhat interesting trend among Gangrel, as among most other Clans, to Embrace from the opposite gender. Why this happens, none can satisfactorily explain, but one of the more wild claims insists that the Gangrel look for "breeding partners" in their childer. A practicioner of Freudian theory would be very interested in examining the relationship between a vampire sire and their childe, no doubt.

Introductions

Gangrel who survive the Embrace and the period immediately afterwards are claimed by their sires and usually taken to a gathering (for Gangrel) or to meet the prince (Camarilla). Sabbat Gangrel, if they're lucky, are brought into a pack and made a full-fledged member under the auspices of the pack priest. The tradition of formal introduction, however, seems to be reserved to Independent or Camarilla Gangrel.

Along with meeting all the other Gangrel at the gathering, the neonate will be accepted as a full clanmember and be granted ancilla status (at least within the Clan; the requirements of the Camarilla are something else entirely). Many Gangrel traditions (Nordic, Native American, African) also grant a name to the ancilla at this point; this may either be bestowed by the sire, taken by the childe themselves, or might simply a common nickname that sticks permanently. A source of pride for many Gangrel is their list of names and accomplishments that they recite when introducing themselves at gatherings and to other Gangrel; the longer the list, the more impressive (and presumably older) the Gangrel is.

Frenzy and its Consequences

The Gangrel are in touch with their Beast in ways no other Clan can fully understand. Having a desperate, hungry thing stuck inside you for the rest of eternity is a daunting prospect, and yet the Gangrel have managed to adapt to it. The wise Gangrel know that the Beast isn't some horrible malign influence, but rather the extreme expression of their own instincts - fight, eat, breed, control territory, survive. How they deal with these pressures varies from vampire to vampire, but all Gangrel suffer the consequences should they give in to the Beast.

Many things can - and do - drive Gangrel to frenzy. Pain, fear, and hunger are the strongest, but jealousy, anger, hate, or a challenge also trigger a need to flee or fight. Every animal knows it's not smart to pursue a course of action that causes pain, but the human mind isn't so clear-cut. In the cases where a Gangrel suffers pain, their first instinct is to avoid it; if this isn't possible, then the physical provocation can bring Gangrel to the edge fairly quickly. A Gangrel low on blood will likewise be prone to attack the nearest target in an attempt to assuage their hunger.

When a Gangrel frenzies, they descend into an animalistic state both mentally and often physically. No-one knows for sure why Gangrel develop animalistic appearances and habits after frenzying (though Dr. Woodstock is confident of finding answers), but it is very common to see a Gangrel with some sort of disturbing feature, such as glowing eyes, claws, vestigial tails, and other outlandish mutations. As one may guess, these are as upsetting to the Gangrel as they are to other people; being less-than-human has a severe impact on one's self-esteem, and the physical changes can be uncomfortable and downright creepy.

Some of these mutations may be useful, but they also take something away from the core of a vampire's self: the part that is still human. Gangrel suffer the most extreme consequences of the path all vampires tread as they grow older. Most other vampires can walk around and still at least pretend to be human. Gangrel are more likely to succeed at pretending to be a wolf. However, even the comfort of finding some stability is denied to Gangrel: these mutations are seemingly random and uncontrollable - a single Gangrel can develop mutations from a dozen different animals. The tail of a lizard, the teeth of a cat, hairy bristles like an insect, or bulging fishy eyes are some of the more "tame" examples of the Gangrel flaw.


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