Giovanni Newsletter Vol 3.1, n° 3

This Newsletter will come as follows :

1. Edito : My Black Hand in your Face
2. Fiction : The Third Plague of Marseille Part III
3. Vampires of the Month : Igniazio Giovanni, Archbishop Vasquez
4. Card of the Month : Chill of Oblivion
5. Other Black Hand cards of interest
6. Deck of the Month : Chill of Evernight
7. What will come next...

1. Edito : My Black Hand in your Face

So, here it comes at last : Black Hand. And most surprisingly, there is ONE independent vampire and he is Giovanni (did you notice that the Giovanni are the ONLY Clan with no Sabbat or Camarilla vampire ?!) ; and there is one Necro card, not to mention (yet) a few other goodies. I don’t know if it will bear fruits, but the obvious Intent of the game designers here is to allow for a fighting strategy for the Giovanni. Time will tell…

2. Fiction : The Third Plague of Marseille Part III

“- Chambellan, will you please tell me what happened during my short leave ?
- Certainly Prince. Let’s see…”

The Ventrue Chambellan Pierre de Brouillet went through his notes. They were numerous and quite thorough. Still, he was able to find the information he was looking for, while still standing in front of his Prince, who sat behind his massive oaken desk and stared at the artificial fireplace.

“…So we had a complaint from the staff of Messire Villon, stating that one of his envoyée, name of Antoinette, went missing on the night of September, the 21th. The night after that, Gary “The Eye” and a young assamite named Rafik were reported missing. That same night, we had reports of a strange disturbance in the Vieux Port neighborhood. Meanwhile, the Tremere Régis began to plot secretly against you, with the help of the Followers of Set, and put a number of their pawns in place instead of Marc’s Lasombra influences. Your “aunt” called, and said that a major thinning of the veil was occuring on your Praxis. Werewolves have been spotted on the edge of town, making a move for the hills of Luminy. You received a package from your Boston cousin, a letter from Emiliano the Prince of Rome, an invitation from the Prince of Barcelona, a death threat from some Brujah Ancilla, and a plea for haven from the ex-Prince of Grenoble, who got pushed out of service and would like to settle for a while in Aix-en-Provence. Oh, yes, I almost forgot : your chief of security resigned and had to be permanently put out of service – which Lya, your new chief of security, did marvelously.

- How long was I away, Pierre ?
- A Month, my Prince.
- A month only ? Well, I will never get used to this Information Age… Things go so fast, these nights ! All right. First, send a letter to his Medieval Poetry.
- Excuse me, Sir ?
- Well, you know, Pierre, the bullchaser who fancies himself Prince of all France ? That little effeminate fifth generation poseur who allegedly wrote “La Ballade des Pendus” and now is good for nothing but ruling a crowd of bootlicking leeches ?
- Urm, you must mean his Majesty Villon ?
- Yes, him. Send him a letter. Tell him we know nothing about his envoy, nor do we care. Tell him that we cannot guarantee the safety of someone on our territory if we are not aware of her presence.
- But sir, we were !
- He doesn’t have to know that, nor can he prove it. Tell him that, had we known of her wereabouts, we would have had her brought to us and interrogated, for she would surely have been a pawn of the sabbatics – a truthful member of the Camarilla always following the procedure, as we all know. And that my Ravnos Scourge will be punished for not learning of her presence on my territory.
- Adrien ? But why…
- Adrien will not be punished, of course. But Villon loves the Ravnos, and the grinding of his teeth will be heard in all his Elyseum while reading these lines. I may even send a spirit spy to tell me the face he will make while reading these lines. Oh, one last detail : make sure the letter is given to him personnaly by Nicolas. He wants to get in my good favors…
- But the bringer of such a message will certainly be destroyed !!
- Will he ? Well, these are barbaric times. I thought these strange customs had been forlorn since the Roman Empire… Well, at least, if he survives, he will have proven himself worthy of it, for once. Then, there is the matter of these other disparitions. Gary was useful to me, in ways nobody – and especially not him – could have understood. This is bad. Tell Adrien to make a very serious enquiry on that subject. I need all the details about the Vieux Port troubles. Have Mohammed check the edges of town for werewolf presence, and gather his Gangrels if necessary : they are not to act, but will await my direct orders and report only to him, and him to me. Do you have all this ?
- Yes, my Prince.
- Good. Then, I’ll read the mail and check the package. Have Lya sent to my office in fifteen minutes. As for the Setites and Tremere, I’m sure the Assamites and Lasombra will repay them in kind, once supplied with the right information. We’ll deal with this in the nights to come. Oh, and Pierre ?
- Yes, Sir ?
- Good work. You still need to toughten a little bit, to put your conscience aside while dealing with business. But you certainly are my most valuable asset. I am certain you wouldn’t disappoint me, would you Pierre ?
- Certainly not, my Prince.
- Good. You can go. And give my regards to your lovely wife.
- Yes Sir”.

The Ventrue couldn’t repress a little shudder. A chill passed through his spine, as if someone had stepped on his grave, and maybe that had been the case – who knows, when you’re dealing with Necromancers ? Soon, he would have his part to play in the struggle versus Paris and their Belgian allies, and the message was quite clear : he wouldn’t fail and live to tell about it.

In his office, ¨Prince Orpheus let the poker mask slip from his face. He was worried. Very worried. All these signs looked like bad omens, portents he couldn’t fathom but could only fear.
He opened the package from Boston : it was the head of an american who had crossed his way recently. He now owed a favor to Harold Milliner. He would kill him rather than having to repay this witless brute for his service.
He read the letter from Roma. The news were bad. There was talk of ill wind, of a lost ship sailing back to its old harbor, of babies kept in formaldehyde, and other coded sentences. What if really meant was so incredible and scary that even the centuries-old vampire couldn’t help but feeling a sense of inevitable doom pending upon him, his city, and maybe much more.

The ring from the interphone sprang him back from his reverie.

“- Yes ?
- Sir, it’s Céline. Lya is here to see you, should I let her in ?
- Yes, please do so. Also arrange for a video conference with the Vienna Tremere chantry Elder as soon as possible. And tell Antoine to organise an emergency meeting of the Council in the Crypt for 2 o’clock.
- But sir, this is in only three hours ! If I may say so, wouldn’t it be easier to call this meeting tomorrow night ?
- My dear, if we do not act very, very fast, and with the precision and efficiency that are required, there may very well never be a tomorrow night. Not one that we could see, anyway…”

3. Vampires of the Month : Igniazio Giovanni, Archbishop Vasquez.

Everyone has instantly recognized Igniazio for what he was : the new Giovanni Fighting Machine. But he isn’t the only new vampire with NEC, and we’ll take a look at our new Archbishop too. Interestingly enough, both are 9-Caps (not my favourite cost…). Let’s see :

Igniazio Giovanni (sang to the tune of the Fernandel song…)
9-Cap : obf DOM FOR NEC POT ; Group 3.
Independent: Ignazio can enter combat with a vampire of capacity less than 7 controlled by your predator or prey as a (D) action. +1 strength.

So what can this guy do ? More exactly, where does he fit ?

- He is obviously Sylvia’s little brother. That is, in a deck where she doesn’t use her ANI (if she does, we will prefer either Marty or Julio Martinez). Such a deck would also include Vittorio, and possibly some small pot/for/dom (Earl, Charice Fontaigne and Truman seem to be the best ones for their cost) or some small Giovanni (Regina would only be a parody of Sylvia here). Nice Freak rush/bleed/ash heap toolbox, with Deflects. Include some rush possibilities for the ones bigger than 6 or if Igniazio gets into trouble (or if you want him to multi-rush), or just orient the deck as a bruise’n’ bleed with some inherent rush option (don’t forget your Graverobbings).
- He makes for one more Gio with Obf, and this one can fight : good option in a Krassimir Bruise’n’bleed ; add Carlotta for her naughty special, Igniazio puts Pochtli out of work ; some small bruisers will fit in nicely (and no, Chas doesn’t ; I tried many times but his weakness is just too great : sometimes you need his to act too !!). Another nice combo is : Domain of Evernight at inf Temporis with Chill of Oblivion, verrrrry nice in a Krass B’n’B, and Igniazio will lend a very appreciated hand.

So anyway we are in a fight-oriented configuration.

We might want to study what we can do with Pot / For / Dom / Nec.

Pot / For is pretty obvious, and pretty lethal too. It does have one great weakness, though (ask the Blood Brothers…) : no manoeuver !! We won’t count Thrown Gates, because we’ll prefer IG to Thoughts Betrayed for obvious reasons. So you’ll want to pack some Fake Out, IR Goggles or Unflinching Persistence (for those who have FOR). Once at close, everyone will suffer from your IG / big strike / reduce / disarm combo. Of course, Freak Drive and Graverobbing come right next, in the best of worlds.

Dom comes for Graves, bleed and Deflects, all right.

And what the Hell will Necro be used for ???

Let’s take a peek at and see what we can use…

If you decapitate : Daemonic Possession ; still, I prefer Graverobbing when possible.
Ex Nihilo would go completely a contrario from our strategy, so let’s forget it.
Masquer can be nice, especially if you have a Path in play (but it isn’t worth including one for so little).
Possession is for losers. Or is it ? If you graverob at inf and get diablerized, of diablerize yourself, it’s one more minion back in play.
Soul Stealing could be nice, but it requires burning a vampire ; might as well play some Taste of Vitae in our deck…
Torment the Soul is a bad joke. So what ? If you use it by surprise at second round (press from the IG), some people may not laugh right away…
If you want stealth / Intercept, you may put some Spectral Divinations. Call of the Hungry Dead will probably be a worthless waste of space.

So we must get to the (usual) conclusion : Nec won’t be much use here. Just a fight deck with some Giovanni in it (which gives some advantages you shouldn’t forget, like Leonardo, the Acquired Ventrue Assets etc). Well, a few cards will be useful, but…

Of course, we now have Chill of Oblivion. But what use, says you, if we can reduce damage altogether ?

Well, in a B’n’B strategy, with some Dawn Ops, it will nicely replace the Skin of Nights. SO this is a variant of the Krassimir trick, only… without Krassimir ! Thank you Igniazio…

Now, on to our new friend with the longest name :

Marino Reymundo Vasquez
9-Cap : ani AUS DOM NEC THA ; Group 3 Tremere Antitribu
Sabbat Archbishop of Barcelona: +1 bleed

This guy has 2 votes, and +1 Bleed is nice if we want to include much fight and few bleed modifiers.

Now with the disciplines :

Ani will marginally interest us (sure, he could fit with Enzo and Sylvia, but without Pot…).

So we’re stuck with AUS/DOM/NEC/THA. We will regret the absence of Pot for the Disarm, but if we want that we have Oliver. So what will we use this guy for ?

His most obvious mates are : Valois Sang, Marianna, Oliver Thrace, Lille Haake and Ambrogino. Lille will probably be uninteresting for us : I’ll trade her vote and her special for Marino’s or Oliver anytime !! If we only need inf Nec, we can include Ian Forrestal. The least to say is that these aren’t precisely small vampires !! We’ll probably want to surround them with lesser minions.

So now, what can we do with these guys ?

Miscellaneous ideas are :

- A “you don’t do me nothing” multi-rush (Nose of the Hound / Haven Uncovered, Rutor’s Hand for multi), based on the Chill of Oblivion / Ex Nihilo combination. As nothing can hurt you, you’ll Betray the Thoughts, Trap, and steal blood. Will do nicely with a few Baleful Dolls and some Society of Leopold. Only trouble is the high cost in blood (you’ll probably want to pack some Summon Soul, a few Leonardo, and some Golcondas just in case…). Difficult one to pull, given the size of the vampires, but could be nice.
- A Perfect Clarity Necrobleed deck ? Sure, why not. But with such big vampires, you’ll be dead before you can say “I equip with a Pulse…”. Well, mybe not if you pack enough deflections, so who knows ? And you know who would fight right into this deck, even without Tha ? Sure, our friendly neighbour Le Din Tho, of course !!
- You can now give the Tremere and Anti some new Nec options : Baleful Dolls, Shambling Hordes (nicely repaid by some rush / steal blood), maybe even puppeteers… Yeah, ok, I know. We still need a few more interesting Nec cards. Well, say that to Santa (Wolf) Claws, all right ?!

So, will they become the basis for many new decks, or be very soon forgotten ? Time will tell…

4. Card of the Month : Chill of Oblivion

Chill of Oblivion : +1 stealth action. [nec] Put this card on a ready vampire. This vampire may burn this card in combat to treat aggravated damage as normal for the remainder of combat. A vampire can have only one Chill of Oblivion. [NEC] As above, and this acting vampire untaps during your next discard phase.

So, is it really an interesting card ? What’s its real use, in which decks is it worth including ?

The options that immediately appear to my sick necromancing mind are :

- avoid aggravated damage in a fight deck without damage prevention (a Pot / Thau deck for example)
- build a bruise’n’bleed around it : if you block me, you will get aggravated damage, not me (perfect in a Krassimir deck in conjunction with Domain of Evernight, possible in a Giovanni / For B’n’B, but less interesting as For will mostly take care of damage – still useful when the soak cards come missing or against environmental damage for instance).
- Build a stupid trick deck that will never work around Ex Nihilo and Chill : YOU CAN’T HURT ME !! Needless to say, this idea is unprobable enough to appeal to me… ;)

5. Other Black Hand Cards of interest

Many cards would be great for the Giovanni (Capitalist, a very Giovanni name, although I’d prefer Creepshow Casino…) but can’t be used as they are Sabbat only. And no way are they useful enough to justify becoming Sabbat IMO. Too bad. Well, the Harbingers and necromancing Kyasid can still benefit from them, though.

So, what is left for us ?

Not much. Let’s see…

Flaming Candle [BH:R]
The vampire with this equipment may burn 1 blood when he or she declares an action. If he or she does so, vampires cannot block this action, and the candle is burned. Only one Flaming Candle can be played in a game.
Shouldn’t be useful for the Giovanni, but one never knows (sometimes people stay totally untapped to resist you, and you don’t have your Anarch Troublemakers in game…).
Inscription [BH:U]
[tha] Put this equipment on a ready vampire and put a card that requires Thaumaturgy from your hand on it (this acting vampire pays the cost of that card). The vampire with this equipment can burn this equipment to use the basic Thaumaturgy ability of that card.
[THA] As above, but the vampire can use the superior Thaumaturgy ability of the card.
I find this card utterly worthless in most decks, and certainly not interesting for us : if we want to give some Tha to our vamps, we’ll put some Venificorum Artum Sanguis and the cards we want, basta.
Kaymakli Barrier [BH:R]
Requires a ready vampire. Unique.
(D) Put this card on a younger ready vampire. You still control this card. This vampire cannot block undirected actions. (D) actions cost this vampire an additional blood.
Great card if your deck is based upon indirected actions (voting, recruiting etc.). Put 2 in any Necroallies deck…
Mesmerize [BH:R]
+1 stealth action.
[dom] (D) Steal equipment from an ally.
[DOM] (D) Steal equipment from a younger vampire.
What do you think we are ? Ravnos ? Put this card back where it belongs : in your trading folder.
Mistrust [BH:R]
Burn a scarce vampire in torpor or move a ready scarce vampire to his or her controller's uncontrolled region, with all cards and counters on him or her (which are out of play as long as the vampire remains out of play).
Man, do I hate Hoser cards !!! Could be a real bother to us, now that we have the Nagaraja, Krassimir ans sometimes Matthias to help so often ! But then, I think (and hope) few people will waste a Master space for it. Still : don’t forget your Sudden Reversals…
Path of Death and the Soul
Nice name, but alas no use to us at all (and what is it really worth anyway ?).
Social Ladder [BH:R]
Put this card on a ready vampire you control. During your next influence phase, remove this vampire from the game and move all the blood counters from that vampire to an older vampire in your uncontrolled region.

Now, here’s a card you’ll want to play anytime you need a very big vampire to do things right, but want to deflect in the meantime. Yes, I’m thinking of a Sylvia / Igniazio deck, why ?

Specialization [BH:R]
Unique master.
Put this card in play. During your untap phase, you may tap this card and discard two copies of the same card from your hand to gain 1 pool. Draw back up to your hand size afterward.
If your deck is very monomaniacal (bleed, fight, Shamblings…), you NEED to include one copy of this ! Might even be better than in Dreams in some decks…
Vox Domini [BH:R]
Master: out-of-turn.
Only usable during the referendum of a political action. Not usable on a referendum that is automatically
passing. The referendum fails. Each Methuselah may play only one Vox Domini each game.

Could save you from the fatal Protect Thine Own. Still, I think I’ll prefer a Direct Intervention or Delaying Tactics (especially with Le Din Tho) instead.

In short : not much for us in Black Hand. Still, THE card and the two vampires may make – or not – a difference. Time will tell…

6. Deck of The Month : Chill of Evernight

Just a slight variation on my Krassimir bruise toolbox, now including a few Chill of Oblivion, and some Igniazio Giovanni (a little expensive, but he can rush, has Obf, and his +1 strength should come in handy for placing a few disarms… loads better than Pochtli !!). I haven’t tested this variation yet, so it won’t be optimised, nor fit for big tournament scenes. It also relies heavily on getting Carlotta to fetch what you need.

Crypt :

Krassimir x 4
Carlotta Giovanni x 3
Ignazio Giovanni x 2
Francesca Giovanni
Isabel Giovanni
Chas Giovanni Tello (for blocking / redirecting)

24 Actions :

4 Bum’Rush
4 Chill of Oblivion
8 Govern the Unaligned
5 Conditionning
3 Graverobbing

16 Reactions :
7 Deflections
6 Wake With Evening’s Freshness
3 Delaying Tactic

15 Masters :

4 Blood Dolls
1 Minion Tap
4 Haven Uncovered
1 Morgue H.G.
1 Tabriz Assembly
2 Direct Intervention
2 Sudden Reversal

24 Combat :

5 Disarm
9 Lapse
10 Thrown Gates

9 Action Modifiers : Domain of Evernight

1 Ally : Leonardo, the Mortician

1 Equipement : Sargon Fragment
Obviously not the greatest or easiest deck ever, requires lots of planning, but enormous fun to play (even without the Black Hand additions).

7. What will come next…

Ok, so this (late…) newsletter should be the last of its ilk. I have the great pleasure and privilege to announce that the next time you will witness the birth of the NECROMANCING NEWSLETTER !!
This will regroup the Giovanni, Harbingers of Skulls, Nagaraja and Samedi newsletters. Depending on available time and subjects, we will either alternate or regroup these Clans. Redactors should include Tobias op den Brouw, Nagaraja and myself (other persons, including past redactors, are welcome to contribute).

Until then, may you Rest in Peace.

Orpheus, from his Mausoleum, Massilia.