Oh, get that look off your face. Of course we have them!
The thing about Gangrel politics, though, is that they bear little-to-no resemblance either to mortal politics or to mainstream Cainite politics. The keystones of Gangrel politics are respect, power, reputation, and action. Yeah, sure, this may seem like exactly the same sorts of things every Prince strives to acquire, but let's consider that the things Gangrel respect are radically different. Gangrel politics, when we can be bothered with politics, tend to revolve around the thing.
The way in which Gangrel conduct their politics is surprisingly progressive, at least compared to the autocratic Ventrue style or the back-parlor Toreador nepotism. Traditionally, Gangrel hail from northern Europe - there's a whole book written (Wolves of the Sea, if I remember correctly) about Gangrel in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Iceland. You think Eric the Red first discovered the North American continent? Nuh-uh. Some Gangrel got there first and then came back and told him what stars to follow. This long history in the northern climes rubbed off on Gangrel politics; both the Icelandic peoples and the Gangrel historically gathered together in what was known as the thing or althing (the althing being a bigger and more comprehensive thing). This is where I got the name for my post in The Mausoleum. In Clanbook: Gangrel, it mentions that the thing is a localized meeting of all Gangrel who are interested in attending, and is used as sort of an open forum to discuss matters that are important to the Clan. Example things would be when the Gangrel in OWoD Chicago assembled to discuss how to treat the war between Prince Lodin and the werewolves; also, in Clannovel: Gangrel when Ramona, Xavier, and all the other Gangrel assembled to formulate a plan to deal with the Eye of Hazimel. (If you haven't read it yet, go do it now! Go! Go!)
But this "open forum" isn't Roman. It's still very Gangrel. This means that for all the trappings of politics and civility it displays, there's always an undercurrent of the animal beneath. To kick off the thing, there's some sort of contest. This can be a simple staring contest, or a test of strength ("How many small trees can YOU rip out of the ground?"), to actual brawls with full-on Feral Claws. This is where respect and reputation come in. Like a pack of wolves assembling itself, the Gangrel use these contests to establish a loose hierarchy based on physical prowess, cunning, and sheer ability to beat up anybody who disagrees with you. Simplistic maybe, but an extremely effective way to streamline the discussion. Intimidation and posturing count for a lot, but if you can't back up what you say, then there's no reason why the Gangrel should listen to you. Some of these fights can get pretty vicious, but as long as you don't actually kill any of your erstwhile constituents, then your word becomes law. A large thing coming together is a maelstrom of fangs, fists, claws, and some really under-handed tactics. But, hey, when you're fighting for survival, which is the only way Gangrel fight, if you give a flying fudge about honor you're probably going to die.The really powerful speakers at a thing don't even have to fight, like the elder Xavier. All they have to do is look at you, and do you really want to argue with the guy who tangled with the Eye of Hazimel and came back alive?
So, when I say that Gangrel politics are "progressive", I really mean they are a mix of progressive by human standards, but extremely retrogressive in practice. Sure, anybody can speak at the thing, but only if they're worthy of speaking. Even then, like a wolf pack settling down to eat, the lowest-ranking Gangrel get to speak after all their elders and betters have spoken. They may get only the metaphorical "scraps" of the conversation, but no Gangrel will leave feeling like they didn't get their say. Sure, they may also get a solid thwack across the head for saying the wrong thing, but nobody is going to stop you from saying something stupid, unlike in all those other stuffed-shirt Clans who can't afford to have anybody question their authority. It would not be wrong to say that the thing is a meeting among equals - but some are more equal than others. This probably sounds unfair to anybody who's read Animal Farm, but the crazy thing about it, and what I love about the whole persona of Clan Gangrel, is that it somehow works. Decisions actually get made. Action actually gets settled upon. It takes the Gangrel one or two nights of brow-beating their clanmembers into subservience what would take a Ventrue a decade of careful maneuvering to accomplish. Let's not call it "barbaric" - let's call it "efficient".
So, let's pretend you're invited to attend a Gangrel thing. Maybe you're a Gangrel, and thus sort of get a standing invitation, or maybe you're a member of another Clan called in for your expertise. How the heck do you not end up at the bottom of the totem pole? Well, for starters, being invited personally is a mark in your favor: you must have some value, or you wouldn't have been invited in the first place. Secondly, getting to the site of the thing is frequently an ordeal in and of itself - if you can get there, you are worthy of being there. Clan Gangrel is (in)famous for its wilderness excursions, so if you were expecting to pull up in a limosuine with your fancy shiny shoes and perfectly-styled hair... Well, actually, you wouldn't have to worry about it, because the Gangrel wouldn't have invited you. (Also retrogressively, Gangrel attach a lot of importance to appearance and first impressions or as they are sometimes known in the Clan, "fist" impressions. It's just that you better look like a hard-worn loner type than a well-to-do businessman if you want a Gangrel's respect.) It's not that Gangrel are biased, you understand, it's just they know what they want, and don't give a damn about the rest. *cough*
This, er, practicality and simple-yet-effective way of doing things is what largely attracts me to the Gangrel. They are straightforward. They find value in the down-to-earth, something which is definitely lacking in some other Clans-who-shall-remain-nameless-but-I'm-sure-you-can-think-of-their-names-yourself. Gangrel like things that settle themselves, like proving one is worthy to attend the thing by getting to the thing. And there is always, always, the undercurrent of the animal behind everything that goes on in Gangrel politics. This is probably why so many Gangrel don't mesh well with the larger scheme of Cainite politics, for where they think settling matters with fangs and claws is the best way, any other vampire would see this not as an effective decision-making process ("We do it my way or I'll beat you up again"), but a threat against their existence. With regard to politics, though, this is more like a Gangrel playing with you than it is an all-out attack. Trust me, you'll know it when a Gangrel stops playing.
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