In the revised edition of Clanbook Gangrel, it has been noted that Gangrel do not have to have wolf and bat as their animal forms. I have noticed a trend in players to either settle for these forms out of convenience or to pick rather nasty, hard-hitting forms just to increase their combat skills.
This particular subject is a passion of mine and I have come up with some theories on picking animal forms that best suit individual characters. STs and players alike may find these ideas helpful.
Firstly, it's always a good idea to think about what your character knows, what animals does he know exactly? Since all disciplines come from within, I have always felt the animal should be one that either the character has had interaction with in the past or present. Just because she saw a lion on the discovery channel once hardly makes it likely she would become one. If the character lived on the plains of Africa, a lion would be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of a predator. When choosing the forms a character takes, I always think about the character's concept, his nationality and his background.
Now looking at the old wolf and bat stereotype, in the Dark Ages the wolf was the most feared and common predator and the bat was the most common known nocturnal flyer. But in modern times, how many people have actually seen a wolf close up? The main use for the Gangrel disciplines is survival, but how long would a full-grown wolf survive unnoticed in a city? An Irish wolfhound, on the other hand, is a very big dog, but a dog nonetheless and unlikely to attract all that much undue attention and believe me, a wolfhound is as good in a scrap as a wolf.
It's always a good idea to bear in mind that most Gangrel are concerned mostly with survival, so the powers the clan evolved over time in order to make the Gangrel capable of walking wherever they wished. Even in these modern nights, this is the instinct that drives the clan as a whole. And in order to survive, creatures must adapt and evolve, taking on new forms to suit the environment.
I'm not trying to say that all wolf forms should be banned, to be honest the wolf is my favorite choice, but I always try to pick a character that would use that form. A Siberian hunter is a good one, nyet?
Also the "fight" animal does not always have to be an obvious combat monster, like a bear, wolf or lion. I've seen a character with a spitting cobra as his choice, the form in question was a much larger cobra than is the norm and this character used to blind his victims then slither in and drain the victim. This particular character was an Indian Gangrel that loved snakes. His "flight" form was a harmless little grass snake that tended to go unnoticed.
Which brings me on to the subject of the "flight" form. Again, this should reflect what the character knows. Ravens, bats, owls, even pigeons would be common. Smaller creatures that do not fly can also be good choices; rats and mice tend not to attract attention in dark alleys and in the countryside, nobody is going to worry about a squirrel running around.
In short, I think it's best to pick animals that follow 3 rules:
Be an animal that the character has an affinity for and knows.
Be a creature adapted to live in the environment the character prefers, such as city, countryside, desert, arctic tundra, etc.
If you really want to be a wolf, keep your ST happy by coming up with a water-tight excuse.
Now, these are just the ideas I use and I don't expect anyone else to follow them the way I do. I hope that by explaining my views on the uses of this particular skill, I have helped others to think about it and apply their own spin on the subject.
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