Published on October 6th, 2014 | by Luke Turpeinen2
Guide to the World of Darkness, Part Four (Hunter)
In the second edition of the World of Darkness there were several game supplements that introduced the idea of human hunters of the supernatural. There was Inquisition, about the modern arm of the Catholic church that stills hunts vampires in modern times. Project Twilight introduced agents of the US government who hunted down vampires and werewolves as a special force working with the FBI, CIA and NSA. Hunters Hunted included material about the Inquisition and some government organizations as well as the Children of Osiris, who hunt the Followers of Set. In Revised Edition, as part of the Dark Age series of games, Dark Ages: Inquisitor came out as a large hardcover. It was the most in depth look at the World of Darkness’ Inquisition that we’ve ever seen.
Hunter the Reckoning
Main Conflict: Hunters vs the rest of the World of Darkness, Hunters vs Themselves
The Pitch: You were just living your life, when suddenly your eyes were opened. You made aware of the horrible truth- the world is wicked and completely infested with evil. For some this happens during their routine life: at work, the grocery store or while picking up their kids from school. For others it happens in a dramatic encounter with a supernatural horror: entering a haunted house, being enthralled by a vampire or a becoming a potential snack for a werewolf. These revelations tend to come in the form of audio-visual hallucinations and a command like “Fear No Evil” or “Cleanse The Unclean” while showing the Hunter all of the corruption and evil influences in their life.
The Heralds are an amazing plot device. They are a mysterious force that Imbues the Hunters with powers of light and fire to scour the world of darkness. Some people think that they’re angels, some that they’re aliens and others that they’re messengers of the logos here to stop the demiurge. What they really are is mysterious and adds a lot to the setting.
One of the best parts of the setting was hunter-net.org. The website was an online gathering place for the Imbued around the country and the world. Hunter-net was a way for hunters to anonymously share advice and experience while collectively searching for answers in their confusing new life. It would be a great idea to put together a simple website with some already existing posts and then give your players accounts to go in and be part of the online scene. The site would also be a great way to keep players thinking about the game between sessions.
Reckoning was intended to be used in conjunction with the other WoD lines. None of the other games seemed to be written with much mind payed to the other games in the line. You would get the occasional link (like Pentex’s relationship with the Technocracy) and after Hunter you would see more crossover happening (the Red Star, the defeat of the Ravnos Antediluvian), but Reckoning was the first attempt at doing mostly crossover in a main book.
Because they knew you might be playing with people who could take your description of a Greek bodybuilding woman and know immediately that she is a werewolf, White Wolf had some great monster books that gave alternative options for antagonists. Books like Urban Legends did a lot to make the line feel fresh, instead of just an excuse to crossover the metaplot.
Choosing powers was kind of confusing as a player, and I never knew which powers I wanted to pick up. Having both played and ran Reckoning, I’d recommend that the Storyteller just pick powers to give to players. It really drives home that feeling of not being in control of your powers or destiny without limiting character choices.
The Virtues system influences which powers you can buy- they act as perquisites. This is not my favorite thing to be included in an RPG and I feel like the system it used is not well implemented. I agree that Virtues should be important to Reckoning but this is not the best way to go about that.
Urban Legends- Basically a collection of plot hooks and short stories that can be used to keep your story moving forward. It has everything from “the caller is in the building” and “the hook” style ghost stories to the Jersey Devil. Urban Legends isn’t just a description of the legends either, it gives them a different spin that is unique and relevant to the World of Darkness. A must have for the line.
Hunter the Vigil
Main Conflict: Hunters vs monsters
Default City: Philadelphia, PA
The Pitch: You are one of several non-connected groups and factions that hunt the supernatural. You might be just two guys in a car or a secret society of demon hunters imbued with special powers. Vigil is unique in the new World of Darkness in that it reboots many of the older versions of hunters within the same book. In it is an analogue to the Inquisition as well as government agencies and people with supernatural powers of their own.
Vigil has a very toolbox approach to its mechanics and setting which means that it is very easy to adapt and include into any campaign that includes hunters. The game gives you great suggestions on using each bit as a small addition to the core World of darkness book, using most of the Vigil book or by integrating the systems with the rest of the WoD lines.
Vigil includes a tiered system to help you focus on what kind of game you want to play. If you want just a small group of people fighting with limited resources (like Supernatural season one) then you want the first tier. If you want a larger organization of hunters with some sort of structure to the community then you can look at the second tier- these are national organizations with different levels of influence depending on what they do. Then there are the tier three/ international groups, like the Lucifuge who use supernatural powers of their own to combat evil.
The book very successfully integrates many ideas into one coherent whole. You could easily build an entire campaign around any one of the organizations, but having an ensemble cast works just as well. It just depends on how much you want to enforce a certain story type.
While Vigil has some cool supplements, one of its strengths is that it works so well with the default setting books under the World of Darkness line. Even if you run just a plain WoD game, the Vigil core book will give you some great tools and setting hooks that you wouldn’t have access to other wise.
Tactics are a type of character power/ability introduced in Vigil that lets players work together to overcome their enemies. It makes working together and being aware of each other a primary component of game play- something that doesn’t usually happen in RPGs without a board component. Tactics are a great way to introduce tactical thinking into a story driven game.
Vigil is so toolbox focused and written so well that there isn’t much that I didn’t like. Some of the organizations weren’t really my thing, but they might appeal well to other people and it’s not like they are poorly written.
Armory Reloaded– While I really like that the core WoD has really simple weapon rules, sometimes you want to know how an automatic shotgun would work in this game. If you think your characters are going to be toting weapons, or if they know martial arts, then you will want this book.
Slashers– This book adds magical serial killers to the WoD, horror staples like Jason, Freddy Kruger and Mike Meyers. The theme is great as an addition to Vigil and it even comes with an added Hunter conspiracy that hunts specifically these killers.
Inferno– From spirits of evil to actual demons, the possessed, infernal artifacts and more. This is an essential book for more Vigil campaigns, and is perfect if you want to add ideas to your game about fighting demons.
Witch Finders– Ready to go after some evil sorcerers? Witch Finders gives advice on hunting mages and witches, while introducing the awesome new group The Knights of Saint George who invoke their Goetic Gospels to fight evil. It also comes with some great setting material for Philadelphia.
The other Hunter specific books add information about Philadelphia as well as new compacts, conspiracies and advise on combating the other denizens of the World of Darkness. They’re all good, but I’d only pick them up if you’re especially interested in that type of WoD creature.