Hunter: The Vigil
|Hunter: The Vigil|
|RPG published by
White Wolf / CCP
|Rule System||Storytelling System|
|Authors||Justin Achilli, Aaron Dembski-Bowden et al|
|Essential Books||Hunter: The Vigil Rulebook
"He who fights monsters should see to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
- – Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil
Two words: Fuck monsters.
Fine, I'll give you a longer explanation, but I've got to be quick, the bastard MIBs are probably already tracking this. Hunter the Vigil is a World of Darkness game line, back when White Wolf was still a thing. See, some people didn't want to play as an undead rapist or a lunatic witch. But they didn't want to just sit around and act like they could just ignore the terror in the world as a plain ol' mortal. White Wolf already tried hunters once. Time to try it again.
See, these hunters don't all get powers. Hell, a lot of them don't even know what they're fighting. You want to be a hard working sonuvabitch that's got his buddies and baseball bats to beat down that drug dealer or monster hanging around your kids' school? Do it. Want to be part of an organization of basement dwelling fuckups who use cameras to film demon summoning ceremonies to upload to YouTube? Done. A descendant of Hell itself? Do you want to throw fireballs or get the ability to summon demons?
I don't think I need to say it, but since you don't know anything about how the world really is, I'll tell you. Hunter doesn't get along too well with the characters of the other New World of Darkness game lines. You're supposed to be staking vampires that kill people, or cutting up fairies with iron daggers, why the fuck should there be any playing nice?
Morality? Here's your damn morality: Monsters don't count. Any "hunter" who says there should be exceptions isn't a real hunter. Ignore those fucks who think they know the right way to handle monsters, and remember that collateral damage is irrelevant as long as you can justify it.
Yeah, you don't understand because you haven't been doing it too long. Give it time. Pretty soon you'll realize that you can't trust anyone anymore.
...Of course, by that point, it might be wise to remember the quote on the top. And sure enough, an alarming amount of Hunters tend to devolve into Slashers: lunatics whose obsession with killing for its own sake grants them limited supernatural abilities which make them the perfect serial killers.
Hunter: the Vigil is another New World of Darkness attempt at adapting part of the Old, in this case, Hunter: The Reckoning. However, it is in many ways a superior game, with less broken magical powers and ill-thought-out ideas, and more being a squishy human surrounded by terrible threats that will tear away at your sanity, soul, and flesh. If that sounds grimdark as shit, that's only because it is. It literally has a spin-off game, Slashers, devoted to playing as one of the above-mentioned Slashers so you too can play a murderous psycho who wouldn't be out of place in... well, a slasher movie.
Still, despite all that, Hunter is, or can be, an oddly hopeful game. Sure, you're probably going to die, but in a world like this one, it is a good and noble thing for ordinary people to stand up and refuse to be victimized. One candle blows out, but lights two more as it passes. The Hunter dies, but the Vigil goes on forever. World without end, amen.
All in all, perhaps the biggest difference between the two versions of Hunter, and why Vigil has attained a popularity that Reckoning has lacked, is that Vigil takes more of a pro-Humanity Fuck Yeah stance, whilst Reckoning, in accordance with the rest of the Old World of Darkness, is very much on the anti-HFY! stance. Vigil hunters, even at Cell tier, woke up to the true world around them and chose to fight the things that go bump in the night even though they know next to nothing about them. Reckoning hunters were forced awake by "mysterious powers of good" and can only hope to challenge the monsters because those same patrons gave them all kinds of anti-monster abilities.
Hunter: The Vigil is still in its first edition and had a limited run of books: the core book, an expansion for monster territory, a collection of short stories based in the Hunter setting, three books focusing on the World of Darkness' Big Three (Vampires, Werewolves and Mages) and one book to wrap it all up and reveal the truth on some groups. Four years after the first book it received the book Mortal Remains, which updated the game to fit into the Chronicles of Darkness. This was not a "true" second edition like Vampire, Werewolf, Mage, and Promethean have been receiving, but instead, it was a book that updated some things and expanded on the "lesser" lines of Promethean, Changeling, Geist, Mummy and Demon. Another book, Tooth And Nail, focused on the newly introduced Beast line. Hunter: The Vigil's second edition is in the works at this moment.
Hunters are organized into groups at three levels; Cell, Compact, and Conspiracy.
At least the Imperial Guard gets some backup, amirite? A Cell has only one to a few people in them, maybe five or six if you're lucky. They have no support base, no guiding ideology, and no way of telling if the tentacle monster is really going to rape, kill, and eat them (Spoiler: It will, and not necessarily in that order). So what do they have to help? They're not being told what to do by people who have no idea what's going on either but act like they do, and their small size means they can react quickly to unexpected situations.
When a bunch of cells met up and decide they have more in common than being killed by werewolves on a monthly basis, they sometimes form into a compact, a collection of cells that go from citywide to nationwide. The cells typically have a shared ideology or view of the Code, but there's no real bosses, so they make things up as they go along still. But the important thing is that now they have some help to call on and a better selection of resources to work with. Provided said help doesn't decide it's not worth it or that they have the right idea on what to do...or if internal strife doesn't cause the compact to tear itself apart.
Ahl al-Jabal: A Middle Eastern compact founded in the Middle Ages after a leader of the Hashshashin (the Islamic sect that lent its name to the term "assassin") discovered that vampires had infiltrated much of the Muslim world. They're notable for having very strict rules about collateral damage, for reasons which should be very obvious if you've been paying attention to world history over the past couple of decades.
Ama-San: Traditional Japanese pearl divers, almost exclusively women, who know all to well what horrors lurk in the deep. They are skilled at drawing them to the surface where these ladies kill the monsters, butcher them and sell off the meat to make a tidy profit.
Ashwood Abbey: A bunch of bored, jaded rich assholes who want to hunt the most dangerous game of all in a world where that isn't "man". Sick fucks to the core, even when other books try to tell you they're in it "for the thrill". To them, hunting's a game, and they want to play without any rules. Also, they have money. Lots and lots of money. Which is why they think they can afford to hunt monsters with swords and arrows. They claim that they convinced Jack the Ripper to join them for a while, but apparently he liked killing prostitutes better than killing monsters. It should go without saying that they don't make terribly sympathetic PC's, but a lot of their fluff is surprisingly funny (in a morbid sort of way), making them entertaining villains, if nothing else.
Azusa Miko: Shinto priestesses who talk to the dead, they were kicked out of the mainline temples because in Edo-period Japan traditional stuff like this was considered unwholesome. Now they travel the nation seeking spirits to placate, and if necessary shoot them with their bows. Are all female as well, but they have male counterparts in the Geki who do similar stuff.
The Barrett Commission: Politicians who have found out that vampires (and other monsters, but mostly vampires) like to meddle with politics, so they decided to band together in order to keep them out. According to the 2e previews, they were later absorbed into VALKYRIE after getting their funding cut.
The Bear Lodge: Big Game Hunters who have decided that werewolves are the ultimate trophies to hunt. They can't actually keep any pelts or anything, but the hunt is still dangerous enough they keep at it. Sometimes they even just let the werewolf go if it hasn't hurt a human being since their real interest is honing themselves into the ultimate hunters, a sentiment that has earned them a surprising degree of respect from the Uratha (who are themselves well-versed in the sacred role of the hunt). What the Ashwood Abbey thinks they are.
Bijin: Pretty Japanese people who are travelling artists and performers (Bijin just means "a beautiful person") who started to figure out that monsters exist and decided to hunt them. Think the Toreador except they're not vampires.
Division Six: A secret government agency hunting down "reality deviants" before they can cause the total collapse of reality. In actuality, they're the unwitting dupes of the Panopticon, being used to hunt down the Awakened. They would probably turn on their wicked masters if they learned the truth... but when have the Seers of the Throne ever allowed Sleepers to do that? According to the 2e previews, they were later absorbed into VALKYRIE after getting their funding cut.
Followers of the Mansa: Hunters who defended the Kingdom of Mali and its rulers from demons. All of their members were taught to try and learn as much as they can and indirectly attack them, and if direct attack was unavoidable, to use all of their weaknesses against them.
Habibti Ma: Founded by Eme Amun Hassan, an Egyptian woman who lost her husband and sons to a suicide cult. After suing every authority who watched it happen but didn't act she was left with a fortune and an empty feeling. Hassan began to organize a group dedicated to breaking up cults and returning cultists to their families: Habibti Ma. The authors have admitted they fucked up and should've called the group Habibti Ma'at, named after the Egyptian goddess of mercy that Hassan bases her group's ideals on. While they act out of mercy they're not above kidnapping, torture and psychological abuse to deprogram cultists. This means that they'd rather go after cultists of monsters (frequently cults of arisen, vampires and the Kinfolk of werewolves), but if push comes to shove they'll take on the monsters as well.
Heritage House: A handful of families passing the Vigil from generation to generation. Clannish and a bit cult-like, they encourage you to start making babies after being accepted as a member.
The Hunt Club: Sick fucks who make the Ashwood Abbey look like saints by comparison, this is only a "hunter" compact in that it's pretty common for burnt-out hunters to end up in it. This is basically a social network for serial killers and Slashers who haven't completely lost their ability to relate to people, based on covering up each other's messes and scoring "points" by their kills. Based on the rules they follow they either hunt people that nobody will miss (homeless, prostitutes), those who have squandered their lives or held others back (aka, those who are only alive because it's illegal to kill them) and those who are quite capable of defending themselves or would draw significant investigation (the physically and/or politically powerful).
The Illuminated Brotherhood: Wigged out druggies whose experiments in psychedelics have clued them into the existence of ghosts and spirits and who continue to poke at the supernatural despite their lack of any training in what to do when they get noticed.
The Keepers of the Source: A bunch of hippies and eco-nuts who have the sucky ability to sense those carrying Essence by feeling pain, so they think werewolves and mages are "parasites of the Earth Mother". Used to use typical peacenik tactics to try and convince the werewolves and mages to stop channeling Essence; when this kept getting them laughed at or killed, they upgraded to terrorist acts instead.
The Keepers of the Weave: Native American storytellers and lorekeepers. Since they don't write things down all stories have to be told and shared in person, making their knowledge especially fragile. They keep the stories of all the iterations of various monsters the people encounter and seek to make connections to provide everyone with (hopefully) correct information.
Les Voyageurs: Native Americans and French settlers protecting the French colonies from werewolves and other beasties who want to maul them for hunting beavers and stuff. Given the fact that they're armed with muskets, bows and hatchets compared to, well, a fucking werewolf, it speaks for their badassery and skill at trapping that they still exist.
The Long Night: The Westboro Baptist Church on one end, the Triple Rock Baptist Church on the other, with tent-healers in the middle. The Long Night believe it's the end of the world and a lot of them do not feel very fucking fine. The belief that Jesus will arrive if all the monsters are dead is about the only thing most of them can agree on, beyond that, how you treat monsters and your fellow man is all up in the air.
The Loyalists of Thule: Repentant ex-Nazis, their descendents, and people they've essentially blackmailed into being hunters. The Loyalists were originally the Thule-Gesellschaft, the occultist society whose beliefs in an Aryan "master race" and sponsorship of the German Workers' Party unintentionally set the stage for the rise of the Nazis. Blaming themselves for allowing their old beliefs to become tools of genocide, they seek to atone for their crime by providing their vast knowledge of the supernatural to whoever needs it. They've also been keeping an eye on current events, as they're seeing some alarming parallels to the events of the past in modern politics.
Maiden's Blood Sisterhood: A sorority of vampire-hunting college chicks. Like Buffy, only no superpowers, basically. They're run at least in part by Witches, and might also have their founders as vampires. Or something worse.
Network 0: Making shows like Ghost Adventures and Finding Bigfoot seem professional, Network 0's members are all obsessed with finding footage and evidence of the monsters and dark parts of the world and either shoving said evidence of them in people's faces or hiding it and waiting for the right time to shove it in people's faces. You'd think they'd have blown most forms of the Masquerade open by now, but even they underestimated the cynicism that comes with who knows how many fake videos of the supernatural that are out there. Could become a conspiracy if they managed to organize more effectively and get some serious hardware.
Nine Stars: A relatively new compact, formed by members of the Hong Kong police force to protect the city's inhabitants from an unexplained surge in Slasher activity. Currently thriving, but may become a victim of its own success if the Complaints and Internal Investigations Branch mistakes them for a network of corrupt cops.
The Night Watch: Ghetto toughs, petty hoods, gangbangers and other street trash who've decided they aren't going to stand for being the go-to munchies for vampires anymore.
Null Mysteriis: When scientists find out the truth, they don't go full-mystical. They break out their gear and start researching, bitch. They analyze vampire blood, study things from other dimensions and look for theories to explain why witches can break reality. And this is a damn hobby to them. Currently undergoing a nascent schism between those who wish to take a purely rationalistic/skeptical approach and those who are more open-minded about the existence of the supernatural but have techniques that are more pseudoscience than actual science.
The Promethean Brotherhood: Envious pricks who perform human sacrifices on mages, monsters, even Conspiracy-tier hunters to try and steal their magic for a time. Also on the cusp of becoming a conspiracy, they just need to perfect their sacrificial rites. Similar to Insatiate alchemists, though they were made first.
The Protectors of the Light: Native American hunters who hunt the monsters of the New World. More or less the only group actively upholding the Vigil, but the arrival of the Europeans and intertribal tensions make their duty more and more difficult.
The Reckoning: A bunch of fundamentalist Christian preppers and sovereign citizens who hunt Heroes rather than Beasts after a Hero leveled their compound. It's wacky. Especially when they start kidnapping Beasts to lure Heroes to them, which makes them more likely to turn into Heroes, or when they go on and on about Heroes causing collateral damage while causing collateral damage.
The Reclaimers: A cell on the cusp of becoming a Compact, the Reclaimers believe that the Lairs of Beasts are made from the collective subconsciousness of humanity, and them using this somehow weakens the human race. So the Reclaimers set out to break into the Lairs of Beasts and collapse them to make humanity whole again. Despite them figuring out how to do this, this is a terrible idea for three reasons: A, a Lair is a gigantic fucking deathtrap, and B, a Beast's Lair is where its Horror lives and it's not going to just let you collapse its home, and C, the Beast that the Horror belongs to is also going to notice, get pissed off, and merge with said Horror to bring it to its full power.
The Scarlet Watch: In the aftermath of the Inquisition a couple of powerful families banded together and formed a united front against vampires. Their descendants have moved to the New World and some seek to continue the fight against the ever-increasing numbers of vampires in the colonies. But the vampires have long memories, and they do not take kindly to being hunted. If they had magic whips this Compact would be the Belmont clan.
Soldiers of the Forbidden Sun: An old compact of Chinese hunters who have dedicated themselves to protecting their land from the Underworld and the monsters that come out of it. This has since expanded for including just ghosts and living dead to spirits, shapeshifters, evil wizards, and cultists and followers of monsters.
SWORN: Following a series of policy changes intended to aid indigenous families in gainng job skills (and cut costs on reservation subsidies) culminating in the passage of the Indian Relocation Act of 1956, many Native Americans were encouraged to leave their ancestral homes and move to the cities, only for them to find that the supposed employment opportunities awaiting them were just another broken promise from the US government. The new "Urban Indian" population formed new communities to help them adapt to city life; SWORN (short for Strong Warriors Of all Red Nations) was founded by a Native American activist from one of these groups whose son was murdered by undead. They seek to protect Native communities from the monsters lurking in the dark using the tribal lore they've recovered.
The Talbot Group: Well-meaning healers hoping to try and "cure" werewolves and spirit possessions. Founded by a couple whose son turned into a werewolf. They're slowly making progress and are considering how the werewolves they have pseudo-pacified handle spirits doing bad shit, which is the entire purpose of werewolves to begin with. This unfortunately places them in the top-tier of werewolf-themed hunter groups where intelligence is concerned.
The Union: The compact of the common men and women who don't know or care about what the monsters are as long as they stay out of their neighborhood. Unlike most Hunters, they prefer to react to monster depredations rather than go out looking for trouble themselves. Membership is pretty huge for a compact, but semi-balanced by their weak internal coordination and generally defensive stance.
Utopia Now: A bunch of Libertarians looking to make the world a better place for everyone. The catch? They want to do this using whatever they pilfered from dead institutional demons, demons who have taken over buildings instead of people (translation: the God-Machine's Infrastructure). Their founder is a Stigmatic, a human who has been exposed to the workings of the God-Machine and was changed for the experience. He is now looking to rid the world of institutional demons and build a utopia where they do not exist. Possibly being manipulated by the God-Machine, wouldn't be the first time It got humans to do Its dirty work without their knowledge.
Yuri's Group: A mix of the Talbot Group and Habibti Ma'at, Yuri's Group is a support group for critics of this ill-concieved little experiment, who sometimes take the fight to their former tormentors. Starting to branch out into helping the battered housewives of all the other gamelines too, with the odd attempt to help vampires, beasts, and other predatory supernaturals who're still human enough to feel bad about the things they do to humans cling to what humanity they have left in them. Frequently team up with other Cells and Compacts to provide support because sacrificing an entire support group worth of people is bad for attendance rates.
It would be god tier, if they weren't so god-awful about so much. Conspiracies aren't just the largest groups in Hunter. They're controlling governments, churches, and have access to endowments. What's an endowment? Do you want to shoot werewolves with plasma weapons? Kill a golem with God's holy power? Wolverine claws? Take your pick of quasi-supernatural abilities and fancy doodads. But remember that the conspiracies don't give a shit about you unless you get results, and more than a few have their own dirty little secrets which the Hunters working for them aren't supposed to know about. At the end of the day, very few Hunters in a Conspiracy are irreplaceable. Plus, even they don't know everything about the supernatural- the gaps in their knowledge can be disastrous for a Hunter.
Aegis Kai Doru: Definitely not a front for an Arisen/Guardians of the Veil hunting down their old magical toys. Nope, not at all. In all seriousness, they've got a ton of fancy relics and match the Blood Ravens in their interest for more, and they really hate mages and werewolves. Their name is Greek for shield and spear, and two of their most powerful Relics are the Aegis and Doru talismans.
Ascending Ones: Every Conspiracy has its divisions, but it's most pronounced among these guys, who are the three geographically-separate divisions of the same ancient Egyptian cult of alchemists that grew in radically different directions over the millenia. You've got the Knives of Paradise, the ones who handle the actual monster-hunting and are made up of devout members of the three Abrahamic faiths. There's the Order of the Southern Temple, the pasty, stubbornly Pagan and Hermetic nerds who handle manufacturing and R&D for their Endowment, Elixir. And as for the Jagged Crescent... What do you need, man? Heroin from Afghanistan? Crack from Colombia? Weed from Mexico? Mysterious alchemical mixtures whose formulas were first perfected in ancient Egypt? Pay up, you'll be helping them wage war on evil. Just as long as you're okay with rampant drug addiction and street crime where they take control, those reagents are expensive.
Aves Minervae: The Birds of Minerva were worshippers of the eponymous goddess who protected Rome from vampires and other supernatural beings. Their Red Rituals would go on to become the Rites of Denial that the Cainites below would use.
The Cainite Heresy: Crazy fuckers who use blood magic and are obsessed with killing all vampires RIGHT THE FUCK NOW. It kicks ass against actual vampires, but is so useless against everything else that the game-makers actually had to come up with optional rules for how to let it affect other monsters. They are descended from an organization of rebellious ghouls in the Roman Empire that turned against their vampiric masters...
allegedly Snk! "Who. Is. Caine?"
The Council of Bones: An ancient and reclusive Conspiracy of undead fighters that uses a collection of secret spiritual techniques called Perispiritism to see and interact with ghosts. Its members are marked with a strange tattoo that is believed to be the source of their power, but they have been reluctant to reveal what they know of it to outsiders. The mark also grants its holders the ability to read and write messages that only a mark-bearer can understand, and it only appears on living hosts to act as a safeguard against infiltration by the undead.
The Cheiron Group: They're better than Umbrella, if only because they haven't accidentally triggered a zombie apocalypse yet. On the surface they appear as a respectable pharmaceutical conglomerate known for its affordable yet effective products and philanthropic efforts. Needless to say, the truth isn't half so squeaky clean. Their "Field Projects Division" don't just get powers, they get powers from monster body parts, which are strongly implied to be the secret ingredient in their products. Vampire limbs, serial killer brain implants, hands "volunteered" from the Lucifuge, and much stranger bits are some of the things that you can jam into your body, and they most likely won't have too many dangerous side effects...probably. The pay is superb but you won't be retiring anytime soon- and keep in mind that there's a good chance you might end up becoming the test subject for an implant that they haven't quite worked the kinks out of. Are actually lead by lovecraftian horror/aliens who use the Cheiron Group for some mysterious reason; atypically they might actually be trying to help for purely altruistic reasons, in their terrifyingly inhuman way, though that same write-up presents just taking humanity for all they're worth as a second option.
The Faithful of Shulpae: Weird cultists who ritually cannibalize their "gods" (read: any monster that can live a long time) as an act of worship as some kind of messed up version of the Eucharist, in doing so to obtain some of their nifty powers. The fact that the "gods" they worship generally DON'T want to have their flesh devoured doesn't seem to bother them at all.
The Hototogisu: During the Edo period the Japanese merchant caste, the despised-but-wealthy bottom rung of the Confucian caste system, discovered the various supernatural critters that had infested Japanese society. One of them, a man named Inoue Akio, realized after a conversation with such a monter that he could write up a very predatory contract that literally bought some of the monster's supernatural powers off it, and did so in a way that didn't actually result in any kind of loss of resources to him. This is their Endowment: Setto (Japanese for theft). Several hundred years later they rule the roost in the Japanese supernatural community; immortal, rich, and with enough supernatural lackeys at their disposal that they can easily defend their business interests while conning their marks out of shit like immortality.
The Knights of Saint Adrian: Half biker gang, half paladin order, all bounty hunter, no real subtlety. They work for angels to capture or kill demons. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing really depends on how big an asshole a particular demon's being. And how much you've read about the God-Machine. To facilitate this they are given tattoos with angelic magic coded in. For example, one makes it so they can punch a demon so hard their stolen human face flies right off while another is basically an infinite ammo cheat code for the Knight's firearm of choice.
The Knights of Saint George: Ostensibly a branch of the Church of England, in reality, they hunt mages with their own magic-nullifying spells because they fear they'll wake up the Lovecraftian "Faceless Angels" if they aren't killed. Said angels may or may not be Mage-style Abyssal spirits.
Les Mysteres: They think they're helping the innocent, oppressed spirits fight against their tyrannical werewolf masters by siding with the underdog werewolves who agree with them. Anyone who has ever played Werewolf: The Forsaken will realize that they're being manipulated and are too dumb to know that "freeing" the spirits will result in the destruction and/or enslavement of humanity at the hands of said spirits and the Pure who actually outnumber regular werewolves two to one. Somewhere, a Uratha is trying to stave off Death Rage after learning what this group is trying to do. Briefly mentioned in the 2e Kickstarter as being "defunct".
The Lucifuge: They've got Hell in their blood and they aren't happy about it. They view the destruction of supernatural beings as a way for them to redeem themselves in the eyes of God by ridding the world of Satan's creations. At least they get kickass powers from it. Fun fact: their founder has been alive since the 800s. Fun fact 2: they always have exactly 666 members. Don't ask too many questions about what happened to the guy you replaced.
The Malleus Maleficarum: Vampires, Witches, and Demons; that's the order of importance for the Catholic Inquisition. Don't question it and you won't be taken down to the church basement. Agree to help and you can call on God and his saints to give you awesome abilities to slay monsters. Please ignore the fact that their leader is a ghoul still addicted to vampire blood who uses "holy" magic. Here's some fun facts. The organization used to consist solely of monks, but now have there ranks open to any devoted catholic and they have a bitter rivalry against the Lancea et Sanctum.
The Merrick Institute: A shadowy government-linked research collective used nasty, damaging science to discover the Primordial Dream, and started gathering "gifted" kids with a mixture of scholarship money and violence to try to weaponize it. In one of their labs, the test subjects were able to escape and kill their tormentors, save a few who were sympathetic to their plight, then commandeered their tech and training to try to make something good out of what they were put through. The end result is a mixture between A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors in the World of Darkness, (indeed they are referred to as such at one point) and one of those young adult novels where teenagers gain superpowers by experimentation that overthrew their captors, but kept the story going. Their Endowment is Dreamscape, allowing them to gain supernatural powers while inside of a dream, allowing them to hunt Beasts and similar monsters on their own turf. This makes them very powerful in the dream world, but useless outside of it (in no small part because the experiments performed on them left many of the kids crippled or even comatose). They're also thematically a bit like what the the Renegades could be like in their upcoming game, since the original collective is still active and hunting them down. As a result, the Merrick Institute is rather loosely organized for a Conspiracy and spends much of its time on the road lest they stay put long enough for their former captors to find them.
The Otodo: Named after the single most complex kanji consisting of no less than 84 brushstrokes (which roughly means "the appearance of a dragon in flight"), the Otodo are a family of cousins close and distant whose ancestors lived in a village that engaged in sexual intercourse with a bunch of oni. The blood of their spiritual ancestors created a race of half-oni who use their powers to protect Japan and its people from the monsters hunting them. They also go after those Otodo who don't join in the fight against evil and consider Changelings to be just like them, explainations be damned. This means they're more or less the Shinto equivalent of the Christian Lucifuge. Their powers even work the same; the Otodo's Endowment of Seitokuken is more limited in scope (you can pick only five of the seven powers in total, while the Lucifuge has a much wider array) but no less potent: a well-buffed Otodo can take on a fair number of monsters head-on. Because of their limited numbers the Otodo see no problems with increasing their numbers by copious amounts of boning, and when they're not killing monsters or getting laid the Otodo keep meticulous records of their offspring to keep an eye on those who could develop their powers.
Task Force: VALKYRIE: MIBs, conspiracy creators, and America's last line of paranormal defense. Great story, but the execution isn't quite as neat as it sounds. They're composed of various government entities (i.e. military, law enforcement, and so on) and designed to prevent supernatural subversion, but in practice it's a bureaucratic clusterfuck that can barely keep track of which monsters they're supposed to be killing. Even worse, the organization has been compromised after several agents' identities were leaked online and its attempts at spreading disinformation to prevent further leaks may be backfiring as new recruits struggle to distinguish the truth from the lies. Oh, and only some of the top brass know that most of their budget secretly comes from vampires using the organization to deal with their rivals and that they can't do anything about it without toppling the organization and exposing themselves in the process. The only thing holding up this corrupt monolith from crashing down at this point is sheer inertia and the brutality of the blacker-than-black door kickin' and dog shooting constitutional violators they employ. Remember, they are not here to help you against supernatural threats, but to maintain the status quo, which includes the masquerade, all in the name of national security of course.
Vanguard Serial Crimes Unit (VASCU): Originally FBI agents with telepathic powers who use their abilities to hunt down supernatural serial killers, mostly Slashers. The subject of much hilarious interdepartmental in-fighting and dick-measuring with VALKYRIE. VALKYRIE's got neater stuff, works outside the law, and has a better idea of what's going on. But VASCU isn't nearly as much of an organizational mess and its agents are often actually good at their jobs. Often end up hunting other kinds of monster, since, well, while there are many mechanical differences between a crazed superhuman serial killer and a vampire who's given all the way into madness and degeneration, they aren't necessarily obvious to the outside observer.
By 2E funding issues caused them to be let go from the FBI, but an unknown benefactor gave them the opportunity to act as freelancers using the bioengineering research group "Vanguard Institute" as a front. They now sell their services to international law enforcement worldwide, though some of their agents do have to wonder who exactly is paying their expenses now.
Not really meant as player options (although they are technically playable for those who really want to) because of their powers, goals and because having your players play actual serial killers instead of hunters would be very fucked up, Slashers are either hunters who have gone off the deep end or people who just happened to go batshit insane in the worst possible way. They all have some kind of Undertaking, a modus operandi based on famous real-life and fictional serial killers. Each of these can go even crazier, going from a Ripper (a Slasher who's still human, at least in the physical sense of the word) to a Scourge (a Slasher with powers that border on the supernatural). While Slashers can be very powerful they all have a Frailty, a psychological (and sometimes physical) weakness linked to their particular brand of insanity.
Generally speaking, Rippers are less powerful than Scourges, but Scourges are more deeply crippled by their Frailties in addition to inheriting the Frailty of their Ripper counterparts.
Avenger: Avengers are out for revenge. Having been deeply hurt by someone else they take (lethal) revenge on those who wronged them, then go on to hunt people like their first target to prevent others from being wronged like they were. But with every victim they kill, they grow increasingly indiscriminate to the point where the subjects of their revenge have only tangential connections to their initial victim. While the drive for revenge is not an uncommon origin for a Hunter, the difference is that Avengers often do not target supernatural beings specifically (not for long, anyway). They are very capable at handling several targets at the same time, but are driven to chase their targets no matter what, which can make them easily manipulated. Drawn from movies like I Know What You Did Last Summer, Death Wish, and Urban Legend.
Brute: One could say that these Slashers are more like animals than people, but animals aren't capable of sadism like they are. A Brute lives only for the hunt and the kill, contempt for human weakness estranging the Brute from the rest of the human race. Exceptionally dangerous at close range and nearly impossible to stop when they've found a victim, a Brute out for blood is a killing machine, shrugging off pain, fatigue, and injury in the pursuit of their prey. Their bloodlust makes them less perceptive though, and with care one can avoid a Brute who has not spotted its prey yet. Drawn from movies like Ravenous and The People Under The Stairs.
Charmer: A rather friendly and affable sort at first glance, a Charmer will appear nice, help you out, win your trust and then strap you to a rack and work you over with a blowtorch as he mocks your decision to trust him. Often the product of abuse in their childhood, Charmers are obsessed with vulnerability and punishment, frequently abhorring sex as well. They will find a victim, win their trust until they let down their guard, then do whatever horrible thing it is they do. Those who trust them tend to make all kinds of excuses for them and dismiss any implied wrongdoings, all the way until they are the next victim. The particular worldview of a Charmer is also their greatest weakness: if someone resists their charm or sets them off in another way, a Charmer will lash out, often violently, revealing themselves in the process. Based on the likes of Stuntman Mike from Death Proof and Preacher Powell from Wolf Creek.
Freak/Undesirable: Physically deformed and shunned by humanity or perhaps simply believing themselves to be thus ostracized, Freaks want revenge on the world for rejecting them. They get it by performing the most depraved sorts of acts on their victims. They often grow attachments to people (like their family or other Freaks) or places and know their environments to an almost supernatural degree. Freaks sometimes team up with a supernatural being as an Igor of some kind, but sooner or later they realize they are being used, which inevitably results in the death of either the Freak or the supernatural. Because of their worldviews and hideous appearances, Freaks are very bad at social interaction. Based on monstrous killers like Francis Dolarhyde from Red Dragon and Leatherface from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre; note that after his surgery the former was no longer deformed, but his mutilated psyche still made him a psychotic, dangerous person and a social mess.
Genius/Virtuoso: Working with their superior intellect, a Genius can deduce what a victim is going to do, how they'll react to situations, their routines and so on. They can also learn about their target by talking to them, discovering oddities, psychological problems or secrets with nothing but a conversation. They love using traps to kill people, rigging things to kill and maim in inventive ways. Some will give their victims a way out when putting them in a trap, feeling that if a victim doesn't figure it out then the resulting horrible blood-typhoon isn't the Genius's fault. Because Geniuses tend to be creatures of order and routine, when an irregularity happens that isn't part of their plans, they tend to get irate and sloppy, even if it wasn't something they could have prevented. Based on urbane serial killers like Hannibal Lecter from Silence of the Lambs.
Legend: The evolved form of the Avenger, Legends are Scourges who have transcended mortality to become living slasher myths. They're the murderous boogeymen that people tell stories about, stories that are ultimately all-too-real. Each Legend is, as you'd expect, wrapped up in his or her own personal mythos, gaining strength when others "play their parts" right but also being compelled to obey certain bans or afflicted with banes based on their legends as if they were spirits- nobody's sure if they're just that fixated on their own legend or if it somehow deprives them of free will. Based mostly on urban myth slashers like The Hook-Handed Killer, the Lover's Lane Maniac, or the Licking Lunatic, they also tap into the more "supernatural" slashers from films like the titular character of Candyman or Freddy Krueger from Nightmare on Elm Street.
Mask: The evolved form of the Brute, Masks are killing machines to an even greater extent than their Ripper counterparts. They are supernaturally durable to a level to make even the monstrous player splats sit up and go "Damn, that's a tough bastard!" Any attack, no matter how weird or supernatural can only inflict a single point of damage to them. However, this durability doesn't count for shit against booby traps, ambient damage, or other things that aren't actually "attacks" (most likely because otherwise, they'd be nigh-invincible), and they're literally incapable of doing anything that doesn't involve trying to hunt people down and kill them- they can't speak or even understand human language anymore, and extended contact with living things seems to actually cause them pain and a desire to respond with violence. In short, they simply want everything around them to die. Based on super-tough film slashers that never seem to stay dead; the most iconic examples of a Mask are probably Jason Voorhees from the Friday the 13th films and Michael Myers from Halloween.
Psycho/Hypno: The evolved form of the Charmer, the Psycho has been consumed by their murder-lust, their obsession eating away at them until they can barely feign normality on a day-to-day basis. A Psycho still has enough charm that they can trick victims into lowering their guards at just the right moment, but suffers from intense obsessions; if they fail to manipulate someone, a Psycho is compelled to make that victim their next target. Patrick Bateman from American Psycho is called out as an inspiration for this kind of Slasher.
In 2e, this was replaced by the Hypno. Hypnos share the charisma of the old Psycho, but consider their murder sprees as a mission to be performed in the name of some higher cause of their own imagining as the thing that repulsed or disgusted them as a Charmer becomes an entire warped worldview in its own right; rather than performing a killing blow after lowering a victim's guard, they can choose to steal the victim's Willpower. Light Yagami of Death Note would be a good example of this type of Slasher.
Mutant: The evolved form of the Freak, Mutants are even more hideously deformed to the point where they are no longer recognizable as having ever been human. Their mutations act as either natural armor or natural weapons as a result and are even worse at social interaction than Freaks due to their horrific appearances. However, their mutations also make them painfully vulnerable to a certain kind of stimulation, making it impossible for them to bear and reduces them to a state of atavistic rage- a cave-dwelling monster that burns in agony at the touch of sunlight, a blind abomination that hunts through scent and recoils at strong odors, etc. Mostly owe their origins to "Hillbilly Horror" type Slasher flicks, such as The Hills Have Eyes or Wrong Turn.
Maniac/Puppeteer: The evolved form of the Genius, Maniacs (sometimes refered to as Lunatics) are even crazier, but also startlingly charismatic; they prefer a more "hands off" approach to killing, and mostly sate their murder-lust through proxies and Rube Goldberg-style deathtraps, having the ability to not only gain great understanding of peoples' psychologies by studying them but also driving them off the deep end to become the Maniac's loyal flunkies out of the need to share their horrific "insights" with the world. Their flaw is that they're obviously insane to anyone who doesn't end up adopting their twisted mindsets, penalizing their Social skills with anyone who isn't as crazy as they are (and doesn't catch their brand of insanity from interacting with them) and making them very recognizable. Jigsaw from Saw and John Doe from Se7en are perhaps the best examples of Maniac type Slashers in modern films.
A new feature to be added in 2e, Nests are what the monsters you hunt call home. Taking a page from the Lairs of Beast, these places typically have a bunch of Tilts and Conditions associated with them that will give Hunters a hard time...and that's assuming nobody's home when they come to investigate. Most of them are fortunately mundane in nature, but a handful of them called 'Tainted areas' have their own lingering supernatural effects with stuff like tricking interlopers into thinking they're nearing the exit when they're actually going deeper inside or causing hunters to see each other as the monster who lives there. Most dangerous of all are the cases where the Nest is the monster, in which case anyone stuck inside will need to get creative if they want to escape alive.
Because of its status as a Limited Run game, Hunter: The Vigil has not received many books. The books that they have made do a fine job at making for a tight setting that does its thing well. The books are:
- Hunter: The Vigil Rulebook is the core book presenting what the game is about, how it expands on the base World/Chronicles of Darkness book, what the Compacts and Conspiracies are about how to run a game of Hunter.
- The trio of books on the "Big Three" of World of Darkness. These books go into depth on how their particular brand of nasties are fought, how the core Compacts and Conspiracies see them as well as new toys for them, new Compacts and Conspiracies that specialize in a particular brand of enemy and how to fit the monster into your Hunter games:
- Night Stalkers is the Vampire book and adds The Barrett Commission, Maiden's Blood Sisterhood, The Night Watch and the Cainite Heresy.
- Spirit Slayers is the Werewolf (and spirit) book, adding The Bear Lodge, The Illuminated Brotherhood, The Talbot Group and Les Mysteres.
- Witch Finders is the Mage book and details the use of magic in a low-key version of Mage: The Awakening. It also adds Division Six, The Keepers of the Source, The Promethean Brotherhood and The Knights of Saint George.
- Block by Bloody Block is for urban monster hunting and has rules for Territories, parts of the city that you can drive monsters out of to reclaim them as your own, freeing a city this way. It also has rules for webs of alliances/enmities between various groups so that getting rid of one group might gain you allies somewhere and enemies somewhere else.
- World of Darkness: Slasher is technically a core book, but it's been made an honorary Hunter book. It details the Slashers, those Hunters who go off the deep end. It also includes the rules for those government agents who hunt Slashers, the Vanguard Serial Crimes Unit (VASCU).
- Horror Recognition Guide is a collection of fifteen short stories set in Philadelphia, detailing various Hunter Cells who get into contact with various monsters and how this ends. The book works as inspiration for Hunter games, with no stats included.
- Compacts & Conspiracies is the finale book, greatly expanding on the various core Compacts and Conspiracies. It gives them more rules, more background and lifts the curtain for a few to reveal that they're actually being duped.
- Mortal Remains was released four years after Compacts and Conspiracies to update Hunter: The Vigil for Chronicles of Darkness. It goes into detail on Prometheans, Changelings, Geists, Mummies, and Demons, adds a whole slew of new Dread Powers for monsters, updates a lot of existing rules and adds four new Compacts and Conspiracies: Habibti Ma'at, The Faithful of Shulpae, Utopia Now and The Knights of Saint Adrian.
- Tooth and Nail was released in the wake of Beast: The Primordial to expand on how to fight
BeastsHeroes. Tries very hard to convince people who somehow haven't heard of it that Beast is a good book with a good premise and not an abomination unto God, and places an undue emphasis on Hunters teaming up with Beasts to fight Heroes. Famous for its "great" art including a guy in a hospital gown with psychically projected weapons and armor about to fight Cthulhu and his humongous lunchbox, Danny DeVito as a Cheiron Group scientist (about to inject the remains of a Beast into Donald Trump's penis, no less, which made him immediately beloved among the fandom) and the picture of Yuri's Group shown above. Contains one Cell that's soon to be a Compact, two new Compacts and one new "Conspiracy": The Reclaimers, The Reckoning, Yuri's Group and The Merrick Institute.
Hunter has had several fan pieces made, including a full-on fan-made book focused on hunting fairies. Mainly though, the work focuses on adding new Compacts and Conspiracies to the lineup.
- Dream Catchers: Focused on fairies, changelings, and even expanded on Philadelphia to look at how the hunter-fairy interactions have shaped the city, as well as introducing four fan organizations.
- Skin and Bones: Made up of several original compacts and conspiracies with no real overarching connection but with well-developed backgrounds.