The Game: Hunter: The Vigil
The Publisher: White Wolf
Degree of Familiarity: I wrote a fair chunk of five of the six books for the line, but I've not had a chance to get into a proper playtest.
Books Required: The World of Darkness Rulebook and Hunter: The Vigil
I'm torn. I want to make a character who's basically a "live for the weekend" type, heavily influenced by the narrative that runs through the first Arctic Monkeys album. Thing is, I also want to make a reluctant hunter of the Lucifuge, someone who only hunts because he's been chosen by forces beyond his control.
Might as well stick those two in a blender and see what happens!
Step One: Concept
Right. I want someone who lives for the weekend. He's got a day-job rotting in white-collar hell, but that just gives him the tokens he needs to hit the clubs, get loaded, dance like a mad bastard, piss against a wall, have a kebab, and try jumping out of the taxi home without paying. It's a simple life, but it's one he likes. The clubs he hits are all chart stuff, and he's got a sideline as a music blogger, though management has always reminded him that The Company Comes First. Stick him in Sheffield for a laugh. He's a Wednesday supporter, got a season ticket. His life's pretty sorted, or at least, so he thought. Jez Riley.
On his twenty-third birthday that all changed.
Wandering home through West Street, heart of the red-light district, dodging the working girls plying their trade. It's been a good birthday so far, but then he spots someone who registers as a scummy bastard even through the fog of alcohol.
"I'm sorry, love. I'll have to turn you down." That scumbag's up to summat. Picked up one of the girls in that wanky car of his. Fuck, is that a knife? He's only gone and fuckin' seen me and he knows that I know he's got a fuckin' knife and I'm for it. Bastard's smiling.
And then the scummy man says it: "Hello, son."
And the fires of hell burned that bit brighter as he cut the girl's throat. She was only in her early twenties, probably younger than Jez. And at that point, all thoughts of the night removed, Jez ran for his life.
Three days later, they knocked on the door. Two of them, a man and a woman. Told Jez that they were taking him to Milan, that he'd have to call in sick. He didn't want to, so they bound him in hellfire and dragged him off. Once there, in front of an old imperious lady, he got told in no uncertain terms: his dad was the offspring of the Devil Himself. Rather than worry about his immortal soul, he'd enjoyed every second, and nothing the Lucifuge's followers said would change his mind. They stole Jez away, just three months old at that point, and put him with a family who'd not managed to conceive. It felt to Jez like his whole life was a lie.
Then the Lucifuge told him in no uncertain terms that he had a choice. He could deny the fires of Hell within him, join the organization, and use his twisted gifts against the creatures that lurked in the night, or he could die a slow and painful death right there.
Jez Riley chose life.
Unlike other members of the Lucifuge, the Devil isn't some far-off force or some theoretical father-figure. Jez has his own biological dad as a proxy and a focus for his hate—and for his guilt at ever being born.
He's not stopped living for the weekend. But now in between drowning his guilt and self-loathing he keeps a weather eye out for the weird shit in the corners, the chick guzzling down human blood rather than just necking, or the monster who wears a Wednesday shirt while he hacks people apart0. And one day, he's going to find his dad and kick him in the knackers so hard the cunt'll be singing castrato in Hell's male-voice choir.
Step Two: Select Attributes
While I've got a good idea of who Jez is, I've a less-clear idea of what he can do. Time to firm that up. He's a graduate from one of the ex-polytechnics, got his management degree, and got snapped up by a sub-prime finance house. He's smart and likable, but not particularly driven. I'm thinking Mental primary, Social secondary, and Physical tertiary.
Mentally, he's sharp and smart both, but too easily distracted and lacking any real drive to apply himself, which gets him into trouble with management. Three points into Wits, two into Intelligence, and Resolve gets none.
Socially, he's the life of the party. Two into Presence, one into everything else.
For Physical, I think he's pretty average. One point across the board.
Step Three: Select Skills
Mixing things around, I go Social, Mental, Physical for Skills.
For Social skills, I know I want a high Empathy. He's good at getting a feel for what people are thinking, making him a good mate to everyone he know—he knows just enough that if he doesn't want to go home alone, he probably won't. Two dots of Persuasion, because he's always been good at talking people round. Spending time hanging around the dodgy parts of town after kicking out time gives me a good excuse for two dots of Streetwise, and I think he combines his Empathy with a natural talent for saying what people want to hear, for two dots of Subterfuge. He can have a good time in most places, so I take a dot of Socialize, and as a music blogger he really should have a dot of Expression.
Mentally, his degree in Management is good enough for two dots of Academics. Thinking about it, one dot of Politics covering business law is probably a good idea as well. He used to work on the internal fraud investigation team, and listened to his co-workers for two dots of Investigation. A dot of Computer, half-remembered stuff about macro programming and techie stuff from university. Finally, a dot of Science. He's a fan of debunkers, Mythbusters, and the Bad Science blog and knows enough to chuckle along when people get it wrong.
Physically, I put a dot in Athletics as he's on the company five-a-side team, a dot in Brawl as he's survived—and dished out—taxi-queue kickings, a dot in Stealth, and one in Drive.
Step Four: Select Skill Specialties
I get three to use. Hrm. Politics can take a "Business" tag, reflecting both office politics and business law. Persuasion gets "Management", more in a "talking-to-bosses" sense than anything else. Socialize gets "Clubbing", for hopefully obvious reasons.
Step Five: Add Hunter Template
This is the part you've all been waiting for.
First off, I choose a Profession for Jez. Socialite might work if he were a known player, but he's not. In that case, I'll stick to Professional (the catch-all white-collar profession), and note Academics and Persuasion as Asset Skills. I get one free specialty, which means that Academics gets "Finance".
The Tier is normally set by the group at the start of the game (though fun could be had by a single Lucifuge Buffy-a-like and her Loyalists of Thule "Scooby Gang". In this case, we're pretty certainly third-tier and Jez is pretty certainly in the Lucifuge.
Step Six: Choose Merits
Seven dots, same as every other game. Ah well, shit happens. I need a dot in Status (Lucifuge) to start. I'm thinking Jez really should have Barfly. That's two dots down. Two dots of Striking Looks, because I really think it fits. Four points down. No points into Safehouse as I'm not creating part of a group. Two dots into Castigation, and one into Professional Training. That also gives me the equivalent of Contacts (Finance).
With two dots of Castigation, I can pick two ways of channeling the devil's blood. Hellfire, both direct and a bit flashy, is a solid first pick. For the second, I shy away from the ones dealing with demons. Jez wouldn't have picked up on that sort of power, he's more one for internal changes. It's a toss-up between Sense of the Unrighteous and Gaze of the Penitent, with the former just winning out. He's got the means to find his father—indeed, to find all sinners—but whether he really wants to is still up in the air.
Step Seven: Determine Advantages
Basic addition time. Size 5, Initiative 4, Willpower 3 (ouch), Health 7, Speed 9, Defense 2, Morality 7. Ideally, I'd like more Willpower, even with the Risk mechanics. I could drop Morality down to 5 for the 10XP bonus... but does that really fit? He's not done anything actually wrong, he's just been fucked over by his birth and charged with hunting down the spawn of the Devil on pain of death. He's ultimately still a reasonably upstanding guy. I leave it where it is, and note that if I play this guy, I'm boosting Resolve
Virtue and Vice. Well, Vice is fairly easy: Sloth. He's never had the urge to get his life together, instead just coasting by on an easy skive. For his Virtue, I'm thinking Faith. He trusts in things to work out, and knows that there is a solution to every problem.
Step Eight: Spark of Life
I think I covered this pretty well in Step One, to be honest.
And there we go: One hunter, forced by circumstances beyond his control to face down the evils of the world.
Name: Jez Riley
Concept: Reluctant son of Satan
Mental Attributes: Intelligence 3, Wits 4, Resolve 1
Physical Attributes: Strength 2, Dexterity 2, Stamina 2
Social Attributes: Presence 3, Manipulation 2, Composure 2
Mental Skills: Academics (Finance) 2, Computer 1, Investigation 2, Politics (Business) 1, Science 1
Physical Skills: Athletics 1, Brawl 1, Drive 1, Stealth 1
Social Skills: Empathy 3, Expression 1, Persuasion (Management) 2, Socialize (Clubbing) 1, Streetwise 2, Subterfuge 2
Merits: Barfly, Castigation 2, Professional Training 1, Status (Lucifuge) 1, Striking Looks 2
Castigation: Hellfire, Sense of the Unrighteous
0: Yes, that is a reference to Shadows of the UK