And it's the 50th entry. Woo, and indeed, Hoo.
The Game: Hunter: The Reckoning
The Publisher: White Wolf
Degree of Familiarity: Played both tabletop and in forum games
Books Required: Hunter: The Reckoning and Hunter Book: Visionary
Ahh, Hunter. The other Hunter, that is. Not the one I made0. This could get a little confusing.
Hunter: The Reckoning was the sixth full gameline in the old World of Darkness. It covered the Imbued, perhaps the first character archetype not to come straight out of myth and legend unless you squint real hard. The Imbued see something bizarre and supernatural, and a voice says to them "YO! DO SOMETHING ABOUT THAT SHIT, MAN! YOU JUST GONNA STAND AROUND ALL DAY?" but in more of a Charlton Heston, Biblical sense (not the Charlton Heston, NRA sense... at least, not until the Wayward book came out).
So yeah. The Imbued got this tiny little bit of power, just enough that they could see through the lies used by monsters to cloud the minds of men, and just enough that they could take action and have that action matter.
Reaction was... mixed.
Some people, like me, thought it was a fucking fantastic game. I mean, here we have people off the street, suddenly told "Monsters live among you, and the world's about to end. Do something about that, would you?" Because the protagonists are ordinary folk, normal people, a lot of them go a little crazy and their ideas don't mesh with the world quite so much. Because unlike every supernatural creature in the World of Darkness, the Imbued were brand new. No ancient legacies, no secret history. Just people trying to make sense of a world that's suddenly revealed as being insane. That's hot, right there.
Some people paid the game no heed. Which, y'know, I figured would happen. I loved Wraith with a burning passion, for fuck's sakes, and apart from a few people nobody gave a shit. Oddly, it was Wraith got me started writing. I might explain that sometime.
Some people really hated Hunter. These people fell into roughly three camps. The first was easy to dismiss; they'd flicked through the game and picked up from the art that it was "Buffy meets the WoD and kills everything." Nothing could be further from the truth, but try telling the corebook artists that. The second weren't necessarily displeased with Hunter as a game. They had this perception that because Wraith ended and Hunter began, the end of Wraith had to ahve happened in order for Hunter to be, so Hunter killed their favourite game. Either an appeal to logic or ignoring the fuck out of those who wouldn't listen to logic was the only solution. Then you had the people who (quite rightly) pointed out that Hunters weren't new, and they'd wanted a game about monster hunters to focus not on these new supernatural hunters, but on the normal hunters who had already been detailed.
Normal hunters like Project: Twlight, who were psychic-powered MiBs. Or the Inquisition, who could wield miraculous powers through their faith. Or the Arcanum, who had access to millennia of occult lore, all the Hedge Magic of the setting, and pretty much knew the secret history of the world. Or the cyborgs of Strike Force Zero. Or the supernatural kung-fu badasses of the Shih.
Pointing out that the Imbued characters are far more normal in nature, even though they've suddenly got supernatural powers out of the blue didn't work. Likewise, pointing out that one of the major—nay, overriding—themes of Hunter was defining the limits of humanity and "At what point are we monsters too?" didn't work. In the end, these most vocal detractors didn't change anyone's mind and they just missed out on a great game. That's what happens if you want to play psychic FBI agents rather than the far more interesting normal people who end up becoiming Imbued2.
So yeah. Defining themes of the line between man and monster, whether the Imbued are still human, and what happens when what appears to be God shows up and tells you to pull your finger out and do something about the state of the world, son. Unfortunately, it was a product of its time, playing on pre-millenial tension and the oncoming rush of expectant eschatology that died shortly after 01/01/01.
Step One: Character Concept
I consider a range of options. Auto mechanic. Grifter. Engineer. None of them really sing to me. Flicking through the Visionary book (for that's the Creed I've already decided upon), I note a couple of things that spark something: Passion and Disillusionment.
What happens when everything that's had meaning in your life has moved on, leaving you by the wayside? You can't even get yourself together enough to get properly depressed or pissed off. You just go through every day the same as the last, running on autopilot. Thoroughly dead inside. You used to think, during your hipster days, that everyone had to choose: smart or happy? A happy person could only be happy because they weren't smart enough to see how the world was broken. A smart person couldn't ever be happy because he could always strive for something new.
What utter shit.
It doesn't matter if you're smart or happy. You can be as smart as you like and still too dumb for words. You should have seen it coming. You'd spent the past six months "working late" even though all you really did was surf the web and read blog after blog, kidding on that you were part of some "new media revolution". Working late was a code, and a bad one, for getting balls-deep in the hot piece of ass two offices down. Your wife knew, but she couldn't bring herself to care. You both stuck to the same pathetic lie. You worked late and she didn't ask. For all she knew, you were important, a real professional. An engineer. Even though software engineering lost its glamour when the bubble burst first time round. A year out of work after the startup went bang, and all of a sudden you can't bring yourself to care about what you do any more. It's just another office job.
Six months ago, your wife left you. That's when it started, that hollow feeling in the pit of your stomach. Something's missing from the world. Even your affair grew tired and dull, the thrill and animal passion of illicit sex becoming little more than mechanical stimulation of a meat-machine to provide a release of fluid and neurotransmitters.
Two weeks ago, that all changed. In the mini-mart, one of thirty, maybe forty people. You'd got forty smokes, unfiltered for your own pleasure, and two bottles of cheap Scottish vodka. Your week's shopping. A girl hanging out near the door, maybe twenty at the most. Tight clothes, dressed for a night on the town even though it's the middle of January and the night threatens snow. You pay, and head for the exit. She smiles and moves towards you. The lights flicker. A power surge, maybe? Then the words. SHE IS A LIE. Roaring through your skull and making you really feel something for the first time in years. Looking again, her skin was porcelain white and slight cracks opened up as she moved. Her mouth was a gaping crimson maw, and when she smiled you could see the snakes in her eye-sockets wanting to bite you, sink poison through your body and leave you for dead.
Snap reaction time. Nobody else is freaking out. That speaks to nobody else being able to see her. She wants to do nasty things to you. So you do the one thing you never thought you would: You turn, brush past the fresh fruit, stuff a banana into your pocket and threaten the cashier with it as though you had a gun. He calls the cops, who show up weapons ready to take you down. The porcelain girl with snakes in her eyes makes a move for one of the cops, and it's all over bar the shooting. In the dark and the confusion, you slip away.
Since then, you've got in touch with others who've heard the Voice. And you know what you have to do. The hell with everything else, it's time to use that pickled brain of yours, because fuck only knows that you can't fight the monsters and you can't heal them, but you can think your way to making their lives all kinds of hell.
Your boss is wondering what's going on. You told him about your wife leaving, and he thinks it's delayed shock. He'll understand, at least for now. And at some point you really should stop getting it on with the girl two offices down, but right now the sex has never been better.
Your name is Danny Chance, and for once in your life you give a damn.
Concept is Revitalized Engineer, Creed is Visionary, Nature is Analyst (think hard enough, and you only have to cut once), Demeanour is Conniver
Step Two: Choose Attributes
6/4/3 spread among the old-style Attributes. Mental primary, Social secondary, then Physical.
Mentally, I drop two points into Intelligence, three into Wits, and one into Perception. So sharp he'll cut himself, and almost bright enough to know when to quit, but he still needs those hipster glasses.
Socially, two points into Charisma, one each into Manipulation and Appearance. He's got some force of personality, but has never learned to put it to good use. He used to be more buff, but cigarettes and booze took that away from him.
Physically, I drop one point in each. Average across the board.
Step Three: Select Abilities
11/7/4 to split between categories with 12 skills to choose in each. Deep joy. Knowledges primary, then Talents, then Skills.
Knowledges... Three in Computer, as it used to be his job. Two in Investigation, applying the data he's gathered into a working model. Two more in Research, because he's shit-hot with all manner of archives. One in Academics, one in Law, one in Politics, and one in Science round things out, as he's had a well-rounded education.
I turn to Talents. One point in Alertness, because he's training himself to keep an eye out. One in Dodge, because discretion is sometimes the better part of valour. One in Empathy, as he can read people fairly well. Two in Intuition, not so much from gut-feelings but from subconsciously running through everything he knows and making an educated guess. The last two points go into Subterfuge, as he's got very used to lying.
Finally Skills. One point into Animal Ken, he's always been good with dogs. One into Drive, another into Security, and the last into Technology.
Step Four: Choose Advantages
Five points in Backgrounds. I want one dot in Resources, I know that much. Fuckit, make it two. None of the others really count. Maybe the girl he's knocking off as a one-dot Ally. The remaining two points go into Patron, representing ongoing contact from the Heralds.
Three points of Virtues to go around. I put one into Mercy, one into Zeal, and one into Vision. Gaining Edges comes from spending Virtue points, in a strictly linear fashion. Though the idea is a good one, I'm not entirely certain it works in practice. On the other hand, the powers are definitely front-loaded, with one and two dot being the most useful. Anyway. I spend my Mercy dot on Hide, from the Innocence path, my Vision dot on Forsee, and my Zeal dot on Judgment's Discern power.
Step Five: Finishing Touches
Conviction is 3, as is Willpower. Now I've just got 21 Freebies to spend. First off, I put extra points into Intelligence, Charisma, and Manipulation. For the character (and for the dice system) those extra dots are dearly needed. 6 to go. Raise Willpower to 5, and Conviction to 4. That's 3 left. One extra point in Alertness is two. And the last one goes into increasing Resources to 3.
There we go!
Name: Danny Chance
Concept: Revitalized Engineer
Physical Attributes: Strength 2, Dexterity 2, Stamina 2
Social Attributes: Charisma 4, Manipulation 3, Appearance 2
Mental Attributes: Perception 2, Intelligence 4, Wits 4
Talents: Alertness 1, Dodge 1, Empathy 1, Intuition 2, Subterfuge 2
Skills: Animal Ken 1, Drive 1, Security 1, Technology 1
Knowledges: Academics 1, Computer 3, Investigation 2, Law 1, Politics 1, Research 2, Science 1
Backgrounds: Allies 1, Patron 2, Resources 3
Virtues: Mercy 1, Vision 1, Zeal 1
Edges: Hide (I1), Forsee (V1), Discern (J1)
0: OHAI! I MAEDED U AN VIGIL!1
1: My brain is 10% LOLcat. This is official.
2: That's what we call an "in-joke", son. Given that I introduced psychic FBI agents into the new WoD and all.