Nightmarish abominations of man and nature hell-bent on murder and destruction. The malignant offspring of over-active imaginations given form to haunt the night. Human fears and passions made manifest to further the very terror that birthed them. The things that go bump in the night.
Humanity's fear of the unknown has inspired us to create all manner of abominations and obscenities. Whether it's a dark corner, a deranged mind or the next world, human imagination has aspired to fill the void in an effort to make sense of our existence and all it's mysteries. Although science seeks to answer our questions and make the world sensible — to explain that monsters do not exist, the human imagination still takes us back to times past, when the dark places and other worlds were frightening.
Persistent fear of monsters, even in this "enlightened" age, raises the question: Is belief in creatures integral to the human psyche? That's what science claims; "monsters" are the results of psychoses, sexual deviancy, products of the subconscious mind. why else would we fear the dark places when reason and rationality have illuminated so much? Monsters aren't real…
Or are they? Imagine a world in which creatures of the night have lurked from the very beginning. Feeding on human fears and bodies. Playing with us like toys in ageless, demented power struggles. Deciding human fate and keeping us under their collective thumb or trapped in a talon-grip. Subjecting us to their unknowable will for their own obscene amusement.
Now stop imagining, because it's true. That's our world. That's us. Monsters cast their shadow over our lives and chill our very souls. We are subjected to terror, oppression and corruption, but we never see what's real. We never know the truth. At least… most don't.
You stand apart from the helpless masses. You've had the scales ripped from your eyes. You see the creatures working their manipulations. You recognize the fetid putrescence beneath their innocuous masks. You peer into the deepest shadows and witness their lurid dance. You see everything. You know the truth.
And somehow, by some unseen hand, you have been granted the power to stop them. You have the clarity and strength to emancipate humanity, to wrest control from the supernatural. You have the power to finally, once and for all, free the world.
You are a hunter.
What is this place?
The world of Hunter; The Reckoning is not our own, though it is close enough for fearsome discomfort. Rather, the world inhabited by hunters and monsters is like ours, but seen through a glass darkly. Evil is palpable and ubiquitous in this world; the end is upon us, and the whole planet teeters on a razors edge of tension. It is a world of darkness.
Many of the differences between our world and the World of Darkness stem from monsters: Ancient and inscrutable creatures, ghosts, zombies, bloodthirsty creatures, skinchangers, witches and things we cannot comprehend, things that toy with humanity as a cat does with a trapped mouse. From the shadows these creatures have ruled the night, and, for all tie, hidden from mankind's sight and knowledge. Thus, virtually no one is aware of the torment to which we are subjected; to us, hardship is simply a fact of life, not the product of supernatural beings' machinations.
That's what hunters believed, too, before they were awoken to the truth. Once, your life was normal, at least by the standards you understood. You might have been married, had kids, a tedious job. You struggled with the day to day like everyone else, doing what you had to do to get by.
Then, without warning, someone or something opened your eyes. One minute, you were waiting for a train. The next, reality as you knew it collapsed all around you. A voice like your own — but not your own — might have announced to you, "THE SHADOWS LIVE." A destination sign might have changed from "Making all regular stops" to "YOU MUST MAKE THEM STOP." The smell of a vendor roasting peanuts might have transmuted into the stench of rotted flesh, blown on the stagnant tunnel wind.
It was only then that you recognize the things lurking in the corners of the station. People, but not human. Their skin was decayed. Ichor oozed from wounds on their bodies. Suddenly, it was clear that they had stalked this place, awaiting lone travellers — victims. Abominations preyed upon innocent people. There was nothing to do but act! For the love of God, you had to stop them!
Nothing could ever be the same after that night. Now you can see the corrupt touch of monsterousities everywhere — at work, on the street, on the news, in church, in big business, in politics. The world you thought you knew was a trick, an illusion. Humans aren't in charge or at the top of the food chain. Unforgivable creatures are in control and humanity is their plaything.
Welcome to the World of Darkness.
Hunters exist all over the world, in every country, whether the isolated or unaware among the imbued know it or not. Yet a preponderance of them live and carry out their self-chosen missions in cities. The reasons are fairly clear, given a few assumptions. Human populations are most concentrated in urban centers, rather than in the country or the wilds, where people are few and far between. Monsters feed on and control the masses, so it makes sense that monsters would dwell in cities, too, whether hiding in plain sight amid the throng or hiding in the dark places where no one dares go.
Although cities are assumed to be monsters' dens, there's smoe protection in conducting the hunt in these places. Hunters find safety in numbers, not only among other chosen, but among the populace as a whole. Hunters who are imbued together or who find each other in cities can share their abilities, pool their resources, watch one another's backs. They form teams that work together and play the same urban fields against the unknown. Meanwhile, monsters have preyed upon humanity for ages and, if the stories are true, some bay me long-lived to say the least. Surely, one mortal starts to look like every other to these begins, much as cattle are indistinguishable at the slaughterhouse. Thus, hunters find anonymity among the urban defenseless, and may strike by surprise then disappear quickly.
All of which is not to say that no hunters venture outside cities into rural territory. Some, such as individuals who can no longer bear the truth of the world or who seek safety for themselves an their families, go abroad. However, there is really no safety to be found anywhere. Monsters exist in the country and wilds, too, and they may be more dangerous than any city-dwelling horror. These creatures have learned to survive in nature, where predator and prey is the dichotomy of life. A hunter in the wilds may still have his own powers and skills, but his opponant is a twisted force of nature. In such a setting a hunter has no one to turn to but himself. If such an isolated lifestyle can be survived, it quickly devolves into a furtive existence of hiding, foraging, and hiding again, like a scavenging animal avoiding beasts of prey.
The Spirit of the Game
If you've played other World of Darkness games, Hunter demands something of a new approach. Your imbued character knows nothing about the real world into which he is suddenly thrust. Meanwhile, you could know a great deal, OOCly. In the spirit of Hunter, it's your responsibility to forget everything you know, or at least try to ignore it for as long as you're logged into your Hunter character.
If you don't put your knowledge out of your mind, Hunter really isn't any fun. The charm of the game is the fear and wonder of the unknown. Think back to your first roleplay experiences, the curiousity and awe that came with exploring fantastic otherworlds. Well, here's your opportunity to rekindle that experience with World of Darkness. You just have to be willing to do it. Otherwise, if you blurt out some information your character could not know, or pursue leads that your hunter could not be aware of, you ruin the story for everyone involved.
So, what's the most important rule you need to know? That you are certain of nothing. If you can't remember that, don't be surprised if your Storyteller plays tricks on you and your character, to turn your knowledge against you and undo everything you take for granted about the World of Darkness.
Hunter also lends itself to another kind of gamer: You might have never played a Storyteller game before because all that goth-angtsy or save-nature crap just turned you off. Well, here's an opportunity to do something about it. Hunters are normal people suddenly made aware of creatures and all their melodrama, and it's hunters' job to strike back! For the walking-dead poseur and the bleeding-heart, tree-hugging shambling rug there is now a shotgun blast and impressive powers with which to back it up. Here's your chance to attack the other games in their very own settings. Here's your chance to kick some ass.
What This Isn't
Hunter: The Reckoning is not Hunters Hunted, The Inquisition, or Project Twilight Second Edition (not, in other words, a revision of previous game supplements from White Wolf). This is a new breed of people who are human, but who rise above humanity and act in its name. This game is not about government agencies, people who operate with only guns and technology, or humans with insight into and familiarity with the supernatural. Hunter; The Reckoning is the cosmological answer to the monsters' eternal crimes and abuses, — at a new head in Modern times — a response that sounds on the last of the Final Nights and on the brink of Apocalypse. It's a chance for humanity as a whole to rise up and claim a world for itself, at last.