What is a Hunter?

What is a Hunter?

Roleplaying games may features many kinds of of protagonists. In some games, players assume the roles of heroes in a fantasy setting or superheroes saving the world from villains' depredations. In Hunter, appropriately enough, players assume the personas of monster hunters — brave, determined people who confront the supernatural — and guide these characters through a world virtually identical to our own.

Hunters don't start out that way. They aren't born and raised with the awareness of monsters or the capacity to fight them. They begin as normal people who are one day confronted with how the world really is; they're exposed to the creatures that lurk in the shadows. Most people panic and run frmo such beings, or from the very idea that such things exist (why does science tell us there's no such thing as monsters again?). Would-be hunters are different from the majority in that they posess whatever it takes to stand and face the unknown, and even have the bravery or temerity to act against it.

It seems that the doing is what in fact gives hunters full insight into reality, into how the world is not our own. Whereas those pepole who run from or turn a blind eye to the truth will not accept it and cannot know it, hunters, by staying, seeing and even fighting back, are exposed to the gamut of reality. They learn we are not alone, yet ironically hunters themselves are alone with their knowledge. Instinctual fear of the truth keeps the masses mired in ignorance. The rest of humanity refuses to believe that the supernatural could exist, let alone take physical form, so hunters must keep their horrible awareness to themselves and seek to protect people from their own closed minds. Thus, hunters band together in small groups through which they can uncover, stalk and perhaps even destroy the enemy — or die trying.

The Imbuing

Hunters call their moment of realization the imbuing. Although hunters operate alone or in isolated groups, their efforts to find each other and spread the word make terms like "the imbuing" common parlance, and prove that being "chosen" is not an isolated experience.

Accounts of the imbuing vary wildly, but certain elements appear to occur for all hunters, regardless of age, sex, race or nationality. Hunters hear voices, see distorted messages on billboards or in newspapers, or perceive odd sounds, smells or visions. Regardless of it's forms, the experience always offers a warning of nearby danger: a booming "IT DOES NOT LIVE," a street sign that momentarily reads "RUN NOW," a sudden hallucinatory image of people strewn about the street as Death walks among them.

No source seems to be apparent for these signs and portents, but their subject soon becomes clear. With eyes newly opened, the awakened hunter witnesses the most grotesque obscenity he has ever encountered — a thing not meant to exist, a walking affront to life itself, an abhorrent monsterousity. In that moment of clarity, a veneer erected to hide the real world fades forever. The secret is laid bare. The truth is revealed. There it stands in all its unholy glory: evil personified and presented for hideous edification. Monsters exist.

And that's only the beginning.

The Messengers

Among the hunters who seek out each other, whether for safety in numbers or simply for solace in a terrifying reality, the same questions are asked over and over: Why? Why me? Why now? Who has done this to me? Theories abound about why people are chosen. The end of the world is coming, Judgement day is here. Monsters' ongoing evil has finally received its karmic response. Aliens have touched humanity and revealed the truth — or are responsible for monsters on earth. Ultimately, no one knows for sure why people are suddenly awoken.

However, the apparent messages or hallucinations suffered at the moment of imbuing lead many to believe that someone or something bestows this blessing or inflicts this curse. How else could intelligible voices, legible messages and waking dreams happen to disparate people, yet be so similar for all?

For lack of a better theory, the Other emerges as the prevailing answer for now. In burgeoning hunter circles — groups that are imbued together, hunters who meet through word of mouth, through signs left for each other or through covert internet communication — these beings are left labeled "Messegers" or "Heralds." What their intended message is or for whom they convey it, if anyone, is unknown.

Certainly the mystery of the Messengers makes them just as frightening as the monsters to which hunters are exposed. Yet, the imbued take comfort in the knowledge that they are still human (or so they believe), that they are not the walking corruption that so clearly oppresses mankind. For most hunters, that distinction is enough. Questioning further only makes an already harsh world inhospitable and existence itself intolerable.

Edges

Thus, hunters are exposed to reality and the monsters that inhabit it. The chosen are forced to recognize the depravity of creatures that are truly in control. But what evidence is there that the imbued have any responsibility for that knowledge? Why does that knowledge demand action?

For most of the imbued, the answer is simple: At the moment of rebirth, they are granted strange abilities and powers. At the instant they are witness to living nightmares, the chosen are empowered with the means to respond to the creatures before them. These amazing abilities seem to be numerous and varied. Some allow a person to strike down a creature. Others create chaos under cover of which the imbued may act. Some powers grant extraordinary perception, the ability to see and recognize monsters wherever they hide. Still others allow the imbued to heal themselves and others miraculously.

Why else would the imbued be granted these gifts then to react to the abominations revealed before them? Evil exists. The imbued have the power to stop it. That's what makes them hunters. As many hunters observe, "What else is there to know?"

The Hunt

Awarenes of monsters and heinous corruption doesn't stop with the moment of the imbuing. A person's life is changed forever after the moment her eyes are opened. She sees creatures everywhere. Their influences touches and taints everything. The reason for all the suffering and strife in the world becomes clear. Friends' loss, families' turmoil, society's ills — they all trace back to monsters and their plots. How long can one witness these atrocities — deaths, disappearances, abuses, invasious — before lashing out against them?

Most of the chosen cannot remain quiet. They strive to protect loves ones, friends, neighborhoods and cities from the creatures that would control and destroy all these things. The result is the hunt: the ongoing pursuit of creatures to stop them, save them, understand them, outwit them or simply destroy them.

All hunters undertake their own missions against the unknown. They have their own reasons for stalking, preserving or killing. Untimately, however, their objectives are the same, whether they realize it or not. The cautious hunter who devotes his life to protecting his family, and the daring hunter who travels wherever he must go to locate and destroy both want the same thing: to start again, to make a new place where people can be safe, to inherit a world they once believed their own. Whether such a goal can ever be achieved is unknown. Many imbued do not even consider the direction of the hunt to perceive it's destination; they simply survive day to day, night to night. For others, claiming the world is the only goal of the hunt — and it must be achieved.

Hunters' Foes

Monsters, monsters everywhere. Hunters' enemies are, collectively, an enigma. Before their existence was nothing but folklore and fairy tales. Now, all the old stories are proved true — more than true, even: reality. It's the "real" world that's make-believe. People's lives, dreams and fates have never been their own, but are, and always have been, the creations of obscene, invisible forces.

Although they are roused to the truth, the chosen are till very much in the dark. They have a glimmer of what's really out there, but they still can't see far. Whatever they don't know they're forced to guess. Investigation and extrapolation are the order of the day — and night. If creatures exist and prey upon humanity, others could be out there that have yet to be encountered. After all, who or what created the ones already faced?

Left with ominous uncertainties and glaring ignorance, hunters turn to whatever sources they can for information on the enemy. Suddenly, old legens, folk stories and fairy tales are founts of wisdom. Can the walking dead show their faces in daylight? Are shapeshifters mortally afraid of silver? Is the Church — or another religious institution — any protection, or is it as corrupt as the rest of the world? Is a restless spirit forced to haunt only one place?

There are limitless questions, and hunters don't know any answers for sure. They don't even know whether different monsters exist or if they're all the same kind, each with a different face. Are the old stories true? Can they be turned to, trusted? Are they fiction or fact? Hunters' lives hang in the balance.

Human Relations

Being imbued and undertaking the hunt make a person an outsider among normal, unaware people. You know and have seen things that most cannot or will not imagine. Your previous day-to-day life seems meaningless now; monsters are real and must be dealt with. Yet, that very mundane, oblivious existence is exactly what your friends, family and coworkers still live. They can't understand the pressures and fears that you face. They don't understand why you can't make dates and deadlines, why you can't remember promises or anniversaries, or even why you can't manage to turn up for work at all. Most hunters' old lives fall apart.

So, why not preach from the mound, tell everyone the truth and open all eyes to the creatures that plague the world? Because other people can't understand you: They can't see what you can. Monsters' secrecy, control and manipulation is so thorough that the average human mind cannot encompass the full scope of reality. Unless the common person is shaken by some unseen hand, as you were, she can never stir from her slumber.

Thus, relations with family, friends and even perfect strangers can never be the same for hunters. Normal folk simply cannot sympathize with your ordeal. Old acquaintances may grow distant, disturbed, confusede and even threatening. Lovers may leave you, bosses may fire you, police may pursue you ad bankers may forclose on your property.

Hunters learn quickly, then, that normal people have to be left in the dark. Attempts to reveal the truth only baffle them and make you seem addled, strange or insane. They don't understand why you need to empty the family bank account. They don't understand why you need to fly to Mexico without warning. They don't understand why you lashed out at that woman in Accounting, the one chummy with the president. The defenseless don't understand you and may even seek to have you committed or arrested.

And there's another, more insidious danger to preaching to the masses. Monsters are everywhere, they have feelers and sensors at all levels of society, government and religion. Where monsters themselves cannot tread, they manipulate pawns who act as their eyes and ears — normal people in league with evil, people whom you may not recognize as the enemy. The police could be under the sway of the walking dead. Politicians may be possessed by spirits. Television stations may broadcast the prepared statements of mind-controlling demons.

If you make one peep about monsters, their existence or their influence, the creatures might hear. Now your anonymity is gone, and they know you. They realize that you can see them. You're a threat that must be silenced, and any confrontation with you will be on their terms, not yours. By trying to warn the populace, you may be signing your own death warrant. And though you may be able to dodge the enemies lethal reprisals, what about your family or loved ones?

So, it might seem that hunters are absolutely alone against their foes. Not so. They have each other. The imbued can turn to one another for comfort, stability, foundation and sympathy. Hunters know what their fellows have witnessed and gone through, what they perceive and can do. The result, typically, is small circles of hunters — often ones imbued at the same horrifying scene — who work together. Personality and motivational differences may threaten to break them apart. ("Should all monsters be destroyed, or were some once human and worthy of saving?") But, regardless of clashes, hunters recognize that they need each other to survive, whether that need unites a handful of imbued in a neighborhood or hunters scattered across the world who seek out each other through the internet.

Hunter Code

The imbuing holds myriad mysteries, all of them strange and frightening. Perhaps one of the most peculiar hunter "gifts" is an apparent language of symbols that's imparted when people are touched. These icons appear to be intuitively understood by hunters, and can be written and read as if you knew them all your life, despite never having put the to paper or seen them before. Many hunters call this language "the Word."

Each of these symbols seems to have a simple meaning; all convey some short message, as pictograms do. One icon could indicate that a building is a safe haven in which to hide. Another could warn that a bloodsucker controls the area. Or one could symbolize that a neighborhood is under the protection of one or more hunters, and that anyone who can read the message should seek them out.

So far, no formal documentation or catalog has been made of these images, yet hunters know they implicitly and can impart a written message with one, or as many as three, when needed. The symbols appear most commonly as urban graffiti, usually as directions, warnings or signals to fellow hunters. Most hunters agree that they first use these images early on in their self understanding and missions, in an effort to find others of their kind. However, the icons remain invaluable for identifying dangerous turf and recognizing the hunting grounds of known monsters and the chosen.

So far, the enemy does not seem to understand or even perceive the significance of these symbols. Nor do human pawns or authorities. But should the code ever be compromised, hunters are sure to be made sorely vulnerable.