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THERE WILL COME A RECKONING.
A tabletop game in White Wolf's Old World of Darkness.
Shortly before the turn of the millennium, people across the world start to receive strange messages - voices in their heads, words on pages rewriting themselves, graffiti that wasn't there a moment ago.
IT DOES NOT LIVE.
BRING IT PEACE.
BEHOLD THE TRUTH.
TAKE BACK THE NIGHT.
INHERIT THE EARTH.
However they react - talking, shouting, attacking, defending - they find themselves gifted with supernatural abilities, just enough to extricate themselves from the situation.
But even once it's over, they still get the messages. Still see the monsters. They can't just stand by; they need to act.
Being relatively new to the shadows of the World of Darkness, these new 'hunters' don't have much of a shared community or vocabulary; the closest thing they have is Hunter-net, a website where they can get together and share what they know. This being the Internet, it can often be more trouble than it's worth.
Terminology: PCs are known as hunters or imbued, and are divided into nine creeds - Avengers (kill the monsters), Defenders (protect people from the monsters), Judges (make decisions about the monsters), Innocents (don't assume the monsters are monstrous), Martyrs (sacrifice themselves to stop the monsters), Redeemers (save the monsters from themselves), Visionaries (ask the big questions about the monsters), Hermits (seclude themselves and provide information about the monsters) and Waywards (kill the monsters, and anybody who gets in their way, and anybody who gets caught in the crossfire...). Their powers are Edges, and the moment when they first see through the Masquerade is their imbuing. The entities who send the messages, and perform the imbuing, are known as the Messengers... although the true identity of these benefactors remains unknown, with guesses spanning from angelic messengers to God Himself to the collective will of Mankind. People who fail to act at the imbuing yet somehow survive are bystanders.
Unusually for a White Wolf product, the terminology is rarely used in-game; the imbued don't have a fixed shared vocabulary for their experiences, and come up with their own words for what's going on (though some become common parlance through Hunter-net).
BEHOLD THE TROPES:
- And Then John Was a Zombie: Averted. One of the inherent powers that all imbued hunters receive is that it's impossible to be turned into a monster. Of course, the monsters don't know that, and they might try to turn you anyway...
- Arc Words: INHERIT THE EARTH.
- Art Style Dissonance: One of the major complaints of the old Hunter line was that the art stood at odds with the writing, which portrayed a bloody, hard-scrabble fight against the forces of darkness, all of whom are likely more powerful than you, with only a handful of supernatural tricks to your name. The art... had a photo of a man dressed like Rambo taking bites out of three werewolves (who did aggravated damage back then) and grinning. The writing said Hunter, the art said Exalted.
- Though in hindsight, that man might have been a Wayward.
- Actually, they explained in a later FAQ that the pictures were there to inspire players who wanted to play a game where they were on more level terms with the monsters, as opposed to a nearly hopeless struggle to survive. In other words, they wanted everyone who read all the way through the books to see a bloody, hard-scrabble fight against the forces of darkness, and they wanted everyone who just looked at the pretty pictures to see scenes from a truly awesome supernatural action movie.
- Black and White Insanity: Waywards, and crazy imbued in general.
- Blow You Away: Associated with the Vision creeds, Visionary, Hermit, and Wayward.
- Broken Masquerade: The entire point of the game. Since this is the World of Darkness, you're very likely dealing with the Trope Namer.
- Divided We Fall: The imbued are a very diverse group of usually strong-willed, often crazy people. Their disagreements range from Flame Wars to, well, flame wars.
- Dwindling Party: Can happen pretty easily in most games, since even with their special powers most hunters are outclassed by even the weakest of their opponents. Varies from storyteller to storyteller of course.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The Virtue and creed names (less Hermits and Waywards). The Messengers.
- Fantastic Racism: Some imbued look down on Bystanders, or even consider them cannon fodder.
- The attitudes of some of the less tolerant Hunters can come off like this towards the monsters, or even less Zealous Hunters. Innocents and Redeemers are noteworthy for averting this as much as humanly possible. Because this is the World of Darkness, either side can be entirely justified.
- Glamour Failure: The imbued's 'second sight' enables them to see through the various supernaturals' Masquerades, which is generally how said supernaturals notice the imbued at all.
- Go Mad From the Revelation: The default for Waywards and Hermits. Fairly common even with the less extreme creeds too.
- Heroic Sociopath: A Wayward is at best a literal example.
- He Who Fights Monsters: Waywards start off this way, but other characters should beware of this fate as well.
- Kill'Em All: In the canon story hunters are assumed to have brief careers, since they're fighting forces they usually don't understand using powers they also don't understand. As such, entire groups eat it fairly regularly.
- La Résistance: A Hunter game can easily be run this way, since monsters are usually assumed to secretly control most aspects of government, law enforcement, and society.
- Les Collaborateurs: Most humans serve the monsters unwittingly thanks to The Masquerade, but a few do this instead.
- Light'Em Up: Associated with the Mercy creeds, Innocent, Redeemer, and Martyr.
- Mad Oracle: Members of the Hermit creed all have a direct line to the Messengers, which gives them supernatural insight at the cost of overloading their psyches and resulting in their withdrawing from society.
- Mana: Conviction, which can be gained when a hunter furthers his creed or when he risks it to help boost an action.
- Martyr Without a Cause: How some Martyrs end up.
- Muggles: Player characters always start this way. The contrast between Muggle life and the horrifying truth is one of the central themes of the game.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Not all monsters are evil, but more zealous hunters might opt to whack them anyway, which can lead to this.
- Omnicidal Maniac: Members of the Wayward creed, who want to wipe out every supernatural on the face of the earth, no matter how many people die.
- Personality Powers: Typically, how someone acts during the imbuing determines which creed they fall into... except for the Hermits and Waywards, who are specifically chosen to be what they are.
- Playing with Fire: Associated with the Zeal creeds, Avenger, Defender, and Judge.
- Power Born of Madness: Extremist imbued. Some hunters are obsessed with the hunt, and if you get obsessive enough you can access the highest levels of imbued power. Of course, this usually means becoming a puppet of the Messengers, a servant of dark forces, or just going full-bore crazy.
- Power Incontinence: The Waywards can't shut off their 'second sight', so they get to see monsters 24/7. The Hermits can't moderate their connection to the Messengers, which doesn't do good things for their psyche.
- Powers That Be: The Messengers, who create the imbued and send them messages regarding their roles in the world.
- Refusal of the Call: Those who act at their imbuing become fully-fledged imbued; those who failed to act become bystanders, people who know the supernatural is out there but lack the imbued's supernatural abilities. They either go crazy with guilt (and from knowing the supernatural is out there but not being able to do anything) or throw themselves into fighting 'evil' (usually at the side of imbued) and usually get killed.
- Stone Wall: Most Defense edges, unsurprisingly.
- The Chessmaster: Monsters, and particularly vampires, are often assumed to be this.
- The Hunter: Well, duh.
- The Messiah: What Innocents at their best can be (particularly near The End).
- The Team Normal: Bystanders, assuming they get that involved.
- Touched by Vorlons: The imbued.
- Van Helsing Hate Crimes: After five books revealing just how much it can suck to be a supernatural in the World of Darkness, the hunters come around. At least a good number are willing to deal with non-hostile supernaturals... except the Waywards, of course.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: 'Extremist' imbued, hunters who advance far enough in their creed that they start to become... somewhat unbalanced, seeing the world through the lens of their creed. Also the Waywards.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: The more powerful an imbued becomes, the more insane they tend to go.
Hunter: The Reckoning also spawned three beat-'em-up video games for the X Box, Play Station 2, and Game Cube, published by Interplay and Vivendi, and developed by High Voltage Software. All three games are multi-player hack-and-slashers in the spirit of the original Gauntlet games, and developed a modest fan following as excellent four-player party games.
The original game, Hunter: The Reckoning, is set in the small town of Ashcroft, a town that was built around a penitentiary of the same name. For more than fifty years, the prison was run by a vampire named Cornelius as his own private playground and feeding pen. Cornelius's necromancy barely managed to bottle up the angry ghosts that haunted the prison grounds.
One day, the convicted murderer Nathaniel Arkady is executed at Ashcroft Penitentiary, and all hell breaks loose. The vengeful dead rise up all at once and attack everyone inside the prison. Four ordinary people abruptly become imbued, given great power from an unknown source, and have to fight their way out of the prison. They were able to seal the ghosts back up, and Ashcroft was quickly abandoned.
A short time thereafter, the prison is the site of an illegal rave, which draws in kids from all over the state, and that's enough to unleash the angry ghosts against the entirety of the town of Ashcroft. The four hunters - the Avenger, Spencer "Deuce" Wyatt, a biker; the Defender, Samantha Alexander, one of the cops who arrested Arkady; the Martyr, Kassandra Cheyung, a teenage raver and heir to a manufacturing fortune; and the Judge, Father Estaban Cortez, the priest who gave Arkady his last rites - return to Ashcroft to find it burning to the ground, and must rescue the surviving civilians while finishing off the ghosts of Ashcroft once and for all.
Two years later, Ashcroft is a ghost town, and people are slowly returning. It's still a focus of dark power, though, and two Wayward Hunters go missing within the city limits. The original four hunters, after seeing the calls for help on Hunter.net, reunite and return to Ashcroft.
The final game in the series, Redeemer, is set ten years after the original game. Kaylie Winter, who was orphaned by the monsters in the original outbreak, has grown up under Estaban's care and become a hunter herself. She calls her adopted father and his allies back to Ashcroft, which has been revitalized by the presence of the corporation Genefex. Unfortunately for Genefex, it's unaware of Ashcroft's history, and it's being manipulated by unseen forces.
Interesting trivia for webcomic fans: the lead designer on the original Hunter, David Rodriguez, is the writer of Shadowgirls, as well as the independent comic Starkweather.
Tropes in the Hunter video games include:
- Action Girl: Sam, Kass, and eventually Kaylie.
- Adaptation Distillation: A lot of the Hunter tropes get worked fairly naturally into the game, like Hunter.net being used as a source of notes for the tutorial.
- An Axe to Grind: Deuce's weapon of choice.
- Attack of the 50 Foot Whatever: One of the first game's early bosses is against Kaylie's possessed teddy bear, which grows to gigantic size.
- Badass: Pretty much everyone.
- Bag of Spilling: The main characters survive for ten years' worth of adventures, but are still at level 1 with level 1 Edges at the start of each game.
- Bare Your Midriff: Kass's outfits in the original and in Wayward.
- BFS: Esteban's Cruciform Sword and Kaylie's Buster Sword both qualify.
- Bow and Sword In Accord: Esteban
- Cast From Hit Points: Demand costs the user both Health and Conviction, in exchange for a temporary boost to running and firing speed.
- Chainsaw Good
- Crowbar Combatant: Joshua
- Escort Mission: In the first game, The Hunters are tasked with escorting Kaylie through the cemetery to the church.
- Expy: Each of the four original Hunters has roughly equivalent areas of specialization to the original four characters from Gauntlet. Deuce is the Warrior (high health, moves slowly, entirely focused on doing physical damage), Sam is the Valkyrie (well-balanced character with defensive abilities), Kass is the Elf (the fastest character and almost entirely focused on ranged combat), and Estaban is the Wizard (all his combat potential's built around his Edges, to the point where a high-level Judge player won't really use his weapons that much).
- Genefex, the evil corporation in Redeemer, will be instantly familiar to any fan of the Werewolf games. It is never explicitly said to be a Pentex subsidiary, but it almost doesn't have to.
- Fan Nickname Often called Gauntlet: the Reckoning by fans of the original tabletop game, especially when it first came out, due to the play style. People were expecting something more akin to the style of Vampire: The Masquerade Redemption.
- Fridge Horror: The hunters eventually agree to cooperate with the werewolves in Redeemer, but only after you've plowed through a couple of dozen of them. If you're a fan of the original Werewolf, this is the point where you realize you've probably just killed every Gaian werewolf in the surrounding state.
- Girlish Pigtails: Kass in the second game.
- Goggles Do Nothing: Kassandra usually wears a pair of purely decorative goggles on her forehead.
- Guns Akimbo: Kassandra's primary means off attack.
- Hey, It's That Voice!: Grey DeLisle voices Kassandra in Wayward.
- Tony Jay is the first game's narrator.
- Katanas Are Just Better: Sam Alexander has a katana and a revolver.
- Mighty Glacier: Deuce is seven feet tall and wields an enormous two-handed axe.
- Mind Control Device: Kaylie has the unique Edge, Shame, which forces ordinary enemies to turn against each other.
- Nintendo Hard: The original Hunter is explicitly balanced for four players and becomes extremely difficult with fewer than that. Wayward only allows two-player co-op, and is relatively easy right up until the final boss, who will kick your face in. Finally, Redeemer is a bit better-balanced than the previous two games and can be played solo relatively easily, although it's still a really good idea to use either Kaylie or Sam.
- Noble Demon: Carpenter.
- Noodle Incident: The story of how the original four characters became imbued in the first place actually sounds a lot more interesting than the plot of the first game.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Carpenter delivers one to the Hunters when they first meet.
Carpenter: Typical. I try to help and this is the thanks I get. Do you think I can't see you shaking at the other end of that barrel? Do you think I don't know your brain is trying to process the horrible fact that "Oh my god it talks!" and if it talks, it thinks, and you don't like that.
- Stripperiffic: In the original game, Kass is dressed like she's on her way to a candy rave and Sam has mislaid an entire leg of her leather pants. Both get distinctly more sensible as they get older, and are fully covered up by the time of Redeemer... just in time for a teenage Kaylie to begin a career of fighting off monsters while wearing an extremely low-cut leather minidress.
- Squishy Wizard: If either Kass or Estaban winds up in an extended fight at melee range, they're probably dead. If they can keep their distance, though, Estaban has the best direct-damage Edges and Kass can whittle just about anything down with constant gunfire.
- Those Who Fight Monsters: The Waywards in the game of the same name. One can be saved. The other... can't.
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Or purple hair. Or pink hair. Kass seems to change her hair color with each game and each unlockable costume.