Horror Recognition Guide Provides Nightmare Fuel for Storytellers

The Truth is Down There.

The Truth is Down There.

White Wolf’s Hunter: the Vigil RPG lets you take on the roles of mortals fighting against the encroachment of the supernatural in the World of Darkness. But after reading the Horror Recognition Guide, you might want to pick a safer career path.

The theme of Hunter: the Vigil seems somewhat obvious: it’s basically the X-Files, writ large. The supernatural exists, but most people don’t know about it. Those who do (the eponymous Hunters) fight it in their own way. One of Hunter’s most interesting aspects is the varying motivations of the Hunters. Some are fundamentalist Christians, while others treat monster fighting like base jumping – the ultimate thrill. Other groups seek scientific proof, and some just seek revenge.

Based on the title, you might think the Horror Recognition Guide is a Monster Manual for Hunter Storytellers, but that is not the case at all. In fact, you won’t find a single game rule or stat block in the book. It’s essentially a book of short horror stories set in the World of Darkness, told from the point of view of a particular Hunter cell. There are those who demand their game supplements be chock full of crunchy new rules. This book is probably not for them. However, you could take the plots and villains from these 16 creepy tales and apply them to just about any horror RPG with a modern setting, and many could probably be easily adapted to other settings as well.

The stories aren’t just fodder for Storytellers’ fertile imaginations, however. Each one comes with a series of easily printable handouts, like newspaper clippings, hand-written letters or annotated case files. All Game Masters know the power of a good handout, and these will make the feelings of ominous terror all the more vivid.

7 Responses to Horror Recognition Guide Provides Nightmare Fuel for Storytellers

  1. This is awesome . . . I just ordered it from Amazon a minute ago.

    I’m generally impressed with the new Hunter:the Vigil, and as a horror gamer who generally prefers Call of Cthulhu, it’s vastly superior to the WoD1 abomination of the same (or similar) name . . . so much superior, in fact, that I’m seriously considering running it for a change of pace.

    The thing I really appreciated was the clearly delineated power levels, which allow you to run both the “you’re normal people faced with horrible monsters” games I’m used to and a more-traditional-for-WOD, “you’re people with pretty cool powers fighting bad guys with cool powers.”

    Hunter: The Reckoning for old WOD really only offered the second, but all of the setting fiction pretended that it was a game about the first, which was a problem, for me anyway. Hunter: The Vigil, OTOH, makes no bones about being what it is, but it also offers plenty of options for mixing and matching.

  2. I worked on all of the new Hunter books (I think I wrote more for the game than any other writer), but the man largely behind the new version of Hunter, Chuck Wendig, was also a large contributor to the *old* Hunter game.

    Not that I ddidn’t share your problems with the old Hunter game, cos I did. But I know that a lot of people really liked it, and the new game comes from the same imaginations.

  3. Ah, very cool, Simon. I’m enjoying what I read, so kudos!

    At Dundracon this year, Ken Hite said some very nice things about Hunter as well, including the line, “If you enjoy playing Nietzschean Muslim Alchemists . . . well, it’s pretty much the only game where you have that option.” ;-)

    As I said, my issues with H:tR mostly had to do with a disconnect between the flavor text (“We’re regular people fighting back!”) and the crunch (“I can set my fists on fire with my brain! But . . . er . . . not in a supernatural way or anything. . . I mean . . . er . . . I hate the supernatural . . .”). That disconnect isn’t necessarily even bad, and H:tV has some of it, but I find that offering the splats and powers as options rather than assuming their inclusion makes a big difference for me in my games.

    I mean, I don’t think it’s JUST the focus, since I’m just seeing many more ideas in the new Hunter that strike me as awesome, but I think focus is a big part of it. Hm. Maybe it’s just that in the old Hunter I never felt like the PCs were the underdogs. Dunno, really.

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