White Wolf has been releasing a steady stream (nearly a deluge, really) of small PDF files designed to be dropped into your Hunter: the Vigil campaign. Each one presents an NPC, group, or location that can act as a major plot thread or just extra flavor, and comes with a cool prop to help bring the evil to life (so to speak). Here are eleven plug-n-play ideas that help any storyteller make life more interesting for her hunters.
Each entry in the Collection of Horrors is six to eight pages long, and only costs $1.49 at DriveThruRPG. You can also get a subscription to collect them all for $19.99. The elements within the Collection are tied to or expand on ideas presented within the Horror Recognition Guide, but they can be used without that book as small chunks of the campaign world. WARNING: These reviews are slightly spoilery, so if you’re a player, you might want to skip it and pass the link to your storyteller.
Host of the Clutter
Premise: Introduces an NPC ally, a young woman possessed by cat demons. The concept of the sterotypical “cat lady” actually being a young woman possessed by little demon cats who have each stolen part of her soul is pretty creepy. If she is freed of her possession, she might be able to offer some medical investigatory skills – with her veterinarian training, she’d be most helpful to PCs investigating cryptids. If the campaign’s focus is more on demons or ghosts, her involvement will be limited.
Prop: An audio recording of the woman conducting an autopsy on a demonic cat. A few of the Collection of Horrors PDFs have audio props, and they work great. You just double-click them from the PDF, and they play. The woman recording the autopsy report has a faint accent that helps add personality to the NPC.
Premise: A sub-underground rock band is really a bunch of humans addicted to small samples of vampire blood provided by their benefactors. The rock kids get to stay young, the vamps get fresh victims in the form of the Razorkids’ fans. There’s a missing reporter, but the real hook here is Fifi the bass player, an innocent in the throes of addiction. This is a great opportunity to explore some serious themes in your Vigil campaign. “Tonight, on a Very Special Episode of Hunter: the Vigil…”
Prop: An audio recording by the missing reporter, a writer for an alternative rag investigating the Razorkids. This one is a little weak – it’s basically a huge slab of exposition that doesn’t really feel like what a reporter would actually have on his tape recorder. A band flier might have been better.
The Man with the Gray Beard
Premise: A mysterious, highly connected veteran hunter gets in touch with the PCs. This lets you do a full-on X-Files trip with your campaign, with the Man’s shadowy connections, unmarked government cars, clandestine meetings…the works. He can be a bit of a deus ex machina (something that can be handy to lean on once in a while in an RPG), or you can use him to screw with your hunters.
Prop: Another audio file, this one quite disturbing. It’s a recording of a phone conversation broadcast on what is probably some conspiracy nut’s podcast. Not for the faint of heart.
Premise: A jokey title, a mad Russian scientist’s ghost, and (possibly) an undead member of the Russian mafia. The mobster/monster doesn’t directly appear, but the encounter with the ghost is helpful if the hunters have encountered the monster elsewhere and need info. This is tied more closely to the Horror Recognition Guide than other entries in the collection, and might be of limited usefullness if the campaign doesn’t involve Oleg Chernenko.
Prop: A burned page from the scientist’s notes, written in code.
Meeting the Frostbite Girl
Premise: The PCs interact with a changeling named Shakes, the ex-girlfriend of a dead hunter named Bryan. She’s supernatural, but on the good side. Not the side of the angels – one of those is hunting her. One of the angel’s minions, a twisted old hunter, is stalking Shakes. This is a good way to start off an adventure, leading the PCs into one of Bryan’s old cases, and it also points out that things aren’t always black and white in the World of Darkness.
Prop: An audio recording from Shakes’ blog. Shakes’ voice sounds like a typical 20-something, and it’s a neat way to lead the players on. What would be really cool is if White Wolf created a page on their website that mimicked the fictitious blog. Then a PC with a laptop could access it and listen to the audio file.
Getting Her Back
Premise: A vengeance spirit has fixated on a child or loved one near and dear to one of the hunters. This is the closest to a full adventure in the Collection, and it’s also a reprisal of a theme and antagonist from an earlier sourcebook. This is a great way to make things scary and personal (and, therefore, even scarier).
Prop: A coffee stained coroner’s report about a missing corpse.
Mother To Monsters
Premise: A pregnant women harbors a vile creature inside her, and the hunters have to kill it without killing her. This gives storytellers an opportunity for some serious splattery gore, and the story links up to a particularly heinous conspiracy.
Prop: An audio recording by a scientist who is hybridizing a supernatural creature with humans.
Body of Evidence
Premise: This file is quite simple – it’s an NPC villain that will make the hunters’ lives very difficult. A mild-mannered cop has been possessed by something slightly less mild-mannered. They’ll probably never see it coming.
Prop: An audio file of a voicemail message that explains to the PCs that there’s something out there possessing people, but they have no way of knowing who the latest victim is.
Premise: Does your town have a flea market? Not like a little roadside thing, but a huge warehouse type building filled with people selling everything from old porn mags, comic books and sports cards, stereo equipment, fresh fruit and blown glass unicorns? The Market is that place, but for hunters. Some NPCs are thrown in to fill the place out.
Prop: A flier advertising the Market. I’d recommend printing it out and pinning it to your door so your players see it when they show up for game night.
Mother of All Wrong Turns
Premise: One of my favorite horror tropes is the Lovecraftian idea that there are places in our world, even within bustling cities, that you can only access through some nearly impossible feat of navigation, taking just the right (or wrong) turns at certain streets or walking down certain alleys at particular angles (uh…just ignore that Harry Potter reference, it was accidental). This entry in the Collection explores that idea. Not only does it offer a weird place for your hunters to stumble into, but it’s also a window into an amoral corporation investigating the supernatural.
Prop: An audio file in which someone from upper management questions the sanity of JJ, the agent the PCs interact with.
Premise: A young boy, a victim from the Horror Recognition Guide, is having a rough time in the state home for orphans. He’s severely withdrawn, and with good reason. An evil spirit (the one that killed his parents) threatens him with visions of violent retaliation should he open up to anyone. The PCs have to get through to a troubled young boy and eventually defeat the malicious spirit.
Prop: Creepy crayon drawings made by the boy. These are some of the best props in the Collection.