Hunter 2E Open Dev: Slash! Slash! Slashers!

Open Development

After spending the last couple of posts talking about compacts, I want to flip over and address slashers before we move onto conspiracies and, afterward, cells. A lot of what I’m talking about in this post, with respect to slashers, is speculative as opposed to definitive because I’m still in the brainstorming pre-outline phase. Also, I’d like to point out there are loads of page references in this post. Unless otherwise noted, they point to the Slasher supplement.

For those of you who have been following Hunter: the Vigil from the very beginning, you might have noticed that H:tV broke a lot of ground as a game that you could customize to fit your table. That toolkit approach, through tiered play, advice, enhanced rules, etc. will be the general approach for Hunter: the Vigil 2E as well. If it seems like I’m being overly specific (or generic) in these open dev posts, there’s a good reason for it on my end. Essentially, as developer it’s my role to ensure this beloved game is playable by a number of different fans using various playing styles. Your feedback based on your experiences playing the game is helping me get clarity on what those might be, but I’m also interested in hearing from new fans to ensure that I’m covering all my bases.

Slashers and the Slasher Chronicle

H:tV 2E isn’t just a rulebook, however, it has a chronicle that features a specific monster type: slashers, which explore the serial killer trope prevalent in horror, crime, and mystery/suspense. The Slasher supplement took this trope and hammered into multiple directions, and I’m thinking about ways to take this a step further for H:tV 2E for a few reasons. One, from a chronicle perspective, the monster-of-the-week (or, in H:tV 2E’s case, multiple monsters) might serve for one or two sessions, but there wouldn’t be any connective tissue tying slashers together for any of the tiers, which could dramatically flatten your potential for storytelling. Right now, I’m leaning toward zeroing in on the fact that Slashers introduced how hunters can become slashers as one possibility of doing that.

One of the ways I could make the hunter-to-slasher a clarified path, is to focus on using Integrity (from the Chronicles of Darkness rulebook) as a more concrete vehicle for becoming a slasher. This approach could also help further define the difference between hunters (Sam and Dean from Supernatural) and a person who’s encountered “a” monster in a traumatic experience (their clients) for Tier One play. There is also some precedent for this, for the suggestions outlined in Chapter Three of Slasher beginning on page 183 spend a lot of time addressing what happens when hunters reach a Morality rating of zero in the old system.

I am also mulling over the possibility of creating a hunter-to-slasher rules track that is explicit and combines 2E rules: low Integrity ratings with Conditions (persistent) that can be utilized as a method of narrating the fall into utter darkness. By doing so, I’m thinking about ways a fallen hunter (who hasn’t quite turned into a slasher yet) can save herself or be saved by her cell. There’s some other interesting CoD aspects that could come into play, too, like Aspirations and breaking points (CoD p. 29), because it might be possible to twist those aspects to fit 2E slashers. Since both are vague (with good reason), I might suggest sample Aspirations and breaking points that fit a Slasher Chronicle, so you as the player begin as a hunter knowing there’s a risk you might turn into a slasher.

Of course, there is a third option: turn slashers into monsters and ensure that Dread Powers could be used for their creation. Doing this, would clearly put them in the “monster type” category which significant alters their original intent–especially since monsters do not use Integrity per the Mortal Remains rules update on p. 161. This is a change that would be too significant of a departure from the original source material, and it would not fit for the chronicle, either, so this is not a direction I want to pursue.

Tells

Another way to define slashers a little more specifically, is to focus on specifying Tells and incorporate them into slasher character creation. There are a lot of different ways to do this, but I do see a benefit of ensuring it’s present in the rules. One of the mechanics I was drawn to from the original source material, is on page 139 of Slashers. There’s a Tactic called Exploit Tell which I’m quoting from below, and I really liked this. (Keep in mind, that Tactics will be reworked for H:tV 2E, and any tweaks mentioned here would have to be approved and playtested before a specific approach is pinned down.)

Description: Tells and derangements are a factor that slashers and hunters alike must deal with. Whether it’s a hunter who compulsively checks the salt lines across every entrance into his apartment, or a slasher who carves the Anglo-Saxon rune “Tywaz” into the palm of the left hand of every one of his victims, these behavioral quirks are a hindrance to those who possess them and a potential boon to those tracking the deranged. With a careful understanding of applied psychology and the principles of interrogation, a pair (or more) of investigators can “work” a suspect, poking and prodding at her psyche and forcing derangements to the surface. Slashers p. 140

I think this Tactic is pretty awesome, and I could totally see how valuable it would be to use it in the Slasher Chronicle. Keep in mind that I want to avoid “a” specific tell that turns slashers into a black-and-white monster type that can be easily identified, especially since slashers would use H:tV 2E character creation, too.

Cabals

Hunters becoming slashers is one end of the slasher spectrum to focus on. Given that there are more of them, for the purposes of the setting, the other end is that they are organizing into slasher cabals that are loosely connected. There is a precedent for slasher cabals, and you can find an example (The Subtle Collectors Association) on page 255. I’m not sure how far I want to take their association, since slashers by nature don’t get along with other people, even though they may also keep their existing Endowments or use new ones, too–which I’m not necessarily a fan of myself (pp. 91, 160).

For me, keeping an Endowment opens up questions as to whether or not a hunter-turned-slasher remains with their conspiracy in a Tier 3 chronicle, and whether or not the player-character feels forced to stay with the conspiracy as a slasher for the benefit of that one rule. My thinking on this is reinforced on p. 90: “So, while it’s possible for a slasher to retain (or even gain) organization membership, it’s not likely, and that membership should be in constant peril.”

I will say that for H:tV 2E, one of the things I’m looking at is whether or not to include slasher character creation as well as a basic slasher cabal creation that highlights both ends of these spectrums to ensure [REDACTED FOR SPOILERS]…

Didn’t want to give TOO MUCH away there, but hopefully what I’ve posted about is getting you excited about H:tV 2E and its possibilities at your table. My hope is that the combination of the core rules for Hunter and the setting-related enhancements we’re making will further define what it means to be a hunter, and make it fun to play.

Questions!

Now that I’ve thrown a bunch of bloody butcher knives at you… My questions today are about your expectations for slashers and how you feel about using them in your game. Part of what I need to understand, is how the horror of a slasher will come into play at your table. Horror, after all, may seem one way in the text, but play very differently when there’s a group of uniquely-minded people engaged in a session. Since there are a lot of different flavors of horror (and many slasher archetypes), it’d be helpful to know what your feelings are on this personally and for your group. For super extra Hunter brownie points, if you’ve played a slasher-related chronicle in the past, now’s the time to tell me what you liked and didn’t like about that experience.

    1) Slashers are based on a prevalent horror trope that often generates a lot of complex feelings. If you had to come up with a definition of a slasher that you know you and your group would be happy with, what would it be?
    2) Does the possibility of becoming a slasher sound interesting to you? Why or why not?
    3) Could you see yourself using a slasher cabal in your game? If so, how?

And last but not least…

    4) If you said “yes,” to Question 2, would you want the rules to support your transformation from hunter-to-slasher? Or, would you prefer this be kept more vague?

  57 comments for “Hunter 2E Open Dev: Slash! Slash! Slashers!

  1. Chris Shaffer
    January 12, 2016 at 5:52 pm

    1. A serial killer who’s distanced themselves from how humans operate and think such that while still basically human-shaped and not monsters, they don’t play by the same rules.
    2. I like having that possibility because it adds risk to the temptations of a hunter letting their sense of morals get flimsier and flimsier. Showing that there are consequences for taking a particular path.
    3. I could see myself using one as a recurring antagonist in a longer chronicle (or series of chronicles in a continuous setting). It lets the Storyteller play with familiar themes without necessarily shackling them to the same character over and over again. It lets you have the moment where the players go “Oh crap, these guys again” without them being able to 100% predict what ‘these guys’ are going to do next.
    4. I really like the idea of using Conditions to represent a hunter-to-slasher path (perhaps tied in with a version of the Tell system), if for no other reason than presenting the temptation to let a player think “I can afford to take one, maybe two of these and use them to earn Beats. I’m sure I’ll able to remove them before it goes too far…”
    (Hey, in first edition, there were Merits intended for use by Slashers but could be taken by hunters with ST permission. What if purchasing one or more of these Merits inflicted such a Condition or ‘I’m becoming a Slasher’-related drawback?)

    As a general note outside the questions, I really liked the presentation of Slashers in first edition. The Undertakings were fun to use because of the tropes invoked in the archetypes, though perhaps having a little more variety in some of their abilities wouldn’t be out of the question.

  2. Atavist
    January 12, 2016 at 5:54 pm

    1. Fictionalized or glamourized serial killers.
    2. Yes. It should be a sort of seamless kind of thing, where someone might not necessarily know when, exactly, they got to that point. Anyways, a lot of games see a lot of characters doing stuff solely based on the players idea of what is right, without really taking into account the toll that may take on a person. The idea of becoming a slasher wouldn’t be to punish them but to have the character growing alongside the players choices, rather than simply getting powers through Merits and Endowments and stuff.
    3. Probably, I tend towards a small group and run one-on-ones on the side. It would be (very) easy to make them an NPC thing, but I could also see certain players deciding to play the type of character who’s been pushed over the edge.
    4. Yes, absolutely. But like I said, it should be a subtle thing, not, “did you fail that roll? you’re a slasher now” so much as a result of the choices a player makes.

    • Atavist
      January 12, 2016 at 6:16 pm

      To expand a little bit. I really enjoy how Vampire has Banes as a way to deal with the loss of Humanity, essentially scarring over your soul to inure you to the issues with some aspects of your new state. Banes grant you immunity to the Humanity track’s issues with certain actions, but in turn they grant you a vulnerability (like, can’t stand in the face of a religious symbol) that adds to their monstrousness in turn.

      Another thing I think hasn’t been mentioned but should is the reaction to a hunter’s duty. Whether you’re killing a ghoul, a vampire, a werewolf, a witch, a demon-possessed or whatever, you’re killing a person. And the 1E books really glossed over how that can affect the hunt. Without being able to act “normally” and spy on your targets and get all the information, you can be forced to act without knowing everything, which can result in mistakes and murder.

  3. Bwgustaf
    January 12, 2016 at 6:07 pm

    I’m thinking that slashers should represent a kind of disposable soldier group. Slasher PC i would prefer a reverse of question 4 “slasher to hunter” instead of the other way around.

  4. WillR
    January 12, 2016 at 6:19 pm

    1.) The idea of someone detached from all social mores especially those around the transgressions of violence, specifically murder. They violate all our safety barriers; the laws that govern society, the sanctity of our homes, our ability to protect ourselves and our loved ones. Just as ‘undead’ are often horrible because they remind us of our own inevitable deaths, slashers specifically remind us how fragile the social contracts that protect us from one another are.

    2.) Yes. In a way you could say that a hunter is already a serial killer from a certain perspective. They plan, investigate and often hunt with the implication that they are going to kill whatever it is. They may feel they’re justified, but the problem with vigilante justice is that it’s very subjective. Killing the rampaging spider-thing that crawled from out of the city dump may seem immaterial on a moral level, but what about the eighteen year old mallrat ghoul who was just about to rat your cell out to her domitor and get your guy on the inside killed? To take a popular character as an example, examine Rick Grimes from The Walking Dead at the beginning of the series to where the character is now. The transition from hunter to slasher should be reflected in something like Conditions, because Conditions are essentially trauma that has left a lasting impression. I think experiencing that sort of character growth and turmoil would be amazingly interesting to see and play, thought your mileage may vary.

    3.) I’d like to see what sort of groups would center around collectives of slashers, but I think it’d be interesting and I’d be all for exploring that as a player or ST.

    4.) I would definitely want mechanics, but I’d want them to be optional rather than a hard and fast addition to Hunter.

    • Nicias
      January 13, 2016 at 2:47 am

      Every time you lay out a solid reply on one of these posts I get even sadder about your work schedule. You should get on that.

  5. January 12, 2016 at 6:25 pm

    ONE
    “A Slasher is any human monster who’s goals and motives involve KILLING other humans for personal gratification.” Of course, that definition would also include things like vampires and mages and werewolves among humans. After all, those beings still have families and allies and people who care about them. If you just go off the reservation and start killing vampires no matter whether they ‘deserve’ it or not, that to me serves as a good slasher (and a good moral quandary for a story). Supernatural actually does this every so often, but it turns out Dean or Sam (whoever has the jerk ball for the episode) is justified in wanting to kill the nice monster, because it turns out when exposed to water all nice monsters turn evil, or something like that.

    I like the notion that every Slasher is in some ways a Hunter, even those who didn’t start on the Vigil. Both should be obsessive, both should be driven (i.e.: be able to Risk Willpower), both should be sure they’re doing the right thing even if they’re torn up about it. To me the only difference is whether or not they’re doing it because they like causing suffering or because they feel they’re doing good in the world, although the two aren’t mutually exclusive, and Sam and Dean have faced quite a few “Slasher” Hunters, like Gordon.

    TWO
    I like the possibility of Hunters becoming Slashers, but I don’t necessarily want my character to become one. I tend to play people who feel beat up when they kill the vampire because they killed another person, even if it was a monster. Continuing the Supernatural references, I lean more towards Sam than Dean. I have however played in a short lived Pure game where my character was practically a Slasher, and I’ve heard good stories of characters Doing What They Had To Do and eventually throwing in with shoggoths.

    THREE
    I’d probably never use a Slasher Cabal unless it was something like The Hills Have Eyes style, or (one more Supernatural reference) The Benders or, to throw in some Torchwood, Countrycide. The corebook write up for Slashers even talks about how they’re loners. Maybe I’d have a cult that amounts to Slashers.

    FOUR
    I think that Slashers should have Dread Powers, because I like the idea of supernaturally powered serial killers, even at Tier One. I don’t really think the “Slasher” term should ONLY apply to those, though. I think that a mortal character on the Vigil could still be called a Slasher in many cases based on their zeal and the pleasure they take in the kill. The difference between Hunter and Slasher should for the most part be academic. *However*, I do like the idea of a sort of Slasher+, like the Scourge, where at that point it’s very clear that you’re no longer “human” by the traditional “not a supernatural” definition.

    How I’d handle it is to do with Tells and The Code, though The Code is hard to use in the more fuzzy Integrity system. Tells should be similar to a Vampire’s Banes. A Hunter can take a Tell and harden themselves to a specific Breaking Point (possibly replacing it, but that’s harder without a ladder of sin). At lower levels like 1-3 instead of Tells, a Hunter can gain a Dread Power.

    I’d also like to see the return of Derangements in the form of Persistent Conditions. I was really disappointed that the CofD core had *less* Conditions instead of more.

    BONUS ROUND:
    I didn’t play in a Slasher chronicle, but I did run one for a few sessions before the game fell apart when one of my players decided to run a game in the same time slot. The chronicle centered around a lot of newbies to the vigil, an experienced Hunter, and a ghost-hunters TV anchor coming together as a cabal around a Slasher case where someone was going around as the Kuchisake-Onna and attacking college kids who told her she was ugly (what with the horrid scar across her mouth). The game fell apart before they could find out that she was actually a former Hunter. They just found out about one of the previous victims, who was her cellmate, and were set to find out that she was looking for a journal that he’d hid at the library that belonged to Quincy Harker (son of Jonathan Harker, protege of Abraham Van Helsing, and legendary Hunter).

    For the Slit-Mouthed Woman’s actual stats, I actually used a handful of Physical Disciplines, from Vampire, (that used a generic energy pool, because I’ve never really liked using Willpower for monster energy) along with the ability to stop people in their tracks to ask them “Do I look pretty?” If they’d done some research, they’d have also found out that she had a ‘ban’ that if you gave her a satsuma she’d get caught up in her own trance. Basically I tried statting up an urban legend.

    Boy, this has been a long comment…

  6. Stupid Loserman
    January 12, 2016 at 6:45 pm

    1. A killer whose mission and deeds have caused them to transcend their humanity and shed it like a cocoon. A killer who is no longer, truly, a person who kills or has killed, but in whom killing is ingrained in their identity and nature. Some may be overtly supernatural, and some may simply have uncanny talents or abilities without necessarily a proper natural or supernatural explanation. In either case, what unites them is that their personhood has fallen secondary to the kill. They’ve become the story of the killer, regardless of if anyone in the game world knows or tells that story. They don’t really act like people anymore, stunted in some ways and freed in others. You can be a murderer, even a serial murderer, without taking that final step over the cliff into being a slasher. A murderer who is not a slasher makes for more ambiguous, conflicted stories of damaged psyches. A slasher’s story isn’t about the slasher, though the slasher may be the most eye-catching element of it. A slasher creates set pieces.

    2. Honestly, not a lot of interest, no. I’m not enthusiastic about a big emphasis on the slippery slope as a hazard overshadowing the Vigil overall – or rather, I like the moral ambiguity of the Vigil better without clear moral contrasts like being able to divide into categories and specify which hunters are slashers. I like that you can argue about whether a hunter has “gone bad,” or how bad he’s gone. And I like that the slippery slope happens subtly, in the background, even accidentally, rather than up front with dice rolls and mechanical gating. I like that Hunter runs perfectly fine without even directly addressing it. I think it would warp the arc of the Vigil to have characters risk becoming slashers as more than a rare event, ordained by the story arc or an unusually severe arc of character development.

    3. Probably not, no. The strong point of slashers to me is their iconic individuality. They’re diverse and flexible as a group, but a given slasher stands out with its own identity. Any slasher group that didn’t work to their detriment by losing their defining qualities in the crowd would have to be small and effectively share a uniting killer’s legend – less a cabal of slashers, and more like a cabal that has *become* a slasher. One collective slasher, all having suffered in their personhood to promote the same story of the kill. That I could see. Groups of independent actors, especially large ones, not so much. They stretch my credulity.

  7. Dataweaver
    January 12, 2016 at 7:05 pm

    1) A Slasher is a person for whom killing is no longer a Breaking Point, and is in fact an Aspiration.

    2) The fact that hunters can become slashers is the primary draw of the slasher as far as I’m concerned; it makes slashers a dark mirror of hunters.

    3) slasher cabals feel counterintuitive to me.

    4) I’ve got a particular rule in mind for turning hunters into slashers: the Code. I like the notion that Hunters have a means of inoculating themselves against Integrity loss, taking on coping mechanisms that distance them from ordinary humans. Becoming a slasher is a logical conclusion to this process: when you apply the Code to killing so that it no longer bothers you when you end a life, you’re ready to become a Slasher: all that’s left to do is to change one of your Aspirations to specify the kind of killings that appeal to you, and you become a Ripper.

    BTW, I like the Ripper/Scourge distinction, with the Scourge being to the Ripper as the Ripper is to the Hunter. In particular, the Scourge gets into full-blown Monster territory, and I would not object to a Scourge gaining a Potency trait and being able to acquire Dread Powers.

    • Dataweaver
      January 12, 2016 at 7:18 pm

      Elaborating: the Code would inoculate you against a particular Breaking Point by having you take on a Tell, which would mechanically be handled as a Persistent Condition. If the Tell negates killing as a Breaking Point, you’re ready to become a Ripper.

      • wyrdhamster
        January 13, 2016 at 5:20 am

        Second the idea on changing Breaking Points in to Aspirations and Tells as special Conditions. 🙂

    • January 12, 2016 at 7:35 pm

      I like the idea of killing becoming an Aspiration instead of a Breaking Point for Slashers.

  8. Malkydel
    January 12, 2016 at 7:06 pm

    1. Someone whose humanity has been twisted with the urge to kill, who has become something unique (within its own category) and determined and driven to kill. Someone who occasionally becomes potent enough to become more and other than merely murderously mortal.

    2. It would definitely be of interest to me, and I know it would interest some of my fellow players. A lot of them tend to overstep or overreach, and the accidental lure of the slippery slope would certainly take a few of them. Personally I find it interesting in the “Whoever fights monsters” sort of a way; Slashers implied that Hunters are more likely to transform/transcend, and the examples it cast up were grotesquely fascinating.

    3. I could definitely see a use for Cabals in games. It’s one thing to pit them against an isolated killer, but when you factor in a cabal then it becomes an entirely different ball game. In some ways it becomes a black mirror of Cell or Compact; full of its own mad agendas and frictions.

    4. I’d say that a mechanically light or loose approach would be best. Have certain boxes the ST has to tick and advice for how to handle it, but mostly have it driven by roleplay and the occasional prompt. Work with the player to manage his degeneration and whatever tells or urges he develops- with a supporting framework.

  9. Eli Church
    January 12, 2016 at 7:18 pm

    1) The monsters under our skin.
    2)I adore the potential of Hunter bleeding into Slasher. So much of Hunter is “I’m protecting you from THEM”, wherein all of the monsters stand distinct from what the Hunter would categorize as “human”. Slashers allow this line to blur, and also draw attention to the dangerous distinctions (or lack thereof) that Hunters make in their day-to-day. I think that the potential of transformation also allows each player to approach their Hunter during character creation with a much more nuanced style. Breaking points also suddenly have the potential to be even more imperative to the group as a whole. Now there are threats from within the Vigil, not just without.
    3)I think that Slasher Cabals present not only a unique opportunity as Antagonists, but also as allies. How many Hunters would turn down an offer of help from what (at least at first) appears to be an infinitely more dedicated group of Hunters?What if they offered to teach the Hunters things? Show them new hunting methods? All the while providing guiding hands that may lead further into darkness than the Hunter may be prepared for. Even if the Hunters in question do recognize the Cabal for what they are, I can see some Hunters convincing themselves that they (not the Cabal), are the ones in control. After all, they could turn on and deal with the Cabal the very moment they wanted to, right? It’s just not an opportune time yet.
    4) I think the best system to bring in to add mechanics to the blurring between Hunter and Slasher would definitely be in melding Conditions to Tells. I really like the notion of breaking points interfacing with them as well. Perhaps some conditions begin to add Tells to Hunters that experience them too often? Positive conditions can even start leading dangerous places, and that starts highlighting the dangers of being a Hunter.

    BONUS) I actually ran a campaign wherein I utilized a modified version of the Hunt Club. It gave me a chance to really test the capabilities of Hunters and Slashers (at the time) against each other. One of the characters was even a particularly skilled Psycho, that had managed to con and manipulate her way into the group of Hunters. I’m particularly happy with how it really showcased my players and their interactions with each other. I feel like it really allowed that delightful type of paranoia to take center stage, and I can’t help but think that the addition of Slashers was what did it. The only unfortunate drawback to the whole experience was that it did, display how Slashers can be (even at the lowest levels) particularly horrifying if allowed to hunt in their niche, and how I didn’t take the opportunity to force the Slasher character out of that niche and see how she did.

  10. CJ D
    January 12, 2016 at 7:33 pm

    1. An Individual who consistently murders their fellow human beings without a rational reason to do so.

    2. Oh My Yes. To be perfectly honest, if you were to give me the option to be “on the line” between the slasher and hunter, I’d probably deliberately design a character to run along the precipice for as long as possible. I am very much a fan of corruption, especially if its derived from twisting otherwise desirably traits. (Alternatively, if a PC Slasher seems viable, I may also try doing that).

    3.Yes I could. There’s always stuff like “Nuclear Family who happen to be cannibals” or “Eccentric Club’s Dirty Little Secret.” Its something that’s bound to come up, even if not as consistently as the lone madman.

    4. I think it depends somewhat what you actually want out of the Slasher Chronicle. A clear, mechanical descent into slasherdom could provide some real “meat” to some of the relevant themes. However, it’d likely weld the idea of slashers to the of the nature of hunters. If one would prefer Hunter-Turned-Slashers to be more something that “can” happen, as opposed to something that “does” happen, it’d probably be better to be vague.

  11. Leliel
    January 12, 2016 at 7:56 pm

    1) I’ll echo the idea that a slasher is someone whose humanity has been burned out by a need and the ability to kill. They frequently develop supernatural powers, but it’s incidental; losing compassion and empathy leaves a vacuum that power often fills. Ultimately, slashers kill-that’s what they are.

    2) I’m making a note here: HUGE YES. Hunters are by nature either killers or the accomplices of killers, no matter what they actually wanted their Vigil to be. That makes them warriors rather than monsters, but there’s always the threat that war becomes the only way they can relate to the world. Thing is, there’s more than one way that happens; all you need is to stop thinking of people as inherently human…

    3. Why not? It’s not common, and a cabal would be the driving force of a chronicle, but there’s no harm in including rules. Could even be a dark mirror of hunter cells (and frankly, most cabals were once hunter cells, actually-me and you against the world).

    4. Yes, but as an optional system of temptation. No “you failed, select your Undertaking”, but the gradual loss of humanity in the name of becoming an ever greater killer. It should be the choice of the player alone, a chosen avenue of a very dark RP, and only with the permission of the table.

    • Dataweaver
      January 12, 2016 at 8:16 pm

      1) I would go so far as to say that becoming a Ripper makes you [i]eligible for[/i] an Undertaking, but that you don’t automatically get one upon becoming a Ripper (though I would say that you don’t become a Scourge without having an Undertaking): there should be Rippers out there that differ from Hunters only in that they’re driven to kill.

      4) I think it’s very important that any mechanism for transitioning from Hunter to Ripper should incorporate an element of choice: if someone gets forced to become a slasher as a result of a die roll, that die roll should only happen because the player has made choices that allow it. That is, I’d prefer it to be primarily RP-driven, with the mechanical transitions being triggered by what the character does.

  12. Jonathan
    January 12, 2016 at 8:21 pm

    1) Slashers are non-supernatural characters that routinely commit premeditated murder. This can be for psychological reasons (they’re crazy), religious (think Aztecs), or any other reason. What they do with the victim afterwards (whether they eat it, bury it, or consign it to the depths of the sea) doesn’t matter. The primary adjectives are “non-supernatural” and “repeat offender.”

    2) Playing a Slasher does not interest me unless I’m wearing my Storyteller’s Hat.

    3)Yes, I already have several groups in a chronicle I’m writing that would fit the term “slasher cabal”. The most prominent group serves as unwitting foot soldiers and cannon fodder for the Maeljin.

    4) The more rules for things like this the better IMHO. It cuts down on arguments at the table and it cuts down on the time designing such a character using homemade conversions of similar existing systems.

    • Tori
      January 13, 2016 at 3:52 pm

      “MaelJin”

      Is this spoilers?

  13. Charlaquin
    January 12, 2016 at 8:40 pm

    1.) A Slasher is a monster, often (but not always) a serial killer, who used to be human. Michael Meyers, Jason Voorhees, Freddie Kruger, Pinhead, The Tall Man, Chucky… They were all human at one point, but at the time the films that star them take place, they’re all distinctly supernatural in one way or another. On the other hand, Norman Bates, Leatherface, Hannibal Lecter, the various killers behind the Ghostface, Jigsaw? They’re “just” human serial killers, monstrous but not actual monsters. By the same token, the Leprechaun from Leprechaun, the Djinn from Wishmaster, the monster from Jeepers Creepers, they’re all “just” monsters with a pattern to the way they kill people. To me, a slasher needs both to have been human, and then to have crossed the line that separates human from monsters.

    2.) Absolutely. To me, Hunter the Vigil is all about characters who straddle the line between human and monster – both figuratively in the “monstrous behavior” sense, and literally, in the sense that some Hunters use actual supernatural powers. To me, Slashers are the natural outcome of Hunters who go too far, and the personal horror of Hunter comes in questioning just where that line actually is.

    3.) Eh, Cabals of Slashers don’t really interest me that much.

    4.) I agree with some of the other comments saying that the distinction between Hunter and Slasher should be subtle enough that the character is constantly asking themselves if they might be a Slasher. On the other hand, you should be able to easily recognize a Slasher when you see one. There’s this incredibly powerful moment in Bloodborne when you first encounter Father Gascoigne. He’s brutally hacking away at an obviously dead Beast, but as you approach he turns his attention to you and mumbles “Beasts all over the shop… You’ll be one of them… Sooner or later…” In that one 30 second or so cutscene, I instantly understood that every Hunter was just a hair’s breadth away from being one of the Beasts they hunt, and that Father Gascoigne had crossed that line. He was killing indiscriminately, and using “they’ll all be Beasts eventually” as an excuse, and I had to kill him before he did the same to me. I also wondered, “how long until I end up like that?” and a little part of me wondered if I already was like that. After all, I was trying to kill him with the same justification he was using to try to kill me. If the 2e rules for Hunters becoming Slashers can allow for moments like that, I will consider it a tremendous success.

    • January 12, 2016 at 10:04 pm

      I generally like this.

  14. Zifnab25
    January 12, 2016 at 8:43 pm

    1) Slashers, in my mind, are simply Hunters that view mortals as prey. Maybe this is driven by a sense of revenge – Jason from Friday the 13th or Carrie from… Carrie. Or just a thrill for the hunt. But Slashers have abandoned the desire to protect humanity and instead lust for murder.

    2) I don’t know about applying it to PCs, but I could definitely see transitioning NPC Hunters to Slashers.

    3) I like Slashers as one-offs more than cabals. Slashers feel naturally antisocial, for starters, so groups really feel like an anomaly. Past that, I like to add mystery and build up to a Slasher reveal. Slowly revealing MO, motivation, back story, and finally the true identity. That’s just harder to do when it’s multiple Slashers, unless “More than one killer!” is a twist in the plot.

    4) I’d appreciate rules for transitioning from Hunter to Slasher

  15. Vito
    January 12, 2016 at 9:13 pm

    1) A nominal human whose *need* to kill is more important than any *reason* to kill. Even if they have an ostensible reason, one they profess, it is a lie. They kill because they need to do so. Even if all of their justifications were fulfilled, they’d still need to do so.

    2) Yes. While cliche (there are a lot of cliches in all of this material), it is appropriate: “He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.” I think that part of the horror of the Chronicles of Darkness has to come from the fact that nothing remains pure and every touch with darkness has a risk of transforming you in terrible ways. It is like thermonuclear war: the only way to win is not to play.

    3) Yes, though I’d never call it a cabal. Best to avoid overloaded terms.

    I could see a lot of different ways of using them. Their formation and foundation is the interesting and tricky part. Individuals who have known each other for a long time are the easiest. They’re all like addicts though and sometimes they get drawn together by circumstance and opportunity. How much they can cooperate vs. just not getting in each other’s way is an open question.

    I’d be most likely to use a group of Slashers who had some shared heritage or traumatic experience. Blood seems the greatest bond for them, whether it is familial or shedding.

    4) I think having paths for it would be a good idea, but keep them optional and make sure that there are more than one of them. Let folks pick and choose what fits best for the story they’re trying to tell.

    • January 12, 2016 at 10:05 pm

      I agree with avoiding the overloaded terms. Moreso though “cabal” does not make me think “slasher” or “killer”.

    • mlvalentine
      January 13, 2016 at 9:12 am

      The term for slasher groups is “cabal”, and was established in Slashers. So, that term would be reused in H:tV 2E.

  16. January 12, 2016 at 9:21 pm

    pre: I have not read the slasher chronicle

    1. Slashers to me are serial killers who are predominately not supernatural. I say predominately because often they seem to have a supernatural survival ability. like maybe they convert willpower to health, or literally can come back to life (Jason). They might also be immune to things like beaten down. The difference between a Slasher, a Vigilante, and a Terrorist is: Slashers kill individual innocent people in a series of attacks for fun. Vigilantes only kill people that are threats to others. Terrorists kill innocents as part of a cause.

    2. So yes and no. I feel weird saying I want to transition from Hunter to Slasher or that I would want a PC to do that. To me a Hunter->Slasher ends up more like the Punisher, full out vigilante. I don’t see a vigilante as being a serial killer, in the same way a terrorist isn’t a serial killer either. I don’t think a Hunter gets the perverse joy out of killing a serial killer does. It’s a means to an ends. This is maybe a basic die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.

    That said, I can see myself having some interest in playing a slasher like Hannibal Lecter. Perhaps by some stretch I can see Hannibal having evolved from someone who hunted monsters. At the same time this would almost be interesting as its own game Slasher : the Depraved. Basically I don’t see the transformation path from Hunts monsters to clean up the night, to kills innocent people for fun.

    I think it would be interesting to perhaps allude to a double type of slasher. the callus and vigilante’s, which a player can devolve to and the dread power type which may have may have supernatural power and take pleasure form killing.

    3. Maybe, but I’d rather have a single more powerful slasher as a foe. I can see them being good as a weird group of people that hunt people for fun (supernatural did this), or like the donor party. Maybe as someone said cults, or even less sympathetic “tribe” of cannibals.

    4. I think I sort of covered this… for me it’d be most interesting to create a character as a slasher from the get go. More Hannibal than Jason or Scream though.

    All this said, to me it doesn’t hurt having rules to have a hunter transform into a slasher. I don’t think I’d hate it, presumably it might end up a bit like werewolf has, you have to walk that fine line.

    All this said, I would like it if hunters had more immunity to integrity loss (maybe as an optional rule?) for killing even human looking monsters.

    • January 12, 2016 at 9:53 pm

      1b. A slasher and hunter/vigilante may both have a tragic backstory. At the end of the movie with a hunter you think “that was justified, the people he killed were undeniably bad or it was self defense” a slasher on the other hand you almost never think it was justified, or if it somehow was, they went too far. Such as torturing their victim, or eating them. Often though a slasher’s backstory doesn’t even seem all that tragic (if it is tragic it comes up later), and their early victims are not justified at all.

    • January 13, 2016 at 9:16 am

      Someone else mentioned Hellraiser, my first instinct was “covered by changeling and demon”. Then I got to thinking about what I was saying with Slashers, tough to kill, and have a tendency to come back from the dead. That sounds like Geist to me (not having really gotten into it). What if the only defining thing was “serial killer” or “someone who kills for the pleasure of killing”.

      A changeling might become a true fae but and lure people into his hellscape to kill them as hellraiser. He’s lost, but not just lost that he has simply become the enemy, it’s worse than that.

      A geist might be so bent on vengeance that he keeps coming back not just to take vengeance but to kill those like it. You’ll die simply because you’re on his land.

      A slasher vampire doesn’t kill for blood, a slasher vampire kills to take life, another vampire might see his work and think “all that blood wasted”.

      And Mortal slasher doesn’t kill to kill the bad guy, he’s just a psychopath.

      They don’t have a truly justifiable reason (outside of their minds) and don’t need one.

      Going down this road means they have to use dread powers. I like it because it’s a type of monster you aren’t sympathetic to, though I like sympathetic monsters too.

  17. Andrew Thomas
    January 13, 2016 at 3:05 am

    1. For me, Slashers map to Hunters the way Sith map to Jedi, in that theirs is the quicker, easier way to power, usually at terrible personal cost. In short, a Slasher is a Hunter that has used their gifts for selfish ends, rather than in seevice of the Vigil as an ideal.
    2. Yes, the drama and personal horror of going evil is a consistent draw, and having the ability to play within the darkest grays of a dark story, with nuance, makes for better stories.
    3. Yes, as a natural response to a pure-Hunter Cell, or as a rogue element to drive home how much bigger and darker the game world is than the troupe’s focus would allow.
    4. My first instinct is to create a Diablerie-style mechanic to speed up normal Hunter advancement (the Reckoning, if you will). Have the Hunters earn special Beats for bringing down enemies in a careful, methodical, and well-planned manner, then tie some special Breaking Points to that mechanic. Have Hunters that are brought below Integrity 5 start developing Tells to replace the Anchors they lose as they start going darker. Once they’ve earned 3 Tells, not so much by dropping too low but more from tripping the right Breaking Points, replace their Virtue/Vice pairing with a single attribute that defines the kind of Slasher they’ve become. Make the Tells persistent Conditions of a sort that can be bought off by leaving the hunt, or through the use of certain Tactics. They should mirror certain pathologies common to mundane psychopathic behavior, and generally nudge a character toward behaviors that would trigger more Breaking Points.

  18. LostLight
    January 13, 2016 at 3:15 am

    1) the short answer- human monsters. The long answer- people who has lost their humanity while pursuing an obsession, turning mad in the process and unlocking dread abilities which flows from the cracks in their broken soul. People who have a twisted way to look in the world which distance them from it, and which justifies their killings. People who are no longer people, simply because they lack empathy, passion and the ability to recognize that what they are doing is wrong. Again, human monsters.

    2)I don’t think I feel comfortable with playing a character (or allowing to play a character) which is a slasher or slasher in the becoming simply because the idea of slashers makes me feel uncomfortable. While using them as antagonists is ok, just the thought about them as PCs creeps me out- which is why I think there must be rules for how an hunter may turn into a slasher. Showing people the possibility how their character may fall into that dark state and maybe even playing with it along until reaching that boundary should, without doubt, be a feature of the Slasher Chronicles, because this is an horror game and if it makes me scared it should be the right path, and it could also makes some great stories!

    Also, hunters need to have Touchstones, and losing them should be a part of the path into “slasherhood”.

    3)ammm is it ok to say that, in many ways, I’m already using such Cabals? I mean, yeah, I didn’t called them Cabals (I used the term “Slashing Compacts/Conspiracies”, but I already have a number of big organizations based around killing and justifying their killing- some also hunt monsters, others focus on killing other people, but all in all groups murdering innocent people for faith, discovery, lust for power and even hope for a brighter future all took and take a part in my games, both as antagonists and protagonists. Having that possibility fully supported in the new Core Hunter is something I would like to see.

    • January 13, 2016 at 3:35 am

      I totally forgot to add that! Yes, Hunters definitely need Touchstones! Those are one of the best additions of the new editions. Touchstones to show why they fight and do what they do keep Hunters from becoming directionless monsters.

      Come to think of it, for particularly horrid Hunters (and of course Slashers), an Exploit Touchstone Tactic might be in order. After all, even monsters have friends, and even a cold hearted vampire might warm up to ‘negotiation’ if his girlfriend has a gun to her head.

  19. wyrdhamster
    January 13, 2016 at 4:31 am

    I’m all in for the hunters-to-slasher transformation and I totally approve idea for the 2ED corebook. Now to the questions…

    1) If you had to come up with a definition of a slasher that you know you and your group would be happy with, what would it be?

    Serial killer that need to fulfil his urge to kill, in the specific way. His urges can heighten with each kill and Modus Operand sophisticate, but base idea is all from the beginning. If he was hunter before, he probably see humans the same way as monsters, not seeing any difference between hunting one and another. I want slashers to be able to be played like Dexter character from the TV series – he has his urges to kill, but can, in the end, be rather stable – IF he will kill people.
    I’m also for the return of Undertakings for the slashers, if there is possibility of it.

    2) Does the possibility of becoming a slasher sound interesting to you? Why or why not?

    I think it’s very interesting possibility. In our Hunter game I play hunter that more and more goes in to darkness of violence – I do not think I would want the character to be truly consumed by it, yet, but I would very likely easily could see the moment of slipping in to is near. It’s thrilling experience, and I would very much look for it.

    3) Could you see yourself using a slasher cabal in your game? If so, how?

    If I would be a ST, I would probably made slasher cabal as major chronicle antagonist, “enemy within” style. If possibility of hunters become the slashers was in rules, I would made “almost there” group of hunters between various cells, Compacts and Conspiracies be connected over one dark matter from their past ( maybe one hunting went very bad ) to drag them all over the boundary. New cabal would start as cleaning the mess that started it, but probably become more and more self-obsessed with each other killing urges. Still, they could coordinate they attacks if their secret would be put to danger. They would be secret cancer cell in the many cells structure.
    4) Would you want the rules to support your transformation from hunter-to-slasher? Or, would you prefer this be kept more vague?
    I would want the rules to support transformation. I would went rather with Condition and Aspiration way of “slasher to be” – in that solution character could be changed more gently. And also your character to be saved if the process is interrupted – or character changed it ways. But I think on the end of it, new slasher should get some Dread Powers – maybe as Undertakings? Going down all the way to Integrity 0 would mean that all slashers are half catatonic maniacs that can’t pull themselves together – and it is a bad way to do it. Dexter-like characters should be most prevailing slashers – few really demented ones ( with Integrity 0 ) could be possible – but most should be resistant from total insanity. More and more extensive Tells list could also nicely add up to the Modus Operandi development, with each Tell marking character more and more in to slasher territory.

  20. Rosicrucian
    January 13, 2016 at 4:35 am

    I for one am very interested in whether Slashers have any connection to Heroes as described in Beast. I realize that said connection may not be a priority but both Hunter and Beast are very crossover-oriented lines (while admittedly not requiring crossover.

    For me it’s the fact that Slashers and Heroes are described in very similar terms, as humans that have gotten ensnared in a narrative that’s stolen their lives. With Heroes, they’re specifically ensnared in a Beast’s narrative, though could Slashers be Heroes who outlived their Beast but never really found their way out of the story back into a normal life? Beyond this, one of the theories of what Slashers are is that they’re the atavistic remnants of the heroes of old, that back in the day what made a Hercules or a Gilgamesh was… well, insane by today’s standards.

    It’s fertile ground, I feel.

  21. D
    January 13, 2016 at 6:48 am

    Integrity is so vague that you could run into a problem trying to use it. A number of people only use the system for conditions and beats treating the ratings as meaningless outside of dice rolls. A game for all and messing with Integrity doesn’t mix well.

    1. Hannibal and Jason
    2. No, because I can’t compartmentalize well enough to play the above without becoming a sicko. Others are better than me, so I don’t mind the concept.
    3. Outside of lower tier Slashers, I can’t conceive of a them acting as a group. If I knew what a uber-Slasher Cabal looked like, I might like to use it.
    4. Sure, for other people. This might need to be highly optional. I would leave it vague until I had a clear picture of everything else then decide how this fits.

  22. reseru
    January 13, 2016 at 7:36 am

    Making serial killers as the playable degeneration of supernatual monster hunters undermines the real life threat and danger of them in a similar way that 1e’s Morality trait undermined schizophrenia by saying it was the result of moral degredation.

    Hunter is a game about people pushing themselves to, in a meta sense, see how far they can go without becoming a monster themselves.

    Becoming a monster is a good way to represent that, but not becoming a serial killer

    • Rosicrucian
      January 13, 2016 at 8:13 pm

      Slashers are not, strictly speaking, serial killers. Or perhaps more accurately, serial killers are not Slashers.

      A Slasher is at once more and less than a serial killer. They’re someone who has tapped into something bad in the collective subconscious and ended up tangled up in a narrative that increasingly they can’t escape. This is not mental illness, and bears only a superficial resemblance to a mundane pathology. As they slip further into this morass, a Slasher becomes something genuinely supernatural. They gain uncanny abilities fitting the narrative that the zeitgeist is weaving around them, and they acquire weaknesses for the same reason.

      And then in the end, the zeitgeist kills them. It sends people with the determination to end their story, because the human mind demands that people like them face justice in some form.

      But by that point they’re scarcely people.

      This doesn’t have to trivialize serial killers in the slightest.

  23. Dusksage
    January 13, 2016 at 7:36 am

    1. To me a Slasher is a human who’s ceaselessly driven by a need to hunt other humans. There can be any number of reasons for this need, but it only grows with each successful hunt until the Slasher is so driven by this singular need that they barely resemble human beings anymore.
    2. Yes it does, the prospect of playing a Hunter who slowly falls from the Vigil is very exciting since it showcases the profound impact that the Vigil has on the human psyche. Hunting monsters shouldn’t be done lightly, especially if the need to hunt monsters (either literally or figuratively) can become twisted over time. I believe this would open very interesting avenues of play and storytelling.
    3. Definitly yes, a Slasher Cabal would be the perfect shadow to a Troupe’s Cell. Especially since it both break’s convention by showing that Slashers can actually work well with one another and also reflects the Hunter’s own methodology for upholding the Vigil. Nothing can prepare a Troup for discovering that someone else is using similar tactics that they are in order to murder the very people they’re risking their lives to protect.
    4. In regards to the process of becoming a Slasher, I feel that the best method of doing this is either to use low Integrity as a baseline for defining Slashers (Similar to how it is in 1st Edition and how Heroes are catagorized in Beast: the Primordial) or make a series of Conditions similar to the Soul Loss Conditions. Of the two I feel the stronger option is the Conditions since it both adds more weight to the transformation, since it’s not a simple countdown, and also because it allows for High Integrity individuals to become Slasher’s too, since Integrity is more about one’s sense of self rather than one’s inherit virtue.

  24. SunlessNick
    January 13, 2016 at 8:10 am

    1. A human or all-but-human who has an inner compulsion to kill other humans in a specific manner; an exaggerated serial killer.

    2. I don’t have an interest in going from *hunter* to slasher (*human* to slasher maybe). To me a hunter going bad means ever more zeal for monsters: disregard for collateral damage, and eager killing of perceived minions and associates, sure; but also an increasing disregard for whether particular monsters are dangerous or innocent.
    But slashers *focus* on humans. It doesn’t make a lot of sense for a hunter who goes off the rails to switch focus to humans over monsters – and having slashers see their victims as adjuncts to monsters narrows their range too much.
    And if hunters going bad become slashers, and thus focus on humans over monsters, this lets one of Hunter’s biggest moral questions – that of whether killing supernaturals (or *this* supernatural) is right – off the hook.
    So if slashers are to be a dark mirror to hunters, I think it should be the parallel of their actions – that they stalk and kill, and are hunters better just because they focus on a more socially acceptable target (hell, many slashers focus on targets that society tacitly accepts even if it pretends otherwise) – that’s at the root of it.

    3. I might. In which case, I would probably use a group that became slashers together through the same chain of events.

    4. I wouldn’t object to rules for a human to become a slasher, but I’d prefer they didn’t focus on hunter specific traits, for the reasons above.

  25. Gary F
    January 13, 2016 at 8:26 am

    Ignore your instincts and give slasher’s dread/weird powers! 😉

  26. Andrew Ohning
    January 13, 2016 at 8:37 am

    1) Hunters that hunt people. Hunters that no longer care about collateral damage to their Vigil. Hunters that can no longer see the difference between humans and monsters. Hunters for whom killing has become a compulsion, an end unto itself.

    2) Definitely. I’ve always loved the blurry line between Hunters and the monsters. Hunters often hunt intelligent prey while keeping their activities secret (like vampires). Hunters often have a territory they protect and a group they’re super loyal to (like werewolves). Hunters delve into mysteries to discover secrets and gain power (like mages). And more often than not, Hunters kill. A lot. And they usually keep killing until someone else kills them. Like Slashers.

    3) Probably not, honestly. The idea of a group of slashers banding together just feels wonky to me. I could get it if a whole cell went over the edge together somehow, but other than that… I understand some of the need for slasher groups: Most slashers are mortal and couldn’t really stand up to a whole cell coming after them. Maybe a mechanic for solitary slashers to nullify Tactics, or to enact counter-Tactics since they know how Hunters operate?

    4) I’d like to see a mechanic for transition. Maybe something similar to the acquisition of new Banes in Vampire. Maybe once you’ve replaced too many of those core Human breaking points, you’re not essentially human anymore…

    • SunlessNick
      January 14, 2016 at 4:24 am

      Re 2: The problem, for me, is that an emphasis on the vector of hunter goes bad and becomes a slasher makes the line *less* blurry. Hunter makes a big deal of the moral issues of killing intelligent monsters, and whether and why they count or don’t count as people. Even the existence of a prominent vector towards bad hunters switching to killing humans risks pushing the questions about killing monsters off the table.

      In short, a bad hunter should act more like a Hero from Beast than a slasher.

      Slashers still parallel hunters, they just do so because of the parallels in method and lifestyle, and whether the only difference is that fewer people care about who hunters kill.

      Re 3: Agreed.

      • Andrew Ohning
        January 14, 2016 at 8:24 am

        You make a good point. Is a slasher only a slasher if he kills humans? Would a Hunter who kills vampires with the same sort of sadistic joy with which, say, Freddie Krueger kills children be considered a Slasher? What about one who stalks and mutilates Changelings in the same cold, methodical way that Jason Voorhees does teenagers? Imagine his victims as various levels of mages rather than criminals, and is the Punisher a Hunter or a Slasher? A game of “Light in Shadows” with so much grey area…

  27. January 13, 2016 at 9:14 am

    I’ll have to think about the questions a bit, but one note I wanted to get in: something I love about the 2e stuff so far is the divorce of [Integrity] from morality – so you can have a low-Humanity benefactor who isn’t *evil*, he’s just lost touch with mortals; or a high-Humanity monster who’s a real wolf in sheep’s clothing. I really like the prospect of becoming a Slasher, but I don’t think tying it to [Integrity] is a great idea…

    If Sam and Dean are Hunters, I think Gordon Walker and Kubrick would be Slashers (or well on their way).

  28. Yossarian
    January 13, 2016 at 2:42 pm

    1: “There but for the grace of God go I.”

    2: The second edition theme antagonists have all been designed in an effort to flip the usual narratives of these games. I think the idea of becoming a Slasher as the twist on Integrity does that really well. Slashers are the ultimate paranoia of the Vigil; that in fighting monsters, one becomes one. Even if very few hunters become slashers, “Have I gone too far?” should be the implicit question raised in every hunter’s mind when slashers show up.

    3: Definitely. It’s an interesting way of presenting the distorted mirror of the player’s cell; how really horrifying people can use the same tactics the protagonists do, and how there’s only a very thin line between a gang of hunters stalking a vampire, and a gang of serial killers stalking an innocent. From a more practical standpoint, allowing for cabals also gives STs a more dynamic toolkit. It’s hard to do slashers as return villains if they’re only ever solo.

    4: I think I’d want rules, but I’d also want the threshold for when they come into play to be somewhat high. I think every hunter is capable of becoming a slasher, but most don’t. There should be a high entry point, at least as far as my current thinking goes. It might be useful to present two options in the toolkit: one that’s more linear and rules heavy, and one that relies more on the players and ST to craft at their own pace. It’s not a great analogue, but the two systems for feeding in Requiem 2nd come to mind.

  29. Tori
    January 13, 2016 at 4:12 pm

    1) I’d say the best definition of “Slashers” that my group would enjoy is non-supernatural (or lightly supernatural) humans that are so dangerous and depraved that, while yes police can take care of, would be right at home being stopped by hunters. I would consider everything from the crazy lady that cuts people up every quarter moon for a ritual and has yet to be caught to the billionaire who’s perfectly sane (well kind of) but has a very unique way of collecting wealth and dealing with those within and out of his company who simply gets away with everything due to his resources. All of that would be a slasher to me.

    2) ummm, yes. But not really for my own sake. As a storyteller i’d definitely use that. But I think that I’d only like to have rules for becoming a slasher if I planned to not control my character by the end of the dark journey (unless she gets redeeemed).

    However, I say that not to say there shouldn’t be rules. SOOOO many times in the past i’ve allowed for interesting ways my players could devolve down a path of darkness that they knew would be the end of their character near the end but a few would still do it because they enjoyed the literary value of a group having to slowly watch one of their own slip down a darker path (a lot of times the actual slipping part was hidden behind notes between me and the player so the inter character drama was great).

    3) Yes. Likely I… One sec, got to come up with an idea…

    Got it.

    I mentioned the billionaire above. Well what if the cabal was a group of CEOs of very powerful companies. The technically compete with eachother but what they really do is they use their resources to hunt and kill any that may be even slightly related to someone who could negatively impact their companies. There’s quite a bit of in-fighting but that, while it provides a way to get in the cracks, proves to be most of their real strength and so many more casualties occur because of it. Most of them haven’t taken a life with their own hands but they are soaked in blood all the same.

    What makes them slashers is very simple and I’ll use a quote from Game of Thrones (non-spoilers don’t worry) to convey it:
    “he would see this country burn if he could be king of the ashes.”

    4) That’s a tough question. Yes, but I want them to be at least a little varied if not vague. How the rules would support me is giving the player a clear indication where their character is at while allowing multiple ways to get there and avoid getting there.

    that’s not too helpful is it. Basically I want it to not be de facto ways of becoming a slasher, but should the player wish their character to go through that it would be nice to have some rules support.

  30. Dex Davican
    January 13, 2016 at 4:27 pm

    “1) If you had to come up with a definition of a slasher that you know you and your group would be happy with, what would it be?”

    A Slasher is someone with the brutal ingenuity of a Hunter, without the humanity that the Vigil serves to protect. They may or may not have started out as a Hunter, but they are driven by the same fundamental urges to hunt, to kill, and to punish. They are the dark side of mankind’s origins as ingenious persistence hunters, a promise that violence can ultimately solve all of the problems that come with being human.

    “2) Does the possibility of becoming a slasher sound interesting to you? Why or why not?”

    It is darkly fascinating for me, and some of my players would love to feel the abyss waiting beneath them, even if they never quite fell in. Hunter is ultimately about the attempt to use dark methods for the good of humanity, and Slashers represent the method of violence, distilled and purified into something that is human-shaped, but no longer human. It’s doubly interesting because the world of the CoD offers power to those who would sacrifice their humanity.

    “3) Could you see yourself using a slasher cabal in your game? If so, how?”

    I would probably use a slasher cabal as a cautionary tale for the Hunter PC’s, as well as a temptation for PC’s that feel alienated from society (which is most Hunter PC’s, sooner or later). Slashers who still resemble Hunters may even come across as sympathetic, at least at first.

    “4) If you said ‘yes,’ to Question 2, would you want the rules to support your transformation from hunter-to-slasher? Or, would you prefer this be kept more vague?”

    I would like rules that support a gradual transition. That way, I as the ST can offer Hunter PC’s the opportunity to sell off pieces of their soul, to experience what it’s like to become an instrument of bloody vengeance without walling off the opportunity to turn back. I want it to feel “easy” to become a Slasher, in that characters might not recognize that it’s happening, though players definitely should.

    BONUS ROUND

    Though the Slashers book was one of my favorite books in the first edition line, I’ve only used a Slasher once, as the villain of a one-shot. At the time, I ran into a problem: I’d made her so alien, and so divorced from society, that her history and priorities were not well-communicated to the PC’s. With limited time to express her as a unique character, she ended up coming across as just a psycho with a knife.

    The monster-creation chapter in the CoD core would have helped with this, I think, as well as the new investigation system. Certainly advice in-book on keeping Slashers interesting might be warranted, and the existence of a Slasher culture of sorts may help even more.

  31. Hunter Crawford
    January 13, 2016 at 4:41 pm

    1) A human compelled to ritualistic violence. Most of them are killers, though some might leave survivors with permanent mental and physical scars. They’ve lost a part of themselves that connect themselves to humanity, but in a different way than most of the monsters encountered on the vigil. Where as a vampire might retain humanity after their embrace, it is just that shred of humanity that is missing in the otherwise too-human slasher.

    They might develop supernatural powers, though it is unclear why.

    2) Interesting because it’s horrifying. I find the thought of losing the mind scarier than the thought of being slain on the Vigil, and the thought of hunters becoming slashers is particularly compelling. Hunters have the potential to become slashers, because the monsters they hunt often have some shred of humanity left. As the nights stretch on and the idea of fighting back against the darkness becomes more about inflicting pain and racking up kills, the ideal of the Vigil is burned away — now there is only the Hunt.

    3) Yes, I would probably use a slasher cabal as a major threat within a local chronicle, portrayed as a dark mirror of the player’s hunter cell. A few members of the cabal would also be in a state where they are not fully slashers, but rather they are people who are being manipulated into killing and violence to the point where it becomes rote. I would probably have the cabal be a former hunter cell, perhaps connected to a mentor character who used to hunt with them. These slashers might also cause major disruption to the local supernatural societies, leaving the hunters to blame.

    4) I would prefer this be kept vague, ultimately left in the hands of the storyteller. I would like examples of how this descent could happen, but my preference is that the rules of how a hunter falls is itself a mystery. It breeds more terror and paranoia. Vagueness also feels more complex, and becoming a slasher shouldn’t be a simple thing. However, if there are rules, I would prefer they support an idea that it takes time for a hunter to become a slasher; the path is more interesting than the destination.

  32. Sean
    January 14, 2016 at 10:51 am

    1) To me, Slashers have always been humans who hit Morality (now Integrity) 0 and have the skills and traits necessary to become unholy terrors. Most of them were originally Hunters who, due to the strain of the Vigil, suffered a gradual and almost imperceptible expansion of who qualified as a legitimate target, until they became motivated only by the urge to kill and took the final step off the cliff by deciding that ordinary people were the “safe” choice to hunt. Alternatively, they are ordinary people with a history of violence and/or abuse (whether victim or perpetrator) who have skills that allow them to go really cut loose.

    2) I would like rules for Slashers in H:tV 2e. I would never want to play as a Slasher or run a Chronicle where players’ characters were Slashers, but having rules for how they operate would be appreciated.

    3) I remember doing a Hunter Chronicle back in 1e. We were playing a cabal of Hunters contracted by Taskforce: VALKYRIE to deal with some vampires who were trying to find and wake up a Methuselah. Opposing us was a cabal of slashers who were being employed by the vampires, who were all basically foils to us. As much of a physical threat as they were to us, they also took delight in trying to knock our Morality down a dot or two, constantly questioning why we cared about people who thought we were crazy, and stuff like that. By the end of the Chronicle, each of us was really gunning to take down our counterpart just for a reprieve. But as fate would have it, the Methuselah didn’t appreciate being woken up, and killed the vampires and slashers alike- but spared us, since technically we had been trying to stop him from being awoken.

  33. Brendan Sherlock
    January 14, 2016 at 11:04 pm

    I’ve always viewed Hunters and Slashers as distinct but related phenomena. Without getting too granular, a Hunter is someone who has been exposed to the supernatural and has chosen to act against it in some way. It is tempting to say that they “fight” it, but groups like Network Zero, Null Mysteriis, the Barrett Commission, and Habibti Ma take an approach that is often non-violent while still thwarting the supernatural. This also distinguishes Hunters from what I call Thralls and Bystanders. Thralls in this case are any non-supernatural individuals who have been exposed to the supernatural but have chosen instead to ally themselves with it. Bystanders by the same token are those who have been exposed but choose not to get involved, either by looking the other way or by not taking an active role in the Vigil.

    Slashers to me are slightly different animals depending on whether we are talking about Rippers or Scourges. Rippers are mundane serial killers, if such a term can be applied to them. They are monstrous by dint of their actions but are ultimately mere mortals and a very real sort of horror. Scourges on the other hand are a product of folklore. They exist to ape the tropes of serial killers as they exist in horror fiction and function as monsters in the same vein as other supernaturals.

    Where things get interesting is in the commonalities between Hunters and Slashers. Hunters find it necessary to be violent because of the exigencies of the Vigil. Slashers find it necessary to be violent in order to satisfy a compulsion. Hunters kill things which are not “human” (depending on your definition) but still cause the deaths of sentient beings. That is going to cause a reasonable person some amount of mental and emotional stress, and the very mindset that dehumanizes supernatural “monsters” can work against a well meaning Hunter trying to hold on to his Integrity. To me Hunters and Slashers are not two sides of a coin but rather two colors of dye. You can add red dye to blue and while they may mingle into something that is not blue you can still say that it is not red. Up to a point. If you keep adding dye though it is going to get harder to call it anything but red. I tend to imagine this happening usually one of two ways. The first is mission bleed. You start by only killing monsters, then you start killing their minions and thralls, then you start killing people who are associated with them or corrupted by them, and then where does it end? The other is Maslow’s hammer, i. e. “when all you have is a hammer everything starts to look like a nail.” Those Hunters who have grown accustomed to using violence in their Vigil may find that their comfort with violence has other advantages. Intimidating people to get what they need, using collateral damage to discourage retaliation from the supernatural, or even simply killing people who make themselves obstacles to the Vigil. Left unchecked these Hunters may find themselves unable to function in ways that aren’t violent. In both cases, Nietzche should always be in mind. “He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster.”

    Games that I have played in have toyed with the idea of Hunters becoming Slashers. Mostly this has occurred in an NPC context, but PCs have also flirted with it through things like the Cortical Adaptation and the Mask of Terror. The results have been mixed, but I would say that the table experiences were rewarding nonetheless and this is something I would like to see explored further in 2E.

    I am ambivalent as to how I feel about Slasher cabals. While I like the idea behind groups like the Hunt Club and the Subtle Collectors Association, I’ve always tended to view Slashers as rather self-centered and solitary. I also think that having groups of Slashers would diminish their “special-ness” somewhat, while also running the risk of coming off hokey if their organization is too widespread or well-entrenched that it stretches credulity. That being said I can already think of several examples of Slasher cabals that I’d want to use in a game, so the idea is not without some story potential. I can envision a clan of religious fanatics who ritualistically select a sinner and devour their debased worldly flesh so that their soul might ascend to heaven. I can see a shady travel agency that does “murder tourism”
    for the discerning psychopath. I can picture a cult of teenagers that worship an infamous Slasher and seek to recreate their crimes in meticulous detail.

    I am also a fan of using the Conditions system to represent/facilitate a Hunter’s slide into Slasher-hood. I feel this works even better than simply using Morality and Derangements, as the latter implies that Slashers are what all Hunters will become if they degenerate, while the former makes the transformation somewhat more deliberate while still being organic.

  34. False Epiphany
    January 15, 2016 at 11:28 am

    1. A sociopath or other mentally disturbed individual who commits serial murders for their own sake. Some slashers may construct elaborate rationales for their actions and only target a specific type of victim, but in the end, they are just as defined by the act of killing as slashers who do it for sick thrills. Once they pick up the knife (or chainsaw), they won’t ever set it down.* There will always be more victims to kill. Some slashers are true sociopaths, incapable of feeling empathy towards other human beings. Some slashers manage to forge genuine emotional bonds, such as Leatherface’s twisted devotion towards his family of like-minded killers, but such ties always take second place to the murders they commit. The knife always beckons.

    * As a general rule. Maybe it’s possible to rehabilitate a slasher, but if so, it’s a “unique storyline” thing rather than a standard option in the core rulebook. Rather like how the option to bring a Clarity 0 changeling back to Clarity 1 is an optional rule in the one of the non-core books (Rites of Spring?).

    2. Dexter shows us that slashers can be protagonists. May shows us that not all slashers are born sociopaths: hurt and rejection can drive someone to take up the chainsaw. At the same time, the CofD are built around themes of moral ambiguity and relating to the human condition from an outside perspective. The Strix aren’t PC options because they can’t relate to humans: they have no Humanity. Pandorans can’t relate to humans: they have no Humanity. True Fae can’t relate to humans: they have no Clarity. Angels can’t relate to humans: they’re hooked up to the God-Machine. PCs straddle the boundaries between human and inhuman, able to understand and empathize with ordinary mortals while dwelling apart from them. Slashers can’t relate to the human condition on anything but a superficial level, as they exist only to kill. Slashers might be appropriate PC options in the Classic World of Darkness, with its Paths of Enlightenment and Wayward Creed hunters, but the CofD have taken a different track.

    That said, the question was whether it should be possible for PCs to become slashers, not whether slashers should be playable as PCs. I think so. The threat slashers pose doesn’t loom as large if PCs don’t risk becoming them. Slashers should not solely be external adversaries, but also an internal, “This is what I could become?”

    Plus, if they’re supposed to be way more common in Hunter 2e, it helps 1st edition veterans if we see clear rules for how they’re created. Instead of telling gamers “this is what’s true now,” there are game mechanics to show them why.

    3. Potentially. I would give the slashers some kind of special bond, such being husband and wife (or husband/husband and wife/wife, this is 2016), as slashers typically don’t congregate together (the Hunt Club being one such atypical example). Most of the time, slashers are loners. Never say never, but recognize that the archetype has its place.

    It sounds like it’s set in stone at this point, but just for the record… “cabal” really is not my cup of tea as a name. It makes me think of bookish wizards or underhanded conspirators rather than chainsaw-wielding serial killers. Googling cabal gets me “a secret political clique or faction.” Choose something more visceral, like gang, throng or pack. Yes, those last two have been used in existing gamelines, but so has cabal.

  35. Stephen Near
    January 15, 2016 at 9:31 pm

    1) The abyss that gazes back and grabs at you. Slashers are unnatural humans who are ruled by their compulsions and derangements to commit brutal acts of ritualistic violence on others. They possess supernatural gifts that serve to enhance their murderous instincts and further fuel their sadistic obsessions.

    2) The story of becoming a Slasher is, really, the story that stabs at the heart of the game. Such a fall is really one of the central concepts of the game so, absolutely, I think it should there as a possibility. In the Hunter chronicle I ran at least one of the characters was a profiler battling the urge to descend into violence out of fear and hatred. Think Frank Black from Millennium, Fox Mulder (from the X-Files episode “Grotesque”) and, of course, Will Graham from Hannibal. The urge to violence, the need for blood, and the haunting voice tempting us down towards the abyss is part of what makes a Vigil game so interesting.

    In my chronicle, my players and I were far more interested in exploring the journey of finding the monsters (including serial killers but also vampires, demons, witches, and cults). Part of that journey involved coming to understand the deviant and alien psyches of the monsters both human and inhuman. The inherent danger, of course, is what Nietzsche said: ‘he who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster’. That’s the type of struggle and journey that lead to the most intense and dramatic sessions at our table. We were not, however, interested in playing monsters (and Slashers specifically) right off the hop. Honestly, we had our Sabbat game for that.

    Our game was defined by the characters really holding the Vigil; struggling to be the light in the darkness. That struggle took many forms. Their resolve was tested not just by the horrors they encountered but also the loss of allies, friends, and family because of the hunt. One player portrayed a Bureau profiler who was trying to raise a young daughter while fighting with her ex-husband for custody. She was also a medium constantly haunted by the spirits of the victims of the Slashers she was hunting. And then, of course, there were the killers themselves.

    3) The best way I could see using a Slasher cabal would be as a dark mirror to the characters themselves. In this way, they become something that reminds the characters of the fragility of their sanity and the ease with which they could fall into bloodlust and madness. The idea that Slashers, particularly fallen hunters, form their own thrill kill cults is an intriguing one from the standpoint of them being a powerful and terrifying adversary. This type group was at the heart of one chapter of the chronicle that I ran. In a similar fashion to Hannibal, the aforementioned Bureau profiler was hunted and taunted by a former colleague (in this case a neurosurgeon) who became a psychopathic cult leader of serial killers.

    I’m not really that interested in portraying a Slasher character that is a part of such cabal unless, of course, there’s an interesting story to it. Is the cabal comprised of fallen hunters who used to hold the Vigil and are now struggling to get back to the light even as the darkness consumes them? Hmm, that might be interesting

    4) Honestly, I don’t think rules are needed to govern this sort of journey. The new elements of Conditions as well as Triggers and Breaking Points in the game already seem to lay out some handy rules for this kind of horror story. If anything is needed, I think, its additional setting material to support the notion of fallen hunters. Setting material should maybe look at this as a larger phenomenon. Are fallen hunters a part of a larger pattern? Are certain types of hunters predisposed to becoming a Slasher? Are

  36. Xenorath
    January 16, 2016 at 4:17 pm

    1) Slashers are based on a prevalent horror trope that often generates a lot of complex feelings. If you had to come up with a definition of a slasher that you know you and your group would be happy with, what would it be?

    For me, a slasher is a human monster. Sort of a “man is the real monster” thing. The idea that humans can become monsters by giving into the urge to kill above all other things just seems like it could serve as a powerful warning to Hunters to wait they could become if they lose sight of why they are doing what they are doing and take the Vigil too far.

    2) Does the possibility of becoming a slasher sound interesting to you? Why or why not?

    It sounds very interesting to me. I think the potential story of a Hunter’s slide into slasherdom is a compelling story and would make for a stronger game overall.

    3) Could you see yourself using a slasher cabal in your game? If so, how?

    I’ve always thought that slasher’s work best on an individual level with multiple slashers working together being an extraordinary case. I would be willing to use a group of slashers as an antagonist group, but not very often to keep it special and make discovering why multiple slashers are working together a plot point. I’m not 100% sold on cabal being the term for a group of slashers, but it isn’t a huge deal.

  37. GREEM
    January 17, 2016 at 4:37 pm

    1. To me, a Slasher is something that used to be human. In some cases it can ape humanity for a bit, but it will always be found out to be the monster it’s become. Sometimes, though, they left their humanity behind, shedding it like sloughing off dead skin. Regardless, they either don’t view themselves as human or ONLY view themselves as human. But either way, they have a Mission, and to them, the Mission is everything. Their focus is obsessive, and the obsessiveness of their focus is the sole link tying them to humanity; they obsess as only humans or things that were once humans can. That obsession is the defining hallmark; death is important, but their obsessions cannot be ignored. In a way, they’re the demons of addiction and obsession embodied in a person.

    2. Oh, yes. Hunters already walk a tightrope. They have to remain vigilant, and it’s all too easy to slip into that abyss. As other commenters have quoted, “Wer mit Ungeheuern kämpft, muss zusehen, dass er nicht dabei zum Ungeheuer wird” (can’t help it, I prefer to quote him in the original). The Hunter’s vigil never ends until their death or transformation, even if they try to believe they can turn their back on it. There’s something in the Hunter that calls them to action. They can feel the Mission’s siren call, no matter what the Mission may be. The difference is that the Hunter knows that they’re human, and still feels that link between them and their fellow travelers. But they’re on a tightrope… and not everyone can balance.

    3. I would probably use a cabal of Slashers as a sort of dark mirror for the Hunters. Slashers may not solely come from the Vigil, but I’d view cabals as being cells that became monsters together. Cells that had to keep covering up collateral damage and murdered civilians, or that were trying to redeem a Slasher, or something similar. Non-Hunter Slashers exist, of course, but they’re probably not going to be seeking each other out.

    4. I have to agree with the plurality/majority: Conditions are the way to go for this. I’d prefer to view it like the conditions in Heirs to Hell modeling how deep the God-Machine has its hooks in the various Offspring: You can start, you can perhaps even get off this train… but once you reach the end of the line, the only way out is death. You’re a sleeper agent (or, in this case, a Slasher).

  38. Pierre
    January 17, 2016 at 6:58 pm

    If I may make a suggestion why not just revamp the mechanism for Cruac? A hunter could get blatantly supernatural powers and advantages at the cost of a “cap” on its integrity. It has several advantages:

    – first, since for them magic costs integrity, they could easily jump to the conclusion that it’s the case for everyone and explain their hatred for magic. If just the ability to heal quicker takes such a heavy toll on your soul, how would you feel when seeing a werewolf?
    – second, you could smoothly “slide” from hunter to slasher, with no clear cut of which side of the line you’re standing upon.
    – most hunters story, from what I gather, circle around the idea that the Vigil corrupts. Hence that slide seems thematically appropriate.

  39. Micha
    January 19, 2016 at 2:07 pm

    An interesting tidbit. What you call a “tell” is what is formally known as a killer’s “signature.” Whenever you see a cop show about a serial killer, and they talk about the signature? That’s what they’re talking about – the tell. Its something that the killer is psychologically compelled to do at the murder. In fact, its the whole point of the murder.

    I love the focus on that part.

  40. Micha
    January 19, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    Oh, and answers!

    1) Slashers are based on a prevalent horror trope that often generates a lot of complex feelings. If you had to come up with a definition of a slasher that you know you and your group would be happy with, what would it be?

    To me, I think that Slashers should be closer to hunters than transformed into monsters. I want to see Slashers as the dark part of humanity made manifest, not as another monster made manifest.

    2) Does the possibility of becoming a slasher sound interesting to you? Why or why not?

    Not really. There are a million ways to be a killer in the CofD already. We already play on the dark side, why need to go more so?

    3) Could you see yourself using a slasher cabal in your game? If so, how?

    As a gooup of antagonists or NPC foils, sure.

  41. Patrick Regan
    January 25, 2016 at 6:52 pm

    I’m a week or so late to this party, but the answers to these questions have only just come to me, so I share them now!

    1) I’ve been watching a lot of Hannibal (a truly amazing show), and to me, its depiction of Slashers is what I find truly interesting. The way they pass among the world, the complex and unique motivations behind their crimes. You can even map a lot of 1ed’s Slashers on to some of them, from Mask-like physical bruisers to Hannibal himself.

    There’s a sense that the authorities are ill-equipped
    to deal with this kind of problem, a sense that lends itself well to Hunter. Factor in a world where a person’s beliefs about “Becoming” might be real and it gets very interesting.

    I would hope it gets handled with the kind of care that Hannibal does, though, as that show seriously does its psychiatric research (every mental health professional I know loves that show. Which is… strange.)

    2) Well, yes and no. It’s somewhat interesting to me in the same way that the possibility a Vampire might become a Dragur is interesting. It’s something I want to keep around, something I will easily have show up as an NPC, but the truth of the matter is I can’t think of a single game I’ve ever participated in where a PC falling down that hole seemed like it might actually happen, save maybe a one shot.

    It just seems like it would derail the whole chronicle and group dynamic.

    3) Oh, most definitely. To jump off of Hannibal, there’s something deeply fascinating about the idea of a Slasher therapist who provides honest-to-God therapy to Slashers. Only his form of healing is to get them closer to killing, which he sincerely believes is healthier.

    4) I think if it’s there, some rules would probably be a good idea to give some structure, but like I said, I’m not sure I’m sold on the idea of it being there altogether.

Comments are closed.