Hunter 2E Open Dev: Slashers and Ashwood Abbey

Hunter: The Vigil

Slasher cover artI mentioned in my Hunter the Vigil 2E developer announcement that I wanted to use OpenDev as a way to introduce how I’m addressing gameplay, structure, and the three tiers in the context of the Slasher Chronicle. This will be an experiment, for both you and for me, that will help us understand how discussions like this can affect development prior to the outline phase.

First, let’s kick off Hunter OpenDev by addressing what a slasher is, since this type of monster is crucial to the Slasher Chronicle. So, outside of the horror trope and being dangerous killers–what is a slasher? The Slasher supplement has a great introduction that talked not only about how this book examines the trope, it takes this idea a step further by saying:

“That’s the hunter advantage: working together, a unified front of defense and attack.

But what it the slashers had that advantage, too? What if, say, we gave you the tools to consider what happens when slashers aren’t the lone killers so commonly expected, but instead band together? A family of thrill-killing mutants? A cabal of ritualistic killers? A squad of mindless brute thugs, their faces concealed behind featureless masks? The danger is multiplied. The killings grow exponentially. A hunter cell facing a cabal or a cult of slashers is in for a very rough ride, indeed.

And did we mention that sometimes, hunters become slashers?” (Slashers, p 11.)

The fact that all hunters have the potential to become slashers is terrifying, and in a supplement this is a fantastic option to explore. In the Hunter 2E rulebook, however, one of the things I’m looking at is how cells, compacts, and conspiracies are presented for standard gameplay and how they might fit into the overarching chronicle. When I was thinking about this, the compact Ashwood Abbey immediately jumped out to me as potentially problematic. (For those of you who are new to Hunter, cells are a Tier One style of play, compacts reflect Tier Two, and conspiracies are Tier Three.)

The Scotland-based Ashwood Abbey is a compact on pp. 102-105 of the Hunter the Vigil 1st Edition corebook. Abbey members tend to be thrill-seekers, hedonists, and social climbers whose status is based on:

“…who you know and, to a lesser degree, what you’ve killed. But mostly it comes from getting a reputation for being adventurous, for putting on great, bizarre parties, for doing imaginative things to your quarry.” (H:tV 1E, p. 105)

The compacts were also addressed in the Slasher supplement, and Ashwood Abbey was presented in part as thus:

“When you’re the kind of person who loves a good hunt, what better prey than a killer possessed of native cunning, speed, determination and a seeming inability to lie down and know he’s licked?

It doesn’t get any better than that. Of course, the Abbey members are mostly borderline psychos anyway, and slashers — particularly Charmers and Geniuses — might get a kick out of joining. Once or twice, the Freak-ish offspring of those inbred moneyed families you hear about have been brought along on hunts, kept on a tight leash (sometimes literally). There have been several members of the Ashwood Abbey who, over the years, have either maintained dual membership or transferred their membership to the Hunt Club.

Sometimes the members of the Abbey find a killer they respect and invite him to join — in part of get him off the streets and into some “productive” killings, in part to honor his twisted talents. In 1888, a group from the Abbey found Saucy Jack himself. The story is common currency among the Abbey: he joined, he was good at killing beasts, but then he got bored. When he went back to killing prostitutes, the Abbey ended up hunting down and killing him.” (Slashers pp. 47-48)

While I don’t want to give the entire story for Hunter 2E away, you can safely assume that there are more slashers present now (with respect to an “in game” timeline) than there were in 1E. Applying that to Ashwood Abbey, this means the compact is more likely to harbor and work with slashers, and this increases their potential threat level to other compact members — which makes them more antagonistic to other hunters. The seeds of this possibility was introduced in the Slasher supplement as well, through the Hunt Club. Here’s a little more about them:

“An irony: the Hunt Club isn’t an organization of hunters. It’s an organization of killers. Superficial similarities between the Hunt Club and Ashwood Abbey (the affluence of their members, the exclusivity of their membership practices) cause some hunters to confuse them, or assume that one is a department of the other, but notwithstanding the occasional member of the Abbey who joined the Hunt Club, they’re wholly separate organizations with their own structures and their own resources.” (Slashers p. 48)

I feel these aspects have the potential to limit the opportunities for Ashwood Abbey members to work with non-Abbey members and, more importantly, it could also turn the compact into a target for slashers, hunters, and other monster types. With all of this in mind, I’m mulling over three possibilities for Ashwood Abbey in Hunter 2nd Edition. They are:

  • No Change: First, we can keep Ashwood Abbey mostly “as is” with few changes per my above-quoted text. This wouldn’t be impossible to do, but it wouldn’t be my preferred option.
  • Blending the Two: Second, we can reinforce that it’s a challenging time to be a member of the Ashwood Abbey. A growing number of hunters are fleeing to join the Hunt Club, and other hunters are not only confusing the two groups, they are actively keeping tabs on them for fear they might be slashers, etc. This means that the Hunt Club would also be included in the Slasher Chronicle, and would take the place of a new antagonist. By far, this is the safest route to take.
  • Major Update: Or, third: we turn Ashwood Abbey into antagonists who’ve been taken over by the Hunt Club, and design/use a new compact to take their place. By doing so, Hunter’s version of the Hellfire Club wouldn’t be as much of an outlier for this book, and we can use or create a more appropriate compact that’s more interested in dealing with the overall mystery and has the potential to work with other compacts. (Please keep in mind that VASCU, which first appeared in Slasher, is a conspiracy.) This is a more inventive option that would allow for a new compact based someplace new, such as Brazil, Nigeria, Japan, etc.

Now that I’ve given you some background, some quotes, and some options, I’d like to open up this post to discussion.

  • Which of these three options do you prefer and why?
  • If you’re worried about a change, what is your hangup and how do you feel this’ll affect your group?
  • If you’re excited by a specific idea, what do you like most about it?
  • If you already play Hunter, are Tier Two chronicles your preferred style of gameplay?

Please, in your comments, be clear as to why you do/don’t like the options I’ve proposed. As a gentle reminder, I’m not looking at your responses as a poll, nor am I counting comments as votes for the most popular option; I’m much more interested in figuring out what’s best for the new edition, for both new and existing fans, within the context of the Slasher Chronicle. After all, Hunter 1E was published almost nine years ago and a lot has changed since then! Lastly, please keep in mind we’ve got some new Hunter fans who might be reading this post, too, so if your comment isn’t clear it might trigger more questions for clarity.

Next time, I’ll let you know what I’ve decided. Then, I’ll specifically address your questions and concerns about Tier Two with respect to the number of compacts we’ll include, as well as ways we can fit more existing and new compacts in this book. I am looking forward to discussing the possibilities with you!

  126 comments for “Hunter 2E Open Dev: Slashers and Ashwood Abbey

  1. Logan
    December 22, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    I like the third option, because I’ve really never known what to DO with Ashwood Abbey in my Hunter chronicles. Eventually I just gave up and ignored them completely, occasionally using them as antagonists.

    I think the primary issue was that my players found the Abbey utterly unsympathetic. They can understand the motives of the other compacts and conspiracies (the working-class Joes of the Union, the MIB-esque mystery of VALKYRIE, the mysticism and Indiana Jones pulpiness of Aegis Kai Doru, etc.) but not the Abbey. At best, the Abbey was a Zaroff-esque (there’s a deep cut for you) sort of sideshow. So I think the Abbey could use a major overhaul, and using slashers strikes me as a capital way of doing it.

  2. Jonathan
    December 22, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    Ashwood Abbey always struck me as just as monstrous as the prey they hunt and putting them down would be doing a service to everyone. Having only read the core Hunter book and not any of the extra details contained in “Compacts and Conspiracies,” the Major Update option seems the only logical conclusion (whether they end up that way now or later it seems inevitable regardless).

    I don’t have any comments/answers for questions #2 & #3.

    All of the Hunter games I have played in have been Tier One but I have played in Tiers Two and Three (or their equivalents) in other game lines and much prefer the broader scope.

  3. Malkydel
    December 22, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    Personally I’m most enamoured with the middle option. The blending and the interplay between two factions like the Abbey and the Hunt Club allows them to better define and redefine each other without the whole of the Abbey going cancer cell.

    Perhaps having the Hunt Club so enthusiastically nibbling away at them would be the thing that helps the Abbey to steady their heels on the precipice and start edging back? Threads of redemption and betrayal and civil war have much more bite when there’s something to fight for/over. If they tried to change, then how would the members take it?

    I feel like flinging the Abbey right over the edge and into proper antagonist territory would be a waste of one of the many facets of the hunt- namely that some would likely just do it for fun.

    On the other hand it would also allow a bit more light to be shed on the Hunt Club and how the mixing of blood has changed them. Would they be perhaps more willing to hunt monsters? Would they look down on the poseurs in their midst and put them through increasingly complex tests of loyalty and inventiveness? I think there’s great story potential for both the Vigil and the Great Game, but there has to be something at stake- and that should be the Abbey’s soul.

    • December 22, 2015 at 12:48 pm

      I don’t know, I think there’s a lot of potential by making them an antagonist faction. The Abbey (and Cheiron) have never really been on a *Vigil*, they’ve just been monster hunters. They’re also the groups from the corebook the most like slashers. I don’t think that too much would be lost if they were pushed “over the edge” into the antagonist section, especially if the theme of the Slasher Chronicle plays up the notion that a Slasher is someone for whom the vigil has been perverted.

      And it’s not like these groups would be unplayable, either. Slashers were already antagonist characters that plenty have played (and I’ve been in a Pure game). I think there’s a lot of conceptual space for them to be seen as “bad guys” instead of people who’ve willingly taken up a “vigil” against the monsters, as opposed to Hunting for personal reasons. I think Hunters work best as people who at the very least *think* they’re doing good for good reasons.

      ? ?O?r? ?C?h?e?i?r?o?n? ?c?a?n? ?b?e? ?l?e?f?t? ?o?u?t? ?e?n?t?i?r?e?l?y? ?a?n?d? ?p?u?t? ?i?n? ?D?e?v?i?a?n?t?:? ?T?h?e? ??????? ?

      • December 22, 2015 at 12:48 pm

        Apparently strikeout text doesn’t show up on the blog. I was trying to say “Or Cheiron can be left out and put in Deviant: The ???”

      • LostLight
        December 22, 2015 at 1:03 pm

        I can’t say I agree with you about what the Vigil is- being an Hunter for me means you go into the dark and search for what wish to stay hidden. The candle is meant to banish the darkness and see what hides inside it. “Protecting humanity” or “doing the right thing” are just some reasons to do so. “Cutting monsters for cash” or “hunt monsters for fun” are other reasons- but you still carry the Vigil simply because you are someone who dares to dive into the faceless shadows and discover the truth- or, at least, some part of the truth.

        Being a slasher is an whole other thing- it means killing your own kind and disturbing everything you think you know about the world. It is about mistrust, about paranoia and fear and the horror you suffer when you look in the mirror and see something you don’t want to see. It is about taking those shadows and weave them into a mask, and put off the candle with a breath- being an hunter is about searching for answers, slashers is about making you to ask questions again, and while the Abbey may not be the nicest group in Hunter and they may be very close to fall over the edge- they are still hunters, simply because they recognize there is a difference between a man and a monster.

        • December 22, 2015 at 3:43 pm

          When you’re doing it for a paycheck or because it gets you off, that’s not really a “vigil”, though.

      • Malkydel
        December 22, 2015 at 1:10 pm

        I suppose then the question would become “What’s a good enough reason to take up the Vigil?”

        The Abbey’s practices are hedonistic and extreme, but are the results any less comepelling than the Loyalists’ guilt, Null Mysteris’ curiosity/skepticism or Network Zero’s crusade for the truth?

        For me, as much as it is an indulgence, Marcus Oglivy’s response to those werewolves was as much “Nothing inhuman is going to interrupt my fun” as it was “Ooh, potential fun!”

        They have a place in a Vigil which reflects a variety of human motivation and whim- especially when at the level of unaugmented/unpowered humans who are fundamentally human in their failings and wants.

        • December 22, 2015 at 3:09 pm

          I’m actually not that fond of the Loyalists or Null Mysteriis, to be honest. They’re not really “Hunters”, even if they’ve got something of a vigil.

          As for “what’s a good enough reason”, well, I think anything where the Hunter can say to themselves that they’re doing it for the right reasons. They don’t necessarily have to BE a good guy, but every Hunter should at least THINK they’re the good guy.

  4. patpandahat
    December 22, 2015 at 12:35 pm

    I think it’s really short-sighted to just go “well, the Abbey is kind of unsettling, so we’ll just lump them in with the serial killers this go-around”.

    Like *every* hunter is at-risk of being a slasher, but because of 1e supplements always taking the sort of one-note perspective on Abbey characters (“just a bunch of sickos and perverts”), they get purged as a common protagonist-type?

    If that was going to be the end-result, why even feature them as a compact in the first place?

    So I’m pretty adamantly against the third choice.

    The second choice could be utilized, but personally I thought the Hunt Club was kind of pointless organization for the sake of organization; so cultivating them just so you can go “who’s the *real* monster, if you look so alike?” when that’s literally *every thing a hunter comes up against* is silly.

    So I guess my vote would be for the first choice, with the caveat that what I *really* want is someone to explore Ashwood Abbey without just defaulting to lazy characterization.

    • SunlessNick
      December 23, 2015 at 7:51 am

      Toning them down a bit is an option too. Give them a motive like the Bear Lodge perhaps: they hunt to prove they’re great hunters.

      • The Nate
        December 23, 2015 at 4:41 pm

        That actually fits what I was going to say, yeah. You could have a group utterly devoted to their own pleasure and without any goal, otherwise, but they would need a rationale in their own minds, or the thing’s gonna be short lived.

        (Not saying it would be small, but if not, internal strife is inevitable. Without a creed of some sort, the group will divide and keep dividing until stable. Why would I even be *tempted* to join this group? Will they teach me something useful? If you got nothing, well, the group isn’t going to be recruiting so very well. Hellfire clubs do not grant members prestige.)

        That said, a more noble ideal (which could be anachronistic—that’s probably better, actually) makes a lot of sense. Maybe they used to help nobles protect their titles and lands, and the hunt grew out of that. What maybe even began as a political alliance may have grown more practical.

        That gives the thing a reason to have existed, even if modern incarnation would be fallen. In fact, the group may have transitioned to a good-old-boy club that gave useful advice and set up fun noble play time long before their hold started to be eroded.

        That would give a pressure towards internal conflicts on what the group should be. Some could still set up formal hunts to protect their lands, but with some enmity between them and the rest of the club. A faction (which could cross other factional lines) could resort to hunting people who threaten their way of life. Presumably, most factions promote charity, but this would mean that some are serious about making things better on principle.

        This grants the organization some latitude in being both a force for good and evil, which I prefer.

        I don’t mind two similar organizations existing, personally.

  5. Jordan Etherington
    December 22, 2015 at 12:36 pm

    I think #3 is the best option. Having evil rich dudes going on human (or supernatural) safaries fits in with the atmosphere of CofD more then if they were meant to be protagonists. It’s also hard to figure out a reason for the other factions of Hunter to want to even work with them.

  6. LostLight
    December 22, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    I must say I support the 2nd option, and really feel uncomfortable with the third. The Ashwood Abbey is my favorite Compact, and I really like how they were portrayed in Compacts & Conspiracies (as people who hunt for experiences, and not just killing monsters). While I do believe there should be new groups from all around the world, killing the Abbey (which is how the third option feels to me) doesn’t seem like my preferred option..

    About how this would affect my group- honestly, it won’t. I would sure whine about it in the forums, but I would just ignore it in my table. If a new group would be presented, I would find a way to make the two options work together, but all in all I’ll keep the Abbey as I use them now (actually, in my game they are already a conspiracy, so I’ve already strayed away from the canon 😛 )

    Also, I think that the 2nd option may open a window for new stories for the Abbey- that is, using the fact that both the Abbey and the Hunt Club are so close (both thematically and geographically) and present some “shadow war” between the two groups- as they fight over the same resources and same potential recruits. Each side could have undercover members in the other side, and while neither of them are trusted by other hunters, those who know better could use the help of one group against the other.

    Anyway, those are just my two cents on the subject 😛

    • Malkydel
      December 22, 2015 at 12:41 pm

      I do love to see other people who love the Abbey. I might be biased because they’re Scottish, but I always loved that there was someone whose reasons for fighting monsters were largely self-serving and to an extent ignoble.

      • December 22, 2015 at 3:42 pm

        Like I’ve said elsewhere, it’s not so much that I don’t like the Abbey as it is that I think they’d be better as an Antagonist faction. It’s not like they’d be unplayable.

    • LostLight
      December 22, 2015 at 1:37 pm

      Also wanted to note that I have zero problem with slasher cults and organizations and I think that adding such sample groups in the antagonist section is a great idea for 2E- simply because I find the idea of an whole organization dedicated for killing as terrifying.

    • Atavist
      December 22, 2015 at 2:36 pm

      They’re my favorite compact as well. It bugs me that people want to get rid of them.

      • December 22, 2015 at 3:41 pm

        I don’t want to get rid of them, I just think that they make more sense as an Antagonist faction. They’re sort of the Belial’s Brood of Hunters. Sure, other orgs are criminally negligent at best and domestic terrorists at worst, but as someone else pointed out the Abbey doesn’t even couch it in “WE’RE HELPING!”, they just do it for the lulz.

        • LostLight
          December 22, 2015 at 4:06 pm

          ammmm no, I don’t think the Belial’s Brood analogy works- maybe Seers of the Throne, but not the Brood. The Brood defies everything vampires see as “sacred”- they break the traditions, defy the rules and show the kindred’s “true self” as some sort of a black mirror. The Abbey doesn’t do it simply because they cling to hunting monsters. The Hunt Club, however, serves as that black mirror quit well.

    • Baroque
      December 22, 2015 at 9:01 pm

      We definitely need a re-definition of the abbey.

      Option 2 is the best one working, in this case – the Hunt Lodge is gnawing away those who are mostly attracted to “kill things” – and the abbey redefine themselves as “supernatural experience seeker”.

      A member may barter and deal with vampires and changelings and mage in order to get her hands on goblin fruits, dragon livers, blood of ancient vampires.

      Another may search for keys and places and mysterious houses, because of the sense of wonder he found in the hedge, and, once, in the twilight.

      An old lady searched for anchors of ghosts and collects them – she and her cell are thrilled to conversate with ghosts, and organize true seances!

  7. December 22, 2015 at 12:38 pm

    I’m a bit torn on this for a couple reasons. I don’t like the idea of a “timeline” because it calls to mind the metaplot that CofD really shouldn’t have. I also would like to see the Abbey as “good” guys, but only because I want to play Hunter Batman.

    I’d like to suggest a fourth option, though, that’s a bit similar to the last two:

    Ashwood Abbey is as it always has been in 1e. Which is to say a Hellfire club of people who are just as monstrous as the things they hunt. Instead of putting them in the player character section, they get their write up in the antagonist chapter, and while not all of their members are slashers, enough of them are. The Hunt Club and the Abbey’s only real difference has been in terms of who they go after, but that doesn’t necessarily need to be changed. A group of rich Hunters who often become Slashers doesn’t require two separate Compacts, just a rewrite of the existing one. The Abbey in 1e are practically Slashers anyway, they just tend to go after more exciting targets than most.

    I think Ashwood Abbey and the Hunt Club should be merged in theme, but not necessarily history.

    • Seidmadr
      December 22, 2015 at 12:50 pm

      Actually, Aspel raises a good point. Getting a metaplot like this is a bad idea. It’s better to retcon things so that, for instance, the Abbey have always been a Slasher-organisation.
      Having the factions evolve is one thing, moving the timeline forward as more books are published is completely different, and something I personally wouldn’t want to see.

    • December 22, 2015 at 1:11 pm

      There is no “metaplot” in the sense of story moving forward between books. However, the Slasher Chronicle focuses on the “now” and how things develop to that.

      The idea that AA could have over time become darker and darker as a group makes a lot of sense in that regard.

      • December 22, 2015 at 3:38 pm

        That’s fine, then. Something like “The Abbey wa founded in eighteen-blahbatiyblah but since the early 1900s the branch known as the Hunt Club has been gaining traction” is fine. I’d just be worried about “since we last saw the Abbey…”

    • Xion Grey
      December 22, 2015 at 3:32 pm

      I’m Very much for your “Option 4” in it’s entirety.

      Having a “Timeline” is a bit unsettling to me in CofD and much to close to the Meta-plot that is the shtick of WoD. I know it’s not the same thing but the implication of it is that “Time has progressed between 1st Ed and 2nd Ed so playing 1st ed rules and setting is chronologically in the past of 2nd Ed.” and that doesn’t seem to have been what CofD has ever been good for.

      I’m much more of a fan of a “Re-Write” then a chronological progression. I’m fine if the re-write is “they were founded by hunters but naturally now they’re here” but not as a consequence of how they were in 1st Ed.

      If we can’t have the re-write option, I’m in favor of option #3 since I think it reflects the general theme of that compact.

      Still though, I’d much rather They get re-written as such.

      • December 22, 2015 at 4:02 pm

        There is no timeline, nor will there be traditional metaplot. The Slasher Chronicle will be developed just as it was for Vampire and Werewolf 2E. I put it in quotes, for that reason. In game development terms, Hunter 1E is separate from Hunter 2E, and this is due to the Slasher Chronicle and the new rules. Thus, each operates on a different timeline as some enhancements will be made in the new edition.

        • Xion
          December 23, 2015 at 3:43 pm

          Awesome! This calms my fears.

          But yeah to answer the questions I like the third option. I just like the idea of antagonists that are so much like your characters with very similar beginnings and still operate in a very similar manor but seem to be a foil for everything the characters may stand for or who’ve gone a bit too far.

          Like standing in front of a twisted mirror.

  8. Eli Church
    December 22, 2015 at 12:40 pm

    I particularly like the third option, mostly due to how inherently “out-of-touch” Ashwood Abbey is with the rest of humanity. Their hunting isn’t even under the guise of “for a better tomorrow” like the Cheiron group, or “WE’RE HELPING”, like VALKYRIE. It’s just for the unmitigated hedonistic glee of hunting and subjugating something. I think that (especially now that there’s a big push to display the blurring lines between Slasher and Hunter), a merger between the Hunt Club and Ashwood Abbey could provide a wonderful example of how it can all go so wrong.

    In addition, I love the idea of creating a brand new compact for the book. I think it’ll be a wonderful way to add more variety to player options, as well as a great way to explore some more diversified voices in the Hunter Community.

  9. Yossarian
    December 22, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    Really like the Major Update option. I’ve almost always seen Ashwood Abbey handled as antagonists, or as a group to avoid on the Vigil — people who might have information or useful methods, but people you don’t risk your life for. Going full on in the evil department gives them a clearer place in the game, and a lot of interesting plot hooks with the Hunt Club infiltration / take over. Antagonist Hunter factions were something 1e lacked a little; obviously the focus antagonists should be monsters, but breaking that expectation from time to time really adds to the game.

    Plus, I’d really like to see a new Compact!

    When I’ve played Hunter, it’s mostly been at the Tier 2 level. As much as some of the Conspiracies are iconic to me (TF:V, Cheiron), CofD (and Hunter, by extension) works really well in that middle ground , where your resources are limited, but you’re never really completely in the dark…

  10. Seidmadr
    December 22, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    Ashwood Abbey is too villainous as it is. They are even worse than the Cheiron Group. The Cheiron Group might be evil as an organisation, but it’s run by normal people. Ashwood Abbey attracts people who are jaded, decadent, and hedonistic thrill-killers.
    It’s also seriously hard to explain why the Abbey would hunt supernatural creatures, rather than join and/or party with them.
    Option #3 seems to fit them the best.

    My group wouldn’t be impacted much by this change, as none of us find the Abbey interesting to play.
    I find the third one being most interesting, as it gives them some impact again.
    Hunter isn’t our #1 game, but when we do play it, Tier 3 is where we are at.

    • December 22, 2015 at 12:51 pm

      Abbey should be in the Antagonist section and Cheiron should either be in the Antagonist section of Slasher Chronicle OR the Antagonist section of Deviant: The ??? because you just KNOW they’re making monsters of their own.

      They could still be playable, of course, just that the Abbey and Cheiron have always been the most villainous. Plus, if Cheiron is put in the Antagonist section, VASCU can be put in the character creation section.

      • Seidmadr
        December 22, 2015 at 12:55 pm

        Myeah. But the Cheiron people are at least just, you know. Working class slobs, who have gotten in over their heads.

        But yeah. Moving them over to Deviant would be glorious.

        • December 22, 2015 at 3:22 pm

          Eh. Rereading the Cheiron write up in core, they don’t really feel like “working class slobs”. I mean, the last sample Hunter is a literal Slasher (and an American Psycho reference):

          >You were in Mergers and Acquisitions. No one knew that you had a taste for torture, murder and Phil Collins in your spare time. You got caught out by a Cheiron Field Projects team. They realized you were a wholly natural monster, and offered you a job. You took it, but it didn’t take long for you to figure it out: This is not an exit.

          Some of the other samples are people who got in over their head, but between the ex-marine and the rest of the write up, it doesn’t really feel like “working class schlub” is the usual for the Conspiracy; after all, the mortality rate would be a lot higher if everyone was janitors in the FPD by accident.

          • December 23, 2015 at 9:42 pm

            I like the idea of Hunters being caught in over their head working for an evil corporation. While the faction itself represents a pretty evil group the story that comes out of being a hunter trapped working for that faction seem pretty cool. Sure potentially they can be just as evil, but there feels like room to play with concepts. Also, to deviate a little, I think the ex-fiance from iZombie totally fits the mold of a hunter for the Cherion Group.

  11. nora
    December 22, 2015 at 12:47 pm

    The third option is by far the most interesting, but it does make me worry on behalf of some hypothetical player who plays an Abbey hunter they’re really attached to. But the idea of a familiar compact going bad is a really powerful one, and so would seeing a new compact that’s not just a bunch of European dudes.

  12. Marcio Cardoso
    December 22, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    Well, Ahswood Abbey was very difficult to work with from the very beginning. I mean, as the Storyteller, I didn’t know how to deal with and/or use them in-game, they were too ambiguous.

    So I really, really like the second option, where the Abbey can be treated as a “gateway drug” to the Hunt Club, so to speak. They’re each a compact on their on, but the two organizations have kind of a link between them. The Abbey is not outright “evil”, but sits in a dangerously grey area.

    That being said, I’d also love to see a compact based here in Brazil! Anywhere but the Amazon rainforest would be a nice place to start (because we’re through with the jungle stereotype), like the city of São Paulo (world’s 11th largest city by population).

    Anyway, second option would be my choice.

  13. Vito
    December 22, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    I like blurred lines between who protagonists and antagonists. I’ve always felt that helps foster the feeling of personal horror. When things are too clear cut, you limit that potential. The Ashwood Abbey was a prime example of straddling that line for me.

    They are a compact, which means they don’t have the same level of organization, uniformity, or reach as a conspiracy, but they are larger than an individual cell. Some local cells of the Ashwood Abbey can be more “humane” while others have gone off the deep end. Some can harbor horrors in their ranks, while others would find it abhorrent. That’s great for keeping folks on their toes and providing an example of how and why clear protagonists need to be careful of the consequences of their actions.

    In essence, something like option two seems the best of the options shared. It leaves things muddled and uncertain, with anyone (even other members of the Ashwood Abbey) having to ask if they can trust this group they’ve run across or not. I like the idea of a compact that is struggling for its soul, uncertain of whether or not it is an antiquated and blood-stained, but essentially honorable group or a gang of killers. Internal drama and tensions within a given Ashwood Abbey cell between the old ways and the “new” present excellent opportunities for conflict.

  14. Charlaquin
    December 22, 2015 at 1:16 pm

    I like the Major Update option, however, I agree with some of the points made by those in support of Blending the Two. The Abbey can have a place as protagonists, and it would be a shame to take them from the moral grey area they inhabit in 1e and place them firmly in the “bad guys” camp. What I would like to see happen is something more like Mage 2e’s treatment of the Seers of the Throne – at odds with the other PC factions, but still presented alongside them in the Compacts and Conspiracies section rather than in the Antagonists section.

    And yes, tier 2 is my favorite for Hunter.

  15. Leliel
    December 22, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    I vote option 3. Let the Abbey be an example of what happens when people don’t take the Vigil seriously for all the wrong reasons.

    Cheiron, on the other hand, I would leave as is, perhaps make a little nicer (ie, also obsessed with the healing part of medicine to an unhealthy degree). Cheiron works mostly because it’s also a PC group (they’re the people for whom the Vigil is their job, which makes the tempting nature of dehumanizing the enemy far, far more potent – you’re not paid to think things over).

  16. Eolirin
    December 22, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    I don’t think the Abbey has ever been a good reflection of Vigil’s themes, it’s more of a dark reflection of the worst of Hunter’s excesses; they’re not fighting to protect anything, they have no greater purpose than their own entertainment, they hunt when bored and only as long as it stays fun. They’re not really keeping a Vigil. So that sounds a lot like an antagonist group to me.

    Now, the Abbey certainly reinforces the whole bit about the dangers of becoming what you hunt, they’re just not terribly interesting from a player character perspective because the way they’re presented, they’ve *already* lost. You can only really do redemption arcs with them if you want to keep to Hunter’s core themes.

    At the same time I’m also not sure they should be overlapped with Hunt Club that much. Drawing a distinction between Slashers and normal albeit monstrous humans is important, and having the Abbey effectively be ‘taken over’ by Slashers rather than simply being sympathetic and unconcerned with their activities ruins that dynamic.

    So if I may present an additional option?

    Make Abbey an antagonist group that’s willing to ‘adopt’ Slashers and has no compunctions about killing mortals or even other Hunters if that’s fun too, or even if they’re just in the way, and then also change Hunt Club. Make it a generic way to describe Slasher cells or compacts. By opening up Hunt Club to be more generic it creates some space between the two; Abbey is where the old wealth and Hellfire Club associations go, and it’s still run by normal humans, just really awful ones who are more than happy to run with a Slasher. And that lets you put in some rules for creating our own Hunt Clubs at the various Tier levels to use as tailored antagonists, since making that generic opens up a huge design space around how a group of Slashers might interact. Resolves the overlap, fixes the issue with Ashwood Abbey being such a massive outlier, and gives us a powerful storytelling tool for including Slashers at deeper level than individual antagonists. Slasher cells as Tier 2 antagonists, compacts as Tier 3 works really nicely.

    But generally given the space constraints in the book I’d be much happier with the playable compacts not essentially having a requirement that the players be playing psychopaths who are implicitly okay with things like rape, and especially if the alternative also increases diversity.

  17. Will
    December 22, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    Any option that gets us a Nigerian compact gets my vote! Naija represent!

  18. Denim
    December 22, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    Please go the third route, the Ashwood Abbey was always difficult to work with given their agenda. They already make fantastic enemies, I use them in my Hunter game to stir a hit up, walk all over tense deals, threatening valuable informants, and general make a mess of things.

    I don’the think you can removerify the underlying issues with just a half update, they should just be pushed to be what they already feel like, the dark mirror to hold up to the PC Hunters.

  19. Five Eyes
    December 22, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    Bluntly, it seems like making the already-widely-unsympathetic Abbey even more monstrous and keeping it as a Compact would be nonsensical.

    The Abbey already has a problem as a compact in that it’s rare to find anyone using them as anything other than antagonists. This was true even sans Hunt Club/slasher infiltration. Making them more antagonistic ought to just cut to the chase and make the trend official – in this case, option #3.

    (By way of example: There are two comments posted as I start to draft this. As things progress, take a shot every time a comment uses the phrase “just as bad as/worse than what they hunt.” or “only use them as antagonists.”)

    If I had my druthers, I’d do something like #1.

    The Abbey would gobble up both the Bear Lodge and the Hunt Club and be our go-to compact for moneyed hunters who hunt for the thrill – either violent pursuits (hunting werewolves in traditional fashion) or more protracted games of intrigue (“hunting” a vampire through high society backstabbing and seductions) – with a secondary roster of employees who assist in the hunt for the money (expert guides, trackers, personal bodyguards, etc.)

    “For the thrill” and “for money” are such stock motivations that I’d feel it’d be a little odd for Vigil not to have a compact that works on those terms. It’d be a fairly obvious gap.

    Chop out most of (or better yet, jettison entirely) the horrorshow hedonism and sexual assault aspects – Vigil’s consistent that hunting people (who happen to be witches and werewolves) is shaky moral ground already, you don’t need to raise the ante to make doing it “for fun” unsettling.

    Let the Hunt Club exist inside the Abbey, but don’t make it part of the leadership or an accepted practice – the Abbey’s fuzzy moral principles don’t have a problem with membership hunting serial killers like animals, or making an elaborate game about driving a witch or ghouled politician to utter social and financial ruin, but going full slasher Simply Isn’t Done.

    Leave uncovering the “extracurricular activities” of slasher members as a plot seed for tables to exploit, and draw some clear parallels between the Hunt Club’s game-and-score methodology with the Abbey’s social-circle-prestige approach towards the hunt.

    ———————————————–

    Question 2: N/A, not worried about a change as such.

    Question 3: I’m anti-interested in #2, inasmuch as I don’t think adding “feeder school for members of the Hunt Club” to the Abbey’s list of offenses makes the organization any more interesting or useful from a play perspective. It just further erodes the little credibility they have as a compact.

    Question 4: Pretty much. The Compacts strike me as a good middle ground between being on your own and being invested in a (slightly mysterious and potentially untrustworthy) structure.

    I would generally only run a Tier 3 game if I wanted to make the Conspiracy chosen a Big Deal, and I’d just run normal blue-book Mortals for Tier 1.

    • Charlaquin
      December 22, 2015 at 4:34 pm

      I just wanted to second all of this.

    • hurum
      December 23, 2015 at 3:44 am

      I agree with this. Just because your rich, callous, hedonistic and think its great fun to hunt and kill some monstrous beast with other people of class doesn’t mean you think its OK to experiment in cannibalism or go Jack the Ripper.

      Take the 1e excesses of Ashwood and put them in the Hunt Club, or at least show that most of Ashwood knows that there is a line you dont cross, ever.

      After all it would just so vulgar and common, and the Abbey’s members are just born better than those sorts of people.

  20. Arcane
    December 22, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    As much as I like option 3 as a major blurring of lines, Option 2 is more dynamic and allows for a level of hedonism and dark exploration in regards to the freedom of demonizing others has without crossing Hunter’s particular lines.

    Ashwood Abbey has always been an edge case, hard to handle and play carefully, and I think exploring other options of how to explore those ideas with another compact is a great idea, but contrasting Ashwood with the Club is a neat way to show the difference and at the same time keep the risk of Ashwood.

    Make the Club taboo for Ashwood-make it so they define themselves by what the Club does. Make it a real tussle.

  21. Gusty737
    December 22, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    I think option 2 is the best. It’s a good way of illustrating that rich snobs can still be people until they make a bad decision (and it makes me think of batman vs. joker in DC comics!)

  22. unnatural1
    December 22, 2015 at 2:28 pm

    Oooo! Oooo!

    Option 3! All the way! Ashwood Abbey has always worked better as an Antagonist group, anyway! Just look at the stuff they do and why they do it. They’re practically Slashers already.

  23. Atavist
    December 22, 2015 at 2:33 pm

    When it comes down to it I’m really for any option other than turning Ashwood Abbey into antagonists. I appreciate what they do is dark, but they are also the only group that doesn’t go into the hunt with a grimdark outlook. They’re having fun, and exalting in the thrill of the hunt.

    Granted, if you’re firmly ‘on the side’ of the other splats you’re going to think they’re horrible monsters. But every splat has its monsters as well, and outside of them there’s a myriad of other monstrosities, tentacle beasts and dark gods and bodyjackers and trees that eat people, cars that eat people, and people that eat people. Ashwood Abbey doesn’t just hunt your favorite character, they hunt monsters just like everyone else, and they’re honest and clear about their motives in a way few other groups are.

    All that said I think, for game purposes, the best option would be number two, having a rift within the group and have the other compacts and conspiracies be unsure of them. This allows Storytellers to run them as antagonists as they want, but it doesn’t place them firmly in the territory of antagonists, so that when a player comes to a table wanting to be one he doesn’t automatically get blown off for wanting to play an ‘antagonist’ group.

  24. Analog_Signal
    December 22, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    Keeping the Ashwood Abbey as a core “playable” group is important to the Hunter genre: They represent a unique perspective on the hunt, and it is these unique perspectives that drive much of the roleplay in the Vigil that was lacking in some earlier editions. That said, I wouldn’t mind seeing the Ashwood Abbey itself being divided into multiple tiers one of mundane monstrous hedonism, and a deeper circle in which slashers are courted or manufactured, gutter magic is practiced, and foul relics are utilized for fouler purposes.

  25. MorsRattus
    December 22, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    My main thought is ‘the Bear Lodge should come up more in this post, because they were Ashwood Abbey done right.’ The Hunt Club, less so – I mean, they can take on the Ashwood guys, I guess? But my main thought on Ashwood Abbey was always ‘dear god can you please stop talking about sex and drugs for two minutes and maybe explore some other aspects of the wealthy asshole experience?’

    Like, the Bear Lodge only do werewolves and that’d need to be expanded, but the idea of hunting monsters as a sort of big game thing, a way of socializing and proving you’re the apex predator and claiming bounties and stuff – that was always way more interesting than, and I quote, ‘Have you ever fucked a man who can fly?’ Which is just crass and stupid.

    (Though, in fairness, serial killers are often based on some sexual motive, so there’s the Hunt Club for you.)

    My primary focus in Hunter has generally been conspiracy-level play, but largely because I love VASCU and the idea of hunters trying to arrest monsters rather than put them down.

    • December 22, 2015 at 3:15 pm

      I’ve actually seen people ban the Abbey because of the group’s motivations and themes. Having them as Antagonists would make that more of a given as opposed to allowing any arguments of “but it’s in the book”.

      • MorsRattus
        December 22, 2015 at 3:17 pm

        Are you sure you meant to reply to me on this one?

        • December 22, 2015 at 4:42 pm

          Possibly not. It was more how you were saying “Bear Lodge is AA done right”. But no, I have no idea why I replied to you. The way these comments work is a bit confusing.

      • MorsRattus
        December 22, 2015 at 3:19 pm

        Like, I’m the guy sitting here going ‘Can we replace Ashwood Abbey with the Bear Lodge instead of or in addition to the Hunt Club, instead?’

  26. Genome
    December 22, 2015 at 2:51 pm

    – Which of these three options do you prefer and why?
    I am open to all of them; the idea of a Compact being entirely compromises is a neat idea and I never played AA. But I also liked having them around as very awkward allies and as others have said, this is a good opportunity for them to go “hold on now lads.” Option #2 is my personal choice.

    -If you’re excited by a specific idea, what do you like most about it?
    The whole concept of the Slasher Chronicle; Strix and Idigam have proven that the “out-of-context threat” is a good formula and I’d like to see the potential reasons for an upswing of Jasons and Hannibals.

    -If you already play Hunter, are Tier Two chronicles your preferred style of gameplay?
    Yes (the Union is my favorite), but every Tier has its own appeal. I’m actually in the camp that the system should be done away with so that players are on more equal footing even if they answer to organizations of differing size, but it’s not a deal-breaker.

  27. Unsilent Majority
    December 22, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    Second option would be preferably, if not to otherwise leave them alone.

    AA is a favorite of mine, and I’m not sure why people are so adamant in changing what worked so well in the first place.

    Some people used them, others didn’t. I’d say that goes for MANY of the groups found in HtV.

  28. CJ D
    December 22, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    I’m a bit torn on this topic. On the one hand, I’m usually in favor of radical reinvention that serves the greater good of the gameline. (Option 3).

    On the other hand, I’ve got a kind Sodom and Gomorrah-styel conundrum on making them a flat out antagonist; If there are 50 righteous people in it, should it be an antagonist group? I also don’t like throwing out a character option just for being fringe. In that case the preferred option would be present the issue of the compact falling to dark side without damning the whole lot of them NPCdom. (Option 2).

    • December 22, 2015 at 3:13 pm

      I think the whole “can you be a good member of an antagonist faction?” thing shouldn’t be ignored, I think it should be a more than viable possibility. Plus, I like the thought of antagonist Orgs.

      Although the Abbey has always been one of the most antagonistic factions that aren’t outright antagonists.

  29. December 22, 2015 at 2:56 pm

    Not knowing the Slasher supplement, I read a review or two. They sound really cool, but I’m completely stumped as to how Hunters would tell that someone is a Slasher. It seems as if, in-game, the term “slasher” would have to be just a label for “Hunters who kill more than I want them to.”

    • December 22, 2015 at 3:11 pm

      Well, Slashers are basically supernatural serial killers. Hunters would tell someone is a slasher the same way they’d tell someone is a witch or a vampire. Although really in the end it doesn’t matter if someone is supernatural or not; Hunters will go after mortal problems (like the Night Watch or Rock City Compact) but when it comes to monsters and Slashers, they’re more equipped than others to handle them.

      • December 22, 2015 at 5:44 pm

        Oh, OK. None of the reviews I saw implied that there was any way to spot a Slasher as a Slasher (the way that, for example, you can see someone’s a vampire when they step into the sunlight). I got the sense that they were all just “killers with supernatural powers”, which most Hunters are anyway. What’s their tell?

        • mlvalentine
          December 23, 2015 at 9:10 am

          I’ll be exploring Slashers in OpenDev, and your question will be part of what I propose. Stay tuned!

  30. Stephen Near
    December 22, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    Personally, I *love* Option 3 and the MAJOR UPDATE. Ashwood Abbey always felt to me like an odd concept for a Hunter: the Vigil game. I get the whole “stare into the Abyss and the Abyss stares back” behind Hunters but the members of the Ashwood Abbey seem to enjoy the hunt so much that they aren’t part of a Vigil… they’re enthusiastic part of the Darkness. They’re a thrill kill cult to begin with and the addition of the Hunt Club, as you’ve pointed out, felt like a Slasher-specific faction of the Abbey and not much more.

    Slasher is my favourite supplement for Vigil as VASCU is my conspiracy of choice. Given that Slasher is going to become the defining aspect of the 2nd Edition chronicle, it makes way more sense from a narrative standpoint to merge the Abbey with the Club and create something new and more horrific. It also compellingly plays on the core themes of the Vigil (those who hunt monsters become monsters themselves) and gives an example of a “fallen” Compact (something I’ve always wanted to see in the gameline).

    Eliminating/merging the Abbey/Hunt Club also allows for the creation of another compact which, personally, is *very* exciting. VASCU covers the whole serial killer profiler angle but an international Compact would be intriguing. Perhaps something based out of Russia or Ukraine? I’d love to see something like the Millennium Group. A consulting firm that appears to profile and track cults and serial killers but is, itself, something far more mysterious. Perhaps profiling the patterns and rise of slashers as part of the overall rising tide of darkness? Perhaps a Compact on the fast track to becoming a Conspiracy? Such a group would surely work far better with the other Tier groups.

    This all sounds incredible and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

  31. Beard
    December 22, 2015 at 3:18 pm

    Ashwood Abbey is, love it or hate it, a memorable part of the game. People have opinions on it, they remember Ashwood when the overpopulated splats of Hunter get blurry, and that alone should save it from going full antagonist.

    If one of the compacts or conspiracies were to fall, I’d rather it be one that has a little less to do. If anything, Slashers should perhaps be what finally makes Ashwood rededicate itself to the Vigil, the idea that they’ve been infiltrated by creatures of such plebeian tastes reinforcing their commitment to it.

    Hunters should be afraid of going Slasher, and I don’t think Ashwood falling would do anything but confirm prejudices about the group. If a splat falls, it should be unexpected. Maybe, off the top of my head, the Ascending Ones? Or maybe a historical Hunter group would be more appropriate as a cautionary tale.

    As far as the tier system goes, I feel like it should be less rigid in regard to the splats. We’ve already had the line between compacts and conspiracies utterly blurred in 1E; plenty of compacts had international presence and conspiracies that did not were increasingly popular by the end of the line, and with the release of Compacts and Conspiracies, tier 2 Compacts received powers.

    Blood and Smoke handled tiers about as well as I’ve seen since they’ve been taken out from behind the curtain, focusing on what sort of games the tiers cover instead of assigning hard stats and setting details based on something that, in my experience, most STs do not adhere to rigidly anyway. I’d rather have street, city, and worldwide hunters focused on in supplements with the core book focused on helping STs discover their preferred gamestyle.

    I’d like Hunter to reevaluate its splats and return to the X, Y, Z axis that I feel would best serve it, or at least give up the idea that Tier 2 and Tier 3 need separate splats. I think Tier 2 would be more distinct from Tier 3 if a focus on city-scale gameplay was provided, including a cross-compact organization for the Vigil on the city scale, instead of the current “Tier 3 but with fewer resources” paradigm.

  32. Deionscribe
    December 22, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    Personally speaking, I might prefer the second option. For one, the Ashwood Abbey worked pretty well, as is, in the Hellfire Club trope, and the difficulty in differentiating between them and the Hunt Club does present a lot of potential story hooks for any Hunter Storyteller.

    Besides, Option 3 could always exist as auxiliary fluff that could go into a sidebar. Maybe as something that could happen as the endgame of a chronicle?

  33. Chris Handforth
    December 22, 2015 at 3:30 pm

    Sweet! I wasn’t expecting a Hunter update so soon!

    I’d say option two or option three. The nice thing about making the Abbey antagonists is that open design space and the fact that South America and Africa badly need some more CofD love.

    On the other hand, there will probably be some people disappointed with the loss of the Abbey, and the Hunt Club could easily fill that space as antagonists.

    Personally, I’m hugely in favour of the idea that interaction between the Abbey and the Hunt Club has started to pull Abbey back fro the brink, turning them into something like Planescape’s Sensates: sensation freaks. Some of them may be cut from the old Abbey’s cloth, but not all anymore.

  34. Patrick Regan
    December 22, 2015 at 3:31 pm

    This is a hard one, because while the AA definitely has its fans, I’ve almost never seen them come up in play except as NPCs (not even necessarily as antagonists so much as “other guys” my cell has to deal with).

    To date, I can think of two AA characters in my games — one of them was secretly a TF:V Agent infiltrating the abbey as a cover and the other was a Guardian Angel for an Innocents game (he was played by a younger Malcolm MacDowell in our minds).

    In my experience, a big part of the problem with the Abbey is that they do not play well with others, both literally and thematically. Given what the Abbey is about (and they can be a little one-note at times), they kind of gobble up everyone else’s themes and screen times — the Null Mysteris Scientist and Long Night preacher aren’t going to be spending much time debating the merits of faith vs. reason when they both need to constantly stop the Abbey-member from doing whatever thing his journey into darkness is leading him on.

    To keep them around as a playable group, they need something to really open them up thematically — the difference between them and the Hunt Club isn’t always obvious — what does the Abbey stand for if not just doing horrible things for funsies that sometimes happens to do good?

    Also, just remove the sexual violence component altogether. It’s just gross.

    ****
    – Of all, Option 3 seems like the most exciting option, given that it seems like the Abbey already had some challenges to use as a player group beforehand, and the emphasis on Slashers and the Hunt Club will only make this worse. I’m also really intrigued what veins there are to be mined.

    That being said, I could see myself being convinced on 2 — Hellfire clubs and secret societies are a major trope of the genre and I would hate to see them go away. They just need to stand for something more Masony (think the Kingsman from the eponymous movie).

    – N/A

    – The Slasher chronicles in general I find exciting, just because I’m watching a lot of Hannibal lately. I like the idea of the “out of context” problem each game line has a thing so weird and out of the box the protagonists don’t know how to deal with it. You spend all your time hunting monsters and all of a sudden this supposedly human killer hits the table, more terrifying than anything you’ve ever seen.

    I also like the idea of grabbing some Compacts from outside America for number 3. I think it’s healthy for the setting to look outside, especially considering that VASCULAR and TF:V are a bit geographically limited by their nature.

    – I play them all, and one of my favorite things about Hunter was that it codified and introduced this idea of Tier-Ed play. That you can play on different levels and still have a great game.

  35. Deionscribe
    December 22, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    I think I would go for Option 2. The Ashwood Abbey works pretty well, as written, and the blurring distinction between them and the Hunt Club (which is potentially taking the Abbey over) introduces a whole slew of plot hooks. That said, Option 3 can be presented as the endgame of an Abbey chronicle, where a hunter in the compact may walk away from it, spiral into the Hunt Club, or remain a loyal member.

    • Malkydel
      December 22, 2015 at 3:51 pm

      Option 3 should basically be an endgame of Option 2; but the fact that those three choices for a hunter would even exist (that you mentioned at the end) has so many delicious potential plot points.

  36. December 22, 2015 at 3:53 pm

    Reading some comments and thinking it over… I’m leaning towards option 2.

    The Abbey is where your Batman, Angel/Archangel, Punisher AND Deadpool types of characters go: they’re the well-off people looking for justice, or the mercenaries who want thrills or just a paycheck. However, they’re not into torture, rape or hunting the innocent.

    So when new Hunters join the Abbey and start getting TOO enthusiastic, or stepping over the line, Abbey members try to curtail it… but the ones who are sick, twisted people just in it to indulge themselves find their way to the Hunt Club.

    Which means other compacts see the Abbey as a breeding ground for Slashers. While the Abbey is trying desperately to stop the bleeding and repair their reputation.

    Of course, there can be a hint in there that this is all a cover-up, and the Abbey *is* a recruiting tool for potential Slashers. Just to provide those STs who want to make them bad guys an option to do so, while others can treat them as out-of-touch but still trying to do the right thing.

  37. Heavy Arms
    December 22, 2015 at 3:57 pm

    -Which of these three options do you prefer and why?

    Option 3 is my preference. I’m not a fan of the Abbey as-is, and I think this works best. Especially as (1) has been pointed out we have a hunt-club style Compact that isn’t a bunch of unsympathetic asshats in the Bear Lodge, and (2) the cautionary tale of the Abbey falling to the Hunt Club makes the dangerous line many of the organizations walk more poignant; there’s no point to talking about how Hunters risk falling into being Slashers, if we are never shown it happening.

    – If you’re worried about a change, what is your hangup and how do you feel this’ll affect your group?

    I’m not particularly worried about the change. If it doesn’t happen, my group will most likely continue to ignore the Abbey completely.

    -If you’re excited by a specific idea, what do you like most about it?

    As noted above, I really like the “show not tell” aspect of option 3 in regards to a Hunter organization falling into becoming a Slasher organization. Having a fallen group in the book helps hammer home the thematic tensions there.

    -If you already play Hunter, are Tier Two chronicles your preferred style of gameplay?

    Not really. We trend towards Tier One for more personal/ground game level stuff, or Tier Three for going deeper into the crazy stuff Endowments allow for. Tier Two has always been ‘meh’ for us because the niche it fills has always been too unsupported to really be appealing.

  38. Derendel
    December 22, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    – After reading a lot of comments, I think I favor a version of #2. Make the Ashwood Abbey more big game hunting and wild parties. Make them less torture and rape for fun. Then give the nastier aspects to the Hunt Club instead.

    – N/A, I’ll just rewrite what bothers me in the end.

    – I was excited for option 3 because I like real change between editions (otherwise why do we need more than Mortal Remains…)

    – I’ve only run one Hunter game (teir 1 interacting with teirs 2 and 3) so far but I favor mixtures of teirs.

  39. LostLight
    December 22, 2015 at 4:11 pm

    so I wrote this thing, and I’ve thought to post it here- what the the redeeming traits of the Ashwood Abbey:

    They are bastards. I mean it, they are people who allow themselves to do the worst things they can ever imagine just because their enemy is not “like them”. They are degenerate crazies who enjoy life to the fullest, a ship of fools who parties every night with everything that money can buy. Each day is celebration, each hunt is a festival. Life is too sort to waste them on searching for some “higher meaning” about their hunt- and they are honest, brutally, brutally honest. Other hunters try to justify their acts for some higher cause, but they don’t. They say the truth- they hunt monsters because it is fun. You can try and say you do it for god, or for justice, or for ages old feud, but eventually you hunt because it makes you feel alive, and all bellow those righteous words and fancy justifications, you are just like them- blood soaked and smiling like a madman. Sure, some of them may fall too far, but for they hunt them too. They are the humanity at its worst- and they still manage to light a candle to light their way in the night.

    This is how the Abbey contribute to Hunter’s moral ambiguity as whole- by showing you just how far you can fall before you can no longer be considered as an hunter. Any more than that, and you are a monster. In sort, the discussion is not “just” about where the Abbey should be in the book, but how one defines what it means to be an hunter.

  40. Nepher
    December 22, 2015 at 4:13 pm

    I’m torn between 2 and 3. Ok, I must admit I really would like a new compact, and I find the Hunt Club redundant. What I would like to see is option 2 without the Hunt Club, just the Abbey shared by both Hunters and Slashers, some gray area between protagonist and antagonist. Some Abbey hunters are disgusted by the practices of some of their fellows, but it’s still socially accepted. Human may not be your thing, but, hey, to each his own.
    To me, at compact level, the Abbey is the embodiment of gray morality. Pushing it toward white or black is removing a core element of the compact.
    So, 2, without the Hunt Club, and replace the Hunt Club by the Abbey itself.

  41. Epicarp
    December 22, 2015 at 4:16 pm

    One thing that always bugged me about Ashwood Abbey wasn’t the Compact itself, but rather how most people think of them. They see them and say “These guys are just as monstrous as the things they hunt”, and they’re not. Sure, they may be hedonists, but they also have the very real human elements of purity and honesty. They enjoy the hunt and they have no qualms about it nor are they ashamed of it.

    I think the main reason people feel that the Ashwood Abbey is practically antagonistic is because of how society treats enthusiasm and emotion: awkward, immature, and unseemly. Children are taught from their earliest years that they’re energy and emotion needs to be kept under a strict leash. Smiling too much is creepy, showing your anger is hilarious, weeping is a sign of weakness. Stoicism is strength, personal issues are personal for a reason, you do you and I’ll do me.

    Is it any wonder then why the Ashwood Abbey is seen as borderline antagonistic, if not plain villainous? Society has taught us to see those who don’t deny their emotions as immature or even suspicious. So seeing the Abbey as monsters is a natural reaction to what people have been taught.

    I’m not saying that the Abbey isn’t flawless, but rather that they’re as human as all the other Hunters out there. Their enthusiasm can go overboard and do harm, just like how every other Hunter’s flaws can.

    So, I’d say either option 2 or 1, though the former is preferable. It gives the Abbey an interesting dynamic to work with. It’s also a good way of showing what the Abbey is actually about as it contrasts with the Club.

    Option 3 would destroy the entire point of the Abbey to begin with, and possibly even harm one of the major themes in Hunter. Namely, that the line between Hunter and monster is blurry at best.

    • Eolirin
      December 22, 2015 at 9:28 pm

      I have a problem with them because their write up suggests that rape and torture is perfectly fine with them as long as the victim isn’t human, even though almost all of the supernatural splats are sentient feeling beings, not because they’re too enthusiastic. And I love the Cult of Ecstasy in Ascension, who are positive examples of exactly the type of cultural transgression you’re trying to apply to the Abbey. So I think you need to rethink that reading of those of us who have really strong problems with them. It’s kinda insulting.

  42. ArchonAres
    December 22, 2015 at 4:20 pm

    I like option 2, but at the same token, like the idea of a new compact to replace them. I haven’t done Hunter in quite some time, but when we did we had Chiron group and task force Valkyrie going on.

  43. Alessandro V.
    December 22, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    About the three options regarding the future of the Ashwood Abbey I prefer the second.
    Mostly because I prefer them as a “playable” Compact(and I really hope remain in that way) also I think an “on edge” attitude it’s much more appealing to me than a simple bad guys by default.

  44. leroienjaune
    December 22, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    I favor option 2, making the Abbey into ‘playable antagonist subset of a larger antagonist force’.

    Let me make a suggestion: the Abbey started out as the Hellfire club, right? Why not have them be a subsect/ JV league/ front of The Seventh Generation and the Hunt Club?
    The Seventh Generation (infernalist archenemies of the Lucifuge) started the Hellfire club. They are a secret society within the secret society- the targets of Abbey hunts are usually supernaturals that have inconvenienced the infernal agenda.
    Meanwhile, the Hunt Club is also used by the Seventh Generation. At the same time, the Hunt Club regards the Abbey as ‘the College Leagues’- a starting recruitment pool for future Hunt club members.

    I’ve always regarded the Abbey as one of the most horrific groups of the World of Darkness. They, moreso than the Invictus, are the face of the 1%. They embody humanity insofar as the worst aspects and tendencies of the human condition- elitism, classism, naricssistic hedonism, and killing for sport rather than necessity.

    And that’s why I see the Abbey best as a ‘playable antagonist’. Sure you can have a character that’s an Abbey member, sure they can help other compacts, but they’re not truly a part of the vigil, because, at the end of the day, the Abbey is interested in the status quo. They want to stay at the top of society, keep the poor poor and the supernaturals in the shadows. They’re the worst monsters in the game because they represent humanity at the most monstrous- yet without any supernatural compulsion or corruption. That’s what makes them scary. It’s just people being people, but the worst of what humanity can be.

  45. Will R.
    December 22, 2015 at 4:41 pm

    I prefer the second option, but really I think if the Slasher Chronicle is going to focus on fallen hunters becoming Slashers then maybe all or at least some of the core compacts / conspiracies should have Slasher offshoots. Maybe take the more unseemly sides of some of the bigger groups like Cherion, Lucifuge, Abbey, etc. and shunt them into the extremist section that will, by virtue of their behavior and the life they lead, naturally produce more Slashers than the rest of the organization.

    I’ve never played a straight tier 2 game, to be honest. All the games I’ve run or played in were either strictly tier 1 or blended with tier 2 and tier 3 characters intermingling.

  46. VoidDrifter
    December 22, 2015 at 5:14 pm

    Well, speaking honestly, of the three options, I think the second or third make the most sense. Ashwood Abbey has always been the Token Evil Teammate of the core compacts, and frankly there’s not really much chance of it climbing up; yes, its few defenders have argued that it has one of the more “honest” and “human” of motivations, but it’s also one of the most vile.

    The naked “we hunt because it’s fun” is kind of sickening anyway, but the fact that the books outright admit (with implicit language, admittedly) that the Ashwood Abbey engages in cannibalism and rape – *that* is what makes so many people hate them.

    That said, something said on the forum would be an intriguing idea, too: keep them as they are, but actually take an attempt at better redefining what “hedonistic thrill seeker with no morals” actually means and refocus the Abbey in that direction.

    Lets put it this way. You have wealth, power, no morals, and all the supernatural before you. Is torturing someone really the most fun activity you can think of?

  47. Phobos
    December 22, 2015 at 6:07 pm

    I like Option 3, because some of the better bits of the Abbey appear in other compacts (Bear Lodge, for example) and merging them with the Hunt Club seems like a fun idea.

  48. Freemind
    December 22, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    I have to vote for option 3.
    See, I always saw Slashers as humans whose nature and acts were so dehumanizing that it warped them into something inhuman, sometimes to the point of cursing not only the Slasher but warping his entire bloodline. Regardless of the source of the power or the original act, nearly all Slashers had a common thread of growing in power as they become more and more distant from the humanity they once were. They essentially were just another strain of supernatural, akin to a mage or werewolf, but their power instead coming from the perversion that arose from their own actions.
    And in the Abbey I always saw that same perversion. I always read the philosophy of the Compact as a parallel of the “Most Dangerous Game,” a story that highlighted the dehumanizing aspect of both being the “hunter” and “prey.” The fact that the Abbey only hunted supernatural beings was what made them and their debauchery “tolerable.” But to me, it always rang false.
    All other compacts justified their need to hunt. All other compacts have their own internal mythos and justifications for what they do, whether ancient conspiracies, religious motivations, or simply protecting vulnerable populations. Even Cheiron has a motive: overtly it is profit, but most of the motives of the Board were hinting that they are doing what they do both to protect and help greater humanity (though there are also hints that they are evil…depends on which story hook you use). But the Abbey hunts because they are…bored.
    The Abbey hunts sapient beings for the fun and challenge of it. Not because of some noble purpose, or even sheer pragmatism. Sure, some things the Abbey kill are evil or at least threats, but others are not. But while other compacts may kill supernatural beings whom are “innocent” and construct justifications for it, the Abbey doesn’t even bother to justify their actions beyond enjoying the hunt. The idea that they would slip and transform into Slashers isn’t a stretch; the fact that they aren’t already Slasher’s is. The only reason that they seemed to not be Slashers is that normal humans are too boring for them.
    Plus, from a setting perspective, having a compact of Slashers really seems to make them seem both more populous and more threatening. Having them come from a group whom everyone who knew what was up always looked at suspiciously (both in and out of setting) seems a way to do so without making it seem a massive oversight in setting (“How did no one no one know about this group of seemingly supernatural murderers till now?!?”) while also reinforcing the internal danger of being a Hunter (that you are a close to becoming a monster yourself) by showing how it consumed an entire compact. Plus, it brings Slashers to the forefront with a familiar face (and gets us a new Compact!).

  49. Crowbot
    December 22, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    I like Option 3, with the caveat that I’d like to see the Bear Lodge pick up some more of the ‘old boys club’ aspects that the Abbey has, because I like the idea of old British gentleman going on safari to hunt vampires. Same origins, but just as part of the expansion of the Bear Lodge network. That way I think you have a more direct parallel where Ashwood Abbey is a cautionary tale for the Bear Lodge specifically–these guys were like you, now they’ve been eaten by the Hunt Club. THIS COULD BE YOU.

    I think if you want to have people in it for the thrill, it’d work better as something more in the vein of particularly rowdy members of the Night Watch, who feel like life is cheap and are just looking for an adrenaline rush. Of course, as they do it for longer they start to recognize the actual stakes, and get more serious about things. I think that’s an easier archetype than “Wealthy Hedonist Asshole” to get behind and develop.

  50. Morty
    December 22, 2015 at 6:46 pm

    I’m going to go with the third option. Ashwood Abbey has always felt very out of place as a Hunter group. WoD (or CoD now, I guess) operates in shades of grey – but the Abbey aren’t very grey. It’s hard to portray them in any sort of positive light, and the Hunter books have struggled with it. Making them an “antagonist” group that’s an option for players in specific chronicles (kind of like Belial’s Brood and the like) is best.

  51. Morty
    December 22, 2015 at 6:53 pm

    As far as Tier Two play goes, I’ve only ever played on Tier One. But as a general rule, I consider Tiers in Hunter to be kind of poorly-defined and having conflicting ideas. Tiers of play need to be divorced from tiers of organizations.

  52. Hunter Crawford
    December 22, 2015 at 7:30 pm

    I’m wavering between options two and three. Ashwood Abbey was never attractive to my players as an organization to join, but they made great foils. My chronicles didn’t focus on eliminating monsters unless they presented a considerable threat to the town, and encounters could result in an alliance just as easily as bloodshed. Characters became very aware of supernatural ecology and individual temperament for each possible threat. These hunters encountered the Abbey, hunting for the sake of thrill, and they were appalled. In the same way that the Union might fight a local mortal crime lord, I would love to see an antagonistic Ashwood Abbey that would hunt both mortals and supernaturals.

    However, I think the Ashwood Abbey provides a great niche as an unapologetic vicious compact. I get a near-slasher feel from them, and I think Hunter: The Vigil really needs factions who ride that line, especially in a Slasher Chronicle. Also, the compact really illustrates how well a group of humans can become monsters, even without access to supernatural endowments. Even if it were an antagonistic faction, I think it would do well to be included with the main compacts, just as VII and the Seers of the Throne are both in their books’ respective splat chapters.

    What if the Hunt Club was a clique within Ashwood Abbey? A subgroup that targets humans but is scrutinized by the other members of the Abbey who find the line between mortal and monster to be a line they’d prefer not to cross. Perhaps the clique justifies its kills by stating that these targets are ghouls or some other low-powered supernatural being that is difficult to disprove.

    Ultimately, I think we would get the most use out of the Ashwood Abbey if they remain playable but suspect. They should have the rumor of slashers in their upper echelons, and plot hooks involving cells that have crossed a line.

  53. B
    December 22, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    Well, I think that realistically there would be times that other hunters, particularly ones with fewer resources and options, would be forced to work with a group like Ashwood Abbey to accomplish a goal for the greater good, even if they don’t like those people.

  54. shkspr1048
    December 22, 2015 at 8:28 pm

    I really like the prospect of Option 3, and I’m struck by the idea that the ‘new’ compact could be made up of refugees of the Hunt Club’s takeover of the Abbey; those members who wanted a return to the fraternal order/old boy’s club model, something more ‘civilized’ than the gore-stained murder society the Club was turning it into (occasional supernatural-fueled orgies aside).

  55. Jack Stephenson-Carr
    December 22, 2015 at 8:38 pm

    I like option two. I think it retains the Abbey as a playable compact, but potentially shows what it can become once they cross the line as Slashers. In fact, I think each compact and conspiracy should be presented as is, then with the section of what the group looks like when they cross that Slasher line. Each group should have a section on their dark mirror – their slasher motivations and methods. Doesn’t necessarily have to be a separate group like the Hunt Club, just the group at the Slasher extreme.

  56. atamajakki
    December 22, 2015 at 9:04 pm

    Major Update.

    A group of privileged killers and rapists is too much of an outlier for a game at least superficially about fighting the good fight, and their existence allows bad players to excuse their behavior with “but it’s in the book!”

    Make them antagonists (and please dial down the sexual violence element I distinctly remember them having), and fill their void with something new and non-Western,

    (Ecstatic to hear that VASCU is core, now!)

    • Unsilent Majority
      December 22, 2015 at 11:54 pm

      “and their existence allows bad players to excuse their behavior with “but it’s in the book!””

      No. Bad players are bad players. Bad players will be bad at anything regarding the game.

      I’ve seen a number of good Ashwood Abbey players that have made a Hunter game frightening, disturbing, and awesome at the same time.

      The Chronicles of Darkness is a reflection of the real world, but darker. Ashwood Abbey contains elements that can be found all throughout the real world, especially today. It’s one of the reasons I fell in love with the World of Darkness.

      If you want something lighter in tone, there’s a ton of books I could recommend, instead.

      • Ryan C
        December 23, 2015 at 12:26 am

        Precisely. Neutering Ashwood takes the appeal out of it for me as an organization in WoD. I’d sooner make it a full-out antagonist org than tone it down. Setting the tone of a Chronicle is the Storyteller’s place – don’t like it? It doesn’t have to work that way in your Canon, but you have to establish that with your players.

  57. GREEM
    December 22, 2015 at 9:54 pm

    Option 3 opens up a lot of new ground, and the Abbey always felt to me like it was the most antagonistic of the base compacts.

  58. Vedic
    December 22, 2015 at 10:05 pm

    Option Two (my preference) or One. As another poster said the Ashwood Abbey shows how the line demarcating the hunters from the monsters is blurry at best. If they’re just antagonists that use of the Abbey is greatly diminished.

  59. Ryan C
    December 22, 2015 at 10:25 pm

    I really like the aspect of the Abbey becoming a cesspit of Hunters having gone too far, most of their human restraint lost.

    Options two and three work for me. Option two may be best, but I’m totally okay with #3 – this is the World of Darkness after all, things become corrupted, bastions of unity and safety fail. The Abbey was already walking the knife’s edge, and I think the inference is that they’ve been teetering the whole time. It’s totally believable that they fall to a creeping takeover by the psychos in the Hunt Club.

  60. D. Anderson
    December 23, 2015 at 12:16 am

    Which of these three options do you prefer and why?

    I’d fall somewhere between option 2 and 3. I like the Ashwood Abbey a lot. They’re a very evocative group, but to me they seem prone to a very specific style of game. Either you have players who want to play bastards or you have characters who’ve dug themselves in too deep and put themselves in this morally questionable group. Obviously there’s a degree of moral relativism in all the Compacts, but they tend to pull further to the right than the other groups.

    So, back on point… I probably wouldn’t include them as one of the core PC compacts (That real estate may be better suited to a group with more range), but I wouldn’t make them full-blown antagonists either. The Abbey is still the Abbey, not subsumed by some other organization but prone to turn out an abnormally high amount of Slashers. They’ve seen one of their chapter houses butchered by a member-turned-slasher that now seems to be turning his sight on other members of the Order. Others have turned slasher and gone rogue. Other compacts and conspiracies look at them askance and are quietly whispering about what possibly needs to be done about the Abbey. And inside the organization paranoia is rife. There’s the feeling that anyone is subject to snap at any given time, and some members of the Abbey question whether a membership purge might be a practical choice.

    If you already play Hunter, are Tier Two chronicles your preferred style of gameplay?

    Absolutely. I think Tier Two is a great style of play because there’s a great deal of inner friction between the characters and their compact and also allows the use of other compacts as rivals and conspiracies as antagonists. I think it hits that ideal sweet-spot of survivalist game play while still allowing for a variety of lore building.

  61. Stupid Loserman
    December 23, 2015 at 2:16 am

    I don’t think Ashwood Abbey was ever particularly done well, to be honest, except for one book you didn’t mention in your post: Spirit Slayers, where it was called the Bear Lodge, so to speak. The Abbey has always struck me as entirely too morally compromised to be comfortable with using outside an antagonist role, and usually they didn’t even make very comfortable antagonists either, for the openly crass and banal aspects of their operation. The Bear Lodge was a compact that struck a better balance with the same core concept: hunting monsters for the sport and the satisfaction of the danger. That’s still *plenty* morally dubious to be able to work grey angles, but the simple application of restraint, to focus the core image around gun enthusiasts hacking off trophies rather than debauched, drug-fueled orgies, makes relatable characters a lot more feasible. It’s easier to start from the more restrained position and then push exception cases and individuals into the extremes than to do the converse.

    I never bought the Hunt Club. On top of sharing entirely too much overlap with Ashwood Abbey (and the Bear Lodge), they always simply felt outlandish and kind of cartoonish in the premise of how well established and organized they were, especially the parts that asserted that they had sympathizers and members in high positions of power in other compacts and even conspiracies. They were a low point in the Slasher book to me, and I’d personally sooner just not see the name Hunt Club again.

    So I suppose that’s a vote for option 3: overwrite the role of the Hunt Club with the more central Ashwood Abbey, and replace their entry in the protagonist lineup with a more tasteful compact.

    As for tier preferences: tier two is probably the tier I’m the most lukewarm on. Tier two has some excellently characterized groups to show up in stories of Hunter and beyond, like the Long Night and the Union. But for the hardscrabble experience of fighting the night without some nigh-supernatural edge of your own, introducing political conflicts between named, discrete compacts doesn’t appeal to me. Tier two adventure material in Hunter often ends up feeling like a series of namedrops: group A feels like this, which puts them into conflict with group B. They end up feeling monolithic and lose sight of a feeling of variety of individual action. Tier three is vulnerable to the same problem but at least punches it up with Endowment character options that can themselves make individual conspirators stand out, while tier one is somewhat liberating in purifying adventure hooks down to personal connections and unique local events.

  62. Cogliostro
    December 23, 2015 at 6:05 am

    I think that as is Ashwood Abbey is already represented as a group that’s going to be toeing the line to being antagonists rather than protagonists.

    On the other hand, you can never have enough Hellfire Clubs, and I totally would like to keep them in some form.

    Keeping them as an Antagonist group and giving them over to the Hunt Club. If possible, I’d just suggest adding a sidebar that might imply the Abbey as a possible protagonist group – be it before the switch or with a number of members who cannot stomach the current proceedings.

  63. Michael Stein
    December 23, 2015 at 7:08 am

    Blend them, the morally ambiguous faction is always tightest perched just at the edge of the abyss. Way more useful conflict story hooks that way.

    I’ve found compacts tend to be the meat of a chronicle mostly since they feel like organic organisations rather than expys of the MIB and Hashashin like the conspiracies. I think that’s why people mistake VASCU as compact.

  64. Andrew Ohning
    December 23, 2015 at 9:20 am

    Personally, I think Option 3 is best. I love the idea of an “official” Hunter organization being an “official” antagonist. Evident kinship between protagonits and antagonists seems to already be a running theme in many of the game lines. (The Strix, the Pure, the Seers, Loyalist Changelings, etc.) Having the same in Hunter would be great.

    Ashwood Abbey has always been problematic as it is. When I use them, they’re almost always antagonists anyway. Most often, the player cell has just launched an assault on their intended target when the Abbey shows up after the same target (or the Hunters) for kicks, and throws the whole operation into chaos.

    Also, think about Ashwood from the perspective of other organizations and at other tiers.

    Cheiron Group – “They make great bait and cannon fodder for bigger, better assets. All I had to do was promise them a surplus vampire to play with when it was over.”

    Task Force: VALKYRIE – “Look, neutralizing ENE threats to national security is our primary mission, but keeping the public in the dark about it is high priority, too. When a Senator’s daughter turns up in peices becasue her sorority decided to engage a pack of monsters for ‘fun,’ it makes EVERYONE’S job that much harder.”

    Null Mysteriis – “So much bright potential throwing their lives away, often literally. No to mention ruining so many perfectly good research subjects. It’s a shame.”

    Network 0 – “I came across a really remarkable piece of footage recently, but I haven’t forwarded it to anyone. To say its NSFW is the understatement of the year. I mean, I’ve never seen anything like it… Or anything like what THEY did to it…”

    Cell: “So guys, we knew something wasn’t right at that frathouse, right? Well it’s not another vampire. I don’t know what they were doing to that man or why, but we have to do something about it.” (This last example being a cell that knows about vampires, but not any other monsters yet. So the Abbey’s victim might have been a Changeling or Sin-Eater, or who-knows-what.)

    Ultimately, the fact that members of Ashwood Abbey take pleasure in hunting, trapping, torturing, violating, and killing what are usually sentient beings, puts them dangerously close to being Slashers as-is. From certain points of view, they’re already Slashers, and what’s worse, they’re an ORGANIZATION of Slashers.

  65. Brandon
    December 23, 2015 at 11:37 am

    Personally I rather enjoy the idea of option 3. While I’ve always enjoyed Hunter as a game against the monsters, I also love the idea that we as people create our own monsters and I feel like that kind of a theme really embraces the spirit of the Chronicles of Darkness as a whole.

    As far as personal Chronicles go, I like to use a blend of all tiers of play. I like running tight tier 1 cells, but then with connections within the realm of tier 2 and the hint that perhaps something bigger is out there. I enjoy the feeling of a small band of people isolated against a much larger opponent and how that plays out.

  66. maekkel
    December 23, 2015 at 11:44 am

    When I first read about Ashwood Abbey – They seem decadent and cruel like monsters. I like them very much as they represent the Banality of Evil.
    Dean from Supernatural reminds me a lot of them. He likes to hunt and feels entitled to it (family business) and really loves enjoying himself.

    Or they are similiar like mafian hitman. after works – the assasination – he goes back to his family kisses his wife and tells his kid a bedtime story and to be good.
    I´d keep them – with the bleeding… that they could make excellent slayer material.

  67. wyrdhamster
    December 23, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    I vote for the Option 2, only as I really think Ashwood Abbey has their place in Hunter’s PCs group. Also, the Hunt Club “stealing” the most inhuman memebers is very nicely higlighting that in Slashers Chronicles, *any* hunter can become monster – and Slashers are all waiting to invite you to their killing club.

    What I would only do slightlty different from 1ED portrayal of the AA is marking toruting, rape and vulgar sex be left off, or at least softened. To be frank, I was a bit disgusted by their founding story in 1ED when Reverand Marcus McDonald Ogilvy masturbated on the werewolves cropses. I think this is totally unsencerary in text, as Ashwood Abbey can still be a postivie side of the Vigil – the “thrill of hunting”. This, and it’s roots as Hellfire Club make it’s viable hunters Compact that have place and should be in setting. Just mark that most of Abbey is for the “thrill seeking” of hunt, and one or two chapter houses that goes in the really dark stuff are rumoured to be going over to Hunt Club. Less sex, more hunting and vampires saffari!

    As to other questions – I’m running games on all Tiers, but I really like some stuff at Tier 2 – Ashwood Abbey, in general idea, is one of them.

    • December 23, 2015 at 9:16 pm

      this comment in regards to the Hedonist bit of Ashwood Abbey brings up a good thought.

      Here’s my idea for option 3, which could be a radical change for Abbey too, or a whole new group.

      conspiracy, as Trophy hunters, maybe they’ve managed to engineer some way to taxidermy in a more native state. In other words you might have the head of a Changeling Stag mounted on your wall, or a Vampire head fully fanged. Leave the serial killer and the sex out of it. Perhaps they can pull a perseus? (who cut off medusa’s head…) and they can capture the power of the thing they take down and use it. E.g. cut off a gorgon’s head and you get some beastial ability like petrification (is that in beast?) (and the beasts true nature is also frozen so it looks like a gorgon). I feel like unlike a lot of hunters they would specialize in Beasts, Changelings and werewolves way more than Vampires. Which to me makes them much more interesting.

  68. James Huggins
    December 23, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    I prefer the third option (major change), largely because Ashwood Abbey makes for a better Slasher organization than it does a Hunter Compact. The Abbey provides influential, resourceful antagonists who nonetheless may tempt PC’s who feel hobbled by limited resources or societal expectations. They’re the warped reflection of the Vigil, and a lot of fun to portray as the ST, but I would never want to play a current member as a PC, let alone in a cell full of them. I find them much more useful for showing how the Vigil can go wrong, and in that they dovetail perfectly with Slashers. The Hunt Club as a separate entity is far less interesting than a corrupted Abbey would be.

    I’m not really worried about a change. None of my gaming friends would seriously consider an Abbey game.

    I’m excited about the idea of playing an ex-Abbey member, struggling with a conscience that she had fooled herself into thinking her former peers shared. I’m excited about seeing a PC tempted by the freedom and resources of the Abbey, agreeing to go on “just one hunt” with them in exchange for favors. I’m excited to see monsters treated so horrifically that they inspire the most hardened Hunter to feel a pang of sympathy, and a growing anger at the Hunters who have forgotten the Vigil.

    Mostly I’ve run Hunter, rather than played it. I generally use a mix of tiers, because each Compact/Conspiracy offers something different and pushes the local Vigil in different ways. If I were to play Hunter, I think tier 2 and tier 3 would be roughly similar in terms of interest.

  69. Cris P
    December 23, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    I like option 2 and 3…I am leaning towards 3 though. Having an “official” antagonist group, I think is better option. Although you may have former members of the group that are like “I am a member of the REAL Ashwood Abbey, not this knock off that calls itself Ashwood Abbey”.

  70. Asmenedas
    December 23, 2015 at 7:13 pm

    I know I’m late to the party but I wanted to throw my two* cents in. This is likely a repeat of what others have said after the spot I stopped reading yesterday but I say go the full change up. Let the Abbey burn. The Hunt Club can take the wild children. But from the embers we find The Ashes of the Fallen Abbey. This could be where those wise/cunning/talented enough to survive and learn from their mistakes gather. The compact itself could become very potent as those who have seen the darkness in themselves and (eventually) turned away are always stronger for it. Staring the Hunt Club in the eye could be the mirror that frightened some away to begin with. The new emphasis could be to not only protect humanity, but also other hunters from themselves. Recruiting those that could fall into the Hunt Club before that choice becomes available might also be a great way to keep their numbers up. There will still be no shortage of firebrands that way.

    *bright, shiny

  71. December 23, 2015 at 8:49 pm

    Hmm… I may have to post again on which I prefer after really thinking it over.

    My personal feeling has always been that players should be able to play any faction (with GM approval). I see this as less possible in 2e… but it makes me personally want to say they should continue to be playable.

    However, when talking about Hunter factions to play I told my group they were going to have to pick one faction for everyone to be in. There were a few options narrowed down to before a winner happened, but Ashwood Abbey was never in the running.

    I wonder if there’s a 4rth option, Ashwood Abbey has been taken over by Hunt Club, but not everyone agree’s with it. This would mean the PCs would be going against the grain of their own organization.

    • December 23, 2015 at 9:00 pm

      now that I am reading responses and thinking about it more, one of my players PCs would have made a perfect Ashwood Abbey member. So… Rich Dude wants to hunt things for Trophies.

  72. December 23, 2015 at 9:49 pm

    On a final note, I can’t speak for anyone else probably but I feel like the Long Night, Malleus Malleficarum and, whatever the Muslim one was, have too much overlap. Though I’m not sure how easy it might be to develop a group that is less focused on one religion and more of a general “Insert Your religion” and “here’s the powers”.

  73. Brendan Sherlock
    December 23, 2015 at 10:32 pm

    Were I to make a choice between the presented options I would go with the second. My reasoning is as follows.

    First, I honestly like Ashwood Abbey (with a bit of a caveat that I will come back to in a moment). To me they have the ability to fill a number of niches in a Hunter story. Their adrenaline junkie approach to the Vigil as a sort of extreme sport creates the potential for novel or non-standard plot structures. To them the Vigil is excitement and adventure, asserting your humanity versus the monsters in the dark by living on the bleeding edge of your own limits. They also dovetail well with genre conventions of mysterious and decadent secret societies devoted to occult misadventures. Need one for your game? The Abbey will do just nicely.

    Now to address one of bigger sticking points. In their initial presentation the Abbey is alluded to sometimes engage in sexual congress with the denizens of the hidden world. So far so keeping with their theme, even if its an aspect I’ve never really used or seen other people explore. Once we get to their write-up in Compacts & Conspiracies though things get a bit darker. Sexual violence becomes more explicitly part of their forte, and I think it contributes a lot to their squicky reputation among players. I know personally I don’t really include that in “my” chronicle of darkness, and though some might disagree I feel that excising or downplaying that would benefit the game without really losing much.

    I feel that blending Ashwood Abbey and the Hunt Club would be a good move on multiple levels. For one, it would acknowledge the fact that both compacts share a lot of thematic space in an in-universe way. They are literally in competition with each other. I feel that it would also create good story opportunities for the Abbey by forcing them into clarifying and justifying their own existence. They are trapped between a club of homicidal lunatics that includes a disturbing number of their former friends and other hunters who more often than not can’t tell the two of them apart. If you’re still in the Abbey, if you haven’t jumped ship for the Hunt Club, why is that? It isn’t enough just to be jaded and debauched anymore. There’s a new kid on the block who will do all the things you won’t. If it isn’t just about the sex, drugs, and death then what ‘is’ it about?

    What is your Vigil?

  74. Terence Co
    December 24, 2015 at 5:35 am

    well the members of the abbey are not too far behind the slashers, in fact, I think the Ashwood abbey probably has a good number of slashers among their number. However not surprised if they try to use non member slashers as a form of amusement like either hunting them down or playing games with them. Best game is probably try to mindfuck with a slasher.

  75. Chazz
    December 24, 2015 at 8:24 am

    I like the third option.

  76. JohnD
    December 24, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    I prefer the second option. It’s one thing to blend them, but I want them to remain distinct from the Hunt Club and other groups; the Abbey is its own thing, even if there is some blending or overlap between the two. And, I also prefer leaving the Hunt Club as its own thing as well.

  77. Jason Inczauskis
    December 24, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    I have always liked the Ashwood Abbey, and I use them frequently. Although they frequently end up as antagonists in my games, the same is also true of many of the more religious organizations, and I don’t want to see any of them placed into the “Antagonists” section by default. I think that the motivation of “hunting for experiences” is perfect for a hunter organization, and that a Hellfire Club is ideal for that role. Ultimately, the Abbey does need a bit of an update, but I don’t think that said update needs to be in the form of changing which side they’re on. The Abbey hunter that bankrolls the Vigil for a cell in exchange for getting to come along (or at least getting some of that vampire blood to bring to his next party) seems very appropriate to a hunter game. If they were to become default antagonists, that doesn’t seem likely. It’s a rare character that is willing to side with a known enemy, but siding with a questionable ally against a greater threat is a different story. There’s a huge difference between “That guy’s one of the ones we need to take down,” and “That guy’s an entitled asshole that we don’t like, but he’s still technically one of us.”

    I think that any kind of update for the Abbey should focus a bit more heavily on the sheer variety of ways that they hunt. The Compacts and Conspiracies book depicted groups of the Abbey that weren’t in it for the rape or the kill, and I think that a bit more space dedicated to hunters like that might help to ease a bit of the distaste people feel for them. Show the Abbey in a potentially more sympathetic light by portraying what some of the better ones are like, rather than focusing mostly on the sickest bastards of the bunch. I’m not saying that the worst that the Abbey can do should be left out entirely, but it should be established that it is the Abbey at its worst, and that not every Abbey hunter would go along with such behavior. In fact, I think that every hunter organization should show them at both their best and their worst.

    I also think that the Abbey could have the potential to be moved up to a third tier conspiracy with little effort. In Compacts and Conspiracies, it gave them the Bacchanal Endowment. I had been amused by that, as I’d given them an Endowment by the same name in the games I was using them in, and I think that there is a lot of potential for an Endowment based on ecstatic revelry. What if the Bacchanal Endowment actually had a bit more magical power behind it, rather than merely increasing their privilege and influence with various groups? It could grant them special Conditions, each with its own benefit and drawback, which could aid them in the hunt.

    I’ve noticed a lot of the others seem to want them to be treated as antagonists, and although I disagree, I’d like to make one request. Please don’t make the perception of them as the antagonists a universal thing for the other organizations. Let the Abbey think of themselves as hunters like the other groups, and let the other groups think of them as hunters that have gone off the deep end. Let them be the dark side of “us” instead of just another group of “them”.

  78. December 24, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    Thought on the Tiers and what you asked there. I think we’ve been playing at Tier 1 realistically. I’m moving us to playing a Conspiracy. Though I’m not sure it’s the right question… or perhaps I’m thinking about it wrong. We are playing at a very local level, but perhaps using a Compact or Conspiracy. The thing I currently dislike about compacts is they have no Special Endowments. I think it’d be nice if Compacts felt less penalized in this regard. Compacts should feel smaller but maybe they’ve managed to acquire (more than develop) a few tricks of their own. Maybe it doesn’t have to be endowments, but it should be something I think.

  79. Vivienne
    December 24, 2015 at 6:53 pm

    I have never had a player want to join the Abbey in my 6+ years running Hunter. I’ve had players call the Abbey “The Slasher Compact”. The tone of the Abbey is too different than the other hunters, who at least seem to have some sort of purpose.

    The Union is about protecting their own, the Aegis Kai hunt artifacts, and the Abbey wants to make vamp blood tea. The Abbey encourages the sort of sadism, violence and torture that really doesn’t fit with the player character mindset.

  80. Micha
    December 26, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    So, you’re moving away from lone, stereotypical white male serial killers, and are moving into team killers. Are you also going to include female killer types? How about the difference between black and white killers? And, yes, there is a difference for the US.

    Slashers are basically serial killers on crack, so exactly how many more are we putting in the game? Is murder going to be so common in the CofD to support the sheer numbers? An average serial killer murders around 3-4 people before being caught. How many Slashers are there going to be in every city? Its going to be pretty devistating, and practically impossible to hide.

    As for the Abby… I have no idea what you consider “as is.” I’ve seen wildly different interpretations of the AA, and claiming one or the other won’t be good. They’re supposed to be a PC option, not an antagonist. Doing anything other than making them a PC friendly choice, if a bit questionable at times, is a good way to upset any fans of the compact.

    Also, I want to avoid any Unfortunate Implications by suggesting that a PC should be engaging in borderline psychopath-killer behavior. Its not a comfortable topic.

  81. December 26, 2015 at 11:40 pm

    I like the way that Ashwood Abbey is. They have something, something that no other hunter’s group have, they like what they do. Other hunters do, what they do, because a big reason, to protect, for curiosity, because of duty. None of them truly likes the Vigil. The Ashwood likes it, yes I know that there is little space between liking to hunt and needing to kill, but this sort of thin line between men and monsters is present in other factions with other frames, like a greed aegis, or a too changed cheiron. Being on the limit is not a “no no” in this game.
    I would think the Abbey should take as a offense being confounded as The Hunt or as a nest of Slasher. It’s an offense, it’s like understanding the difference between a good drunk and the alcoholic who beats people. Yes both frequent the same bars, but they are not necessarily the same person.
    In the same way I see a Abbey member going to The Hunt, like someone who wants to play with the same toys, but not for the same reasons or in the same ways.
    I had played Hunter, I used them in my chronicles full crossover. The Abbey was present in two ocasions, as group of hunt used as a peon by mages, in a chronicle centered in mage’s mythos, and in the second ocasion, I did narrated a lone antagonist hunter in my chronicle of darkness, who uses tier 1 cels to hunt, she was a bad MF, not because she was abbey, but because she was a MF. I put she in the Abbey, because I like the Abbey.
    I think the Second one is my favorite

  82. Sean
    December 27, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    I think a slight realignment of the AA might be in order. Perhaps add something to the effect that the Hunt Club splintered off from them; the Abbey used to recruit Slashers, but it blew up in their face, and now they are trying to atone for it. They don’t hunt monsters out of any sense of moral obligation to humanity or because of quaint reasons like, “it’s the right thing to do.” Certainly nowhere as “noble” as some other compacts or conspiracies, but any reason to bump back against the monsters under the bed will do, right?

    How about, to improve the monstrousness of the Slashers, add something about the Abbey having no tolerance for people who choose the “easy way” and go after regular humans, or perhaps even make it a point to hunt down members who go Slasher?

    • Yig
      December 28, 2015 at 12:51 pm

      Not much else to add but I wanted to second this idea. The idea of the AA still being the worst of the “good guys” morally but the most aggressive towards taking out the slashers sounds like an amazing idea. Other hunter groups see an obligation to take out the slashers and do it with the view of a purpose but for the AA it’s personal. It would create a bit of tolerance for the AA in the other groups perspective even though the AA would still be viewed as vile in most cases. Make them the go to group for slasher intel.

      • Sean
        January 1, 2016 at 10:34 pm

        Thank you. To me, the Abbey serves as the niche for those people who take up the Vigil because they think it could be fun. And realistically, the kind of people who think hunting vampires and werewolves for sport is fun wouldn’t be cool action heroes, but people who were a little crazy at best. Even if it’s just to save their own hides, I think the Abbey would have a vested interest in going after Slashers- and helping other Compacts and Conspiracies do it, too.

Comments are closed.