After spending the last couple of posts talking about compacts, I want to flip over and address slashers before we move onto conspiracies and, afterward, cells. A lot of what I’m talking about in this post, with respect to slashers, is speculative as opposed to definitive because I’m still in the brainstorming pre-outline phase. Also, I’d like to point out there are loads of page references in this post. Unless otherwise noted, they point to the Slasher supplement.
For those of you who have been following Hunter: the Vigil from the very beginning, you might have noticed that H:tV broke a lot of ground as a game that you could customize to fit your table. That toolkit approach, through tiered play, advice, enhanced rules, etc. will be the general approach for Hunter: the Vigil 2E as well. If it seems like I’m being overly specific (or generic) in these open dev posts, there’s a good reason for it on my end. Essentially, as developer it’s my role to ensure this beloved game is playable by a number of different fans using various playing styles. Your feedback based on your experiences playing the game is helping me get clarity on what those might be, but I’m also interested in hearing from new fans to ensure that I’m covering all my bases.
Slashers and the Slasher Chronicle
H:tV 2E isn’t just a rulebook, however, it has a chronicle that features a specific monster type: slashers, which explore the serial killer trope prevalent in horror, crime, and mystery/suspense. The Slasher supplement took this trope and hammered into multiple directions, and I’m thinking about ways to take this a step further for H:tV 2E for a few reasons. One, from a chronicle perspective, the monster-of-the-week (or, in H:tV 2E’s case, multiple monsters) might serve for one or two sessions, but there wouldn’t be any connective tissue tying slashers together for any of the tiers, which could dramatically flatten your potential for storytelling. Right now, I’m leaning toward zeroing in on the fact that Slashers introduced how hunters can become slashers as one possibility of doing that.
One of the ways I could make the hunter-to-slasher a clarified path, is to focus on using Integrity (from the Chronicles of Darkness rulebook) as a more concrete vehicle for becoming a slasher. This approach could also help further define the difference between hunters (Sam and Dean from Supernatural) and a person who’s encountered “a” monster in a traumatic experience (their clients) for Tier One play. There is also some precedent for this, for the suggestions outlined in Chapter Three of Slasher beginning on page 183 spend a lot of time addressing what happens when hunters reach a Morality rating of zero in the old system.
I am also mulling over the possibility of creating a hunter-to-slasher rules track that is explicit and combines 2E rules: low Integrity ratings with Conditions (persistent) that can be utilized as a method of narrating the fall into utter darkness. By doing so, I’m thinking about ways a fallen hunter (who hasn’t quite turned into a slasher yet) can save herself or be saved by her cell. There’s some other interesting CoD aspects that could come into play, too, like Aspirations and breaking points (CoD p. 29), because it might be possible to twist those aspects to fit 2E slashers. Since both are vague (with good reason), I might suggest sample Aspirations and breaking points that fit a Slasher Chronicle, so you as the player begin as a hunter knowing there’s a risk you might turn into a slasher.
Of course, there is a third option: turn slashers into monsters and ensure that Dread Powers could be used for their creation. Doing this, would clearly put them in the “monster type” category which significant alters their original intent–especially since monsters do not use Integrity per the Mortal Remains rules update on p. 161. This is a change that would be too significant of a departure from the original source material, and it would not fit for the chronicle, either, so this is not a direction I want to pursue.
Another way to define slashers a little more specifically, is to focus on specifying Tells and incorporate them into slasher character creation. There are a lot of different ways to do this, but I do see a benefit of ensuring it’s present in the rules. One of the mechanics I was drawn to from the original source material, is on page 139 of Slashers. There’s a Tactic called Exploit Tell which I’m quoting from below, and I really liked this. (Keep in mind, that Tactics will be reworked for H:tV 2E, and any tweaks mentioned here would have to be approved and playtested before a specific approach is pinned down.)
Description: Tells and derangements are a factor that slashers and hunters alike must deal with. Whether it’s a hunter who compulsively checks the salt lines across every entrance into his apartment, or a slasher who carves the Anglo-Saxon rune “Tywaz” into the palm of the left hand of every one of his victims, these behavioral quirks are a hindrance to those who possess them and a potential boon to those tracking the deranged. With a careful understanding of applied psychology and the principles of interrogation, a pair (or more) of investigators can “work” a suspect, poking and prodding at her psyche and forcing derangements to the surface. Slashers p. 140
I think this Tactic is pretty awesome, and I could totally see how valuable it would be to use it in the Slasher Chronicle. Keep in mind that I want to avoid “a” specific tell that turns slashers into a black-and-white monster type that can be easily identified, especially since slashers would use H:tV 2E character creation, too.
Hunters becoming slashers is one end of the slasher spectrum to focus on. Given that there are more of them, for the purposes of the setting, the other end is that they are organizing into slasher cabals that are loosely connected. There is a precedent for slasher cabals, and you can find an example (The Subtle Collectors Association) on page 255. I’m not sure how far I want to take their association, since slashers by nature don’t get along with other people, even though they may also keep their existing Endowments or use new ones, too–which I’m not necessarily a fan of myself (pp. 91, 160).
For me, keeping an Endowment opens up questions as to whether or not a hunter-turned-slasher remains with their conspiracy in a Tier 3 chronicle, and whether or not the player-character feels forced to stay with the conspiracy as a slasher for the benefit of that one rule. My thinking on this is reinforced on p. 90: “So, while it’s possible for a slasher to retain (or even gain) organization membership, it’s not likely, and that membership should be in constant peril.”
I will say that for H:tV 2E, one of the things I’m looking at is whether or not to include slasher character creation as well as a basic slasher cabal creation that highlights both ends of these spectrums to ensure [REDACTED FOR SPOILERS]…
Didn’t want to give TOO MUCH away there, but hopefully what I’ve posted about is getting you excited about H:tV 2E and its possibilities at your table. My hope is that the combination of the core rules for Hunter and the setting-related enhancements we’re making will further define what it means to be a hunter, and make it fun to play.
Now that I’ve thrown a bunch of bloody butcher knives at you… My questions today are about your expectations for slashers and how you feel about using them in your game. Part of what I need to understand, is how the horror of a slasher will come into play at your table. Horror, after all, may seem one way in the text, but play very differently when there’s a group of uniquely-minded people engaged in a session. Since there are a lot of different flavors of horror (and many slasher archetypes), it’d be helpful to know what your feelings are on this personally and for your group. For super extra Hunter brownie points, if you’ve played a slasher-related chronicle in the past, now’s the time to tell me what you liked and didn’t like about that experience.
- 1) Slashers are based on a prevalent horror trope that often generates a lot of complex feelings. If you had to come up with a definition of a slasher that you know you and your group would be happy with, what would it be?
2) Does the possibility of becoming a slasher sound interesting to you? Why or why not?
3) Could you see yourself using a slasher cabal in your game? If so, how?
And last but not least…
- 4) If you said “yes,” to Question 2, would you want the rules to support your transformation from hunter-to-slasher? Or, would you prefer this be kept more vague?