Last time, I kicked off Hunter the Vigil 2E featuring the Slasher Chronicle’s Open Dev by diving into Ashwood Abbey and how this compact might be presented in the 2nd Edition corebook in my post titled Slashers and Ashwood Abbey.
First and foremost, I want to thank everybody for commenting and participating in the discussion to shape Hunter: the Vigil’s future. This has been hugely exciting, and you’ve given me a lot to think about. For this reason, I’m going to hold off making any firm decisions until we get through a few more OpenDev posts about tiered play and the Slasher Chronicle.
A couple of things I wanted to clarify before I get to today’s topic. If you weren’t sure what Hunter: the Vigil 2nd Edition will be, Rich addressed what the word “chronicle” means in this post. This definition, I feel, is important for both fans and any hopeful writers–especially if you haven’t read the other 2nd Edition rulebooks yet.
Second, while I might use terms like “antagonist”, that does not mean I am leaning toward painting a black-and-white picture of any villain or group that opposes hunters–especially if they’re mortal and have a conscious. Typically, I don’t feel black-and-white depictions make for interesting characters, whether they be used by the players or the Storyteller, and this is especially true for Hunter as a whole. While a clear cut villain might serve a great purpose for a one shot or as a red herring, I’m more concerned about long-term play via the possibility of recurring characters and compelling story hooks. In other words, a good villain from my perspective could either be used as a one shot target or as a recurring character, at the Storyteller’s discretion.
Lastly, I wanted to mention that I also appreciate the comments regarding the fact that this is a new edition of Hunter, and that means many of you expect changes. On a meta level, we could go round and round about the value of a new edition, but I’d much rather talk about the game itself. This is partly why I’m getting a jump start on OpenDev by addressing certain topics with you, the fans, before I propose an outline for approval. Regardless, I am aware that I can’t make every fan happy–but I can balance my decisions based on your feedback.
Compacts in 2nd Edition
On to compacts and Tier Two play!
In the Hunter 1E, the six featured compacts and their primary base/origin includes: Ashwood Abbey (Scotland), Long Night (U.S.), Loyalists of Thule (Germany), Network Zero (U.S.), Null Mysteriis (London), The Union (U.S.). There are a few other locations mentioned in the write-ups, such as France for Null Mysteriis and Australia for the Long Night, but my point here is that the corebook’s compacts are primarily split between three US-based groups and three European. (H:tV 1E pp. 102-125) There were also a fair number of compacts introduced in the supplements up to (and including) the new compacts in Mortal Remains and the handful that’ll be featured in Dark Eras. Some of the compacts, such as the werewolf-hunting Les Voyageurs from Dark Eras’ Doubting Souls (1690s), are no longer around while others, like the U.S.-based Utopia Now, are active and have a recent history.
With that background information in mind, I’m concerned about several things with respect to selecting and designing new compacts for this edition. First and foremost, while I do have technical concerns from a design perspective, it’s important to me that the choices for compacts are fun to both write and play. To that end, I’m thinking about aspects like globalization, scalable integrity of members (e.g. the morally grey areas and potential to turn into slashers), playing styles, ensuring you can still play your favorite compact even if it’s not featured, leaving room for expansion in future books, and ensuring most of the compacts make sense if used for the Slasher Chronicle. (Regarding that last point, please note I do want to create one or two slasher-specific compacts for this rulebook for that reason!) My goal is to have eight-to-ten compacts in the core rulebook, with eight being a more realistic number, as well as a few pages devoted to “Other Compacts”.
Expanding the background for compacts to other parts of the world may sound like a no-brainer (and I am having waaaaaaaaay too much fun thinking about this) but there are some challenges that I want to carefully navigate. Structurally, I am thinking about how this aspect might be reflected in (what we call) the splat pages for the compacts. In the Hunter 1E rulebook, compacts were featured on four pages, with the first page as an “in universe” artifact and half a page devoted to stereotypes. In the new edition, compacts may get three or four pages, depending upon how my outline eventually shakes out, but there is a precedent for changing splats a la Vampire the Requiem 2E, and I definitely want to get the most out of the space we have.
Globalizing Tier Two
Here’s an example of how I’m thinking about adding in other locations to an existing compact: Network Zero has traditionally been based in the U.S. and also “lives” online. This compact could also add hubs in places like South Korea–one of the world’s frontrunners in tech manufacturing. The easiest way to do this, would be to add a section in the splat for “Locations”. This would allow an update to NZ (especially since a lot of tech has changed in 8 years), and add in something that gives hunters the ability to move around or travel if need be. Compacts (like Network Zero) that have spread out are the easiest to update, because the roots of a pre-existing diaspora are already there.
But what about other compacts, such as the Long Night and the Union? At first, I had a lot of fun trying to imagine what the equivalency of the Union might be in Russia or Guatemala, but then I ran into a hiccup because I was mulling over the strength of each compact and how they felt more specific to their locations in the core rulebook based on how they were written up. The Long Night, for example, draws its strength from being faith-based, and yet I could definitely see how a different faith (Hinduism, Judaism, etc.) might be at the heart of a similar compact elsewhere in the world. However, I can’t see that new, alternative compact “fitting” inside the Long Night as easily as it might be to drop in different locations for Network Zero, because the differences between them might be too great to ignore and wouldn’t fit in the space provided.
Its [Long Night] members have included Branch Davidian-style militarized gun-cults, Family Values campaigners, paranoid survivalists, affulent Southern fundamentalists and middle-class conservative evangelicals. They’ve sprung up in the southern USA, the cities of Australia, and the southeast of England. They have many different takes on what constitutes the correct response to the imminent, self-evident end of the world. – The Long Night (H:tV 1E pp. 106-109)
In a sense, the same held true when I was thinking about the Union, because its history is derived from the American Labor Movement and was expanded to other Western locations.
Across the Western world, the labor movement spawned more than just trade unions. It happened in England in the late 19th century, and in the 1920s. It happened in Australia in the 1930s and 1970s. Each time, as people banded together to support each other, someone or other discovered the creatures that preyed upon them, and did something about it. – The Union (H:tV pp. 122-125)
So, while locations make sense for other compacts, more research would definitely be required to ensure the specific details were authentic for new places–even if an equivalent compact gets a couple of paragraphs and a new name.
Another way to look at what I’m considering, is that the compacts’ various themes could be enhanced for the new edition by either adding locations or switching them around in key places to show how such a group is possible anywhere in the world. While every compact may not require the same approach in the text, I do need to look at some static aspects in order to have consistency across all of the compacts within a reasonable wordcount. Plus, this also means I’d be more likely to seek out writers who have specialized knowledge for various locations so they are believable and resonate with Hunter. Themes of compacts would also emerge more distinctively in the compact-creation section, so it’s not as big of a concern for me here, but in terms of tying everything together? Locations that are designed based on the theme of a compact serves the purpose of how hunters might find a compact anywhere in the world.
Overall, I feel the compact write-ups are one way to enhance and clarify Tier Two play, because it puts any new locations or mentions of additional groups in context of the compact, its theme, and its history. However, I’d like to note that I am not interested in tacking on locations if they do not make sense for that compact, nor am I thinking about any sort of quota. Locations can always be expanded upon, sure, but in the core rulebook I definitely want to set the tone that the Vigil may be upheld anywhere, by anyone, on any tier. This globalization approach for Tier Two would strictly be on an “as-needed” basis, mind you, but I’m also thinking that additional locations would give you more options to play–which is a good thing. This would also allow for deeper connective tissue between compacts as to how they’d work together/oppose each other on the hunt, too.
What this essentially boils down to, is that locations aren’t as simple as “add this one sentence” and “massage this concept” in order to make this effort appear seamless and achieve the goal of giving you more options as both players and Storytellers. It’s fun to consider, yes, but at the same time the compact introduction and write-ups have to have some consistency within their proposed word counts, so every word and sentence matters–just like they did in the first edition.
My next post will depend upon what shakes out from your comments here. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover for conspiracies, Tier One play, and slashers ahead of the outline, but I want to make sure that I’m being thorough with respect to Tier Two on a meta level. The rules update and any other rules-based changes will support gameplay–which is why I’m reserving those posts for a later date when that work actually gets started with my future team. For now, though, I want to remain focused on getting clarity on the tiers.
I feel this is a great stopping point, so I’m going to turn the discussion over to you now. Here are my questions three… Er, four! You will have an opportunity to revisit compacts and slashers in a later Open Dev post, so don’t worry about being specifically married to that type of monster for your answers.
- What are your top 3 favorite existing compacts and why? These can be pulled from any book that’s been published thus far, including compacts that are no longer around.
- What are your thoughts on globalization and locations for the compacts you selected?
- How married are you to the history of the compacts? Have those details come up in actual play for your group?
- We have compacts formed around playing styles such as belief, hedonism, research, atonement, communication, defense, vengeance, hunting specific monster types such as vampires, etc. If you had your pick of “a” new style of play that’d be fun to play, what would be the theme and why? Where would it be based? Please try to avoid creating/naming new compacts, as I do want to reserve that honor for my future team.
Just like last time, please note I am not thinking about/weighing your feedback as a popularity contest. The back-and-forth discussions you’re having really help flesh out what you’re thinking and feeling about this beloved gameline, and are having a positive impact on me as a developer. Go us!