Nightmare Fuel: Hunter: The Vigil

  • Hunter: The Vigil takes all the horrors of the New World of Darkness and adds the layer of potential insanity. You can't let your loved ones know what's happening, because they'll either think you're a loony or be put in danger. Vampires could have influence over your job or the police, so you can't just go around staking every bloodsucker you see or you'll find yourself out of a job and under arrest. Werewolves are stronger, faster, and more vicious than you and won't hesitate to tear you to shreds. You can't kill ghosts with bullets, and they can possess you. Slashers generally possess nothing even resembling morals, and would just as soon slice you up as say hello. Even Prometheans are frightening, since they are aberrations from nature and reason. The changelings are probably the worst, since they had no control over what happened to them and are sometimes so twisted they cannot interact with human beings without harming them in some way. The worst part of it all is the fact that a hunter must make a moral decision, slowly wearing away at themselves until the line between man and monster is nearly nonexistent.
  • Let's look at the list of horrors that being a Hunter means having to face, shall we? Before and after you learn more about what they actually are from their perspective?
    • Walking, blood-sucking corpses that claim to rule the night — and there is more than boasting to that assertion. They can charm and manipulate with the skill of consummate predators; part of this is natural, but part of this is something supernatural. They can bend people's minds with a look, a word, a thought, control animals and read their thoughts, or inspire terror by their mere presence. They can become invisible, they can meld into the ground underfoot, a wall, a tree, anything. They can roam the night in the shape of a beast or as a wandering bank of mist. They can move faster than a human can blink, shrug off being hit by a car, punch through a brick wall, or worse. Their blood is the ultimate intoxicant; and drink it too often, and you become their slave, in mind, body and soul. They don't really feel pain, so unless you know their weakness, they just keep soaking up every bullet, blade, arrow, punch, anything you throw at them until they have their fangs in your throat.
      • The reality: Everything about that perception is true... except that there is a part of the vampire that is still human, still capable of remorse. However, the creature will eventually lose the battle against its utterly amoral predatory instincts. It is only a question of when.
    • Werewolves — every nightmare you ever had about the wolf come to life in one gore-dripping package of killing machine. They could be anyone, and you won't even know it until they come for you. They can wield weapons with human skill, then turn into a monster and rend you limb from limb with bare fangs and claws. They heal almost as fast as you hurt them... and, in fact, that makes it almost impossible to hurt them seriously. Blow them up, run them over, drop things on them, shoot them, stab them... they'll just heal up and be right back after you without even being slowed down. Their mere presence makes you want to curl into a ball and weep for mercy. What's worse? They have Black Magic too! They can do...things that shouldn't be possible, and you can never tell what a werewolf is capable of until it's too late — some can hurl fireballs, others can make your weapons betray you at the worst possible time.
      • The reality: They're guarding the world against something even worse. Well, a third of them are; the rest are fascistic, bloodthirsty nutcases who regard that previous opinion as an ideal to be achieved.
    • Witches, people who have sold their souls to the darkest powers for dark blessings and foul boons. They can raise the dead against you, turn you into lifeless stone, call down thunder and lightning, flame or worse against you. They can manipulate fate itself so that bad luck comes your way until you die — without ever tracing it back to the witch responsible — or bend time and space like playthings. They're unnatural, too powerful to trust, and could be anywhere.
      • The reality: They regard the infernal barginers with the same fear you do; they just had a crazy dream one day and suddenly realized they could do magic. Anybody could become one. You could become one, and are more likely to than many. And a few of them have gone exactly as power mad as you thought. And they rule the world.
    • Twisted walking dead men, like a cross between Frankenstein's Monster and The Golem. They feel nothing for humans besides envy and spite and hate, so they lash out with all their awful power at random, and wherever they go, the earth itself suffers from their presence. Some poison the water into a toxic sludge, others make the wind foul or cause the very earth to rot into dust, while others cause fire-storms, rip open holes between reality and... someplace else, or create the freezing desert of tainted dust that is a nuclear winter.
      • The reality: Most of them are almost harmless, men and women made of the dead, who seek only to purify themselves until they become a true, living human. However, even if you know this, you can't stop yourself from hating them; it's an inescapable part of what they are, that all who truly live despise them. What's more, where they walk, they awaken monsters, creatures that seek to feed on them but are forced back into sleep by normal humans... and will do anything to stop it. And some of them have abandoned their quest for humanity, embracing the monstrous nature at their core. They herd those monsters, hunting their own kind... and being everything you fear about the others.
    • Faeries who roam the street, disguised so well that even other monsters can't tell what they really are, looking to trick people into pledges that let the fairies steal their souls.
    • Self-proclaimed ex-dead men who willingly share their bodies with... things that can only be demons, giving themselves ghostly powers that they use however they choose. They can twist their forms into monstrous shapes so horrific that the sight can drive you insane. They can make the walls run with blood. They can turn animals against you, making even a most trusted and loved pet want to kill you. They can fill your lungs with stagnant water, or light you on fire. If you shoot them or stab them, fog pours from their wounds instead of blood, sealing their injuries. If you kill them, they come right back. And that's not even getting into what they can do by commanding the dead...
      • The reality: Those things are old ghosts. We'll let that sink in for a moment. Oh, and their hosts? The Fog Men? They were human like you, once. In fact, you're probably more likely to become one than anyone else.
    • Ancient undead sorcerers whose power and might are Biblical in scale. If you value your life, never, never disturb their resting places - or worse yet steal from them - otherwise not all the powers of Hell will be enough to save you. They are relentless, implacable, and indestructible, like ancient Terminators - they will find what they're after, no matter what stands in their way. And should they reveal their true selves, the sheer weight of time will crash down on you, sending you running for your life.
      • The reality: They do this because their gods tell them to.
    • Demons. Literal, bona fide, no shit, goddamned (literally) Fallen Angels who rebelled against the Creator for personal reasons, and now walk the Earth as false humans. They are utterly selfish, completely amoral, and capable of perfect lying to get what they want-up to and including a promise to steal your soul, hollow it out, and then wear it like a suit so they can take over your life. Or the life of someone you know. And if you corner them, they can shed it so they may better kill you.
      • The reality: The Creator in question? We sure hope it's only a God, because frankly, their reasons for rebellion? Completely legitimate. And the God-Machine isn't just amoral and willing to manipulate mortals for its own ends, it's a completely alien Eldritch Abomination that mutilates reality into orderly patterns by dint of its presence, and is willing to send similarly mechanical angels to force the issue. Demons are actually more human and given over to consciences then their "noble" brethren, and yet they're still evil by human standards-both out of desperation to remain free (or at least, rejoin the collective on their own terms) and because they literally don't have the same moral instincts as humans-their Fatal Flaw can easily be something like Generosity, since they view it as sabotaging their own work and those of their demonic friends for a quick feel-good act, and their Virtue can be literal Pride, as they assert their own self-will and that of their chosen organization against adversity and thus, their inherent "humanity", if such a term can apply to such alien beings. The only thing a demon has to really worry about when moral issues are concerned is the upkeep of the false human self he possesses, and they're always looking for a new one or parts to maintain it...
    • Living nightmares from the darkest reaches, abominations that attempt to disguise themselves as humans. They walk amongst humanity, seeking only to devour what they wish. Their very presence causes nightmares, terrorizing the dreams and souls of humans until they either go insane or are compelled to join the Hunt, and they can shed their false disguise to kill you in all manner of monstrous ways. Worse, they see most other monsters as kinsfolk, and can even mimic their powers to some extent.
      • The reality: That pretty much is the reality. Except that the whole "causing nightmares" thing? It's involuntary. If they don't indulge their beastly appetites, their soul-form will go wandering off into the dreamscape, tormenting people despite their best wishes.
    • Other hunters, hunting you because you're in the way, or because you don't follow what they see as the right path of the Vigil. Even if you can justify killing vampires nightly, these guys are human, and humans count for murder. Some of them might have powers on par with what a witch might have. Others control the entire local area, police and politicians included. Maybe they have a secret you've worked hard to ignore ready to drop in the local news if you don't toe their line. Maybe they've finally snapped and decided that you need to die to prevent you from becoming a monster yourself. They might even be working with the monsters you've been trying to hunt. Others don't care about you, or anyone else. As long as they have what they want, you and everyone you're fighting to protect can die and mean nothing to them.
      • The reality: That is the reality. Still think you want to be a hunter?
  • Each tier 3 conspiracy in Hunter is nightmare fuel from an entirely human perspective, from the core six to the ones in the supplements.
    • Task Force: VALKYRIE is every dangerous conspiracy theory about the US government, and really ANY government. Their authority cannot be limited by law. Their ends just barely justify the means. They are the men in black that are all too human, and at the same time completely inhuman. They are the mysterious agents making dissenters and whistle-blowers vanishing in the night. They aren't just tapping your phones, they're watching you during every waking moment. They can make you forget anything, make you their prisoner in your own skin. All for the US of A.
    • Have you met the Cheiron Group yet? Nice guys really. A bit of a corporate culture inside the group but still a focused organization dedicated to finding some of the science behind the monsters. If you ignore the illegal surgeries on their own people. And what is essentially torture on anyone from monsters to their own people. Did we mention the pills that may or may not be made out of dried vamp blood and given to US soldiers? And the secrets that might be behind their board of directors? Sometimes you are just paranoid. This isn't one of those times.
    • The Malleus Maleficarum, which literally is the book on Church Militant. Despite what it seems, a priest admitting what is said in a confessional is a gross abuse of the Church's authority, and if a priest is willing to do that it is rightfully terrifying. But no, that's not the worst of it. The worst is that unlike TFV, you can't argue that their corruption is a result of needing money and resources. The leader of the Malleus knows how vampires work, what their blood does to him, and he still drinks it. Both power and the blood have corrupted him, warping what was supposed to be a mission of divine protection into a long, rambling struggle. They still torture with modern and "classic" methods, and a third of them are willing to wage holy war on any religion that isn't Catholicism.
    • The Ascending Ones may be one of the more diplomatic Conspiracies on paper, but in reality, what's there is scary. See, what you have with the Ascending Ones are a group made up of one third religious militants, with all of the holy war-zeal you'd expect of that, and one third of ruthless drug cartels who blithely supply heroin and worse drugs to generate funding for the "glorious hunt". That's a pretty scary combination as it is, before you wrap them all together with their various noxious elixirs and tonics that let them achieve impossible feats — let's not forget, the Ascending Ones are the Conspiracy with an Endowment that can turn a human being into a vampire. Permanently. What other sorts of alchemical horrors could they be hiding in their closet? To say nothing of the implications that, like Cheiron, they've been willing to take supernatural beings apart as alchemical ingredients.
    • The Lucifuge — they're people who sincerely, honestly believe that they have the blood of Demon Lords And Arch Devils in their veins. They have Black Magic enough to make their claims credible. And they're determined to send every other monster back to Hell first before they end up there themselves.
      • The Hunt Club from Slashers is a group of serial killers who have put a points system in place to rank their murders. Their "Stereotypes" section has the "typical" Hunt Club member talk in incredibly snide terms about several of the other groups... but when he reaches the Lucifuge, he's terrified. These guys freak out professional serial killers.
    • The Knights of St. George are, to some extent, the Protestant answer to the Malleus Maleficarum... on the surface. Under that surface, they fear and revere "the Faceless Angels", a group of beings so powerful that just trying to communicate with one is believed to have caused The Tunguska Event. These beings are drawn by magic, and the Knights hunt and slay magic-users in order to keep their gods sleeping. They have a way to draw your deepest sins and worst elements to the surface and torture you with them. The worst part of all this? Other books have hinted at just what those Faceless Angels actually are. Without even knowing it, the Knights of St. George worship the Abyss, and everything they do makes it just a little stronger...
    • Mortal Remains gives us the Faithful of Shulpae. Let's not beat around the bush here; they're a shameless Cult straight from a Cosmic Horror Story universe, and their Endowment is Cannibalism Superpower. On the plus side, they only restrict their sacred palate to monsters...because they believe the monsters (especially Arisen) are gods in the flesh, and by partaking of the Feast, they gain a special kinship with the divine in general. They're even somewhat offended by the Malleus Maleficarum's understandable squeamishness-in-the-key-of-purging (since they don't see the difference between the Eucharist and the Feast, it's just that the latter is a bit more literal), and are honestly confused as to why the Lucifuge are ashamed of their heritage (since they were born with kinship to the divine).
  • The potential for hunters to go Jumping Off the Slippery Slope is a subtle one, but still very real. Especially when one remembers that, when hunters were first mentioned in the Antagonists core splat, one of their viable tactics is to track down and interrogate a monster's still-mortal friends or family. Up to and including torturing or murdering them, which some hunters will deliberately do for nothing less than the psychological advantage this will give them against their quarry.
    • As scary as the above is, imagine actually being part of a cell that did such a thing, having either to deal with the guilt of being party to such an act... or being so far gone that you don't care about what you did.
    • If that's not scary enough, think on this. Some monsters are actually very protective of their mortal kith and kin, and likely to go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge in retaliation for what you did. Some of the more likely candidates for this (as in, nearly assured to do so), are werewolves, Prometheans, and, oh yes, demons. Read up above on what the various children of the night are capable of. Now remember that this one has a very personal grudge against you and almost certainly has friends and favors it's willing to call in to get back at you. Enjoy your war, asshole.
      • Then there are the Beasts, who see most of the other supernaturals as extended family. Mess with a Beast's family, biological or adopted, and prepare to face a world of nightmares.
  • Perhaps the scariest thing about Hunter is the fact that, no, just because you're human does not mean you're the good guy. Many hunters are no better than the monsters they fight — Ashwood Abbey are serial killers/rapists/torturers who just happen to think monsters are better prey than humans, the Promethean Brotherhood are wannabe witches who ritually murder anyone with magical powers to steal those powers for themselves, and that's just scratching the surface. Even if you start out with noble intentions, Jumping Off the Slippery Slope is very much a real thing for you.
  • Four World of Darkness lines have Night Horrors books, bestiaries of possible NPCs and creatures for a chronicle. Why doesn't Hunter have one? After reading all this, why would it need one?