Hunter: The Vigil is a role-playing game by White Wolf Publishing. It's the sixth game for the New World of Darkness, following the normal humans who decide to go out and shoot the monsters hiding in the shadows. Of course, this being the World of Darkness, bad things happen a lot.Hunter is one of White Wolf's 'limited cycle' games, with one core book and five sourcebooks: Slasher, Witch Finders, Night Stalkers, Spirit Slayers, and the Horror Recognition Guide. There's also some additional PDF supplements.Hunters organize on three levels: Cells (small groups of two to 12 Hunters working more or less alone), Regional Compacts and National- or Global-level Conspiracies. Compacts provide benefits to their members based on their prominence in the organization, whereas Conspiracies can provide Endowments — tools or powers that can put hunters on the same playing field as some supernaturals.Since all Hunters are, essentially, human beings, there is no distinct "origin" for how they become a hunter or for their actions. Instead, the organizations are the various compacts and conspiracies.See also Hunter: The Reckoning, the game's Spiritual Predecessor in the old World of Darkness.Core Compacts
Ashwood Abbey: Comprised of jaded socialites and devious aristocrats, this Compact is the most infamous of all the hunter organizations. Members of the Abbey often come off as disturbingly amoral even to some of their most inhuman adversaries, what with their preference for torture and... making sport with their prey. Recent supplements attempt to paint them with a touch more morality, stressing their recklessness and love of competition.
The Long Night: The Tribulation Militia. A collection of various Christian groups, the Long Night holds firm to the belief that the Apocalypse is approaching. Exactly what constitutes Armageddon is not universally agreed upon, though most members believe that for the new dawn will to arrive, they must strive to destroy the many evils in the world.
The Loyalists of Thule: The Indebted. Remnants of the Thule Society predating Nazi Germany, the Loyalists reformed after one of its members had an encounter with a supernatural being. Since then, the Compact has devoted itself to making amends for its (unintended) part in founding the Nazi ideology. Of a scholarly bent, they amass occult lore for use against the minions of darkness, among which they count neo-Nazis and white supremacist groups.
Network Zero: The Secret Frequency. A loosely knit force of hackers, YouTube jocks and the odd legitimate news reporter attempting to catalogue and release evidence of paranormal activity. Their means range from posting videos on the 'Net to hijacking TV signals or even taking an evening news broadcaster hostage.
Null Mysteriis: The Organization for Rational Assession of the Supernatural. Scientifically or scholarly-minded individuals looking to explain or debunk the whats, hows and whys of the "so-called" supernatural. Whether through rigorous testing or study of fringe sciences, what unifies Null M. is not so much the penchant for fighting monsters as the drive to learn more about them.
The Union: Regular Joes and Janes. Blue-collar workers and regular folks who just want to keep themselves and theirs safe from the things in the shadows - including mundane criminals and corrupt, oppressive bosses. The youngest of these compacts, the Union makes up for its lack of centrally controlled management with sheer numbers and flexibility. From picturesque farming towns to large metropolitan cities - if you've got the Internet, then you've got the Union.
Aegis Kai Doru: Guardians of the Labyrinth. Greek for "The Shield and Spear", the Aegis Kai Doru claim a heritage dating back to lost Atlantis and a sacred duty to protect Relics of all shapes and sizes. They hold a special grudge against witches and shapeshifters, believing them to be responsible for the state of the world. Regardless of the veracity of their assertions, no other Conspiracy holds as many magical artifacts, or is as proficient in their use.
Ascending Ones: Born from the Ancient Egyptian conspiracy known as The Cult of the Phoenix, the Ascending Ones ingest alchemical Elixirs mixed with poisons to put themselves on an even playing field with the supernatural. Less wholesomely, they often fund their operations with drug dealings great and small.
The Cheiron Group: The Field Projects Division. A massive pharmaceutical concern based in Europe, Cheiron are pioneers of Thaumatechnology - harvesting body parts from various supernatural creatures and grafting them onto their agents. TCG policy dictates that the Bottom Line is the only line; its operatives are given plenty of leeway, as long as they do not drag the company name through the mud.
The Lucifuge: Children of the Seventh Generation. Offspring of unions between human parents and demonic forces, the Lucifuge number exactly 666 agents at any given time. Sympathetic towards penitent creatures but merciless in their pursuit of those who revel in their monstrous nature, their hereditary powers of Castigation are as formidable as they are unsettling.
Malleus Maleficarum: The Shadow Congregation. Harking back to the days of the original Catholic witch hunters, these zealots harrow vampires, witches and demons in that order, clearing the path with holy Benediction rites. Though still Vatican run, the dwindling number of priests and other religious has forced the Witches' Hammer to look to the laity to fill the gaps in manpower.
Task Force: VALKYRIE: The US government's answer to the things that go bump in the night, VALKYRIE's mission is twofold. Their first objective is to keep the general public safe from Extra-Normal Entities. The second is to keep that same public from ever learning about the critters. With its Advanced Armory, TFV can bring bleeding-edge technology to bear against monsters of all stripes, provided the top brass gives the field operatives the green light.
Witch Finders: Introduced in the first sourcebook, these three compacts and single conspiracy specialize in the hunting of witches and other magic users, sometimes to the exclusion of all other threats.
Division Six: A compact claiming it is an extra-governmental agency, Division Six specializes in hunting "reality deviants" that, according to them, destabilize reality and cause it to break down. Though paid and given an ID, their leadership cares little about what they do, so long as questions directed inwards are not asked.
Keepers of the Source: A group of hippies and flower children who are under the belief that witches and mages drain "Mother Earth" of it's energy, it's "Source". Trying to use more peaceable methods to deal with the witches, the Keepers still sometimes resort to violence to protect the Earth.
Promethean Brotherhood: Apprentices and students of mages and magic users, the Brotherhood literally steal the magic from mages, using an ancient rite to make it their own, at the cost of the mage's life. Their "gift", however, cannot be kept forever, and they must find another mage to steal from again.
The Knights of St. George: A conspiracy from medieval England, the Knights specialize in using so-called "Goetic Gospels", secret rites and meanings hidden in Christian iconography, to literally channel their own sins against magic users before striking the killing blow.
Slasher: Though named "World of Darkness: Slasher", the book caters almost exclusively to Hunter, introducing a new compact and conspiracy, as well as the steps needed to create the monstrosities simply known as "Slashers".
The Hunt Club: A social club in a similar vein as the Ashwood Abbey, the Hunt Club instead sates it's bloodlust by killing off living, non-monstrous human beings, claiming they only kill the ones who deserve to die.
Vanguard Serial Crimes Unit: A branch of the FBI made almost exclusively of psychics, VASCU specializes in the hunting of murderers and slashers, using their abilities of Teleinformatics to root out the evidence they need to stop the monsters. Their jurisdiction, though alotted to cover any and all supernatural killers, is limited by VALKYRIE.
Night Stalkers: The second sourcebook, Night Stalkers covers Hunter operations targeting vampires of all stripes, as well as looking deeper into the three compacts and one conspiracy introduced.
The Barrett Commission: Made up of power-brokers and those in high positions of national power, the Barrett Commission is able to root out vampiric influence in the business and political worlds. Though low on numbers and still succeptable to vampiric attacks, the Commission is a serious thorn in the side of any political vampire.
Night Watch: Formed in the ghettos of Pittsburgh, the Night Watch devotes itself to taking an active role in protecting mankind from the predations of vampires, particularly in urban areas that other groups care little for.
Maiden's Blood Sisterhood: A sorority created to protect America's colleges from the bloodsuckers, the Sisters in the group are just as well known for caring for the victims as for eliminating the vampires.
Cainite Heresy: A loosely connected group of the victims of vampiric feedings and abuse, the Cainites fight back using Rites Of Denial, blood-magic taught to them by mysterious "Sources", unknown benefactors who lead them to their targets.
Spirit Slayers: The third, and currently final sourcebook, the contents inside focus on werewolves, shapechangers, and spirits, and the groups that hunt them.
The Bear Lodge: Formed of American big game hunters that realized there was more out there than just bears and mountain lions. Interestingly, they sometimes will let a werewolf live, so long as it has not killed a human being. Their main motive is simply to prove their skill at the hunt, which often seems cruel to other humans but would probably be respected by their prey.
The Illuminated Brotherhood: Formed of an experiment that was meant to research what relation certains drugs had on religious euphoria, the number of spiritually sensitive individuals tore a hole in the fabric separating the spirit world from the real one. The survivors decided to continue their studies, as well as doing their best to protect others from spirit possession.
The Talbot Group: Formed after a mother and father lost their son to lycanthropy, the Talbot Group seeks not to kill werewolves, but to save them from themselves, teaching the wolf-blooded children in their care that they can control their bloodlust and remain human, as well as protecting others from possession.
Les Mysteries: Practitioners of everything from Voodoo to Snake Handling, the members of Les Mysteries actively communicate with spirits, battling both spirits and werewolves by striking deals with more amicable spirits to grant them gifts, collectively called the Rites du Cheval.
This game provides examples of:
Abnormal Ammo: Etheric Rounds, which can harm ghosts and various incorporeal beings.
Achilles' Heel: Every Slasher has at least one potentially handicapping flaw, be it physical, mental, or social. The more powerful ones have two.
All Deaths Final: Averted by the Malleus Maleficarum... sort of. One of their Benedictions allows them to bring the dead back to life, something that no other group, not even the supernatural creatures, can actually do. No, not even the mages (before Archmagery, anyway). However, getting dragged back through death is not exactly natural, per se, so it shouldn't be surprising that they always come back with a new Severe Derangement in tow. The Aegis Kai Doru has a similar power, with similar side effects.
Almighty Janitor: Block By Bloody Block has a greater demon janitor, with almost complete control of a university and its staff. He still pushes a broom around.
Hunters themselves often have careers outside of hunting, many of them blue collar of some kind.
Alternate Universe: Task Force: VALKYRIE knows about them (namely the Shadow and the Underworld in addition to the presence of more conventional alternate universes and timelines that the Storyteller can cook up) and has ways of entering them.
Cheiron harvest things from other dimensions.
Ambadassador: The Ascending Ones are often willing to negotiate peace between rival monster groups in hopes of avoiding the collateral damage of an Enemy Civil War.
Ancient Conspiracy: Take your pick. Oddly enough, most of them are really good things for the most part. From a human standpoint, anyway.
And Then John Was a Zombie: Quite possible, since hunters are mortals, and the state of mortality is...easily changed. Depending on the supernatural creature a hunter becomes though, he may not mind, especially if his cell was already a cancer cell (which, in the Van Helsing Hate Crimes terminology of Hunter, means a cell with a supernatural being having unofficial membership or at least a close friendship). Not a focus, but there's an Elixir in Night Stalkers that causes the Ascending One imbibing it to turn into a vampire (presumably a Mekhet, since they hail from Ancient Egypt too) for a night. A dramatic failure causes the Elixir to work as intended...except for the "wears off" bit.
Anti-Hero: It's very easy for Hunters to descend into this territory; in fact, it's all but expected. And if you're playing as a "heroic" Slasher character, it's guaranteed you'll be a Type IV at best, if not an outright Villain Protagonist.
Apocalyptic Log: The Horror Recognition Guide is presented as the notes of a Philadelphia hunter cell that mysteriously vanished (likely because they triggered the hunter equivalent of locking one's self in a darkened bathroom and chanting "Bloody Mary" over and over again).
Aristocrats Are Evil: The Ashwood Abbey, as shown in the corebook, are portrayed this way, to the point that any player character who joins them is basically a Villain Protagonist. Later books try to broaden the faction's motives and goals to make them less overtly wicked.
Arrested for Heroism: Most hunters run the risk of running afoul of authority. Well, it's kind of inevitable when the authority is likely to be controlled by vampires or mages or even werewolves. The exceptions to the rule are Task Force VALKYRIE and VASCU because they are the US government.
Badass Army: Every conspiracy has one, coated in its own distinct flavour.
Badass Bookworm: One of the hats of the Loyalists of Thule. Every hunter cell, regardless of compact/conspiracy or lack thereof, probably has one, too.
Badass Grandpa: The Chevalier Theleme, a recurring high-ranking Lucifuge in various splatbooks. Several centuries old, his ageing slowed to a crawl, the threat rating appended to the dossier the Cheiron Group has compiled on him sums up his potential:
Action: On identification of this individual, contact your nearest headquarters immediately with your location and numbers, and take immediate steps toward securing him. Do not, under any circumstances, engage the target in any kind of conversation.
Badass Normal: Most hunters. Hunters at the Conspiracy level have the option of purchasing Endowments, hypertech or mystical equipment or abilities that even the playing field somewhat at the cost of this trope. This is in contrast to Hunter: The Reckoning, where the Hunters were all supernaturally empowered themselves.
Bad Ass Transplant: The Cheiron Group's speciality. What do you want? Demonic eyes that can see into the very depths of a man's soul? Trivial. A personal defence swarm of angry magical insects embedded into your arm? Child's play. A rotten human hand that can shoot fire, and hypnotize those that look at it? Why the hell not?
Bad Powers, Good People: The Lucifuge. Some of their powers include summoning demons, throwing Hellfire and making someone bleed out of their skin so that tracking them is easier. Not only do they use these powers to protect humanity, but they're actually one of the nicer conspiracies, in that they actually try to avoid committing Van Helsing Hate Crimes.
Bavarian Fire Drill: The core rulebook has a price list for different kind of forged IDs, be they police badges or press cards.
Bee Bee Gun: Cheiron may be amoral bastards out for the profit margin, but at least they give you a magical hand that shoots bees (my God). Well, Pandoran bees, at least.
Berserk Button: Every Charmer and Psycho has at least one topic of conversation that, if broached, will send them into a foaming rage. And that's not counting what happens if you resist their charms.
BFG: Task Force: VALKYRIE's Mjolnir Cannon, as pictured above. It is not the only example in their arsenal.
Bio-Augmentation: The Cheiron Group's hat, they abduct supernatural creatures, cut them apart and graft bits of what make them special into their own systems in order to level the playing field.
Black and Grey Morality: The gray is lighter than most, but played very straight in Block by Bloody Block: None of the individuals feuding over the example city are particularly nice, and a few are just plain monstrous (we have an arrogant demon squatting in a college, a Nietzsche Wannabe street priest who may or may not be an insane angel, the Cheiron-employed ice queen driving wedges between the factions so she can harvest the remains..). This is probably to help players not feel bad about kicking their corrupt asses out, but it says something when the nicest faction leader in control of a territory is a Dark Magical Girl who's wagering the life of her Consilium on a hunch.
The shades of gray (namely, the specific Compacts and Conspiracies) also tend to vary between individual groups. For example, the Ashwood Abbey are on the very dark side of gray (they have a well-deserved reputation as psychopathic hedonists), while the Night Watch (vampire-hunting gangsters) and Ascending Ones (hunters with a diplomatic streak... who fund their vigil by selling illegal drugs) are dark grey, but not as bad as Ashwood Abbey, and groups like Network Zero (expose the truth) and the Talbot Group (help werewolves adjust to human society) are pretty light grey.
Bloody Murder: The Bleeder, a Task Force: VALKYRIE weapon with the nasty effect of making a vampire's blood leak out of his body, usually in a violent manner, like vomiting. But wait, there's more: on an exceptional success, the unfortunate vamp's blood vessels literally EXPLODE, tearing apart his skin and muscle in a veritable spectacle of Squick. Good lord ...monster or not, you don't want to mess with The Men in Black.
The Malleus Maleficarum also know a Benediction that can cause the target to suddenly, spontaneously bleed. It's usually used on mages to keep them from concentrating enough to cast spells. Used against a female mage, it usually causes her to spontaneously start her period.
And the Lucifuge have a Castigation ritual that makes a murderer constantly bleed from their hands, allowing them to be easily tracked. It comes in handy for tracking down slashers.
And then there's the Cainite Heresy's Rites Of Denial, which revolve around the use of magic blood. Harmful blood, protective blood, blood boost, blood that traps vampires, mind-controlling blood...you name it.
Breaking Speech: A special ability of the "Maniac" slashers; who are explicitly based on Hannibal Lector.
Body Surf: Owls (also known asStrix) are ghostly spirits that hijack human and vampire bodies, transforming them into Bloodjackers, creatures somewhere between a vampire and a zombie. The body drinks blood but continues to rot; when it's worn out or destroyed the Owl simply hijacks another. Elder Demons are also prone to doing this.
Cannon Fodder: If you aren't singled out as a superstar in the making, the Cheiron Group officially considers you to be this. Unless you survive and upgrade to Mauve Shirt.
Captain Ersatz: One of the pictures in the core Vigil rulebook is Dante with a rifle instead of a sword. (Justified in the worst way, as it was lifted from a picture of Dante.)
Church Militant: The Long Night (fundamentalists) and the Malleus Maleficarum (the Catholic Inquisition - no, the literal Inquisition).
The Maleficarum is sponsored by the Vatican, led by a ghoul, condones torture, and listens in on confessions.
The Order of St. George is ostensibly a Christian charity group that sponsors soup kitchens and small town churches. Though actually that's just a facade for a cult of witch-hunters, desperate to kill every last magic user so that the monsters from which they draw their powers won't wake up.
Crapsack World: It is the World of Darkness. However, this game plays with the trope - Hunters are humans who saw how much the world sucks, said "Screw this!", and broke out the firepower.
Get the hell out of Philadelphia.
Damaged Soul: The conspiracy known as the Malleus Maleficarum (run by the Vatican) has obtained the power of the Benediction. It's a collection of powers that, supposedly, are granted by God. One such power is the Gift of Lazarus, the only power in any of the World Of Darkness lines that explicitly breaks the setting's rule of no resurrection. The only issue is that the resurrected person comes back with a major derangement (think schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, etc.), so don't go thinking you can just die whenever you want.
Demon Slaying: Most (but not all) of the compacts/conspiracies. Not helped, admittedly, by the fact that most Hunters can't tell the difference between the True Fae, the qashmallim, ghosts, spirits, actual demons and the other various things that fill up the (rather packed, sometimes) shadows of the World of Darkness.
Depending on the Writer: Whether or not Null Mysteriis is an organisation of Scullys or accept the supernatural and wish to understand varies considerably depending on which book you're reading.
Whether the battle against the darkness is hopeless or if the hunters can and do make a real difference is likewise.
Earn Your Happy Ending: The World of Darkness is a terrible place, run by the walking dead, reality benders, and things that just plain aren't human. Most of these... things... see humanity as useful tools at best, and... well... let's not get into what they see humanity as at worst. But for those mere mortals who stand up to the darkness, and fight back, they can, very occasionally, really make the World of Darkness just a little bit brighter.
Eldritch Abomination: The Cheiron Group is secretly run by a group of these, using illusions to appear human. However, in a strange turn for the World of Darkness, it's suggested that they aren't evil - that's an option for the Storyteller, but a second option, that they are nothing less than alien hunters from another reality here to help humanity, is also suggested.
Additionally, various conspiracies have their own paradigms, and may view some creatures as "less supernatural" or less dangerous than others (e.g. a Mage never seen to do vulgar magic might just be "very lucky" or a sin-eater might just be an exceptionally annoying emo kid with a nose for weirdness), so templated NPCs showing up as consultants, contacts or occasional backup is not unusual in Hunter games.
The Hunt Club is what happens when this and Serial Killer get together.
The Bear Lodge can show shades of this, depending on how antagonistic the werewolf in the sights is.
Even Evil Has Standards: According to legend, Ashwood Abbey once invited Jack The Ripper to join them hunting the supernatural— provided he stop killing human women. Eventually though Jack got bored with monster slaying and went back to carving up prostitutes, at which point the Abbey hunted him down and killed him.
The Hunt Club is composed entirely of serial killers who have a point system for their murders. The concept of the Lucifuge terrifies them.
"[Their] natural place is as rulers over mankind, but I cannot allow that."
Evil Versus Evil: The Cheiron Group in particular are not nice, and Slashers will often continue hunting supernatural quarry.
Felony Misdemeanor: Of the three examples given for hunters adopting a code, an alternate set of morals to deal with the pressure of killing sentient beings, one is a man who decides that blowing buildings up really doesn't matter; it'd be much worse to fail to protect America, another is a man who in the throes of passion decides that "Monsters don't count", and finally there is a girl who realizes, after a fellow hunter commits suicide, that shoplifting in the name of fighting another day isn't as bad as hogging your resources. These are treated as equal strays from basic human morality.
Technically speaking, they are: they all deviate from the Morality scale Hunter uses, although they are (obviously) different points at the scale. The rules for re-defining Morality are the same at every level.
For Science!: The motive of Null Mysteriis; unlike most examples they're pretty ethical about it, especially by the standards of the setting. Unlike other examples they're also competent at scientific research, or as much as you can be with a Masquerade in place.
Also half the stated motivation of the Cheiron Group, the other half being For Profit. Unlike the NM, they're not even remotely ethical about it.
In the corebook, Ashwood Abbey is portrayed as a bunch of wicked rich people who hunt, abduct, rape, and kill sentient beings for the giggles. The sourcebook Compacts and Conspiracies tries to Retcon such people into being a minority of the faction, with most just enjoying playing and socializing with monsters and supernatural creatures, but in practice, they don't tend to show up too often. The game is called Hunter, after all, not Orgy.
The HuntClub is always like this. They think Ashwood Abbey are posers. They themselves hunt and murder people in order to gain status in the club.
Genius Loci: Can happen in multiple ways, whether through the presence of evil spirits, possession by an Elder Demon, or just about any other conceivable reason.
VASCU's not this; it's a very public FBI unit, albeit one that secretly uses Psychic Powers to help their investigations.
Great White Hunter: The Bear Lodge hunt werewolves, partly to protect mankind, and partly because it's a challenge. Lodge headquarters are brimming with trophies.
Green-Eyed Monster: Members of the Promethean Brotherhood murder Mages, and Hunters who manifest magic powers. Why? Because at the end of the day they're a bunch of pathetic wannabes, jealous that they didn't get magic powers.
Compacts and Conspiracies reveals that Aegis Kai Doru is actually pissed at losing their magic powers.
Grey and Gray Morality: The Hunters are abrasive, morally ambiguous protagonists...who have the explicit goal of killing the abrasive, morally ambiguous protagonists of the other gamelines.
He Who Fights Monsters: A built-in risk of taking up the Vigil. Hunters are especially prone to becoming Slashers.
Even more explicitly a theme of Witch Finders-the book comes within a few inches of admitting that the only reason some hunters label all magic as evil is that they are discomforted by the fact that the average mage is...almost impossible to tell from the average hunter. The very introduction sounds deliberately like a badly-formulated No True Scotsman argument.
Hope Spot: This game represents one to the World of Darkness. Hunters make a lot of mistakes, and they're prone to being brutally killed in the line of duty. But in the end, they are humanity rising up, defending itself from those things that do hunt us. They're a thousand candles in the night; one is blown out, another's lit. The hunter falls, the Vigil remains.
Shown exactly in the chapter of the Horror Recognition Guide, "Gillen, Emily". True, the victim died, but his parents have decided to move on, and another candle has been lit for the vigil.
Human Resources: The Cheiron Group has a Thaumatech implant made from members of the Lucifuge. Yes, the hunter conspiracy.
Humans Are Warriors: The theme of the book is how normal humans can hold their own against the supernatural with numbers, firepower, and good old fashioned human creativity.
The compact known as the Hunt Club practices this. Which isn't surprising, given most of them are Serial Killers and/or Slashers.
As do Ashwood Abbey, although they tend to reason that the best quarry is a pissed-off werewolf or vampire instead of a guy with a shotgun.
The Bear Lodge is made of big game hunters who have decided that werewolves are the ultimate quarry. They may dress it up differently, but for most, it boils down to proving they're the best hunters ever because they can take down monsters with human intelligence, Super Senses, Super Strength, Super Toughness, a Healing Factor, and various kinds of Black Magic... though, when you look at how stacked in the werewolves' favor things are, on paper at least, it's hard not to see where the Bear Lodge is coming from when they boast about their kills.
The leader of the Malleus Maleficarum is secretly a ghoul, practices holy magic while declaring witchcraft to be inherently evil, and consorts with the offspring of Satan. Though admittedly that last one is the Lucifuge.
Some endowments are rather... inhuman, like Thaumatech. Others are pretty magical. Hunters will use any of them if necessary— though not all of them consider magic to be inherently evil.
Many hunters basically end up being just as much inhuman killers as the monsters they hunt are — and that's without slipping into Slasherdom.
There are hints that para/human flesh is sometimes served up at the more debauched Ashwood Abbey parties, and/or at the Hunt Club.
Implacable Man: Masks can theoretically shrug off a literal barrage of nuclear bombs.
Interservice Rivalry: The two federal Hunter agencies, Task Force: VALKYRIE and VASCU, are subject to this. VASCU is vaguely aware of all the supernatural denizens of the WOD, but they only have clearance for Slashers, so whenever they stumble on something bigger (non-slasher mages, vampires, etc.), TFV comes in and takes over the case, much to their frustration.
Intrepid Reporter: Network Zero, although unlike most examples they aren't getting paid.
I See Dead People: The advanced armory's Etheric Goggles and the Thaumatech Ectocrine Glands allow a hunter to do this, though both give a perception penalty due to the hunter having difficulty differentiating reality and Twilight. The Ectocrine Glands also make the Hunter easier to possess.
Made of Iron: Masks do not die easily. Their special ability allows them to shrug off point-blank bazookas blasts as easily as knife wounds.
Make It Look Like an Accident: The three-dot version of the Merit "Telltale Murder", usually received for slashers, allows a killer to make it look like an accident, a suicide, or whatever he likes, as long as he does better on his skill roll than the detective who investigates the case.
Les Mysteries are really little more than anti-werewolf puppets for the spirits.
The Order of St. George are basically unwitting Abyssal cultists.
The Malleus Malleficarum are being run by a renegade ghoul who uses them to gather vampire blood to preserve his immortality.
Massive Multiplayer Crossover: While the other gamelines are more or less self-sufficient and have a distinct mythology, Hunter: The Vigil was clearly written with crossover potential in mind. References to the other installments abound.
The Masquerade: Averted by VASCU. While the actual workings of their psychic enhancement are kept from the members, the FBI is fully aware of slasher crimes, the US Bureau of Justice Statistics describes a slasher killing as "a killing of three or more victims where the killer has capabilities that exceed the normal human spectrum," and there is a federal law on the books that requires local police departments to bring in VASCU if they learn about a slasher. So while they're seen as a bunch of kooks, VASCU does work openly against supernatural threats (or at least hides in plain sight).
Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The Long Night's "The Prayer" Endowment. Unlike the overtly supernatural Benedictions of the Malleus Maleficarum, it's ambiguous whether The Prayer is the result of divine intervention or simply the sheer power of belief.
Mercy Reward: The Long Nights can get bonuses for showing mercy towards their enemies.
Mega Corp.: The Cheiron Group. The part that does the monster hunting is the Field Projects Division. They're also arguably the leastnice of the Hunter groups, oddly enough.
Milkman Conspiracy: The Men in Black operates out of the Department of the Treasury. A group of New Age hippies hunts down mages because they believe they drain life from the earth. There's a sorority whose chapters are secretly dedicated to keeping vampires off campus. And so on and so forth. For bonus points, it's outright stated in Compacts and Conspiracies that Network Zero in in the latter stages of evolving into a full Tier Three conspiracy, meaning you now can add YouTubers with equipment designed to get around The Masquerade to that list as well.
Mistaken for Badass: One of the suggested hunters for Cheiron is a cleaner. As in, a member of the janitorial staff (and that's not a codeword for something). He got his position due to a clerical error, involving a man with a name one letter different.
Monster Mash: The setting that actually encourages it, seeing as how Hunters in general go after any and every kind of monster in the setting.
Moral Dissonance: Yes, there's some actual rules for that. When a Hunter becomes blasé about his work, he can acquire a "Code", which is essentially a ready-made justification for any sin committed during the Vigil. This is every bit as bad as it sounds: the Code even allows you to mow down Innocent Bystanders because they stand in the way of your target...without any degeneration roll! Don't think you get this for free, though - every Code comes with a penalty to Social rolls, because you just don't think the same way as normal people anymore...
Mundane Utility: The Cheiron Group really doesn't care about turning hunters into supernatural powerhouses, that's really just a side-effect of their medical research. Because while they have a defence department that deals with the military, there's just more money in developing a cancer cure based on Werewolf blood than there is in implanting magic-resistant worms from beyond time and space into agents.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: An obvious potential occurrence, seeing as how Hunters, for obvious reasons, aren't aware of all of the minutia of other supernatural factions and may thus be unaware that killing a band of werewolves or vampires might unleash something worse.
Hunters also have a hard time discriminating between the good supernaturals, and the ones that need to be hunt down.
The Ascending Ones intend to create Prometheans, expecting them to be docile automaton servants. The book lampshades the fact that this probably won't end well.
Not So Different: One of the main themes. The Conspiracies are especially subject to this, since most of the Endowments are supernatural in nature or, in the case of the Cheiron Group, make the hunters literally inhuman. Some of the Compacts also qualify, since they hunt down cultists while they themselves are part of a cult.
Not-So-Harmless Villain: From the perspective of the supernaturals, this is the effect competent Hunters going on the offensive have, especially the Conspiracies. Task Force: VALKYRIE, for example, has a number of weapons and tools specifically designed to level the playing field against vampires, werewolves, mages, changelings, and any other entity that goes bump in the night without a license for that bumping.
The Keepers of the Source are homicidal hippies, the embodiment of this trope.
Not What It Looks Like: Aegis Kai Doru's vested interest in Oracular Heads gives them an unique edge, but it also has some drawbacks; have fun explaining to the police officer why you kept a severed head inside your kitchen cabinet...
Nuke 'em: Task Force: VALKYRIE has a bomb that does in the spirit realm what a nuke does in the material world, made specifically for use against werewolves and their spirit allies. They intend to use it too.
Obstructive Bureaucrat: Task Force: VALKYRIE is plagued by these, of the mundane government type and the more sinister variety. Compacts and Conspiracies grants the ability to be this to Cheiron Group employees as their special ability.
Occult Detective: Especially at the cell level, where they're usually drawn into the vigil due to strange happenings around them.
One-Winged Angel: One of the Lucifuge endowments in Compacts and Conspiracies allows agents to manifest part of their demonic heritage at will.
Oracular Head: The Aegis Kai Doru have lots of severed heads. Some oracular, some not, some they're holding on to in case they might be. In partuicular, they claim to have the head of John the Baptist and the head of one of the "Nine Daughters of Nibiru", who claim to have been the ones who killed Gilgamesh. Compacts and Conspiracies indicates they don't actually have John the Baptist's, though.
Compacts and Conspiracies reveals why they have a thing for severed heads as opposed to say hearts or eyes— they believe the head contains a person's wisdom. (50 bucks says a severed head told them that.)
Really 700 Years Old: For every dot possessed in the Status Merit, a Lucifuge hunter doubles his lifespan. Prominent members can easily last a millennia or two. The hard part is not getting killed in the process.
Redshirt: A staple of the game. People tend to die in alarmingly violent, grotesque, and just plain nasty ways.
Redshirt Army: Expendable agents make up 80% of the Cheiron Groups Field Projects Division.
Rich Idiot with No Day Job: Ashwood Abbey started as a hobby of a rich, immoral jackass. They think hunting, violating and (eventually) killing monsters is entertaining. And then there's the Hunt Club. The Hunt Club thinks they're posers.
Saintly Church: The Long Night on a good day. A not-insignificant portion of them believe that any soul who turns away from the devil is a far, far greater victory then simply destroying them, and a common element in their theology is that violence and war won't bring Jesus back any faster.
In the corebook, several archetypal hunters are described for each compact and conspiracy. One of the archetypes given for the Cheiron Group is clearly Patrick Bateman.
Interestingly, one of the archetypes for Task Force: VALKYRIE is a former FBI agent with an interest in the paranormal; However, the book makes a point of subtly telling the reader that this archetype notAgent Mulder. The archetype is stated to not stick their nose in too much, unlike that idiot in their office "with his 'the truth is out there' bullshit."
The introduction for Task Force: VALKYRIE contains a remark about some coastal towns in Massachusetts whose inhabitants suddenly vanished after an army raid. Innsmouth, anyone? Also, the guy who founded them was named Artemis Gordon.
In the sourcebook Slasher, one of the rumored origins for the Subtle Collectors Association, an organization of serial killers, is that it was founded by a wealthy Englishman who enjoyed abducting art students. There is a movie, starring Terence Stamp, called The Collector, which is about a wealthy Englishman who abducts an art student. The same sourcebook features an entomologist-turned-serial-killer named Michael Elliot, likely a reference to Dr. Robert Elliot, played by Michael Caine in Brian De Palma's movie Dressed To Kill.
The picture of Dante in the corebook, however, is not a shout out - it was plagiarised by the artist, and White Wolf were not happy when they found out.
Part of the whole point of the game is cramming in as many Shout Outs to the other games in New World of Darkness without explicitly referencing them or requiring a Storyteller or players to look into those other lines. Owls, as mentioned under Body Surf, are pretty much a shout out to the Strix, for example.
Slasher Movie: Where the various Slasher archetypes are drawn from.
Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Cynical, as is usual with WoD. However, the Hunter line is the only part of the World Of Darkness where humanity can fight back against the monsters running things, making it slightly less cynical than the rest of the World Of Darkness. Of course, to put this into perspective, the least cynical part of Wo D pits humans with shotguns and occasional magical items or tricks, against the immortal undead, witches who can alter the very fabric of reality, and monsters which could rip apart dozens of armed men with their bare claws.
Ashwood Abbey, though the "heroic" part is debatable, seeing as they're essentially thrill-killers who are smart enough not to target normal humans. It's entirely possible to play an Abbey hunter who is not a complete loony, though.
The books make a point of noting that this label could probably be applied to a lot of hunters - the Vigil is not conducive to your mental and emotional health. For instance, hunters can easily rewrite their Morality to better reflect the Vigil, but this makes it harder for them to relate to other humans and forces them to pick up some... unique quirks.
Subverted. The Loyalists of Thule were not only kicked the hell out of Germany once Hitler came to power, they saw what happened afterwards and decided that they would devote the rest of their existence to protecting mankind from similar horrors. Nice jobhelping START the war, though.
In Spirit Slayers, the Nazis blackmailed one of the Thule Society's researchers into helping them with their eugenics experiments on possible werewolves. What results the experiments had - apart from a lot of dead or mutilated prisoners - is not mentioned, but it wasn't enough to change the war.
A frequent derangement for hunters is "Hypochondria"; after all, Vampirism is bloodborne, Zombies infect with a bite, and so on and so forth. This manifests in a total unwillingness to get in contact with any fluids of the supernatural.
The Vigil is also described as a metaphorical virus because of how quickly it can spread. After all, there is a reason why those Supernaturals have to maintain a Masquerade.
Theyd Cut You Up: The Cheiron Group really will. And the parts they take out of you, they'll put in their field agents.
Token Evil Teammate: Both Ashwood Abbey and Cheiron can easily be this. And then there's the Promethean Brotherhood, a bunch of Green-Eyed Monster wannabe-magic users who cut up Mages in an attempt to steal their powers. They're not adverse to trying it on other Hunters either, the sick bastards.
Malleus Maleficarum torturers, Ascending One drug dealers, Aegis Kai Doru artifact thieves... there are plenty of options.
Too Dumb to Live: The cynical answer to this is "any Hunter". Special points have to go to:
Keepers of the Source, for being totally clueless hippies who keep interfering with the prime spots favored by mages and werewolves, without any real weapons to back them up.
Les Mysteries, who not only actually allow spirits to possess them (which, as anyone who's read Were Wolf The Forsaken knows is a bad thing), on purpose, but deliberately pick fights with werewolves. It gets better: they've figured out that one group of werewolves is out to wreck everything, and one group is generally better for humankind... and they got the sides backwards!
Ashwood Abbey, who got started with a rich idiot defiling a werewolf sacred site by starting an orgy there, surviving, and then deliberating doing it again just for the hell of it... and survived the Defiling at least long enough to found the modern Ashwood Abbey, meaning it crosses over into awesomely stupid territory a touch.
Torture Technician: If you're a vampire, mage, ghoul, or have ever worked for or have someone think you might be one of them... try not to end up in the Malleus Maleficarum's basement.
Tragic Monster: The corebook gives us the Dead Milkman, a Philadelphia milkman who died after thirty years on the job, only to be raised as a zombie by mages. He survived their destruction, and now he walks his old route, leaving glass vessels they left behind on the doorsteps of his customers. He never tries to hurt anyone, and once his route's finished, he spends the rest of the day hiding from humanity. And nothing any hunter has tried has managed to return the Dead Milkman to the grave. If it weren't for how dangerous those vessels inherently are, he'd be harmless; as it is, the Dead Milkman is a case of extraordinary bad luck.
Unwitting Pawn: It can be pretty hard for Hunters to tell the difference between the good-ish supernaturals and the true villains, and they often get suckered into working for the latter. For example: Division Six is a group of mage-hunters being used by a Seer of the Throne as his private hit squad, the Knights of Saint George are serving the agenda of an Abyssal entity, the Inquisition is run by a ghoul, Les Mysteres are run by the Pure, and so forth.
Urban Legends: The Ascending Ones tend to be this to the other compacts and conspiracies, if the "stereotypes" in the corebook are any indication. They all seem to be a variation of either "Oh, yeah, I've heard of them, but I don't think they really exist" or "Sure, I've heard of them; my partner's friend's cousin met one, tried some of his drugs, and went nuts." Aegis Kai Doru, on the other hand, basically go "How preposterous! WE are the real Ascending Ones, dammit! The druggies just hijacked our name for street cred!"
Van Helsing Hate Crimes: One of the major points of subtext in the game (particularly so if you've read the other gamelines) is that hunters tend to take out a lot of innocent supernaturals in the process of hunting the ones that threaten mortals. The problem is that, most of the time, they don't have a way to distinguish between the two types. Once you've seen a werewolf eat your brother, how are you supposed to know he was one of the "bad" ones?
Weaksauce Weakness: Demon bans can be ANYTHING, and there's no minimum requirement of sense it has to make. Some demons may have to speak the truth to virgins, some may be killed by the laughter of children, and others are repelled by the colour blue.
Such a combination of conflicting ideologies existed in a single cell — the famous (and possibly apocryphal) Greenwich Village Irregulars, who operated in New York City during the late 1970s. Though constantly pressured by their superiors in the organizations they served, these hunters refused to let their individual beliefs trump the friendship they had for one another. For many years, their activities were a symbol of unity for New York’s embattled hunter community, and survivors of that period credit the Irregulars with keeping the Vigil alive at a time when many were willing to surrender the city to the monsters.
We Have Reserves: How the Cheiron Group views its Vigil-related personnel and operations.
Les Mysteries: a group of loosely-aligned groups of spiritualists who want to kill werewolves in order to make sure nature stays in balance. Problem is, beyond the fact that the spirits are more dangerous to the world/humanity than werewolves are, they've got it into their heads that the Forsaken are the evil ones, damaging the balance, and The Pure are the good guys. What makes it even sadder is that they're one of the few groups to be nice toThe Lucifuge.
The Cainite Heresy: Lunatic blood-magic users who want every single vampire dead, and believe them to be responsible for all the world's ills. They still try to avoid hurting innocents though.
The Knights Of St. George: A cult that kills witches. No matter how good or bad they are. It's a magic-user, they kill it. They do this because they believe that if they don't, there's a good chance that Eldritch Abominations will destroy the world.
The Ascending Ones fuel their crusades with funds gathered primarily by selling illegal drugs, meaning that they ultimately cause just as much misery, if not more so, than the monsters originally did, as they create addicts, violent gangs, overdose fatalities, drug wars, etc, all in the name of their mission.
What the Hell, Hero?: The Ashwood Abbey boys will often elicit reactions like this, and they're well deserved.
Wrong Genre Savvy: Several of the compacts and conspiracies are ultimately really not clued in how the World of Darkness actually works.
Les Mysteries actually allow spirits into their bodies and believe the spirits can and will police themselves for the good of the world's balance; they hate werewolves because they believe werewolves abuse the spirits. The reality is that the werewolves are supposed to be the ones who make the spirits balance themselves, because otherwise they won't, and the ones who don't do that basically want to let the spirits conquer the world. Admittedly, the spirits are lying to the hunters in order to use them as pawns against the werewolves.
The Keepers of the Source are basically completely clueless how mana actually works, being mislead by their own unique variant of Super Senses, and insist on throwing themselves blindly at those who "abuse the Earth-Mother". Meaning vampires, mages, and, especially, werewolves. It's noted they're lucky to have not all been slaughtered by now.
Zombie Advocate: The Talbot Group, a.k.a. The Redeemers try to rehabilitate supernaturals, primarily focused on werewolves. This is still the World of Darkness, so sometimes even they need to solve problems with violence. In perspective though, they only solve it when there is no other resort. Often, they'll burn down a haunted house or forcibly exorcise a possessed, but to actually kill is a massive problem for the Talbot Group.