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Tabletop Game / Hunter: The Reckoning

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Defeat the other game lines and die trying.


A tabletop game in White Wolf's Old World of Darkness.

Shortly before the turn of the millennium, people across the world start to receive strange messages — voices in their heads, words on pages rewriting themselves, graffiti that wasn't there a moment ago.






Moments later, they find themselves looking at an actual, inhuman monster, the Masquerade abruptly ripped away, the illusion of humanity suddenly dispelled.

However they react — talking, shouting, attacking, defending — they find themselves gifted with supernatural abilities, just enough to extricate themselves from the situation.

But even once it's over, they still get the messages. Still see the monsters. They can't just stand by; they need to act.

Being relatively new to the shadows of the World of Darkness, these new "hunters" don't have much of a shared community or vocabulary; the closest thing they have is Hunter-net, a website where they can get together and share what they know. This being the Internet, it can often be more trouble than it's worth.

Terminology: PCs are known as hunters or imbued, and despite that lack of shared ideas, are divided into nine creeds (i.e. Splats) — Avengers (kill the monsters), Defenders (protect people from the monsters), Judges (make decisions about the monsters), Innocents (don't assume the monsters are monstrous), Martyrs (sacrifice themselves to stop the monsters), Redeemers (save the monsters from themselves), Visionaries (ask the big questions about the monsters), Hermits (seclude themselves and provide information about the monsters), and Waywards (kill the monsters, and anybody who gets in their way, and anybody who gets caught in the crossfire...). Their powers are Edges, and the moment when they first see through the Masquerade is their imbuing. The entities who send the messages, and perform the imbuing, are known as the Messengers... although the true identity of these benefactors remains unknown, with guesses spanning from angelic messengers to God Himself to the collective will of Mankind. People who fail to act at the imbuing yet somehow survive are bystanders.

Unusually for a White Wolf product, the terminology is rarely used in-game; the imbued don't have a fixed shared vocabulary for their experiences, and come up with their own words for what's going on (though some become common parlance through Hunter-net). In other words, there's a lot less Grouped for Your Convenience going on than usual in the OWoD.

Following the original game's cancellation, along with the rest of the Old World of Darkness, in 2004, it was announced in 2021 that a new edition of Reckoning was slated for release as part of the resurrected World of Darkness begun by Vampire: The Masquerade 5th Edition. This version (technically incorrectly called "the fifth edition" to tie it to the aforementioned version of Vampire) was released in 2022 and contained a fairly drastic revamp of the game's premise and themes.

See also Hunter: The Vigil, the game's Spiritual Successor in the New World of Darkness. For High Voltage's series of beat-'em-up video games, click here.

Tropes of the first edition include:

  • Action Bomb: A lot of Hunters, disturbingly, really like this tactic — which just strengthens the Unfortunate Implications of Hunters and their ideology matching Real Life organizations like Al-Qaeda. God45 is famous for torturing other Hunters into Brainwashed and Crazy suicide bombers to deploy against monster nests, but Memphis68 — an Avenger, not a Wayward — controversially turned a Bystander into an unwitting suicide bomber, sending him to "negotiate" with a vampire and then setting off the suicide vest built into the "armor" he was given by remote detonation, kicking off a flurry of fierce debate over whether this was a brutal act of murder or just smart strategy, given that the Bystander had no defense against Vampire mind reading or mind control.
  • All Crimes Are Equal: Waywards are deeply committed to the Fantastic Racism belief that simply being an unnatural entity means you shouldn't exist and is reason enough to kill you. Most Hunters, thankfully, are not so extreme, but the Avenger Creed is pretty unabashed about its belief that any "monster" who's harmed ordinary humans at all in order to further their agenda deserves death. (Given Hunters' tendency to cause Collateral Damage, this obviously makes them Hypocrites.) It's notable, though, that the Judge Creed, which is also a Zeal Creed, is all about averting this — Judges are empowered by, well, judging exactly how bad any given monster is and tailoring their reaction accordingly — and the Defender Creed is explicitly about leaving monsters alone unless they actually threaten you and your loved ones.
  • The Alternet: The whole premise of Hunter: Holy War is that there's a whole community of Middle Eastern Hunters who have never used hunter-net because they have no need for it. The Messengers have given them the ability to directly commune with each other via a telepathic Hive Mind while meditating on The Qur'an (or, it turns out, on any holy scripture written in its original ancient script); apparently is a second-best solution given to Western Hunters who lack this ability due to being cut off from their ancestral beliefs.
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: Averted. One of the inherent powers that all imbued hunters receive is that it's impossible to be turned into a monster. Of course, the monsters don't know that, and they might try to turn you anyway...
  • Anti-Magic: As noted under No-Sell, an Imbued under the influence of Second Sight is completely immune to any supernatural ability that directly affects their mind or body, regardless of how many successes are rolled against them. (Only incredibly powerful beings like Antediluvians are named as a possible exception.) What's worse, when it comes to the True Magick used by Awakened Mages, Imbued count as Sleepers and will always cause Paradox if they witness vulgar magic, no matter how much they learn about the supernatural and despite the fact that they have supernatural powers themselves. Mages who interact with Hunters are generally deeply disturbed by the fact that even though their own worldview should classify the Imbued as a kind of sleepwalker, Imbued are absolutely impossible to Awaken and can never acquire an Avatar, a fact they attribute to the interference of the Messengers, whom they find deeply sinister.
  • The Apocalypse Brings Out the Best in People: Maybe not all people, but Hunter: Utopia is about the hopeful idea of Hunters being the core of a new society that emerges after the Time of Judgment.
  • Apocalypse Maiden: There are many disturbing signs — especially for those familiar with the lore of Kindred of the East — that the Imbuing is a sign of The End of the World as We Know It and that the Hunters as a group, well-meaning as they might seem, are destined to bring it about.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: The Insinuate edge allows you to make these at will, forcing a monster to confront its own wickedness by asking it a question. It doesn't really matter which question, but "Do you remember?" is a popular choice.
  • Art-Style Dissonance: One of the major complaints of the old Hunter line was that the art stood at odds with the writing, which portrayed a bloody, hard-scrabble fight against the forces of darkness, all of whom are likely more powerful than you, with only a handful of supernatural tricks to your name. The art... had a photo of a man dressed like Rambo taking bites out of three werewolves (who did aggravated damage back then) and grinning. The writing said Hunter, the art said Exalted. note 
  • Aura Vision: Hunters may ping as completely normal humans to each other's Second Sight, but other supernatural entities' senses disagree, as does basic common sense. It's hard to tell a Hunter apart from a normal human but not impossible — a Vampire with Auspex 6 (Discern the Aura) can do it, as can a Mage with enough dots in Spirit or Prime. An Imbued aura shows up as a bright golden halo, possibly the origin of the name "Bright Shiners" used for them in Days of Fire. It's even said that an Archmage in the Spirit Sphere would be able to trace back the Hunters' connection to the Messengers and discern the Messengers' true nature — unfortunately, all such Archmages are unavailable thanks to the Avatar Storm (which was, conveniently, one of the events that led to the Imbuing in the first place).
  • Ax-Crazy: Waywards are all psychotic; the only question is to what degree.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Level-5 Edges, all of them. They are literally Too Awesome to Use, as in when they were introduced in the Hunter core rulebook there were no rules given for how you could ever advance in Virtue enough to qualify for a level-5 Edge, and this state of affairs persisted for years until the publication of Hunter: Fall From Grace three years later. It turns out becoming a Hunter who can use level-5 Edges at all — an Extremist — is massively self-destructive to the point of Death of Personality, explicitly requires accumulating numerous Derangements, can only happen as the culmination of a personal quest, and actually has a rule saying it must be the final chapter of a Hunter's story. For the vast majority of characters who will ever play the game, the level-5 Edges might as well just be flavor text.
    • This was especially galling re: the Fandom-Enraging Misconception that Hunters are "overpowered", often stemming from fans of other gamelines reading the descriptions for level-5 Edges and assuming these powers are commonly used by "high-level characters".
  • Badass Bystander: A typical Imbuing is one of these — a human witnesses a supernatural being doing something that harms another human and is suddenly gifted the ability to see what's really going on and the power to intervene. Note that among Hunters the term "Bystander" refers to someone who received such a vision and chose not to act.
  • Badass Normal: The core Hunter book recommends the idea of pairing up Imbued Hunters who come from an ordinary civilian background with a Bystander who has a military or police background and access to tactical and survival training, with the latter serving as a mentor figure who can teach the Imbued the basics of life as a soldier in a secret war until the supernatural threats heat up too much for someone without Second Sight to keep up.
    • Even the Imbued themselves mostly qualify as this — despite the hype, Hunter Edges are called that because they're relatively limited abilities that only serve to even up the odds in a monster-vs-human struggle at critical moments. Hunters do not have Super-Strength they can just throw around like a Vampire's Potence or flexible magic abilities like Mages, and for the most part have to rely on dirty tricks, exploiting weaknesses like sunlight and silver, and the good old Five Rounds Rapid.
  • Ban on Politics: Witness1 tries to enforce this in-universe on, but to little avail — understandably so, since the disagreements between Hunters aren't just between typical liberal and conservative Americans but are quite extreme, with open white supremacists like Jager51 and Christian fundamentalists like Crusader17 butting heads with anarcho-socialists and former Black Panthers like Memphis68. (This gets even more volatile with Hunter: Holy War, since the vast majority of Middle Eastern Hunters are Arab Muslims who, despite their disavowal of violent groups like Hezbollah, make no secret of despising Israel and Zionism — which to say the least makes Jewish Hunters like Hope123 uncomfortable.)
    • Unfortunately the "ban on politics" ends up extending to the politics of the Hunt itself — even the general principle that Hunters exist to oppose the supernaturals' influence over normal humans ends up being open for debate, with some Hunters interpreting this as violently killing all monsters and others believing this can only happen with a negotiated peace. The creation of the various subforums on was a necessary result of this intractable dispute, starting with /firelight/, the Avenger subforum, being created to openly discuss monster-killing strategies without concern-trolling from "bleeding-hearts", with Bookworm55 creating /vitalis/ for said bleeding-hearts, the Innocent Creed, in response. Witness1 regards the very existence of these subforums as a sad failure of his dream for hunter-net — he even named his own subforum for the Visionary Creed /unity/ as an expression of his hopes it would become obsolete someday — but has reluctantly accepted they are necessary for hunter-net to continue to function.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Defenders of the other White Wolf gamelines would call it Gray-and-Gray Morality, but the fact of the matter is there are plenty of straight-up monsters to be found among every species of supernatural entity (and with little exception outside of some mage groups, there are usually plenty of straight-up monsters in every individual group and faction in every species) and even the most indiscriminate monster hunter will probably end up mostly killing sumbitches who needed killing. The real issue is how difficult it is to keep up the fight against monsters — who invariably force you into inflicting and accepting collateral damage to other humans despite your best efforts — without becoming one yourself.
  • Blessed with Suck: The Imbuing is far, far more of a burden than it is a gift, especially since the Hunters' Edges aren't actually useful for anything other than fighting monsters.
  • Blow You Away: Associated with the Vision creeds, Visionary, Hermit, and Wayward.
  • Boomerang Bigot: Characters from the other gamelines tend to hold this opinion of the Imbued, who are pretty obviously not normal humans and are just as supernatural as any other World of Darkness protagonist, and who hate "monsters" mainly because they're told to by voices in their head they choose not to question. Werewolves tend to theorize they're a new kind of Drone (possessed by Weaver spirits), Changelings see them as a souped-up version of the Dauntain (the "Winter Kings"), and Mages think they're something even more sinister than that, with the Messengers a new and highly menacing Umbral Spirit and the Hunters something just as deadly and inhuman as Threat Null. Unfortunately, there's no one powerful enough to confirm any of these theories — and the Hunters themselves strongly reject them, with Hunters who actually care about this "debate" firmly believing the Messengers really are angels serving the true Creator and Hunters are a different order of being than any other supernatural.
    • This gets taken up to eleven in Hunter: First Contact, pitting the Imbued against other Hunter of Monsters factions from the 1995 "Year of the Hunter" supplements published in other games: It is an absolute certainty that other "hunters" like members of the Society of Leopold, the FBI's Special Affairs Division (or the actually-in-the-know Government Conspiracy that is White Wolf's version of the NSA), the scholars of the Arcanum, etc. will think of the Imbued as just another kind of "supernatural entity", and that the Society of Leopold will most likely dismiss the Imbued's claims of being blessed by angels as blasphemy and chalk them up to demonic possession.
    • There's a similar and much deeper worldview clash in the rare cases when the Imbued directly come up against the Technocracy and the Men In Black, since the Technocracy absolutely does classify Imbued as "Reality Deviants" while the Imbued's Second Sight screams wildly that the Technocracy are just as "wrong" and "unnatural" as any other kind of Mage. It turns out both sides are fighting for what's "normal" and "natural" against what's "abnormal" and "supernatural" but have irreconcilable definitions of what exactly that means.
  • Boring, but Practical: The Hunter Survival Guide emphasizes the need for Hunters to operate this way rather than getting fancy. Hunter Edges can help in a pinch, but most Hunters rely primarily on cheap, dirty mundane tactics involving the element of surprise and overwhelming force — a favorite Hunter trick, for instance, is to find out where a vampire nest is and just burn the whole place down or blow it up in the middle of the day.
    • This trope becomes especially significant when Hunters fight Mages — Mages are, famously, by far the most powerful protagonists in the World of Darkness when given time to prepare, which is why Hunters who specialize in witch-hunting do not give them time to prepare — if a Hunter sees a witch with Second Sight they just immediately physically assault them then and there without giving them any time to react, relying on the fact that Second Sight prevents them from being altered by magic directly and that any vulgar magic the Mage tries to use against them will keep on accumulating Paradox.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: What Hunters think — with some justification — of humans allied to supernatural beings, especially ones who are therefore supernatural themselves in some way (acolytes, kinfolk, ghouls, etc.) Many of them think the exact same thing about Hunters, with just as much justification given how much trust they end up putting in the Messengers.
  • Brought Down to Normal:
    • The fifth-level Martyr Edge Payback can do this to monsters, imparting to them all the weaknesses of a human being (but not removing the weaknesses imposed by being supernatural). The variant version of this Edge, Expiate, is a more powerful version of this — it actually changes a monster's nature, meaning undead creatures like vampires or zombies immediately achieve Final Death, while werewolves and mages become normal humans. This causes tremendous backlash damage against the Martyr (akin to a Mage's Paradox), usually killing them.
    • Time of Judgment suggests the idea of finding or creating a permanent, reusable "cure" for vampirism or the like — one that actually brings the vampire back to life as a normal human rather than killing them, going beyond even achieving Golconda — as a final capstone quest for a Hunter from the Mercy Creeds, and breaks down how the Storyteller and player could develop this concept over the course of a campaign.
    • This can also be turned around on the Imbued themselves; Mages with dots in the Prime Sphere can Mana Drain a Hunter's Conviction just as they can "mana" from any other gameline (like a Vampire's Blood Points or a Werewolf's Rage), and at a Prime rating of 5 can permanently remove the Imbuing and turn a Hunter back into a normal human. A Mage with 5 dots in Spirit can not only do that, but trace the Imbuing back to its source and discover the true nature of the Messengers. Fortunately for the Imbued, though, ever since the Avatar Storm Mages with five dots in any Sphere (Masters) are awfully thin on the ground here on Earth — and these uses of magic are blocked by the Second Sight, just as with any other spell, and can only be used if the Hunter is taken unawares.
  • Broad Strokes: The way the Hunter rulebook references the rules of other gamelines, some of which could be quite complicated if you tried to be accurate to their own rulebooks. One egregious example is that the "warlocks" (from Mage: The Ascension) in the Hunter core rulebook have no details going into the complexities of Mage spellcasting at all, instead turning the whole idea of succesfully pulling off True Magick without Paradox ("coincidental magic") into a single Luck Manipulation Mechanic based on a single Luck stat. The Hunter "enemy books" (Nocturnal, Moonstruck, Spellbound, etc.) were intended to give somewhat more accurate information about how monsters work in their home gamelines to harmonize the Crossover aspect of the game a little more.
  • Broken Masquerade: The entire point of the game. Since this is the World of Darkness, you're very likely dealing with the Trope Namer.
  • Byronic Hero: Waywards who don't want their creed and try to resist their homicidal urges fit this trope quite well.
  • Bystander Syndrome: A Bystander is someone who had the potential to be Imbued but balked when the time came to act, ending up cursed with the knowledge that the supernatural is real but not having any of the gifts true Imbued have to deal with it. This is, itself, a mixed bag, since the benefits of Hunter Edges tend to come with serious drawbacks over time.
  • Cast from Hit Points: The Martyrdom Edges are slightly-to-somewhat more powerful than the other Edges and are themed around "breaking the rules" of the World of Darkness more than the others — and Martyrs pay the price for this, with almost all of them doing unavoidable backlash damage to the Hunter (akin to the effects of Paradox in Mage: The Ascension). This obviously makes Martyrs even more Blessed with Suck than other Hunters and lowers the survivability of a Martyr player character quite a bit, to the point where playing a Martyr was so unpopular that Hunter: Holy War said that in the Middle Eastern Hunter community Martyrs simply don't exist and any other Creed can get access to Martyrdom Edges for free (since the "cost" of using Martyrdom Edges is already baked into the act of using them).
  • The Chessmaster: Monsters, and particularly vampires, are often assumed to be this. Waywards, who were apparently designed by the Messengers to counter them, all gain this personality trait — specifically the disturbingly amoral and callous version of it.
  • Child Soldiers: The Messengers don't discriminate when it comes to the Imbuing, by race, nation, religion, sex, class... or age. Several of the Hunter signature characters are teens, and the youngest Hunter character we meet, Calvin Miller (Dickinson373) is 12 years old — and there's no reason given someone couldn't be Imbued even younger.
  • The Chosen Many: The Prelude to a Hunter chronicle often involves an Imbued thinking they're a unique Chosen One and only over time stumbling on the truth that there are many others like them out there, by happening upon hunter-sign graffiti or being nudged by the Messengers into stumbling on while websurfing.
  • Les Collaborateurs: Most humans serve the monsters unwittingly thanks to The Masquerade, but a few do this instead.
  • Collateral Damage: A serious problem for any Hunter cell — any powerful supernatural worth their salt keeps a bunch of human flunkies around, and as Hunters get more and more ambitious about taking down Vampire princes and the like, it gets harder and harder to avoid killing humans. This poses both a moral problem and a practical one, since killing humans with driver's licenses and Social Security numbers, whose corpses don't conveniently crumble to dust upon death, tends to get you in trouble with the law. The fact that over time It Gets Easier to kill humans and to justify it to yourself plays a big role in the He Who Fights Monsters theme of the game.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: All Hunters are this trope, because they have the misfortune of living in a world that actually is controlled by a number of sinister supernatural conspiracies — but they also tend to fit most of the unsavory stereotypes associated with this trope to a T. Almost all Hunters' idea of what's really going on in the World of Darkness is Entertainingly Wrong to some degree, with some really out-there ones like Soldier91's Wrong Genre Savvy conviction that "vampires" and "werewolves" are just a complicated psyop by science fiction aliens.
  • Crazy Survivalist: hides itself behind, which pretends to be a website for stereotypical survivalist libertarians and Gun Nuts. There are, of course, a lot of Hunters who really do fit this stereotype, for obvious reasons, but just as many who don't — the Imbued tend to run the gamut in terms of politics and lifestyle.
  • Cross-Melting Aura: We're repeatedly told that we shouldn't expect any Hunter powers, including stuff like the absolute immunities granted by Second Sight, to work on "truly ancient and powerful beings" (like Antediluvian Vampires).
  • Cryptid Episode: Hunter: Urban Legends is about Hunters encountering The Jersey Devil, and discovering there's plenty of weirdness in this world that doesn't follow the typical rules about "monsters" that in some way are related to humanity or reflect humanity's flaws.
  • Depending on the Writer: One of the complaints about this game, which suffered from internal division over what the theme of the game was supposed to be from the very beginning. Major inconsistencies noted by the playerbase included the ongoing debate over how powerful Second Sight was supposed to be exactly, how easy it is for Hunters to recharge Conviction and advance in Virtues, and exactly to what degree Zealot characters like Crusader17 were justified in their Fantastic Racism beliefs and how effective they were in actually protecting innocents from harm. The disjunction between how powerful Hunter characters are by the rules as written and what they're capable of in the in-game fiction almost qualifies as Cutscene Power to the Max; the debate over whether H:tR was supposed to be a self-righteous Hunter of Monsters Power Fantasy or a gloomy tragedy about Determined Defeatists in a Crapsack World was, in fact, coming from inside the house.
  • Divided We Fall: The imbued are a very diverse group of usually strong-willed, often crazy people. Their disagreements range from Flame Wars to, well, flame wars.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Hunter: the Reckoning ran from 1999 ("the Year of the Reckoning") to 2004 ("the Time of Judgment"), during which 9/11 and The War on Terror happened. The Imbued's association with the Abrahamic faiths and the Middle East — including a "region book", Hunter: Holy War, that explicitly said that Hunters increase in powers and numbers the closer they are to Mecca and Jerusalem — sure make Hunters sound like religious terrorists, given their fanatical zeal and their willingness to overthrow social systems and cause collateral damage to bystanders to show the world the truth about the corrupt overlords who secretly rule it. Probably an intentional, if highly controversial, way to play with Black-and-Gray Morality and extend the themes of the pros and cons of religious devotion previously done with the Society of Leopold and vampire hunters with True Faith.
  • Dwindling Party: Can happen pretty easily in most games, since even with their special powers most hunters are outclassed by even the weakest of their opponents. Varies from storyteller to storyteller of course, and how smart the players are about the hunt.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The epilogue of the core HtR book was written while Exalted was still slated to be a prequel to the WoD. It implies that the imbued are actually a type of exalted, meaning that the Messengers may be gods who are trying a last ditch effort to save the world by exalting humans. Of course, later after White Wolf back-pedaled and Exalted was considered standalone, it's anyone's guess what that could be retconned as.
  • The Empath: The special power of the Mercy Creed, especially Innocents and Redeemers, who often take a lot of flak from other creeds for not knowing where their loyalties lie.
  • Entertainingly Wrong: Since the imbuing doesn't come with a manual, hunters have to draw their own conclusions about the natures and societies of the monsters based on what they can overhear, what they can deduce from first principle, and what the monsters themselves (who are secretive and cryptic at best, outright deceitful at worst) are willing to tell them. The picture they end up with tend to be pretty far from the actual World of Darkness canon.
  • The Everyman: Most hunters are regular, boring people whose only defining quality is that they took a stand when called upon.
  • Everyone Is a Super: It's repeatedly implied in the lore that the Imbuing is merely awakening a potential that exists in all human beings — one of the arguments Hunters make that they themselves do not qualify as "supernatural" or "monsters — and the metaplot snippets given to us in Time of Judgment show us that the Imbuing is "leaking out" into the mundane world, with ordinary people getting prophetic visions, showing flashes of Second Sight and beginning to understand hunter-sign, etc.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The Virtue and creed names (less Hermits and Waywards). The Messengers.
  • Fantastic Racism: Some imbued look down on Bystanders, or even consider them cannon fodder. The attitudes of some of the less tolerant Hunters can come off like this towards the monsters, or even less Zealous Hunters. Innocents and Redeemers are noteworthy for averting this as much as humanly possible. Because this is the World of Darkness, either side can be entirely justified.
  • Fictional Document: The Hunter Survival Guide gamebook is also an in-universe document hosted on collecting hard-won wisdom from veterans of the forum, and Apocrypha is an in-universe book published by Extremist Visionary Fyodor (published by Violin99's indie publishing house Anchorite Press). The books also frequently quote Bookworm55's document "The Enemy", a collection of intel on the stars of the other World of Darkness gamelines from a Hunter's perspective. Finally, both Hunter and Demon make frequent reference to Days of Fire, a book of prophecy dictated by Lucifer himself that set the stage for the final apocalypse of the World of Darkness, the Time of Judgment.
  • Fictional Social Network: is one of these, a typical late '90s/early 2000s discussion forum except for the fact that it's somehow only visible to the Imbued. It was created by Witness1 (Kim Sun), one of the signature characters for the Vision Creed, who was given the supernatural "security software" to protect it by the Messengers. Aside from being a general discussion forum for the Imbued, it contains subforums created for groups of like-minded Hunters, i.e. what we know out-of-universe to be the Hunter Creeds: Firelight (for Avengers), Judgment Day (for Judges), Triage (for Redeemers), Unity (for Visionaries), Vigil (for Defenders) and Vitalis (for Innocents). There's also the "/walkingdead/" subforum that Witness1 created to "quarantine" posts from Ichmail and Carpenter169, both of whom turned out to be undead who slipped through hunter-net's defenses, possibly because it was the only way for the Messengers to get the Imbued firsthand knowledge about the Sixth Great Maelstrom and the destruction of the Shadowlands.
  • Fights Like a Normal: While the Imbued have a degree of Supernatural power, they mostly have to rely on mundane methods, such as guns and exploiting Supernatural weaknesses, to fight monsters
  • Five-Token Band: Hunters are chosen randomly from the population without regard for race, gender, class or religion, and Hunters in a given city don't really have much choice about whom to band together with. This can cause significant friction, especially since many hunters are Politically Incorrect Heroes. It's notable that Witness1 tries to enforce a liberal, live-and-let-live attitude on itself, but it's often strained to the breaking point, especially since he tolerates open racists like Jager51 as long as he lays off the personal attacks on other Imbued.
  • Glamour Failure: The Imbued's 'second sight' enables them to see through the various supernaturals' Masquerades, which is generally how said supernaturals notice the imbued at all. Notably though the 'second sight' doesn't so much show the supernatural creature as it truly is so much as showing it in a thematically appropriate but very negative light. For instance vampires (for the most part) are not presenting an illusion and actually do look like normal humans (if rather pale) but the Imbued see them as rotting corpses.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: The default for Waywards and Hermits. Fairly common even with the less extreme creeds too.
  • Graffiti of the Resistance: Hunter-sign invokes this trope, although unlike most versions of this trope it isn't meant to be read by or inspire rebellion among the masses but is a way to communicate in code. Plenty of supernaturals do notice it and find their inability to decipher it disturbing.
  • Guardian Angel: For most Hunters the Messengers are just an abstract Omniscient Council of Vagueness who only make themselves known during the initial Imbuing, but some lucky Hunters (who take the Patron Advantage at character creation) have an entity that follows them around and keeps on giving them personal advice and guidance. Unfortunately, even at their most helpful the Messengers tend to communicate in strange dreams and hallucinations that lead to Sanity Slippage.
  • Gun Nut: Hunter-net's front organization is a libertarian concealed-carry advocacy group — and, indeed, for low-level Hunters taking the Arsenal Advantage is a lot more helpful for surviving the early game than your Hunter Edges are.
  • Hated by All: Obviously, the "monsters" Hunters hunt don't appreciate their efforts very much, the ordinary mortal authorities tend to consider them deranged terrorists and murderers, and Hunter: First Contact even reveals that the other "monster hunter" organizations in the World of Darkness that should, theoretically, be their allies view them with great suspicion at best (since they are, despite their protests, obviously just another kind of supernatural being, and a particularly unpredictable and inexplicable one at that).
  • Have You Seen My God?: Religious Hunters are, of course, absolutely certain that God is on their side and is the source of all their powers, but the Big Man himself is conspicuously absent from this setting — to the extent the Messengers communicate anything about themselves at all they communicate that they are merely, well, Messengers, and provide no information about who exactly it is they're carrying messages from. (God's absence is explored in much greater depth in the sister game to Hunter, Demon: The Fallen.)
  • Hearing Voices: The Imbuing often starts with either this or with seeing messages.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Waywards start off this way, but other characters should beware of this fate as well. Especially Avengers.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: The Hide edge, which Innocents use to observe the supernatural without being identified as a threat.
  • High Turnover Rate: Hunters, who by nature tend to make very powerful enemies very quickly while having very limited powers themselves, bite it pretty often. Even when they don't die, they have a tendency to get arrested, given that monster-hunting puts them on the wrong side of the law constantly without any resources to protect themselves from it. The game encourages players to embrace this, with characters dying or going to prison and being replaced by new characters who were Imbued as a result of the previous ones' escapades as just part of the narrative. (It's worth noting that the primary reason the Imbued are a threat to the other supernaturals is not that individual Imbued are particularly powerful but that their numbers are inexhaustible — any human who witnesses a supernatural event can become Imbued, and whenever an Imbued dies or is otherwise neutralized another one gets Imbued to replace them, often as a direct result of the event that killed the last one.)
  • Holy Burns Evil: The theme of several Hunter fifth-level Edges, like the Avenger's Smite, the Defender's Burn and, surprisingly, the Innocent's Blaze.
  • Holy Ground: Hunter: Holy War reveals that despite the scoffing statements within Vampire: The Masquerade about how this generally doesn't work and most vampires can enter most churches just fine (to the point of the Lasombra Clan infiltrating most of the Catholic hierarchy) because of the lack of True Faith in the world, the rules are very different in the Holy Land itself. Whether it's a new phenomenon due to the Week of Nightmares and the Imbuing is unknown, but "holy sites" in the Levant really are no-go zones for supernatural beings in general, and the effect strengthens as you get closer to the holy cities of Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem, and even waxes and wanes with the coming and going of the "holy days" of the major Abrahamic faiths (Ramadan and Eid, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Lent and Easter). This effect is named by the kiswah "Al-Ha'it", or "The Wall".
  • Homemade Flamethrower: The character book Hunter Book: Wayward has a section on improvising weapons for use against supernatural foes. The example is a Hunter constructing a flamethrower out of equipment found in an auto mechanic's shop.
  • Hopeless War: It is all but explicitly stated in books like Hunter: Utopia and Time of Judgment that any hope of actually "winning the war", however you define it, is vain and doomed; the best the Imbued can do is try to slow down the rate at which the World of Darkness is falling apart and save some people along the way, not actually save the world or create the utopia they long for.
  • Humans Are Special: The implicit meaning of the Messengers' cryptic Catchphrase "INHERIT THE EARTH". Many Hunters hold the ideology that ordinary humans were meant to be the rulers of the Earth, but that this rule was usurped by creatures who gained power by becoming something other than human, and the Time of Judgment will right this balance and put true humans back in charge. Opinions are divided on whether Hunters, who themselves are pretty clearly something other than human or becoming so, will be excluded from this new utopia or, somewhat hypocritically, will be its rulers. There's tantalizing hints that Hunters themselves are "what humans were originally meant to be", that the Imbuing was the beginning of unlocking humanity's true potential, and that a fully empowered Hunter — an Extremist — is the second coming of the Solar Exalted or the wan xian.
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: One of the slang terms used by Hunters is "the Most Dangerous Game" as a synonym for "the Hunt" or the struggle against the supernatural — although this is mostly arch humor and very few Hunters actually see it as a game.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Redeemers specialize in this, appealing to the humanity of any monster who has any to speak of.
  • The Immune: The immunity described under No-Sell goes beyond just being immune to mind- and body-altering powers while under the effects of Conviction. Once a human is Imbued, they cannot become another type of monster at all. Any template on your character sheet other than "Imbued" is disallowed — not only can a Hunter never be Embraced as a vampire, they can't even become ghouls or blood-bonded. They are permanently Sleepers and can never have their third eye opened even a crack, and when they die they never leave a ghost.
    • The flip side of this is that no one who's even the least bit supernatural already can become Imbued as a Hunter — ghouls, mediums, hedge mages, even Garou kinfolk or unawakened Changelings completely unaware of their true nature are immune to Imbuing. The Hunter: First Contact supplement expands on this to let us know that even the mundane monster hunters from previous books like Hunters Hunted fall under this rule — the Imbuing can only happen to a human upon their first contact with the supernatural at all, and anyone who's already become familiar with it has missed their chance.
    • There is one major exception to the above rule — the "true Demons" from Demon: The Fallen, the sister gameline of Hunter: the Reckoning, can possess Extremist Hunters (who have attained level 10 in their primary Virtue, i.e. Hunters who've successfully reached the limits of their potential), and by so doing become extremely powerful. (In terms of the Demon gameline, the Imbued have the highest Faith rating a human host can have and therefore immediately give the Demon character a huge mana pool to draw from.) It's hinted that this is because the Messengers and the Demons are similar, and the Messengers' intended outcome for a Hunter — a "Divine Extremist" — is just allowing yourself to be possessed by unfallen angels the way becoming a Corrupt Extremist is allowing yourself to be possessed by a fallen one.
    • Although the topic doesn't come up very often and therefore this isn't directly confirmed, it seems implied that the Hunters' absolute immunity to being "changed" also applies to Hunters ever leaving Earth and entering one of the many other dimensions of the World of Darkness — for instance, they not only can't become Wraiths but they can't physically enter The Underworld the way the Benandanti do (not that, after the Sixth Great Maelstrom, you'd ever want to), and the Corrupt Extremist level-5 Edge Transport seems explicitly designed to enable "exceptions" to this rule. (There is an apparent other exception when two Tradition Mages confront Witness1 directly in the Digital Web trying to break into hunter-net — but this is probably the tropey way Mages experience Cyberspace as a literal dimension while Witness1 experiences it as sending messages on a computer screen.)
  • Immune to Mind Control: See No-Sell — this is one of the most powerful and essential features of Second Sight. However, Hunters aren't constantly immune to mind control, only when they have their Second Sight active, and without it are as vulnerable as any other human. The ability to "react with Conviction" (to sense they're about to be mind controlled and activate Second Sight defensively) is a variant rule and one that requires a successful Willpower roll to pull off.
  • Infinity +1 Sword: One controversial decision of this gameline was to constantly tantalize players with Level 5 Edges — extremely cool powers that embody the theme of each Creed — that players have no way to get in normal gameplay, constantly hinting that the secret method to unlocking them would be revealed in a later book. That book was Hunter: Fall From Grace, and the method given of unlocking a Level 5 Edge — becoming an Independent Extremist — was so difficult and dangerous it was likely to be the capstone achievement of a whole campaign, making the whole idea of Level 5 Edges feel kind of like a letdown, since you'd have very little time to actually use them before meeting the inevitable grisly death of an Extremist (who is a fanatical zealot with little to no regard for self-preservation).
  • In Mysterious Ways: The Messengers, and how. The most anyone can say for sure about them is they definitely exist — some conscious entity has to be behind the Imbuing and, if the Werewolves and Mages' perspective on it can be trusted, it must be a very powerful entity indeed. And yet what the Messengers actually want remains up in the air; the basic way the Imbuing works seems to indicate Hunters were intended as a weapon against monsters, especially the undead (Cainites, Kuei-jin and Risen), but the Hunters haven't been given nearly enough power to actually win the war or even put up much of a fight. There are dark implications that the Messengers may be working at cross-purposes with each other, that the Red Lady (the Scarlet Empress) who sponsors the Zeal Creed wants the monsters exterminated but her opposite number the Black Snake (the Ebon Dragon) who sponsors the Mercy Creed does not, and so the Hunters are caught in the middle of a deadly compromise where they're being used as cannon fodder to hinder the monsters' domination of mankind but not stop it.
  • I See Dead People: The Second Sight's more subtle use is its ability to mark vampires, werewolves in their human form, etc. as "wrong"; its most dramatic use is letting Hunters see wraiths and other invisible beings, including seeing a possessing entity as an outline superimposed over the host they're riding. This is something that a wraith normally has to go to great effort to make possible when they're trying to be seen by the living.
  • It's Personal: A very common theme with Imbuing, which fairly often involves a monster victimizing someone who was close to the Hunter in some way, but is particularly intense with the Avenger and Defender Creeds — the latter of which is driven by keeping bad things from happening to a loved one and the former of which is driven by rage at already having failed to do so. Notably averted with the Wayward Creed — whatever incident caused the Imbuing of a Wayward, Waywards are defined by not viewing the Hunt in any sort of personal light, instead coldly accepting the necessity of the destruction of all monsters as a basic fact about the world.
  • It Sucks to Be the Chosen One: Just about every single hunter's story is one of the gradual disintegration of the life they used to have, usually ending with the hunter's own brutal death.
  • Jumped at the Call: How the Imbued become so - The Masquerade becomes broken for them, and they choose to do something about the monster they now see in front of them. If they choose not to act, they become Bystanders instead.
  • Light 'em Up: Associated with the Mercy creeds, Innocent, Redeemer, and Martyr.
  • Living Lie Detector - Both Judges and Waywards have Edges that allow them to detect when others are telling lies.
  • Logging onto the Fourth Wall: did, in fact, use to exist, and redirect you to hunter-net's false front, which if you signed up for it gave you a message welcoming you to the world of monster hunting and telling you your request to join the forum was pending (and obviously never actually went through).
  • MacGyvering
    • Hunters have to improvise a lot of their equipment, since, unlike the other gamelines, they have no social institutions whatsoever to lean on for support and are just random civilians who went crazy one day and were told by the voices in their heads to kill monsters. White Wolf brought some notoriety on themselves by having the Wayward creedbook include discussion of how to improvise a fertilizer car bomb, among other things.
    • The Terrible Swift Sword (named for the line from "The Battle Hymn of the Republic"), a special application of the Cleave Edge discovered accidentally by a member of the Avenger Creed who was also an amateur swordsmith and Renaissance Fair enthusiast. Any melee weapon, however crude or clumsy — so long as it's made by hand by the Avenger themselves — can be imbued with a little bit of their power, allowing it to be a permanent channel for the aggravated damage done by Cleave.
  • Mad Oracle: Members of the Hermit creed all have a direct line to the Messengers, which gives them supernatural insight at the cost of overloading their psyches and resulting in their withdrawing from society.
  • Mana: Conviction, which can be gained when a hunter furthers his creed or when he risks it to help boost an action.
  • Massive Multiplayer Crossover: Hunter, more than any other gameline, explicitly relied on crossing over with other World of Darkness gamelines, which were the enemies that Hunters were meant to fight, and Hunter's in-game fiction was intimately tied to WoD's overarching metaplot and the Crisis Crossover that was the Time of Judgment. This was distasteful to a lot of people who disliked having to keep up with metaplot, and posed a major barrier to entry to Storytellers who weren't that familiar with the other gamelines (as any crossover-based setting does). White Wolf tried to ameliorate this with Perspective Flip enemy books portraying the other major gamelines (Vampire, Werewolf, Mage, Wraith and Demon) from a Hunters' perspective, which ignited its own set of controversies over inconsistencies between those books and the gamelines' own lore.
  • Mass Super-Empowering Event: The Imbuing is one of these. Shortly after the Week of Nightmares and the Sixth Great Maelstrom, ordinary Muggles across the world start randomly gaining superpowers and a mental compulsion to seek out and destroy supernatural creatures. They aren't too much of a threat individually and are fairly easy for any vampire or werewolf worth their salt to dispatch, but they keep on coming at what seems to be a constant rate, and become a major Outside-Context Problem for the whole World of Darkness.
  • Middle Eastern Terrorists: After hinting at the idea for a while, Hunter: Holy War went ahead and told us that there is in fact a huge network of Middle Eastern Imbued — far more organized and effective than the Western Hunters we've been following so far — who are primarily devout Muslims and who are, indeed, treated by the governments of their home countries as a terrorist organization. The narrator of Holy War fiercely disclaims any connection with actual mundane terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda, of course, but the book remains somewhat uncomfortable and controversial. It even extended to openly stating that Hunters become more numerous and more powerful the closer their Imbuing was to the holy cities of Jerusalem and Mecca, that Middle Eastern Hunters have no need for hunter-net because they can telepathically commune with each other while meditating on the scriptures, that Middle Eastern Hunters get access to the Martyr Edges for free, etc.
  • Morale Mechanic: A Hunter's Mana Meter and Experience Meter is also their Morale Mechanic — a Hunter lives and breathes by their Conviction, the stat that determines how fiercely committed they are to the Hunt.
  • Muggles
    • Player characters always start as normal humans. The contrast between Muggle life and the horrifying truth is one of the central themes of the game.
    • Also subverted in the case of the player characters, because they are very, very insistent that they are humans but very, very clearly only mortal in the sense that Mages (who number among their targets) are technically mortal.
  • Multinational Team: was founded in America by an American citizen, and most of the people who join it are from the English-speaking Internet — and since much of the lore in Hunter comes from Fictional Documents on hunter-net, there's a certain amount of justified focus on locations and cultures White Wolf's America-centric audience would find familiar. That said, though, the Imbuing is a worldwide phenomenon that does not discriminate by national borders and that, if it's centered anywhere, is centered on the Abrahamic holy cities of Jerusalem and Mecca in the Levant — and the relatively high number of hunter-net posters from other parts of the world serve to constantly remind us of this.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: The Innocent Creed. Most Hunters are in favor of killing or at least neutralizing monsters by violent opposition, hence the name; Innocents aren't necessarily against this, but their Creed is about questioning whether this is really necessary (and asking questions in general).
  • Mysterious Benefactor: The Messengers are ones on a supernatural level, but in terms of the mundane version of this trope there's the Rose Foundation. Most Imbued are random everyday citizens of little financial means, but apparently at least one Imbued happened to be a millionaire who founded an organization to track down other Imbued and help pay their bills under difficult circumstances. It's presumed "Rose", whoever he is, is of the Defender Creed — the Rose Foundation is introduced in the Defender Creedbook and seems to favor members of that Creed when looking for Hunters to sponsor — but almost nothing else is known about them.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero
    • Not all monsters are evil, but more zealous hunters might opt to whack them anyway, which can lead to this.
    • By default, the Old World of Darkness is a delicate political balance both within each splat and between the splats. The Vampire power structure is often the only thing preventing Mages from taking over the city completely and vice versa, and the most visible members of the vampire community are usually the ones in charge that keep the lower-downs from going completely psycho. Hunters tend to just find the easiest-to-find monster and kill it, which inevitably makes things worse. Hunters also have a long-term goal of ending The Masquerade entirely, which is a disaster for almost everyone.
  • No-Sell: The Hunters' Second Sight is a bit of a misnomer — it isn't just the ability to detect supernatural beings, as long as they have it active, a mental/spiritual state the game more properly refers to as "invoking Conviction", they are immune to being physically or mentally altered by any supernatural powers. What exactly this means is up to Storyteller discretion, but the general idea is that it doesn't protect Hunters from ordinary attacks enabled by supernatural powers — like being punched by a Vampire using Potence or mauled by a Werewolf's teeth and claws that do built-in aggravated damage — since that would be a massive Game-Breaker, but any clearly supernatural effect that directly tries to alter the Hunter's mind or body in some way is simply nullified, regardless of how many successes are rolled. Vampires' Dominate, Presence or Vicissitude simply does not work, same with Werewolves' Delirium, and a Hunter with Second Sight active is one of the few things in the universe a Mage cannot turn into a lawn chair no matter how high their Arete rating is.
    • There's a flip side of this, of course, that's very bad for Hunters: None of their superpowers (Edges) can be used to harm mundane humans directly, and most of them have no effect on humans whatsoever. Any vampire prince who understands what they're dealing with can nullify any advantage the Hunters have simply by sending human mercenaries after them. Luckily, they mostly don't.
    • It's also worth noting that Second Sight and the immunities it grants does not work on other Hunters, and there are Hunter Edges that specifically affect other Imbued (the most disturbing one being the Wayward's Enrage that hits other Hunters with a Hate Plague). The fact that this is an ironclad rule even though Hunters themselves are, very obviously, supernatural creatures and their Edges supernatural powers is a hint that the "truths" revealed by Second Sight may not be entirely trustworthy.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: Hunters generally avoid using the actual names of the other gamelines, replacing them with either clinical or insulting terms ("rots" and "corpses" for the undead generally, "bloodsuckers" and "parasites" for vampires, "shapechangers" for werewolves, "warlocks" and "witches" for mages, etc.) Mostly this is a cultural thing, but when posting on it's an opsec issue — even though hunter-net itself is magically warded to be invisible to outsiders, Witness1 still cautions Hunters to use coded language when describing supernatural beings online for safety's sake. As a result you'll see the actual word "vampire" asterisked out as "v*mp*r*s" on occasion.
    • Hunter: Holy War tells us that Muslim Hunters in the Middle East take their terminology from The Qur'an, naming their primary supernatural enemies after the four pagan nations struck down by Allah with the coming of Islam, the Adites (Vampires), the Amalikites (Wraiths), the Midianites (Werewolves and other shapeshifters), and the Thalmudites (Risen and Kuei-jin). Note that in the case of the Adites this is Accidentally-Correct Writing in-universe, possibly under influence of the Messengers — the Adites building the great city of Ad and turning to the worship of the three idols therein eerily parallels the story of the First City of Enoch built by the Antediluvians, where the True Black Hand (one of several secret cabals that manipulated vampire society from behind the scenes) worshipped the mysterious beings known as the Aralu (which is what led to the Sixth Great Maelstrom and the Imbuing).
    • One notable Unusual Euphemism is that the Middle Eastern Imbued community are much more careful than their Western counterparts about calling themselves "Hunters" or anything else with a violent or militant connotation (like the term "mujahideen", "warrior", which has acquired Unfortunate Implications in Western media). Their preferred term for what they are is "Kiswah", a very non-indicative code word — Arabic for "covering" or "pall", and the term for the black cloth that covers the Kaaba in Mecca, symbolizing what they see as their duty of "covering" or "veiling" the supernatural world from ordinary humans.
    • The debate over terminology extends to the Messengers themselves, and whether they really are Biblical angels as religious Hunters claim or they're something else disguising themselves with angelic imagery, hence using the "neutral" English term "Messenger" in most public discussions of the subject. Not all Western Hunters are okay with the word "Hunter" itself either, with "bleeding-hearts" from the Innocent and Redeemer Creeds likely to reject it.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Members of the Wayward creed, who want to wipe out every supernatural on the face of the earth, no matter how many people die.
  • Online Alias: Hunter-net has a naming convention peculiar to the site: The membership is fairly limited because thanks to the gifts the Messengers gave its creator, Witness1 (Kim Sun), only the Imbued can become aware of the site and create an account on it (with very few exceptions). This means that users have a very simple, strictly enforced naming convention — they type in a single word as their handle and the forum automatically adds a number indicating the order in which they joined. The RPG books never got to numbers higher than the 300s, although the video games got all the way up to the 600s (Raver620, Kassandra Cheyung).
  • Our Angels Are Different: The "Messengers" are... something akin to Biblical angels, but reliable details are very scarce and opinions among Hunters — especially religious vs. non-religious Hunters — are very divided.
  • Outside-Context Problem: One for the whole World of Darkness. Hunters may not be very powerful, but the basic way Second Sight works — including the hard rule that it causes any powers that directly affect the Hunter to become a No-Sell — violates the core assumptions of how magic works in most of the other gamelines, and the way the Imbuing just keeps on happening despite the other supernaturals' best attempts at tracing and stopping it indicates the Messengers most likely are far more powerful and dangerous than the jumped-up Umbral spirits the Werewolves and Mages insist they must be.
    • Hunters are these for other supernaturals, but as they delve into the World of Darkness they find plenty of outside-context problems themselves — Hunter: Urban Legends is about how Hunter powers tend to assume a world populated mostly by normal humans and be based on the belief that all "monsters" used to be humans or are related to humans in some way. A lot of their powers, especially for the Redeemer Creed, become straight-up useless against monsters that are just plain monsters and never had any connection to humanity at all.
  • Painting the Medium: The books frequently play with typefaces and graphics to give the illusion that we're reading actual dialogue copy-pasted or screenshotted from the website. One particularly amusing detail is that Soldier91, who is generally a very serious and thoughtful character, is somewhat old and out-of-touch and types all his posts in Comic Sans.
  • Personality Powers: Typically, how someone acts during the imbuing determines which creed they fall into... except for the Hermits and Waywards, who are specifically chosen to be what they are.
  • Perspective Flip: One for the whole World of Darkness, where the protagonists from all the other gamelines show up as horrifying "monsters" who must be destroyed. How necessary this was — given the level of self-loathing angst built into a game like Vampire: The Masquerade — and how effective it was is one of the major arguments about this game.
  • Placebotinum Effect: The Hunter Edges and other effects of Conviction are obviously genuinely supernatural and gifted from the Messengers — but it's implied Second Sight itself is not, and is simply the ability to "see things the way they really are" without the supernatural Weirdness Censor that's been externally imposed on most humans' senses. The Imbuing didn't give humans the Second Sight so much as just activated it. In one Time of Judgment scenario, Hunters lose access to their Edges as the Messengers give up and withdraw their influence from Earth, but it turns out anyone who's ever had the Second Sight is indelibly marked by it and can never fully lose the ability (Hunters slowly learn to activate it using Willpower rather than Conviction).
  • Playing with Fire: Associated with the Zeal creeds, Avenger, Defender, and Judge.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Deliberately done with several of the Hunter signature characters, with White Wolf knowing their fanbase was overwhelmingly young and politically left-leaning, and therefore picked signature characters as Imbued they knew they'd despise as wingnuts and wackjobs in real life — Crusader17 the Christian fundamentalist, Jager51 the South African white supremacist, and others. The game very much intentionally draws an uncomfortable parallel between Fantastic Racism against "monsters" and mundane real-life racism, just as it draws a parallel between the Hunters and real-life political violence.
  • Power at a Price - The Martyr creed in particular gets hit with this. Many of their Edges come at some (though in most cases, temporary) physical cost to the Martyr themselves when used.
  • Power Born of Madness: Extremist imbued. Some hunters are obsessed with the hunt, and if you get obsessive enough you can access the highest levels of imbued power. Of course, this usually means becoming a puppet of the Messengers, a servant of dark forces, or just going full-bore crazy.
  • Power Incontinence: The Waywards can't shut off their 'second sight', so they get to see monsters 24/7. The Hermits can't moderate their connection to the Messengers, which doesn't do good things for their psyche.
  • Powers That Be: The Messengers, who create the imbued and send them messages regarding their roles in the world.
  • Pretend to Be Brainwashed: One of the most important facts about Second Sight is not only that it makes you immune to all forms of supernatural control and alteration, but that the use of Second Sight is completely undetectable by other supernatural beings (or at least to all but the most powerful ones). This means that knowing when and how to pretend to be Dominated by a Vampire (or dazzled by their Presence, or fooled by Obfuscate, etc.) is a vital skill for a Hunter's survival, and a very potent strategy for infiltration and attack.
  • Public Secret Message: One of the Boring, but Practical powers Hunters get access to is the "hunter sign", simple geometric symbols (akin to real-life hobo signs) that form a written language Hunters seem to have an intuitive understanding of, and that, just as importantly, everyone else seems compelled to ignore as meaningless scribbles.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Your typical Hunter cell starts off way more ragtag than even the most raggedy coven of fledgling vampires or bumbling wannabe mages. Moreover, unlike the other gamelines, they tend to stay ragtag until they die, go to prison or go completely insane.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Multiple high-level Edges — the Hermit's Edict and Proclaim, the Redeemer's Punish and Shame — act as this, filling monsters with guilt and self-hatred as they realize the "truth" of what the Messengers really think of them. (Whether this literally is truth or a form of destructive mind control is, of course, a matter of opinion.)
  • Refusal of the Call: Those who act at their imbuing become fully-fledged imbued; those who failed to act become bystanders, people who know the supernatural is out there but lack the imbued's supernatural abilities. They either go crazy with guilt (and from knowing the supernatural is out there but not being able to do anything) or throw themselves into fighting 'evil' (usually at the side of imbued) and usually get killed.
    • Notably, unlike other instances of the Refusal of the Call trope, you only get one chance to become Imbued, and if you balk at it and become a Bystander you will never get a chance to change your mind. This often leads to feelings of excessive guilt and rumination over What Could Have Been, and finding a way to break the Messengers' rules and give a Bystander a second chance is an idea floated for a capstone achievement for a high-level Hunter (it is, for instance, one possible outcome of an Extremist Hermit using the Proclaim Edge).
  • La Résistance: A Hunter game can easily be run this way, since monsters are usually assumed to secretly control most aspects of government, law enforcement, and society.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: One of the Unintentional Period Piece aspects of this setting is Hunter: Apocrypha naming as one of the five portents of the end-times the then-hot news story of the death of JFK Jr., something that very few people were likely to remember as one of the most "apocalyptic" things that happened at the Turn of the Millennium (at least until Trump's presidency, when conspiracy theories about his having survived started bubbling up).
  • RPGs Equal Combat: Played surprisingly straight for a White Wolf game — unlike other gamelines, in Hunter the Mana Meter and Experience Meter are the same stat, Conviction, which is only replenished by your character choosing to actively engage in the Hunt against the supernatural. You were only Imbued in the first place because you saw a monster harming humans and chose to act, and you can only use and develop your powers by continuing to do so — give up on the Hunt long enough and deplete your Conviction and you functionally become just a regular human again.
  • Safety in Muggles: One of the chief advantages available to Hunters. A Hunter who isn't currently using any of their Edges is, for the most part, completely indistinguishable from a regular human being (barring high-level powers like a Vampire with Auspex 6). Hunters generally know they're helpless in a straight fight against a supernatural, and spend a lot of time blending in with the crowd pretending to be a regular mortal, biding their time for the right moment to strike.
  • Sanity Slippage: Inevitable for Hunters. Much like Call of Cthulhu, there's no good way out of the Hunter life without losing a lot of your marbles — being traumatized and brutalized by the supernatural gives you Derangements, and the only way to resist this is to power yourself up with Conviction and Hunter Virtues, which also gives you Derangements.
  • Shock and Awe: The Blast edge, available to Defenders, who are generally asssociated with electricity.
  • Shout-Out: Crusader17 is specifically named as an homage to Michael Douglas's character from Falling Down. (Hilariously, when trying to mock him Memphis68 namedrops the characters of Walter Mitty and Travis Bickle but apparently forgets this one.)
  • Sociopathic Hero: A Wayward is at best a literal example.
  • Staring Down Cthulhu: A variation on this trope, as Judges have the Burden edge that holds a supernatural creature in place as long as the Judge is staring at it.
  • Stock Superhero Day Jobs: The demands of the Hunt and the way it gradually takes over your life as your Virtue rating goes up mean that the lucky Hunters either start with one of these or make the effort to get one. Less lucky Hunters end up with a Fallen-on-Hard-Times Job or end up NEETs and/or Walking the Earth.
  • Stone Wall: Most Defense edges, unsurprisingly. Rejuvenate provides rough-and-ready Combat Medic healing, Stand allows Defenders to ignore penalties from taking wounds until the end of the scene, and Protect lets them straight-up soak damage from supernatural attacks.
  • Stumbled Into the Plot: A key theme of Hunter; the Imbuing is almost always a seemingly random event that happens to bystanders who happen to be nearby when a supernatural conflict occurs. The rules repeatedly emphasize that there is almost never anything particularly special about a Hunter before the Imbuing, especially no previous contact with the supernatural.
  • Superpower Lottery: One very relevant complaint about Hunter is that compared to the open-endedness of Mage Spheres or even of Vampire Disciplines, Hunter Edges are absurdly limited and situational — you only get to do very specific things (like make a cloud of smoke or throw a weapon really hard) that are only useful in very specific circumstances. The Edges for each Creed are only vaguely thematically related to each other and seem like an arbitrary grab-bag, and the rule for advancement only give you a very limited ability to pick-and-choose to customize your character (when you earn a level-3 Edge you must pick one from the very limited options for level-3 Edges in that particular Creed, and can never sub it out for having two level-2 Edges instead or an Edge from a different Creed). This is to some degree addressed in-universe — the Messengers who gave the Imbued their powers seem to be keeping them on a very tight leash, with hints that they're terrified of what might happen should they evolve beyond their limitations. If the Hunters really are the second coming of the Solar Exalted and/or the wan xian, this fear seems entirely appropriate.
  • The Team Normal: Bystanders, assuming they get that involved.
  • Touched by Vorlons: The Imbued, aka the player characters.
  • True Sight: The one power all Imbued share, known as Second Sight, and the foundation of all their other abilities. A human becomes Imbued by being suddenly gifted with the ability to see a supernatural being (a vampire, werewolf, mage, changeling, etc.) as something other than human regardless of their literal physical appearance, and normally invisible beings such as wraiths become visible (even when they're possessing a human body). There are additional Edges like Witness that provide further information than just the "ping" that a monster is supernatural — it's notable that such Edges aren't literal True Sight and often present a "metaphorical" image of the supernatural being meant to paint them in as negative a light as possible (a vampire shows up as a rotting corpse with blood dripping from its mouth, a mage as a mutated human with a grotesquely literal third eye in their forehead, etc.)
  • The Unmasqued World: The open goal of many Hunters. One of the major events of the setting is Jared Shoemaker, one of the first of the Imbued, going on a TV talk show to try to reveal the truth of the World of Darkness and the Imbuing to the country in one fell swoop, only for the many supernatural conspiracies arrayed against him to make him a laughingstock and destroy his life. A major element in many Hunters' long-term plans is to find a way to break down the Masquerade and make it stick; the Judge's Condemn and Expose Edges serve to supernaturally force a Masquerade breach in their immediate vicinity.
  • Vagueness Is Coming: Unlike its successor, about a long-term Cold War and stable equilibrium between Hunters and monsters, Hunter: the Reckoning is deeply tied to the World of Darkness metaplot and the apocalyptic sense of a world coming apart at the seams, with the Imbuing as a sudden, recent event in response to the Sixth Great Maelstrom and Week of Nightmares. Time of Judgment, as per this trope, gives us a lot of tantalizing details about the lead-up to the apocalypse but leaves what actually happens in the end up to the individual gaming group.
  • Van Helsing Hate Crimes: After five books revealing just how much it can suck to be a supernatural in the World of Darkness, the hunters come around. At least a good number are willing to deal with non-hostile supernaturals... except the Waywards, of course.
  • Vampire Hunter: The Imbued were opposed to all of the supernatural gamelines in the World of Darkness, but vampires were their most common and most dangerous targets, along with the more generic "walking dead" that emerged with their gameline (as a result of the Sixth Great Maelstrom).
  • Villainous BSoD - A Redeemer is capable of causing this in a monster, with one of their Edges turning a question they ask into an Armor-Piercing Question that the supernatural in question cannot ignore.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: Even more than other supernatural groups in the World of Darkness, Hunters... really don't get along all that well. It's not just the result of them being a completely random and disparate sampling of the population — Hunters are specifically chosen among strong-willed people who live their lives by some kind of ideology or code, and these ideologies turn out to generally be mutually inconsistent, with no central leadership to tell them who's right or wrong. A lot of this seems to be the Messengers' fault, since the Mercy and Zeal Virtues, both of which are equally common paths to becoming a Hunter, are fundamentally at odds with each other. Those who have faith in the Messengers' intentions chalk it up to mysterious ways.
    • This is compounded by the fact that the Hunter Edges are meant to complement each other, and a party of Hunters who all follow the same Creed will be highly "unbalanced" and have glaring weaknesses — whereas a "balanced" party is much more sustainable in terms of their abilities but is much more likely to develop interpersonal conflicts as they start confronting moral dilemmas.
  • Weirdness Censor: Hunter Edges are, generally speaking, completely invisible to ordinary mortals. This is an automatic effect (unlike the work characters from other gamelines have to do to uphold The Masquerade) and in fact often an unwanted one, since many Hunters openly desire The Unmasqued World.
    • This effect also applies to Hunter Sign going unnoticed both by regular mortals and by supernaturals, non-Imbued never stumbling upon, etc. It's not absolutely airtight but the forces keeping Hunters mostly hidden from their enemies are extremely powerful, as a couple of Virtual Adepts who try to break into by force discover to their chagrin.
    • For simplicity's sake, the core Hunter rulebook assumes that all monsters have a Weirdness Censor themselves that lets them pass as humans and keep ordinary human witnesses from either perceiving or remembering anything they do (akin to the Delirium power all werewolves have). Of course, most supernatural beings in their own gamelines don't just automatically get this power and have to go to some effort to hide themselves from mortals, either having to use specific supernatural abilities not all of them have (like Vampires with the Obfuscate or Dominate Discipline) or else having to pull this off with mundane trickery. It's up to the individual Storyteller whether they want to go with the core rulebook's Hand Wave or accurately implement monsters' powers from their own gameline — the more they do the latter, the less powerful and important the Second Sight becomes.
    • There's also one sense in which the Weirdness Censor is turned on Hunters themselves — alone out of all the characters in all the White Wolf gamelines, Hunters cannot enter Another Dimension nor even see into one. To them the very existence of the Shadowlands or the Umbra is hearsay they can never have direct evidence for, and in that respect they're more limited than even a normal human medium (who, because of this, will be marked as a "supernatural" or a "monster" by a Hunter's Second Sight, even if it's only to a small degree). This is a serious advantage held over Hunters by, say, Wraiths who are powerful enough to brave the Stormwall and phase out of the living world, although those are few and far between. It's theorized that the Messengers did this intentionally to Hunters, to keep them grounded within the mortal world and limit the threat they could pose if they went off their leash.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: 'Extremist' imbued, hunters who advance far enough in their creed that they start to become... somewhat unbalanced, seeing the world through the lens of their creed. Also the Waywards.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: It is a very common opinion among Hunters of the Zeal Creed that humans who choose to serve the monsters are just as fair game as the monsters themselves. This holds especially true for people who are technically still human but have accepted some kind of supernatural ability, like ghouls who've voluntarily drunk vampire blood.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: The whole theme of the game, and a matter of bitter disagreement between the Zeal Creeds (who firmly believe that monsters fundamentally matter less than humans) and the Mercy Creeds (who believe there can be no final resolution of the conflict between monsters and humans that doesn't respect the personhood of both).
  • The Witch Hunter: One controversial aspect of this game is that it treated Mages, who were more or less fully accepted by most of the fanbase of Mage: The Ascension as "good guys", as enemies just as much as Werewolves and Vampires (games about Gray-and-Gray Morality and Black-and-Gray Morality, respectively). The Rooting for the Empire faction of Mage fans who loved The Technocracy don't get mollified here — anyone with an Avatar or Enlightened Genius is treated as a "monster" by the Imbued, no differently than a walking corpse.
    • Moreover, even though the daily bread and butter of most Hunters is hunting vampires and the newly-ubiquitous zombies, there are Hunters who specifically hate Mages, and who hate them a lot. Signature Avenger character Memphis68 states her theory in her manifesto that "warlocks" were the first monsters to "sell out the human race for power" to demonic forces and therefore the progenitors of all other monsters, which, if you believe the self-aggrandizing metaplot of Mage: The Ascension and do a Perspective Flip on it, may even be true.
    • The depiction of a Hunter/Mage confrontation we're given in The Spellbound takes it even further than that — accompanying the revelation that Hunters remain Sleepers in Mage: The Ascension terms and therefore vulgar magic against a Hunter always has a chance of Paradox, we see that every use of vulgar magic and accompanying Paradox backlash drives the Hunter further and further into Unstoppable Rage — as though the use of magic itself offends her on a visceral level the way vulgar magic causes Paradox by "offending" reality, as though, in fact, the Hunter were an embodiment of the Consensus itself. This has many troubling implications.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: The more powerful an Imbued becomes, the more insane they tend to go.
  • Working-Class Hero: Hunters can come from all walks of life, but there's a lot of emphasis on the idea that most Hunters are ordinary people with regular jobs, who have to worry a lot about their budget and their obligations and don't get any of the lifestyle perks that come with being a Vampire or Mage.
  • Writer on Board: The Hunter books mostly successfully stayed away from openly taking sides on the highly controversial political topics they touched on, but it's hard not to notice that Hunter: Holy War, whose writers came from Saudi Arabia, is relatively positive about the Saudi government (and extremely negative about Iraq under Saddam Hussein) compared to other depictions from the time period. (This makes sense in-universe since the book is an in-universe Fictional Document by Tarjiman220, an Author Avatar, but even so it sticks out.)
  • Your Terrorists Are Our Freedom Fighters: The whole theme of the game, obviously, but one that gets especially dark given how closely the more zealous Hunters resemble real-life political terrorists, especially Islamic extremists from the War on Terror. The Wayward creedbook even had to be released under the Black Dog imprint (for mature audiences) because it discussed topics like real-life strategies for bombing a building.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: As Hunter: The Walking Dead details, the Imbuing that starts in 1999 happens at the same time that corpses rising as zombies become a plague in the mortal world. The Hunters don't know it, of course, but this is the result of the Sixth Great Maelstrom that ended the Wraith: The Oblivion gameline, destroying the Shadowlands and sending most of the ghosts fleeing to the land of the living. The rules for Risen — who had previously been a very rare form of Revenant Zombie that only the most powerful and knowledgeable of Wraiths could become — have changed drastically, with the emergency giving even ordinary two-bit ghosts the wherewithal to flee back into their corpses and reanimate them as zombies, albeit far less powerful ones than a proper Risen. Many supernaturals in the know theorize that one of the Hunters' primary purposes is to clean up this mess the Messengers allowed to happen (as the Wraith Carpenter169 says, they're the "janitor's mop, bucket and broom").

Tropes of the fifth edition include:

  • Animal Companion: One possible edge that a hunter can have grants them one or more faithful animal sidekicks.
  • Attack Drone: Another edge makes the hunter a skilled drone pilot. And yes, the drone can potentially be packing heat.
  • Badass Normal: Most hunters in the fifth edition. They still have something called "edges," but instead of being magical powers they now consist of mostly mundane advantages like being a skilled hacker or having ready access to guns. They can also be Empowered Badass Normal with Endowment Edges.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Hunters of the Entrepreneurial Creed are essentially this, specializing in creating technology and other inventions to fight against monsters.
  • Heroic Willpower: Essentially the one thing hunters have going for them in the fifth edition. By their supreme devotion to the hunt, they can gain bonuses to certain actions depending on their Creed. These bonuses also grow higher the more desperate the fight has become, meaning hunters fight harder the worse things are.
  • In Name Only: The fifth edition essentially ignores the entire premise and metaplot of the first edition of Hunter: the Reckoning, being more properly a sequel to the old Hunters Hunted supplement, which dealt with disparate groups of mostly-mundane monster hunters.
  • MacGyvering: The "Improvised Gear" Edge.
  • Occult Detective: A hunter of the Inquisitive Creed is essentially this, and most of the time the hunt will require at least some amount of investigative legwork (to figure out how to best attack the quarry, if nothing else).
  • The Paladin: Hunters of the Faithful Creed are essentially this, complete with some subtle "holy" powers if the player chooses the right edges.
  • Psychosomatic Superpower Outage: Failing a roll when using Desperation Dice causes a hunter to lose faith in his personal mission. He can't use Desperation Dice again until he's restored his confidence by completing an objective determined by his Drive.
  • Sequel Number Snarl: Inverted. There does not actually exist any second, third or fourth editions of the game. The fifth edition is so named to make it clear that it's of the same "generation" as the fifth edition of Vampire: The Masquerade.
  • Van Helsing Hate Crimes: One of the sample antagonists is Gunshop, a Mage Marksman who seeks revenge on hunters for killing one of his friends who was a harmless healer. It's instructed that if the players should manage to kill Gunshop, his last words will be, "Know why I did all this to you? Because you so-called monster hunters have no sense of irony."
  • Wanted Meter: One of the new innovations of the edition is that every act of carelessness by the hunters increases their current quarry's vigilance against them, represented by the Danger score. Precisely what that means in practice is up to the Game Master, but the game offers some suggestions such as the quarry always having a number of bodyguard with it equal to the current Danger.