THERE WILL COME A RECKONING.
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.
IT DOES NOT LIVE.
BRING IT PEACE.
BEHOLD THE TRUTH.
TAKE BACK THE NIGHT.
INHERIT THE EARTH.
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 are divided into nine creeds - 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).
BEHOLD THE TROPES:
- 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...
- Arc Words: INHERIT THE EARTH.
- 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
- Black and White Insanity: Waywards, and crazy imbued in general.
- Blow You Away: Associated with the Vision creeds, Visionary, Hermit, and Wayward.
- 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.
- Les Collaborateurs: Most humans serve the monsters unwittingly thanks to The Masquerade, but a few do this instead.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Go Mad from the Revelation: The default for Waywards and Hermits. Fairly common even with the less extreme creeds too.
- 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.
- 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.
- Kill 'Em All: In the canon story hunters are assumed to have brief careers, since they're fighting forces they usually don't understand using powers they also don't understand. As such, entire groups eat it fairly regularly.
- Light 'em Up: Associated with the Mercy creeds, Innocent, Redeemer, and Martyr.
- Living Lie Detector - Both Judges and Waywards have Edges that make them this.
- 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.
- Martyr Without a Cause: How some Martyrs end up.
- Muggles: Player characters always start this way. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Playing with Fire: Associated with the Zeal creeds, Avenger, Defender, and Judge.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Shock and Awe - The Blast edge, available to Defenders.
- 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.
- Stone Wall: Most Defense edges, unsurprisingly.
- The Chessmaster: Monsters, and particularly vampires, are often assumed to be this.
- The Empath: Hermits and Visionaries are more or less this, but Hermits more so.
- The Team Normal: Bystanders, assuming they get that involved.
- Touched by Vorlons: The Imbued, aka the player characters.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Windows of the Soul - How the Waywards' Reap edge is stated to work.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: The more powerful an Imbued becomes, the more insane they tend to go.