On Friday, I secured myself a copy of Hunter: the Vigil. (It turns out that they weren’t lying after all!) I didn’t get a chance to spend much time with it until yesterday afternoon, and by this point I’m about halfway through.

You know what that means: first impressions!

A little bit of crunch

For me, the question that first sprang to mind about hunters is: what exactly can you do with hunters to make them interesting enough to produce a core book but without making them function just like any other supernatural to receive a splat-book?

It turns out that hunters get a constellation of mostly mundane benefits rather than a handful of supernatural attributes. I think this is an interesting approach, and I like it— if vampires, werewolves, and mages are all the social, physical, and mental types, then you might call hunters the Skills & Merits guys.

First, they get this stuff called Practical Experience. Practical Experience is extra XP they get from confronting and/or defeating monsters, reflecting the fact that hunters rely quite heavily on their skills and Merits and that the ones that survive are the ones that learn a lot.

Another interesting mechanical bit that they get is the ability to risk willpower. They can opt to spend a point of willpower and choose a benefit, like the usual +3 dice or 9-again on the roll. If they succeed, they get some extra willpower back. If they fail, it’s a dramatic failure.

Hunters also get Professions, which reflects professional training in a field and confers a modest benefit to skills in that field, and Tactics, which I’ve mentioned before.

Incidentally, one of my favorite Tactics is called Dentistry. Why is it called Dentistry? I’m glad you asked! See, it goes like this: you get your buddies to tackle a dude and hold him down. Then you hit him in the face.

Hunter doesn’t have the equivalent of Clan; instead, there are twelve opt-in splats (your Covenant, Tribe, or Order equivalent), divided into compacts and conspiracies. Compacts are one step up from a cell: they’re a bunch of organized guys, and investing points in one means you get stuff like more Allies.

Conspiracies are a step up from that, so they get some of the most overt stuff, like tactical gear, alchemical elixirs, magical relics, or divine blessings. These are called Endowments, which are souped-up Merits you get access to when you sign up with a conspiracy and put points into its Status.

Impressions

I like what I see so far. Except for the conspiracy-level guys, hunters don’t have much whiz-bang shit they can pull. Instead, they’ve gotta be careful, work together, and rely mostly on their skills.

Inevitable

I don’t want to slag Hunter: the Reckoning, but as with each of the re-implementations, comparisons are inevitable, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about this a little bit.

Reading Vigil, I realized why I didn’t much care for Reckoning. There was a lot of missed opportunity, I felt, in terms of exploiting various hunter archetypes; the well-defined and somewhat limited nature of the supernatural stuff overshadowed a lot of other ideas that I found more interesting.

The new game tries to cover all of the bases, and they do this somewhat exhaustively. Aside from your unaffiliated street-level guys, you have your government conspiracy types, your mega-corp doing weird bio-medical research, your paranormal pseudo-scientists, your religious fanatics, your occult conspirators, and more.

One criticism is that this is kind of a shotgun approach. You wouldn’t think that’d be a bad thing for a hunter-themed game, but hear me out! I’m somewhat sympathetic: there’s a lot there, which makes me wonder how difficult it is to really focus on a given theme in any game.

Another thing that comes to mind is that this game seems better suited towards a low number of compacts in a cell, or an even lower number of conspiracies in a cell.

Too bad I can’t play

Yeah all right I could “play” if I wanted to run a game. :P But right now my stupid gaming dance card is full.

First, I’ve gotta finish up Er-Eret, which probably won’t happen until late September, or perhaps mid-October. I was also interested in running a paragon tier game. Someone else wants to run that, though, so perhaps I could set that aside. And then of course at some point I wanted to run Changeling: the Lost.

Since I am not sure we’ll be able to play Er-Eret next week and the weekend after that is PAX, perhaps the best compromise is to run the Hunter quick-start next weekend.

We’ll see, won’t we, blog?

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