Monday, May 27, 2024

‘Hunter: The Reckoning’ Enters A New Millennium With Slick Art And Plenty Of Guts

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In a world of darkness, sometimes all that stands between the monsters of the world and their unsuspecting prey is a person with a gun and just a little too much paranoia. These individuals are known as Hunters, and in Hunter: The Reckoning 5e, they finally get their due.

One of the less famous spinoffs of the original VtM release, Hunter The Reckoning debuted in 1999 as the sixth World of Darkness game released by White Wolf. For the first time, players were able to be something truly terrifying: a regular human. Since then, the game has spawned multiple works of fiction, three video games, and a LARP. Now, four years after the big launch of Vampire The Masquerade’s Fifth Edition, Renegade has brought back the Hunters to hold back the darkness once more.

What Is A Hunter?

Hunters are not the superpowered individuals that star in Vampire or Werewolf. Instead, players have to take up arms as a part of the loose collection of do-gooders (or do-ok-ers) that make up what little resistance there is to the darkness. These can be anything from the religiously devoted, the criminal, and even those just trying to make a quick buck. Hunter’s versions of VtM’s clans are Creeds. These Creeds give you an outline to help your build your character and find your place in your Cell. They’re mostly for flavor, but they give a good idea of the possibilities inherent in this system. Entrepeneurial Hunters might be contractors or even some sort of influencer doing psyop work, a Faithful Hunter might be a monk who’s trained their body and mind for evil for their god, and an Underground Hunter might be something as simple as a hitman. How they fit together and what each Hunter actually does remains entirely up to the player.

Unlike the Hunters you might run into in a Vampire setting, Hunter the Reckoning’s Hunters operate as street level cells, with the big organizations as antagonists who MIGHT use the cell for legwork but usually just make things more difficult. Things are much more ragtag and loose, and overall the game has the feeling of Delta Green or Monster of the Week.

Hunter uses the same system as any other 5e WoD game, with characters having edges, perks, and skills that they use to build the character. You use a pool of D10s to overcome different tests and move the story along. Unlike other games, the dice rolls are less important than the story being told, being there more to give you obstacles and a sense of danger for your story.

A Miserable Little Pile Of Secrets

The stories told in Hunter the Reckoning are unique in that they combine the mundane with the supernatural. The Hunters themselves are just regular people with entire lives outside of Hunting. Unlike other, similar games like the aforementioned Delta Green there isn’t as much focus on losing humanity or insanity. The game does want you to get lost in the adventure. It’s not and easy task but it’s one that you can accomplish.

Teamwork is especially the name of the game, and one of the interesting rules additions here are the Desperation Dice, which the cell accumulates when they fail checks. When rolled, they might lead you to Overreach (which gets you closer to being revealed to your prey) or Despair (where you succumb to your quest and can’t use your drives until solved). It’s a neat mechanic that helps hammer home the value of cooperation when dealing with monsters.

Hunter The Reckoning Werewolf

One of the most interesting part of the book, especially for Storytellers, is the extensive Bestiary in the back of the book. Since Hunters can face down almost anything, the designers got to use some truly wild ideas from all sorts of folklore traditions. There’s a fae who presents as the “perfect man” looking for love, an overzealous Hunter of Hunters named Gunshop, and a truly horrifying thing called the Eye thief made up of one long eyelid filled to the brim with stolen eyeballs. It’s…a lot. Any storyteller in the WoD should definitely check this and the Rival Organization sections out to find new antagonists and allies to add to their game.

Enough Talk!

The value of the Hunter the Reckoning Core Rulebook is twofold. It’s obviously perfect for the community of players that’s been around since ’99 and want an update, and for those interested in this side of the World of Darkness. But it for the first time gives a good fleshing out to the human side of things, the way everyday people encounter and deal with the vampires, werewolves, and wraiths players migh be embodying. Reading through it and adding it to your repertoire as a player OR storyteller is, I think, a worthwhile endeavor.

With that in mind, I don’t think this is something that will draw in new players looking for a way to act out their X-Files or Supernatural fanfiction. As I alluded to, it shares a lot of similarities with systems that are more horrific (Delta Green), more streamlined (Monster of the Week), or more iconic (Call of Cthulhu). It’s just a crowded field to enter, though it helps that it has all the spit and polish you’d expect from a Renegade title. And if you want an entry point into the WoD, you probably would rather go with the VtM Core Rulebook instead.

You can grab a copy of the Hunter the Reckoning Core Rulebook from Amazon, The Renegade shop, or your FLGS at an MSRP of $55.00. You can also grab a PDF copy from our friends at DriveThruRPG for $39.00

Images via Renegade Game Studios

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