Once upon a time, man feared the darkness. He thought that monsters and demons hide under its cloak, searching for an opening to infest humanity. But man lit fires and gas lights and electric light-poles. In the brightness of enlightenment he had thought that he concurred the night. He was wrong.
Monsters exist. They always have. Even though most people don't know this, things of darkness pull every string, stage every event and direct humanity whichever way they want. You're a slave. We all are.
But the world is changing. From the throng of humanity, emerge individuals who know the truth. They call themselves The Imbued, and they hunt those predators who feed on human flesh and blood. They will inherit the Earth, or more likely, die trying.
Hunter: the Reckoning is a member of the World of Darkness games (like Vampire: the Masquerade and Mage: the Ascension), so if you've played any other World of Darkness game, the system should be straight forward.
In fact, as World of Darkness tradition goes, it should be straight forward even if it's the first time you lay your eyes on it. The system is based on ten sided dice (d10) and on dice pools. A character is made up of nine attributes, divided into three types - physical (strength, dexterity and stamina), social (charisma, manipulation and appearance) and mental (perception, inelegance and wits). Each attribute is scored between 1 and 5 (although ancient and omnipotent mystical beings can reach higher stats). Skills are described as abilities that also range between 1 and 5.
Every time a character needs to see if he succeeds in performing an action, he rolls a number of dice equal to the sum of the appropriate ability and appropriate attribute (for instance, firearms + dexterity for firing at an opponent). The Storyteller (GM) decides the score needed for success, and the number of success are counted - the more successes, the better.
Hunters are not a select few standing united against all outside threats. Some pursue the undead with a deadly zeal, sometimes even ignoring innocents being hurt. Others believe that hatred and rage only spawns more hatred and more rage, and seek out to help save the souls of the very monsters that plague humanity. And others seek out to try and understand this World of Darkness they live in, to understand who these monsters are and where they came from, and perhaps more importantly, who they themselves are, where they came from and what has become of them.
Hunters are not knights in shining armor here to set the world free from the clutches of the dark overlord. They are not teenage vampire slayers who stop to quote B-Movie clichés in between staking vampires through the heart and worrying about going to college. They are not some sort of government trained super soldiers who fight zombies, werewolves and other monsters instead of terrorists and third-world tyrants. They are normal human beings like you an I, who were suddenly faced with the terrifying truth that the dead still walk the streets at night, and moreover, pull the strings of humanity. They are compelled to go out and hunt these creatures, losing their jobs, families, homes and eventually lives on the way.
Reviewing Hunter: the Reckoning is a bit like writing sports commentary on Michael Jordan's last active season. You know the spirit is willing, and here and there he'd still show little sparkles of the sheer brilliance that brought him his fame in the first place, but deep down in your heart you know it simply isn't the same anymore.
Hunter: the Reckoning, at least in my view, is one of the least interesting World of Darkness games ever. Here and there it has its redeeming qualities (like Bookworm55's essay about The Enemy, or its Storytelling chapter), but the overall tone is that of an "us against them" theme where hacking the enemy down with an axe until it can't get up again is encouraged.
Like any other game, the final style of playing is more up to the Storyteller and the players than to the system or setting, but somehow Hunter: the Reckoning just seems like an over-simplistic game, devoid of the moral dilemma of Vampire: the Masquerade or the plain genius of Mage: the Ascension.
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