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[HTV2E] Introducing the New Hunter Compact SWORN
Posted By Flames On February 16, 2020 @ 8:15 am In Game Designers,Interviews | No Comments
Hello Hunter 2E fans! My name is Monica Valentinelli and I’m the developer for Hunter: The Vigil Second Edition now on Kickstarter ! Today, I’m pleased to share more information about the new compacts and conspiracy in the corebook: SWORN, Nine Stars, and Council of Bones. If you recall, compacts and conspiracies are larger groups dedicated to the Vigil in their own, unique way. It was my goal from Hunter 2E’s inception to ensure the corebook presented different playing styles and groups to ensure you could either envision yourself as a member or create your own to suit your needs.
Nine Stars is an example of a secret compact nestled inside an existing institution — in this case the Hong Kong police force — to deal with slashers, a type of murderous monster drawn from horror movies. Nine Stars uses the resources at their disposal to keep people safe in The Slasher Chronicle while doing so under the radar. Members know the supernatural is real; the rest of the police force does not, however, and that distinction is tricky for hunters to navigate. The compact’s creation was inspired by Chinese crime and detective dramas. It’s an example of a group highly-skilled in investigation and unlocking mysteries — both of which are necessary to hunt slashers in Hunter 2E’s sample setting.
The Council of Bones is a new global conspiracy that taps into a grim belief: that hunters can find the answers they seek if they talk to (and work with) the dead. The Council of Bones is an example of a conspiracy that believes they have “the” answer to upholding the Vigil. Members are occultists, scholars, and professors who search old books and archives for “the truth” about the supernatural, while recognizing there’s a need to help survivors find closure after a tragedy has occurred. Their Endowments gift them with abilities a medium might have — a tool that can have interesting results depending upon “which” ghost they encounter since not every spirit is benevolent.
SWORN is an example of a cultural-specific compact focused on hunting cryptids. If you recall, Hunter: The Vigil First Edition did expand to be more inclusive as the line went on and as new Chronicles of Darkness game lines, like Dark Eras, were added. After all, Hunter is a game anyone can play. Hunter society is (and always will) be a melting pot of identities and backgrounds, and fans have asked for more content. To that end, I was fortunate to find a Native writer and game designer who could design a modern group that resonated with their experiences. I’m so thrilled to introduce the SWORN compact — especially for our Native players! I’d also like to remind Storytellers that it’s totally okay if SWORN doesn’t resonate with your players — not every group will and they’re not supposed to. You are encouraged to utilize the ones that do (or design your own) using the rules provided in the Storyteller chapter.
I’m so pleased to introduce Allen Turner who worked on the compacts and conspiracies with me and created SWORN. He is a writer and game designer of Afro-American, Native American, and Irish descent who lives in Chicago. I had a blast working with Allen. If you want to hire him, visit council-of-fools.com .
My inspiration for SWORN comes from my local community experience. Let me start with a little background. I live in Chicago and have spent much of my adult life in the Uptown neighborhood which is a mostly low income neighborhood (gentrification attempts not withstanding) full of immigrants which also happens to have a long history with the Native community here in the Windy City.
People from Native nations all over the country were pushed to the city during Relocation back in the late 1950s. That was an interesting time because you suddenly had a lot of people stuck in an urban environment, in the ghetto, trying to survive while navigating all sorts of restrictions and rules they didn’t have where they came from. In particular, there just wasn’t the density of people back in rural and reservation areas (although many reservations were also dirt poor).
What stood out to me about the community that came out of that time period is how they formed an intertribal space. On the rez you were typically dealing with homogenous tribal/ethnic groups. To an outsider, for instance, a Lakota, a Dine, and an Ojibwe are all the same culture – they’re just Indian. To Native peoples that is ridiculous. Those groups I mentioned are as different culturally as the French, English, and Lithuanian. Old rivalries had to be set aside in these new communities, and a certain pan-Native culture was adopted that allowed everyone to get along and to look out for each other.
This struggle to come together was also compounded by the fact that many were coming from boarding schools which were run by Christian ministries that routinely worked to scour Native traditions and language from the peoples via all sorts of mental/physical/sexual/spiritual abuse and punishment in order to save their souls. So many were arriving who didn’t know how to survive in the urban area and didn’t necessarily know how to navigate their own old traditions. It was a hard time to be Native and everything around you seemed frightening. (Also, don’t forget that it was illegal for Native people to practice their own religions up until the late 1980s.)
The great thing about this time was that the Civil Rights movement was powering up and the Native community got directly involved. Over the years, numerous groups rose up to engage civil rights issues and a lot of it happened in the Chicago area. By time I came on the scene as a kid in the late 1980s and 90s there were already a bunch of compact-like organizations actively fighting against the monsters of oppression, injustice, and racism. More famously, there were groups like the American Indian Movement which some might compare to the Black Panthers. There were lots of other groups, though, that sprouted up and faded who had more particular interests. Everyone had a cool catchy name and acronym. Some were focused on sobriety, some on police abuse, some on women’s rights, some on education, and others around veterans.
It is those groups who are my inspiration for SWORN – which means the compact represents a lot of things related to the Native experience. There were unbelievable and monstrous events happening to Native peoples during those times (still are), but the people who fell between the cracks were getting the brunt of the abuse: Native women, queer Natives, mixed Natives, children and elders. These people could easily come up missing or murdered and local authorities wouldn’t bat an eye. To this day we have a huge issue with missing and murdered Indigenous women. There were “monsters” everywhere, jumping at the chance to take advantage of our people, in our everyday lives.
Interestingly, these days there are even more monsters. How nice it’d be to be able to say the cause of youth deaths and missing/murdered indigenous women was supernatural. At least then we’d have an identifiable and easily resolvable cause! Unfortunately, finding explanations is not that easy. Native players, in particular, might feel the monsters that SWORN fights represent manifestations of these threats.
SWORN hunters recognize there are all sorts of boogeymen lurking at the periphery of our community waiting for a chance to strike. SWORN, like The Union, wants to keep their community safe. The big difference between the two is the ideal they are protecting. The Union is protecting an ideal that has, at its core, that “American Dream” with its expectations of peace of mind, the right to white picket fences, a good job, and barbecues on Sundays.
SWORN hunters are fighting for the right to survive and be counted as valid human beings. In this context, a SWORN-focused chronicle can be approached from multiple angles. SWORN chronicles can certainly be about a traditional hunt for a monster-of-the-week game. There are lots of strange creatures populating indigenous narratives; there are also pop culture versions of these creatures that vary wildly from the traditional stories. This is similar to how there is a big difference between a pop culture vampire and a vrydolak or dearg due. So, it is important to spend the time getting the cultural perspective on these creatures before you hunt them; this will lead to far more interesting narratives because the fears they represent are coming out of the culture’s own survival needs.
In a SWORN chronicle, there are also different types of monster encounters. The first thing to consider is that a monster sighting can be treated as an encounter with a part of (super)Nature that has done a good job of staying hidden. In game terms, they are still supernatural but from the compact’s point of view that monster has a place in the ecology. This would be a common idea among cryptid hunters! An interesting tenet of a SWORN campaign is recognizing these situations and trying to resolve them quietly. You don’t want to draw more attention to the creature because it’s connected to your people. What happens when you come across a bigfoot because a stretch of land is being developed? Or pollution near a lake causes tie-snakes who dwell at the bottom to resurface to hunt?
With many of the compacts and conspiracies, those might be cut-and-dried situations. The imperative would typically be to stop the monster at all costs to protect the community. For SWORN, killing the creature outright is not necessarily the way to go. That monster might be recognized as an integral part of the ecology and a member of the community, a relative in trouble. I’d draw a direct comparison to the Lilo and Stitch television show where the monsters are amuck but they are Stitch’s relatives and he wants to keep them safe. However, other people want them destroyed or collected. They have to stop the monster, reduce exposure of it to the general public, and get it to a safe place that is ideal for it. That new place hopefully will reduce its incursions into human territory and human incursion into its territory.
SWORN’s perspective can easily bring them into conflict with other compacts and conspiracies whose motivations for hunting monsters are different from theirs. The best way to highlight this is to give you an example of a potential threat.
Consider a pipeline being constructed in Minnesota. Workers found a strange reptilian cat creature deep in the water. There are Null Mysteriis agents who are working with the pipeline’s scientists so they can dissect and study the small reptilian lynxes. The hunters have captured it and misidentified it as an adult, but it’s actually a baby. Older water lynxes start making their way to the surface looking for the baby and are killing protesters and pipeline workers. Chaos is starting to erupt. Then, Long Night hunters appear to kill off these creatures.
When SWORN hunters enter the scene, they realize this approach will lead to everyone’s destruction if the baby isn’t returned and the others aren’t herded back underground. What other hunters don’t know, is that the creatures’ deaths will awaken the ancient Mishipeshu who will come forth in a moment of Lovecraftian horror that no amount of bullets can stop. SWORN hunters will have to quiet protesters, check the hubris of the Null Mysteriis hunters, calm the blood lust of the Long Night, stop the pipeline, and find a way to appease the ancient underwater panther spirit before it reawakens.
Lastly, every compact has internal strife and SWORN is no different. SWORN, in its present state, could be treated as a proto-conspiracy because it has the potential to grow as time passes. Its inter-tribal identity can be a huge pain as well as a boon for its hunters. Due to all the things Natives have had to endure in the wake of colonialism, there are many places where disagreement arises based on differing people’s idea of what is traditional. Factions within the compact currently embrace a range of approaches to accommodate the needs of the hunt. The focus on urban and inter-tribal/multicultural squads doesn’t fly well with those who want to only defend their communities and seek more homogeneity. Such groups might bar entry or passage to other hunters chasing creatures. It’s easy for groups to get stuck trying to figure out ways to approach a creature, because different tribal stories present different options and clues.
Finally, there is the issue of education. SWORN helps other, non-affiliated groups (including other hunters), deal with cryptids; they are especially strong when helping other cultures reclaim their connection to their own indigenous creatures. For this reason, a SWORN hunter might visit Scotland and Ireland, Central Asia and Siberia, Australia, many African countries and Pacific Islands to carry on the compact’s mission. SWORN hunters have a message that says we’re creating monsters every day with how we treat the world and each other. This, of course, would ruffle the feathers of hunter organizations who might treat this line of thinking as dangerous. Should SWORN continue to organize and become a full-fledged conspiracy, they have the potential to unify indigenous groups across the world creating classifications and processes that exists outside colonizer academics and gate keeping.
I like to imagine that SWORN is out there fighting and teaching, trying to make a better world in the service of the Vigil.
I’m curious to see what people do with this compact. I really hope you all find opportunities to explore the world of Hunter through the eyes of SWORN.
Curious about the new Hunter compact SWORN? Back the Hunter: The Vigil Second Edition Kickstarter  and receive access to exclusive previews of the manuscript.
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URLs in this post:
 Image: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/339646881/hunter-the-vigil-second-edition-tabletop-roleplaying-game
 council-of-fools.com: http://council-of-fools.com
 [HTV2E] Interview with Chris Allen : https://www.flamesrising.com/htv2e-interview-with-chris-allen/
 [HTV2E] Interview with Meghan Fitzgerald : https://www.flamesrising.com/htv2e-interview-with-meghan-fitzgerald/
 [HTV:2E] Interview with Cassandra Khaw : https://www.flamesrising.com/htv2e-interview-with-cassandra-khaw/
 [HTV2E] Deep Dive into Tilts and Conditions with Vera Vartanian : https://www.flamesrising.com/htv2e-deep-dive-into-tilts-and-conditions-with-vera-vartanian/
 Hunter the Vigil Second Edition Kickstarter Launch and Mysterious Places Interview! : https://www.flamesrising.com/htv2e-kickstarter-interview-mysterious-places/
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