I don’t know if you guys got a chance to check out White Wolf’s offering for Free RPG Day, but it was a Hunter: the Vigil introductory scenario, and there was enough in there to get a good idea of what the Hunter game will probably be like, as well as how White Wolf is going about scenario design these days.
It looks like Hunter: the Vigil is going back to the roots of Hunters Hunted, rather than Hunter: the Reckoning. In Hunters Hunted, you were just regular people who hunted monsters. You did so for various reasons, and at most possibly had mild psychic powers, but ultimately you had to use your brains and teamwork to survive. Hunter: the Reckoning, in contrast, had a lot of character options that were freakishly overpowered and a other options that were almost worthless, and not a lot in-between. It was pretty easy to build a Hunter using the Reckoning rules who would never experience any danger from any supernatural. That…basically guaranteed a lack of fun (though I’ve heard the computer game was decent – never played it myself.)
In Hunter: the Vigil, you’re back to being regular mortals built with the basic World of Darkness rules. Instead of super powers, you have two special advantages when facing down the monsters. The first is Tactics – a Tactic is a way that your hunter cell has developed where they work together to augment themselves against supernatural attacks, or to work as an efficient and effective team. The two that the introductory book mentions bolster you against mind control powers and make you a better investigator, respectively. The other thing that you can do as a Hunter is risk Willpower. Instead of spending Willpower, you can risk it, meaning if you succeed you get two Willpower back, but if you fail, the failure is treated as a dramatic failure.
For scenario design, White Wolf seems to be outlining and clearly delineating scenes. Each scene has a rating of Mental, Physical and Social, corresponding to what the scene will focus on and how it will challenge the player-characters. It also has a short introduction and a paragraph of “Storyteller Goals” and another paragraph of “Character Goals”. I like what I’ve seen of the scene design system because it lends itself to a style of storytelling that I think works well with White-Wolf’s games – a kind of semi-cinematic drama. I also like thought going into what the goal of a scene is from the storyteller side and the player side.
Overall, I think Hunter: the Vigil looks promising. Its a return to grittier and more frightening Hunter stories, where you pit cunning and courage against the supernatural powers of creatures of darkness. That’s what I want in a modern-day Hunter game. When it comes out in August, I’ll be looking at getting myself a copy.