Friday, July 25, 2014

The King is Dead: Player's Packet Preview - The Wild Hunt

A perfect synthesis of cultures from Brotherhood of the Wolf
from the in-progress players' packet...
The Wild Hunt
Frontiersmen and natives

“The shadow of the blood-drinker darkens the forest.  The People flee toward the sunset, but where will they go when they reach the ocean?  If we are a wolf at bay, if we are the panther treed, if we are a bear in its den, then let us bite and claw and kill.” – Wooden Knife, chief of the Mahikander Cruthin, quoted in Journeys Along the Neuhammer.

Wild Huntsmen live close to Nature.  They see the cycle of life and death and rebirth firsthand.  They know that even the mighty cave bear grows old and dies, torn to pieces by lesser beasts or succumbing at last to illness and age.  They know that the corpse of the bear is consumed by scavengers and rot, picked clean by ravens flies and mold.  The Wild Hunt knows that something must live and die and rot and be reused to truly be part of Nature.
            Vampires are unnatural.  Not only do they resist the cycle of life and death, they kill and consume in violation of need or reason.  Vast swaths of the Mallean countryside are royal forests and aristocratic estates, where hunting is the exclusive sport of the vampire nobility and forbidden to humans.  Instead of allowing their tenants to fill their bellies with rabbit stew or roasted grouse (let alone venison), the vampires reserve the right to slaughter beast and fowl to appease their unnatural lust for violence.  They cannot even derive sustenance from the blood of their kills.
            When the vampires sent their explorers to find new lands to plunder, their unnatural bloodlust infected societies unprepared to fight it.  The island tribes of the azure Caliban Sea devoured each other, leading the Incusans and Malleans to enslave the people of the Dark Continent to work their plantations.  Casual feeding on the Cruthin of North Atlantika led to a plague of savage wendigo that still flares up in deepest winter.  The relentless growth of colonial cities and increased emigration of disenfranchised vampires and dhampyres threatens the tenuous freedom of the hardy colonists who braved the wilderness to live free of the blood tax.  Vampires despoil Nature around the globe, menacing people of many lands, many races.
            The ranks of the Wild Hunt are filled with hunters, trackers, and shamans from many cultures.  Lederhosen-clad Mallean poachers and buckskin-wearing Colonial frontiersmen have turned against the creatures that would be their masters.  Cruthin archers and spear-wielding Südlich have joined together to fight the vampires that would despoil their lands and devour their people.  A multicultural alliance has sprung up in Malleus and the Colonies amongst backwoods folk that the vampires would never even think to see as a threat.
            The eclectic make-up of the Wild Hunt has resulted in martial and hunting techniques and training from many cultures being diffused across the membership.  Most of the society’s shamans are from native cultures, but interest in this spirituality has led some Mallean members to revive reverence for old Gothic and Keltisch forest gods.  Südlich and Cruthin have learned Mallean sharpshooting skills while hand-to-hand fighting styles have been shared and refined across the membership.  They may not have quite the vampire lore of the Bloodstained Blade or the numbers of the Clan O’Nail, but individual Huntsmen are easily amongst the best warriors the rebellion has created.

Archetypes
Feisty poacher, frontiersman sniper, kickboxing shaman, naturalist gone native

Inspiration
  • Brotherhood of the Wolf: Grégoire de Fronsac, Mani
  • The Brothers Grimm: Angelika, Woodsman
  • The Last of the Mohicans (1992): Chingachgook, Hawkeye, Magua, Uncas, Jack Winthrop
  • Van Helsing: Anna Valerious

Benefits of Membership
The craft and traditions of the Wild Hunt have been culled from a dozen different cultures spread across the globe.  That illiterate rabbit-poacher from the tiny hamlet in Gothland has picked up bits and pieces of Lore from the Cruthin and the far jungles of the Dark Continent during his dealings with fellow Hunstmen; he can recognize even obscure and foreign animals and their ways.  The Wild Hunt is home to hunters, shamans, snipers, trackers, and warriors from all over the world, and they have leveraged it to become one of the most paradoxically cosmopolitan of all the secret societies.  Members of the Wild Hunt receive the following bonus skills and Edge:
+1d4 Survival
+1d4 Tracking
Connections (Wild Hunt) Edge.  The Wild Hunt is thinly spread in Malleus.  There are unlikely to be more than a handful of members in any area, but those members are likely to be skilled veterans who have faced death many times.  


Example Characters
Assassin's Creed III concept art
Eagle-Eyed Hunter (Novice)
This Huntsman can see farther and shoot straighter than anyone around.  While he’s equally adept with black powder weapons, he prefers to carry a longbow to stake vampires from a distance.
Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d6, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d6, Notice d6, Shooting d10, Stealth d6, Survival d8, Tracking d8.
Charisma: -2 Pace: 6 Parry: 6 Toughness: 6 (1)
Hindrances: Code of Honor [Major], Illiterate [Minor], Outsider [Minor]
Edges: Alertness, Connections (Wild Hunt), Woodsman.
Gear: axe (Str+d6), buckskins (Armor +1), flint & steel, Gothic long bow (2d6, Range 15/30/60, RoF 1), quiver and 20 arrows, whetstone, 11 reichsmarks in coin and barter.
Assasin's Creed III concept art
Spirit Warrior (Novice)
This Huntswoman communes with the beasts and spirits, mastering the fighting arts of the various cultures that commingle in the Wild Hunt.  While she is a stranger in a strange land, the warrior code of her people will not let her turn a blind eye to the growing reach of the vampires and so she baits the beasts in their lair.
Attributes: Agility d8, Smarts d6, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6
Skills: Fighting d8, Faith d6, Notice d6, Stealth d6, Survival d8, Throwing d6, Tracking d8.
Charisma: -2 Pace: 6 Parry: 6 Toughness: 6 (1)
Hindrances: Code of Honor [Major], Illiterate [Minor], Outsider [Minor]
Edges: Adept, AB: Miracles, Connections (Wild Hunt)
Gear: pair of throwing hatchets (Str+d6, Range 3/6/12, RoF 1), buckskins (Armor +1), war club (Str+d8)
Special Abilities:
Power Points: 10
Powers: beast friend (she speaks to the animals in their own tongue), boost/lower Trait (an animal spirit guides her; may be activated as a free action targeting the caster only).

 

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