I'm in a group who's been playing Hunter for the past few months. We rotate Storytellers - ideally having two session stories per ST at a time. I'd been running WoD games for most of the past four years, so I decided to take a break. I love the WoD, but lately I just couldn't work up the same enthusiasm for it I used to have.
However, between writing some posts on Horror for this blog, reading posts on horror in gaming on other blogs (scroll back through my blog and read others comments - a few link to what they've written on their blogs and it's all very good), and reading a mountain of H.P. Lovecraft I felt inspired to try running Hunter.
Before I get into the story I'll briefly explain the participants in my group:
We have two members of the Aegis Kai Doru. One is a cop and the other a new age/used bookstore owner. We have a member of the Lucifuge. I'm fairly certain he does something illegal for his trade, but I don't recall what this is. We have a member of the Cheiron Group (not present for this session), and my own character, a doctor for the Null Mysteriis (my character was not present). The group lives within the city of Miami, and we use the bookstore as our unofficial base.
It started with them waking up in a dilapidated hotel room. The furniture was from eras past, the wallpaper peeling off the walls, the smell of mold prevalent, the wood floors swollen from water damage. They all had headaches, their eyes stung, and there was a metallic taste in their mouths. In the room with them is a briefcase, open, with a note from a man named Atticus which stated something like:
I couldn't sleep after what we saw them doing at the Monolith. I'm going back out there with gun and relic. If I'm not back by noon something has gone wrong.
postscript: I went to the cafe and the waitress had the same symbols on her wrists that the sheriff did. The cafe was crowded for 4am, otherwise I would have confronted her.
Underneath this note was The Testimony of Lester Ford. This was the partial transcript of a former resident of Fallow's Glade (the group's current location) and his dark memories there of the town's people, a sacrifice they made in the past, and one they were all too willing to make again. He mentions A Toby Smyth in the present reviving in the old ways as well as his ancestor Ogden Smyth. He also mentioned horrible creatures that came out of the swamps. Both of these documents I wrote and printed out in real life to use as props. Some of my favorite horror stories (Dracula, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde) are epistolary, or are in part, and this to me invokes atmosphere in a way that merely describing such documents can't.
The group recalled that they once worked with an Atticus who was also a member of the Aegis. They recalled him coming by the bookstore, desperate for help. They went with him and then there memories blank. The clothing that they are wearing smells awful - as though they'd been in them for days. Also: One of the characters had a message on his phone from my character about a picture he'd sent via his cellphone of a bunch of (recently) dead birds. My character believed these birds to be extinct for at least the past century.
They stepped out into the hall, it was in the same rundown state of their room, but then they saw the wallpaper hang itself back up, the burnt out lights began to shine, and the floor looked fresh and the smell of wood polish rose from the ground. A woman dressed in clothing from several decades ago stepped out of a room from down the hall. She saw one of the Hunters, became terrified, and fled back into her room. They heard her bolt clasp across the door.
Two of the characters (the book seller and cop) went to knock on her door while the other character (Lucifuge) proceeded downstairs. When the bookseller went to knock on the woman's door his fist went right through it. The wallpaper tore and fell around them again and the smell of mold was again over the hall. The door practically collapsed with his knock. Inside they did not find the woman but a grey skinned, slimy creature who's fingers melted like wax into long claws. They fought. The cop took 5 lethal (a lot for a first fight).
The Lucifuge member saw men in a hypnotic state eating breakfast in the lobby (now in a dilapidated condition again). He walked outside, saw their cars were not present, and proceeded to the cafe. He talked with the waitress and received a note, likely from the cook, to go to the old Sears and speak to Toby Smyth (mentioned as the source of brining back the 'old ways' in the Testimony).
The members of the Aegis were shot back into the past again (I say this to briefly summarize. During the campaign I tried as much as possible not to interpret facts for them, but giving them the raw sensory data and leaving it up to them to decide what is happening to them) and they were in the woman's room now. The door was back up and bolted, and she cowered from them. She held up an odd circular symbol to one of them and said in Tallow's name begone. They instantly found themselves back in the dilapidated room.
The Lucifuge character talked to the others via cellphone, learned of their situation and went to a general store to get a first aid kit. The clerk of the store was silent and glared at him the entire time. His fingers were long and had the look of melted wax. On his way back from or to the general store buffalo and mercury head coins began raining from the sky.
They met back up, patched up the Aegis member, and decided to head down to the Sears. In the hall they encountered one of the men who was eating breakfast and he was experiencing great mental pain and wanted out of the town. They found out he was a location scout for Wal-Mart and had no idea why he was in Fallow's Glade. He didn't want to be here, but felt compelled to come. They helped him to his room as they could not leave the town yet.
On the way to Sears, the pot-holed concrete street eroded away to an old brick road, the storefronts looked inhabited (as opposed to mostly empty) and one of the buildings featured the strange emblem the woman had held up in front of the bookseller. They went into this building, though the scene changed to the present day again.
Inside they found a painting of what they guessed correctly to be "The Monolith". A black stone that rose from the ground and had branches that formed into sharp points. The painting looked "vague" as if the Monolith could not be properly captured by the artist. Also in the "church" was a podium with a piece of black stone on it (from the Monolith). The cop, while looking at this had her headache worsen, eyes sting, and a stronger metallic taste came into her mouth. She ran her hand near the stone and found it cut though her eyes did not indicate that she had touched it. She pushed the podium to get it to fall, and it hung in space for a few moments then fell much faster than it should have - cutting down the podium though it seemingly did not touch it. In a shelf on the podium the cop also found a skull. The face of the skull had no holes (for eyes, nose, or mouth) but off the sides long, sharp mandibles/tusks extended.
Inside a back room the bookseller found several old, handwritten journals on a shelf as well as a book on a table entitled The King in Waiting. He opened this up to scan over it, but found himself compelled to read through it. Unable to break away he read for twenty some pages, his eyes beginning to bleed, but then the Lucifuge character snapped the book shut while avoiding eye contact with the book. The book explained rituals that involved 21 ritual killings over twenty one days at the Monolith as well as a disfigurement that must occur there. They left the church then and proceeded to the Sears.
The Sears looked under construction. They went inside and found it dark but lit with flood lamps. The cop disappeared and found herself in the store's past when it was thriving. The other two went forward and found Toby Smyth doing carpentry. They talked briefly. His fingers were long, melted like. He spoke of his "children" which were around them in the Sears - they looked like the creature they shot in the hotel room. He told them where the Monolith was, and said that Atticus had volunteered to be part of his cause. Overall, he seemed unconcerned with the Hunters and they in turn did not attack. The cop reappeared during some point of this conversation and he mentioned that Tallow is a god of time and fortune. To be displaced is a sign of his favor.
They proceeded to the Monolith. The found a large, hideous black rock that caused their headaches to become more intense, metallic taste to come back into their mouth, eyes to sting. They saw 7 shallow graves, and the tail of something slither around the rock. They followed and found the body of a swamp rat and alligator mixed together with the face and hands of Atticus. it attacked and so they killed him. On the way to the Monolith (I said this after they arrived because I forgot) they saw a trail for a junkyard and proceeded there in hopes of finding their SUVs. They did. From Atticus' SUV they took a dufflebag full of dynamite. In the bookseller's they found his shotgun. They took the bookseller's SUV and headed back to the Monolith.
Three creatures leapt out of the swamp. They had some resemblance, but were not identical with, the other creatures they'd already encountered. These flew and hand long arms that did not end in hands but turned to long claws/talons from the elbows. Their arms were very long and extended in ways that the human mind does not anticipate. One grabbed onto the top of the car and clawed in. One flew straight at the car. The other clung to the side. Some damage to the car, and a few shot gun blasts later and they were back at the Monolith. Time had once again changed. Before them a bearded man crouched before the Monolith. The trees of the swamp looked much smaller, younger. The shallow graves were absent. The Lucifuge member shot this man. They used the dynamite to blow up the Monolith.
They road back through the swamp but the road was much harsher - coming in and out of existence. Finally they came back to where the town should have been but found only an empty glade where an old shack stood. They left the area after a brief exploration of the shack which showed only an old, moth eaten blanket and a chamber pot.