The Hunt in The Web | World Anvil

The Hunt

Let's go fight some monsters...



The Web is more than a world for fiction. It is also the setting for an RPG. The following article is a work in progress for specific kinds of emergent events that take place during the game. I also used this method to create the primary antagonist of my Kyanite entry: Vacancy, so it works for fiction. just as much.         Emergent events, much like general quests, have different types in the Off The Cuff RPG system. The Hunt is a category of quest and emergent event that focuses on the classic "monster-of-the-week" episode format of many T.V series including X-files, Supernatural, and Buffy, The Vampire Slayer.

The story is designed to be self contained, and can easily be tied into a campaign or stand alone as a hook to attract the characters. The goal of The Hunt is to focus on a single antagonist, usually a monster, and dig into its lore, learn its secrets, and inevitably hunt the monster. The goal is met when the characters deal with the monster, however they are able to do so, successfully completing the event.
 

Running the hunt

Prepare a few potential hunts before you begin okaying the first session, or if you'd like, have you're players assist in building the monster with their dice rolls. On the fly, and connect the dots on the fly.

The hunt comes in 4 stages

The hook
The investigation
The hunt
The confrontation
 
 

The Hook

Every hunt event will have a hook designed to attract the characters. This can come in many forms, but the general idea to add a dose of mystery. The hook will not reveal what the antagonist is, nor will it reveal any clues. The hook is nothing more than an indication that something is happening and further information must be kept secret until the next phase.     Think of the hook as an introduction. In many of the inspirational sources for this type of event, the episode often begins with a random, poor, unfortunate someone ending up the victim of the antagonist. Little more is revealed, and its up to the characters to investigate, and make a conclusion before the climax of the story can be reached.
 
This can be done in three ways:

Direct confrontation

A rare one in the inspirational sources, the direct confrontation is a situation where the characters encounter the antagonist directly, under the same conditions as the narrative method. They cant have too many details, and more importantly, the creature is far stronger than they are. This is where the concept of having a single weakness is most crucial. Anathema not only rewards players with lore that is applicable to the game, it makes the success of the hunt feel just as rewarding.

Narration:


Use a small piece of flash fiction, read by the players, read aloud by the GM, or even a one off where the players get to play as the victim, (my favorite.) This mimics the format of the inspirational sources and can be very effective, especially considering the players have a chance to help the victim escape in a one off.

The Rumor Mill

If time is limited or you simply don't want to use a narrative approach, you have another trope often seen in these stories. It comes in the form of A newspaper article, a strange phone call, or a desperate cry for help. It can be a news broadcast, a tip from an informant, or information based on urban legend. Regardless, the goal is to introduce the characters to the story quickly and immediately engage in the next step. This method varies widely depending on how you use it.
 
 

Gm note: On Using Narrative


The premise is simple. Introduce the antagonist. You never reveal more than needed, and keep the details vague. Never let the victim see the creature. Only hint at it. If the victim survives the encounter, it makes the event more interesting. It's an expectation subversion, and also presents a lot of plot angles to continue the story. Is the antagonist still after the would be victim? If yes, why? Does it feel personally slighted that they escaped?




 
 

The Investigation:

The investigation is dedicated to learning about the antagonist. This involves autopsy reports, research, interviewing NPC's, crime scene analysis, and other elements of Investigation you may deem appropriate. The purpose of this phase is to not only build up the antagonist for a satisfying conclusion, but also add depth and story to the event. The focus of the investigation it's to find predetermined clues. These clues are specific pieces of information that bring the characters closer the next phase. Any piece of information can be considered a clue, but the ones required are specifically designed to explain more about what the antagonist is.

 
 
Clues can be any of the following:
 
  • (+X) Lore/legend: it's possible that the antagonist has been active for some time or at least this kind of antagonist has been active for some time in the area. There may be survivors or other members of the web who have encountered something similar and might be able to shed light as to what the antagonist is. This kind of clue is also able to be obtained from libraries.

  • (+0) Testimonial: if there are eyewitnesses or survivors, information they give is considered a testimonial clue and should only be used to lead the characters to other Clues. The people they are talking to are rarely members of the web and as such they hardly know the most crucial things that need to be remember. Testimonial our best when considered leads that need to be followed up on.

  • (+1) Mode of operation: an operation clue is designed to tell the characters what it is that the antagonist can do and what abilities it may have at its disposal. Autopsy reports an investigation of areas where the creature makes a kill can reveal these clues.

  • (+2) Biological: biological Clues give information as to what kind of antagonist the characters are dealing with and can be a vital clue in there went down exactly what it is they are hunting. For example, a creature that is fungal in nature may leave behind spores whereas an insect like creature maybe leave eggs or perhaps it's when was damaged in the confrontation in the left behind the membranous material. Any biological element left behind can be considered a biological clue.

  • (+3) Habits: similar to the biological clue and the operation clue, a habitual clue reveals information on how the antagonist fits in the natural order if it fits at all. The trail of a body being dragged back to the antagonist Nest or then make an excellent habitual clue. If the antagonist feeds off of its victims, a good habitual clue would be how it does so.

  • (+4) Experimentation: Experiment clues are clues gained through active experiments that the characters hold to find key characteristics of the antagonist. This is the only way to find the anathema for the antagonist if the anathema is unknown. The players must also have a science related skill. The experiment is a TR: 16 mind roll, and if passed, the anathema is revealed. This roll must have a biological clue. The roll can be made many times, but it consumes the biological material in the process, and prevents using it to gain rewards from the university.


The goal is to gather as many clues as possible, usually 3-5. Each clue gives a modifier to the roll at the end of the phase.

 
 

Ending the investigation:

The investigation ends when the characters have successfully gathered enough clues to make a check with a target rating of 20. This check can be bypassed if characters happen to have contact with The Alexandrian University. If they have contact with the university it is a 50/50 coin toss. If heads, the university is able to take the information they have and identify the antagonist, as well as provide more information about it and how to kill it. If tails the university does not have any information on the creature meaning there is either not enough clues, or it is undiscovered. This is up to the GM. If undiscovered, the University will pay handsomely for any information and samples gathered by the characters, and even allow the characters to give the creature its nickname. (they pay double if caught alive...)

Making the check

Depending on the amount of clues gathered, the characters can make a role at any given point, but cannot make additional rolls until at least 2 more clues are gathered should they fail. Generally you want about 3-5 clues gathered before attempting the role. If at any given point your characters roll a natural 20 they solve it and know exactly what it is based on information from a past source. If they roll a one however, the same thing occurs, but in a radically different way. The character suddenly realizes that the antagonist in question is much more than previously thought. The situation becomes a full-on side quest as opposed to an emergent event. It's no longer a hunt, and is now considered a web operation, click here for more information.
 
 

The Hunt

The Hunt is about tracking down the antagonist and is arguably the quickest phase of the event. Using the information they have gathered, the GM can present the players with different ways they can approach the situation. If they have discovered eating habits of the antagonist that can find a way to lure it out, or possibly follow it back to its lair when it takes the bait. They can also attempt to track it based on it's biological elements such as flakes of skin due to molting, or tracks if the characters know what the tracks look like. Characters can also attempt to trap the creature in containment for purposes of doubling rewards from the University. Regardless of the method, the characters should talk among themselves and with their GM about the plan of action so that the GM sets the scene effectively. The GM may require several checks to be made depending on what is the players are trying to do, the GM might choose to withhold the results of those tests until the scene plays out in the final phase.

The goal of this phase is planning. How do the characters intend on handling the hunt itself, and what are they planning to do when they finally meet the antagonist. The GM then goes in to describe the scene leading up to the location of the final phase.
Gm notes: intelligent antagonists Keep in mind is that antagonist capable of higher thought or at the very least planning and ambushing, might end up targeting the players and actively hunting them while they are hunting it. An active antagonist makes for an excellent villain. Even for unintelligent antagonists, let the Body Count rise as the characters are continuing their investigation and hunt. Increase the tension by making it seem like the creature is an active presence. Intelligent antagonists might end up targeting them if they get particularly close to solving the investigation.
 
 

The confrontation:

The confrontation plays out as a standard combat scene with small editions made depending on what the characters have learned. This is not designed to be incredibly challenging scene unless your characters jump in without consideration. Knowledge of weaknesses should give them a distinct advantage, and careful consideration should definitely be rewarded. The confrontation is not just a combat encounter, it's designed to be a payoff for all the hard work put in by the characters. If the players create incredibly good ideas and demonstrate wonderful critical thinking, show them how effective it is in the scene. Depending on what plays out during the hunt, the confrontation will be set up as the finale. The confrontation should not take more than a few rounds.
   
   

Lets Be Bad Guys!

With all of this out of the way, lets make our antagonist. This is based on a series of questions and roll tables.




Antagonist Anatomy

A story is only as good as its villain, and you're villain should be particularly special. You don't want any old ragamuffin beastie to be center stage here. If you're going to do something like a werewolf or a vampire, change it up.
Werewolves are classically allergic to silver right? Not this one. This one is allergic to gold, or maybe its a pack and the alpha is immune to silver, a product of evolution. (we will discuss this later)

Maybe its not a werewolf at all, but a wolf like demon of sorts. Mundane and classical concepts of monsters have their place, but to be fair, if your gonna use a classic, you may as well let it be known. This is our world after all, just slightly different. the monsters are classics here too. It shouldn't take a member of the web long to deduce a classic monster is present.

You can also change things radically, and use classic monsters as inspiration for the monster used. Take The Strain, an excellent TV and book series. The Strain takes a much more biological approach to vampires, making the contagious element that turns one into a vampire a vicious parasite. The body horror of the series is amazing and added new life to a monster that has lacking depth over the past decade.  
 

Anathema

Reward the character's investigation and give them incentive to learn the lore of the monster. The antagonist is dealt double damage, or outright killed by a particular thing. It's kryptonite, if you will.
Dice roll Anathema
1 Normal, no anathema, but no resistances either.
2 Material element/Chemical: anathema is an element on the periodic table like gold or mercury, or a combination of those elements, such as hydro-chloride or sodiumcloride (table salt)
3 Arcane: anathema is based around magic, meaning magical items, legendary weapons, or arcane power is needed to take advantage of the anathema.
4 Metaphysical element: Associated with magic use, but non magic characters have access to them as well, usually in the form of items. Do not use an element your characters can't access.(fire, water, holy/unholy energy, etc.)
5 Conditions: anathema is based on a condition, usually environmental. Heat, cold, time of day, sunlight, time of year. (only be damaged when exposed to moonlight.)
6 Achilles heel: anathema involves dealing damage to a specific area of the body. Zombies needing head trauma for example.

Selection Points


Now to the fun part, at least if your the GM. The GM has 1 Selection point when starting play, and gains one per session. What does it do?

The web is a world that is changing. Natural selection is universal, and the monsters are changing too. For ages, the silver bullet gas worked wonders in culling many forms of monster, but what happens when nature gets a say?

Imagine your daring characters, killing a type of monster with ease, and all it took was a silver bullet to the body. Then suddenly, the GM spends a selection point. Another beast charges at the character, the character is cocky, takes aim, and fires... but the beast keeps coming. They fire another, landing another hit... still nothing happens.

Selection points allow you to buff, alter, or remove any quality on an antagonists stat block. this can be done at anytime, but cannot be done to an antagonist that has been damaged or shown to be normal. Use this sparingly, and try to avoid it until the characters hunt a few normal versions before changing them.

This maximizes the effect and the players will have their power removed for a single fight. (Keep in mind that this is not done to punish the players, or kill the characters.)
Antagonist Category : very basic terms meant to give inspiration.

Dice roll arthropod:
1 Arachnid (spiders, scorpions)
2 Crustacean (crabs, Lobsters)
3 Insect (insects)
4 Trilobita (trilobites)
5 Myriapoda (centipede, milipede)
6 MAD SCIENCE! Reroll and combine the result with another table!
Dice roll Avian: Bird like features
1 Feathered
2 Beaked
3 Bird like claws
4 Winged (flightless or usable)
5 Unique colors/brightly colored
6 MAD SCIENCE! Reroll and combine the result with another table!
Dice roll Mammal
1 Rodent (mice, rats, ETC)
2 Chiroptera (think bats)
3 Primate (Monkeys and such)
4 Canine (dog)
5 Feline (cat)
6 MAD SCIENCE! Reroll and combine the result with another table!
Dice roll Reptile/amphibian
1 Aquatic (includes fish...)
2 Smooth skin/ has scales
3 Venom/toxin
4 Snake like
5 Froglike or salamander
6 MAD SCIENCE! Reroll and combine the result with another table!


 
 
Dice roll Elemental
1 Radioactive
2 Fire
3 Water
4 Electric/digital/AI
5 Gravity
6 MAD SCIENCE! Reroll and combine the result with another table!

 
Dice roll Lithoid
1 Crystaline
2 Living dirt
3 Powder
4 Mineral/Precious gem
5 Metal
6 MAD SCIENCE! Reroll and combine the result with another table!
Dice roll Microbe
1 Bacteria
2 Virus
3 Parasitic organism
4 Vapor (gas) /Liquid
5 General microbe (think waterbears)
6 MAD SCIENCE! Reroll and combine the result with another table!
Dice roll Artificial
1 gelatin
2 Mutant/chimera
3 Homunculus/golem
4 Cybernetic/Digital program/AI
5 Nanite
6 MAD SCIENCE! Reroll and combine the result with another table!
Dice roll Plant/Fungal
1 Stalks or Mushrooms (makes spores)
2 Bright flowers
3 Toxic or acidic fluid
4 Bark skin
5 Seeds
6 MAD SCIENCE! Reroll and combine the result with another table!
Dice roll Behavior
1 Symbiotic: Antagonist is in a symbiotic relationship.
2 Parasitic: Antagonist is parasitic.
3 Hostile: Antagonist is actively hostile. Think wild, or feral
4 Predatory: Antagonist is only hostile when hunting, or when its territory is invaded.
5 Docile: antagonist is only hostile when attacked.
6 Sentient: The antagonist is unpredictable, must be intelligent.
Dice roll Weapons
1 Claws/nails or anything that focuses on smashing.
2 Stinger or some other weapon With a penetrating element.
3 Teeth/bite
4 Projectile (venom, acid, elemental) spit, blood, secretion
5 Mental/psionic/eldritch/arcane
6 MAD SCIENCE! Reroll and combine the results


Mechanics

Antagonist mechanics are isolated to 4 major points.
  • Rating range:Instead of a solid stat block, antagonists in Off The Cuff have a range based on difficulty. This range makes up their target ratings for all five stats. Click here for more.
  • Actions: The antagonist should have a number of actions equal to the number of players minus 1. If more than one antagonist, the amount is divided between them, but they all get one to start.
  • Traits: What actions can the monster take? How does it attack, what abilities does it have?
  • Rudimentary stats: How many attacks, how much damage, and how much HP/SP?
For more info on how to do this for stay tuned for the antagonist cookbook. if not using off the cuff, use the method in your system.                     Number of antagonists Lore and description Habitat/modern analogue


Cover image: by Adobe stock-Manipulation by Dylonishere

Comments

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Oct 31, 2019 17:30 by Grace Gittel Lewis

This is a cool idea! I like the idea of a smaller scale monster hunt/investigation.
 

Gm notes: intelligent antagonists Keep in mind is that antagonist capable...
I'd rewrite this sentence, it reads as if there are two different sentences here that got mixed into one.
 
...a standard combat scene with small editions made depending...
*additions
 
...good as its villain, and you're villain...
  I like that you make suggestions to create more unique monsters here!
 
...the silver bullet gas worked wonders...
  Selection points sound like an interesting way to spice things up!

Oct 31, 2019 17:52 by R. Dylon Elder

Yup! This will be the monster maker for the web once its fully done. Still have a few more tables to add.... I love tables so much. Can you tell?   Also thanks for the typos. That first one is supposed to be a header :/ I done forgot about it.   Selection points were an on the fly way to save a combat scene in the first playtest with my group. Werewolf pack... boring. Suddenly the loaded the silver bullet and shot the alpha, and I thought... hmmmmm. You should have seen their faces.     It immediately made them stop stacking dice and sit on the edge of their seats trying to focus their attacks on it to kill it. It was beautiful.

Oct 31, 2019 17:53 by R. Dylon Elder

And of course, thanks for reading and liking and commenting. I'm glad you enjoyed it! It means alot!

Oct 31, 2019 18:28 by Grace Gittel Lewis

Tables are great! Qet will see more as I lean more into the game mechanics later on...
I've figured out how to set up spreadsheets to roll from lists of items too, gotta beef that up as well!

Oct 31, 2019 21:10 by R. Dylon Elder

O.O teach me dark one! I really otta spruce my rpg stuff. It seems so bland to me. Can't wait to see what you have in store.

Oct 31, 2019 21:29 by Grace Gittel Lewis

Hit me up on discord and I can share the arcane secrets behind it, needs some images so it's easier there than in comments. I'm in the WA discord, currently as "Timeghoul."

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