...#iHunt is a game about stories. Stories about how people react to utterly fucked circumstances. The characters in #iHunt kill to survive. Not because they’re in a war zone. Not (usually) because someone’s trying to kill them (at least directly). They hunt because they’re broke, and in the gig economy, everyone’s gotta hustle. #iHunters use an app called #iHunt where they take contracts to kill monsters. It’s like Uber, except instead of picking up thirty-somethings who want to save a few bucks on cab fare, you’re stalking and killing terrifying creatures of the night. The idea’s the same—a day job’s just not enough anymore. With mounting healthcare costs and rising rent, sometimes you’ve got to put your health and safety on the line to… have health and safety. You see, in game design, we call this “the core gameplay loop.” It’s the shit you do which is fun, and has consequences and rewards which cause you to go back and do that shit again. But Olivia, you say, “dying from a lack of access to healthcare isn’t fun!” You’re damned right it isn’t. That’s why you kill monsters. You see, we’re taking really awful, heavy shit, and using something totally fantastical and viscerally engaging to talk about that. Sounds pretty deep, right? I want to note that there are currently no tabletop roleplaying game industry awards for “pretentious bullshit talking about social issues using egregious violence.” If you’re reading this and you have any say in tabletop roleplaying game industry awards, I’m just gonna save you the trouble and nominate myself. Thanks all for your support. We couldn’t have done it without you.
People have all sorts of takes on what a roleplaying game or a storytelling game or whatever you want to call this kind of game with pens and paper and dice and shit is. Maybe it’s like Cops and Robbers. Except All Cops Are Bastards, so that’s not a good #iHunt comparison. Maybe it’s like improvisational theater. I move around like a jackass then stop all of a sudden and you have to come up with the next part of the improv machine and... no. That’s not #iHunt. Not really. #iHunt stories are conversations. The whole idea is that you’re telling this story with a group of friends. You’re talking about these characters and all the weird shit going on in their lives, and all the great, not-so-great, awesome, and tragic things they do. The game’s rules are really a way of mediating that conversation, and helping to figure out what comes next when you’re not sure what should happen. Conversations aren’t always fair. Sometimes people get more airtime. Sometimes participants just listen. Sometimes they build on each others’ ideas. Sometimes they just wait for their turn to speak. This game helps the conversation move in the right direction to tell #iHunt stories. Keep it casual and friendly. The point is to have fun and tell cool stories. If it’s stressing you out too much, it’s a shitty conversation.
Millennials, mostly. Haven’t you read all the articles about how they’re killing your favorite fast casual dining restaurant that you haven’t actually eaten at but maybe once in the past two years? Or what about the one where they’re killing the diamond industry? Or the one where they’re killing the travel industry? What you don’t read is the one about how they’re also killing vampires, ghouls, zombies, and werewolves to make ends meet.
What’s a millennial? For these purposes, a millennial was born some time between 1980 and 2005, generally identifies strongly as part of the information age. They’ve never had a job during a time of general economic prosperity. They started working after “the bubble popped.” People with good, comfortable, healthy backgrounds don’t hunt monsters. People from good, safe, wholesome upbringings have faith in institutions. They know they can call for help and someone will answer. The worst shit they have to deal with, they can just sit down with some sheet cake and #selfcare it away. While that might be true most of the time, it’s not true when monsters come out to play. A lot of times, those people stumble upon #iHunt, end up getting together the cash to take out a contract, and calling for the kind of help that can actually stop monsters. But the important thing is, they’re not doing the hunting—their instinct is to look for the hunters. What’s the old Mr. Rogers quote? Look for the helpers? #iHunters are the helpers. Sometimes, just sometimes, a person from a good life can get broken enough to take up the hunt. That happens most often when they experience repeat encounters with the supernatural.
More often than not, it’s people from broken homes that end up hunting monsters. There’s a few reasons. First off, they need cash. Poverty and misfortune isn’t a singular instance or just temporary inconveniences—they’re cyclical. Second off, these people have the tools and adaptability to deal with diverse threats. Maybe a kid off the streets doesn’t know vampires are weak to stakes through the heart, but they know how to handle a scary motherfucker trying to kill them. They just called him “dad.” Third off, they’ve hit bottom. Someone who’s lost everything isn’t afraid to die. They know desperation—and if they’ve lived this long, they’ve been empowered by the results. For many hunters, #iHunt is their first chance to truly take control of their life. It’s not perfect, but it’s a way better paycheck than minimum wage. Think about it like coal mines for millenials. It’s dangerous. It’s fucking deadly. But when that check comes in and you can tell the bank to fuck off for another month, who cares about the bloodstains on your jeans? #iHunt’s about hunting monsters. But it takes an ultra-modern view on the job. Not just “characters have smartphones.” But #iHunt’s world is the late 2010s with all the tense political and economic climates of this era.
Why play #iHunt?
Drama. #iHunt stories are about the struggles the monster hunters face. Sometimes these struggles have fangs. Sometimes they have subpoenas. If you like human drama, #iHunt’s got it. Monster hunters live fiery, fast-paced lives where every second could be their last. This means fast friends, faster enemies, and desperately trying to find comfort and sympathy wherever you can find it. Sometimes on the hunt, it’s any port in a storm. If you like stories about the consequences of choices made in the heat of the moment, #iHunt’s got it. Action. Because violence favors the aggressor, hunters often win. #iHunters aren’t your typical super heroes, they’re not even the typical blue collar heroes. They’re service industry hunters. They bag your fair trade locally-sourced certified organic greens. They also know that if you layer plastic grocery bags three thick and put them over a sorcerer’s head from behind, the sorcerer can’t cast spells. They’re the ultimate underdogs, fighting evil with pocket change, grit, and youth. Humor. #iHunt balances series issues with tongue-in-cheek attitude. Even at their most serious, #iHunt stories are still stories about killing werewolves, zombies, and mummies. No matter how scary you make them, monsters are kind of silly. Even a murderous demigod is worth a chuckle if he speaks with a Transylvanian accent. Besides, these monsters can and will kill you if they get the chance. So a little gallows humor goes a long way.
Stories about poverty
.#iHunt is based on a series of novels that are weird metaphorical stories about poverty, and the way people deal with poverty in the 21st century. You’ve seen the thinkpieces. “Millenials are killing (insert an industry or societal institution)” Millenials are killing casual dining chains. Millenials are killing diamonds. Millenials are killing home ownership. Millenials are killing nuclear families. These stories all come down to declining income, increasing costs, and s society that loves to blame the victims. In #iHunt, your characters take on the mantle of hunters and killers because they have to. Millenials are literally killing; not because they chose to—but because they just don’t have enough opportunity otherwise.
The rules of #iHunt assume characters who need to struggle to get by. Hunting monsters isn’t a career where you put in your 9-5, clock out, then hang up your hat. It’s a lifestyle. It’s dangerous. It’s thankless. Even though you’re doing society a huge favor, you’ll never be recognized for it.
Everything in the previous two paragraphs is awful. It sucks. It’s depressing. And frankly, sometimes you just want to play a game where the underdogs kick a whole lot of ass and save the day. #iHunt also supports this. The idea behind all of #iHunt’s rules is, they’re modular, and “opt-in.” Players have the opportunity to take character traits which let them explore certain aspects of the world, like the struggle to get by in a shit economy. However, you can just as easily play without those more depressing elements. “Kill Monsters—Get Cash” is a perfectly valid #iHunt story if you want it to be, and we’ll provide rules to support that style of play. Also let’s put it out there now: Generally the Players’ characters win. The #iHunters come out on top. Even if they don’t shirk the chains of capitalism, they kick a lot of monster ass and squeeze by with just enough to survive. You can just have fun with that. That’s okay. But this is a dark game. Check >>page 26 for guidance on doing “dark” without being a fucking asshole.
Okay But Monsters?
You’re hunting monsters. Monsters are popular metaphors for all sorts of awful shit in the world. They’re literary devices. In #iHunt we use them for two core reasons:
If we can accept that generally, monsters are awful, then it’s not so bad when we have to kill them for cash. But fighting them is scary because they’re super powered and terrifying. So hunting monsters is kind of like a metaphor for a soul-sucking or dangerous job. Because, well, it is.
If we feel like getting introspective and philosophical, maybe some monsters don’t deserve it, and that means you have to ask yourself why you get to eat and have a home at the expense of innocent lives. That’s like working a job where you know you’re hurting people for your boss, but you have to keep doing it because the alternative is eviction.
Let’s be perfectly clear: Monsters are devices which represent individual transgressions. Monsters can be stand-ins for that asshole that victimized you when you were a kid or a metaphor for that guy that catcalls you on your walk home, but monsters aren’t directly responsible for societal and institutional ills. Hitler wasn’t a wizard—he was a human fucking being and he led a whole bunch of human fucking beings who did atrocious fucking things. When the bank forecloses on your house, it’s not because of an ancient mummy. When elected officials fund brutal right-wing coups to topple democratic governments, it’s not because some vampire was pulling their strings. When cops murder children for having dark skin, that’s not an ancient elder god dreaming beneath the sea—it’s because of a racist culture producing racist enforcers of racist laws.
So that said, what do the monsters really mean? Whatever you want. The thing is, #iHunt is a game about individuals. Tons and tons of individuals. That’s diversity. Some vampires might stand for one thing, while another stands for another thing. Maybe some are mass murderers, while some are girlfriend material. This is important. Super fucking important. Every monster is an individual, but the #iHunt app and its fucked up gig economy micro contracts want you to think of them as blights to be exterminated. It literally dehumanizes the monsters, and wants you to do the same. As far as the #iHunt app and its creators are concerned, it’d be best if every hunter went in, ground the target into dust in the most efficient, unfeeling way possible, and got that five-star review. When it’s just “a vampire,” that’s easy. But when it’s Lisa, and she just had to quit her job at the Carver’s Supercenter because she can’t work during daylight hours and now she’s mugging people in the business district late Saturday nights because she needs blood and cash but she tries really hard to shake down sexual predators... shit gets a lot more complicated, right? #iHunt doesn’t care what her name is, just that you killed her. (Well, and that you took a selfie to confirm the kill. )
Can I Play a Monster?
Yes but not right now. Sometimes #iHunters get infected with lycanthropy. Sometimes they become vampires. It happens. But I haven’t really come up with the rules for how that would work. If this game does really well, I’ll do books where you can do all that. Your best bet if you really want to play a monster is to buy seven copies of this book. One for use at the table. One for saving in pristine condition for when you run across me at a convention so you can net that prize autograph before Netflix gets their heads out of their asses and commissions the #iHunt animated series. One for bathroom reading. Then four to give to all your friends when you’re guilt-tripping them to play a game. Don’t think of it as buying seven copies of the same book in hopes I’ll be able to write supplements. Think of it as a life hack. How does this make you feel? Tell me in three emojis or less in the comments.
Games emulate genres. I could give you this really huge list of shit you could watch, read, listen to, and otherwise consume, consume, consume to better understand how to run #iHunt stories. That’s fucking stupid. We’ve all watched the same shows. You’ve seen Buffy, right? Well, this is like Buffy, except completely different. I’d rather spend these pages telling you what the game actually is. But I’m gonna give you three things to buy, consume, and mold your identity with for profit, so as to better understand #iHunt.
[#iHunt]: The Novels. This game is based on a book series. So gosh, go read it. It gives you a real clear idea of what an #iHunt adventure should be like. But important: Buy multiple copies. Buy one copy for each of your friends, that way you can all read, study, and digest the details of the #iHunt canon. This way you can argue what Lana’s statement on page 162 actually means. Double points if you tell me on the internet how I’m wrong and what I was really trying to say. I love that shit.
I just realized I made a joke about buying multiple copies on the previous page. How crass. But technically this is a different joke since I’m talking about the novels and making a crack about canon arguments.
[Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?], by Mark Fisher. This is a nonfiction book about how we’re stuck up to our chins in capitalism, and the culture of consumption is destroying our ability to say new things with art. It’s about how capitalism is such an all-consuming monster that we can’t even imagine a world outside of it. This is important for #iHunt, because it’s a world where capitalism is scarier than monsters.
We have this agenda with our games. In the first review of our first game, Maschine Zeit, someone said, “Maschine Zeit takes anti - capitalist liberal agenda to new, never before seen heights. By page 30 of the introductory fiction in the beginning of the book, I was convinced that the ghost of Howard Zinn was one of the primary authors. By page 70 I felt like his ghost was taking a cheese grater to my brain. It does not help that the only conservative voices in the introductory fiction are presented as either being corrupt or moronic. A quick note to the authors: please, for the love all that is Holy, tone the rhetoric down a little in your future works!” Yeah we’re not gonna fucking do that.
[Sorry To Bother You], by Boots Riley. This movie is an anticapitalist masterpiece from an utterly amazing hip hop artist. But the reason we recommend it is that it focuses on the alienation of modern capitalism and the lies of the gig economy. It’s a great combination of horror, comedy, and social commentary which really aligns perfectly with what we’re doing in #iHunt.
Now let’s do the nitty gritty shit about the game. This should all be fairly familiar if you’ve played, like, anything. First off, there’s two types of player: Directors and Players. Since they’re both technically players, we considered calling the capital P players Actors. But that sounds a little weird, and we tend to forget. So just remember that while the Director is a player, the Director and Players are two different things. You’re smart. I have faith in you.
The Director is one of the players. Everyone else is a Player. You call them the Director because they do all the shit a Director does in a movie, kind of, because this isn’t a movie. They foster the plot, and keep things moving forward. They describe locations. They describe the consequences of actions. They also play every character that isn’t one of the Players’ #iHunters. This means bit part characters like the GameShop employee that saw a ghost, it means rival #iHunters, it means villains, it means whatever. You can call them “Dungeon Master” if you’re nasty. But only if you’re nasty, because that’s a trademarked term and the owners will complain endlessly if we use their pseudosexual terminology.
So, the Director doesn’t get a full-time protagonist #iHunter character? Then why fucking Direct? The game is called “#iHunt,” not “Do All The Shit Around #iHunt But Not Actually the #iHunt Part.” (Although in retrospect, maybe I should have called it “ Do All The Shit Around #iHunt But Not Actually the #iHunt Part” because then distributors wouldn’t carry my game and I could get a lot of sales based on ginned-up controversy about “censorship.”)
You Direct because it’s fun. It’s fun watching the looks on the Players’ faces when you surprise them, when you embolden them, when you disgust them, and when you make them think. It’s fun jumping from character to character, enjoying new personalities, accents, perspectives, and whatever else. Also you’re necessary, and it’s kind of cool to be needed.
Oh gosh. The header style I used doesn’t differentiate lower case and capital letters. Just presume it uses the capital “Players.” Anyway, Players are players who portray a single protagonist character each. This probably means an #iHunter, or someone in the immediate periphery of #iHunt. They’re in charge of that character’s destiny. They come up with that character’s arc, and they use their awareness and attachment to that character to navigate the Director’s world.
#Home (SRD Home Page)
#Licensing (How To Use #iHunt For Your Own Publication)
#PeopleSkills (Skill Sets)
#TheHustle (Actions and Outcomes)
#TheEdge (The Edge in Play)
#TheFlow (Flow of Play and Directing)
#TheGig (The Hunt and Job Creation)
#TheStreets (Building Setting)
#ThinkPoor (Ruminations on Late Stage Capitalism)
#iHunt (The #iHunt App and Hunting)
#SanJenaro (The "Canon" #iHunt Setting)
#AdvancedClass (Advanced Directing Techniques)
This is #iHunt: The Game. #iHunt: The Game is based on the #iHunt series of novels by Olivia Hill and related San Jenaro novels by Olivia Hill and Filamena Young. #iHunt: The Game was written and designed by Olivia Hill and Filamena Young. #iHunt's visual identity is crafted by Olivia Hill and Francita Soto.
The #iHunt: The Game text on this Systems Resource Document is licensed under a Commons Attribution-Share-Alike-Noncommercial 4.0 license.