Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Compact: The Asculum Consortium

This is the second of the three compacts I came up with for the Hunter LARP I ran some years back. This one's more of an 'antagonistic' organization, in line with the Hunt Club and the Promethean Brotherhood.

As a reminder, this is entirely unofficial and should be considered entirely fan-material unless someone with the authority to do so says otherwise (though I'm 99% sure that by posting it all I'm probably ruling it out as strictly canon, but eh). That said, feel free to swipe, fold, spindle, mutilate, and put to use in your own games.

Also, a note: While this is updated to the Mortal Remains supplement, it also incorporates systems from Compacts and Conspiracies. Neither book is strictly necessary as long as you're at least covered with the Hunter core and the GMC rules update. That said, Mortal Remains is an amazing read. Compacts and Conspiracies has its weak spots, but all in all it also has a lot of interesting and inspiring material.

And here we go:

The Asculum Consortium
The Lost Veterans
This plague is spreading because the vampires lost the ability to keep it out. We need to move fast before those stake-happy idiots get the rest of the city infected.

A concept that defines much of the Vigil is 'retaliation.' Hunters retaliate in response to threats made against their friends and families or even their way of life. For every hunter who wishes simply to protect a place where good people live is someone who wants a necklace of pulled fangs, two for each person who died that night at the hotel or on the bus or at the party.

But retaliation is a two-way street. Vampires can have friends of their own. Werewolves watch their families closely even as they keep their distance. Changelings carefully cultivate a hidden society designed to protect themselves against threats from other worlds. And many of these beings, who are either human in part or remember a time when they were human in full, feel they have every right to avenge themselves when someone bursts into their homes with a warpaint-streaked face and uses a shotgun to remove someone or something close to them.

Every year, a few hunters decide that it's just not worth it when a vampire kills two humans for every lost ghoul or a suddenly-homeless mage frames a hunter for burning his own house down. When someone drops out of the Vigil following an incident like this, it's generally assumed they've retired of that lifestyle. And that assumption is usually correct. But every time a hunter has had enough, there's a chance they might be approached by someone who not only understands but has an answer to the inevitable question of "What next?"

The Asculum Consortium is made up of people who've learned and come to accept that the ongoing conflict between humanity and the supernatural known as the Vigil causes more damage and misery than the supernatural creatures themselves. The thinking goes that most sentient supernatural beings, like the relatively normal people they once were, would prefer to go through life without razing cities to the ground and slaughtering houses full of people. The worst 'monsters,' while capable of causing potentially untold damage, are no fundamentally worse than the worst humans and are no more deserving of being handed reasons to lash out.

They believe that if vampires were allowed the room to be discreet, far fewer people would be drained dry. Fewer werewolves would be provoked to rend humans limb from limb if the humans knew to avoid their spiritual matters. They're all a part of the natural cycle whether anyone likes it or not and should be respected as such. Many hunters compare the Vigil to treating a disease, but forget that an improperly-treated infection stands a good chance of going drug-resistant and killing even more people. The Lost Veterans are hunters who have learned that they can save more lives keeping their former colleagues from making things even worse.

Sidebar: Is Asculum right?
"They're just making things harder on the rest of us" is one of the all-time classic justifications for turning on one's fellow man in times of crisis. Sure, hunters have all but gone out of their way to provoke bloody wars of attrition with supernatural groups. And, more often than not, supernatural response to hunter activity can be described as gratuitous. But does it happen enough to justify a whole compact based on the concept?

That depends on the Storyteller. In your particular vision of the WoD, it's possible that almost all monster-human animosity began with the human side. After all, humans have less innate ability to destroy the world (even detonating a nuclear device is a lot harder than it sounds) so they have less reason to be careful than beings with their own powers. Combine that with typical responses to fear and paranoia, it's not hard to see how a supernatural being can start off as the wronged party.

It's also possible that Asculum, like the Hunt Club (a compact described in World of Darkness: Slasher), has a screwed-up sense of right and wrong. The Lost Veterans may be seeing a problem that isn't there because it gives them a reason to justify accepting money from supernatural beings to hunt down and kneecap (metaphorically or otherwise) other human beings. While they don't think of themselves as hunters any more, and don't really uphold the Vigil (unless one counts those times when they're hired by something to take out something else -- see below), they still hunt what they perceive to be monsters that are threatening humanity with their actions and presence. (It just so happens there's a Merit in Slasher that's appropriate for situations such as this.)

Where the Asculum Consortium sits on the line between 'justified' and 'deluded' will vary depending on the moods and themes of your games and the tastes of your players (especially if the Consortium is available as a choice for player characters).

The Asculum Consortium is named for the site of the historically-famous battle that coined the expression 'pyrrhic victory' in 279 BCE. The compact doesn't claim to go back that far and in fact isn't entirely sure how far back they go. Hunters like them have existed for about as long as the Vigil itself. But one day, possibly as early as the Crusades or as late as the birth of the Chestnut Street Compact, a group of hunters grew tired of seeing their fellows shirking their responsibility for provoking monsters into killing innocent people. Those hunters then approached the monsters that lived in the shadows and forests of their homeland and proposed an alliance to buy time and clemency for innocents in the crossfire.

At first, the weary hunters calling themselves the Lost Veterans bribed the monsters with gifts to compensate them for what they had lost to the hands of hunters. In time, however, the relationship changed: the monsters began actively funding their mortal allies so they would be better prepared to serve as a first line of defense against other hunters. The mortals, now benefitting from the wealth of beings able to turn lead to gold and control banks with but a word, took a cut of this money to supply themselves and put the rest to benefit those who'd been on the receiving end of the Vigil's all-too-common crossfire. This network of supernaturally-derived funds became known as the Asculum Consortium.

Today the Consortium continues to work with vampires and witches and all manner of beings to try and lessen how many people have to suffer in retaliation against those who uphold the Vigil. And they do so for a hefty (but rarely unreasonable) fee. They money they claim these days is funneled into charities and foundations that happen to do a whole lot for the sorts of people who wind up being on the receiving end of supernatural attention.

Some would argue that that's just a way to look at themselves in the mirror. The Lost Veterans stay on the supernaturals' good side by sabotaging other hunters' activities in addition to what essentially amounts to mercenary work for vampires and witches. Some of them go so far as to get hunters killed or forced into retirement while others simply do what they can to discourage (gently or otherwise) other people from taking up the Vigil in the first place. But over half of the compact's membership is made up of hunters who've grown disillusioned with the lifestyle; by the time they reach that point some of their earliest jobs with the compact just happen to let them essentially get paid to bring some closure to old business.

Asculum does provide more services than simply ridding vampires of a 'hunter problem.' Sometimes an issue arises that the local supernaturals simply have trouble handling on their own. Either they can't trust more traditional allies or don't have the favors to cash in to have it dealt with, but it's something that needs to be done. Usually it's a member of their race that has gone completely off the reservation and they need to make sure someone beats the local hunters there (who may trace back the individual's swath of destruction). Sometimes it's a creature that's a genuine threat to life and limb that a witch or vampire has promised to take care of but needs disposable backup. In these cases, Asculum has been known to serve as a very discreet detective/mercenary service to the supernatural community.

Also, on occasion, Asculum is found to have value as an impartial negotiator or third party. Rare is the supernatural being that strictly trusts them, but they are consistent and don't overstep their bounds. They can deliver packages, referee negotiations, or provide emergency backup if things go awry. They try their best to present themselves as reliable as well as respectful of the fact that they're lacking in the power to casually crush or melt a human skull.

Sidebar: Experienced Hunters
Yes, as written the Asculum Consortium is generally made up of hunters who've grown to see the Vigil as part of the problem. In theory, this implies a more experienced hunter than the default. Does this mean they start with extra Experiences?


Some people thrust into the sorts of situations presented in Hunter: The Vigil burn out sooner rather than later (a notion backed up by studies into the nature of post-traumatic stress disorder in soldiers). Also, some people who are successfully dissuaded from taking up a traditional Vigil instead offer to join the Consortium as part of a 'greater good' mentality. Hunters of all levels of experience (and Experience) are present in the compact.

The Enemy

The Asculum Consortium's first priority is and always has been other hunters. They blame other hunters for provoking some beings into action as well as civilian casualties that come about indirectly due to the Vigil. And regardless of the scenario, they're occasionally right. Monsters have ravaged communities to avenge an ally or offspring killed just for being different. Witches have cursed small towns when the people of that town turned on them for some reason or another. And more often than not, a supernatural being was responsible for holding back something much worse until someone blew its head off.

They go out of their way to hunt and kill some of the more obviously-dangerous or extreme hunters. The Hunt Club (see Slasher) and the Promethean Brotherhood (see Witchfinders) are priority targets, as are the nastier Ashwood Abbey cells. The Lost Veterans prefer to simply ruin or disable other hunters, but some folks are just so far gone (in their opinion) that the only thing that holds the Consortium back is sorting out where to put the bodies.

More commonly, Asculum works behind the scenes to undermine the trust that different cells may have in each other or exploit any present paranoia or tension. They may infiltrate the local hunter community or even specific cells in an attempt to make the hunters too busy destroying each other to fight the local supernaturals. If one hunter cell is likely to protect or hide a sympathetic creature and another is likely to destroy it on principle, a common tactic is to arrange for both cells to find out about a potential target (sometimes a volunteer) and pit them against each other. They then swoop in and pull the supernatural creature out of danger while the hunters are busy fighting each other (and sometimes picking off the more hostile ones in the confusion).

That said, Asculum has brought down their share of 'monsters' when it might maintain ties with their supernatural allies. When possible, they tend to keep said contacts in the loop. If the threat is something capable of reason, they'll track it down and bring it to the highest 'friendly' authority that seems relevant to it and let that sort itself out. If it's a mindless, uncontrollable threat to civilians as a whole then they'll at least see what favors they can wrangle for volunteering to deal with it.

They try to learn as much about their supernatural contacts as they can and make it clear that any decision to betray Asculum is a bad one. As a result of information gained through multiple candid interactions, every Asculum cell is likely to have at least one contingency plan to deal with any given supernatural contact. And if two groups of inhuman beings get into a war that drags innocents into the crossfire, they find themselves spurred to either help negotiate a settlement or form a protective buffer between the conflict and bystanders.


You spent a few years in an ongoing war with the vampires that were choking the life out of your town. You were barely able to preserve a status quo, but the leeches just had too much leverage over you to prevent an all-out assault. As a result, your cell limited themselves to picking off the more dangerous targets in ways that were clearly more defensive than offensive. Then another cell, having gotten word of your situation, strolled into town. They took out the vampires' primary feeding hole but at least one leech got away and a few dozen people died in 'gang violence' over the next couple of weeks. It wasn't as hard as you expected to expand your definition of 'dangerous monster.'

The place where you worked wasn't perfect. The building was a little haunted, sure. There were homeless guys who lived in the alley and kept sneaking into the building. But after a bunch of random lunatics came in with silver bullets and killed the homeless guys, the ghosts in the building started breaking things and possessing people. You were one of the survivors approached by someone who understood what happened and wanted to help you put a stop to it.

Your family never questioned your father regarding his mysterious employer. You just knew he had a job he couldn't talk about. It sometimes kept him from home weeks at a time and returned him home pale and occasionally wounded. Over the course of years, he was clearly aging a little slower than your mother. You don't entirely remember the night that the well-armed strangers took the family hostage so your father would lure his employer into a trap. You do remember them breaking all of your sister's fingers and ruining her future as a musician, and you remember them getting impatient and blowing Dad's head off when that wasn't enough. The police never found them, but someone else did and they offered you a chance to pull the trigger.

You've always been a big believer in magic and the occult, and you had no problems accepting it when you found out your neighbor was a wizard. You did have trouble with the people who tried to hurt him for being different. You fell in with a group who occasionally worked with your neighbor and people like him to keep them safe from a world that didn't understand.

You just grew tired. Years hunting monsters, maintaining the Vigil, just left you weary and scarred. You decided that now was the time to try something different: work with the 'monsters' that you weren't going to get rid of anyways, and stick to the things that won't beg for their lives when you and your partners track them down. Now you're in a little better shape financially, the money you bring in makes a difference, and you get some well-earned peace of mind from time to time.


Different hunters come to the compact for different reasons. There's no clear organizational split between different approaches to dealing with hunters and 'monsters' but a few clear philosophies have emerged over the years. While all philosophies are found in roughly equal numbers within the compact, rare is the cell that isn't focused on one particular aspect of their mission.
(For Storytellers using the optional 'subgroup specialty' rules in Compacts and Conspiracies, I've included the specialty that comes with each faction.)
  • For the Militants, the other hunters are getting what's coming to them. They sow fear, misery, and harm others in relentless pursuit of wiping out things that don't really need it. So the Militants take it back on them, sometimes resorting to what can only be referred to as terrorist tactics to convince their targets to back off.
    Free Specialty: Crafts (Traps)
  • Timing is everything for the Interceptors. These members of the Consortium move in after a big supernatural incident and do their best to focus on convincing people not to take up the Vigil in the first place. More often than not they assist in attempts to cover up supernatural activity and make sure witnesses are unable to start asking the 'right' questions to begin hunting.
    Free Specialty: Subterfuge (Cover-ups)
  • The Negotiators focus on the supernatural end of the equation. They're the first to hear about issues with hunters and usually the first approached by beleaguered entities looking for a simpler solution. Sometimes they'll even try reasoning with hunters instead of thwarting them, but with inconsistent results. This sometimes puts them in the sights of beings wary about mortal involvement in their affairs, which leads to them quickly developing strong survival instincts.
    Free Specialty: Politics (pick a relevant supernatural race)


The Asculum Consortium values its members' ability to go that extra mile to protect humankind -- cutting deals with supernatural brings and sabotaging other hunters, mostly. Negotiating an alliance between the Consortium and the local nonhuman political structures earns respect just as much as stepping in to prevent innocent casualties to come from a supernatural civil war. Asculum takes the long view and Lost Veterans who respect that rise quickly through the ranks.

One of the basic rites of passage among the Asculum Consortium is being introduced to one of the compact's supernatural contacts. This person likely isn't anyone of real importance or value to their larger organization but they might have value simply because they're on friendly terms with heavily-armed, morally-questionable individuals. Either way, every Lost Veteran potentially has an 'in' with a supernatural court/coven/government; this is represented by a single dot of the Allies Merit with the group in question.

••• The Consortium is so called because it brings in a fair bit of money from supernatural employers and contacts. A good bit of it is funneled into charities and foundations that happen to benefit people affected by the ongoing war between hunters and the supernatural. The rest, however, goes to help keep Asculum supplied and ready. As one of the people trusted to be part of that money trail, you have access to two additional dots of Resources for the purposes of Asculum's activities. If this would take you above five dots, apply the other dots to any relevant Social Merits.

••••• Your contact book reads like a who's-who of local supernatural activity. You've got access to people and beings that would easily provoke the ire of traditional hunters if they knew. You gain an additional four dots to divide up between Contacts regarding various supernatural information sources and increasing the Allies rating granted by the first dot of Status.

  • Ashwood Abbey-- You sick fuckers, most of these folks are people - dangerous people - and you hunt them for fun? What the hell is wrong with you? Somebody needs to put you out of your misery and make sure your hefty bank accounts go to worthier causes than your liquor cabinet.
  • Network Zero-- Nice job, dumb shit. Thanks to your Youtube crap, nastier versions of the guy you just broadcast across the net can better identify witnesses to mindwipe. Just hope that's all they do.
  • Ascending Ones-- Occasionally you can deal with these guys, as long as they don't realize just who you're after. Play them carefully and they'll make a good source of info and possibly even cash.
  • Cheiron Group-- Just keep in mind that we're talking about a powerful organization that is resistant to traditional supernatural intrusion and has the means to use bits of our monster buddies to make themselves stronger. Either we should assume they'll consider us a threat, or we should be wary of getting caught between them and our assorted allies. Regardless, keep your distance for all of our sakes.

Asculum Consortium Endowment: Accord
Effect: Everyone that's human has wants and needs. So does everyone who used to be human, whether they still think of themselves as such or not. Asculum operatives who know to keep that in mind can make themselves masters of the art of the deal when it comes to inhuman creatures. Lost Veterans tend to rack up a good bit of experience negotiating with supernatural allies, whether it's being contracted out for mercenary work or mediating a dispute. They are also more than aware of just how much better connected some of their allies are and how to borrow some of those resources when they're on the clock.

This Endowment represents a Lost Veteran's ability to get favors and benefits from their dealings with the supernatural. They know how to pitch a request for extra expenses and gain a greater understanding of the situation based on what they're being told and what's being left out. And they can parley their perceived human weaknesses into leverage to get ahold of extra resources.

Negotiating a deal (if representing the process with rolls rather than handling it entirely through role-play) with a supernatural client is an extended action that can be taken once per story. The Lost Veteran uses Manipulation + Politics by default but the Storyteller may substitute alternate Skills based on circumstances. The number of successes required varies depending on the hunter's Accord rating (the hunter may use only part of their rating depending on their needs and the client's ability to provide benefits), with a base number of 5 successes for one dot with an additional +3 for each dot beyond the first invoked. (As an optional benefit, if the supernatural attempts to get a leg up on negotiation through supernatural methods, the Asculum member may receive their Accord rating as bonus dice to resist as if it were a supernatural advantage, as the Consortium trains their members on how to compensate for such bonuses. This could also apply to rolls to resist passive effects like the Disquiet or adds to the value used to determine a mortal's reaction to Unease Sybaris.)

If the character gets the required number of successes, a number of points equal to twice their Accord rating is divided up among the following benefits:
  • Access-- The client can make calls or arrange to give the hunter access to venues that may require special ID or a certain amount of clout to enter. Each point spent on this benefit provides a +1 bonus (max +5) for the rest of the story to any Social rolls required to access the target areas (generally, one area is available per point spent on this benefit) or prove the character belongs there. At the Storyteller's discretion, this bonus may apply to relevant Mental rolls if access requires passing a test of some sort. Bonuses purchased can represent letters of introduction, strings pulled, or even fake IDs.
  • Expenses-- The hunter can benefit from a temporarily-increased ability to throw money around. For the purpose of fulfilling a contract, the hunter can spend his current Resources rating in points to increase it by one for the rest of the story. Additional points can be purchased by paying the increasing cost. The hunter may divert some of these funds towards her own projects, but unless a certain amount of discretionary spending is part of the contract the Lost Veteran may have to make Manipulation + Subterfuge (or similar) rolls to disguise or hide it. This benefit could represent an expense account, an 'on acceptance' payment, or favors cashed in with certain service providers that allow the hunter to stretch his buying dollar.
  • Fine Print-- The hunter can spend one of his Accord points to learn if the supernatural contracting her is hiding anything relevant to the case. A Wits + Politics roll can provide a hint to see what's being hidden, omitted, or simply artfully worded into seeming harmless. Any renegotiation on the character's part is up to her. Alternately, the hunter can pre-emptively declare that she's spending two points to get this warning during the process of negotiation.
    (Note that this may seem like a powerful ability when used against supernatural beings that have powers geared toward being preternatural liars. The Asculum Consortium are generally taught how to compensate for that, but Storytellers are encouraged to show their proper discretion and common sense when adjudicating or allowing this ability's use. And because someone's likely to ask, Unchained Demons should be subject to this too -- just because you always sound like you're telling the truth doesn't necessarily hide the fact that you're omitting certain details, though it could make it easier to explain away.)
  • Influence-- The hunter can piggyback on the clout of the supernatural who's hiring her (when her client is willing to cop to working with mortal mercenaries, at least). For each point spent on this benefit, up to the limit of the hunter's Accord rating, she gains a +1 bonus to Social rolls with supernatural beings who would be impressed or swayed by the influence of the supernatural client.
  • Intel-- Sometimes (but not always), the supernatural patron of the Asculum Consortium knows enough about an intended target to be dangerous and can pass on this information. This provides an edge on any Tactics performed on the target. The hunter can buy up to three bonus dice (one per point spent) that is gained for all secondary actors on such Tactics. The primary actor gains only the bonus afforded by those successes on the secondary rolls, however.
  • Other Favors-- At the Storyteller's discretion, Asculum's Accord skills can be used to finagle other favors out of a supernatural client. The cost and scope of such abilities are up to the individual Storyteller.

(In case it needs to be said, the client needs to be able to actually provide the requested benefits. A lowly peon probably doesn't have the sort of status to grant Influence and if Task Force: VALKYRIE has managed to tie up their cash flow they probably have trouble providing for Expenses.)

Sidebar: Former Conspiracy Members and their Endowments
You may be asking yourself "What about Asculum members who were originally part of a conspiracy?" Good question.

A member of a conspiracy who defects to Asculum may retain their previous Endowments provided they can keep them. The Aegis Kai Doru may, for instance, try to take back their Relics by force. TFV might be able to disable that chip at range. And Cheiron Group, well... they have their own ways of repossessing Endowments. And while the Lucifuge can't take back Castigation, a group with such a limited number of active operatives might not appreciate one of their 666 'slots' tied up by someone who's jumped ship for another hunter group.

At the Storyteller's discretion, a player may create an ex-conspiracy Asculum member holding on to their previous Endowment. It's recommended that such a character have no more than two or three dots of a conspiracy Endowment and by holding on to their previous equipment and training they give up the opportunity to be trained in the compact's more specialized negotiation techniques. In other words, someone could start with a Tier 3 Endowment or access to Accord, but not both.

Either way, a Lost Veteran with access to a Tier 3 Endowment should be for the most part unable to increase their Endowment rating or use abilities to change them like the optional rule for swapping out Advanced Armory Endowments on page 151 of Hunter: The Vigil or the Lucifuge ritual to change Castigations. Such an Endowment is an advantage desperately clung to, not a small part of a larger arsenal. Finally, any Endowments that can run out (any of TFV's special ammunition, for instance) can't be replaced in any sort of realistic fashion and may be deserving of a cost break if someone wants to start with a small cache of them. In the case of a former Ascending One, the Storyteller may allow them to retain the 'recipes' for a few Elixirs and replenish a limited supply.

Of course, this doesn't necessarily apply to a game where a conspiracy member has secretly joined Asculum on the side, paying extra for their Asculum Status dots as appropriate (as per page 73 of Hunter: The Vigil). While they're still considered a member in good standing of their original organization, they still get all of the perks of being one.

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