Hunter-book: Judge Capsule Review by Peter Johansen on 10/08/01
Style: 2 (Needs Work)
Substance: 3 (Average)
A decent message obscured by a frustating layout. Worthwhile only if you really like to play Judges and have a lot of patience.
Product: Hunter-book: Judge
Author: Michael Lee, Mike Mearls, John Snead, and Greg Stolze
Company/Publisher: White Wolf
Line: Hunter: the Reckoning
Page count: 96 pp.
Year published: 2001
Comp copy?: no
Capsule Review by Peter Johansen on 10/08/01
Genre tags: Modern day Horror Espionage Gothic
Hunter Book: Judge is one of the series of creedbooks for the Hunter: the Reckoning game. Specifically, this book deals with, you guessed it, the Judge creed. As a book, it does not particularly stand out in any way, although hard-core Hunter players may find it useful.
One of the first things this book explains is the subtle difference between the Judge and the Visionary creeds. A Judge’s role is to gather information, not just pass judgement on monsters and people. They are the most subtle of the followers of Zeal. Where fools and Avengers rush in, Judges plan their strikes with surgical precision. They go into battle with a strong sense of right and wrong, and they rely heavily on this ideal in their actions. While this might sound like a Visionary, the difference is that Judges act in the present, whereas Visionaries look to the future. Judges are short-term, while Visionaries are long term. This was one of the more useful nuggets of information in the book, since it gave a great deal of clarification on both creeds.
Chapter 1: Hunter Origins
This chapter deals with the concept of the Imbuing (ever get the feeling that White Wolf is scraping the bottom of their thesaurus?) from the Judge point of view. This is not so much as a “how” hunters are imbued, but rather “why”. The chapter is told via three different stories, the first is a young man who suffers a rather sudden imbuing, the second is a warden who watches over captive monsters, the third is a journal of another recently imbued hunter. None of the individual snippets are more than a page long, and since they keep changing back and forth, it’s a pain in the butt to read. White Wolf seems to like this “teaching by example” sort of writing, but I think it’s annoying, especially when multiple stories are mixed together like this.
Chapter 2: The Hunt
This chapter is all about hunting monsters, specifically, it deals with the formulation and execution of battle plans. All the major monster types are covered, including ‘rots’, vampires, sorcerers, and shapeshifters. Any hunter would find this info useful; since a good plan often makes the difference between a good hunter and a dead one. Of course, the information is difficult to dredge out, because it is written in the exact same style as the previous chapter? Is White Wold doing this on purpose just to fill space?
Chapter 3: Hunter Ties
This is the small Judge stereotypes blurb on page 69 of the Hunter core book, expanded into about 9 pages (minus asides and artwork). Same style as before, and still a pain to read. Each writer tells his own opinion from his own point of view, which makes it marginally more relevant. Still, it’s only really useful if you want to get deep into the Judge mindset. (Or have too much free time.)
Chapter 4: Our Future
Now each of the three writers is going to give you his own unique opinion on where the Hunt is going, and what will become of it. They also each deal with how they would organize the Hunt, if all the Hunters across the globe could ever be united together. The same comments as Chapter 3 apply, not a lot of really useful information, and annoying to read.
Chapter 5: New Rules.
Hallelujah. At last, something concrete and applicable. This chapter gives you a few new Archetypes (Natures and/or Demeanors) the lowdown on the three main Judge camps (Liberal, Moderate, and Conservative), new Backgrounds, and a new path of Judgement Edges for your gaming pleasure. Any character would like the new Edges and Backgrounds; Database struck me as particularly useful, especially at high levels. (Hello, Interpol!) There is also a section on surveillance gear and equipment, also quite useful.
Art: Typical White Wolf fare, though the squeamish may wish to avoid page 21, which has a rather gruesome picture of a hunter being ripped in half by a werewolf. I take exception to the heavily combat-oriented artwork in the Hunter line, since it suggests that Hunting is all about combat. Any Hunter that goes into face-to-face combat with a supernatural, especially a werewolf, is likely to lose. Storytellers, *please* encourage your troupe to make a plan, instead of just busting in with guns blazing. It’ll save on the time you spend making new characters.
Overall: While the multiple points of view presented in the book were interesting, reading them was difficult and time consuming. I think that there genuinely is a good message here, if you’re patient enough to sift it out. As with most White Wolf sourcebooks, it’s only really useful if you really like playing that particular creed. Pretty typical White Wolf fare all around.