Life and death, a balance must be struck.
Whether they be found in the forests, the mountain ranges of the north or out in the swampy fens, the balance of life and death is something every Hunter is taught from a young age. Their sacred duty is to maintain this balance, ensuring there is enough for their village when times are hard and that greed does not anger the Animal Spirits when there is plenty.
The life of the Hunter is not a simple one. It comes with the responsibility of protecting their community not only through hunting and gathering but also by watching for threats from within and without. Where a fool would incur the wrath of the Gods, the greedy watch others toil or family is risked for personal glory a Hunter is expected to act.
- Base Hit Points: 3
- Iconic Weapon: Bow
- Can use Short & One-Handed weapons, and bucklers
- Can Sacrifice to gain favour.
Amongst the Albanni only the Hunters have mastered the art of the bow and arrow. It is seen as a tool for survival, a prized possession and a weapon to only be used in the direst of situations. Hunters preserve for themselves the specific skill of making bows and arrows; knowing which woods to use, which feathers to seek for the flights, and how to set them.
The Hunters of a village will have their own specific style of making bows and arrows, and often cannot find the way to use tools that have been made to different skillsets.
This prohibition provides an in-character reason for Hunters not using arrows that are not their own village/groups - if they are not made and flecthed in the way the Hunter is familiar with then they will not fly true.
Hunters often name their bows, and for one to be lost or broken can be a tragedy as great as a death in the family.
Sacrifice to the Spirits and the Gods
Only Hunters may make sacrifice to the Powers, and to whom they make offering and how often is their own affair. It is the Hunter's discretion how much of their hunt they return to their village and how much they offer to the Gods and the Spirits - and to which - to try and gain favour for their community. Druids and Shamans will try and guide the Hunters as to the will of the great powers, but the decisions as to what is sacrificed, and to whom, are theirs alone.
Nor are beasts of the field and sea the only offerings that Hunters can make. Supernatural creatures are a mighty offering - all the more so if they are sacred to one god and sacrificed to another. Human sacrifice is a part of the Albanni culture - traditionally conducted through a hunt - and both the Gods and the Spirits accept those who are sacrificed and are worthy.
Beware, though, sacrificing criminals or the worthless, for oftentimes that causes more harm than good. No god wants a destitute criminal at their feasting table, and will take a dim view of a Hunter who offers such sacrifice.
In order to make sacrifice to the gods, a Hunter needs to create a Totem. This is a representation of the thing to be sacrificed - a carved wooden statuette, a corn doll, a straw figure, a small doll or puppet. Some Hunters even take a piece of their kill to use as a totem; among some communities, a severed human head is used as a totem for the sacrifice of the head's previous owner.
Hunters are taught as part of their secret arts how to weave the spirit of the kill into the chosen totem. Each Hunter has their own style of making Totems - and will often prepare some in advance that a kill can be tied to quickly. Others may make the prearation of a Totem after a kill a personal ritual - complex or simple, at the Hunter's whim.
When a Hunter kills a creature of significant power or mystery, the creature will have a Sacrifice Token attached to it. (This is self-reinforcing - if you kill something and it does not have a sacrifice token, it wasn't that big a deal to begin with. If it does, it's a being of power and mystery. What the Gods and Spirits value may not always be obvious.)
The Hunter claiming the kill should check with the creature's phys rep for the sacrifice token. At the Hunter's discretion, this can then be attached to a Totem the Hunter has prepared.
It is also possible that some items - mystical weapons, magical plants, sacred things - might also have sacrifice tokens. The rules for them are the same - if the item is destroyed, the sacrifice token can be attached to a Totem and offered up by the Hunter.
Once the sacrifice token has been connected to the Totem, the Totem is an in-character item charged with the spirit of the sacrifice. Totems can be stolen, but can only ever be offered up by a Hunter. Some Gods and Spirits may have views on offerings from those who have stolen them.
Sacrifice tokens on their own are not in-game items and cannot be meaningfully used, traded or stolen. In order to be an in-character item, to be suitable for sacrifice to the Gods or Spirits, the token needs to be attached to a Totem.
Sacrifice is made in character through a personal ritual of the Hunter's choosing. The totem sacrificed should then be handed in to GOD, with the sacrifice token associated.
It is up to you the player to provide a suitable phys rep for the Totem and attached the relevant sacrifice token to it.
Some Hunters spend their time accumulating such totems, then trade their value to Druids for tales told of their glory before the Keepers, or trade them to warriors or shamans for their services. It is a common sight to see Hunters festooned with talismans in an Albanni encampment.
Unusual Totems and Sacrifices
Some communities offer up sacrifice in great festivals at the turning of the year, and choose a figure from their community to act as the king or queen for a day or a year, only to be sacrificed at the end of their reign. These are powerful offerings, and such a chosen one will acquire a sacrifice token all of their own toward the end of their reign.
Their community, led by their Hunters, will then build a totem of sacrifice - giant wicker figures are not uncommon, but there are other ways - to act as the totem for the chosen one's sacrifice. Such events often bring considerable supernatural benefit to a community.
Equally, sometimes the Gods or the Spirits will mark an Albanni - for good or ill - as of great interest and value to them. Such Albanni will also carry a sacrifice token, and Hunters will often be able to sense such people.
Hunters and Those Who Came Before
Hunters, of all the Albanni, are most likely to come into contact with Those Who Came Before. Sometimes they may even have managed to come to a grudging accomodation or understanding with them - or at least will know their markings and woodsigns, and know where to avoid. When it comes to interceding with Those Who Came Before, Hunters often take the lead, as their weapons do not offer offence the way the metal spears and knives of warriors do.
A Hunter will almost always be at least offered a chance to parley when dealing with Those Who Came Before. How they choose to react to that chance will, of course, become a part of their story too.
Hunters and The Other Place
It is said that Hunters walk with death always, a burden carried alone but one which comes with some advantage. Should a Hunter character be reduced to zero hits in the Other Place they will not suffer the Curse of the Other, even without the protection of the Animal Spirits.
Exploration and the Sacred Landscape
Hunters range widely around their villages, so are more likely than others to understand the local landscape and the likelihood of meeting others. Hunters are also those most likely to be able to locate and identify the lines that run across the landscape of Alba, linking the ancient sacred places of Those Who Came Before.
In the initial games, this skill is present as colour; it will develop further once the main game is underway, and movement between villages becomes more practical.
Thank you for your offer, but I walk my path alone, friend.
- Some Hunters live solitary lives, living off the land, going where the hunt takes them. They live without much human contact, sometimes becoming almost like shamans in their approach to the land. Lone fisherment who dwell on the coasts, or those who hunt the birds high in the mountains may only see other people on the rare occasions they seek out a village to trade or gain access to things they cannot make themselves.
The Prize Seeker
Twenty summers I have sought the Great White Hart, and still it eludes me.
- For some, the life of the Hunter becomes an obsession -the pursuit of a single goal so difficult or epic that it becomes a lifelong quest. These are the hunters who pursue the greatest quarry of all - their own legends. Few, if any, ever survive long their successful conclusion of their great hunt - but to them, that's not what matters. They may be distracted from their goal for a summer or two to participate in another's quest - but evertually they will return to their own.
Five Fomor passed this way not long ago, dragging something behind them. Two were bleeding.
- These are the Hunters who become adept at reading the land and the story it tells - who know of the local inhabitants and their habits, who know when things are out of place or not as they should be. Often the first to know if danger is coming, and often the first line of defence against such dangers. They usually range widely, but return to a community they protect at the end of their hunt.
Beasts are not the only quarry, nor spears the only rightful end
- There are those hunters for whom animal quarry is not sufficient. Though few and far between, these are the ones who seek out those who have fled justice, or offended against law or tradition - or just been unfortunate enough to be on the wrong end of an argument - and bring the disagreement to an end. Travelling from village to village they trade their skills for survival. Often they trade their rite of sacrifice to Druids in need.
This doll was the great bear of the north whom I slew in the dark of the moon. What will you offer me, to sacrifice it to Huntress?
- There are those hunters for whom sacrifice is transactional. They seek out creatures, items and beings of value to the gods and spirits, and bind the spirit of the kill into a totem, which they carry with them. These totems, they then offer up to druids and shamans for favours or payment. Such hunters are often mistrustful of others, for their collections of totems are a tempting target for theft by the greedy - or the desperate.
Do you see the arc of the arrow in the Osprey's flight?
- There are those hunters whose oneness with the land and devotion to the spirits takes them close to the shamans, and they often work closely with shamans, druids or other supernatural entities to pursue their aims. Sometimes they are the mediators between the creatures that live in the forest and the villagers nearby, ensuring they do not come into conflict with one another. These are the Hunters that understand the flow of power across the land, and what can be done to turn it to their community's use.
A Youthful Mistake (A Tale of Alba)
They had been sat in quiet contemplation since the sun went down. In silence the fire light cast dancing shadows on the painted hides adorning the walls of the Shaman’s hut. The young hunter, their head hung low had not said a word since being pushed in by their village as the sun was at its highest.
“A farrow! You took a farrow. It is summer, you have plenty.”
The words broke the young hunter, unleashing a tide of emotions which they could not contain. They looked up sobbing, looking for comfort but found only disdain. The village was in danger, the animal spirits would be displeased, and time was of the essence lest the fury of the Great Boar be brought down upon everyone.
“You are of the age and should know better by now. The shame upon your name will last until the end of time, reckless and foolish you damn us all. What do you have to say for yourself?”
Despite a wobbling lip and puffy eyes the young hunter found the confidence to sit up straight and face the Shaman. Eyes locked, they sat as the young hunter spoke.
“I leave to track the mother I have wronged. By sun and night I will track, taking no food except that which falls upon me, taking no water from stream or river, only that which falls. I will ask mercy for the village and offer my life as recompense.”
A gentle nod of agreement from the Shaman, and the young hunter left the village. Never to return.
To the north, where the Old Lands end, there is a tale told of an ageless young hunter who walks the wilds with a boar. Together always, never apart they walk the forests side by side in silence. In spring the hunter protects her young, in summer they seek out the juiciest apple and offer it as tribute, in autumn they gather in preparation and in winter they feed the boar and her children.