Friday, 14 March 2014

Hannibal the Vigil - Cannibals and more in the World of Darkness

Hannibal the Vigil

‘Hannibal’ is a NBC TV series, based upon the novels by Thomas Harris, and focuses on the machinations of the titular cannibal psychiatrist, Hannibal Lector. The series primarily concerns the events derived from the novel ‘Red Dragon’ (though there are plans to have the series run long enough to cover the novels, ‘Silence of the Lambs’ and ‘Hannibal’), and how the FBI and how their cases are interconnected with Dr Lector’s murderous predilection. The series is also concerned with Will Graham, a FBI special investigator, who is a skilled criminal psychologist, but is plagued by his insight into the minds of the killers that he and the FBI team hunt. The series follows an episodic format, with a mix of ‘killer of the week’ stories, plus the events of the main plot unfolding gradually.

Oh hi! Nice to eat you!

Stylistically the series make uses of imaginative scenes and dream sequences, giving us a glimpse into the empathic abilities of Will Graham, along with a more realistic depiction of crime scene analysis, strange and nightmarish murders by serial killers, and of course plenty of allusions to food! The show also makes use of a rather dirge like score, much like a razor on a guitar string, and overall the show has a somewhat cold colour tone, almost as if we are in the cannibal’s freezer.

Will Graham

Will Graham is a former homicide detective, who moved on to being a criminal profiler and teacher due to his inability to fire a gun when required. Will Graham’s hesitation in shooting criminals is more than likely linked to his key ability, his empathy. It is perhaps because of this ability to empathized with people, and even over empathize, he lives alone in his farm house out in the sticks, kept company by his collection of dogs. Teaching fits better with his condition as he is talking at people, rather than to them. Characteristically Will tends to avoid eye contact.
As the series progresses Will’s psychological state begins to deteriorate, as he begins to obsess over the case of  Garret Jacob Hobbs, the Minnesota Shrike. In particular he starts to lose a sense of his own self, identifying more with Hobbs and imagining himself as performing the murderous acts that Hobbs had. This is all perhaps a reaction by Will’s subconscious trying to understand the motivations of Hobb’s copycat, the so called ‘intelligent psychopath’. Will not only suffers from nightmares, but he has hallucinations of a stag, sleepwalks and eventually is placed under so much stress that he will fully blackout and suffer from seizures. In an attempt to keep Will stable, Jack Crawford sends Will for counselling and observation by Dr Lector.

  • Aspirations? Will more than anything wants a simple life, but this is countered by his sense of justice, justice though out of the need to help people.
  • Virtue: Just, Vice: Escapism - Will would rather just walk away from his job even though he knows he can help people.
  • Merits
    • Professional Training 5 - Investigations (empathy, investigation, firearms)
    • Tolerance for Biology - he doesn’t spew on the sight of blood
    • Trained Observer
    • Mind of a Madman - basically what Will Graham suffers.
  • Conditions
    • Fugue - when things gets bad he blacks out! Perhaps he no longer suffers this once he has had treatment for Encephalitis and also has his revelation at the end of the first series.

Alana Bloom

Alana Bloom is a psychological professor, FBI consultant, friend and love interest of Will Graham, and also a former student of Hannibal Lector. Alana is interested in, and cares for Will, but cannot pursue this relationship due to Will’s unstable condition. Alana acts as Abigail Hobb’s psychiatrist.
As the series progresses, her concern for Will, her analysis of Abigail, and her suspicions concerning the Chesapeake Ripper - Abel Gideon - leads her into an increasing amount of conflict with Dr Lector, as she finds his actions and methods questionable.

  • Aspirations? She clearly cares for and wants to look after Will, and perhaps even be able to have a normal relationship with him.
  • Virtues: Protective, Vices: Lust
  • Merits
    • Professional Training 4 - Psychologist (empathy, medicine, science)

Jack Crawford

Jack Crawford is the head of the Behavioral Science Unit at the FBI, and is thus the team leader of the investigative team. Jack has a difficult relationship with his wife, given that both are devoted to their jobs, which in turn has lead to a missed opportunity of having a family. Jack expects the best from his team, and in the case of Will Graham, pushes hard for results, even at the cost of Will’s sanity. Jack’s need for results and solutions culminate in angry outbursts, and tied to this is his need to not lose other people under his charge. In particular Jack is haunted and taunted by the Chesapeake Ripper - whom killed one of Jack’s previous team members - so much so that he would rather have the chance to shoot this killer than bring them in.

  • Aspirations: Find the true Chesapeake Ripper.
  • Virtues: Justice, Vices: Wrath
  • Merits
    • Professional Training 5 - FBI  (Investigation, Firearms, Intimidation)
    • Fighting styles - Firefight and Police Tactics
    • Tolerance for Blood
    • Trained Observer
    • Small units tactics - he is team leader and so knows what to do to coordinate them

Dr Hannibal Lector

Hannibal Lector is our intelligent psychopath. To the public he is psychiatrist, and FBI psychologist. He is of course much more, and is a cannibal and calculating murderer.
Hannibal is an orphan, and was raised by his uncle Robertus, and his aunt, Lady Murasaki. It can be assumed that from his aunt he would have learnt much about her Japanese heritage, including some forms of combat.
Initially Hannibal was not a psychiatrist, but a medical surgeon. However, he claimed that too many people died on his watch one evening in the emergency room, and that the experience led him to become a psychiatrist.
Hannibal is incredibly skilled in social situations, and to those unsuspecting people he is the perfect host, charming, and desirable. This is of course supported by his fine tastes in music, wine, and suits. He is an expert cook, which is not surprising. Hannibal’s fine tastes are of course innately attached to his sense of smell, as he is capable of detecting that a person is suffering from cancer just by scent alone.
Hannibal’s almost chameleon like social abilities allow him to insinuate himself into the FBI team, and through this access he is able to murder using methods similar to other killers. He is the Chesapeake Ripper, he is the copycat of the Minnesota Shrike, he is a black market organ stealer - the list goes on.
Within Will Graham he sees something of a mirror, and perhaps a friend. Will’s empathic abilities are perhaps a means for Hannibal to understand himself. But Will is also an experiment through whom he can create the perfect scapegoat.
While Hannibal of course needs to hide from the authorities his true nature, he is somewhat proud. He hates bad manners, and he hates other killers taking the credit for his kills, going as far as orchestrating the murder of Abel Gideon, the false Chesapeake Ripper. Hannibal of course takes great pleasure in consuming human meat, and also humiliating and mocking the FBI in their attempts to catch him.

We can use ideas from “Slasher” for Hunter the Vigil to construct our slasher. Of course there needs to be some rules changes for the God-Machine Chronicles rules set.

  • What made Hannibal a killer? We just don’t know. In the films he repressed his time with Russian soldiers and their cannibalism of his sister. But in the TV series, it may be something far less concrete. Can we have a supernatural spin on it for a WoD game? Perhaps Hannibal is some sort of vessel, prophet, for some dark entity outside of our realm. Perhaps he is more than aware of the truth of the world and the other monsters within it. Or maybe he is something else, something worse than vampires and werewolves.
  • Hannibal has Aspirations - what are those? Fame, glory, apotheosis?
  • Virtues: Manners, Vices: Pride
  • Merits
    • Professional Training 5 - Psychologist (Investigation, Firearms, Medicine)
    • Fighting Styles - Unarmed, Improvised (Kitchen knives and scalpels?)
    • He obviously care nothing for blood and guts!
    • Indomitable - not even the supernatural will influence him.
    • Encyclopaedic Knowledge.
    • Trained Observer
    • Sleight of Hand - he’s a good thief
    • Language - sigh he knows lots
    • Taste - he knows fine art, fashion etc etc…. what an annoying fucker.
  • Undertaking: Charmer - uses his charisma to control.
    • He uses methods like a Genius though - he plans out a game of cat and mouse, he likes showing how good he is.
    • He gets the Talent - Disarming - which means on success the new person he meets will not hear a bad thing about him, and even goes on to support him and make excuses. The victims lose benefits of Danger Sense and Common Sense, also the victim will get a negative modifier to Initiative when in combat with them - they just can’t believe this person would harm them.
    • He gets a Frailty - Thin Veneer - basically his mask of normally will fall away with a trigger - rudeness in the case of Hannibal.

Freddie Lounds

Fredricka “Freddie” Lounds is a tabloid blogger for a website called She is often coming into conflict or helps the FBI team due to the nature of her job. She has no qualms about printing and sensationalizing stories, all for her own gain. She has a interest in the Minnesota Shrike case, wishing to publish the story of the killer’s daughter, Abigail. She is also distrusting of Will Graham, and considers him a psychopath due to his ability to understand the killers.
Ultimately Freddie is driven by her desire for fame, and this leaves her with questionable morals. But they are still things that make her human compared to the killers she writes about. She will only conspire with the authorities, or killers, if it leads to a better story for her.

  • Aspirations? Book deal, fame, Pulitzer Prize
  • Virtues: Ambitious, Vice: Deceitful
  • Merits
    • Professional Training 2 - Journalist (Expression, Investigation)
    • Library - duh her blog! and more!
    • Fleet of Foot - get the information and leg it!
    • Barfly - she is good at carousing at the local bars for info

Supernatural Hannibal!

In the Hunter the Vigil setting, in the book “Slasher”, the FBI has the group called VASCU - Vanguard Serial Crimes Unit. They know a little of what goes bump in the night, and have seen murderers evolve into almost inhuman killers.Vanguard is different though since every agent is psychic. Which of course would mean a killer like Hannibal would have to have a way to cloud his mind. And being psychic would mean having to deal with the visions seen in a killer’s mind. Will of course would be very powerful, yet unstable. He maybe the result of the Wintergreen Process that unlocks latent powers. Of course the cocktail of drugs is damaging. But maybe he doesn’t need them anymore for his power. Or maybe too much makes a killer. The UK parallel group is Scotland Yard’s Society of 12 Keys.

VASCU keep the Lansing Facility for holding Slashers, the killers that border or have supernatural abilities. It’s a bunker in Colorado.

As for Hannibal we need to ask - just what supernatural benefit would he be getting from eating people? Immortality? Evolution to something beyond human? Seeing spirits and ghosts?

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