So right off the bat we need to establish a few things. Firstly, The Obsessive Hunter is a wonderful realization of the idea that “the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” Secondly, this tabletop RPG supplement deals very closely with ideas of paranoia and suspicion. These ideas can get gritty and uncomfortable if you don’t dive into them prepared for what might pop up. And lastly, this supplement is made with D&D in mind, but can easily shift into a system-neutral position. That means that you as either player OR GM will have a little bit of leg work to do if you would like to incorporate it. With all of that said, we’re going to break this review down into three sections: The Developer’s Vision, The Pros, and the Cons.
The Obsessive Hunter is conceptualized and developed by Taylor Lane (@ForestedDepth). They intended the supplement to be a quick-fix for the thematic shortcomings found within the ranger and paladin classes from D&D. Taylor found themselves inspired by the works of one Jesse Ross (Specifically Girl Underground) to create a deeper and more interesting take on the idea of a person obsessed with the destruction of evil. This idea of obsession quickly becomes a slippery slope to the point where the Hunter finds it difficult to draw a line between mortal and monstrosity.
Let’s get one thing straight: I love the themes in this supplement. The idea of becoming the very thing that you’ve sworn to destroy is a fascinating study on how the human psyche deals with self-reflection under stress. This supplement outlines exactly how to build a moral code for your character to follow, and how to adjust your character if they end up breaking from that code in any way. Flavorful themes of denial permeate the later development of characters that decide to follow the path of the Obsessive Hunter.
From a mechanical perspective, The Obsessive Hunter painstakingly builds itself as a unique take on how adventurers can act. While it doesn’t necessarily change many mechanics of D&D to improve the Ranger class, it brings more than enough firepower to carry its own weight. As a system-neutral overlay, it can be applied to just about any setting. Stepping away from fantasy, the idea of obsession (specifically obsession with destroying whatever YOU qualify as evil) runs deep in virtually all environments. Imagine running a game like Monster of the Week, and your character is a grizzled detective who has seen only the worst in humanity. That character fits into this theme just as clearly as a starship captain that sees any new life form as a potential threat to all of the “good” that they have sworn to defend, or an Arthurian Knight whose creed demands he wage a holy war on the godless. Paranoia brings deep, interesting drama wherever it arises, and this supplement helps bring that feeling of distrust to the fore of any character.
If anyone has played D&D 5e for a decent length of time, they probably find that the Ranger class is lacking in a few key areas. Anything that they are good at, other classes do better in some way. The only exception is navigation, which is one of the most difficult parts of any campaign to keep interesting. This means that the Ranger falls into the “not good enough” category with all of the things that they are able to do. The Obsessive Hunter, while thematically brilliant, does not quite do enough to remedy the mechanical deficiencies of the Ranger class. These shortcomings on the mechanical side tend to highlight some of the tougher rules brought to the table with this supplement.
Stepping away from D&D, the mechanical elements introduced byThe Obsessive Hunter are fascinating. However, they are also a lot to keep track of because of how many floating numbers they bring to the equation. While a minor issue, considering how much math already goes into TTRPGs, it should be said that these new elements could clash pretty harshly if you incorporate them as-written into your campaign. Barring an entire party using an Obsessive Hunter archetype, the separate leveling system suggested in the supplement could quickly unbalance the power dynamics of any given party if a GM is not incredibly careful. That being said, I should re-iterate that The Obsessive Hunter would fit well into ANY campaign with some slight tweaking to make it fit into whatever the GM is building.
What Taylor Lane accomplished with The Obsessive Hunter is the realization of a very complex mental state as a TTRPG compatible ruleset. Their creation of this supplement is a solid thematic addition to the world of TTRPGs, and succeeds effortlessly in the realm of character depth. While the supplement does have some mechanical hiccups, they are fairly easily adjusted to allow for seamless integration.
Overall, I love this supplement! It is definitely something that I would like to see at my table, and the long-form ability for character change is intriguing and exciting! If you would like to see The Obsessive Hunter in full so that you can use the supplement yourself, please click the link here to pick up your copy! Be sure to check out the rest of Taylor’s work while you’re there!
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