The World of Bump in the Night
While on the surface, the world of BITN is much like the real one, there are major differences deep beneath the surface of the world.
As monsters are not only real, but unnervingly common, those who have encountered them over the centuries have often taken up arms in the defense of themselves, humanity, their loved ones, or any of a thousand causes. While not all those who do battle against the creatures of the night use the term hunter, it is a common enough catch-all that all those who it could conceivably apply to recognize it as a useful word, if not entirely accurate.
Hunters have operated since the first encounter with the supernatural that a human ever survived, but in the 21st century, they tend to be better equipped, better organized, and more arrogant than ever before.
The term Cooperative was first used among Southern Maryland hunters in the 1940s. It is generally used to refer to any large group of hunters who operate on a moderately organized basis. The rules for what constitutes a Cooperative are vague at best, but they generally are composed of 3 to 30 members operating in one or more autonomous groups known as Posses. All recognized Cooperatives have a unifying Cause which they keep close to their heart. This Cause guides and influences their actions.
In game terms, a Cooperative is a loose organization that a player character may belong to. Membership in a Cooperative is represented by dots in the Rank merit. A character may only belong to one Cooperative, and players are able to create their own Coops with staff assistance.
A group that actively hunts together is generally referred to as a Posse. Posses pull together resources, watch one another's back and generally work together in the furtherance of their Causes. It is not unusual for a Posse to contain members who identify with different Cooperatives. For each mixed-Cooperative Posse that finds themselves torn in too many directions and diluted in purpose, another finds themselves strengthened by the blending of ideas.
In game terms, a Posse is a group of 3-10 or so characters who work together. It also enables the pooling of certain merits. Posse members may combine the following merits: Allies, Esoteric Armory , Library, Retainer, Safe Place, Staff, Stockpile, and Sympathetic Monster. Players may belong to only one Posse.
Other 'Enlightened' Humans
Not everyone who is aware of the supernatural becomes a hunter. Even groups that are involved with and sometimes even combat monsters, can be considered hunters. In general, the various world governments are, in part, aware that there are things out there, even if the knowledge is classified and buried. Various other organizations, such as religious institutions, private corporations, and cults are aware of monsters.
A listing of these organizations can be found here.
In the World of BITN, there are many beings which defy or confound science and logic. While their origins and goals are myriad, the general accepted term for all of them is "monster". This term certainly has a negative connotation, but not all monsters are inherently antagonistic or dangerous to humans. Even some of the most malevolent monsters are no more dangerous than some completely mundane creatures.
Since the 1970s, the bulk of hunters in Southern Maryland utilize the categorization first formalized in the Compendium of Wickedness. These terms double as both In and Out Of Character descriptors.
- Animal - Based on or derived from a natural animal.
- Alien - Creatures that act or appear to be from a planet besides earth
- Construct - Artificial beings or creatures with heavy mechanical augmentation.
- Dead - Animated corpses.
- Demonic - Beings that act or behave like demons.
- Dominating - Creatures that bend the wills of others.
- Ephemeral - Beings without a physical body/form.
- Ghost - Reflections of dead people.
- God-Machine - Agents of the God-Machine.
- Humanoid - Creatures with a human body shape but are definitely NOT human.
- Infiltrating - Creatures that sneak into human society.
- Non-sentient - Beings that are non sapient
- Organized - Creatures which have a developed social system
- Peaceful - Creatures that generally do not engage in physical violence.
- Psychic - Creatures with mental powers.
- Shapeshifter - Creatures that can shift physical form.
- Social - Creatures seek constant interaction with humans.
- Spellcaster - Those that cast spells.
- Spirit - Beings from the Shadow World.
- Undead - The living dead.
- Vampire - Those that feed on the life force (generally blood) of living beings.
The Compendium of Wickedness
The Compendium of Wickedness is a text written by a legendary hunter using the pseudonym D.B. Hellsing in the 1970s. It is a guide and a basis to a great many hunters operating still tonight. While copies once were easy to come by, many of the more detailed portions of the text have been lost to the years, either through neglect, accident, or intentional destruction.
There is an occult machine of such immense complexity and power that it has come to be known as the God-Machine. If it is truly divine is a matter of debate and interpretation. What is not so debatable is its power or existence. The God-Machine exists all over the world (and beyond), strange areas of esoteric machinery and technology hidden in the strangest of places.
Whatever the God-Machine is and what it wants seems to be beyond mortal ken. But it is clear that this sentient computer interferes in human affairs when it must, in order to accomplish whatever its goals may be.
On Bump in the Night, the God-Machine is a present part of the setting, but it is not a driving and significant portion of our overall story. Players and storytellers are free to use it as they see fit. For more information (though not the truth as it exists here), see Chronicles of Darkness, "The God-Machine Chronicle".
Planes of Existence
Beyond the mundane physical world, there are multiple other states of being and planes of existence which can intrude into our own. All of these are dangerous in their own way. Entering any of these planes is dangerous to the sanity of a human, as well as possibly much more.
The Shadow is the realm of Animistic Spirits. It is separated from the physical world by a permeable barrier known as the Gauntlet. The Shadow World is strange, beautiful and terrifying reflection of the physical world. Most learned occultists who are aware of the Shadow realize that it and the physical world have a symbiotic relationship.
It is unclear what happens to people when they die, but it is apparent that Ghosts are real. Not all dead leave ghosts, however, and not all ghosts linger on. Some are drawn or forced to a strange, depressing realm which sometimes accesses the real world. This Underworld is a place where life is not meant to be, but sometimes the living may find themselves there.
Twilight is not a separate plane, but a state of being. It is a place where things in the real world are immaterial. Various types of energies exist in Twilight as ectoplasm, intangible and invisible to anything not made of energy on the same "frequency". Many entities who visit the real world, including Ghosts and Spirits, find themselves forced into Twilight.