How to Hunt
For as long as Humans and even Wyvernians can remember, every biome; every environment; every nook and cranny of the world has been filled with many powerful beasts of countless variety. Some are ready prey for anyone (or anything) strong or clever enough to fell them, but many more are just as likely to kill or, in rare cases, even feast upon the civilized races. Only a relative few are benign enough to be considered mere pests, but even these are capable of maiming or even bringing down an able-bodied adult. All of these are collectively called Monsters.
Ever intruders in the monsters’ lands, the civilized races have devised means by which to protect themselves, gather food, and advance their own lineage. Thus was born the art of the Hunt. None can guess its origins, as it was likely invented as a matter of course and long before recorded history, but it is generally accepted that the Wyvernians were the first to perfect the skills relating to tracking a monster, felling it as a group, and using its own flesh to create arms and armors worthy of greater challenges (and better defenses). They, in turn, taught these skills to Humans, whom flourished far beyond what the older races could possibly anticipate. Mercifully, the Humans were as quick to share their wealth as they were to expand, never forgetting the debt owed to their tutors. As they developed larger civilizations and formed actual economies, they taught commerce and trade to the Wyvernians and any else that cared to learn. Thus, these two races, more than any others, formed a friendly and symbiotic relationship that stands testament to this day.
All is not well; though advances have been great, monsters still rule the land. Civilizations are rarely destroyed outright anymore, but the invading races are yet on the defensive. Small harbors and villages are usually safe enough in their own niches, but they lack any real defensive capability and usually resort to total evacuation if a threat cannot be averted. The largest cities, practically city-states in their own right, have near-constant patrols outside their borders and even great monsters are deterred with fair frequency, but monsters do not give up territory easily, and defending a growing city becomes exponentially more difficult. As such, there will always be a need for brave, tough, and wily hunters of every race and creed.
In modern times, The Guild manages most of the hunting, patrols, and other jobs relating to monsters. They also take requests for mundane tasks from the settlements in which they are stationed. Every city, village, harbor, and hub has a Guild outpost, if not an embassy. Any hunter, whether alone or as part of a group, can visit these structures and request a job.
For hunters, there are four main types of jobs: Hunt, Capture, Gather, and Defend. Any job relating directly to monsters is also called a Quest (i.e. a Capture Quest); Hunt, Capture, and Defend are almost always quests. It is accepted, even encouraged, to try to capture a monster during a Hunt quest (since it is easier to “walk” the beasts back than to drag them), but only Capture quests actually require that the monster stay alive to complete the job. In general, capturing pays better than slaying since it is more difficult (and provides a benefit to The Guild, which makes it mutual).
There is usually a fair selection of tasks and quests available at any given outpost, within the variance accorded to the size of the settlement. Compensation is relative to the anticipated challenge and risk of the task, as well as the location; capturing a live Sand Barioth in the middle of the Great Desert pays considerably better than slaying a half-dozen Ludroths off the coast of the Deserted Island, and even that pays better than collecting mushrooms (unless said mushrooms happen to only grow around the rim of an active volcano). The difficulty of a job is rated with stars, with one star (☆) being relatively trivial and nine stars (★★★) being a Herculean task only fit for the greatest of hunters. For legibility, hollow stars are used for singles and solid stars are used for triplets (with the mnemonic explanation that three simple stars combine to “fill up” into a complete star).
Occasionally, when The Guild has a task it needs done immediately, it is posted as Urgent within the closest outposts and comes with an even greater reward. These tasks are always ranked, conservatively high if necessary, and no hunter groups of that rank or higher may take a job until the Urgent . This is to ensure important matters are dealt with as soon as possible.
One a job is selected, each hunter pays a small administration fee to be officially assigned; Urgent quests never come with a fee. Hunters will usually have a good meal before embarking on their tasks, which fills them with energy and can even help protect them or enhance their abilities. Any job, even Urgent ones, can be dropped after it has been assigned, with no penalty, but The Guild keeps the fee so this is uncommon. A job can also be abandoned while in process if the hunters feel they are inadequate for the task, again with no refund, but this carries some stigma.
During a quest, hunters are free to gather resources for their own use, such as plants, fungi, and minerals. They can also collect certain items The Guild specifically wants, referred to generally as Account Items. If a hunter encounters an account item (which changes from area to area) and brings it back to the red supply box, The Guild collects it and gives the hunter a small cash reward for their troubles. These items are then taken to the market and sold for higher prices. Although this may seem unfair to the hunter, many hunters simply do not have the time to run a market endeavor and are more than happy with The Guild’s way of doing business. Account items are usually luxury items, ranging from delicacies to precious metals and rare stones; each territory has a list of local account items.
Hunters are paid in full only when the task is complete. They are free to keep any materials they’ve gather during the course of the task (except for what was specifically requested in the case of a Gathering job), as well as anything carved from monsters. Apart from Zeni, hunters are also compensated with either goods or monster parts. Though not explicitly written, it is well-established tradition that hunters receive more goods or parts for breaking a monster’s toughest bits before hand-off, which generally makes any work on the body itself easier. On the other hand, if specific parts are requested, The Guild pays more for particularly undamaged and well-preserved samples.
Unexplored wilderness aside, there are certain areas that are flagged as viable for freehunting. In this case, any hunter may, at any time, go out into these areas and hunt monsters independent of any Guild sanction. Each freehunt area is assigned to a nearby village or city, and a local representative will compensate hunters with resources and goods (rather than money) if they turn in their kills or captures. As usual, captures are worth more than kills and “tenderizing” is rewarded.