The Hunters of London

London is a difficult city to be a hunter.

To be sure, there are plenty of potential targets. The city of seven million is home to a couple of hundred vampires, about the same number of Mages, close to two hundred and fifty Uratha, and - unbeknown to the others - nearly three hundred Changelings, plus a smattering of Changing Breeds, skin-changers, psychics, hedge magicians, and stranger things.

In fact, the leaders of all three Poli in the Temple alliance fear that their respective populations have grown too large, and too potentially visible to the mortal world. The trouble is, none can think of any practical solution to the problem. The Mages have no control over the frequency of Awakenings, nor the Uratha over the birth of new cubs. Only the Kindred have the means to restrict their numbers voluntarily, and doing so unilaterally would weaken them relative, not only to the other two Poli, but to the Exiles and the Invictus Court of the Eagle. The Forsaken, similarly, know that they hold London only because they have the numbers to fight off the Pure; if they were foolish enough to disperse throughout the country, it would be much easier for their mortal enemies to pick them off. Until recent revelations regarding the Bosworth Conspiracy and its allies, the Mages considered themselves to lack serious external enemies of consequence, but they also know that their strength in London, has for centuries, been the primary restraining influence on the worst excesses of the Kindred and, to some extent, even the Uratha. As the most "human" of the Poli, they are also the least worried about inadvertently giving themselves away, and the most concerned that a slip by one of the other two will reveal the existence of the shadow world and expose the Mages indirectly. And so they elect to concentrate their strength in the city,, despite the potential pitfalls.

As for the Changelings, their primary fear is discovery by the Gentry, their secondary one the risk of revealing themselves to the members of the Temple alliance. Mortals come a distant third, but the measures taken by the lost to conceal themselves from supernatural discovery have the side-effect of keeping them under the radar of the mortal world as well.

Yet despite the precariousness of the status quo, hunters are rarely successful in London, at least for long. The primary reason is that, precisely because they're aware that the status quo is precarious, London's shadow communities police themselves carefully and guard their secrecy jealously. The very fact that hunters are a threat to all three Poli means that the Temple is particularly united and effective in co-operating against them. This doesn't always mean slash-and-burn campaigns to wipe them out; in fact, it usually doesn't. The most common method of dealing with first-tier hunter groups is to engineer a spectacular "victory" that leads them to believe that the threat they're pursuing is over and they can now disband, their work done. Young Invictus coteries compete to engineer such deceptions as part of the Covenant's traditional game of "Hoax". When minor-league hunters stumble onto Mage or (less frequently) Kindred or Uratha indiscretions, some Guardians of the Veil cabals have taken to creating fictional evil masterminds and conspiracies that are supposedly to blame. The practice is known, informally, as "stroking the pussy", in homage to the character of Ernst Stavro Blofeld. The final phase, in which the hunters achieve a suitably cinematic triumph, is known as "taking a swim with the piranhas" for the same reason. The tactic occasionally backfires, as hunters emboldened by their "triumph" seek out fresh challenges, but more often than not, it works perfectly.

More experienced hunter organisations aren't so easily fooled, of course. To deal with them, the three Poli adopt a range of strategies - misdirection, blackmail, financial pressure, murder, even recruitment. Over the decades, they've become very adept at knowing what does and doesn't work in a given situation.

As a result, they've become complacent and overconfident, sure that they're able to handle any threat that might arise. Their assurance was shaken recently when they discovered the existence of Wayland's Smithy, an entire hunter conspiracy which had managed to escape their notice since the First World War, but they retain a tendency to discount the threat which mortal hunters represent.