- "The destruction of the major human Kingdoms was inevitable. Within a hundred years, humanity had been thoroughly domesticated. To be sure, there remained some feral humans scattered across the hinterlands, clinging to their hopeless holy war to rid Nosgoth of 'the vampire scourge'. They were tolerated. They made existence for the fledglings more challenging."
The vampire hunters were the warrior class of Nosgoth's remaining humans during the events of Soul Reaver, and distant successors to the Sarafan and Vampire hunters. Dedicated to eliminating the land's now-dominant vampire population, they were headquartered in the northerly City.
During his journey to kill Kain and his former brethren in Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, Raziel could capitalize on his common ground with the hunters; if he spared humans, instead attacking only vampires, the hunters would see him as an avenging angel, worshipping him and assisting him in combat.
- "Far in the eastern mountains, a stifled titan stands in mute surrender - unwilling host to a parasitic swarm."
In the second and third timelines, human vampire hunters existed in Nosgoth's history long before Kain raided the Tomb of the Sarafan, and the vampire race came close to extinction numerous times. However, these efforts largely ended in the era following Blood Omen, when Demons began to break into the Material Realm in increasing numbers following the Collapse of the Pillars. The sole surviving vampire in all of Nosgoth was Kain, and without Moebius to guide their efforts, the mercenary army instead reformed into the demon hunters, becoming more technologically-advanced and elite to cope with their enemies.
Five centuries after his battle with the Dark Entity, Kain "set his capital in the ruins of the Pillars of Nosgoth and began his conquest of the world". Having discovered a means of creating vampires, he raised the Council from the corpses of the Sarafan commanders, heralding a period of rebirth for the vampire race. The vampire hunters rose again in its wake, incorrectly believing that the new vampires were produced by "a poison of the Blood", and "clinging to their hopeless holy war to rid Nosgoth of 'the vampire scourge'", they sought refuge in places such as the Abbey, and conceived a great Cathedral capable of destroying the vampires with a deadly hymn.
Regardless, Kain's empire quickly grew over the ensuing century, leading to "the destruction of the major human Kingdoms" and the thorough domestication of humanity. Feral human vampire hunters remained in Nosgoth's hinterlands, and were tolerated - Raziel reasoned that "they made existence for the fledglings more challenging". Two thousand years after the Pillars' collapse, Raziel returned to Nosgoth following his execution and resurrection. Filled with rage, disgusted that the vampires had devolved into "foul, scuttling beasts" and aggrieved by the apparent destruction of his clan, he resolved to destroy Kain and his own brethren, spurred on by the Elder God.
On his journey, Raziel discovered that the vampire hunters still existed, headquartered in the City. Against the odds, they had managed to infiltrate the Silenced Cathedral conquered by the Zephonim, with one making it as far as Zephon's lair.[Soul Reaver] They had even succeeded in decimating the Dumahim clan, killing Dumah in a surprise attack on Ash Village. Despite these victories, they were forced to contend with sacrificial kidnappings from the Vampire worshippers loyal to Kain, led by the Priestess.[Soul Reaver comic]
What ultimately became of the vampire hunters beyond the events of Soul Reaver is as yet uncertain, but Moebius's comments to Raziel regarding the wasteland suggested a bleak future for humanity. However the eventual fate of the human race in Nosgoth is unclear, but Raziel's fight against his former brethren and his killing of all the vampires lieutenants: Melchiah, Zephon, Rahab, Dumah and Turel likely saved the human survivors from extinction.
Multiplayer spin-off Nosgoth featured the predecessors of the Vampire Hunters - known as the "Hunters" or "the Ironguard" - as a playable class, with some of the skins apparently inspired by the look of the Soul Reaver classes and the symbol of the faction heavily borrowing from that of the Human Citadel.[NOS]
Background materials illustrated that the hunters originated from the Vampire hunters mentioned in the background story to Soul Reaver that were driven from the heartlands in Kain's conquest of Nosgoth. Originally a tribal culture centred in the areas of the Iron Pass and the town of Valeholm the town had pursued a policy of neutrality in the rise of Kain's empire and when the vampires wiped out the population of the area. The few that survived had been driven from the heartlands and had carved out an existence in the hinterlands of the empire, taking the name the Ironguard to memorialize the fallen of the Iron Pass and continuing a vain "holy war" against the vampire scourge.[Soul Reaver manual (UK)][Soul Reaver manual (US)][NOS]
Membership and forces
The vampire hunters were encountered only in Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, where they were divided into two classes:
- Hunters armed with crossbows, capable of wounding opponents from afar with heavy, impaling bolts.
- Hunters armed with primitive flamethrowers, whose weapons were devastating but only potent at a short range.
Vampire hunters could be encountered in the Necropolis and the Silenced Cathedral, but they were by far most prevalent in the City, particularly in and around the Water Glyph Altar.[Soul Reaver] Though Raziel could not typically wield crossbows or flamethrowers dropped by slain vampire hunters, he made use of the fire stemming from a dead hunter's flamethrower to kill Zephon.
In the Necropolis, it was compulsory for Raziel to encounter a crossbow-wielding vampire hunter, who attacked him indiscriminately; if Raziel retaliated against him, all vampire hunters in the entire game became irrevocably hostile, and villagers would flee from him in terror. On the other hand, if Raziel ignored this hunter and proceeded to the next area without harming him, any subsequently-encountered villagers and vampire hunters would bow down to Raziel as a messiah, assisting him in combat against vampires and allowing him to sip at their souls for health.[Soul Reaver]
However, if Raziel harmed or killed any non-combative humans or vampire hunters after this point, the faction would turn permanently hostile. Harming the vampire-worshipping Novitiates and Adepts had no effect on Raziel's reputation with other humans, and he could freely cast the Water Glyph or Sunlight Glyph around his allies without fearing their retribution.[Soul Reaver]
Arnold Ayala's early concept artworks for Shifter, the predecessor project to Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, depict two Steampunk-stylised, human-like characters labeled "Forsaken" and "Hunter", armed with various weapons and equipment. On both pieces, the words "Material Form" are scribbled in, suggesting that at some point it was considered that the vampire hunters would be able to shift into the Spectral Realm.
The vampire hunters may have played a larger role in the original game design; levels and extended sections in the City's Undercity and Temple, Turel's Clan Territory, Kain's Mountain Retreat and the Silenced Cathedral were cut from the project due to time constraints. Considering that all of this content concerns the elimination of Nosgoth's vampires and vampire worshippers, it is probable that hunters would have appeared in some of these levels to help or hinder Raziel.
Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver artist Daniel Cabuco released the texture layout map for the game's vampire hunters on his online portfolio. He explains: "I create the layout by rendering out the wireframe, and painting over it, then cutting each texture into individual 32x32 or 64x64 textures to be compressed into 4bit textures. Using this methodology, I was able to cram a ton of detail into the PS1. Yes. It was a big pain to do, but the results were worth it in the end".
- It is possible that the "poison of the blood" the vampire hunters believed vampires suffered from was inspired by the plague, a fatal Blood-tainting disease which struck Nosgoth in the events of Blood Omen. Kain was immune to its effects as a vampire. The City is located geographically close to the area formerly occupied by Coorhagen, Kain's home city, which was devastated by the plague in that period.
- Although the major events of Raziel's quest were never altered by paradoxes, it is unclear whether or not the history and role of the vampire hunters as established in Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver was palpably affected or changed by the second paradox or the third paradox, both of which occurred in Soul Reaver 2. The events surrounding Vorador's resurrection, the new vampire race and Kain's vampire army, and the Hylden Lord's reformation of the Sarafan and introduction of glyph magic may have had very significant effects on the more modern vampire hunters' culture and proficiency, but since the Soul Reaver era has yet to be revisited in these new timelines, it cannot be confirmed whether this was the case.
- Raziel: "In the time of Vorador, centuries before Kain was made, the Sarafan warrior priests waged a merciless war against the vampire tribes of Nosgoth. Emboldened by righteousness, they committed unspeakable and indiscriminate acts of violence - massacring fledglings and ancients alike, they decimated entire bloodlines in mere decades. Now their husks lay here - murderers enshrined." Crystal Dynamics. Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. (Eidos Interactive). PlayStation. (August 16, 1999) Transcript.
- Moebius: "Yes, but the glorious days of the Sarafan have long since passed, I'm afraid. This is a more... cynical and indecorous age. My mercenary army now inhabits this stronghold - we strive to honor the memory of the Sarafan with our own humble crusade." Crystal Dynamics. Soul Reaver 2. (Eidos Interactive). PlayStation 2. (October 31, 2001) Transcript.
- Kain: "Thirty years hence, I am presented with a dilemma - let's call it a two-sided coin. If the coin falls one way, I sacrifice myself and thus restore the Pillars. But as the last surviving vampire in Nosgoth, this would mean the annihilation of our species. Moebius made sure of that. If the coin lands on the reverse, I refuse the sacrifice and thus doom the Pillars to an eternity of collapse. Either way, the game is rigged." Crystal Dynamics. Soul Reaver 2. (Eidos Interactive). PlayStation 2. (October 31, 2001) Transcript.
- Moebius: "You spared Kain! And by doing so, you have released a multitude of horrors upon this world. I can accept that Kain has murdered me, Raziel. As the Time Guardian, I foresaw that incident long before it occurred. And I take some small comfort in the fact that Kain remains the sole survivor of his vile breed. But you have single-handedly made my sacrifice meaningless." Crystal Dynamics. Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2. (Eidos Interactive). PlayStation 2. (October 31, 2001) Transcript.
- ~With the vampire threat exterminated, Moebius's mercenary army evolved and turned their attention to the Demons now menacing Nosgoth. These Hunters are more skilled and aggressive than their ancestors.~ Crystal Dynamics. Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2 manual. (Eidos Interactive). (October 31, 2001) Download.
- Soul Reaver: Background Story at Dark Chronicle (by Ardeth Silvereni)
- Elder God: "Yes, Raziel - you were Sarafan... born of the same force that all but destroyed your race. Before the dawn of the Empire, you were chosen. Kain - Nosgoth’s solitary, self-declared monarch - plundered this tomb and raised you from these crypts. Breathing his vampiric gift into your defiled corpses, he resurrected you as his favored sons." Crystal Dynamics. Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. (Eidos Interactive). PlayStation. (August 16, 1999) Transcript.
- Elder God: "Once a sanctuary against the vampire menace, this abbey has been drowned by the deluge spilling from this wounded land. Your brother Rahab and his brood, devastated even by the feeble rays of Nosgoth’s sun, overcame their vulnerability to water and retreated from the surface. Now they haunt these ruins, and glide in the darkness of its stagnant depths." Crystal Dynamics. Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. (Eidos Interactive). PlayStation. (August 16, 1999) Transcript.
- Elder God: "Once a testament to mankind’s defiance of Kain's empire, this towering cathedral now stood derelict, the humans who worshipped here, centuries dead. Its architects conceived this tower as a holy weapon against the vampire menace, a colossal instrument of brass and stone. The cathedral's pipes, once tuned to blast a deadly hymn, now stood silent, and these vacant spaces whistled their impotence." Crystal Dynamics. Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. (Eidos Interactive). PlayStation. (August 16, 1999) Transcript.
- Blood Omen 2 Q&A at GameSpot (by Sam Newman)
- Raziel: "What are these creatures?" // Elder God: "Do you not recognize them? They are the children of your brother, Dumah." // Raziel: "That’s impossible - these foul, scuttling beasts could not be kin of our high blood." // Elder God: "Do you suppose that time stood still for you, Raziel? Much has changed since you passed from the world of men." Crystal Dynamics. Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. (Eidos Interactive). PlayStation. (August 16, 1999) Transcript.
- Raziel: "Utter desolation. My once-proud kin, wiped from this world like excrement from a boot." Crystal Dynamics. Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. (Eidos Interactive). PlayStation. (August 16, 1999) Transcript.
- Elder God: "Redeem yourself. Or if you prefer, avenge yourself. Settle your dispute with Kain. Destroy Him and your brethren. Free their souls and let the wheel of fate churn again. Use your hatred to reave their souls... I can make it possible. Become my soul reaver, my angel of death..." Crystal Dynamics. Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. (Eidos Interactive). PlayStation. (August 16, 1999) Transcript.
- Raziel: "The humans' citadel - its towering walls and deep moats engineered to keep Nosgoth's vampire plague at bay. Though the city was well-fortified against vampires, its human architects hadn't considered a breach by a creature such as myself." Crystal Dynamics. Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. (Eidos Interactive). PlayStation. (August 16, 1999) Transcript.
- Elder God: "It was not Kain, but Dumah's own arrogance that brought the downfall of his clan. These are human weapons, Raziel - believing themselves invincible, Dumah and his offspring failed to see an attack coming from the least likely assailants... Complacent in their arrogance, they were taken by surprise, allowing the human vampire hunters to decimate their ranks with little resistance. The few that escaped have been reduced to scavengers." Crystal Dynamics. Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver. (Eidos Interactive). PlayStation. (August 16, 1999) Transcript.
- ~There is another sub-class of humans, who have adapted to the vampire menace by serving their tormentors and worshipping them as gods. The worshippers fall into two classes: Novitiates, who wield decorative but deadly staves; and Adepts, who use their sacrificial knives as weapons. The worshippers, in their blind allegiance to their vampire masters, will always view Raziel as an enemy and cannot be swayed by Raziel's behavior. The worshippers are an insidious threat to the human population, since they kidnap victims for blood sacrifices. Considering no sacrifice too great, they will also gladly give their own blood, and lives, if necessary, to sustain their vampire masters.~ Crystal Dynamics. Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver manual. (Eidos Interactive). (August 16, 1999) Download.
- Moebius: "I believe you have already endured the wasteland wrought by his terrible, selfish decision. Kain's very existence is a cancer upon this world. As long as he lives, all of Nosgoth is in peril." Crystal Dynamics. Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2. (Eidos Interactive). PlayStation 2. (October 31, 2001) Transcript.
- Moebius: "As Kain clings to his precious seat of power, the Pillars sink into a mire of decay, dragging all of Nosgoth down with them!" Crystal Dynamics. Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver 2. (Eidos Interactive). PlayStation 2. (October 31, 2001) Transcript.
- 'Hunters – Sworn to Exterminate the Vampire Scourge' at the Nosgoth official blog (by George Kelion) (preserved at Tales of Nosgoth/Nosgothic Realm)
- ~The warrior class of Nosgoth's remaining humans have become Vampire Hunters. There are two types: hunters armed with crossbows equipped with heavy, impaling bolts, and hunters armed with primitive flame-throwers. The hunters protect the city, and will venture outside its walls to engage in skirmishes with their vampire enemies.~ Crystal Dynamics. Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver manual. (Eidos Interactive). (August 16, 1999) Download.
- The Deleted Armoury at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln)
- Zephon at Dark Chronicle (by Ardeth Silvereni)
- character concept art << Dogma5150's Blog at Wordpress.com (by Arnold Ayala)
- The Undercity and The Temple at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln)
- The Turelim Clan Territory at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln)
- The Mountain Retreat at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln)
- The Pinnacle of The Silenced Cathedral at The Lost Worlds (by Ben Lincoln)
- VH from SR1 at The Art of Daniel Cabuco (by Daniel Cabuco)
- Kain: "Years ago, word reached us of a strange pestilence that had laid siege to a few remote villages far east. But the rumors failed to prepare us for the horror that was the Plague." Silicon Knights / Crystal Dynamics. Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain. (Crystal Dynamics). PlayStation. (November 15, 1996) Transcript.
- Map at Nosgothic Realm (by Guilherme Coelho, Tenaya and Andrew Fradley)