The first sign of trouble appeared as a swinging corpse, hung by the neck and mutilated badly. The gibbet appeared in the middle of their settlement without warning, shocking and terrifying the survivors. In that moment of panic and fear the Manhunter arrived.
He strode into the settlement carrying a strange lantern. It cast a piercing light that overpowered the senses of the few who noticed it. The light twisted something inside Zachary, and a maniacal laughter spilled forth from the deepest part of his being, awakening something sadistic inside of him. He beckoned to Allister, Lucy and Erza to join him, and together the four survivors surrounded the strange man.
Three short strides brought the Manhunter nose to nose with Allister. Wordlessly he tried to grapple with Allister, who managed to just elude his crushing grip.
Before they could react, the Manhunter turned and sprinted towards Lucy, swinging languidly at her, missing the mark.
Despite a nagging feeling that the stranger was toying with them, Erza stabbed at the man with her spear, but the point of her weapon bounced harmlessly off of his belt. Her second stab hit home just above the Manhunter's knee, biting into his flesh and causing him obvious pain.
Zachary stepped up directly behind the man, but his blow glanced harmlessly off his target's shoulder. The Manhunter flinched away from Zachary's attack, causing Lucy's arrow to harmlessly sink into the man's hat.
A look of pure anger and hatred on his face, the man slammed his knee between Lucy's legs, severely bruising her tailbone and knocking her prone.
Taking advantage of the enemy's focus on Lucy, Allister cut him across the torso and jaw, while Zachary moved to help Lucy regain her feet. As he stepped past, the terrifying figure reached out, attempting to secure his grip on Zachary, narrowly missing. Failing to grab Zachary, the Manhunter instead fixed him with a murderous gaze but, having come face to face with the man once already, Zachary simply shrugged it off.
Erza attempted another stab with her spear, but her enemy seemed to sense the attack. Ducking under Erza's attack the man swung the gibbet he carried in a great arc, knocking Lucy, Allister, and Zachary away. Zachary slammed into a toppled pillar, which drove the breath from his lungs and knocked him down. Before Erza even finished sliding away from the blow of the gibbet, the Manhunter raised his pistol. A deafening explosion tore at the air and the minds of the survivors, and, even though he hadn't touched her, a flower of blood blossomed at Erza's waist where the bullet hit her.
Lucy shouted encouragement to Zachary before neatly piercing her enemy's arm with an arrow. Zachary cut at the man's legs as he regained his own footing as Allister cut him across the thigh.
Frustrated with yet another failed attempt to grab hold of Zachary, the Manhunter raised his pistol again, his sights coming to rest on Lucy. Shot after shot rang out, and Lucy was struck in the torso and both arms. Barely audible above the explosive reports from the gun, the humerus in Lucy's arm cracked in a spiral fracture as the bullets hammered her.
Desperate to save Lucy, Allister rushed the madman. His sword blurred through the smoke-filled air, trailing a deadly arc towards the Manhunter's face. Instead of biting deep, the sword spun from Allister's hand and clattered to the ground. Moving so quickly the others couldn't even track it, the Manhunter slammed the butt of his pistol into Allister's waist. The force of the blow, coupled with Allister's momentum, shattered every bone in his pelvis. A gurgling sigh followed the sound of his sword clattering across the stone faces of the ground as his lifeless body slumped to the ground.
Terror infused Lucy's very being, yet she managed to fire two arrows point blank into Allister's killer. The first hit the man in the shoulder, while the second pierced the man's hat, coming to rest neatly on top of the arrow that she'd lodged there earlier. Pure horror overcame Lucy. Her instincts took over and she crumpled into a ball at the man's feet, as a prey animal would submit to a predator when it knows it has no chance to escape.
Zachary reached into the pouch at his waist where he always kept his Founding Stone close at hand. He threw the stone with all of his might, knowing that it would strike true. The stone sunk deeply into the man's torso, causing him to lean forward and cough a mouthful of blood.
Erza followed Zachary's lead, and threw her stone as well. The blow shattered the man's jaw, and blood squirted from his eye as a chip of dislodged jawbone did collateral damage to his face.
The Manhunter took three short steps towards Erza and quickly raised his pistol, but the damage he'd sustained to his eye threw his aim off. Even still he managed to bury one bullet in her arm.
Too scared to move, Lucy stood rooted in place and fired her bow at the man. One arrow sunk into the man's raised gun arm while the other cut a pouch from his belt. A Crimson Vial bounced free, and Lucy snatched it up. She pulled the stopper with her teeth and guzzled the liquid inside.
Erza carefully approached and lashed out with her spear, but the man deftly turned the blow aside with his offhand before body-checking her to the ground, spinning under Zachary's attack.
The Manhunter slid an arm around Zachary's waist and lifted him bodily into the air. Showing tremendous strength, he slammed Zachary's torso to the ground before turning to Lucy and
firing multiple shots from his pistol. The bullets tore into her, leaving her with a collapsed lung and a gaping chest wound.
Still stunned from being slammed to the ground with such force, Zachary's halfhearted attack was easily avoided. Lucy could barely muster the strength to draw her bow, and she too missed.
Three quick steps brought the Manhunter face to face with Lucy once more. Before she could scream he lifted her into the air and slammed her to the ground with a sickening crunch. The force of the slam completely severed her arm from her body; the shock of the impact stopped Lucy's heart instantly.
As Lucy's blood soaked his boots, the Manhunter took careful aim at Erza. A bullet pierced her leg, another hit her in the arm. The final three bullets struck her in the face. The impact of the bullets caused her head to split, and then explode. A fine mist of pulverized grey matter decorated the stone face around Erza's corpse.
Zachary and the Manhunter stood toe to toe. The smirk on the his enemy's visage told Zachary that the monster somehow planned for this when they'd come face to face in the eerie lantern light.
The two began to trade blows. Zachary landed hits to the man's elbow and knees while the Manhunter bloodied Zachary badly with wounds to his legs.
The fight moved impossibly fast, yet time seemed to come to an absolute standstill. Zachary felt as if he'd been locked into single combat with his friends' murderer for an eternity when the man screamed in his face.
"You're not taking me down!"
The man rained blows on Zachary, striking his head, arm, and torso, beating him within an inch of death.
With the last of his energy, Zachary smashed his weapon into the Manhunter's neck, ducked under the man's attempt to grab him, and brought his weapon up into the wrist of his off hand.
The Manhunter staggered, and fell, yet his bleeding, torn face still held a look of insane amusement.
The Manhunter is a very interesting expansion for Kingdom Death: Monster. The Manhunter is a Nemsis monster, meaning you generally don't decide when to fight it; instead, it gets added to specific years on the campaign timeline, but it is different from the standard Nemesis monsters in that you fight the Manhunter in a Special Showdown. Rather than replacing your hunt, and being the only fight that you will have in a given year, the Manhunter Showdown interrupts the Settlement phase, and you pick up the Settlement phase where you left off after the fight, regardless of the outcome.
While the other Nemesis monsters function more as a litmus test for the strength of your settlement, the Manhunter is almost like a bonus fight. He's difficult, but the rewards he grants, especially the Reverberating Lantern, can be incredibly useful throughout a campaign. If you fail to beat him, he keeps showing up, pleased with how easy it is to bag his favorite prey and leaving some small rewards to show his pleasure. Unlike many of the foes you face in a Kingdom Death campaign, the Manhunter's motivations are easy to see, even if they are demented and sickening.
While it isn't an absolute must-have, the Manhunter is one of my favorite expansions, because it contrasts so well with the events of a standard campaign, and the Manhunter's motivations are clear and fit the theme of the game perfectly. This expansion adds spice to the campaign, and, while I mix and match the other expansions between campaigns—unless I'm playing the campaigns from the Sunstalker or Dragon King that specifically state not to use anything else—I use the Manhunter every time.
The Manhunter only comes with a small amount of plastic compared to some of the other expansions, but what it does have is still high quality. Rather than full armor kits, there are only a few small pieces that can be used with existing armor kits, but don't think that makes this expansion short on value.
The copy of the Manhunter expansion used for this article was purchased by the author.
Have you picked up any of the Kingdom Death: Monster expansions yet? If so, let us know what you think the must-haves are in the comments below.