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Summer break’s over, and thus I’m back to studying. Strange enough, some of my best ideas for plot hooks and non-player characters popped into my mind during the more mind-numbing classes. So, in honor of that, I will present you a few university / college campus-related story seeds for use in your on-going World of Darkness chronicle. The seeds are designed for a mortal WoD game, but with a few tweaks they’re just as useful in most other game lines.

  • An exchange student from Asia is acting very strange, and eventually abducts one of the player characters on her way home from a party, knocking her out. As the player character wakes up, she finds herself in a basement, surrounded by books written in long-forgotten languages. Upstairs, she hears the agonizing screams of a girl…
  • Senior students tell the story of a book hidden in the campus library. The last person who borrowed it was the unbelievable smart Matthew Connor, who was killed in a bar fight. Legend has it that this book lends its owner Matthew’s former knowledge and intelligence, but also seeks for revenge…
  • Everybody seems to like the new professor. No surprise: he’s handsome, drives a Porsche and is well-educated. One night, a good friend of the player characters dates the new stud of the campus, and slowly turns into a mindless servant of the professor. Eventually, she and the professor vanish…
  • The janitors discover a gigantic nest of rats in one of the underground storage facilities of the university. Even after a week of extensive and expensive vermin extermination, the building seems to attract all kinds of rodent. A few days later, one of the students is found dead on the campus parking lot, his eyes removed from his skull…
  • Ruth Ledger, the campus’ wallflower, returns from her summer break as a stunningly beautiful vamp. One guy after the other falls for her, and eventually one of the player characters is lucky enough to go on a date with her. During a romantic late-night walk through the park, Ruth pushes the player character into the bushes, and pulls a ritual dagger out of her handbag…

That should be enough material for a few stories filled with horror and angst all around the local campus. But don’t forget your classes while hunting for the answers!

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I’m a big fan of a mechanism called “flags”.  For those of you who haven’t dabbled in RPG theory, flags are little hot-spots that tell both player and GM something about the character in question. Some games use them deliberately, actually calling them flags (some indie games do that), others use them more or less by accident. The new World of Darkness is somewhere in between these two categories.

To some extent, everything on a character sheet is a flag. That Strength 4 tells me that the character is very strong, and shouldn’t have any problems to kick in doors. Academics (Biology) 5 tells me that the character is probably has a PhD in his specialty, and is well-educated. These little hints tell the player how to role-play some aspects of his character, and should serve as inspiration for that. However, the most problematic flag in my games are Virtues and Vices.

Now, I forgot to tell you about a very common aspect of flags: role-playing them correctly nets you rewards. The World of Darkness rewards players who role-play their characters according to their good (Virtue) and bad (Vice) side by restoring a certain amount of temporary Willpower. From a player’s perspective, Willpower is a very useful pool, giving you a certain edge in tasks you just HAVE to succeed in. Also, many supernatural powers use it as fuel, so having a way to restore it is very generous of the game. However, my question is: how often does your Willpower restore by role-playing your Virtue and Vice?

In my games, it has only happened on a few occasions, in which a character lived up to his Vice and restored a single point of temporary Willpower. However, this is because of my players using their character’s Willpower extremely careful and seldom find themselves without any of it. This might also be a fault from my side, because I am more than generous when it comes to Willpower regeneration in between sessions.

So I wonder, how could I increase the importance of Virtues and Vices in my games? Any advices! Well, keep ‘em coming!

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