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A few days ago, I took a look at the player archetype called Timmy. To continue the mini-series, I’ll discuss the second of three gamer “stereotypes” I present you in Labeled Boxes!

As you know, these stereotypes are derived from the trading card game Magic. A big part of every collectible game is the customization, and finding ways to tweak and improve your strategy. However, some players see that share of the experience as the most important one and devote most of their time in their “deck garage” to enhance their combos and their odds of winning. Back when I played, we called these guys Johnnys.

They actually devoted a card to him...

They actually devoted a card to him...

I guess every GM has met at least one Johnny. It’s the kind of player who creates forty different drafts of his character sheet before declaring one of them his “finished masterpiece”. Also, a Johnny likes to spend his time reading sourcebooks and online articles about the game he plays, and tweak his character based on the information absorbed from them. He’s the kind of player who has an Excel sheet on his laptop to calculate the odds of an exceptional success when firing his Beretta while driving a car and being gnawed on by dire rats.

This sounds like a Johnny is a kind of munchkin, trying to use loopholes in the rules to his on advantage. However, this is anything but true. A Johnny does not improve his character to “win the game”, as far as anyone can win in role-playing games. Instead, the Johnny devours rulebooks and forum discussions on his character’s class because he wants to improve his personal experience. Like the Timmy, the Johnny just wants to have fun. Unlike his brother archetype, he finds this satisfaction in rolling enormous crits and finally getting that +3 flamestrike bow.

The danger a Johnny presents is that his knowledge of the rules and the amount of specialization his characters went through might overshadow the other player characters. Sure, Timmy’s sorcerer knows some good spells, but Johnny’s multi-classed sorcerer / wizard / paladin knows about the same arcane mysteries, and can wield a magical sword at the same time. This might cause a feeling of redundancy in the other characters and their players, making them feel useless in comparison to Johnny’s well-tuned expert.

A simple pre-emptive remedy against this, is simply putting the Johnny and his character up against a situation in which his “killer combo” doesn’t work. So he thinks his well-trained gunslinger, fine-tuned with the necessary merits and equipment is the biggest mother in the Wild, Wild West? Let’s see how he’ll survive a buffalo stampede his six-shooter’s noise caused. These challenges should be moments where the other, not so “perfect” characters can shine, giving them the opportunity to see what they’re worth.

So, now you learned everything about the Johnny. Later this week, I’ll end this series with an article about the power-hungry Spike. Stay tuned, dear readers!

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So, last session your players and their characters slaughtered the vicious draco-lich that killed the virgins from the town of Mournfall, and now you need a new place to send them to. However, you don’t have a spark of inspiration left in your mind when it comes to a new and, most of all, thrilling location your heroes could venture to? Do not fear for Exceptional Success is here to help you out with five magical and exotic locations!

  • Adventurers speak of a magical forest that completes a full seasonal cycle in a mere day. At dawn, the blossoms in the forest flower in all their magnificent colors. Just before noon, the temperatures in the forest rise and many different and long-forgotten beasts roam through the thicket. As soon as the sun sets, the leaves of the trees turn yellow, red and orange, and most of the animals retreat into their hibernal state. When night creeps over this mysterious place, cold winds and snow sweep into it, and dangerous and vicious creatures stalk the woods, searching for prey.
  • The Chronos Vale is a place where time runs backwards, and this affects everything and everyone who enters it. Seasoned veterans who ventured into this bizarre place, lured by promises of wealth, returned as teenage lads who lost all their years of experience.
  • The cursed town of Blightfall harbors only zombies, ghouls and other undead. Ruled by Valthrus, a seven hundred-years old vampire, the accursed villagers see Undeath as the pinnacle of enlightenment, and use the living as slaves and trade goods.
  • Crow’s Peak is the highest mountain in the barony of Sparrowshield. It is permanently secluded by a thick, dark mist and not even the bravest men of the barony dare to venture into it. However, during New Year’s Eve, the mist disappears and gives away a bright purple fire burning at the very top of Crow’s Peak…
  • Six hundred years ago, a meteor hit the Imperial City and turned the once shining heart of the Empire into ruins. Now, the crater and the ruins of the old metropolis are filled with creatures mutated by the alien radiation of the meteor. However, shards of the extraterrestrial rock are highly demanded by armor smiths, as they can be worked into plates that are nearly indestructible. Venturing into the ruins could turn out to be highly profitable…

Feel free to use these places, and change the names and locations as you see fit. But please, leave a comment should you drop one of the fantastic regions into your campaign.

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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