[Actual Play] The Last Night – 2nd V5 Pre-Alpha Playtest [Part 1]

Veröffentlicht: 01/08/2017 in Actual Play, English, RPG, Urban Fantasy, V:tM, White Wolf
Schlagwörter:, , , , ,

I had several runs of the V5 Pre-Alpha planned for, and promised to, various groups or people.  Thus, after the first one completed, I started organizing the next one on the German tabletop RPG Forum Nerdpol. Which eventually happened on 20th of July.

This article will describe how the game went, which challenges we encountered, as well as my thoughts regarding the scenario and rules. It is the second of a series of four actual plays. I will try my best to recall the game correctly, though I didn’t took notes during the game and things might get mixed up.

I will express my comment, thoughts, thoughts of players in block quotes.
You will experience spoilers in regards of the scenario „The Last Night“. Specially if you are a player of mine, planning to play in another run.

Printed V5 Pre-Alpha Documents (Rules + Scenrio)

My two V5 Pre-Alpha books


  • Organizing the Game
  • Preparation & Setup
  • The Scenario
    • Getting Started
    • Sce-Sce-Sce-Scene-break(er)
    • Enter: The Golden Gate Club
    • In: The Golden Gate Club
    • To: The Cellar
    • Sce-Sce-Sce-Scene-break(er)
    • Stranded under a bridge over troubled water
    • Where the F* is Bruno?
    • By the hour
    • Sce-Sce-Sce-Scene-break(er)
    • Hunting‘, Feedin‘, Unlivin‘
    • Finishing & Break
  • Conclusion
    • My overall impression
    • Feedback I got

Organizing the Game

I took a three week GM’ing break and started to do a call for players at 30th June for next weeks Saturday 08th July. The break was voluntarily and just a bit of a recharge, as I tend to get super nervous when I organize stuff.

Sadly a bad cough caught me and on said Saturday I sounded like a chain smoking frog, with the focus of a hummingbird and the attention span of a gold fish. It wasn’t to bad, as I needed to still prepare the characters. The next date was 16th of June, which fell flat because of life happening to some of the players.

The follow up date, 18th of June fell as well flat, because of more life happening to the players. Which did upset me greatly. Not because of the player, but rather because of life.
Thus I raised my fist to the sky and exclaimed (*) that I would make it to the FeenCon, and run the playtest there! Several times! Take that, Life! Ha!
(*) Dramatic exaggeration

We settled on 22th of June.
In the end, it did help me translating the characters to German, making some adjustments and moving my lazy rear-end to a convention. To GM nonetheless. Something I did before, but usually only as an actual supporter.

Preparation & Setup

I noticed in my first run, that posting picture links and Google map links to a hangout is a flawed strategy. It’s awkward to do, confusing to handle and doesn’t help immersion.

Thus I did a more thorough selection of pictures and prepared my desktop as a small Roll20. I carefully decided which things to open (Google Maps, Picture App), made sure sequential things like the pictures were sorted as they should, and relied on screen share.

It worked like a charm. Except for my attempts to keep track of the PCs stats.
Maybe I will look into Roll20 in the future.

Feedback Adaptions

I took the experience with the first run, and the feedback received into consideration and adapted the characters and scenario to enable a more engaging game.

The characters received a first overhaul I displayed in the article „V5 Playtest: Custom tailoring the pre-generated characters„. It has been a quite extensive adaption.
To sketch a few. Amelinas feeding restriction got changed to be more intuitive and more in line with her low humanity.  The animosity between the characters got toned way down. I attempted to change Bruno to enable the player to choose whether he betrayed the coterie or whether he only betrayed André.
Next to that I dropped a bunch of information I felt the characters should have.

How much I dropped? When I translated the backgrounds to German, the page count sprang up to three, full pages. I cut it down to two pages for each character.

Major thanks, go to Onno, of Belchions Sammelsurium. He read all the character backgrounds I wrote and edited them as well as noted some logical issues.  Which really did help a lot. Despite him being a player in the 1st run, and not satisfied with the experience.

I did as well adopted the scenario. Mostly I attempted to remove rails, offer more options and feel more like set in Germany.

Surprise surprise. I talked with the players from the first run. Basically summarized the game. The player noted, quite pleasantly surprised, that I took up the feedback from the first run. Which I took as a big compliment.
Though I was a bit surprised by his surprise. It would be quite rude to interview the players for feedback, and continue as if nothing happened, wouldn’t it?

The Players

I found a total of three players.
A player quite familiar with the World of Darkness. He choose Amelina.
A player somewhat familiar with the World of Darkness. She choose Nicholas.
A player rather unfamiliar with the World of Darkness. He choose Amir.

The character Bruno didn’t got pick up.

In general, I was happy with the selection and that Bruno was the one not taken. With such a small group the conflict would have been more drastic.
In hindsight, it might have been good to sketch a small plan what happens to characters not picked. It would have made life easier.

The Scenario

Getting Started

I started the game with an explanation of the rules mechanics. From there I proceeded to talk about the setting. What are Vampires, how do they work. I proceeded to explain the Camarilla and the situation in Berlin. How Gustav Breidenstein fell, how Wilhelm Waldburg left, the small reign of Abraham Wolff and the tyrannical return of Wilhelm Waldburg.

The last night, before the current one, got painted in a dire picture. The Elysium of Berlin, the bar „Raumklang“ has been attacked and lays vastly in ruins. The characters heard police reports about civil unrest, yet they knew that it was either the returned Sabbat, or more likely, the Anarchs. A church building burned down, which they could read as an attack on the Church of Caine, and there were other accounts of civil unrest. Their contacts have had remained silent, not reachable and they just arrived at the AllNite Glücklich Spielothek.

In general, giving them actual information about the events of Enlightenment in Blood did help to get the discussion started better. It was still a quite a bit awkward, yet not as confusing as to ask them to discuss a revolt they know nothing about.
The actual solution, got brought up by the players of the fourth run, thus a kind of „actual play“-spoiler: They have had the brilliant idea to use the scene to introduce their characters to each other.

The characters discussed what little they knew and the challenges in contacting their people. It wasn’t until long when they noticed how the air got thicker, almost threatening, how they felt being watched by the people playing how an almost visible threat started looming over them. ‚André!‘ thought one of them, almost jumped and urged his kindred to follow along. When the TV volume turned up, by the Turkish owner of the bar, and the report of the Golden Gate attack got reported. Without losing a second thought they followed Amelina to her car (run by her ghoul Karl), got in and sped ahead.

In general, I had the players roll on awareness to actually make sense of the dubious feeling. Which worked quite well. Though my description, iirc, wasn’t as immersive as before.
I got pleasantly surprised, as the characters headed towards the Golden Gate like it was the best place in town. It didn’t feel like I needed to push this, or actually any, plot element on them. A vague mention, and é voila.


Keeping the scene structure in mind I had the players roll their blood roused and note down hunger. I did as well explain willpower, I think. If I hadn’t done that before.

Enter: The Golden Gate Club

The group of three arrived at the outskirts of the scene. Two police gordons were between them and the Golden Gate. A quick orientation, and they noticed they could get up one of the buildings and jump upon the roof of the S-Bahn. Heading over the Golden Gate and heading in.

Scenario remark, in the first run I removed the rooftop. For I find nothing in rooftop jumping, it’s a trope I consider strange to silly. Yet it was a welcomed opportunity to the players, kind of cool, and I kept it in.

The jump was quite taxing and required some skill. Amir and Nicholas made it across in a hop, one using his potence to leap like a boss. Amelina roused her blood, took off … and made it across. They heard the threatening sounds of rotor blades and headed, ducked towards the trapdoor.

I somewhat love, making sound effects like rotor blades. Though it confused one player, who’s been like „Is the train coming?“.

They just arrived in time to observe a scene panning out under them, at the entrance of the Golden Gate. Three people, two men and one woman, exited the Golden Gate towards the crowd. While their view wasn’t the best, they could identify them as likely Anarchs. A realization that was blasted along a flash fire exiting the Golden Gate.
The girl flashed around, eyes widened, fang out and headed straight towards the crowd. The GSG9 didn’t discuss, but turned and open fire. Striking the kindred in Rötschreck down with blasts that revealed their incendiary munition. The two remaining kindred watched their friend being destroyed, went into a frenzy and towards the three GSG9 operative. Who, yet again, opened fire. The crowd went into a panic and our three kindred took the trapdoor into the Golden Gate.

Localization, giving the GSG9 an actual reason to shoot the Anarchs went very well. At least with this run I had no complaints at all. Instead the characters were impressed and knew what to expect. It is as well more in line with the fact that the GSG9, according to the scenario, doesn’t murder humans. Like those troops who are soon to follow, won’t kill the surviving humans and the characters could survive by playing victim.

In: The Golden Gate Club

The group entered the 2nd floor. It was filled with thick, warm smoke. It bristled from down stairs, creaked and looming danger was set in the air. The kindred pondered whether or not to activate Auspex, yet decided against that. Still, even without they could hear an coughing and weak call for help, from one of the stalls.

While Nicholas checked the stairs, Amir headed towards the stalls, removed the beam and freed the person. Well, or the snack. Much to his surprise Nik was happy to see him, dropped about a pound of various drugs into his saviors hands and thanked him. Drugged up Nik had no chance to see the predator approaching from behind, position herself with a sharp motion, grabbing his neck and sink her fangs in. He didn’t even mind as he felt that deceptive rush of Endorphines running through his system. Confused but happy as can be he stared at Amir, „Man, that’s been a brilliant shot“. Eyes wide open, pupils enlarged, clearly taking his own stuff. He sank down as the kindred hurried on wards.

The feeding was interesting, the player forgot about his characters feeding restriction, and I did only remember it when he bit the dealer. It is a general challenge with Ventrue, that its kind of difficult to actually determine whether or not a victim fits the fold. Unless its obvious.
In this case I made a luck roll (50/50 high is good) and Amelina got lucky. Nik the dealer apparently took his own stuff to forget.

Amir and Amelina followed Nicholas down the stairs, to the ground floor. Not a minute to late as the helicopter could be heard hoovering above and the sounds of people lowered was audible.

The groundfloor was a mess. The carcass of the truck was halfway stuck in the window, the bar appeared thrown around and had a guy buried underneath, yet alive. There were two more clubbers and the kitchen with stairs leading down.

The beast within the kindred cajoled against the fire, yet it remained kept in check as they hurried down into the belly of the building, the dark cellar.

My memory, to be honest, is a bit hazy on that scene. I am pretty sure that no one frenzied. In general no one frenzied, at all. I am as well not sure if I kept the cellar dark in this go, or had some neon lights illuminate it.

To: The cellar

The characters entered and found the remains of a battle. The battered, aged bodies of two Anarchs laid spread out in the room, along with an impressive amount of blood.

Yet André was not among those. They hurried to the box, entered the code and slipped into Andrés panic room. Closing the door behind them with an inside panel, being hopeful that the panic room would stay hidden.

In the room they discovered Andrés body. Mangeled with marks of fight and burns. Most obviously torpid after a hefty fight. Above him, her wrist covering his mouth, was an old lady in the attire of a club girl. Andrés faithful ghoul. She gave her life in an attempt to revive her master.

Just as André Ghoul, so attempted Nicholas. He headed straight to his patreon, his lover and regent opened his wrist and feed him aplently. With no effect and no protest from his coterie. They watched in silence, contemplated, than hurried on as the threats haven’t yet passed.

Oh my, I think at this point I had serious self-doubt. Did I took of to much edge of the characters? Shouldn’t I have shortened the blood bond description? In hindsight it was just the players deciding they don’t want to jump at each other throats. That a burning building, locked in a panic room, with SI/GSG9 wasn’t the right point to fight.

In regards of my GM’ing style, I told my player straight up to their face: „He is feeding André. Who you very much love. You might consider a serious notion of jealousy sweeping your character.“. Well I didn’t use the exact words, for that I was talking German, and my memory ain’t perfect, but I got the gist across. The player basically, nodded, proceeded and went on with their play. Which I did accept.
The scenario suggests in scenes like this, to have the players roll Frenzy. To see whether the dice force them to lash out and enact their jealousy.
Yet, as a personal style of running a game, I don’t like to tell the players how to act. The frenzy roll would have been, from my point of view, a passive-aggressive way, to get them to have their chacracters act against their will. In a non-stress situation.
Another thing I personally examine is whether or not the result will be interesting. If they manage the frenzy roll, an exciting amount of „nothing“ will happen. Except the players maybe feeling punished.
If they fail the roll. They will be punshing the living hell out of each other, while the GSG9/SI is next door. Which won’t lead to realistic results, but to chaos, potentially a TPK and a mumbled narrative.

Thus, no frenzy roll.
Players, do you.
It’s not my narrative, but ours. Peace.
Drops a penny to the „unsolicited wise cracking“-pot and continues with the actual Actual Play.

The Amir and Amelina looked around, they noticed various monitors. Some dead, but some are still running. Showing pictures of various rooms, specially the cellar. They watched the GSG9 entering the ground floor, heading right down to them.

In a hurry they tried to find a backdoor. Some escape route the elder kindred had for a situation like that. The console revealed a pad, and a few moments later the bed softly slit back, revealing a trap door.

A rules complaint, it would have been really nice if one of the characters had technology on their sheet. If it was even a skill.

A scenario adaption, the back door, as originally planned, basically right hand to the stairs down, didn’t work for me. If there was an access, the SI should have known. More important the characters, at very least one, got the code, implying the character was down there. If wouldn’t make any sense to not use that door.
Plus it looks like a, bit lazy, „This is the mandatory plot“-exit door.
Thus I gave André a bit more homely panic room, with an escape route. That wouldn’t be to hard (difficulty 3 or 4) to find. I did gave him as well some cool monitors. As it was a feature I remember being cool about that movie „Panic Room“ with Jodie Foster.

The entrapped kindred heard the thundering sounds of combat boots going into the cellar. Brief conversations by the officers. „We found a body“, „Oh my god, another one!“ „Those fucking hell it, got fangs“ „Clear!“

The tension was almost physical. Yet luckily the trap door was well oiled and didn’t give a squeak when opened. One by one they headed down to the dark and dank tunnels of the closed Metro lines. Carrying André towards an opening by the river Spree.


I issued another scene break. Blood roused got rolled, willpower assessed. It still didn’t really flow.

Stranded under a bridge over troubled water

They stood under the night sky close to the café „Gestrandet an der Johannowitzbrücke“, not to far from the building they used for their jumping endeavors. The limb André in their midst.

Fun with words alarm, I discovered the restaurant upon checking on Google Maps. It is one of the most likely way, I thought, where they might come out and the name is literally „stranded under the Johannowitz bridge“. Which I considered mighty cool and appropriate.

Things needed to be done. Sirens howling in the night, the terror of the Golden Gate club behind them, they wondered. Where the fuck was Bruno? Amirs failed child hadn’t shown up all evening and his absence was more than a little suspicious.

On an improvised note, I felt really challenged to come up with Brunos actions. Which I did about right at that moment.

The other challenge at hand was André. Amelina considered taking one or two humans, before realizing that only kindred blood would heal his wounds and might raise him. Thus they called upon Karl to pick them up.

In regards of GM’ing, I basically handed Amelinas player a description how to raise André. André would need 7 doses of kindred blood. You could feed him one dose, and it would require 3 blood rouses. André would unconsciously use this blood to heal his wounds over day. After which he would look rather dead than being a charred, disgusting, literal corpse. Basically going from damage torpor to sleep-torpor.
She heard that she would need weeks to wake, an elder like André may take month. Yet not if fed at least one dose of kindred blood over the course of 7 days.

I used the system for every run. At the one hand it motivates players to feed and hunt a lot. At the other hand I consider it more engaging than not offering the option as done within the scenario.

Where the F* is Bruno?

With Brunos absence being quite worrying they decided, hesitantly given all the patrols, to head to the KitKat club. They wouldn’t for sure enter, yet Amir knew about Brunos haven and the door at the back of the club.

Amelina had Karl park nearby and the Ventrue decided to remain seated while it would be Amirs responsibility to check for his spawn.

The alley way was dark and calm. Signs of a fight were clearly visible. Scratch marks on the wall, like someone sank in hooks and drew them along, a turned over trash can and indications of a fight.

Amir hurried in, checking for the door, noticing the little security camera following his steps. The door appeared untouched by the recent attacks and the Toreador entered the haven. The place was in poor shape, yet more due to Bruno not being exactly rich or with a mind for the arts, than due to a fight. The security system remained untouched

Amir quickly checked the tapes and found the crucial recording. Bruno was shown entering the scene, meeting with an Anarch. The recording missed sound, yet judging by the body language it was clear that Bruno appeared to wanted to join. While the guy who he was talking to, wasn’t having it. A discussion ensued. Quickly ended by one person attacking from behind, faster than the camera could adjust, followed by another one with claws, joining in on the attack. Bruno didn’t stood a chance at three against one and got dragged of – alive, though barely – the picture.
The report got copied to an USB stick and Amir headed back. Knocking on the car to get in.

Amelina and Nicholas did in the meanwhile, listen to the reports on the radio. The brief talk wasn’t much to remember. When they noticed a black van driving by. A distinctly unimpressive black van, no markings; nothing. If it wasn’t for the second distinctly unimpressive, unmarked black van that followed. A regular police patrol passed by and another GSG9 patrol, with impressive weapons, followed after some time.

The intention, on my side, was to make the threat a bit more relatable and setup the possibility for further actions. I think it was a good first step.
The inspiration, was my experience in Strasbourg, France. I went out for a meal, at a nice border, when the attack at Bataclan happened. Which did cause quite some police (or military) patrolling the streets with like machine guns. As well as border controls.

The radio reported streets being jammed, emergency spots established and blamed the attack on terrorists. Mentioning that the investigations are ongoing, as not all perpetrators are believed to be caught.

The radio, served to establish that Berlin will be under a kind of lock down. It didn’t came up in this run yet, but I think street controls that lasts several days and nights, need to be established and setup.

By the hour

Given all the information at hand they decided to find a haven.
There’s been a general feel that the betrayal went deep, and they might be compromised. Thus their regular havens where out of question.

The group pondered for a bit and decided to get to an „hours hotel“. Using cash and an alias name to book a room for a date and night. They ended up in a shabby place, in the west part of Berlin, with a few on the Mercedes Benz arena and the East Side (wall) Gallery.

The receptionists didn’t ask questions and they went up. Amir handed Nicholas the stick, along with a handy USB to micro-USB adapter and the video prove of Brunos betrayal and fate got shared.

Amelina did as well tell the group how they might get André back on his feet.

Yet morning dawned. André got stuffed under the bed, Amelina retreated to the bathroom, Nicholas and Amir prepped the room to be sunproof and stayed in the bedroom. After making sure that room service wasn’t to be expected.


Keeping the scene structure in mind I had the players roll their blood roused and note down hunger.

Hunting‘, Feedin‘, Unlivin‘

The new night rose and such did the coterie.

Of course, they all got one more blood roused for doing so.

André got pulled back up and they started feeding him. Everyone gave him one dose, bringing him closer to be able to heal his wounds. Yet Amelina took one step more. She opened her vein, gave him her blood and roused again.
The task took more than expected, the hunger swelled and got visible. For a moment she glanced at her coterie, not as fellow kindred, but as prey. Finally managing to supress her urges to rip some throats open.

Cool! The „André revival“-system did what it was supposed to do. Motivate a player to rouse blood, a lot. Getting hunger a lot. Amelina did went up to hunger 5 and managed to successfully do her frenzy roll. I felt it was a tense moment and was satisfied.

The coterie realized they need more blood, were hungry and needed more time. The hotel room got booked for another night and the kindred headed out.

Amelina took the car for herself and drove to the refugee home. Looking for a viable victim, of which they were plenty. Why quite hungry she decided against murder and just sated her hunger.

The feeding restriction change worked, at least in my opinion. At the one hand it was quite clear that using ones need for traumatized blood, made the actions at the refugee home exploitative at best. At the other hand it gave the player the option to choose how far they would go, e.g. whether they would traumatize people.
Literally feeding kids and babies doesn’t offer this options / contemplation.

Amir headed to the „minimal Bar“. A Toreador backup Elysium, where he went after a usual passerby. Seduced that one to a corner and took what he needed. While he didn’t dare to enter the Elysium, an obnoxious women from Bärgida approach him. Being friendly towards the French men of middle eastern ethnically. Yet subjecting him to a request of signing a xenophobic petition.
Amir found the note his Sire left him. She warned him about Bruno being a traitor, passed on the safety of various cities and advised to search safety in Prague.

Player feedback, it was confusing to the player that the characters have information about London, Paris, Vienna and Prague, yet none about German Camarilla cities. Which should be somewhat around.
My feedback, a reasonable complaint. Specially considering that, safe from Austria (and maaaaybe Brussels), the domains are in countries with official languages totally different from German.
I still don’t know what „A. has connect“ means. André has connections? Huh?
My scenario adaption, I adopted Bruno being called out, as the player already had the information.

Nicholas went out to find a vegan. He spotted a fitting restaurant, slipped in and went for a women with a boyfriend. He figured that the guy was the true vegan, lured him outside, back into an alley and sunk his teeth into the unsuspecting guy. He drank in big chunks when his body repulsed, noting that it was the wrong blood. The Ventrue emptied his stomach right next to the guy who bolted back onto the streets, calling the cops. Sirens sounded, Nicholas legged it and escaped the direct grasp.

The lucky roll, haven’t had a lucky result. I did roll to determine whether or not it was a Vegan, and the roll came up very bad. Hence the accident.
In hindsight, checking the victims meal preference with a lucky roll, likely wasn’t my brightest idea, I think. I dropped it on other runs.

Finishing & Break

The coterie reunited in the hotel. Providing with André with the last blood required. His healing efforts were visible and it was quite obvious, that at the next day, he would be healed. That the next steps would be taken.

We had to finish early, after „just“ three hours of play. Something I knew about when the hunting scenes started.
I offered to wrap it up in basically an ST-epilogue, but the group voted for another session. To which I happily agreed.


My overall Impression

I personally really liked the cooperative style of the players. While the original scenario puts quite some emphasize of conflicts within the group, I personally think coteries work best when they stand together.

I did as well like the interaction in general. I didn’t feel like I needed to push the players, but more like they engaged enthusiastically with the setting.

The setting and atmosphere didn’t came across as that dark, yet it had a good energy.

I personally really don’t like the scene breaks. They do feel artificial. They disrupt the flow and they are quite a lot of rolling. I did drop those on the next two times I ran it.

I personally consider rolling blood roused before feeding as cumbersome. Like the character got their prey, like to do the scene, and an awful lot of unnecessary rolling ensues.

I still love the three attributes.
I don’t love that the skill lists misses technology and politics. I mean, damn useless arts is in, but no politics. I personally would as well welcome a drive skill (or the like) and maybe a skill for exploring the city scape that isn’t streetwise.

Feedback I got

The feedback has been quite positive.
They did indeed ask me to run a part 2 of the scenario.

Yet something that they didn’t like was the rolling. Like, from their perspective, there was really a lot more rolling than usual. It wasn’t seen as contributing to the drama, story or other positive aspects, but mostly as tedious.
The hunger related rolling that is. I believe they were fine with the skill checks and composure rolls.


  1. Nebula sagt:

    Schade, daß dein Bericht auf Englisch ist :(
    zudem hätte es mich gefreut, wenn Session und Bericht zum System getrennt wären oder sich farblich unterscheiden.

    Grund: mich interessiert jetzt die Session ingame (also Story) weniger, sondern das outplay und wie die Game Mechaniks angekommen sind. Das ist so vermischt und anstrengender zu Lesen.

    das ist aber Jammern auf hohem Niveau. Danke für deine Mühen!

    • Teylen sagt:

      Danke für den Kommentar und das Lob :)

      So als ein paar Erklärungen.
      Ich hatte überlegt die Session-Kommentare deutlicher zu machen; als so der Einzug sowie der kursive Anfang, mich dann jedoch dagegen entschieden. Hauptsächlich weil es, für mich, zu unruhig wird.

      Wegen des Englisch. Einerseits ist mein Schriftbild im Deutschen weniger gut (glaube ich). Gerade bei solch langen Texte [Es war recht anstrengend für Onno die Hintergründe zu korrigieren]. Andererseits, ist so die Chance höher das es White Wolf liest. Die eher Englisch als Deutsch sprechen.

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