By Michael B. Stratton
*Spoiler alert* For this game I’ll be playing Dieter Hoffmann, a 90’s black metal hipster that drinks blood and thinks that Caine was the first messiah. Wow. Feels good to get it out there in the open. Now, let’s rewind and talk about how we got there.
I became a World of Darkness fan in high school. A friend showed me the core rulebook from 2nd edition Vampire the Masquerade. His older brother had left it behind when he went to college. Reading that description of the setting, “Gothic-Punk”, completely blew my mind. They were speaking directly to me! I had just shaved my own mohawk and was reading Poe and Hawthorne in preparation to study literature in college. I was hooked. I needed to get my fix of methuselahs and neonates and the endless wars of influence and streets that run red with blood! I needed nerds!
Like many of you, (I’m assuming here, forgive me we all know what that leads to) I had a hard time when I was younger finding a gaming group. I was a nerd, with Star Wars tattoos proudly displayed, but closeted my innermost geekery of book full of dice rolls, characters and most importantly, monsters. Then I turned 30 and decided since I was too old for wedgies, I might as well throw caution to the wind and buy some polyhedral dice. I started playing Adventurer’s League games at hobby stores until I eventually found my regular group and we’ve been having a great time. We mainly play D&D, but Call of Cthulhu made an appearance last Halloween and I’ve sprinkled in a few World of Darkness games when I could raise enough interest.
So I turned to the internet. I spent a lot of time scrolling through Discord, Roll20 and Start Playing Games looking for a GM running the new V5 so I could finally get that chance to grow my fangs and sink them into the newest edition from the World of Darkness. I found a game running this upcoming weekend using hooks from a new book for V5, Chicago by Night. I thought this would be a great chance to explore being a new player to Vampire the Masquerade 5th edition and take you along from my very first game session. At the same time we could explore what it is like to join a gaming group of strangers playing online run by a professional GM. The term ‘professional’ is being used here solely to point out the GM is requesting a fee from each player.
I was curious about that. What would I be getting from a professional GM that I want from my home group?
- Is the GM going to work to make sure all the players feel included and have time to explore their character or stand out in a meaningful way in each session?
- Is the GM going to work with players to make sure the experience is collaborative instead of competitive?
- Did the GM have a good feel for the game and the mechanics?
- Was the GM more interested in a great story or playing by the rules?
I wondered about the players as well. Without any practical experience I wanted to pay attention to what the dynamic of being strangers does to the players as well as the characters in the game. Would everyone be interested in being a coordinated party that had communal goals and worked together to achieve them? Would somebody just say ‘fuck it, I’m not going to see these people ever again, I’m going to play a level 19 neckbeard troll that ruins everyone’s game!’ Would the game feel couched in a safe place? Were people there to have fun?!
So come along nerds, into a World of Darkness, of paranoia and social anxiety as we attempt to satiate our immortal and dorky hunger.