Dread [Dread] Jenga beat up my dice! My results from the indie horror RPG. - Page 44





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    Ignore Janx
    Quote Originally Posted by Piratecat View Post
    That... that's brilliant. Damn. Never even occurred to me. Playing my scenario Separation Anxiety at GenCon, we got in a situation where you literally couldn't make another pull without toppling the tower. The tension stayed incredibly high. Remember, you're never obligated to make a pull and can always decline. Then it's just a matter of "when's the most dramatic moment to knock the tower down?"
    Thanks!

    I've played a lot of Jenga. Normally, I've only seen max pulls reached about 2 times. I played on the Giant Jenga set I made this weekend, and every game reached max pulls (29-33 levels). The last game, had 5 Lift&Twists to keep going (though the last one killed it). it is by no means a safe maneuver, but seems to fall within the rules and solves thes problem.

    The refusing to pull concept always puzzled me in Dread. namely because the only way you can die is by toppling the tower. In which case, what bad stuff can happen that I wouldn't yet still keep me in the game if I refuse to pull when the barn is on fire and the alien is trying to drag me into its kitchen for dinner.

    It seems a point is reached where "Pull if you want to live" becomes logical and that refusal or failure both result in death.

 

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    Quote Originally Posted by Janx View Post
    It seems a point is reached where "Pull if you want to live" becomes logical and that refusal or failure both result in death.
    I've never seen that in play. That said, I can generally think of things that are more interesting than dying and which keep the player in the game regardless.

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    Ignore Janx
    Quote Originally Posted by Piratecat View Post
    I've never seen that in play. That said, I can generally think of things that are more interesting than dying and which keep the player in the game regardless.
    I've only ran Dread once, so this is typical gamer who only read the rules musing about the impact of the rules on the game he hasn't really played.

    the example I recall from the quickplay rules was about crossing a beam, and not drawing could mean you fall and break your leg. Not dead, clearly a complication. Refusal to pull meant non-lethal failure in the game at the task.

    If the challenge is make a pull or be drawn into the mob of zombies, toppling the tower easily translates into being grabbed and eaten by zombies.

    If the player refuses to pull in the face of a direct threat, whats the advice for translating that into a non-lethal failure?

    Or is the problem in the setup of the reason for the pull?

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    As with Piratecat, I've very rarely seen an incident where "pull or die?" was the logical consequence of a situation. It did come up, once, in a variant Dread game I ran where one PC unleashed a massive attack on the other PCs, drawing several times and then deliberately knocking over the tower. In that circumstance, we had the other PCs pull to survive (several players actually declined to pull, basically prioritizing the other PC's success over their characters' survival), and it worked okay, but it was a highly aberrational circumstance.

    I think part of it is framing the pull. "If you pull, you escape the zombie horde; if you don't pull, they catch you" is not a very good structure. On the other hand, "if you pull, you get away from the horde safely, if you don't pull, something terrible happens as you try to escape" works better. "You're trapped in the old apartment building, the zombies have smashed through the door, they're coming towards you." "Can I get out through the door?" "Maybe, but there's a bunch of zombies there. You'd have to fight your way through them, and risk getting scratched and bitten. You're an experienced martial artist, so two pulls will get you through cleanly." "Okay, I go out the fire escape." "Okay, they're right on your heels, you have to pull to make it down the fire escape safely." "No way, the tower's too rickety. I'm not pulling." "Okay, you climb out onto the fire escape, but in your hurry, you slip and fall twenty feet to the pavement below. Your right leg is now badly broken, you're bleeding, and you're on the ground. Also, the zombies are starting to climb out onto the fire escape above you..."

    If the player tried to fight through the zombies but refused to pull, "You get bitten, scratched, and gouged by the time you make it through--you've lost your left eye, and you're now infected with zombie-ism." Later, "your buddy Pete helps you into the car, and you feel an almost uncontrollable urge to bite his meaty, juicy arm. Pull to resist the urge." Etc.

    There's some discussion of this in the rulebook at p. 60-61 (under the heading Dead Ends). Their example is refusing to pull to defuse a ticking bomb; do you cut the blue wire or the red wire? If you pull, no problem, and if you pull and knock over the tower, then you screwed up and boom, but what if you refuse to pull? They suggest as a last resort that the character could be forced into an action by refusing to pull--rather than cutting either of the wires, the character runs screaming away from the bomb, getting far enough away to survive, but perhaps not far enough to avoid injury.

    As I said, it's a very rare situation.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Janx View Post
    the example I recall from the quickplay rules was about crossing a beam, and not drawing could mean you fall and break your leg. Not dead, clearly a complication. Refusal to pull meant non-lethal failure in the game at the task.
    I'd frame this as "if you don't pull, you can decide not to cross the beam." If I required two pulls to safely cross, pulling the first one but not the second would either result in the player falling, or (more entertainingly) leaving them stranded in the middle of the beam, knowing that any movement will result in their fall, while the creatures slithers towards them...

    Ideally in that case, I then say, "If you want to grab the beam's edge, you may be able to drop to the ground without dying. It might hurt, though. Or you could always pull to finish making it safely across." I'd rather have the player choose to fall, instead of having it happen without warning. It makes the consequences that much more personal.

    Likewise, I wouldn't say "Your leg is broken." I'd describe the jagged, stabbing pains of agony he feels every time he puts weight on it. Maybe I'd describe the white flash of something jutting out from the lower leg. Horror is all about being in the moment.

    If the challenge is make a pull or be drawn into the mob of zombies, toppling the tower easily translates into being grabbed and eaten by zombies.

    If the player refuses to pull in the face of a direct threat, whats the advice for translating that into a non-lethal failure?
    I'm with Cerebral Paladin on this. "Well, you can pull to make it out safely. Or if you want, you can try to get past the zombies without pulling." Then I'd describe the bite, the growing hunger, the smell of brains... and if they did finally knock down the tower, I'd have them go full zombie and turn on the other players. So much more fun!
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    Ignore Janx
    Quote Originally Posted by Cerebral Paladin View Post
    I think part of it is framing the pull. "If you pull, you escape the zombie horde; if you don't pull, they catch you" is not a very good structure.
    this is a very useful discussion. I don't have the book. I really need to get one of my buddies to pick it up from the Source in Mpls if they still have it.

    In the game I ran, it came up all the time, whenever an attack happened. Obviously it's in how I framed it, but ignoring the "option to refuse" concept, it made as much sense as any other skill check in an RPG.

    if a monster is attacking you, pull to defend. Or pull to attack the monster. Either way, it translates to make pulls to end/escape the encounter.

    Since there's no hitpoints, there's a corner case where players could refuse to pull, and not be able to get killed. Thus having a sort of perverse immunity.

    With players fully engaged in the game, I don't think that corner case gets hit. Which is why PC and CP haven't really seen it happen.

    By what CP is saying, the way I framed it was using the pull test as a bludgeon. Refusal wasn't really apparent as an option. That could be part of why i felt it was a bit railroady.

    However, as the bomb example indicates, refusal seems to mean the GM is granted short term narrative authority (ooh big phrase). I get to make you fall and break your leg (not forseen by the players as an outcome pre-decision), or make them run away from the bomb to justify their survival (yet make them look like a pansy). or infect them and turn them against the party.

    If I got CP's meaning right, that still makes sense:
    make a pull to do something dangerous
    if it topples, you die/removed from game
    if you succeed, you retain awesomeness over your PC
    if you refuse, I hose your PC and make things worse for you/party

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    Ignore Cerebral Paladin
    Yeah, I think that's right. When I do attacks, for example, "pull to dodge" is common, but the consequences of not pulling are accumulating wounds, going slightly mad, being revealed as a coward in front of those whose respect you crave. Like with any other pull, the host's job is to make the player WANT to pull, but still leave it up to them. Injuries are the obvious example, but they're far from the only possibility. I also think that if the players never refuse to pull, you need consequences that are less bad. You want them making hard choices--do I wound the monster as it flees from its hit and run attack, even though that requires a pull? Am I willing to pull to avoid breaking my leg, even though that might mean I die (or a friend dies on a later pull)? How much do I care about preserving the Old Master painting that my grandfather brought with him when he fled the Nazis, the only bit of the family's connection to their history before the Holocaust?

    It's worth noting that most of my experience is actually with a Dread variant oriented towards more heroic play, not with Dread itself, so injuries play out a little differently. But I think the basic principle of if they don't pull, their legs get broken, their (NPC) friends, lovers, and relatives die, their truck gets wrecked, they lose their job, they become infamous, etc. works. In no case do they have to pull... but if they don't, they might end up wishing that they had pulled, even if it killed them.
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    Ignore Janx
    A different question then:

    what situations entail asking for a pull?

    Its been an established ploy in this thread to instigate some early pulls (when it is relatively safe) to prime the tower for when the real danger happens.

    Is it a correct premise that pulls should be asked for when the PCs do dangerous things, not mundane easy things?

    if so, do these two concepts come into conflict?

    In my Dawn of the Dead style scenario, it's pretty easy to justify the 3-5 pulls everybody is making in the initial mad-calf scramble to escape the zombie in their house as being "dangerous" yet we really know the PCs will make it out because the tower is fresh.

    What kinds of pulls might not actually be valid to require? Basically checking from the experienced pool for "don't ask for a pull to flush the toilet, that's trivial" type examples to guide better Dread GMing.

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    Ignore Cerebral Paladin
    I actually don't use "is it dangerous?" as my test for whether to pull. I use "could you either fail or succeed?" So, skimming through a book to try to find out more about the big bad isn't dangerous (at least, not most of the time). But you could definitely fail or succeed, and it's not trivial in the sense of being uninteresting. That's a great time for a pull. If a character is trying to make a positive first impression, coming off as suave and sophisticated and sexy, that's something that they could either succeed or fail at--sounds like they need to pull. If they don't pull, the PC comes off as an ass who's trying to pretend to be cool. (If the character's questionnaire indicates that they are super cool and suave and sophisticated, they could be impressive under normal circumstances without a pull, and would only need to pull if something was extra challenging about the circumstances.)

    That does mean that occasionally you get the inexplicable death--how did I get killed by a spot check? But that can be "while you were distracted reading the book, you didn't notice someone slipping up behind you and cutting your throat." Or that can be what the "dead man walking" rule is for.

    This is a little different in the variant I normally run, since whether a task is easy enough to succeed at without a pull is more quantified in that variant. But the basic question is, could you either succeed or fail, given your talents and abilities under the circumstances. That can mean that quite difficult or dangerous tasks are no-pull tasks for some characters. A PC is an experienced trauma surgeon, and with access to a full clinic needs to treat another character's broken bones and cuts from a werewolf attack, with plenty of time? No pull, in my book. An expert martial artist decides to beat up a random person to establish that he's in charge during the zombie apocalypse? No pull. The first is a difficult task, generically speaking, and the second is a dangerous task, generically speaking, but they're both easy for the character attempting it, so no pulls. Change the scenario slightly--now the surgeon is treating injuries in the field, relying on a lousy first aid kit, or the martial artist is trying to beat down three people who are challenging his authority, and you need pulls.

    One of the things I love to do is to set up the PCs to compete with each other. One upsmanship can almost always trigger pulls.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cerebral Paladin View Post
    I actually don't use "is it dangerous?" as my test for whether to pull. I use "could you either fail or succeed?" So, skimming through a book to try to find out more about the big bad isn't dangerous (at least, not most of the time). ... One of the things I love to do is to set up the PCs to compete with each other. One upsmanship can almost always trigger pulls.
    Use this to coax bonus pulls out of players, just for the opportunity to do something with style and panache.

    "Okay, professor, you've found the reference book the dead man had been checking. You can make a pull to find the relevant section on necrotic flesh, or take two pulls to do it so quickly and knowledgeably that it's clear to everyone around that you must know your stuff."

    I will also ask players "do you want to make a pull for an unspecified reason?" When they do, I tell them something interesting they wouldn't otherwise have noted.

    A pull is required when it's something that's possible but (a) has a chance of failure, and (b) it isn't clear from the questionnaire that the character is good at it.

    So "I punch the NPC in the face!" requires a pull unless the questionnaire mentioned that the PC has a history of violence.

    If it's a competition with another character, each side always makes pulls; if a skilled character is competing against an unskilled character, I'll probably have the unskilled character make 2 pulls to the skilled character's 1. As CP says, this sort of competition is a great and fun way to quickly loosen up the tower. I once had two PCs struggling over a loaded gun, everyone knowing that at any moment the gun could go off if the tower fell...
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