Dread [Dread] Jenga beat up my dice! My results from the indie horror RPG. - Page 9


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  1. #81
    Quote Originally Posted by Nareau
    Pielorinho and I ran a game this past weekend, and it was a blast. We converted an old horror LARP we ran back in the early 90's.

    We had 2 PC deaths in the last half hour of the game. It turned into a total bloodbath after the first PC bit it, as the rest of the PCs decided their survival was worth killing for. I think they offed 4 or 5 NPCs.

    Things you might want to know when running Dread:
    1) People are a lot more willing to resort to violence after the first guy dies (and the tower is easy to pull from)
    2) If you play with smokers, play someplace where they can smoke without leaving the game. Dread will make them want cigarette badly.
    3) Figure out how to make people pull early. In our game, the setup didn't really require any pulls before the first murder happened, about an hour and a half into the game.
    Excellent advice.

    I like to season the early part of my game with a lot of inconsequential things the players can pull for. The questionnaire can often set some of these up. Got a character who is punctual: traffic is bad, you'll probably have to pull to get to the cabin before sunset. Got a character who is skittish: you hear a scream, pull to keep from spilling coffee all over yourself. Got a ladies' man: she's looking fine, pull to get her attention, jerk.

    None of those are important, but as early pulls they are really unlikely to cause a collapse. The just get the blood flowing a bit.

    In the future, I think I'm going to houserule that every player must pull 3 times every time the tower falls. I think this will help the endgame tension stay high.
    The natural pacing of most horror movies is such that once one character dies, there is usually a bit of a breather before things get tense again. That isn't always the case, and the breather never lets the tension all the way out. I've found that Dread works well in that sort of circumstance. Once the tower has fallen, it is time to restructure the scene so that the players get a chance to makes some pulls, like arguing over what to do next or keeping an extra attentive eye out for the stalking menace.

    That said, active pre-pulls are a great way to keep things on pace.

    For the designers:
    How do you handle "social pulls"? Would you make a player pull in order to convince the mental patient to put down the baseball bat? Or do you recommend just roleplaying it out?
    Definitely pull, at least one. Perhaps more, depending on the circumstances, the character's ability and experiences, and what kind of case the player makes.

    Go ahead and role-play it, and if the role-playing is particularly convincing, you can reduce the number of pulls if you like.

    In the numerous games you've run, have you noticed the tower falling after a certain time or number of pulls? It seems like a 4 hour game would most often see 30 pulls and 1 death (happening around pull #25).
    We've noticed that around 45 is when things start to get ridiculous. Obviously it is impossible to predict exactly when the tower will fall. If it were possible, it would be a little boring. But we recommend planning to make a pull about ever five minutes for a four hour game.

    That's an average of a pull every five minutes. In general, when some goes to pull, they are going to be making several at once. So it's okay to go a half hour without a pull and then yank six. Just make sure everything feels on pace.

    You certainly can pull more than that, but if you are pulling less, the tension might not be there.

    My favorite scene from our game this weekend:
    The cop manages to unlock a door to the abandoned wing of the asylum. His gun drawn, maglite at the ready, he swings the door open--only to see one of the psychiatrists standing there, holding a scalpel, covered in blood. He swings the gun up to point at the doctor's head, shouting, "DROP THE WEAPON!" Without missing a beat, the doctor calmly responds, "Can I help you?"

    Nareau
    That's a thing of beauty.
    Proud father of the ENnie award winning Dread, founding member of the Imagination Sweatshop and now a publisher: Dig a Thousand Holes.

 

  • #82
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    Eppy, you coming to GenCon? I'm running Dread a few times there for EN Worlders. If the timing and desire work out for you, you get a guaranteed space at one of the tables. (If not, no worries - you may have played the game to death by that point in the weekend - but I want to make the offer! Let me know in a few months, when we set up the game schedules.)

  • #83
    Quote Originally Posted by Piratecat
    Eppy, you coming to GenCon? I'm running Dread a few times there for EN Worlders. If the timing and desire work out for you, you get a guaranteed space at one of the tables. (If not, no worries - you may have played the game to death by that point in the weekend - but I want to make the offer! Let me know in a few months, when we set up the game schedules.)
    A gamer friend of mine was fool enough to schedule his wedding that weekend, so unfortunately I will not be able to attend. But if I could, I would. I rarely get a chance to set aside the hosting duties and just play in a game. Woodelf and the rest of the crew should be there, though.
    Proud father of the ENnie award winning Dread, founding member of the Imagination Sweatshop and now a publisher: Dig a Thousand Holes.

  • #84
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    This really does sound like a very interesting game. I'm not into horror games, movies, or much else in the genre, but I'd play this immediately.
    I'm not sure how I'd like it episodically/campaign-wise, but for one-offs I would be all for it. I heard from a lot of NCGameDayers that PC's game was an event of awesome gaming.

    PC: Did you run that game based on Dread suggestions or because that is how you run games? I am referring to moving about the table, whispering to players, etc. I have heard you did a great job, but I am pinning down whether that had anything to do with Dread or just all you?


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  • #85
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    This sounds pretty fun, actually. I do have a question (based on reading the sample rules pdf): There is an example about a player refusing a pull... he auto-fails but he cannot die by refusing to pull.

    How hard and fast is that rule that a character can't die by refusing a pull? Because it seems like an obstinate player could just decide to stop pulling. In the example, the character needs to jump from one beam to another in a burning barn. If he pulls and fails, he dies. If he pulls and succeeds, he makes the jump. But if he refuses to pull, he, for example, falls and breaks a bone, and is now lying on the floor of the burning barn. OK - but what if he continues to refuse to pull? Can he therefore never die because he's not making pulls?

    My inclination would be to say that eventually the "host" can just rule that this is a "do-or-die pull" (or whatever you want to call it) and there's no fence-sitting allowed. Or would that not work for some reason?
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  • #86
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nareau
    Pielorinho and I ran a game this past weekend, and it was a blast. We converted an old horror LARP we ran back in the early 90's.

    We had 2 PC deaths in the last half hour of the game. It turned into a total bloodbath after the first PC bit it, as the rest of the PCs decided their survival was worth killing for. I think they offed 4 or 5 NPCs.

    Things you might want to know when running Dread:
    1) People are a lot more willing to resort to violence after the first guy dies (and the tower is easy to pull from)
    2) If you play with smokers, play someplace where they can smoke without leaving the game. Dread will make them want cigarette badly.
    3) Figure out how to make people pull early. In our game, the setup didn't really require any pulls before the first murder happened, about an hour and a half into the game.

    In the future, I think I'm going to houserule that every player must pull 3 times every time the tower falls. I think this will help the endgame tension stay high.

    For the designers:
    How do you handle "social pulls"? Would you make a player pull in order to convince the mental patient to put down the baseball bat? Or do you recommend just roleplaying it out?

    In the numerous games you've run, have you noticed the tower falling after a certain time or number of pulls? It seems like a 4 hour game would most often see 30 pulls and 1 death (happening around pull #25).
    The relevant info actually did make it into the book, just not anywhere super-obvious: it's in the [brief] appendix on alternatives to Jenga. Anyway, in our experience, the tower is generally good for 35-55 pulls before it falls. With beginning groups (and, thus, most convention games), it'll be near the bottom of that range. I've sometimes counted either how many pulls when it fell, or how many had been made at the end of the game (if the tower was still standing), and it's usually around 35 at con games. But when just the 4 of us that designed it (and have thus played it tons) play--especially if Eppy is the host [he has the poorest motor skills--no offense, Eppy]--getting 50+ pulls has become the norm, though far from guaranteed.

    But, here's the secret: even knowing this, it becomes nerve-wracking for me around 25 pulls. Because, even while i know that i can generally make another pull from a tower that's "about this rickety", i never know for sure, and if i'm wrong, or i screw up, i'm out of the game.

    And, depending on the group, that point can come much earlier. I've run games for groups that were getting seriously afraid of the tower as little as a dozen or 15 pulls into the game. In some cases, due to injudicious pulls earlier, they were right to be nervous. But, in plenty of other cases, my experienced eye could tell that they likely were in no real danger of toppling the tower for another dozen. But play with that tension! It still needs to feel to the players like they're taking risks, whether or not they are, every time they pull. To that end, making a bigger deal out of wobbles and bumps than is actually warranted is also par for the course when i'm hosting. Maybe. Then again, maybe i'm giving a very realistic assessment of the tower. And, of course, no matter how good you are, no pull is ever a "sure thing". I've certainly been overly-cocky and taken the tower down on what i thought was an 'easy' pull on more than one occasion.

    So, you get a wide range at which the tower will "likely" fall (~35-~55), but with no hard boundary on either end of that range (IIRC, the theoretical absolute limit of pulls is something like 101, and the probabilities someone posted a link to predict a more-realistic ceiling of 67), combined with an even wider range of when it "might" fall (while theoretically at any point, it generally is neither in any real danger of falling except through clutziness, nor is the group particularly worried about it falling, at less than about 20 pulls), all emphasized by the simple knowledge on the part of the players that, no matter how easy a pull is now, it's still getting them a step closer to that pull they can't successfully make.

    Or, to answer a question we get sometimes, to the point where there are no pulls left to make, no matter how deft or dextrous you might be--i came within 2 pulls of that point once in a game. It doesn't matter why you don't pull, and that's a feature, not a bug--no free passes, just because you've used up the tower. It just means you know for certain that the next time you try something that requires a pull, you're failing or dying--take your pick. As opposed to the near-certainty that a very rickety tower can provide.
    woodelf
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  • #87
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    I ordered Dread based on the early posts in the thread (should receive it soon). I am looking very forward to running this for some players I know will be able to invest in the characters including at least one (as yet) non-gamer.

    All I can say is that Pirate Cat is a bad influence where my game buying is concerned.
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  • #88
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    sounds quite interesting.
    maybe i'll pick this one up, soon.
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    -s.j. bagley

  • #89
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    An awesome game!

    Folks talked about this earlier a little bit: when someone dies in a horror movie, the tension seems to ramp down. The one problem we had in our game (me and Nareau) was that the first death happened in a high-tension scene, in which the PCs were facing off against a group of, for lack of a better word, villains. They were really nervous, because the tower was rickety, and when one of them failed to take down a bad guy, it upped the tension.

    But then the players realized that the tower was rebuilt, and suddenly that upped tension seemed to drop: they realized that they had a good several pulls to make before they were in danger. And they went all-offensive.

    To be sure, that worked against them: the next death happened because a player got cocky, and we had a quick second collapse. But after that one, the remaining players were quick and methodical, and the game moved into a bloodbath scenario, with the PCs taking out the villains.

    In some ways, that bloodbath was pretty fun. I don't know that it mirrored proper horror movie format, though.

    I mention this not so much as a flaw in the game as for advice for folks running it. And I'm not really sure what form the advice should take. Maybe be prepared with a "get the villains away" card to play as soon as the first death happens, to enforce the decreased tension?

    At any rate, we had a fantastic time both as players and as folks running the game.

    Daniel
    Everything's better with monkeys! -Hypersmurf

  • #90
    Writing TimeWatch!
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    I try to follow the classic rule of suspense that says "never let the players know exactly where the villain is." I make sure not to put all my eggs in one basket for exactly this reason. If the players still have something to be nervous about other than the tower, I think the pacing concern is at least partially mitigated.
    - Piratecat, EN World Admin. Now writing TimeWatch, an investigative time travel game.

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