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

BSF

Explorer
I just read Piratecat's review yesterday (yeah, I haven't been around much lately) and I love what I am reading! This game looks fun. Too bad my players don't want to try it this Friday. Something about wanting to see what they find beyond the bluesteel doors down in Ghul's Labyrinth this next week. *sigh*

Oh well, I will find a way to run this game and see if I can make it work. It sounds terrific. At least with my players begging off right now, I will have time to get a copy of the rulebook.
 

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Chaldfont

First Post
I ran my first Dread game last night. Unfortunately, I only got three players. But we had a great time. I wasn't sure if the two big gimmicks (Jenga and the character questionnaires) would work but they sure did. Even I, as host, was tense as the players pulled blocks from the rickety tower! By the end, the players had to make hard choices: do you try a pull, knowing that there's a good chance the tower will fall or do you accept failure? The stakes are higher, and the chance for success is lower. Very exciting and the tension of Jenga translates really well into fear for your character.

My scenario was a Bigfoot story with a twist. You can find it here.
 

Asmor

First Post
This is kind of tangential, but what would you guys do if the tower got to the point where there were literally no more remotely safe pulls left? It might sound like an academic question, but a few weeks ago I was playing Jenga with a friend and we actually got to the point where every single pull was taken, and every layer was left with either just the middle piece or just the two outside pieces.
 

If you somehow got it to the point where there were no more *physically possible* pulls left and it was still early in the scenario, I'd probably still push things and see if someone either knocked it down on purpose and let them take the 'dead man walking' out. If it just got to the point where there the tower was so unstable that even breathing on it was risky but there were infinitely-impropable pulls left, I'd just keep going. It's Dread, dammit, someone's got to die! Again, though, if it made sense to pull out DMW, I would.

In my (albeit limited) experience, though, unless you have a bunch of nerves-of-steel skilled Jenga players, the tower is going to drop before you get to the point of where there isn't a single possible pull remaining. Playing for fun and playing when your character is on the line are two different things.
 

Re: no possible pulls left: When I have played Jenga before, we've viewed it as acceptable to take a layer with two left and to move one of the two to the center, steadying the tower while doing so, and to then draw the other out. It's risky, of course, and the tower is likely to fall after a couple pulls like that (it could easily fall on the first one), but it means you haven't really gotten to the "no pulls possible" stage until the tower is exactly one block on each level.

Applying that to Dread: obviously, the danger of each pull at that point would be very, very high. But that's to be expected and is rather the point of the game's mechanism. And, as Rodrigo pointed out, that will be a relatively rare Dread game anyway.

But that's all in the abstract-- I haven't played yet, although I'm going to for the first time next Saturday! I'm very excited about giving it a try.
 

Festivus

First Post
Epidiah Ravachol said:
Middle of September is the unofficial word. I'll report back once it becomes official.
Any word on that PDF Epi? I may have to break down and buy the actual book, since I likely have saved enough for it by now :)
 

Epidiah Ravachol

First Post
I've seen the PDF proofs, which means it is just around the corner. Unfortunately, producing games is not the day job for anyone at the Impossible Dream, so that corner might be somewhere in December. But as far as I can tell, it is in the tidying up stage.
 


Asmor

First Post
Thanks for bumping the thread, I completely forgot that I needed to post here!

The other day I took my fiancée to Pandemonium in Cambridge, MA. She's more of a casual gamer, who's trying to get into running games, and was looking for a new system. So I was browsing the board games when she comes over to me and asks if I'd heard anything about "this," this being a small white book in her hand with a bloody hand print.

For a second my eyes focus on the title... "Dread... wait-- DREAD?!?" and I snatch it out of her hands, excitedly telling her that this was the game I'd been talking about so long ago and the reason I'd bought that Jenga set.

So... Sweet serendipity! Sadly, I haven't had a chance to really look through it yet, that same night I got the Starcraft boardgame, which took up all my time in the evening, and now I've got finals to worry about...

But it's sitting there on the bureau, taunting me...
 

Epidiah Ravachol

First Post
Asmor said:
But it's sitting there on the bureau, taunting me...
As long as it is taunting, I know it hasn't forgotten its training.

You Massachusetts people should keep an eye on JiffyCon. I know an insider who tells me the next one will probably be in a couple months and in Boston. I'll be there and if there are enough interested folks, I definitely run a Dread game or two.
 

Epidiah Ravachol

First Post
Epidiah Ravachol said:
You Massachusetts people should keep an eye on JiffyCon. I know an insider who tells me the next one will probably be in a couple months and in Boston. I'll be there and if there are enough interested folks, I definitely run a Dread game or two.
It's official. If you find yourself in Boston on the 8th of March, swing by Pandemonium Books & Games and sit in on a game or two. At the moment there is only one Dread game running, but if there is overwhelming interest, more can be arranged.
 


Ran a second game of my 'Morro Castle' scenario last weekend. I love how I can have pretty much the same starting point, and the same skeleton plot, and have things turn out very differently. And I don't know if it was an especially good Jenga table, or just really good players, but the first collapse came around pull 35 and the second was up to 41 when the player decided to abandon mid-pull and knock it down intentionally. (And the first collapse came after the player successfully pulled and then dropped the block when placing it back on top!)

That's substantially higher than we got the first time. Oddly, though, despite there being more pulls, the deaths came at right about the same points, because there were a couple of epic contested pulls along the way.

Got to use Dead Man Walking, this time, as the first death came at an inopportune time, and it ended up working pretty well. I still had one character that I didnt' do a good job of integrating into the story, so it's back to the drawing board for that one (Sorry, Keryn!). I also had 7 people this time, which I think is just too many for me to juggle plot-wise.
 


diaglo said:
blame it on old age mang.
Where's Fickle when I need him?

Actually, it wasn't so much mental lapses on my part (no more than normal, anyway), it's just that the number of times I had to deal with people one on one went up, and I think that affects the pacing and the involvement of the others too much. Something to work on for next time.
 

Piratecat

Writing Fantasy Gumshoe!
Rodrigo Istalindir said:
I still had one character that I didnt' do a good job of integrating into the story, so it's back to the drawing board for that one (Sorry, Keryn!). I also had 7 people this time, which I think is just too many for me to juggle plot-wise.
you probably do this already, but when I have 7 people, I make sure that their characters know (and sometimes hate) one another already. that means that they can roleplay against one another a little easier if I'm focusing on someone else.

I'm converting an Esoterrorists scenario into a Dread game. I'm really interested in seeing how different it feels.
 

Piratecat said:
you probably do this already, but when I have 7 people, I make sure that their characters know (and sometimes hate) one another already. that means that they can roleplay against one another a little easier if I'm focusing on someone else.
Actually, I think that may have been part of the problem. The scenario does have a lot of reasons for the players to work against each other, and that was why I was moving away from the table so much.

The biggest difference (aside from the 7th person) was that the first time, pretty much everyone knew each other pretty well (TU, Queen D, Reveal, John Crichton, Cthuhlu's Librarian, and madwabbit was the only 'noob' to the EN crowd. I may have been more willing to interact with them one on one at the table because I'd gamed with them before and wasn't as worried about giving something away -- I knew I could just say 'Opps, forget you heard that' and move on. The game last week was more mixed, and I was a little more concerned about keeping knowledge compartmentalized.

Piratecat said:
I'm converting an Esoterrorists scenario into a Dread game. I'm really interested in seeing how different it feels.
Me, too!

My next attempt (maybe to premier at GenCon) will be using Dread to run a game based on the old Simon Hawke 'Time Wars' books. I just have to figure out the right setting...
 

madwabbit

First Post
Rodrigo Istalindir said:
The biggest difference (aside from the 7th person) was that the first time, pretty much everyone knew each other pretty well (TU, Queen D, Reveal, John Crichton, Cthuhlu's Librarian, and madwabbit was the only 'noob' to the EN crowd.
noob?

NOOB?!?!

~snort!~
 

howandwhy99

First Post
We played a game I ran in November at our first Loki-con up in the north mountains. I called it Dread Cthulhu mixing the Dread rules with the best of CoC rules: group pulls for sanity, a "rock" to determine who went first for those, and picks from a shuffled tarot deck to divvy out insanities. Insanities were tied to a sheet, but I also paired them to the consequences at the time. Sanity loss happened either from a failed pull attempt or from learning mythos knowledge (MK) in game. MK earned folks special supernatural powers, but as I said also earned you a certain amount of crazy to go with them. The learning of "things man was not meant to know".

The setting was the fall of 1943 in German-occupied Paris. The players each came from one of the Allied powers and if they weren't part of the French resistance they parachuted in at the beginning of the game. Their "you will not see me again" contact led the group to an apartment safe house which was entered through a young woman and her children's refrigerator. The room had no other exits. Besides some barred windows, a bathroom, and some other furniture, clothes, necessities, etc., they were fed by the young woman through the back of the refrigerator. (They had to take out the shelves and food whenever they wanted to leave)

It was a good set up, but in retrospect I did make some mistakes. I had 4 areas set up to explore via a handy "This is your mission" enveloped message I left in the room's footlocker, not to mention a few weapons. The problem was: 4 was really too many to get through as we started late, I hadn't counted on the safe room being an area too, nor on the Nazi HQs in Hotel Meurice.



The other difficulty was creating characters. It took a couple of hours and pushed our starting time back pretty late. Fortunately the guys really filled out their questionnaires with awesome material. And they came ready to play too. Each had their own accent to try out (I was amazed at how good they were) and lots of "sit back and watch 'em play" happened for the next couple of hours of the session. All of it in the safe room which they thought they explored fully. Heck, they didn't trust a single one of each other until everyone's story was told and questioned for truth.

The rest of the session was when the tension turned up. Nothing like making your way as spies through a city where death lies around every corner... oh yeah, and cthulhu monsters. I think setting really cranked up the mood, but I couldn't have done it without the tower. It really helped put risk into every action they took.

It would take too long to really list all the details and it's been a few months. For a taste though, Project Ancestor did include: exploring Notre Dame de Paris, the catacombs of Paris, La Sorbonne, and the Musee de Louvre; three wild men in the Ahnenerbe & Institute for occult warfare to be stopped: Karl Wilgut, Otto Rahn, & Ludwig Straniak; the Bayeux Tapestry, the Curies' radiation machine, a green glowing ghost, the Rune of Man, doors that weren't there a second ago, an occult ritual, an ancient army, a glowing red gem, Himmler's wooden "throne", a shadowless world, and a second threat against invading Britain.

It was all very David Lynch in style.
 

Seonaid

Explorer
Piratecat said:
1. You are over 40. Why do you still live with your mother? A loaded question. I wanted to establish that other people might see him as a mama's boy, even if he doesn't see himself that way. Just asking this question says a ton about the character.

4. Why didn’t you enlist during the Great War? Another non-loaded question. Maybe he's sickly, or a coward, but answering this defines personality. It also does something even more important -- it reminds the player that the game happens just after WW1, and that other PCs may be veterans who resent his non-enlisting.

9. Have you considered hospitalizing your mother? This relationship is an important one, since the mother is a PC. This establishes whether he's resentful of her or not.

10. Do you believe in spirits? The game is a ghost story in part, and his mom believes in spirits. Does he share her interests?

13. Is it worth having a go at Camille, your mother’s French maid? Another Pc. This establishes Camille's existence, and possibly sets up some tension. It also suggests that the PC may have lust as a secret sin.
How much do the players know of their relationships to the other characters? Do they know any of the other questionnaires? From what I've heard it sounds like no, but if there are pre-established relationships, it seems like role-playing them out during a 4-hour session would be too time consuming. How do you deal with that?

If it's addressed in the book, sorry--I have it but haven't had a chance to crack it open yet.
 

COMING SOON: 5 Plug-In Settlements for your 5E Game

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