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I Made a Virtual Dread Tool


David Jose
I was talking on Reddit yesterday with someone who was looking for a way to play Dread virtually for Halloween, and I was struck by how unexciting all of the Jenga replacements out there were. None of the replacements really seemed to capture and translate the shared threat and doom that a teetering Jenga tower seemed to instill in Dread players.

Early on in the pandemic, I had been playing around with a replacement that involved a deck of "the tower stands" and "the tower falls" cards that you would draw from but I was lazy and never got around to figuring out the math to do it properly. I was overjoyed when the person I had been talking to floated a Jenga replacement mechanic they had found that already had the math all worked out. Unfortunately, the replacement was just a d20 and a piece of paper and it wasn't especially terrifying to watch. So I got it into my mind to try and fix that.

I've spent the last eight months cobbling together a lot (A LOT) of different games and game tools into Google Sheets for shared virtual play, and decided to see if I could find a way to display a boring list of d20 rolls and character sheets in a way that was more visually appealing.

[EDIT] It keeps posting it as media, gonna try posting it as a hyperlink instead.

It's still a work in progress, but at this stage it's at least functional. You'll also need to authorize the JS if you want the buttons to do anything when you push them.
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David Jose
That looks like fun! Does each character get his own Jenga tower? Does it "topple" when an entire row blacks-out?
When I get around to finishing it there will be one tower that everyone sees on their own page, and yes, when the 5th block in a row is removed the tower falls.

Currently there's a little bit of the tool that looks to see how many 3rd and 4th bricks have been removed, and introduces red pillars of light as the, adds longer dramatic pauses, and random warning messages as the danger level increases.

No where near what playing Jenga actually is, but it's a rough approximation of the tension and it maps to the probabilities of average play.


David Jose
Snuck in some minor updates before bed time!
  • Moved the Tower to the GM's Tab
  • Gave the GM a log where they could see every roll/pull
  • Gave the GM a Rebuild the Tower button
  • Updated all the character sheets so that they were looking at the same place
  • Updated some of the pull messages
Next To Do
I need to clean up the questionnaires and figure out a nice way to display information on the GM tab.


David Jose
Spent last night and this morning doing a final push. I think that I'm essentially at the last version of things, but the program should be totally usable to run a game.

  • Added a scatter of "fallen blocks" when the tower falls. Not sure if I 100% like it yet. Cosmetically I might make the scatter randomized, but that's probably unnecessarily complex.
  • Changed references to the GM to "the Host"
  • Maybe landed on a final design for the Host's tab
  • Added user information to the logs to prevent griefing
  • Added player/character/roles of other players to each char sheet
  • Made player notes look like a piece of paper

TO DO LIST: add somewhere for the Host to set their timezone. Minor cosmetic changes.

I COULD probably have it make some kind of internal check to stop someone from mashing another player's buttons on their character sheet. Currently it just tells the Host in their logs. Might be useful to stop it from happening by mistake.

I might also need to derp around with the Host's view of player responses. I haven't figured out yet if that info is presented in a useful way.


David Jose
Hey! We're sitting on a working final version. Updates since the last post are:

10/31/2020Added user information to the GM logs to prevent griefing
Added player/character/roles of other players to each char sheet
Made player notes look like a piece of paper
Forced questionnaire answers to be directly copied to Host tab
Added time zones
11/1/2020Prettied up player name crawl so that it only shows when fields are not empty
Added pull and sacrifice protection to make sure people are on the right tabs


David Jose
I realized that I never announced the final release, version number is v1.4.4141.

At this point, the only thing it needs is to be put through the paces a bit. The only weak point I SEE is tweaking of the dramatic pauses as the tower gets closer to falling.

Please let me know if you poke around with it.