About a month or so ago I hosted a Dread game for several friends of mine who hadn’t played yet. Rather than play one of the myriad of Dread stories I had created for the conventions over the years, I wanted to see what sort of story they wanted to play. One of the players said he would like to see how Dread handled a game where the players’ characters were themselves vampires. Another suggested, perhaps in jest, that we set it in Duluth, Minnesota, in the year 1954.
What followed was the story of an all-American family in the heartland who, upon returning from a long weekend at their hunting cabin, discovered that none of them could remember the week and each of them were entertaining sinister cravings.
Oh, and they were all missing an eye.
Most of my Dread games as of late have been rather straightforward. I’ve been showing the game off to new players, and so I don’t get too experimental with it. The players in these games are usually interested in purchasing or hosting games of their own. So the fundamentals become the focus of my game.
I miss the early days of Dread, when we’d toy with all sorts of wackiness, including a mad dice system for determining how many pulls you should make and a table of 218 standard questions that rolled on to make your initial questionnaire. The core of Dread was there from the beginning, and all the experiments just led me back to it, but that doesn’t me we didn’t have fun along the way.
In the spirit of those salad days, here are some variants on the questionnaire that I’ve been dying to try, but haven’t yet had the opportunity.
Over the weekend, I hosted a game for a few friends of mine, and one of them was kind enough to write up an account of their trials, and post it in a couple corners of the Internet. For the curious, I thought I’d provide the questionnaires we used. I had prepared four, but only had three players. The first was to become Darryl Turner; the second, Gavin “Irish” McGrath; and the third, Slim. The fourth went unused that night.
For me, the most laborious part of hosting is creating the character questionnaires. Part of this is because I feel a tremendous demand to create new and intriguing questions, which is compounded by the seventy or more questions required by my average game. Fortunately, my average game is a bit extreme. Usually I’m creating questionnaires for games that will be hosted for strangers at conventions. This means I’m writing questions for six people who I don’t know at all and I have an invested interest in impressing.
When playing with friends, things get much easier. I have a more intuitive understanding of what will engage them, and I know they already enjoy the game. Still, there are some tricks from con games that I routinely fall back on.