Questionnaires

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.

For instance, I’m an avid recycler. I’ll borrow questions from questionnaires used in earlier games. At times, I’ll copy a whole set of questionnaires and just adjust a few of the more leading questions if they don’t quite make sense for a particular story. This is particularly easy if they games are occuring in the same setting.

I’ll pick a theme or topic that is important to the game I have planned, come up with a related question, and ask the same one, or a slight variant of it, on each of the questionnaires. This can produce some of the more interesting insight into characters and their relationships with each other.

I also have a set of stock questions that I turn to if I felt that I’ve asked all that needs to be asked and still want to pad the questionnaire out a bit. Most of these can be found throughout the book.

As laborous as it is to write them, I love reading them after they are filled out. The questionnaire is a vital and enjoyable part of the game. And I’d like to make it a bit easier for all those hosts out there experiencing questionnaire block. To that end, I intend to slowly post my backlog of questionnaires for you to mine. And I encourage you to do the same.

Let’s begin at the roots. The following six characters were used for the very first public game of Dread which took place at GenCon in 2000. They are from the same zombie apocalypse game as the example questionnaire in the A Question of Character chapter. That questionnaire was cannabalized and refined from several of these. Several of these questions strike me as a bit more clumsy than what I use these days, but we all have to start somewhere.


The night before the apocalypse a co-worker threatened to tell the boss about you. What was your job and what did you do wrong?

Who do you stick close to in the group when things get dangerous and why?

You have a very obvious mark on your body, what is it?

Why did you leave the group of survivors you had previously hooked up with?

What is it that you horde from the rest of the group?

Combat gives you an incredible rush. Why do you hide this from the others?

In your dreams you are haunted by what person from your past?

How do you act around the others when you come down from your combat high?

What do you find important now that you would never suspect would be important?

You have won awards in what hobby?

When intimidated, how do you carry yourself?

Why do you think you are indispensable to the group?

What is your name?


Before the apocalypse you made a fortune as a programmer in a dot-com. When the company went belly-up what did you do for a living?

When the apocalypse came and the zombies devoured your spouse and children, you were in a local bar. What were you drinking?

What are you most vain about and how have you maintained this aspect since the apocalypse?

Since meeting these survivors, what have you done that you fear the rest of the group would look down upon and how have you kept it a secret?

You are much more physically fit now then you were before the apocalypse and it makes you feel better about yourself. Does this lighten the emotional impact of the apocalypse or do you feel guilty about feeling this way?

What is your most pleasant memory?

Of all the friends and family members you lost in the apocalypse, who do you miss the most and why?

You depend on the others for survival because you lack what vital ability or skill?

Who do you feel the closest to in the group and who don’t you trust yet?

What is in your pockets?

What are you most embarrassed by?

What do you think you are much better at than you really are?

What is your name?


Before the apocalypse what sport did you achieve some local fame in and what aspect of the sport were you weakest in?

Besides the child, you are the youngest in the group. You were the oldest in your family. How does it feel to be the runt now?

In school you were generally popular. What traits do you have that contributed to that?

It was almost a month after the apocalypse before you found another living soul. How has that isolation affected you?

What injury have you received recently that is slowing you down?

What rituals did you go through before a big game or meet?

Do you still use them, and if so, do they help?

What is it that the group relies on you for?

What object did you leave behind that you miss more than most of the people that were close to you?

Before the apocalypse, you had strong religious (or atheistic) beliefs that have changed dramatically. Why?

What was your part-time job in high school?

What trend do you still cling to?

What did you plan on doing after graduation?

What is your name?


Before the apocalypse you had a hard time making ends meet as a single parent. What job are you most proud of?

Which one are you least proud of?

Since the apocalypse, your child has been mute. What is your child’s name?

What part of your appearance did you worry about before the apocalypse and do you still worry about it now?

Who do you trust watching your child?

Who don’t you trust?

What disease do you fear most?

How have your parenting habits changed since the apocalypse?

What comfort from before the apocalypse do you miss the most?

In what ways has the stress been affecting you lately and why don’t you want the others to know about it?

Despite the loss of family and friends, the apocalypse has made your life easier in what ways?

What were you studying in college before you dropped out to raise your child?

What habit did you break before the apocalypse that you have started up again?

Since the apocalypse you have discovered that you are particularly good at what?

What is your name?


Before the apocalypse you were a salesperson for what sort of company?

When are you most nervous?

What did you like to do with your time off before the apocalypse?

What do you miss the most about your former life and what do you miss the least?

What mannerism do you often repeat?

Though you prefer to travel light these days, what do you make sure you always have with you?

What sort of pet do you keep and what is its name?

When the stress of struggling to survive everyday gets to you, what do you do?

How did you fend off your first zombie attack?

What is the worst injury you have ever had and what signs of it do you still have?

What do you prefer to use instead of firearms against the zombies and why?

What scared you most as a child?

What is your name?


Before the apocalypse you made your living through what criminal activity and what were the tools of your trade?

Unlike the rest, you had no one to lose in the apocalypse. How does that affect your feelings towards them?

What tattoos did you get when you did time in jail?

Why is it that you feel particularly protective of the child?

What disease do you have that you don’t want the others to know about?

What is your first instinct whenever the dead attack?

On the only occasion when you cracked under the pressure, what did you do?

When the zombies first attacked, who did you sacrifice to save your own skin?

Is this new world a chance for redemption or just life as usual?

What weapon do you carry with you?

Now that department stores are easy-pickings, what sort of clothes do you prefer to wear?

Despite your life of crime, what did you always want to be?

What is your name?

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