Duluth, 1954

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.

For me, the key to pulling off a horror game with vampires, is to shift a bit from the modern conception of them. Because we all seem to be a bit too familiar with them, and they’ve lost that edge that comes with being unknown. But I wanted the players to feel like they were playing vampires, and not something completely different.

I went about this a number of ways, starting with the questionnaires. We played the game over the course of two nights. On the first night there were four players who got the first four questionnaires. On the second night a fifth player joined us. I asked if he would mind playing an ordinary cop rather than a vampire. He said he preferred it.

On that first night, I told the players that their characters would begin the game a few days after they have returned from their trip to the cabin. Everyone is missing an eye and parched with an unholy thirst. The rest was up to them and the questionnaires. The first four had the advantage of making the characters together. So they sat around the table and discussed just how the family would be before setting pen to paper.

Once they had the rough details hammered out, the questionnaires coxed a few ties to the community for each of the characters, as well as a few things they were discovering about their new-found vampirism.

For the fifth player, I wanted to tie him closely to the family as well, so he would have a reason to help them. Hence the question with the blank in it, which is meant to be filled with the name of an appropriate family member.

There are a few other tricks tucked into the questions, especially designed to sow dissent. Blatant things, such as who resents who, but a few subtle ones, like the one family member with a different eye missing–just to add an air of mystery.

  • Where do you sit in the family tree and how does that make you feel responsible for them?
  • How has your relationship with your neighbors been strained this past year or so?
  • What do you to to make ends meet?
  • How does sunlight affect you differently?
  • What hobby are you no longer able to participate in?
  • How have you disguised your missing right eye?
  • What do you have hidden beneath your bed?
  • When the chips are down, where do you find strength?
  • What astounding thing have you been able to do since the trip to the cabin?
  • What is your name?

  • Where do you sit in the family tree and how does that make you resent them?
  • What part of your community do you take the most pride in?
  • What careers have you had and why can’t you keep one?
  • How did you discover blood would sate your appetite?
  • Where did you used to hang out when you had free time?
  • How have you disguised your missing left eye?
  • How do your religious convictions differ from the rest of the family?
  • Who do you turn to in a crisis?
  • Since the trip to the cabin, what astounding thing have you discovered you can do?
  • What is your name?

  • Where do you sit in the family tree and how does that affect the way they treat you?
  • Why will you never leave Duluth?
  • What did you do before the cabin trip that almost cost you your job?
  • All animals but which are now disturbed by your presence? Why do you think this is?
  • In school you regularly won awards in what?
  • How have you disguised your missing left eye?
  • What did you do to that girl?
  • What do you think you are good at but really aren’t?
  • What astounding thing have you discovered about yourself since the cabin trip?
  • What is your name?

  • Where do you sit in the family tree and how has that helped you in the past?
  • Why is it that you feel your best friend might be worse off than you?
  • What do you do on the side to make a little extra cash?
  • Why are you the only one comfortable feeding in front of the others?
  • Who is the last person you want to know about your condition, and why do you fear they already know?
  • How have you disguised your missing left eye?
  • Why haven’t you dated in a year?
  • What have you been wanting to do all your life?
  • What astounding feat have you accomplished since the trip to the cabin?
  • What is your name?

  • How have you kept your job as a state trooper for so long despite your alcoholism?
  • Why do you feel you owe __________ your life?
  • What part of your job are you particularly good at?
  • According to her, where is your wife now? And where do you suspect she really is?
  • What do you do to keep entertained when patrolling these back woods?
  • Before you saw the children in the woods, what was the strangest thing you’ve encountered?
  • What does the way you wear your uniform say about you?
  • When was the last time your job put your life in danger and how did you survive?
  • What is your name?

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