Win yourself a free copy of the Dread PDF over here at Hopeless Gamer. I believe the contest ends at midnight, Oct. 29th, so hurry up!
Cooperation between the players’ characters in Dread usually takes the form of the players divvying up the pulls, sharing the responsibility and the risk. And this works largely because it lets each individual player experience a little ease in their burden without tampering with the pacing of the game.
But recently, in Piratecat’s ever-growing ENworld thread on Dread, there was a request for a mechanic that helped to focus the game on trust between the characters, and this inspired the following optional rules.
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.
“What stops me from just refusing to pull?”
It’s a question I often get when introducing someone to the rules of Dread. And it is a legitimate one. Usually, I’m moments away from hosting a game for them, so I can answer with an enigmatic, “You won’t.”
But recent discussions on the Dread message board and through e-mail have me reconsidering this terse answer.
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.