Sunday, September 21, 2014

Dread - Suspense and Control

I'm thinking today about the game of Dread by Epidiah Ravachol I played at midnight-to-four-am last night, and how freaking awesome Dread is as a game. I know, tons of people say this, and they say it for a reason. I am sure there are people who don't like the game, but hell, I really dig it.

Here's why.

I like scary things. I like suspense. However, I'm also a giant coward. I can't watch a ton of horror films or read scary stories like I could when I was a kid because I have wild nightmares. So, roleplaying is one of the ways I get my scary fix. Dread is awesome at this.

There is suspense like I've never felt in a game. I liked Black Stars Rise (Sage LaTorra) because it was creepy as all get out. I like Dread because I hold my breath for at least half of the game. I am on the edge of my seat, but trying desperately not to bump the table. My hands shake for reals instead of just because of medicine. It's brilliant.

Introducing an element that takes so much control but removes so much control at the same time is really interesting. The Jenga tower is something for people with steady hands and knowledge of physics, so I expect plenty of people can play the game without as much worry about it falling on simple early pulls, but for someone like me, the chance of the tower falling is there from the first pull. It takes all of my brain and physical power to pull out a block, controlling my actions more than I normally do. But it also removes any of my control. I can narrate freely most of the time, but when it comes down to it, I have to give up to a pull to see whether I live or die.

And that's another interesting part: one failed pull and you're gone. There aren't second chances. In many games, I hate character death, but in Dread, I wait for it anxiously, and then end up staring at the tower as the rest of the players go out in a blaze of glory.

Plus, the questionnaires are great. They give the GM just enough information to go on, without taking the players too long to answer questions. It provides elements of curiosity as we watch others write out their answers but can't see what they're saying, watching the little smiles or grimaces on their face betraying some of the parts of their story.

This is kind of a short post, but I wanted to chat a little bit about it. I hope you enjoyed the read. Tell me what you think of Dread in the comments!

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