Author Topic: Any tips on running Dread?  (Read 14016 times)

trinite

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Any tips on running Dread?
« on: September 03, 2015, 02:53:05 PM »
Does anybody have some good tips and experience for running a good game of Dread? I'm putting a game together for a party a couple weeks from now, and I'll be running it for the first time.

My initial thoughts:

1. I'm thinking of a survival horror game set on a fairly near-future moon base, with some AI/robotic horror and corporate intrigue. I'm thinking the PCs are going to be space tourists.

2. It looks like I may have as many as 7 or 8 players. Which normally would be too many, but...I think Dread might be able to handle it.

3. I'm thinking Survival Horror, rather than much investigation or psychological weirdness, because the single-mechanic nature of Dread lends itself to survival better.
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trinite

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Re: Any tips on running Dread?
« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2015, 02:55:35 PM »
No tips? Bummer. I guess I'll just roll it out and see how it goes! I think I'm going to have 8 players...wowza. I think I'll simply not feel guilty about any early PC deaths. :)

For prep, I think I'm going to outline six or seven objectives that they need to accomplish in order to escape the moon base, and about 12 or so locations where they'll have to survive dangers and make progress on their objectives. Hopefully that way all 8 players will have something to do.
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clockworkjoe

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Re: Any tips on running Dread?
« Reply #2 on: September 09, 2015, 01:59:39 AM »
I've only kind of run Dread twice and never with that many players. Sorry!

trinite

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Re: Any tips on running Dread?
« Reply #3 on: September 09, 2015, 12:29:53 PM »
I'm going to give each player a secret private objective in addition to their escape plan, including some competitive ones to increase tension. :) But I'll try to avoid spoilers here, since I'm thinking of coming down to Springfield GAME and running it there.
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clockworkjoe

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Re: Any tips on running Dread?
« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2015, 11:44:19 PM »
Awesome! I'd love to actually play Dread!

Daegan

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Re: Any tips on running Dread?
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2015, 09:37:04 AM »
Late response, hope it's still useful -

With lots of players come up with dangerous pulls often.  Like, more than you think you should.  If your players are fairly good at this Jenga thing it's gonna take a LONG time to get deaths.  Like 10 pulls or more to get a single death.  This is gonna effect game time more than you think it might.

With a group of 9 people, if you get them to make a pull every 5 minutes, assuming this 10 pulls to kill someone bit, it's gonna take you 50 minutes to kill a character.  Assuming 3 hours of game time, that's only 3 dead out of the 9. 

I know Dread is all about the... dread... over the actual killing, but you've got to have at least a few casualties by the end of the game or I've found that everyone's left thinking "that was a fun adventure" rather than "that was brutal and horrifying!"

Granted I've only run Dread twice for groups the size you're talking about, but that was my main take away point.  (That's Dread specific anyway.)

trinite

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Re: Any tips on running Dread?
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2015, 02:55:24 PM »
Thanks, Daegan. The moon base is gonna be hella dangerous, so I'm planning to make them pull just about every time they do anything, unless they can come up with a really good specific character reason to automatically succeed.

I'm also planning on using a house rule to reward the players that show the most initiative and make the most pulls:

I have a second set of Jenga blocks. Each time a player makes a pull, they also get a block from the second set to keep in front of them (that also lets me easily see who's been making pulls, and who I might need to prompt with some character danger, to evenly distribute spotlight time). Once a character has at least three blocks, the next time they make a pull they can instead opt to place all of their kept blocks on top of the tower, forming a whole new layer (though they must explain how one of the facts from their character questionnaire helps them succeed). That rewards them for making pulls with a brief respite of almost-guaranteed success. Plus the tower will increase in height as the game progresses, building more psychological tension.
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D6xD6 - Chris

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Re: Any tips on running Dread?
« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2015, 03:21:39 PM »
I'm going to give each player a secret private objective in addition to their escape plan, including some competitive ones to increase tension. :) But I'll try to avoid spoilers here, since I'm thinking of coming down to Springfield GAME and running it there.

This sounds great!

My experience with Dread is to get into pulls quickly and go around the table in order every few minutes to make sure every player gets a pull.  Dread is better as a short, but dynamic experience.  By being quick, it kind of feels like a quick "cut" to the next character, and everyone is engaged in the story because the narrative center switches so quickly.  When I did this, I used a countdown timer on my phone and made sure everyone could see it, and they had to make a pull when the countdown expired.

Hope that helps!

trinite

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Re: Any tips on running Dread?
« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2015, 03:26:57 PM »
Nice idea on the timer. How long did you set it for?
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D6xD6 - Chris

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Re: Any tips on running Dread?
« Reply #9 on: September 12, 2015, 05:45:56 PM »
I THINK 5 minutes

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trinite

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Re: Any tips on running Dread?
« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2015, 12:15:39 PM »
Thanks for the tips, everybody. The session went great. Seems like my houserules worked extremely well. As brave players added layers, the tower got crazy tall.

I also gave everyone a little meeple (pulled out of a Carcassonne game) to track where they were on the map. That was absolutely vital, since it meant that the party could split up and we could still keep track of where everybody was.

And this happened:


« Last Edit: September 14, 2015, 12:17:24 PM by trinite »
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Twisting H

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Re: Any tips on running Dread?
« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2015, 08:36:42 PM »
moon base

Well damn.  I'm too late with this information but it might be useful to someone else who is thinking of a moon base or a future eclipse phase game. 

In the 1960's the US Army drafted plans to build a military base on the moon. Code named "Project Horizon".

CNN:  http://edition.cnn.com/2014/07/24/us/1960s-moon-military-base/

Quote

The U.S. Army brainchild "Project Horizon" was born.

Its proposal to leap beyond the Soviets opened with the line: "There is a requirement for a manned military outpost on the moon."

The paper argued that it was imperative for the United States to develop and protect its potential interest on the Earth's natural satellite -- and to do so quickly to protect the American way of life.

"To be second to the Soviet Union in establishing an outpost on the moon would be disastrous to our nation's prestige and in turn to our democratic philosophy," the paper surmised.

It should have the kind of priority and authority given to the Manhattan Project, which developed the atomic bomb, the Army said.

"Once established, the lunar base will be operated under the control of a unified space command." The space around the Earth and moon would be considered a military theater.

Lunar nuclear power plants

After a thorough justification of the scientific, political and military need for the base, the proposal -- two documents and more than 400 typewritten pages -- calculated out the details of what could be done on the outpost and what it would take to make it reality.

It offered graphs and mathematical formulas; considerations for low gravity and magnetic field, lack of water and air, and ballistic dynamics on the moon's surface; and design drawings of spacecraft, lunar bulldozers, modular moon cabins and special space suits.

It contained photos of the moon with desirable spots for a colony mapped out on them.

Project Horizon would start out with 10 to 20 crew members on a mission to build a somewhat self-sustaining colony capable of producing its own oxygen and water.

Supply ships would bring the rest. Page after page was dedicated to the future capabilities of the Saturn rockets that would boost the supplies there.

With expansion would come lunar nuclear power plants.

Construction of the basic outpost would start in 1964 and be completed five years later.

The visions were a bit ahead of schedule. Humans did not land on the moon for the first time until July 1969. And in the end, it wasn't the military, but NASA that sent them there.

Lunar nuclear detonation

The nuclear arms race was omnipresent in the '60s, and Project Horizon made room for its possible expansion to the moon. It pondered the pros and cons -- scientifically, militarily and psychologically -- of detonating a nuclear device on the moon or nearby.

And it reflected on the possibility of using nuclear weapons in space.

Technological advances accelerated the Cold War and the space race through the 1960s, and U.S. military and intelligence agencies expounded in further papers on how the moon could be used for military purposes or intelligence gathering.

George Washington University has collected the papers and published them on its National Security Archive website.

The U.S. agencies also documented their space rivalry with the Soviet Union, how U.S. intelligence picked up Soviet anti-ballistic missile radar images, when their signals reflected off the moon.

Intelligence officers feverishly studied Soviet space capabilities and intercepted pictures their spacecraft signaled back to Earth.

And in 1967 the CIA documented how operatives "borrowed" a Lunik space capsule, analyzed it and returned it to the Soviets.

The purpose of a nuclear detonation near or on the moon would be for show, a document said.

Its "foremost intent was to impress the world with the prowess of the United States."

The security archive said that Air Force leaders scrapped the idea after deciding that it was too risky.

In 1967, the U.N. adopted the Outer Space Treaty banning the use of nuclear weapons from space -- including from the moon.

Link to Declassified Moon Base pdfs: http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB479/#_edn2

UN Treaty on "Use of Outer Space, including the Moon and Other Celestial Bodies" : http://www.unoosa.org/oosa/en/ourwork/spacelaw/treaties/introouterspacetreaty.html

D6xD6 - Chris

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Re: Any tips on running Dread?
« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2015, 10:32:18 PM »
Glad it went well!  Great ideas on using the meeples.

trinite

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Re: Any tips on running Dread?
« Reply #13 on: September 15, 2015, 09:09:55 PM »
Frickin' amazing find, TH. Right now the scenario isn't intended to be all that realistic, but that's some killer material if I want to take it in a harder sci-fi direction.
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Twisting H

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Re: Any tips on running Dread?
« Reply #14 on: September 17, 2015, 02:32:54 AM »
Frickin' amazing find, TH. Right now the scenario isn't intended to be all that realistic, but that's some killer material if I want to take it in a harder sci-fi direction.

Thanks. I can just feel there are at least two solid game supplements in those government files. Naturally my mind goes to Eclipse Phase and Delta Green.  Someone's got to use them sometime.