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Subject: Try Dread, the horror/suspense RPG using Jenga! rss

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Meghan Callahan
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Duluth
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Jenga was a game that always sat in the far back corner of my game collection, until I want to a gaming con and encountered Dread.
Dread is a role-playing game that uses Jenga as the only mechanic. No dice rolls, just a pull of a block determines whether you succeed or not. If the tower falls, you die!
I have never seen a horror/suspense RPG that is able to really get the players involved in the emotions of the situation. Sure, you know that your character's life is on the line, but you don't feel it.
However, having your character's life on the line as you look at the swaying tower, everyone holds their breath as you attempt to do the impossible, your heart starts beating faster and your hands begin to shake as you begin to pull out the brick... Now that is roleplaying!
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Sam Brown
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I was recently exposed to Dread. It was the most fun I've had in an RPG in years. Our GM was running a modified version, to ramp up the pacing to make it suitable to the plot:

One character dies per scene, in a setting ripped from the Final Destination movies. Going around the table each player in turn makes a pull then describes an additional danger on the scene. Each player can (and usually does) pull one less brick by adding one to the number of pulls the next and all after must make on their turn, or makes an extra pull or two to reverse the order of play, skip a couple players, etc. Finally, the player who drops the tower narrates their own Rube Goldberg death from all the dangers that have piled up, and the GM describes the transition to the next scene.
 
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Blue Jackal
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I've been a player three times, and all the sessions have been a blast. However, just make sure the players do not get into a situation where one wants to kill another. I think the GM inserted a "one player versus the rest" into the scenario, and it led to a massive pull fest which ended in one player knocking over the tower. If you intentionally knock over the tower, you automatically succeed at your action, BUT you die. So, player versus player conflict, where one wants to kill the other, doesn't work very well. Then again, you generally don't want your PCs trying to kill each other anyways.

Other than that, it's a great game.
 
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Arcana Games
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I'm a big fan of Dread, but after playing it many times, I realized that while the tower helps to create tension, it also adds a meta layer to the game that can detract from immersion. An alternative free game with a similar feel is GRIN (http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/154984/Grin)>; Grin uses playing cards instead of a Jenga tower.
 
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Ed Gass-Donnelly
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But don't you think the tactile, dexterity of the tower is what makes it so thrilling? Drawing a card isn't much different than a dice role. Now if you were talking about building a house of cards that might fall...
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L B
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Big enthusiastic thumbs up for using Jenga and the Dread system for horror/suspense one shots. I ran a Firefly adaptation of the Beneath A Metal Sky scenario from the website for my 2 kids, oldest son's girlfriend, husband and a friend of mine as a Halloween treat. It was a big hit. The Jenga tower does a great job of building that suspense. There's definitely a certain amount of skill needed in knowing how to finesse the number and timing of the pulls to keep the tension at the right level, as well as dealing with players' natural tendency to avoid pulling. However, it works beautifully when done right and allows for some really nice storytelling with minimal GM preparation.

Now, both my boys have plans to run their own versions of Dread one shots for their friends.
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