Hacking the horror RPG Dread

By on April 25, 2016 in Gaming, Videos


Dread has a great concept. It’s a horror RPG by Epidiah Ravachol where you pull blocks from a tower to perform actions. If you tower falls, you die. Pulling from an increasingly unstable tower is a great mechanic that simulates the escalating tension of the story.

I’ve played it a few times and I figured out that I prefer to run it faster, deadlier, and with a little twist to keep players more engaged after they die.

To see how that can be accomplished check out the video below. It contains several rules modifications that you can use as options to add some twists to a standard game of Dread.

Hack #1: Shorten the Questionnaire

Cut down the 13 question character creation system and instead focus on a the smallest amount of questions that accomplish two goals:

  • Giving the player a character concept to work with
  • Giving the character a reason to engage with the story

Hack #2: Speed up the game

I think 4+ hours is too long. Sure, a slow-burn sense of dread is really great if you can pull it off. But the mechanics are too simple and it takes too long to get the ball rolling. Playing a shorter 1-1.5 hour game really lets you ratchet up the tension and keep it up.

Hack #3: Make it Deadlier

Use the most unstable block tower you can possibly find. Barring that, pull more blocks before starting the game and after each player dies. Here is the one featured in the video:

0425162123a-1Tower and photography by Val Ballerini (Through a Cracked Lens)


Hack #4: My favorite!

You’ll have to watch the video for this one. I’ll just say that it has to do with the dead players messing with the living while they are trying to pull blocks.

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