Dread: The Horror RPG

Happy Halloween Month Everyone!

Tis the Season for Scaring, so what better way than to do so around your game table with your friends.

Yes, October usually spurs creativity in people to lean towards the spooky and horror genres for their table, whether it is converting their current campaign settings (like D&D or Pathfinder) into one of this theme, or picking up another game to play a One-Shot game with.  Most often, those who do change rulesets may play a complicated horror RPG, but I found that if you are going to do a one shot and you have a group of newbie players, you should probably keep it rules light.  This leads me to my discussion on my experiences with Dread: The Horror RPG.dread_standard_front_cover2-193x300

Dread is very rules light that all you need are some friends, a Jenga® Tower (yes Jenga®, not dice!), and develop a few questions to ask your players, such as their desires, fears, backgrounds, etc.  Then you create a story-line that is straight out of your darkest desires or from the horror movies you know and love.  The point of the game is to have your players pull blocks from the tower whenever they are attempting to do something in the game.  If the tower falls, that player will meet their end as the game master deems necessary.  The players also have an option to knock the tower over purposefully to give their character an Epic Death that prolongs the deaths of their compatriots.


As with any game, there is a list of Pro’s and Con’s.  But also with any game, there are usually ways around the Con’s that you just need to tailor for yourself.


  • Rules are very light and easy for anyone to be able to jump in and play
  • The rulebook gives you some easy to run game sessions to start with, although you can craft your own when you get the feel.  Themes of these scenarios are a Werewolf stalking the group, a Space mission gone wrong (think Alien), a Serial Killer on the loose,
  • Definitely sets the feeling of anxiety or dread when characters need to pull blocks and the tower is about to topple.
  • Theme flexibility.  You can pretty much do anything with it or even incorporate it for a one-shot of your current campaign setting.  (Be warned though, it may lead to character deaths.)

Con’s (There are ways around all of these!)

  • Prep work on making up your own questionnaire for your players to fill out.  No set character sheet
  • The players get very good at Jenga and can take the tower forever to fall
  • When a player dies, no specific rules on keeping them involved while the game continues.  This can lead to players dying at the beginning accidentally and sitting around bored for hours.

Combating the Con’s

  • Finally, my experiences with Dread have all been good ones and I have learned how to eliminate the two flaws above.  I created a universal Questionnaire Sheet that anyone can use in their games.  You can find it in the links below!
  • For the tower to fall quicker, you can decide the number of blocks that players need to pull. You can up the ante as the game progresses as well.  (As an example) By the climax of your story-line, all player actions should pull at least 3 blocks.
  • Also, if a player dies, you are in control of the game.  Simply ask them to come up with a new character and jump back in OR you can allow that player to interact in the story as a non-player character and when players pull blocks they can interfere (without touching them).  The later increases the fun of the group as it can make every pull a more Dreadful experience.

Hope some of you enjoy this game around your table this Halloween.  And as always, Happy Gaming!

For more information on this great RPG see the links below.  These links are also featured in my External Resources if you need them in the future.


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