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Starting prep for a game of Dread. I am wondering what is the best way to handle an early exit for a character in the game? I understand the ghost or doomed method of allowing the player to continue to participate, but he is no longer allowed to pull, especially if they knock the tower over doing something that should not be lethal. This seems like a pretty good method, but what about a bit later in the game when doomed is not a real option?

Does the player continue to stay at the table and just stay for the story? How do you keep players with dead characters interested in the game after their PC is dead?

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up vote 10 down vote accepted

I play quite a lot of Dread, and I really love the tension and the flow of the game. As @Graham mentions- You have to let them die

It isn't the right kind of horror if bodies aren't dropping.

However, what you can do is control the pacing of the story and the number of pulls. In every game of Dread I've played the GM leads with a slow buildup. You can set the tone, let the PCs discover where they are and learn a little about the story before they start having to make a lot of pulls. Around the midpoint, the intensity cranks up and more pulls become important.

I know Jenga varies and it is possible to make a mistake, but in general, the tower won't go down until people have made 20 some odd pulls. You can use this by pacing the number of pulls so the first death happens at about the 3/4 mark of the gaming session. Then, really jack up the speed to get the players back to a high tension point again and kill off one or two more by the end.

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There is a sequel game to Dread called Dread House, "a game for kids and brave adults". In Dread House, if the tower falls, the player's PC runs away but the player then plays one of the monsters in the haunted house.

Depending on the horror going on in your game, consider letting an eliminated Dread player in on the GM's story and secrets or allow some other way of having them help the GM.

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  1. If it happens on their first or second pull, just give them another chance. Cheat the rules.

  2. But, really, dying is part of the fun. It's slasher horror: you want people to die. Let them hang around and watch, but let them die. (Don't underestimate how much fun Dread is to watch.)

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I read somewhere about the idea that early fails can result in serious injuries or the like. This will make the injured person a burden for the group, forcing the player to do double the amount of pulls required. In effect the group has to choose to leave the person behind ("she is slowing us down and will be the death of us, let the beasts have her") or pull through with the semi-dead weight ("yes, we will be moving slower, but if we leave her to die we are no better than them"). I think I will employ this technique for newer players, as it will keep it fun and interesting for everyone.

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