“Dread” is a 2005 horror themed role-playing game created by The Impossible Dream and brought to Italy by MS Editions, which will allow players to deal with discomfort and tension as they experience their characters' story. Although the work of translation, adaptation and the entire graphics sector are of the highest level, the game brings with it all that vision of the early twenty-first century, which in my opinion makes it well done but "for a few" in 2020.
Structure of the manual
The manual consists of 224 pages divided into fourteen chapters, almost all dedicated to the master to help him manage the session, "create the story", "insert the characters in the story", insert various themes in the game. All these topics are very well explored and, for a novice master, it could also be a great RPG to start with ... in 2005.
About fifty pages are then dedicated to pre-built stories, which can be played and adapted as needed, and about six pages describe "alternative systems" to be used if you do not have the tools to play the system in a canonical way.
The game "Dread" does not have its own setting but helps the master to create his own horror story, inserting the characters so that the events are tailor-made for them and that they have enough narrative hooks both to enter the story and to get out of it quickly.
We get to the heart of this game and also of its problems: “Dread” uses the Jenga Tower for his tests. The system is easily explained as “Whenever you have to test or something can go wrong, pull out a brick. If the Tower does not fall, the action is successful, but if you collapse all your character is out of action ”. The feelings towards this choice, although very courageous and interesting, are mixed. We are talking about a game that requires skill to be overcome and this expertise does not fall on the character, as in other role-playing games, but on the player. Although the first lines of the manual highlight how the aim of the game is to make those sitting at the table feel discomfort and terror, it does not seem correct to me to ask players for manual skills tests. Does it make sense that these feelings are not born so much from the history and experience of the characters but from the players' fear of making a mistake?
The discussion to which it relates is very old. Do we find it right to give riddles to the characters that must be solved by the players? I personally think not. Just as a true test of strength, dexterity, etc is not required ... even a test of intelligence of that type should not be required. The same applies to this title. Why should a person who, due to tension, find himself shaking, see his character leave the scene? The limit of this system is also addressed by the manual itself, which has to specify "do not drop the Tower" or "if the Tower falls by mistake". Added to this is the slowness of having to rebuild the Tower in case someone drops it.
Why is it an “old” game and what positive messages does it bring?
One of the main problems of “Dread” is, in my opinion, due to his fifteen years. I don't doubt that in 2005 the title was at the forefront and could make players smile. However, in 2020 having a game (and here the locators could have done something) that aims to make players uncomfortable, should be presented differently. There is no trace of a Declaration of Intent, the Master must "create the story" but also create the questionnaires for each individual character. It is repeated several times that "The role of the Master is to entertain others" and that he must prepare. These are issues that could have been more than accepted in 2005, for heaven's sake, but in 2020?
However, a spear must be broken for “Dread” because, precisely because of its objective, it immediately inserted the X-Card as a safety system.
Do I recommend "Dread"?
After the fierce criticism of the title one might think that it is not interesting but it would be a mistake. “Dread” is a very special kind of game that, in my opinion, can be absolutely worth the purchase. I really like systems that try to detach themselves from the mere throw of the dice and the fact that this attempt is not in my strings does not mean that it should not be rewarded. Whether or not you agree with the system used, I recommend that you try and buy “Dread”.
Don't miss the new content!
Stay up to date on articles and news from the Atlantean Seekers, directly to your inbox
I did not understand the paragraph about the critique of the game which is old and requires skill and durability.
The tension that is created JUST because it requires a player's skill is at the heart of the game. Not to mention, however, that the manual offers alternatives to the tower ...
Poor review, I wonder if the manual has been completely read, and I don't think the game has been tried xD