Random Character Motivations for Dread

Random Character Motivations for Dread

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I know we’ve mostly been focusing on D&D thus far, but every once in a blue moon, I like to shake up our usual D&D sessions and try out a new gaming system. Back in September, I planned on surprising Courtney and our friends while camping by running an impromptu game of the horror-inducing RPG: Dread. Our trip just so happened fall on a Friday the 13th (So spooky). 

For those unfamiliar with Dread, its main mechanic is that players use a Jenga tower to dictate if they are successful in their actions. Want to knock down a door? Draw a block and place it on top. Want to run across a field filled with monsters to reach the getaway car? Draw three blocks. If at any time the tower is knocked over, the character is removed from the game, usually in the most violent way possible.




Want to check it out?

  • You can grab the full PDF here. We do highly recommend this game–there’s a lot of room for creativity!
  • Or, here is a short, quick-start version if you just want to get a feel for the mechanics before investing in the full book. 


Normally at the start of a Dread campaign, players make their characters via a psychological questionnaire to flesh out motivations and such. Since this was a surprise, I instead wrote a handful of secret motivations onto flashcards and had the players draw one card each. I also wrote up special items, and they drew one of these cards as well. 


And of course, I’m sharing my Random Character Motivation Chart for Dread with you below!


The Story: 

I told them to think back to their teenage years and channel that inner angst. They played their teenage selves with the additional motivations they randomly picked. They arrived at their friend’s house in the country for a post-graduation party, ready to revel into the night, when an explosion from next door rocks the house. The rowdy neighbor boys unexpectedly turned a bonfire explosive with the use of gasoline, which drew the attention of the local sheriff and unearthed a swarm of lethal rabbit-lamprey hybrids that zombified any humans they killed. The players did all they could to fight off the hybrids, some falling to the monsters, but eventually some of them escaped using the car of an unfortunate pizza delivery guy.


The Scenery:

Our gameplay started right at sunset at a beautiful, wooded campsite right on the edge of a lake. There were six of us crammed around a picnic bench and two lanterns on the table. We were in the mountains, with a full moon rising. What started as a relaxed, peaceful evening quickly turned into a suspenseful, threatening gloom as I wove the tale of dark creatures and fire attacking them as play continued long into the night. 

More players actually survived than I anticipated, though I made an on-the-fly house rule that if a player’s character got killed, they could draw a new secret motivation and take over the reins of an NPC. Drawing Jenga blocks by flashlight and running a suspenseful game made this camping trip one for the books.


Now for the fun freebie–here are twenty random character motivations for you to enjoy!

So tell us: have you ever played Dread before? We’d love to hear about your experiences with the game. If you choose to use our character motivation chart, please tell us how your gameplay session goes!

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