Grunt’s Grumblings: A Dreadful Tale

Hello all, Grunt here with my first entry into our new weekly columns. When the idea was first pitched to everyone by Frantic to do these columns, I was in the middle of writing a long-winded post on my own personal blog about my new joy for tabletop gaming. In the couple weeks since I wrote that post, and briefly recapped my enjoyment for them on one of our last episodes of the podcast; I have had the chance to host a short game session myself.

What was the game you may be wondering? It’s vaguely hinted at in the title of this post, but the game was Dread. No, no, no, I don’t mean the feeling of apprehension or fear. I mean the independently published game from The Impossible Dream that shares the same name. So what exactly is Dread then? It’s typically a horror themed RPG where your dice rolls to succeed at tasks are replaced by a block stacking game such as Jenga, or whatever cheap knockoff of said game you can find. Characters for a game of Dread are rather simplified too. Instead of having these character sheets that have a long list of stats and numbers to add to checks and all that stuff you usually find accustomed to a D&D character sheet, you have a questionnaire that you fill out that asks questions as to how a character would react in a certain situation.

I think this is probably one of my favorite things about the game as it’s great for anyone to start playing. Never played a tabletop RPG before and want to try, but are unsure about all those numbers (math is hard…)? Maybe you’ve been playing these games for the past 30 years and just want a more laid back experience for your next game. I guess what I’m basically saying is Dread is perfect for anyone who wants to play, regardless of your experience level in playing a tabletop RPG.

Another thing I really enjoy about Dread is, sure, rolling dice and adding your attack bonus, your strength modifier (Oh…it’s zero? I know the struggle.) and finding out how little damage you do to an enemy is cool and fun in its own way. However, it lacks the suspense and…dread…of making a pull from the tower as you are trying to run away from that thing that is chasing you. This suspense is made ten times better when the tower is oh so very close to falling but somehow refuses to when you succeed at that pull.

I mentioned on one of our last podcasts that I was able to host my first game of Dread not too long ago. It was also my first time hosting a tabletop game of any sort so obviously, I was nervous of messing something up.

Long story short, it went perfectly fine and was super fun. Is hosting a game for everyone? Not necessarily. There is a certain amount of extra involvement needed if you want to host a game. If you are doing something like an RPG (say, D&D or in this case, Dread) you have to create a story and everything else to support it if you are not using a premade module of some sort. Even if you are, you can still make your own changes to it as the overall story plays out.

There are many other things you can or need to do before you host your game, but what they are depends on the game you are playing and how you want to dictate the game itself. There really isn’t a set of “standards” as to how to host, or even play, a tabletop RPG. It all depends on the limitations of your own creativity, and what the players decide to do in the spur of the moment.

One thing I really enjoyed from my first time hosting a game was the fact I felt like a storyteller. Well, ok so I technically was a storyteller when relaying the information of what happened during the story but you catch my drift. It is enjoyable as a player to experience the story being told, even in the video game version of RPG’s, but it is quite the difference to actually be the storyteller. I thought this was a fun experience in its own way as you could essentially dictate the action that happened, and when. Plus, it was a great way to work on my creativity on the fly when certain things didn’t happen when I was anticipating.

Overall, for the first taste I had in being a host for a tabletop game it was quite the enjoyable experience and I will most certainly do it again. Dread is an amazingly fun game to play for anyone, no matter what your experience level might be. It’s also a rather inexpensive game to pick up all the things you need to play; all you really need is the core rulebook and Jenga.

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