Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Review: Dread - Tales of Terror Sourcebooks

Windmill Game Company produced two issues of Dread Tales of Terror sourcebooks for the Dread Roleplaying game. Each issue contains an introduction, 2 scenarios, and a tip section for running games with the same theme as that issue.

Issue 1: Wastelands contains the scenarios Devil in the Dust and Dead City. Devils is a post apocalypse scenario similar to the Mad Max movies where the conflict revolves around the terror that mankind can present when resources are low and tensions are high. This scenario focuses on the action/adventure horror genre. This scenario would be a good introduction to Dread for adventure RPG gamers. If your players liked the adventure from the first book, Devils is likely a good candidate for a follow up one shot.

Dead City presents a somewhat different horror mentality from Devil. In this scenario, the six characters wake up after a strange occurance in a large city that is completely abandoned. They need to focus on the mystery behind the place while escaping a hidden horror. The threat here is the unknown. Dead City is all about the setting and the terror inherent in in not knowing what will happen next.

The last few pages are devoted to exploring the different types of wasteland stories and the horrors that can be encountered. This section is fairly useful for developing your own wasteland scenarios. While useful, it feels somewhat added on to fill out space.

Issue 2 - Precious Illusions uses the same format as issue 1, introduction, 2 scenarios and an advice section. As the title suggests, these stories are about the horror of childhood and children. The idea of child horror quite freaks me out more than any other genre of horror. Something is just purely wrong about innocent children as the agents of evil like Children of the Corn, Chuckie, and Precious moments statutes (seriously, those things are freaky!).

Little White Birds takes place in a children's mental hospital in the center of the US. Delusions, Illusions and confusions abound in this scenario based loosley on Peter Pan. I am not going to go into further detail about the story to avoid spoilers, but it is fairly good. My main concern is the number of possible encounters and the somewhat disjointed introduction to the scenario.

Beneath the Surface is based on Alice in Wonderland, a fairly distrubing setting in its own right. It reminds me somewhat of an excellent GenCon game I played in a few years ago. The same GM ran a horror movie game that I also enjoyed at GenCon this year. This scenario seems like it might be the hardest to run out of the four presented in these two issues. Plenty of encounters present themselves, but I would recommend having more than your standard groups time for playing dread. It could also be very deadly, so be careful with the pulls if you want your characters to have any real chance of finishing the scenario.

The final section covers the terrors children present and how to run a game focusing on the psychology behind a terrifying children's scenario.

Both issues are available in print format (for $13.00) and at rpgnow (for $6.66). Issue 1 and Issue 2

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