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[Dread/Jenga/Cthulu] I really love the Jenga mechanic

Mengtzu

Another Kill Team...
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We had a Cthulu d20 game last night, using a Jenga tower, Dread-style, for sanity checks.

The d20 system was just doing task resolution work, it could have been anything. The Jenga tower was the gold.

The tower automatically creates incentive to take risks with your sanity, because the LAST thing you want is to be asked by the GM to pull a block after everyone else has had a few pulls. You want to be cautiously proactive, getting yourself some exposure to the horror but not too much.

When the tower does fall (as it inevitably must), it falls for one person, who then gets appropriate screentime and focus. There's no risk of everyone's sanity degrading gradually and then all going at once, diluting the experience.

Finally, the tension created by the increasingly precarious nature of the tower is authentic and effortless. It might not be an immersive mechanic per se, but it's tangible, and serves maintain tension despite table chatter and joking.

I was initially sceptical of the mechanic, and probably still wouldn't go for it for campaign play, but after a few games of Dread proper and last night's d20 game, I'm an absolute convert for one-shot horror.
 

Lex Icon

Retired User
Wow. I never thought of that. That sounds awesome. I love the visual of a literally teetering bastion of sanity.

I love the idea. There are some gamers who dislike task resolution that doesn't involve traditional die rolling, though.
 
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chaldfont

Retired User
That's great! I played Dread for the first time back at Halloween and my friends and I had an absolute blast.

I bet it was perfect for CoC...
 

Jared Thaler

Retired User
I still want to get the system so I can port it to kerplunk.

I think the jenga tower is a little too all or nothing for my tastes, while the steadily ratcheting intensity combined with the initial slow dribble of kerplunk seems like it would work even better.
 

Stephen Lea Sheppard

Be seeing you
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where can I find this mechanic?
In Dread, the mechanic is as follows:

Build a Jenga tower. Whenever your character attempts something, pull a block. If you succeed in pulling the block out of the tower, your character succeeds. If you fail, your character dies or is otherwise removed from play due to complications resulting from the action he was undertaking. When two characters come into conflict, both keep pulling until someone dies or someone decides to concede.

I assume Kasumi's variant uses the Jenga tower in place of sanity checks only, and a fallen tower means insanity rather than death.
 

Xenu's Paradox

Canny Gumshoe
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I still want to get the system so I can port it to kerplunk.

I think the jenga tower is a little too all or nothing for my tastes, while the steadily ratcheting intensity combined with the initial slow dribble of kerplunk seems like it would work even better.
"Well, there go my marbles..."
 

Kastor Krieg

Harano
Validated User
I really like the visual representation of teetering sanity. I'm only quite afraid about two things - first, it needs a separate table, not to make if fall over every time somebody gets up to grab some snacks or tea. Second, it unfortunately tends to favor the more manually dexterous of players. I'm quite good at Jenga and I'd feel as if I were cheating a bit, if I got to be a part of a team and would automatically be more "sanity check proof" than my buddies, owing that just to my Jenga skills.

An easy solution to that would be to use in only during single-player sessions, or to provide each player with his Jenga. If that'd prove too expensive and too much of a hassle, any variation of 'pick-up sticks' might do, I think.
 

Mengtzu

Another Kill Team...
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I really like the visual representation of teetering sanity. I'm only quite afraid about two things - first, it needs a separate table, not to make if fall over every time somebody gets up to grab some snacks or tea. Second, it unfortunately tends to favor the more manually dexterous of players. I'm quite good at Jenga and I'd feel as if I were cheating a bit, if I got to be a part of a team and would automatically be more "sanity check proof" than my buddies, owing that just to my Jenga skills.
My experience is that skill in manipulating play to time your draws (and the other players') is more important than the dexterity involved in the pull itself.

This is part of why I think it works better in one-shots, though.
 

Jack of None

Cute Lil' UFO
After playing Dread at a con I will no longer run horror one-shots with anything else unless I need specific bits of setting mechanics (Unknown Armies, essentially).

And since I find it largely impossible to run long-term horror games, I'm pretty much gold for horror systems.
 
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