Posted on January 29, 2008 by Matt-M-McElroy
Dread is a violent horror game from Neoplastic Press about hunting demons and it is presented in a chaotic punk wave throughout the book. This review is of the revised and updated edition of the game. The revised edition cleans up some of the rules, expands the magic and adds a few new demons for the characters to deal with.
Player Characters in Dread are called Disciples, folks chosen to fight against the minions of Hell in a dark, gritty world. Most Disciples were attacked by a demon or some other monstrosity, but saved at the last minute by a Mentor. That Mentor also saved others and teaches the characters magic and demon-hunting. The characters end up cutting off all ties to their former lives and join forces to form a Cabal.
Character creation in Dread is fairly quick and designed to get everyone playing the game within a short time. Attributes such as Strength, Sense and Soul get 9 points to spend (which determines how many dice you end up rolling when the character faces a challenge. Skills are determined by doubling the character’s Sense score and spending those points on a variety of specific abilities (Computer Use, Driving, etc). The writing style of Dread makes it easy to pick up the rules and build a Disciple ready to join the hunt.
One of the big things that makes the Disciples different from regular citizens (beyond knowing about demons and hell) is the ability to do magic. Dread certainly does not let us down here. Tons of nasty spells are featured in the book. Many of them have monstrous qualities (turning parts of your body into weapons or impaling your enemy with splinters of wood, as well as flame-based attacks and the ability to grow wings) that the characters can use to fight demons, cultists and other horrors. There are even rules for exorcism, which is used to drive out Defiler demons.
There is a great quickstart guide for Dread that starts on page 126. This quickstart gives a quick recap of character creation, combat and offers up six pre-generated characters to get things rolling. The quickstart is a nice feature in that it gives a quick recap of the mass amounts of information that has come before and it allows a group to “test drive” the game a bit before committing to a longer, more involved storyline.
As I mentioned earlier, Dread is a violent game. There is a lot of potential for epic battles between good and evil throughout the gritty streets and back alleys of the world. You could easily steal ideas from End of Days, Constantine and Blade and warp them into demon killing adventures.
There are some free downloads on the Dread website, including character sheets, a coroner’s report and a pdf of the core rules so all of your players have a handy reference tool at the table.
If you are looking for a supernatural game that rocks out, with deadly demons and hunters just as scary, Dread is the game for you. Visit Dread-rpg.com for more information.