Manuscripts Burn


"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov

Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Dread and Breakfast: Overview

So for the first game of Dread that I ever ran, I put quite a bit of effort into it.  The first thing I did was to develop a scenario.  I didn't reveal all of the scenario information to the players at once, so I wrote up an overview which would give them the information they needed to develop their characters.  Below is the scenario incorporating every character.  I then e-mailed the players a questionnaire (which we'll get to in the next post) along with a copy of this overview, tailored to their specific player.  Rather than list all five of the individual overviews, I'm posting this composite one which incorporates all of the characters.  So, for instance, the player who was stranded simply knew that he was stranded, not where he was and who else might be there.  The bed and breakfast owner knew he was expecting guests, but not the criminal.  And so on.


Deep in the heart of Lancaster County, the breadbasket of Pennsylvania, a massive country manor recently went vacant. The wealthy owners of the farmstead disappeared under mysterious circumstances, and beyond that simple fact, virtually nothing is known. One player, THE FARMER, left the city of Philadelphia for reasons of his or her own and purchased the farmstead. He or she decided to set up a Bed and Breakfast on his or her new land, and tonight is the first night it is open for business.

As the afternoon wanes into dusk, the other players arrive. Some are simply GUESTS, willing or dragged along by a spouse or significant other. Other players may have been STRANDED there – their cars broke down or their crop duster ran out of fuel and they had to make an emergency landing. A few CRIMINALS, though, have truly sinister motives. They may be out to rob the farmstead, kidnap or rape its owners, or simply to wreak some havoc with crop circles and cow-tipping. Rumor has it that one of the registered guests is also an INVESTIGATOR of some sort, though no one is sure if he or she works for the IRS, the police, or is a private eye hired for some reason.

When all the guests (invited and uninvited) have arrived, a feeling of melancholy settles over the farmstead. Cell phones are far out of range of any towers, and the century-old manor has no landlines. The nearest neighbors are hundreds of acres away, and are mostly Amish anyway. This is all part of the B&B’s appeal – to get away from all the hustle and bustle of modern life. Which is all well and good as long as nothing untoward happens…

(Keep in mind that it is modern day and no science fiction or fantasy elements have been introduced...yet. If you have a compelling need to be Harry Potter on sabbatical or Captain Kirk come back in time to save the whales, I’ll consider it, but try to stick to ordinary, mundane humans of the modern age. Whoever volunteers for each role will have a slightly different questionnaire. There should be at least one FARMER. There should be no more than one STRANDED PLAYER, CRIMINAL, or INVESTIGATOR. As many characters as want can be simply GUESTS.)

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