Friday, 13 March 2015

Dread Cthulhu Questionnaires

Boo! Happy Friday the 13th, a perfectly dreadful day to release some custom material!

For any and all interested, below are the character questionnaires I designed for a recent Dread game I ran several times that used the Call of Cthulhu scenario: Dead Light. I've been referring to this mash-up as Dread Cthulhu (or in this case specifically, Dread Light).

Although a couple of the questions relate mostly to the scenario (mainly the plot hook), with a bit of tinkering these questionnaires could easily be used in any early turn-of-the-century setting that utilizes elements of supernatural/cosmic horror.

Aside from the plot hook, most of the queries are based around the characters' backgrounds and their relationships to each other and don't directly relate to the story of Dead Light. Since the scenario itself is mostly straightforward survival horror, there were few questions I felt I could ask without directly spoiling some elements of the adventure. This I believe makes them general enough for use in other scenarios.

That said, I also think utilizing these characters for best effect (and this true for nearly all Dread games), is by providing them with interesting answers; I tried to make the questions ripe for potential. The players just need to provide meaty story hooks that can add to the atmosphere of the session; don't let them pass with run-of-the-mill pedestrian answers, I imagined most of these characters as fitting into common lovecraftian tropes and archetypes (both classic and pulp).

Don't be afraid to play these to the hilt, otherwise the characters may become too passive and static, only reacting to events but never being proactive (even if they're proactively bringing about their own doom). It's up to the players and the host to breathe life into these characters and make them interesting, that way there's more player investment in them and each pull of the tower more dire. This is a one-shot game, don't be afraid to play up the characters.

On the other hand, not every question has to have a detailed answer, as the host only ends up using a few of them directly in the game anyway; I think they're there to help flesh out a character and get the player into their mindset.

Anyway, that's all common Dread advice, but it's worth mentioning again I think.

I created nine character questionnaires for players/hosts to choose from for variety, I also tried to keep their orientation gender-neutral, leaving up to the individual gaming group to sort out if a role is setting appropriate for a particular gender or not.

You can download a PDF for printing here or a google Doc for editing here. Or you can just view/copy/paste the text dump below:



[Clerk]

You just had to personally retrieve some relevant case information from up north. Why do you think this whole trip was a ploy by your office rival?

Though you've been a legal secretary for about a year now, only until recently people still treated you as a lowly clerk. What did it finally take for the men to respect you?

What do you consider your best feature? What's your worst?

You've had to defend yourself against those whom are threatened by your nonconforming independence. What item do you keep close to help protect yourself?

Why don't you go to church anymore?

You recognize that character from a scandal your firm helped keep from going public a few months ago. Whom is it and what was their part in it?

If you had the power to dispense justice, why would you have your own grandfather executed?

Whom or what are you anxiously waiting to come home to? Why would you loose social standing if anyone else knew?

What's your name?



[Farmer]

You hail from one of the many of the farmsteads of central Massachusetts, but what recently brought you East from your home?

Your daughter got you one of those new-fangled pocket lighters before you stopped talking to each other. Why do you still carry it although you no longer smoke?

What dead animal did you come across as a child that profoundly affected you? How?

What do you dislike about the character sitting next to you? Who would you rather sit with and why?

What handy item in your pack did you have the opportunity to pick up whilst in town?

Years ago, you had an appendage amputated after it was crushed whilst you were repairing a traction engine. On which limb was it? Do you use a prosthesis or aid?

People say you're superstitious because you do what?

As much as you dislike the city, how has this trip made you feel better than you have in years?

Only family members refer to you by your given name. What's your full name?



[Scholar]

You just attended a reading of an old colleague's will in Ipswitch and have caught the motor coach back to Arkham. What strange object did they bequeath you?

You've studied many languages during your spare time at Miskatonic University, but why do the texts in the Special Collections Room make you uneasy?

Though you'd be practically blind without them, what do your bifocals help you with the most?

Why do you keep from listening to the radio or using the telephone despite being so apt at electronics?

What are the first things others notice about you?

Why do you feel the need to blame others for your own shortcomings?

Who amongst the other characters makes you nervous and why?

What gives you the strength to face another day?

What does the nameplate on your door say?



[Driver]

A few months ago you started to bus people around the county in your converted charabanc. Why can you no longer stand being in town more than a few days?

Why do you think you have such control issues? What is the real reason?

Though you took it to the garage in Arkham last week, what part of the motor coach is still giving you problems?

What happened during your childhood that makes you hate it when people whisper?

What do you keep underneath the driver's seat just in case?

You were quite an athlete in college before you were expelled. What did you compete in? Why were you expelled?

Despite having a deep-seated grudge against their kind, which character did you let board the coach and for what reason?

Why do you believe your string of bad luck is about to change?

What's the name on your bus drivers license? What's your actual name?



[Veteran]

You have been making your way south through Massachusetts via motor coach to Kingsport to see distant relatives. Why do you dread this visit?

You wouldn't have lasted long as a medic in the Great War if you hadn't been so reliant upon it. What do you have with you that you've been unable to part with?

Why did you save that old woman instead of the child?

What about your appearance makes people recognize you as a member of that lost generation?

You once had to evict a fellow tenant because of their bizarre and unsavoury practices. What possession of theirs have you secretly kept?

What injury of yours has never quite healed right and occasionally drives you to the morphine syringe you keep in your jacket?

Why are you deeply afraid of relapsing to the person you became during the war?

Despite all you've gone through and witnessed, what keeps you from taking your own life?

What name is printed upon the dogtags you still wear?



[Artist]

The first thing you did after being discharged from the sanatorium was travel. Why are you compelled to return home to Salem?

Why do you think your parents would've preferred a son?

What odd skill have you acquired whilst gaining further insight into your art?

They said it was an accident but somehow you know it wasn't. How did your late mother die?

Which of the other characters do you instinctively feel you can trust and why?

What is that thing in your pocket and why haven't you thrown it away yet?

Why do strangers often feel compelled to tell you the intimate details of their lives?

What is your muse that inspires you through periods of darkness?

What is your full name? What do prefer to be called and why?



[Drifter]

You were picked up off the side of the road just as the weather was beginning to turn sour. What made you take to the road despite the coming storm?

You had no money to pay the coach fare. Which other character paid for you? Where do you recognize them from?

What do people automatically assume about you? And are they often wrong?

Why did you prefer to burgle houses to straight theft or armed robbery?

What awful thing did do to stay out of prison?

What do you have in your bindle that might alter the genial nature of your fellow passengers if they knew about it?

When things get tense, how do find relief?

When the world seems against you, what one thing keeps you going?

Long ago people stopped calling you by your birth-name. What do they call you now?



[Blueblood]

Normally you'd have the means to travel by rail but as of late you've been forced to contend riding motor coach. What brought about this change?

They say that it isn't becoming of one of your station. What is it and why do you do it anyway?

All lineages have their secrets, but your own has a long, dark history. Do you embrace or reject it? Why?

Though you try to dress chic and keep with current trends, what one thing is offsetting about your appearance?

What have these throbbing headaches generally preceded?

What gaudy heirloom are you compelled to keep close otherwise the family threatens they'll disown you?

Though you don't envy what they do, which of these crass characters do you respect the most and why?

When you finally inherit your legacy, what change do you most look forward to enacting?

What's your full name? You tend to go by a false last name when going abroad. What is it and why?



[Mystic]

Why did your mentor warn you against this journey back south? Why are you going through with it anyway?

What obviously gives you away as a member of an oft prejudiced group and what lengths do you go to to hide it?

You often have a recurring dream that you awake in a cold sweat from. What is it?

When you place your hands upon a person and concentrate, what can you do? What's the harsh side-effect for you?

What do you always have with you to keep you protected from evil?

What vocation are you forced to do you do to keep your family fed?

Though they'd be loathed to admit it, which other character has had to rely your unique talents before? Why?

What gives you hope through the trials ahead?

What did you have change your name to? Why?



Cheers! ;{١