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Point Man

Point Man

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In the middle of the night, I had an idea. While DREAD is a great game, it is a very GM driven one. It's reactionary horror; the GM controls the pace of the tension and demands its release by asking players to pull from the tower. This works for slasher flicks and zombie apocalypse type stories, but there are other horror genres that could benefit from the Jenga mechanic.

Specifically, there's a sort of horror story rip to be explored where the protagonists are the instigators of the horrific situation rather than the innocent villains, and where events get worse because the heroes press on. Stories like the recovery logs of cursed artifacts by secretive agencies, space marines descending into a facility of dangerous aliens, and soldiers patrolling ever deeper into the jungles of Vietnam.

Point Man was written for those stories.

In essence, this is Dread without a GM. Instead of being prompted to pull to solve a problem, the players volunteer to pull in order to get control of the narrative and advance the story. This has a noticable effect on the tone of the game; the players confront instead of being confronted, and so are invariably the cause of their own demise. They need to wittle the tower down to win, so the only way out is through.

It's just one page and it's fairly simplitic and derivative, but I think it's a pretty clever example of how relatively small reframings of succesful mechanics can completely recontextualize a game.

In addition to the obvious inspiration from DREAD, this game owes a lot to Paul Elliot's GRUNT, a surreal horror game about the Vietnam War I read while writing my own Vietnam War game. Point Man was originally intended to achieve a similar feeling to GRUNT in the smallest footprint possible, using the well-established Jenga tower mechanic to create the same kind of nervous tension as builds up on a long patrol in the jungle.

This game is part of the Newstand Press collection RECRUITED!, games about military service and war.

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September 25th, 2015
For a one page game, this is really solid. I'm pleasantly surprised with how put together it seems. Still haven't played it, but if it plays roughly like Dread, it should go well. [...]
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Author(s)
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Pages
1
File Size:
13.67 MB
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File Last Updated:
August 11, 2015
This title was added to our catalog on August 11, 2015.