Here’s how I approach Dread and answers (for me) to the questions they asked.
Tower Falls: I’ve got a way I run the game that, apparently, a lot of other’s don’t. I don’t want the tower to fall. I want the players to be terrified of it falling and keep that tension high.I’ve run it a bunch at Fear the Con and several times in person and I think the tower’s only fallen once (and at the end) but the early fall breaks tension quite a bit.
Sheets: This is my cheat: The front side of the sheet (usually 6 questions) is the same for all players. It sets up the situation for everyone. The back of the page is character specific. (“Why did you sleep with Rick’s wife?” “Why haven’t you been back in town since you were young? What don’t you want your friends to know about you?”)With Dread, you’re creating a pretty tight story. I’ve found it best when it’s not as open as other RPGs. I leave a lot of opportunities for the players to create stuff, but I definietly tie more into a Dread game than I do in a normal RPG I run.
Pick up and play: As long as I have things prepared, I love Dread for Pick up and play. There’s no reason for the players to write a novel for each question. A sentence or two will work. I read through those, make some notes, but the questions are giving me information I can use in specific places, so it usually slots in pretty easily. Takes me maybe 5 minutes (at most) to look through everyone’s sheet. We can also, as a group, talk over the front of the pages, which helps.
How often to pull: Having pulls be multi-steps can help.
For a zombie game: “Pull once to find the person you love alive.” Then, I have them pull when for what they do.
Breaking into a house? 1 pull to jimmy the door. Another to not be heard (so they can skip that one if they want) and then another to sneak up on someone if they need to. Depends on what happens, but bigger actions I often break into smaller chunks to make them more tense.
Also, here are some adventures I’ve made for Dread. “The Last Hurrah” I wrote up for others to use. “Staring Down the Void” hasn’t been laid out like that but the nature of the game (Haunted house where the actual evil inside is the personal demons people bring in with them) is pretty easy to do on the fly depending on what people chose.