Jonna came prepared to run us a Kessel Run pre-game of Silent Memories on friday night. She did the prep-work of making all the handouts, hindered by a curious Corwin.

She wasn’t quite happy because we were one player short. By the time she woke up on friday morning, I had arranged an extra player. Yay for our German postdoc friend Eiko!

2014-11-08 00.15.29Silent Memories is a free game/scenario/setup based on Dread, a horror game that uses a Jenga tower as a skill check, as a pacing mechanic and as a horrible torture device to strike fear in the hearts of men. Silent Memories is a variant where you all wake up on in a science-fiction-like environment with no memories. As you explore your surroundings and get to know the other players, you pull out a Jenga block every time you try to do something tricky. If you make it, you pass, and the GM gives you a memory back. Easy, right?

Except your memories are not so reassuring. It soon becomes clear there might be quite a bit of animosity between you, and not all of you are on the same page. Paranoia starts running rampant, people get insightful or delusional and soon you are fast train but you don’t know where it goes.

It’s really fun to play, and a large part of the tension comes from that ominous Jenga tower that looms over everything. When it fall for the first time, the person that caused it regains all of their memories. The second time, the person that caused the tower to fall irrevocably dies. As you can imagine, it gets pretty tense!

It works beautifully. I once read that a strong physical reaction can make you feel angry. That principle seems cleverly put too work here, as the primitive tension from playing with the Jenga puzzle easily bleeds over into the game. The tower also means regular five minute breaks from playing as people make a difficult pull, and yet it doesn’t break the flow of the game. Very interesting!

Silent Memories only comes with one scenario (though it’s fairly easy to make new ones), so I won’t go into too much detail. Though the experience is much more important than the story, which is fairly disposable. In our game, Jan’s character turned out to be a traitor. He blew himself and us up just as we were flying off in the escape pods. Damn!