Dread is a tabletop horror RPG with a twist. I guess the premise is that in a horror game, you're really trying to rattle and unnerve the players, not the characters, but the people around the table are never as scared as the ones actually in that situation. Here, there's a simple and effective mechanic introduced to address that issue: Jenga. To accomplish complicated or dangerous or plot-necessary tasks, the player must successfully draw a piece from a Jenga tower. Failure can sometimes result in automatic death, so it makes that run from the front door down to the car, fumbling with your keys along the way, all the more critical. If you fuck up the draw, your character gets mauled by zombies.
In the example of gameplay I watched on YouTube, the group had two towers: one for critical tasks and one for less serious situations. The moderator for the game consistently asked which stack each player wanted to draw from whenever something important happened: failure on the less important tower didn't mean certain doom, but success was less fruitful, too. So, for instance, when the tour bus they were all on careeneed off the road and into a tree, there was an encounter between the crash and morning. If you drew from the super serious stack, you could remain conscious and participate in the encounter; otherwise you were out cold.
What do you think of this mechanic? Has anyone played the game before? One thing I felt might be an issue for some groups is that it favors being really good at this other random game that has nothing to do with roleplaying. It came up in the video I watched, where one guy actually works in a game store and basically plays Jenga all day by himself while he's waiting for customers to come in, so he's a fucking pro at Dread even if he's an idiot and makes stupid choices during play. A new player in their group had never even heard of Jenga before, somehow, and was new to roleplaying too, so the learning curve for her was ridiculous.