Posted on August 5, 2009 by jasonlblair
Welcome to the third of the 13 Doors: an exclusive look behind the door at the upcoming Little Fears Nightmare Edition – The Game of Childhood Terror.
Door #3: Monster Factory
Little Fears Nightmare Edition is a game about kids fighting monsters. We already know about the kids, so what about the monsters?
The monsters in Little Fears Nightmare Edition can come from anywhere, that’s part of what makes them so much fun. Monsters can come from your own bad dreams, the fears of the players, urban legends, myths, cryptozoology, regular old zoology, a movie, literature—anywhere. Monsters in Little Fears are anything people fear. Fear is what gives them life, shape, form, power. Without people fearing them, they’re not really monsters at all.
In the original Little Fears, monsters had no stats. Instead, players rolled Quizzes against their own characters’ scores instead of a monster’s scores. It was an elegant solution at the time and one that I feel worked within the boundaries of the “Playground Rules” system.
For the Nightmare Edition, I wanted to explore other ways of achieving something similar. I didn’t want the monsters to have the same stats as the player characters because I’ve never really seen that as the best choice. Monsters serve a different purpose than kids in Little Fears thus they need their own identity. As a character is the player’s means to interact with the game, the monsters is the game moderator’s primary way of doing the same. They need to feel like monsters, to act like monsters. Sure, they have stats but they have some other things too.
When building a monster, the two most important parts are the concept and how powerful it is. In Little Fears Nightmare Edition, you give the monster a name and decide whether it is a Monster, a Scary Monster, or a Big & Scary Monster. Each level gives the game moderator more points to put into the monster which makes it more of a threat, harder to destroy or redeem, and better at making kids wet their pants.
After you figure out what the monster is, you write down what makes it scary and what it wants. What makes it scary has a mechanical component to it that you can use to force Fear Tests on players. This can cause characters to lose Wits and thus the ability to Speak, Move, Fight, Think, and/or Care. It’s a lot of fun.
What the monster wants is large-scale. It answers the bigger question of “Why is the monster here?” I don’t mean this in a metaphysical or existential sense. Simply, why is the werewolf in your subdivision? Why is the zombie walking around downtown? What does it want: To eat folks? To find its creator? Is it serving some dark master?
I decided that monsters need to be active and react to the player characters. When it came to giving the monsters their Abilities, I followed the same logic as with the kids. Whatever the Abilities were, they needed to answer the question “What does the monster do?”
Fight, Grab, Chase, and Scare are the four verbs a monster uses. Everything they’re going to do—system-wise—is handled by those four Abilities.
Qualities tell you what the monster is, what it can do, and what it cannot do. “What a Monster is” states it plainly. Your zombie is a “stinking shambling corpse.” Your werewolf is “a six-foot tall man-shaped beast.” Your vampire is “a monstrous bloodsucker.” (Or “sparkly romantic” too, if you want to go that way.). This gives the game moderator an easy bonus to use in play and it should be used often. Monsters are terrifying creatures in Little Fears Nightmare Edition. “What a Monster can do” and “cannot do” gives the monster a go-to action as well as a boundary. Sticking to these Qualities makes the monster much more dangerous. A monster who can scare the bejeezus out of characters then descend on them with its Qualities is a terrible beast. Little Fears is all about mood and tension, setting the stage and all that, but when it comes together and the beast is confronted, the characters will have to fight their lives.
Monsters don’t have Spirit or Wits or Belief like kids do. They have Health though as well as a Virtue we call Terror. When it comes to fighting a monster, there are three ways to get rid of it: Find out what it wants and give that to it (if possible), destroy its physical body (by chipping away its health), and destroy it forever (by removing its Terror). Those are in order from easiest to hardest, by the way. Destroying a monster’s physical body only gets rids of it for now. To take down the beast truly and forever, you need to take away what makes it scary.
Kids have Stuff, monsters have Stuff, everyone has Stuff. Kids’ Stuff is tied to their Belief. A monster’s Stuff is tied to is Terror. Things like a werewolf’s claws, a vampire’s fangs, a living doll’s strangling strings are all potential Stuff. This is what a monster uses to hurt kids and they’re a big part of what makes the monsters scary. Think of these are weapons, armor, and tricks the monster uses.
Finally, there are Weaknesses. Monsters don’t begin with any. It’s up to the kids to figure them out. Characters give monsters weaknesses through successful Belief checks. Weaknesses create fault lines in the monster that open them up to new attacks, new methods of taking them down.
And there you go. A look at the monsters in Little Fears Nightmare Edition. Come back next Wednesday for a look at what lurks behind the fourth door. Thanks for stopping by.
About Little Fears
Little Fears is a pen and paper roleplaying game that was released in 2001. In it, players portrayed children aged 6-12 who fought monsters that came to our world from a place called Closetland. A completely overhauled version, Little Fears Nightmare Edition, is currently in development. Partnered with Flames Rising, Jason L Blair (the author of Little Fears and Little Fears Nightmare Edition) will provide 13 exclusive looks beyond the door at the new edition including fiction, art previews, and more.
For more information, visit www.littlefears.com.
List of Previews for Little Fears: Nightmare Edition
Thank you to everyone who has entered through the thirteen doors leading up to the release of Little Fears: Nightmare Edition. If you’re just starting your journey, here is a full list of previews for you to explore:
- Closing The Door: Little Fears Nightmare Edition Door 13
- Turning the Pages: Little Fears Nightmare Edition Door 12
- Hiding Under the Covers: Little Fears Nightmare Edition Door 11
- Show Me Something: Little Fears Nightmare Edition Door 10
- Light of Day: Little Fears Nightmare Edition Door 9
- Cover Me: Little Fears Nightmare Edition Door 8
- Picture Day: Little Fears Nightmare Edition Door 7
- Keys to the World: Little Fears Nightmare Edition Door 6
- Rebuilding Closetland: Little Fears Nightmare Edition Door 5
- Creatures in the Library: Little Fears Nightmare Edition Door 4
- Monster Factory: Little Fears Nightmare Edition Door 3
- Kids These Days: Little Fears Nightmare Edition Door 2
- Little Fears Grows Up: Little Fears Nightmare Edition Door 1