Posted on September 23, 2009 by jasonlblair
Welcome to the tenth of the 13 Doors: an exclusive look behind the door at the upcoming Little Fears Nightmare Edition – The Game of Childhood Terror.
Door #10: Show Me Something
So far in this column, I have talked about how Little Fears has changed, who the characters are, a little about the Monsters and Closetland, things that have inspired the design and fiction, shown some of the art that will be in the book, and revealed both Veronica’s excellent cover and the release date.
I’ve pretty much covered everything. I can’t think of anything else to say.
Thanks for stopping by.
Or, I suppose, I could show you what’s actually in the book.
Yea, that sounds good. I’ll do that. Below are the first 1,417 words of Little Fears Nightmare Edition. I hope you like them.
Gregory dug in his heels, putting all 68 of his pounds behind them. The snow from last night crunched under his weight and soaked through the canvas of his secondhand shoes. He bit his upper teeth into his lip and focused hard on the faint glint in the distance. He had to strain his ears to hear past the rushing wind but the beast’s distinctive growl carried far on the early morning breeze.
The boy closed his eyes, putting everything he had into hearing the creature. He knew seeing it didn’t do any good. Like chasing a springtime rainbow, your eyes only worked against you.
The growl turned into a moan turned into words on the wind. The boy’s ear perked up as they caught the creature’s threat.
“I’m gonna eat you, boy,” the beast said.
The boy’s breath caught in his throat. He fought back a cough even though the chilly February air burned his throat.
“I’m not scared of you,” the boy said, mostly for his own sake. “You’re just a dog. Not a monster. Just a dog.”
A howl in the distance. Gregory’s eyes opened before he could stop them. The creature was on the ridge now, not a hundred feet from where the boy was standing. A clutch of bare trees stood behind Gregory. If he ran into them, it might be harder for the beast to find him. But Gregory didn’t know these woods. He didn’t know anything about where he was. He’d only opened a door and rushed out. He hadn’t had time to think about where it might lead him.
The dog hadn’t been a dog just then. It had been something else. Gregory wasn’t sure why it changed when its skin hit sunlight.
“No,” Gregory corrected himself. “It didn’t change. It’s just a dog.”
“And you’re just a boy,” the beast replied.
Gregory swallowed hard. He could feel cold moisture on the rim of his eyes. His father always told him there was never a need for a boy to cry. Boys grew into men, and men had to be hard. Gregory wasn’t so sure about that. He fought back the tears anyway.
“I’m not scared of you!” Gregory said, this time louder. “I’m not! I’m not scared of you!”
The black lips of the beast curled into a grin. Hot drool traced the jagged line of its misshapen teeth. Human eyes inset on a canine skull narrowed.
“Yes, you are,” the creature said, mocking him. “After all, your fear made me.”
The world is a scary place, especially for children. The world around them is strange, full of rules that seem to be always changing. There are so many things they can’t do, they can’t say, they aren’t allowed to talk about or see. The world to them is an open door leading to a room they can only enter in tiny steps.
The world they live in is full of rules but those rules are not their own.
But in their dreams, in their imaginations there are no rules. No boundaries. No curfews, no bathtime. They can play in the mud, dance in the rain, free from all the rules that restrict their daily lives.
And these dreams give life to so many things. Flights of fancy, fairy tales, and the distant realms only an untamed imagination can unlock. It is a world full of doors.
Behind these doors are knights and princesses, high castles guarded by dragons, magic railways, young warriors with mystical creatures in brightly-colored orbs, wizards and witches whose daily drudgery is made tolerable because they are learning magic, not math or history. It is a place where childhood has no limits and where the kids are kings and queens of their own world.
But behind these doors, lies something else. Beyond the towering mystical spires that stretch toward the heavens, past the gruff and grumbling ogres whose rough exteriors belie their generous hearts, hiding in the shadows, where the even the rats don’t go, are monsters.
Monsters born of fear, of belief, of the world to which children escape when the real world becomes too confusing, too confining, for them. When there is too much pain or frustration, the children twist their nascent feelings inward, tying them into knots. And when the knots unravel, a monster is born.
These are not fictional, fanciful creatures. These are not just make-believe menaces. These monsters are real. They are alive. They eat and breathe and claw and grab and scream into the wind. They hunger and hunt and track and kill. Their eyes glow red beneath the bed. Their dagger-like fingers scratch at the floorboards, peeling away soft wood with every scrape of a nail. They break toys and bones. They dirty up rooms and they dirty up minds. They shut the latches tight. They shatter windows and door frames. They whisper naughty little ideas into gentle minds drifting off to sleep.
You don’t see them so you don’t believe they exist. Truth is, these monsters can only be seen by those who have the capacity to believe. By those whose minds are not caged by rational thought. But that doesn’t mean we’re all safe.
Though born of it, these monsters are not confined to the worlds of imagination. They have a home outside the minds of cautious children. It is a place of darkness, abandonment, loneliness, and misplaced trust. Empty playgrounds sit in perpetual darkness and the swings sway lazily out of habit while twisted vines pull the metal off the monkey bars.
Forgotten flags flap in the still wind. Shadows appear suddenly just on the other side of the window–then disappear just as quickly. Squeals of laughter dissolve into screams before all is replaced–suddenly–by silence.
In the emptiness of an old house, children hear it.
In the darkness under the bed, children see it.
It is the glint in a strange dog’s eyes. The uneasy grin of a passing stranger. The space between their smile and their mother’s heart.
It is the shaking of tree limbs seen in a lightning flash. It is the old toy once though missing that reappears out of nowhere–broken. It sits at the dinner table where a parent should be. It is the cackle of the schoolyard bully. It is the dividing line between childhood and adulthood.
It is the place you can’t see when you’ve decided to grow up.
It is a place called Closetland. It is a child’s Hell.
Things That Go Bump
Monsters take all sorts of shapes and forms. There are those who are tentacled beasts, with gaping maws and slavering jaws, clutching claws who attack without pause. There are those who hide inside other things: the possessed dog at the junkyard whose throaty howls ring in your ears; the gurgling beast that lives in the sump pump whose burbling moans echo through the pipes; the cold-eyed stranger on the long walk home who glares at you with suspicion and threat; the dolly on the nightstand who refuses to sit up straight and who, you swear, cackles when the moon is just right; the grass around the gravestone that you feel wrapping around your ankles when you stand still too long.
Monsters often hide in plain sight. That is what makes it so easy for grown-ups to not see them, to dismiss the fanciful stories told by children, to tut-tut and hush-now whenever their young son or daughter tells them a story that goes beyond their belief.
Sometimes, even other children cannot see the monsters. Children who haven’t the time to be children, who must grow up and harden their hearts to childish things. There are even some children who have seen too many monsters and simply cannot stomach seeing any more.
Those Who Fight Back
But the monsters do not go unopposed. There are children who are strong enough, smart enough, brave enough, or simply foolish enough to stand against them. Sometimes these children are brave boys and girls—those who know the monsters are real and seek them out wherever they may hide—but just as often they are would-be victims who find their hidden resolve and manage, despite themselves, to stand against the monsters.
This game is about those children. Whether they are questing knights or just unlucky enough to be in a certain place at a certain time, they are all heroes. And you will tell their stories.
For those who haven’t pre-ordered a copy of Little Fears Nightmare Edition yet, let me sweeten the deal. Originally, the first 25 people to place direct pre-orders would receive the first PDF supplement, Campfire Tales #1, for free through DriveThruRPG. Well, that’s changed.
Response to the new edition has been so strong, I’ve decided to extend the free PDF supplement to everyone who places a direct pre-order by October 12th, 2009. This $5 PDF supplement contains three spine-tingling episodes for Little Fears Nightmare Edition and is scheduled for release in mid-November. But you can get it free with your pre-order (on top of the free shipping and/or discounted corebook PDF price).
See www.littlefears.com for details.
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