Categorized | RPGs

Little Fears: Nightmare Edition RPG Review

Posted on May 16, 2011 by Nix

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    From the first few times that I heard of this game I was drawn to it. “A game where you take on the persona of a child?” I thought, “Now that would be rather interesting..”. Sadly, those first few chances I had to play were missed out on due to running my own or participating in other games. It enticed me enough that I kept an eye open for any chance to sit down at a session. Finally, the day came when I did play and my patience was well rewarded. I have attempted to run demo’s at a few conventions, without much luck due to the fact that I feel Little Fears is a difficult game to describe to others in only a few short words. My patience will one day be rewarded I am sure. I have played for many years and I have introduced many gamers to new games, but there have been very few where I have tried to push a book into someone’s hands telling, “You have to play this.”

    Little Fears is a game where take on the persona of children in world beset by horror. The world of LF is our own modern one and the world can be a strange place for children. It is a world Where what they do not know can be quite terrifying, a world where that odd noise you discount as an adult is actually a creature of dark designs wishing dark and evil deeds to be done. That bump can be anything from a vampire or werewolf, to a monster created by banned books or something intent up on stealing the souls of children on picture day. A monster can also be utterly mundane, but equally vile, all you have to do is watch the news for hideousness that surrounds us. As the saying goes, “Evil can take many forms”.

    One of things that attracted me to Little Fears was its heavy emphasis on the ‘role’ playing aspect instead of ‘roll’, a trait I have always enjoyed. Little Fears might take place in the modern world yet it isn’t the real world, it is an idealistic one. Yes, kids are kids, but they are how we wish them to appear and perhaps how we wished we had been ourselves at that age. They act as we hope they would act, or could act, in a situation. When you take a role in Little Fears it isn’t as a victim, it’s as a hero. It doesn’t matter that whatever they are fighting is stronger, the kids are standing up for themselves and holding back the destructive nature of that which they’re fighting. It is what we wish could happen in reality when we see and hear tragic events unfold on a news program. The subject matter can be quite heavy and serious at times with Little Fears, that is true, but it avoids becoming mired in grotesque details that make the average person shudder or blanch. Ultimately, I found Little Fears to be about strength and self-confidence. It is children over-coming the fear and terror that surrounds them.

    The mechanics behind are relatively simple and is based on the d6. A player rolls a number of dice equal to his or her ability and an attribute and the player keeps the highest three. Thus if six dice are rolled with results of 2, 3, 2, 5, 4, 1 result would be 12. There are a couple of modifiers that either allow a die to be rerolled or the highest die rolled may be removed skewing the expected results to tease some extra tension into a scene. The various types of rolls are broken down into Quizzes, Tests, or Exams (keeping with the theme of childhood) with a task being an individual roll and a conflict being the entire scene. A passing grade is earned for every 3 points past the target number, and a failing grade is earned for every 3 points under the target number. There are other rules that can modify certain circumstances, but that is the core of the system. Children are also imbued with Belief, and Belief can be used in a multitude of ways.

    Belief is a force that children can use to power magic, that which we adults find to be irrational or supernatural. However it is used, something extraordinary will occur. You can believe in Stuff, items whose attributes are increased, yourself, or others. Stuff are objects that a child will hold dear. It is that teddy bear that keeps a child safe, a pocket knife that can do anything, sunglasses that make a child invisible, in other words it can be almost anything.

    Monsters also have Stuff, and their Stuff is just as powerful: Freddy had his hat, glove, and sweater; Jason had his mask; Micheal Myers also had his mask; Dracula his cape. If you destroy their Stuff a monster is destroyed forever, otherwise they simply come back. After all, how many times have we seen Freddy, Jason, and Micheal killed?

    Supplements and adventures are being produced and released, yet one thing I would greatly appreciate is a GM screen. One on hand, I’m a sucker for screens and have a small collection, on the other having various rules at a glance is always helpful. Another thing worth mentioning is the artwork Little Fears contains, like all good artwork it does a great job of enhancing the feel of the book.

    Playability: 5 out 5 – extremely entertaining, yet with many subtleties
    Artwork: 4 out 5 – only wish there was more of it
    Writing: 4 out 5 – easy to read and follow

    Review by Sean “Nix” McConkey

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