The title of an rpg
from Key 20 Publishing
released at the Origins
gaming convention on July 5, 2001
In an interview with Gaming Outpost, designer Jason Blair explains the title:
Originally, the game was called Small Fears and I really didn't like that title so I tweaked it a bit and started to call it Little Fears. I wasn't too keen on that name either, until I started doing some research and found out that "little fears" is actually a term used to reference fleeting childhood fears. It's a contrast to the term "phobia." After I found that out, I knew I had to keep the name.
Perhaps the most unique aspect of Little Fears is that all the player characters are children under the age of 13. The basic premise of the game is that all of the spooky things you were afraid of as a child are true. These horrible evil nasty things come from a parallel world called "Closetland," ruled by seven kings (one for each of the seven Deadly Sins), such as The Bogeyman, King of Greed, and Baba Yaga, King of Gluttony. These nasties do all manner of things to terrorize children, and a few can even possess bodies of the adults who cannot see them.
In a response to an e-mail I sent Jason Blair, he explained that basic mood for the Little Fears setting would be somewhere between World of Darkness (i.e. children fight the creatures of darkness with superpowers that they can't use around adults) and Call of Cthulhu (i.e. children run from the creatures of darkness and die. Often). It's not a horror role-playing game, it's a terror role-playing game, he says.
Update: Wed Aug 8, 2001 at 04:43:46
I picked up my copy of Little Fears at GenCon 2001, and got it autographed by Jason L. Blair, and have just returned home from GMing my first LF adventure. My players were my friend Martian_Bob, and his youngest sister. They played as older brother and younger sister.
The adventure was based off of one of the adventure hooks included in the back of the book: little girl disappears in a graveyard after doing a dare at a slumber party. In brief, after a few days of investigating, the characters and their friends discover that the girl wandered into Closetland where she was captured by a creepy cannibal graveyard groundskeeper named Malcolm. It is too late to save her, but Malcolm is eventually brought to justice by the police.
In the words of Martian_Bob, "Upon finishing this adventure I feel disturbed and no sense of accomplishment." The disturbed part, that's a good thing. The lack of accomplishment is probably my fault . . . I was making most of the stuff up on the fly, and could have probably come up with a way they might have saved the girl, or I could have endangered the players' lives more, so that simply surviving Closetland would have felt more like an accomplishment.
Little Fears has several warnings about the disturbing nature of the game's potential subject matter spattered throughout the text, and it deserves them. It's not cool to depict child abuse for the sake of a game, however, overcoming or avenging abuse can be as noble as any dragonslaying quest.
Finally, the full list of the Seven Kings of Closetland I mentioned previously is: