Little Fears has the distinction of being one of only five games my FLGS will not carry. I didn't press them why or ask to order it (they said they would, they just don't stock it), they are my FLGS for a reason and I have many other means of getting the books I need. So DriveThru to the rescue!
I had the original edition from some time ago and picked up the nightmare edition, promising the author Jason Blair I'd have a review up. I still don't. But I hope to fix that now.
LF is a game of Childhood Horrors. Simple enough. As a father I have been up many nights sleepily fighting one bogeyman or another. Thankfully most bogeymen are terrified of my "huh? go back to sleep" speech cause I have never seen them. But maybe once apon a time I did. I am reminded of a Charmed episode where a little girl was being attack by little bogey like creatures and the Charmed Ones, being adults, could not see them. They had to cast a spell to be more childlike (with accompanied wackiness) to see the threat. That was the hook I was going to use to get my group to play LF one day. Turn their characters into kids and to keep them off guard I was going to take their Unisystem sheets and give them Little Fears sheets instead and then not tell them all the rules. The Little Fears book makes a big issue about kids living in an adult world and not knowing or understanding the rules. Frankly I thought it was brilliant, but it never happened.
Little Fears plays like that. Only more so. Monsters are defined by the character's fear but also by their belief. In some ways playing LF with adults is a bit like playing D&D with really young kids. They want to be the player AND the DM. In LF the characters and players can change the nature of the game in overt or subtle ways.
The rules are very simple really. The system is a d6 dicepool based on abilities or qualities. Monsters are built similar to characters though are tougher generally speaking. The damage system reminds me of Mutants and Masterminds a bit and is also pretty simple. Emphasis though in this game is not how many monster you can kill, but how well you role-play the monster you nearly escaped from and lived to tell your friends about (because they have seen the same monster, but have been too afraid to tell you). Little Fears is one of the most role-play heavy games I have read in a very long time. If you only like to hit things with pointy metal sticks or throw fireballs, then this might not be your game. If the idea of playing something that is akin to "Kult Jr." or "C.J. Carella's WitchCraft Babies" then this is the game for you.
There is an over-arching malaise though over Little Fears. I get depressed reading it I have to admit. Maybe it is because I am a father and I know how those little kids feel to be afraid and alone and powerless. I guess the counter argument is they are not powerless or alone really.
Little Fears might also be one of the most effective horror games I have ever played. Chill, Kult, WoD, CoC, WitchCraft are all great and I love them all, but Little Fears is different and the power structure between what you can do and what you need to do is such that it is a scary, scary game.
Buy it. Play it. And even if you don't like it you will never look a butterflies the same way again.
[5 of 5 Stars!]