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General Forge Forums => Actual Play => Topic started by: GreatWolf on July 21, 2001, 06:10:00 AM



Title: Little Fear in action
Post by: GreatWolf on July 21, 2001, 06:10:00 AM
Last night I actually got to do some gaming!  Woo-hoo!  And it wasn't playtesting anything of my own.  Instead, I ran Little Fears for part of my group (the rest were out of town).

First, I need to state up front that I run horror differently than I would run other forms of RPGs.  I have really hooked into the discussion of Directorial power and giving freedom to the players, etc. etc. and I really like it but....

When people want me to run horror for them, it's because they want one thing.

They want me to scare them.  Not their characters, mind you.  The players.  (Hmm.  This would seem to tie into the growing consensus that players need to be hooked, not just characters.  But I disgress.)

When they come shuffling in, bleating like sheep to the slaughter, they are not expecting equal power.  They want to be entertained.  They want me to play the creepy music and mess with their minds.  (Read Tynes' article here for more details on what I mean.  :-] )Therefore I tend to reserve to myself much more power than I am opting to do these days.  I did throw open the option of the exercise of low-level Directorial power but the players did not make much use of it (if any) that I can recall.

I also did not pull out the stops like I could have done.  I fully recognize that Little Fears at its most serious is about issues like child abuse and the violation of Innocence.  However, to be perfectly blunt, my wife had a lot of that in her past, and roleplaying that kind of activity seemed neither enjoyable nor profitable.  Instead, to use the parlance of the game, we ran a Scary Story.  In a sense, the storyline would not have been out of place in Call of Cthulhu.  A group of campers wakes up in the woods to discover that their guide is dead and that the landscape is horribly, horribly changed.  Of course, in Little Fears, the "guide" is the father of one of the PCs and the campers are all 2nd graders.

And therein lies the joy of playing the game.  In Call of Cthulhu, the investigators spend much emotional energy on trying to rationalize the connection between the sane world that they know and the harsh irrational realities that they discover.  In Little Fears it is different.  Certainly the children are brought face to face with harsh realities, but the difference is that these discoveries are not shocking (in a sense).  Of course there are monsters throughout the world.  Everybody knows that.  The trick is to avoid being caught by them.  :smile:

One of the behaviors that I began to see what that my players (in character) would begin to try to justify what they were seeing.  Rather than the head-on collision between worldviews evident in CoC, the kids were allowing their worldview to morph to fit what they were seeing.

In addition, the inclusion of Belief Magic is just incredible.  In fact, it is fast becoming my favorite part of Little Fears.  For those who have not yet seen the book, the basic idea is that childish beliefs and imaginations can sometimes come true.  This is based on the Innocence of the character and fades as the child grows up and begins to realize that "the world doesn't work that way".  In the meantime, that magic walking stick really is a magic walking stick, and it really is possible for four children to hide from the monsters behind a single baseball cap ("because my Uncle Joe gave it to me").  The overall effect was fascinating.  For some reason, Belief Magic has had this effect (both in my sessions and the Origins demoes) of cutting loose the imaginations of the players.

All in all, it was an enjoyable session.  The players were scared (but not too scared) and they want to come back for more.  Can't be better than that.



Title: Little Fear in action
Post by: joshua neff on July 21, 2001, 06:37:00 AM
Seth--

I haven't seen the game yet. How do the mechanics work? What were they like in play? How does Belief magic actually work (system-wise)? It sounds really cool.


Title: Little Fear in action
Post by: GreatWolf on July 21, 2001, 07:33:00 AM
The system is quite simple.  As I mentioned, it's more of a "fade into the background" system, which is good for horror.

Characters are defined by five stats:  Muscle, Smarts, Hands, Feet, and Spirit.  These are on a scale of 1-5.  In addition, characters have three Virtues:  Soul, Fear, and Innocence.  These are rated on a scale of 0-10.  Soul is essentially the "hit points" of the Soul (although I know that Jason plans to develop this further in supplements).  Fear is the "sanity" meter of LF.  As your character gains Fear, he becomes unhinged.  Innocence is really the central Virtue of the game.  Its starting value is based on your age (although this can be adjusted during chargen).  You lose Innocence due to exposure to horrific situations (that violate Innocence) and by the constant failure of Belief Magic ("maybe this doesn't really work") and also every time you become a year older ("Sure, I used to believe in that stuff.  But then I grew up.")  In addition, characters have descriptors called Qualities (both positive and negative) that affect rolls.

A non-opposed roll (called a Quiz) is rolled on a single d6.  If the roll is less than or equal to the appropriate stat, it succeeds.  If a given Quality applies, an extra d6 is rolled.  If it is a positive quality, the better of the two rolls is used.  If it is negative, the worse of the two rolls is used.

An opposed roll (called a Test) is rolled against your opponent's stat.  In this case, higher is better.  Qualities still apply.

Belief magic is based on Innocence.  Basically divide Innocence by two (to get a number between 1-5) and roll a Quiz.  Every failure of Belief Magic results in (essentially) a loss of 1/10 of a point of Innocence.  Therefore, the Innocent are more able to use Belief Magic, but at the same time they are more likely to be the target of the monsters, since they seek Innocence.

Some rules are given for empowering protectors (teddy bears, etc.) with Belief Magic, but it is basically free-form, with the caveat that Belief Magic needs to have a childish referent.  It's not the magick of Mage but a child's innocent belief.

Of course, Belief Magic has a negative side as well.  The example given in the book is "Step on a crack, break your mother's back."  The GM is fully allowed to force Belief Magic rolls for characters doing such things to see if their belief in them has negative side effects.

Hmm.  That just about covers it.  Um...buy this game right now?  :smile:  (Obligatory plug.)



Title: Little Fear in action
Post by: Knight on July 22, 2001, 03:04:00 PM
How well would the rules adapt to being used for a South Park RPG?


Title: Little Fear in action
Post by: GreatWolf on July 23, 2001, 05:12:00 PM
Quote

On 2001-07-22 19:04, Knight wrote:
How well would the rules adapt to being used for a South Park RPG?


I don't know.  Would you want to profane Little Fears like that?  :razz:

Seriously, I would imagine that, sans the Virtues, it would work fine for any kid-based game.



Title: Little Fear in action
Post by: Knight on July 28, 2001, 12:44:00 PM
It's a universal question that should be asked about any RPG that focuses on children as PCs.  e.g.:

Cybergeneration - Can it handle South Park? No. Is it a good game? No.

Changeling - Can it handle South Park? No. Is it a good game. Hell no.

Coincidence? I think not.

[ This Message was edited by: Knight on 2001-08-02 17:25 ]


Title: Little Fear in action
Post by: Laura Bishop on August 08, 2001, 09:20:00 PM
Knight Said:

It's a universal question that should be asked about any RPG that focuses on children as PCs. e.g.:

Cybergeneration - Can it handle South Park? No. Is it a good game? No.

Changeling - Can it handle South Park? No. Is it a good game. Hell no.

Coincidence? I think not.
---

Wait, I'm sort of confused.  Because Changeling and CyberGeneration can't "handle" South Park - they're bad games? o.O  Or were you being facetious here.

Personally, I'd /never/ want to roleplay South Park.  I can only handle so many Poo/Wanker/Kenny's Dead! jokes in one sitting, and if anyone RPs like we do, this can stretch into days.  I might have to commit homicide before the session was through. ; )

Part of LFs beauty is taking the deceptively simple genre "horror" and making it even more terrifying: laying it all out in front of the eyes of children.  'Monsters' scare adults, but they can rationalize at higher leaves.  True, trying to rationalize the tentacled Elder God drooling in your closet is going to be a challenge, but hey - where's the fun if it's simple. ; )

Children on the other hand, and especially young children, accept life at face value; they are naive realists.  Life is this way because that's the way I see it.  That monster came out from under my bed, so monsters must live under beds.  The world is filled with such "logic" like this for children.

But, to pull this back on topic: while scary in conception, I don't know if I could classify South Park as horror.  Trying to say LF, Changeling or CyberGeneration are bad games because they don't conform to an animated medium meant for the lowest of bathroom humor doesn't seem to make sense to me. : )

Oh, and - uh - hi.  This is my first post. : }


Title: Little Fear in action
Post by: Ron Edwards on August 09, 2001, 05:39:00 AM
Hi Laura,

Welcome to the Forge!

I'm not sure that Knight's post was serious enough to dignify with debate, but he DID post it, so here goes.

First of all, I agree with you that South Park, horror, and Little Fears don't really play well together in the same sentence. I'm not sure where Knight is coming from in that regard. He may be attempting a joke, or I give the benefit of the doubt in that direction, anyway.

Second, though, I think you're reversing his causality. The games he mentions, if I'm reading him right, are not bad BECAUSE they cannot do South Park, but bad in their own ways for other reasons, and HAPPEN not to be able to do South Park. Correlation, not causation.

(And calling games "good" and "bad" without stated criteria isn't very Forge-like anyway. Causes trouble, doesn't lead to any insights, etc etc.)

I chimed in here because I sense the possibility of fandom about non-RPG stuff intruding its li'l head, and the last thing we need is a parade of posts to clarify exactly where each of us stands regarding South Park. It's clear that Little Fears is a different thing, and any aspects of its play are the topic at hand.

Best,
Ron


Title: Little Fear in action
Post by: Knight on August 09, 2001, 03:40:00 PM
It's not entirely facetious.  An odd question, perhaps, but I think it could be taken at face value.  

South Park, whilst often nonsensical at best, occasionally manages to be funny and insightful about childhood. It is hit and miss, and I can understand why people don't look past that.

I was using it as a shorthand for a certain philosophy about childhood. And, yes, I was suggesting correlation rather than causation.

>>
And calling games "good" and "bad" without stated criteria isn't very Forge-like anyway.
>>

The criteria on which Cybergeneration and Changeling failed was: "does not make me want to curl up into a little ball and cry".






Title: Little Fear in action
Post by: trelliz on August 29, 2001, 11:12:00 AM
Quote

On 2001-08-09 19:40, Knight wrote:
It's not entirely facetious.  An odd question, perhaps, but I think it could be taken at face value.  

South Park, whilst often nonsensical at best, occasionally manages to be funny and insightful about childhood. It is hit and miss, and I can understand why people don't look past that.

I was using it as a shorthand for a certain philosophy about childhood. And, yes, I was suggesting correlation rather than causation.

>>
And calling games "good" and "bad" without stated criteria isn't very Forge-like anyway.
>>

The criteria on which Cybergeneration and Changeling failed was: "does not make me want to curl up into a little ball and cry".







Title: Little Fear in action
Post by: trelliz on August 29, 2001, 11:16:00 AM
I have never heard of/played Cybergeneration or Changeling, but a South Park rpg would be laughably poor anyway, so why bother? Now a Buffy RPG (LF monsters, but slightly more effective anti-death protection), THAT would be good. picture the scene....

PLAYER 1: "Right, i'm going to kick the vamp in the nuts, jump on the table, and stake him with Mr Pointy"

GM: "Take an agility test with a -1 as this vamp is trying to kill you.

... it would be SO good.


Title: Little Fear in action
Post by: Balbinus on August 31, 2001, 06:03:00 AM
I thought Trelliz actually had an interesting point here.  What I thought he was saying with the South Park comment (and I'm happy for him to correct me) was that Little Fears can simulate ordinary children behaving as children do.  Cybergeneration and Changeling in his view (I have not read either game) cannot.

If he is correct, I think it is an important point. Little fears works IMO in part because it starts with a credible child, a believable human being.  Then weird stuff happens.  If Cybergeneration and Changeling don't do that, they start with something other than a real child, in a sense they are failures.  Why?  Because certainly with Cybergeneration (I had no idea people played children in Changeling) you are supposed to roleplay a child, one with special abilities but still a child.  If a Cybergeneration character cannot be envisaged as behaving in a childlike way, if they are superpowered action types for example, then this design objective has failed.

Little Fears characters are children.  This is in part why it is a "good" game (in the sense that it fulfils its design objectives).  A game in which the characters are supposed to be children but where ordinary childlike behaviour is impossible to acheive has not achieved this same objective.

Does that make sense?  Trelliz, I would be grateful if you could say what it is about Cybergeneration and Changeling which makes playing ordinary children unworkable.


Title: Little Fear in action
Post by: Balbinus on August 31, 2001, 06:04:00 AM
Oops, sorry.  It is Knight who made the quotes in question, Trelliz was replying.  Sorry for the mistake.


Title: Little Fear in action
Post by: Epoch on August 31, 2001, 08:47:00 AM
To the extent that Changeling: The Dreaming was intended to be a game about playing children (and there is that element of it, but it's not the only element), I think it was a dismal failure.  And I say that as a confirmed fan of the game.

The problems, as I saw them, were that the authors had a very narrow and very idealized (in the sense of "of or pertaining to their ideals," not the sense of "unrealistically good") view of what imagination and innocence were.  Among other things, this meant that games which focussed on "Glamour vs. Banality," to use the jargon of the game, were very difficult to make interesting and exciting, and very strictly constrained the roles that the PC's could take.

Now, as a "hidden society" game, I think Changeling really excels.  It offers, in many ways, the most robust and interesting secret society of supernatural monsters in the WoD, and the one that's second only to Wraith in terms of being believably and thematically-appropriately hidden from the eyes of normal humans.


Title: Little Fear in action
Post by: Ron Edwards on August 31, 2001, 10:59:00 AM
Hello all,

As this is the Actual Play column, I'd appreciate it if someone who has PLAYED Little Fears can answer my question.

It's this: is playing a child PC especially notable in terms of identification?

Please note that I have not mentioned and am not interested in hearing about "immersion." I am talking about the sense of caring - very quickly, without reflection - about what happens to the character. This may be expressed as protectiveness toward the PC, or as commitment to playing him or her, or as strong emotional reactions during play, or as any number of other things.

I ask because I made up a couple of LF characters (we're planning on running it fairly soon) and found it emotionally jarring. I didn't want anything to happen to them. It was very different from making up a Call of Cthulhu character; when I do that, I gleefully anticipate the PC's dismemberment, psychological unravelling, and general doom.

Has anyone observed or felt this phenomenon regarding Little Fears? How did it impact play, if it did? Examples would be greatly appreciated.

Best,
Ron


Title: Little Fear in action
Post by: Mike Holmes on August 31, 2001, 01:22:00 PM
Uh, Ron, if you didn't feel that way about a realistic child character, I'd be worried. Yes this is evidence that the game works. And one of many reasons I can't play it. I think the game is too good. I really don't want to become that emotionally invested in an RPG. Given that I'm a relatively new father, I think the game scares me (heck, just being a father scares me). I do own a copy, but who knows when I'll be able to play it.

Mike Holmes


Title: Little Fear in action
Post by: trelliz on September 03, 2001, 04:44:00 AM
I think that the issue of being worried about your character depends on how realistic to YOU they seem. if you make a character, give them a name and that's it, they're not real and so you don't care much to what happens to them. but if you try what I have tried (as well as a few other people, which is to base the character on what the player was really like at whatever age you decide the character to be. If i made myself as a 10 year old i would have to give myself Big for my age, loud, artistic, curious, etc. Try basing your LF character on what you were like at that age, or ask your parents what you were like, so you can get another person's perspective of you as you seemed, not as you remeber.


Title: Little Fear in action
Post by: Ron Edwards on September 03, 2001, 05:17:00 AM
Trelliz,

With respect, I don't think many people at the Forge need instruction about how to identify with their characters. Furthermore, I would be surprised if the behavior you describe - making up oneself at 8 or so - is not THE single most widely-practiced use of the Little Fears rulebook, on first reading.

Let us take my latest player-character - Ysidra Xo, an Obsidian character. This an action game, and PCs are violent, dangerous individuals; getting waxed and smacked and kicked about is part of play. Does this means that the PC is a game-piece, that all of us players are in Pawn stance, and that there's no particular identification going on? No. The identification is present, but it is not morally tinged with outrage.

A Little Fears PC - and I specify, NOT one based upon myself - has a different effect on me, at least upon gazing at the sheet, and I presume during play (soon to come).

It has nothing to do with identification. It has to do with what the fictional character Ysidra Xo is capable of dealing with and enduring, and what she is "about." She may grow and learn, but she is past adolescence, and as a viewer/author of the character, I and the other players are not protective toward her development during early life.

Whereas a Little Fears PC, as a child, is entering the creative role-playing arena as someone who is developing into an adult, eventually. We as people are protective toward children, most of us; we accept the context of some shared responsibility toward their welfare. Even a fictional child prompts this response, and to INFLICT terror and fear on a child, even as an author/player/GM, is uncomfortable for us.

Best,
Ron


Title: Little Fear in action
Post by: Jason L Blair on September 03, 2001, 06:22:00 AM
Ron,

Bingo. This is exactly what I was hoping to instill in players (which, in turn, will heighten the sense of terror). As far as the question at hand, I'm interested as well. I'd answer, but I think my view of it would be a bit skewed (and understandably so).




Title: Little Fear in action
Post by: Knight on September 09, 2001, 11:54:00 AM
To clear up the Changeling/Cybergeneration thing - Epoch explained it well.  Both games seemed to me to have a very specific, limited idea of what childhood and children are*.  IMHO, Changeling is as equally focused on childhood as Little Fears and Cybergeneration. My question about South Park was to do with determining the width of Little Fears's conception of childhood.    









*And both had other important problems.


Title: Little Fear in action
Post by: Tyrant on September 09, 2001, 05:02:00 PM
As for Cybergen, I have played, and run it extensively, and while fellow purist Cyberpunkers tend not to like it, I think it depends on how the game is run/intended..

While Little Fears is a game intended to run as Playing REAListic children, Cybergen is about high powered kids vs a system their parent abandoned them to... Two very different Genres...

One game of Cybergeneration made me burst out in tears it was so... terrible... but then it was run by a very good GM