Actual Play – Blood Mary (1/8/2011)

GM: Travis Lindquist
Players: Tracy, Taz, Leia, and Sean
System: Little Fears: Nightmare Edition

Travis ran his play test for the Endgame Minicon game coming up next week. Now, there’s something to understand about Little Fears. It is a game I’ve never wanted to play. My understanding from the original edition was that the game was a metaphor for child abuse and I really had no interest. Didn’t want try it, didn’t need to see for myself, I was just out.

Travis really likes the game though, has raved about it for a few months and strongly encouraged me to give it a try. He described nightmare edition like Spiderwick Chronicles, which I haven’t seen, but I’ve heard a little about. And Travis is a good friend, who I have talked to a lot about my concerns. So when he told me I should try his game, I wanted to give it a shot.

The game was great. I made this little 8 year old girl that was an amalgam of my two daughters and a few of their friends. She was adorable and ready for closet land. The game was like Goonies. We were those cool kids going on crazy adventures.

As usual with play tests there’s not going to be a lot of details here, we took a dare, ended up in closet land and adventures ensued.

Here’s the ups and the downs

What rocked

  • Character creation linked the kids together in a really organic fashion. There was never a time when we were told, now explain how you know each other. We just answered the questionnaire all together and as we did it saw similarities (or differences) and forged connections from them.
  • Travis brought a character from a previous Little Fears game named Jimmy into the story. This was Shannon MacNamara’s character who I knew the history of. May not have been a fun bit for other players not in the know, but it was very fun for me.
  • Travis introduced the dice mechanics with a few simple “quizzes” early on in the game so we learned how it worked fast.
  • At one point we realized that three of us had the ONLY three hall passes in the school and we were in Closet Land. We had to get back… how would anyone go to the bathroom if we didn’t?
  • Spending belief to give monsters weaknesses was great, it was one of my favorite mechanics in the game because we got to decide that monsters had the kind of weaknesses that kids think they should have like stick hands and stretch arms you could get stuck to things or unraveling their sack so all the spears fell out, etc.
  • We started off in the action… saying Bloody Mary three times in front of the mirror because of a dare and then RIGHT into the fray!
  • Travis did a lot of reincorporation, asking us questions about our characters and bringing them back into the story a lot. We told him about a missing kid named Robbie, and sure enough we started finding clues that he might have been taken to Closet Land.

What could have improved

  • The actual transition to Closet Land was pretty abrupt. Boom we are there. We brainstormed so smoother transitions.
  • A little ways into the game, when we met Jimmy, he delivered the message that was really a disclaimer from Travis, which was “I have no plot you need to stick to”. Coming from an NPC though we got confused and thought he was offering us an option to travel with him. He’s going to give it in advance as the GM rather than through the NPC as in intermediary.
  • The two “baddies” we fought didn’t sound distinct enough in their descriptions so it was hard to keep them straight.
  • The game had a lot of conflicts all sandwiched together and I really needed a time for reflection in the middle of it. Probably one less brawl and one more sitting around, catching our breath and talking it out scene would have made it perfect.
  • The trait mechanic confused a couple players and never came up in the game. I think it should be taken out for the con game. Also qualities should be simplified and streamlined.

Though my rocked/improved list was pretty analytical, this was a killer game. We were little kids having awesome and fantastic adventures and in a twisted word with full of nightmare fairytales. It’s like Don’t Rest Your Head: Kiddo Edition!