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Fear Itself
 
$8.95
Average Rating:4.3 / 5
Ratings Reviews Total
12 3
4 2
4 0
1 0
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Fear Itself
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Fear Itself
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Jonas √. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/25/2012 08:50:17
Loads of inspiration, shame about the illustrtions though some are good. I love Gumshoe so I kind of knew what to expect.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Fear Itself
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Michael H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/17/2010 10:58:03
Fear Itself is an interesting and well-written version of the Gumshoe system. It's one of my favorite versions of Gumshoe, particularly because while it can be used for campaign play, it also works very well for one-shot or single scenario play which is where I think the Gumshoe system really shines.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Fear Itself
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Jeffrey V. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/01/2010 23:17:27
This particular system is like stepping into a bath full of really cold water -- you're either going to like the refreshing nature of it, or you're going to leap out of the tub with a scream! Based on the Gumshoe system, the game revolves around atmosphere, atmosphere, atmosphere. The rules are merely a vehicle for creating opportunities for the players to act out some truly horrific scenes and events -- very much like a combination of the "worst" teen slasher movies and some of the more esoteric horror written by folks like Steven King and Ramsey Campbell.

The system has been pretty well covered by several of the other reviewers, so I'll confine myself to stating that it's simple to learn, easy to teach and devilishly complex to use effectively -- requiring a particularly skilled group of role-players to reach it's full effectiveness. If you've already read Gumshoe, or Trail of Cthulhu or The Esoterrorists, then you already know more about the system than you'll learn from this book, and large parts of the text are simply extracted from the other publications without any changes at all.

The book is full of guidance on how to run the game -- needed given the way the author recommends the GM interleave different scene types and pull the players into various bits of acting as the game unfolds (one minute they're the lead character, the next an anonymous supporting character, and the next in a regular group scene; add in flashbacks, motivators, mentors, yada, yada, yada, and it's easy to see why this one might be a bit much for the average group of D&D players to simply leap into). The book also contains a fairly horrific example scenario that involves some decidedly "adult" themes. But then, I suppose if you're planning on playing in a truly horrifying role-playing game, you're going to have to get into kinky sex, huge amounts of unredeemed gore, sickening slides into madness and paranoia, and all that goes with them. The creatures described in the game (both of them) are suitably horrific, and should be sufficient (believe it or not) to keep the players fully involved for literally months of play. Since the supplement mentioned in the rules and The Esoterrorists are already out, if you're willing to pop for them, I'm sure you can get plenty more creatures from the Outer Dark to use in future scenarios.

As usual, DriveThru's reproduction of the material is excellent -- highly legible and the images (alas, some are fairly disturbing) are fully viewable. Overall, I give this one a "5," however, based primarily on what I see as a lack of universal appeal, you may want to consider this purchase before making it. While the quality of the work is excellent, it somehow just seems like the kind of play group that would really "get into" this one, might not be the kind of people you want hanging out around your house during the dark of night! :-)

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fear Itself
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by William G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/08/2010 21:11:10
This is an excellent product.

Designed for the GUMSHOE system, but entirely transposable to the system of your choice (although GUMSHOE is the best system for investigative horror I have encountered).
Key elements this product brings to you:
- Risk Factors
- Stability & Stability sources
- Psychic rules
- two sources of evil and horror (monsters)
- and an adventure

Risk Factors
A risk factor is a motivator seek out the horror/plot of the game. Risk Factors provide roleplaying motivation for the player, and is a tool for the GM to compel the story forward in a believable manner. There are examples which make things a lot clearer than my meager scribblings, but here is my interpretation:
A player's character is "heroic" and a terrible 'thing' has just grabbed an innocent girl in front of the PC. A sensible player might immediately seek a way to avoid encountering the horror knowing it would lead to certain death, but being "heroic" the GM now presents the PC with the delimma of having to chase the entity down the ally in hopes of saving the girl or taking a stability hit as his very core concept of everything he believed himself to be is challenged by his display of "cowardice".

Stability
Similar to Cthuhlu Sanity scores -when you go negative your character starts to fall apart mentally. The mechanic interact well with the rest of the GUMSHOE system, and the entire section adds immersion to the game. Stability hits come from seeing horrible things, sounds practical right? But that means seeing dead bodies, seeing people you know killed, seeing people tortured, all the scenes that cry out "Oh! The Humanity!" - these all call for checks which can result in hits to your Stability.
Stability Sources are a requirement that characters have to declare, and are basically people, activities, or traits that keep the character sane - spending time with a stability source can rejuvenate your Stability, but conversely loosing a Source can permanently lower your Stability score.
To put this into a brief "actual play" example, during an investigation into a mafia family, an undercover cop gets seen talking with his controller (his old mentor and a source of stability in this mixed up world of drugs and crime, keeping him "on the path" and reminding him of the world he needs to return to). The mobs captures the cop and make him watch the brutal torture and subsequent murder of his long time mentor - causing a horrendous Stability check for seeing such a brutal series of things done to someone important to him, failing his check he is sent into shock (he was already "on the edge") and his Stability Maximum is permanently lowered from the loss of his friend and only link to the outside world.

Psychic Rules
I have not been able to road test these yet so I let future reviewers go into more depth regarding their experiences with this.
As with the rest of the product, this section comes with excellent examples of how the rules work and at the same time, how to evoke that creepiness of the unknown and intangible into your game.
There are no "Psychic Attack" powers for the characters, but abilities such as psychometry, and aura readings, can provide addition insights into difficult problems in a believable and non-magical way.

The Bestiary
I wouldn't call them monsters.
There are two unique examples of major horror antagonists, which you can use in your games or as inspiration in how to bring horror, through misery and avarice, to your game. Well written with good stories to help you know how to facilitate such radical concepts as "boss monsters" you can't shoot to death.

The Adventure
An amusing, complicated, and long adventure about a group of workmates who go on a LARP "team building" day. Unique premise which is easily identifiable to gamers whether they have ever done any Live-Action-Role-Playing or not. This adventure provides an going tutorial on how to execute an investigative horror game, and how to create that illusive sense of foreboding and fear within your players.

CONCLUSION
This product sets itself apart from other Horror Rules because of the way everything interacts with the entire GUMSHOE system in a meaningful and immersive manner. The Risk Factors provide believe, character driven motivations for adventuring; Stability Sources provide opportunities for backgrounds that have meaning to the characters and affect them in a very real way; and the Psychic rules bring my first experience with a subtle use of "powers" that enhances creepiness and provides players with alternative avenues of information gathering and action (perfect for real world settings).

I have given this product 5 stars:
4 because it delivers everything it promises; is written to a standard that I, as an ordinary gamer, cannot find fault with;
and the 5th star because it brings truly new and innovative content to the industry. If you want scary and investigative - get this.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fear Itself
Publisher: Pelgrane Press
by Antonio E. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/02/2009 07:55:34
This is an excellent horror role playing game, focusing on investigation, survival and deep character creation. Forget long lists of skills, pedantic rules, or endless lists of equipment, which are common to other modern games which only pretend to support horror and instead thinly disguise narrative for a game (you know who you are).
Here you will find plenty of ideas on how to evoke horror atmospheres, and how to design characters whose motives and actions are ingrained in the resolution mechanics; this is a TRUE storytelling game! The GUMSHOE system makes relevant the decisions of the players after the acquisition of clues, not the acquisition itself. Rules are provided for psychic phenomena and for sanity, also.
The game only uses six sided dies (one die, actually) for all action resolution, which makes it ideal to teach to new players.
With this game you can run games based on personal or survival horror. I have done both, and it works very very well. The game works as an excellent toolbox for horror stories.
The only drawback is that there are some typos, and some missing rules text (which can be found on the Pelgrane website anyway); hopefully a corrected pdf will be issued.
A larger "bestiary" would have been nice (only two horrors are described), however it's very easy to create monsters and NPCs to suit individual campaigns.
So, if you want an easy to play, deep and novel horror role playing game, you have found it. And you do not need other volumes to play.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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