Every year many children go missing. Some return home safe and sound. Some are discovered in shallow graves. Many are simply never seen again. It is not just the work of separate sickos; something far more evil is at work...
There is a place called "Closetland" where all monsters and fear originate. These monsters have one main purpose: destroy the innocence of children. The monsters may do this directly or influence humans to harm children for them. Worst of all is how it is mostly only children ages six to twelve or thirteen who can even percieve the denizens of Closetland; the majority of adults lack the innocence needed to see them, although some insane or mentally impared adults can still see the monsters. In short, adults are of limited defense against Closetland, so it is up to the children themselves. Luckily, there is still hope; children have the power of belief and faith on their side. Favorite toys become powerful weapons in the right hands, and simple prayers become wards of protection. Closetland is clever and ruthless though; battles can be won against it, but the war is never over.
Little Fears: The Game of Childhood Terror is a tabletop RPG created in 2001 by Jason L. Blair of Key 20 Publishing. After years of being out of print after a limited run, a new game line, Little Fears: Nightmare Edition came out in late 2009. You can see the official site.
A revised and updated version of the original game, titled Happy Birthday, Little Fears was released to celebrate the 10th anniversary.
This RPG provides examples of:
- Big Bad: The Demagogue in the first edition, the Boogeyman in Nightmare Edition.
- Break the Cutie: Titania's backstory (see below).
- Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Children can harm monsters through belief and faith; if a kid thinks a shot from a toy gun will hurt a werewolf, it will.
- Crapsack World: There's monsters out there that only a limited number of people can see and nobody believes them because they're all children, in spirit if not in age. The monsters are responsible, directly or indirectly, for every act of evil in the world. They are so powerful that they can turn the people around you, even your friends and family, into their puppets just to get to you. And if they get you, one of a thousand horrible fates awaits you - an eternity of slavery, becoming a monster yourself or simply being eaten by monsters. And you can't truly beat them. Ever. The best you can hope for is to survive long enough to grow up into one of the worthless adults who are totally unaware of what is going on in the world, thus perpetuating the cycle of abuse and torment as the next generation fears for their lives while not being believed...
- Softened quite a bit for Nightmare Edition, but there's still an infinite supply of child-tormenting monsters born of mankind's fears.
- Creepy Doll: The creations of Patchwork.
- Creepy Twins: Helter and Skelter in the first edition. Helter is a knife-wielding nutter while Skelter is a subtle manipulator. These two like to impose their different techniques at the same time on a single person for maximum intimidation.
- The Dragon: Braxis the Enslaver, the Demagogue's right hand in the first edition.
- The Fair Folk: Titania, King of Pride, used to be the shining queen of a more benevolent Faerie Land, the kind kids dream of. Then Closetland invaded. Her kingdom sacked, Titania's gladly sold herself out as the Demagogue's consort. Now she oversees an army of Goblyns and makes it her life's work to drive people's feelings of self-worth into the toilet.
- She's better in the second edition, for the kids anyway. Titania herself got it worse with her husband Oberon killed and herself being in catatonic state, with vines bleeding magic from her, but at least she doesn't turn evil.
- Ghostly Goals: In Nightmare Edition, all monsters have goals like these. Most of these goals aren't innately evil, and if the children help the monster resolve them, they'll be "purified" in some way — turning back to normal, ascending to the afterlife, or just leaving their would-be victim(s) alone and going away. Other goals are innately evil, and if they're accomplished, the monster will just become something even worse.
- Grand Theft Me: Many, many monsters do this, such as Living Dolls, Doppelgängers, Shades, and Worms. The Seven Kings resort to this too when looking to directly influence humans.
- The Heartless: The monsters of Closetland are born out of and thrive on fear.
- I'm a Humanitarian: Baba Yaga, King of Gluttony, is all about this.
- Invisible to Adults: All monsters. Period. In Nightmare Edition, monsters actually dislike appearing in the presence of adults because of the same lack of belief that makes them invisible. The only way a monster can be seen by adults is if it's disguised as something ordinary — a werewolf in human form, worms mimicking a child, a giant praying mantis wearing a false human skin to appear to be a babysitter, etc.
- Lighter and Softer: Despite the ominous name, Nightmare Edition defaults to this as compared to the original game. It suggests the possibility of making it even more so, or bringing it back in line with the original game... and provides optional rules to help with either change of tone.
- Monster Clown: Oliver, a clown who likes to mind-rape happy children into terror and depression.
- Psychopathic Manchild: Rael-Schol only wants to be a child, but he will never be. That's why he kills the real ones. Also, Kabaelza.
- Rapid Aging: A child that comes into physical contact with a ghost ages at a rate of 1 year per 10 seconds of contact.
- Seven Deadly Sins: The Seven Kings of Closetland represent the sins. They are the Boogeyman (greed), Titania (pride), Rael-Schol (envy), Lamashtu (wrath), Kabaelza (sloth), Baba Yaga (gluttony), and the Defiler (lust).
- Things That Go "Bump" in the Night
- Urban Fantasy
- Weight Woe: Titania makes these.
- The Worm That Walks: The Worms, which can take the shape of a human child. Once they rip out the child's eyes and put them in their own head they can get rid of the child.