In the Community Content Spotlight, each month I write up a short review of a GUMSHOE community content title, all of which are available on DriveThruRPG. See this page if you’re interested in creating something for our Community Program!
Michael Duxbury’s Game Reserve is a fresh supplement to Fear Itself 2nd Edition, providing “a collection of hunting grounds” for the GM’s pleasure (and the likely dis-pleasure of the characters). If you missed the announcement in last month’s Community Content Spotlight, Game Reserve was Michael’s runner-up entry in the contest, which he turned around for publication on DriveThru in surprisingly short order.
I had been planning on writing up some of the earlier entries to the community content program, but when Michael sent along the finished PDF for this one I knew I wanted to review this instead. The premise is fairly simple: Game Reserve presents six settings for a horrific conclusion to your Fear Itself one shots. Stolen with impunity right off the DriveThru page, these settings are:
- The Cabin in the Woods
- The Torture Trap
- The Fog
- The Country Manor
- The Amusement Ride
- The Underworld
From the get-go Game Reserve is aimed at making the GM’s life easier. Just like using pre-generated investigators, hunting grounds get you up and running faster, with less prep (I could see this being a real-life saver the next time someone asks to play a game “tonight”). Duxbury’s careful to attend to the classic three-act structure, noting that a general premise supplies your investigative trigger; a second act’s characterized by an encounter with the monster; and the monster’s leavings (“All That Remains,” in Fear Itself parlance) lead you into the third act—it’s this third act that the hunting grounds mean to fill.
The diversity of hunting grounds will keep you going for awhile, as they replicate major horror films and franchises: Stephen King’s The Mist, the Saw series, there might even be a little Five Nights at Freddy’s wandering around the inspirations here. And then, of course, there’s my favorite of the hunting grounds, because it suggests an entire world anterior to our own. This is no thinning of the boundary between the living and the dead, nor no puppet that’s been blessed/cursed by reanimation, this is a world all its own—The Underworld.
For me, a perennial fan of Clive Barker and, attendantly, Hellraiser, “The Underworld” hunting ground suggests that realm the cenobites emerge from at seemingly the slightest provocation, a world reigned over by the mysterious (and slightly ridiculous) d10-shaped Leviathan. As Duxbury points out, The Underworld could prove a perfect capstone to a Fear Itself campaign, or just the right torturous end for a group of one-shot characters who aren’t interested in seeing sunlight again.
Game Reserve’s art is simply done, but still tastefully adds to the ambience of the PDF, and shows how a few simple, easily sourced images add a lot to a final product. Final summation: highly rated for any Fear Itself GM, especially those who might need an occasional get-out-of-jail-prep-free card.
(New feature!) Final Score: 4.5 bear traps out of 5
Title: Game Reserve
Author: Michael Duxbury
System: Fear Itself
Price: $3.99 PDF
The Pelgrane Press Community Program brings you into the fold with other GUMSHOE game designers, affording creators (whatever that means to you!) the opportunity to post and sell their own products on DriveThruRPG. We currently accept material for Ashen Stars, The Esoterrorists 2nd Edition, Fear Itself 2nd Edition, and TimeWatch. Have a kooky idea you’d like to write up and get out there? A flushed out scenario you think others would enjoy? The Community Program is the place to showcase these ideas. If you’re interested in creating something for the Community Program, read more about it here.
Fear Itself is a game of contemporary horror that plunges ordinary people into a disturbing world of madness and violence. Use it to run one-shot sessions in which few (if any) of the protagonists survive, or an ongoing campaign in which the player characters gradually discover more about the terrifying supernatural reality which hides in the shadows of the ordinary world. Will they learn how to combat the Creatures of Unremitting Horror from the Outer Black? Or spiral tragically into insanity and death? Purchase Fear Itself in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.