The Roleplaying Game of Personal Horror Fear Itself plunges ordinary people into a disturbing contemporary world of madness and violence — and inexorably draws them  into confrontation with creatures of the Outer Black, a realm of alien menace. GMs can re-create all the shudders and shocks of the horror genre at their table, whether they use the game’s distinctive mythology or one of their own choosing. Powered by the GUMSHOE investigative roleplaying system, Fear Itself is ideal for one-shot horror games (where few, if any, of the protagonists are expected to survive) or ongoing campaigns in which the characters gradually discover more about the disturbing supernatural reality that hides in the shadows of the ordinary world. Will they learn how to combat the darkness? Or spiral tragically into insanity and death? Read what reviewers are saying about Fear Itself. “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.” – William G., DriveThruRPG “This is very much a game of personal horror — so be prepared […]


Your enemies

Fear Itself includes fearsome new opponents for your PCs. More creatures and two great Fear Itself adventures can be found in the Ennie-award nominated GUMSHOE Book of Unremitting Horror.


Mystery Man

Mystery Men drive people mad for pleasure. A
Mystery Man seeks out individuals, often in a group,
who he deems susceptible to psychological breakdown,
yet of sufficient depth and interest to make the effort
entertaining. Once he targets a victim or victims, he
loses (or perhaps only willingly abandons) the ability
to interfere directly with their minds.

The Ovvashi

Ovvashi are humanoid demons who prey on society’s
refuse: drug addicts, the homeless, and the down-and-
out. Shuffling through places where the homeless congregate, they quickly
find new friends, ensuring a warm welcome with their
dirty plastic bags laden with cheap booze and smokes.
Having won their confidence, they draw tales of woe
from their newfound mates. To seal their allegiance,
they withdraw from their bags the objects their victims
most desire. The ovvashi are also capable of materializing
very specific items, like an exact replica of a longlost
memento, or even a particular photograph of an
abandoned loved one. But this is is just a tool of enslavement.


Fear Itself is a stand-alone game, based on the GUMSHOE system first introduced in Esoterrorists. GUMSHOE is modular, and Fear Itself offers new options for the GUMSHOE system which can also be used in Esoterrorists or other GUMSHOE games.

Fear Itself Characters

Characters in Fear Itself have numerous hooks which make them perfect for horror adventures.

  • Risk Factors determine why your character goes down into the dark basement. If you don’t follow your risk factor, your sanity can suffer.
  • The CSI-style skill set of PCs in Esoterrorists are simplified to reflect the background.
  • The useful Fleeing ability can get you away from the fearsome creatures which pursue you.
  • Stability – your resistance to insanity – has been more thoroughly detailed, and linked to your sources of stability, friends, family, beliefs and pastimes.
  • Optionally, you can include psychics with powerful but sanity threatening abilities such as Premonition, Remote Viewing and Synchronicty.
  • Each player defines The Worst Thing they Ever Did, which the GM and players can use to inform the characters behaviour and fears.
  • Each character describes their initial attitude to the other PCs, including who they like or dislike. This can be based on initial impressions or intimate knowledge.


Creating and Running Adventures

The looser structure of a Fear Itself scenario still consists of an investigative line, in which the characters pursue a series of core clues until they achieve a resolution of some sort. The GM or players can introduce flashbacks or directed scenes usually to address a character issue (for example The Worst Thing They Ever Did) or relationship with a source of stability or PC. Additional Unremitting Horror creatures including the fearsome Mystery Man are offered as foils.

Fear Itself includes masses of advice for the GM and players on how to run a horror game, and a detailed adventure The Ocean in the Forest.