Fearful Ends was designed with a specific focus on creating a horror-themed roleplaying experience that takes into consideration the emotional well-being of all players involved. While some individuals might thrive on exploring harsh and distressing moments, others may find such experiences overwhelming or triggering. It's our intention to offer an alternative that allows players to engage with dark and challenging themes in a way that feels controlled and safe.
In order to achieve this balance, we encourage GMs to consider a variety of safety tools to include in their games. This is especially important when running a game for new players, or especially a group of total strangers at a convention or other gaming event.
Included below are some options for safety tools that we have found useful in our games of Fearful Ends.
Mental Stress Cards
The mental stress cards in Fearful Ends have some built-in safety tools. The GM is directed to remove cards that would encourage roleplay that might feel distasteful to anyone at the table. This is covered in the "Filtering the Deck" section of the rulebook.
The game is very playable with one, two, or even three types of cards completely eliminated from play. More than that and you might want to check in with your players if this style of horror game is suitable to their tastes.
Patrick O'Leary's CATS (Concept, Aim, Tone, Subject Matter) is also called out in the rulebook as an excellent method of setting expectations at the table. Especially when playing with a new group of players, it's very useful to make sure everyone is on the same page about what kind of game you're going to play before you start to play.
Another check-in style that can be used prior to play is to ask each player to define their pesronal Lines and Veils. This system allows input from each player to define both hard limits of what content they would find unacceptable, as well as softer limits of content that can be referred to indirectly but should not be explicitly included in play.
In addition to pre-game check-ins and mid-game checks, consider including time for Aftercare at the end of your game. Fearful Ends already includes a "denouement" section for wrapping up the stories of each character. Extending this to give players time to reflect on intense moments during the game allows players to process any feelings and come back to reality a little less abruptly.