Ancient Scroll’s Secret Room: High School… Horror!

Today I’d like to share some adventure ideas with you. Something that might even inspire you to run a modern horror adventure in… high school.

Last weekend I missed writing a Saturday column (Sorry, Fitz!) because I was working with my friend Zed from the creative collective Lans Macabre. We were working a new book with adventure ideas.

A while ago I called Zed and said… “My friend, I love your approach to horror RPGs. Can you create a sourcebook with adventures set in high school? But, you know, make them really scary…”

Zed agreed and we started to discuss some possibilities. Then he started to work…

So here you go… three adventure ideas we call “High School Horror.” This e-book (yes, early promotion!) will be available soon. But today, just for you – the readers and fans of Game Knight Reviews – here’s a little sneak peek. Enjoy and get inspired!

It seems that high school and horror themes have always been mixed. Pop culture has easily assimilated the old school corridors full of nerds, lonely “emo-black-metal-listeners,” football players, cheerleaders, as well as tutors, headmasters, and of course, janitors.

Here are three ideas for adventures, locations and characters, for use by a GM seeking to create a story full of horror, terror, and revulsion – the three essential keys to a good horror story according to Stephen King.

The Last Bus

It was a couple of days before anybody noticed that one of the students had gone missing. The boy was from a broken home, poor, and kept to himself. In school, he was considered to be an outsider. He never made friends. And after class he would often spend hours in the school library, learning or reading. His teachers all shared the same impression – he was a conscientous student with average grades.

The last person to see him the day he disappeared was the school janitor. According to him, he took the last bus of the day. But the driver doesn’t remember anyone like him entering his bus that day.

Shortly after the search began, the police found a wrecked school bus at a nearby scrap yard. It soon turns out however that it has resisted in a car cemetery for no less than 30 years, unable to move an inch…

The Locker Room

Early one morning, a high school basketball coach found the dead body of one of his players near the showers. It wasn’t just some random teammate… but the star of the high school’s varsity basketball squad. The police already had the sporting facility cordoned off by the time students arrived.

Later in the evening of that same day, the victim’s teammate – covered in blood – came to the police station… He remembered leaving school after training one moment and waking up half-naked, drenched in blood in a nearby forest the next. Nobody could support his story and he was arrested as the primary suspect in the murder case.

None of the students or teachers could believe he was the killer. The two boys had been best friends since childhood.

Though the blood covering the suspect belonged to the victim, it was the only thing linking him to the murder. In his report, the psychologist wrote that the boy’s amnesia was not faked. The police had no motive and had yet to find the murder weapon…

What really happened that night?

A Night at the School

Every year at school, by tradition, a group of students breaks into the school at night to throw a huge party to drink, get high, and make love. Many say that it’s the adrenaline rush they’re after – that thrill of being expelled right at the end of school. When the PCs join the partying youth, many of them have been drunk for some time or under the influence of drugs.

Just as a few of the students break away from the party, someone passes out drunk and a girl suddenly starts shrieking in hysteria. She shouts at everybody to go home and that she had a strong feeling that something really bad is about to happen. Then, just as she stopps weeping, another shriek shatters the silence with the sound of shattering glass. A boy, covered in blood, runs into the room with the PCs and – as though in a trance – announces that there’s someone else in the school and that person snatched his girlfriend…

Disclaimer: All the ideas described here more or less capture the feel of High School Horror. Let’s remember that playing RPGs should be fun above all else and that game masters shouldn’t cause any trauma to their players! It’s just a game!

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