Friday, November 14, 2014

Stupid Idea Revue: Witchy Horrorshow Academy Redux

Centuries ago, a forgotten mystic founded the Scholomance, a college built to train fledgling witches and sorcerers, lest solitude and caprice drive them to make mischief out of magic. It flourished over the years, attracting the best and most ambitious magi, but its final headmaster, the Wizard Loshe, trafficked with what mortals ought not and invited a spirit of foul knowledge and dark power into his mind. It subjugated his will, seized his body, and began remaking the school in its own wicked image. His former friends and colleagues fled, taking their students with them, and sealed the Scholomance away behind wards and walls and unaging guardians.

But the walls have cracked, the wards have weakened, and the guardians grown slack in their duty. Lady Agatha, descendant of the Deputy Headmistress who led the flight from the Scholomance, has returned with students in hopes of lifting the pall of dark magic from the school and banishing whatever feeble remnants of Headmaster Loshe that might remain.

from Knights in the Nightmare

Years later, she's still at it. The process of exploring the castle has become an education in itself, and alums of the Headmistress' "academy" have developed a reputation for eccentric genius, honed in the bizarre and dangerous halls of the Scholomance. You are a student there, and a resident of the shanty town that has developed just inside the castle's front gate, beneath the eccentric and careless auspices of Deputy Headmistress Agatha. To refine your craft, pay for lessons, and uncover wealth and powerful objects, you must venture into the Scholomance with your fellow students.

Character Creation
Roll 3d6 for Strength, Constitution, Dexterity, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. Record the associated modifier.


from Persona Q
d10+Constitution modifier HP 
Saving Throws: Strength and Constitution
Every time you level up, you gain a skill point to invest in weapon expertise. You can invest a skill point in expertise for a single type of weapon, and each point gives you a +1 to attack rolls and damage.

d6+Constitution modifier HP 
Saving throws: Charisma and Wisdom
Every time you level up, you gain an extra skill point to invest in spells.

Witch Scout
d8+Constitution modifier HP 
Saving throws: Dexterity and Wisdom
Every time you level up, you gain a skill point to invest in one of the following:
  • Bushcraft
  • Climb 
  • First Aid
  • Stealth
d8+Constitution modifier HP
Saving Throws: Intelligence and Dexterity
Every time you level up, you gain a skill point to invest in one of the following:
  • Languages  
  • Search 
  • Tinker 
  • Teratology
from Silent Hill
You have a wand, which you need to cast spells. You can cast a spell as often as you wish, and the range of a spell is about the same as a shortbow. A spell can replicate the effect of any simple tool, weapon, or mechanical object, such as a torch, grappling hook, bow and arrow, or ladder. You must always describe what the spell looks like.

You start with a 1 in 6 chance of successfully casting any given spell. If you fail a spell, you must wait 1 round before you can cast a spell again. You can allocate skill points to a spell in order to permanently increase its odds of success. You start with 4 skill points and gain 2 more every time you gain a level. The list of spells is not set; you can invent them, as long as they fit the parameters for magic stated above. 

Duration spells last a number of exploration Round equal to half your level, rounded up. If a spell faces particularly strong resistance (binding a struggling enemy, lifting a heavy rock), you must succeed an Intelligence check with a bonus equal to your level.

  • Manuals give you a skill point in a particular spell.
  • You can carry a number of significant items equal to your Strength score without being encumbered. 100 bottlecaps count as a significant item.
  • Currency is in dollars and cents. In the barter economy, bottlecaps are worth a cent, cigarettes are worth a dollar, and souls are worth 10 dollars.
  • All characters begin with 1 white button down shirt, 1 pair of black slacks, 1 black robe, 1 wand, and a number of the following, based on your focus.
Athletes and Prodigies get roll on the following table 6 times.
Witch Scouts and Academics roll on the following table 9 times.

1-1-1: Aegis (Shield) Spell Manual
1-1-2: Levitation (Pulley) Manual
1-1-3: Bondage (Rope or Chain) Manual
1-1-4: Attraction (Grappling Hook) Manual
1-1-5: Impingement (Bow and Arrow) Manual
1-1-6: Incandescence (Torch) Manual
1-2-1: Inscription (Marker) Manual
1-2-2: Quickening (Roller Skates) Manual
1-2-3: Repulsion (Pole) Manual
1-2-4: Resonance (Magnet) Manual
1-2-5: Incision (Blade) Manual
1-2-6: Ascendance (Lever and Fulcrum) Manual
1-3-2: Gravitation (Weight) Manual
1-3-3: Aviation (Parachute) Manual
1-3-4: Obscuration (Blindfold) Manual
1-3-5: Ministration (Bandage) Manual
1-3-6: Reflection (Mirror) Manual
1-4-1: Equalization (Hammer) Manual
1-4-1: Entanglement (Net) Manual
1-4-2: Aeration (Fan) Manual
1-4-3: Conveyance (Cart) Manual
1-4-4: Observance (Spyglass) Manual
1-4-5: Amplification (Megaphone) Manual
1-4-6: Strangulation (Noose) Manual
1-5-1: Intonation (Bell) Manual 
1-5-2: Lubrication (Grease) Manual
1-5-3: Containment (Bowl) Manual
1-5-4: Obfuscation (Curtain) Manual
1-5-5: Hydrurgy (Pump) Manual
1-5-6: Immurement (Wall) Manual
1-6-1: Hydration (Water) Manual
1-6-2: Dissimulation (Mask) Manual
1-6-3: Adherence (Glue) Manual
1-6-4: Rotation Manual
1-6-5: Blockage (Lock) Manual
1-6-6: Stricture (Needle and Thread) Manual
2-1-1: Weapon: Pitchfork (d6)
2-1-2: Weapon: Shepherd’s crook (d4, reach)
2-1-3: Weapon: Scythe (d8)
2-1-4: Weapon: Sickle (d6)
2-1-5: Weapon: Hatchet (d6)
2-1-6: Weapon: Mallet (d4)
2-2-1: Weapon: Chef’s knife (d6)
2-2-2: Weapon: Cleaver (d8)
2-2-3: Weapon: Straight razor (d6)
2-2-4: Weapon: Table leg with bent nail (d6)
2-2-5: Weapon: Broom (sharpened handle) (d6)
2-2-6: Weapon: Cane (d4)
2-3-1: Weapon: Fencing foil (d8)
2-3-2: Weapon: Oar (d6)
2-3-3: Weapon: Bat (d6)
2-3-4: Ranged Weapon: Lawn darts, 12 (d4)
2-3-5: Ranged Weapon: Bow and arrow, 12 (d6)
2-3-6: Weapon: Anchor (d10)
2-4-1: Weapon: Decorative sword (d8)
2-4-2: Weapon: Serving fork (d4)
2-4-3: Weapon: Brazier (d6)
2-4-4: Weapon: Curtain rod (d6, reach)
2-4-5: Weapon: Poker (d6)
2-4-6: Weapon: Roasting spit (d6)
2-5-1: Ranged Weapon: Tomahawk (d8)
2-5-2: Ranged Weapon: Boomerang (d4)
2-5-3: Ranged Weapon: Blowgun, 12 darts (d4)
2-5-4: Ranged Weapon: Blunderbuss, (damage depends on ammo used)
2-5-5: Weapon: katana, d10
2-5-6: Weapon: Military saber, d10
2-6-1: Half-used pack of cigarettes
2-6-2: Pack of Goetia trading cards (10 cards, each worth d20 bottle caps)
2-6-3: Bottle caps (100)
2-6-4: Box of snack cakes
2-6-5: Saucy chapbook
2-6-6: Hall pass
3-1-1: Armor: Pot with eyeholes (+1 AC)
3-1-2: Armor: Mascot head (+1 AC)
3-1-3: Armor: Rugby helmet (+1 AC)
3-1-4: Armor: Hockey mask (+1 AC)
3-1-5: Armor: Antique helm (+1 AC)
3-1-6: Armor: Large skull (+1 AC)
3-2-1: Armor: Hammered tin breastplate (+2 AC)
3-2-2: Armor: Shin guards (+1 AC)
3-2-3: Armor: Heavy poncho (+1 AC)
3-2-4: Armor: Shoulder pads (+1 AC)
3-2-5: Armor: Fencing jacket (+2 AC)
3-2-6: Armor: Parka (+1 AC)
3-3-1: Armor: Antique gauntlets (+2 AC)
3-3-2: Armor: Plywood Shield (+1 AC)
3-3-3: Armor: Platter Shield (+1 AC)
3-3-4: Armor: Work gloves (+1 AC)
3-3-5: Armor: Boxing gloves (+1 AC)
3-3-6: Armor: Garbage lid shield (+1 AC)
3-4-1: High heels (+1 Cha saves)
3-4-2: Red silk robe(+1 Wis saves)
3-4-3: glasses (+1 Int saves)
3-4-4: Tuxedo (+1 Cha saves)
3-4-5: Evening gown (+1 Dex saves)
3-4-6: Furs (+1 Int saves)
3-5-1: DIY tattoo kit (+1 Int saves)
3-5-2: DIY piercing kit (+1 Cha saves)
3-5-3: Makeup kit (+1 Wisdom saves)
3-5-4: Pomade (+1 Str saves)
3-5-5: Hair dye (+1 Cha saves)
3-5-6: Cat ear headband (+1 Dex saves)
3-6-1: Weapon: Switchblade (d4) (+1 Dex saves)
3-6-2: Weapon: Brass knuckles (d4) (+1 Con saves)
3-6-3: Bag of rocks
3-6-4: Shiv
3-6-5: Bicycle chain
3-6-6: Slingshot
4-1-1: Cat
4-1-2: Dog
4-1-3: Crow
4-1-4: Serpent
4-1-5: Bat
4-1-6: Weasel
4-2-1: Spyglass
4-2-2: Magnifying glass
4-2-3: Rope, 50’
4-2-4: Bear trap
4-2-5: Compact mirror
4-2-6: Rucksack
4-3-1: Straw hat (+1 Wis saves)
4-3-2: Heavy cloak (+1 Con saves)
4-3-3: Umbrella
4-3-4: Tent
4-3-5: Sleeping bag
4-3-6: Box of matches
4-4-1: Wound kit
4-4-2: Curse kit
4-4-3: Vermifuge kit
4-4-4: Fever kit
4-4-5: Cough kit
4-4-6: Venom Kit
4-5-1: Phylactery (full)
4-5-2: Phylactery (empty)
4-5-3: Bottled rest
4-5-4: Bottled dream
4-5-5: Silver hoop
4-5-6: Red paint
4-6-1: Homunculus
4-6-2: Dog skeleton
4-6-3: Chalk
4-6-4: Vial of blood
4-6-5: Vial of blessed water
4-6-6: Sticks of incense (6)
5-1-1: Pouch of golden lotus powder
5-1-2: Bottle of laudanum
5-1-3: Bottle of wine
5-1-4: Bottle of fine liquor
5-1-5: Bottle of loathsome liquor
5-1-6: Bottle of cough syrup
5-2-1: Keg of gunpowder
5-2-2: Magnesium flares (3)
5-2-3: Firecrackers (6)
5-2-4: box of matches
5-2-5: flask of kerosene
5-2-6: Candles (12)
5-3-1: String of garlic
5-3-2: Blue glass eye
5-3-3: jar of salt
5-3-4: wooden stakes (24)
5-3-5: Weapon: silver-plated knife
5-3-6: Silver bell
5-4-1: Goggles
5-4-2: Armor: Leather apron
5-4-3: box of glass eyes
5-4-4: Box of pins
5-4-5: Jar of formaldehyde
5-4-6: Mannequin
5-5-1: Atlas of the Scholomance
5-5-2: Location of 1 secret passage
5-5-3: Demonological treatise
5-5-4: Botanical treatise
5-5-5: Bestiary
5-5-6: Necrology
5-6-1: Flute
5-6-2: Violin
5-6-3: Harp
5-6-4: Pound of clay
5-6-5: watercolors
5-6-6: hammer and chisel
6-1-1: compass
6-1-2: pound of lard
6-1-3: sack of marbles
6-1-4: Copper wire, 20’
6-1-5: dark glasses
6-1-6: camera
6-2-1: tin of fish
6-2-2: name of lesser demon
6-2-3: bicycle
6-2-4: roller skates
6-2-5: pot of glue
6-2-6: bolt cutters
6-3-1: manacles
6-3-2: flask of acid
6-3-3: padlock and key
6-3-4: notebook and pen
6-3-5: goldfish in bow
6-3-6: needle and thread
6-4-1: bushel of apples
6-4-2: human skull
6-4-3: diamond ring
6-4-4: pearl necklace
6-4-5: Sublimated Darkness
6-4-6: Hardened Flame
6-5-1: Clarified water
6-5-2: Rare Earth
6-5-3: Reified Aether
6-5-4: Immortal Blood
6-5-5: Chloroplasm
6-5-6: sack of sandwiches
6-6-1: Malodorous cheese
6-6-2: choice cut of meat
6-6-3: Dead chicken
6-6-4: itching powder
6-6-5: stink bomb
6-6-6: whoopee cushion

  • To make a saving throw, roll d20+relevant attribute modifier. If the saving throw is your class' specialty, add half your level, rounded up, to the roll. 
  • To gain a level, you have to bribe an older student 10 times your level in dollars for a private lesson. Every time you level up, you gain 1 HP and 2 skill points for spells. Your class may grant you an additional skill point as well. 
  • To regain all of your HP, eat a meal in a place of safety. 
 Monsters and NPCs
A lot of the monsters are unique and invincible (at first, at least), but not unbeatable--they can be chased off, imprisoned, or wounded for a time. At the Scholomance, rumors are a sort of currency. Adventuring students can learn to detect the approach of monsters by picking up nursery rhymes, gossip, and speculation at the encampment in the Great Hall.
The Weeping Spiders
by Odilon Redon
The Gurning Spiders
by Odilon Redon
The Chaplain
from Persona 4

The Nurse
from Persona 4

The Gardener
from Soul Sacrifice
from Persona

The Cats of Headmaster Loshe 
by Max Ernst
by Max Ernst

by Max Ernst

The Headmistress performs a conjuration.
by Max Ernst
The Perfectible Children of Birds
by Max Ernst
by Max Ernst

by Max Ernst

The Lords and Ladies of Easter Sunday
by Max Ernst

An Immanent Snake
by Max Ernst
Arabesque, Mother of the Hungry Geometries
by Max Ernst

A Dysphynx and the object of its Fascination.
by Max Ernst
The Man With the Long White Hands
by Edward Gorey
Not Pictured: The Man with a Clock for a Face, the Sinful Coterie, the 13 Hours, the Inverse Children, the Scissor Club, the Order of Chess, the Janitors, the Mumblers, the Holy Bats, the Empty Choristers


  1. I love your take on Harry Potter. I always thought it felt so watered down and generic, and commoditized magic is just depressing. Institution, however, can be extremely interesting, and the danger/uncanny with which you combine it is just gold.

    1. Thanks! Harry Potter came out right during my formative years, and I think there's a core of awesome stuff beneath the layers of YA lit.