Fate Horror Toolkit

Chapter 8: Spooky Fun

Chapter 8: Spooky Fun

Campaign framework for horror games aimed at young people

What Is This?

If you thought vampire hunting was scary, try 7th grade gym class.

Welcome to Spooky Fun! In this chapter we give you a toolkit for running horror games in the style of fiction and shows like Goosebumps, Scooby Doo, and Nancy Drew. This material is aimed at younger players—in the 8-14 age range—but older players may have fun with these tools as well. The characters in a game focused on Spooky Fun are children of roughly middle school age, but we’ve written the rules on the assumption that the GM is a little older.

Influences and Inspirations

The aim of this framework is to give you the tools to run games in the vein of such classics of children’s horror as:

  • Goosebumps by R.L. Stine is the series that has terrified generations of young readers.
  • Are You Afraid of the Dark? is an anthology TV series where a group of kids regularly gather to tell each other spooky stories around a campfire.
  • Scooby Doo features the group of meddling kids and their dog who disrupt the plans of all the nefarious grownups.
  • Gotham Academy is set in the same universe as Batman and features a teenaged girl and her friends dealing with the mysteries and threats of their school, which is just across the road from Arkham Asylum.
  • Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene is the classic girl sleuth.
  • Super 8 definitely owes a debt to Steven Spielberg’s works like E.T. A group of kids encounters a terrifying otherworldly force with nobody to rely on but themselves.
  • The Lewis Barnavelt Series by John Bellairs features a shy, overweight, bookish boy and his friends overcoming evil forces usually bent on ending the world.
  • The Goonies is a classic movie about a group of kids facing their fears—not just of monsters and darkness and crooks, but of moving house and being split up—and going on a wild and crazy adventure.
  • Stranger Things is a TV series inspired by Stephen King books like IT and The Body. Kids roam around on bikes and face down existential threats with their pluck and each other.
  • Monster Squad is about a young group of monster fanatics who attempt to save their town from Count Dracula and his fellow monsters.
  • Hocus Pocus is about a resurrected trio of evil witches, and the brother and sister duo who, with their new friend and talking cat (it’s a long story), try to put them back in the grave.
Monster Twists

Although monsters in children’s horror are based on standard tropes, they may still have twists to make them unique. For instance, in Bunnicula the menace is a vampire, who also happens to be a bunny. Spooky Fun lets all the players contribute twists; see “Twistcraft”.

Children’s Horror

The element at the core of children’s horror is the same thing that makes adult horror scary: taking the familiar and making it unfamiliar. Fear of the unknown is a universal theme in horror, and you can use it to great effect regardless of the age range of the participants.

Despite this universal theme, there are conventions in children’s horror that clearly distinguish it from horror aimed at older audiences. A primary one is the handling of violence—there are rarely depictions of violence or injuries in children’s horror, much less death. And certainly not where it happens to the protagonists or any of their close allies. Nor does children’s horror explore the sorts of existential crises that often feature in adult horror. Children’s horror does feature distrust and incredulity from authorities because of the protagonists’ youth, but typically this is resolved at or before the climax of the story, when adults finally realize how bright and capable the young protagonists are.

The fear in children’s stories tends to be more immediate and localized. A menace of some sort shows up early on and threatens the protagonists or their loved ones. The menace is frequently a traditional type of monster (such as a mummy, vampire, ghost, or werewolf) and leaves telltale clues that point to its nature. The protagonists reach out for help, but being kids, naturally no one believes them. Horror thrives on powerlessness; this is easier to do in children’s horror, because they don’t have access to the tools that will let them fight off the menace. Instead, they must rely on their wits and camaraderie to triumph.


Horror presents a great opportunity for empowering children to confront their own fears. This is particularly true in a group game setting, where children can work together and talk out what’s scaring them—and then vanquish it. This is an important part of Spooky Fun: the children must be able to handle whatever menace is presented to them, and shouldn’t ultimately be saved by adults or other forces.

In fact, adults in children’s horror are frequently depicted as incompetent or unaware of what’s really going on. They aren’t able to relate to the children, nor do they believe them. Kids play the role of the defenders, breaking the rules that are supposed to keep them “safe” in service of fighting a grave threat.

As with horror for adults, the menaces may be metaphors. For example, they could be twists on the perils of social media, dealing with hostile cliques at school, or having trouble with a particular teacher. Any of these can be given a spooky sheen and used to explore topics that are personal and meaningful to children.


Your Spooky Fun game must be fun! The best way to achieve this is to discuss up front what sorts of scary stories everyone likes. Is there a particular kind they like more? The monster stories of Goosebumps or maybe the mystery of Scooby Doo!?

“Aspects” discusses the use of a nightmare for each character. This is a very important tool in both setting boundaries and figuring out what each player wants to see. Setting expectations is a big part of any game, but particularly one that’s designed to scare the players.

Meddling Kids: Character Creation

The characters in Spooky Fun are kids dedicated to thwarting menaces and monsters. As mentioned in “What is This?”, the game is geared toward players aged 8-14, and their characters are in a similar age range. The protagonists must navigate the awkward landscape of middle school while also dealing with menacing terrors.

The characters in Spooky Fun stories are created a bit like the ones in Fate Accelerated. However, there are some pretty big differences, which we tell you about in this section.


Characters in Spooky Fun have three aspects—high concept, nightmare, and clique—which are fleshed out during character creation. The youngest players may find it difficult to come up with good aspects, so ask leading questions to get the creative juices flowing. You can also give them suggestions to guide the process.

High Concept: Functions the same way it does in Fate Accelerated. What’s their deal? Are they an Introverted Bookworm or a Sassy Track Star? The high concept should suggest a niche for their character.

Nightmare: This aspect lets each player highlight what their character is afraid of. This gives the players some control over what they want to see in the game. Are they afraid of concrete things like Snakes or Spiders or something more abstract like Looking Stupid or Not Sticking Up for My Friends?

Discuss with the players how this nightmare would look during the game. Make sure they choose something they’re comfortable seeing—this is something the character, not the player, should be afraid of. Their nightmares will come up in the game, so make sure that all of the players are comfortable with each character’s nightmare. If one player can’t deal with clowns (and let’s be honest, who really can), that’s a bad nightmare for anyone to choose.

Clique: You remember how junior high was, right? Yeah, it’s painfully socially stratified and fractured. This aspect highlights what group the character runs in, like the JMS Drill Team or Kevin Baker’s D&D Group. It’s also fine being a Lone Wolf, but highlighting how groups treat each other lets the players play through experiences and situations that are familiar to them. Having to approach different groups for favors and help makes for a fun roleplaying opportunity.

Report Card: Skills

Characters in Spooky Fun get a report card. The report card is a list of skills as in Fate Core, although there are fewer skills here, each representing a very broad area of expertise. These skills also reflect the ability to gain related resources and contacts. Every skill can be used for all four actions; during play, the players describe how the skill in question lets them accomplish a task. Give players wide latitude in how their characters’ skills apply to the task at hand—one of the biggest sources of fun is watching kids come up with creative ideas for how to stop the dark forces they face.

Each character gets one skill at Good (+3), one skill at Fair (+2), one skill at Average (+1), one skill at Mediocre (+0), and one skill at Poor (-1).

Computers and Tech: Technological savvy. Hacking into the school computer. Using lockpicks on a door. Disabling an alarm. Setting up motion sensitive video cameras.

Drama and Art: Creative expression. Pretending to be someone else. Creating a dummy to lie in bed while sneaking out of the house. Gaining assistance from the stage manager at The Vortex playhouse.

English and History: Command of language and culture. Researching a strange artifact. Learning about someone’s family history. Forging a note to get out of 7th period.

Math and Science: Understanding of the natural world. Figuring out what sorts of large animals would live in Oak Hollow. Making a dry ice bomb. Procuring a microscope.

Physical Education: Physical aptitude. Running away from a ghostly force. Climbing over a tall fence. Fighting off Pascal and his bully minions.

Skills as Approaches

Skills in Spooky Fun are very broad. They straddle the line between skills in Fate Core and approaches in Fate Accelerated. Problems should be amenable to a wide variety of solutions. In this sense, these skills become prescriptive in driving a certain type of fiction while in play. Getting away from a bully might not require Physical Education. Instead, a player might have an idea to steal a letterman jacket from the band room, and use Drama and Art to slink away with a gaggle of band kids.

Aspects and stunts can be used to help increase diversity. For example, a Track Star might be quick, but doesn’t necessarily have a high score in Physical Education, perhaps because they aren’t a good teammate. Similarly, the Debate Team Captain might not do as well in English and History, getting by more on charisma than scholarship.


Characters in Spooky Fun don’t have stress tracks or consequences. Instead they have conditions. These are a little like consequences that are already filled out. They’re described in more detail in the Dresden Files Accelerated, page 116.

Whenever a character is successfully attacked, one of these conditions is checked off. If the attack gets a success with style, two conditions must be checked off. Conditions may also be checked off to succeed at a cost. If a character must take a condition, but has no relevant conditions available, the character is taken out.

The choice of which condition to check off is based on the source of the attack or cost. As with using skills, allow players fairly wide latitude on how these are applied.

While a Spooky Fun character has a condition marked on their character sheet, they also have an aspect of the same name, and that aspect comes with a free invoke that can be used by their enemies.

Removing Conditions

All of the conditions in Spooky Fun are considered sticky, which means they stay checked off until a specific event happens. It’s up to you to decide when these conditions are unchecked. Having other characters step in to help promotes teamwork and makes for a fun narrative—for example, “How do you help Anna get out of being grounded?” In some cases, it will take overcoming passive opposition of at least Fair (+2) to remove a condition.


  • Angry: When a plan doesn’t work out for the characters. When a character is humiliated in a social situation.
  • Weary: When the characters must travel far and didn’t do well enough in Physical Education to not be winded. When the characters have a run-in with a menace. This condition goes away after a short rest.
  • Spooked: A Spooked character is always looking over their shoulder for signs of trouble. When you’re Spooked, it’s difficult to do well on homework. Spooked is a good condition to take when a character sees signs of the menace, but hasn’t been directly confronted.
  • Terrified: Terrified is a more severe condition than Spooked, probably brought on by failing to overcome fear when confronting the menace. A Terrified character mostly wants to get away and hide. If forced into a confrontation, they prefer to stay in the back and throw objects maniacally. If a character becomes Terrified, the other players should work to get them un-Terrified. Perhaps those Drama skills can be used to put on a brave face.
  • Grounded: Parents just don’t understand. The players are always in danger of getting in trouble, and this is what happens when they get caught! Time to start sneaking out of the house.
  • Detention: Teachers just don’t understand. Late to class due to “ghost hunting” is not an excused absence. On the plus side, detention is a great place to meet that rebel kid whose uncle has all those old books about vampires.
  • Suspended: If Detention is already checked and more suspicious stuff happens at school, you may get Suspended. Although this opens up time for monster hunting, it can make it very hard to work with other kids. Typically, getting Suspended also means getting Grounded, unless the character succeeds at some fast talking.
  • Untrustworthy: Too much of that monster talk gets you labeled as a liar. There aren’t many in the adult world who are okay to talk to.


Use the rules in Fate Accelerated Edition (page 31) to create stunts. As mentioned there, characters start with one stunt and may choose more at appropriate milestones. If the players are new to Fate, it’s a good idea to start with no stunts and add one later.

Besides gaining a +2 to any of the skills mentioned in the report card, stunts may also get +2 to Courage in certain circumstances. See “Overcoming Fear” for details on how this works. Be particularly careful not to make stunts using Courage too broad, since it’s so important to the game.

  • Because I have Lockpicks, I get +2 when using Computers and Tech to open a locked door.
  • Because I know Tae Kwon Do, I get +2 to Courage when dealing with bullies at school.

Adapting for Different Countries

Nightmares and monsters are a universal human concept. Junior high and middle school, however, are not. While this piece is written from the perspective of the United States school system, you may want to set it somewhere else.

If the game is set in a country you aren’t familiar with, read up on how junior high works there. It varies quite a bit. Setting your game somewhere different is a great way to learn about another country, but horror works best with some level of familiarity. Help the players gain an understanding of notable differences for their characters.

Nightmare: While fear is universal, the particulars of fear can also vary by culture. There are a few very common fears: spiders, heights, snakes, and enclosed spaces. But this could be an opportunity to find something more unique and evocative. In China, students work fairly long hours in preparation for a Senior High School Entrance examination. This test is very stressful, and it would be natural to have fears about not doing well. The conditions in the game take on added significance when so much pressure is placed on one test. Other countries have similar high pressure exams that are nightmare fodder.

Clique: The clique aspect could be replaced with something more thematic. For instance, if the characters go to a boarding school in a Commonwealth country, it might be better to have a house or floor aspect. Cliques are to some degree universal, but a house can function similarly while evoking the school system better.

Conditions: In some places, children may be more separated from their parents, such as if they go to something more like a boarding school. In this case, a few of the conditions may not make sense. In particular, being Suspended might completely take them out of the action. It might be good to replace Suspended with something like Punishment Detail. That way they remain with their peers at school where the mystery is, but have additional obligations to fulfill. Grounded might become Early Curfew.

Skills: Finally, the names of the skills may need to be changed to match the area. It’s important, though, that a suitably broad range of skills are available. The skills in this game were chosen to cover most of the challenges present in young adult horror. If the students go to a technical school, they may not be exposed to the arts as much. But it’s useful for some skill to serve the role of creative expression, such as Computer Animation or Cinematography. Skills are the trickiest part of the game to get right, so use caution when making changes.

Non-player Characters

Occasionally you may find it necessary to create other NPCs besides the menace for the players to interact with. In these instances, use the rules for creating mooks found in Fate Accelerated Edition (page 38). This consists of listing a few things the NPC is good at, for which they get a +2, a few things they are bad at, for which they get a -2, and everything else gets a +0. If the character is an adversary of some sort, it also may be useful to give the character a Fear skill, which should be lower than the menace’s Fear skill. That gives an opportunity for Courage to have an impact, which is the core mechanical engine for Spooky Fun!

Never Say Die: Confronting Evil

In Spooky Fun, the players work to defeat a menace. The menace may or may not be supernatural. The menace may or may not be a monster. But it always impacts the characters’ lives negatively, and above all, it’s spooky. The key skill for a menace is its Fear, which is opposed by the heroes’ Courage. Courage and Fear function as pacing and teamwork mechanisms for the investigation.


Courage is a special skill shared among all the players; it accumulates as the players learn more about the menace and work together to stop it.

Courage only applies to one menace at a time. When the players face a new menace, their Courage resets to zero. When a player earns Courage, it’s added to the group’s Courage total. If the menace isn’t defeated in one session, keep track of how much Courage the players have accumulated! It doesn’t reset between sessions.

Like Fear, Courage represents more than just the character’s innate bravery—it also reflects knowledge that the players have about the menace. One common theme in kids’ horror is that understanding your fear is the first step to conquering it. This ties in with Lovecraft’s maxim that the strongest and most powerful fear is the fear of the unknown. Thus, as the players learn more, they gain Courage. Of course, Lovecraft would also say that as you put together all the pieces you go hopelessly insane. But, well, this is Spooky Fun, not My First Existential Terror.

So how do players earn more Courage?

Learning About the Menace

The primary way is by learning about the menace. Whenever the players uncover a clue about the motivation of the menace or gain knowledge of a weakness it has, they gain one point of Courage. The players need to understand how the clue ties into the motivation or weakness to gain the Courage point. That is, finding the strange powder at the entrance to the mine isn’t enough to earn Courage, but putting together that the strange powder is residue from the chemistry lab of Dr. Pemberton is.

Helping Each Other

Players also get Courage points by engaging in acts of self-sacrifice for other members in the group. Actions like standing up for another character—particularly if it means gaining a condition or spending fate points or free invokes to directly help another character—earn a Courage point.

Creating a Twist

The final way players may earn a Courage point is by suggesting a twist for the menace. A twist is a spooky turn in the story. Suggestions are given in “Twistcraft”. There shouldn’t be more than one or two twists in a session.

Max Courage

The players may never have more points in Courage than the Fear rating of the menace they’re investigating.

Overcoming Fear

Courage is used to overcome scary situations. Menaces and their minions rely heavily on fear and intimidation to enact their devious plots. Whenever the PCs encounter the menace or a minion of the menace, each player must roll separately to overcome with Courage. However, the players may only use their points in Courage if they are all together (and nobody has been taken out). If they are off on their own investigating the menace, they can certainly cover more ground, but without their friends for support their Courage skill is Mediocre (+0).

If all of the players fail or tie their Courage checks, the characters run away. Back to safety! Under the bed, toward the nearest teacher (that isn’t a witch), or into the clubhouse. All players must take a related condition. If they can’t, they are taken out.

If at least one player succeeds, everyone can stay, though characters who fail or tie must still pay some sort of cost (taking a condition satisfies this). The characters must either run away or stay and face the menace as a group. Having one player run off and do nothing is boring.

Taking out a menace is usually resolved with a conflict. Provided the characters don’t run away, each side takes actions trying to force the other side to take conditions until they get to the point where they must take a condition and have none left to take. For characters, conditions like Angry, Weary, and Terrified are common results of successful attacks by the menace. The menace has special conditions based on their weaknesses. In the case of success with style, two conditions are taken.

Remember that when one character is taken out, others may stay and confront the menace, but their Courage is treated as Mediocre (+0), making it much easier for the menace to use Fear to scare the characters. This encourages the players to get everyone back into the action quickly.

Overcoming Fear Example

Coach Wimbly, the Malevolent Soccer Coach and Walking Hotspot, has the drop on Caroline and Samantha. He has the ability to control their phones, which promptly come to life and show video of when they were sleeping in their rooms. Something was watching them. This calls for overcoming Fear.

Coach Wimbly’s Fear is Fantastic (+6). The girls have made some progress toward understanding what’s going on, and currently have a Courage skill of Great (+4).

The result for Caroline is Superb (+5). She already has the Spooked condition checked off, so the Terrified condition is checked.

The result for Samantha is Epic (+7). Since Samantha has passed, both characters may remain in the presence of Coach Wimbly. However, since their Courage is still lower than the menace’s Fear, it may be prudent to run for it and return another day.

Being Taken Out

If a character must check off a condition but has no relevant conditions available, they are taken out. As usual, the player doing the taking out gets to decide what that looks like. However, remember the genre of story here. The protagonists in these stories don’t get injured, much less die. This isn’t that kind of horror.

So what does getting taken out look like? The character might be paralyzed by fear. Or banished to their room. Or ostracized by the other students. Bad stuff—but not directly physically damaging. Another good option is to compromise something the characters care about as the cost of getting taken out—their friend is captured by the menace or their phones are taken away as punishment.

We’re All in This Together

Another thing to keep in mind is that not being able to act is super boring. Getting taken out shouldn’t relegate a character to the sidelines for very long. Instead, it should be a prompt for the other players to work hard to get the character back in action. There is one big motivation for the other players to make that happen (“Overcoming Fear”).

The Menace

Before you sit down to play Spooky Fun, you need to create a menace. For inspiration, look at “Influences and Inspirations”. Or substitute teach at a middle school. Or both.

With all that in hand, think of clues that might lead to the menace. Try to keep these clues open-ended so that they don’t have to be found in a certain order. Having too much structure in the placement of clues can work against the clever ideas of the players.

To make a menace for Spooky Fun, follow the steps in “Making Monsters”, but the first step is to figure out how scary and powerful it is.


Fear is represented in the form of a Fear skill which is rated on the Fate ladder as normal. On the lowest end, the players can confront the menace without any work at all. That’s a sad menace indeed. A bully of the lowest sort. Or a flumph. No, not very scary at all. On the highest end, the menace is both terrifying and has broad reach and ability to affect the world. The players will need to spend a few sessions gathering resources and information before they can thwart it. A menace with a Fear rating two higher than the peak skill of the characters is a great adversary for a one-shot adventure.

Fear measures more than just pure terror (although it definitely represents that). It also determines the sorts of resources and power the menace can muster to stop the characters. A high Fear menace has far-reaching capabilities.

Get Spooky!

The next step is to determine the nature of the menace. Is it natural or supernatural? Is it a living thing? Is it an object? If the characters are already created, use their nightmare aspects to help in the creation of the menace, so it can capitalize on those fears. Also figure out a goal for the menace. Scare as many children as possible? Stay youthful? Accumulate gold? Keep tourists away from the illegal mining operation? The goal helps you frame what the menace is up to. Don’t worry as much about its ultimate motivation; just think about what it’s going to do that will affect the characters.

How will the menace negatively affect the characters? Come up with a list of ways to scare the characters and make their lives difficult. As you run the players through the game, refer to this list frequently to keep the action going.

Use the menace’s nature, goals, means, and evil plots to help you choose its high concept, trouble, purpose, and other aspects.


The main skill that menaces use is Fear. This is a broad and effective skill, used both to scare off the characters and for when the menace is exercising its true nature. However, it’s fine to give menaces a few monstrous skills as well, as described in “Making Monsters”. If Fear or monstrous skills don’t apply but a roll is needed, the menace rolls at Mediocre (+0).


Menaces also don’t have stress or consequences. Instead, they have some number of conditions that fit their nature. As a starting point, give the menace a number of conditions equal to half the menace’s Fear. The menace’s conditions work the same way they do for characters, although typically once a menace has a condition checked, they may never uncheck it.

Taken Out

If a menace has no relevant conditions when it needs to check one off, it is taken out. Unlike the characters, when a menace is taken out, it is taken out for good. This can take many forms depending on the nature of the menace. For example, monsters may be destroyed, criminals discovered, and ghosts sent to rest.


Creating twists is fun and scary! In Spooky Fun, the responsibility for creating twists is shared by everyone. The players get a Courage point for suggesting a fun twist, so prompt the players during the game for good twists. Good twists are spooky, surprising, and make things difficult for the young investigators. Sometimes kids need some guidance to create a twist that meets those criteria. A good opening for a twist is when they’re already researching or learning about the menace.

“You think they actually live in the nearby swamp? I wonder why?”

Frequently during play, the players plot and speculate on what sort of horror they’re up against. Often their ideas are better than whatever you have planned. This just takes that idea and makes it explicit. All of the players can bounce ideas off of each other and come up with something great. Now, if you have a good idea and want to keep it in your back pocket for a particularly scary time, so much the better.

Oh No!

Here’s a list of different twist ideas for inspiration. Feel free to set this out on the table so all the players can see it, and have them add their own creepy suggestions. Generally, these are all in the form of a revelation, such as “Oh no...” Remember the lessons from the uncanny valley: something almost, but not quite, like its real life counterpart is spooky. Thus, little twists on something familiar to the players is likely to be spookier than something completely and totally unfamiliar. However, be careful not to introduce real people as the antagonists of the game. It’s already easy enough for kids to badmouth students and teachers they don’t like—no need to also turn them into forces of darkness.


Oh no...

  • ...my parents are in on it!
  • ...our teacher is in on it!
  • ...the police are in on it!
  • ...that house has been abandoned for 10 years!
  • ...it’s controlling my cat!
  • ...it’s already in the house!
  • ...the conspiracy goes way deeper!
  • ...it can walk through walls!
  • ...it can read my mind!
  • ...it can eat our dreams!
  • ...it already got to our parents!
  • ...they’ve been dead for over 10 years!
  • ...it feeds on electricity!


So, you have a menace, now what? Think of a hook to get the ball rolling. This should be a clear problem the players need to tackle. It should suggest an explicit path for them to take, such as a friend in trouble or something bizarre that happens to them that they need to address. This is frequently an initial brush with the menace or agents of the menace. Remember, fast pacing! Spooky Fun is designed to be played over a few short two-hour sessions. Pace accordingly. Get to the bad stuff quickly. No slow burns. Younger players (and most adults) have short attention spans.

After the hook, the game will wander broadly. Particularly in Spooky Fun, where you’re soliciting feedback from the players to create twists, you shouldn’t expect a certain sequence of actions on the players’ part. Instead, create a list of evil plots the menace will use to cause problems for the players. Pull these out when there’s a lull in the action or when the players need more motivation.

Finally, come up with a list of events and clues that can be used by the players to thwart the menace. These should point at the weaknesses of the menace, as well as putting the menace into context. Where does it come from? What does it want? Remember, spooky! Try to come up with some scary revelations that will make the players gasp.

Clues also work as a pacing mechanism for the story. The rate of discovery should be based on how long you want to play. Remember, shorter is better when playing with kids! If there’s a lull in the action or the players seem confused, clues may be delivered by an ally to help prod them along again. Twists are player facing tools which also help lulls, but sometimes clues work better for pushing the action along.

Back to Reality

After the session, it’s time to come back to earth. Particularly if the game featured places and things familiar to the players, it’s useful to briefly discuss the distinction between what happened in the game and how those places and things function in real life. One effective technique for doing this is to put the players in the shoes of a horror writer. Pull back the curtain on how fear was created in the game. Knowing the tricks can help children realize how their fears are manipulated by imaginary things.

The Hotspot

Me: “What’s your greatest fear?”

My Kid: “No wifi.”

Following is a sample menace, ready for you to throw against your younger players. This is, perhaps, the most horrifying thing a middle schooler can imagine: a teacher able to control their precious phones.

The physical education teacher at Jackson Middle School, Coach Harold Wimbly, is not exactly what he appears. Sure, he’s a hypercompetitive soccer coach angling for a job at prestigious St. Francis High School. Everyone knows that. Everyone also knows Coach Wimbly is willing to do whatever it takes to get there. What they don’t know is just how much he’s capable of doing. That’s up to the characters to discover.

Coach Wimbly has strange powers over nearby wireless devices. In particular, he’s a walking hotspot, able to connect to the internet without any external aid. He can also control his student’s thoughts through a nefarious app called the JMS Fitness Wizard, mandatory for all students enrolled in his physical education class at JMS. Coach Wimbly uses the app to crush his opponents and make himself look better.


Coach Wimbly needs to feed on electricity to survive. If he doesn’t consume batteries every day, he begins to fade out of existence. If the characters can keep him from getting his battery supply, they will weaken him, possibly to the point of defeating him. They may also be able to use science to construct a device that draws power from him. Or hack into him and infect him with a computer virus that shuts him down.

The Hook

Maxine Green, friend of the characters, is in trouble. She got caught breaking into Dalton Haywood’s house. The characters know her very well, and she’s not the kind of person to do something like that. But no one believes her, and now she’s in trouble. She doesn’t remember anything about what happened. The last thing she remembers was filling out her exercise information on the JMS Fitness Wizard. Maxine was proud of herself for finishing the three mile jog. And then—bang!—she’s suddenly sitting outside of Dalton’s house waiting for the police. Weirdly, she had Dalton’s phone with her, apparently the only thing she took.

Through investigation, the characters may discover that Dalton Haywood doesn’t go to Jackson Middle School. Instead, he goes to their rival, Mesa Prep. He also happens to be Mesa’s top goal scorer on the soccer team, as well as an excellent student.

Maxine successfully installed the JMS Fitness Wizard onto Dalton’s phone, and when he opens it, Coach Wimbly will infect Dalton’s brain. Dalton will suddenly feel ill and not be able to play for the upcoming game. The players may learn about his absence by going to the game or through the school rumor mill.

Evil Plots

This is a list of ways Coach Wimbly may make life difficult for the characters. Most of these are for use if Coach Wimbly starts suspecting the characters are onto his plan:

  • Coach Wimbly successfully infects one of the characters with the JMS Fitness Wizard app. The characters are, of course, all in his P.E. class. He might use them to steal batteries from local stores, or sabotage another soccer team by putting laxatives in their drinks or destroying their equipment. This naturally gets the characters in trouble. Grounded for sure! As an alternative, he may infect one of their close friends again. Maybe poor Maxine.
  • One of the characters’ phones starts working erratically. It doesn’t connect to the internet. Unbeknownst to the characters, Coach Wimbly is nearby causing problems. How will they communicate with their friends and get the team together?
  • Coach Wimbly sends Larkin, Tom, and Susie, school bullies all, to engage in a campaign of harassment against the characters. These school bullies have Fair (+2) Fear.
  • More than anything, though, Coach Wimbly wants to defeat all of the soccer teams on his schedule by the greatest score possible.


The following are lots of spooky clues and events to use during the characters’ investigation:

  • In the JMS gym store room, the players discover buckets and buckets of used batteries.
  • The characters see Coach Wimbly ingesting a battery by placing it in his mouth. His entire head lights up with energy. When he’s done, he spits it out onto a pile of used batteries.
  • The players find a weird hotspot—WINNRWIMBLY—at school near the gym. If the players go to school at night to investigate the gym, it’s not there. In fact, it seems to only be around when Coach Wimbly is around. How could that be? Once the players learn this, it can be a good way to show when the Coach is nearby and stalking them.
  • Coach Wimbly moved here this past summer from Oakwood Academy, a school in a nearby district. There were lots of angry reports filed against him, suggesting he sabotaged other soccer teams he competed against. Strangely, these reports never saw broader circulation and didn’t reach the administration at JMS.
Coach H. Wimbly

High Concept:
Malevolent Soccer Coach

Other Aspects: MOAR VOLUME!; Walking Hotspot


Fantastic (+6): Fear


Mind Control: Provided they have used his mind control app, Coach Wimbly may implant a suggestion in the target’s mind unless the target successfully defends with Courage against Good (+3) passive opposition. The target can use Courage to resist the suggestion even if they are alone.


[]Hungry for Energy

[]Auxiliary Power

[]Frustrated by Losing