Mystery-o-Matic: The Academy

The Academy doesn’t send acceptance letters. You just feel different one day. The things you once took for granted seem strange to you. You don’t recognise your family or friends. You don’t recognise your hands. For reasons you will never be able to explain, you walk out of your house, past the places you know, and into the nearest patch of woods. In the center of those woods - wherever they are - you will find The Academy. Your school supplies are waiting for you.

The Academy is in black castle Czorsztyn, surrounded by mountains and sunk into a slush marsh in the shadow of a melting glacier. Even from the highest spires of the castle, you can see nothing but endless, impenetrable taiga in every direction. On clear days, you can sometimes see thin spires in the fogged ice of the looming glacier, and the shadows of crooked things moving across them.

Use the tables below to generate a dark mystery in a twisted magical academy. Roll to find each magical class, who teaches it, what terrible secret they're hiding, and their relationship with one other teacher. Once you're happy with the amount of characters and intrigue, roll to see who is killed, and which character is the murderer.

Your next class is...
  1. ALD301: Integrated Embalming and Preservation. The art of preserving giant intricate dead things, in order to place them into glass jars, lockets and objects of power. Embalming, reconstructing, organ removal and sealing.
  2. AMN400. In this un-named class you go out on the roof and stare at the sky for 40 minutes. There is no other content and the lecturer never speaks. At first everyone took it for easy credit, but now there are ominous rumours of a big test coming up and everyone is panicking as they try to figure out what they’re supposed to be learning.
  3. AMN501: Flesh Management. This class focuses on bending and shaping flesh - progressing from corpses, to animals, to living humans, to your own classmates.
  4. AMN403: Psycho-summoning. This class teaches you to summon thoughts, mental trauma and forgotten memories into the real world.
  5. AMN210: Strategic Lizard Development. This teaches you how to use your body heat to form, grow and nurture the twisted lizards which drip from the walls in the deep recesses of the under-castle. Top marks go to the students who can prune and graft their lizard’s limbs to achieve the best results.
  6. AMN610: Consumer Behavior. A deadly serious class dedicated to the study and eradication of Consumers: endlessly hungry things which have gnawed at the corners of reality since before time began.
  7. AMN310: Rune and Hieroglyph Research. Dedicated to studying and reconstructing the languages from the civilizations which perished in the 7 apocalypses before mankind walked the earth.
  8. AMN110: Therapy. No class, just a mandatory therapy session for all students.
  9. AMN450: Study Tour: Sites and museums of Dream. This course consists of guided excursions into the collective dreams of the student body.
  10. AMN300: Exploration and Resource Geology. This takes students through the fundamentals of dungeoneering: Resource management, treasure retrieval, correct use of the ten foot pole, etc. Students take gillyweed and walk down into the castle's endless flooded sub-basements which stretch down impossibly far into the earth. As you get further and further down, the pressure of the ocean starts to warp space/time, and the basement folds into crooked recursive stairways and hollow places which seem to hold every terror of the universe.

They say the teachers here were like you, once. They didn't fit in the world, and they came here to find somewhere they belonged. Now they don't fit anywhere.

You have the class with

  1. Professor Armitage, so ancient that he is unable to move from his chair. Does everything through telepathy - never moves. Strict. German.
  2. Headmistress Willow, who communicates exclusively through mirrors and has never been seen in person. She lives in her locked quarters in the southwest tower, which is slowly bending and crumpling under an enormous weight. All day, a constant stream of dumbwaiters carries some secret cargo to her from the basement.
  3. The Blood, a huge vat of red liquid with a dark figure immersed in it. Communicates only in fractured visions.
  4. Mr. and Mrs. Deviltry, twins of the pale thin staring kind. They teach together, completing each other’s sentences. Smiling, passive aggressive, constantly undermine and insult students under the guise of trying to make them into better people.
  5. Dr. Lobotomy, who believes that pain and the soul are imaginary constructs and enjoys disemboweling live cats in front of the first years to prove his point.
  6. Master Sokolov is thin, starving, and gets the shakes. Easily distracted from the topic at hand, often derailed by the class into long wistful talks about his childhood in Russia. Cannot stop eating under any circumstances.
  7. Mrs. Belevede, a strict, brash, amazonian woman covered in long snake-wolf creatures which suckle from her blood at all times
  8. Mrs. Cambridge, a welcoming plump Scottish woman with one arm made of ragged black metal. Every now and then her eyes fog over and her students must call her back from terrible flashbacks of the Obsidian Dimension.
  9. The Indomitable Mrs. Platt is blindfolded, handcuffed to her desk, and watched over by two armed guards at all times. She teaches while subtly attempting to figure out where she is and how to escape, weaving questions into the lessons.
  10. Mr. Platt is dead. Students are expected to divine his teachings by interpreting the constantly shifting runes which appear on the surface of his jade sarcophagus. 
  11. Lady Goliver, an aristocratic Brazilian finishing-school tutor with long, soft arms which get tangled up together and drag on the floor behind her. Very keen on decorum and modesty. 
  12. Madame Triterion, an attractive young teachers aide with scars across her cheeks. New and unsure of herself. She struggles to control the class, her own insecurities, and her forked 4 foot long tongue
  13. The Janitor, a friendly gelatinous cube with a skeleton inside it and a chimney-sweep's cap perched on top.
  14. Ms. Blanche, a brisk, cheerful woman who constantly spouts platitudes and long inspirational metaphors. Has a briefcase handcuffed to her right hand which she never discusses.
  15. Mrs. Askoy, a thin, wobbling women who gets upset to the point of tears whenever she’s contradicted. Bullied mercilessly by the students. Too normal.
  16. Lockman Yilmaz, a scatter-brained Turkish scientist who drifts off in the middle of sentences, has notes and files falling all over the place. He's lost something. Something that used to mean everything. What was it?
  17. Jackie Malone, an airy-fairy hippie art teacher type who breezes through the class-room in faded pastels and is just super excited about the most terrifying, bloody aspects of the subject they’re teaching.

    ...And some non-teacher characters:
  18. The Superintendent. Constantly discussed in fearful tones, but never seen. Has always just left the room you entered. Everyone assures you that the Superintendent is doing very good work, although they can never quite remember or articulate what that work is.
  19. Your Parents. You have a visit from Your Parents every few weeks. Your Parents has been visiting for a long time. You struggled at first, but you've come to love Your Parents. You'd do anything for it.
  20. Barry. Another student. Barry is in the background of every scene - always mentioned off-hand, never described in detail. He will be in every class, even if those classes are all happening at the same time. Any questions about him should be deflected - he just looks and sounds like everyone else.

But secretly...

  1. Their sinister left hand escaped 20 years ago and they live in terror of the day when it will return to destroy them.
  2. They are actually a demon possessing the long-dead corpse of their former lover. They want their lover back.
  3. They are being overtaken by a hostile parasite personality from an unknown source. They’re struggling to remember who they are as their memories, mannerisms and habits are all overwritten and replaced. Their friends and family actually like the parasite personality a lot better.
  4. They were created by a bio-cult of plastic surgeons to be the perfect possible expression of humanity - the chosen one, destined to bring an age of physical perfection. They are beautiful. Unfortunately, their organs are rebelling at every step.
  5. Elizabeth Bathory, still alive after all these years.
  6. After a failed attempt to find the fountain of youth in the Amazon jungle, their brain has been hollowed out and made into a nest for a species of mind-controlling wasps.
  7. A PC’s daughter from the future, in heavy disguise.
  8. They know the secret word which will end the world, and must keep their mind constantly engaged with difficult mental obstacles at all times in order to avoid saying it. They'll do anything to make their own life difficult. They want to induce situations where they're forced to think or die. If they become bored, the word will force them to say it.
  9. They wandered too far into Death, and now must keep their clothes stuffed with formaldehyde and ice to keep their body from rotting.
  10. They never should have opened that tomb. Now if they ever step into true darkness, a thousand dead kings will rise to drag them into the shadows.
  11. They're actually a bloated white grub-thing which puffs out hallucinogenic spores - the person is just a group hallucination. The grub wants friends and lovers.
  12. They're kidnapping students for experiments with Black Coffee, a super-stimulant which allows you to wake up enough to see through the borders of reality. Keeps the failed, insane students in their room.
  13. They are the flesh version of a strangler fig. They’ve grown around the real person, who is slowly suffocating to death inside them.
  14. They are slowly giving away pieces of themselves to a demon, in exchange for the life of their dead lover. Their spirituality, their sense of self worth, their fingers…
  15. They are a hollow cardboard package containing a Rat King.
  16. They phase uncontrollably through different dimensions each night.
  17. Infected with a terrible dissolving disease from an ancient race of Leviathans, they need a constant supply of fresh ambergris to keep from dripping apart into black liquid.
  18. They are actually a collection of abstract shapes from outer space, bending in such a way as to cause an optical illusion that the fragile human brain is forced to perceive as a person.
  19. Ancient slithering collection of reptiles barely contained in a bursting paper-thin shell of human skin.
  20. You. Not a doppelganger or anything. Just you.


                          Choose two characters and roll for their relationship.
                          1. Cultists. They both make pilgrimages to worship the crooked things which sing to them from inside the glacier ice.
                          2. Old colleagues. Both swore never to discuss the ritual they performed 10 years ago, and the jagged shape now hunts them across time.
                          3. They're fucking. They get off on roleplaying intense situations of blackmail and interrogation in places where the PC’s will overhear and misunderstand.
                          4. Married. They're trapped in a loveless union, but they need to keep up the pretense to hide a deeper secret.
                          5. Enemies. They are sworn to destroy each other - but they both really need this job. They’ve agreed to keep their constant life-or-death battles a secret from the rest of the school.
                          6. Childhood Friends. They swore a blood oath as children. Any physical or emotional damage to one will be felt by the other.
                          7. Soulmates. They are tied together by fate. No matter how far they run, wild coincidences will ensure that they somehow end up in the same place, working the same job, dating the same person, etc. They hate this, and each other.
                          8. Spies. Leviathan is a global anarchist spy ring and they are the last free members of the local branch. Both long to free their brethren from prison and return to the fold.
                          9. Jealous. A took everything from B - house, romantic partner, tenure, everything. A is just so much better at everything that all good things inevitably fall to them.
                          10. Siblings. They lost each other long ago under tragic circumstances. Neither of them recognizes the other.
                          11. Family. A is an abusive parent who built this school with their own two hands. B is a constant disappointment who is ruining the family name.
                          12. Patronizing colleagues. A is a constant source of fascination to B. They can’t understand any part of how A lives their life. They ask constant questions and react to every answer with a bemused “Well! It takes all sorts, I suppose.”
                          13. Vendetta. A saw B slaughter their parents and has bided their time all these years.
                          14. Members of the same old boys club. They’re used to giving each other favors and covering up each other’s little indiscretions.
                          15. Lost Lovers. After four years of marriage, A disappeared in the middle of the night. Now B has found them at this school at last, but A refuses to explain what happened.
                          16. Mushroom enthusiasts. A cultivates a beautiful garden of fungal growths in a hollowed-out body cavity. B is the only good source of fungal nutrients for miles.
                          17. Protector. Every month, on the night of the full moon, A turns into a small golden paperweight. They need B to make sure they don't get stolen.
                          18. Body Switchers. At the stroke of midnight every night, A and B switch souls. They've been unable to reverse the effect ever since a failed experiment months ago.
                          19. The same person. A and B are both different manifestations of a single entity. Like a network of mushrooms, their brains both lay down invisible roots which connect to the same source in 4th dimensional space. There are thousands like them.
                          20. Envious. A is slowly stealing pieces of B's life - their hair, their clothes, their family heirlooms. All of this is placed in a secret shrine in A's room. Eventually, they will become B.
                          Roll for two teachers. After one day of classes, character A is killed by character B.

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