Frightening February Day 15: Grave.

Three plot ideas for use in horror TTRPGs or short stories. Part of #FrighteningFebruary

We’re gonna dig deep on this one. About 6 feet.

(*Come on. You didn’t think I’d go there?) Shovel’s over there if you need it. Three plot ideas for the Horror TTRPG or short story of your choice.

Content Warning: Graves, Grave Robbers, homicide, abduction, UFO activity, aliens, occult.
Photo by Maria Orlova on

Plot Idea 1: The group is contacted in regards to a haunted house. The new owner, a millionaire who lives out of state named Brendan Johns, was told at the time of purchase that the house was unoccupied for years because of its grim past. Prior to its recent sale, it has been abandoned since 1995 when the previous owners left in the middle of the night with no forwarding address.

Mr. Johns, the new owner, wants the house pronounced “spook free” and will pay the group any amount of money they ask. He would like the house ready for renovation within one week of the group agreeing to the job. The house is on the outskirts of town and is one of the oldest properties on the books.

The family who built the house made their original fortune selling munitions to the South during the Civil War. In fact, it’s rumored that the Haskells buried a fortune in gold bullion somewhere on the property. It’s also widely known that Jonas Haskell was a leader of an occult secret society. The original blueprints to the house were destroyed in a tragic courthouse fire in 1913.

Rumor has it that Haskell built secret passages throughout the house and had a secret library as well as a ritual chamber. There is a small private cemetery on the grounds. There is also an unmarked cemetery further back in the woods where the Haskells buried deceased servants, homeless wanderers, and wayward travelers in unmarked graves.

The house has changed hands repeatedly since 1927, when Jonathan Haskell died in his sleep at the tender young age of 33. No owner has lasted more than nine years in the house, with several only staying for days before dying, disappearing, or selling right away and moving far away. Everything about this house screams “haunted.”

The holding company who sold it to Brendan Johns had previously decided it was a bad risk to sell the property given its terrible history. It’s so haunted, the homeless refuse to squat on the property. It has never been robbed despite the wealth of valuables and antiques in the buildings. No one goes camping on the property, ever.

Photo by Juan Felipe Ramu00edrez on

Plot Idea 2: The group is contacted by the police or by the man in their waiting area at the police station. Eddie Warner is frantic, begging the police for help or to be arrested so he can stay in a nice, safe jail. He claims he is being chased by a wraith that rose from the grave of Leonard Haskell.

It turns out Eddie’s father owed the Haskell family a lot of money. Leonard’s dying proclamation was that he would rise from the grave and seek revenge on the entire Warner family (plus some words in Ancient Sumerian.) A quick check of Haskell’s grave indicates something recently clawed its way in or maybe out of the hole. The body is definitely gone.

Can the group protect Eddie, his sister, and two brothers? What caused the wraith to rise at the present time? What is Eddie not telling the group? It’s up to the Keeper to fill in the details.

Photo by Micael Widell on

Plot Idea 3: The group is summoned to the local cemetery in the early hours of the morning, just after sunrise. There are alchemical symbols burnt into the grass above some of the very old graves. One has been excavated, but the grave robbers fled the scene before they could be questioned. Security cameras at the caretaker’s house picked up eerie orbs moving about the cemetery and two frightened would-be grave robbers running down to the main road in a major panic.

The caretaker, Lucas Haskell, is at a loss for any explanation for the lights. In fact, the grave that was being disturbed was unmarked, probably due to an old buried or broken head stone. He has no idea who is supposed to be buried there or why anyone would want to disturb it.

Especially observant Investigators might pick up on the small, green, spindly being with large eyes silently observing from the far edge of the grounds. It darts behind head stones and eventually vanishes into the nearby woods if chased or discovered.

The next night the lights return. This time they chase off a group of five teenagers mucking about with a Ouija board in the cemetery at 3:00 in the morning. One teen is an incoherent gibbering wreck, another cracked his head on a tombstone running through the graveyard and is in critical condition in the local hospital. The two girls are nowhere to be found, and the one remaining witness is nearly catatonic. John keeps stammering on about summoning a demon. The police are baffled.

The following night would make for a good Found Footage film. The eerie orbs return only to hover and circle above the unmarked grave the robbers were attempting to excavate. A very old, perfectly preserved wooden coffin is wrenched from the ground. It will be found standing straight up next to the hole, completely unscathed, but open and empty.

That’s not the worst of it. Following the lights, two black helicopters circle the cemetery while three black Ford Explorers full of what appear to be government agents sweep the grounds for cameras. They drag the caretaker and his wife away with them. They ransack the caretaker’s house and confiscate all footage, computers, cameras and cell phones they find.

If the Investigators are found observing the cemetery, the black ops team will arrest them or chase them off at gunpoint. If the group doesn’t cooperate, and manages to escape, they will be harassed by unidentified agents, possibly abducted in the middle of the night by the same black ops team, or worse. They could even receive a visit from the actual Men In Black. (*Not the cool ones from the Will Smith movies. The serious MIBs that have been known to stalk, abduct, threaten or even injure witnesses.)

The group will be told repeatedly to hand over their footage and documentation of the cemetery incident or else bad things will happen to them and their families. They will keep quiet if they know what is good for them. Their cell phones will be shut down or mysteriously malfunctions. All of the group’s social media accounts will be hacked or deleted. Any attempt to upload footage to the internet will end in disaster up to and including entire platforms being temporarily knocked off like and all instances of the video deleted. If the group has any government contacts, they will be blacklisted with that agency. In the end, the group can either go on the run or turn their footage over to the mysterious government guys and go back to business as usual as long as they stay quiet about the incidents.

After the heat dies down a little, a return visit to the cemetery will reveal the grave has been filled in with fresh grass growing over the top of it. Mr and Mrs John Smith are caretakers of the cemetery. No one has heard of Haskell or his wife. There have never been any surveillance cameras on the grounds. Even the alchemical symbols have been planted over with fresh sod. Even the teenagers with the Ouija board and the grave robbers have vanished.

Disclaimer: Any resemblance to persons living or deceased is purely unintentional. None of the crimes listed above are real. No one was harmed in the writing of this article.

Thank you for stopping by. I appreciate you. More to come.

Author: Jeff Craigmile

I'm a tabletop role-playing game writer and designer from Des Moines, Iowa. I'm the father of four boys and human to three cats.

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