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Murphy\'s
Gazetteer of
the Weird and Supernatural
by

torchtorch

If literature and folklore are to be taken as any guide, there are some places where supernatural occurrences are more likely to happen than others. Here is a list of the prime spots for supernatural activity in your average town or city, as well as a few spots where no self- respecting denizen of the unknown would dare show itself.

Sites are scored on a scale of 0 to *****, of increasing uncanniness. Five skulls are reserved only for the most supernatural spots, with 0 for the most boring and banal locations.

  • I. Chapter I: The Horror in the X----

    A. Museums & Public Collections
  • 1. The Museum of Natural History
  • 2. The Museum of Fine Arts
  • 3. The Museum of Modern Art
  • 4. The Wax Museum
  • 5. The Zoological Gardens

    B. Mercantile Establishments
  • 1. Curio Shoppes
  • 2. Kwik-ee Marts
  • 3. Supermarkets
  • 4. Indoor Malls
  • 5. Department Stores
  • 6. Used or Independent Book Shops
  • 7. Junk Stores
  • 8. Art Galleries

    C. Transient Bazaars & Festivals
  • 1. Garage Sales, Flea Markets & Church Bazaars
  • 2. Carnivals, Circuses and Sideshows

    D. City Services
  • 1. The Library
  • 2. The County Morgue
  • 3. The Post Office
  • 4. The Local High School
  • 5. The Elementary School
  • 6. The Junior High or Middle School

    E. Public Entertainments & Services
  • 1. Taverns & Nightclubs
  • 2. Hotels
  • 3. Swimming Pools
  • 4. Amusement Parks
  • 5. Sports Arenas or Stadiums
  • 6. Cemeteries

    F. Private Establishments
  • 1. Churches
  • 2. Universities
  • 3. Fraternities
  • 4. Sororities
  • 5. Gentlemen's Clubs

    G. Professional Businessplaces
  • 1. Funeral Home or Mortuary
  • 2. Fortuneteller, Psychic or Medium

    H. Private Residences
  • 1. Old Houses
  • 2. New Homes
  • 3. Mansions
  • 4. Trailers & Mobile Homes
  • 5. Apartments

    I. The Horror in the X----

    A. Museums & Public Collections

    1. The Museum of Natural History

  • Being filled with ancient artifacts, as well as mummified human and animal remains, this place is a hot-spot supernatural activity, all the more frightening because of its formal and respectable facade. Everything from cursed jewels to wandering mummies may be found here, with the prime spots for supernatural activity being glass cases on prominent display, as well as the back workroom for the recently arrived exhibits. Night watchmen at such institutions have an unusually high rate of mortality, with an even higher rate (compared to the city-wide norm) of being possessed by ancient gods.
    Rating: *****

    2. The Museum of Fine Arts

    A prime spot for ghosts, typical haunted family portraits, as well as the occasional painting which acts as a gateway to other worlds, or statues which come to life for a night on the town.
    Rating: ***

    3. The Museum of Modern Art

    No one ever heard of a haunted Jackson Pollack or Andy Warhol, and there are reasons for this. Likewise, most modern art statues, if they did come to life, would immediately die from Picasso Syndrome, flopping around like flounders with their eyes on one side of their head. Only the occasional demonically inspired work keeps this location from being completely banal.
    Rating: *

    4. The Wax Museum

    Delightfully creepy. Not only is this a spot for hauntings and living figures, but also for crazed murderers who cover their victims with wax (and while this is not supernatural, it is sufficiently macabre for them to qualify as honorary members of the uncanny set).
    Rating: ****

    5. The Zoological Gardens

    Werewolves and cat people have a tendency to end up here, typically after a night of binging on late-nighters and stray homeless people. City vampires, who can summon wolves, have also found it expedient to unlock the cages first, otherwise this traditional vampiric power is somewhat less than impressive. Visiting shamans, in need of a convenient jaguar to do their dirty work, have also been known to liberate one from this spot.
    Rating:**


    B. Mercantile Establishments

    1. Curio Shoppes

    Usually seedy, shabby little places on side streets. The gnomish proprietors of these places are usually retired wizards or something equally interesting. Even if the proprietor is completely mundane and ordinary, there's always something intriguing to be found among the items for sale, typically on the "We've had this for years and no one's ever asked about it" shelf, or among the "New items, just in and not yet catalogued."
    Rating: *****

    2. Kwik-ee Marts

    The frozen drink machines, the mummified hot dogs, and the strange foreign proprietors are at once too horrifying and too banal for even the most desperate supernatural creature to put in an appearance here, unless it's one of the ones who's pretending to lead a normal life (such as a vampire detective) but even then, such creatures will still spend as little time as possible around this paragon of dullness.
    Rating: 0

    3. Supermarkets

    Same trouble here as at the Kwik-ee Marts. Mummies do not inspire horror when walking through the frozen food aisle, and only a full horde of zombies has any chance of making the check-out line a scene of terror.
    Rating: 0

    4. Indoor Malls

    Too upscale for the curio shoppes and bookstores, these modern contrivances require zombies and psycho-killers for any amount of interest. Abysmally dull, though as a saving grace, such places have adjoining parking structures, which late at night are reasonable haunts for vampires, sword- swinging immortals, and other nocturnal denizens who want a deserted spot that still has easy access by car.
    Rating: 0 ( ** for parking structure)

    5. Department Stores

    While superficially as dull and boring as the mall outside, department store mannequins can still sometimes do the same tricks as their cousins in the wax museum. Magical beauty products also on occasion make their way to the cosmetics counter, usually via female clerks who are in some way related to the proprietors of the curio shoppes.
    Rating: **

    6. Used or Independent Book Shops

    Not quite as paranormal as the curio shoppes, these stores still are the prime spot for magical tomes and haunted books. Almost all of the owners are either practicing wizards or at least students of the occult who will be able to give some helpful hints when unusual occurrences begin to happen.
    Rating: ***

    7. Junk Stores

    The poor cousin of the curio shoppes, these stores occasionally get supernatural items, but far less regularly- -unless the customer is a child, in which case they are just as reliable as curio shoppes, as well as much cheaper.
    Rating: ** ( ***** if the patron is twelve or under)

    8. Art Galleries

    While having many of the same modern pieces as the Museum of Modern Art, these are also the spots where the works of suicidal or mysteriously vanished young artists are first displayed. Also, occasional bits of rare jewelry or other artifacts show up through the black market.
    Rating: ***


    C. Transient Bazaars & Festivals

    1. Garage Sales, Flea Markets & Church Bazaars

    Outdoor equivalents of the junk stores, with the same access to rare items. The fortunetellers found at church bazaars are usually just girls in their early teens, and completely inaccurate, unless the querant is the same age or younger, at which point accuracy jumps to 100%.
    Rating: ** ( ***** if the patron is twelve or under)

    2. Carnivals, Circuses and Sideshows

    The supernatural on wheels. Anything and everything can be had here, from monsters from the freak show to rare artifacts given away as prizes at the dime toss. All ages are welcome, with none given preferential treatment.
    Rating: *****


    D. City Services

    1. The Library

    For the best possibility of supernatural activity, a library must be old, typically built by some eccentric millionaire as a gift to some small town. The architecture is usually bizarre, and the stacks contain the dead millionaires private collection of usually occult books. Even if not, the library stacks are a prime location for ghosts, stalking monsters, and undead wizards in search of their old books.
    Rating: ***

    2. The County Morgue

    The place that vampires and zombies usually wake up first. County coroners have an unusually high mortality rate as a result, especially since they have convenient access to the sewer system--often as a secret back-panel to one of body drawers.
    Rating: ***

    3. The Post Office

    Apart from the occasion package sent by a dead aunt or professor in the field, which exhibit their supernatural nature only after being brought home and unwrapped, the only frightening and uncanny thing about this location is the employees themselves.
    Rating: 0 (though it is important to note that the supernatural packages remain quiescent the entire time they remain at the Post Office, even if this is for months)

    4. The Local High School

    A prime location for hauntings and psychic phenomena, typically after hours or on Prom Night. As with universities, occurrences are rare but spectacular, and young psychics who do not save their power till college typically manifest it here.
    Rating: **

    5. The Elementary School

    If one is of age to attend this place, supernatural occurrences abound, including such feats as turning one's teacher into a cat, school ghosts, and of course the popular favorite of the white witch who got herself a teaching credential in lieu of signing the Devil's black book. (It is well known that Hell can only be so cruel, and dealing with a class of hyperactive children is a fitting substitute for the Imps of Satan and the Legions of the Damned.)
    Rating: **** if one is of school age, otherwise *

    6. The Junior High or Middle School

    This place is horrifying enough on its own without the odd monster, weird occurences, or precocious psychic or witch that may be found here. However, it should be noted that even a werewolf caught in the throes of puberty can do little to match the mundane terrors of everyday life in this place.
    Rating: *** if one is of school age, otherwise 0


    E. Public Entertainments and Services

    1. Taverns & Nightclubs

    Typical spots for hauntings, though usually only in ones over one hundred years old, or sites for some spectacular massacre. Vampires are also known to frequent these places, particularly the dark, smoky, meat-market ones where the lighting is too dim and the patrons too drunk to notice stuff like pale skin and missing reflections.
    Rating: **

    2. Hotels.

    While most haunted hotels must be more then two hundred years old, far away from civilization and somehow cared for by one feeble old man, modern hotels are still prime locations for supernatural occurences. The fastest way to insure a hotel disaster is to attend a convention, or to crash one, at which point the legions of the damned with undoubtably rise out of the ground and devour you whole.
    Rating: ***

    3. Swimming Pools.

    Water monsters of every shape and size frequent swimming pools, even those who have no business finding their way there in the first place. The pool is also a favorite haunt for young children, thereby supplying the monster of spirit with an almost inexhaustable supply of snack food.
    Rating: ** ( **** if under twelve)

    4. Amusement Parks

    More stable and much more respectable than the traveling circus, amusement parks are usually just the haunt of serial killers and the occasional ghost, though the Fun House is always the notable exception. This is usually a relic from some traveling carnival, with the line, "Oh yes, that. We were planning on tearing it down years ago, after what happened there, but the management never got around to it, so we decided to open it back up..." Fortunetellers also occasionally ply their trade here, typically at the dilapidated old boardwalks and amusement piers.
    Rating: *** ( ***** for the Fun House or any other structure which is a relic from an old carnival)

    5. Sports Arenas or Stadiums

    Despite the number of teamsters said to be buried in the concrete and the number of deaths on the field, very few hauntings occur in these locations, almost inexplicably so. Angels and helpful spirits occasionally show up, but only for children or particularly down-and-out athletes.
    Rating: *

    6. Cemeteries

    Ideally, a cemetery should be old and deserted, without easy street access, such as a mile outside some small town. Such locations are the prime spot for vampires, witches, ghosts and Satanic cults, as well monsters hiding out from humanity--though usually not all at the same time. Mausoleums, especially of dead wizards, are sites of particular interest.
    Rating: ****


    F. Private Establishments

    1. Churches

    Despite the fact that they are usually safe-havens for those seeking refuge from supernatural occurrences, people should be wary of the occasional closet-satanic church with the attending Black Mass props in the basement, the ghosts of evil priests, and various workings of Satan. Likewise, various evil artifacts are kept for safekeeping on holy ground, but can still be stirred up by the uninitiated. Strangely enough, synagogues and Islamic temples do not have these problems.
    Rating: **

    2. Universities

    For best results, a university should be old, dating back to at least the Ivy League, with lots of gargoyles and Masonic symbols lurking in the eaves. Hauntings abound, especially at the favored suicide-spot come finals week, or the site of the infamous "Fraternity Prank Gone Wrong." (See Fraternities & Sororities.) Also of note is the basement of the School of Medicine or the Biology Department where various Frankenstein experiments are performed, though the cataloguing room of the Anthropology Department should not be overlooked, since this is where many unusual artifacts end up, if they do not go to the Museum of Natural History.
    Rating: ** to *** for modern universities or community colleges, **** for Ivy League or older.

    3. Fraternities

    These institutions are notorious for spectacular supernatural occurrences, typically as part of the aptly- named "Hell Week" where freshmen are rushed in and subjected to various torments and tortures, many of which have roots in Masonic practices and various mystery cults (not that the fraternity brothers understand this, hence the possibility for fun). Supernatural happenings come about either as a result of a fraternity prank gone wrong--someone initiate dying, usually before the memory of any of the brothers living in the house--and a subsequent haunting, or, and more spectacularly, the initiation of some young shy young freshman with remarkable psychic potential, whose mere presence sends a force spike through the ancient (albeit poorly done) initiation rituals. Supernatural dabbling by the brothers later in the season can have similar results, and it is not unknown for one of the brothers to discover he's a werewolf, or for another to be sent out for a hooker and come back with a moonlighting vampire.
    Rating: ***

    4. Sororities

    Similar in nature to the Fraternities, Sororities nevertheless have some significant differences. First off, very little occurs during Hell Week, unless it is a spillover from an affiliated Fraternity. Rather, the supernatural activity at Sorority Houses is of a more controlled, dangerous nature which simmers over time, usually boiling over at Homecoming or the Spring Formal. The House Mother and/or one of the upperclassmen is usually a witch of fair power, considerable knowledge, and questionable morals, particularly with regards to casting love spells on football hunks, throwing curses on girls they don't like, and identifying and recruiting sweet-young- innocents with no occult knowledge whatsoever, albeit psychic potential up the yin-yang. Various rites and rituals transpire, including several accidental deaths, before the sweet-young-thing loses said innocence, figures out what's going on, and blasts the House Mother or upperclasswoman into tomorrow. Occasional sororities have no resident witch, but a few dabblers, who like their counterparts in the fraternities, can cause a great deal of havoc with simply one book of spells and an old Ouija board.
    Rating: ***

    5. Gentleman's Clubs

    The fixture of another century, Gentlemen's Clubs are steeped in history and lore, and no little bit of magic. Covens of antiquated wizards find them very much to their taste, while even the more normal ones have the occurrence of "Look what young Hopkins brought back with him from India." While this is rarer in modern times, it has become replaced by "Why look at this odd little statue we found in the storeroom. One of the old members must have brought it back from his travels."
    Rating: ***


    G. Professional Businessplaces

    1. Funeral Home or Mortuary

    Site for vampires as well as mad necromancers working as morticians. Funeral homes in the middle of cemeteries are usually the first to notice zombie invasions.
    Rating: ****

    2. Fortuneteller, Psychic or Medium

    These (typically female) professionals fall in to four categories: arcane old women who know too much; gifted, though often ditzy, young women who will one day be arcane old women, if they live that long; charlatans of any age with more business sense than mystic talent; and teenage dabblers, who may one day become quite proficient, but are easily freaked by their experience. Their shops are typically storefronts with neon signs in the bad part of town, booths at nearly abandoned amusement piers, and occasionally blanket-tents set up in the back of church bazaars or neighborhood children's carnivals. All such psychics are useful when encountering--or having already encountered--the supernatural, though they have high mortality rates. Arcane old women typically die of heart failure, brought on by old age and/or the summoning of something too powerful for them to deal with, at which point they give some cryptic warning. The (often ditzy, albeit talented) young fortunetellers, mediums and psychics give excellent warnings, and are much more survivable than the typical horror heroine, since they instinctively know when to run from the monster in terror, often before it has revealed itself to everyone else. The minimally gifted charlatans typically end up as the victims of either serial killers or demonic entities, both of whom are endlessly amused by this and gloat over the bodies going, "Hah-hah, you couldn't even foresee your own death." Finally, the teenage dabblers are younger versions of the gifted psychics, though with far less well tuned "run from the monster" instincts. If they survive, they eventually become gifted psychics. On the whole, visiting the place of business of any fortuneteller is an open invitation to the supernatural.
    Rating: *****


    H. Private Residences

    1. The Old House

    Old houses have a certain cache with the supernatural set, but as with everything in the world of mortal real estate, the three most important points are still location, location, location. Is it located on a high hill or next to a cemetary? Add a skull for that. Does it have a gate to the netherworld conveniently in the basement? Add another skull. What about a history of murders, suicides, or at least entertainingly eccentric former owners? All of these are selling points, and likewise with peeling paint, creaking steps, overgrown shrubbery and infestations of bats. But even a bright well-cared for home in the best part of town with no history of note can still be a spot for supernatural activity, especially if it has a name like "The Old Jenkins Place."
    Rating: **** on the average

    2. New Homes

    If they can't obtain an old house with an interesting, history, most creatures of the supernatural follow the same pattern of their mortal counterparts and go for a new home they can put their impression on. Add to that unscrupulous real estate developers with a penchant for building on abandoned cemetaries, indian burial grounds and toxic waste dumps and you have a fine mix for all manner of horrors, from irate undead shamans to invasions by mutated sowbugs. And when they both show up the same week from the toxic waste dump/indian burial ground combo, watch out!
    Rating: ***

    3. Mansions

    It is one of the great truisms of the supernatural that while not all rich people are evil, almost all evil people are rich, or at least ostentatious. If you've got it, flaunt it, and vampires who've been preying on the living for centuries are accustomed to living in style, either because they always have been or because even if they slept in the dirt while they were alive, now that they're dead (and still sleeping in the dirt) they're going to make certain that their coffin is in the best house several centuries of money can buy. Ghosts follow the same rule, except that the ones that live in mansions were both evil and rich to begin with, and now that they're dead (and can't get any richer), they do their best to make up for it by being twice as evil just to keep up appearances.
    Rating: *****

    4. Trailers & Mobile Homes

    While not as well known for ghosts and vampires, trailer parks and mobile homes cut their losses by attracting werewolves and aliens. Indeed, where else in a city can you park a strange silvery-domed vehicle with flashing lights and antennae and not have it draw attention? Most of the behavior of werewolves is likewise overlooked, especially with the number of trailer park denizens who already have full beards and ponytails.
    Rating: ***

    5. Apartments

    Though seldom the choice of vampires, werewolves, mummies or sword-swinging immortals, apartment houses are known to be the residence of choice for ghosts, if simply because the psychic housecleaners tend to go for the higher ticket items like the old mansion on the hill, and most folks, if faced with an unpleasantly haunted apartment, will just give their thirty-days notice and move out. Or else decide that, compared with the average roommate, most ghosts and demons are far less intrusive into your personal life and slam doors and break things with much less frequency than the average roommate.
    Rating: ***




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    All Text, Layout & Graphics for "Murphy's Gazetteer of the Weird and Supernatural"
    Copyright 2000 Kevin Andrew Murphy/Alphyn Press.
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