Bubblegumshoe: Harry Potter

I’ve been looking for the right Harry Potter RPG for years. JK Rowling hasn’t wanted any RPG made for the Wizarding World, so it remains in the hands of fans to adapt games to match. In my younger years, I converted Risus over to HP, with little success. I’ve seen some people make D&D classes, which works just fine, but doesn’t really capture the FEEL of it. I was flipping through Bubblegumshoe, an RPG based on the GUMSHOE system, focused on kid detectives like Veronica Mars, The Hardy Boys, or the Eagle Eye Detective Agency (deep cut there). As I was reading it, I thought, “What are the Harry Potter novels if not mystery novels?”

The first book: What is being kept in the third floor corridor?

Second book: What is the Chamber of Secrets, and who is Tom Riddle?

Third book: What the hell is this Grim thing?

And it goes on. Each book deals with a particular mystery. Hogwarts is a big place with all kinds of mysteries, so there’s no reason you can’t investigate them yourself. Bubblegumshoe is perfect for this. (NOTE: You’ll need to pick up a copy of Bubblegumshoe in order to use these rules.)

The first thing I did, just to see if it made sense, was to modify the character sheet. You’ll be able to see that at the bottom of the article, as well as the other documents. I shared the character sheet on Twitter, tagging Emily Care Ross and Kenneth Hite, two of the designers. It ended up spreading around a bit on Saturday, and everyone wanted to know how to easily play the Wizarding World in Bubblegumshoe, so here we are.

There are a few sections in Bubblegumshoe that need to be changed, but it’s surprisingly little. The thing is, spells don’t really matter all that much. They’re there, but They’re mostly there to push the plot forward, just like Abilities in Bubblegumshoe.

With that said, here are the changes I’d make to the rulebook. If you have any suggestions on changes, let me know. I’m writing brand new text and incorporating text from the book, so I’ll be giving pages and telling you what to replace.

Pg. 6: The Investigative abilities paragraph. Classes will replace these abilities later on, and work like Investigative abilities, except where they don’t. See the Pg. 13 section.

Pg. 9: Determining number of players can help shape what year your characters are. The more build points, the higher your class year, so consider using this to decide your year.

# of Players
2: 6th Year
3: 5th Year
4: 4rd Year
5+: 3nd Year

Pg. 13-14: Replace the Investigative Abilities section with:


Classes are abilities you’ll use to demonstrate your competence with magic, though they also be used to solve problems in your daily life. You won’t have specific spells listed on your character sheet, but instead will fall into the class abilities listed here. Leviosa is a Charm. Draconifors is a Transfiguration. The game doesn’t care how your ability manifests. If you have even one point in Potions, for example, you can either be a student who spends hours of study trying to perfect their alchemy, or simply be a student lucky with an eye of newt.

In classic GUMSHOE fashion, if a core clue is needed to solve the mystery, and a student with the right Class ability is on the scene, they get that clue without a roll or a spend.

If one of your Class abilities has a rating of 0, it means you are really terrible in that class. You’re belittled by your teachers, charms blow up in your face, and you accidentally turn teapots into toads. You are still able to accomplish basic spells, but you appear fairly incompetent. This is just fine, because some wizards are better than others, and every wizard has a weakness. It is perfectly fine to have a 0 in one or two of these Classes.

Though page 6 states that you do not need to roll for your Class skills, they can sometimes be treated as Failsafe tests (see Pg. 44) when you need to determine who casts a spell better than the other person.

Here is how the abilities can be used outside of basic spellcasting.

Ancient Runes: What do these ancient magical engravings mean? Can I read this ancient text about long-forgotten spells?

Charms: What kind of charm was used to enchant this weapon? Spot magical items.

Defense Against the Dark Arts: What kind of evil creature lives in this cave? What dark power is at work here?

Divination: What warnings can I detect about the path ahead? How aware am I of my surroundings?

Herbology: What kind of plant was tracked in here and where did it come from? Spotting broken twigs and plants.

Care of Magical Creatures: What magical creature recently moved through here? Noticing disturbances in animal activity.

Muggle Studies: What’s hot, what’s not. Know bands and what kids these days are up to. Consider it a catchall for youth culture.

Potions: What potion was used to poison your classmate’s familiar? Good for detecting different substances in a wide variety of situations.

Transfiguration: Which of these statues moved on its own recently? Can detect things which have been altered in appearance.

Pg. 15-20: Some abilities will be replaced with more appropriate abilities, as shown on the character sheet.

Pg. 34: Your character sheet replaces elements of the character background. As you can see below:

School: What school do you go to? Hogwarts or Beauxbatons? Castelobruxo or Durmstrang? Ilvermorny or Koldovstoretz or Uagadou?

Blood Status: Are you a Pureblood, a Muggle-Born? While this doesn’t matter mechanically, as some of the greatest wizards in the world are Muggle-Born, this can matter when dealing with bigoted characters who do think it matters.

Year: What year are you in school? This can affect how other students and teachers act toward you.

House: What house do you belong to at your school? At Hogwarts, are you a Ravenclaw, Gryffindor, Slytherin, or Hufflepuff?

Pg. 115: Replace the Bad Cop text with the following text:

Overbearing Prefect

Thumbnail: Believes he’s doing the best thing for the school, despite appearances.

Abilities: BS Detector 2, Bureaucracy 2, Cool 6, DADA 3, Transfiguration 7, Charms 7

Pg. 116: Change Corrupt Business Owner to Corrupt Shop Owner (perhaps in Diagon or Nocturn Ally, or in Hogsmeade?)

Change Drug Pusher to Illicit Potion Pusher, change Drug Knowledge to Potions.

Change Class President to Head Boy.

Change Hardass Principal to Hardass Professor.

Pg. 118: Change Neighborhood Cop to Helpful Prefect, replace Cop ability with Prefect ability and Firearms with Charm.

Pg. 132-136: The Thresholds here will be changed and the town map is already filled out for Hogwarts. If you are playing at a different school, as they are all much less fleshed out than Hogwarts, then you can use the town map rules stated here. Some locations in both Hogwarts and Hogsmeade are not located there, but are in the Restricted Areas of Teachers’ Areas, depending on where they should be.


Teachers’ Areas
Restricted Areas

Gryffindor Common Room

Dervish and Banges Hospital Wing Chamber of Secrets
Slytherin Common Room Dogweed and Deathcap Apothecary

Headmaster’s Office

Hufflepuff Common Room

Dominic Maestro’s Music Shop Defense Against the Dark Arts Teacher’s Office Room of Requirement

Ravenclaw Common Room

Gladrags Wizardwear

Minerva McGonagall’s Office Shrieking Shack

Hogsmeade Post Office

Sybill Trelawney’s Office

Forbidden Forest

Dueling Club

Hogsmeade Station Fillius Flitwick’s Office


Greenhouses Honeydukes Cuthbert Binn’s Office

Third Floor Hallway


J. Pippin’s Potions Filch’s Office Prefects’ Bathroom
Potions Classroom Madam Puddifoot’s Tea Shop

The Upstairs of the Hog’s Head Inn

Secret Passage to Hogsmeade

Transfiguration Classroom Ceridwen’s Cauldrons Hagrid’s Cabin

Library Restricted Section

Charms Classroom

Scrivenshaft’s Quill Shop

Astronomy Planetarium

Spintwitches Sporting Needs

Divination Classroom

Hog’s Head Inn
Defense Against the Dark Arts Classroom

Magic Neep

Quidditch Pitch

Three Broomsticks Inn

The Lake Tomes and Scrolls

Trophy Room

Wizarding Wireless Network Headquarters
The Staircases

Zonko’s Joke Shop


All art included in this article by HitoFanart at DeviantArt.

This is a work of fandom. Copyright belongs to JK Rowling.

2 thoughts on “Bubblegumshoe: Harry Potter

  • August 29, 2017 at 11:05 pm

    Disclaimer: I’m not 100% on top of the base game mechanics (still reading thru the book), but I would maybe suggest making your character’s House a roll during creation, then adding a bonus stat based on where they are sorted.

    I have the following in my head as a starting point:
    Gryfinndor Bonus – choose Fighting or Gossip
    Slytherin Bonus – choose Sneaking or Negotiation
    Ravenclaw Bonus – choose Intuition or Performance
    Hufflepuff Bonus – choose Preparedness or BS Detector

    Obviously a rough idea, but one that I’m thinking of incorporating if I end up running a game 🙂

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