A play-by-post version of a game I sometimes run over Skype, open to 3-5 players, based on the system designed by West End Games. I first discovered the game through the Nerdy Show podcast Ghostbusters: Resurrection, which was immensely entertaining, and decided to get my hands on the books and give my own campaign a shot. It proved to be a hell of a lot of fun, if prone to "production problems," so here is my second iteration of that setting. Extensive knowledge of Ghostbusters is not necessary, as I'll be happy to answer any questions.
1984: events of Ghostbusters.
1989: events of Ghostbusters II.
1991: events of Ghostbusters: The Video Game. Peter Venkman excitedly initiates plans to establish new franchises in Cincinnati, Los Angeles and Chicago. Intern Bryan Welsh becomes head of the Chicago team.
1991-2000s: over the subsequent decades, there is a gradual lull in the amount of supernatural activity; New York City headquarters is able to stay in business at full staff, but most of the other States-side branches see little action and are reduced to two- or three-man groups, as stated in Ghostbusters: Resurrection.
2000-early 2015 (roughly): a steady increase in spectral phenomena across the British Isles, particularly in London, threatens an outbreak of public panic. The Lord Mayor of London learns of the Ghostbusters company from a cousin working at New York City Hall and gets in contact. He offers to provide the start-up fees for the first international branch. Public reactions are mixed.
Late 2015/early 2016: a group of young people learn about the initiative from viewing news coverage of the mayor's press conference on television or spotting an advertisement in the newspaper. Each of them is accepted and undergoes basic training as Ghostbusters. Two weeks go by without a single call…
Note: the events of the cartoons and comic books are non-canon, but may exist in-universe as fictionalised accounts of the New York City team’s adventures. The Real Ghostbusters (1986-1991) was arranged with consultations from Peter Venkman, ever mindful of his public image, but many disputes arose over the liberties it took with biographical and scientific details. The short-lived sequel, Extreme Ghostbusters (1997), while praised for its superior animation, was released during a major decrease in both ghost activity and public interest, and is sometimes seen as a slightly mean-spirited satire that also attempted to give the company a friendlier appearance with the inclusion of several minorities in the principal cast.
Listed below is the standardised equipment available to the team from the beginning of play. There exists a limit on how much can be carried at once, typically three equipment slots per character, though small objects like walkie-talkies and battery torches can be equipped without taking up a slot. A Ghostbuster who possesses a decent Brains Trait or some kind of engineering Talent, and enough money in the bank can request upgrades to their arsenal or attempt to design and build their own equipment.
Aura video-analyser: a machine which can be used to display a subject’s emotional state. It consists of a headset, finger-readers and other monitoring equipment that scan the wearer’s pulse, heartbeat, brainwave patterns and other bodily functions, and a laptop computer which constructs a digital image of any possessing entities.
Battery torch: each Ghostbuster carries a standard battery torch.
Containment unit: a large machine housing an advanced laser confinement grid installed at the fire station. The containment unit is where all entities held inside ghost traps eventually end up. A viewer in the front allows those outside to observe the vapours and spirits inside, and often the interior dimensions of a unit resemble a bizarre alternate universe in their own right. The unit runs on electrical power and also includes a back-up grid in the event of a blackout, as a loss of power will cause the unit to explode, releasing its prisoners back into the world.
Ecto goggles: a pair of specialised goggles, essential for hunting down invisible ghosts. The ecto goggles (also known as "paragoggles") allow the wearer to track P.K.E. valences, which are shown as glowing particles when the device is tuned to the right frequency. They also aid in moving through low-light environments via night vision mode.
ECTO–1: the team’s primary mode of transport, converted from an IVECO specialist rescue vehicle. It is painted in the traditional Ghostbusters white-and-red colour scheme, with the organisation’s trademark "no-ghost" symbol painted on the sides along with their ‘phone number and website address. The sides of the vehicle contain storage space for proton packs, slime blowers, spare traps and additional equipment; one side incorporates a miniature laboratory for analysing specimens. There is room for three to ride at the front and any others in the back.
Fire station: the London team’s live-in headquarters, located in Woolwich. The building was completed in 1887 and was one of eight historical stations closed down by the mayor of London in recent years. Its repurposing is one of the most frequently cited reasons for public outcry against the mayor’s decision-making abilities. It includes a garage for ECTO–1, sleeping quarters and recreational facilities for the team, office space, a laboratory and workshop, and a computerised containment unit where captive ghosts are stored after they have been busted.
Geiger counter: there are times when other forms of energy or radiation besides psychokinetic may be present at the scene of a paranormal incident. Consisting of a portable box and a probe connected by a cable, Geiger counters can be used to read the emanations of a radioactive creature, spirit or area in order to distinguish if it is safe to approach, as well as to detect faults in the proton packs.
Ghost trap: also known as a "muon trap," used to capture and store ghosts temporarily until they can be transferred to the containment unit. Once a ghost has been snared in the proton streams, the trap can be rolled underneath the ghost and remote activated when the user depresses a pedal switch with their foot. After a trap has closed, re-opening it will automatically release whatever is held inside. The most important rule of trap usage is not to look into the cone of light it projects after a certain point (usually when the pull is sufficiently strong enough that the proton streams can be shut off).
Jumpsuit: each Ghostbuster, when on duty, wears a standard grey or black, zip-up jumpsuit with black electrical gloves, boots, elbow pads, belt, "no-ghost" shoulder patches, and embroidered nametag over the left pectoral.
Megaphone: allows the user to make themselves louder than anyone else.
Mood slime: also known as "psychomagnotheric slime," this green substance was created by Doctor Egon Spengler sometime after the battle with Vigo the Carpathian. He developed an energetic, self-replicating growth medium using his extensive knowledge of spores, moulds and fungi, which can theoretically provide the Ghostbusters with an endless supply of positively charged slime. Green mood slime has several practical applications, which include allowing the living to interact with spectral entities such as ghosts, counteract the negatively charged black slime, and greatly improve the disposition of individuals coated in it. Although many of the slime’s more dangerous properties have been reduced, one should still take care when utilising it in the presence of loud punk, heavy metal or hip-hop music.
P.K.E. metre: a handheld device designed to home in on traces of psychokinetic energy. The two winged arms mounted on either side of the metre will rise or fall with the level of activity detected.
Polarity rectification tripods: also known as "tripod traps," these electromagnetic devices can be set up around an area afflicted by polarity reversal, psychokinetic phenomena which can cause solid objects to float in mid-air. When deployed and activated simultaneously, the P.R.T.s form a web of purple lasers which pierce the affected objects and return them to ordinary polarity.
Proton pack: a portable particle collider carried by each member of the team, it consists of a backpack nuclear accelerator and a deployable neutrona wand (also called a "particle thrower" or "proton gun") which is used to fire undulating streams of proton energy in order to weaken and capture ghosts. Proton packs have a half-life of 5,000 years, meaning they do not require regular recharging but must be handled with care due to their destructive and volatile nature. Knobs and switches integrated into the pack’s main stock allow augmentation of the stream’s intensity, length and degree of polarisation. Crossing the streams emitted from multiple proton packs is believed to cause total protonic reversal ("Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light"), so the neutrona wands come with a cross-stream governor installed, which detects when the streams get too close and shuts them off, with the wielder being subjected to severe recoil as a side-effect.
Slime blower: also called a "plasm distribution system," a portable tank of positively charged psychomagnotheric slime which is dispersed through a hose. Mood slime, when present in sufficient quantities, reacts to the negative energies of which ghosts are composed, and can forcefully eject them from a possessed person or object. The hose can be quickly switched to a secondary mode that launches a slime tether, a line of thickened mood slime which can manipulate physical objects or capture ghosts without weakening them.
Specialist gear: Ghostbusters have access to climbing kits, parachutes, and scuba-diving gear for situations that call for them to enter unusual terrain or make a daring entrance.
Walkie-talkie: each Ghostbuster carries a walkie-talkie clipped to their belts or one of their proton pack’s shoulder straps, which allows the team members to communicate with each other over short distances.
Brownie Points: every character begins play with 20 of these. These can be used to circumvent damage, increase a dice pool, and manipulate events in your favour. The use of them is detailed further in the section "Brownie Points."
d6: the game primarily uses these (six-sided dice, the most common type). The use of them is detailed further in the section "Rolling the Dice."
Ghost Die: represents the element of uncertainty. When a Ghostbuster rolls a ghost (6 on the Ghost Die), it gives the Ghostmaster license to have something unfortunate occur. If a creature rolls a ghost, it equals a bonus effect to them. In short, when the Ghost Die results in a ghost, it is disadvantageous to the players.
Ghostmaster: the game master, dungeon master, storyteller, etc.
Primary Goal: every character has a simple driving objective. This can be anything you can sum up in one to three words, but the most popular examples are wealth, sex, fame (any of these three could apply to Peter Venkman), science (Ray Stantz and Egon Spengler) and serving humanity (Winston Zeddemore). A character’s goal can be achieved over the course of play, in which case you can earn a lot of bonus Brownie Points, and then replaced by a new goal.
Talents: every character has four special Talents linked to their Traits (see below). Your Talent can be anything that applies to the Trait, so long as it can be summed up in no more than three words. Some example Talents are listed below, though the lists are by no means exhaustive. A Talent score is the Trait +3.
Cool: Act, Bargain, Bluff, Borrow, Browbeat, Charm, Convince, Fast Talk, Gossip, Lie, Orate, Play Poker, Play Stock Market, Raise Children, Seduce.
Traits: every character has four Traits—Brains, Muscles, Moves and Cool—which denote natural aptitude. Brains is a measure of the Ghostbuster’s intellect and observational capabilities, Muscles is their strength and stamina, Moves is their speed, dexterity, physical adeptness and skill, and Cool is their attractiveness, tenacity, and social prowess. You begin the game with 12 points to divide between the four. No Trait can start below 1 or above 5, and temporarily decreases depending on events that happen within the story. If a Trait reaches 0, it becomes useless until given time to recover, most often resulting in the character being rendered unconscious and in need of medical attention, though not typically death.
From the Ghostbusters International core book (West End Games, 1989):
When your Ghostbuster wants to (or has to) perform a task, the Ghostmaster assigns a difficulty number and tells you which Trait or Talent applies to that task. You then roll as many dice as you have points in the appropriate Trait or Talent (for example: if you are required to roll your Muscles Trait, and have a score of 3 in that, you naturally roll that many six-sided dice). If you roll equal to or higher than the difficulty number, you succeed; if not, you fail. Remember that the Ghost Die must be one of the dice you roll (see below); remember also that you can spend Brownie Points to increase the number of dice that you roll.
The Ghost Die must always be one of the dice you roll when you are performing a task. If a number between 1—5 comes up, simply add it and all the other numbers together and compare your total to the difficulty number, as usual. If a 6 comes up, this is called a Ghost and means that something bad has happened.
In this instance, compare the other numbers to the difficulty number anyway (the Ghost has no numerical value and is treated as a 0). If you roll a Ghost but also equal or exceed the difficulty number, you succeed at your task, though you can look forward to some niggling annoyance. If you roll less than the difficulty number, not only does something bad happen, but you fail at your task as well.
Let’s say you’re attempting to eat a telephone.
You equal or beat the difficulty, and don’t roll a Ghost: you eat the telephone and everything’s fine.
You roll less than the difficulty number, and don’t roll a Ghost: your teeth just aren’t strong enough, and you are otherwise unharmed.
You equal or beat the difficulty, but roll a Ghost: you successfully swallow the last bite, only to realise that you’ve forgotten to unplug the ’phone! It rings, giving you a nasty electric shock and some interesting psychological damage.
You roll less than the difficulty and roll a Ghost: you get a receiver caught in your mouth, and have to go to the hospital for expensive and embarrassing oral surgery.
The Ghost Die works for ghosts instead of against them. The value of the Ghost on the die is still 0, but accidents, coincidences, and mishaps rebound to the spook’s benefit.
Example: blazing away with his proton pack, Stantz chases a spook down a hallway. The ugly little spud suddenly turns and attempts to slime Ray. The Ghostmaster decides the difficulty and rolls the ghost’s dice. The attack fails, but the Ghostmaster rolls a Ghost!
Ray is not slimed, but it’s a hollow triumph. The Ghostmaster cheerfully informs Stantz’s player that the ghost’s slime has coated the entire floor of the hallway, and that Stantz is now sliding along it, heading right for the big window at the end of the hall! Exit, falling all the way, stage right.
From the Ghostbusters International core book (West End Games, 1989):
You can spend your Brownie Points to increase your chase of success: for every Brownie Point you spend, you can roll one extra die while using one of your Traits or Talents. You must decide to spend a Brownie Point or Points before you roll, not use them to re-roll failed dice. Brownie Points are also lost when you suffer injury, as the Ghostmaster may demand a Point loss from you in order to avoid an otherwise unpleasant fate.
Finally, you can use Brownie Points to alter your fate, even if the Ghostmaster had already decreed it. The only restriction is that you have to describe what actually happens to save your character’s hide. Be colourful, be imaginative, be whacky! If the Ghostmaster is sufficiently impressed and amused, he may tell you how many Brownie Points it costs to save your life. Otherwise, he’ll just grin and watch you become a stain on the rug. A good tip is to keep it short and sweet. The Ghostmaster will never allow the use of Brownie Points for dull, overlong or stupid rationales (or he might still save you from being crushed like a grape, but charge much more than usual).
Example: when we last left Stantz, he was sailing towards the street five stories below. The Ghostmaster informs Stantz’s player that he’s got a one-way ticket to Pancakeville unless he spends Brownie Points. Can the player describe the amazing series of events which save Stantz from certain destruction?
"Well," the player hems, "Stantz hits a clothesline, which slows his fall; then he manages to grab onto a fire escape—but the railing breaks off in his hand! He’s slowed even further by this, though, so when he hits the awning of the Baskin-Robbins store on the street level, the awning sags almost to the ground, then snaps back. Ray is hurled through the window of the motel across the street, where he lands in the heart-shaped tub, spilling water, bubbles, and a honeymooning couple all over the floor."
The Ghostmaster applauds politely and decides that his original estimate of six Brownie Points to get out of this one should be reduced to two. The player spends two of Stantz’s Brownie Points—then groans in dismay when the ever-helpful Ghostmaster informs him that he must now also spend a week in the hospital. "You survived the fall, all right, but the man on honeymoon was a line-backer for the Giants."
You can also gain Brownie Points at the end of adventures, by completing the job for which you are hired. Each job has three likely outcomes:
You fail to get the ghost, or otherwise botch the job: about half the Brownie Points spent during the adventure will be refunded.
You get the ghost or otherwise complete the job: almost all your Brownie Points are returned, perhaps even with one or two extra.
You do an excellent job, save the day, and amuse the Ghostmaster: up to half again your Brownie Points are awarded at the end of the adventure.
You can also gain Brownie Points for acting in-character during the adventure, and for fulfilling your personal goals, as described by the Ghostmaster. If you ever find yourself with 30 Brownie Points you don’t know what to do with, you can buy an additional point to add to one of your Traits and its associated Talent.
Most likely, however, you will find that you never have as many Brownie Points as you want—and sometimes not even as many as you need. If your Ghostbuster doesn’t have enough Brownie Points to avoid a catastrophe, the Ghostmaster may allow you to permanently subtract a point from a Trait in exchange for 20 Brownie Points.
Note that it costs 30 Brownie Points to gain a point in a Trait, but you only get 20 Brownie Points back when you trade in a Trait point. It has something to do with the law of supply and demand.
Example: Egon spends his last Brownie Point to make a five-dice Moves roll to beat a 20. He blows it, and is buried under five feet of sentient Mounds bars. The Ghostmaster rules that, with his puny Muscles of 2, Egon can dig through only two feet of the coconut peril before he suffocates. The Ghostmaster cheerfully informs Egon’s player that unless he has mastered the difficult art of chocolate-breathing, he must spend Brownie Points to get free.
Well, it’s been a long day, and Egon has no Brownie Points left. He’ll have to lose a point from one of his Traits. His player chooses to reduce Egon’s Moves from 4 to 3. His player describes Egon’s desperate struggle to eat through the menace, and is told to spend three to escape. Egon is left with 17 Brownie Points, a Moves of 3, and a stomach full of warm, sticky candy.
Player: Name: in typical Ghostbusters fashion, you will likely be referred to by your surname.
Appearance: you may use a written description or a picture if you wish, so long as your character's appearance is made clear.
Background: does not need to be a novella. Just keep to the important details. An idea of where you came from, how you found out about the new London branch, and your attitude towards paranormal phenomena will suffice.
Brownie Points: automatically start at 20. See the section above on how exactly these marvellous little things work.
The following is a player-character from the first iteration of the campaign, and will not be appearing in this story. He has been featured here in order to help prospective players get a good idea of how a good application works.
Name: Lance-Corporal Richard Devson
Appearance: a Caucasian male in his late-twenties, Richard is well-built. Not overly muscular, but he's clearly gone through a good deal of physical training and keeps up with it. His hair is blonde, and often trimmed very short (practically a military buzz-cut). He usually has a very stern expression, and doesn’t seem to have much of a sense of humour in those blue eyes of his. Top it all off with a preference for military fatigues and/or camo-patterns and you’ve got the very image of a modern soldier trying (and struggling) to fit into civilian life.
Background: Richard always knew where he was going to wind up in life. He was going to be somebody that protected people. While others with similar dreams would probably settle for jobs as a police officer, Richard threw himself into military training, specifically the Territorial Army.
His dedication was impressive, though some felt his ambitions were a touch misguided. Some thought that with his potential he could have a real future with Officers training, but no. Rich wanted to be out there, hands on, working directly with the people. He stayed a soldier through his training, climbing the ranks and reaching Lance-Corporal with ease.
That’s when things took a turn for the worse.
It seemed strange to Richard that his section would be called out to settle what sounded like a civic disturbance. Still, the disappearance of so many people around an abandoned warehouse on the outskirts of London apparently smelled fishy to the higher-ups. Richard was a good soldier, so he followed orders and lead his men into the warehouse to assess just what was going on.
To this day, he’s still not certain exactly what. The only answer he got was "nothing human." He barely managed to rescue one of the missing civilians, and it cost him a member of his team in the process. Afterward, his men and that civilian were far too shocked by the ordeal to truly remember what they saw.
All Richard saw was proof that his life’s dream, noble as it was, was not going to be easy to live up to. Especially with more reports of strange, occult activity flooding the city. Everywhere Richard turned, people were scared. They were vanishing, getting hurt, and he couldn’t do a thing to protect them…
Until the Ghostbusters Initiative was announced – suddenly, a new opportunity presented itself. And as it so happened, the T.A. was chomping at the bit to make sure one of their boys was placed into the team, so it at least looked like they were doing their jobs. Fortunately for Richard, as a Lance-Corporal, he was eligible for the specialised training for the applicants.
Now a member of the new London branch of the Ghostbusters, Richard plans on making sure this team does what it’s been hired to do: protect the people from the phantoms and spooks haunting his city. And keep their superiors updated about their progress. After all, if nothing else, Lance-Corporal Richard Devson is a very good soldier.
Primary Goal: serving humanity.
Fire Weapon: 7
Resist Fear: 5
Last edited by Scorch Orclord; November 26, 2015 at 10:49 AM.