Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Afterlife of The Party

Let's assume this Twinkie represents my normal level of desire to run a Ghostbusters RPG campaign. 

As of now we'd be looking at a Twinkie 35 feet long and weighing 600 lbs. 

That's a big Twinkie. Let me tell you about the Twinkie...

Inspired by the new Ghostbusters: Afterlife film, a good deal of new resources and merchandise connected to it, and my nearly 40 year love affair with the IP, I am totally jazzed to run an ongoing campaign in this setting. 

Here's what I am thinking so far...

Premise: A varied group of Player Characters join up with the world's preeminent Paranormal Investigation and Elimination corporation, setting up a franchise office in their own city.

The campaign would then explore Urban Legends, Ghost Stories, and the Cultural Folklore of the area and local inhabitants. Adventures would focus on both Supernatural Action-Adventure and the personal lives and relationships of the PCs.

I tend to run Ghostbusters with a little less humor than you'd expect and a little more creepiness and pathos.

Map: I am envisioning a Ghostbusters franchise in either Seattle or San Francisco with a narrative centered around the clash between the old and the new and the merger of the classic and the modern at the same time. 

Alternatively, I might go with a location preferable to the group I am playing with, incorporating the character and identity of the region into the narrative. 

The key here is that the Map is the actual, real world map of whatever geographic location we decide to use. This is something I love about Modern Era gaming. There are so many resources for real world maps - from Road Atlas' and travel books to Google Maps and so much more. The added sense of immersion and realism can't be beat. 

Conceit: There are three primary Conceits for the kind of Ghostbusters game I want to run. 

The first is the Conceit of The Ghostbusters Universe Setting: Ghosts exist, they are often dangerous, and there are individuals with the mental fortitude, scientific aptitude, and earnest determination to deal with them. At the same time, these individual may be completely out of their depth in other aspects of daily life in our present day civilization. More on this in a later post. 

Conceit number two is the Conceit of Narrative Resource Management. This won't be a game about making money but making money is definitely part of the game. The Ghostbusters are heroes but it's also a job. Part of the magic of the original Ghostbusters concept is that initial main characters - Venkman, Stantz, and Spengler - are trying to pursue their research in the paranormal while simultaneously trying to monetize it. Zeddemore comes in later because he's looking for work and the Ghostbusters are so inundated they hire him on the spot.

The point of the matter is that I'm not looking to have the players do a lot of bookkeeping and be more worried about their finances than they are solving the case their on. However, there is a Resource Management rule mechanic from InSpectres I use called Franchise Dice. Franchise Dice are rolled to determine if the PCs have a given Resource when its needed. These dice can go up and down based on how the Franchise is doing. I connected it to in-game dialogue wherein the Ghostbusters charge their clients for services rendered but lose money (and potentially Franchise Dice) when paying for excessive damage they may have caused. Remember, "No job is too big, no fee is too big."

Lastly, the third and final Conceit is the More Horror Less Humor Conceit. This campaign is definitely going to have comedy in it but making it a Humorous RPG campaign isn't my end goal. The Joke dial will be turned down a few levels, the Creepy-Spooky dial turned up a notch or two, and the Action-Adventure dial left pretty much where it is. 

Now, would it be a Sandbox or 'Storybox' approach?

Well...the short, technical answer is 'Yes' but perhaps not at first. The series will likely begin with the team getting calls to action from NPCs, receiving jobs from GM generated clients. As the game goes on, I hope to encourage players to explore and investigate elements of the setting on their own in addition to solving mysteries and fighting spectres. Expanding the group's Headquarters, inventing or modifying Ghostbusting technology, doing research on older, unsolved cases, or looking into the backstory of your character will be endeavors PCs can and should spend time doing in addition to investigating a call from the Sedgewick Hotel.

I have a lot of other things to say on the subject, some of which are related to a 'bigger picture' view of what I want out of a game. A recent post by JB of B/X BLACKRAZOR gave me a clearer perspective on the how I would handle my next Ghostbusters campaign. 

Looking for to sharing this with you in my next post. In the meantime, a want to wish those who celebrate it a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Barking Alien


  1. Happy Thanksgiving to you, too! Good luck with the campaign planning. :)