Sunday, November 28, 2021

Back Off Man, I'm A Scientist

The first Ghostbusters campaign I was part of - Ghostbusters: The Home Office - utilized the official Ghostbusters tabletop RPG published by West End Games in 1986. By the time the Ghostbusters International edition of the game came out in 1989, my group had already added house rules which expanded the game quite a bit. This resulted in a game very similar to Star Wars D6, a game which grew out of the Ghostbusters RPG in the first place. 

My second Ghostbusters RPG campaign - Ghostbusters, NJ (aka Ghostbusters Hoboken) - was run with a system I concocted by merging the original Ghostbusters RPG and Memento Mori's InSpectres. Since the two systems are very similar mechanically, the end result is a sort of Ghostbusters RPG Third Edition with a few nifty add-ons. A slightly more refined version of this game was used for two one-shots during the pandemic with the ol' Home Office group and it worked extremely well. 

For my next excursion into Ghostbusters gaming I am adding in some ideas from Free League's ALIEN RPG. Let me break it down for you...

I should begin by pointing out that there will be two types of dice in this game - Action Dice and Stress Dice. Action Dice are standard 6-sided dice and are in use for all rolls other than Stress rolls. 

When a Player Character has Stress, the controlling player of that PC rolls a number of Stress Dice; these should be a different color, size, or whathaveyou from the Action Dice to differentiate between the two. For my games I have custom made Ghost Dice that are black with white pips for the numbers. On the side that would normally have one pip, a 'No Ghost' emblem replaces it.

One of my personal objectives when designing or modifying a system is to be able to run the entire game - or at least as much of it as possible - from the Player Character's record sheets. That is obviously not always possible but it is my goal. I prefer it if the players and myself as Gamemaster rarely need to look anything up in a rulebook during play. To that end, most of the game mechanics for this Ghostbusters system come directly from information on the sheet displayed. 

I'll break it down...

Player: Duh. The Player's name.

Character: The Character's name. 

Background: The key element of the character's life prior to becoming a Ghostbuster that largely defines them. This may be a previous profession or it might be the fact that they were idly rich. Background has the effect of lowering the number of Successes needed to accomplish a task if the PC's Background would apply.

The number of Successes needed is normally reduced to no less than '1' but could be if the GM approves it. For example, if the PC has a Background as a New York City Firefighter, the Gamemaster can simply say the PC's Background allows them to automatically succeed at the task of determining if a building is up to Fire Safety Code. No roll is needed. 

Next of Kin: Ghostbusting is a dangerous job. It is a good idea to note the PC's next of kin or in light of not having one, a friend or other contact to be notified if the PC is hospitalized or worse. Good source for a Player created NPC or follow-up / alternate Character. 

Now we have the four Attributes based on the InSpectres game. Players have 13 starting dice with which to divide up among the Attribute stats. These will be the number of dice rolled when trying to perform any action related to that Attribute. 

Academics: Covers intelligence, knowledge, observation, and your ability to do research and benefit from information sources. Used to spot clues, decipher strange runes, recall historic facts, or figure out what a pattern of pictures might mean. 

Athletics: Physical prowess in the areas of agility, endurance, strength, and activities involving muscle memory. Used to leap from rooftop to rooftop, catch a falling object or person, lift debris off an injured comrade, or keep swimming icy water long enough to reach the dock. 

Technology: The use, construction, and maintenance of electronic and mechanical devices and other equipment. Used to drive the Ecto-mobile, fire the particle throwing Neutrona Wand, fix the boiler in an apartment building, or modify your cell phone for some ill-conceived reason. 

Note: Using a computer falls under Technology unless you are doing research. In that case you can apply Academics. 

Contact: Social ability to communicate, convince, and otherwise deal with people. People can include Ghosts and other non-Human entities. Used to charm a romantic interest, calm a agitated client, convince a security guard to let you in, or distract a supernatural being. 

Note: Each player may also designate one NPC for each die they have in their Contact stat as a 'Contact': a friend or associate whom they are on good terms with. This individual could be a person of some influence but try to avoid making their position too high at the start of the campaign. A PC could know a Cable News Reporter, a Police Officer, an Occult Bookstore Owner, etc. 

Next to each Attribute are two lines for the Player Character's Signature Skills. To be clear, each Attribute has two: The first is at +3 Dice and the second is at +2. Let's say a PC has an Academics of 3 Dice. They could then have two Signature Skills, Best Eats at 6 Dice and Urban Legends at 5 Dice. This is the character to check with when you get a craving for Kati Rolls at 11 pm after capturing a Class III Limited Mobility Repeater. 

Additional Skills: Each PC also receives four skills at +1 Action Die; these skills need not be attached to any particular Attribute. In fact, they may used in conjunction with different skills depending on the circumstances. For example: If a Player Character has the Additional Skill of Helicopters, she could add the +1 to her Academics to recognize a particular model of helicopter or to her Technology to repair damage to a helicopter. 

Yikes. This is going to get long. I think I will break it into a few separate posts. Is that cool? 

OK, right side of the Character Sheet and more mechanics coming soon. 

Who You Gonna Call?

Barking Alien

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