Sunday, January 2, 2022

31 Days / 31 Characters - ALEXANDER D. THORTON

Last month's plethora of Ghostbusters RPG related posts were largely inspired by the release of the Ghostbusters: Afterlife film and the success of the two one-shots I ran (in 2019 and 2020 respectively) featuring the players and PCs from the Ghostbusters campaign we originally ran back in 1986.

Whether he'll take the credit or not, credit is due to my friend Joseph Vitaliano Jr. and his love of the Ghostbusters franchise. It was the perfect storm of meeting Joe in high school, learning of his obsession with the original film, and introducing him to the idea of running and playing a Ghostbusters RPG that united us - Joe, Dave Concepcion, William Corpening, and myself - in a game that has lead to a 36 year friendship (and still going).

While I am taking this opportunity to celebrate his character, Doctor Alexander Dominic Thorton, it should be noted that Joseph was the main Gamemaster (or Ghostmaster) for The Home Office campaign. Dave, Will, and I would pop in for an episode or two here and there but it was Joe as showrunner that provided the glue that kept the ol' firehouse together.

Character: Alexander Dominic Thorton

AKA: Dr. Thorton, the Gentleman Ghostbuster, the Respectable One.

Player: Joseph Vitaliano Jr. 

System: Ghostbusters, The RPG, 1st Edition - West End Games. Modified with Houserules. 
 Ghostbusters: The Home Office

Gamemaster (s): Joseph Vitaliano Jr., David Concepcion, Willaim Corpening, Adam Dickstein. 

Circa: Original Campaign 1986-1989. Returned in 2019 and 2020. Looking forward to future appearances. 

Origins: Joe Vitaliano Jr. is a horror guy. 

He loves horror literature and film, is a fan of Edgar Allen Poe and H.P. Lovecraft, and generally likes his mysteries macabre and his tales terrifying. He runs a mean game of Call of Cthulhu. He also has a wonderful sense of humor and never takes his terror too seriously. 

Combine the Hammer Horror greats like Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee with the comedic genius of Monty Python and you can understand why Joseph felt a proper Paranormal Investigator should be handsome, clever, and of course, British.

Backstory: Alexander Dominic Thorton was born to a wealthy family of British aristocrats distantly related to the English royalty. For most of his early life he lived in relative luxury; he had high tea at fancy tea shops, played cricket, rode the horses his parents owned, and wanted for nothing.

As a young man he attended the best schools and did very well, eventually earning himself a Ph.D in Psychology. Upon graduation he went into the family business, which as far as he could tell involved managing the staff of the various homes they owned and generally being rich.

In his late twenties, Alex inherited a 16th century Summer Cottage in Kent from his Great-Aunt Agatha whom he had not seen in decades. An eccentric old woman who didn't get along with the rest of the family, Agatha had been fond of Alex and although they had not been close in many years, no one in the family was surprised that Agatha left her cottage to her 'favorite nephew'. 

After a mere couple of days in the cottage, Alexander Thorton was convinced the place was haunted. Great-Aunt Agatha had told Alex numerous ghost stories when he was young and often claimed her house was come to 'restless spirits'. After weeks of investigation and attempts at communication, Thorton was at a loss over what to do next. That was until he heard about the American company known as 'Ghostbusters'. 

Gathering evidence of the haunting, Alexander cashed in some assets and flew first-class to New York City. There he met with the Ghostbusters, showed them his findings, and gave them a significant cash donation with the stipulation that they train him to be one of them, a Ghostbuster. They did and he proved to have quite a knack for it. Not only did he return to England to clear out the ghosts of Agatha's Cottage but he went on to establish a Ghostbusters Franchise in London. 

After five years as head of Ghostbusters UK, Thorton was contacted by the original Ghostbusters when they decided to retire from active field operations to run the behind-the-scenes aspects of the business. Dr. Ray Stantz asked Dr. Alexander Thorton to take over at The Home Office.

Dr. Thorton excepted and the rest is history. 

Overview: I love Alexander D. Thorton.

It's fair to say that I love all the characters from the Ghostbusters: The Home Office campaign but Thorton stands out as an excellent example of a Ghostbusters PC made for a long term campaign. My dream would be for Sony Pictures to do a Streaming Series of Ghostbusters and if they do, they could do a lot worse than to have a character like Alex D. Thorton. 

Thanks to the player, Joseph, Dr. Thorton is clever, charming, has a wry, sarcastic sense of humor and yet usually serves as the straight man. He also adds a level of seriousness to the whole thing. Yes, he can be very funny but he is also the one who endorses doing research, has designed a custom Neutrona Wand/Ghost Trap Combo weapon, and he keeps a sharp eye on the status of the Containment Unit, the team's resources and supplies, etc. 

Without Thorton I'd imagine the team could still be comedic. With him they are a group of professionals protecting the world from supernatural threats [while still being comedic]. 

The Highlights:

It's been 36 years since the game was originally run and while I recall a number of the scenarios, trying to pinpoint particular moments after all this time is difficult. 

I do remember one scenario I think of as pure Alexander Thorton. 

A rash of mischievous spirits were the result of a modern day Witch calling upon the entities to teach her greater and greater magics. After they would instruct her on the use of a spell, she would release them from her Summoning Circle in exchange. She thought that meant they would return to the spirit world but instead it set them free on the streets of New York City. It released them - it didn't un-summon them. 

While the rest of the team worked to capture the problematic poltergeists, Dr. Thorton located and confronted the Witch. Finding her attractive, engaging, intelligent, and charming in her own right, Alex tried to flirt with her as he slipped in an explanation of what was happening. The Witch was intrigued by Thorton but doubted his sincerity, certain that he was after something else (perhaps some arcane knowledge). Some of the ghosts were hanging around the Witch's place and started commenting on how handsome he was, how he had a good job, how we seemed so well mannered and educated... 

Soon Thorton and the Witch found themselves surrounded by ghost Yentas. The paranormal busybodies went full gossipy auntie / matchmaker on the two. Amazingly, Thorton turned it around and started to appeal to the ghosts, complimenting them, agreeing with them, etc. With his charm redirected and the spirits on his side, the Witch gave up playing games with Alex - she was outnumbered and out-voted - and they sat down for a nice cup of tea and honest discussion.

Game Info:

Here is the second Ghostbusters Character Sheet for Alexander D. Thorton. It was made based on WEG's Ghostbusters International RPG, the 2nd Edition of the game. There are modifications based on our own houserules.

Here is the current incarnation of Dr. Alex Thorton, with his Character Sheet from my kitbashed Ghostbusters RPG Fan Project. (See November and December 2021 for details or follow the Ghostbusters tag).

You might notice Thorton's Attributes come to 15 dice instead of the 13 starting dice I recommended in my post on Character Creation. Likewise, the Franchise Dice come to 15 as well. This was done to show Alex as a starting character but one reflecting the background of being hired by the home office to replace the original Ghostbusters. 

Finally, no mention of Alex Thorton would be complete without an explanation of his unique weapon, The Quantum Incarcerator. Looking similar though noticeably distinct from a standard Neutrona Wand, the Incarcerator can lasso a ghost with a Capture Stream, then pull into back into the unit were it becomes temporarily held in a Muon Field before being sucked through a tube into a Ghost Trap built right into the side of the Proton Pack. Jokingly referred to as a Quantum Vacuum and Tractor Stream Thrower. 

Whew. OK, where are we off to next?

Next we check in with BLACK ADDER - One of the first known Black Superheroes of the DYNAMOS universe! Once smooth as silk and quick as a cobra, he's now in his 60's, a little out of touch, and a lot out of practice. Which begs the question, "Why did we bring this guy?" Dig it!

Barking Alien


  1. Very nice write up. A London based Ghostbusters team would be pretty cool. Russia could be interesting too...or maybe Hawaii/Pacific Rim?

    1. I like all those ideas, though the Hawaii/Pacific Rim is a whole vibe I had not considered. Wow! That would be cool.