Saturday, April 13, 2024


Welcome to Part II of my Ghostbusters: Tokyo Ghost Research idea, combing the Japanese Doujin TRPG 'Tokyo Ghost Research' with everybody's favorite paranormal investigation and elimination franchise, Ghostbusters. Check out Part I here.

I've decided to create a character for myself to better illustrate Character Creation and gameplay going forward. His name is Taro Ranpo, a homage to famed Japanese mystery writer and literary critic Edogawa Ranpo ( the pen name of Taro Hirai, Born October 21, 1894-Died July 28, 1965). Above you can see his Employee ID/Character Sheet, custom made by yours truly based on Tokyo Ghost Research's sheet.

For Career Type I went with Investigations (which is why I chose a name with a mystery genre reference). I decided to go with the following skills for Ranpo's Skill Set

Distant Impressions/Psychometry (General: Psychic Skill)
The ability to discern information, thoughts, and/or feelings about someone from contact with items or locations they frequently have/have had contact with.

Office Chair Detective (Career Skill)
Reasoning and thinking ability that intuitively derives the truth from collected data. 

Previous Work Experience (General: Origin Skill)
You can make use of your experience, knowledge, and skills from your previous occupation. In this case, 'Manga Writer'. 

Super Search Technique (Career Skill)
Skill that allows you to find and collect the clues and information you need.

Supplied Tablet (General: Item Skill)
A lightweight and sturdy tablet that can withstand communication failures at haunted locations.

As for his Overwork Skill, I thought Butt Wipe would be a good fit. 

Butt Wipe
Timing: Anytime.
Effect: Recovers 1 point of Damage (Any type) for one Employee other than yourself.

With the way Overwork functions in my version of the game, this is a much more useful ability then it is in the RAW Tokyo Ghost Research rules. Being able to remove a single one of damage from one person one time in a 4+ hour session is kind of weak compared to some of the other Overwork Skills.

However, if you can gain and spend Overtime with an increasing cost per usage (1 point for the first use, 2 points for the second, 3 points for the third), this ability becomes a useful but not overly powerful heal. I can see Taro being a guy who acts aloof and like he's 'too-cool-for-school' but actually cares about his friends and watches out for them.

If I could, I might switch out Ranpo's Supplied Tablet for a custom made Item I'd call 'Detective Kit'. I'm seeing it as a bag or box he can attach to his Proton Pack that contains a Magnifying Glass, a Fingerprint kit, etc. Maybe a mundane flashlight. 

OK, now that we have an Employee (PC), let's look at one of the game's most intriguing features - the Task Resolution System or as it is often translated from Japanese TRPGs, the Judgement System:

Essentially all you need to do is roll a single 10-sided die (1D10) and meet or beat a Target Number determined by the Manager. If you are using a Skill, your Target Number is usually between 2 and 8, with 2 being something fairly easy to accomplish and 8 being something very difficult. An extremely difficult or near impossible task might require a roll of 9 or 10.

If you do not have a Skill that covers what you're doing the Manager may decide that you don't need to roll at all. This is the case for most common actions. However, in the case of hard to achieve goals or dramatic instances you roll 1D10 with the Target Number being 10. 

Here's where it gets wild (hold on to your plush Goblins D&D fans - you're NOT ready for this!)...

If you meet or beat the Target Number you succeed but if you don' still succeed! Wha?!? Yes! You Succeed with 'Trouble'. A complication arises; something goes wrong and the situation gets worse. You also take 1 or more points of Damage in one of the three Damage Types [explained below].

Optionally, you, the player, can declare that the action truly fails. This causes you to take 1 point of Damage in any one of the three Damage categories but you gain 1 point of Overtime! As noted, collecting Overtime allows additional uses of your Overwork Skill.

I LOVE this! It is such an interesting design choice on so many levels. It allows more interesting things to result from a die roll beyond just hit or miss, pass or fail. It gives players greater control over the outcome of a roll, which in turn gives them additional future options. It is also a great way to handle PC activities in a comedic game. As the players and their characters go for more daring moves, wackier and wackier things will be happening more and more often. 

This is balanced/off-set by the fact that Damage is taken as a result of both 'Success plus Trouble' and 'True Failure'. With True Failure you only take a single point of Damage to a Damage Category appropriate to the action taken. With Success plus Trouble there is a chart in the game that looks like this:

1 Trouble arises but you escape it! MG identifies the trouble. You explain escape. No damage.
2 You manage to handle the task, but feel very tired. 1 point Physical Damage
3 You hurt yourself while completing the task. 1 point Physical Damage
4 You experience fear, confusion, or stress while completing task. 1 point Mental Damage
5 Situation brings up past traumatic memories. 1 point Mental Damage
6 You damage your personal credibility performing task. 1 point of Environmental Damage
7 You displeased the company or your boss. 1 point of Environment Damage
8 You are so exhausted that you can barely move. 1 Physical Damage + 1 Mental Damage
9 You were injured AND made the company look bad. 1 Physical + 1 Environment
0 The boss was angry, reprimanded you and you found myself in a bad position. 1 Mental Damage + 1 Environment Damage. 

As with most random charts, I'm not a fan of how some rolls simply won't fit some actions, situations, or circumstances. I might simply go with Manager's fiat with player input. That way, the effect of a given activity and resulting Trouble will more accurately reflect the cause. 

With regards to 'Combat' and Damage...

Tokyo Ghost Research doesn't have a traditional Combat system per se. There's no 'To Hit' mechanics, special moves, or anything of the kind. We only have Judgements and a Damage System. That said, when doing anything one rolls 1D10 and tries to beat a Difficulty Number as already noted. Based on this, my thinking is that blasting a supernatural entity with ones Particle Thrower is the same as any other general task. 

I might suggest that the 'Sales' Career should be able to hit opponents with a Difficulty Number between 2-10, while non-Sales personnel would only hit on a 10 [maybe a 9 or 10 in certain circumstances]. Sales is the department that 'deals directly with the ghosts' after all.

If an Employee manages to zap or otherwise effect a paranormal being or condition, I would say they cause it 1 point of Ectoplasm Damage. Unlike Employees, who withstand Physical, Mental, and Environmental Damage, the ghost-types only have Ectoplasm.  Employees can take 3 points of Damage in each category. Ghosts will therefore vary but generally they can take their Classification + 1/2 in Damage (maybe?).  

Based on this, a Class V Full-Roaming Vapor like Slimer would be able to withstand 8 Ectoplasm Damage. Sound good? If the Employees can get the entity up to the half way point - 4 points of Ectoplasm Damage in this case - then they can try to lasso the spook with a 'Catch' or 'Capture' Stream. I'd make it pretty difficult until the PCs did more Damage to the entity. Alternatively, since the Tokyo Ghost Research game setting leans into Psychic Abilities and Exorcisms, perhaps there are ways to weaken a spectral presence besides repeatedly hitting it with a blast of charged protons.

This is an element I've applied to my previous Ghostbusters games already as I've mentioned in prior posts on the subject. Sometimes there are special weaknesses or conditions that can render a ghost easier to catch based on its nature or background. 

A little more about Damage...

In Tokyo Ghost Research you don't have 'hit points' so much as you can take a certain amount of Damage. Most Employees can take 3 points of Damage in each of the three Damage Type categories before something negative happens.

Physical Damage indicates the Employee is exhausted or injured. If you take 3 points of Physical Damage you go unconscious. Again, this might be from blunt trauma, getting the wind knocked out of you, or simply being incredibly tired. 

Mental Damage represents stress, panic, mental exhaustion, and even going mad. When you have 3 Mental Damage points you go a little crazy and do something unstable (freeze in place, run in terror, charge at the giant monster, etc.). Some supernatural beings may try to possess you if you are at 3 or more Mental Damage. 

Environmental Damage is a funny one and not what I initially thought. It represents your standing with the company, your boss, and the status of the company itself. You take Environmental Damage if the boss is cross with you, if you make the company look bad on TV or social media, or if a rival company/service looks better than yours in the public eye. With 3 points of Environmental Damage you might get clean-up duty, docked pay, or get suspended for a couple of days. At the very least, the boss is likely to chew you out. 

At the end of a Scene you can reduce your Physical or Mental Damage by 1 (1 point in a single category) by returning to your vehicle, getting lunch, or other taking a few moments to relax and get yourself together. Environmental Damage cannot normally be repaired this way but if you speak to the boss on the phone and explained what happened, perhaps the Manager will grant you a 1 point heal for good role-playing. 

You can heal up completely by returning to the office (Mental and Environmental), your home (Mental), or the hospital or company infirmary (Physical). As this and the aforementioned short break constitute a change of Scene, all Skills Used are reset to Unused. 

There are a few other elements I could go over but for the most part that's about the gist of things. I like what I have here and honestly, I like Ranpo. I see his backstory as follows:

Taro Ranpo grew up loving mystery stories and enjoyed writing his own in Middle and High School. He was good, if not great. His work was missing something and he knew it, though not what it was. In College he met a young woman named Miku Mochizuki, a very talented artist who worked with Ranpo on a project. Together they put out a Doujin Manga, a supernatural mystery written by Taro and illustrated by Miku, that did quite well at a school faire. 

Not long after the two of them submitted the Manga to a publisher and it was picked up and professionally released. The two made a decent amount of money and planned on doing more but Ranpo was inspired to submit a full length novel he'd been working on for some time. He did and it was rejected. While Ranpo continued to do more Manga with Mochizuki, he also sent his novel manuscript to several other publishing companies to no avail. Before long, his meager success with their Manga but constant disappointments with the novel made Ranpo very depressed. 

One morning, on a whim, Taro applied for a job with Ghostbusters: Tokyo Ghost Research, and much to his surprise he got hired. He informed Mochizuki that he was giving up the Manga and writing, at least for a while. Later that same day, Miku surprises Taro but getting hired as well. She tells him that this was a great idea, a great way to do research for their next series. Realizing his friendship with Mizu was more inspiring than his book rejections were demoralizing, Taro assured her that the two of them would be the best Ghostbusters team ever. 

Hmm. I think I've got a solid idea for a scenario. I might have a surprise for my readers this weekend. 

Barking Alien


  1. I want a copy of this game in English, and I want to play it!

    1. Me too! lol

      While I doubt such a small press title would see translation anytime soon, you never know. As I mentioned not to long ago, LionWing is definitely looking to translate and publish some smaller Japanese games.

      Fingers crossed.