Ask The Readers: Who ya gonna call?

Ghostbusters Recently I have rewatched one of my favorite films: Ghostbusters! Even though the movie is *gasp* 27 years old it has aged surprisingly well. While some of the effects may look a bit outdated the action and humor work as well today as they did in 1984. The 1984 film has not only spawned a sequel but also several computer games and even a pen & paper roleplaying game.

In 1986 West End Games produced the “Ghostbusters: A Frightfully Cheerful Roleplaying Game” boxed set which was followed later by a revised edition called “Ghostbusters International”. The system used in those games was a predecessor of the popular D6 System, which is now available under the OGL. Alas these games have never been a huge success and are out-of-print for many years now.

As it happens quite often, I was wondering whether a Ghostbusters RPG would actually work. As I see it, it may work great for one-shot adventures, perhaps even limited campaigns consisting of only a few sessions, but I have a hard time seeing myself running or participating in a full-blown ghostbusters campaign, at least not without some major changes.

Proton pack So what would be needed to make it work? I think Ghostbusters International already had the right idea. Use the background from the movies and let players create their own Ghostbusters teams. The world is a big place and the guys from New York, can’t be everywhere, so why not start some franchises here and there? This approach let’s players create their own teams but you can still use all the common elements from the technology used to hunt ghosts to the implied background.

Since the Ghostbusters RPGs from WEG are long out-of-print it might not that easy to track a copy down, so most players interested to hunt ghosts must look elsewhere. One game immediately comes to mind: Jared Sorensen’s InSpectres. This indie game has pretty much the same premise as a Ghostbusters game and has a very interesting if unconventional approach to conflict resolution that encourages roleplaying and a narrative play style.

Have you ever thought about running a Ghostbusters game? Or have you even played one of the WEG games back in the day? As always I am very interested in your thoughts on the subject. Please share your thoughts below.

Michael Wolf is a German games designer and enthusiast best known for his English language role-playing games blog, Stargazer's World, and for creating the free rules-light medieval fantasy adventure game Warrior, Rogue & Mage. He has also worked as an English translator on the German-language Dungeonslayers role-playing game and was part of its editorial team. In addition to his work on Warrior, Rogue & Mage and Dungeonslayers, he has created several self-published games and also performed layout services and published other independent role-playing games such as A Wanderer's Romance, Badass, and the Wyrm System derivative Resolute, Adventurer & Genius, all released through his imprint Stargazer Games. Professionally, he works as a video technician and information technologies specialist. Stargazer's World was started by Michael in August 2008.

7 thoughts on “Ask The Readers: Who ya gonna call?”

  1. That WEG Ghostbusters game is interesting for a couple of reasons. It was the debut of what became the D6 System that powered Star Wars and is now open. The system was created effectively by the Chaosium staff (and the dragon logo even appears in the Ghosbusters rulebook!).

  2. I was lucky enough to play the game… Sadly it was not mine and I do not own a copy. We used the Ghostbusters International rules, BUT the GM set up the game in the 1930’s and we fought Cthulhian mythos creatures. It was strange because it was closely modeled on the movies, but despite the humor it got very dark at times. I agree that a more serious game could work. While it is a fond memory, I feel no particular desire to play a Ghostbusters game. All the ghost hunting shows on TV demonstrate there is a space for such games. Interesting idea Michael.

  3. Check out the settings for mini-six. One of them is ghost busters in Victorian England. The idea made me laugh at first but after reading it over I had to run it a few times.

  4. I ran quite a long and very succesful campaign of Ghostbusters with the party setting up their own franchise in London. Lots of the background was based on the Tobin's spirit guide supplement and new spooks were just drawn directly from local mythology (I basically reepated that trick a few years later with Changeling: the Dreaming). They even had to call in the original New York team to help them battle Gog and Magog in what ended up resembling a direct rip off of the Stay puft marshmellow mans march (but with the Big ben tower standing in for the apartment block). I'm not a fan of forcing or planning humour in RPG's and all the scenarios were played straight but with some light hearted slants on some of the monsters, however the players provided a good level of humour on thier own. – Might have to dig it out again ….

  5. I’ve seen some fantastic rules for Ghost Busters Savage Worlds out there. A quick Google search should bring it up. I’d probably end up using that.

  6. I've run a series of Ghostbusters adventures at our local game convention for the past couple years. It's been a blast. The characters and scenarios are generally played straight and the humor comes from the interactions.

    While I was lucky enough to score a copy of the original Ghostbusters box set still in the shrinkwrap off eBay a couple years ago, I use it primarily as a source of inspiration, with GURPS as my system of choice.
    My recent post What Does a GM Do During Character Creation

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