The Springfield Ghostbusters

My son’s rendition of Homer and Bart as Ghostbusters

If you’re like me, you’ve probably spent the week watching Simpsons Halloween episodes with the Ghostbusters Roleplaying Game within reach. Obviously you’d want to put those together, so guess what? I’ve saved you the trouble!

Your Own Simpsons Halloween Special

Let’s use the Ghostbusters rules to bring a Simpsons Halloween episode to the gaming table. The first thing we need is some Simpsons.

Homer

Brains 1 Weasel Out of Things
Muscles 2 Eat Anything
Moves 2 Bowl
Cool 2 Borrow From Flanders

Goal: Eat, Sleep, and Cuddle With Marge

NOTE: If Homer is a player character, you might want to give him 5 more points in Traits, enough to give him the standard total of 12. The other Simpsons already have 12 Traits points. (Yep, even Maggie.)

Marge

Brains 3 Springfield Facts
Muscles 3 Carry Things
Moves 3 Clean
Cool 3 Raise Children

Goal: Keep Family Safe

Bart

Brains 2 Make Mischief
Muscles 2 Fire Slingshot
Moves 3 Ride Skateboard
Cool 5 Fast Talk

Goal: Have Fun

Lisa

Brains 5 Library Science
Muscles 2 Run
Moves 3 Play Saxophone
Cool 2 Debate

Goal: Save the World

Maggie

Brains 4 Escape
Muscles 2 Climb
Moves 2 Pacifier
Cool 4 Attract Attention

Goal: Defeat Her Enemies

Ghostbusters in Springfield?

Sure, why not? Here are a few ways we could bring professional paranormal investigation and elimination to the entertainment capital of this state.

Option 1: The PCs could be the players’ own Ghostbusters, visiting Springfield to take care of some spectral business.

Option 2: The players take the roles of the Simpsons family, who have (in the manner of a Simpsons Halloween special) somehow gotten into the Ghostbusting business. Professor Frink could believably invent ghostbusting equipment (such as his patented De-ghostifier), which the Simpsons could then acquire (along with a power source from Homer’s workplace).

Option 3: Who needs grownups? Bart and Lisa and their friends can get the job done, operating out of their Treehouse of Terror. They’ll need equipment, of course, but Frink could provide it (as above) or Lisa could develop it herself.

What Do Springfield Ghostbusters Do?

Here are a few story seeds for Ghostbusters operating in Simpsons territory.

  • Haunted Milhouse. Bart’s friend Milhouse has died, and his ghost is inhabiting his house. The PCs can trap the poor dead kid, but he reappears in his room the next night—Milhouse is a repeater! If the team wants him to stay gone (so they can get paid), they’ll need to satisfy his Goal: he wants his parents to remarry!
  • Krusty Kult. Springfield sees a spike in its clown population, as numerous clowns arrive to worship Krusty. The object of the clowns’ reverence has been broadcasting a mind-control signal as part of his show, and now he controls a clown army which he intends to use for some nefarious purpose. Will the Ghostbusters make a deal with the devil when they learn that the incarcerated Sideshow Bob knows a way to break Krusty’s kontrol over his kreepy kult?
  • Comic Book Die. Comic book characters are coming to life and causing chaos at the Android’s Dungeon! Luckily, all the animated comic characters are still comic book sized. Less luckily, even the “good guys” in the comics are behaving badly, thanks to a comics crossover event in which Radioactive Man and friends have been replaced by twisted mirror versions (bizarre, eh?). Can the Ghostbusters stop their heroes from wrecking the comic store without doing it themselves with their proton packs? (Pardon me…De-ghostifiers. Glavin!)

Politician Archetype for All Flesh Must Be Eaten

I wrote this years ago for a website that isn’t around anymore (and I’m sorry to say I don’t remember its name). It’s a politician character archetype for All Flesh Must Be Eaten. Last night during the Democratic debate it popped in my head again, so I thought I’d share it.

Image: NBC

Politician

Norm

Str 2 Dex 2 Con 2
Int 3 Per 2 Wil 3
LPs 26
EPs 26
Spd 8
Essence 14

Qualities/Drawbacks
Attractiveness 2 (2)
Charisma 2 (2)
Contacts (Governmental) (2)
Humorless (-1)
Obsession (Political Power) (-2)
Resources (Well-off) (2)
Showoff (-2)
Status 3 (2)

Skills
Acting 3
Bureaucracy 3
Cheating 2
Dodge 1
Guns (Pistol) 2
Haggling 3
Humanities (Political Science) 3
Humanities (Psychology) 3
Notice 3
Seduction 2
Smooth Talking 4
Sport (Golf) 1

Gear
Government I.D. badge, briefcase, smartphone, campaign buttons

Personality
I was on my way to the top–the White House was surely only a few years away. All those years of kissing babies and telling the stupid public what they wanted to hear was finally paying off. I had a house in the ‘burbs, a wife and kids who looked great in the campaign ads, and a chauffeured ride to work every day in a government car.

Then this zombie thing started. At first I didn’t believe the crazy stories that people were telling. I mean, come on! People rising from their graves to eat living flesh? But when I came home to find a rotting corpse munching on what was left of the wife and kids, I realized the truth: my bid for the presidency was going to be delayed.

Now my very survival is a full-time campaign. I’ve managed to form an alliance with a few surviving citizens. It’s strange how something like the dead returning to life can make people from such different backgrounds work together–even those damn liberals. But the world has turned into a new two-party system: the Living and the Dead–and the Dead don’t vote.

Quote
“Put me in charge, my fellow survivors, and I will lead my party to victory!”

GenCon 2015: Games I Played

Wanna hear about some of the games I played at GenCon this year? I hope so, ’cause here they are!

Ghostbusters: The Board Game

Ghostbusters is a cooperative board game with light roleplaying elements. You play as one of the Ghostbusters and undertake different missions. The one we played in the demo game involved one open ghost portal on the board, several weak ghosts, and one tougher ghost (Slimer).

We started in the Ectomobile, and used one of our actions to disembark. We could then move, zap a ghost, clean slime off a teammate, or deposit ghost traps back in Ecto-1. Your number of actions depends on your level, and is reduced by how many times you’ve been slimed.

Each Ghostbuster has his own special abilities and a unique way of gaining XP. (Everyone gains XP by busting ghosts; these are additional paths to XP.) Playing as Ray Stantz, for example, I could gain XP by cleaning slime off my teammates.

Weak ghosts can be captured by a single zap, while tougher ones require the Ghostbusters to score several hits with the containment beam (represented by putting a ringed token on the ghost in your Ghostbuster’s color). After the Ghostbusters have acted, the ghosts move. If a ghost moves through a Ghostbuster’s square, that ‘buster is slimed. Finally, we roll the special die with parapsychology symbols to see if more ghosts emerge from the portal. (I hope they call this the Zener die.)

Most of the game pieces were still in prototype state during the demo, so it’s hard to tell how impressive the final product will be…except that the ghost pieces were pretty nice.

Dungeon Crawl Classics

Jim prepares to destroy us.

My Internet friend James Walls invited me to join his unofficial game of DCC before GenCon started. I’d never played before, and was eager to try it after reading James’s blog posts about running the game–especially his Star Wars: Stormtroopers version where his players were stormtroopers trying to take down a Jedi.

My Three Characters. None survived.

James ran The Well of Souls for the eight of us. We each controlled 3 level 0 characters. We faced ritual sacrifice, animated skeletons, a wicked puzzle we never did solve, and the most dangerous foe: each other. (James added an evil blade to the adventure to mix things up; he describes it in his blog post “The Blade of Eight Souls.”)

In general, I like how RPGs have evolved over time. I’m not one of those gamers who misses the Good Old Days when we rolled up characters randomly and played simplistic scenarios where gaining treasure was more important than roleplaying. But I found DCC charming for some reason, and after our game I had to buy my own copy.

The Strange

Now available for purchase

Though I’ve read The Strange and enjoyed it, I hadn’t had a chance to run or play it until now. I got to play the Mastodon adventure (available for sale now), written by Bruce Cordell and superbly run by a GM named Randy. As it turns out, none of the players in this session had played the game before either.

This session was one of those where the game was even more fun than I’d been expecting. The end of the adventure was set in the Ruk recursion (which is a sort of alternate universe), and while it was cool to read about Ruk, it was even cooler to be there. My favorite thing about The Strange is the way part of your character sheet (and therefore, your abilities) gets replaced when you travel to a different recursion.

The Strange won several ENnie awards at this GenCon (the silver awards for Best Game, Best Setting, and Best Interior Art), which made me even more glad I got to try it out. And the next day, I was fortunate enough to get my rulebook autographed by Monte, Bruce, and Shanna.

Like many things that happened at GenCon this year, this alone made my trip worthwhile.

Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space

Our MVP

I continued my streak of playing Doctor Who: Adventures in Time and Space at GenCon—this year being my second. (Granted, it’s not a long-running streak yet.) The adventure was “The Northern Knights” by Walt Ciechanowski. I won’t describe the plot of the adventure, in case you get a chance to play it. (Also, I was focusing too much on being clever to remember all the plot details.) But I wanted to say a few general things about the game.

My fellow players took the roles of the 12th Doctor, Clara, Madame Vastra, Jenny, and Strax, and I got to play Robin Hood! In my opinion, the MVP was the player controlling Strax. He was hilarious and had a great grasp on the character.

We also had a good GM (Jen). She was cosplaying as Captain Jack. What I noticed most about her was her skill at answering player questions in character. For example, a guard was delivering some expository information to us, and one of the players interrupted to ask a question. Jen kept speaking in the guard’s voice, but shifted his conversation pretty seamlessly to answer the player but still impart some extra information. She was also liberal with handing out story points, which I think made us more likely to try actions we weren’t super-skilled at.

Jen also gave us each two tiny plastic cybermats (adventure spoiler!), which cemented her as my favorite GenCon GM ever.

That’s it for this year’s games! Maybe I’ll play more next year, or maybe I’ll go even deeper into the pool of seminars and play even less. We’ll see!

GenCon 2015: New Releases and Other News

I’m still processing all the Gaming Goodness(tm) I encountered at GenCon last week, but I wanted to go ahead and get this info up first. I’ll bore you about the games I played in a later post.

Lots of companies announced new products or presented other breaking news at GenCon. This isn’t a comprehensive list of GenCon announcements, just the ones I personally witnessed.
Monte Cook Games announced a new series of sourcebooks for Numenera, collectively called Into the Ninth World.

“The first product in this line will be a sourcebook called Into the Night, to be followed up next year with Into the Deep and Into the Outside. Into the Night explores the vast reaches of space beyond the Ninth World, Into the Deep details regions beneath the sea, and Into the Outside peers into ultraterrestrial and interdimensional realms beyond our universe.” – MCG

The Into the Ninth World Kickstarter campaign started on August 5th.
Monte Cook Games seminar
Pinnacle Entertainment Group announced three new product lines. The one I’m most excited about is a Flash Gordon Savage Worlds roleplaying game, which they announced with a cool teaser trailer. Gordon’s alive! The other two are Fear Agent and The Goon, both based on titles from Dark Horse Comics. Pinnacle has posted a video of the Pinnacle GenCon seminar on YouTube.
And Wil Wheaton announced at the Titansgrave Q&A seminar that Tabletop season 4 and Titansgrave season 2 will begin production early next year.

Doctor Who Research in the 1900s

© mamsy / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

I realized today, while researching the Victorian Era on my laptop at lunch, that I’ve been writing Doctor Who adventures since the days when research meant driving to the library to dig up books (using the card catalog system) and news articles (on microfiche). That makes me feel just a little bit like a time traveler myself.