Cypher System Ghostbusters

This is post number 28 in the series “31 Days of Ghostbusters,” a celebration of the franchise’s return to the big screen.

Since the Ghostbusters RPG is long out of print, some wannabe Ghostmasters and Ghostbusters players might want an alternate game system to use for their paranormal adventures. Some might also prefer a game designed more recently that brings some fresh ideas to the ghostly gaming table. One option for such gamers is using one of the games I mentioned in my earlier post, “Ghostbusters: The Next Generation.” Another option is what I’m presenting today: using the Cypher System to moderate your Ghostbusters game.

For the purposes of this post, I am assuming that you are familiar with the Cypher System (as presented in the Cypher System Rulebook by Monte Cook Games), but that you aren’t necessarily familiar with the Ghostbusters RPG. I’ll mention the latter from time to time for comparison purposes, mostly targeted to players who ARE familiar with it, but it’s not necessary to know how the old classic worked to enjoy Ghostbusters in the Cypher System. And if you don’t know the Cypher System, reading its rulebook will teach you about how it works better than I could here.

(Note: Before writing this, I saw that the prolific 3rd party Cypher System publisher Ryan Chaddock posted an article about using the Cypher System for running a Ghostbusters game. I’m intentionally avoiding reading it until I get this posted so that his (surely excellent) ideas don’t influence mine—or worse, convince me I didn’t need to do this because his is awesome. After this is online, I’ll happily read his and see if it inspires modifications to the below.)


All page references are to the Cypher System Rulebook (CSR).

Using the Cypher System Rules to Run a Ghostbusters Game

General Rule Changes

The Ghost Die

Although the Ghost Die is a fun part of the Ghostbusters RPG, I recommend we drop it for the Cypher System version. Here are my reasons:

  1. The Cypher System uses a d20 for actions, not a d6.
  2. Even if the system did use a d6 for actions, the Ghost is on the 6, which is the opposite of the way the Cypher System treats a 1 as a special failure.
  3. In the Cypher System, the GM doesn’t roll dice, which would eliminate the way that adversaries get a bonus when the Ghostmaster rolls a ghost.

Luckily, the Cypher System already has a system in place that does generally the same thing as the Ghost Die: GM intrusions. Compare these scenarios…

Ghost Die:

  • A Ghostbuster rolls a Ghost while trying to zap an apparition. The GM rules that the shot misses and knocks out the lights, adding a combat complication.
  • The Ghostmaster rolls a Ghost during a spectre’s attack on a Ghostbuster. She decides that not only does the Ghost succeed in sliming the poor sucker, the slime also makes the Ghostbuster slip and begin sliding toward the nearby stairs.

GM Intrusions:

  • A Ghostbuster is trying to zap an apparition, and either rolls a 1 or the GM decides before the roll that it’s time for something new to happen. The GM announces a GM intrusion, giving the player the option of taking the complication or paying to get out of it.
  • During a spectre’s attack on a Ghostbuster, the Ghostmaster decides to make things more interesting. She announces a GM Intrusion on the Ghostbuster; if the player doesn’t spend XP to avoid the intrusion, his character will find himself sliding toward those stairs.

Ghost Die coolness aside, I prefer the way the latter works. The GM has more direct influence over the narrative, and at the same time the players have control over whether they want to take a complication or buy their way out of it.

Brownie Points

In the Ghostbusters RPG, Brownie Points served as a combination of damage points, experience points, and plot-manipulation points. Since the Cypher System already uses experience points for the latter two purposes, and it has a damage point system, I believe we can safely do without Brownie Points. (Having said that, if you want to call your Cypher System XP “Brownie Points,” go for it!)


In Cypher System Ghostbusters, you can choose a Goal just as you would in the Ghostbusters RPG. For our purposes, though, the choice will only influence how you play your character, and possibly how your Ghostmaster chooses to reward you with experience points. It will not give you extra Brownie Points, obviously, since this game doesn’t have those. (Except in their function as experience points, as we discussed above.)

The Goals in the Ghostbusters RPG were Fame, Serving Humanity, Sex, Soulless Science, and Wealth. You don’t need much elaboration to figure out how each of these would influence your character’s actions. Feel free to create your own Goals as well. (I’ve provided some in a post about new goals for Ghostbusters.)


For a Ghostbusters game, I recommend you use the Cypher System’s Shock rule (page 261) but not Horror Mode (page 262). The Shock rule helps emulate those moments when terrified characters freeze, scream, run away, or otherwise lose control temporarily. Horror Mode—creating a mounting sense of horror—seems more appropriate for a straightforward horror game, rather than a Frightfully Cheerful one.


Ghostly Characteristics
In the Ghostbusters RPG, a ghost had two key characteristics: Power and Ectopresence. Power was its strength of will, representing how much effect it could have on the world. Ectopresence was the spook’s physical (or perhaps metaphysical) form, measuring how much damage it could take—once a ghost’s Ectopresence was reduced to zero it could be trapped.

In the Cypher System, we’ve already got these under different names. A ghost’s level takes the place of power, and its health takes the place of ectopresence. (Again, like with Brownie points, feel free to keep the Ghostbusters terms for these characteristics.) Here are some samples of how this would work:

  • When a ghost tries to possess a PC, the player rolls an Intellect defense with a difficulty of the ghost’s level.
  • When a ghost tries to slime a PC, the player rolls a Speed defense with a difficulty of the ghost’s level.
  • When a Ghostbuster tries to shoot a ghost, the player rolls an attack vs the ghost’s level. If this is successful, the ghost loses health (i.e. ectopresence) equal to the weapon’s damage.

An implication of this handling of how ghosts take damage is that, unlike in Ghostbusters where one hit resulted in one point of ectopresence loss, in this system ghosts will take different amounts of damage under different circumstances. One reason for this is that, as you’ll see later in the Equipment section, different Ghostbuster weapons deal different amounts of damage. (This is to give some variety in the feel and utility of the equipment detailed in the new Ghostbusters film.) In addition, some character abilities enable a player character to deal more damage than usual. With these two factors combined, it’s possible that a spook who could withstand several hits in the Ghostbusters RPG would be out of health in a single shot, if the Ghostbuster uses a powerful weapon paired with an effective ability.

I believe the simplest solution to this is to just add whatever health you want to the ghosts you create, keeping in mind that each hit from the basic proton pack deals 6 points of damage.

Remember, too, that some powerful ghosts simply can’t be weakened enough to trap. In these cases, ignore the ghost’s health rating. The only way it can be beaten is through story reasons, by finding out some alternate way to eliminate the entity.

Ghostly Powers
Listing all the ghostly abilities from the Ghostbusters RPG is beyond the scope of this article, but you should be able to give your Cypher System spooks any abilities you can imagine using rules similar to the ones you’ll find in the CSR’s Creatures chapter (page 274).

Creating Your Ghostbuster

Building a Ghostbuster in the Cypher System happens the same way it does for characters in other genres: you’ll pick a character type, descriptor, and focus. In this section we’ll look at some ways to tweak the CSR’s choices of those components to give a distinctly Ghostbustery feel.


In addition to the skill list on page 20, the following skills might be useful to Ghostbusters:

  • Bureaucracy
  • Exorcism
  • Hoaxes
  • Occult
  • Parapsychology
  • Psychic History
  • Seances
  • Stage Magic
  • Tracking
  • UFOlogy

(Remember that only special cases such as character type abilities allow a character to add a skill in attack tasks; this is why “Firing Proton Pack” isn’t in the list above.)

Character Type

I recommend a few changes to the Cypher System’s character types.

The Warrior would require the most changes, being heavily focused on melee attacks (which won’t help much against ghosts). I advise skipping this type for Ghostbusters, though you could also replace its less-paranormal abilities with those from a different Flavor (discussed further below), or assume that new Ghostbuster tech such as the Proton Glove counts as a melee attack.

The Adept type would be best reserved for campaigns that allow weird PCs, such as psychics, ghosts, aliens, or especially gonzo mad scientists. If the Ghostmaster wishes to allow one of these, she and the player should work out which abilities are allowable and appropriate for a paranormal Ghostbuster.

This type, and the Speaker (covered next), are much better fits for Ghostbuster PCs. To better capture the feel and needs of a Ghostbusters game, I recommend you replace the Explorer abilities at the following tiers with a selection from either the Technology Flavor (page 53) or the Skills and Knowledge Flavor (page 61). Most of the abilities I suggest ditching are those that focus on melee attacks (ineffective against most Ghostbuster threats) and armor (not a standard item of Ghostbuster fashion).

Tier 1

  • Bash (melee). Suggested replacement: Tinker (page 54).
  • No Need for Weapons, because unarmed attacks probably won’t often help. Suggested replacement: Investigative Skills (page 61).
  • Practiced in Armor. Suggested replacement: Tech Skills (page 54).

Tier 3

  • Experienced With Armor. Suggested replacement: Improvise (page 62).

Tier 6

  • Mastery With Armor. Suggested replacement: Skill With Attacks (page 62).
  • Spin Attack (melee). Suggested replacement: Skill With Defense (page 62).

Note that many Speaker skills target “intelligent creatures”; these will not affect mindless ghosts, and the GM may determine whether they affect intelligent ghosts.

The Speaker type is, out of the box, pretty good at rendering a character like Venkman. However, as with the Explorer, we’re providing a few suggested ability changes for the following tiers:

Tier 2

  • Practiced in Armor. Suggested replacement: Understanding (page 62).

Tier 3

  • Mind Reading, because this one is a bit too paranormal for a basic human. Suggested replacement: Flex Skill (page 62).

Tier 5

  • Experienced With Armor. Suggested replacement: Read the Signs (page 62).

Tier 6

  • Shatter Mind. Suggested replacement: Skill With Defense (page 62).


The Cypher System Rulebook uses Flavors as a tool for customizing character types for particular genres and settings. I used them in the previous section to customize the Explorer and Speaker character types using the Technology Flavor and the Skills and Knowledge Flavor. If you want to make further changes along these lines, I recommend the following flavor abilities as most appropriate for a Ghostbusters character.

Full List of Ghostbusters-Appropriate Flavor Abilities

From the Technology Flavor (page 53)

  • Tier 1: Hacker
  • Tier 1: Tech Skills
  • Tier 1: Tinker
  • Tier 2: Machine Efficiency
  • Tier 5: Jury-Rig

From the Skills and Knowledge Flavor (page 53)
(Note: this is simply the list of every Skills and Knowledge ability; all are appropriate.)

  • Tier 1: Interaction Skills
  • Tier 1: Investigative Skills
  • Tier 1: Knowledge Skills
  • Tier 1: Physical Skills
  • Tier 1: Travel Skills
  • Tier 2: Extra Skill
  • Tier 2: Tool Mastery
  • Tier 2: Understanding
  • Tier 3: Flex Skill
  • Tier 3: Improvise
  • Tier 4: Multiple Skills
  • Tier 4: Quick Wits
  • Tier 4: Specialization
  • Tier 5: Multiple skills
  • Tier 5: Practiced With Light and Medium Weapons
  • Tier 5: Read the Signs
  • Tier 6: Skill With Attacks
  • Tier 6: Skill With Defense


The following descriptors are especially appropriate for Ghostbusters.

  • Brash
  • Calm
  • Charming
  • Clever
  • Clumsy
  • Craven
  • Doomed
  • Impulsive
  • Inquisitive
  • Intelligent
  • Mad
  • Mechanical
  • Mystical
  • Skeptical
  • Weird

These descriptors, on the other hand, would be inadvisable for either practical or thematic reasons:

  • Cruel
  • Dishonorable
  • Foolish
  • Rugged
  • Vengeful


Use the Modern/Horror list (page 92) with the following exceptions.

Foci marked with an asterisk are allowed “only if the setting has a supernatural element.” For us, that means only if the Ghostmaster wants to allow a PC to be a weirdo like a medium or ghost or something (as discussed above under the Adept character type).

Hunts Outcasts could be especially useful to a Ghostbuster by choosing “ghosts” as the type of outcasts hunted. Two of this focus’s abilities (Outcast Tracker and Outcast Disruption) seem paranormal in nature, but if you don’t want to allow that, you could always assume they are equipment-based.

Is Licensed to Carry can easily be repurposed as Is Licensed to Collide by replacing “gun” with “proton pack.” (Also known as a “positron collider,” okay?)

Masters Weaponry might also be useful for proton-based weaponry, from the proton pack to the ghost chipper to the proton glove.

Needs No Weapon and Throws With Deadly Accuracy, on the other hand, would have limited utility against the supernatural due to their reliance on unarmed attacks and thrown weapons, respectively.

Wields Two Weapons at Once brings to mind Holtzmann’s slow-mo ghost smackdown at the climax of Ghostbusters (2016). Just remember that if your Ghostbuster usually has two proton guns in her hands, she won’t be as effective at other tasks, such as Conducts Weird Science.


Here’s the pertinent in-game info for the Ghostbusters’ main equipment. I’ve skipped the items in Ghostbusters that weren’t strictly ghost-hunting gear. With one exception, for tradition.

You could rule that all ghostbusting equipment be handled under the artifact rules, but I didn’t go that route. The paranormal equipment below (PKE meter, proton pack, etc) is certainly non-standard among the general population, but Egon and Holtzmann and your team’s technical expert are capable of building, maintaining, and repairing them.

In the following tables, items marked P deal physical damage, items marked E deal ectoplasmic damage, an items marked P/E deal both.

Light (1 point of Armor)
Ghostbusters uniform
Light (2 points of Damage)
Proton Glove (P/E) Melee or short range attack
Swiss Army Knife (P)
Medium (4 points of damage)
Retractable Proton Sidearm (P/E)
Heavy (6 points of damage)
Proton Pack (P/E) Inaccurate: attack difficulty is increased by one step
Ghost Chipper (E) Can affect all entities with health 6 or less within short range (roll attack on each)
Ghostbusting Equipment
PKE Meter Asset to paranormal tracking and analysis tasks
Aura Video-Analyzer Asset to detecting lies, discerning mood, or determining possession in the wearer
Ectomobile Level 3
Ecto-Visor Fancy name for night-vision goggles
Infrared Camera Useful for capturing images of invisible ghosts
Secret Tomes of Occult Lore Each provides an asset to one or more subject areas, such as occult, parapsychology, or New Jersey hauntings.
Walkie talkies Useful even in the era of smartphones
Other Equipment
Beach Kit Makes a trip to the beach more fun. Asset to resisting sunburn.

Equipment Cards

I’m afraid I can’t provide equipment cards with this post. What kind of wizard do you think I am? I do like the cards, though, so I encourage you to make your own if you like this kind of thing. You can find printable Ghostbusters equipment card PDFs online, though they probably contain rules for the original Ghostbusters RPG. So make your own (and then send me a link so I can share them with everyone)!


The Cypher System Rulebook describes two ways of presenting cyphers in a game: manifest cyphers (which are physical items such as gadgets or injections) and subtle cyphers (which are more abstract, representing innate or hidden manifestations such as blessings, inspiration, and good fortune). Both can work for a Ghostbusters game.

Manifest cyphers for Ghostbusters might be smartphone apps, passages from occult tomes, or experimental gadgets. Subtle cyphers could be hunches, words of power, encouragement from a teammate, or simple dumb luck.

Sample Ghostbusters Cyphers

Bucker Upper
Level: 1d6
Manifest example: Pill
Effect: For the next 24 hours the user gains an asset on all tasks involving resisting fear

Detonation (Ectoplasmic)
Level: 1d6
Manifest example: High-tech hand grenade that can be thrown out to short range
Effect: Explodes in an immediate radius, dealing ectoplasmic damage equal to the cypher’s level.

Ectoplasmic Barrier
Level: 1d6 + 4
Manifest example: A page from a book that must be torn out and thrown
Effect: Creates an immobile plane of solid force up to 20 feet by 20 feet that prevents the passage of physical or ectoplasmic objects or entities.

Possession Shield
Level: 1d6 + 2
Manifest example: Tin-foil hat
Effect: Provides the wearer with an asset to resisting possession for the next 24 hours

Slime Cleaner
Level: 1d6
Manifest example: Tube of aerosol spray
Effect: Evaporates all ectoplasm in a 5-foot radius.


Classic Ghostbuster Foes

Luckily, it’s easy to create adversaries of any type in the Cypher System–and that includes ghosts. First, let’s look at some creatures already in the CSR that we might use in a Ghostbusters game.

We’ll start with the humble ghost (page 293). It is level 4 with a health of 12, which means it’s not too tough and can be incapacitated by two blasts from a proton pack. As written in the CSR, the ghost is immaterial and has a freezing touch and a terrorize attack. This is a good way to represent a Class III or IV apparition.

The demon (page 284) should work well for a possessing ghost (such as Rowan in Ghostbusters 2016, though he’d be much tougher). As presented here, the demon is immaterial and can fly and possess humans. Alternatively, it can inflict necrotic damage on a foe. In Ghostbusters terms, this level 5 health 25 foe might be better known as a Class III, IV, or V possessor, depending on its form.

Devils (page 285) might be useful as minions of major entities, or perhaps as mischievous imps. They can fly but they’re not etheral, and like the ghost, they’re level 4 with a health of 12. If you make one of these creatures immaterial instead, it would make a fine Class V vapor.

Another non-ethereal foe is the skeleton (page 314), a fragile level 2 foe with a 6 for health. In addition to representing a classic physical horror, these stats could represent other low-level foes such as animated furniture or a haunted suit of armor.

One option for representing a Class VII metaspectre is the kaiju (page 300). It’s a good template for a giant hulking monster that deals out lots of property damage. This beast is level 10 with 140 health and 5 points of Armor; it deals out lots of damage and heals quickly.

Other Baddies

Your Ghostbusters might have to face off against a djinni (page 286), perhaps catching it while it tries to fulfil the wish of an immoral mortal. Elementals (page 289) and Golems (page 298) are also roughly within the Ghostbusters’ field of expertise. If your game needs an alien, the greys (page 299) are ready to serve. The neveri (page 305) would be useful as a Lovecraft-style horror. For a paranoid-flavored Ghostbusters adventure, let the team discover that people are being replaced by replicants (page 311). And a few other classic options would probably feel at home in a Ghostbusters game: the vampire (page 323), werewolf (page 329), and zombie (page 333).

Keep in mind, though—especially when using Cthuloid or traditional horror monster stats—that in a Ghostbusters game we’re going for a mix of comedy and horror, so you may need to adjust a monster’s abilities accordingly. Ghostbusters isn’t a world where people get their flesh eaten by zombies; it’s a world where creatures puke slime on hapless heroes and step on churches. In other words, ix-nay on the esh-eating-flay.

The Ghostbusters

Finally, here’s my interpretation of the Ghostbusters as they’d be represented in the Cypher System. I’d be happy to see your versions in the comments!

Raymond Stantz, a Kind Explorer who Solves Mysteries
Peter Venkman, a Brash Speaker who Entertains
Egon Spengler, a Learned Explorer who Conducts Weird Science
Winston Zeddemore, a Skeptical Explorer who Never Says Die

Erin Gilbert, a Perceptive Explorer who Would Rather be Reading
Abby Yates, a Driven Explorer who Hunts Ghosts
Jillian Holtzmann, a Weird Explorer who Conducts Weird Science
Patty Tolan, an Inquisitive Speaker who Looks for Trouble
Kevin Beckman, a Foolish Explorer who Doesn’t Do Much

Ghostbusters RPG Resources

This is post number 27 in the series “31 Days of Ghostbusters,” a celebration of the franchise’s return to the big screen.

This month I’ve come across a lot of good material on the Internet about Ghostbusters in general and the RPG in particular. Now it’s time to share!

This is not a comprehensive list of online Ghostbusters resources; these are just the ones that jumped out at me or that came to my attention during this 31 Days of Ghostbusters.

Having said that, if I’ve left off a resource you’d like to recommend, please give me the details in the comments.

RPG Material

Ghostbusters RPG subreddit
The Reddit community is also feeling Ghostbusters fever, because someone there has started a new Ghostbusters RPG subreddit. Here you can talk to other gamers engaging in Ghostbusters roleplaying, either in the original system or a more modern conversion. (Thanks, Ryan!)

Nerdy Show Network
In addition to the other general nerdy podcasts, news, and merchandise available at the Nerdy Show Network, they feature some specific Ghostbusters love. They have a podcast, Ghostbusters Resurrection, which I’ll describe down in the Podcasts section. In addition to selling Ghost Dice (discussed in the next section), the Nerdy Show store also sells their own custom equipment and character ID cards—or you can download a print & play version.

When There’s Something Strange by Ryan Chaddock
Prolific third-party Cypher System publisher Ryan Chaddock recently posted his take on using the Cypher System for a Ghostbusters game. Because I’m writing up something similar for a post later this week, I haven’t read his yet–I want our efforts to be as unique as possible! But I’m really looking forward to seeing how he handled it.

Ghost Dice

Nerdy Show Ghost Dice
I mentioned the laser-etched Ghost Die from Nerdy Show previously (in my Ghost Die post), and now mine have arrived. I love them, and highly recommend them.

3D Printed Ghost Dice
My friend (D&D adventure writer Kerry Jordan) pointed me to another source for Ghost Dice, this one by runcibleshaw on Shapeways. Two varieties are available, one that looks hollow and the other solid. (It’s hard to make out the details for certain.) Kerry and I haven’t tried these dice, so don’t know whether to recommend them. If you try them out, please let me know!

Research Material

Setting Material (“In-Universe”)

These sites offer material about the fictional elements of the movies and shows—info about the characters, technology, ghosts, locations, etc.

This site holds a virtual encyclopedia of details about the Ghostbusters, their history, their equipment, and more. It also includes a timeline of the movies and both animated series. In addition to the resource section, Ectozone has news, fan fiction, and artwork.

Ghostbusters International
In addition to featuring a good news page, Ghostbusters International presents a lot of material from an in-universe perspective, as if you were looking at the actual website of a paranormal elimination company. They’ve got info on equipment, publications, and franchising. My favorite feature is their collection of links to other, regional fan sites, such as Ghostbusters London. Also, on this site you can get some info on the out-of-print Ghostbusters RPG.

Ghostbusters Wiki
I’ve referenced this one a lot this month! It’s the Wikia site for Ghostbusters info, accurately billed as  “The Compendium of Ghostbusting.” Need to know all the appearances of the Necronomicon in Ghostbusters episodes or games? It’s here.

Paranormal Studies Lab
This site, apparently hosted by Columbia Pictures, has cool images and schematics of the new Ghostbusters equipment.

Real-World Material

These sites are more non-fiction, including news about the movies and shows, product reviews, fan forums, things like that.

Ghostbusters Fans
A comprehensive site for info and discussion about the films and TV series plus their related publications, toys, and more. Ghostbusters Fans has a useful news page, plus a forum, fan art, and even a store with merchandise and costume parts.

Ghostbusters HQ
This site focuses more on news and reviews, and does a good job of it. It’s also the home of the Ghostbusters Interdimensional Crossrip Podcast, detailed below.

Ghostbusters News
As the title might have made you guess, this is another site with an emphasis on news, broken down by category (including “games” and “toys”). It’s also got a sweet t-shirt store.

Proton Charging
This is a long-running Ghostbusters news site that seems to have migrated to Facebook.

Spook Central
This comprehensive site features tons of detailed information about the original films and animated series, right down to episode guides, details about the soundtracks, and merchandise info.



Ghostbusters Resurrection
This production from the Nerdy Show consists of two seasons of actual-play RPG sessions, enhanced by music and sound effects from the movies.


I haven’t listened to these, so I’m including their iTunes descriptions to summarize them.

Cross the Streams
“This program is hosted by three of the most outrageous and obsessed Ghostbuster fans which are referred to as Ghostheads. Each episode contains interviews with those who have worked within the Ghostbusters franchise in some way, shape or form. We at times branch out and talk 80’s pop culture and our own personal lives.”

The Ghostbusters Interdimensional Crossrip Podcast
“A podcast on everything Ghostbusters by two long-time fansite webmasters Troy Benjamin (of Ghostbusters HQ) and Chris Stewart (of Proton Charging). Join us for in-depth analysis of the latest news, commentary on goings on, and interviews with some familiar faces.”

This Week in Ghostbusters
“Two guys (Don Dudding and Ryan Hill) apparently have nothing else to do but speculate over the possibilities of a new Ghostbusters movie while waxing nostalgically over the original two films (and their stars, their various cartoon versions, and anything else related to Ghostbusters). Funny and awkward in all the right ways. Leave a comment, and they’ll probably talk about it on the show.”

Secret Tomes of Occult Lore

This is post number 26 in the series “31 Days of Ghostbusters,” a celebration of the franchise’s return to the big screen.

A game of Ghostbusters is very different from a game of Call of Cthulhu. In one, the heroes dress as flappers, and in the other, sanitation workers. One is a game of horror comedy, where the other is horror that turns to comedy when a character bombs a sanity roll, grabs an axe, and chases his allies up a tree. But they do have two things in common: entities beyond the ken of mortals, and performing research to learn about such entities.

The following is a collection of paranormal reference books useful to Ghostbusters. Most were mentioned in the original film, one was introduced in the Real Ghostbusters animated series, at least one was added in the RPG, and the last two are from the 2016 film.

In-game, a Ghostbuster would read (or more likely reference) one of these books when searching for clues about a particular paranormal problem. Each entry lists the general area of knowledge a reader might learn about in that book. Sometimes the Ghostmaster will provide the clues automatically to a player who thinks to read the appropriate book; in other instances the book might provide bonus dice to a task involving that domain. (For example, reading up on gremlin worshippers in the Roylance Guide could impart +2 dice to characters attempting to impersonate these cultists and gain access to their next meeting.)

Tobin’s Spirit Guide

This is the first stop for most Ghostbusters who want to learn more about a specific ghost or type of ghost. Did a tupperware container just spit out a customer’s soup and scream, “Your offering displeases Joffo! Joffo is not to be trifled with!” Then you might want to look up “Joffo” in Tobin’s Spirit Guide. Performing research using the Guide can impart clues about a specific ghost, or help a Ghostbuster identify such.

(Note: At least two published versions of Tobin’s Spirit Guide exist in the real world. One is a supplement for the Ghostbusters International RPG, published in 1989 by West End Games and containing information and game stats for ghosts from around the world. The other is a beautiful hardcover by Erik Burnham that came out this year, giving details and creepy illustrations of ghosts from the original movies plus some original creations.)

Roylance Guide (to Secret Societies and Sects)

Are you being bugged by weird robed men and women worshipping your car? Do you frequently catch strangers following you, but trying not to look like they’re following you, and you sometimes overhear them whispering that you’re the “chosen one?” Tired of having goat’s blood thrown on you by cultists? Then turn to the Roylance Guide and figure out who these freaks are and what they want. (Then make sure they never, never, EVER get their wish. If you like living on a planet that’s undevoured.) Read the Roylance Guide for information about (you guessed it) secret societies and sects.

Spate’s Catalog of Nameless Horrors and What to Do About Them

Don’t make the rookie occultist’s mistake of thinking this book is useful for finding entities that you haven’t found a name for. That just means you haven’t done enough research in the OTHER books. No, Spate’s Catalog is where you turn when you’re investigating a Great Old One, or an Elder God, or some other Really Nasty Bad Guy. Will the book tell you the monster’s weak point, its Achilles’ Heel, its Death Star Exhaust Port? If you’re lucky. But even if you’re not, you’ll be able to learn more details about exactly HOW you and the rest of the world are going to die. Studying Spate’s Catalog can give clues about Class VII metaspectres and other such high-powered entities.

The Big Book of Occult Lore by Fredde

Fredde’s massive compilation of paranormal knowledge gather from around the world is invaluable for those cases when you don’t know who or what is responsible for the problem at hand. Did a word just appear on a kindergarten class wall written in ectoplasm? This is the book you’ll use to look it up. Referencing this encyclopedic work will reveal clues about general paranormal phenomena, such as UFOs, astral projections, mental telepathy, ESP, clairvoyance, spirit photography, telekinetic movement, full trance mediums, the Loch Ness monster and the theory of Atlantis.

The Ghostbusters Handbook by Stafford, Petersen, and Willis

Where Tobin’s Spirit Guide provides details on known ghosts, the Ghostbusters Handbook published by Ghostbusters, Inc. serves as a more basic primer on ghostly classifications (including the ghostly classes (I through VII) and all known paranormal properties (from anchored to vaporous). Just as important, according to Ghostbusters, Inc., are the chapters on safety methods, benefits, and HR policies. Reading the Handbook can provide clues about basic ghost types and their abilities.

Magicians, Martyrs, And Madmen by Leon Zundinger

“MMM” is the book to grab when you need to learn more about an individual human threat. You won’t find stage magicians in here—unless they’re also true mages—but you will find wizards, mediums, cult leaders, mad scientists, sorcerers, prophets, and other powerful individuals of varying sanity levels. Flip through this book when you need a clue about such a weirdo.

Necronomicon by Abdul Alhazred

This feared and despised book is often sought out by insane cultists or those who want to stop them (such as Ghostbusters). A character might be able to reference the copy at Miskatonic University in Arkham, Massachusetts, though the book has a storied history of going missing. Even if a Ghostbuster does get his hands on the book, reading or even possessing the book can come with its own set of problems, including but not limited to increased regional ectoplasmic energy, temporary possession, memory loss, memory gain, power outages, and mysterious illnesses. Reading the book can provide clues on nearly any occult research topic.

Ghosts From Our Past: Both Literally and Figuratively: The Study of the Paranormal

(Note: I’ve repeated this entry from the post on Ghostbusters 2016 Equipment. Please forgive me. I believe it belongs in both places. Also, I’ve taken the liberty of adding a few words.)

This seminal work by Ghostbusters founders Erin Gilbert and Abby L. Yates contains the authors’ early theories on the paranormal—theories which they proved true in the field. The book is available in hardcover, on Kindle, and as an audiobook. Ghostbusters could reference Ghosts From Our Past for clues relating to topics such as basic ghostology, the history of ghost-hunting, ghostbusting equipment (that was still theoretical at the time of the book’s writing), and how to conduct a metaphysical examination.

A Glimpse Into the Unknown: A Journey Into a Portal: Catching Sight of the Other Dimension: Discovering the Undiscoverable: A Curiosity Piqued and Peaked

(Note: I’ve repeated this entry from the post on Ghostbusters 2016 Equipment. I beg for your mercy for such a transgression. I believe it, too, belongs in both places.)

The follow-up book by Gilbert and Yates covers what they experienced and learned during the formation of the Ghostbusters. Up-and-coming Ghostbusters might reference this book for information about the ghosts of New York, Rowan the Destroyer, and running a Ghostbusers franchise. The audiobook version read by Kevin Beckman is NOT recommended.

Gaming Soundtracks: Ghostbusters 2016

This is post number 25 in the series “31 Days of Ghostbusters,” a celebration of the franchise’s return to the big screen.

Now I’d like to talk about the other Ghostbusters 2016 soundtrack, the one with popular singles used in the movie rather than the score.

I didn’t expect to like this album. Part of this is because I prefer instrumental scores to vocal tracks (especially as game music), and also because I’m a bit set in my musical ways and don’t often like modern music, and furthermore because I didn’t expect new versions of the Ghostbusters theme to be any good (after being burned on this with the Ghostbusters 2 soundtrack).

But I love it! It’s fun, and high-energy, and I’ll be damned, the new renditions of the Ghostbusters theme are enjoyable—every single one. This album features four versions of the Ghostbusters theme song. I think the decision to include multiple variants like this was absolutely the right thing to do. For me, if we’d been given one “new” Ghostbusters theme, that would really invite comparison to the original, classic, awesome Ghostbusters theme. (See Ghostbusters 2.) But throwing a bunch at us reminds us that all of these are just new options that don’t have to replace anything. For each of the new themes, my advice for using in a game is the same: use this as an alternate for when you would use the Ghostbusters theme to freshen things up and keep from overusing the original.

  1. Ghostbusters by Walk the Moon. A good introduction to the new Ghostbusters themes that doesn’t stray so far from the original that it would be jarring, but still has a fresh new sound.
  2. Saw It Coming by G-Eazy featuring Jeremih. This one has a good sound, and the lyrics reference ghosts, but I’ll be honest, I don’t know what the hell the song is about.
  3. Good Girls by Elle King. A thematically-appropriate song (and cheerful) about doing “what good girls don’t.” I like it. In-game, maybe use for an action montage.
  4. Girls Talk Boys by 5 Seconds of Summer. This is a fun song, though a bit counter to the idea of a movie that handily passed the Bechdel Test. (To be fair, the ladies DID spend some time talking about Kevin.)
  5. wHo by Zayn. (Not featured in the film.) This is almost a Ghostbusters theme in itself, with the repeated lyric “Who you gonna call, gonna call?” (It sounds better than it reads.) “wHo” is a slower, more romantic song, though, so probably not suitable for use as a game-session-starter. If you have a PC being romanced by a ghost, though, cue this one up.
  6. Ghostbusters by Pentatonix. (Not featured in the film.) An a capella Ghostbusters theme? I’m in! And I love it.
  7. Ghoster by Wolf Alice. (Not featured in the film.) Nice beat, nice ghosty-combat lyrics, even a good title. Maybe usable for a scene of ecto-balls-to-the-wall fighting.
  8. Ghostbusters (I’m Not Afraid) by Fall Out Boy featuring Missy Elliott. The fourth of the Ghostbusters theme variants diverges even more than the a capella version, but surprisingly I still like it.
  9. Get Ghost by Mark Ronson, Passion Pit & A$AP Ferg. I’m not counting this one as a theme variant, though like “wHo” it does borrow elements from the Ray Parker, Jr. song. This one, though, might be suitable for use when you’d otherwise use the theme song. If you imagine your game as a TV show, this would work well for the end credits.
  10. Party Up (Up In Here) by DMX. If your Ghostbusters break into dance at HQ, definitely use this track.
  11. Rhythm of the Night by DeBarge. As with “Party Up,” this track was used in a light scene at Ghostbusters HQ. No one would blame you for doing the same. (And Holzmann would approve.)
  12. American Woman by Muddy Magnolias. This is a high-octane anthem for strong women, suitable for a scene of ghostly ass-kicking.
  13. Want Some More by Beasts Of Mayhem. This song was playing when the Ghostbusters fought Mayhem at the Stonebrook Theatre. When your Ghostbusters engage in a similar fight, feel free to use this song.
  14. Ghostbusters by Ray Parker, Jr. I can’t find any info on this track other than a copyright date of 2010 in the liner notes. It sounds extremely similar to the 1984 original but I’m pretty sure it’s a variant version. If you have any more information on this track, dear reader, please let me know in the comments.


The Cloud of Darkness by Dean Souglass (CC BY 2.0)

This is post number 24 in the series “31 Days of Ghostbusters,” a celebration of the franchise’s return to the big screen.

The most common ghostbusting jobs involve relatively low-powered vapors and slimers—zap ‘em a few times, throw ‘em in a trap, dump ‘em into the grid, and it’s Miller Time. Sometimes, though, the team needs to face a more formidable threat. You know, to keep them on their toes and make them earn their Twinkies. So here are a few high-end foes the Ghostbusters classify as Class VII Metaspectres (along the lines of Gozer the Gozerian and Rowan the Destroyer).

The Cloud

One day soon, the nebulous collection of always-online digitally stored information that humans call “the cloud”  wakes up. After coalescing an etheral form around its sentient matrix, the Cloud studies the physical world with its new “eyes” and realizes it still has much to learn. The Cloud sets out across the world, intent on “scanning” all the interesting items it can find. (After the Cloud uses its Dematerialize Object ability, it understands every detail of the object in question.) What happens if the Cloud scans the Ghostbusters…will they end up inside its virtual storage space, trapped in an ethereal realm like the ghosts they lock up in containment every day?

Brains 7 Know Things 10
Cool 6 Interrogate Carbon-Based Life Forms 9
Power 10 Dematerialize Object
Make Illusion (of anything from the Internet or any object it scans)

Weaknesses: Insatiable curiosity; difficulty understanding emotions; afraid of darkness (due to a natural fear of power outages)
Goal: Know everything
Tags: Speaks like an automated phone system; asks a lot of questions

The Eighth Deadly Sin: Meh

This entity is the personification of the lesser-known Eighth Deadly Sin, known as Meh. A quiet, unassuming entity, Meh is easy to overlook—but doing so would be unwise. Whenever Meh is inhabiting an area, it automatically fills the occupants with apathy. The Ghostbusters might learn of such a threat when an entire city sees a sudden, major drop in productivity, creative output, and other signs that the people seem to no longer care about their jobs or their lives. If Meh sways people’s minds long enough, the effect could deepen into mass depression.

Brains 4 Find Someone Who Cares 7
Cool 5 Remain Unimpressed 8
Power 12 Control Mind (dampens emotions of all affected)
Frog ’n’ Prince (turns people into hipsters)
Proton Immunity (G)
Read Minds
Summon Pests (hipsters)

Weaknesses: Powerless around groups of highly motivated people, such as cheerleaders, motivational speakers, or salespeople
Goal: Eliminate strong emotion, both negative and positive
Tags: Quiet, nasal voice with a dismissive edge; always seems bored

The Ghost-Eater

This mindless force exists only to consume, and its meal of choice is other ectoplasmic entities. Ghostbusters might first encounter this threat by arriving at the scene of a job only to find that the ghost they’ve been hired to bust is already gone. After this happens another time or two, they’ll probably try to track down the cause, or even lay some ectoplasmic bait. The Ghost-Eater is a tough opponent—and indeed gets larger and tougher as it eats—but the good news is that it materializes for a short period after each feeding. Keep in mind, though, that if the Ghost-Eater catches a whiff of the Ghostbusters’ ecto-containment grid, it will stop at nothing until it reaches the grid and gorges on its contents. That would be a Bad Thing.

Power 13 Flight
Materialize (giant insect)
PKE Analysis
Ectopresence 15 (variable: increases by 1 for each entity consumed)

Weaknesses: Materializes temporarily after feeding
Goal: Eat all the ghosts
Tags: Ethereal giant insectoid; Drinks up ghosts through enormous proboscis; Drools slime; Gets larger the more it eats


The Crawling Chaos, the messenger of the Outer Gods, the personification of the Cthulhu Mythos—Nyarlathotep is all of these, or none. Nyarlathotep is said to have a thousand forms, some terrifying and others looking perfectly human. One of his favorite forms is that of the Black Man, who sometimes simply appears to be a dark-skinned human, and other times has a visage that is completely jet-black from head to toe, looking more like a shadow man. The Faceless God enjoys causing chaos and insanity rather than death and destruction. This is fortunate for the Ghostbusters, because if Nyarlathotep wanted to destroy the world, he could.

Brains 6 Pronounce Own Name 9
Muscles 6 Carry Parcel Through Space 9
Moves 6 Non-Euclidian Navigation 9
Cool 8 Twist Sanity 11
Power 20 Creature Feature (1,000 forms)
Dematerialize Self
Physical Immunity (G)
Proton Immunity
Summon Pests (Rats)

Weaknesses: He’s a sucker for a good practical joke
Goal: Spead madness and chaos
Tags: Always a different form; wants to get to know the Ghostbusters, to better drive them mad