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The Savage World of Ghostbusters?

So in happier thoughts, I’ve been contemplating what I want to do with my Ghostbusters campaign. Not so much plot-wise, I’ve got that worked out for now, but just in terms of game mechanics. The old WEG Ghostbusters Universal How-Much (UHM) system (which later evolved into the d6 System they used for Star Wars et al.) is certainly fast and light, but I dunno, it just feels lacking somehow. I mean, it would be serious overkill to use something as gamey as d20 for a comedy-horror campaign, but I often find myself wishing for something with just a little more structure than the “Throw ALL the Brownie Points at it!” UHM system.

So I’m looking at three basic options, and tossing them out here for interested parties to throw in their own $0.02 if they so desire. Input welcome and desired!

BRP/5 — a.k.a. “Call of Cthulhu on a d20″

I’ve tinkered around before with a homebrew version of BRP (i.e., the system used for Call of Cthulhu), which runs off a d20 rather than d% just to keep the math simpler. So for example, if your CoC character has 55% in a skill, the BRP/5 version would have “+11″ with that skill, with the idea being that you roll and try to beat a 20.

The advantage of BRP is that it’s fairly fast and flexible, but still is a granular enough system to feel like it has some meat to it. The disadvantage in this particular case is that I’d have to do all the system converting, which is something I enjoy tinkering around with but will definitely take some time.

Savage Worlds

One strong contender that I’m looking at is Savage Worlds. Billed as “Fast! Furious! and Fun!” Savage Worlds has a lot of fans among people who like generic systems but don’t like the mathiness of GURPS or HERO. I’ve never actually played it before, but I do own a copy of the “Explorer’s Edition” and have poked around with it a little. The basic rule seems to be that you have Stats/Skills represented by a d4, d6, d8, d10, or d12, and you need to beat a 4 to succeed. Combat is a “Fighting” or “Shooting” skill check, followed by rolling damage and comparing it to a target’s toughness– beat it and they take a wound, fail and nothing happens. It also has a built-in “Wild Die” mechanic that could easily be remapped to the Ghost Die, which is one of my favorite mechanics of the UHM system.

Seems pretty straightforward; the hard part would be getting used to all the nomenclature (“raises” for “criticals,” “aces” for “rolling the max,” etc.) and system quirks (drawing playing cards for initiative, for instance). The most complex part of the system appears to be the actual character creation rules, which are a point-based system that changes the cost of things based on prerequisites and such. Doing it on paper would probably give me a headache, but it’s easy enough to do with Hero Labs.

Savage Worlds has the advantage of already having been written and there being resources for it out there, while still being a fast-moving rules-lite system (at least, once we get used to it) that’s still a bit more robust than the UHM system. The disadvantage, of course, is that it’s a new system we’ve never played before and have no idea what it’ll actually be like in play. Of course, we could always just try it for a few sessions and see what we think.

Option Three: If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It

Of course, the UHM system does work well enough and there’s little compelling reason we couldn’t just stick with it other than my never-ending desire to tinker with things. Not knowing my players’ opinions on the subject, it’s hard to say (hence this post). If they are attached to the UHM system (or just loathe to learn a new one), it’s certainly still an option on the boards.

Any thoughts on the subject?

-The Gneech

Originally published at gneech.com. You can comment here or there.


May. 9th, 2012 01:15 am (UTC)
I know it's not always kosher to throw out yet another game system in these discussions... but I can't help myself. n.n

I've recently become enamored with the FATE 3 system. There's a few different ways to check it out: there are SRDs (it's all OGL), there's Spirit of the Century (themed around old school pulp action), The Dresden Files RPG (of course, themed around the novel series), and Strands of Fate (the most generic of the three published versions).

I picked up The Dresden Files version. FATE is really dynamic, and has ways for players to influence the story itself by adding new features to the scenario on the fly. And opponents (whether NPCS, organizations or "features" of a location) are all built using the same system as player characters (though you can simplify it for minions).

It's based around descriptive "aspects" of the characters and their environment (a PC might have "Quiet as a Mouse" or "Alpha Beta Phi Pledge", while a warehouse they're investigating might have "Like a Maze" or "ON FIRE!" as aspects). Players can spend a Fate Point to gain an advantage by invoking an aspect (of themselves, an opponent, an ally, the terrain, etc.), while the GM can compel one of the player's aspects: while this puts the PC at a disadvantage, they gain a new Fate point. So, the cycle of invoking and compelling aspects keeps the story flowing, with both benefits and hinderances to the PCs. Players can even "compel" their own PC if they think it would be fun (and to replenish their Fate points).

So, your Ghostbuster may have an aspect like "I Ain't Afraid of No Ghost." This is both good and bad: good, because they can use it themselves as a way of saying, "The poltergeist may be scaring the librarians, but I Ain't Afraid of No Ghost," and spend a Fate point to gain a bonus to their die roll against it (for whatever appropriate purpose). Or, the GM could compel the PC into getting in over their head: "You know, going into the Lovecraft Wing of the library is probably a bad idea... but remember, You Ain't Afraid of No Ghost..." If the player accepts the compel, they play along and gain a Fate point. However, they could choose to refuse the compel and go their own way. They have more control over their own narrative, but lose out on a potentially useful Fate point.

It works out into a surprisingly fast system for resolving conflict, as well as throwing fun twists into the story. There's a free preview of Strands of Fate here.

That said, if you're not interested in Yet Another RPG, Savage Worlds is my second-favorite system. Deadlands Reloaded for SW has a ton of stuff you might like for a Ghostbusters game, primarily in the Smith & Robards Catalog, full of fun steampunk/mad scientist gear you could adapt into Ghostbusting gear.
May. 9th, 2012 07:46 am (UTC)
Hah, well, if you hadn't brought up FATE I was gonna.. I really like FATE 3.0, or at least my own personal homebrew of 3.0 that I've hacked together from the Dresden Files version and the stuff on the website. This version that I use is even more rules-light than the Dresden Files version, because I don't like some of what's in there, but the Dresden Files one is a pretty damn good system.

I'm planning on using it for a original-world space opera game I'm writing.. I think FATE is excellent for space opera, among other reasons because it allows for a range of weapons from swords to laser cannons all being viable at once.. and I like swords in my space opera.

Also, the way characters are based on their Aspects most of all, means that character creation is a hell of a lot easier than most other systems which are as wide open.. many of which use point-buy systems, ugh.

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