Ghostbusters: Pumpkin Jack

After struggling with a non-starter of a plot seed for some time now — slasher movie characters coming to life during a horror film convention, I think I finally got something I can work with for Carnage, thanks to a poster at RPG.net who shared his own idea for a one-shot Ghostbusters game. My take’s already going in a different direction because I’m still trying to accomplish some of the things that I wanted to do with the slasher concept, but there are some core elements that will carry over. Not that knowing that will save any potential players who scour that thread for clues. Bwa ha ha.

Story

So I went to Muddy Waters tonight for a writing session. I hadn’t necessarily planned on making it a Ghostbusters session, but I think I got more done in that Open Office document than I did filling out the Broken Spokes wiki. Some story elements and characters popped into my head that I never could have expected. This might be what fiction writers refer to as their characters telling them what happens next.

As it stands, I have a much better grasp of what to shape this into, but it’s not quite there yet. Material I wrote tonight doesn’t line up with my goals. I could ditch the goals and follow the material as it inspires me, but it’s leading me in a direction I’ve already gone. I want to do something different this year.

Right now, there’s an element linking back to one of the original ghost hunters of modern fiction. The Wikipedia article teaches me it really makes no sense as such in the context I want to use it, so I think I’m going to end up inventing my own substitute, who can be modified to fit appropriately. But the inspiration’s still there. I’ll tell you all about it after the convention in November.

System

I’m not sure if I want to stick with GURPS for this and future Ghostbusters games. Having had time to think about it, I wasn’t taken away the representation of proton packs and ghost traps. Basically it’s more fiddly math on my part than I necessarily want to do. I also don’t think it’s necessarily fun for the players. They basically spend turns maintaining their streams until the ghost is contained.

So the choices seem to be make everything else so entertaining that busting ghosts is a dreary, but necessary part of a ridiculous job, or mechanically spice up the zap ‘n trap part of things. I’m struck by the thought there should be an option for going “full stream,” whatever that might be — probably extra damage or an instant containment field with a risk of catastrophic malfunction or power burn-out. But are those interesting problems? They essentially take away the player’s single really useful tool for a random period of time.

Looking back at Lurker in the Limelight, most of the fun at the table came not from busting ghosts, but character interaction and riffing on the absurdities of entrepreneurial spectral extermination. The system I would most likely switch to, Cinematic Unisystem, wouldn’t really make a difference in that regard, as both it and GURPS are pretty traditional in what their mechanics represent in the game world.

I’ll think about it more. I have a month or so before I have to submit anything for the convention book.

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