Welcome to Sunnydale Preview

Welcome to Sunnydale cover. A collage of actors from the show gaze moodily in promotional photographs.As follow-up to yesterday’s #RPGaDAY post, here’s a melancholy visitor from the past: the preview PDF of Welcome to Sunnydale, courtesy the Wayback Machine. Welcome to Sunnydale was the next Buffy the Vampire Slayer supplement in Eden Studios’ pipeline when they lost the license from Fox. There were more books written and various stages of development as well, like a Watcher’s handbook, and books for Angel paralleling the players and beasties books for Buffy, but apparently none were so far along as Welcome to Sunnydale was. So well developed, in fact, that Amazon lists it as “out of print.” If only we’d had that brief, shining window of market release.

Thanks to urbwar of RPG.net for digging up the Wayback Machine link.

#RPGaDAY 12: Old RPG You Still Play/Read

#RPGaDAY prompts.

The #RPGaDAY prompt was concocted by Dave Chapman of Autocratik. Grab the list and join in!

Cover art of Buffy the Vampire Slayer role-playing game.I don’t especially want to think of Eden Studios’ Buffy the Vampire Slayer as an old role-playing game, but the game is more than ten years old now, it’s out of print — though not circulation, by some miracle of licensing — and the Buffy property seems to have become passé with the young peoples. But my loyalty for the game as a workhorse for whatever I want to run is indefatigable. I used it for a BPRD scenario when I first began running games at conventions, layered in elements for Scions of Time, and then recently switched over to using Buffy for my Ghostbusters games at Carnage. And during the playtest of Post-Diluvian Predators of Rochester, certain players snickered at the informal style of the writing, and its apparent lack of tables, so that’s where my sense that the game’s line into the gaming culture zeitgeist sunset some time ago.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and its siblings Angel and Army of Darkness, has a few key qualities that keep me coming back to it as the engine to run my scenarios. First is ease of play. Like its classic Unisystem cousins, Buffy uses a single d10 plus skill and ability for most questions of resolution. On the GM’s side, it gets even easier: most non-player characters are rendered as a series of target numbers for the players to roll against. If you’re juggling multiple creatures with weird abilities, and trying to keep in mind the state of everyone else in the fray, not having to worry about rolling dice or adding up numbers correctly is huge. Cinematic Unisystem delegates that work to the players, and really, they were going to roll dice anyway. Why make the GM roll too, when you can get mostly the same result with a pre-calculated target number?

Secondly, it’s super easy to adapt material to fit a preexisting idea, or come up with something new. Buffy and Angel both have guidelines for roughing out new monsters for players to beat up. If that’s not enough, I can flip through WitchCraft books for more concepts already rendered in Unisystem terms. I did that with Post-Diluvian Predators, as well, actually, pulling some “Vampyre” abilities from Mystery Codex to simulate a variant I found in Night’s Black Agents that I wanted to be the default vampire type in my Ghostbusters world.

Thirdly, Buffy‘s Drama Points are something I wish more games offered. I get that the whole point of the dice is to introduce change and risk. But there should be room to stretch when a character is exceptionally motivated to succeed. Drama Points provide that stretch. I think maybe they’re too plentiful in a convention game — everyone could probably do with a fifth of what a starting character gets for Drama Points — but as long as they’re in short supply, players will value them as a resource to ensure that what they want to happen, will.

If you’re curious about Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Cinematic Unisystem, check out the original quickstart, which is still available courtesy the BBC.

Terms for the ‘Fiters and Lurkers

Terms for the ‘Fiters and Lurkers is an interesting glossary I ran across searching for “Corvae Hermanubis” — still not sure what that actually means — of a mash-up role-playing setting including elements of GURPS Cabal, Ars Magica and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I wonder if the author, Jeb, has written any more for this mash-up, which even manages to namecheck Trinity. I could drop a line to find out, couldn’t I?

Plot Seed Medley

Writing plot seeds is tricky. It’s easy to let yourself become repetitive. I find myself writing and rewriting them to stand out as unique. That’s why I so easily stalled on Plot-Seed-a-palooza. I do mean to get back to that someday.

In the meantime, enjoy revisiting some previously published plot seeds.

  1. Beastmen of the North Country lurk in the dark, silent woods.
  2. The Ghost Writer finds herself compelled to fulfill the authorial aspirations of the long-departed.
  3. Lincoln’s Blood proves a turning point for secret histories and wars.
  4. The Roxbury House is a spooky old house inspired by pictures taken by a friend of mine.
  5. Slayers and ‘Busters brings together two monster-hunting franchises to amuse the spectator in the incongruities and similarities.
  6. Something in Lake Champlain Uses Bio-Sonar is a highly suggestive thought about the sort of marine life lurking at the edges of human activity.
  7. Starless takes the contracting universe seen at the end of season five of Doctor Who and adds archaeologists of true history to the mix.
  8. This Man draws on an urban legend to create an ally or antagonist based in the dream world.
  9. Turn Me On, Dead Man presents an alternate history in which the star-crossed fates of two Beatles puts the world in jeopardy.
  10. The Voynich Manuscript is one of those archetypal plot seeds that everyone takes a stab at.

Slayers and ‘Busters: When Franchises Collide

In a humorous inversion, the Ghostbusters find business has slowed to a crawl. Some crazy vigilante teenagers are fighting monsters for free! It’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Ghostbusters in a culture clash of incoming revenue and fighting the good fight.

Don’t Cross the (Revenue) Streams

After a violent seismic disturbance, paranormal activity in Lo-Cal City rises precipitously. The R&D geeks have a very long list of theories, most involving limestone, psychomagnotheric slime deposits or phases of the moon. Regardless of the reasons, six jobs for outlying franchises in two weeks is a clarion call for a brand new GBI start-up outfit. Wouldn’t you know it, on the second job of the night the new team gets tripped up by a gang of teenagers waving crosses and, in one young woman’s case, giving practical lessons in kung fu to ghosts.

The conflict comes from motivations. The Scooby Gang fights the good fight because it’s there and the right thing to do. Ghostbusters come on the scene because the customer’s credit card went through. They might occasionally collaborate, but there will always be mistrust because one group doesn’t honor the other’s reasons for doing what they do.

This Job is Not Worth Eleven-Five a Year

In a take-off of the fifth season of Angel, Ghostbusters International hires the Slayer and her cadre. But for what purpose? Drs. Stantz and Spengler might be motivated to dig into what makes the Slayer a Slayer, perhaps leading to a retail line of designer herbal supplements. Marketing might stump for the appeal of attractive young people sporting the trademark jumpsuits and company logo. Or it could be a scheme to discredit homebrew monster fighting, by pitting Slayer Team One against specially selected menaces.

Future Ghostbusters of America

In The Real Ghostbusters animated series, an informal “junior Ghostbusters” club made a few appearances. Shift that forward a few years. A group of high school students are captivated by Ghostbusters International’s resurgence. At first, the club focuses on following the real deal’s exploits. Then they go out in the field with a borrowed EMF detector. Later, following plans and ideas found on the internet, they start cobbling together their own ghostbusting gear. Nothing nuclear, mind, but relying on older, pre-digital techniques: Carnacki‘s electric pentacle, palindrome snares, and the tried and true pellet gun loaded with rock salt.

The conflict comes from which side of the divide the players put themselves on. As young upstarts, the corporation is concerned with protecting their market from competition and their asses from liability lawsuits. From the perspective of the real deal, the newbies are likely to rile up something they can’t put down with rock salt. Naturally, one or the other is going to come to the rescue of the other, again depending on which side the players have taken up as their own. Or maybe not, depending on how aggravating the other side has been.