I Ain’t Fraid A No Ghost

In 1986, West End Games published a Ghostbusters Roleplaying Game called The Ghostbusters: A Frightfully Cheerful Roleplaying Game which uses what is now known as the  D6 system. I received a used copy of this game several years ago as a birthday gift from a good friend of mine when I was first getting started in roleplaying games. Other than opening up the box and reviewing the contents on my birthday it has sat on my shelf unused for years next to my copies of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons and Tunnels and Trolls.

As my collection of roleplaying games grew over the years, I thought to myself that there is no way I am ever going to live long enough to play all of these games. So, I implemented a new house rule at my weekly game. After every level we advance in our normal roleplaying game we will take a break to play a one-off of one of the many other roleplaying games I ave collected. We do this so we can get experience playing other games and I can give myself a justifiable reason for owning so many of them.

The Ghostbusters roleplaying game is one of the first games we have played since I implemented that house rule that everyone enjoyed immensely. So much so, that I decided that based on their enthusiasm for the game, I just had to write up this review.

The Ghostbusters: A Frightfully Cheerful Roleplaying Game Is a box set that came with:

  • A 24-page Training Manual (This is like the Players Handbook)
  • A 64-page Operations Manual (This is like the Game Master or Game Mistress’s handbook. The game refers to this person as the Ghost Master)
  • A set of 6, six sided dice which includes the “Ghost Dice
  • ID Cards (These are items like your Ghost Trap, Ecto-Visor or PKE Meter)
  • Equipment Cards (Index card character sheet. )

The game comes with rules to generate your own Ghostbusters character and start your own Ghostbusters franchise pretty much anywhere in the world you want. The game also comes with the stats to play as the characters from the Ghostbusters movie. Both options have their unique appeal and it just depends on you and your group which option you should choose.

The game itself is easy to run and play which I think allows the Ghost Master or Ghost Mistress  to spend more time focused on the story of the game rather than the mechanics of the game. I can see how a lot of people would love this and hate this. According to the Wikipedia entry for this game it says that:

In 1989, West End Games published a revised version of Ghostbusters, titled Ghostbusters International. The second version of the game was published both to capitalize on that year’s release of the film Ghostbusters II, and to satisfy players who requested a more detailed set of rules.

Having never see the rule books for Ghostbusters International, I can’t provide any feedback about how the rules were changed to satisfy those of us who like detailed rules. What I can say is that the first version, Ghostbusters: A Frightfully cheerful Roleplaying Game is a lot of fun, easy to learn and easy to play.

Both the Training manual and the operations Manual that come with Ghostbusters appear well made. I am basing this on how old the game is and how much I have used it already. None of the pages appear loose or appear as if they will become loose anytime soon. All the art in the books is black and white and well done.

Ghostbusters Ghost Die

The dice that come with the game are a normal looking set of 6 d6s except for one which is known as the Ghost Dice. This dice has sides that indicate the numbers 1 through 5, with the ‘6’ replaced with the Ghostbusters Logo. The Ghost Dice is used every time dice need to be rolled. It does not matter if it is the players or the Ghost Master/Mistress. If the Ghost Dice lands on the Ghostbusters Logo it means something bad is going to happen to the players. How bad and what happens is at the discretion of the Ghost Master/Mistress.

The ID and Equipment cards are printed on thick card stock and in my opinion can take quite a bit of use. The back side of these cards are black with the Ghostbusters Logo in the center. The front side contains the information you need. If its an ID card this will be your character sheet. The game comes with six characters from the movie you can play as and six blank cards so you can create your own characters. These ID Cards are short and simple and is one of the things I really love about this game. The equipment cards will contain the equipment you can and your other players can take with you on your adventure. Things like an Ecto-Visor, PKE Meter and Ghost Traps.

My gaming group and I originally ran a Ghostbusters game back in August. They chose to play as the characters from the movie rather than generate their own. I selected the 30th and Lexington adventure to play that was inside the operations manual of the box set. The manual also includes two other adventures and some ideas for creating yoru own adventures. My players had such a good time that right after the game was over they asked me to run another Ghostbusters game for Halloween.

For the Halloween game, I decided to pick up a copy of Pumpkin Patch Panic. I found that Paizo had a copy for sale unopened. So, I was all ready when October rolled around.
I found the game very easy to run and in some ways, I wish this had been my first roleplaying game I had ever run because of how easy it was to grasp the rules. I think I would have struggled a lot less when I was first starting out with this hobby if I had a game like this to lose my virginity to. I spent a week prepping for the game which was all of an hour each night leading up to game day.

West End Games no longer produces the Ghostbusters roleplaying game. From what I can tell they quit producing copies of the game sometime in 2006. I am going to take a guess and just say that they didn’t renew the rights to use the Ghostbusters name.

The good news is that I have discovered that you can download copies of the original rule books for free. You can download PDF copies of the original Training Manual and the Operations Manual. You can even get your hands of some of the individual adventures like Scared Stiffs, Pumpkin Patch Panic, Lurid Tales of Doom, ApoKERMIS Now!, Ghostbusters 2: The Adventure. They even have Tobin’s Spirit Guide.

If you’re more into owning the physical item you can still find physical copies of the game pretty regularly on eBay. When I last checked you could pick up used copies of the box set for around $40.00 and once in a while you can find unopened copies of the game from $80 – $100.

Also, thanks to Google Plus, I have discovered a group by the name of Ghostbusters: Resurrection who posted audio from their Ghostbusters game. You can hear how they handed the 30th and Lexington adventure and get a good feel for how the game runs.

I want to end by saying my group really enjoyed playing Ghostbusters: A Frightfully Cheerful Roleplaying Game, and I enjoyed running it. I wish this had been my first roleplaying game because of how easy it was to learn and run it. If you get the chance to play this game I hope you will.

If I could offer you one tip before playing this game it would be to watch the Ghostbusters movie before hand. With my group it put everyone in the right frame of mind and made the game play and joking around all that much better.

Have you ever played Ghostbusters: A Frightfully Cheerful Roleplaying Game? What did you think? Do you have any other tips or advice regarding the game? Share your thoughts below!

The Dungeon Mistress

Yes And…

I have read on several other Role Playing Game (RPG) blogs that a good Game Master or Game Mistress (GM) should always say ‘yes’ to the things their players want to do. I feel so strongly that our role as GMs is to entertain, to tell a good story and to ensure that our players have a great time. When your party is having a good time, you will have a good time because you’re a key part in creating that experience for everyone.

I have never had a problem saying ‘yes’ to my players when they ask if they can do something in game. RPGs are games about possibilities. So always saying “yes” just felt natural to me.

I was discussing this with some actor friends of mine and they told me about an improv technique called ‘yes and’. Essentially, not just saying yes to my players, but saying yes and adding something to the story that makes it more interesting.

Here, let me give you an example.

Character #1: I cast ‘Detect Magic’. Do I detect anything Magical in the cave?

Dunger Mistress: You do and it’s coming from behind that wall.

Character #2: Can I try to punch through the wall?

Dungeon Mistress: You can and when you do the cave falls in on you. Role a reflex check to see if you get out of the way in time.

Character #3: Can I start moving the fallen rock out of the way to try and get to the magic item?

Dungeon Mistress: You sure can and as you do a rock golem springs up from the rubble!

See what I did there? I just kept adding something to keep the players on their toes. Had I just only said ‘Yes’ to all of my players requests the game would have turned out a lot more stale as you can imagine.

I know a lot of blogs say you should always say YES to your players, and I know I just said that you should say YES AND… But a lot of how you use this gaming tip should be based on your game and how it is going. What’s going to be best for you and your party on any particular night? I can’t say. That’s going to be all up to you. So be observant and most importantly, have fun!

Have you used the ‘YES AND…’ technique? How do you feel about it? Do you have any other ideas or suggestions? Leave a comment below and lets share ideas!

Dungeon Mistress

Collecting Names

In an interview once, J. K. Rowling said that she collected names. She said that whenever she heard or read of a unique name she wrote it down and kept it with the idea that it might be useful for one of her books.

After reading that interview, I started to do the same thing. Whenever I heard or read a unique or interesting name, I wrote it down on a list to save for later in one of my fantasy role playing games.

Generally, I write names I find down on a list that lives on my phone, because I always have my phone with me, before transferring it to a master list that I now keep in Google docs. So, whenever I need the name of an innkeeper, Barron or other such person, I can just pull up my list of names.

The names I collect, I find from books that I read. But, I have also been known to stay through all the end credits of a movie to write down some of the cool names that appear in it. That’s an Idea I got from one of Chris Perkins’s Dungeons & Dragons posts.

Do you have any tips or ideas for collecting names or other content for your role playing game? Leave a comment below and lets share ideas!

Dungeon Mistress

Telling A Story With Treasure

Whatever awesome role playing game you and your players choose to play, one thing is certain. All players love finding treasure! And why wouldn’t they? Treasure is awesome! Players hope to find money and items that they can use to improve their characters equipment and lifestyle.

One of the important lessons I have learned is that treasure also gives the Game Master or Game Mistress (GM) a great opportunity to tell a story and story telling is the most important part of any roleplaying game. So don’t squander the opportunity treasure gives you to tell a great story.

Lets take a look at your roleplaying books for things that could be used as treasure.

Weapons

Your roleplaying game books may contain weapon ideas or suggestions for you and your players. For example. In the Pathfinder Core Rulebook you have a dagger that gives you 1d3 damage. A perfectly good weapon for any player to find. But, why just have your players open up a sealed room to find a dagger that gives you 1d3 damage? That just feels kind of dull doesn’t it? I say, make that dagger interesting! I say, make some changes to that dagger to make it more interesting to your players. There is no rule saying you can modify items in a rule book.

When your players open that sealed room what if they found an expertly crafted light dagger with a dragon leather handle and seal of some unknown kingdom engraved on the bottom of the handle? Maybe because it was so expertly crafted it does 1d4 damage rather than 1d3. Now you have a treasure that raises questions.

Who would have had such a fine weapon crafted for them?
What is this seal on the bottom and why does no one recognize it?

Money

All adventures love to find money. Once they find some money they just can’t wait to get to the next town or city and spend it on new gear. Just remember that money can be a great plot hook or a means to tell a story also. Coins can be stamped with a the image of a long dead king on it. As a result all the merchants in the next town may refuse to do business with the group once they see the old coin. The money can be cursed causing all kinds of miss fortune. The money could have a note saying something as simple as “If found please return gold to Travis McGinnis” and let the players have a moral debate about what to do with the gold.

Another trick I like to do with money is make my players roll for it. Sometimes my players will come across a purse of money. When they ask how much is inside I make them roll a d6. If they roll a 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6 they get the amount of money they roll and can continue rolling for more money. But, if at any point they roll a 1, then the purse is empty and they get no money at all.

Potions

The players could happen across healing potions or invisibility potions. To make these items tell a story think about how you can make them different. Maybe the potions are found in strange-looking vials. Perhaps the tinker that concocted these potions scribed his name on the vials. Just use a little imagination to make things different and ask yourself what changes would make the party talk about this item.

Random Finds

Don’t forget to throw random items into treasure piles also. I am thinking of things that might not be necessarily useful but worth a lot of money. For example:

  • Lamps
  • Paintings
  • Dishes
  • Master Work Cooking Pots
  • A Chess Set
  • Statues
  • Trophies
  • Figurines
  • Brooches
  • Earrings
  • Rings
  • Combs
  • Bracelets

My players once discovered a flatware set. They spent many game sessions trying to figure out what the symbols on the plates stood for. Did they belong to a royal house? A wealthy individual? Are they magical in some way? They carried this truck of flatware with them everywhere hoping to solve that mystery.

Do you tell stories with treasure? Leave a comment and lets share ideas!

Dungeon Mistress

Critical Hits & Misses

One of the things I like to do in my spare time is to come up with crazy, awesome and out of this world results for critical hits and misses. For those of you who don’t know; a critical hit often refers to a player rolling a 20 on their 20 sided dice. This means that their attack was flawless and they hit their opponent for maximum allowable damage no matter strong the opponent’s armor class or defences are. Dungeon Masters and Dungeon Mistresses(DM) are encouraged to add a little flourish to the attack. For example; In one of my games that I DM for there is a player whose character is a barbarian. Just about every time he rolls a 20 with his weapon he loves to hear me talk about how the villain just turns into a bloody mist of red before his eyes.

Misses can be just as dramatic, or should I say traumatic, to my players. A critical miss is the result of rolling a 1 on with your dice roll. I have been known to have players hit each other or themselves on a critical miss. Just have them roll damage and tell them that during their attack they lost control of their weapon and hit themselves, or they lost hold of their weapon and hit their ally behind them. If I am feeling especially evil, I will have their weapon break in half or have it fly across the room so the player has to chase it. You can even have their weapon dull on them and it does half damage until they can get it to a smith or a tinker to fix.

You as the DM can have a lot of fun with both critical hits and misses, but don’t feel like you have to always be the center of attention either. Once in awhile, I allow my players to tell me what happens when they roll a critical hit or a critical miss. In my experience it tends to be a little more effective to have them tell you what happens in the game when they roll a critical hit. With the misses, with my players at least, they tend to not be as hard on themselves.

Do you have any cool tips or ideas for when your players critically hits or critically misses? Leave a comment below and lets share ideas!

Dungeon Mistress

Attacking With Dice

Dungeon Mistress With MinisAs a Dungeon Mistress (DM) you get the pleasure of controlling Monsters, Goblins, Demons, Liches, Dire Wolves, Owl Bears, and all sorts of unspeakable baddies. It’s one of the perks of running a tabletop role-playing game. However, your players may not like the choices you make for your villains. That is where attacking with dice comes into play.

Rather than choosing who your red dragon is going to attack and deal with the aftermath of your players saying that you are not a fair DM. Let the dice speak for your obedient red dragon.

If you have two players stuck in a dungeon with a red dragon roll a six-sided dice (d6). Player one is going to be numbers one through three and player two is numbers four through six. Whichever number that dice lands on is the player the dragon attacks!

Got three players? Then with the same d6, player one is one & two. Player two is three & four. Player three is five & six.

Got four players? Than Role a four-sided dice (d4)

Got five players? Role a ten sided dice (d10) with player one being one & two. Player two being three & four… and so on.

Dungeon Mistress With Minis

This is what I have learned works for my party and resolves conflicts before they even start. But I am very interested to know how you handle these kind of situations in your gaming group. Leave a comment and lets share ideas!

Dungeon Mistress

Tangible Treasures

Players of tabletop roleplaying games love everything about treasures. They are going to do their best to check every inch of every dungeon, cave, and abandoned castle they come across to make sure they did not overlook any possible treasures.

As my game’s Dungeon Mistress(DM), I have a lot of fun thinking up new and interesting treasure items to hide for my players to discover. But sometimes hiding swords, armor, magic items, or a salve that changes your gender is not enough for me. Sometimes I like to throw my party a curve ball just to switch things up a bit. I do this by giving my players tangible items.

Dungeon Mistress At The Gaming TableIn the past I have given my players the following physical items as treasures discovered while playing our weekly roleplaying game.

  • Dice
  • Dice Bag
  • Miniatures
  • Maps
  • Letters
  • Hard to find soda

Once, while deep in a dungeon, one of my players came across a treasure chest that said, “If you open this chest you will be forced to use whatever is inside.” Unable to resist my player opened the chest and for the rest of the game she was forced to use mini dice. Everyone got a good laugh out of that treasure and is still talked about to this day.

So the next time you are planning your game and trying to think of treasure items, think a little outside the box by giving them something physical.

What kind of physical unique treasures do you give your players? Leave a comment and lets share ideas!

Dungeon Mistress

Pencil Bag

Dungeon Mistress and her Pencil BagPlayers love to play games. Video games, board games and roleplaying games. Your players come with one thing to the gaming table. That’s the ability to play games and not anything else. My players show up ready to play, but are rarely prepared to play. So, I as a DM take the extra effort to do what I can to make sure the weekly game is as ready for start time as possible.

This includes offering to do doing the following:

  • Offering to hold onto players character sheets
  • Offering to hold onto players dice.

Some of my players are perfectly fine with me keeping hold of their character sheets. Others are not. Which is fine. Dice however, is a whole nother matter. All of my players hang onto their dice with a death grip. They are not offended by my offer to hold on to their dice for them, but dice just hold a special place in their hearts so they wont let them go and that is understandable. But that just means at some point they are going to forget to bring their dice. So I keep a spare set of dice handy just for when that happens.

And it does happen!

Lastly I have learned to keep a pencil bag. I picked this up shortly after I started DMing when I noticed we never had enough pencils. This is one of my most used tools and I would like to share with you what I keep inside of it.

  • Different colored pencils. Players like choices, so spend a couple of bucks on different kinds of pencils that your players can choose from.
  • Pencil sharpener.
  • Erasers. I prefer these erasers.
  • Wet Erase Markers. If you use battle maps in your game you are going to want to keep a spare set, or two, of wet erase markers in your pencil bag.

How do you organise your gaming parity’s supplies? Leave a comment and lets share ideas!

Dungeon Mistress

Trapper Folder

Dungeon Mistress Holding Some Trapper KeepersAs a Dungeon Mistress, Game Mistress, or whatever your table top game of choice prefers to call you, there are some extra things you can do to make your game run that much more smoothly. One of the things I discovered that has helped my players has been Trapper Folders.

I had started observing that my players were often misplacing their character sheets or not doing such a good job at keeping their character sheets, index cards, and other miscellaneous pieces of paper organized. The Trapper Folder has changed all that.

Trapper folders cost less than a buck at most stores and come in a wide variety of colors. When I brought these to our weekly game night my players really appreciated the idea and each enjoyed picking out their own color Trapper Folder for their characters information.

Dungeon Mistress Holding A Purple Trapper Keeper

Now my players no longer lose their character sheets and everything for them is organized in a handy little folder. Some of my players prefer to take their Trapper folders home with them while others prefer that I hang on to them till the next game.

How do you help your players keep track of their character sheets? Leave a comment and lets share ideas!

Dungeon Mistress

The Newbie Dungeon Master

Tabletop role-playing games are, in many ways, a lot like other hobbies. You end up investing time and money into it because of the enjoyment you get back from it. That is just how Dungeon Masters (DM) and Dungeon Mistresses (DM) should look at it. As a DM you are going to invest time and money into books and supplies with little to no help from your gaming party.

Dungeon Mistress At The Gaming Table

When I first got into the hobby of tabletop role-playing games, I made an initial investment of time and money into some books and materials so my friends and I could all get together and hang out to play games. After a few weeks where everything seemed to be going smoothly and everyone was having fun and after we worked out some game mechanics, I brought up and idea of everyone paying weekly dues in my group to help fund the purchasing of new books and other materials needed to run these weekly games. My gaming group responded with a general understanding from everyone that paying dues was a good idea because no one thought it was fair that I should keep investing money into a game if we were all enjoying it. But, I could also see the reluctance in everyone’s eyes about the idea. Who would keep the products the dues paid for?

It was at that moment that I realized that tabletop role-playing games are a hobby that DMs will almost always be forced to pick up the tab on. That If I wanted to keep DMing games, collecting roleplaying game books and miniatures that I would end up being the sole source of funding for this hobby. So I spent some time and really searched myself to see if this was a hobby that meant enough for me to keep going. Was I willing to treat this new pastime like my other hobbies of interest? The answer was a resounding YES.

I enjoy the my role as Dungeon Mistress. I enjoy coming up with new storylines and plots to run my party through. I enjoy thinking up treasures and traps. I enjoy that magical moment when my friends lose themselves into the role of their characters at my gaming table. And to be perfectly honest with you and myself, I enjoy being the center of attention. I mean, what girl wouldn’t? That moment when a player thinks up a really cool idea on how to outsmart a goblin or if their attack roll is enough to hit the black dragon and they look up at me waiting to hear the outcome of their move. Man, nothing beats that feeling!

After playing tabletop games for so many years I have found that all my hard work and investment is not without some kind of payback. Often times my players will offer to host the game at their place or will offer to cook. Food is the big thing. A few hours before a game is to start my mobile phone will start ringing with everyone in my gaming party asking, “What kind of food or drinks can we bring today?”. We are rarely short on food and drinks at our games thanks to the thoughtfulness and kindness of gamers.

Tell me about how you and your party invest in the role-playing hobby. Leave a comment and lets share ideas!

Dungeon Mistress