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