Ghostbusters (1986)

I was going to focus on weird items from my collection this week, but then the Ghostbusters RPG came in the mail and I got too excited. Turns out it is kind of weird, too!

Despite my wife not believing such a thing could exist, Ghostbusters was, in 1986, West End Games’ first D6 RPG system and the first dice pool system (rolling a number of dice, determined by skill and equipment, in order to beat a difficulty number), which would go on to be the basis of Greg Costikyan’s more complicated Star Wars system and influence countless other games.

What’s weirdest for me, though, is the Chaosium dragon  alongside the West End Games logo. As you can see on the back of the box, the creators of Call of Cthulhu – Sandy Peterson, Lynn Willis and Greg Stafford – get top billing. And it feels like a Chaosium game: stripped down rules and a focus on roleplaying.

It’s got a sense of humor in line with the movie, too – Brownie Points are a key mechanic, rolling a six on a custom die indicates that Something Bad Has Happened and a Venkman caricature mocks you from the margins all the way through the rules. The game also lays out the details of the classification system hinted at in the movies. I now know exactly what a free-floating full torso vaporous apparition is, and six-year-old me can finally rest easy. There’s also more than just ghosts to fight in the game, making it a bit of a philosophical bridge between the movie and the cartoon. I can’t wait to play it.

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