Thursday, July 9, 2020

Tweaking Ghostbusters to play nice with the OSR

I've now run three mini-sessions (plus a Session 0) of the "Ghostbusters meets Urban Arcana" game (which I will attempt from here on to refer to simply as the Department-7 game, since that's the organization that's the focus of it) with my friend Josh, who has been an immeasurably good sport in letting me blindly lead him through a set of mechanics and setting tropes that are being figured out as we go along.

From my seat, it's been a ton of fun.  Agents B.J. Flech and Johnny Fix have done a great job so far taking care of the giant ants invading a giant picnic and managing to also handle the group of kobolds living in the ants' lair.


They're now off to Colorado Springs to investigate some odd visitors that have made swim practice impossible the past couple of days at the U.S. Olympic Training Center (they're prepping for the 1990 Goodwill Games, y'know)...


My goal with this game has been to mash up Ghostbusters and D&D in a couple of different ways.  First, they're scrambled together thematically, as the PCs are just investigating something strange in the neighborhood, it's just that their brand of strange is stuff that's made its way to our world from a fantasy realm.  I also wanted a mechanical mashup, though, taking the basics of the Ghostbusters RPG and working in monsters from fantasy games pretty much as written.  Here's how things are shaping up thus far...

The game is still very much attribute + skill based and built on dice pools, with stats changed from Ghostbusters' Muscles/Moves/Brains/Cool to the very, very similar Might/Dexterity/Intelligence/Presence.  I like that breakdown of abilities, I like that DEX and INT can be preserved from D&D, I like Might (which is used in Mini Six) and Presence as STR-CON and WIS-CHA combos.  I should maybe just use the GB names but figure these alternatives will work fine for now.  Twelve points are divided up among the attributes, with a starting range of 1-5 for each.  We're dealing with whole dice only...no pips to "complicate" things like in later D6 games such as Star Wars.

In Ghostbusters, starting characters get a single talent (or skill) for each of the attributes.  When the talent applies to a roll, the player rolls three additional dice.  We've gone the same route with Department-7 but are only throwing two additional dice in for rolls that include the talent.  This keeps them from being so game-swinging at the start and aligns things more with "standard" D6 System games, where seven skill dice seem to be the norm at character creation.

I've dropped Brownie Points and just given the characters straight-up hit points instead...10 plus a Might roll.  Counting down on these seems like a nice way to keep the spirit of Ghostbusters' Brownie Points (a simple number rather than a wound system), and I think it adds to the D&D feel.

Task resolution, including combat, is where I'm trying the hardest to integrate the systems smoothly.  As I have now rambled on way longer than I thought I would at this point, I think I'll save that for another post to come along soon...

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

2 Tone Tuesday: My favorite video on YouTube


If not my favorite, it's pretty darn close.


Is Buster Bloodvessel the greatest entertainer of the 2 Tone era?  I'm really starting to think so.  Here's Bad Manners performing the song at the height of ska's second wave...


Saturday, June 27, 2020

Geeky SKAturday: Rancid's Skeletim ReAction Figure

I would call myself an "enthusiastic observer" of Super7's ReAction Figures.  The design and character choices are pretty awesome, and I really enjoy seeing new additions to the line, but they aren't something I see myself sinking much (if any) money into anytime soon.  It was pretty intriguing, though, to check out their site recently and stumble upon a new figure based upon legendary punk band Rancid's Tim Armstrong:  Skeletim.


I would rate Armstrong up there as one of my favorite musicians ever.  The 1995 Rancid album ...And Out Come the Wolves had a role in the return to the mainstream of both punk rock and ska in the 90s, and it certainly played a role in the transitioning of my most ardent musical leanings from a general interest in alternative rock to an unshakable love for ska.

While not solely a ska album, ...And Out Come the Wolves features amazing ska numbers like this classic...


...and it was a bit of a return to ska form for frontman Armstrong and bassist Matt Freeman, who were previously in legendary ska-punk band Operation Ivy, purveyors of a whole host of 80s punk anthems...


And if that weren't enough, Armstrong would eventually go on to team up with LA reggae band The Aggrolites to release his debut solo record A Poet's Life (initially as all free downloads), which I would seriously consider a candidate for best album ever.  Check it out if you can.  (Here's a sample...)


Skeletim isn't the first ReAction figure with a musical origin, as the line has featured toys based on the evocative imagery of bands like Iron Maiden and the Misfits.  It's seemingly based upon Armstrong himself by way of artwork used by the band.



Apparently, Skeletim has also previously been featured as a bobble...er, Throbblehead, with is also...well, kinda cool, I guess.  I wasn't aware that these were even a thing; here's a pic of the second version for the bobblehead lovers among you:


Thursday, June 25, 2020

The Adventures of B.J. Flech

This past weekend, former Ghostbuster B.J. Flech finally returned to action protecting our world from extradimensional threats.


In the first session of a new campaign with my friend Josh, B.J. and his partner Johnny Fix headed to 1990 Norfolk, VA, to see what shadowy shenanigans may be in store for the 8th Annual Fourth of July Great American Picnic & Fireworks.

It was a giant picnic, so naturally the threat was a colony of giant ants.  Overall, I'd say it was a success.  I mean, it's still up in the air how the ant problem is going to be solved, but when your game session includes things like a character riding on the back of an ant as it carries a huge bag of hot dog buns stolen from a food truck back to its colony, I figure you're doing something at least a little bit right.

As I mentioned last time, the game is a bit of a mashup of Ghostbusters and Urban Arcana.  I'm enjoying playing with some rules here, as the base is mostly a houseruled version of the GB RPG, but I want to pull monsters from D&D and D&D-based RPGs and use their stats meaningfully in this game (I pulled the ants from Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game).

Ultimately, I think I might want the focus of the setting to be on an organization that feels a little more like the Ghostbusters than the X-Files, but for now, Flech and Fix are agents of the D20 Modern staple agency, Department-7, as taken pretty much directly from the Urban Arcana SRD.  There's still a lot to explore here.  More to come as I make my way through it...!

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

I'm finally getting someone to play a 30-year-old character that came with a used game...

The last time I got to run a game of the wonderful old Ghostbusters RPG, I made sure to bring a number of character options to the table.  It was just a one-shot, but since character creation is so fast and straightforward, I figured I could make sure a number of options were covered so that the players could get into the game in whatever way seemed most fun to them.  So, players could create a character on the spot, or use one of the pregens I brought to the session, or play one of the movie characters that came with the game, or...and there was no doubt in my mind that this was the coolest option...they could use one of the characters that had been made by previous players of the game, and which were still in the box when I bought it off of Amazon many years ago.


Sadly...and a little surprisingly...no one took this last option.

BUT it looks like the dream is still alive for me! I'm starting a mini-campaign with my buddy Josh to test out a setting that might be best described as Urban Arcana plus Ghostbusters, and the system is just Ghostbusters with some house rules (and probably working in some innovations from Mini Six and other D6 System games).  So...doesn't it make sense for ex-Ghostbuster BJ Flech to make an appearance in the campaign?  (Josh actually made a character of his own, too.  I'm honestly not sure how deadly this game is going to end up being, so having two characters for a single player seems perfect.)


(Yeah, I blacked out the phone number because...whether they were actually their own or not...it looks like the players put real numbers on their cards.  It's oh-so-tempting to dial 'em up and find out more about these characters...!)

I'm wondering how many of you out there have subjected your players to taking on "found" characters, or maybe even played some yourself...?

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

2 Tone Tuesday: Too Much Pressure

This obviously isn't a political blog, but the state of America these days makes it difficult to not say something, in acknowledgment at least.  But then it's hard to figure out what to say that isn't just stating the obvious.  We need to start facing these issues head-on before the momentum slips away and I have to live the rest of my lifetime seeing this same horrific story play out.


Since the 2 Tone movement was defined, in part, by attempting to tear down barriers based on race, I thought maybe I could at least find a great, fitting song in my listening time today.  But...no real luck there. (Not a huge fan of the Specials' "Racist Friend," if you thought I was missing the obvious.  It's a good song, but not next-level good.)  So here's one that at least reminds me how unnecessary it is that we've gotten ourselves into this position as a country...


Friday, June 5, 2020

Project 5.5 - System finalists

After going over options in my head for...well, months now...I have finally narrowed the choice for a set of rules to serve as the basis for Project 5.5 (a wargame using bulky MOTU-style action figures) down to two.

The first option builds from my last contender post, which was...wow, way back in 2019...taking the game in an OSR direction using Swords & Six-Siders as a model (although I'll probably end up going with a more freeform "OSR but only using d6s" style).  The lean toward this choice comes from the free and open nature of various OSR products produced under the OGL, the quantity of OSR resources to draw from, and the fact that I can pair this effort with work I have done and will do on Light City, which I really need to spend a little time on at some point.

In addition, as James from James Mishler Games and Adventures in Gaming v2 was kind enough to point out when I asked for info on the origin of 1d6 skill rolls in D&D, d6-only resolution was there from the very start, on page 9 of OD&D's third booklet (The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures).  There's something very clean and simple about taking the approach originally used for dealing with doors and applying it to all rolls in the game.

However, there's another great option that I just can't quite shake.  Starting with the fact that this might be my favorite RPG of all time...


...and that it was used to later create this game, another great one...


...and then the fact that there is already a miniatures system based upon those rules, which I very handily have a copy of...


...AND the fact that even the minis system has been released under the OGL (you can find it HERE)...

...and, well, that's a tempting way to go.  Also, the next RPG I plan to run (hopefully starting next week!) is a semi-homebrew setting using semi-homebrew rules based upon Ghostbusters and its descendant Mini Six...which means that going this route could synthesize a couple of my gaming projects much like Light City and Project 5.5 could mix in an OSR approach.

At the moment, I'm leaning OSR.  But that could change at any time.

I'm thinking.