Ghostbusters Roleplaying Hub :: Updated Rules
The original Ghostbusters Roleplaying Game was first published in 1986, the same year The Real Ghostbusters cartoon debuted. There may be no connection there, but the RPG’s pre-packaged adventures often feel “cartoony” compared to the films, and some of the equipment (like car phones) are clearly out of date. If you’re running a light-hearted campaign set in the 80’s, this might be fine. But if you’re looking to start a modern day franchise with a tone closer to the films (or perhaps even grittier), then you’ll want to read some of our suggestions for new rules.
Additionally, the Ghostbusters cannon has expanded a great deal since the first film. Our updated rules add familiar (and essential!) canonical Ghostbusters equipment like the Slime Blower, Proton Pistol, Dark Matter Generator, etc. and expand the lore with new in-universe insights into how this advanced tech works.
These are divided into “Standard Equipment”; the kind of day-to-day gear any Ghostbuster would have access to, and “Special Equipment”; which your crew would likely have to buy in-game to expand their operation.
Below you’ll find an overview of Standard and Special Equipment rule in detail. For in-game equipment pricing, from carded equipment like the Dark Matter Generator, to utility services like Mobile Containment Units and basic jumpsuits, see the Equipment Order Form. We’ve also created extra “Cheat Sheets” in case you need to quickly create campaign assets on the fly like new ghosts, locations, clients, and more!
-1 Ecto-Presence on successful hit.
No Attack / Containment Settings:
The modern pack has only one setting. Your proton stream will automatically ensnare any ghost with zero Ecto-Presence.
Boson Dart Upgrade:
Since the Boson Upgrade to the Proton Pack isn’t standard starting equipment and provides so many additional features, we’ve created a separate Special Equipment card for it. (See below.)
The Ghost Trap (AKA Muon Trap) is a sealed container that allows a Ghostbuster to transport spirits to the Containment Unit. The connecting cable to the foot pedal is 3.6 meters (12 feet) long, and can be replaced with different lengths as required.
Once a trap has captured a ghost and has closed, it cannot be re-opened without releasing the ghost contained within. The trap can capture and hold up to four spirits at once before automatically closing. Has a battery life of 12-24 hours, depending on strain from the power of the entity being held.
The modern P.K.E. Meter locates and measures both psychokinetic and psychomagnotheric energy. When close enough to a manifestation, it can also recommend a classification (provided by the GM).
In the old days, the P.K.E. Meter would tell you “where” energies were and the now-retired Giga Meter would tell you “how big”. Current technology has combined both functions into one stream-lined device.
The Ecto Goggles allow the wearer to see invisible ghosts and visually track P.K.E. valences. Modern Ecto Goggles have video recording and military-grade infrared night vision capabilities.
The Slime Blower (AKA Plasm Distribution System) uses a self-regulating strain of ectoplasm to impair entities, neutralize caustic negative slime, de-posess people, and reveal otherwise invisible structures that reside on the ethereal plane. With a long range and endless supply of regenerating positively charged slime, the Slime Blower is a great tool to deter or neutralize most corporeal entities. Better still, the depolarizing effect it has on negative slime makes it perfect for dispersing nearly all slime creatures.
A successful MOVES roll grants -2 Ecto-Presence on a ghost possessing a person or object. On standard ectoplasmic entities, it’s -1 to Eco-Presence and it drives the ghost away, like a “pepper spray” for spirits. Green Slime can also negate the presence of Black Slime. See “The Slime Spectrum” document for more info on how slime works.
The Slime Tether allows for the discharge of plasmic slime strands between two points. These plasmic strands contract and pull on whatever is on the two ends. The Slime Tether works great for moving heavy objects, and for tethering the ghosts into the Trap when they’re weakened.
A successful MOVES or FIRE WEAPON roll fired at two objects will contract, pulling with the strength of “4 Muscles” during the initial round fired, “2 Muscles” for the next round, then “1 Muscle” each round after that until it breaks. Tethering a ghost next to an open trap can allow the ghost to be trapped without lowering its Ecto-Presence to zero, as long as the ghost isn’t strong enough to break free.
Slime Net Upgrade:
The Slime Net is a purchasable upgrade that allows the user to fire a plasmic “net” to ensnare unwieldy targets. Same rules as the Slime Tether, just a different shape.
Aura Video Analyzer
This unit consists of a head-mounted magnetoencephalography brain scanner, a custom P.K.E. wide-spectrum imaging video camera, and a wired external processing device which can be plugged into any computer and operated with proprietary Ghostbusters software.
The system is modular and can be operated with just the brain scanner, camera, or both. With the brain scanner alone, it’s capable of determining whether or not there is a spirit possessing a person, potential PKE data therein, details on a person’s current emotional state, temperature, and can be used as a makeshift “lie detector,” though lie detector results can often be inaccurate or inconclusive.
The camera is specially engineered for PKE sensitivity – isolating that energy, and reducing other imaging noise. Use of the camera can potentially reveal a visual image of the spirit or creature possessing the subject. It can also provide infrared, ultraviolet, and traditional visible light imaging. The software monitors the camera’s output and artificially colors the raw electrical data for better subject visualization. This hard-wired setup is considerably more versatile, sensitive and detailed than standard Ecto Goggles.
The data reported by the Aura Video Analyzer is revealed at the GM’s discretion. If used for lie-detector purposes, a “Cool” or “Bluff” roll of 5 or more could give a false positive “truth” result.
If you’re playing a game where the stakes are high and serious injury is a possibility, this Standard Equipment might come in handy. It’s a comprehensive kit of life-saving materials in a water-proof container; better stocked than a basic first-aid kit.
When administering medical care, players with the Med-Kit roll an additional 1d6 using the “Brains” trait, “Medicine” talent, or any other comparable talent at the GM’s discretion.
Your team can choose any kind of vehicle to operate from. It’s recommended that it be large enough to hold four people and a substantial amount of equipment, as well as be outfitted with appropriate emergency vehicle lights, sirens, and decals.
It can be used to store additional items to take out into the field (three per player). Be sure to plan accordingly before going out on a bust.
Mobile Containment Unit:
A purchasable upgrade for your team. A smaller containment unit that sits in the back of the Company Vehicle enabling Ghostbusters to empty full traps without driving all the way back to HQ. Spirits must be transferred to the main containment grid via Ghost Trap. Holds up to ten ghosts. Battery life of 48-96 hours.
Proton Pack – Boson Dart Upgrade
A Proton Pack expansion, allowing for the use of Boson Darts – bursts of extremely volatile particles. The Pack has been modified to handle extra power fluctuations and has a neutrona wand that can cycle between standard streams and Boson Darts.
Effectively, Boson Darts behave like a grenade or rocket launcher: a slow-moving projectile which detonates on impact, dealing intense damage to anything in its immediate proximity. This applies to the corporeal and incorporeal alike. Boson Darts are effective for taking out groups of low-level manifestations with minimal effort, and can deal severe damage to more violent P.K.E. phenomena.
Be cautioned: accidental Neutrona Wand blockage could vaporize the surrounding square mile. Boson particles also quickly overheat the Proton Pack, so sparse usage is recommended.
-3 Ecto-Presence on successful hit. Splash damage of -1 or -2.
Once a Boson Dart is fired, the pack starts to overheat. If the player does not fire on their next turn, the pack will cool down to normal levels and they’ll be able to fire another Boson Dart on the turn after that.
On the turn after a Boson Dart, if the player fires a standard stream, they’ll be unable to fire a Boson Dart for another two turns while the pack cools down. Standard stream will still be available.
If the player fires a Boson Dart for two turns in a row, the pack will overheat and enter a shut down/ vent cycle for the next three rounds. If a “Ghost” is rolled, the neutrona wand may be permanently damaged at the GM’s discretion.
This handheld neutrona wand is so lightweight and easily holsterable that it can be carried with no encumbrance cost to the player. The trade-off is that it’s not able to fire a capture stream and can’t be upgraded to fire Boson Darts.
Player rolls 1D6 in addition to their “Moves” trait or “Fire Weapon” talent. -1 Ecto-Presence on successful hit.
Dark Matter Generator
The Dark Matter Generator collects invisible dark matter particles and projects them, either in high-damage, shotgun-like, blasts to quickly disperse entities (Shock Blast), or as a condensed order-reversing beam to slow or even paralyze spectral entities for easier capture (Stasis Stream). The Dark Matter Generator is especially effective against “swarms” and can hit multiple targets at once.
The basic function of the Dark Matter Generator. Expels a conical pattern of stripped dark matter particles comparable to a shotgun, dealing extreme damage at close proximity, but rapidly losing its effectiveness over distance.
-2 Ecto-Presence on successful MOVES roll. For Corporeal beings or “normal” physical objects, roll an additional 3D6 worth of damage after a successful hit.
A secondary function for the Dark Matter Generator that emits a high capacity stream of order-reversing particles that hyperbond to ectoplasmic matter causing crystallization, effectively immobilizing or “freezing” ghosts and other paranormal entities in place for a limited time. This is ideal for staggering targets that might be too fast or incorporeal for a Slime Tether to be effective.
Successful MOVES roll freezes the ghost in place with a strength of “4 Muscles” for the initial round, “2 Muscles” for the next round, then “1 Muscle” each round after that until it breaks free.
Capsules of positively-charged, hyper-pressurized green slime, capable of being thrown or rolled. The burst from a Slime Grenade easily covers 18 square meters (200 square feet) with a maximum range of about 92 square meters (1,000 square feet) in an open area. Affected areas are slippery and the terrain more difficult to traverse.
Carrying more than one Slime Grenade takes up an equipment slot and a Ghostbuster might wear multiples on a belt or bandolier. Players can carry up to six and are encouraged to use tokens or mark on their Personnel Files to denote how many they have.
Successful MOVES or THROW roll lands the grenade on target.
The Kinetic Umbral Detection Meter, AKA “K.U.D. Meter”, or informally the “Kitchen Utensil Detector Meter”, detects thin spots in “the veil” between the ghost world and the material plane. These areas could potentially let P.K.E. (or even smaller entities) leak through into our realm. Detecting these areas may determine the source of paranormal environmental phenomenon and potential portals that could serve as gateways or become spawning points for repeating psychokinetic phenomenon.
Successful BRAINS roll detects any existing portals or dimensional “weak points” in the area.
Per Dr. Spengler’s Notes:
“The Kinetic Umbral Detection Meter allows the user to translate undetectable particles into actionable data via a logarithmic energy scale. It accomplishes this by energizing the Wave Lens so that the particles coalesce in the energy well holes. At this stage, the newly-formed particles are still undetectable. The Harmonic Detector, parallel to the Wave Lens, has an opposite charge, which draws the particles toward it, causing it to vibrate from the strikes. This data is then quantified by the device via an easy-to-read illuminated screen.”
In Plain English:
The strainer (Wave Lens) is energized in a way that allows the “ghost world’s” P.K.E. to form through the specific size of the holes (affecting the wavelength), it is then pulled toward the potato masher (Harmonic Detector), which vibrates when it is struck, sending a signal to the meter’s display.
The Latent Image Sensor (AKA “Ecto Lamp”) is an investigatory device used to discover the source or cause of a haunting. Utilizing the unique vibrational properties of Herkimer diamonds, it saturates the immediate area with benign pulses of psychokinetic and psychomagnotheric waves, providing hidden context to anchored manifestations or revealing invisible entities.
To operate the Latent Image Sensor, place it in a potentially sensitive location and activate it. The mechanisms will begin to light up and oscillate, casting a faint illumination in all directions of about 12 square meters (129 square feet).
Depending on the circumstance, the Ecto Lamp may reveal the source of a latent haunting (often something that has no consciousness) or show invisible details of a past event, like casting a blacklight over a crime scene. In cases involving more intense P.K.E., the projection may act like an augmented reality “window” into the past showing fragmented images anchored to the specific area or perhaps a visual loop of the traumatic event that caused the P.K.E. to stick around; with details forming over time like a “living” polaroid picture.
Per Dr. Spengler’s Notes on Herkimer Diamonds:
“Herkimer diamonds are formed, in part, by saltwater and petroleum from around the Cambrian Explosion – an entire ancient sea’s worth of psychokinetic potential fermented and imprisoned in quartz for millions of years. Because of the unique way that the crystals form, this energy has never dissipated; acting as a kind of natural containment grid.
When the crystals are energized, they drive out numerous microscopic and incredibly weak Class 1 manifestations that can only hold on to our plane for a very brief time; sometimes only around a fraction of a second. However, if there is a strong psychic presence in the area they will cling to it, surviving a little longer in this plane. The Latent Image Sensor puts this into practical purpose. The discharged spectral energies released via the device, essentially ‘paint’ a disturbance as they build up, creating an image perceptible to the human eye.”
Polarity Rectification Tripods
The Polarity Rectification Tripods (AKA “Tripod Traps”) are electromagnetic devices used to rectify a straight polarity reversal. Their standard purpose is to neutralize “cursed” or haunted objects, but they can also create a psychokinetic “force field” capable of trapping an entity or psychokinetic presence inside the grid.
Players can assemble sets of four or more tethered tripods to establish a laser grid. Objects, entities, or presences therein will either be held in place or be rendered inert; depending on the setting.
The Spectral Proto Capacitor (AKA Ghost Beacon) emits an ultra parasonic frequency allowing the user to summon nearby ghosts to their location. Depending on the class and power level, a ghost could detect the frequency from as far away as 450 meters (492 yards).
This Special Equipment expansion requires no card, just the finances and R&D to upgrade your players’ tactical wardrobe. Advances in processing ectoplasmic materials have made it possible to manufacture fabrics enriched with positively-changed slime. The bonded material is flexible, durable, and provides significant shielding from some of the job’s stickier hazards. It also provides minor protection against Black Slime.
Wearing slime-woven clothing makes it twice as hard for the wearer to become possessed. If slimed, the Player’s Cool is only taken down by ¼ instead of ½.
Allows the player to grapple/punch/kick ectoplasmic entities that would otherwise be intangible. Will only lower a ghost’s Ecto-Presence at the GM’s discretion.
Research and development of paranormal investigations and eliminations technology is ongoing! We can only field test so much via our adventures on Ghostbusters: Resurrection, but there are franchises popping up all over the country – including yours!
If you’d like to support our efforts in Ghostbusters RPG excellence and test out the next generation of specter-smashing equipment, join us on Patreon:
Patrons get the latest prototype rules for still in-development gear like the Mason Collider and the Mega Trap. What’s more, if you join our bustling Discord community of fellow Ghost Heads, Patrons have access to an exclusive channel for GBRPG R&D to share data, discuss, and debate all the latest advancements with our lead developer, Doug Banks.
How much gear can a player carry?
The basic rule is that a Ghostbuser can carry three pieces of equipment without affecting their ability to move around. Typically, a player will want to carry one piece of major busting equipment (like a Proton Pack or Slime Blower) and two pieces of minor equipment (P.K.E. Meter, Ecto-Goggles, Trap, etc). Because of this, the players might want to store an extra three pieces of equipment in the Company Vehicle (but only if a player volunteers to carry the Company Vehicle card in their loadout).
Should a player choose to, they can carry a single Slime Grenade, hooked somewhere on their person, without it taking up an item slot. If a player wants to carry more than one, they’ll be required to use the Slime Grenade card, which counts as a full-fledged piece of equipment and can represent up to six grenades.
Can a player carry more than three items? How about a Proton Pack and Slime Blower at the same time?
Well, it’s possible. Just not realistic. Proton Packs and Slime Blowers are supposed to be heavy. Does the player want to carry a spare Pack somewhere and drop it off for someone else? If your player is volunteering to be a temporary “pack mule” and not actually use any of the equipment, they can carry a number of items equivalent to their “Muscles”. But if this adds up to four or more items, they’ll be slower and won’t be able to take any actions.
If a player is just trying to find a way to use both the Proton Pack and Slime Blower at the same time, just tell them, “No. It’s too heavy.” If they have 5 or more “Muscles,” and are willing to NOT carry anything else, and they insist on it, then let them carry both. But have them take a -2D6 penalty on all “Moves” rolls.
What if my team wants to buy new equipment or expand their operation?
We have a price list for all the expanded weaponry and other ghost busting tools right here: Equipment Order Form.
Ectoplasm that is “clear” or has a yellowish/greenish/bluish translucent “tint” is considered neutral and harmless. It will register on a P.K.E. meter, but will not react to physical or emotional stimuli. It is often a sign of recent activity or physical contact with an ectoplasmic entity.
AKA “Green Slime” consists of positive P.K.E. This slime has been artificially infused with an energetic, self replicating growth medium that can (in theory) provide an endless supply of positively charged slime. Although its effect is similar to positively charged “mood slime”, it is not considered “psychomagnotheric” because its emotional state cannot be altered.
Its effect on a living person will depend on that person’s current emotional state, and the amount of slime applied directly to them. It can range from a calming or “zoned out” effect, all the way up to intense feelings of merriment or euphoria. It’s most effective when used to “de-possess” a person from a harmful spirit, or to eliminate Black Slime.
AKA “Mood Slime” or “Pink Slime” responds to human emotional states, both positive and negative. In small amounts, it will reciprocate the emotions around it. In larger amounts, it will affect the humans in close proximity. The more there is, the stronger its effect, and further reaching its influence will be.
It can be used to open portals, increase a spirit’s P.K.E., possess or attack humans, and animate objects of all sizes. Direct contact with this slime fills a person with the negative or positive emotions stored within it. Unlike the positive “green slime,” the emotional influence on pink slime seems limitless. This can be a double edged sword however, as the slime will always take on the traits of the strongest emotion in its proximity.
AKA “Black Slime” often occurs at the intersections between our world and ghost worlds. It’s a dangerous substance formed of ectoplasm supersaturated with negative energy. Black Slime is incredibly caustic and will cause severe damage to anyone who comes into contact with it. Black Slime also appears to function as a conduit for P.K.E. energy and could, if saturated with enough spiritual energy, become a “portal” for strong, malevolent spirits.
Need some assistance in creating details for your game? We’ve got you covered with helpful tools you can use to fill in the blanks on the fly, or to inspire you along the way.
Page 49 of the Ghostbusters Operations Manual has a decent “generator” for when you need inspiration the night before a game; but it doesn’t help you if you’re in a rush, accidentally misplaced your planned encounter, or are just plain out of ideas. Here are some tables that can help. All you need is a D6.
If you still need more details, here are some “Ghostly Special Abilities”.
Now that you’ve got the ghost, how about making some memorable clients? They’re the ones paying you, after all.
Protip: You’ll never know when one of your players will want to suddenly question a random NPC bystander that you didn’t plan on. Write a dozen or so name combinations on an index card in advance. Then when the time comes, just pick a name that suits that NPC. Whatever names you don’t use, save for the next session!
Want all this info in a handy-dandy file? No problem! Just check out the Cheat Sheet section below.