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The Amsterdam Ghostbusters: A GBRPG Campaign

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    Citizen Stu

    Hi everyone.
    I thought I’d share the Ghostbusters campaign I’ve been running with a few friends at work. The campaign follows the adventures of the Amsterdam Ghostbusters, a new-ishly formed team that had never seen a ghost until the game started. I’ve based all the locations on real places in Amsterdam and even included a little bit of the city’s history as background detail (I learned a few new things while writing the campaign). It’s written very much in a GM guide style mainly because it actually is my campaign notes (with some stuff added to make it more readable). I hope you like it.

    Game Setup
    1984 – Events of Ghostbusters
    1989 – Events of Ghostbusters II
    1991 – Events Ghostbusters The Video Game

    1992 to 1995 – The Original Amsterdam Ghostbusters Team:
    -Ghostbuster franchises start opening in major cities across America and Europe.
    -The original Ghostbusters Amsterdam team is formed: Erik van de Leuwee, Adriaan Bakker, Pieter Meijer, Elise van de Meer.
    -The team never has to deal with anything as big as the events of New York but after a few mid level events the team becomes well established and known within the Dutch media.

    1998 – The Break Up:
    – The Ghostbusters Amsterdam team suddenly disbanded for unknown reasons.

    1999 to 2005 – Paranormal Decline:
    – Paranormal activity starts to show significant signs of decline.
    – Franchises are slowly forced to close but some (New York, London, Amsterdam) stay just busy enough to remain open.

    2005 to Now – The New Amsterdam Team:
    – Eventually paranormal activity drops to such a low level that people stop believing in ghosts.
    – Since then the Amsterdam franchise has been kept running by mostly temp workers, none lasting more than two years.
    – The players play the latest team of Amsterdam Ghostbusters. They have all been on the job for a few months and already know each other.
    – They have had no calls (beyond the occasional prank). They don’t even employ a secretary any more.
    – They have never seen a ghost either (unless stated otherwise in their back story). They are trained in how to use the equipment but at this point they are mostly glorified caretakers of the containment unit. However, there are rumors of the containment unit being moved to New York or the newly opened Florida franchise (once a safe way of doing so has been worked out).
    -The team is sitting around the office not doing much when the telephone suddenly rings.

    Part 1 – The Call
    On the other end of the phone is Joroen Koster, the current manager of the Tuschinski movie theatre in Amsterdam.
    He explains that they are experiencing ‘a problem’ which he hopes can be resolved by the team’s expertise.
    He seems a little hesitant about going into details on the phone but it is obvious that he is talking about a ghost problem (even though he tries his best not to actually use the word ghost). He requests that the team comes to the cinema after closing time to investigate.

    Part 2a – Arriving
    Front Entrance

    The Tuschinski movie theatre is situated in the middle of Amsterdam’s main tourist area but stands out easily from the rest of the more modern buildings that surround it. Built in the 1920s the cinema is a prime example of art novo architecture.

    Click here for a full 360 view of the foyer

    Inside the building is even more impressive. The main foyer is decorated in impressive patterns of swirling reds and browns. Straight ahead a small set of steps leads to up the main cinema area. Another set of stairs either side lead to the upper corridors and balconies. To the left is a small snack bar where a man dressed as a security guard is obviously trying to chat up the girl behind the counter, who is obviously trying to ignore him. The manager Joroen comes out and greets the team, leading them to his office.

    (During our game my players decided to walk into the foyer in slow-mo while carrying a boombox playing the Ghostbusters theme. They failed a cool roll so badly that two of them tripped on the carpet and fell).

    Part 2c – Manager’s Office
    The room is very plane and lacks the fancy decorations of the main foyer. It’s obviously as old as the rest of the building but looks like all it received in the last renovation was a fresh coat of off white paint. It has all the things you’d expect to find in a manager’s office; a desk, a couple of chairs, some filing cabinets, etc. The only thing that stands out is a couple of old framed photos on the back wall.

    Character Stats:
    The Current Manager – Jeroen Koster
    Brains 5 (Promotion) / Cool 3 (Persuasion) / Moves 3 (Stealth) / Muscles 2 (Carry)
    Goal: Avoid bad press.

    Noticing More Detail:
    Brains Roll 5 – The photos on the wall seem to be from various points in the buildings history. Each is labeled and includes a year:
    – The Tuschinski Brothers (1919)
    – The grand opening (1921)
    – Various staff photos (1926 – 1937)
    – The Orchestra (1927)
    – Various photos of VIP guests and famous performers (1928 – 1946)
    – Various photos of movie premiers (1959 – 1988)
    Brains Roll 15 – The last photo is from a movie premier of Who Framed Roger Rabbit. No one seems to have updated the wall since then. One of the photos of the staff (1922) shows a projectionist standing proudly next to an old projector. On his overalls he seems to be wearing a Mickey Mouse fan club badge.

    Joroen thanks the team for coming and again iterates that they have been experiencing problems in the building. He still seems to be having a hard time finding the words to explain exactly what has been going on. With a bit of prompting from the team he sighs and starts to explain the problem:
    – Problems started suddenly three weeks ago.
    – At first it was just projectors turning themselves on and off at night.
    – Then staff started reporting hearing whispering when no one else was around.
    – A few described catching glimpse of a figure out of the corner of their eye.
    – Then the projector problems started interfering with public viewings. Clips of old black and white cartoons would suddenly interrupt the movies even though there were no such clips loaded into the projector.
    – In the beginning Joroen ignored the reports from his staff and put the problems down to technical failures. He certainly did not believe in ghosts… at first.
    – Last night Joroen saw something himself, a figure standing on top of the stairs that lead from the foyer to the main auditorium.

    Asking About Ghost Activity:
    Joroen explains that he only saw the figure for a moment before it vanished. He could not make out its face but it seemed to be wearing a suit and he felt like this thing was looking at him… disapprovingly.

    Asking About The cinema:
    Joroen is able to share some of the history of the building:
    – Construction began 1919 and was completed 1921
    – The main auditorium was originally used for live performances (as well as movie screenings) by famous singers and musicians and included a 16 piece orchestra
    – The cinema was first renovation in 1936
    – The 16 piece orchestra was removed in 1969
    – A second renovation took place from 1998 to 2002
    – Movie projections are now digital but one of the old 8mm projectors has been kept operation for special screenings.

    Starting the investigation:
    From here the team is free to investigate any part of the building. As they leave the office Jeoren thanks them and mentions that it would be great if they could solve the problem. He casually mentions that he does not need any more problems after the break in they had the other week.

    If the team catches this and asks him what he is talking about he reacts as if it is unimportant. There was a break in about four weeks ago but nothing was taken and no damage was done so it was not reported. He tells them Frank the security guard knows more about it.

    Part 3a – Investigating The Foyer
    Back in the foyer the security guard is gone but the girl seen easier is still busy closing things up.

    Character Stats:
    Part Timer – Marjolein de Jong
    Brains 4 (Film history) / Cool 4 (Avoid pick up line) / Moves 2 (Run) / Muscles 2 (Throw)
    Goal: Finish study and pay off student loan.

    Talking to Marjolein:
    If the team tries to talk to her she introduces herself as Marjolein. She is a film history student working part time to cover her student loan. It’s obvious that she is not enjoying the job as much as she thought she would. She can get very sarcastic towards anyone who annoys her (or tries to use chat up lines on her). If the team has annoyed her all cool rolls to get her to talk will be +5.

    Asking About Ghost Activity:
    Cool roll 10 – Marjolein casually mentions to seeing something once, an old man in some kind of work overalls that disappeared before her eyes. She didn’t feel threatened by it at all though. It almost seemed friendly.

    Asking About the Cinema:
    Cool roll 5 – It turns out that as a film history student Marjolein knows quite a bit about the history of the building, including some of its sordid little secrets:
    – During the late 20s and early 30s there were said to be a lot of secret wild parties in the VIP lounges on the upper floor.
    – The manager that ran the theatre around that time was not such a nice guy. He was very strict and believed the reputation of the movie theatre was everything. Although some rumors say he secretly ran these wild parties for profit.

    Scanning with the PKE meter:
    There are no real readings in the foyer. Only a faint trace can be detected. Nothing is really viewable through the ecto goggles either. Marjolein seems quite in what the team is doing.

    Part 3b – Investigating The Corridors
    The corridors circle the main auditorium. The lighting is subdued as it would be during a movie screening. There are three levels of corridors (the upper two leading to the auditorium balconies).


    While investigating the corridors the team bump into Frank the security guard on one of his rounds. Frank does not seem very impressed by the Ghostbusters at all. He seems to think they (and ghosts) are a joke. He is annoyed by any questions they have and real does not like it if they comment on him trying to chat up Marjolein.

    Character Stats:
    Security Guard – Frank de Vries
    Brains 2 (Security) / Cool 2 (Bully) / Moves 3 (Dodge) / Muscles 5 (Brawl)
    Goal: Ask out Marjolein.

    Asking About Ghost Activity:
    Frank has seen nothing and thinks everyone is just imagining things. He knows nothing about the history of the place either.

    Asking About The Break In:
    – Frank tells the team to mind their own damn business and go back to, “smashing ghosts or whatever.”
    – Cool Roll 10 – Frank angrily say’s there was no break in and that Jeroen the manager is mistaken.
    – Cool Roll 15 – Annoyed, Frank tells the team there was no break in. Some guy paid him 20 euros to be let into the room for an hour, no questions asked. Everything would have been fine if one of the cleaners had not seen the guy leaving and reported it as a break in.

    Getting Extra Info:
    If the team successfully threatens frank (with telling the truth about the break in) he can be forced to give them extra info. He won’t be happy about it though.
    – Cool Roll 15 – If asked for a description (of the guy who paid him) Frank will say he looked average height and build, mid to late 30s, brown hair, wearing a grey hoodie and jeans. Frank does not know his name or anything else.
    – Cool Roll 10 – If asked which room he let the guy into Frank will say it was The Red Lounge on the second floor.

    Scanning with the PKE meter:
    The readings a little stronger in the upper corridors but still nothing that really stands out. Frank is unimpressed.

    Part 3c – Projection Room
    The projection room is very bland and lacks the grand decorations of the public areas. Like Jeroen’s office the walls have simply been painted over white but here things look in much more disrepair. Schedules and print outs have been stuck directly to the walls with sellotape in several areas. There are also old framed photos on the wall here too but the look dusty and ignored. The room itself is long and narrow and runs the length of the back wall of the auditorium. Two digital projectors line up with two little windows that look out onto the cinema screen. In the corner is an old 1930s 8mm projector that still gets used sometimes for special showings. It two is lined up with a tiny window.

    Projection Room
    Click here for full 360 view of projector room

    Noticing More Detail:
    No Brains Roll – None of the schedules or print outs look important. The photos on the wall look old and seem to show more of the behind the scenes events than the photos found in the manager’s office:
    – A projectionist standing proudly next to the projector
    – Organ being installed in the auditorium
    – The name Tivoli being torn down from the front of the building and people cheering.

    – Brains Roll 5 – The photos all seem to be from 1920 to 1940. The projectionist in the photo is the same one as in the photo in the manager’s office. The name under the photo reads Koos van Muiswinkle.
    – Brains Roll 15 – In the photo the projectionist is proudly wearing a Mickey Mouse badge.
    – Brains Roll 20 – The cinema was renamed Tivoli during the Nazi occupation (because Tuschinski is a Jewish name). After the war the name Tivoli was torn down and changed back to Tuschinski.

    Scanning with the PKE meter:
    – Brains roll 5 – Readings show signs of recent activity centred around the old projector.
    – Brains roll 10 – The readings seem to indicate a class 3 apparition.

    Viewing with Ecto Goggles:
    – No Brains Roll – Residual trace energy can be seen around the old projector.

    Fiddling with the old projector:
    – Brains roll 5 – The team is able to turn on the projector (if they are trying to do so).
    – Back Up Event – If the team fails to turn on the projector (or don’t try) it suddenly turns on by itself.
    – Once projector is on the events from the auditorium begin.

    Part 3g – Basement Archives
    The basement archives not only lack the grand look of the rest of the building but it also shows the most signs of disrepair and neglect. It’s obviously not used much anymore beyond storage. There are old movie posters and promotional material. Out of the corner of their eye one of the team might catch a glimpse of a figure but it turns out to be a life size cut out of Ironman.

    Searching the Room:
    – Brains Roll 5 – The team find an old filing cabinet in which there are several files and newspaper clippings.
    – Brains Roll 10 – A few news paper clippings catch the team’s eye if they have noticed the photos around the cinema:

    “Tuschinski Grand Reopening” – The article talks about the name Tivoli being removed after the war and being changed back to Tuschinski.

    “Beloved Projectionist in tragic accident” – The article talks with fondness about Koos van Muiswinkle, the projectionist at the Tuschinski from 1921 to 1928. He was well known for his fondness of Disney cartoons. He loved showing screenings of them to the children that came to the theatre. The article says he sadly died when he accidently fell off the second floor balcony one evening after a screening of Steam Boat Willy. A quote from Edwin Smit, the manager at the time, simply says the loss is, “unfortunate.” It seems like a weirdly business like quote in contrast to the rest of the article.

    Scanning with the PKE meter:
    – The readings down here are very weak. Nothing is really viewable through the ecto goggles either.

    Part 3d – Auditorium
    The Auditorium is decorated in the same grand 1920s style found elsewhere in the theatre but here it is even more impressive. The high ceiling gives way to two balconies of seating in addition to the rows and rows of ground floor seating. The large screen sits atop a raised stage that was once used for live performances. In the corner sits an old theatre organ that has not been used in years.

    Main Screen
    Click here for a full 360 view of the auditorium

    Scanning with the PKE meter:
    – Brains roll 5 – Trace readings lead to seat R8-S26 in the middle of the auditorium (right side of the centre aisle).
    – Brains roll 10 – The readings seem to indicate a class 3 apparition.

    Viewing with Ecto Goggles:
    – Brains 10 (or seat already found with PKE) – A faint glow can be seen on seat R8-S26. It looks like the impression left behind when someone has been sitting in a seat.

    – As the team investigates one of the projectors suddenly turns itself on and starts showing the Disney classic Steam Boat Willy (Note: This event can also start while the team is investigating the projector room).
    – The ghost of an old man in overalls slowly fades into view, sitting in a seat in the middle of the auditorium (R8-S26). He seems unaware of his surroundings or anyone else being there. He simply watches the screen with a big smile on his face.
    – If the team has observed the photos around the cinema they will recognize this ghost as Koos Van Muiswinkle, the old projectionist.
    – After a while (if he has not been scared off by the team trying to bust him) the ghost projectionist looks up towards the second balcony as if he has suddenly remembered something.
    – Looking over the edge of the second balcony is the ghost of a stern looking man in a suit with a pencil moustache.
    – If the team has observed the photos around the cinema they will recognize this ghost as Edwin Smit, the old manager.
    – When he is spotted the ghost of the old manager suddenly dematerializes. The ghost of the old projectionist dematerializes a moment later and an alternative cut of Steam Boat Willy starts to play.

    (Note: During our game the team had split up. Three of them were in the projection room and one was in the auditorium trying to find them. When the movie started playing he decided to sit down and watch it next to the only other occupant. He got a brains roll so low that he did not realize he was sitting next to a ghost. The rest of the team quickly ran down to explain this to him).

    Part 3e – Alternative Cut
    The image on the screen suddenly changes. A series of bizarre clips in the same Disney style start to play. The result is as if the video tape from The Ring was animated by Disney in the 1930s. The series of clips is as follows:
    – Mickey dressed as the projectionist, happily whistling to himself and tapping his foot as he operates the projector. Pete, looking like the manager, suddenly bursts in through the door and starts shouting at him.
    – An image of a door with something written on it.
    – An eye looking through a key hole.
    – A candle surrounded by a chalk circle.
    – Pete chasing Mickey through the theatre.
    – Pete pushing Mickey off balcony.
    – The projector cuts out and makes an end of reel flapping sound (even though there is clearly no reel in any of the projectors).

    Noticing more detail from the film:
    Brains Roll 10 – Anyone who was quick enough to read the writing on the door can tell it said: The Red Lounge

    Scanning with the PKE meter:
    -Brains Roll 5 – While it is on the projection is giving off high levels of PKE energy.

    Viewing with Ecto Goggles:
    – Viewing the movie with the Ecto Goggles reveals that there is nothing really being projected onto the screen but light. The light is glowing with PKE energy though.

    Part 3f – The Red Lounge
    The door is locked. The players either have to pick the lock or figure out another way to get in.
    Once they get inside they can see that The Red Lounge gets its name from its bright red carpet. It was a private area for VIP guests and famous performers during the early days of the cinema. It still gets used occasionally for special events but not as often. It was probably last used two months ago but the cleaners still keep it tidy.

    Noticing More Detail:
    – Brains roll 10 – In some parts of the carpet there are remains of chalk dust which the cleaners either missed or could not get out.

    Scanning with PKE meter:
    – Brains roll 5 – There are readings of recent activity.
    – Brains roll 10 – There are readings of recent activity but there is something odd about the readings.
    – Brains roll 15 – There are readings of recent activity but another set of older readings linger underneath.
    – Brains roll 20 – There are readings of recent activity but another set of older readings linger underneath, going back roughly 80 years.
    – Brains roll 25 – There are readings of a recent summoning ritual that took place four weeks ago and another lingering underneath, going back roughly 80 years.

    The ghost of the old manager appears and attacks the team but quickly leaves.
    Part 4 – Busting The Ghost(s)
    From here I mostly improvised the final fight based on what my players were doing, where they had gone and what they had discovered.

    Ghost Stats
    The Old Projectionist (Koos van Muiswinkel) – Class 3 – Full Torso Apparition
    Ecto Presents 4 / Power 2 / Moves 5 (Dodge) / Ability: Illusion
    Goal: Communicate/Reveal the truth & Watch old cartoons

    The Old Manager (Edwin Smit) – Class 4 – Full Torso Apparition
    Ecto Presents 9 / Power 5 / Moves 3 (Stealth) / Ability: Terrorize
    Goal: Keep the truth hidden and maintain the high standards of the movie theatre

    My player’s fight began in the Red Lounge were they faced the ghost of the old manager. It managed escaped after using its terrorize attack on the team but they quickly tracked it down again in the main auditorium. After quite a fight they captured the ghost of the old manager to the relief of the cinema staff (who had now witnessed everything). This outcome was more or less one of three possible outcomes I had planned:

    The team bust the Old Manager:
    After the old manger has been busted the ghost of the projectionist appears one last time. He seems happy. After a moment he fades away and all traces of him are gone.

    The team bust the Old Projectionist:
    The creepy laugh of the old manager is heard. The team is able to track him down with the PKE meter and bust him.

    The team bust both ghosts:
    All is well that ends well. It’s just unfortunate that the innocent ghost of the old projectionist has to share a containment unit with the one who murdered him.

    (My players very nearly busted the projectionist while he was sitting down watching Steam Boat Willy. I had planned that if they tried to do this he would flee in terror but one of them did something I had not thought of. He quietly sat down behind the ghost and held out a trap at point blank range. I would have had to let it happen but luckily for me he got a ghost die and dropped the trap by accident. In the end they only busted Old Manager and the Old Projectionist got his happy ending. However, this made my player with the wealth goal sad because he could only charge for one ghost.)

    Part 5 – Wrapping Up
    Depending on how much the team had figured out by themselves I gave them extra information based on things they could find out through some additional research after the job:

    – The wild parties that Marjolein referred to were actually summoning rituals performed by some of the VIP guests (possibly overseen by the old manager). It is not known exactly what or who they were summoning.
    – Something seems to have gone wrong during one of these rituals and they lost control of an entity they had summoned.
    – Luckily it was banished before it escaped the room but the ritual was witnessed by the projectionist, Koos Muiswinkle.
    – The old manager covered it up by pushing the projectionist off the second balcony and making his death look like an accident.
    – In life the old manager was a deeply unpleasant man. Status, money and upholding the reputation of the movie theatre were all he cared about. He hated cartoons and was annoyed by the projectionist’s fascination with them. Ironically, he died himself of a heart attack in 1937 during a screening of Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs.
    – As a ghost Koos van Muiswinkel was not fully aware of what had happened to him (or at times that he was even dead). The bizarre projection witnessed by the team was his confused attempt to communicate what had happened to him and what he had witnessed.

    I left some questions answered on purpose because they were either part of the overreaching story arc or my players simply had not discovered the questions yet:
    – Who was the man who had wanted access to the Red Lounge before the trouble started? Is he the course of it all?
    – What or who was summoned in the Red Lounge 80 years ago?
    – Why was there another summoning ritual recently? What happened?


    So that was our first game. We played it over two sessions. It was my first time DMing anything and I have to say that it was a lot of fun. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it (I’m aware that it is a lot of text). I have my notes on the second game (a trip under the city of Amsterdam). If I can get them a little more readable I’ll post them up here too. I’ve already got a full story arc planned. There was even some small fore-shadowing of the big bad in this first game.

    (Please forgive the large amount of edits to this post. I messed up the formatting big time at first. I even managed to break the whole page.)

    An accident prone Englishman living in the Netherlands:

    Dee Arris

    I really enjoyed reading this. It’s interesting to see an outside branch with a bit of a longer history, even if it’s not been extremely eventful. I also love the pictures you used, your scenery is beautiful. I might think about using this 360cities website in future. For your first time as a game-master, I think you’ve done very well, and your notes are very meticulous (I tend to keep my published versions summarised for brevity). I’d like to know a bit more about your team, though, you say very little about them personally.

    New audio adventures in time and space [UPDATE: 31/10/15]

    Citizen Stu

    Thanks very much @deearris. I’m glad you like it.

    It was fun to base the story on a real world location and history of Amsterdam. I’ve been to the cinema in the story quite a few times in real life and it is an amazing building.

    I’m glad you like the branch having a little bit of a back story too. More about that will come up later 😉

    Good point about not knowing much of the team yet so here is a little bit about each of them…

    Sam McBrian
    The only non-Dutch member of the team, Sam comes from London and has a reputation as a bit of a con man. He’ll try to charge as much as possible for a job and then add on a little bit more for any extras he can dream up. He’s not too concerned about whether a ghost deserves to be caught or not either, only how much it is worth. Although helping the ghost of the murdered projectionist was ‘the right thing to do’ during the cinema job Sam was not too happy about what he saw as a loss of profit. Why not trap the murderer and his victim in the same trap?
    Brains 3 (Electronics) / Cool 4 (Deceive) / Moves 3 (Lock Pick) / Muscles 2 (Withstand Pain)
    Goal: Money

    Koen De Ruyter
    Bob is the smooth talker of the group and fancies himself as a bit of a ladies’ man (even though he has not been very successful yet). He sees ghost busting as a way of impressing people and was quite freaked out about the reality of seeing a ghost for the first time.

    Brains 1 (Occult) / Cool 4 (Bluff) / Moves 5 (Fire Weapon) / Muscles 2 (Hand to Hand)
    Goal: Love (or something that feel like it)

    Kim Giesbertz
    Kim might be the quietest member of the team but she is the most pure scientist. She’s always thinking of every possible scientific angle and wants to record everything for her research. During the cinema job she tried to keep her ecto googles on the whole time. Occasionally bumping into walls was seen as only a minor inconvenience.

    Brains 4 (Tracking) / Cool 1 (Resist Possession) / Moves 3 (Stealth) / Muscles 4 (Climb)
    Goal: Science

    The intern is the ‘Biggs’ of the group. The team don’t call him by his name (partly because his player did not bother to give his character a name and partly because he really is an intern at our studio) and he is ok with that. He’s not very predictable and it’s sometimes questionable if he even known’s what he is doing. During the team’s first outing he decided that a bullhorn was a much more effective form of long distance communication than a walky-talky, got separated from the team and managed to have a short conversation with a ghost without realizing it was actually a ghost. It’s a good thing the team don’t actually pay him.

    Brains 1 (Investigation) / Cool 3 (Deception) / Moves 3 (Slight of Hand) / Muscles 5 (Break Stuff)
    Goal: Keeping things ‘interesting’

    An accident prone Englishman living in the Netherlands:

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