For Hallowe'en, I ran a game of Ghostbusters using the Cinematic Unisystem. The premise below is copied from the thread I made on this a couple of weeks ago. I've included the character sheets for those interested; the sheets will give an indication as to who the main antagonist will be, so you might want to have a wee look.
Thirty years have passed since the Ghostbusters first opened their doors and went forth to save the world. Thirty years since they started opening franchises. One such business opened in Glasgow and those involved were initially full of hope and excitement at their new profession. But, being Glasgow, most folk either ignored the ghosts and ghouls or dealt with them themselves (we're not known for tolerating things we don't like). So Ghostbusters: Glasgow didn't really take off the way they had hoped.
However, the local government understood that the Ghostbusters were providing a good service that required funding. As such, the Ghostbusters were bought out by the local council. That came with the usual funding cuts and what-not, which left the entire branch with only two full-time Ghostbusters (only one of whom was part of the original crew that opened the branch).
Seeing as how Hallowe'en is coming up, and previous years have shown this to be one of the busiest times for Ghostbusters in Glasgow, the council is looking to help their friendly employees this year: more man-power. Of course, they can't actually afford to pay anybody, but someone has the bright idea of putting young offenders and other folks on Community Service to work. There are strict rules (no proton packs, no driving the van etc.), but the Ghostbusters are glad for the extra help.
So, it's time to put a little bit of spring back in the step. It's time for Ghostbusters: Community Service.
Note: There is some explicit language and actions in this. For the sake of keeping this as acceptable as possible, I've dialled back the actual language used at the table.
GHOSTBUSTERS: COMMUNITY SERVICE
Dramatis PersonaeNowDr Beth Cunningham - Ghostbuster
Stuart Murphy - Ghostbuster
Lauren Campbell - Community Service
Liam Ritchie - Community Service
It is a cold, crisp but sunny day in late November. The Glasgow Ghostbusters and the two Community Service workers, along with their probation worker, sit in one of the long marbled hallways in Glasgow City Chambers, home of the city council.
The two Ghostbusters are dressed in what could only be described as their “best” suits, whereas their companions are dressed in track suits. The elder of the two Community Service workers, Liam, has a t-shirt with a tuxedo printed on it and a bandage on his head. The other Community Service worker, Lauren, chews bubblegum with an open mouth and a bored expression. The probation worker, Greg (“Baw-faced Greg” behind his back), clutches his folder to his chest.
After nearly half an hour of sitting, a door opens. A young man with thick glasses sticks his head into the corridor and blinks at the assembly stupidly. “Ghostbusters? The panel will see you now.” Stuart and Beth share a look and stand up. Liam and Lauren wait until Baw-faced Greg stands up and shoots them a look.
They enter a long, high-ceilinged room with a deep green carpet. The city’s coat of arms is emblazoned on the carpet in subdued gold. At the far end of the room is a mahogany table. In front of it are five seats, one of which is positioned behind the others. On the other side of the table sit a panel of three rather severe featured officials. They wait until the interviewees take their seats (Baw-faced Greg takes the seat behind the others).
Once everyone has settled in, the female official gathers her papers together. “I am Karen Gillespie and I will be chairing today’s proceedings.” She eyes the Ghostbusters particularly. “We are here to discuss the events of the night of October 31st. Hallowe’en. Let’s begin at the beginning…Would one of you like to tell us how the night started?”
With a resigned sigh, Beth nods. “You see, it went like this…”
Baw-faced Greg took his clipboard and pen back from Stuart and checked that the Ghostbuster had just signed to take full responsibility for the two delinquents in orange jump suits standing beside the battered and worn former ambulance.
Greg looked up. “That’s fine,” he confirmed. “They’re all yours. Enjoy.” With that, he pushed open the door and disappeared into the night.
Lauren yawned. “So you guys are Ghostbusters, yeah? Whatcha do, then?”
Beth glanced up from the workbench and gave Lauren an evaluating look. Was the young woman really that stupid? Before she could ask, Lauren had moved on. The Community Service worker turned to her comrade-in-jumpsuit and asked “What did you do, then?”
Liam fixed her with what was probably meant to be an intimidating stare. “Stabbed somebody. And when they came to get me, I stabbed them an’ all.”
Lauren pulled a face. “No, you didn’t. You don’t get community service for stabbing someone.”
Liam shrugged. “It was in the chippie. I used a plastic fork and it snapped. But the intent was there. If I’d had something better, I’d have stabbed him. No questions.”
Stuart sat behind a desk with a sigh. Beth gave him a look that plainly said that this was all his idea. He shrugged. Beth returned to tinkering.
Lauren blew a bubble with her gum. “This is bloody boring, by the way.”
As if to mock her, the phone rang. Stuart picked up on the second ring and answered “Ghostbusters.” There was a slight tremor in his voice; this was the first call of Hallowe’en, the busiest night of the year.
The voice on the other end belonged to an old man. “Ghostbusters, aye? My neighbour’s devil dog’s just came into my house.”
Stuart rolled his eyes. “Call pest control.”
“The bastard’s been dead for six years, son, and he wasn’t the size of a tiger when he was alive. Plus, he ran through a wall, which makes him your job, does it no’?”
Stuart noted the man’s address and hung up. “Beth, that’s the call. Lock and load.”
Quickly, Beth and Stuart gathered their standard equipment together: a proton pack each, a PKE meter and a copy of Tobin’s Spirit Guide for Beth (which she immediately began looking up “Devil Dog” in), and a walkie talkie and an Ecto visor for Stuart. He thrust another walkie talkie at Lauren. “You’ll need this.”
She pointed at the Geiger counter sitting on the bench. “What about that?”
Stuart shrugged. “Sure, take it. That too,” he said, pointing at a ghost trap. He threw another one into the Ecto mobile.
Liam hefted a bulky camcorder. “I haven’t seen one of these in years.” He slung it over his shoulder and grabbed a bull horn and a second Ecto visor. These, he immediately pulled over his eyes. “Brilliant,” he whispered, seeing the auras of the other people.
Beth jerked a thumb at the repainted ambulance that doubled as the Ecto mobile. “Get in there, the pair of you.”
Lauren gave Beth the finger, but did as she was told. Liam stumbled after, trying to work out how to see properly in the visor.
Stuart lifted another proton pack. To Beth, he said “Didn’t you say that one of the packs was getting twitchy?” She nodded. Stuart carried the third pack to the Ecto mobile and pushed it under one of the seats. Then he slammed the side door shut and climbed into the driver’s seat. Beth clambered into the passenger seat, still leafing through the weighty volume.
Stuart plunged the key in the ignition, put the car in gear, threw on the siren and…immediately stalled. Liam snickered behind him: “Smooth.” Grinding his teeth, the Ghostbuster restarted the car and shot out in the direction of their call.
They sped down the street. Lauren eyed Liam sideways. “You’re full of *@!+; you never stabbed nobody.”
Liam lifted the bull horn. “WHAT?”
Beth flinched. “Cut that out!” She trailed a finger down the page. “It says here that there have been some serious canine possessions. Major one happened in New York in 1984…”
Stuart wasn’t listening. He was too busy staring in abject horror at the scene before him. The trio of high-rise flats they were travelling to was – ordinarily – surrounded by a sandstone wall three or four feet high, the only remnants of the old prison that once sat on that site.
But now the wall was no longer three of four feet high. It was twenty feet tall and slightly pinkish in hue. Stuart licked his lips. “Uh…I think this is going to take more than just the two of us.”
Beth looked up from her book. After a moment’s consideration, she shook her head. “We’re here for a devil dog. Somebody else’ll need to call this in for us to do something.”
Liam barked a laugh. “Bloody public services, eh?”
In unison, Stuart and Beth shouted “Shut it!”
They skidded around the corner. Stuart stood on the brakes, brining the Ecto mobile to a screeching halt before they mowed into the crowds of people milling in the street, staring at the spectral prison wall. Blue flashing lights lit the scene; more than a handful of police were trying to keep the mob back.
Karen Gillespie removed her glasses and rubbed the bridge of her nose. “You would like credit for not running a number of people over?”
Stuart shrugs. “It was a real danger that I avoided.”
Karen shakes her head. “So you arrived at the scene.” She consults her notes. “This is when you sent the Community Service workers from your vehicle unsupervised?”
Liam straightens and adjusts his “bow-tie” – he tugs at the collar of his t-shirt. “Uh…your honour…myself and my colleague here – “ he gestures at Lauren “– volunteered to help with…crowd control.”
Karen raises an eyebrow.
Beth twisted in her seat to fix Liam and Lauren with an authoritative glare. “You two; get that crowd back while we figure out what we’re doing.”
Liam opened the door, put the camcorder on his shoulder and grabbed the bull horn. Lauren sniffed and, as she hopped out, pulled a rolled cigarette from some pocket in her jumpsuit and lit it. At Liam’s look, she took a long draw and offered him the joint.
Liam took it from her. “So, how come you’re here, then?”
Lauren shrugged. “I punched a ghost.”
Liam stared at her for a moment and then raised the bull horn. “RIGHT, YOU LOT!” His voice boomed over the heads of the crowd, most of whom turned to face him. “WE’RE THE GHOSTBUSTERS. YOU ALL NEED TO…!#%$ OFF!”
Lauren nodded her approval.
In the Ecto mobile, Stuart and Beth stared at one another before leaping from the car. They sprinted at Liam, knocking the bull horn from his hand. Stuart pointed a finger at the young man, but before he could launch into a tirade, an old man in a flat cap and two police officers approached.
Beth stepped forward and smiled at the old man. He scratched his forehead. “You the Ghostbusters?”
“No. We’re out for our Hallowe’en and we’re really into dressing up.”
The old man’s brow furrowed. “Eh?”
Beth gave a resigned sigh. “Aye, we’re the Ghostbusters.”
“Right, good. Well, you’ll need to nab my neighbour’s dog. Thing’s a bloody menace. Barking day and night and when I throw my shoe at it, it doesn’t bloody matter. Goes right through it. Bloody ghosts.”
Beth pointed to the ghost-prison. “We’ve got a few things that’re rather bigger than a ghost dog, I’m afraid.”
The old man nods. “Aye, I was here when they pulled the prison down the first time.”
Beth became more attentive. “When was that?”
“Eh…1967. Or 1968. Round about then. Just after they killed Big Jimmy Tolland’s wife, Senga. She was in for murder. Last woman prisoner killed in Britain, if you can believe it.”
Beth blinked at the name. “Tolland? Tolland?” She leant back and howled at the sky “TOLLAND!”
The old man’s eyes widened and he backed a few steps away. “Aye, well, good luck with that, love.”
Meanwhile, Stuart was approached by the police. “Where have you guys been? I’ve been calling you for twenty minutes now. That prison’s not supposed to be there…”
Stuart nodded. “Can you spare a couple of bodies; there’s way too much ground in there for us to be able to cover by ourselves.”
The elder of the two police nodded. “Aye, we’ll come with you. The other boys can keep the people back.”
Out of the corner of his eye, Stuart saw Liam pushing his way through the crowd. “Oi! Where are you going?”
Liam waved him away. “Back in a minute.”
Whilst they waited on the young man to return, Beth checked her PKE meter. The readings were off the scale. “This is going to be useless,” she muttered.
Liam came back carrying a six-pack of cheap beer. He broke one can off and handed it to Lauren. “Need to keep the courage up,” he said, opening his own beer. They downed the drinks. Stuart and Beth considered saying something, then decided their breath would just be wasted.
Liam, still wearing the Ecto visor, looked up at the closest high-rise flat towering over the prison wall. “Here, what does a ghost look like?” He pointed at the tower block.
Stuart put his own visor on and followed Liam’s finger. The tower block was covered in floating forms. Somewhere over the wall, a dog howled. Stuart handed the visor to Beth.
The female Ghostbuster swallowed. “We’re going to need a bigger trap.”
Stuart considered the ghost wall. “We need to get in there first.”
Lauren threw a coin at the spectral bricks. The coin hit the wall and slid inside, as if falling into a jelly. Stuart smirked. “Nice volunteering. Off you go, see if you can get through.”
Lauren scowled. She held the bulk Geiger counter in one hand and stormed towards the wall. The bricks roiled away from her, letting her through with little difficulty.
On the other side, a terrifyingly large Scottish Terrier drooled at her. It gave a loud bark and charged. Lauren swung the Geiger counter, striking the dog on the jaw. Streams of ectoplasm flew, but the dog seemed unconcerned. Instead, it turned and ran away as if Lauren had actually thrown the Geiger counter for it to chase. She still held the radiation meter in her hands, dripping blue-green slime. She yelled over her shoulder “I told you I punched a ghost.”
The Ghostbusters, Liam and two police officers came throw the wall. Liam’s joint was left embedded in the slime wall.
Karen fixes Stuart with a harsh glare. “Did you realise then that you hadn’t locked the Ecto mobile?”
Beth sighs. “You had one job, Stuart. One job.”
He shrugs. “It’s fine. We’ve got most of the stuff back from the Barras.”
Karen taps a pen against her notes. “So, you encountered your first ghost then?”
In unison, all four mutter “Tolland.”
The huge dog came bounding back. It carried a disembodied ghost-leg in its mouth. Beth and Stuart slung their neutron wands, filling the air with a high-pitched whine. Before they could fire, though, Liam stepped forward. “It’s just a big dog that wants to play.”
He drained another can of beer, leaving the dregs and shook it at the massive ghost. The dog skidded to a stop and dropped the leg, focussed on the rattling can. “You want it? You want it?” Liam turned and lobbed the can over the wall, away from the prison. “Go get it!”
The dog tore after the can, passing through Lauren and coating her in slime. “Ugh!”
The dog hit the wall. And burst. Beth let out a guffaw. “It burst! That’s something you don’t see every day.” She composed herself. “Now I feel bad.”
One of the police looked at her. “You were going to shoot it a minute ago.”
“That was different. We don’t destroy ghosts; we just keep them imprisoned.”
Before anyone could say anything else, the door to the closest block was thrown open. A huge man, nearly nine feet tall and floating several inches from the ground, flew out.
The Ghostbusters and their wards stared in disbelief. Beth was the first one ti react. “Big Jimmy Tolland? How long’ve you been dead?”
The ghost’s jowls quivered horribly as he screamed “Ghostbuster bastards! You’ve been annoying my boy for years, trying to get to me. Well, no more, I tell you! You’ll leave that boy alone or you’ll have me to deal with!”
Lauren growled and stepped forward. “Listen, pal, I hate your wee boy. He’s a pain in the arse. I’d hate you too, but I don’t know you. You’ve been dead for longer than your boy’s been annoying me.”
Liam, still holding the camcorder and recording everything, nodded agreement. “She’s right. Your boy’s a complete pain in the arse.”
Big Jimmy Tolland howled in anger at the youngsters. As he charged at them, Stuart and Beth stepped to either side and fired their neutron wands. Beth’s beam twisted and coiled above Big Jimmy Tolland, but she managed to correct her aim after setting the wall beyond the ghost on fire. Stuart had no such trouble; his beam struck the ghost in the face, wrapping Jimmy Tolland’s head in the particle stream.
Big Jimmy Tolland screamed in pain and rage. Stuart ground his teeth. “Lauren, the trap! Throw the trap!”
Lauren swung the trap round and round. Beth realised what was going to happen. “Activate it first!”
Lauren stopped twirling the trap, fiddled with the buttons and then lobbed the trap. It hit the constrained Big Jimmy Tolland in his sizeable gut and opened. A cone of light flared from within the ghost, sucking him inside. The trap fell to the ground, beeping with a successful trapping.
Beth holstered her wand. “That went better than I’d have thought.”
Stuart agreed. “Yeah. Now, where the hell are we going?”
Lauren lifted the trap and tapped it with a finger. She looked up at the Ghostbusters. “What would they do on Supernatural?”
Liam gave that some thought. “They’d look for the central nexus.”
Beth and Stuart frowned, both ready to comment on the stupidity of that idea, but then closed their mouths. Beth shook her head despairingly. “Is it wrong that her suggestion makes perfect sense?”
Stuart pointed at the PKE meter on Beth’s belt. “Scan the area and find the nexus, then.”
She shook her head. “The thing’s off the chart already; we’re in the middle of a huge paranormal event already; the PKE’s going to be no use.”
One of the police, an older gentleman, stroked his chin. “How about the execution cells? If I were going to be a central nexus for ghosts, I’d be there.”
Beth looked at Stuart. “And we’re supposed to be the professionals.”
Stuart shrugged. “Guess we’ll do what the man suggests.”
The group followed the old copper. The further they travelled from the prison wall, the more the surroundings began to resemble the old prison. The tower blocks vanished, replaced by prison buildings.
Liam, still recording everything, turned to Lauren. “You’re full of *@!+. You didn’t punch that ghost back there. You smacked it with that gizmo.” He pointed at the slime-coated Geiger counter.
Lauren huffed. “That counts.”
“No it doesn’t.”
Lauren swung the Geiger counter at Liam, striking him on the side of the head. He tumbled away, hitting one of the ghostly prison buildings. With an indignant yelp, he fell through the wall.
Stuart and Beth rounded on Lauren. Beth grabbed the girl’s wrist. “Stop hitting things!”
Stuart approached the wall. “Can you get out of there?”
Liam’s reply was muffled. “It’s completely solid at this side.”
The Ghostbuster gave a heart-felt sigh and turned to his partner. “I guess one of us’ll need to go after him.”
Beth disagreed. “No point in splitting up. We need two proton packs to catch any ghosts.” She pointed at the cops. “Wait here; we won’t be long.”
Together, the Ghostbusters and Lauren pushed through the wall.
On the other side, Liam stood filming their arrival. “This is like the shittier version of Cloverfield.”
Stuart pushed past and gripped the ghost bars. They didn’t budge. “Great. We’re stuck.”
Footsteps sounded from down the corridor. The quartet stood in a line, ready to face the next danger. A ghostly prison guard floated past the cell, footsteps sounding yet he floated several inches from the floor.
The ghost paused, looked in the cell and did a double take. “Here, how come there’s four of you in there?”
Without missing a beat, Liam answered “Overcrowding issue.”
“Aye, well, that’s as may be, but we’ll need to see the warden about this. Right you lot, out of there now.” The ghost guard opened the cell door. “This way.”
Karen Gillespie sits back and looks at all four in disbelief. “So, you followed the guard to the warden’s office?”
Beth shrugs. “It doesn’t make sense now, but it did at the time. I mean, how could we walk on ghost-stairs or down a ghost-corridor? Nonsense, but it happened.”
Liam chimes in. “If I hadn’t film it myself, I wouldn’t have believed it, your honour.”
Karen sighs. “Yes, I’ve seen the film. Your commentary was certainly…something.”
The ghost guard led them down another corridor towards a door at the end. Liam whispered a constant stream of observations into the microphone. The guard knocked the door and opened the door.
Beyond, an office far larger than it should have been awaited. A big desk sat at one end. Atop the desk was a smaller one. Behind this sat a spherical man in a tight suit. “Yes?”
The guard gestured at the Ghostbusters and others. “I found these guys in one of the cells downstairs, governor.”
Stuart stepped forward. “We’re…prison inspectors?”
“I wasn’t told of an inspection.”
Liam cleared his throat. “As per Article 9, sub-paragraph 64b, we’re allowed to conduct surprise investigations with no prior indication.” The others stared at him open-mouthed. He shrugged and whispered “I’ve spent a lot of time in court.”
Lauren smirked. “For stabbing someone?”
The warden adjusted his tie nervously. He stood and rolled around the top of the larger desk. “Well, whilst you’re here, I would ask you to have a look at the exercise yard. Some of the prisoners and staff have said they’ve seen a wee fat boy and his mother down there. Now, I don’t know who the boy is, but the woman was executed a while ago.” The spectral warden shivered. “Ghosts give me the fear.”
Stuart frowned. “Ghosts give you the…you do know you’re a…”
Beth interrupted her partner very quickly. “We’ll have a look, sir. Thanks!”
Karen clears her throat. “And now we come to the crux of the matter. The events of the exercise yard. Is there anything any of you wish to say before we move on to this?”
Liam considers speaking, but thinks better of it.
Karen nods. “Then what happened?”
In the exercise yard, a podgy middle aged man stood in a bright blue track suit. The remnants of some arcane ritual litter the ground around his feet. He caught sight of the approaching Ghostbusters. “No! No! You’ve tried for years to bust my da; I’m not going let you take my ma an’ all.”
Stuart growls. “Big Jimmy Tolland’s boy.”
Lauren brandished the ghost trap. “We’ve already got your da in here. Don’t piss us about, or we’ll do the same to your ma!”
At that, the ground began to shake. The colour drained from Beth’s face. A hole opened behind Big Jimmy Tolland’s boy; a hand, larger than a 4x4 car, stretched out. Fingers ending in horribly manicured nails were held together with disgusting sovereign rings – one of which read “MUM” – clawed the yard.
A massive head emerged from the hole. Black hair was scraped back so that the woman appeared almost bald. She rose further into the air, not yet completely out of the hole, but already taller than the prison blocks.
Without a word, Stuart and Beth unslung their wands and opened fire. Big Jimmy Tolland screamed at them to stop, but it didn’t matter: the proton streams seemed to have no effect on the massive Senga Tolland.
Over the noise, Lauren shouted at Beth “What about Big Jimmy Tolland?”
“What about him?”
“He and his missus hated each other.”
Liam agreed. “Their fights are legendary.”
Beth bit her lip, considered what little effect she and Stuart were having. “Let him out!”
Lauren pointed the ghost trap at the gargantuan Senga Tolland. “Your husband wants a word!” She hit the release button.
As the ghost of Big Jimmy Tolland lanced from the trap screaming at his wife, Big Jimmy Tolland’s boy jumped in the way in a desperate effort to protect his mother’s spectre. Caught fully in the cone of trap’s beam, he yelled. Lauren closed the trap, sucking the spirit from Big Jimmy Tolland’s boy; his body hit the ground hard and unfeeling.
Meanwhile, Big Jimmy Tolland tore through the air hurling abuse at his wife. She swatted at him as she would have a fly, but was unable to stop him. They collided and for a terrifying moment, the world went silent.
The ghosts exploded, blowing the ghost prison apart and returning the Ghostbusters back to the real world. Every window in the trio of tower blocks shattered; the buildings were coated in an inch of slime.
Liam put the camcorder down. He handed his mobile to Lauren. “Film this.” He approached Big Jimmy Tolland’s boy’s body and unzipped his jumpsuit.
Beth and Stuart stared in horror as Liam lowered…a certain part of his anatomy onto Big Jimmy Tolland’s boy’s forehead. Beth covered her mouth. “I…I…” She looked at Stuart. “No more Community Service kids. Ever.”
Karen closes her notes. “So, you caused thousands of pounds worth of glazing damage, put a man into a coma from which he has yet to recover and sexually assaulted him. This doesn’t mention the equipment that was stolen from your vehicle that has yet to be recovered. It is the opinion of this panel that you four be held personally responsible for the costs incurred.”
Liam clears his throat. “Your honour, it seems to me that the Ghostbusters, being council employees, are covered by council’s insurance whilst responding to a call. In a military situation, some collateral damage is expected.”
Stuart raises an eyebrow at Liam. “What the hell kind of trials have you been involved in?”
Karen looks at Liam over her glasses. “Once the original case – the ghost dog – had been dealt with, you should have returned to your base of operations until another call came in.”
Stuart holds a hand out to forestall Karen. “The police on the scene asked us to intervene in the ongoing cross-dimensional incursion. If you want to get into it, you could argue the cops on the scene were the customers that put the call in and we just so happened to be there when they needed us.”
Beth nods. “So, you see, we were doing a public service without wasting time with unnecessary travelling. In fact, based on that incident, we’re more efficient than most other council departments.”
Karen glances at her associates on either side. One leans in and whispers to her. “It is still the belief of this panel that you recklessly endangered the lives of two Community Service workers.”
Beth frowns. “They were fine. They can handle themselves; they were both done for violent offenses.”
Karen starts at that. “Violent offenses?”
Lauren blows a bubble. “I punched a ghost.”
Liam shifts uncomfortably. “And I…stabbed somebody.”
Karen opens her notes again and reads “Lauren Campbell: assault in a night club using a toilet stall door. The ghost-punching is listed as incidental and may or may not have been imagined. Liam Ritchie: feeding a sausage roll to a horse after being told to desist.”
Lauren wheels on Liam. “I #+#%+%* knew you never stabbed anybody!”
Karen slams her notes shut. “Strike that from the minutes,” she orders one of her associates. “In light of Mr Ritchie’s statement of the law, this panel will have to reconvene for further discussion on the guilt of the Ghostbusters in this incident. You are free to go, but please be aware that we may ask you to return to give a further statement.”
The Ghostbusters and the Community Service workers stand and leave. In the corridor outside, Beth grabs Stuart by the arm. “Seriously, though. Next year, no more Community Service kids.”