Ghostbusters in Boston

I was in Boston meeting Miller and Bryan for the first time in person (as well as some of Miller’s friends.) This is the Ghostbusters game we played. The players built their franchises and their characters, which was at least as fun as the adventure itself.

The national Ghostbusters franchise (with Cora Smythe, director) has an annual Spengler Paranormal Elimination and Study Conference (SPEC). The theme this year was “Best Practices” with the informal objective of working on grant proposals to get funding to investigate why the ectoplasmic tides are rising worldwide. Boston was selected as the host city and franchise.

Three franchises sent reps to the conference.

Boston Ghostbusters

Their logo added a bowtie to the caught ghost. Their version of the theme song is performed by a string quartet.

They get around in a Mercedes G Wagon that has shrink-wrapped back-up jumpsuits in case they need to talk to people and have gotten messy–image is important. (The back door has a mirror so they can get the look ‘just so.’) The jumpsuits are black, with embroidered faux tuxedo black and white.

The main base is out on the sea fort, with a 1 car boat ferry. The containment unit for the ghosts is underwater, for security reasons.

They are on civic probation because the mayor’s son wants his own paranormal elimination franchise, and the Ghostbusters are competition, so one slip and the mayor is eager to shut them down. Their main defense is their reputation as completely competent ghost eliminators; no repeat business with them.

They are also on probation with the franchise licensing, because there are rumors they have indulged in “frightening”; releasing ghosts, then showing up and making a big deal of capturing them, to look like heroes and bilk the gullible of cash.

Jeraldo (pronounced ‘Heraldo’) is their gear maintenance expert, staff, and butler. He is a dignified Latin American butler with crisp manners and attention to detail.

Their presentation at the conference was going to be the metrics for how to measure the efficacy of a ghost capture field, and how to adjust and modulate how information is recorded to refine and improve the function of the traps themselves.

  • Theodore Biltmore (Kay) is totally by the book, local expert for tech and gear and also their occult scholar, into the crystals and moldy books. 3
  • Michael Masterson (Mark) is also into regulations, but he takes point on missions and serves as the team’s diplomat–talking to people. 3

Salem Ghostbusters

Their logo mounts the captured ghost on a broomstick. They are based in the Peabody Essex Museum. Rather than having an emergency vehicle, they have special permits for public transit systems, combined with collapsible Segue backpacks.

Salem is a problem, mounted on a trouble spot where supernatural energies converge. That keeps the supernatural threat level high enough to keep the franchise in business. They also rely on grant money, as they are a start-up out of MIT, part of a business incubator model.

They are on civic probation and franchise probation because of what happened to Trevor, last Halloween.

We don’t talk about what happened to Trevor.

Their presentation at the conference was going to be on city wide wards; apparently the light rail system was put in by an occultist, and with some supplemental flourishes, it serves as a massive restraining system to keep the energies under Salem in check. What can we learn about that so we can use it in other cities?

  • Quincy Hamilton (Anthony) is a savvy tech and gear man who runs point on missions. 2
  • Marco Peabody Essex (Miller) is a rebel, who handles the driving and finances for his team. 5

St. Louis Ghostbusters

Their logo puts the caught ghost in the St. Louis Arch. This hard-living franchise of paranormal exterminators is a family affair that used to be a laundry business, transitioning with the last of their funds to paranormal elimination (and dry cleaning). They still use the old laundry and the delivery truck for their new business.

Their funding stream is limited, so most of the gear is repurposed and doesn’t fit (and sometimes doesn’t work at all.) While they are resourceful and “out of the box thinkers” they have an uneasy relationship with the city because they blew up the St. Louis Arch–it may be the Gateway to the West, but a massive Ghost Dance on the plains sent shadowy herds of buffalo and long-gone warriors stampeding towards the real world through the gate, and they had to be stopped.

Ma runs the office and keeps the books, the biggest fan of her wayward boys, and a vicious combatant when faced with bureaucratic hurdles. (Before she married into the family, she was a bail bondsman.)

Their presentation at the conference was going to be on “practical ghostbusting” on a budget, with whatever materials were on hand. They didn’t even make a PowerPoint.

  • Cecil Howard (Bryan) is a hotshot always showing off what he can do with the tech and gear, and also serving as the enforcer if anything gets out of hand. 5
  • Morrigan Murphy (Dachary) was a hotshot too, always showing off, and the fixer who could find anyone or anything in St. Louis. She also ran point on the team missions. 3

The Conference

The day before, when Director Smythe arrived, she observed that they didn’t have sufficient space and energy supply for the convention at their current venue. Biltmore and Masterson scrambled, leaning on a local warehouse owner they’d serviced, and they got the whole conference rearranged in a brick building in Seaport that was adequate for the conference needs.

At the conference, they met Dylan Smunter, EPA oversight (outgoing supervision for Ghostbusters) and they also met the Department of Energy liaison who would be taking over. Things were going pretty well at the conference, the first presentation was smooth. That’s when they got the call from Boston HQ.

The Call

After the first presentation was over, they got a call from Jerald that there was an emergency just four blocks away; a class 3 apparition, potentially, and some class 2s and maybe even a few class 1s. Like some sort of warehouse rave for the undead.

Boston Ghostbusters quickly compelled the St. Louis Ghostbusters to put on their embroidered tux jumpsuits (“If you operate in our town, you must look the part,”) and while St. Louis and Boston headed down on the G Wagon, Salem sent their fancy drone ahead, with Hamilton piloting and Essex running the sensor array.

The first wave of Boston Ghostbusters went in; one was startled while taking readings, he fell and broke his arm. He made it out to the parking lot as they arrived, and said his partner was still in the warehouse; he made eye contact with something in there and he was just counting his fingers over and over again, totally freaked out.

They called in an ambulance, then the 4 Ghostbusters headed in cautiously. They were connected with the Salem Ghostbusters by tactical network, so they got some intelligence about what the drone was seeing.

Apparently there were a number of shambling level 1 spirits, but those were harmless (if startling) echoes of the dead. There were also 3 furtively moving level 2 spirits, more aggressive and aware but unable to do much more than jump scares and minor telekinesis. But somewhere in the static there might be something bigger.

They saw the level 1s, looked like normal people who died around this area over time. When they faced a level 2, it seemed to be wearing some sort of tattered prison uniform; they put it down with ropy cables of charged neutrinos, sort of sawing a boat in half and cutting a hole in the roof before getting a bead on the ghost.

Then the first wave Ghostbuster who lost his cool and was counting his fingers was executed. They turned to see the level 3 apparition, wearing combat fatigues and a gas mask (but missing legs.) The ghost had a machete that had a distressingly real edge.

As they brought their weapons to bear, it escaped, and they began a cat and mouse hunt through the warehouse. As this went on, the Salem Ghostbusters continued fine-tuning their instruments, and they saw a line of energy emanating from somewhere, feeding into the warehouse–as though ghosts were being transmitted there, or woken there. Using the drone’s fast flying capability, they traced the line of energy , zooming out over the open sea.

Meanwhile Biltmore found the ghost when it hurled its machete and pinned him to the wall through his shoulder bones. The others opened up, and managed to restrain the powerful ghost in a trap; the whole area went slack, the other ghosts vanishing.

The drone closed in on a lighthouse, where some paramilitary operatives were approaching the island in a speedboat. The drone got a good look as they ran in, shutting down the power on the transmission, and hauling the gear out to the boat. It looked like the work of Sal Godowski, a Russian scientist with some pretty unethical ideas about ghosts who was legally banned from working on the technology about ten years ago. As for the employees and speedboat, the drone took lots of pictures before it reached the end of its flight time and had to return or be lost.

The Ghostbusters got medical care for those who needed it, and the conference could go on, but there were dark questions raised about whether that haunting was intentional or not, and whether it was intended as some kind of sick test. The story was just beginning!

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