The New York City setting was a big part of the look and feel of Ghostbusters. In additon to the visual component on screen, New York also influenced the presentation of elements like character attitudes, location details, dramatic situations, and ghost types.
Setting your game in a different city will similarly change the feel of your campaign. Let’s take a look at a few places that might inspire local-flavored spectral activity. I’ll start with my own town as an example, since (conveniently enough) that’s where I set my most recent game.
I’ll be honest: I didn’t choose to set a campaign in Memphis because of any special features; I chose Memphis because that’s where my players and I live. But that’s a fine place to start! Researching your own town to figure out what kind of “haunted history” it might have—as well as where the Ghostbusters themselves will set up shop—can give you a new appreciation for where you live. As it turns out, Memphis has:
- Cool HQ Options: the Pyramid, Mud Island, Beale Street
- Haunted Hot Spots: the Orpheum Theatre, Graceland, Sun Studio, Peabody Hotel
- Special Ghost Types: yellow fever victims, Civil War soldiers, Peabody ducks
- Unique Phenomena: Memphis suffered multiple yellow fever epidemics in the 19th Century, resulting in thousands of deaths. Yellow fever ghosts might haunt mass burial sites, old buildings that served as makeshift hospitals, or even a spectral steamboat that was not allowed to dock due to its infectious passengers. (Also, surely Elvis is still around.)
One of the perks of being a Vegas Ghostbuster is having plenty of things to do during one's down time. Unfortunately, it’s harder to do the job when flashing lights and casino sounds interfere with your PKE readings, and hauling a proton pack around in desert temperatures can challenge even the Ghostbuster with the highest Cool rating. (In fact, your Ghostbusters will probably want to wear uniforms more suited to the warmer climate.)
- Cool HQ Options: on the Las Vegas Strip, or near Hoover Dam for extra power
- Haunted Hot Spots: Golden Gate Casino, Moulin Rouge Hotel, Nevada Test Site, Old Mormon Fort
- Special Ghost Types: casino ghosts, radiation monsters, desert spirits
- Unique Phenomena: You’ll see two common types of casino ghosts in Vegas: those who lost it all and committed suicide, and those who won big but died before they could enjoy it (whether from accident, heart attack, or criminal action). (Also, surely Elvis is still around.)
In a city that’s home to Mardi Gras, jazz music, ancient crypts, and voodoo, a team of Ghostbusters running around won’t seem that unusual. As the supply of fancy cemeteries hints, the likelihood of finding enough work to keep a Ghostbusting franchise in business is high. If your Ghostbusters really get into the spirit of New Orleans, perhaps they’d like to use a streetcar as their Ectomobile! Sure, it’s not at all practical, being on a track and all, but that’s a problem for R&D to solve!
- Cool HQ Options: Bourbon Street, an 18th Century crypt, a jazz club, anywhere near a streetcar line
- Haunted Hot Spots: Saint Louis Cathedral, Saint Louis Cemetery
- Special Ghost Types: War of 1812 soldiers (American and British), Civil War era slaves, Hurricane Katrina victims
- Unique Phenomena: Being the site of multiple wars, natural disasters, diseases, and even voodoo practices, New Orleans is an ectoplasmic melting pot. The city’s famous crypts have proven strangely difficult to keep ghost-free.
A city as old as London is bound to have a lot of ghosts in the pantry (is that the phrase?). Just keeping all the museums in London spectre-free would probably be a full-time job! And in addition to simply having a large number of ghosts, London would also have more than its share of FAMOUS ghosts. What will the London Ghostbusters do if they encounter the ghost of a famous figure such as William Shakespeare or Anne Boleyn (carrying her own head)? Will they zap and trap the old soul just like any other job? Will they talk to the spirit and try to get it to move on peacefully? Or will they find a way to put the contained spook on display and charge admission to the public?
- Cool HQ Options: Big Ben, London Dungeon, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, or in the London Underground
- Haunted Hot Spots: the Tower of London, the Natural History Museum, Madame Tussauds, Globe Theatre, Royal Albert Hall
- Special Ghost Types: historical figures, especially royalty; Black Death victims; Great Plague victims; Great Fire victims
- Unique Phenomena: London’s spiritual history goes all the way back to its founding by Romans in 43 AD. In addition to encountering English ghosts, you might also be slimed by Romans, Anglo-Saxons, and Vikings.
Ghostbusters operating in the United States capital should be extra careful to mind their targets; the Secret Service doesn’t have a sense of humor about stray shots hitting the White House. But there’s good news, too: just like a Washington prostitute, many of the Ghostbusters’ clients will be rich and powerful!
- Cool HQ Options: Library of Congress, Old Patent Office Building, Watergate complex, Washington Monument, the White House (picture the Ghostbusters working in the halls of power, West Wing style!)
- Haunted Hot Spots: Ford's Theatre, Smithsonian Institution, any of the war memorials
- Special Ghost Types: Politicians, veterans
- Unique Phenomena: It’s possible that memorial sites such as the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and the numerous veterans’ memorials somehow collect spiritual energy which draws certain ghosts to them, perhaps from far away. For example, maybe it’s the the ghosts of veterans, and any soldiers who fought (and died) in any country and in any time period might find themselves wandering the National Mall looking for an enemy to fight.
Have you set a Ghostbusters game somewhere other than New York? Was it your town? I want to hear about it!