Ghostbusters 5E: Backgrounds
With this piece in place, the actual creating of Ghostbuster characters is possible, although equipping them will have to wait until the next post.
This is what you were before you became a Ghostbuster, your character’s “back story” as it were. It provides you with some proficiencies, a special feature, and your characteristics (Trait, Ideal, Bond, and Flaw). The ones listed here are far from exhaustive– if you have a background idea that doesn’t fall into any of these (for instance, if you wanted to play a former police detective turned Ghostbuster, who therefore has proficiency with guns and the Investigation skill), you should work with the GM to create a custom background that suits your character.
Random tables have been provided in order to quickly select characteristics, but you should not feel required to roll. Pick characteristics that suit you or make up your own. These are intended as roleplaying prompts, not a straightjacket.
You may have become a Ghostbuster straight out of college, or possibly you are still a student or professor. The point is that you’re a lot more comfortable among the books than you are taking the hard knocks of the real world.
Skill Proficiencies: Parapsychology, choice of: Electronics, History, Medicine, Religion, Science
Tool Proficiencies: computers
Languages: Latin, one other of your choice
Equipment: smart phone, laptop or tablet, lots and lots of books
Feature: Research Savant
You have advantage on Intelligence (Investigation) checks made to look up information. When you attempt to learn or recall a piece of lore, if you don’t know the information, you at least have a pretty good idea where and from whom you can obtain it, if it’s available.
d8) Personality Trait
1) I use polysyllabic words that convey the impression of great erudition.
2) I’ve read every book in the world’s greatest libraries– or I like to boast that I have.
3) I’m used to helping out those who aren’t as smart as I am, and I patiently explain anything and everything to others.
4) There’s nothing I like better than a good mystery.
5) I’m willing to listen to every side of an argument before I make my own judgement.
6) I… speak… slowly… when talking… to idiots… which… almost… everyone… is… compared… to me.
7) I am horribly, horribly awkward in social situations.
8) How do I stay so energetic in the lab all the time? Coffee coffee coffee coffee coffee!!!
1) The Greater Good. The purpose of learning is to serve mankind.
2) Beauty. What is beautiful points us beyond itself toward what is true.
3) Logic. Emotions must not cloud our logical thinking.
4) No Limits. Nothing should fetter the infinite possibility inherent in all existence.
5) Discovery. The world is amazing! Let’s see what’s out there!
6) Aspiration. The goal of a life of study is the betterment of oneself.
1) It is my duty to protect my students from the horrors lurking out there.
2) I have an ancient text that holds terrible secrets that must not fall into the wrong hands.
3) Funding is being cut, cut, cut! The only way the university will be able to keep open its doors is if we go to work.
4) My life’s work is the definitive modern rewrite of the Spates Catalog of Nameless Horrors in a 20-volume set.
5) I’ve been searching my whole life for the answer of just what that thing really was under my bed when I was six.
6) Nobody will ever again suffer the same fate as Professor Armitage. Not while I have the tools to prevent it.
1) I am easily distracted by the promise of information.
2) Most people scream and run when they see a demon. I stop and take notes on its anatomy.
3) Unlocking an ancient mystery is worth the price of a civilization.
4) I overlook obvious solutions in favor of complicated ones.
5) I speak without really thinking through my words, invariably insulting others.
6) I can’t keep a secret to save my life, or anyone else’s.
You’re a rip-roarin’ rootin’-tootin’ adventurer, busting spooks where in an another era you might have been wrangling cattle or punching Nazis over mystic artifacts. You’ve probably got a name like “Montana Smith” or “Billabong Jack” and you’re prone to wearing a hat of some variety… which looks ridiculous with a Ghostbusters jumpsuit but you wear it anyway. At least you’re dedicated.
Skill Proficiencies: Athletics, Survival
Tool Proficiencies: cars, mechanic tools, rope, a musical instrument
Equipment: pickup truck, mechanic tools, climbing gear, cowboy boots, a hat, a musical instrument
You were bitten by a poisonous snake when you were a child, but you were so tough it was the one who died. Ever since then you’ve had advantage on saving throws against poison and advantage on Wisdom (Survival) check that involve dealing with critters.
d8) Personalty Trait
1) I have endless tales of the open road, of jackalopes on the prairie and sasquatch in the Pacific Northwest. Yessirree, I’ve seen it all and done it all.
2) I watch over my friends as if they were a litter of newborn pups.
3) I once punched a man so hard his kneecaps plum shot off his legs.
4) This reminds me of when I was being chased by cultists in Malaysia. Good times, good times.
5) Money and manners won’t save you from a ragin’ werewolf, sonny!
6) I’m always picking things up, absently fiddling with them, and sometimes accidentally breaking them.
7) I feel far more comfortable around animals than people.
8) I was, in fact, raised by wolves.
1) Raisin’ Hell. Yeee-haw! Life’s an adventure, let’s get at it!
2) Heroism. People need protecting, and we’re the ones to do it!
3) The Code of the West. It’s about law an’ order an’ doin’ what’s right. Eeyup.
4) I Can Lick Any Varmint In the World. Or the underworld, as the case may be!
5) Nature. Them things… they ain’t natural. The DEVIL made them things.
6) Fortune and Glory, Kid. My name in the paper and my picture on TV, and life is good.
1) I reckon they’re crazier than a bucket full o’ sidewinders, but my team-mates are my family.
2) I’ll protect what’s good in this world against those things from the outside.
3) I dunno what it was destroyed the farm, all I know it was all eyes and tentacles. But it’s out there still, and I’m gonna make it pay.
4) I’m the last of a dyin’ breed, son. But I’ll make sure those that came before me are remembered in legend.
5) I’m a lonely rambler, lookin’ for a home.
6) What’ve the dern sasquatch done to YOU? I’ll protect ’em from havin’ their homes paved over one way or another.
1) Fire-water. ’nuff said.
2) Y’all think too much! It’s time for some ACTION! YEEE-haw!
3) I remember every insult I’ve received and nurse a silent resentment toward anyone who’s ever wronged me.
4) I don’t need this! I don’t need your fancy words and your crazy theories, and I don’t need YOU!
5) This is boring. I’mma go blow something up.
6) Don’t expect me to save those what can’t save themselves. It’s nature’s way for the strong to eat the weak.
You’re independently wealthy and have time to kill. You got into busting ghosts because it looked like a fun way to kill some time.
Skill Proficiencies: Persuasion, choice of one other
Tool Proficiencies: computers, cars
Languages: one of your choice
Equipment: expensive clothes, sportscar, credit cards, laptop
You can easily cover the cost of anything you break. No matter how many ghosts you roll, doors you kick in, or ectomobiles you crash, you never do any Environmental Damage. You are a high roller and a big tipper, welcome in high society, and people assume you have the right to be wherever you are.
d8) Personality Trait
1) My eloquent flattery makes everyone I talk to feel like the most wonderful and important person in the world.
2) Ordinary people love me for my kindness and generosity.
3) No one could doubt by looking at my style and flair that I am a person of wealth and taste.
4) I always have the latest gadget, the newest toy, the flashiest thingamabob. I don’t even know what half of it is for, but who cares? It looks cool.
5) Only the best food, the finest hotels, and the most interesting people. Why waste my time with less?
6) Well, yeah, technically I am what you’d call rich but it’s no big deal really. I mean we all breathe the same air, right?
7) Could we wrap this up please? I’ve got some people coming over later to discuss my investment portfolio.
8) Wow, this nuclear acceleration technology is amazing! But it’s what, thirty years old? We need to bring ghost-busting into the 21st century!
1) Respect. Rich or poor, mighty or powerless, all people deserve to be treated with dignity.
2) Responsibility. Life’s been good to me, and I feel it’s important to use that opportunity to make the world a better place.
3) Independence. I can handle myself! I don’t need my family, or their money, watching over me all the time!
4) Getting Even Richerer. You play your cards right, ghost-busting’s a great gig. That Peter Venkman acts like a jerk, but he’s a jerk with a niiiiice retirement fund.
5) Family. I’m not going to just fritter away the family fortune. I’ve got to earn my way and prove my place.
6) Noblesse Oblige. It’s my duty to protect and care for people, because I can, and if I don’t, who will?
1) I will face any challenge to win the approval of my family.
2) All of my wealth? It doesn’t mean anything against the vast wonder and horror of the cosmos…
3) My teammates are the first people who ever liked me just for me instead of just caring about my money.
4) God, America, and the Busting of Ghosts!
5) People see me as a pointless playboy. I’ll do whatever it takes to prove there’s more to me than money.
6) I’m in it for the kicks, man. What a riiiiide!
1) I secretly believe that everyone is beneath me.
2) I openly believe that everyone is beneath me.
3) I hide a truly scandalous secret that could ruin my public reputation forever.
4) Sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Not necessarily in that order.
5) In fact, the world does revolve around me.
6) What does “oblivious” mean?
Ghosts, vampires, the walking dead… it feels like home. You made a promise to only bust the bad ones, and in the meantime you’re going to stick with wearing black until you find something darker.
Skill Proficiencies: Parapsychology, Religion
Equipment: lots of black makeup, lots of black clothes, Joy Division CD
You tend to creep out the living, gaining advantage on Charisma (Intimidate) checks against them; on the other hand, spooks, otherworldly creatures and the like are “your crowd,” giving you advantage on Wisdom (Insight) checks against them. Go fig.
d8) Personality Trait
1) Don’t let the black eyeliner fool you, I actually hate Tim Burton movies. Such a poser.
2) I see omens in every event and action. The Powers try to speak to us, we just need to listen.
3) I have pockets lined with smaller pockets, and there’s a bangle, trinket, or small wad of money in every one. I also wear striped fingerless gloves with my Ghostbuster uniform.
4) I am tiny, scrawny, and thin, and seem for all the world to be little more than a layer of skin around a wire frame. My flexibility weirds people out.
5) I can stare down a hellhound without flinching. Like, whatever.
6) I am the happiest, perkiest goth you’ve ever met. I like butterflies with skull heads on their wings.
7) I write painfully beautiful poetry and leave it in coffeeshops for people to find and weep over.
8) I’m a hopeless romantic, always searching for that “special someone.”
1) Beauty. There can be no light without darkness… therefore the light shines purest into the dark places of the world.
2) Justice. It’s a hard life for those on the fringes of the world. Maybe I can find a way to make it better.
3) Live and Let Live. Hey, as long as the ghouls aren’t actually hurting anybody…
4) Freedom. Just because you don’t understand me, doesn’t give you the right to say I’m wrong.
5) Balance. I seek to comfort the disturbed… and to disturb the comfortable.
6) Sincerity. This makeup and these clothes are the real me. Deal with it.
1) I have in me the greatest work of literature yet to be written… I just need to find someone worthy to dedicate it to.
2) My teammates accept me for who I am. That’s worth everything.
3) Yes, it’s true. I fell in love with a ghost. It’s not easy for either of us.
4) It was supposed to be a game. We didn’t expect to be answered by a real demon. And now I have to undo our horrible mistake.
5) Sure, a lot of it’s for show. But there are real secrets, dark secrets, that I must keep out of the grasp of evil… things.
6) Ghostbusters get all the hottest chicks. Or dudes. Or both. Both is good.
1) My affinity for the darker side sometimes blinds me to real danger.
2) I can barely conceal my contempt for “norms,” and often don’t bother to try.
3) Everything to excess! Moderation is for monks.
4) Some people say I’m a flake. Whatever.
5) I am suspicious of strangers and expect the worst of them.
6) I don’t have flaws! YOU have flaws. You ALL have flaws! Nobody understands me!
You’ve got the moves, you’ve got the moxie. Or at least you think you do.
Skill Proficiencies: two from Deception, Persuasion, or Stealth
Tool Proficiencies: choice of: cars, computers, playing cards, or a musical instrument
Equipment: rusted out car, some cigarettes or cheap booze, a TV set
You have advantage on all Intelligence (Investigation) checks to find illicit goods, criminal activity, or people hiding out in urban environments, as well as Charisma (Persuasion) checks made to convince criminals or other shady types that you are safe to interact with.
d8) Personality Trait
1) I fall in and out of love easily, and am always pursuing someone.
2) I have a joke for every occasion, especially occasions where humor is inappropriate.
3) Flattery is my preferred method of getting what I want.
4) The best way to get me to do something is to tell me I can’t do it.
5) Anything you want… for a price.
6) Sarcasm and insults are my weapons of choice.
7) An enemy says nice things to your face and nasty things behind your back. A friend is the exact opposite.
8) I’d be late for my own funeral. Preferably, I’d skip it all together.
1) Independence. I am a free spirit– nobody tells me what to do.
2) Fairness. I never take advantage of people who can’t afford it… or don’t deserve it.
3) People. I’m loyal to my friends, not to my ideals. And everyone else can lump it.
4) Creativity. I never use the same bit twice.
5) Redemption. People don’t think much of me… but I’m going to prove myself.
6) Fun. Life’s too short to not be having a blast.
1) I’m trying to pay off an old debt to somebody, whether they want me to or not.
2) I owe everything to my mentor– a horrible person who’s probably rotting in jail somewhere.
3) Hey, I may crack wise, but when the chips are down, I’m a professional.
4) Someday, my name will be in lights. I’ll be one of the greats.
5) I made a mistake… and somebody got hurt. I’m not gonna let that happen again.
6) Maybe you don’t like me. Maybe I don’t like me either. But my friends like me. So I’m not gonna let ’em down.
1) I just can’t shut up. It drives people crazy the way I go on and on about anything and everything that comes into my head for hours and hours, even when it’s perfectly clear I’ve made my point and there’s no need for me to keep talking about it any longer.
2) If there’s a plan, I’ll forget it. If I don’t forget it, I’ll ignore it.
3) I’m right behind you, all the way. Like, literally. You go first.
4) I’m convinced there’s no way anybody could fool me as easily as I fool others.
5) If somebody gets on my nerves, I’ll do whatever it takes to make their life miserable.
6) I’ll take any risk, no matter how life-threateningly stupid, if there’s a big enough payoff.
Egghead, professor, doc, Mr. Wizard, science guy… you get the idea.
Skill Proficiencies: Medicine, Science
Tool Proficiencies: chemistry tools, electronics tools
Equipment: chemistry tools, electronics tools, scientific library, a personal laboratory
Your scientific researches have given you access to a unique and powerful discovery. The exact nature of this revelation depends on the nature of your research. It might be a great truth about the cosmos, a fantastic invention from the Gadget List, or some relic of the past that could rewrite history. Work with the GM to determine the details of your discovery and its impact on the campaign.
d8) Personality Trait
1) I’ve spent so long being wrapped up in my studies that I rarely speak, preferring gestures and the occasional grunt. I do send a lot of texts, though, with perfect grammar and spelling.
2) I am too busy being fascinated by the traits of the monster to notice when it tries to eat my head.
3) One of my old professors told me something very interesting about this very topic and I’m going to tell you all about it in great detail now.
4) I speak in a low monotone. I raise my eyebrow when I get truly excited.
5) I determine the numeric probability of success or failure for every action before taking it. This occasionally makes crossing the street difficult.
6) I’m sorry, what were you saying? I was calculating trajectories in my head. It relaxes me.
7) THAT. WAS. AWESOME. Scrape up the pieces, let’s get some readings!
8) I’m not going to waste time trying to explain this to someone who was educated with a banana and an inner tube.
1) Greater Good. The advances of science are meant to be shared for the good of all humanity, not the profit of one single person or group.
2) Logic. Emotions cloud our sense of what is right and true, which is why I had mine surgically removed.
3) Free Thinking. Inquiry and curiosity are the pillars of progress.
4) Power. They call me mad. But soon they will fear my name!
5) Truth. There are those who fear the universe to be a place of sheer cold terror. Even if it is, we must learn to understand it.
6) SCIENCE! ’nuff said.
1) My discovery will change the world! And I’ll make sure it does!
2) Ia! Ftagn! (cough) I mean, fascinating.
3) There is more in Heaven and Earth than is dreamt of in your philosophy. Let’s find out what it is, shall we?
4) I can’t go any further on theory– now I must put my discoveries into practice.
5) I obliterated my family fortune to pay for my discovery. So that’s a problem.
6) Einstein, Tesla, Curie… and me!
1) I like keeping secrets and won’t share them with anyone.
2) Science can fix anything! Or anyone. Even if they aren’t broken.
3) I can tell you anything about fusion, but I wouldn’t notice if my best friend were heartbroken.
4) I let my need to win arguments overshadow friendships and harmony.
5) Anyone not as smart as I am, is an idiot. Which means almost everyone.
6) My mind has been dominated by an alien intelligence since I was five.
There’s bad stuff out there, and somebody’s gotta protect people! So who ya gonna call?
Skill Proficiencies: Insight, Intimidation
Tool Proficiencies: cars, one other of your choice
Equipment: tools matching your proficiency choice, economy car
Feature: Friend of the People
In your years of helping people out, you’ve earned a lot of favors. Maybe it’s Mrs. McGinty, who sends you cookies every Christmas. Maybe it’s that cop you helped out on a case and who’ll let you peek into the files now and again. Maybe it’s the creepy gal who works the night shift at the library and has access to the special collection. Whenever you need something, there’s probably somebody in town who can give you a hand.
d8) Personality Trait
1) If someone is in trouble, you know I’ll be there to help.
2) When I set my mind to something, I follow through no matter what gets in my way.
3) I have a strong sense of fair play and always try to find the most equitable solution to arguments.
4) I’m confident in my own abilities and do what I can to instill confidence in others.
5) I’m cheerful but not always the brightest. Kind of like a giant, adorable dog.
6) This is no time to talk! Someone needs help!
7) I make loud pronouncements about myself! It boosts morale and adds courage!
8) Tell the truth? Ghosts are just neat.
1) Respect. Treat other people the way you’d want to be treated. That’s just basic courtesy.
2) Sincerity. There’s no good in pretending to be something I’m not.
3) Community. We can build a better world– together!
4) Charity. We have to do what we can to make things right for people– or ghosts– in trouble.
5) People. What can I say? I love everybody, and I want to make their lives better.
6) Glory. I can hold my head up high, because I know I’m somebody. I’m a Ghostbuster!
1) Your team? They’re like your family. You watch out for each other, and you’ll all be okay.
2) When I was just a little kid, a spook called “The Bogeyman” carried me off to another dimension! It was the Ghostbusters who saved me. I’m just carrying on the torch.
3) There’s somebody special in my life, and I hope to prove myself worthy of them.
4) My little sister looks up to me! I’ve got to show her what it means to do the right thing.
5) I was weak and afraid once. Never again. Never. Again.
6) I don’t know what these things we fight really are, but I know that they want to cause chaos and destruction, and I’m not going to let that happen!
1) I can handle anything! By myself if I have to! Nothing’s too big for me!
2) I have no idea what I’m doing.
3) So what if I can’t keep a secret? Secrets are for losers anyhow! And I do NOT have a big mouth!
4) My big talk is just to cover my crushing insecurity and loneliness.
5) I don’t have a chip on my shoulder, you take that back!
6) Honestly? I’m totally afraid of ghosts.
You make the scientist look like a well-adjusted and mainstream member of society. You ramble about conspiracies, talk to the shadows, and make people really uncomfortable. The worst part? Is when the shadows talk back.
Skill Proficiencies: Parapsychology, choice of Religion or Science
Languages: choice of German, Greek, or Latin
Equipment: ritual knife, a copy of the Necronomicon or other tome, a lot of aluminum foil
Feature: On the Fringe
You are connected with a vast network of people on the edges of society… or beyond it. Researchers, crackpots, lunatics and visionaries, all dismissed by ordinary people, but all willing to help out fellow “seekers” like themselves with information that may or may not be useful, strange inventions or items that may or may not actually do anything, or even just someone to watch your back when you go down into the tunnels of the mole people. The truth is out there… and these people will help you find it.
d8) Personality Trait
1) I’m haunted by the memory of… things I cannot and must not recall!
2) I seem perfectly normal until I begin to explain to you calmly and rationally about the cats who live on the moon and come down at night to whisper to you in your dreams.
3) I. Never. Stop. Smiling.
4) Well of course I wear an aluminum foil hat, who in their right mind doesn’t? But do you know about lining your SHOES?
5) I have a crippling, irrational fear of pickles.
6) I have a crippling, rational fear of pickles.
7) I wipe everything down with antiseptic spray. Including my lunch. And the people I’m talking to.
8) I pick up things and pocket them. I also pull strange things out of my pocket and leave them in random places. It has to do with the feng shui, you see.
1) Truth. I shall find it. I shall reveal it. Whether it saves us or destroys us, hardly matters, as long as we face it.
2) Comfort. I know what it is to feel isolated, confused, and alone. I shall do what I can to prevent anyone else from knowing that pain.
3) Security. If the whole world knew the truth of the cosmos, humanity would run screaming into the peace and comfort of a new dark age. We are their bulwark.
4) Determination. There are secrets out there, secrets that are being kept from me. I will know the truth, or die trying!
5) Greater Good. Learning the true nature of the cosmos may be a painful wrench at first, but in the long run it’s necessary to face the truth and learn to cope.
6) Power. Trapping ghosts is merely phase one. These “Ghostbuster” fools have only begun to scratch the surface!
1) I lost loved ones to unnameable, unknowable things. While I live, never again!
2) Yes, my friends think I’m crazy. Let them laugh. But I shall protect them in spite of themselves.
3) Battling the demons that haunt others, helps me battle the demons that haunt myself.
4) One day I shall be strong enough to return to that cursed place, and destroy the thing that whispers to me in the night.
5) This book holds all the secrets of the cosmos! Unfortunately, it’s written in no Earthly language. Darn.
6) I vow that I shall drive back the darkness that gnaws at the edges of reality!
1) Where to start?
2) We are all just pawns in a giant cosmic chess game. If it is our place to fall, we shall fall. It is inevitable.
3) Why are you disturbing me with trifles! “Take a shower. Pay the rent. Your hair is on fire.” Can’t you see I’m busy?
4) I sometimes doubt my own sanity. Other times, I doubt yours.
5) I must go. My planet needs me.
6) I’m a werewolf. Don’t tell the guys.
It’s not just an adventure! It’s a job.
Skill Proficiencies: Insight, choice of: Athletics, Electronics, Investigation, Mechanics, Medicine, Parapsychology, Perception, Stealth, Survival
Tool Proficiencies: cars, two others of your choice
No matter how world-class weird it gets in your line of work, you stay grounded and relatable. That doesn’t mean you don’t freak out every now and again, but even when you freak out you keep your head about it. When you are subject to confusion effects, you roll twice and take the preferred result. Furthermore, in situations where having a “voice of reason” would be beneficial, you or any ally within 30′ that can hear you has advantage on Charisma (Persuasion) checks.
d8) Personality Trait
1) I’m always polite and respectful.
2) I didn’t have a lot of school, but my momma didn’t raise no fool.
3) I face problems head-on. A simple, direct solution is almost always the best path to success.
4) Zap ’em, cap ’em, trap ’em. It’s Miller Time.
5) I’m the strong, silent type.
6) Check out this badass gear! Do I look awesome or what?
7) I come up with funny names for everybody, including and especially the spooks we bust.
8) I’m snarky, but with a heart of gold. Well, silver, anyway.
1) Teamwork. I got their backs, they got mine. Glory’s good, but getting’ the job done is better.
2) Pride. I do a good job, that earns me respect and an honest living.
3) Kickin’ Undead Butt. Those spooks have gotta be busted, and I’m the one for the job!
4) Doing the Right Thing. Sometimes it just feels good to lend a hand, y’know?
5) Toys! I don’t even know what a thermoplasmic interphaser is, but I totally want to smoke some spuds with it.
6) Action. You get to blare a siren, see horrifying monsters, blast a proton pack, dodge flying debris, and swing from cables… and that’s just orientation! This is the best job ever!
1) All my life I’ve wanted to be really good at something. Maybe this will be it.
2) Gettin’ some thrills while I pay the bills, baby! WOOOOHOO!
3) We do important work. I’m proud to be a Ghostbuster.
4) Don’t tell the guys I said so, but I love ’em all, the giant bozos.
5) I’m not letting any moldy Babylonian god bring about the end-times in MY town!
6) If there’s a steady paycheck in it? I’ll believe anything you say.
1) I do what the boss says… even if I think they’re wrong.
2) I quickly lose patience with anything too complex, subtle, or just plain boring.
3) I’m prone to run away first, and ask questions later.
4) I’d say anything to avoid doing a little extra work.
5) I’m easily talked or intimidated into doing the stuff nobody else wants to do, and I resent it.
6) Can we cut all the chatter and BLAST something please?
Well that should keep you roleplaying nerds busy for a while! 😉 Next time: equipment.