I'm trying to ascertain exact differences between these two editions (the '86 edition subtitled A Frightfully Cheerful Roleplaying Game and the '89 edition subtitled International), mostly to see if I need one or both editions to play.

West End Games released Ghostbusters International [...] as a single book, and aside from the more elaborate rules (ranges in combat, more detailed rules for how much equipment could be carried, etc.), the advanced game included descriptions for new equipment that debuted in the second movie.

- Ghostbusters Fandom

Are there any more details as to what exactly the more elaborate rules are? The examples in the passage above seem to be additions, not direct changes? The wikipedia doesn't have any more details.

It does sounds like it should be a stand alone book, but I'm not completely certain. Does that mean I can't use the supplements from the previous edition, or are the system differences small enough that they still work together?

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Might also be a good candidate for the system-introduction tag. \$\endgroup\$
    – Akixkisu
    Jul 3, 2021 at 13:02

1 Answer 1


The Ghostbusters International Edition actually has an intro which does that:

So, does this Ghostbusters roleplaying game differ substantially from the one that hit the shelves all those years ago? We're glad you asked that question. This one's got a few more rules, especially about who can do how much of what to whom. You asked for 'em. We wrote 'em.

And this one tells you about nifty, previously unquantified things like how much your equipment might slow you down when you're chasing (or being chased ) through Central Park in the hot summer sun with three loaded ghost traps, and a proton pack, and a really big flashlight, and a weather radio, and ... and all that stuff.

You asked for details, so we've got droves of details: there 's a Big List of Equipment, and a section about accidents and damage incurred there from, some new stuff about campaigns and adventure design and putting together really fast spooks. We figured you'd need to know how to distinguish between an intelligent specter and a mindless one, a physically manifested ghost and an ethereal icky-so we mad e up a nifty little table to do the job.

Ghostbusters International gives you the inside poop on the franchises that our fearless New York office set up at the end of the first movie ... their heyday, their languishment and their triumphant revival.

In my words though the two editions are similar to the changes between OD&D and AD&D. The bare bones of the system are largely the same but the major changes have to deal with the game's new subsystems like gear, encumbrance, magic, and weird science. The second edition also does a much better job of clearly explaining both the rules and how the game is played. The first edition is a little more gimmicky, your character sheet is actually your Ghostbusters ID and you "making your character" is you filling out the details on your Official ID Card which starts with you adding your picture.

Character Sheet Picture

Ghostbusters international, the later edition drops that gimmick (mostly) and is very clearly an RPG with a more standard layout, format, and character sheet. As mentioned before the rules are more clear in this edition with very clear sections breaking down creating a character, playing the game, gamemastering, and running an adventure. A bunch of the International edition's focus on what happens when the characters aren't out busting ghosts. It introduces a whole section for what it calls Routines, essentially a bunch of random charts for dealing with stuff like Car Chases, getting Permits/Legal documents, going to Court, Research, etc. The gamemaster section also contains a ton of details on how to run a campaign with advice on how to capture same feel of a ghostbusters game with sections on Contacts, Running Gags, and Major Villains.

Back out from behind the screen a great way to see the mechanical differences is comparing the character sheets.

International Character Sheet

As you can see the core mechanic of the system, Traits are the same. They're both how you resolve skill checks and how you take damage. When rolling a skill you roll a number of dice equal to the relevant trait with 3 bonus dice if you have a talent for the associated trait related to the current check. Everytime you roll a check though you also roll what's called the ghost die which can add complications to the circumstances of a roll. If the test succeeds and you end up rolling the ghost then there's a twist to your success. If you fail you fail badly.

What's also the same are brownie points which are a pool of points players can use to boost rolls, avoid bad stuff, and twist the story a bit. They're also used like experience and can be spent to permanently increase traits, buy talents, and gain new abilities.

What's new is Medical History which determines how severely injured you are after an encounter to determine the level of care required to heal them and equipment (as mentioned earlier) which provide bonus dice to rolls or grant special abilities or effects.

  • \$\begingroup\$ This is amazing! I've never wanted the "inside poop" as much as this! \$\endgroup\$ Jul 23, 2022 at 11:24

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