Saturday, 23 October 2021


Join the Legions of the Working Dead!

Rent-A-Ghost is a one page role-playing, comedy story-telling game about very odd ghosts doing very odd jobs, strongly influenced by 1970s children's television, improvisational theatre and scoffing sweets!

Each player creates and takes on the role of a peculiar ghost, hired by Rent-a-Ghost Ltd. to solve a problem for one of its many awkward customers. All the players help generate the situation, and then work together using their stupendously spooky supernatural powers to save the day, all while sharing sweets and trying to make each other laugh.

Madcap mayhem for 2-6 players. 

Players require 12 sweets (each) and a pair of standard 6 sided dice.

You can download the game, for free, on Drivethru RPG and

The design impetus for Rent-A-Ghost came from the observations on D&D as Mastermind, a ludological framework where one player (the Mastermind/DM) creates a puzzle (the code/dungeon) for the other players to solve, and flipping that over and flattening the hierarchy to the other role-playing extreme of parlour games, fairy tea parties, collaborative story-telling and improvisational theatre. Quite a radical departure from [ZHU] Industries usual output, but if GW can do Troll Games, then we can do 70s TV Impro Panto...

Some notes on the Dedications and Thanks.

Bob Block (1921-11) was the writer of the BBC TV series Rentaghost, the memories of which inspired the framework of Rent-A-Ghost.

Michael Staniforth (1942-87) was the unbridled talent that the central ghost character of the TV series, Timothy Claypole, who also sang the annoyingly catchy theme song.

Mark Fisher (1968-17) was a cultural critic who, via the electronica of David Sylvians Japans Ghosts brought Jack Derridas concept of Hauntology to popular culture, centring how historically idealised and anticipated futures continue to haunt the imagination and material culture. 

Keith Johnstone is a dramatist, best known for his work in improvisational theatre. His codification of the 'yes and...' rule of improvisation in his 1979 book Impro: Improvisation and the Theatre gave rise to the central mechanic of Rent-A-Ghost, and his writing on  mask work was instrumental in the barebones character design of the Quirks and Kinds.

John Tynes is a game designer of the Puppetland RPG. I read this in a 1996 issue of Arcane magazine I got in a joblot of RPG stuff, and swiftly sold on. However, Johns game stayed with me. It's horror-movie Punch and Judy and grim-dark raggydolls, the central conceit of speaking in character and describing actions had a large influence on the playstyle of Rent-A-Ghost. 

Anyway, despite the incredibly ridiculous nature of the theme, the 'verb'/cost and 'yes/but'/cost mechanics provide a solid set of constraints for group storytelling, and I hope the game inspires some daft and silly fun around the table. Download Free at:

Let us know how you get on!

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