Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Games Night: GHOST/ECHO

noisms has already beat me to writing about games night, where we played GHOST/ECHO. GHOST/ECHO is really stripped down, which is pretty freeing I think. We were using it as part of our shared universe that we generated with Microscope, and were playing it as a one-shot in just one of the events that we had determined.
'Blueprints' for Zero Point Way Station stolen by spies
GHOST/ECHO works by giving provocative words - names for PCs like Coil, Demon, Grip, names for places like Heartbreak Square, Echo Park, and names for 'Wraiths' (enemies) like Dogs, Spiders, Hawks - as jumping on points, and a really simple but deep dice mechanic (more on that in a moment). The names really worked well as the provocations for an interesting world, that just kept building up around us. We "knew" some things already, there was a hint of what kind of tech level the world was at (from our Microscope play), and the rest just came along as we encountered it.

I really liked the concept of the "Ghost World" that we came up with ultimately: a globally persistent augmented reality that had been partially corrupted, somehow infected and then abandoned. People still went there (we went in to look at a dead letter drop) and it was safe from snooping because any sane person would stay out, lest whatever does exist in there should hunt you down. Quite a chilling place. I'd be interested in playing another round of something where that was a part of proceedings.
The dice mechanic for GHOST/ECHO works like this: in any situation where you roll dice, you have your Goal and a possible Danger - kill someone and take damage, hack someone's brain and suffer neural feedback, etc. You roll two d6s, high is good, and then you choose where you assign each die: so if you roll two 6s then you have your goal and avoid the danger.

But say you are in a knife fight with a street-thief: you roll your dice, and get a 6 and a 2. What do you do? Do you stab the guy in the throat (6) but suffer an injury yourself (2), or do you fumble shivving the guy (2) but manage to dodge his blade (6)? It's an interesting mechanism, almost like compounding the "what do you do?" of Apocalypse World - the GM asks you "what do you do?" to state your intentions, but also "what do you do?" when you get the result of a roll. This is a pretty neat mechanic, and means that you can avoid stats and everything. It's not about how strong you are, how tough you are or how dexterous.

Another great thing from the table last night: Patrick, at the start of the game gave us ten syllables to describe the equipment that our characters have. I will have to remember that for future games.

Next Games Night: a story from Zero Point Way Station, another one-shot, generated by an In A Wicked Age style Oracle. And I'm GMing!

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