When you being Echo Bazaar, your character is dropped in the middle of New Newgate Prison with no memory.
Unfortunately, in Echo Bazaar, no tutorial is directly offered, and you are dropped immediately in the middle of the game. This will help you understand the basic elements of your character.
Your character has four main statistics, called qualities: Watchful, Shadowy, Dangerous, and Persuasive. Most actions will increase one or more of these qualities, and very few actions in the game will reduce them. The higher the number you have in these qualities, the better you are, and the better chance you have succeeding in an action. As your qualities rise, more challenging options will open to you.
Actions and opportunity cards in this game are often challenges against these major qualities. The game tells you the likelihood of successfully completing any given challenge, based on the level of your quality. In ascending order of likelihood, they range from almost impossible, high-risk, chancy, modest, low-risk, and straightforward. (In most cases, failing a challenge will still increase a major quality.) Even straightforward challenges has a chance of failure, albiet a small one.
There are other minor qualities that you will gain over the course of gaming in Echo Bazaar. Gaining and/or improving these qualities will open up new actions and opportunities as well. A few challenges in the game are made against these qualities (notably Progress). These include:
- Acquaintance - Useful people you meet in Echo Bazaar
- Ambition - Progress in a major goal for your character
- Contacts - Organziations you learn of in Echo Bazaar
- Menace - Qualities best avoided
- Progress - Progress toward milestones in Stories and Ventures
- Quirk - How you react to moral choices
- Specific Ability
- Story - Progress in a given story
- Venture - Progress in a given venture
Cards are actions which are not specific to your current location. They appear based on various stats. There are two parts to cards, the deck and your hand. Both your deck size and hand size is variable, and can range from 1 to 3. Depending on your current lodgings, you will gain a better deck or hand size.
When you have cards in your deck (one card is dealt into your deck every 5 minutes), you can deal them into your "hand", next to your deck. It is your choice whether you activate a card or not, but be warned that cards with a red border are auto-fire cards. You will get the weal and/or woe of the card immediately.
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