I’ve previously written about the fascinating new Web-game Echo Bazaar in an abstract sense but some people prefer a more solid explanation
as to why I’ve not had time to respond to your email regarding the game I’ve been playing. This post is dedicated to those people (Hi Mom!).
Echo Bazaar is basically a choose-your-own-adventure narrative story that you can play on your web browser. You start in Newgate Prison, with a single focus: get out. There is a deck of six cards but you can only look at one. Deal a card and decide what to do: play or discard?
Most cards offer you a choice: it will outline an action or two with your likelihood of success based on your skills. You can choose one which will use up an action or dismiss the card and then discard it and pull another one. Your cards refresh every seven minutes so once you’ve gone through the initial six, you may find that you have to wait a few minutes for more.
Red-bordered cards have a specific effect and use up an action simply by viewing them. Generally, however, you do not use an action by viewing a card. Either way, you’ll need to use up cards and actions to find a way to get out of Newgate Prison.
As you make choices, you’ll see storylets appear. These are specific to your qualities and connections, so they will change as you progress. In this particular case, you’ll begin to see options for escape based on the choices you’ve made with your Opportunity cards. You’ll need a combination of cards and storylets to make it into Fallen London.
The game is constantly changing with tweaks and new content being added every day. As a result, it’s hard to provide a walk-through of the initial experience … and impossible to detail later gameplay as it is completely dependent on the choices you make. However, you can keep track of the primary updates by keeping an eye on the Change Notes.
However, there are some constants. Part of the fun of the game is to increase your skills and open up new storylets. Each area of Fallen London focuses on a different quality: Ladybones Road for Watchful, Veilgarden for Persuasive, Spite for Shadowy and Watchmaker’s Hill for Dangerous. Each area has multiple storylets so it’s worth moving around frequently to see all the trouble you can get into.
You’ll want to save up for lodgings – staying in a spare bedroom allows you to hold and view two opportunity cards at a time. Rent a room or find other lodgings to increase your hand and your Knife and Candle bonus (more on this next week).
More importantly, you have special Storylets when you are in your lodgings, which allow you to invite your friends to events. These cost an action and will send a message to friends who are already playing Echo Bazaar (via a Twitter direct message).
If they accept the invitation, both you and your friend will receive … something. An item or an effect or the lessening of an effect. It depends.
Many of these events award a retry card which you can use in future gameplay. These cards are played automatically if you fail at a challenge using the appropriate quality, you are allowed to try once more without using up a second action. These are available for each of the qualities once you receive once you’ve received 5 skill and are quite useful for chancy opportunities.
Other interactive events are less predictable. Some social affairs reduce Menaces such as Scandal; however you may find that listening to the Nightmares of a friend increase your own. A candle-light dinner will gain you Admired points based on your companion: the more Admired he is, the greater your increase will be. Offering a quick alibi for that night will decrease your friend’s Suspicion level, without causing any detriment to yourself.
An invitation to a friend costs an action, whether your guest accepts for not. He or she will need use an action in order to accept the invitation, a rejection, however, costs nothing.
It is also in your lodgings that you will hear of routes to other locations in Fallen London. Most of these will be quite expensive to discover, however, and are not recommended for beginners.
The official currency of Fallen London is Echoes and Pennies (100 Pennies in an Echo) but there are also many opportunities for bartering, so it is worth saving up those Whispered Secrets and Rats-on-a-String just in case.
Some items can be used: you can drink Laudanum in order to reduce your Nightmares, for example, if you aren’t bothered by the physical effects. When looking at your inventory in the “Me” tab, you’ll find usable items have a yellow border. Click on the item in order to see how it is used (you won’t use up the item nor the action until you confirm).
But which of the myriad of objects are worth saving? Another question that has no simple answer. The value of the items that you gain on your mission are listed in the Bazaar but it will always cost you more to purchase the items than you gain from selling them. As inventory space is high, it can be sensible to keep everything until you find something particularly that you need. I kept all items that I found until I found lodgings for 400 Whispered Secrets at which point I sold off the rest of my items to purchase the remaining secrets I needed. But then, a friend sold her things immediately in order to purchase a dress and scarlet stockings with the resulting Echoes and who’s to say she’s wrong?
Above all, Echo Bazaar is a game for exploration. There’s no need to know every detail and no rulebook you have to flick through. If you make the wrong decision, then at worst, you’ve wasted actions and you’ll always get more of those.
You have a maximum of 10 actions at any given moment, and a used action replenishes every 7 minutes. You have a total of 70 actions per day, which reset in 24-hour cycles based on your initial turns each day.
So once you start to use your 10 actions, you’ll have to wait at least 70 minutes to get another 10. If you use your actions as soon as they become available, you will run out in just over 8 hours.
BUT there are options for more. Once every 24 hours, you can get 10 free actions simply by twittering an official snippet from the game. This resets your current actions to 10 so make sure you are at 0 before you use this. It also increases your actions for the day by 10, so these are on top of your daily allotment.
You can also buy actions with Fate. This works similarly: spending 10 fate will refill your actions available to 10 and you will receive those options on top of your daily allotment. However, you can replenish your actions with Fate as often as you wish – well as often as you can afford.
You are awarded Fate for completing many of the longer storylets (with bronze shading), the occasional rare Opportunity card or you can purchase Fate online using a variety of methods including credit cards and PayPal. At the time of writing, Fate is available at a rate of 40 Fate for $10.00. You need 10 Fate to refill your actions or you can top up your Opportunities deck of 6 cards for 3 Fate.
Fate is also used to reset your ambition, however that’s a post for another day…
You can read about carnivals and scandal and much more in the Echo Bazaar category on this site.