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During our geeky weekend in the Ardennes Jan and me had a late night to ourselves, so we tried out Monstrous Ghosts. We thought it be fun to have Jan try the improv GM thing, so he MC’ed and I played.

My urban explorer Mandy Potempkin got into a lot of trouble in the abandoned factory, that turned out to house a brewery, a freaky sawmill type room and some scary offices. It was clearly noticeable that Jan had been reading a lot of CHEW comics over the weekend.

My character had just puked at something horrible, and his description of the ghost scooping up a bit of my vomit, tasting it like a delicacy and then proclaiming my name… it was pretty nauseating!

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Jan did really well on the descriptions and on keeping it scary. I’m very jealous of his GM’ing chops. It didn’t hurt that it was in the middle of the night and that I had put on a creepy soundtrack.

The game is written in an interesting procedural way, it’s almost like a choose your own adventure book. It also has a lot of handholding for both players, making it very suitable for novice players in that respect. In other ways it still seems like a jump off into the deep end if you ask me.

It was a bit constrictive for Jan. Maybe it was because he’s used to GM’ing by now, but he kept GM’ing a bit freely and finding out that he had gone too far ahead (as far as the game was concerned).

I really liked getting to flash out my character a bit with the player questions that were all really good and spot-on. They can be used in the story, but I also like it if they’re just there and you get the feeling that’s you aren’t playing a disposable person. If you didn’t make it back, people would miss you.

The central mechanic used is really fun. It’s a type of blackjack mechanic where getting as close to 21 as possible is really good, but busting or being low is really bad. You draw one playing card per check, so you can really see your doom stacking up. Also, since your cycle of doom is kind of predictable, your GM can include it in the narration as you would in Dread.

In the end Mandy was sadly eaten and never heard from again. Poor Mandy!

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