I rather enjoy Ghost/Echo myself. Still, when I ran it for a small group with experience in other RPGs, I was struck by how all of us, at some time or another, stumbled a bit over the rules, simple though they are. The two main things that tripped us:
- When you define risks before rolling, the risk needs to not be mutually exclusive with success. I think for players who are mostly used to pass/fail resolution, or used to being told what the risks and complications are (whether up front by a PbtA move’s text, or afterward by the GM), it felt like putting their head in GM space a little more than they were used to.
- After you roll, there’s an extra decision point that you don’t get in PbtA games or in D&D. You might have to weigh which matters to you more—success or risk avoidance. That, of course, is the whole point of the system, and definitely a feature, not a bug. But an extra step is still an extra step, and it’s not just a relatively passive extra step (like “roll for damage”), but a very cognitively demanding extra step.
Plus, I think the lack of numerical stats actually limits an RPG’s potential reach, even though I personally love games without numerical stats. It just renders the product less familiar to folks who enter the hobby through D&D (which is to say most Americans entering the hobby, at least), and demands more interpretation at the table of when qualitative descriptors should apply than a clear cut “roll X when Y” approach.
All of that said, I still think elements of Ghost/Echo have leaked into my own designs since reading it, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find out others were similarly inspired. The idea of releasing a game that’s avowedly incomplete, with just a bunch of prompts, a starting scenario, and some dice rules, feels very much in line with the explosion of microgames and pamphlet dungeons I see gathering on Itch these days.