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Ghost Master (known as Ghost Master: The Gravenville Chronicles on the Xbox.) is a puzzle/strategy game for the PC. It is among a small selection of games that put the player in the role of the enemy. In this case, the player assumes the role of a Ghost Master, a bureaucratic spirit tasked to perform certain duties. While the bulk of a Ghost Master's duties consist of hauntings, a Ghost Master may also be "called in" to increase belief in the supernatural, avenge deaths, and conscript renegade ghosts. Because a Ghost Master cannot directly interfere in the world of mortals, he is given a team of subordinate ghosts to do so. When not haunting, the Ghost Master is responsible for the training of the ghosts under his command.
In all but a few levels of Ghost Master, the goal of the game is to cause all mortals to flee the area in fear or succumb to madness. Ghost Master plays similarly to a real-time strategy game. The player first chooses the ghosts he wants to field in the level.
The player cannot field every ghost in every place. Each ghost has one or two types of objects (or "fetter") it can be bound to. For example, a ghost who died during a robbery could only be bound to a "Murder Fetter", whereas a water spirit can only be bound to a bath, sink, or a simple puddle of water.
Another limiting factor is "Plasm". This numerical resource dictates which abilities a ghost can use. As a human becomes frightened, Plasm is generated. With more Plasm, stronger abilities (and more ghosts) can be fielded at any one time.
Once the objective(s) for a level has been completed, the game rates the player's progress. Many factors are considered, including time, amount of impact on the mortals, and how many mortals fled. If the player is able to complete the mission fairly quickly, there is a multiplier added to the final score. This score determines the amount of "Gold Plasm" given to the player, which is used to add more skills to ghosts.
The game ends with a cliffhanger, with the Ghostbreakers bringing in a bomb that would completely erase supernatural presence in the city the game takes place. Because of the lack of a sequel, a bonus level was released for fans, which provided some closure. However, the bonus level is only available for the UK version of the game and was not released for the US version.
The bonus level is included in the Steam and Good Old Games release of the game.
Each level also includes various restless spirits, haunters who are bound to a particular fetter or location. Each restless spirit has a unique way to be "laid to rest" and by completing this optional objective the ghost permanently joins the Ghost Master, and is able to be used in subsequent scenarios.
Mortal defenses and abilities
All mortals have a belief level, which partially determines the effectiveness of a ghost's powers upon them. The belief bar is raised slightly with every scare, and particular powers are able to raise belief better than others. Every mortal also has conscious and subconscious fears which are linked to certain ghost's powers. Scaring a mortal with a power that appeals to their fear is particularly effective on him or her. These are usually unknown at the beginning of each level, but some ghosts have the ability to expose these fears.
Mortals also have a fear level and a madness level, with certain limits to each. When a human's fear bar is raised to a certain level, he/she flees, this is the objective of most of the ingame levels. The madness bar is filled only by the use of certain powers. When a mortal's madness bar reaches a certain point, they go insane, which is visible in that they now just roam the area of the scenario in a frenzy and are unable to be scared or maddened any more. The fear bar reduces as time progresses in the game, but the belief and madness bars do not.
Somewhere between average humans and ghosts are priests, witches, and mediums. These humans have the ability to banish your ghosts that are fielded. Banished ghosts are no longer usable during that level, and are returned after the mission is complete. Also, a large score penalty is levied on players who allow ghosts to be banished.
Ghostbreakers are the most dangerous mortals, from a supernatural perspective. They are able to detect and banish ghosts at a much faster speed than other the "special" mortals mentioned previously. They are also able to field special wards, which prevent the player from fielding, or benching, ghosts trapped underneath them. Only if the electrical generators are destroyed do the wards fail.
Ghost Master received generally favorable reviews.