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A game of survival, trade and exploration in the universe of Fallen London

Death on the Zee seems incongruously permanent Messages in this topic - RSS

CameoAppearance
CameoAppearance
Posts: 121

5/4/2014
Just about every time I've seen somebody's death referenced in Sunless Sea, it's been permanent, although I can recall it being vaguely mentioned that death tends not to stick in reference to the tomb-colonists and I know the Drownies are referred to as dead. But there don't seem to be any mentions of impermanent death on your ship or in port, and there are some apparently-permanent deaths from what seem to be ordinary stabbings and bullet wounds and suchlike. I mean, there are also lots of deaths where it's reasonable for the body not to be recovered (especially if your starving crew ate it), or that are mangly enough that it'd make sense for them to be permanent even in Fallen London, or where the assailant would want to make sure the person they killed stayed dead (like the mutiny ending), and if your body ends up in the Unterzee you'd probably only come back as a Drownie. If a zee-monster didn't eat you first. But still.

It took me a bit to notice this, but now that I've noticed it it makes me sort of sad, since one of my favourite things about the setting is how death isn't permanent and this leads to the characters having an entertainingly cavalier attitude towards being stabbed or poisoned or whatnot. And it does seem to matter to the overall story of the Fallen London universe, too, with the way the people from the Presbyterate are more immortal than Londoners but the Snuffers don't get to come back from the dead at all, and the fact that only people who've never died can return to the Surface, in addition to the amusing references to, for instance, poisoning your rival so they won't be able to upstage you at a social event. I'd like it if there were more references to one of your crew dying and this putting them out of commission for a while, just for flavour, on top of the ones that subtract that zailor from your crew headcount for good.

Possibly it was left out on purpose, but I'm still hoping there will be more references to temporary deaths in the finished product. Hopefully I'm not the only one who misses it.

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Xaphedo
Xaphedo
Posts: 44

5/4/2014
Being a drownie is much worse than it seems! You aren't coming back from that.

Anyway, yes please. I'd love to see some death lore creep its way back to my Neath experience.


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    Betrothal To Prosody

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    Alexis Kennedy
    Alexis Kennedy
    Posts: 1372

    5/4/2014
    CameoAppearance wrote:
    Possibly it was left out on purpose



  • It was. I wrote the original FL lore with the peculiar treatment of death, and I developed the underlying rationale for it, so I'm attached to it as anyone. But when I came to writing the content and building the systems, it required constant rationalisations, rewrites and write-rounds. It works in FL because so much of the narrative occurs in purely social situations, and where Scandal and Suspicion are literally as punishing in death. It doesn't really work in a setting which we sell hard as being fatal.


    So it weakened the theme of SS, and it was going to confuse non-FL incomers, which was the final straw. It vexed me to lose it, but the price was worth paying. There is a canonical rationale, which is already hinted at in extant content, but the fundamental reason is so I could write better content more quickly.
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    CameoAppearance
    CameoAppearance
    Posts: 121

    5/4/2014
    Xaphedo wrote:
    Being a drownie is much worse than it seems! You aren't coming back from that.
    Anyway, yes please. I'd love to see some death lore creep its way back to my Neath experience.

    Yeah, I figure becoming a Drownie isn't really compatible with taking your old life up again, either for the captain or the crew. That's how it generally seems to work in FL, except for maybe the Deluged Docent from the Flute Street storyline. It's pretty mysterious why they have this sudden change in priorities, but it definitely seems to be a thing that happens.

    Plus, if your ship sinks, it'd be a long swim to the nearest port even if you're undead and don't need to breathe anymore. Not very practical!

    Alexis Kennedy wrote:
    CameoAppearance wrote:
    Possibly it was left out on purpose


    It was. I wrote the original FL lore with the peculiar treatment of death, and I developed the underlying rationale for it, so I'm attached to it as anyone. But when I came to writing the content and building the systems, it required constant rationalisations, rewrites and write-rounds. It works in FL because so much of the narrative occurs in purely social situations, and where Scandal and Suspicion are literally as punishing in death. It doesn't really work in a setting which we sell hard as being fatal.


    So it weakened the theme of SS, and it was going to confuse non-FL incomers, which was the final straw. It vexed me to lose it, but the price was worth paying. There is a canonical rationale, which is already hinted at in extant content, but the fundamental reason is so I could write better content more quickly.

    It did occur to me in passing that it might be too complicated and/or confusing for newcomers to have there be consequence-free temporary deaths alongside the actually threatening permanent deaths, but I got caught up in my outpouring of enthusiasm. Oh well. (And, well, being eaten or falling into the zee are occupational hazards for zailors, and some of the other ways zailors can die in this game are pretty gruesome. It's not that hard to believe that most of their deaths would be permanent, it just seemed strange that there weren't any temporary deaths.)
    edited by CameoAppearance on 5/4/2014

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    Dr Cameo “Scary Teeth” Thurlow, that toothy androgyne with the wickedly sharp curly quotes
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    Alexis Kennedy
    Alexis Kennedy
    Posts: 1372

    5/4/2014
    The canonical answer is that it's still a little harder to die at zee than on the surface. It's just, uh, less harder.
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    Zasadzka
    Zasadzka
    Posts: 4

    5/5/2014
    I was actually sort of thinking about this - or well, at least death as it appears in the game which is close enough. In Nethack - which I think of often while playing Sunless Sea due to the amount of times I have starved to death in both - you would occasionally meet (and kill or be killed by) your own ghost from earlier playthroughs while going through the game. That seems like it might be an interesting way to both allude to the iffy nature of death AND serve as an inescapable reminder to players of their own mortality! Also ghost ships! Always fun.
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    Lilly Budgies
    Lilly Budgies
    Posts: 15

    5/6/2014
    Cheers to that! Ghostships, ARRRRR! smile

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    Xaphedo
    Xaphedo
    Posts: 44

    5/6/2014
    I can't really see proper ghosts working in the lore of the Neath (your soul is basically harmless and you have no control over it). But I can see plenty of ways to "come back". Mh-ah! Ah!

    One of the tomb-colonists you're carrying has the same legacy symbol as yours?
    A valuable soul you got in some shady circumstances looks terrifyingly familiar?
    While underwater (you thought I'd forget, did you not?), you shed light on a group of drownies... is that your mentor? And what is she holding in her hand?

    I'm all for it!

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    Snowskeeper
    Snowskeeper
    Posts: 506

    5/6/2014
    Well, we already have one ghost in the Neath. Whether that's an exception to the rule or not, though, is another matter.
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    babelfishwars
    babelfishwars
    Administrator
    Posts: 1052

    5/6/2014
    Xaphedo wrote:
    I can't really see proper ghosts working in the lore of the Neath (your soul is basically harmless and you have no control over it).


    Why would a ghost be a soul?

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    Xaphedo
    Xaphedo
    Posts: 44

    5/6/2014
    babelfishwars wrote:
    Why would a ghost be a soul?

    Because that's how it normally works in fiction.

    What could it otherwise be? The soul is really the only intangible and immortal part of the Londoners's bodies, is it not? Or am I at a cultural disadvantage and there's something I should know on the matter?...


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    The Paleogamer
    The Paleogamer
    Posts: 17

    5/6/2014
    I dunno. Lots of Londoners seem to be functioning quite well without their souls. I don't see why they would necessarily miss them after becoming inconvinently dead.

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    babelfishwars
    babelfishwars
    Administrator
    Posts: 1052

    5/6/2014
    Xaphedo wrote:
    babelfishwars wrote:
    Why would a ghost be a soul?

    Because that's how it normally works in fiction.

    What could it otherwise be? The soul is really the only intangible and immortal part of the Londoners's bodies, is it not? Or am I at a cultural disadvantage and there's something I should know on the matter?...


    *wiggles eyebrows suggestively*
    Na, I know nothing within FL backstory either way.

    But in general: thing is, I don't know much fiction with convincing ghosts in. And since ghosts are fiction, they can be justified/explained in a variety of ways. (To me) lost intellects are as (more?) interesting as a lost soul. No one really knows what a soul is, it's a fluffy spiritual thing. It's the 'special' bit. To me something like a lost mind is more ... comprehensible. But that's the thing about fiction - ghosts become common knowledge without us actually knowing a thing about them.

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    Playersideblog
    Playersideblog
    Posts: 397

    5/6/2014
    Well, I know that fiction generally refers to ghosts as "spirits", but that doesn't necessarily mean the same thing as "soul". (It's a fine distinction, but a distinction nonetheless.) For instance, a ghost who's a spirit could easily be a psychic impression instead of an actual person. "Soul" denotes personhood; "spirit" merely denotes a spiritual presence.

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    Xaphedo
    Xaphedo
    Posts: 44

    5/6/2014
    So this is how a debate at the Department of Ectanthroplasmology would be like. I love it!

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    Betrothal To Prosody

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    Lily Fox
    Lily Fox
    Posts: 346

    5/6/2014
    One could make a distinction between the essence of a person, their 'spirit' in an alchemical sense, and the divine spark that could be the soul. The base and the divine, two components that, along with the material corpus, form a whole person.

    The spirit leaves an impression upon the soul, making an echo of itself, but if the soul is stolen the spirit remains. That is why the soulless amongst us still possess reason, intellect, sentience et cetera but have lost their spark.

    I could be on to something. Or I could have overdone the mushroom wine, excuse me.

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    SarahTheEntwife
    SarahTheEntwife
    Posts: 46

    8/10/2014
    Ah, I was wondering about this; I'm glad someone asked. Several times now my crew has been actually eaten by something, and presumably then you're not really reconstitutable.

    And now I'm *very* curious about ghosts in FL...I guess someone who's sold their soul really shouldn't be able to become a ghost going by standard ghost-lore, since they kind of already are, just stuck in a little bottle somewhere. But then presumably there is *something* else running the body, since the soulless are still able to do pretty much everything except get invited to the better parties at Somerset, and I guess that could have some lingering presence after death? Hrm.

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    Mordaine Barimen
    Mordaine Barimen
    Posts: 660

    8/10/2014
    Hauntings do occur in the Neath; I have a ghost as a companion. Of course, the ratio of ghosts to Parabolic events as the sources for reported hauntings in the Neath is likely a hotly debated (and violently repressed) debate subject.

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    EmilyAriel
    EmilyAriel
    Posts: 124

    8/11/2014
    Mordaine Barimen wrote:
    Hauntings do occur in the Neath; I have a ghost as a companion. Of course, the ratio of ghosts to Parabolic events as the sources for reported hauntings in the Neath is likely a hotly debated (and violently repressed) debate subject.



    Of course, it's entirely possible that you (and I, for that matter) actually have a Fingerking as a companion, and there are not actually ghosts in the Neath.
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    Mordaine Barimen
    Mordaine Barimen
    Posts: 660

    8/11/2014
    A good point, I suppose. For that matter, I'd accept the theory that all ghosts were ophidian obfuscation, if not for the fact that you can haunt a Surface-friend while temporarily dead.
    edited by Mordaine Barimen on 8/11/2014

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