I’ve been playing Sunless Sea since a couple months after the Kickstarter, and recently took a little time off to delve into Fallen London as well.
Firstly, I admire the use of a unique menace to curb sunlight farming. I still smuggle sunlight, but it’s no longer a viable long-term income source - more of a gig. You can take one or two dozen boxes and make enough money to upgrade your lodgings, or a ship, if you’re careful and well-prepared. The experience, however, will make your zee-captain a sunlight addict who can’t be trusted to handle the product. The simplest course forward is to stop after too much of a good thing, and quit while you’re ahead. If they stay at zee for a VERY LONG time, they may recover and gradually regain their tolerance - which diminishes with exposure, rather than increasing. Such seems to be the nature of nostalgia, and perhaps why the product is so regulated in the Neath.
Red Honey, however, is still badly imbalanced compared to everything else. The Brass Embassy markup allows a mid-three figure return per vial, and the only necessary adversities are:
[ul][li]A port inspection which can be avoided by expending one’s "A Story Awaits" quality
[/li][li]Having to wait for that quality in order to purchase the product[/li][/ul]Accruing huge London suspicion menaces when taking large shipments
While a high Suspicion seems fitting for a Honey smuggler, it’s perfectly viable to wander the zee with 100 suspicion.
Such a character should rightly be able to exist - a zee-bound version of the Cheery Man, for example, would also struggle to perform transactions on his own behalf - but it seems implausible that being a criminal involves so few serious punishments.
[ul][li]Gain 10 or 20 Suspicion, and London will spawn a dreadnought that is hostile to you. Perhaps neddy men chasing a bounty? Something just distanced enough from the dock inspectors that it makes sense why you’re permitted to land even when they were in pursuit. The radius within which it will follow you from London could scale with Suspicion; it scales indefinitely, so if you’ve moved enough honey too recently they’ll chase you all the way to Irem. If a person gained 10 points of suspicion when they were financially desperate for fuel and supplies, or they needed to pay off a certain businessman, this radius wouldn’t extend far, maybe a little short of Gaider’s Mourn.[/li][li]In order to prevent honey smuggling from being THE way to buy your first mansion and dreadnought, hull damage from law enforcement could also scale with Suspicion. This way, a person still using their starter ship will be in very real danger if they try to jump straight to the big leagues in honey smuggling. If they’re knowingly provoking the law, they should need some serious hull.[/li][li]Aggressive terror penalties from shooting down London’s ships; your zailors should be mortified at shooting down their own country’s ships, and taking down multiple Dreadnoughts, even in self-defense, should provoke mutiny. At least 10 points of terror for taking out a London ship, and 20 would encourage even a high-hull, high-Iron smuggler with good weaponry to retreat, taking some hull damage rather than rolling the dice on a crew mutiny. In order to maintain their honey income, they should have to pamper their troops - frequent, lavish shore leaves with good food and conjugal visits so zailors will be similarly reluctant to rebel.[/li][li]Paid suspicion reduction should exist for London, but the price should be MASSIVE and scale inversely with Suspicion. This way, the incentive to "turn back" and be less of a criminal should grow, while the cost diminishes. Maybe (1000 - (suspicion x 10)) echoes per point reduction, with a floor of 100. So if a former criminal really wants to go straight, it’s in their interests to have some clean port inspections for those last 20 points - a pretty lengthy penance, allowing them to rebuild the trust of dock inspectors. But if they’re rocking 90 suspicion and in very real danger of getting sunk with a few shots from a Dreadnought that has chased them all over the map, a few thousand echoes to some disreputable figures in the government (perhaps some more voracious, disreputable types in the government) should grease the wheels a little bit, allowing the player "safe" harbor in the farthest reaches of the zee and taking some of the worst sting out of the funding for those pursuing you. Losing 100 suspicion should take a long time, but 100 clean port inspections is both too long and too easy. If a player lives in a mansion and drives the zee’s equivalent of a tank, then their sins should have more urgent consequences. With enough Iron to fight a dreadnought, enough Heart to get your zailors to port and mollify them, and enough Veils to get away when there’s no desirable outcome, only an expert zee-captain should be able to endure high-level crime, just as there exist more incremental rewards for skill and perseverence in legitimate enterprise.
What do you think of this? Any alternate ideas? Any thoughts, for or against this? I know money is a struggle, but I’ve always felt that survival should be a privilege requiring that a player exploit all options available to them, with assets like a better crew, better ship, better equipment and a better map allowing for more and better income opportunities. Novice captains can and should die easily, and that sweet sweet mark-up on honey should be balanced against comparable adversity.[/li][/ul]
edited by Gerald Edgerton on 7/7/2015