Advice for Seeking the Name as a Newbie?

I’m nearing the end of my 2nd day in London… my SMEN is at 4 and my Watchful at 27, and I’m trying to figure out what my plan is from here. Is there a guide to seeking catering to someone who (already) has nothing, or has no one been so foolish as to write such a thing? :)

More specifically, I’m already fully spoiled on all the various cards and actions along the way. (I was spoiled on these before I even started playing - what drew me towards wanting to play FL in the first place was a wiki crawl that began from the search &quotWho is Salt?&quot) So I know what I have to do, but I don’t know which are going to be the expensive/time-consuming actions, because I don’t have that knowledge from experience yet.

I’m assuming that a large amount of time will be spent getting to 200 Watchful, which is needed to meditate at the well. I’ve seen conflicting reports, but I don’t think I’ll need POSI, since there’s three holidays when St. Destin’s is available via alternate means? Assuming that I’m just using weekly Marsh-Mired to boost SMEN (so no need for expensive items there), it should be down to what’s needed for the candles… what are the most hideously expensive requirements that I need to start planning for?
edited by d0sboots on 2/12/2020

12 notability and a classic short story, for Destin and Cerise respectively.

I doubt you can embark to the NORTH without a ship. And you need posi to get one.

Besides that you should plan on how you are going to get the calling card - getting it on your own might take some grinding as it requires not only an affiliation, but also 7 searing enigmas.

But nothing compares to 12 notability grind really. It’s not something you can get by just slowly getting closer and closer
edited by Billy Bones jr on 2/11/2020

I recommend to get an alt.

  1. Fastest ways for raising stats are social actions.
  2. Its is super helpfull for raising notability (Benefit from flattery at Dante’s Grill and marriage/divorce).

I can elaborate on this a little bit:

The easiest way to get St Cerise’s Candle is with a Classic Short Story.
After every four weeks, you can trade in 4 Profession Perks for a Trade Secret, which you should hoard rather than open. At Veilgarden towards the mid-game (post-POSI), you can prepare for a Classic Short Story by spending items to the highest possible cap. A Classic Short Story will require at least two Trade Secrets to create, but there will always be a significant chance for failure. As a result, start collecting as many Trade Secrets as possible.

St Destin’s Candle is also time consuming, as the usual way is either getting a particular destiny during an event after getting St Cerise (the closest one being the Fruits of the Zee Festival at August - September), or to sacrifice 12 Notability to the Slowcake card. The most reliable way is to buy a Handsome Townhouse from the Bazaar (converting honey to romantic notions) and set up a Salon or Orphanage. Accumulate Scheme little-by-little and set up a partnership with either a Correspondent, Midnighter, or Crooked Cross to get as much Making Waves and Notability as possible. As consider investing in items with Bizarre, Dreaded and Respectable to decrease the amount of Making Waves needed to get Notability.

Seeking requires large amounts of Watchful, and the fastest way to increase the stat is by unlocking the University by completing expeditions, reaching the investigation of the Senior Reader’s murder, and repeatedly pick the Porters option. Use the Heights of Chicanery option at the Flit to recycle investigation progress into Cryptic Clues that will be used for Porters. The Sudden Insights that are gained can then be spent at Lodgings to increase your Watchful very quickly so that in a few weeks, the base stat will be 200.

There is definitely more advice to give, but this is already overwhelming enough to a newbie so contact me in-game at Den Blackwell for more details if you want.

Those are good ways, but I agree with Waterpls: the fastest way to improve Watchful is with social actions. If you’re interested, I have a Seeking alt. He’s a sociopath and a terrible human being, but he’ll happily accept chess invites. (He’ll probably cheat, and he’ll probably lose when he does so, but you’ve been warned. ;) )

Thanks everyone, this is exactly the sort of long-range planning information I was looking for!

I think I’m OK on Watchful for the near-future. Right now I can do 0-10% Watchful challenges (with no failure penalty) for 4-4.6 CP/A, which I’m pretty sure is better than chess? (Oh, I see the real gain from chess is the Sudden Insights… gonna have to do math on that.) Talkative Rattus Faber helps extend the viability of this out a ways. And pretty soon the Lady in Lilac should become a pinned storylet, which allows for +5 CP/A farming until the end of the Feast.

I was really hoping to inherit or borrow someone’s calling card when the time comes, but I don’t know how realistic that is.

The Notability grind sounds… grindy. I was really hoping to bypass that by getting Torment. If I’m reading the wiki-leaves right, all it requires (aside from being the right season) is being a Captain (and a Candle), which is needed anyway. The time restriction isn’t an issue because I imagine it’s going to take at least that many months to be eligible for St. Destin’s anyway… that much SMEN implies Winking Isle, which implies Watchful 200, and if I have to go to God’s Editors for the Calling Card it’ll take half a year to raise my SMEN that high using only Marsh-Mired actions.

Edit: And good catch about needing POSI to get a ship. No one mentioned either POSI or buying a ship as being particularly bad, so I’m guessing there’s nothing there I need to start planning for early?
edited by d0sboots on 2/12/2020

Becoming a POSI is a bit grindy, but nothing terrible; the main thing to know ahead is that you’ll need decent numbers in all four stats.

Getting a ship… well, it depends what ship you want. The tramp steamer is extremely modest in price, and is probably all you’ll need since you’re Seeking. If you want one of the less rusty vessels so that you can destroy yourself in style, then you’ll have to put in time for the resources. (You can check the Wiki for specifics of what each requires. The Yacht also has a RNG component that is famously frustrating; perhaps you’re used to that with SMEN anyway, perhaps you don’t want an extra dose of it.)

OK, here’s my attempt at math for chess. This is all rather suspect though, because determining from the wiki what constitutes an action is very unclear for social stuff.

I think a full game requires 5 actions on both sides: 1 to send/accept the invitation, 1 for the first move (which gives no rewards), 2 for the regular moves, and 1 to end the game.

Assuming everyone does standard intellect moves, and that the same person loses the last two moves (and thus the whole match), the winner gains +6cp Watchful, +4cp Making Waves, and 1 Sudden Insight, while the loser gains +55cp Watchful and 4 Sudden Insights. Assuming the 1-70 range on trading Sudden Insights is correct, 1 Sudden Insight and .2 Actions -> +.2cp Persuasive, +.2cp Dangerous and +7.1cp Watchful.

So, after conversion, the winner spent 5.2 Actions for +13.1cp Watchful, +4cp Making Waves, +.2cp Persuasive and +.2cp Dangerous, with ~2.52 cp/A of Watchful gain. The loser spent 5.8 Actions for +83.4cp Watchful, +.8cp Persuasive and +.8cp Dangerous, with ~14.38 cp/A of Watchful gain. If you assume both players are around the same level (or rapidly catch up to the same level), they would start winning at the same rates, both averaging to 8.45 cp/A.

This seems to be significantly better than any other with no pre-reqs.

Edit: Here’s my math for the Porters/Chicanery loop:
Porters cost (1/x) Actions and (25/x) Cryptic Clue -> +4cp Investigating, 1 Sudden Insight, 108 Whispered Hint, +f(x) cp Watchful and +(1/x - 1) cp Nightmares, where &quotx&quot is the success rate in [0,1] and f(x) is a complicated function, but will generally be either 1.9 or 1 for the interesting ranges of x.
Raid a Message Drop should be tried ASAP for farming secrets, but when going for Watchful it’s better to reduce actions and take the sure thing. It also makes the math easier. A sure success requires level 8, which is 36cp or 9 runs of Porters. The other costs are 1 action -> +2cp Shadowy, +270 Cryptic Clue, or in terms of Porters: 1/9 action -> +2/9 cp Shadowy, +30 Cryptic Clue.

Putting it together, plus the conversion: (1/x + 1/9 + 1/5) action -> (30 - 25/x) Cryptic Clue, 108 Whispered Hint, +(f(x) + 71/10) cp Watchful, +(1/x - 1) cp Nightmares, +1/5cp Persuasive, +1/5cp Dangerous.

The cp/A for watchful is (f(x) + 71/10)/(1/x + 14/45) which is… an ugly function. It has a local maximum of ~6.18 at x=1 (Watchful 180), dropping to 5.75 at x=.91 (Watchful 164) and then jumping to ~6.36 at x=9.05 (Watchful 163) and continuing to decrease from there. However, as the success chance decreases the overall cp/A is hurt by having to deal with Nightmares, which this doesn’t account for.

There’s also the Echo/A gain of exactly .9 when x=1, which isn’t too shabby. And that can be greatly improved by changing the Raid strategy. So although this isn’t as good as chess for pure Watchful gain, and it requires being almost maxed on Watchful already to be most practical, I can see it being a better hybrid strategy in many circumstances.
edited by d0sboots on 2/12/2020

Oh, also: Multiple people are mentioning getting base Watchful to 200. I’d assumed that only modified Watchful (base + gear) needed to be 200, since that’s the way that all checks work normally. Is the Winking Isle check done on base stats and it’s just not mentioned on the wiki?

Also consider that, if you’re putting thought in this, you’re not likely to have an even 50% win ratio. The game is set up so that losers get more Insights (and thus more skill gain), while winners get more MW (which an advanced character needs more); if you can find opponents who are notably more skilled than you, this means a good chance every game of getting the higher Insight rate. Given the number of end-game 215 base Watchful players running amok in London, that shouldn’t be too difficult a prospect.

Cerise’s Candle probably is the hardest one. Next Noman will be available only in 2021. Next best option is Classic Short Story. And you need 6-7 Trade secrets for 100%. Or A LOT of Case-Notes.
Other important side grind is Pagoda Expeditions for Searing Enigmas.

Notes to self/other: the Starveling Cat, the Starveling cat, gives Unaccountably Peckish at the drop of a hat! (Even without access to the Flit storyline that will give 3 UP/A from The Cat, you can gain 1 UP/A by trading it back and forth with an alt. As long as your alt can stand the peckish too. :) ) Is there any downside to having the Starveling Cat, like it unlocking an annoying card? Why do so many people refuse to accept cat boxes?

Also, I screwed up the chess math, chess is simultaneously better and worse than I thought. :) It’s not 5 actions each, but asymmetric: 3 for the initiator and 2 for the invitee. Also, I’ve seen no evidence of the (huge) +50cp Watchful gain that the wiki claims for losing the 3rd round. Put these together, and if you assume that the initiator is also the loser (seems like a reasonable assumption?), the numbers come out: Winner 2.2 Actions for +13.1cp Watchful, 5.95cp/A. Loser 3.8 Actions for +33.4cp Watchful, 8.79cp/A.

Still really good, especially if you can reliably lose, but the bonus echos from the Porter carousel are starting to look a lot better at the top end.

I’m not sure how active it is anymore/if cards ae being passed around still but there was a thread for Seekers seeking a calling card to basically request one/put themselves on a chain waiting list.

As someone who has had six - SIX - characters go through this storyline to the end, and got them all back with the tangible final reward, I would say this:

You really should do this much, much later. After your character has reached end-game status, and you have learned how to get specific things quickly. Fumbling about is NOT fun in this storyline.

Also, one of the phases in this storyline would have you waiting week after week just to build up a stat. You really need the patience for this one, because the alternative is horribly ruinous.

At one point in the storyline, you have to divest yourself of a LOT of assets and all your money. At that point, I suggest looking at the wiki for the game closely to see what you can retain. A tip here: you can buy a crapload of Books of the Dead. That point in the storyline doesn’t require you to divest yourself of these.

With all do respect to Rostygold, I’m gonna have to slightly disagree. I think their advice are mechanically sound, and they probably knows a lot more about seeking that I do, but I think part of the point and the… fun isn’t the right word, I guess enjoyment of the storyline is that it’s suppose to hurt a little. The wait from week to week, the Uncharacteristically Peckish quality that hurt you, the realization that you had to get rid of some item before you could progress, and now you have to go back are all design intention that point toward a willingness to frustrate the player. To be honest, I regret not halving my watchful, because I think I missed part of the experience (My Seeking is to high now to that ever be a realistic option). In his video about Pathologic, hbomberguy expressed the idea (which I think is also applicable to the Seeking storyline) that the game use design to evoke boredom, dread and frustration in the player to create an aesthetic experience. I this particular storyline is best enjoyed if we don’t try to optimize our decision too much, or at least not as much as we would in the rest of the game. Again, this is only my opinion and I don’t think Rostygold’s advice is wrong (again, he knows much more about the storyline that I do), but I believe we should only use the wiki sometimes in this story.

I would say that people should use the Wiki whenever they can; this is a game that rewards planning. Besides, the Wiki is actively sanitized of any story spoilers.

The narrative fluff (or rather, thorns) from the failures is not really that great either - it’s just more inane rambling and a lot of screaming.

Do one more. Seven, after all, is the number.

Sorry, I wandered away and thought this topic died. Is it not possible to subscribe to threads on this forum? I looked everywhere and couldn’t find a way. :(

Anyway, I appreciate your perspective Rostygold, but if you know you’re a Seeker, why would you wait to start? As you say, raising SMEN to the appropriate point is going to take ~5 months, so delaying the start of that means the whole thing just takes longer.

Also, you’re assuming that you need experience to know how to get things quickly. I suppose I’m an atypical player (I’m a total minmax-er), but less than a month in all my stats are >100, with Watchful at 170. I’m intentionally delaying getting PoSI because the Scars and Chains involve a lot of trips that I think are best dealt with with items. (And menace-reduction items are way less useful as a PoSI.)

As a total planner, Seeking fascinates me because of the elaborate planning required if you want to dodge the most onerous penalties. It’s all the more interesting and challenging to start that plan from the very beginning. :)

I’m necro’ing this thread, because since I just went NORTH I’m in a place to give advice to my past self (or, more realistically, people who stumble on this thread via search).

The biggest advice is definitely DON’T WAIT. You can cram literally all of the necessary preparations into the 17 weeks it takes to raise your SMEN, and still have plenty of time left over. There’s no need to wait for festivals or any of that. I would even go so far as to say that you should start if you’re even thinking of Seeking; just building SMEN (and ignoring The Seeking Road) doesn’t have bad consequences, but is also the time-consuming part.

My other advice is don’t rely on the Classic Short Story; I got lucky and got one, which saved me some time, but if you’re unlucky you don’t have enough time to wait for those Professional Perks. Grind for an Overgoat as a backup plan; it doesn’t take that long to get. (And if you luck out, there’s always uses for more Echoes; I ended up outright buying premises at the Bazaar.)