Ambition: Synopsis! (SPOILERS)

direct links to your Ambition’s summary, bypassing potential spoilers for others:
Bag a Legend!Heart’s Desire!Nemesis!Light Fingers!

This thread is mainly a service for longtime players who’ve forgotten almost everything about their Ambition. I guess it’ll also be useful for those poor souls among you with just one account. :D

The rest of the thread is for you then, to discuss, speculate and of course point out my mistakes! ;)

Generally, I’ll try and link to players’ profiles that feature not just one useful echo but a few, so you can ideally read through the most important parts of the original text on no more than a handful of profiles.

Also generally, if anyone’s not happy with their profile being linked here, send me a PM and I’ll fix it! I’ll try to use my own profiles first, but obviously that won’t work all the time.

As the most straightforward of the bunch, I did Bag a Legend! first. The fact that I echoed a lot of it on my own character’s profile certainly helped.

For the early chapters of Bag a Legend!, echoes were hard to come by. The part where the Music-Hall Singer teaches the Mandrake to sing has a few really funny bits. If you should have some good echoes at hand, don’t hesitate to post them!

:edit: This project was canceled half-way through due to RL constraints.
edited by phryne on 5/2/2021


The most legendary and dangerous of the Neath’s monsters is the Vake - the Department of Menace Eradication offers a standing reward of four million echoes. Reason enough for you to go after it!

You make the acquaintance of a Scarred Naturalist who lives out in Watchmakers Hill. He seems to know what’s what. Together you come up with something like a plan. You need three things: an actual ‘Singing Mandrake’ to lure the Vake, a weapon to kill the Vake, and Black Wings Absinthe.

For the first part of the plan, you catch a wild mandrake and teach it to sing. Well, you bring it to a music-hall singer in Spite who teaches it to sing. This keeps you busy for a good while.

According to the Naturalist, the Vake sometimes loses teeth which keep moving around on their own. You find one in New Newgate and hammer it into a sandalwood club because apparently the Vake hates sandalwood and can be killed by its own teeth. Don’t ask. (One of the possible sources of sandalwood is quite interesting.)

Each bottle of Black Wings Absinthe is said to contain a single drop of Vake blood. Drinking the stuff lets you share its thoughts. Thus you get to know your quarry a little bit better. But this works both ways: the Vake now takes note of you, too.

At this point, things get out of hand: first, you’re insulted by a mysterious nun. And then the Naturalist turns out to have betrayed you: he’s working for the Vake, luring hunters to their doom for the Vake’s sport and amusement. After a little fainting fit and a trip to the Prickfinger Wastes, you end up with a tiny bottle labelled &quotBlack Wings Absinthe Nouveau, 1890&quot.

Obviously, you’re going to drink that, too.

Somehow, you end up deep underground… well, even deeper underground. The Naturalist is already waiting for you. He’s a snuffer, and apparently gets to keep the faces of the doomed Vake-hunters as reward for his treacherous work. At least his singing-mandrake-lure actually works: the Vake finds you and gets very close to killing you. (But maybe you clung on to your Half-Wild Mandrake instead. The Vake would’ve found you anyway.) You’re saved by nuns.

After a period of recuperation, you try to find out about this sisterhood. Mr Wines gets involved, or his right-hand man Jervaise does. He leads you to Sinning Jenny, who is apparently the Sisterhood’s leading agent in London. Yes, that Sinning Jenny. Don’t judge a book by its covers, or a parlour by its virtues. Anyway, she reveals some further information and the way to the Sisterhood’s Island Convent away at Zee. Which is where you go next.

Jenny said the order was ‘hands-on’ and you quickly learn what she meant. They put you through a thorough training regimen to test your mettle. And for the ‘Final Exam’ to prove your worth, the Mother Superior will set her three best assassins on you with strict orders to kill you or perish in the attempt.

You kill the first one in self-defence. For the second and third assassin, you have the option to fake their deaths and let them escape. Sadly, there’s no quality tracker recording your choices here, so you’ll have to read through the echoes and see whether something looks familiar.

(Killing the 2nd assassin / Saving the 2nd assassin)

(Killing the 3rd assassin / Saving the 3rd assassin)

In the end, the Mother Superior is satisfied with your work and deems you possibly just about able to kill the Vake. She tells you the big secret: the Vake is one of the Masters. She’s almost certain which one. But first, you need a weapon to kill it (sadly, your Vake-killing Club is probably not going to do it).

She puts you in contact with one Emilia Hathersage, aka April of the Calendar Council. As a revolutionary, naturally, April likes the idea of killing a Master. She even comes up with a perfect - and extremely expensive - weapon: the Chorister’s Bomb. She assures you that this contraption is totally able to kill the Vake - but, unfortunately, not here, in the real world.

You’ll have to bring the bomb - and the Vake - to Parabola.
edited by phryne on 1/19/2020


Someone you loved is dead. Who? Have a look on your Myself tab, under Stories: you should have the quality &quotTragedy: Death of a … &quot

Your quest for vengeance has brought you to the Neath. You have only two leads: the name ‘Scathewick’ and an envelope of dried flower petals. A Mumbling Bee-Keeper from Watchmakers Hill explains that these petals are from a cross-breed of Exile’s Rose and a flower from Hell. The honey produced from this cross-breed flower is ‘something special’, apparently. Searching his beehive, you turn up a key. Further investigation leads to another name: ‘Mackay’. (Instead of investigating, you can just beat the information out of the bee-keeper. That’s a typical feature of this Ambition: you usually have a Shadowy and a violently Dangerous option to get what you want.)

You find Mackay in a honey-den in Veilgarden. Whether you kidnap him, or sneak up on him in dreams, his information is this: 20 years ago, he was involved in a smuggling business of ‘Gaoler’s Honey’ to the Shuttered Palace. And he stashed a batch of the honey in a crypt in the Forgotten Quarter.

When you get to the crypt, a Deviless is already waiting for you. You can bribe her to look away, or you can kill her. I think this is one of only two passages in the whole game which describes a devil dying, so it’s worth a read. Anyway: the jar of honey is still in the crypt, but nearly empty. Only faint traces of a reddish substance remain.

Looking for someone who knows anything about this stuff leads you to a Junior Fellow of Esoteric Cryptozoology at the University. He finally tells you - again, through bribes or violence - what is so ‘special’ about Red Honey: &quotGet into dreams, memories of damned. Crawl around and enjoy them. No fun for the damned! Terrible pain. Ghastly. Fascinating.&quot
If you’re very curious, ruthless or whatever, you now have the option to compel the Junior Fellow to ‘reactivate’ your honey-traces by way of a complicated scientific procedure. After this, naturally, you have the option to try the Red Honey yourself. This whole sidequest is completely optional though: you can bypass it and concentrate on your revenge.
⦁ If you still have one or two Traces of Red Honey, you should still see the Junior Fellow’s storylet at the University. Otherwise, you should see an Ambition: Nemesis! storylet in the Forgotten Quarter.
⦁ If you have a Drop of Gaoler’s Honey, you reactivated the substance but never used it.
⦁ If you have neither, you used it and have seen the Chambers of the Heart.

The Ambition’s main plotline continues with you following Mackay’s lead to the Shuttered Palace. You find the very woman who used to receive the honey deliveries all those years ago still among Palace staff. Every day she visits a walled part of the Palace gardens, secured by a triple lock. By use of more or less violence, you take the keys from her and enter. But inside, you’re asked for a password: ‘Taste is they key.’ You have either learnt this password inside the Chambers of the Heart, or from reading an Uncanny Incunabulum.

Finally inside the Cage-Gardens, you’re met by a Simpering Cage-Keeper who shows you around and tells you lots of things about Scathewick. A new name also comes up: ‘Permanent Surgeon Carrywell’ who apparently resides in the Tomb-Colony of Venderbight. Scathewick seems to be working for her. You can now strike the Cage-Keeper down and free the prisoners, but you don’t have to. Since the Ambition storylet at the Shuttered Palace doesn’t go away until you free the prisoners, it’s likely you played it at some point though. Go and have a look! :)

You can now take a regular steamer to Venderbight (it’s not exactly the same place as Scandalous Exile - you won’t see the Ambition storylets in Venderbight while you’re exiled!). Various investigations into Permanent Surgeon Carrywell finally lead you to the Grand Sanatorium. The place is a veritable fortress, and you either have to fight your way in during an epic battle (that’s just the last echo! Sadly, I’ve not found a single echo for any of the earlier parts) or turn into Spider-Man/Woman/Person and climb the walls.

Carrywell does not respond to being threatened, and she has her own private army of Tomb-Colonists (i.e. undead soldiers), so you’re forced to negotiate. She agrees to help your cause if you help her interpret some of the older ‘patients’. The first one is from the Elder Continent, an old colleague of Feducci. The second one is an old bodyguard of the Duchess. The third one turns out to be an assassin lying in wait for you. So much for working with Carrywell. (Here’s a rather more imaginative way for dealing with the assassin.) You can’t get through to her though, she still has her undead army. But she’s happy to let you go and sic you on Scathewick, who’s apparently run to &quotsomewhere no authority can follow: the Iron Republic.&quot

Before going to the Iron Republic, you want to know what you’re getting into. Back at the University, there’s a Dreaming Scholar who’s supposed to be an expert about the place. Unfortunately, she’s also honey-mazed most of the time. She agrees to show you the Iron Republic in dreams, as a sort of preparation for visiting the real thing. This works out eventually, but you have a very weird and different dream about a key first. She later tells you that this was &quotone of the true dreams&quot and that &quotit is entirely possible that this key will be your salvation in the Iron Republic&quot, which is certainly true since you won’t be able to continue the story there without this key.

All things considered, you need a Ship, an Iron Republic Safe-Conduct, the Stone-Tentacle Key from the well on Hunter’s Keep and 2 Portfolios of Souls to successfully continue Ambition: Nemesis! at this point.

Inside the Iron Republic’s prison, your hunt for Scathewick finally comes to an end. He’s happy to talk to you. It turns out he wasn’t just paid to kill your loved one, but to lead you on the very chase that brought both of you here. Now his contract is fulfilled, he’s written down everything he can remember about the methods of whoever employed him. And he still has the knife with which he killed your loved one. He offers it to you.

You can now use the knife to kill him, &quotif you’re feeling poetic.&quot Or you can let him go. After all, he’s just another stepping stone. You’re still after who commissioned him. Unfortunately, there’s no way to find out what you did if you didn’t echo it to your profile at the time. Killing him only increases A Bringer of Death, a quality which can also be earned in other ways. There’s no unique quality tracker.
You can choose to keep the Blooded Knife (Weapon, Dangerous +6, Dreaded +1) or leave it behind in each case.

Your return voyage affords you the opportunity to interrogate Scathewick’s accounts. They yield three crucial leads and one vexing fact: whoever paid him to kill your loved one commissioned six other murders on the Surface.
As far as you can tell, the victims have no connections and nothing in common. Why them? You cannot say. For now, you turn to a more urgent matter: who ordered it.

The three crucial leads are: two more names, ‘Gloriana’ and ‘Cumberbold’, and a scrawled attempt at a Correspondence sigil. You have to investigate the first two by working Cases. There is a risk of running into a Complication: Jasper and Frank, the Masters’ Unfinished Clay Men enforcers, might get involved. You can deal with this Complication by hiring an army of dockers with hammers and pickaxes. If they wound Jasper and Frank severely enough, they will retreat and need to heal for a while.
Or you can lead Jasper and Frank to the Forgotten Quarter while the Devils are out hunting.

Your Criminal connections put you on the trace of Cumberbold, aka ‘The Mute’. The Mute is another Unfinished Clay Man. Once again, Jasper and Frank turn up as possible obstacles at every step of your Case-work. Whether you find The Mute alive or not, the most important thing you find in his possessions is the remnant of a seal: a fragment of the Bazaar’s motto, ‘All shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well’.

The ‘Gloriana’ is a river barge which used to be the home of a spy known as the Purveyor of Names. You track her down. If you have Complication: Jasper and Frank, you’re too late: they’ve already made sure she sacrificed her memories at a Shrine of St Joshua. In this case, you track down the Midnighter who presided over the ceremony.
Each way, what you find out in the end is this: when the Purveyor of Names furnished Scathewick with new identities, he always paid her in crisp one-Echo notes, fresh from the press.

The Echo-notes and the seal (plus Jasper and Frank) already point to the Masters being involved. You then translate Scathewick’s Correspondence sigil as ‘A thing which is empty, whose purpose is to be filled.’ Among the Masters’ names, this could apply to both Cups and Mirrors.

For the next part of your investigation, you’ll have to visit the Bazaar itself. Fortunately, the Copper Door opens to tales of blood and peril. You’ve got no end of those at this point.

Creeping your way through the corridors, you finally make it to &quotthe tallest mezzanine of the Effulgent Galleries&quot, where the Masters keep their appointment calendar, called the Daybook. A careful inspection of its pages reveals these pertinent pieces of information:

Mr Cups only receives visitors between Sunday and Wednesday. Among its most recent engagements were Jasper and Frank.

Mr Mirrors, on the other hand, only receives visitors between Thursday and Saturday. And it has a regular appointment every Friday: with ‘Lilac’.

Cups and Mirrors seem to be the same entity. And I can’t wait to listen in to its next conversation with Millicent Clathermont!
edited by phryne on 1/13/2020

thank you for this!

Great work! Looking forward to others!

You will have my gratitude. Eternally.

Perhaps you should have spoiler tags around the summaries. I know I only want to read the summary of Heart’s Desire. Perhaps I’ll play through the others once I’ve reached the true end of the one I have.

I’ll consider this if more people request it. I’m afraid it might end up being a bit tedious due to the many clickable links worked into the text. Unfortunately, spoiler boxes tend to close as soon as you click on anything inside them.

I guess you could just browse very fast over the other summaries? ;)

Almost continuous plot of Ambition: Nemesis from start to end, starting here.
edited by The Curious Watcher on 1/9/2020

Beginning of Ambition: Light Fingers from the beginning till breaking Clarabelle out of the Orphanage and being recommended to Dr. Vaughan for treatment.

Continuation. Link begins with seeking Dr Vaughan till the end, no interruptions in between. [Edit, almost no interruptions in between.]
edited by The Curious Watcher on 1/9/2020

@The Curious Watcher: Thank you! No doubt those will come in handy :)

Update: the release timeline for the Ambition final chapters has just been announced, and Nemesis will be up first - in just three days! :)

I promise I’ll have the summary up before then! Heart’s Desire is postponed for now.

Are you going to bump this thread whenever you edit the ambitions in?

The Ambition: Nemesis! synopsis is up. :)

Many thanks again to the Curious Watcher for supplying me with a very handy player profile!

Interestingly, this summary is almost three times as long as the one for Bag a Legend! I’ve no idea whether this is due to Nemesis really having that much more content, being harder to explain, or me forgetting parts of Bag a Legend! :D

With Light Fingers! coming March 31 and Heart’s Desire! on April 21, I’ll have more than enough time to get those done. The thread shall be bumped accordingly. ;)
edited by phryne on 5/2/2021

Thank you so much for doing this!!!

I believe it’s just that the first halt of BaL is quietly baiting a trap and luring the player into it, whereas every single part of a search for one’s loved one’s murderer is important enough to need detail. Also a lot of Bag a Legend is Doing Things instead of just discovering things. Fewer words in doing.

Excellent, phryne! Thank you.

Your summary of Nemesis was spot on. The only detail I didn’t recall at least in part was the one about confronting the Deviless to obtain a sample of red honey and that could be because I did that part of the story so long ago! Or maybe there was a minor change in it since I did it.
edited by cathyr19355 on 1/13/2020

I’m looking forward to Heart’s Desire. Thank you for undertaking this grand design!
edited by DNA Cowboys on 1/13/2020

[quote=The Curious Watcher]Almost continuous plot of Ambition: Nemesis from start to end, starting here.
edited by The Curious Watcher on 1/9/2020[/quote]

Thank you. This was very helpful.

[quote=Catherine Raymond][quote=The Curious Watcher]Almost continuous plot of Ambition: Nemesis from start to end, starting here.
edited by The Curious Watcher on 1/9/2020[/quote]

Thank you. This was very helpful.[/quote]

No problem, I actually created multiple characters for the explicit purpose of exploring different Ambitions (as well as help increase my Newspaper reputation faster), so I started and recorded these Ambitions as POSIs rather than as beginners.

The only Ambition that I didn’t record was Heart’s Desire, as I completed the Ambition before I got into the habit of recording echoes. I remember in general the players of the Marvellous, but do not have any echoes. Because of this, I would really want a summary of that Ambition if it is possible.