An Updated "Secret about the Masters" Post

So, we know the crimes committed by the Masters, and due to recent news, we know why there seemed to be one extra. Let’s go over which belong to which.

Mr Stones, for obvious reasons: hoarding
impersonation, and the delivery of false testimony
Mr iron, for obvious reasons: perpetration of the crimes of knife and of candle
idleness, and the dwelling-on of dreams
runtery, aberration
pursuit of a Treachery
Mr Wines, for the Beggar’s Crown, the Scepter of Mr Wines, and what we learned in Cricket, Anyone: failure and defeat, a fall from king to beggar
glass-whispering. And worse: charity
Mr Pages, for obvious reasons: truth-strangling
Mr Veils, for his role in Ambition: Bag a Legend: violation of the Order of Days, which determines the hour of the hunt, the feast, the council, the bargain, and the slaughter

So, here’s the Curators who’s crimes aren’t absolutely set in stone-

Mr Mirrors - Most likely pursuit of a Treachery.
Mr Cups - Most likely glass-whispering. And worse: charity.
Mr Fires - Most likely light-bringing.
Mr Hearts/Mr Apples - Most likely impersonation, and the delivering of false testimony.
Mr Candles/Mr Eaten - Most likely runtery, aberration.
Mr Spices - Most likely idleness, and the dwelling-on of dreams.

My own speculation-

light-bringing: Mr candles, Mr Fires. Both have a general &quotlight&quot theme, though in different ways. I’ve been told that there’s mention of light-bringing in SMEN.
impersonation, and the delivery of false testimony: Mr Hearts/Apples, Mr Cups. Mr Cups began impersonating Mr Mirrors out of, seemingly, necessity, but this may be a hint that it’s something Mr Cups is used to doing. Mr Hearts/Apples has several alter-egos, including a Wings-of-Thunder-Bat. EDIT: Azothi has given some awesome elaboration on why this is
idleness, and the dwelling-on of dreams: Mr Spices, Mr Mirrors, Mr Candles. I’ve been told that Mr Candles’ dominion over dreams is what kept that last imprint of him &quotalive&quot, but Mr Mirrors seems to have a deeper connection to dreams, it’s Noman saying it wants to experience them, not control them. Mr Spices desires control of dreams, but doesn’t seem very idle. EDIT: I stand corrected, Azothi has pointed out that Mr Spices is quite idle.
runtery, aberration: Probably Mr Candles, for many things mentioned in SMEN.
pursuit of a Treachery: This one stumps me a little. Depending on what Treachery means, I could see Mr Spices having this one, especially if it was friends with Mr Wines back when it was still the Merchant King. Lowerment by association? That has some interesting implications. EDIT: Azothi has made a wonderful point that this may be for Mr Mirrors, considering there is a Treachery of Glass. Punishment for commingling with what’s behind the mirrors, maybe?
glass-whispering. And worse: charity: Mr Cups, Mr Mirrors. As of The Shallows, we know that some time after it killed the player’s Loved One in Ambition: Nemesis, Mr Mirrors was lured into its dreams by a revolutionary leader and subsequently &quotdestroyed&quot. However, it may not have actually been killed, as we don’t have another Mr Eaten situation, so there’s a chance Mr Mirrors is just AWOL in Parabola. Since then, Mr Cups has begun impersonating it, and whether or not the other Masters are aware is unknown. This gives both some evidence for glass-whispering, but it seems more likely to be Mr Cups because of it’s pattern of giving and needing charity.

edited by cadwynknivlove on 7/31/2019
edited by cadwynknivlove on 7/31/2019
edited by cadwynknivlove on 7/31/2019

You can only use one spoiler tag per post or it breaks, I’m afraid

Aha, I think you fixed it. But that’s why it was breaking, FYI!
edited by MidnightVoyager on 7/31/2019

[quote=MidnightVoyager]You can only use one spoiler tag per post or it breaks, I’m afraid

Aha, I think you fixed it. But that’s why it was breaking, FYI!
edited by MidnightVoyager on 7/31/2019[/quote]

Haha, I realized very quickly, don’t worry!

Among those, there are three that I think are worth delving deeper into (I concur with the other eight and your reasoning behind them):

  • impersonation, and the delivery of false testimony[/li][li]idleness, and the dwelling-on of dreams[/li][li]pursuit of a Treachery

And this leaves three Masters unassigned: Mirrors, Spices, and Hearts/Apples.

[spoiler]How I’d assign them is as follows:

&quotidleness and the dwelling-on of dreams&quot: Mr Spices. It runs the honey-dens (based on Victorian opium dens), where people laze (idleness) while consuming prisoner’s honey and dwelling on dreams; its home comfort is &quota bed made solely for dreaming&quot (idleness and dreams). It knows Jack-of-Smiles was a failed experiment to manufacture love stories, but it doesn’t care enough to terminate it. This is not a definitive case on its own, but it’s compelling nonetheless.

&quotpursuit of a Treachery&quot: Mr Mirrors. For the past two years, I’ve held to the interpretation that Cups and Mirrors were one from the beginning (&quotglass-whispering. And worse: charity&quot), which would leave this as either Hearts/Apples (if the Red Science is a Treachery) or the Bazaar (for commingling with a Judgement). Now that The Shallows has confirmed that Mirrors and Cups are separate beings, I now believe that this is referring to the Treachery of Glass. To speculate, this is likely connected to Parabola; this could connect to Wines, Spices, or Mirrors (or even Cups now), the Masters with a Parabolic connection. Wines is clearly the fallen king, and I’d rule out Spices because its trade in Parabola is in honey (a later invention by the devils after their exodus into Parabola) rather than glass.

&quotimpersonation, and the delivery of false testimony&quot: Mr Hearts/Mr Apples. For this, there are many layers to peel back in decoding the meaning of this sin. On the surface, we can say that Hearts and Apples are two separate identities assumed by the one individual. There are a few details about the Masters that make this warrant a deeper look, though, and it’s why I’ve saved it for last.

In the Conversation on the Road Destinies, between the five possible Destinies, nine Masters are referenced. Only Fires, Candles, and Mirrors are not. Apples is mentioned precisely once, when you choose to prevaricate (the Memory), with the line, &quotApples seems a little melancholy.&quot Note that this is right after Hearts directly asks you, &quotWhy, I have grown very fond even of our new associate here. […] And you, my friend? Have you grown fond of us?&quot Melancholy is not an unusual reaction afterwards. Taking into account that there are only eleven pilgrims listed with sins, it seems like Hearts and Apples are the same Curator, but that it has the identity of two.

However, in Seeking, it’s stated that there were twelve who took the Courier’s bargain, and Candles is referred to as King Twelve. This count only works if there were an additional Master beyond the eleven who descended with the Bazaar. We’ve not met any candidates for that: Mr Chimes is played by other Masters, while Mr Sacks are Nomen. This number seems to be of importance to the Masters; consider their reaction if you choose to depart before the Bazaar finishes its mission: “The promise!” cries one. And: “Do not abandon us! We are too few!” That one might be Spices. What this implies is that the number of Masters is somehow significant; if I had to speculate, it’s entirely possible that the promised payment rendered to the Masters is dependent on there being the same number in the end as the beginning (Spices says earlier, &quotIt will keep its promise at last. For the rest, I care not.&quot) What this indicates is that the Hearts/Apples identity is impersonation on a potentially cosmic level.[/spoiler]

You make some wonderful, wonderful points. I definitely retract my earlier statement of Mr Spices not seeming too idle, and the Treachery of Glass is a great catch!

Thank you so much for such a good elaboration, I completely agree that Mr Hearts/Mr Apples’s impersonation goes a little deeper than it may seem. I actually think we might learn a little more about this in the following months, considering that a Curator Officer who is very likely Mr Hearts/Mr Apples (the Chiropterous Hoarder- rumored to be &quota Master of Old London&quot, and &quota peddler of immortality&quot, as well as… wearing a red cloak, I guess?) is being added to Sunless Skies in September.

I would like to come back to this, since it’s been gnawing at me ever since and there are still so many things we don’t know.

(For reference: what we’re discussing here is this information, which was one of the community rewards for the Sunless Skies Kickstarter)

The following crimes/Masters combinations are pretty clear-cut if not outright proven:

  • hoarding (Stones)[/li][li]perpetration of the crimes of knife and of candle (Iron)[/li][li]failure and defeat; a fall from king to beggar (Wines)[/li][li]truth-strangling (Pages)[/li][li]violation of the Order of Days, “which determines the hour of the hunt, the feast, the council, the bargain, and the slaughter” (Veils)

While the following are not exactly proven, they seem relatively logical - if only by process of elimination:

  • light-bringing (Fires)[/li][li]idleness, and the dwelling-on of dreams (Spices)

That leaves us with Cups, Mirrors, Apples/Hearts, Candles(Eaten) and the following crimes:

  • runtery, aberration[/li][li]pursuit of a Treachery [/li][li]glass-whispering. And worse: charity [/li][li]impersonation, and the delivery of false testimony

Everyone thought for a long time that &quotruntery&quot referred to Candles, since it appears a lot in SMEN. But in Ambition: Nemesis we learn the sad fate of Mr Mirrors, and there it is very clearly singled out as the runt. Was it Candles, the Glass-Whisperer (its domain was the edge of sleep, the border of Parabola), who took pity on Mirrors, the poor, mistreated runt of the litter?

&quotPursuit of a Treachery&quot could mean a lot of things, since there are so many Treacheries: not just the Treachery of Glass (which seems covered already by &quotglass-whispering&quot), but also the Treachery of Maps, the Treachery of Clocks etc. And I’m sure that Mr Hearts’ activities in the Bishop’s barn would be considered &quotTreachery&quot by the Judgements…

&quotCharity&quot might refer to Mr Cups’ Relickers - after all, they sometimes hand over extremely valuable items in return for ‘Scraps’. But Mr Cups is also in charge of the trade in clocks in Fallen London. There’s that snippet that says, &quothe guards his monopoly on clocks jealously, as if this puts him in control of time itself.&quot Treachery of Clocks for Cups, then?

What we shouldn’t forget is that these are the original crimes committed by the Masters back in the High Wilderness - the very crimes that brought them into the ignoble position of having to serve the Bazaar in the first place. This is why I’m hesitating to apply &quotimpersonation&quot to Cups, for example - it only started its impersonation of Mirrors in the Fifth City.

Currently, I’d solve the riddle this way, but really just based on hunches:

[li]runtery, aberration (Mirrors)[/li][li]pursuit of a Treachery (Cups)[/li][li]glass-whispering. And worse: charity (Candles)[/li][li]impersonation, and the delivery of false testimony (Apples/Hearts)[/li]
edited by phryne on 5/25/2020

In Sunless Skies Apples/Hearts pursues immortality through alteration of his(her/its?) body with Red Science. Treachery of Amalgamation covers crimes against position in the Great Chain, so…
edited by Aro Saren on 5/25/2020

If Cups is guilty of charity, he hides it very well: on the brink of death in Nemesis he leaves clear impression that, while he’s aware humans are capable of giving without getting, he doesn’t understand thought processes behind that.

I wonder, what’s actually considered crimes of knife and candle - seems like ordinary murder is mostly ok in their circles.

And again: Marvellous is sponsored by Hearts/Apples, and it is an entertainment for Masters, called so themselves, being a game with players’ dearest dreams on stake.

[quote=Aro Saren]If Cups is guilty of charity, he hides it very well: on the brink of death in Nemesis he leaves clear impression that, while he’s aware humans are capable of giving without getting, he doesn’t understand thought processes behind that.[/quote]I think that’s true for the Masters in general. They’re endlessly bemused and entertained by our emotions etc. but cannot possibly understand them - much like we look at the strange behaviour of animal species we absolutely cannot relate to.

How could &quotcharity&quot be considered a crime among them otherwise?

P.S. Please don’t make four posts in a row, that’s bad form. You could have edited everything into your first one ;)
edited by phryne on 5/25/2020

Forgot about rows.

In particular, one Master is still guilty of it, so, supposedly, this one actually understands it.

Charity being considered a crime is fairly easy to understand, and it’s actually a rather common trope - Curators are a merchant race, so they appreciate things from a position of value and seek fair trade, which is why hoarding is also a crime, as it is denying a trade even for a fair price. Charity could be considered a grave insult - giving a thing away for free is demeaning to the thing (as it is &quotworthless&quot), to the maker of that thing (what they made is not worth anything; consider also that most things the Curators would trade are under purview of Judgements) and to the recepient of charity (who would be considered so poor as to be unable to ever purchase the thing; also, essentially it’s dumpring your garbage onto another). Accepting charity is the same, just from a different point of view.

As for who is guilty of charity and glass-whispering, it would definitely be Mirrors. Its Parabolan grave is located in a place called Beggar’s Wake and when approached in the dream in which it is a Pedlar King (which Mirrors admits it never was in reality), it can be persuaded to forego bribes and it will note that charity would be a fitting demonstation of its quality as a king. Mr. Mirrors could be considered genuinely insane by its species if my assumptions as to why charity is a crime amongs Curators are correct. Mr. Cups notes that mercy (which is charity in a way) is considered a human virtue but it’s clear that it makes that distinction. Mirrors considers charitability a quality fit for a king of its own species and was apparently a beggar (and so desired charity to be rendered onto it; it’s not hard to see where its opinion on charity might come from).

On a related note, it is interesting that the Masters value a fair deal. At least with the player character in the stories where they are forced into an agreement, like Nemesis and Heart’s Desire, they are very fair and do everything in their power to uphold their end of the deal. On the other hand the rulers of the Fallen Cities seem to always suffer some side-effect (except those of the Third City, for whom everything apparently went very well, and not even that kind of well), with the beneficiaries of the first two cities’ deals even still being used by the Masters for cheap labour and venom. Also, Mr. Wines being a cheapskate when it comes to paying for catering on its parties. I wonder if it’s a result of rewrites or there’s some deeper meaning.

The character of Wines is that he’s a grifter and a con-man. He implies grand promises, but doesn’t actually make them, and then weasels his way out of paying. That characterization is consistent from the Revels through Cricket, Anyone?, where his mistake is to actually make a promise. Promises made in the Correspondence are binding, but Wines tends to make unenforceable handshake deals.

I’m curious what, specifically, is Glass-Whispering. Opening the mirrors? Consorting with Parabola? Dealing with the Fingerkings? It’s different from both Light-Bringing, and the Dwelling-On of Dreams. Several masters have realms that touch Parabola in various ways but they’re still distinct.

I’m going to hypothesize that &quotDwelling-on of Dreams&quot does not refer to Parabola, but rather just, like, regular dreams. Your hopes and dreams. What you want for the future. Then &quotidleness, and the dwelling-on of dreams&quot is a single, coherent crime: one who neglects their responsibilities because their attention is on their fantasies. I don’t know enough about either Mirrors or Spices, but this seems plausibly consistent with Mirrors.

It was confirmed in Sunless Skies that Mr. Apples has very velvety ears.

My theory was that Spices was responsible for the crime of charity, as he helped Wines after his fall from grace (something that can be construed as charity).

If I remember correctly, in Ambition: Nemesis, you can see one of the Masters directly whisper to the glass, but I haven’t been able to find the text for it.

[quote=Ixc]My theory was that Spices was responsible for the crime of charity, as he helped Wines after his fall from grace (something that can be construed as charity).

In my opinion, Spices is probably responsible for idleness and the dwelling-on of dreams. During Sacksmas, he can give you a bed for dreaming; during the Jack of Smiles case, he reveals that he was too lazy to stop Jack of Smiles even after it was considered a failure; he also controls the trade in prisoner’s honey, which are purposely made to be like opium dens.

The crime of charity and glass-whispering is likely Mr Mirrors, or rather what is left of Mirrors.

We’ve assumed Fires is light-bringing because of his name, but in the context of the High Wilderness, light is law. Could light-bringing be something akin to the Red Science?

Yes, I always assumed it is something like Prometheus stealing fire (ehm, ehm) from the gods and giving it to humans.

I haven’t played more than an hour or two of Sunless Skies; what is the disposition of Curators to the Judgements? I was kind of under the impression that they congregate in the dark places between stars, meaning that they hide from the sight of the Judgements. Bringing light/law where it is not supposed to be, could be seen as either violating the sanctity of a hiding space, or aligning with the Judgements when they should be independent.

Alternatively, one could point to several instances of new sun-like creations in the Neath. The Dawn Machine, for one. The Cosmogene Sun of Parabola, for another. Perhaps aiding in the creation of non-Judgement sources of Light is what Light-Bringing actually is. Of course, neither of those are particularly affiliated with the Masters.

Or it could be slightly more metaphorical: Acting as if they are a source of Law. Fires is a despotic authoritarian, who would fit this description.

I agree that the association of Fires to Light-Bringing hasn’t been examined as well as it should, but I also don’t see what fits him better.