Best and worst EROTIC scene in Fallen London

I am inside, there’s social distancing, I am bored, screw it, best and worst erotic scene in Fallen London.

Writing erotica is hard. Shanna Germain, a writer of erotic literature and a game designer at Monte Cook games, said that a lot of aspiring writer write erotic scene like if their book was a movie, which make for bad scenes. Writing is fundamentally different, and erotic scene require an understanding of the internal world of the characters to be good. Fallen London also as this feature, were it doesn’t assume the gender and the type of body of the player’s character. Hence, writer have to pay attention, especially since they have limited space, sometimes only a single sentence.

This is not exhaustive, as I have not read all the erotic scene in Fallen London. We will start with the worst, to keep the best for the end. Also, here there be spoilers.

[spoiler] One of my least favorite word to use in these scenes is &quotathletic.&quot I hate it so much. What does that mean, you’re using parallel bars while cuddling? This word focus on the physical, but not on the palpable, on a performance, but not on the act. This, and words like it make the erotica uninteresting. In Sunless Sea, the scene with the Longshanks Gunner started really well, with the focus on your common past. However, her being described as &quotlean&quot and &quotenergetic&quot ruined the moment. Which brings me to the worst erotic scene in all of Fallen London. This dishonor goes to (drum roll): &quotA little personal instruction&quot in the Agent of the Cheesemonger storyline. To give context, this a choice that appears if you decide to turn Catherine, the daughter of Alice, into the new cheesemonger. And that’s how you initiate her. With fu****g. It’s really disgusting to see sex being treated as a rite of passage between a mentor and a protege by you grooming her. Not only is it morally repugnant, it’s also poorly written, with the focus being on how &quotexhilarating&quot and how you &quotdiscovered new things&quot really make it sound like this scene would be the result if you asked someone who knew about erotica only by reading Cosmopolitan magazines to write a sex scene. It’s the prime example of what I complained about earlier, removed from the actual scene just to brag about how &quotgood&quot it was. Now full disclosure, I have not made this choice in-game, I only read it on the wiki, but frankly, I don’t see how that could be improved. And honestly, I don’t want to make this choice. Just a world of eww.

As I said before, an understanding of the internal worlds of the participant is a crucial step to write an erotic scene, and this next scene really demonstrate not only that, but just how you.can elevate a scene by making the internal world the focus of the description. Now, most players only know this scene because of the provocative nature of what happens, and to be honest, that’s why I seek out that choice in the first place. Yet, I think this is only a small part of what make this moment memorable. The award for the best erotic scene in Fallen London goes to (drum roll again): &quotDrowning prudence in passion&quot in the Seen with a Barbed Wit and Seen with an Acclaimed Beauty storylines. To give context, after flirting back and forth with both an Acclaimed Beauty and a Barbed Wit, you come to the realization that something has been left unfinished between the two, and decided to have a threesome with both of them, on the very throne of the Empress. The context alone has made this scene famous, but it’s not the big explosion of the moment that is the best part, rather it’s the intimate connection between you, the Acclaimed Beauty and the Barbed With. This focus on the emotional core of the scene, rather than just the physical, really make it something special. The Memento of Passion you acquire at the end of this choice is not just a proof of your exploit (although it’s certainly something to brag about), but a souvenir of a real connection between you and your two lovers.

I don’t have a good conclusion. Since this is far from being exhaustive, write which erotic scene are in your opinion the best and worst of Fallen London.

P.S.: I want to clarify something about the first scene, with Catherine. It is true that a Fallen London Player characters can be morally ambiguous. The exploration of certain things that would be considered immoral is, after all, a strength of fiction. However, should every choice be explored? Especially with a text that glorify this action. To include this option is a deliberate choice from the writers, and it should be judged as such. [/spoiler]

Failbetter has recently become good about removing/changing problematic elements left in the game from early versions (Sometimes to the game’s detriment, in the case of the Outlandish/Unprovenanced Artifact, I think), so it’s likely now that you’ve brought this to attention it won’t last long in the game

This is really interesting topic. I think &quotathletic&quot can work in the right context- but it’s hard to make it not sound silly, it makes you giggle more than blush. It definitely doesn’t work in the context of the Cheesemonger storyline, and I would probably agree with you about it being the most poorly written. For context:

Catherine is quite a beauty. Surely the best place for persuading her to join the Game is a private chamber. You wouldn’t want to be interrupted.

[Persuasion Success>]

Well, that was exhilarating. And athletic. No one as young as Catherine should know all those things.

Catherine smokes a cigarillo while you laze on a divan. It occurs to you that you were seduced as much as she. And she is carefully bringing the conversation around to matters of intrigue… [story stuff continues from here][/quote]

I think I understand the genre trope they’re going for, villainous spy seduces innocent into the world of backstabbing and intrigue, with the twist of her attempting a simultaneous seduction, trying to get into the life on purpose? But the crux of that trope is in the relationship between the two characters, and like you say, the description makes no effort to try and capture the complex and difficult emotions, and instead opts for the most blasé possible description of two people having sex with one another (It was exciting! Our bodies moved!) and then uh… a line I’m not sure I understand the point of. Hmm.

Also, I don’t know about best, but the Genial Magician probably has my favorite erotic scenes. I like how each one is presented with the structure of a kind of performance or magic trick, the focus on changing colors and flashes of different sensations, and on the heightened emotional state. I like the Urbane Magician’s the most, honestly, because it totally pivots to cold colors and electricity and sharp scratches and rustling scales, which are so exciting and so unlike the kind of descriptions in the trysts with other versions of the magician, while still using the same language.

There are erotic scenes in FL beyond the Deacon’s kiss?
Joking around, of course. The Cheesemonger’s story seemed to me to play around with all the cliches of the seductive mentor/spy, only to turn it on its head, as you discover you’re the one being seduced and indoctrinated, too. The danger of course, being that subtlety might not always work as intended - but it did not cause me to question the authors’ morality.

I have always been grateful for the complete absence of rape in FL. I did not mind &quotThe Lead&quot being removed and replaced (albeit rather heavy-handedly, with a story about respect). But the Cheesemonger story is perhaps the dirtiest in all of London. It was kind of fitting.
edited by Jolanda Swan on 5/23/2020


The post above reminds me of a contender. Around the same time they changed The Lead they also changed the option to ask for sexual favors from the Struggling Artist in exchange for money.

This is clearly the worst scene because everybody hates the Struggling Artist.

[quote=Jolanda Swan]There are erotic scenes in FL beyond the Deacon’s kiss?
Joking around, of course. The Cheesemonger’s story seemed to me to play around with all the cliches of the seductive mentor/spy, only to turn it on its head, as you discover you’re the one being seduced and indoctrinated, too. The danger of course, being that subtlety might not always work as intended - but it did not cause me to question the authors’ morality.

I have always been grateful for the complete absence of rape in FL. I did not mind &quotThe Lead&quot being removed and replaced (albeit rather heavy-handedly, with a story about respect). But the Cheesemonger story is perhaps the dirtiest in all of London. It was kind of fitting.
edited by Jolanda Swan on 5/23/2020[/quote]

Mh - I do distinctively remember feeling rather violated by the Intimate of Devils devil &quotconvincing&quot my soul out of me. That’s about the least consensual content I’ve encountered in the game, though.

As for best scene, I’d have to say the one with your Rubbery Consort. It’s amusing, yet pretty effective.

Sometimes it makes me regret roleplaying as an asexual individual as it locks me out of having a spouse and these little snippets.

Hey, I love the struggling artist! And I always slept with him before giving him his jade. I always found the text for that option cute, and never saw it as gross or rapey since he’s not desperate or anything, he’s mooching off you. I always saw it as two exes taking mutual and somewhat amused advantage of one another. Sleazy, sure, but neither one of us were morally upstanding people, so it fit both characters.

My least favorite erotic scene is the one between the Manager of the Royal Bethlehem and his boyfriend in one of the Season endings. Not because it was badly written (okay, the gushing over how beautiful said boyfriend was was pretty cringe) but just because I hate those two like poison :P
edited by Kukapetal on 5/30/2020

OK Not technically erotic but the Prince drew their spouse card for the first time in a while and I love love love all of the spouse cards. They convey so much connection and emotional intimacy and trust… it’s the best. Only real exception is the Consort for being much more generic but I suppose since the Consort is a stand-in for any kind of rubbery spouse you might imagine it makes sense that it would be that way.

Also, I agree with Kukapetal about the struggling artist. I get why it was removed but also my character very much still thought he was cute. It didn’t read as taking advantage as much as just availability. We had drifted apart, but occasionally ran back into one another under annoying circumstances, but that didn’t mean there wasn’t still something between us!

Oh, and to clarify my point from before, I didn’t read the Cheesemonger’s Daughter scene nearly as harshly as other players in the thread have, I just thought it was (comparatively) poorly done, and if it more elegantly executed on its concept of mutual manipulation (which is a compelling and interesting turn for the story imo) it might not have been so readable to people as one-sidedly exploitative and nefarious.
edited by Gul al-Ahlaam on 5/30/2020

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Same. Before the fix of frequency the card itself was annoying, but Bohemians wouldn’t be Bohemians without scandalous affairs (and endless debts).

One of my favourite scenes, actually, because it has what erotic interludes often lack: narrative weight and meaning. It isn’t there only for the sake of &quotlook, hot queer action&quot - it represents that the owner of this memory trusts us enough to allow us to witness it, no matter how intimate and painful to remember. (Which is doubly significant for a character who usually plays the role of just another incomprehensible eldritch menace and rarely has a chance to show that his humane side is not unlike our own.)

The rare success with the Last Constable was particularly memorable for me. I’m still not sure if I cherish it or regret it, and in matters of writing, this is generally a compliment.

Again, I didn’t say the scene was poorly done, apart from a bit of over the top gushing, I just loathe those two :P

If we’re including these forums, I think I once wrote a romantic outing with my character and Mr. Sacks, of all people.

EDIT: Yup. Here it is:
edited by Tystefy on 7/15/2020

I’m updating this old thread for two reason:

  1. One of my alt pick that particular option with Catherine. So now that I have the full text, I can confidently say that my opinion stays the same. It felt really gross .

  2. I have found something really cool. It’s a talk made by Olivia Wood about writing the sex scene for Sunless Sea. Just be warned that there are some explicit description, so viewer discretion is advised: Sex: it's complicated - Olivia Wood - YouTube

I’ve always enjoyed the reading-poetry-with-the-Melancholy-Curate-and-his-sister scene for the building sensual tension:

&quotBy the time the Curate’s Sister finishes reading that business about the seven sorrows, her voice is trembling a little, all three of you are faintly flushed and the temperature in the room has risen appreciably.&quot The failure text gives and addition clue as to the poem’s contents: &quotThe Curate gets as far as a slightly anatomical reference and a distinctly pagan one.&quot

Conducting The Bell and the Candle is also delicious!

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The fact that putting on that glorious Opera allows you to cause what I interpreted as, shall we say, a scene similar to the one at the climax of Perfume, definitely cemented it as my favourite. At least for a degraded hedonist sort of character.

Personally I can’t name any scenes in the game which made me uncomfortable, or which I felt were rubbish in quality, but I respect that others may have had a different experience. Of course, to defend the use of stuff like &quotlean&quot for body description. - it’s probably pretty damn hard to write erotically-charged material without making any references to the player’s body; to the body of the &quotyou&quot in the scene. If you want to get physical you MUST focus on the body of &quotthe other&quot because you don’t want to assume anything on the player’s behalf. Which does of course make it hard to be…even-handed? Hard to find a good way to describe it.

I don’t think describing the Longshanks Gunner as &quotlean&quot in particular was necessarily a problem as an underfed ex-urchin is probably gonna be pretty damn thin. I also think that &quotathletic&quot is intended to focus on the physical exertion of the sex act; at least that’s how I read it. Again, though, I respect that others may not have had the same experience as I did.

I agree with Jolanda Swan concerning the scene with Catharine; I don’t think that the fundamental idea of toying with the cliche is a bad one, but if people are seeing it as skeevy than it might be good to tweak the scene so that the intended reading is more obvious. For what it’s worth the scene as it stands isn’t particularly memorable and that is a problem in its own right, so I think reworking it is a good idea regardless even if the approach to the scene is not changed.

I echo JaneAnkhVeos on the Last Constable rare success; it really gives you a bittersweet &quotwas this a mistake?&quot vibe in the best possible way. I also personally thought it dovetailed nicely with the dialogue you get if you confess your love to her immediately before the climax of the story, but then again I’m just a sucker for dysfunctional relationships.

I also thought the titillating throne threesome was a high point for similar reasons to Quidam.
edited by Daedalus_Falk on 10/28/2020
edited by Daedalus_Falk on 10/28/2020

Another addendum: The option to sleep with Catherine in the Agent of the Cheesmonger storyline has been removed from the game a while ago. Emily Short provided the reason why on Discord. If I remember correctly, it was partly because it’s not clear if Catherine is a major or not. But that means that the search for the worst erotic scene might have to start again! I will meditate upon this and come back with my finding.

Also, I am excited for the release of Mask of the Roses for many reasons, but one of them is the erotic content.

Imagine biting into a ripe plum.

Now imagine being the plum


I’m suddenly picturing a Master (Mr Sex?) on a mission to survey all of London to determine who is the worst lay.

…I suppose that might fall under Mr Hearts’ purview, given activities in a certain barn.


I’ll add that question to Mr Pages survey.

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