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 "athletic." 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 "lean" and "energetic" ruined the moment. Which brings me to the worst erotic scene in all of Fallen London. This dishonor goes to (drum roll): "A little personal instruction" 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 "exhilarating" and how you "discovered new things" 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 "good" 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): "Drowning prudence in passion" 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]