December’s Exceptional Story: Daylight

[color=#cc0099]December’s Exceptional Story has arrived, delicious friends!

Join forces with a zailor and young rat to uncover the secrets of an abandoned model village. Journey to an island in the middle of the unterzee to uncover the painful legacy of an inventor’s folly and confront the horror that lingers there still.

Daylight is the first story in the Season of Hobbies, and was written by Ash McAllan. This season will give you the opportunity to spend time with Londoners at their leisure. You can begin each from the Season of Hobbies card.

Editing, design and QA: James Chew and Olivia Wood.

Art by Paul Arendt.


In addition to a new, substantial, stand-alone story every month, Exceptional Friends enjoy:

  • Access to the House of Chimes: an exclusive private members’ club on the Stolen River, packed with content[/li][li]An expanded opportunity deck: of ten cards instead of six![/li][li]A second candle: Twice the actions! 40 at once!

Finishing all three stories in the Season of Hobbies will make you eligible for an additional opportunity, to follow.

If you want to keep an Exceptional Story beyond the month it’s for, you must complete the related storylet in the current Season’s card throughout London. This will save it for you to return to another time.[/color]
edited by Absintheuse on 11/29/2018

Oh geez, I’m getting nightmare in christmas/venom vibes all over that art. Looking forward to finishing this tale in its entirety xD.
edited by The Ambivalent Dynamo on 11/29/2018

So, is the story officially called “Daylight” (as is written here), or “Visiting Daylight” (as is written in the game)?

When one of the rats first notices the picture, he says “it’s the architect from on Daylight”. This sounds weird to me, maybe a typo?
Also when you get to the island, there is a missing icon /icons_small/island3.png

Really curious what this is building up to. Concept art is great!

Not exactly about the new ES, but can we have the Unsettling Toymaker’s creations as home comfort items, please? I’m in love.

I love it already, but I stopped halfway because I’m not sure whether to take the ratling with me or not! I don’t want to come back to London to a grieving rat mother. Can anyone PM me with info on how tragic this is going to get?

Taking the ratling (small spoiler)

offers a little more context on some of the locations later on. Nothing terrible will happen to it.

Just finished the story. I would have liked a little more background information. It feels like a followup about the place in Veilgarden is missing here. It feels wrong to just go home at the end and leave this unresolved.
edited by Monara on 11/29/2018

Thank you!

Rats, zailors and zee?!

Think I’ll just jump into it and skip the 18+4 stories that I have not yet finished!

[quote=silurica]Not exactly about the new ES, but can we have the Unsettling Toymaker’s creations as home comfort items, please? I’m in love.[/quote] EDIT: Never mind, I miss read/miss understood, but it does sound amazing!
edited by Skinnyman on 11/29/2018

The toy maker sure has a variety of…interesting toys.

&quotThere is a huge doll’s house taking up much of the upper floor window. The name on the tag reads ‘the Bishop’s Barn’. There are a number of dolls that can be placed within, and a handle that must be turned.&quot

Oh dear…

[quote=Isaac Gates]Huh…

Y’know, it’s more than a little odd to me that in game lore clearly states that women are very much still on the margins of society, and yet homosexuality and the ambiguously gendered are accepted… in the 1890s.

Yeah honestly I found that a little annoying this being a period game and all.

[quote=halogenlamp][quote=Isaac Gates]Huh…

Y’know, it’s more than a little odd to me that in game lore clearly states that women are very much still on the margins of society, and yet homosexuality and the ambiguously gendered are accepted… in the 1890s.

Yeah honestly I found that a little annoying this being a period game and all.[/quote]

Most of the stuff about women being on the margins of society is legacy content by this point. Bare in mind this is the 1890s in a city that has been trapped underground for decades.

To quote the game itself, &quotthere are individuals roaming the streets of Fallen London at this very moment with the faces of squid! Squid! Do you ask them their gender? And yet you waste our time asking me trifling and impertinent questions about mine? It is my own business, sir, and I bid you good day.&quot It’s a world with Clay Men; Rubberies; cats and tigers; snakes and mirrors; bats; Masters; immortality in stone; dead gods in the ceiling; urchins; and, of all things, talkative hats.

This is not a period game. This is a game set in a past- a past where Queen Victoria sold London to otherworldy beings.

I mean- half the point of Society interactions is about how arbitrary their rules are. Besides, FB have already changed aspects of the game fit more modern social standards- nobody uses the word “oriental” any more, for example.

I thought last month’s art was creepy (I was expecting a slasher theme going into Bonfire Night), but this one took the cake. And sweet Christ, I just realized we’re dealing with this madman for three months (a whole season dedicated to this guy).

[quote=Isaac Gates]Huh…

Y’know, it’s more than a little odd to me that in game lore clearly states that women are very much still on the margins of society, and yet homosexuality and the ambiguously gendered are accepted… in the 1890s.

(Somehow I have a hard time imagining a Victorian barkeep unironically using the word &quotthemself&quot when referring to a patron.)[/quote]

Honestly, no offense, but I like how we have a giant sentient space-crab shopping mall, devils and Hell itself right next door, and an entire city stolen beneath the earth by creepy giant alien bats, and this is the bit that bothers you.

One of the nice things about fictional settings is that one need not background elements that hurt readers. Unless the narrative is specifically about some form of bigotry relevant to today, leaving it out of the setting does not harm the writing. Fiction is a method of escapism; why remind people of realities they’re trying to avoid if it has no narrative purpose?

This &quotFarewell to Connected: The Orient&quot and &quotThe Mysterious and Indistinct Art of Pronouns&quot, as well as tangentially &quotSLIGHTLY BREAKING: same-sex marriage legal in Fallen London from Alexis Kennedy offers some insight into the way that Fallen London has approached the careful balance between its Victorian setting and its contemporary audience. The trend has essentially been towards (1) increased player choice and (2) greater equality in the setting.

To that extent, I just have a quick correction before I get back on topic:

[quote=Isaac Gates]It’s why the &quotaddressed as&quot quality for the ambiguously gendered is: ‘si- er, mad- er, yes’, which is pretty good estimation of what a polite reaction in setting would be[/quote]This used to be accurate about two to three years ago, but it’s since been changed. The ambiguously gendered can be addressed by any option available in-game, including &quotSir&quot, &quotMadam&quot, &quotLord&quot, &quotLady&quot, or any other gendered form of address, while gendered characters can be addressed as &quotSi- er, mad-er, yes&quot by refusing to give a form of address.

Anyway, that being said, the trend has essentially been towards (1) increased player choice and (2) greater equality in the setting.

For instance, the absence of women’s suffrage was flavor text reflecting true Victorian conditions, but when the Election festival was implemented, it would be poor design to ban characters registered as &quotfemale&quot from participating in the festival, because Fallen London isn’t built as a Victorian escapist fantasy. It’s a modern 21st-century story borrowing Gothic and Victorian aesthetics, with influences drawn from throughout western history.

The Great Chain of Being? That’s a Platonic and Neoplatonic idea. The Bazaar’s love story and the Seventh Letter? Shakespeare and the Elizabethan Renaissance. The setting - the Neath, the Unterzee, and the High Wilderness - draws on significant Romantic influences (Coleridge, Shelley, etc.) and early science fiction and horror (Verne, Lovecraft, etc.), hence the Victorian setting, but even then, these Romantic influences exist in opposition to the oppression within Victorian society (alluded to in-game with the conflict between the Bohemians and Society, for instance). My point is that Fallen London is not a period game - it’s the illusion of one.
That’s what Daylight is - it draws far more from the horror genre than it does from Victorian society, and what symbolism it offers is at most a scathing indictment of the destruction of creativity such a society might offer. You are free to critique the decision to make the Inspiring Imaginator an ambiguously-gendered character, but it seems like such a trifling thing to talk about. The character is explicitly written as androgynous, and the other characters in setting adapt to this. It’s not even the first time Failbetter has done this. Isery, the Cat’s Chiefest Claw is explicitly &quotambigiously gendered&quot. The concept has been previously established in canon.

I’m just not sure how relevant this discussion is to the story. The point of the Inspiring Imaginator is that they’re an ambiguous character - for much of the story, their life, motivations, and whereabouts are shrouded in mystery. This is just another facet of that.

[quote=Isaac Gates]I’ve kind already covered this: it’s not in keeping with the tones and themes of the setting.

You’ve got a world where the height of sexual promiscuity is a kiss on the cheek, women being involved in scholarship is considered highly improper, people get exiled on a regular basis for violating the simplest of social norms- and yet somehow in less than 1 generation homosexuals and the transgender/intersex are unquestioningly accepted?

TL;DR: if you wanna make storylines about how stuffy and rigid Victorian life is, you kind of have to have the rest of the setting reflect that.[/quote]

Not really. Fallen London is not historical fiction. It does not pretend to be historically accurate. Failbetter may have based their setting on real history, but they are under no obligation to adhere to it when it detracts from the intended experience. Its tones and themes are whatever they decide. They’ve decided that the presence of bigotry would detract more from player experience than anachronistic tolerance of differences does. This is a story that uses Victorian aesthetic, not a story about Victorian values, so the lack of accuracy is ultimately unimportant.

But yeah, as Azothi says, I’m not sure this discussion is particularly on-topic.

We run a creative writing workshop focused on speculative fiction. We use Fallen London as an example on how to be inclusive while maintaining a period atmosphere.
The setting explains perfectly why some norms have evolved and some have remained decidedly Victorian. And the contradictions that remained are much more glaring that the gender fluidity: you are advising a young lady to go into politics and make a difference for women, who supposedly are otherwise advised to stay at home… and then you get the Northbound Parliamentarian and Sinning Jenny as the first Mayor. I doubt this made anyone upset, given that this is obviously an alternate universe and suspension of disbelief is required to make sense of half the things happening there.
Frankly, given how abritrary most our norms are, the thought that they evolved differently in the Neath makes perfect sense; and so does the devs’ decision not to exclude players.
edited by Jolanda Swan on 11/29/2018

First, does anyone have an Echo of going to the Precocious Rat’s house with the key? I’ve been unable to access the necessary storylets after defeating the Stalker, and I’m curious to see what flavor text comes with that.

Otherwise, there are a couple of things that might be bugs:

  • If you return to the cliffside workshop after leaving the first time but before fighting the Stalker, it retriggers the Dark Conversation, even if you’ve already dismissed the Grieving Zailor.[/li][li]After defeating the Stalker, the Airs quality disappears, preventing further exploration of the island. [/li][li]Some travel options cost no actions, while some do. There’s no discernable difference between them as far as I can tell.

That being said, the atmosphere of Daylight is absolutely sublime, and I’m disappointed we’ll not have the option to return. The Grieving Zailor, Inspiring Imaginator, and Precocious Rat (and family) are all excellent additions to Fallen London’s corpus of good characters we’ll never see again. Personally, despite the fact that I’ve probably spent at least a full candle’s worth of actions moving from place to place and that I’ve not yet fully returned to London, this is still one of my favorites so far.

My thoughts on the lore are below the spoiler tag:

[spoiler]Daylight is a strange kind of place because it’s not well-defined in space even when considering the Treachery of Maps. The fact that you can reach it with a rowboat implies that it’s part of the Southern Archipelago near London, but the imagery and lighting recalls Parabola and the uttermost East. The rowboat reminds of Winking Isle, which would make the most sense altogether - Daylight is already essentially a physical representation of the Inspiring Imaginator’s psyche, and the line between reality and dream blurs here.

The Bauble of Ecstatic Repose is a Fingerking - I’m almost certain of it. The serpentine imagery, the parallels to Parabola, the loss of self of the Inspiring Imaginator - it all points to a deal gone wrong with the Fingerkings. The Stalker is more ambiguous - it’s likely a nightmare creature of some sort. I’m pretty sure the Stalker is the assistant mentioned by the Inspiring Imaginator. Daylight might be an experiment by the Bauble to try to create a simulacrum of life that it can inhabit in order to manifest in reality.[/spoiler]