February Exceptional Story: The Tale of Old Fritz

Exceptional Story for February: The Tale of Old Fritz

“There is a tale of a whale who rose again. His ambergris all gant, and his bloated heart clogged with unnatural inks. And against all who would bid him die – the other beasts, the zailors and the very powers of the deep – he swore his vengeance.”

The Doomed Diver is haunted by nightmares of sinking ships, a graveyard beast rising from the deep, and a lady with a lantern who guides them inexorably to their end. Driven to desperation, they’ve taken to wandering London at night, seeking companions for a doomed mission: to hunt the fabled Old Fritz across the wide Unterzee. Uncover their tragic history with the beast, and their connection to the lost ship Incredulous. Follow monster and man under the waters, and into the lightless depths below.


All Exceptional Friends receive:

  • A new Exceptional Story every month
  • Memories of a Tale from each story to spend on exclusive companions and items
  • A second candle (up to 40 actions at once)
  • An expanded opportunity deck: ten cards instead of six
  • Three additional outfit slots
  • Access to the House of Chimes, including monthly gameplay perks

Enhanced Exceptional Friends receive all of the above, plus:

  • A past story, or two resets of stories you’ve played from a monthly menu
  • Memories of a Tale from every past story or reset
  • Extra monthly perks in the House of Chimes
  • Three seven-action refreshes per month

heavy breathing with a huge backlog

The latest additions to the game and 1-2 older ES satisfied my craving, but I am left with the impression that the ESs in the last months have been amazing!


Um… ancient zee spirit calling me “little one” wasn’t on my Fallen London 2̶0̶2̶4̶ 1899 bingo sheet but here we are I guess!!!

I really liked this one actually. It started really slow but it had SUCH a good ending!

Not my favorite but a definite 4.5 stars for me!


I enjoyed the narrative in this one well enough. Compares favourably with the recent “The Green King”: both are stories where you go out to Zee and something spooky happens, but I felt that “The Green King” suffered from an excess of eldritch obscurity. When a story is too spooky and mysterious, the stakes are weakened and it’s difficult to feel the impact of events that the author clearly wants to be impactful. Here, the stakes are nicely grounded—for example, we never forget that the Diver has a wife and child waiting back home—, and I could more or less follow what the spooky stuff was going for, too.

Major caveats to that positive assessment though. The text of this story is perhaps the most error-ridden that I’ve ever seen in over 10 years of playing Fallen London. Almost every storylet has typos, punctuation errors, awkward phrasings, linguistic infelicities, or solecisms. It makes me want to audition as a proofreader/copyeditor for FBG—I’ve done it professionally in the past, so this stuff really sticks in my craw.

Second caveat: This story is very long, very linear, and very mechanically flat. It’s right up there with the infamous (to me, anyway) “Fading to a Coda” in terms of linearity and lack of mechanics—but at least “Coda” was fairly short! As engaging as the Moby Dick homage was to read, the expenditure of 50+ actions, by my estimate, for the standard, measly 62.5E reward at the end, really is grating. I know we can’t expect every ES to be as mechanically dense and mechanically creative as a Chandler Groover story, but I do wish more of the ES guest writers would take his example and dole out small rewards of economy items at appropriate points in the story, especially if it’s a story as linear as this one. Getting a few Zee-Ztories when you learn some spooky stuff at Zee, for example, would have been a perfect opportunity to add some much-needed gamefeel texture to the monotonous “click-click-click-click” feeling of “Old Fritz”.


Wow, if so you got it short my friend! It took me about 65, I think!

I absolutely agree about the linearity and mechanical reward cavity and it’s what keeps this from being one of my favorites. It takes so LONG before you’re really into it, and by then you’ve already burned two whole candles.

I will say, reward wise, that the Captivating Ballad is much appreciated for me with the Feast upcoming, since you can use it to gain the Census Badge once and I have yet to do that.

I think in general I was spoiled because after my many year hiatus my first ES was Bloody Wallpaper, but because of that I OFTEN find myself disappointed with the grind to item reward ratio of ES’s.

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Haha, I had a night’s sleep partway through the story and couldn’t remember exactly how many actions I spent on the first part the night before; so I made my estimate conservative, to avoid being too harsh. I certainly would believe your figure; given how linear the story is, there’s not much room for deviation among different people’s experience!


I get that imprecise pronouns are used to indicate the uncertain gender of some characters, but this is foolish and should be corrected - “you can see that their thick beard is flecked with crumbs from a previous meal”
The character’s gender has been indicated, just call the dude a dude. Otherwise you end up with anti-linguistic nonsense like “The Doomed Diver introduces themself”.


You misread.

They do indicate the gender, but it’s not a dude. The Diver is nonbinary. (Their wife calls them her spouse; their brother calls them his sibling.)

They just use they/them pronouns.


Just finished this story early this morning - Its gotta be one of my favourite ES’.

I might be biased cause I always love Zee content, but I really enjoyed it.


Yes, I have to echo HexBeloved - you’ve misunderstood the text here. The Diver’s gender isn’t in any way uncertain; they’re most certainly a nonbinary individual. With a great big beard. There are men with great big beards and women with great big beards, but the Diver is neither.

Also, ‘themself’ is in no way ‘anti-linguistic’, whatever that might mean. It’s a perfectly simple and valid construction, which appears in a number of dictionaries. As you can see here, it’s been in use for the better part of a millennium.


I’m obviously not Billy so I could be misinterpreting what they said, but I think this is not likely what they were saying. I think they were saying that the syntax gets clunky and you lose cohesion when you unnecessarily use ambiguity. This game has literally always had nonbinary options, so I’m sure it’s not some sort of weird anti-they/them pronouns usage rant, because this would be WAY later in the game than that, I’d imagine. I think in this context “anti-linguistic” is referring to the linguistic principle of using the simplest and most understandable word for a concept to convey information clearly.

I genuinely think it was just misreading or skimming and missing some easily missable words that tip us off as readers that this ISN’T one of the many cases where gender ambiguity is just the vibe in the game haha! Again, feel free to correct me Billy, but I’m fairly sure there was no malice here, it’s easy enough to contextually miss if you skim a few sections of this story!


I think the trolls showing up to complain about well established late game concepts has us a bit on edge re:bad faith interpretations. But I certainly hope you’re right and it was just a simple case of confusion, esp since this was coming from an established account this time


I definitely get that. I just think that jumping the gun to that assumption right from the jump is probably not the best way to foster community, and I like it here :> I want to believe the best in everyone here, but ESPECIALLY of very long time users.


I have to agree that I did enjoy this story a lot. Slow start but the ending kept me waiting for every single drop of energy accumulation :nerd_face:

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Thank you.
I do, however, wish that the use of the 3rd person plural as singular were kept to a necessary minimum. The effect when my eyes hit it is like stubbing a metaphorical toe on a grammatical rock. Maybe it’s because my mother would beat me with a copy of Strunk & White’s, tied to a brick, should I end a sentence with a preposition.
I’m not ready to talk about dangled participles, the memories are too painful.


I have some very bad news for your mother about Shakespeare and Chaucer then I’m afraid.

More seriously, using it to refer to a nonbinary character is not at all superfluous—how else was FL supposed to refer to them?


Honestly I am a little surprised the Neath hasn’t birthed any new pronouns honestly.

Not even in a “the game needs neopronouns or I won’t play it” way, just in a like… there’s literally Rubbery Men you can marry, giant space bats, talking tigers, living clothes, knives that possess people… I just feel like it would end up happening.


RIGHT-- something about being gently/benevolently condescended by higher beings… I really enjoyed this as well, a very solid story overall

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As curious as I am about what would have happened had I taken the escape and left the Diver, this is one of those rare times where my contentment with my decision absolutely dwarfs my wondering about hypotheticals. They returned to their family, I got to perish in a sick whale battle alongside drownies, let’s go.

(If anyone here happened to journal what came to pass when you took the escape and left the Diver I would not be opposed to reading it)

WHAT!!! I also saved the diver but I VERY MUCH did not die!!!