[Feedback Requested] The Broke Bastard's Guide to Leveling Shapeling Arts

I threw this together because I’ve noticed a lot of people going “oh shit, I don’t have ANY Shapeling Arts!” With an angry Lorn-Fluke on our doorsteps and Firmament looming above, there’s no better time to change that!

I made this guide assuming that the reader doesn’t have a specific Ambition, has no spouse or Helicon-eligible companions, and so on. I have not gone through this myself, since I have Flute Street - this was made by cross-referencing the wiki and may contain errors. Hence, I humbly request your proofreading if you’ve a moment to spare! And if you follow this guide, please let me know how it works!

Step 0: Preparations

Hard requirement:

  • A station at Ealing Gardens. You literally cannot go to Helicon without this.
    • (Technically, you can also unlock and train Shapeling Arts in the lab and Godfall. See the first reply to this post for details.)

If you want to do everything in one trip, bring the following:

  • 98 CP Investigating (around level 14)

    • If you still have the University investigations open, that’s the best source. Otherwise, if you’ve progressed Shadowy MYN enough, there should be options to intercept couriers in the Flit.
  • A bunch of Preserved Surface Blooms or Slim Volumes of Bazaarine Poetry. (Assuming you succeed every check, you will need around 10. But bring extras if you can.)

    • These can be obtained at the Bone Market. Blooms can also be obtained at the Rat Market as of this writing (5/5/24)
  • 75 Nodules of Warm Amber, or less than that and a Weasel of Woe.

    • These can be obtained at the Bone Market, Godfall, or through a Forgotten Quarter expedition to Stonefall Copse.
  • Technically optional, but strongly recommended: Glasswork 7 (8 if possible), 209 Persuasive (with modifiers), and a Fingerkings favour.

Step 1: Discovering Helicon House

If you have either of the Bohemians or Rubbery Men Renown 25 items, you can skip this step through an opportunity card in the Upper River.

But if you’re a broke bastard, you can discover Helicon House for the cost of 15 CP Investigating, through Tour the Neighbourhood > Track rumours you've been hearing at Ealing Gardens.

Step 2: Unlocking Below-Stairs

If you have either the Bohemian or Rubbery Men Renown 40 items, you can enter Helicon House for free.
But if you’re a broke bastard, you can enter Helicon House by paying either one Preserved Surface Bloom or one Slim Volume of Bazaarine Poetry.

Inside Helicon House, play The Entrance Hall > Keep a close eye on everyone present three times to raise your Fitting In quality to 3. Spend 55 CP Investigating on The Entrance Hall > Detect where amber is being boiled to unlock Below-Stairs.

Step 3: Training Shapeling Arts

This is the tedious part, and where being a broke bastard is going to bite you the most.

In order to train Shapeling Arts, you must play Below-Stairs > Draw tentacles from the cauldron. This action requires 5 Warm Amber, 4 Fitting In, and at least 2 Time Remaining to play, and will give +1 CP Shapeling Arts regardless of success or failure.

The warmber is not an issue here if you have a woesel, as failing the action will not take your warmber. The bigger issue is building the Fitting In.

As you’ve already noticed, you only have so much time to spend at Helicon per entry, and Fitting In is reset when you leave. There are a bunch of easy options that give +1 Fitting In. But if you use them, you will have to leave by the time you hit 4 Fitting In. Therefore, you want to play actions that give higher Fitting In.

If you’re not a broke bastard, then you have a bunch of different options. This table has a full list, but basically: if you have certain companions, are closest to Rubbery Men or Bohemians, are a Silverer, or have certain Ambition rewards, you will have an easier time. Helicon House (Guide) - Fallen London Wiki

But you’re a broke bastard, so let’s assume you have none of these things. Your best option is to unlock The Mirrored Salon by getting 3 Fitting In, and then spending 28 CP Investigating and one Fingerkings favour (The Entrance Hall > Discover where illusions are being staged). There, you can play Astonish the company with an illusion for 2 Fitting In per action. It’s 209 Persuasive and 8 Glasswork to 100%. If you have no Glasswork items, 7 Glasswork gives you a 90% chance.

If you can’t do that option for some reason, your other option is The Yellow Salon > Study the Portrait of the Tentacled Entrepreneur. This is a difficult Watchful challenge (500 to 100%!) made easier with every point of Bohemian renown. Just do the illusions.

Ideally, you would play these actions twice, giving you 4 Fitting In, and then pull tentacles twice, for +2 CP Shapeling Arts per Helicon House round. This means that for the 15 CP necessary for Shapeling Arts 5, you will need to enter about 8 times, not including any failed actions or the rounds that you spent on unlocking Below-Stairs and the Mirrored Salon.

Good luck!

Bonus Rounds: Leveling to 6 and 7

Fairly straightforward. Once you’ve leveled Shapeling Arts to 5, you can choose to Solicit guidance in the Shapeling Arts Below-Stairs. This requires:

  • 400 Nodules of Warm Amber
  • 2250 Nodules of Deep Amber
  • 5 Fitting In

Play the +2 Fitting In action three times, and pay the fee.

Once you get to 6, you can then Solicit further guidance in the Shapeling Arts. This requires:

  • 8 Helical Thighbones
  • 8 Knotted Humerus
  • 250 Nodules of Warm Amber
  • 7 Fitting In

The bones can be most reliably found by spending Strong-Backed Labour and Surveys of the Neath’s Bones to sponsor palaeontological digs in Ealing Gardens. Play the +2 Fitting In action four times and pay the fee (note that you do NOT need 2+ Time Remaining to play this action).


Note: I have been informed that you can just get the first point of Shapeling Arts at Helicon and then level the rest through Godfall. I am going to research this to see how that compares.

At a cursory glance, it looks like Godfall pilgrimages are also 2 CP per round, but Godfall pilgrimages are 16 actions while Helicon is 6. Therefore, Helicon is much more efficient than Godfall action-wise, but Godfall is also free to enter and available to those without a railway.

Therefore, if you don’t have a railway, you could unlock your first point of Shapeling Arts through the lab: spend 1 Human Ribcage, 1 Human Arm, and 100 Nodules of Deep Amber on Test the elastic limits of flesh and bone to make a Thorned Ribcage, then Analyse your Thorned Ribcage. And then you could go to Godfall and do pilgrimages there, or continue spending ribcages/arms/deep amber to repeat the first experiment for 1 CP Shapeling Arts per.

Helicon seems much more efficient if it’s an option, though, since Preserved Surface Blooms are not terribly difficult to get with Dreaded 15 and some Possessed Goldfish, or through the Rat Market.


Very well written, the directions are clear and concise, and Step 0 is extraordinarily helpful for people planning their trip. (I also very much enjoy your neologisms of wamber and woesel.)


Oh, I’m definitely not the one who came up with those. They’re in use all over the Discord, for instance. (I very much enjoy those neologisms too!)

And thanks, it’s good to hear about the parts that are especially useful! I should probably go finish my “Broke Newbie’s Guide to Preparing for Whitsun”…