How important is character lore to you?

I’ve been playing Fallen London for almost a year now, and only since making my second account (as well as joining the forums) have I really started to figure out who my character is. Sure, I knew she was a pretty Heartless individual who really had an ulterior motive for almost everything she did, and I made my choices as such, but once I made a new character who was much more Steadfast and interested in the common good did I see where my character work was really going. Now more than ever, whenever I make a decision I think, What are her motives for doing this?

I’m curious as to how much character lore and character building factor into the decisions you make when playing, or if you make a lot of decisions strategically based on furthering your progress in the game. Now that I know both of my characters a little better, there are actually a lot of things I would change about the choices my main made as she went through her time in Fallen London–including her Ambition (Nemesis - Death of a Brother). This Ambition fits my other character much better, and I’ve chosen it for them as well. Then again, perhaps the fact that her Ambition of revenge makes her a little more multidimensional than just a Thief Queen of the Flit (as I like to see her), as any interesting character is complex and doesn’t make their choices based on one single trait…

Anyway, I’m rambling now, but I’ve been curious for a while to know how other people play the game re: character, if they would change anything, etc. Let me know, and don’t worry about being too detailed–I love lore!!!

For me, the roleplaying is the primary draw of the game. I am interested in all the rest, of course, but that’s what pulls it all together.

Mr. Kan’s chief motive for coming to the Neath was curiosity - surely there are wonders upon unknown wonders down here, and there’s no way to discover them unless I come! Therefore, I’ve always pushed him toward options that satisfy that curiosity and help unravel Neathy mysteries. His favorite acquisitions are Zee-Stories, Memories of Distant Shores, Mysteries of the Elder Continent, and any unusual item he can display in the dining salon. (I held onto an eyeless skull for far too long before finally surrendering it.) Also, however, he’s kind and compassionate, and gets violently upset when the innocent are taken advantage of. He regularly inserts himself into situations where Clay Men or Rubbery Men are being attacked, and let’s not talk about that fool who decided to have those urchins beaten up.

This led to an interesting character moment for me when he was kicked out of the University. When our old Detective friend asks why he searches for knowledge, I was at an impasse between two choices. The need for knowledge very much fit his original motivation for coming to the Neath, and he’d never consciously approached discovery with the idea of using his knowledge directly to benefit mankind. However, he’d also been increasing magnanimity, and it was pulling him in that direction. I actually called my wife in and talked it over with her for a while. We finally decided that his experiences in the University had convinced him that it wasn’t enough simply to learn and know. He needed to put it to use. The question ended up becoming a dramatic and defining moment for the character.

A followup moment came when I recovered that blasted squeezebox. Three options were there: acquire some of this oddly Correspondence-like sculpture, ask my client what on earth he’s been up to, or give it to him gratis. All three were attractive options for him, and it would help further define him and the choice he made earlier. Eventually, after another long chat with my wife, he decided to just surprise the guy and do the job for free. I suppose he’s locked on the path of focusing on the greater good now. Not that that stops him from amassing his collections…

It used to be really important to me, but has become less so over time. I was playing as a chaotic good character, but trying to stay in character just made me miserable because I constantly got thrown out of stories and areas, missed out on cool rewards, and made characters I adored hate me…and that’s when I was allowed to make a moral choice at all.

It’s gotten to the point where I’m just declaring stuff I don’t like to be &quotnoncanon&quot for my character, and am considering resetting stories just so I can get a better outcome, two thing I used to refuse to do because I thought it was &quotcheating&quot from an RPing standpoint.

In other words, it’s gotten to the point where I can either RP or have fun, and I’m obviously leaning toward fun. I’m sure it won’t be long before I give up the RPing entirely and just play as the self-serving amoral sociopath the game apparently wants me to be :P
edited by Kukapetal on 12/14/2016

I didn’t really have a character in mind with my first one. I just kinda played choices that I thought I might make if I were in that position, which I guess is kind of roleplaying as myself. At this point, that account really doesn’t have and identity. I just try to do things which I think will be most profitable or interesting storywise.
Then I made a seeking account, and as I was doing it I came up with a bit of a backstory. I was pretty excited about it one day and messed around designing her (that’s where my thumbnail came from). Now, her character is pretty much &quotseek, as fast as possible&quot, which I suppose can still describe an interesting character, although it’s still pretty lazy on my part.
I think I’ll pause when she’s at the gate. I’ll think about the person I’ve created in my own head, wonder if I can let her go, then realize I have to because it’s the only fitting end for her.

I recently understood that I can’t get really interested in the game without being invested in my character.

I created my main, Valiant, quiet a long time ago, and he had outlines of personality and no backstory. I finished all available content and left the game for few years. However, after returning two years ago, I suddenly got an idea of what he is like, created his past and present, friends and foes… And now every choice I make is a lot more meaningful and I have a long list of goals for him.

Same thing on a smaller scale happened to Farshin. He was created to replay early game content, but in fact I just lazily clicked some buttons from time to time. But after playing Samsara on Storynexus, thanks to Phryne’s tip, he got much more depth, and now, when I know about his ambitions and desires, I can – and want – do so much!

By the way, it is quiet liberating to have two fully-fledged characters: now I can finally stop being a completionist at the expense of rp choices, and do what the character would really want – these two are almost complete opposites, and they perfectly split “achievements”.

Hotshot Blackburn (who remains my only account aside from an alt I plan to turn Seeking because switching emails gets old) was very ill-defined in the beginning - and in fact made some choices early on that don’t in fact match with his character at all anymore! Certainly due to the &quotdo everything&quot nature of your character in Fallen London I tend to RP away a lot of stuff he’s technically done as being more minor in scope - like the whole thing with the Empress’s Court (he visited but was too unsubtly a revolutionary fop), the whole Master Thief storyline (he stole a few things here and there but never made a career or big heist out of things), the University (he’s a guest lecturer occasionally for some esoteric beast and zee-stuff, the Correspondence is a curiosity rather than a drive), etc. I really wanted him to go Dangerous and so as a result, well, I focused mostly on all the Dangerous stories first! So character lore is important to me, but I also consider Fallen London’s stories as more like…a starter. Good for the basics and the framework, but certainly not something you must necessarily limit yourself by if you don’t want to strictly follow it. Strictly following it while RPing would also get pretty tricky considering you’re replicating the same set of possible actions as every other main character in the game (we could probably go with a few university’s dedicated solely to teaching the Correspondence, enough Monster Hunters to storm Mount Nomad and enough Glassmen to open up that darn base-camp by now)

There’s a lot of directions he can go though because of the character background - an explorer, a revolutionary, a mercenary…so anything zee/mirror/space related lore I can justify (he explores!), anything revolutionary or companion related I can justify (he’s a revolutionary! He’s got a contact network of literally dozens of revolutionaries!) and anything involving weird beast stuff he can definately justify (all those animal companions!). And where they don’t exactly match…well, that’s where RP comes in to fill the gaps.

My biggest investement into character recently was honestly blowing most of an Overgoat into the Tree of Liberty. There’s no reason to doing so other than vague gesture to symbolism, fake RP points and the novelty of constantly showing off those 777 sorrow-spiders on the mantelpiece because I didn’t spend near 9000 echoes to let them sit around in my inventory alone, but…it was a legitimate thing in-character that if he could, and he would (regardless of if he should), Hotshot would jump at the chance to raise a spider-council. So…made own spider-council. Purely for in-character reasons.

But if I’d known one day I would be all about helping the Bishop kick some devil asses I probably wouldn’t have helped them foil that raid way early on in the Watchful storyline. Just saying, the character’s an evolving concept.
edited by Hotshot Blackburn on 12/14/2016

My character and her motives are very important to my enjoyment of the game! I created her originally as young and fairly naive so that when I made a mistake or forgot something it would be easy to just say that she was fooled or unaware. This is getting more difficult as she progresses in the game! But I still run across choices where she would not make either choice in a million years. But I got some good advice from another player who told me that i could add to the story so that it made sense for my character to make one of those choices. That has really made it a lot easier for me to figure out where to go and what to do! And that lets me enjoy my character more.

[quote=Hotshot Blackburn]Strictly following it while RPing would also get pretty tricky considering you’re replicating the same set of possible actions as every other main character in the game.
edited by Hotshot Blackburn on 12/14/2016[/quote]

That’s what I was just thinking the other day before starting this thread! Like any story-driven game, no matter how many choices are, there are some main storylines that the game directs you towards following, and in the end we all become a respected University professor, a bubbly socialite at the Empress’ court, a famed Monster Hunter at Watchmaker’s Hill… and yet only some of these things I believe my main would actually do. But I think what you said about the character being an &quotevolving concept&quot and using RP to sort of &quotexplain away&quot why your character makes the obligatory Big Game choices they do gives me a bit of comfort in that. After all, intelligent beings are complex and contradictory (in fact, I believe there’s an FL achievement you can get that’s something along the lines of &quotContradictory&quot if you raise your Ruthless and Magnanimous to a certain level, say, or Hedonist and Austere. Don’t quote me on that though.) And it makes it much more interesting when your character does make seemingly odd choices, as someone who only makes the &quotObvious for their Own Gain&quot choices is a bit one-sided.

The game does push toward certain directions - particularly the four Making Your Name routes. However, it is not required to finish (or even start) them, though if you avoid one it does make becoming a Person of Some Importance a longer process. Mr. Kan is not going to go any further down the Shadowy path, because it’s hard for an upholder of the law to go area-diving. If there were a convincing argument that I was somehow going undercover, maybe, but there isn’t. He’s also probably gone as far as he’s going to down the Dangerous path, too; he entered one roof-top ring-fight right after the University fiasco, when he was quite unsettled in mind and plans, but a society whose only goal is the murder of its members is not something he really wants to involve himself in. A great deal of defining a character is simply choosing which storylines not to involve oneself in.

A lot of the writing in Fallen London implies rather than directly states; this gives a lot of wiggle room. What exactly happens between you and the Honey-Sipping Heiress? The writing drops some heavy hints, but it leaves just enough room for you to define for yourself how far the relationship went. Was it true (if temporary) love? A light fling? A farce for personal gain? Precisely how many pieces of your attire remained attached to your person in the process? That’s pretty much up to your imagination.

I don’t really let my roleplaying shine (except for when I join roleplaying events, I suppose), but I do keep a sort of personal continuity in the back of my mind when I play.

I currently have four characters, which to me all coexist in a same instance of Fallen London- The Mirthless Colonist, my first character and initially just a way for me to play a snarky Tomb-Colonist; the only survivors of two alts I made simulteneously, the Callow Abettor; and the two alts I threw in recently, the Concise Scrivener and the Languid Bacchante. I’m supposed to write a bit of fluff about them sooner or later.

Really, every one of those four characters is just an excuse for me to focus on a single one of the four main attribute paths- the Colonist for Dangerous, the Abettor for Shadowy, the Scrivener for Watchful, the Bacchante for Persuasive. Their unique personalities allow me to justify different paths in the same quests, though, which is fun for me to see how things turn out differently.
edited by Infinity Simulacrum on 12/15/2016

I’ve got a little story for my character as well, being an uber hedonist and magnanimous individual who got a bit corrupted by wealth and power. I had several goals when first playing, such as kissing the head of john the baptist, and having fun on the empress’s throne. After doing those, I shifted more toward gaining wealth, which seemed to imply to me that the more selfish parts of society were rubbing off on him.

When I first started playing I would usually make my decisions based on what will progress me though the stories most efficiently, so I could keep soaking up the superb text… As time has progressed and the stakes have gotten higher, I’ve noticed I am ever more likely likely to take the option that gives me the best objective outcome (in cases where such a thing exists.) However, I have also started to learn some things about myself that I hadn’t really paid attention to before, by which I mean when I encounter a real conundrum I will hesitate and sometimes chose the less rewarding but morally superior option, even though I’m just sitting here playing a game where it makes no substantial difference, and I know the outcome for my character will be affected. During playthoughs of other roleplaying games I have always gravitated to the surest path to success, and while I am still definitely moving in that direction I find it funny that Fallen London is the only place I will sometimes shoot myself in the foot on purpose. It is really a testament to the world building. Along those lines, thinking back months ago I never thought I would find myself Seeking, but it’s starting to look more and more like a possibility. Not for a while yet, though! Alysian still has too many things left to live for. But we’ll see.

Ah, thanks for the question. It really is interesting to me.

I view FL as a superb game with a morality system I enjoy a lot.
You are plunged in a world where you can be about whoever you want, with factions that sometimes can’t stand each other. That said, none of them will brutally murder you in your sleep in the name of vendetta or simple amusement.

I tend to make my character the same as what I would do in reality, minus the duelling to death (I’m looking at you,Captain Vendrick. Can we talk about what really happened?), libertinism, the sheer pickpocketing/robberies, etc. etc. That said, these seem to be common and accepted in FL… until you get sent to Venderbight or New Newgate Prison (again).
In sum… a lawful character (a bit tainted, sadly).
I try to harmoniously develop all stats as well.

I also choose the most rewarding option, yet I don’t want it to go against my own thoughts and beliefs.


(Read at your own risk… but again, there isn’t much to lose here)

One person totally hates me now… The Cheesemonger. I owe her a lot when it comes to personal wealth and consideration from the ones she views as targets, and I will indefinitely continue to be a fumbling idiot to her. Fortunately, she will never murder me in the name of sheer incompetence.

If some actions are ooc but not recorded, I pretend they don’t happen. If the game insist, I will worry later.:)

I try to play my character according to my own personal morality, allowing for minor deviations where necessary (helping to jailbreak criminals to gain Renown and steal Touching Love Stories is fine, but convincing a poor urchin to sell their soul or destroying others for curiosity alone is not). I try to find peaceful solutions whenever possible, so long as doing so is not immoral. I will gladly save an enemy so long as doing so is not a danger to others, and I prefer to incapacitate those that are given the choice.[li]
edited by Saklad5 on 12/27/2016

@Poison Penny, I’ve run into the same situation as you! I started playing FL years ago and got fairly far into my ambition (Light Fingers 45) before taking a year and a half hiatus. Now I’m back, playing my main account and a new alt, which has made me much more aware of the differences between the two characters.

When I started, I was trying to see as much story content as possible, playing a self-insert style that ended up with a cunningly persuasive society lady that was clearly out for her own gain but also tended to stick with the more moral options. With my alt, I consciously decided to play a criminal shadowy character in order to experience FL in a new way (and also to take up Seeking without destroying my main account.) Playing these two characters suddenly has made character building much more important to me and enriched the game as a whole. I’ve realize that Light Fingers is much better suited to my shadowy criminal alt (who has also taken up Seeking, against all my instincts for self preservation), and now I’m just dying to play Heart’s Desire on my main account.

Welp. Goodbye progress and hello Lethean Tea.

When things began, I had a diary of events from the character’s POV written up. It lasted until just after POSI. I’ve not even looked at it in a year though. While I’ve got a general idea of how mad my character has been driven by things down here… it just does not seem to make sence to be written up anymore.

I love the idea of character lore but though I am an avid roleplayer in RL, I did not immediately create a background for Jolanda. Which was good: the FL narrative requires you to steal, murder, wade in mud, steal some more… so identifying or investing in a backstory would probably lock you out of half the game. When I started role-playing a bit with others the background came through.
I do not mind making the moral choice each time, even if I have to spend Fate to do so, even when I lose in terms of echoes, but in the beginning being “moral” meant not playing so I try not to think too much of what Jolanda had to do in these first days.

I’d say lore is central to my character’s interactions in Fallen London. A few times I’ve had to dismiss (or liberally reinterpret) a storylet if the result ends up being completely out-of-character, but rolling with the choices whenever possible is a lot of the fun for me. Making a choice that you know is sub-optimal (mechanically or otherwise) because the character won’t do it, or (better yet) having your character adapt, cope, and carry the internal consequences of a tough decision makes the game come alive in my imagination like nothing else.

When I first started playing this game, I didn’t fully understand what type of game Fallen London was, which is why my first account has such an odd name. I didn’t fully appreciate the role-playing aspect of this game and made decisions based on the rewards I get and my desire to do everything. Story didn’t matter, just how much I had seen did. Because of that, the game got boring quick. Then, while I was sending rats to complete strangers out of real-life boredom, I received a response stating it was an experience for him to be courted with dead rats. After that, we ended up sending more and more letters to each other. In order to have something to say, I had to think long and hard about what my character had done and why. Because he was roleplaying, I couldn’t exactly break the 4th wall. Thankfully, my decisions, while mostly scattered, had as a whole some consistency due to my sense of self.

I decided to play my character off as a magnanimous hedonist who is also melancholic. He is always cautious and fears death, even in the Neath, and always tries to convince his friends not to be reckless. He is closest to the bohemians and to members of high society, but also to the constables and zailors as well. Despite this, he tries to be friendly and helpful with all factions, even opposing ones, and always tries to look for a solution that benefits everyone involved. He is a man who while enjoying life in the Neath, constantly misses the life he left behind on the Surface. He tries to drown his sorrow using hedonistic pursuits, but on occasion he’ll let it slip. After he got his destiny, his backstory grew even more when his future self granted everyone immortality. Now he fears the death of himself and his friends so much as to seek an end to death. In the end, I even had it incorporated as the reason he came to the Neath in the first place by using the Heart’s Desire Ambition and having immortality by the thing he had hoped to win all along.

When I made my second account, I did so to see the early-game content I had mostly skimmed due to lack of care for the story and made sure to have a backstory and character in mind when doing so. I decided to mix both my characters’ backstory by having them been long-time friends until her brother’s death. This event kickstarted the first one’s quest for immortality and the second one’s quest for revenge. She’s ruthless at times, but has a heart of gold and a strong sense of justice. She was a loner until several calling cards coming her way forced her to make friends and suffers for it by being socially awkward. She’s very curious about the Neath and never fails to hide her excitement and awe.

Making up backstories and coming up with justifications for why characters acted a certain way was incredible fun and revived my interest in Fallen London. I now really love roleplaying and wished I had started doing it earlier. Fallen London leaped to become I genuinely enjoyed and can’t live without. I will forever be grateful towards the man who kickstarted my sense of roleplaying by responding to my rats. Wow, that’s a weight off my chest. Sorry for ranting.

TLDR: At first, not much. Now, can’t play without it.