July Exceptional Story: The Laws of the Game

Exceptional Story for July: The Laws of the Game

“It ends with a goal. Who scored it, and how, are not important details. The part that gets spoken about afterwards is the rattle of the ball against the net, and that eternal second of silence before the roars start and the noise becomes an ocean.”

The Ardent Regulator is a Ministry Official with a daunting task: cataloguing and codifying the definitive rules of the game of football. But no two teams play exactly the same game. Venderbight United have come equipped with mallets. One of the Lavender House players is wearing a bee costume. And why do the No Names Club wear masks?

Take to the field. Play by their rules. Learn the Regulator’s history, and battle for the future of the sport.

EXCEPTIONAL FRIENDSHIP

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
8 Likes

So many typos and linguistic infelicities in this one. It’s very frustrating. I’m feeling the fire in my belly to type them up and submit them out of sheer indignation, something I normally don’t do any more.

4 Likes

Agreed. This one felt underbaked to me. I generally am very positive in my reviews of stories, but this one didn’t work for me at all.

The captivating ballad at the end was nice I guess? But this was fairly action light (I did the whole thing off of the 40 actions I built up overnight), it was just riddled with spelling errors, there wasn’t enough space to get attached to any of the side characters, and even the primary interpersonal conflict felt lackluster. The whole thing felt rushed to me.

Definitely a lot of writing, but very little editing, and the pacing prevented any of the story from really hitting for me.

This is one of my least favorite exceptional stories to date which is really a shame, because I felt we’ve had a pretty good year so far with no real duds yet.

Well, all good things come to an end I suppose. This one didn’t do it for me at all. Hopefully Firmament Chapter 2 and of course Estival 2024 will have more to chew on.

3 Likes

That was a bit of fun! I agree that it was quite short (it didn’t even burn through my 40 accumulated actions) and didn’t have the depth and heft I’d expect from an ES. Definitely influenced by Unseen Academicals and “The Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton” (not something Wellington said!). I liked the hints of darker history, with the father in the war, and the Bishop’s combination of muscular Christianity with building up future soldiers.

It didn’t seem very Fallen London though. Even Deja Vu – and I liked this better than Deja Vu – had good atmospherics and lore details and set up a few in-game things (even if the profits card disappeared on me after two pulls and I lost that quality for good). Mechanically, it feels like more of a draw for first-time subscribers and early-middle stage players, which is fine. The Bishop seemed…new? And him not recognizing the player, and the player not knowing Correspondence signs, is jarring if you know that stuff. But FL has been going on so long and the lore is so thick i dont mind NOT missing out for once. That was made up for by all the real world in-jokes I’m sure I missed being an ignorant Yank!

Teal deer not as frustrating and flat as Deja Vu, which made me want to throw things. Nowhere near Sunken River, which is basically my personal gold standard since I’ve re-upped after a looong absence and have played some old and new stories. (I think the ONLY one i played through befure this year was the Soul Trade!)

5 Likes

I very much enjoyed this one. Much more than I had expected to, given my lack of interest in sport normally. But I adored this, especially the way you go to incorporate the different styles, and used them in the final version.
I also really liked the larger text of this one, it got a chance to be more detailed and descriptive than usual. Which was delightful.

3 Likes

So far I’d rate the ES offerings this year , in my VERY subjective and low-level gamer opinion –

A Newt By Any Other Name - Right before I joined, haven’t played it. But a Chandler Groover heist story! Really tempting.

The Tale of Old Fritz - Great lore, great writing, a bit difficult for me to play (I needed a little cheat sheet okay, lol), good story choices. It didn’t really touch my heart the way other great stories have though. I do love Zee stories and the Lady in Black was great. 7/10

Slobgollion - I liked this a lot less than most people. Great lore, good writing, and I felt like I needed a hunting dog and an Ouija board, or Not Sherlock Holmes with a murder wall. The gameplay as always with Groover was twisty and interesting. I play ES mostly for lore and writing so I needed a LOT of help with mechanics, lolsob. And I still didn’t get most of the mystery. 6/10

There is the Richest Juice in Poison-Flowers - And I think I liked this better than a lot of people! I’m all about characterization so I loved the Gardener, the revolutionaries were great, I really liked the writing (the illness was v vivid) and it was very clear compared to the previous two, lol. Edges ahead for me personally because of the characters. 8/10

(Not technically ES, but I want to give a shout-out to both The Summer Nursery, which I believe came out around the same time and was like a stealth ES except you can replay it for free, and the new True Horticultural Society, open to all, which debuted a bit later. They both seemed to share a lot in common withn this ES and I love the Schoolmistress a lot.)

The Sunken River - Now this is firing on all cylinders. Just great overall. 10/10 no notes. And I got to keep her acquaintance! I’m not as fussed that the ES often don’t provide advantages in-game but I love little trophies and reminders.

Déjà Vu - Boy I did not vibe with this one at all. It was like two setups very awkwardly pasted together, the dance hall and the city dream, I needed to draw myself a map, the characters sounded interesting but were cardboard, I kept trying to find the glasses… then I found out it was based totally on Venice and felt like a dolt. I’d replay this for 20, no, 15, fate, MAYBE, otherwise never again.

The Laws of the Game - Well-written, sorta cute! Didn’t know enough about either lore or football to get the in-jokes (that bee means something). A memento like a muddy jersey or photo of the dad might have been nice. (Yes, I am one of those people who collects useless things. Ask me about my Lyrebird collection.) “Better than Déjà Vu” is about all I got.

So – just two duds (for me) and one real stunner. Plus tons of content. That makes me feel better about this one not wowing me. Still happy with being exceptionally delicious. :)

7 Likes

Oh no, apologies for being THAT BLABBY. /o\

“I also really liked the larger text of this one, it got a chance to be more detailed and descriptive than usual. Which was delightful”

Agreed, I really got a sense of Football Guy’s past and his relationship with the Bishop, and there were some really interesting hints about the war. I also crushed hard on the Enthusiastic Bruiser. I’m sure all those types were based on real game types, or perhaps even actual playets.

2 Likes

This is actually part of what didn’t work for me. They were kindof nothing choices; nominally they mattered, but in practice any combination could get you the win. It was short, it had the promise over interesting mechanics, but in reality it’s just an illusion of choice.

This one was a lot of fun for me. I could write a short essay about why but honestly I do accept all the criticism posted thus far as valid and my experience as subjective. The Bishop kinda just shows up like a surprise final boss. And besides, it would be much easier to sum up everything I liked about this ES with the version of football my particular London has canonically embraced:

One thing I will say is that the Bishop talks a LOT different from how I remember him. Perhaps that’s inevitable because of different writers and how the game’s cadence has evolved over the years, but he’s a lot more…composed than the bombastic heart-on-sleeve firebrand I’m accustomed to when off the field. At least there’s a decent reason for the change of tone.

Oh, and despite agreeing with the “half-baked” critiques I decided to encourage the Regulator to follow my example as a good sport as the victor, and I’m very pleased with the result. It was just the right amount of not quite forgiven, never forgotten, bittersweet but civil energy I didn’t expect.

6 Likes

“The Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton”

And the Battle of Venderbight was won on the playing fields of Eaten!

I enjoyed this one. I’m not hugely into football, but their enthusiasm was contagious. I enjoy a low-stakes story - it lets us see things closer-up, in more detail. The characters were diverse and well-realised. Overall, fun!

5 Likes

Asking this genuinely and in good faith:

What are you seeing here that I’m not? I didn’t see any of the side characters get fleshed out really, and the Bishop was very out of character per his previous characterizations. I felt like we got very little detail about anyone except for the Regulator, and he felt like a rehash of several characters we’ve seen already this year.

So I really would love your insight on the characters being diverse and well-realised, because from my perspective the fact that neither of those were the case are the biggest part of what tanked this story for me. I don’t particularly like not liking a story, so if you’ve got insight here I’d be thrilled :>

1 Like

Sorry - not sure if I can teach my subjective tastes. They’re too subjective!

5 Likes

//GROANS appreciatively

3 Likes

I also noticed some Pratchattian influence! I personally think he pulled it off better, but he was one of the greatest authors of all time (and Unseen Academicals is in my opinion one of the best Discworld books) so that isn’t actually saying much.

4 Likes

Yes! Also UA is much darker, with that really unsettling writing about the spirit of the mob.

It was fun enough. I think I sometimes like the siller Exceptional Stories because it’s easier to get away with a bit of inconsistency or railroading if it feels like it doesn’t really matter - like, if we were deciding the fate of someone’s life here, maybe it would feel annoying that the choices along the way don’t do too much, but as it was it was fine.

Though the game aficionado in me was amused at the first game with the Bee - since the game ends when the Bee can no longer stand, it seemed obvious strategy that when you’re up by 2 goals, your bee immediately lies down and ends the game before the other team can mount a comeback. In most games, being able to have control over when it ends is very powerful! But we didn’t get the option to do that.

4 Likes

For me, I didn’t actually play football at all, and just beat up the opposing mascot in the span of (what I took to be) five seconds. It was very funny.

1 Like

I’ve actually not had the opportunity to START this one. I don’t recall ever getting a card or storylet for it. Can anyone tell me where it picks up?

Random thoughts:

  • Like the longer text on this one.
  • I would have liked a little bit more FL lore built in but I thought it was a neat little side story.
  • Bishops character seem sout of place but not too much?
1 Like