New Player - continuously impoverished

Ok, I have no idea what I’m doing wrong, but starting this game right now is incredibly frustrating.

I played some a few weeks ago, when the tomb colonist runs were still a thing, but even then I was playing on merciful mode. I decided to start playing properly from scratch today and… yowch.

I’ve read some of the guides, and every single one mentions tomb colonist runs and prize crews to get started. Now that they’re not an option… well…

Every game ends the same: no echoes, no fuel, no supplies. If I try to stay reasonably close to London and make frequent trips back to resupply, I rarely make back my food and fuel costs, and thus can never make longer voyages out to further places. Like, sometimes I go searching for a quest related location and don’t find it, and if I head back while I still have a decent buffer of supplies and fuel, I usually can’t pick up enough profit to try again. But when I say &quotOK, I’m only going back to London when I know I have enough echo-granting stuff to make my next voyage&quot I end up dying.

I’m not sure whether or not I should be fighting things. The only times I’ve gotten a decent supply of echoes is getting lucky on the tiny pirate ship near Hunter’s keep, but recently it’s been only dropping one fuel or supplies, which is normally a lot less than I spend fighting it. But when I avoid fighting anything at all, I end up without any money.

Bah, I love Fallen London but I can’t seem to get the hang of this. I’ve gone through five captains in a single day, and it’s the same thing every time: start the beginner missions and deliver the tomb colonist, maybe get a few reports or the start of quests from the close-in islands, then do another run where I try to go slightly further out. Pick up a few more &quotstart-of-quests&quot style things and then get back to London without enough echoes to go any further out.

I don’t know. Maybe I shouldn’t hire officers right at the start? I’m totally at zea here (heh). I’m normally not bad at video games, and I’m familiar with the FTL-style &quotplay until you die&quot game, but this one is just so difficult and I don’t know that I’m making any progress. Usually I can at least figure out what I’m doing wrong and make a plan to do better in the future, but I have no idea what I could possibly do differently at this point, and all the guides mention things like doing tomb-colonist stuff.

I am not very good at ship combat, I will admit. I understand the idea of it… but I can’t seem to execute consistently. Sometimes it goes great and I take out a ship or some bats completely unscathed, other times I’ll get demolished by the same thing.

So yeah, any tips?

So yeah, any tips?[/quote]

A few…

Firstly, the Tomb colonist run is good for one reasonably sized payday, so it can’t be counted on for any amount of time.

Port Reports are there to make up the rough running costs of getting around the island, if you’re not getting port reports, you’re not covering your running costs. I know that the fee brought in by the port report won’t cover the whole cost, but it’s a damn sight better than having to pay for it all yourself, so never forget the report.

Combat, in the beginning, is never a good idea, you’ll get owned and often, ships that I now drop with a single hit proved very problematic in the first part of the game and certainly need to be considered as not inconsequential.

Travel, consider staying along the coast (both north and south) to find a few ports, you’ll definitely find Venderbight, Wither, Codex, Cumean Canal, and the Iron Republic just by staying to the western edge, and they’re worth reasonable amounts in port reports, but consider each one of them to be a stepping off point from which to go looking. Gaiders Mourne is usually due east of the Canal, Mangrove swamps and Fathomkings holds are often east of the Iron republic, The Salt Lions are east of Hunters keep, Mount Palmerston, the Avid Horizon, and Chapel of lights are often east of Wither and Codex.

Hunters Keep, make use of recent news to get extra supplies while you still can

Always read the news when you come into port

Take the blind bruisers offer when you can and use it to get out there into the dark, there’s no better way of doing things in the first part of the game.

Investigate the options in each port, there’s keys to stories in each one that (without giving away spoilers) will give huge rewards when completed, and some that can be done many times over, so never lose hope

And if all else fails, mail me off forum and I’ll send over the maps I’m using…

Here’s another good hint to get you started:

 While tomb-colonist runs may no longer give you the 45 echoes right off the bat that they used to, making a single trip to Venderbight will get you an opportunity to meet the first curator -- and some of the Curator quests are easy to fulfill.  Without spoiling anything (you've been reading guides, so this would be put in place of colonist runs) you can head directly northeast of Venderbight to Avid Horizon to find one of the items the Curator will pay for.  You can also get port reports from both locations. 

A second hint:

  If your first character gets killed, your second character will stand to be significantly more powerful.  Make sure to utilize that -- if you like getting into fights, raise your iron and mirrors (raise one as an inheritance and the other with your character history).  If you're more of a sneaky type, raise hearts and veils instead.  

 If you want more secrets, raise pages and explore the coast -- you're bound to get lots of secrets just by discovering new locations.

 And no matter what you do, always remember to explore all your options in port!  Sometimes you'll get a lucky break just by walking the beach or strolling through town. 

[li]Hope this helps.[/li]

edited by SouthSea Rutherby on 12/4/2014

Salt Lions FTW. Once you build up enough capital to make one run, they make a nice base to start branching out from. (Maybe I’m lucky, but it only costs me about 1-2 fuel and 1 supply to run out and back from the Lions, if I’m steaming at full speed. I like to go out to other ports and make a stop by the Salt Lions on the way back for a solid chunk of cash.)

My advice would be to make the trip to Mutton Island continually. The trip is short, mostly safe and there’s money to be had if you know what to do.

Go after the specific requests of the admirals and the venturer. These will direct you to various locations, letting you explore the map with guaranteed rewards. Follow up plotlines that seem interesting or lucrative as you find them.

Only fight if you’re confident in your ship’s abilities. If not, turn off your lamp. If you’re having fuel issues, also turn off the lamp. It’s better to pay for shore leave than to run out of fuel. Use the “F” key and turn off the lights if you’re in danger. The worst that can happen is non-lethal hull and crew damage, which is better than losing a fight.

Keep an eye out for repeatable opportunities. Few of these can pay costs by themselves, but when stacked together and combined with less predictable rewards they can supplement income and almost eliminate financial risk. In general try to do multiple things in one voyage.

Hire officers, they contribute to your stats far faster than secrets in the early game. Keep some echoes in reserve, there are a ton of ports which sell fuel and supplies at 20e. It can save your life.

Don’t rush to finish port stories, often this will lock you out of lucrative options.

My suggestion would be to, immediately out of the gate, load up with as much extra fuel as you can get and set out exploring. Don’t worry too much about keeping a buffer for fuel, as you’ll often find yourself using less fuel than expected in the starter engine. I would recommend heading north to Venderbight and from there making a loop through the third line on the map and either just one down to london, or two down towards the cumaean canal before returning. The funds you have at the start should be enough to get the fuel for this (in the past, 15 fuel could get you halfway around the map before shuffling at least). Terror doesn’t matter at this point. Gravitate towards lights nearby when you can, but don’t do much more than that, as you’re just discovering new areas anyway. You’ll have time to find the most terror-efficient routes later.

With only the starter ship, I wouldn’t recommend fighting at all. Even when you’re able to take down the smaller ships they never really become worth the trouble, and you’d be no match for anything worthwhile. Turning off your lights is essential for this, and can also be used to conserve fuel.

Overall, don’t be afraid of going out into the darkness, or running out of supplies, or even a mutiny. Definitely don’t pick out a simple grind and do that until you’re sick of the game or have so many echoes there’s no risk to the game. There are little things that can help a bit - finding the best path between locations, knowing what items are for, knowing the best stories, etc. - but those can be picked up as you go along. The main thing is to get out into the darkness and look for things and follow your terribly bad ideas through even though they’ll probably end horribly, despite whatever consequences you’ve seen before or might have.

I suppose i’m a little short on practical tips there, aren’t I? Alright then, a few thoughts:

  • When you go out to the unterzee, don’t head just to one port and back. When you have a specific destination in mind (or destinations), plan a route around it in a big loop. Stock up on mostly fuel and supplies, then head out. Planning a stop at Mount Palmerston or the Iron Republic can allow you to circumvent your hold space some.
  • A lot of items needed for other stories are gained as rewards from stories. Unless it’s a diamond, selling to the alarming scholar tends not to get you much and destroys items that will come in handy pretty soon.
  • Most consequences are not as bad as they seem. If a storylet gives you terror when you fail and is part of a story (not a random port event), keep trying. You’ll succeed before anything gets too horrible, even if it seems bad.
    -spam the zee-bat and go find everything it shows you.
    -focus on improving just one stat at first, up to 80ish at least. I like hearts for the use in mutinies and port events or veils for its use both in combat and very often in storylets. Irons is increased easily with good guns, so i’ve never found it useful to start with.

On a final note, is a very nice place to go to ask questions or get tips from other answers, in addition to learning more about the lore.

Great post! Couldn’t agree more!

I initially started out aiming for a laid-back, relatively-relaxing tactic of trading with Venderbight until I had reasonable funds. I’ve since discovered this isn’t the way to go. It is much more entertaining, atmospheric, and immersive (and in many cases profitable) to just load up with fuel and explore. Go with the flow, experience what the wide Unterzee has to offer, and maybe return to London terrified but with enough far-away port reports to fund the next adventure.

For my first trip with a new captain I would do everything you can in London - definitely read the paper at your lodgings and get the Admiral’s commission at least; spend your money on fuel and leave at least one echo in the bank. Hug the coast south to Mutton Island; explore and get the port report; go South East to the next tile, then East one tile, then North one or two tiles; then head back South West towards London; use the Zea Bat and pick up any Port Reports for the places you find. The first admiralty commission should be in one of those tiles and you will be coming back close to Hunter’s Keep. Second trip go North to Venderbight and start the curator’s quest; go up to Whither then along the northern edge of the map until you find Mount Palmerstone and Avid Horizon then head South-east back to London (edit to add - stop off in Venderbight to give the Curator the item from Avid Horizon if you got it). Doing that you will probably find a lot of places and earn a reasonable amount of money - depending on which locations are in those tiles.

After that it depends on how much money you have and where the Admiral sends you but slowly start exploring the map working out from the places you have uncovered. I will say that finding the Mangrove college is very helpful for supplies or terror reduction and if Apis Meet (somewhere on the Southern Coast) is near and you have the echoes it is worth buying candles and exploring the Wisp Ways, be careful though as you can lose crew or gain wounds.
edited by reveurciel on 12/5/2014
edited by reveurciel on 12/5/2014

This is my general issue with SS game play, represented by this discussion.

There are plenty of ways to flavorfully play the game and eventually get somewhere, get some money and stability.

And then there’s the way that’s simply more efficient and faster. While blindly sailing out to Zee and hoping to make money is one way of playing…going to an island that is the shortest possible distance from FL, always spawns in the same place, has the same storylets everytime and has loot that is worth x3 what even a good trip in the early game can bring you, is another.

It may be boring, but it beats losing repeatedly until you get lucky enough not to. Or having prior knowledge of the high end storylets so you just rush straight to them.
edited by Nenjin on 12/5/2014

[quote=lady ciel ]For my first trip with a new captain I would do everything you can in London - definitely read the paper at your lodgings and get the Admiral’s commission at least; spend your money on fuel and leave at least one echo in the bank. Hug the coast south to Mutton Island; explore and get the port report; go South East to the next tile, then East one tile, then North one or two tiles; then head back South West towards London; use the Zea Bat and pick up any Port Reports for the places you find. The first admiralty commission should be in one of those tiles and you will be coming back close to Hunter’s Keep. Second trip go North to Venderbight and start the curator’s quest; go up to Whither then along the northern edge of the map until you find Mount Palmerstone and Avid Horizon then head South-east back to London (edit to add - stop off in Venderbight to give the Curator the item from Avid Horizon if you got it). Doing that you will probably find a lot of places and earn a reasonable amount of money - depending on which locations are in those tiles.


Cheers – your advice is superior to mine, and still well written. Honestly I think the big issue here is that a lot of people are looking up advice that’s from an outdated prior model.

edited by SouthSea Rutherby on 12/5/2014

No problem, I hope it does help people. I must admit that trading Tomb Colonists wasn’t my favourite activity when it was an early game option, until you got Secure Storage there was always a chance of them running amok and the profit was pretty small when you realise how much Lodgings, guns and ships cost.

                               Here's my take on tomb-colonists: yes, picking up the same three people and ferrying them to the same place could be boring if it's implemented the wrong way.  But that was never what I used it for.  Venderbight is a constant return location in the early game not only because of the curator quest but because you need to visit it a [i]multitude [/i]of times, it made sense to stack up on colonists to offset the travel costs. 

       In the course of an average game, I have to go to Venderbight many, many times before I have 1) the genial magician  2) the Fingerking storylet 3) [i]all  [/i]the curator rewards  [i]and[/i]   4) the fishmonger officer.  This requires [i]dozens [/i]of Venderbight runs. 
In game like SS, which has travel costs like fuel or supplies, trade may [i]not [/i]necessarily be the focal point.  But even if the game is intentionally [i]not [/i]trade-based, there are still usually some small trades available [i]in order to accommodate those costs. [/i]  Tomb colonist runs were [i]never  [/i]the prime reason to go to Venderbight -- there were plenty of other reasons to go there already -- but the small amount of money you made off of them made it possible to make several return trips. 

   Taking those options away makes it [i]that much harder  [/i]for new players to return to Venderbight the required number of times to do all there is to do there. 
    So, my suggestion is to continue to discourage trade, [i]but [/i]make it possible to pick up tomb colonists in a balanced manner when the player needs to make those runs.   This should already be easy to balance: Tomb Colonists already take up a lot of space [i]and  [/i]occasionally consume either supplies or other ship parts like secure storage (in place of other useful things) so there's already a feeling of strategy to Venderbight runs without making them repetitive or too easy. 

Personally, I think lowering the amount you make off each colonist but increase the available number would balance it further. And that might make a happy medium between repetition and story.

edits to correct formatting nightmare

edited by SouthSea Rutherby on 12/5/2014

Side note: I seem to frequently be locked out of the Tomb-Colonists after a certain drunken fight, which has happened most of my new games so far. Is there something I need to do to remedy that?

I think I just needed a few days on land to steady my steps. I came back intending to make a disposable captain and now I have a kid and a house.

Thanks guys. This thread helped, as did the “starting anew” one. I was already doing most of the stuff here, but I realized I needed to find more islands on that first trip out, so I avoided the islandless shore and went straight east before curving back around. This gave me enough “story fuel” to not be impoverished the next time, and I did the same thing… curving in east before going to the Iron Republic rather than staying too close to the coast on the way down.

I didn’t entirely take your advice, seeing as I did do a bunch of anti-sea-creature combat and I raised my irons super high, partly to get strange catches and hunting trophies for a quest and also to learn the combat well enough that when it DOES become relevant I won’t be completely lost.

At this point I think I’ve uncovered every fully implemented island, but I’ve still only found one of the colors, since I didn’t betray the rats. I’m on the way to the khanate, hoping my little horse figure thing will get me a better response there than before, but after that I’m really not certain where to go, other than blemmington runs and salt lions/polythreme.

Some good advice here, but I think Kerine’s reply came closest to capturing what I would say.

The main point I would make is that Sunless Sea has a lot in common with roguelike games in the sense that the most important currency is knowledge. There are quite a lot of ways to make money and get ahead even from the (admittedly precarious) starting position, but you need to find out about them first (or read the Wiki or spoilers, but that’s much less fun in my opinion).

Think of your first few games as knowledge gathering. Don’t worry too much if you die early and often. Steam boldly into the dark. Take risks. Pick the less-safe option sometimes just to find out what happens. Aim to have learned something new about the world from each game. Picking up whatever resources you can along the way is important - port reports are the most significant contributor here but you should always keep an eye out for other opportunities. Check the shops tab at every port and find out what they buy and sell and at what prices/currencies. Some storylets are repeatable given the right conditions and some can be done quite early in the game if you know how, so keep an eye out for those to give yourself an advantage in your next start.

Early on your top priority should be to build up a bit of a bank so that you aren’t at risk of being bankrupted if you have one not-so-successful voyage. My number one priority on the first trip out is usually to get the strategic information for the Admiralty, which can pay for most of your trip on its own if you manage it. Second priority is typically to gather port reports and reveal as much of the nearby chart as possible. If you accept the Bruiser’s gift then you get your first two trips basically for free, by which time you should have enough of the map revealed to have a fighting chance at turning a profit from then onward.

Some types of knowledge gathering require a cash investment and I would generally save those for later in the game once you are more financially secure. Two examples are fighting (goal: figure out which enemies can be profitably engaged and which should be avoided) and exploring the further reaches of the map (goal: find new ports and profit/story opportunities).

Try not to get sucked in to playing the game as a grind. The Salt Lions are the biggest temptation here. They are a great option to have available if you need them, and they make a good stop on homeward journeys to get a return on unused cargo space, but I don’t recommend making them the focal point of your game.