New player seeking help

Hello everyone, so I’ve been a long time player of Fallen London and I bought Sunless Sea a short while ago. I’ve heard that the game is pretty hard so I was wondering if anyone could help with tips or something? No idea if this changes anything but I have the Zumbariner expansion as well if that alters the game somewhat (apart from the addition of zubmariens and the unter-unterzee itself of course)

Explore, and take port reports everywhere you land. Turn them in in london. Take money from the shady man, and do at least one favor for him. Cannibalism comes with 0 downsides and several benefits. Use stealth, not cannons, in the beginning. But if you do want cannons, enemies cannot come near ports, making it possible to cheese them. And no matter what, do not have high nightmares while underwater.
edited by suinicide on 7/1/2017

It’s been a while since I started a brand new game in SS, without the benefit of my dynasty, but…

Running cargo up to Venderbight for a bit, especially wines, can be decently profitable but is pretty slow going. Zubmariner adds a few new quest lines that can be helpful, like taking on a passenger who will usually ask you to take them somewhere not that far from London at first.

Exploration is very profitable early on, as the Dark-Spectacled Admiral is very generous when it comes to paying for port reports. Even repeated ones can help in recouping expenditures.

If only pirate-hunting was a little more profitable, that could be a fun start.

EDIT: And yes, stealth is way more effective early on than fighting. Don’t be afraid to cut the lights. Saves on fuel, too.

EDIT2: I think it’s possible to be a cheeky little thing and trade in your steamer for the launch early on, for a pretty tidy sum. You can’t carry a lick of cargo, though, and if you get sneezed on you die. If you’re very, very, very careful, you might be able to get a few port reports and then turn them in for enough that, combined with your proceeds from switching to such a tiny little ship, can give your next captain a little extra starting cash after you inevitably sink into the Zee. That’s a very un-roleplaying and cheesy strategy, though.
edited by Isaac Zienfried on 7/1/2017

I did very well not fighting anything at all for the first several hours.

Travelling as a zub means that sometimes you randomly find very valuable treasures just lying around. This is balanced out by the very deadly enemies just lying around down there.

edit: if you take Isaac’s suggestion about turning in your steamer for a launch, don’t trying zubmarining at the same time. Zubmarining in a launch is tantamount to immediate death.
edited by Teaspoon on 7/1/2017

It’s easy to mistake Sunless Sea for an empire building game.

This is akin to confusing Fallen London with one of Zynga’s mafia or farmville games because they both use limited amounts of energy to ration your game.

Sunless Sea CAN be an empire building game. It can also be an exploration game. Even a &quotfarming&quot game if you happen to
love blemmigans.

You can pick an ambition and favor one activity to pursue or define your own sort of victory condition.

At it’s heart, Sunless Sea is a game about terror. Isolation. Braving the Darkness with nothing but a daughty crew and your own sense of purpose, for good or ill.

You aren’t intended to play the game a single &quotright&quot way. You’ll make mistake. You’ll make bad decisions. You’ll be faced regularly with choices that reward you for behaving reprehensibly but do not overtly reward you for behaving honorably or morally correctly.

Your captains will die. This is a certainty. Embrace it. Each captain leaves a bit of himself for the one who follows.

You’ll learn things about the Neath that you won’t learn playing Fallen London. Take risks. Live dangerously. Important lore is sometimes hidden behind seemingly bad decisions.

Give each captain his or her own personal motivation. Let one be noble. Let one be a reprehensible dreg of Humanity. Live through your dynasty of captains rather than one single &quotsuccessful&quot captain.

Most of all; have fun and remember that London and its games and intrigues is the home of the landlubbers who prefer a safe existence. You are a zailor; Master and Commander of your bit of light in the terrible Darkness of the Unterzee.

Full steam ahead!
edited by slickriptide on 7/1/2017

I recommend going through your first few captains and just trying out the mechanics, getting used to the combat, and so on. Lose your mind. Eat your crew. Find a Glorious Dreadnaught and get killed by it. As you play, you’ll start to get a sense of how much fuel, supplies, etc. you need and how quickly Terror builds up, so take the time to get used to those.

Otherwise, I’m by no means an expert Sunless Sea player, but here you go:

General Notes

  • Whenever you hear the bell sound or certain message appear your log, that means your &quotSomething awaits you&quot quality has refreshed. This allows you to pursue certain stories at the ports you visit to receive rewards of varying importance. This is most important for London because it allows you to recruit new officers and resets your Terror to 50 if it’s above that. The quality refreshes once you’ve been at zee for one minute, if I recall correctly.[/li][li]Starting a new game, you have the &quotBeginner’s luck&quot quality, which you can cash in at certain ports for a large, one-time reward. I actually don’t know if it refreshes for new captains, since I’ve never actually used it, but it can definitely get you some valuable items. The ports you can cash it in at are the Avid Horizon, the Uttershroom, Irem, the Isle of Cats, and Abbey Rock.[/li][li]Get Port Reports whenever you can. You won’t make a living off of them, but with the exception of the Iron Republic’s, they won’t hurt. You can turn them in to the Admiralty for money and sometimes fuel.[/li][li]Once you’ve turned in three Port Reports, I think, you are taken to the Dark-Spectacled Admiral. He will give you places to retrieve Strategic Information, which you can then turn in for money. I recommend not turning in the Strategic Information unless you desperately need the money, as you can combine 2 Strategic Information with a Move in the Great Game, a Zee-Ztory, or a Memory of Distant Shores to create Vital Intelligence. If you turn it into the Dark-Spectacled Admiral, you won’t gain much extra, but you will gain Supremacy: London. If you turn it into the Voracious Diplomat, you’ll earn more money, but at the cost of potentially raising Supremacy: The Dawn Machine (more on those later)

Early Game

  • Attacking ships is actually really easy, even with your starting vessel. Most enemy ships don’t have rear weapons, so if you stay outside of their weapons range (such as by remaining directly behind them), you can fire without them being able to retaliate. With this technique, you can often take down larger vessels without no issue. Try it out at first with the weak pirate barges, because we’ll be moving on to bigger prey soon.[/li][li]The Pirate-Poet. When traveling, you may find an Alcaeus-class corvette. While it appears at various locations, I recommend seeking it out near the Salt Lions, which appears somewhere around the second column of the map, if I recall correctly. If you’ve become proficient at ship-to-ship combat, you should be fine. Sink the Pirate-Poet and rescue her, collecting your reward. If you’re near the Salt Lions, that reward alone should be enough to pay for your initial deposit of Sphinxstone there.[/li][li]The Salt Lions. Taking Sphinxstone from the Salt Lions to London is an excellent source of revenue in the early game, though it will be locked after a couple trips. Be careful, as your starting hold size is barely enough to hold all the Sphinxstone, so you may need to sacrifice some fuel or supplies. The Salt Lions should be close enough to London that you can make it back if you ignore all distractions and head straight for port. There are places you can stop to buy fuel and supplies at an additional cost if you really need it, but these cut into your profits and should be avoided. [/li][li]Investments. Once you’ve started making money, it is best spent investing in resources. A new weapon, a new engine. Each of these makes your life easier and your trips shorter. I personally think a new engine is most important, followed by a new weapon. The deck items are nice but ultimately unnecessary. If you want to play the trader, you have little need for forward and aft weapons (if you want to play the monster hunter, that’s a different matter), so once you’ve upgraded your equipment, I recommend saving for a new ship.


Officers will help boost your stats and unlock new stories for you to play. There are specific islands you can recruit them from or you can recruit them from London whenever your &quotSomething awaits you&quot has refreshed. In my opinion, it’s almost always better to recruit them from the islands, since you’ll get them cheaper and will still be able to Suprecruit someone else when you return to London.

  • The Tireless Mechanic and Genial Magician may, at the end of their storylines, provide you with a new and improved engine. The Tireless Mechanic’s is better, in my opinion.[/li][li]The Irrepressible Cannoneer will unlock a new forward weapon at the end of his storyline. It’s the best in the game.[/li][li]The Cladery Heir could potentially unlock a new ship.[/li][li]Maybe’s Daughter is notable for increasing your engine speed, helping you get around faster. I also think her storyline is one of the easier ones to finish, though it’s been a while so don’t quote me on that.[/li][li]Sometimes, it’s better to wait to finish your starting officer’s quest until you have a ship with a larger hold, as the rewards are large and you only have so much space.[/li][li]It is possible to lose officers over the course of their storylines. Most can be revived in a specific place by a specific person.[/li][li]The Carnelian Exile opens one of my favorite storylines in the entire game.


This represents the balance of power between the factions of the Neath. If you let the Supremacy of one faction or another reach 7, that’ll trigger an event when you return to London showing that faction’s influence in the city, giving you numerous rewards as well as a Legacy that raises one of your next captain’s stats by 25. Supremacy is reset for every new captain.

The factions vying for power in the Neath are London, the Khanate, the Calendar Council, and the Dawn Machine. You’ve already heard of some. Others you’ll learn more about as the game goes on. This is a prime opportunity for roleplay. You could play a staunch patriot who seeks to rebuild London’s glory, even if it is financially better to back another faction. You could play a revolutionary seeking to advance the Great Work. You could play a mercenary who just supports whoever has the deepest pockets. Or you could just not care. It’s all up to you; the world’s your oyster, after all.


[/b]The most common trade route, if I recall correctly, is:

  • Buy Caskets of Mushroom Wine at London[/li][li]Trade the mushroom wine for Darkdrop Coffee at the Empire of Hands (this requires you first advance in the Empire of Hands storyline, which I must add is one of my favorites in the entire game, and at minimum means you have to go to the Empire of Hands once, compile a comprehensive port report, and taking a delightful adventuress, who you may have let in the Pentecost Predicament ES if you played it, to the Empire of Hands once again before unlocking the trade route).[/li][li]Trade the Darkdrop Coffee for Bales of Parabola-Linen at Irem.[/li][li]Sell the Parabola-Linen at London for profit.

You can technically sell the Parabola-Linen at Adam’s Way, I think, for more profit, but I skip that step. It takes a huge haul to break even on the additional fuel and supply cost, but it does have a nice symmetry. You go to the far east, then to the far north, then to the far south, and then to the far west, all in one route.

I’ve also yet to calculate if it’s better to trade in that Darkdrop Coffee in Vienna. Someone else may already have done that, and if so, I’d appreciate it if you could share the result of that.


  • The southern border of the map (as well as the western border) remains the same in every game. [/li][li]If you’re heading southwards, it is good to keep in mind that fuel is cheaper in the Iron Republic. I always stop there to refuel instead of London whenever I head south. Just keep away from the revolutionaries and you’ll be fine.[/li][li]Get your zubmarine at Port Carnelian sooner rather than later, so that your later captains won’t have to repeat the storyline.

Crime and Punishment

  • Early on, the Blind Bruiser will offer you a gift and then jobs. These pay well and are pretty fun, so I recommend doing them unless it is out-of-character. There are actually multiple different quests that you can be given, so different captains can have different experiences.[/li][li]If you’re carrying contraband or illegal goods, you need to watch out for inspections by London officials. You can avoid this, however, by docking at London before the &quotSomething awaits you&quot timer resets.[/li][li]The sunlight trade is my favorite way to make money, and it is terribly risky. Empty Mirrorcatch Boxes can be purchased at Khan’s Shadow and filled at either the Surface or at Aestival, to the far east. This will increase your &quotYearning, Burning&quot menace, which you can reduce by resting at your home in London. You can reach the Surface via the Cumaean Canal, but it costs a large amount of Fuel and Supplies. Luckily, Supplies can be purchased very cheaply in Naples and London is nearby when it comes to Fuel. At a sufficiently high &quotYearning, Burning&quot, you’ll be prevented from going to the Surface. Collecting sunlight at Aestival has a chance to wound you, which is risky, but it is free from this restriction. Sell this sunlight in London to the Blind Bruiser for 400 Echoes per box, and you get to keep the box. You can sell it at the Isle of Cats for the same price, which is much closer to Aestival, but you run the risk of not getting your box back, which reduces profits and sustainability.[/li][li]The Cladery Heir can cure you of your &quotYearning, Burning&quot once per game. Use it wisely.


  • Zee-monsters will attack you by charging at you. Each has a certain distance it will charge, and if you can remain that far away from it, it won’t be able to hurt you. You can circle around the zee-monsters and fire before running away when they charge.[/li][li]Once you kill the zee-monsters, you can harvest the corpse for supplies or for resources. It really depends on the situation which one is better.[/li][li]Hunting lifebergs for fun and profit is fun and may damage your sanity in more ways than one.


  • Explore all that you can. If a place looks like it can be sailed to, it probably can be sailed to. The map is just a map, and the edge of the page is not the end of the world. [/li][li]Eat your crew. No, really.[/li][li]Every so often, on certain maps, there exists a little easter egg for those seeking to learn more about the revolutionaries and the Liberation of Night …[/li][li]Go to Polythreme and pick up WE ARE CLAY. They’re very useful.[/li][li]Experience the Chapel of Lights. All of it. You won’t regret it.[/li][li]The Carnelian Exile. Remember.

I hope I didn’t just overwhelm you with all that information, but there’s just so much to do and so many different ways to play. At the end of the day, the game is really just what you make of it. There’s so much lore and so many charming and intriguing stories to explore. The feeling of desperation, of fear and frustration - that’s all part of the game experience, and it helps create a richer narrative. I have the most fun in the game when I’ve overstretched my limits and felt that, when the reward of returning to London with all the treasures of the Neath is so strong, yet the place so far away and the risks on the return journey great.

But at the end of the day, this is a game about stories, and I recommend you play it that way. Don’t play the same way every time, and give every captain their own unique personality, their own unique spin. The game gives you the tools to do so, from the portraits to the histories to the Ambitions. You could play a street urchin-turned-captain trying to find their father’s bones, but get distracted along the way and become a monarch. Literally a monarch. You could play a mad scientist seeking new horizons and immortality, or an old veteran looking to restore the glory of London. You could be a rogue with a past wreathed in shadows, taking a tiny but swift ship and taking advantage of the sunlight trade, or you could be a daring merchant, seeking to retire to a life of unparalleled luxury. You could be a suicidal captain, hunting lifebergs and other creatures of the zee, or you could be a simple zailor who just wants a life at zee. You could have a sweetheart back home, or proposition one of your own officers. You can even had children, and there are literally two entirely different ways of becoming ruler of two entirely different kingdoms. There are so many different ways to play the game, it’s best to try them all.

Bon voyage. Break a leg. Stormstonesaltspeedorsomethinglikethat. Have fun. That’s what matters in the end.

My one small addition to the massive guide up there:

Be careful about using your “Something Awaits You” at Hunter’s Keep or Low Barnet if you plan to return to London immediately afterward. There’s not quite enough distance between Wolfstack and either of those ports to regain it with a straight course; you’ll need to putter around a little bit.

This is rather critical because limping back to London with SAY automatically reduces your Terror to no higher than 50, an important method of sustaining your captain.

AHHHHHHHHH YOU REMINDED ME WHY DID YOU REMIND ME. As if I needed more reason to feel the way I do about the Liberation…

But yeah, that is a good point:

If a captain or two, or a dozen, happens to die? Don’t sweat it. You’re not being penalized for it, trust me. Although constantly repeating the early-game content can get a little old, which is one of the biggest criticisms people had of the game. Luckily, Failbetter listens to constructive criticism and plan on addressing that in Sunless Skies!