Paying the rent with secrets?

So I just started up fallen london again after having given up on it before. This…game I guess you could call it, is just so vague and confusing. So I understand that the world is supposed to be very mysterious, but there is a difference between being mysterious and just being completely vague. One of the many things I’m trying to wrap my head around is something as simple as paying the rent. Normally trade works when you give me a thing and I give you a thing. I get a room and you get…secrets? What? Is that literally a secret because that’s what they make it seem to be. I am currently in ladybones road, or at least I think I am. I was but then traveled to my lodgings, which apparently I don’t have. So I am simultaneously at my lodgings and not at my lodgings. Or perhaps by being at my lodgings it means the streets since I do not have a lodgings? I don’t know and it doesn’t seem to matter. But then I get the opportunity to find a place to live. I can charm my way into someone’s home but I prefer my privacy. I could steal secrets…wait what? &quotSteal&quot secrets? The image of the choice is a man with a bag of loot so I assume 15 secrets must be some sort of currency. What exactly that currency is I don’t know. Perhaps it’s coins, or paper currency. Maybe they’re just really big rocks or bits of strings that are just called &quotsecrets&quot. But I’m certainly no thief so let’s skip this option.

My next choice is to…learn whispered secrets? Wait a minutes so they are literally secrets now? Like I don’t have anything physical to give you secrets? 15 secrets seems like a strange number too. How does the landlord determine the value of a room in a number of secrets? What use are secrets anyways? Is the economy based on people telling other people secret things they learned? It’s not much of a secret if it’s being told to so many people now is it? What determines if a piece of information is a secret anyways? Suppose I found out that Jim doesn’t like to put cheese on his burgers, is that a secret? If I told that to my landlord would he let me stay an extra week?What if it’s something they already know?

Finally I have the choice of earning Rostygold. Finally something that makes sense. It looks like some sort of red metal or something. I don’t care but it’s something that I can understand. I somehow get this rostygold and I can give it to the landlord and he’ll let me stay for a month. What does confuse me is what it means by how I earn it. &quotRostygold is traditionally a reward for Dangerous work; thumping things, for instance, or being, in your turn thumped.&quot I assume by &quotthumping things&quot it could mean wet work but that doesn’t make sense when it says that you are the one being thumped. What exactly are they trying to say?

It seems silly that the way the world and how you experience it is so different from the way you are supposed to experience it. For instance this whole secret thing. This shouldn’t even be a question as a citizen of fallen london, and yet it is. When it says I have a secret, since I can’t see it, and there is nothing to describe the secret all I have is this sort of vague idea of a thing that is referred to as a secret. Of course my character, or &quotme&quot would know fully well what it is they’re looking at. I’m having this constant strange disconnect where I’m trying to be this character in Fallen London, and yet I feel so detached from it. I feel almost, left out in a sense. I feel like the guy who woke up with amnesia, and whenever something doesn’t make sense the world is like &quothaha oh you were always such a kidder. Pretending like you don’t know!&quot Is this an issue for anyone else? How did you guys get through the game? Does it get better? Is it supposed to be this confusing from the get go?
edited by Major Squiggles on 2/11/2015

Yes it is supposed to be kind of surreal at weird at fisrt.

…though it gets weirder. Although at least by then you have some idea what’s going on.

The ‘information is treated like tangible objects’ thing is never really explained though, tbh.

So it’s basically just like it seems. I can literally stay in a room for a month if I tell my landlord 15 things he doesn’t already know? I suppose you can consider it valueable because he’ll then in turn tell those 15 things to someone else who will give him something for it. No sillier than exchanging scraps of paper I suppose. Only problem being some secrets wouldn’t be as valuable as others. Suppose there are 100 people who know that John’s a vegetarian. Secrets can’t be &quotspent&quot. it’s not like once you’ve told someone a bit of information you instantly forget it yourself. That would be like being able to use a dollar multiple times with different people. So if I tell that to the landlord that secret can only be exchanged with people who don’t already know. Since that number doesn’t really go down a particular secret could be much less valuable than others. So information that 100 people know would be more useful, and be exchanged much more often than something that 10,000 people know. And yet it seems like they are all the same value since it only matters how many different secrets you know. Followup question, how is the fallen london economy not in complete ruins?

Well, starting from first principles… this is a world where magic (of a sort) and science (of a sort) go hand-in-hand, and where the economy is explicitly run by a cabal of ancient, bizarre nonhuman beings. It’s full of creatures that are made of dreams, or that can extract and store memories in physical form, or that can climb inside your mind and ride it around for a while. There are languages that, if correctly written or spoken, cause what is communicated to come true. Basically, the bounadies between objects and concepts - between the mental and material worlds - are… less strict than usual.

In practical terms, this means that Fallen London has a multi-layered grey economy. There are some professions that trade in information as much as, or more than, material goods - academics, say, or spies - but these tendencies have crept out into the general population, and almost everyone is at least an amateur gossip and mysterymonger. Considering just how much is mysterious about the Neath - beginning with “what is this giant cave that we’re in, and why are we in it” and working outward from there - secrets affect everyone’s lives to a greater or lesser degree.

There are other professions and industries that, for one reason or another - because they’re illegal, or they distrust the Bazaar, or they mostly trade with foreign economies, or for some arcane, semi-mystical reason of their own - prefer to trade in something other than legal tender. Rostygold is metaphorically and perhaps literally connected to the spilling of blood, and it’s certainly a semi-precious metal, so it’s popular among solid, practical folks in dangerous trades - hunters, for example, or soldiers, or athletes.

As for the actual mechanics of tradings secrets… it’s generally implied that the secrets are something relevant to the recipient, that you “spend” them by passing them on to someone who can either use them or sell them on themselves, and that they can either be remembered and shared verbally, or written down and traded as texts. So, “50 Whispered Secrets” might be a conversation you’ve overheard and are repeating to someone, or a diary you’ve found, or something like that. And if you’re wondering why anyone would take such things as currency? Well, consider that the Bazaar will literally pay for information, and employs accountants to calculate the prices of different forms of it - right down to the levels of taxation applicable to different kinds of narrative. It’s weird, but it’s weird in a practical way.

My suggestion is to embrace the silliness, and be prepared to explain away a lot of things if you want Fallen London to ‘make sense’. Take the secrets for example. As you share them with people, they share them with others, and once a secret becomes common knowledge it is not longer a secret. Mimicking this through an elaborate mathematical formula is beyond the scope of this game, so instead your Whispered Secrets simply disappear instantly when you share them with someone. As for the value of each secret, you could assume that a single secret could be worth 15 secrets, or 80,000 secrets, depending on the recipient and/or the importance of the secret itself.

I can live with the world being silly. What I can’t live with is when the story and what they’re trying to say doesn’t make any sense. If you want to tell me I can trade information for rent that’s fine. If you want to tell me there are crazy rat people running around that’s ok. If the economy just works because it does that’s ok too. But when I don’t even know what it is you’re trying to tell me, that becomes a problem. As someone explained secrets can be counted because it might be written on paper or something. So I can say I have 15 pieces of paper in my hands, and that is something I can at least understand.

Secrets: bits of knowledge. Knowledge is power, and it is currency. Whispered Secrets are fairly innocuous - you will get chances to learn darker and scarier knowledge as the game progresses.
In terms of how they are passed - at least one Opportunity Card talks about reading secrets written on the inside of a Tomb Colonist’s bandages.

“…Dangerous work; thumping things, for instance, or being, in your turn thumped.”
Thumping in the beating-up sense.

One card mentions feeding a pet secrets you’ve memorized and chopped into bit sized chunks. Also you can broker kisses, and acquire romance in wholesale quantities.

But basically information is tangible objects; its not clear entirely how much that’s metaphorical and how much that’s literal, it’s probably both.

It’s probably best to just go with it and not think too hard about it because half this game runs on dream logic. (There are actual lore reasons for WHY the game runs on dream logic, for that matter)
edited by WormApotheote on 2/11/2015

[quote=WormApotheote]One card mentions feeding a pet secrets you’ve memorized and chopped into bit sized chunks. Also you can broker kisses, and acquire romance in wholesale quantities.

But basically information is tangible objects; its not clear entirely how much that’s metaphorical and how much that’s literal, it’s probably both.

It’s probably best to just go with it and not think too hard about it because half this game runs on dream logic. (There are actual lore reasons for WHY the game runs on dream logic, for that matter)
edited by WormApotheote on 2/11/2015[/quote]

WOW, where can I get that piece of lore? I am very curious.

[quote=Lomias][quote=WormApotheote]One card mentions feeding a pet secrets you’ve memorized and chopped into bit sized chunks. Also you can broker kisses, and acquire romance in wholesale quantities.

But basically information is tangible objects; its not clear entirely how much that’s metaphorical and how much that’s literal, it’s probably both.

It’s probably best to just go with it and not think too hard about it because half this game runs on dream logic. (There are actual lore reasons for WHY the game runs on dream logic, for that matter)
edited by WormApotheote on 2/11/2015[/quote]

WOW, where can I get that piece of lore? I am very curious.[/quote]

The aforementioned pet is a Bifuricated Owl, obtained via a Labyrinth of Tigers fate-locked storyline.

That particular piece of lore appears during a successful interaction on said pet’s opportunity card.
edited by Blaine Davidson on 2/11/2015
edited by Blaine Davidson on 2/11/2015

I always thought that Fallen London was a bit like the book &quotThe Phantom Tollbooth&quot, wherein you had people who stored different noises in jars and letters and numbers were traded at market as tangible goods. It’s not a perfect analogy but the inherent humor and quirkiness is on the same level.

Also, there really is no rent system, just pay the 15 Whispered Secrets and the place is yours forever. The game just assumes you keep up with your rent, just like it assumes your character eats and sleeps.

edited by Owen Wulf on 2/11/2015

Got it, thanks for the information!

Knowledge is power, and power implies wealth and vice versa. I always just assumed that the secrets were contextually relevant for whoever you were giving them to. Like, you know a bunch of secrets, but the ones that you tell them are actually knowledge that that person can use, and therefore have value. If I tell you, “hey, did you know that randy keep taxidermy owls in his basement?” then that’s completely useless because you have no idea if the whole owls thing is something he’d like to keep hidden, or even who randy is. But if I told you something about someone you knew, then that’d be more useful. Admittedly, at the very beginning, it seems pretty unlikely that the only 15 secrets you know are all relevant to your landlord or whoever, but as the game progresses, and you gain more secrets, it seems slightly more likely. Plus, some secrets are probably more versatile than others. Maybe you just happen to know something incriminating about some famous nobleman. Even if someone has never met them, that’s still useful information.

And besides, echoes seem to be the only actually regulated currency system in the game; everything else is just the barter system. Makes enough sense to me. I give you a good/service, in this case some useful information; you give me a good/service of equal or approximate value in return. It worked for thousands of years, so why not here? And it’s not like it has to be a physical thing. Money is a completely intangible concept, and it’s getting more so by the day. We started out with trading fish for berries, and then started trading bits of metals because those could be used to make a lot of different things. Then we made those metals into coins, which couldn’t really be used to make swords or whatever anymore, but the value was still there. Then we just started drawing special pictures on borderline worthless pieces of paper, and made those valuable. Now you can just slide a card through a gap and press a button and your numbers go down and someone else’s numbers somewhere in the world go up, and you have less money, and they have more. It’s not about how many bricks of gold someone has; it’s about how much that gold is worth to someone else. It’s not about how useful something actually is, it’s about how much value it’s perceived to have. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. If society crumbles tomorrow, then the spell is broken, and suddenly people don’t want numbers or paper anymore, they want food and clean water and firearms and things they can use.

But everything I just said barely even matters. The real reason is that it’s interesting and dark and surreal and it stretches the boundaries of the mind in a fun way. And we have no idea why this works in the world of Fallen London, but as far as we know, it does. Part of it is just the benefit of the doubt. Because of the general tone and whatnot of Fallen London, it seems pretty likely that everyone is paranoid and secretive, and want to know things about as many people as possible so they can use that knowledge against as many people as possible. And maybe you can’t use the same secret twice because if you tell two people, one of them will be pissed that you told someone else. Maybe the secrets are written in the Correspondence and are immediately forgotten upon being written down. Maybe no one just ever thought of that. Whatever it is, there’s probably some reason that it works, because so far we haven’t heard of some horrible thing happening as a result of it not working. I don’t know how hydroelectric dams work, but it’s not like because of that, the entire area surrounding the Hoover dam is suddenly without power. I just know that it does, and that knowing or not knowing about hydroelectric dams is probably not going to effect my life in a really drastic way, and I shouldn’t let my lack of knowledge about dams ruin every single other aspect of my life. And besides! Who cares it if doesn’t make sense! A lot of things don’t make sense! Barely any aspect of human existence makes sense! But no matter how many times we point this out to the universe, it doesn’t listen, and society just barely keeps itself from imploding and the earth keeps turning and reality just keeps on truckin’.

So yeah, you could worry about secrets as a currency, for perfectly legitimate reasons. Or you could not do that, and just acknowledge the fact that whatever’s happening behind the scenes is working just fine, and accept what’s happening as just a tiny puzzle piece in a mind-bogglingly big puzzle that’s really just a whole big mess of crazy. But who cares if this one piece doesn’t perfectly fit, because it looks like it goes there, and it’s only a tiny bit off, and you only had to push it a little bit to make it fit there.

And yeah, it’s fun to obsess of the details of a fictional world. That’s exactly what I just did. But if it doesn’t make sense, well then neither does the one we live in. but nothing’s going wrong yet, and nothing seems like it’s going to go wrong in the immediate future, and that’s good enough for me.

Sorry for writing such a long post, I just really enjoy a good rant :)

And if all else fails, please consult this page.

(This is partly inspired by Sir Frederick Tanah-Chook’s post above.)

(First a triviality:

This makes more sense once you realize that Dangerous work is everything from being a bodyguard (‘getting thumped’) to shooting dangerous vermin (‘thumping’). Probably other, funnier explanations too. Wetwork specifically could really be Shadowy or Dangerous depending on the method.)

Rambling post ahead!

For me, understanding this was part and parcel of understanding the Bazaar. The Bazaar fundamentally runs the economy, and it needs stories quite badly. And the Bazaar will pay for secrets, perhaps almost //any// secret, however trivial, because it has reason to do so, and therefore they have tangible worth, just like a green piece of paper with particular markings is worth one US dollar.

Whispered Secrets do seem to be written down for the purposes of buying and selling, though, from the descriptions of the items, with whispered secrets being regular secrets written down on a single line (&quotInscribed in tiny letters on a slip of paper small enough to tie to a raven’s leg&quot), and cryptic clues being secrets you either are encoding or should be encoding because they’re more dangerous (&quotInformation too dangerous to be written down, except in code&quot).

About losing them once you pass them on…

Say you overhear a conversation. You write it all down. The conversation itself is gonna be made up of many distinct secrets. You then pass those snippets on to pay your rent. Realistically you’d still remember a few, but most of that you just wouldn’t remember. We forget tons of stuff every day; if we had the economy of Fallen London today, we’d surely pay more attention to the world around us, but we’d still forget almost everything just like normal.

Yes, it’s not strictly realistic that you can’t just easily recreate them by writing them down again – but it is realistic that you forget some of them once you’ve passed them on. Plus the fact that they might cease being secrets if you try reusing them too much (and the effort of figuring that out might account for extra actions, in a game sense!).

That’s just it though. It doesn’t really matter whether they’re relevant to your landlord, because those little slips of paper are stuff the Bazaar will pay for in the standard currency that you can use to exchange for anything else.

If it’s an actual secret? That Jim doesn’t tell people about? I would speculate yes! That’s 1 Whispered Secret right there, worth a penny or two. Not dangerous, so not a Cryptic Clue, and not horrifying or dramatic, so not an Appalling Secret, but that’s why those are worth significantly more.

It’s probably not valuable enough alone, but in combination with other secrets, yes.

The Bazaar cares about secrets and stories. That’s why it steals cities, after all, to harvest stories from its &quotdelicious friends&quot. (The messages upon selling to the Bazaar: &quotOh, so piquant, these little ones. Like capers.&quot for Whispered Secrets, and &quotSmooth, these, but they tingle. Like peppermint tea, or glimmycake.&quot for Cryptic Clues – references to some form of nourishment.) So the Bazaar will pay resources for them. You could go sell them to the Bazaar for standard currency and use the currency to buy necessities.

Which makes Jim secretly not putting cheese on his ratburgers a piece of information that is worth a small amount of money.

And even if people don’t understand WHY the Bazaar will shell out for stuff like this, they will certainly adapt. And the ordinary person on the street will quickly stop questioning this; after all, there’s far, far weirder shit than paying for information on a strangely wide scale. (Like coming back from death; like talking cats; like devils and rubbery folk in the streets.)

I would speculate they retain value so long as they remain actually secret – and, hell, maybe to the Bazaar they still retain value so long as they were secret; or perhaps they simply transform, into various forms of gossip or becoming part of an inkling of identity or whatever. So long as the information has any power to compel – and honestly, sometimes even the fact that it was a secret can compel.

I mean, Jim not putting cheese on his burgers isn’t that compelling, but it’s at least a tiny bit interesting if you are interested in Jim, because it’s not something everyone does. if it’s a secret, that makes it inherently more interesting, because why would someone keep something like that a secret? What does it say about Jim? It’s probably silly, but it’s intriguing.

A lot of this fascinates me because I’m a writer of sorts, and Fallen London takes the logic you have to learn as a writer – such as the fact that little details are interesting to the reader and make things seem more real and compelling on a whole – and makes them key to the way the world functions. The Bazaar works with the same tools and logic you learn in a writing workshop, because stories are vital to its existence. It’s a terribly entertaining conceit.

What is the different between Intriguing Gossip and Incendiary Gossip? And the regular Secrets?

Intriguing Gossip and Incendiary Gossip are indeed confusing and I wish they had a more distinct name.

Basically, there are lots of secret type &quotitems&quot in use in the game. From lore perspective, their name and description are an indication of their nature and importance. For example:

[ul][li]A Whispered Secret is the most common and least valuable secret type. Its description is &quotInscribed in tiny letters on a slip of paper small enough to tie to a raven’s leg&quot. It can be sold for 1 penny at the Bazaar.[/li][li]An Intriguing Gossip is described as: &quot…really? With who? This is worth remembering…&quot. This is more valuable (20 pennies).[/li][li]An Incendiary Gossip is &quotUnthinkable! Unrepeatable! Inescapable!&quot. It can be sold for 50 pennies.
[/li][/ul]Another important difference is that these items belong to different item classes. You can convert less valuable items into more valuable ones of the same class, and also there are side conversions possible between item classes for tier 3 items. Whispered Secret is a tier 1 Mystery item. Intriguing Gossip is a tier 2 Influence item. Incendiary Gossip is a tier 3 Rumour item.

My personal take is that the the value of a secret also depends on knowing what can you do with it, what you can refine it into and its worth to others.

Jim doesn’t like cheese on his burger.

That alone is going to matter very little to anyone who doesn’t know Jim well. Information are important but without apparent use they are on the miscellaneous side and traded cheaply like a reserve.

Intriguing Gossip, like its category says, helps in gaining influence over people. Perhaps Jim is a person of relative importance that you want to gain influence over. Or you know people who needs to. He might not be important but knowing who needs the information also make the knowledge more complete.

For example, Mary wants to become a friend or lover with Jim. Therefore, armed with this knowledge she can attempt to bond with Jim over the (possibly) mutual dislike of cheese-on-burgers.

Incendiary Gossip is for starting rumours and blackmailing. It can be the same knowledge under different circumstances (i.e. you don’t know Jim well enough to become buddy over cheese-hating but you know he is supposed to be eating cheese 24/7) or simply knowledge of misdeeds (i.e. Dov killed Jim’s Overgoat, and he is not going to appreciate people knowing that no matter what).

It could be a tipping point or the spark needed to bring trouble to Dov but that alone is not substantial to stand on its own. So spreading this gossip around might make people wary of Dov but not cause any real damage. Several piece of info combined would lead to An Identity Uncovered (e.g. Mary knows the man with Top-Hat and a knife seen at night in Jim’s house is Dov) and a dossier of that would be threatening enough to blackmail people with.

It also depends on knowing who to give the information to, which makes these secret actually usable and not just a bunch of Cryptic Clues. The information about Dov would be meaningless secrets for a random housewife on the Surface. While knowing said housewife wear human-skin T-Shirt would be appalling for Dov but not particularly useful unless refined further.

Me, I just felt sorry for the poor Bazaar functionary who had to count all 550,000 of my recently sold Whispered Secrets and verify their uniqueness and value. :)

one story let where you can buy the lodgings by bazaar side street does indicate that clerks often jump into the river rather than have to deal with paperwork involved in such a trade.