Polygamy in London

A more spoilerish explanation then:

Perhaps the reason the Bazzar would want monogamous love stories is because it only wants to win over one being. The perfect story for it’s situation, in theory, is one where a manogamous love conquers even the worst situation or social standing.

edited by Kylestien on 12/1/2018

Personally, I feel that polygamy in real life should be allowed if and only if all participants mutually love all other participants. Which happens, but is extremely rare.

In Fallen London, I think not allowing it is fine. Not everything has to change from Victorian morality, and the mechanics of allowing it would have extremely unfortunate narrative implications.

Seriously, think about how this would work. If you could have multiple active spouses at once, and gain all their benefits, it would be irrational not to do that. If you could switch between them, It would make spouses just another companion slot. Collect them all!

And think of the spouses: do you think any given spouse would truly love any other given spouse? If not, it’s extremely immoral to force them into that.

Fun fact: the category for spouses is still called “Constant Companion” behind the scenes. A term that has now been redefined to mean something quite different.

Well, probably different. I’m sure someone wants to marry the gigantic fear-sensing aquatic death spider.

[quote=Isaac Gates]

Do you realize how insensitive that is? There are literally tens of people who would take exception to such brazen bigotry.[/quote]
I can’t tell if you are agreeing with what I said or not.

Note that I’m talking about marriage as a romantic relationship. Many cultures, both historical and contemporary, think of marriage differently, to the point that calling it “marriage” is arguably a mistranslation on our part.
edited by Saklad5 on 12/1/2018

Could someone please move this thread out of The Bazaar? I’m not sure where it should go, but it shouldn’t be here.

We are still in a world where the foundation is rooted in late 1800s England. I understand that many things have changed drastically; however, many have not. Even if there’s no opportunity to currently have more than one spouse, there are opportunities to fool around with more than one person at a time.

Nobody thinks the lore is broken.
And most of us understand that romantic choices have changed from 19th century norms to make the game more enjoyable for 2018 people.
The lore allows for that because this is not a historical game. In speculative fiction you can take things any direction you want, as long as you provide some internal constistency. Now, the degree of consistency can vary. In magical realism and in weird (the FL genre) you can be freer in how things work.
So FL allows for non-persecuted homosexuality and fluidity to accomodate its players, and the weird setting allows them to explain why the mores changed that particular way. As long as you realize why they made that change in the first place, you don’t sweat the in-game explanation.
As for polygamy, it might get implemented in the future, or we might get an in-game explanation of the ‘one spouse, one ship’ rule. Given that so many of the Masters’ rules and reasons are hidden, cryptic and cosmic in nature, either way is fine.

Victorian sensibilities aside, Fallen London has paved a wide road for gender equality, same-sexed relationships, etc. Unfinished storylets and new branches in the development roadmap abound. I can safely assume that FBG has no moral objection to Polygamy in an official in-game capacity. However, there are finite resources and staff. I have to imagine that its implementation is very low on the wish list, if at all.

What are the priorities and the preferred additions? I think that’s probably the most sensible way to approach any addition and likely how FBG approaches these kind of decisions.

Oh my, three pages… I honestly had never guessed this question would have started such a… hotly debated subject.

Polyamory is easily accomodated. You can date multiple people through the actions at your lodgings.
I don’t know if I’m speaking for everyone, but I think nobody expects the game to cater to every possible tendency - all at once. So far they are doing a wonderful job of making previously excluded people included, which is one reason for their popularity. While to you it might seem like bad writing, for others the ease with which homosexuality and fluidity got implemented was a relief. But then again, tastes vary and people care about different aspects of writing.
edited by Jolanda Swan on 12/1/2018

I have always gotten the impression that there’s a large gap between society and Society in this game. Society, the Faction with whom one can get renown, is the rarified exalted (or so they believe of themselves), and more-or-less the aristocracy and their hangers-on. Capital-S Society is very stodgy and conservative and also very concerned about the form and appearance of things. As a result, anything that you do that intersects Society requires that one Put On Appearances and be very Proper. All-in-all, this group of people pretends that nothing happened to London except the lights got a little dimmer and the wines a little more mushroomy.

Meanwhile, lowercase-s society, the gestalt whole of Fallen London consisting mostly of people trying to get through their lives, has changed. And they acknowledge those changes. And Society judges them for that, and uses that as a pretext for excluding them for Society (but of course they never were going to include them anyways). Capital-S Society believes itself to be the bastion against the advancing wave of decadence and decay that is the rest of London changing and adapting and advancing and evolving. And Society members have a centuries-long tradition of finding excuses why anyone else is inferior to themselves, as a part of a reflexive talent for acquiring and keeping power.

What this means is, there’s a very large gap between what’s more-or-less accepted, and what’s &quotacceptable.&quot People in this game boink in dark corners at the drop of a hat, but exposed ankles are still considered scandalous. Why? Because everybody does it, but everyone pretends that no one does it. On the streets, in the bars, on the Docks, everyone looks the other way or carries on with a wink and a nod. But in the fancy salons or at church, everyone still faints at the merest suggestion.

(I am led to believe this was true to an extent in historical Victorian London itself. Appearances to the contrary, there was still an adequate amount of gambling and whoring and premarital smooching that went unacknowledged, especially by the upper class. But I’m not a historian.)

Fallen London is very much a game about secrets, and about the complexity and contradictions of human behavior, and about people pretending to be things that they’re not. I think it’s very much in-setting to do things, and accept things, but still pretend (when required) that such things are not done, or not accepted.

Marriage is, by necessity, one of the old-school traditions or institutions or whatever you call it. Especially a big fancy-ass wedding held at the Bazaar with Masters and Bishops in attendance is very much one of the Captial-S Society things. As such, one Maintains Appearances for the purposes of actual, legal, ritualized, formal matrimony. What one does in one’s own lodgings with or without one’s spouse is not the business of anybody except yourself, your spouse, any number of mutually consenting parties, the coalman, the urchins on the roof, and whoever the urchins are willing to sell the information to for a half-cooked rat. And if you’ve any sense, you pay the Urchins yourself.

And they are damn expensive.

I think this discussion is going nowhere fast in large part because people are giving Doylist answers to a Watsonian question. In other words, Isaac is asking &quotwhy do the characters in-game have different social mores than reality&quot. Everyone’s response is &quotbecause Failbetter decided to write it that way&quot. So, while true, it’s not very effective at addressing the original question.

[quote=Isaac Gates]And the point is very much that not only is it wildly inconsistent to allow the above & bar polygamy considering what the Bazaar is & wants- but so is creating a society that exiles people for social faux pas but glosses over fluidity and homosexuality completely with absolutely no explanation in game. There’s an explanation out of game: namely intersectional politics, but having no corresponding rationale within the story itself is just plain bad writing.

Notice how I’m not saying that these things shouldn’t be allowed- just that the setting should at least acknowledge that they’re: new, out of place or otherwise less than universally accepted? [/quote]

Like you say, there isn’t a Watsonian answer. While we can invent personal interpretations of why this setting might differ from real life, the game never explains this. In fact, as far as I’m aware, the game outright does not acknowledge the possibility of homophobia, transphobia, racism, etc. Only Doylist answers are possible here, so I’ll give a more-detailed version of something I previously said.

Failbetter has changed various aspects of the setting from their historical inspiration to make players feel more welcome and better enjoy the game. When players deal with bigotry in real life, and play a game such as Fallen London as escapism, they don’t want to deal with bigotry in the game as well. The issue is, even if the PC never encounters bigotry, including bigotry to the setting at all—even historical—still interferes with escapism. &quotHere’s why nobody’s bigoted now&quot may be less distressing than encountering that bigotry in-character, but it’s still a reminder of the unpleasant real-life issue that many players don’t want to be reminded of while relaxing. So Failbetter decided to make a lack of bigotry one of the fundamental rules of the setting, to interfere with player enjoyment as little as possible, even if it means breaking suspension of disbelief for some people.

I’m not convinced this is an accurate comparison for a couple reasons:

  1. The game mechanics partially allow polyamorous characters. It’s entirely possible to date multiple players, NPCs, or a combination thereof simultaneously. The only thing it’s not possible to do is marry them all at once.
  2. I’d argue that there’s also a difference between actively excluding someone and not actively including them. For example, just as there’s no acknowledgement of bigotry towards queer people, the game gives no narrative reason that PCs cannot be polyamorous, or would face bigotry for being so. While there’s a limit to characters’ ability to act on that identity, though again only with marriage, the identity itself is not rejected.
  3. I suspect that there are fewer players for whom polyamory is relevant, and Failbetter has limited resources. In an ideal world, polygamy could be implemented the moment it was suggested, but in that world we’d also have the Ambitions finished and much more. New content is prioritized by how many players make use of it.
  4. While the Fallen London setting isn’t based off Victorian social mores, it is based off today’s. Queer people and relationships are increasingly accepted and visible, so it makes sense for the writers to think to include them. Polyamorous people and relationships are much less accepted and visible, so absent outside prompting, it’s not surprising that the writers haven’t included any yet.

I hope that’s not the only thing you got from my post, because it’s both not what I meant and one of the most minor points.

Hi I am Polyamorous and a Lesbian IRL. I don’t feel the game is oppressing me by not having Polygomy. I would, in fact, prefer it, in game and in IRL. But if my female character could not have romantic interludes with women, I would not even be playing. One is a most basic component of who you are (sexuality and/or gender identity) and the other is how you live your life. Thankfully, I can be Polyamorous in game, too, I just can’t marry that way. I think the game would be better if I could, but I am not losing any sleep over not being able to like if I were unable to romance or marry women IC.

In short, I don’t feel discriminated against. Please do not advocate for me in bad faith.

To wit, I don’t think London finds polyamory scandalous, for they have accepted my marital horro- er, adventures:

I and my spouse invite people to a boat. As the guests see us wear dusty Parabolan clothing I dug up from a spider infested tomb, they realize the menu only has only week old rats, and somehow, fancy wine. Of course, since we’re at zee, they can’t leave.

During the party, I shun every guest to talk to two cowled madmen, one who can’t speak English, and another who thinks I’m getting married as battle strategy. Then, I either talk to a tiger who I never invited, who everyone is too scared they’ll be eaten by to contradict his forged invitation, or the Bishop, who wants to wrestle with me in front of my spouse. My spouse comes to my rescue by taking off their shirt, and says “that’s my job!”, while a crowd of matrons faint. As my spouse locks me in a headlock, the Bishop winks at me, and I realize this is his way of being my wingman.

The morning after, I talk to my spouse, and we both realize we barely know each other but got married because we were both drunk or worse, and we both try to make an explanation for the newspapers. As I leave, I doff my hat and congratulate them on their Notable increase, and promise to divorce the day after our wedding.

The clerk or Master in charge of Notability will sigh at my clerical reappearance, and begrudgingly assign an increase to me and my spouse. Baseborn and Fowlingpiece hide under their tables at my approach, but give up when I bribe them. The newspapers report, dumbstruck, that I have had another wedding. The DTC is reported as saying “Please, someone stop him. I’m too tired to stop that madman anymore.”

Currently, I have married:

  • An educated Seeking anarchist
  • A lawyer that’s a spy for the Bazaar
  • A hunky Licentiate that I got blackout drunk with, and somehow we both decided marriage would be a good idea. We argued whether we should have Parabolan Linen curtains, or chairs. I won, so we had curtains, of course.
  • A timid Licentiate, who presumably timidly murders people
  • My last spouse, who was an eminently respectable sort, and a writer. Of course, London stops caring about respectably after the first four. Their name will not be mentioned to prevent scandal from befalling them.

I’m Seeking two more people, so by then I will have married seven people in this bizarre ritual.

[i]When Paris falls, and London becomes the new Forgotten Quarter, the new Speakers may buy freedom from the Name by performing expeditions into my Townhouse, where they pray in fear of the god of matrimony I have become, and leave seven candles that represent the Saints I have married. They will speak my unknown Name to Mr. Eaten, who will cry in fear “He was crazy! I talk to people who want to become candles, and he was the craziest person in that city! Leave me alone!”, and recall in horror the time I approached him with a wedding ring.

They soon realize their newfound freedom is false, for they find themselves uncontrollably Seeking a new path, one more dangerous and maddening than Mr. Eaten could have dreamed of: marriage.


If London could stomach this spectacle, polyamory seems sane. Indeed, we need polyamory, for London needs a sane voice in my marriages, as my spouse and I clearly are not.
edited by Ixc on 12/3/2018

I am not a polygamist because that would involve fraud and bigamy under US law. I could be fined and arrested, and neither I nor my partners could enjoy full benefits anyway so no. While gay marriage is a legal thing, being gay isn’t, and has a notable impact on one’s life.

Having queer characters is not being catered to any more than having straight characters is, it is being included. It’s having people like us in the game. Caroline is like me in the sense she is a lesbian and she is polyamorous, enjoying game effects for both. If one is upset by such things, they can marry an opposite sex partner and turn down other confessions of love and live their way. If they are bothered by people enjoying the game their way while they enjoy their own, then I am pleased such a person is upset.

I am a moderator on two different forums. I have been moderating for YEARS. I can smell certain behavior patterns a mile off. You are using dismissive terminology and doing so in a trollish way. You have even discussed pushing your inclusiveness thing to make a point. I feel pretty safe in my judgment.

Waste of time as this probably is, the concept of Polygamy/Polyandry is not new. It is in fact very very old. It was simply not done in London at the time IRL, but then, Giant Space Crabs and squid faced individuals were also thin on the ground. And in such a setting I am not sure why it would require special consideration. &quotOkay the talking cats and squid people I can handle, but this polygamy thing that is in the bible is weird and I don’t agree with it.&quot seems a vanishingly small minority.

You are correct I am only one data point. I’d be happy to discuss it with other IRL Polyamorous people on here and see how they feel about it. I am simply injecting my opinion as one.
edited by Lady Karnstein on 12/2/2018

I am not trying to convince you of anything. I am trying to provide context for readers. But I have provided well enough at this point I shan’t any sleep over it.

[color=#e53e00]Isaac Gates had received a previous warning about their postings and posting style. As a result of their recent actions, they are no longer welcome in this forum. I’m locking this thread as they managed to derail it entirely.[/color]