Space bat powerlevels? (FL Ambition spoilers)

Sunless Skies isn’t really the kind of franchise that cultivates powerlevel debates, in my experience. At least not to the extent that, say, Dragonball Z/Super does. But after finishing Ambition: Bag a Legend, I found myself wondering a simple question: Why isn’t my hunter a thin paste on the ground?

See, in the game Curators seem to be REALLY tough even by the standards of space train warfare. Among battles where projectiles capable of lashing across empty space and ravaging another train are common, where most life higher on the Chain than humanity is either capable of seemingly arcane homing projectiles or moving fast enough to catch up with a train that can traverse a space sector, these things define themselves culturally as hunters and merchants. It takes a total of 3 direct hits from the Wrath of Heaven, a train weapon that launches stones engraved with Correspondence sigils using a tumor harvested from a Scorn-Fluke, to down one. That’s more than any space train, except the Tacketies’ massive one and the spirifer engines if they get lucky!

On the other hand in Ambition: Bag a Legend the player challenges the Vake/Mr. Veils: A Master later considered as THE most dangerous by a revolutionary in one ending*, that at one point physically slams into the player in an absinthe-induced vision. Much later on when it assaults your Parabolan base camp, it’s wings span the camp and it’s presence makes the dream-world roil. You do, however, get an opportunity to cut one of it’s wings. It’s a very high Dangerous check, but it’s possible to hobble this creature even before deploying a bomb designed to kill it and only it. Afterwards it’s identity is shattered in such a way that the Curator aspect of it flies off to relive it’s principle habit in the High Wilderness: Mass murdering other Curators, hanging up their corpses out of the order of days, and being both a terrible host and a glutton. This is what Veils was like before coming to Earth, and you can kill him simply by waiting for him to gorge until he’s fat and tired…with a ratwork derringer.

So, how do you reconcile this? How tough ARE Curators, really?

They better be tougher than these hands if they know what’s good for 'em.

I actually had the opposite impression. Curators are supposed to be higher on the Chain than humans, so the idea of a human killing one is Ambition-worthy. The characterization of the Masters of the Bazaar consistently paints them as very, very powerful. The Vake, while killable, is far more powerful than anything else you might have the displeasure of fighting, and curators are so powerful that the killing of Mr. Eaten leaves behind a very powerful hateghost (Although that has a lot to do with the circumstances of its death).

In Sunless Skies, curators are just standard mobs. I killed one in my starting locomotive with a grimalkin. Sure, they’re kinda tough and it did take some skill to pull it off, but ultimately this super buff creature that’s higher on the chain than humans gets dispatched by a moderately skilled novice Sky-captain.

One thing that was done right in Sunless Sea is that whenever you fight Mt. Nomad, who is higher on the chain than you, you never actually kill her, just do enough damage that she retreats. That game also has an encounter with the Vake and it similarly wipes the floor with the Presbytereate Adventuress (Although she does manage to make it bleed).

In Sunless Skies, curators are just standard mobs. I killed one in my starting locomotive with a grimalkin. Sure, they’re kinda tough and it did take some skill to pull it off, but ultimately this super buff creature that’s higher on the chain than humans gets dispatched by a moderately skilled novice Sky-captain.[/quote]

(paraphrasing from, I think, Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
X: You need an army to kill it.
B: No, you need a medieval army to kill it. We have rocket launchers.

Locomotives are just orders of magnitude more powerful than any single human.

I have not played Sunless Skies, but maybe Curators are a bit more powerful in their natural habitat (the Wilderness) than in the Neath?

I’d say it all comes down to using the right weapon. The poison that kills Cups in Nemesis (very slowly) would probably also work in the High Wilderness. And Veils was a special case… it was impossible to kill in this world, so you had to bring it to Parabola and use a very very specifically designed weapon - and then still had to hunt down a few fragments. Going back to Cups: even there, you can’t be sure the Cardinal’s Honey completely does the job, you still rely on the revenge-ghosts of its other victims to tear any remaining fragments of its identity to pieces. During Nemesis, you also meet the last fragment of Mr Mirrors: brought down by October using the power she gained by winning the Marvellous under a false identity (you’d really think the Masters would’ve lost all interest in the game then).

So yeah, humans can kill Curators, but it takes years of study, unspeakable amounts of resources, and you can’t allow yourself a single mistake. ;)

I do have to point out that a lot of Master-killing takes place in Parabola, which is deliberate. Masters in our reality have incredibly tough skin; but Parabola can remove that: as we see with Cardinal’s Honey, regular knives and human hands can hurt it. As for Veils, the text shows the bomb was what truly killed him, but you’re just killing the ideas of what he truly is:

[April] writes again. They’re weak now. Kill them easily, one at a time.

For a moment more, the Vake withstands it. But then its huge and monstrous body explodes into many beings[…] These die gasping. So does the one that looks like Mr Veils, in the dress of a Master of the Bazaar. It is as tall as you are, but it collapses inward, vacant.

In the Salon is a woman whose face and figure you recognise: the Empress’ Shadow – the daughter of the Empress. This is not her real and true self: it is a reflection of a shadow of power. But her voice cuts across the voice of the Surface Veils, and she speaks a warning[…] Veils’ negotiations are at an end: and since it is no more than the embodiment of Surface manoeuvres, it comes apart when they do.

edited by Ixc on 5/25/2020

I have my own pet theory about why the Masters are so dangerous when compared to other Curators in Sunless Skies:

The Masters are often described as the criminals, misfits, and beggars of their race, but they can also be viewed as extremely volatile visionaries and / or radicals that are as talented as they are flawed. The Curators in Sunless Skies are mostly mindless mobs that hunt ships and guard egg sacks, but the Masters in the Neath are intelligent monopolists that hoarded resources and influence for thousands of years, each one running a dozen schemes at the same time. They have treasures on the level of the Cider that could bolster their vitality, easy access and knowledge about Parabola, and endurance that boggles the imagination.

Let’s compare a mob Curator with Mr Veils: The former is a hunter that attacks ships; the latter can hunt other Curators on a regular basis while juggling a spy network and vast crimes of occult savagery with relative ease. There’s no comparison: one Master is much more dangerous than a typical Curator, and there are about 9 active Masters during the time of Fallen London. You are free to disagree, as we still do not know much about the Curators outside of the typical Masters and the four named ones in Sunless Skies.

Also, it’s harder to die in the neath and that may apply to curators as well. If it is true then it means you also have to give them a true death as well.