So this is a new thing this Neathmas and I thought it would be worth analyzing.
We start with the Advent Calendar text:
[quote=Fifth Day Advent Calendar]At the back of the Blind Helmsman, a Frostbitten Midshipman shivers by the fire. She says she travelled with a Merchant Venturer to a frozen Northern door. For a mulled cider, she’ll tell you what was behind it.
[You buy her the cider and she tells you.]
The High Wilderness! An unblemished frontier of endless night, awash with potential. The Merchant Venturer is out there, plying the wind-roads of the void. Where one has gone, may others follow?[/quote]
Then there’s the text of the Sky Story itself.
So, I’ve noticed three things.
First, the Merchant Venturer is presumed alive! This seems to foreshadow that he’s leaving a considerable legacy for the player to follow. Maybe there will be a meeting of some sort.
Second, the zailor and Sky Story’s portrayal of the High Wilderness. Both explicitly frame the Sky as limitless, pristine frontier of infinite possibilities. The unspoken implication of this framing is that the High Wilderness awaits human trade, development, exploitation, and colonization. Such, after all, is what historically happened with wilderness areas and frontiers throughout the 19th century. European and American empires moved in, established trade posts, mines, plantations, railways and colonies, co-opted or conquered indigenous societies, and competed with each other for territory and prestige. Individual settlers migrated to those places to start new lives, improve their standard of living, attain wealth and social prestige, establish improved societies or Utopian communities, and of course practice their religion freely (or, in more sinister colonies and frontiers, discard moral restrictions altogether). Imperialism and imperial competition have always been a part of Fallen London and Sunless Sea, but it seems that in Sunless Sky this element will become far more important. London in the High Wilderness is going to be far more of an empire than it is now.
But you can also see in the zailor’s and Sky Story’s words the inherent tension between the individual and the imperial possibilities. The possibilities of the High Wilderness as perceived by an imperial elite presiding over a predatory and expansionist state are going to be very different, often antithetical, with the possibilities for social and individual transformation as perceived by many Londoners. And of course London’s expansion will presumably be opposed by many older inhabitants of the High Wilderness and competing societies/empires (whatever those are).
Third, the Sky-Story itself is a collectible knowledge curiosity item, a heavenly sibling of the Zee-Ztory. While plying the wind-roads of the High Wilderness, future sky venturers will collect Sky Stories and use them in quests, encounters, item conversions, and markets, much as zee captains collected, converted and sold Zee-Ztories, Memories of Distant Shores, Tales of Terror, Visions of the Surface, and Moves in the Great Game.
edited by Anne Auclair on 12/7/2016