or: Anchovies Gets Very Personal
I played through the "An Intimate of Devils" story shortly after joining Fallen London at the end of this past February. This was well before I’d developed a particular story/RP concept for my character, so they were basically acting as a self-insert. I liked the devils and I liked seeing them, and so I allowed my character to be pressured into trading away their soul. I (and my character as a proxy of me) did not want to sell my soul; an offer from any other devil would have been immediately rejected, but I continued to hear out the Affectionate Devil and Quiet Deviless because I enjoyed and trusted their attention and affection. From the moment that my character gave in to their request I regretted the loss of my soul, and wanted to get it back. It wasn’t a huge deal for me at the time because I knew a soul could be recovered, and by the time July rolled around I’d played "one’s public" enough times to recover my soul (on my real-life birthday, no less). I was quite pleased to be done with the matter, and didn’t spare the events much further thought. A few days ago I was reminded of the storyline, something about it stuck, and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind since.
Setting aside the fantasy elements, it’s a mostly straightforward story about emotional manipulation. Once the character has been enticed and pressured into an exploitative and harmful activity, the story abruptly ends. Like many real-life abusers, the devils up stakes and scarper as soon as they’ve got what they wanted. No authority comes to the player character’s aid, because what they suffered was dishonorable and detestable but not criminal. There can be healing, with the passage of time (i.e. enough bundles of oddities) or with substantial expenditure of player and character resources (i.e. the fate-based routes to soul recovery), but there is no justice, no vengeance, no closure. The best a player and character can hope for is to never see the devils again. You’ve been taken advantage of; now get on with the rest of your time in Fallen London.
The option to throw the devils out and be done with them persists through to the very end of the story. My character’s soul was taken because I allowed it to be taken. I fell hook, line and sinker for the devils’ manipulation, and that raises some deeply upsetting implications which reinforce anxieties I’ve held about manipulative and abusive relationships since well before joining Fallen London. I don’t have a problem with the story itself, because the story it tells is very real and very much deserves to be told. Although the events within the story take a turn for the unpleasant, I want to be able to look back and feel okay with having played through it, or glad to have gotten something out of the experience. When I think back on it now I just feel hurt and frightened and weak. Has anyone else here felt this way as a result of the story? Are there any lessons I can take from it that won’t make me feel afraid for and disappointed with myself?
edited by Anchovies on 11/16/2017