In a day-to-day sense the obvious answer is neither of them. They’re both imperialists with a hearty contempt for other cultures. But Fallen London serves the Masters of the Bazaar. The New Khanate does not. Indeed they seem to be opposed to the Masters and the Bazaar. So who’s right? Are the masters benevolent overlords London thinks they are, or the malevolent invaders that the Khanate considers them to be?
Let me answer your question from both ends.
Morally, neither of them are in the right. The Khanate:
[ul][li]Has a repressive secret police in the form of the White-and-Golds.[/li][li]Has its ships open fire on yours for no good reason at all.[/li][li]Starts a massive political purge if they ever come to power in London.[/li][li]Appears to engage in ethnic cleansing of Mutton Isle during the invasion event (I mean, I know the Muttoners are cannibals who worship Mr. Eaten, but god damn)[/li][li]Sends the secret police after you for merely showing interest in their culture (the pay a storyteller" option).
As for London, their issues are too numerous for me to even know where to begin. The Dawn Machine? The Masters and their Schemes? The Royal Family and their machinations? The anti-Zubmarine policy that the game designers decided to forget about so you aren’t arrested for bringing in a port report from Low Barnet?
The tie-breaker for me is this. Whereas virtually every Khaganian character you meet in Sunless Sea is an arrogant, supercilious douchebag (only exception I can think of off the top of my head is the guy you can gather a port report from in Carnelian), there are plenty of decent Londoners in the game.
So on the whole, I tend to be more sympathetic to London.
As far as the Masters are concerned, however, the Khanate is probably closer to the mark. I will grant that the Masters brought sexual and racial equality to London in a way that the Khanate doesn’t seem to have done (consider that Londoners in the game come in a wide variety of ethnicities, whereas the Khaganians appear to have exactly no one who isn’t an ethnic Khaganian in a position of power). This said, the Masters have a LOT to answer for - although this is much more within the realm of Fallen London than Sunless Sea proper. Briefly, they’re repressive as all get out when it comes to free speech, they view humans as playthings or pawns, and their crimes are manifest (the Orphanage, the whole Jack of Smiles thing, what happened to Mr. Eaten etc.).
So on this one issue the Khaganians have a good point - even if the Khanate is hardly a great alternative option.
tl;dr - London is more sympathetic as a faction, but the Khanate’s view of the Masters is more accurate.
edited by Daedalus_Falk on 8/12/2018
The zubmarine agreement is the Agreement of Little Consequence. Both the Khanate and London have agreed to it, for good reason (after an attack by Lorn-Flukes). Of course, they both violate it, but they have to secretly violate it, which is probably the reason why there’s no zub warfare.
The reason why they’re so arrogant is because they see you as a Londoner, and both of them have a very heated rivalry. They can be friendly towards you if you bring them a pewter horsehead, as a sign that you spared a Khanate ship.
But still, I err on the side of London, as they have some ideas of democracy.