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A game of survival, trade and exploration in the universe of Fallen London

Pen & Paper Campaign based on S.S. - Story Mode? Messages in this topic - RSS

psyclog
psyclog
Posts: 11

7/14/2019
I would like to set up a p&p game where I, as game master, use and control the Sunless Sea engine to drive the storyline for my player group (who actually don't need to see the actual game at all).


My main concern was that this would require me to use various cheat mechanics for money, hull damage etc., as the game should fit the narrative of our common storyline more than the other way round. (If one player comes up with a cool idea that can't be realized within the limits of the game engine, I intend to reward them anyway, and the lives of my party shouldn't depend on my arcade-style sea battle proficiency etc.)


And I guess, after some initial research, this is where my plan will fail, because the creaters, adhering to their rogue-like game concept, seemingly don't intend to add anything like a story mode to Sunless Sea. While I understand the reasoning behind it, I don't see the issue with offering two clearly separate game modes, one where you can die and one where you simply can't. (I know many games offering a so-called "story mode", and I have never even tried these story modes so far, because the idea of not being able to lose at all didn't sound appealing to me. Yet for this very specific p&p project, it might probably be just the thing.)
edited by psyclog on 7/14/2019
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Luminen Walker
Luminen Walker
Posts: 171

7/14/2019
Sunless Sea has been out for years and debuted as a rogue-like. While some people may be interested in a story mode as you put it, it wasn't made for that audience in mind.

In alot of ways. I see Sunless Sea as a survival horror game where you will fail, you will fail alot, and the idea of anyone succeeding at the set goals is the epic level equivalent of fallen london adventures.

--
Cpt. Martin Walker, a sagacious and magnanimous gentleman.
For Faith! For Temperance! For a Future without Monsters!
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Emain Ablach
Emain Ablach
Posts: 339

7/14/2019
Did you take a look at the Sunless Sea mods ? You can probably find something close to that among these mods.

--
Went NORTH. Got salted. Never came back. We won't remember him.

http://fallenlondon.storynexus.com/Profile/Emain%20Ablach
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psyclog
psyclog
Posts: 11

7/14/2019
Luminen Walker wrote:
Sunless Sea has been out for years and debuted as a rogue-like. While some people may be interested in a story mode as you put it, it wasn't made for that audience in mind.

In alot of ways. I see Sunless Sea as a survival horror game where you will fail, you will fail alot, and the idea of anyone succeeding at the set goals is the epic level equivalent of fallen london adventures.

Well there is no arguing about that. It is meant as a survival horror game where you will die. And that is cool.

But now, and if only to promote their new game, they might think about adding an additional story mod, shouldnt be too complicated.


Emain Ablach wrote:
Did you take a look at the Sunless Sea mods ? You can probably find something close to that among these mods.


True, I will have a look at the mods..
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psyclog
psyclog
Posts: 11

7/14/2019
"The Easier Mod v2" seems indeed useful, as it contains some modified values that can easily be compared to the original values in any text editor, and (hopefully) further tweaked according to one's liking. I will look into that, and hopefully soon embark to a Lovecraftian adventure with some friends. wink
+1 link
Optimatum
Optimatum
Posts: 3540

7/14/2019
One practical concern in the way of a story mode is that it's possible to die within various stories, not just while sailing. Making it impossible for the player to die would require writing and programming alternate versions of a bunch of events, which would be a ton of work.

In any case, you could try just using save files. If you die away from port, you can reload the autosave instead of clicking through the event, reverting you to the last time you left port. You might need to make manual saves too for potential deaths in port, but that doesn't come up as much.

--
Optimatum, a ruthless and merciful gentleman. No plant battles, Affluent Photographer requests, or healing offers; all other social actions welcome.

Want a sip of Cider? Just say hi!

PM me for information enigmatic or Fated. Though the forum please, not FL itself.
+2 link
psyclog
psyclog
Posts: 11

7/15/2019
This is all good advice, thank you folks!

I have now set the monsters to largely passive if not provoked (so players, or me as game master, can decide when an engagement should happen).

And I have tripled ship speed to 24 - and doubled terror/hunger/fuel gain/loss accordingly. So in effect, the players now have 50% more "exploration range" compared to vanilla, and there won't be much waiting time while the ship steers through the ocean.
Entirely unsure how this decreased difficulty will turn out in this p&p scenario, but I can later report my findings in here. smile
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psyclog
psyclog
Posts: 11

7/15/2019
Oh and concerning death in story mode: Well yeah, I guess that can happen. I should market it to them as an integral part of the scenario, that they will die at some point and then be able to trace back their story as their pupil or somesuch..
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MrCandles
MrCandles
Posts: 110

7/16/2019
psyclog wrote:
I would like to set up a p&p game where I, as game master, use and control the Sunless Sea engine to drive the storyline for my player group (who actually don't need to see the actual game at all).


My main concern was that this would require me to use various cheat mechanics for money, hull damage etc., as the game should fit the narrative of our common storyline more than the other way round. (If one player comes up with a cool idea that can't be realized within the limits of the game engine, I intend to reward them anyway, and the lives of my party shouldn't depend on my arcade-style sea battle proficiency etc.)


And I guess, after some initial research, this is where my plan will fail, because the creaters, adhering to their rogue-like game concept, seemingly don't intend to add anything like a story mode to Sunless Sea. While I understand the reasoning behind it, I don't see the issue with offering two clearly separate game modes, one where you can die and one where you simply can't. (I know many games offering a so-called "story mode", and I have never even tried these story modes so far, because the idea of not being able to lose at all didn't sound appealing to me. Yet for this very specific p&p project, it might probably be just the thing.)
edited by psyclog on 7/14/2019

Can you add stories and items from Fallen London to Sunless Sea?
  • -2 link
    psyclog
    psyclog
    Posts: 11

    7/19/2019
    I don't own Fallen London, so can't say.

    Anyway, I've had my first session yesterday. All they did was milling about in London for quite some time, including futile attempts to ask the Admiralty about actual direction for their first mission (like, you want us to go and meet your agent on Gaider's Mourn, but you won't tell us where this island is, not even a general direction?).

    They then discussed for quite some time whether to spend their money on a firkin of prisoner's honey, but ended up buying one candle instead.
    Eventually, they made a trip north to Vanderbight; as soon as they had left the safety of London harbor, they tried to light the candle to fight the rising terror.

    Refusing to leave one of their mascots behind, they opted to take both the Ferret and that strange Blemmigan creature on board, even though the two were obviously fighting with each other.
    It will be a sad realization when they learn that their ferret somehow went overboard during the journey north, but we will tackle Vanderbight on the next evening.

    So, Sunless Sea offers a surprising amount of inspiration for rich p&p roleplaying, but also requires good improvisation skills from the game master. (f.e. explaining that the Admiralty won't share their priced sea charts with just anyone, and if they don't even know where Gaider's Mourn is, then maybe they are not suited for the task etc.)

    These are the difficulty setting I currently use. (In effect, they spent one barrel and one crate for the trip to Vanderbight with lights off).


    {
    HungerUpdatePeriod: 10,
    FuelUpdatePeriod: 1,
    SomethingAwaitsYouPeriod: 20,
    BaseHungerIncrease: 1,
    BaseShipSpeed: 24,
    BaseShipSpeedLimit: 0.0005,
    ShipReversePenalty: 1,
    EnginePowerModifier: 4.5,
    BaseShipAcceleration: 5,
    BaseShipTurningSpeed: 2,
    EngineFuelDecrementUnit: 0.1,
    LightFuelDecrementUnit: 400,
    SkeletonCrewDivision: 2,
    CrewLonelinessDivision: 4,
    TerrorLonelinessMultiplier: 2,
    TurboSpeedMultiplier: 2,
    TurboFuelCostMultiplier: 3,
    TurboPeculiarNoiseIncrease: 1,
    GloomUpdatePeriod: 2,
    GloomUpdatePeriodInLight: 5,
    GloomThreshold: 10,
    BaseGloomIncrease: 1,
    GleamCheckRadius: 60,
    BaseTerrorIncrease: 2.5,
    BaseGleamIncrease: 1,
    DimAmbientThreshold: 1,
    BrightAmbientThreshold: 10000,
    HeadlightGleamBonus: 2,
    PortGleamBonus: 2,
    RepairMinHullPercent: 1,
    RepairUpdatePeriod: 3,
    RepairSuppliesConsumed: 0.1,
    RepairHullIncreased: 10,
    FleeTerrorBumpMax: 10,
    SomethingAwaitsDateTimeIncrease: 24,
    LegacyDateTimeIncrease: 730,
    DefaultTileMappingRules: "Default",
    MaxTradeEntityPopulation: 6,
    WeatherDurationInDays: 3,
    AllowCameraRotation: false
    }
    edited by psyclog on 7/19/2019
    0 link
    MrCandles
    MrCandles
    Posts: 110

    7/20/2019
    psyclog wrote:
    I don't own Fallen London, so can't say.

    Anyway, I've had my first session yesterday. All they did was milling about in London for quite some time, including futile attempts to ask the Admiralty about actual direction for their first mission (like, you want us to go and meet your agent on Gaider's Mourn, but you won't tell us where this island is, not even a general direction?).

    They then discussed for quite some time whether to spend their money on a firkin of prisoner's honey, but ended up buying one candle instead.
    Eventually, they made a trip north to Vanderbight; as soon as they had left the safety of London harbor, they tried to light the candle to fight the rising terror.

    Refusing to leave one of their mascots behind, they opted to take both the Ferret and that strange Blemmigan creature on board, even though the two were obviously fighting with each other.
    It will be a sad realization when they learn that their ferret somehow went overboard during the journey north, but we will tackle Vanderbight on the next evening.

    So, Sunless Sea offers a surprising amount of inspiration for rich p&p roleplaying, but also requires good improvisation skills from the game master. (f.e. explaining that the Admiralty won't share their priced sea charts with just anyone, and if they don't even know where Gaider's Mourn is, then maybe they are not suited for the task etc.)

    These are the difficulty setting I currently use. (In effect, they spent one barrel and one crate for the trip to Vanderbight with lights off).


    {
    HungerUpdatePeriod: 10,
    FuelUpdatePeriod: 1,
    SomethingAwaitsYouPeriod: 20,
    BaseHungerIncrease: 1,
    BaseShipSpeed: 24,
    BaseShipSpeedLimit: 0.0005,
    ShipReversePenalty: 1,
    EnginePowerModifier: 4.5,
    BaseShipAcceleration: 5,
    BaseShipTurningSpeed: 2,
    EngineFuelDecrementUnit: 0.1,
    LightFuelDecrementUnit: 400,
    SkeletonCrewDivision: 2,
    CrewLonelinessDivision: 4,
    TerrorLonelinessMultiplier: 2,
    TurboSpeedMultiplier: 2,
    TurboFuelCostMultiplier: 3,
    TurboPeculiarNoiseIncrease: 1,
    GloomUpdatePeriod: 2,
    GloomUpdatePeriodInLight: 5,
    GloomThreshold: 10,
    BaseGloomIncrease: 1,
    GleamCheckRadius: 60,
    BaseTerrorIncrease: 2.5,
    BaseGleamIncrease: 1,
    DimAmbientThreshold: 1,
    BrightAmbientThreshold: 10000,
    HeadlightGleamBonus: 2,
    PortGleamBonus: 2,
    RepairMinHullPercent: 1,
    RepairUpdatePeriod: 3,
    RepairSuppliesConsumed: 0.1,
    RepairHullIncreased: 10,
    FleeTerrorBumpMax: 10,
    SomethingAwaitsDateTimeIncrease: 24,
    LegacyDateTimeIncrease: 730,
    DefaultTileMappingRules: "Default",
    MaxTradeEntityPopulation: 6,
    WeatherDurationInDays: 3,
    AllowCameraRotation: false
    }
    edited by psyclog on 7/19/2019

    You can use wiki for adding items. I not need all stories, but FL ambitions is very good. Also you can make advanced past, based on ways to become PoSI. I have some ideas about this.
  • -1 link
    Jermaine Vendredi
    Jermaine Vendredi
    Posts: 547

    7/20/2019
    @ psychlog

    That sounds very interesting and reminds me of glorious evenings spent knee-deep in, um, yes, games with friends.
    Do keep posting. I'd love to know how things pan out. Funnily enough, it never crossed my mind to light a candle at zee...

    --
    No plant battles, please.
    https://www.fallenlondon.com/profile/Jermion
    +1 link
    psyclog
    psyclog
    Posts: 11

    7/23/2019
    Second game night:

    1) I edited the savefile to secretly add 100 echos to their account. As far as they know, their balance is still 10 echos, but it does give me as story-teller a degree of freedom in granting some extra echos here and there, which is extremely helpful. For example, at one point they would ferry a tomb-colonist to Venderbight, but then the game just had him disembark without giving them any payment (they just got a follow-up plot request instead), but they would have none of it. They were actually about to assault the cheapskate tomb-colonist, but I luckily could have him pay them 10 echos for the successful passage. It also allows them to start haggling at various shops and have flexible prices depending on their good or bad actions.
    Not being able to tell them in advance what a certain service will yield as a reward is actually very tricky for me - naturally, they want to agree in advance on what they will get for taking a passenger on board, but the game rarely (never?) tells you in advance what reward you will later get for your actions. Reading up on the wiki can help, but this takes some time and makes them get bored etc.

    2) They loved the atmosphere in Venderbight. The book of impossible colours works very well within the Lovecraftian p&p setting. The act of making them dizzy by describing page after page alone was great fun.

    3) Crew members all have names and do random things, so they build up a connection. It will be ever harder when they die, or, like, get eaten. The loss of their comatose ferret mascot during transit was already quite the tragedy, and they half-suspect the Blemmigan of having eaten the ferret.

    4) They invited some zailors in a Venderbight tavern to rounds of mushroom beer (I deducted some echos) to get information on where Gaider's Mourn is located. As I didn't know myself, the information they received (east of London) was actually false.

    5) A huge sheet of paper occupies the majority of the table. When they go seawards, they can occasionally "send out a bat", which will result in me sending the navigator player a snippet of the explored game map via whatsapp. They can then quickly scribble the image down onto their paper map before I will delete the whatsapp message. This makes for some very immersive exploring, but I never show them the actual game on my laptop. In my understanding, the more uncertainty they have about their adventure, the more thrilling it must be for them.

    6) They decided to leave Venderbight eastwards for a day before turning south for London. Fortunately enough, eastwards of Venderbight they stumbled into Corsair's Forest, then reached Gaider's Mourn by pure luck, where the evening concluded.
    edited by psyclog on 7/23/2019
    +1 link
    MrCandles
    MrCandles
    Posts: 110

    7/24/2019
    psyclog wrote:
    Second game night:

    1) I edited the savefile to secretly add 100 echos to their account. As far as they know, their balance is still 10 echos, but it does give me as story-teller a degree of freedom in granting some extra echos here and there, which is extremely helpful. For example, at one point they would ferry a tomb-colonist to Venderbight, but then the game just had him disembark without giving them any payment (they just got a follow-up plot request instead), but they would have none of it. They were actually about to assault the cheapskate tomb-colonist, but I luckily could have him pay them 10 echos for the successful passage. It also allows them to start haggling at various shops and have flexible prices depending on their good or bad actions.
    Not being able to tell them in advance what a certain service will yield as a reward is actually very tricky for me - naturally, they want to agree in advance on what they will get for taking a passenger on board, but the game rarely (never?) tells you in advance what reward you will later get for your actions. Reading up on the wiki can help, but this takes some time and makes them get bored etc.

    2) They loved the atmosphere in Venderbight. The book of impossible colours works very well within the Lovecraftian p&p setting. The act of making them dizzy by describing page after page alone was great fun.

    3) Crew members all have names and do random things, so they build up a connection. It will be ever harder when they die, or, like, get eaten. The loss of their comatose ferret mascot during transit was already quite the tragedy, and they half-suspect the Blemmigan of having eaten the ferret.

    4) They invited some zailors in a Venderbight tavern to rounds of mushroom beer (I deducted some echos) to get information on where Gaider's Mourn is located. As I didn't know myself, the information they received (east of London) was actually false.

    5) A huge sheet of paper occupies the majority of the table. When they go seawards, they can occasionally "send out a bat", which will result in me sending the navigator player a snippet of the explored game map via whatsapp. They can then quickly scribble the image down onto their paper map before I will delete the whatsapp message. This makes for some very immersive exploring, but I never show them the actual game on my laptop. In my understanding, the more uncertainty they have about their adventure, the more thrilling it must be for them.

    6) They decided to leave Venderbight eastwards for a day before turning south for London. Fortunately enough, eastwards of Venderbight they stumbled into Corsair's Forest, then reached Gaider's Mourn by pure luck, where the evening concluded.
    edited by psyclog on 7/23/2019

    You can add ranger, like in Skies. Not only one bat. You will add different bats - from small bat to Wing-of-Thunder. And not bats - falcon and owls from FL companions and one Skies owl ranger.
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    psyclog
    psyclog
    Posts: 11

    9/2/2019
    MrCandles wrote:

    You can add ranger, like in Skies. Not only one bat. You will add different bats - from small bat to Wing-of-Thunder. And not bats - falcon and owls from FL companions and one Skies owl ranger
    I don't know how I would do this within the game engine, though.

    But, after 2 additional game sessions, I can safely say that few game elements are needed, and especially no sophisticated designs, as everything has to be narrated/explained to the players.

    I use separate WhatsApp messages to inform the appropriate player about supply levels: The cook player gets infos about proviant, machinist has info on storage space and oil barrels, and purser knows the amount of echos in the ship's purse. It's then up to them to share that information amongst themselves.

    One 2-hour session consisted of them exploring Gaider's Mourn (and losing one cabin boy in a very traumatic turn of events) and then travelling back to London.
    Another 2-hour sessions, which has just ended, consisted of nothing but exploring the various London interactions - there are a lot of them after returning from the first voyage to the undersea. So there was not a single sea voyage today, but the group immensely enjoyed their London experience. (To give you just one example, deciding between two promising surgeon offers with their unique personalities while already having a third surgeon on board took them quite a while.)

    And this is actually quite surprising to me: The slow pace of the game when creating a common narrative! One stay in London is probably 10 minutes of game time, but it now took us more than 2 hours.


    I have increased terror to triple, to match the triple increase in speed. So they are currently playing at pretty much 100% difficulty. Can reduce if it proves too punishing. For every 14% of terror, I will stick a menacing bone to a leather strap hanging from the ceiling. They know that 7 bones hanging from the ceiling will mean that a nameless horror has finally caught up to them. It will hopefully serve to slowly build up tension and a Lovecraftian fear of the unknown. They currently have one bone on the strap, and a few red crystals per person which they receive for doing reckless actions (the crystals are not connected to any Sunless Sea mechanic though).


    At our pace, the campaign can easily last for a year or more, so long as they don't get bored.
    edited by psyclog on 9/2/2019
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    Jolanda Swan
    Jolanda Swan
    Posts: 1536

    9/3/2019
    Just wondering, how do you deal with the immense lore behind Sunless Sea? The mysteries and the pages upon pages? Venderbight alone is full of cosmic mysteries.

    --
    Lover of all things beautiful, secret admirer of ugly truths, fond of the Parabola Sun... and always delighted to role play.
    http://fallenlondon.com/profile/Jolanda%20Swan
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    psyclog
    psyclog
    Posts: 11

    9/4/2019
    Jolanda Swan wrote:
    Just wondering, how do you deal with the immense lore behind Sunless Sea? The mysteries and the pages upon pages? Venderbight alone is full of cosmic mysteries.

    I guess you mean information found in this wiki?
    https://thefifthcity.fandom.com/

    I have started digging into it for some inspiration, and it is delightfully confusing.

    Yes, London and Venderbight could provide enough material for months of on-shore playtime, and my team is eager to explore the land.
    At the same time, I want to get them out to the undersea, to explore the far horrors of the neath in Sunless Sea.
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    Jolanda Swan
    Jolanda Swan
    Posts: 1536

    9/10/2019
    I used the setting (FL and SS) in Changeling the Lost. When they finally visited Faerie, the maddening yet appealing fae dimension, I drew everything from these two games. The fact that the lore is fragmented and broken was immensely helpful, given that the land is supposed to be one of ancient mysteries, paradoxes, contradictions etc. They dashed in, got their sanity broken, played an accelerated version of the Seeking, got out, needed two sessions just recuperating. If they had to actually adventure in the Neath for a whole campaign, I am sure I would find it very difficult to get them answers as appealing as the mysteries themselves. Best of luck! I am looking forward to reading about your campaign.
    By the way, the I am a Candle Tumblr was very helpful when I was researching both FL and info for the session.

    --
    Lover of all things beautiful, secret admirer of ugly truths, fond of the Parabola Sun... and always delighted to role play.
    http://fallenlondon.com/profile/Jolanda%20Swan
    +1 link
    psyclog
    psyclog
    Posts: 11

    9/16/2019
    Agreed, it is very volatile and random in the direction the game is taking. Like, they are heaping up quest introductions, getting all excited about them, and then they can't continue said quest because the next trigger would be on some faraway island neither me nor them have ever heard about.
    Their (physical) log books are full of hand-written notes for tentative plot hints. Maybe they will lose interest before finding proper clues to all of them.

    But today, I stumbled on a problem I did absolutely not foresee: Pigmote Isle.

    Naturally, the group was adamant about not picking sides between cute rats and even cuter cavies. But on one player's suggestion, they decided to follow the rats into their village, to explore the island. It was their intention to visit the cavies afterwards, and talk them into a peaceful solution.
    However, the game wouldn't have any of this. Visiting the rats already meant picking sides, so I constructed a story of the rats graciously piling supplies onto their ship while they were checking out the rat village, and then the ratty war council lined up in front of them, asking for the next step in their common strategy.
    Distraught, the players decided to return to their ship immediately, but as soon as they reached it, the cavies, assuming the humans had already teamed up with the rats, charged the rat village. One player intervened on behalf of the rats, and the cavies were beaten back with heavy losses. The horrified players tried to stop the onslaught, but could only accept the demoralised cavies's surrender after entering their settlement. This was too much for them, and two of the three players called it quits at that moment. My vivid description of devastated little cavies and small earth mounds being dug next to their village was more than they could handle.
    (mind you, apart my from colorful description, all this had to happen, as you can't pause the story once you listen to the two little rodents at the beach.)

    They are now leaving the island, and I doubt they will come back, ever. And I will have to add a mental trigger warning for animals suffering abuse.
    edited by psyclog on 9/16/2019
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    Jolanda Swan
    Jolanda Swan
    Posts: 1536

    9/17/2019
    I know every storyteller works differently but to be honest, I would have allowed the players to work a peaceful resolution, seeing that they wanted it so much; trying to stick so close to another's (Failbetter's) narrative instead of your players' chosen narrative, might not work out very well. Of course they can't have everything but pre-determined outcomes tend to frustrate role-players.

    --
    Lover of all things beautiful, secret admirer of ugly truths, fond of the Parabola Sun... and always delighted to role play.
    http://fallenlondon.com/profile/Jolanda%20Swan
    +1 link
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