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November: Exceptional Story: Older, Not Wiser Messages in this topic - RSS

James StAnthony
James StAnthony
Administrator
Posts: 49

10/29/2020
Exceptional Story for November Older, Not Wiser



Terror hits London! A team of crack cat-burglars menaces the city by night, making off with all manner of valuables. The constables are baffled: no one can identify a single suspect. Who are these mystery criminals? And why do they leave behind a scent distinctly redolent of peach?


Written by
Olivia Wood
Art by Tobias Cook
Editing and QA: James Chew

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Captain Blood Storm
Captain Blood Storm
Posts: 612

10/29/2020
You know, I usually take severe umbrage to NPCs trying to take something of mine, ESPECIALLY when it's as precious as MY HESPERIDEAN CIDER but in this particular case there were mitigating factors. One, I personally would do far worse for the sake of said cider so calling it quits after one buglaring attempt seems more than fair. Two, at this point I've completed so much in the Neath that robbing my house must've been a legendary feat. She would've had to avoid the dread gaze of Mr. Iron's weathercock(?!), dodge my Vake-steed and survive the Rubbery Dragon. And as for three, well-I twigged onto the hint she had ulterior motives for trying to rob some Cider when I saw a drip of the mysterious, coincidentally restorative liquid from the first aid kid she gave the child. Honestly I'm kind of impressed that instead of doing the "oh woe is poor, dearie me!" routine after failing to rob me, she had the balls to carry out her heist for inferior immortality drink anyway and invite me along. And then, well-

"She's never learned to lose. Never learned to let go. She thinks we can live forever, happily ever after"

If that's not the second kindred spirit I've met in Fallen London since the Valkyrie and the Captivating Princess, I don't know what is.

So obviously I pushed both of them for immortality. And I should qualify that with-it had nothing to do with my own "becoming a Master without Ambition: Heart's Desire somehow" goals. I've SEEN the Far Shore. It's an AWFUL place. People swarm the Boatman begging to go back, and filthy hands grasp upwards desperately to seize the newly dead. And I've played Sunless Skies too: The dead are /fed en masse to the Sapphir'd King/, among them those implied to the Red Bird and Snake. Your face will be flayed from you, your name stripped as you descend into the tombs to be scoured by abhuman judges and seared by the heat of the merciless Logoi. And according to one ending he may not even be the only regent of death out there.

And well-perhaps that's why the arguments against immortality in the ES fell a little flat to me. Final death, in the FLverse, is objectively a terrifying abomination that exists to selfishly support one very smug star in particular and possibly more. And these old ladies have claimed second place in my favourite FLverse NPCs tier list of all time (the Turbulent Tabby and the Valkyrie obviously share the top tier; the Princess will have to cope with exclusive ownership of the third rung). It's a very odd case where I truly enjoyed hanging out with the characters but my wider knowledge of the FLverse made not advocating for immortality as hard as possible utterly unconscionable. And my only real disappointment was being unable to, perhaps after the final heist, offer them some sips from my own Cider reserves as an extra layer of double immortality for their journey to the Elder Continent.
edited by Hattington on 10/29/2020

--
Captain Blood Storm, the Discordant, Twice-Dawnburnt, Worm-Hugging Vake Rider https://www.fallenlondon.com/Profile/Hattington
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Owen Wulf
Owen Wulf
Posts: 750

10/29/2020
I'm not sure I like the "moral messages" the story options go by. Living forever is selfish if it means your descendants don't get an inheritance? As long as you don't have a big family you aren't costing society much?

Am I missing some kind of Victorian-era quandary with my initial assessment?

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https://www.fallenlondon.com/profile/Owen%20Wulf
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Captain Blood Storm
Captain Blood Storm
Posts: 612

10/30/2020
Owen Wulf wrote:
I'm not sure I like the "moral messages" the story options go by. Living forever is selfish if it means your descendants don't get an inheritance? As long as you don't have a big family you aren't costing society much?

Am I missing some kind of Victorian-era quandary with my initial assessment?



The only one I can think of is the Christian belief in an afterlife, which as I mentioned Fallen London's lore has gone far, far, FAR out of it's way to conclusively disprove for anyone with eyes to see. There is no state of grace, there is only the continuation of the Great Game on the cosmic scale between three warring factions of stars who define what Is. There is no Heaven, there is only a glorified kitchen for a crass, pride tyrant so unscrupulous he's implied to have bypassed even the laws of his own kind to slay his rivals, so proud he mutilates his administrators to show off his ability to stay them from death and so self-absorbed his reaction to utmost defiance and a direct assault on his person is to elevate the captain involved into yet another of his servitors. There is no higher power protecting Londoners from Devils, else the assault on Hell wouldn't have gone as badly as it did. Even the Christian concept of a soul is proveably incorrect when souls are really just the seeds of aforementioned stars.

This whole conundrum reminds me of a different "immortality or no?" conundrum in Sunless Skies regarding a certain Master embarking on an even superior form of immortality to Hesperidean Cider. The worst they have to say about it's success is that eternity can be lonely. What they were in no position to appreciate was that the dead souls actually being eviscerated by the Sapphir'd King would probably disagree; you can even aid and abet one such soul rescued at great cost from the Blue Kingdom who, if questioned, vastly prefers to spend the rest of their ephemeral existence in a dark house with shutters dependent on others supplying them things indefinitely than either dissolution in daylight or being returned to the Blue Kingdom.

That's how bad death is in Fallen London. And at the moment it's not even entirely clear if the Far Shore the Boatman takes the dead to leads straight to the Sapphir'd King's domain...or somewhere WORSE

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Captain Blood Storm, the Discordant, Twice-Dawnburnt, Worm-Hugging Vake Rider https://www.fallenlondon.com/Profile/Hattington
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suinicide
suinicide
Posts: 2458

10/30/2020
We have seen the far shore in one of the ES season conclusions.
It is very much not a nice place, please make me immortal.
[spoiler] Whatever was there has long since been buried underneath hoards of the dead, and again under more and more people. There is no dissolution, just eternity where they should have ended. [/spoiler]
edited by suinicide on 10/30/2020

--
http://fallenlondon.com/profile/sunnytime
A gentleman seeking the liberation of knowledge, with a penchant for violence.
RIP suinicide, stuck in a well. Still has it under control.
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Valiant
Valiant
Posts: 129

10/30/2020
This story got me a little confused about immortality mechanics in London.
[spoiler]From what I remember from previous interactions with the Widow, we see only her hands and they look like they belong to the old woman. So I assumed that brandy gives immortality but doesn't give youth. But here (and in HD reward) it clearly does. What's wrong with the Widow's case?
And, more importantly, I got my Ambition reward and now I receive a glass of peach brandy a month to keep me young and deathless. At the same time two sisters drank a glass each and now they got their youth permanently and are apparently almost impossible to kill, so they'll have to search for a way to die if they ever decided to end their lives. So what gives?[/spoiler]

--
Sir Valiant Carrington, a heartless hedonist and honorary governor of Port Carnelian. You can ask him for a sip of Cider if you catch him in London.
Farshin Jarrah, merry trickster and incorrigible optimist.
Serine, gone down the well but not forgotten.

Avatar artwork by lovely Farseer Drijya
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xKiv
xKiv
Posts: 904

10/30/2020
Valiant wrote:
This story got me a little confused about immortality mechanics in London.


My impression is that there are multiple different "immortality mechanics". Some might be just stronger versions of others, some might be so completely different that they would seem impossible to anybody familiar with the conditions of others. Wouldn't be a surprise if they *were* actually logically mutually incompatible (cannot exist in the same consistent universe) - this is not a consistent universe.
(also different people can understand "immortality" to mean different things)

--
https://www.fallenlondon.storynexus.com/Profile/xKiv - a witchful, percussive, dangermous and shadowry scholar of coexplodence, hopsidirean, and walker of fallen kitties.
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Captain Blood Storm
Captain Blood Storm
Posts: 612

10/31/2020
Valiant wrote:
This story got me a little confused about immortality mechanics in London.
[spoiler]From what I remember from previous interactions with the Widow, we see only her hands and they look like they belong to the old woman. So I assumed that brandy gives immortality but doesn't give youth. But here (and in HD reward) it clearly does. What's wrong with the Widow's case?
And, more importantly, I got my Ambition reward and now I receive a glass of peach brandy a month to keep me young and deathless. At the same time two sisters drank a glass each and now they got their youth permanently and are apparently almost impossible to kill, so they'll have to search for a way to die if they ever decided to end their lives. So what gives?[/spoiler]


I think the most plausible answer is there are different grades of brandy, and the Widow was Gracious enough to give the twins a particularly rare and refined vintage. As for the Widow's old lady hands...maybe the rare stuff can't be produced regularly so she usually subsists on the lower grade fare, and that year's shipment was delayed pirates? Clay pirates, even. Or spider pirates.

I mean, there isn't that much evidence that there's an actual Treachery of Brandy going on.

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Captain Blood Storm, the Discordant, Twice-Dawnburnt, Worm-Hugging Vake Rider https://www.fallenlondon.com/Profile/Hattington
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naraoia
naraoia
Posts: 73

10/31/2020
There might be more to the Widow's story than you think. Saying more would be to reveal something seen only in the most private of visions.

--
http://fallenlondon.storynexus.com/Profile/naraoia
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Alonto
Alonto
Posts: 18

11/6/2020
Are there any ES/item/quality requirements in the story?
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amalgamate
amalgamate
Posts: 783

11/7/2020
If you have Hesperidian Cider the start changes a little.

And yeah, I was also all-in on the immortality. Arguments against didn't make much sense to me.

--
http://www.fallenlondon.com/Profile/amalgamate

Social invitations of all kinds welcome! I'll return boxed cats and letters, and happy to accept plant battles. LMK if you need a discordant missive or a point of notability.
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Wylte
Wylte
Posts: 24

11/7/2020
Really bummed about the last couple ES's. Last month's was linear but with a few modifying conditions that made the ending feel like your own contribution did matter. This month...

I like the characters and the story, but I didn't need to be there at all. No branches, no real choices. The moral quandaries were minimal, and completely one-sided if you know enough of the lore. They were the one mechanic, a pair of qualities that determine which endings you can choose. There was one point where I thought there would be a sort of luck-based fail condition but nope - you exhaust your attempts and the story moves forward.

I remember my first ES: multiple branches, hidden qualities, skill checks with interesting fails that move the story forward. And I failed miserably, making choices that led to an outcome that was not-quite-the-worst. I loved it, and will hold onto my Possibly Poisoned Cherries with pride. For this I got...a couple low level items, and a decent wine.

I enjoyed the sisters, but they didn't need me.
edited by Wylte on 11/7/2020

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https://www.fallenlondon.com/profile/Wylte
I am Wylte. I diverged when I went down to London, but no matter - he and I are I, and however the 'Neath changes him, or what...moral exceptions must be made, we will remain steadfast in our goals and beliefs.
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Anagram
Anagram
Posts: 103

11/7/2020
If anyone has the echo of the first option while searching the warehouse, i'd love to see it, the my interent bugged out for a second

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https://www.fallenlondon.com/profile/Anagram
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Captain Blood Storm
Captain Blood Storm
Posts: 612

11/7/2020
Wylte wrote:
Really bummed about the last couple ES's. Last month's was linear but with a few modifying conditions that made the ending feel like your own contribution did matter. This month...

I like the characters and the story, but I didn't need to be there at all. No branches, no real choices. The moral quandaries were minimal, and completely one-sided if you know enough of the lore. They were the one mechanic, a pair of qualities that determine which endings you can choose. There was one point where I thought there would be a sort of luck-based fail condition but nope - you exhaust your attempts and the story moves forward.

I remember my first ES: multiple branches, hidden qualities, skill checks with interesting fails that move the story forward. And I failed miserably, making choices that led to an outcome that was not-quite-the-worst. I loved it, and will hold onto my Possibly Poisoned Cherries with pride. For this I got...a couple low level items, and a decent wine.

I enjoyed the sisters, but they didn't need me.
edited by Wylte on 11/7/2020



On the one hand, I do feel a little underwhelmed at times (looking at a certain piano player the game expected you to feel a lot more sympathetically about despite any anti-revolutionary sentiments you may have harboured or how it just kind of suddenly springs on you that you've ALWAYS known each other since the surface before he moves in and starts all but barking orders at you. Dammit, Fading to a Coda) but there's been some pleasant surprises too (looking at you Unto Dust and your Tomb-Colonist intrigue). I suppose Mr. Spices' sunstone retreat is somewhere in the middle; disappointingly singular conclusion, confrontation and lack of ability to slap Mr. Spices upside the snout with one of many Ambition awards, interesting imagery from dreams if nothing else.

...though I do wonder when I think like this, how much of that is well-being spoiled, for lack of a better word, for previous ESes involving the more interesting NPCs like the Captivating Princess or Calendar Council members or Masters, and roping in disturbing implications related to the wider lorebuilding like the Museum of MIstakes? While I do feel there's been a lull, I suspect this is partly FL trying to slow down on the lorebuilding so they can work on Railway at a reasonable pace so I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt for a little longer on the off-chance future ESes will involve more interesting things.

I'll admit my approval of ESes is heavily biased in favor of how much I like the allied NPCs and how much I'm allowed to punish the ones I don't, though. So in that regard Older, Not Wiser was something of an awkward tie-breaker. The central conflict felt nonsensical but mainly due to my wider knowledge of FL's lore, and I ended up liking the ladies who tried to rob me which I feel is a solid achievement for the game's writing.
edited by Hattington on 11/7/2020

--
Captain Blood Storm, the Discordant, Twice-Dawnburnt, Worm-Hugging Vake Rider https://www.fallenlondon.com/Profile/Hattington
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Aro Saren
Aro Saren
Posts: 748

11/7/2020
About different form of immortality, and moral of immortality too.
Call me doylist, but for me the reason is that (some) FBG writers do not care much about internal consistency of existing setting. This way you can ascribe whatever effects your story needs to the mcguffin of a day, and just slap a stock morale on an ending when you're in a hurry to finish that monthly story.

--
https://www.fallenlondon.com/profile/Andre%20Alexin
Will accept only something interesting.
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Grouchybeast
Grouchybeast
Posts: 54

11/8/2020
Owen Wulf wrote:
I'm not sure I like the "moral messages" the story options go by. Living forever is selfish if it means your descendants don't get an inheritance? As long as you don't have a big family you aren't costing society much?

Am I missing some kind of Victorian-era quandary with my initial assessment?



The story itself seemed kind of confused about any moral it had, because after going on and on about the selfishness of immortality, the immortal sisters left London and their grandson inherited everything anyway! So I have no idea what point the writer was trying to make, if any.

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https://www.fallenlondon.com/profile/Elizabeth%20Malroye
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NNNnobody
NNNnobody
Posts: 162

11/8/2020
The story references the reward of my ambition: https://www.fallenlondon.com/profile/NNNnobody/20235090
That's always nice.

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https://www.fallenlondon.com/profile/NNNnobody
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Captain Blood Storm
Captain Blood Storm
Posts: 612

11/9/2020
NNNnobody wrote:
The story references the reward of my ambition: https://www.fallenlondon.com/profile/NNNnobody/20235090
That's always nice.



I continue to be jealous at how Marvelous content is by far the most influential in London beyond the remit of the Ambition proper. And this is in light of how I feel I frankly got by far the best deal from Bag a Legend, and I was terribly disappointed Spices didn't comment on it; while I was a little conflicted about whether or not I should've pickled and Eaten Third City Veils for his power (only a little. It was already only a third of the "god" before he was further diminished from being pulled out of the Waswood), seeing how low key the Long-Dead Priests and Society of the Three Taloned-Hand have been and how limited Veils' share of the Bazaar's profits have been has been some consolation. At least my pet's been pulling it's wait to gather skeletons on top of being a massive power move.

--
Captain Blood Storm, the Discordant, Twice-Dawnburnt, Worm-Hugging Vake Rider https://www.fallenlondon.com/Profile/Hattington
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kimeekat
kimeekat
Posts: 8

11/9/2020
I don't feel that this story did an adequate job of expressing why one wouldn't accept immortality. But beyond that...

[spoiler]I'm quite upset that the whole reason I did this, to keep the Octo and Albert together, is suddenly rendered moot at the end. I guess I should've known when they gave Albert a proper name and not a FL-y name that he was not to be considered a Proper Character. But what presses me to be actively upset and not simply disappointed is that the game doesn't even acknowledge this might have been the motivation when the option to encourage declining the Widow's offer appears. I can only lecture them about aging gracefully and "taking away resources" (what a bleak reduction without any support in the story to make us feel that this is truly the case). It's as if it fundamentally misunderstands what it did right at the beginning (gives the player a reason to help and empathize with the NPCs, ie to keep them together). Despite encouraging them toward it to be together as a trio, I tried to dissuade them both at the end for the same purposes to disaster: the Octo took it and the Jaded sister did not. Ugh.
[/spoiler]
edited by kimeekat on 11/9/2020

--
Kim E.E. Kat
Buy me last pape, mistah? -coughs pathetically-
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Sagrim-Ur
Sagrim-Ur
Posts: 25

11/9/2020
Last month's ES was easily my least favourite of them. This one... is not much better, sadly. It did at least have an occasional choise or two, but those choises came with some VERY heavy-handed moralising on the topic of "immortality is bad". I mean, you can't even choose to defend it properly, your choise is essentially between "immortality is bad, don't do it" and "immortality is bad but go for it anyway". Which is VERY unlike my character, whose HD final choise was guess what. The "show don't tell" principle is badly broken here, and the part of the "tell" whis was done through my character's lines in dialogue felt not so much like a choise being given, as agency being taken away to force writer's morals. Also, it really felt underwhelming to fail both the robbery and the reason I was helping the sisters in the first place - why Albert would suddenly choose dying over being together with sisters is utterly incomprehensible. And not really explained.

Mind you, this story has some good points - I liked the setup and the characters are very good, and the fact that my brandy stipend was mentioned was a nice touch (although I have no idea why the story would take for granted that I would want to share my brandy with the trio - another case of taking player agency away). All in all, while last month's ES simply felt like waste of a subscription month, this one feels like a wasted potential - to take such a rich topic and turn it into anti-immortality propaganda piece with no unique qualities and an Airag as a reward is just sad. :+(((

Also, looking at last couple of ESes I cannot help but feel that both per-story budget and writers' ability to introduce unique qualities and things were severely restrained. Hope it's just a fluke, not a policy.
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