- What are the Sorrow Spiders? The story goes that spiders drink from your eyes while you sleep. Sorrow-spiders bite off a whole eye. They get their name from the tears that flow from the remaining eye, and they don't steal eyes to eat them. They use them as eggs.
What is a Spider-council? Sorrow-spiders are already repulsive. Spider-councils are what happens when sorrow-spiders go bad.
- A later storyline reveals that they can travel through mirrors. You will never look at that full length mirror in your bedroom the same way again.
- Additional information from Sunless Sea reveals that they do not, in fact, come from Parabola as previously expected. These horrific things are not eldritch beings from the dream realm, or something born out of Neathy strangeness, but something that exists in our world; they come from a place "between stars" and therefore the Judgements are both fully aware of them and permit their existence. Which means that, in theory, they could be on the surface.
- Delve too deeply in the docks, and you might find your way to one of their nests, presided over by a spider-council. What is a spider-council, you ask? Oh, just a hideous monstrosity created from the forms of dozens of component spiders. Like wax, the game says. It speaks. And it wants your eyes...
- A story in the House of Chimes hints that Spider-council come from the eyes of people who have been exposed to the Correspondence. And, if you happen to go down the Watchful stories, your exposure to the sigils is only a matter of time. Which means YOUR eyes are going to be some of the most prized.
- If your Nightmares quality reaches five, you will get this event: In the street, you pass a tall, cheerful man with a brisk manner, a stovepipe hat and a row of bright brass buttons down the front of his coat. He winks familiarly as you pass and spreads his hands: eight fingers. You've seen him before. Of course you have. He was beside your bed when you woke this morning. And this storylet follows you everywhere you go. Except into death, exile, or prison.
- The 'failure' of the particular event: 'That night you dream of a tall building lit by cheery fires. A sign reads CLEFT FOR THEE HIDE IN ME. The walls are wrong. The walls are wrong.' Quite possibly one of the most disturbing lines in the game. Compounding this is the fact he shares some kind of connection with Albert, King Consort. "Cleft for Thee hide in Me" is a line from Rock Of Ages, a hymn which was well known as being Albert's favorite and was actually what was played to him when he was on his deathbed.
- The Cantigaster basically is a mass of poisonous flesh that Was Once a Man, he got that way due to a Deal with the Devil made by his then-fiancee, the Duchess, after he was bitten by a snake. His life was saved but at a horrible price.
- Everything about the Iron Republic. Everything. You can see it right from the description:
Freedom from laws and tyrants. All laws and tyrants, without exception. This place is exceptionally dangerous. You may be permanently changed.
- When they say all laws, they mean all laws. Includes the laws of logic, physics, and chance.
- The picture used for the Iron Republic Streets location: a close-up of someone's eye as they're being chased by a mob, with said mob surrounded by flames.
- Some of the recurring dreams storylets can be rather disturbing, especially the Is Someone There? collection.
You are standing between two mirrors. Your reflection smiles, so you smile. Your reflection moves its hand, so you move yours. It takes a very long while for you to realise that this is the wrong way around.
- The "dream about fireworks" you can get if your lodgings are rat-infested:
You dream that you're standing, holding a candle, in a classroom filled with cheerfully shouting children. You touch the candle to their heads, one by one. Each time you do, their skin crisps away to reveal a child-sized mass of rats. Awake. Awake.
- The Mr Sacks visits. Ever wanted to see some of the Santa mythos through a spectacularly creepy, original lens?
That night as you sleep, Mr Sacks crouches on your window-sill. His robe is the colour of salt, and his hood is trimmed with red fox-fur. I have brought you gifts, he whispers.
- Especially when you realize that particular Mr Sacks is Mr Eaten.
- When your Nightmares gets to 6, you start to draw Recurring Dreams cards that cannot be discarded. The only way to get rid of them is to play them, which raises your Nightmares even more. It really drives home how inescapable your nightmares have become. In particular, you begin seeing things that aren't there, and your dreams begin merging with reality.
- Reaching Nightmare 7 by itself.
THEY ARE COMING THEY ARE COMING THEY ARE COMING
- The Mr. Eaten storyline. It begins with a ravenous hunger in your stomach, and it only goes downhill from there...
- Really, Seeking Mr Eaten's Name could have a Nightmare Fuel page all to its own. One action you can perform:
Consume a Talkative Rattus Faber
"Why are you looking at me like that? I knew a man used to look at me like that. Funny sort. Kept a candle in his - "
Down in one
"Wait no mmf mggl mmmmmfff!"
The aftertaste is distinctly sewery, and you're still damnably hungry.
- St Arthur's candle. The storylet where you get it implies you rend it out of your own body fat.
- The Nightmare Carnival. Just what the hell is up with it? Is it just you misinterpreting somewhere horrific as a warped version of something you already know? Is it you stumbling around a more-or-less harmless carnival and, in your delusions, seeing it all as some sort of hellish land? Or did your quest for the Name actually brought you closer to the truth, and let you see a seemingly innocent carnival the way it actually is? The fact the writers pulled some of their best tricks to work here only adds to it.
- The first brave/foolish soul to get St. Erzulie's Candle sacrificed their tattoos, Profession, Notability, Destiny, and even Ambition to get it. Permanently.
- To get St. Gawain's Candle, your character has their head literally cut off...because that's the way for the character to become St. Gawain's Candle.
- Some of the later actions to advance your quest in Seeking the Name include having a dentist pull some of your teeth out... so you can eat them. Your deranged character is delighted to do this, likening it to having a maw inside his own maw, so he can eat, and eat, and eat, and eat...
- There's also the card where your character sets fire to a candle shop and tries to devour their own burning flesh because it smells so delicious.
- Although details regarding the ending are withheld, the quest's completion renders your account unplayable. Yes, permanently unplayable.
- Really, Seeking Mr Eaten's Name could have a Nightmare Fuel page all to its own. One action you can perform:
- The Cave of the Nadir. Filled with a colour man was probably not meant to see, that rapidly robs you of your memories... and causes your skin and bone to grow over your eyes.
No. Parts of you are crumbling. No. No!
- Occasionally, you find the victims' skulls, their eye sockets completely filled with bone. But the Irrigo's soaked into them, so much that simply having one can erode your mind.
- Some of the Hallowmass storylets give you a peek into what could be Fallen London's endgame. In particular, this trope comes in with the Liberation of Night. You witness the Calendar Council setting off some kind of device that saps the light from everything in the Neath, along with killing (yes, killing) the Bazaar. Fire and chaos erupts all over London, exacerbated by the fact that no one can see - everything has ceased to shed any light. Civilians desperately flee for the exits back to the surface while looters and sorrow spiders take over. Your character is presented with a choice over who they must save; innocent strangers, your Constant Companion, or no one, if you're that ruthless (or if this was what you planned). In any case, there's a massive loss of life, an even more ghastly drop in the quality of life for everyone who survives, and the terrifying implication that the darkness will spread to the surface and beyond to all the universe (and if you know the true significance of the Correspondence, you know how indescribably, unimaginably bad that is). It certainly paints dealings with the Revolutionaries (and the Nadir) in a different light.
You have minutely contributed to the Liberation of Night.
- Later, you can see it coming...
- With Sunless Skies, the Great Work has begun.
- Even though the Recurring Dreams storylines increase your character's Nightmares attribute, they aren't actually that bad... Except for the ones that unlock at Nightmares 6, where the boundary between dreams and reality seems to break down.
- Polythreme. The city is enchanted with a magic that makes inanimate objects alive. This doesn't sound so bad until you realize the implications — as the sidebar gleefully points out, this includes things like candles.
- Best illustrated by a card you can get if you play as a Clay Man:
"IN POLYTHREME THE BED I SLEPT ON WAS A SLAVE. THE ROOM WHERE I SLEPT WAS HACKED FROM SCREAMING STONE. THE WATER I DRANK BEGGED ME TO STOP. THEY PAID ME IN COIN THAT PLOTTED MY DOWNFALL. THE MEMORIES ARE TROUBLING. THIS PLACE IS BETTER."
- The city itself is actually surprisingly upbeat. It comes off as more quirky and bizarre than legitimately terrifying. (Even the option to write a travelogue condemning it as a horrible place actually comes off as comical, because the only "horrors" you end up writing about are the milder ones.) Though if you let Troubled Waters rise too high on the way there, you get to experience some of the actual horror in your own ropes tying you up right as the ship itself comes alive, and decides it doesn't feel like cooperating. You then spend several days being helplessly dragged all over the Sea of Voices until this unnatural life dies down, and leaves you stranded in the middle of nowhere.
- Best illustrated by a card you can get if you play as a Clay Man:
- The third coil of the Labyrinth of Tigers. It's where the tigers keep humans locked up in horrible conditions, tucked away where few people will ever see them, and apparently held there indefinitely. It even gives your character nightmares just from walking around and hearing the screams!
"Get me out of here. I don't belong here. I'm only here because they think I'm possessed. Why am I here? I don't know how my family will eat now. I'm not possessed, I'm not possessed, I'm not possessed. I'm only here because I chased a cat! Where am I? For God's sake let me out. You there! I'm only in here because I organised a strike. Give me a mirror! Give me a mirror!"
- It turns out at least some of them are not human, and are blackly dangerous monsters. You only find this out after you've had a number of chances to free many of them.
- In the "Light Fingers" Ambition, The Orphanage, in its entirety. People are only sent here if their parents are dead (or murdered), and the entire place is a strange sort of asylum/hospital dedicated to creating and testing psychoses in the inmates, using the mind-affecting excretions of an eldritch monster.
- The very concept of "snow" in an underground cavern.
It must be, in part at least, frozen water: when it melts, it refreezes as black ice. Tiny, desperate fish and insects can be seen frozen in the ice, no larger than a fingernail, eyes distorted with fear.
- The stuff somehow enables you to create entire living beings out of it, too. It does horrible things to anyone examining it without being careful, having destroyed at least one microscope and done terrible damage to its users. It explodes souls exposed to it in a terrible shower of sparks and fire. Creatures ingesting it either die or mutate into miniature copies of the Bazaar. And from what you later learn, in its liquid form it can ensure Death by Despair just from drinking it. Turns out "Tears of an Eldritch Abomination" is a terrible, terrible substance.
- "Welcome, delicious friend." It's charming yet so very frightening.
- Uncovering a Night-Whisper in the Forgotten Quarter. Whatever it was that your character found in that box, they were not pleased.
- During the doll version of "The Gift" Storyline you wind up posing as a footman when the Royal Family is eating. You can't look directly at them, only by standing in front of a mirror facing it. It's made very clear that the mirror is just an illusion to avoid seeing what actually is happening. The text itself says that you should not turn around. When you finally can, the table is covered in gnawed at bones snapped and chewed by inhuman teeth. But the mirror showed vegetables.
"The Bellicose Prince helps himself to a final Brussels sprout before he leaves. You hear something heavy dragged off the table and out of the room."
"Her needled fingers pierce your heart. Your memories of what follows are fractured; broken glass rattling in a box. She did not want your blood, though you lost plenty of that. No – she dug deeper, and dined on something less replaceable."
- And if you do decide to turn around, you get a perfect view of the diners and the meal of the day. Mercifully, your senses flee.
- Also it hints at what happens when a person drinks too much Gaoler's Honey. It slowly changes you until resemble something that comes from the realms of nightmares.
- At the end of the story, where you're trapped in the web Beatrice has wrapped you in, the Captivating Princess reveals that you were the gift—to Beatrice, that is—all along. And one of the options is to let Beatrice feast on you so she can 'grow up'. It's unclear what's scarier: the small bits of what your character can remember...or the lack thereof.
- One of the cards for the "Playing With Broken Toys" storyline gives you the opportunity to help a father fix a wind-up soldier toy for his daughter. If you choose to help, the soldier starts marching around, and the daughter is delighted... and then it turns and attacks the father, who runs away, though you still hear screaming. Later, they find the body... but not the toy. Unsurprisingly, your Nightmares increase as a result.
- Make no mistake, while usually the Correspondence is a fairly humorous Brown Note, it's still very much something mortals shouldn't be meddling with.
By day you write. By night you dream of vast frozen gulfs of space. Behind you, something impossibly huge is screaming.
- In the August 2015 exceptional story, you can discover that sunlight mixed with moonlight can make you see a different world— specifically, a London that never fell. Cool, right? Turns out the Calendar Council is just as bad on the Surface as it is in the Neath. And they won.
- When you're on the Velocipede Squad, you can be tasked with rescuing an informant whose cover has been blown from Dante's Grill. If you don't pedal fast enough, you arrive on the scene. There's no informant, just "a smug infernal maitre'd and a new dish of the day."
- You can spend Appalling Secrets as one of the ways to gain supplies for an expedition in the Forgotten Quarter. The flavor text tells you that you have learned what you need to avoid in the Quarter. Including Mt. Nomad, "whatever that means." People who have played Sunless Sea know what Mt. Nomad means. The Quarter can be a little creepy on a good day. Going in knowing people are scared of THAT being there is just terrifying.
- In the Light Fingers ambition, you're treated to a nasty piece of work called Poor Edward. He's an agent of the Masters who tells you to drop investigating the Orphanage, otherwise he'll bury you alive because killing you wouldn't really work in the Neath. He then gives you some herbs that would erase your memory. When you finally get to the Orphanage, if you aren't good at sneaking around it, you'll discover Edward was not bluffing and will bury you alive.
You've moved to a new area: A small, velvet lined box. You can't see anything. You have just enough space to twist onto your belly or your back. Oh dear God. Oh dear God.
- There's a good reason the Light Fingers ambition is mentioned so often in this page. After all, you need to actually let your Nightmares reach 8 or higher in order to make progress. And what's one of the ways you can raise your Nightmare that becomes available? Why, listening to the Fading Music-Hall Singer sing is a surefire way.
Songs that slide from her throat like a snake. Like a writhing knot of eels...The songs work their way into your dreams.
- Jack-of-Smiles is the Bazaar's version of Jack the Ripper. While he's usually harmless enough, since death isn't permanent in the Neath, he can permanently kill citizens by chopping them into bits—and that's before you learn who he really is. He's a sentient set of knives that trades hands endlessly; anyone that handles one becomes Jack. Even worse is a Fate-locked storyline where the player can choose to become Jack, which comes with a content warning for graphic text.
- The entire game can get scarier when the sequels are taken into account, particularly the glimpses of the future. Sunless Skies's premise is the stars being murdered and the Empress herself abandoning London.
- The things you have to do in order to advance the Cheesemonger story are horrific and a pretty good indicator of the settings' Black and Grey Morality. Among the things you have to do in order to progress are incite multiple lynch mobs against the Rubbery Men, blackmail a desperate Tomb Colonist into giving up the only things he has left of his old life, and destroying the lives of innocent people. The only reprieve is you can take some sort of revenge at the end, and even that is empty.
- Light Fingers continues the horror, as you venture to the roof of the Zee. It is full of literally twisted abominations called the Starved Men. One particularly dogged one is chased off. But slowly, it begins clawling it's way into your Zeppelin. And when you reach a modicum of safety, by barely flying past thousands of these abominations, you can see how they become twisted- they literally stretch themselves, tearing their bodies. And then you undergo Sanity Slippage when you finally prepare to milk the Mother-
- SHE EMBRACES ALL CHILDREN SHE EMBRACES ALL CHILDREN SHE EMBRACES ALL CHILDREN
- After all, a mother loves her child.
Nightmares is increasing...