Welcome, delicious troper. Fallen London (formerly Echo Bazaar) is a turn-based browser game produced by Failbetter Games. It's set in the eponymous city, a mile underground and a boat down the river from Hell, where people are either piecing together the mystery of what exactly happened, trading souls, or just politely murdering other people. Players start off as prisoners plotting to break out, and after that... they're free to do whatever they want.There are four stats a player can choose to improve on as he/she/they continue his/her/their story down in the Neath: Dangerous (fighting prowess); Watchful (mental acumen); Persuasive (charm and wit); and Shadowy (stealth and cunning). Doing quests improve one or more of the stats, and better quests are revealed to the player upon reaching a certain stat value. All of them (especially Watchful) will help you learn more about the world and uncover its secrets...except for the Persuasive path, which consists almost entirely of seducing people and writing poetry. Well, until you get to the foreign office...Fallen London's entrance is at http://www.fallenlondon.com/. The Silver Tree, set in the same universe, was funded through Kickstarter. A spinoff game, Sunless Sea, is available as an Early Access release following another successful Kickstarter campaign.
The Ace: Anyone with high levels in all qualities probably seems like this.
Broken Ace: Several storylets and qualities allow you to paint yourself as such.
The Adjectival Man: The Clay Men (friendly golems), the Unfinished Men (unfriendly golems), the Neddy Men (government strikebreakers), the Raggedy Men (eccentric criminals), and the Rubbery Men (eldritch immigrants).
Afterlife Express: Moloch Street Underground Station in Ladybones Road is the first stop on the journey to Hell. Nearby markets buy and sell the cast-off possessions of the damned, and a few quests involve plotting trips for devils or missionaries.
Alien Space Bats: Part of the backstory of the game involves a swarm of bats dragging Victorian-era London beneath the earth under orders from the Bazaar. It's implied this was a preplanned deal by the British government. Also, Hell exists, as do Eldritch-y rubber men, magic, and so on.
All There in the Manual: The sidebars are critical to piercing together many of the mysteries of the game's backstory.
Always Chaotic Evil: "Devils can't help but do mischief." Possibly subverted however. There is at least one devil, the Absconding Devil, in an early quest, who seems to genuinely be benign and have feelings for a woman. He is said, by another devil, to have "gone native." And, while it's more ambiguous, there's a piano-playing deviless you can meet who seems to have no interest in souls. So, it's possible not all devils are bad - just most of them.
Angels, Devils and Squid: The Angels are conspicuous in their absence. The Devils are everpresent, preying on the weak and gullible. The Rubbery Men are alien and bizarre, and the Devils can't stand them, but they seem harmless to mortals.
Animal Motifs: The stats are all given an icon of a different animal: a bear for Dangerous, an owl for Watchful, a fox for Persuasive, and a cat for Shadowy.
Anonymous Benefactor: One of the first storylines in the game involves the patronage of one of four benefactors - one for each major stat.
In the deepest matters of the Bazaar, always look to love. Always.
All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well. That was the promise...
Make the stories or they will be made for you.
A reckoning will not be postponed indefinitely.
"Do you recall how we came to that place? And they sang of their lightnings and shapeful disgrace? We tilted our vanes and ennobled our spires. They welcomed us then and commingled all choirs." There are a number of variations on this one, typically changing the pronouns.
Icarus returning / longs for the deep places.
One storylet has a whole bunch of these condensed into a single paragraph.
Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: What happens if you mention the Second City to any of the masters. Mr. Wines will look at you narrowly and give you its worst vintage. Mr Cups will fly into a rage. Mr Iron will write your name down with its left hand. Mr Veils will harangue you for your discourtesy.
In Wilmot's End, descriptions are in fairly short sentence fragments. (E.g. "A newspaper tucked into an overcoat. A white raven looks down through the mist").
When your character gets exiled to the Tomb-Colonies, the descriptions take the form of letters to someone back in Fallen London.
When you trade in rumours with the Muffled Intriguer, the narration takes on the same Terse Talker sentence-fragment style as the Intriguer's dialogue.
Shelter from the drizzle under a bright shop-awning. Letters wrapped around a horse-head amulet. 'Gone now, and won't be seen again. Hunted by devils in the Forgotten Quarter. Nasty business.'
When your character enters the Iron Republic, the descriptions take the form of a journal.
As the Good Book Says: Two instances in the Seeking Mr Eaten's Name quest have you quote garbled versions of Matthew 25:35, "for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me".
After ravenously sating your Horror Hunger without restraint: "For I was hungry, and I ate you. I was thirsty, and I drank you."
While devouring your entry in Slowcake's Exceptionals: "I was hungry, and you gave me only the pelt of trees. I was thirsty, and you gave me only ink."
Since you can usually leave a mission, go off and explore the world or play around with other things, then return to it with no time in the mission passed or progress lost, gameplay can tend to give this impression of the player character.
"Now that's odd. When you find your way back to the Stuttering Fence's place, there's no one there. Except a number of inconspicuously placed Constables, invisible to the untrained eye. You, however, recognise them instantly by the strength of their moustaches."
Badass Preacher: The Bishop of Southwark. He's the finest orator in the Church. He's also a formidable wrestler and a former cavalry officer, and he hopes to lead an invasion of Hell.
Bad Dreams: The Nightmares quality. It's implied that everyone in Fallen London has some amount of bad dreams.
Bad Santa: Mr Sacks. He comes at Christmas to take things. He might take your headache away. He might take your regards. He might take your reputation. He might take your auntie. If you're very unwise, he might take you.
Be Careful What You Wish For: During the storyline where the player investigates a murder at the University, the Duchess may reveal that she bargained with the Bazaar after her husband was bitten by a serpent. He survived, but in the monstrous and agonising form of the Cantigaster. She theorises that a similar fate awaits the Empress and her Consort. "There is always a price that is known and a price that is not."
Heart's Desire reveals that it was so with the First City, with its priest-king making a deal to save his lover... who became the King with a Hundred Hearts.
Bedlam House: Subverted by the prestigious Royal Bethlehem Hotelnote (yes, it very well may be the Trope Namer with the name slightly altered.). Its fees are almost unaffordable. The mysterious proprietor waives the fee for lunatics, who consequently make up the vast majority of the guests, and live in unparalleled luxury.
The third coil of the Labyrinth of Tigers plays it straight with its "human exhibits." Most of them are insane, and some are political prisoners and cat chasers (who will eventually go insane).
Black and Grey Morality: There are very few legitimately good people in Fallen London. The Devils and Criminals speak for themselves, the Constables are dedicated to upholding the law, and yet are firmly in the Masters' pockets, causing them to turn blind eye to the Bazaar's more underhanded actions, the Church is ultra conservative and constantly tries to stifle the creativity of the Bohemians, who themselves often cause political chaos and unrest in their desire to express their art. The Revoultionaries just want London out of the Masters' hands, but are willing to resort to terrorism and murder to achieve this, and recent developments suggest that at least their leaders are Omnicidal Maniacs.
You tell these in some Persuasive storylets, and if you're successful, people believe you.
"Devils are feasting on human flesh in the Veilgarden! The tomb-colonists are to return home en masse! Cats are toxic! Cheese is made from spiders!" "Russia is sinking! Fallen London will annex the tomb-colonies! Mr Wines is marrying the skeletal corpse of a nun! The Spider-Council is holding a debutantes' ball! It's almost impossible to stop once you've started. Just keep talking. Everything will be fine."
Brain Bleach: A frequent necessity to deal with nightmares. Specific examples:
Laudanum. Humorously, it actually does affect your health in exchange.
Greyfields 1868 First Sporing also acts like this, only without the Wounds increase. They're hard to obtain, however.
Bottled Oblivion. It reduces your stats, meaning you'll have to grind them back up again. A large proportion of the time, that would be an extremely bad thing. Bottled Oblivion is for the rare times when it's not.
Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: One opportunity's story involves using fake cats. Some bite, some explode, some bite then explode.
Also another story involves you finding a courier delivering church candles having been temporarily killed by Jack-of-Smiles, you can choose to tend to him, steal his candles, or steal his candles then tend to him.
Bribing Your Way to Victory: The game is free to play, but you can buy Fate points with actual money. With enough Fate points, you can refill your actions instantly, refill the deck of opportunity cards or open additional story lets not obtainable otherwise. Then again, you can get Fate points through other means other than paying for them.
Opportunities to find Fate in-game (i.e., without paying real money) are rare and usually get you 1 - 3 units, whereas unlocking extra storylines rarely requires less than 20 Fate.
However, there aren't any real 'victory conditions' in Fallen London, and "Fate-Locked" content generally rewards you with, at most, a pet or item on par with something more expensive. All "Fate-Locked" content is completely optional.
One of the earliest Persuasive storylines revolves around writing an epic poem about mushrooms. Far later, when you're at the Empress's Court being offered the position of Imperial Artist-in-Residence:
My point is that the Court wishes to be entertained with original compositions. Your early works impressed the Empress, and she doesn't even like mushrooms. So, get to it, would you? We can't wait to see what you come up with.
Brown Note: The Correspondence. Studying it makes your eyes bleed, your hair catch fire and will probably drive you insane. Not to mention the things that seeking knowledge of Mr Eaten does to the mind - specifically, compulsory self-destructive acts such as attempting to literally drown oneself in beer.
Buried Alive: In part of the Light Fingers! ambition, an antagonist warns you that if you pursue your ambition any further, you will be buried alive. He fulfills that promise if he finds you continued the ambition, and you wind up in a coffin under the ground.
There's one on each of the four main qualities, though it increases as new content is added.
There are also many storylets that do not raise minor qualities (usually quirks) if they are above a certain value.
Catapult Nightmare: A side effect of your Nightmares stat getting too high. Made obvious by opting to go for a jog in the A Moment's Peace storylet, which states that "You wake up screaming, as is becoming usual." In January 2013, the Nightmare stat's image was changed from an eye to someone catapulting out of bed.
Chain of Deals: You can do one with inventory items if you want. Most item categories have a stage where you can trade 50 of an item for 50 of an equivalent item from a different category; for example, 50 bottles of Strangling Willow Absinthe for 50 Whisper-Satin Scraps. You can then proceed to trade your Whisper-Satin Scraps for Journals of Infamy, and your Journals of Infamy for Correspondence Plaques, and so on until you've gone full-circle.
Climax Boss: If the game had an actual combat engine, the Spider-Council and Feducci would definitely be ones.
Cloak & Dagger: Spying is one of the non-combat employment options available to the community.
Cluster F-Bomb: One event card has a woman writing very scandalous things about you. One of the options is to unleash a Cluster F-Bomb of magnificent proportions in response;
"You spit foul recriminations and vicious calumny. Ladies faint dead away and gentlemen stagger under the barrage. Your target runs, weeping, with her hands over her ears. You follow her! Your tirade continues in the street, where hansoms careen hastily off and urchins fall from rooftops. You pick up your victim's dropped letters and wave them as a final salute. You are spent."
And if you "fail" that event you get this;
"Three ladies faint. So do three gentleman and a passing waiter. Two cats fall off the roof and and an elderly horse outside keels over. You are denounced in two newspapers and a sermon. What words! You have definitely gone too far this time."
Coffin Contraband: In one storylet, the player can assist the Gracious Widow and her ring of smugglers in sneaking contraband out of the city in coffins. You're not told what exactly you're smuggling, but if you choose to peek in one of the coffins, you find out it's Clay Men—in other words, a Bodybag Trickdisguised as Coffin Contraband.
Combat Pragmatist: Dangerous challenges tend to make you do this. In particular, the Black Ribbon duels start off as honorable challenges, but inevitably turn into running battles and ambushes in the alleys and rooftops.
Another example is in one opportunity card, where you can goad multiple assassins into attacking you, and then take up a sniping position and pick them off one-by-one (nobody said you had to take them all on at once).
Contest Winner Cameo: Eight backers of the Tales of Fallen London: The Silver Tree spinoff game's Kickstarter have been written into Fallen London or The Silver Tree.
A certain failure location in Ambition: Light Fingers. 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.
"I have, I fear, at last determined the cause of our poor Leopold's sad disappearance. You will recall that I sent by the Borneo a very considerable collection of [illegible] ... identified one variety as the sinister exile's rose of the Bosphorus. Sophia had long admired their colour [illegible] ... gardens here about the Government-house [illegible] ... although here they call it 'lion's rose'. Singapura is Lion City in the Sanskrit [illegible] ... There are of course no lions here, though many tigers. I would not mention this except that when I dream of Leopold, as still I often do, it has always seemed to me that there is a great cat present, the colour of sunset, which is also the colour of the roses..."
Cosmetic Award: Some of the story traits currently don't actually unlock any new actions. Presumably as the game grows they will become more useful.
Critical Existence Failure: Though Menaces do unlock special storylets or branches sometimes, you will suffer no detrimental effects from them until they hit 8. Due to the fact that there are four different Menaces, this happens four times over!
Epileptic Trees: Tons of theories are sprouting up throughout the internet about these, most notably the first four cities. In particular, there is one blog that seems to have narrowed them down to their exact locations and names. (Link.)
Cthulhumanoid: The Rubbery Men, moist green creatures with tentacled faces and hands. They don't speak English, but are still surprisingly polite and friendly.
Sometimes. If your Scandal, Wounds, Nightmares, or Suspicion gets too high, you are sent to a special area that will often require you to dent some of your stats in order to escape. These "failure" states can be anywhere from actually beneficial to a legitimate concern for your stats, depending on a number of circumstances.
However, whatever you do, do not let your Nightmares hit 8. The State of Some Confusion is by far the most punishing of the failure states — upon leaving, you lose some of that hard-to-gain dream progress. Better than when it used to, oh, wipe it out completely, but still a pain.
Although with a high enough "Touched by Fingerwork" quality, or have some Memory of Light in storage, you go to the mirror-marches, which are much more forgiving.
The only way out of the Light Fingers failure location mentioned above is death or madness...unless you've been diligently attending to the needs of a singular plant.
Death Is Cheap: Death in the Neath is more of a mild inconvenience than anything else, although it does make it impossible to return to the surface. One storylet has you kill a journalist for being too interested in reporting certain things. "...He'll get better, obviously, but it'll serve as a lesson."
Deader than Dead: Death can still be permanent, however. You can't come back from disease or old age, and if your body is completely destroyed, you obviously can't revive either. (Death from "Cantigaster venom" is also permanent.) A sort of middle ground exists, though; some people don't die permanently, but still sustain injuries too grievous for them to return to society. They're wrapped up in bandages and shipped off to the Tomb-Colonies instead.
Dying in the Neath also prevents you from ever returning to the surface, unless you can get your hands on Hesperidean Cider. An advanced point in the Seeking Mr. Eaten's Name story allows you to try to return to the surface, but since you must have killed yourself several times already to get to that point, you can guess the result.
Also, towards seeking Mr Eaten's name, if you choose to pursue the quest. After a while, it seems like the only reason you still pursue it.
And figuring out what's in that painting...and attending to the needs of a singular plant... Come to think of it, a lot of opportunity cards are like this.
Also, you when getting out of the Wounds failure location. The text on almost every single card there ends with "You must find your way back!". You're getting away from Death on sheer willpower.
And if you spend the Fate to rescue your aunt from Hell. Pretty much to get to this point you have spent enough fate and warped reality enough through force of will to allow you to get a soul out of Hell.
Devil but No God: Devils are quite omnipresent. While the Church still exists (and is quite influential), angels are nowhere to be seen, and God is rarely mentioned. The Bishop of Southwark and the Bishop of St. Fiacre's both have plans to secure the assistance of the Heavenly Host, but it remains to be seen how successful this will be.
One example being the creation of the "Rat of Glory," a rat-shaped candle (or is it a candle-shaped rat?) sent to players who tried to send him a bag of rats using the Commotion in the Square of Lofty Words card.
Another from Christmas 2013: the acquaintance system received a recent overhaul, allowing players to send calling cards to each other. One brave and foolish player sent a calling card to Mr.Eaten's in-game account... and got one in return!
Did You Just Play "Fetch" With Cthulhu?: In the later parts of the Eater-of-Chains storyline, particularly after discovering that its real-world form is the Empress' puppy, the beast is much friendlier than it was when you first encountered it.
Difficulty Spike: Once you become a Person of Some Importance, all bets are off. Challenges become much harder and carry much steeper penalties for failure. Menaces are much harder to remove, Nightmares and Scandal especially. Items that were once commonplace and cheap suddenly become rare and expensive, and resources are far more scarce.
Dirty Old Man/Dirty Old Woman: During a party, a "clingy octogenarian" whose gender is undisclosed may dance with you, and keeps groping your rear.
Discriminate and Switch: In a storylet, someone mentions "a large gentleman with a muddy complexion, if you know what I mean", but the player character automatically thinks "Clay Man".
Dissimile: Fighting a spider council is compared to fighting an elephant. A poisonous elephant. A poisonous elephant which can spit spiders.
Do Well, But Not Perfect: The path to becoming an author requires you to create a particular grade of short story in Veilgarden. Making a story of a higher grade is a waste of time and resources, since it only counts that specific type.
The ending of the "Seeking Mr. Eaten's Name" storyline, as it is. Though currently "unfinished", whatever updates it sees aren't likely to make it any happier.
The Dangerous path of the Mysterious Benefactor story. After pulling off a variety of jobs with him, Jack the Anarchist reveals that he is slowly turning into Jack of Smiles, and begs you to maim him so he can go to the Tomb Colonies. You either fulfill his wish, or leave him to turn, but either way, the man who helped you get a footing in Fallen London meets a grim fate, and either outcome weighs heavily on your conscience.
Dream Land: Prisoner's honey sends you there. Gaoler's honey sends you to someone else's.
Drill Sergeant Nasty: One storylet has your character training up the Constables in the art of monster-hunting, with distinct overtones of this.
"This is a sorrow-spider! Which end do you hold it by? TRICK QUESTION!"
Driven to Suicide: Potentially you, while seeking Mr. Eaten's name. During the Dangerous route of a Mysterious Benefactor, the Anarchist went on a suicide bombing mission because he knows he'll be possessed by Jack-of-Smiles soon enough. You are given the option to kill him, so he can be shipped to the Tomb-Colonies and avoid possession.
Ear Worm: In-Universe; Failing challenges in Mahogany Hall gets you exposed to one of these, as a Menace stat similar to Wounds or Nightmares. The song is Pop Goes The Weasel, and something bad may happen to your pet weasels if it reaches 5.
Drowning My Sorrows: Can come up in gameplay. The wine from the Mrs. Plenty's Carnival can reduce your Nightmare score if you're lucky. If you're unlucky, you'll get plumb drunk and raise your Scandal score instead.
Easter Egg: It used to be possible to play as a Clay Man by clicking the hidden gender option when creating a character.
Eaten Alive: If you're Seeking Mr Eaten's Name, it is possible to do this to your pets.
"Could that long ululating moan be 'A path unmarred by obstacles'? Or perhaps 'A future consumed and forgotten' would be more accurate? Well, you'll find out soon."
Eldritch Abomination: A great many, including but not limited to the Masters, the Rubbery creatures and Flukes, the Eater-of-Chains, the Vake, and more denizens of the Labyrinth of Tigers than have yet been named.
Empty Levels: There's an interesting subversion. As your Watchful quality increases, Chess with Death becomes easier... until the storylet is suddenly replaced by a much more difficult one, bumping you from a 'Modest' back to an 'Almost Impossible' challenge. But then, you realise that the scaling only happens at very specific values, meaning that, with careful optimisation of your equipment, you can keep the challenge 'Modest' by staying exactly one point below the limit.
Evasive Fight Thread Episode: The Black Ribbon duels are allegedly duels to the final death. However, only one of the duelists actually gets killed. Feducci comes back with Heroic Willpowerdespite getting hacked to bits, which is supposed to properly kill a person, and all the other duels get interrupted before you kill your opponent.
According to the "Advising the Loquacious Vicar" quest, even spirifers (soul-traders) find the idea of attaching a live soul to a dead body abhorrent.
When you are Seeking Mr Eaten's Name, after the Starveling Cat asks a spirifier to stain your soul, he may respond, "No, you damnable beast, I will not! A man's got to draw the line somewhere, and I won't, you hear me? I won't!"
It's also easy to play this way, yourself, if you mostly indulge in earthly pleasures but refuse to deal with demons on principle. You'll raise both your Hedonist and Austere qualities quite a bit.
Everyone Is Bi: All the Non Player Characters are, and all characters potentially so - seduction storylets unlocked by increasing your Persuasion are the same regardless of the gender of your character, and include male and female (and ambiguous) targets.
Everything's Better with Monkeys: A Cardsharp Monkey is one of the companions gained from an ambition. However, if you have cause to incite his vengeance, he will not hesitate to cost you an awful lot of either time or money. Protip: Do not anger the monkey.
Evil Gloating: A great example in the Bag a Legend! Ambition, which you can exploit if so inclined: "What an agreeable little lamb you are... I have been grooming victims for the Vake since, oh, long before the Fall, but I've never found one as argh; damn you; ow; desist; REEEGH!"
Expospeak Gag: Using a fictional word. The Professor of Antiquarian Esquivalience. Or in other words, the ancient art of willfully avoiding one's official duties.
Extreme Omnivore: The Starveling Cat is one, if the sidenotes are to be believed.
Eye Scream: Sorrow-spiders steal eyeballs, which hatch into new spiders.
Face-Heel Turn / Heel-Face Turn: You can perform either of these in several occasions, though particularly when severing connections with some of the more strictly moral groups. Some of the actions your character does to sever their connections especially ring of it, such as stealing a particular soul from the Devils, because it's one they can't have, or Urchin-proofing your rooftop to get rid of them.
Fantastic Drug: Prisoner's honey is a magic drug. It doesn't just give you the Mushroom Samba, it actually physically transports you into a dream. Just stay away from red honey...
Clay Men and tomb-colonists are not popular either. The Rubbery Men have it worse, though.
Femme Fatale: The Sardonic Music-Hall Singer is a minor example, as associating with her is a good way to get dragged into criminal entanglements. The player can become a much stronger example, if they pursue Persuasive and Shadowy.
Fictional Colour: A number appear across the Neath, such as irrigo, cosmogone, violant, peligin, and apocyanic. Understanding what produces them and what effect they have on those who see them is the basis of the 'Luminosity' item category.
Fisher King: The Fisher Kings are an urchin gang, based on the Arthurian legend, but it's not clear whether their domain reflects their character. The King with a Hundred Hearts is a Genius Loci example, whose very dreams shape his land and his subjects.
Hi have hay hitem... Hay cert-hain gentleman hat the hobservatory wanted you to have this here distressing hitem. Hi'm glad to be rid of the thing. Now, hif you'll hexcuse me, hi have matters to hattend to.
Fungus Humongous: They live in marshy areas. The player can meet some if they live in a cottage by the Observatory, go shroom-hopping, or are breeding creatures in the Labyrinth of Tigers.
Furry Confusion: Can come up in a conflict card if you have a Ratskin Suit and a Working Rat ally; one option is to reassure him that your suit was made from humanely-farmed non-sentient rats.
Game Breaker: An unusual reverse occurrence. The quest for Mr. Eaten's Name, essentially Self-Inflicted Hell, is considered so punishingly broken (being almost certain to take hours of grinding, destroy most of your character's positive attributes, and then become impossible to complete) that it is no longer supported content and, according to Word of God, the author is not paid for their time working on it; the only official support concerning the quest is don't play it. invoked
Gameplay and Story Segregation: Sort of. In some storylets, the text for failure seems to be more a matter of bad luck than a lack of ability. Also, when failing some storylets that punish you with some Menace, the raised Menace sometimes doesn't make sense. (e.g. You've failed to lecture some people and don't get paid. Wounds is increasing...)
Gaslamp Fantasy: Definitely Victorian, supernatural, and with Gothic roots, though it leans more towards horror.
Gemstone Assault: The Twelve-carat Diamond Ring is primarily a Persuasive item, but also increases your Dangerous by 2. To quote the item description;
Genius Loci: Polythreme, where everything is alive. Specifically, the King with a Hundred Hearts. He's the one who makes the Clay Men - they split off the buildings when the Hundreds dreams. Unfinished Men are what happens when he has a nightmare.
Also there are hints that the Bazaar may be alive in some sense. And it also appears to eat love.
Genre Savvy: The second option of the Death and the River opportunity card lets you be this. "Dark night, doomy river, dying stranger, sinister idol. Yes, that'll end well."
Gentleman and a Scholar: Any player who focuses on Watchful and Persuasive. (Naturally, this includes players who choose the Heart's Desire ambition)
Gentleman Thief: Any player who focuses on Persuasive and Shadowy. (Naturally, this includes players who choose the Light Fingers ambition.)
Golem: The Clay Men, who are employed to do various grunt work in the docks and pubs. They seem to have some form of independent thought, though.
Gone Horribly Right: One opportunity card has you try to settle the differences between two gangs outside your house. Should you fail, you still succeed in making the gangs get along... by getting their leaders to fall in love with each other and causing a crime spree as they cooperate on several heists. Your neighbours are displeased.
A storylet in Ladybones Road has you lay a false trail for a spy to get rid of her. If you fail, it's so convincing that a half-dozen more spies show up to follow up on her investigations.
Good Feels Good: The main benefit of signing up with the C.V.R. - a secret organisation that works to return souls to their rightful owners. Dealing in souls is much more lucrative, but the CVR gives you a hideously expensive option that sets your Nightmare, Wounds, Scandal and Suspicion to zero.
" 'It's a fierce shame - they's both sing like angels, so they do. She was s'posed come back from the Forgotten Quarter last week. I fears the worst for her.' You're well on your way to fearsing the worst too. Fearing the worst. You had better check the Forgotten Quarter. And you didn't know she had a sister."
The Enterprising Astronomer's assistant (see Funetik Aksent above) has this effect, too. You notice the parcel is hemitting... emitting a low wail.
Gotta Catch Them All: The accommodation keys. And several plotlines related to the Labyrinth of Tigers involve catching and/or training an assemblage of various wild monsters.
Government Conspiracy: The Masters are always scheming, but a particularly nasty one is unveiled in the Light Fingers ambition.
Gray Eyes: Anyone with the Stormy-Eyed quality, meaning they completed Recurring Dreams: What the Thunder Said once.
Hall of Mirrors: At Mrs. Plenty's Carnival. Although these mirrors show you the future...possibly. Or they might drive you insane. Or kill you.
Halloween Episode: Two Halloween events have taken place so far. For All Hallow's Eve 2010, where Rubbery Men went door-to-door requesting fish. Hallowmas 2013 was a larger event; several eccentric characters (including some who would later appear in Sunless Sea) knocked on the doors of players to dispense prophetic dreams.
Happy Place: The Mirror Marches can be used like this when you're dangerously close to going insane. It acts like a less-punishing version of the State of Some Confusion, but requires you to have at least one Memory of Light in your possession when your Nightmares hit 8 (or you can access it manually from Mrs. Plenty's Carnival with a high enough Watchful score).
Hell Hotel: The only tourists to visit the Tomb-Colonies are Londoners looking for somewhere completely boring to hide from the public eye. Their hotels are as much mausoleums as residences, being staffed and patronised by the rotting dead.
Hell Is That Noise: If a certain shadowy task is failed, a priest gets a fishhook in his earlobe. From the narration: invoked
"There is no sound on this earth or below it like the sound of a priest with a fishhook in his earlobe."
Heroic Willpower: Instead of playing Chess with Death, you can do this to come Back from the Dead. Most, though not all, of the Opportunity cards drawn in the land of the dead reference your desire to come back to life to enjoy the things you enjoyed in London, finish businesses you have left unfinished, and so on.
Hide Your Children: Averted. One task involves starting a war between two rival urchin gangs. If you choose to do so rather than warn them, you'll hear that children are throwing each other off rooftops and into the river. Probably gets away with it because the character isn't actually inflicting the violence, and it's only a text description. Also, as Death Is Cheap in the Neath, the kids will likely be fine in the end.
Except for the ones ending up in the river. Drownies have it bad.
Historical-Domain Character: A number of them appear, though never by the name they're best known by. There appear Sigmund Freud, Charles Dickens, Victoria and Albert, Pre-Raphaelite painter William Holman Hunt, and one or more of the royal families of Pharaoh Akhenaten and Möngke Khan. The Player Character of The Silver Tree is based on William of Rubruck.
Historical Villain Upgrade: In this world, Jack the Ripper is a sentient set of knives capable of possessing anyone who comes into contact with him.
...And is notably less annoying then the usual Nightmares failure state, which erases some of your progress in the reoccurring dreams storylines. Yes, going temporarily insane is literally a Fate Worse than Death.
Horror Hunger: One of the symptoms of Seeking the Name is a gradually worsening hunger. Seekers are capable of consuming truly monstrous amounts of food, their own pets, and one option they can take when ravenous enough strongly implies that they killed and ate somebody.
Humanoid Abomination: The Snuffers, horrific creatures that disguise themselves as men by wearing sewn-together human faces. The Unfinished Men may also count, given that they're born from nightmares.
I Gave My Word: The Steadfast quirk measures how many times you've done this.
I Lied: The Ruthless quirk (usually) measures how many time you've done this.
Ignore The Disability: Don't mention the Second City to any of the Masters, or they will be rather unpleasant to you, with varying degrees of politeness.
Immortality Inducer: Hesperidean Cider, ostensibly, which is actually an ordinary commodity sold at the Bazaar. It costs a fortune, though; even more than an Overgoat. To our knowledge, no player has ever actually managed to buy it yet.
In fact, it would take over three years of constant farming to get enough echoes to buy some.
One player has, in fact, managed to become the first Hespiderean... by pledging $500 (in real money!) to another Failbetter Games project on kickstarter. A second bottle was later awarded to a player for donating $1600 to Con or Bust in a charity auction. When used in the game, it doesn't actually make you immortal: it heals all your wounds and unlocks some extra content. But it can be used an unlimited number of times and also shared with any number of other players without losing it, making it a social Cool Toy.
Infinity+1 Pet: The prohibitively expensive Overgoat, which bestows a massive boost to a player's Watchful score when equipped — other equipment doesn't even come close.
There is also an Infinity Plus Two Pet in the form of the Ubergoat, which provides bonuses that are nearly double that of the Overgoat's. It's obtained by breeding two Overgoats together.
Interface Screw: The "Fallen London" banner is reversed while you're in the Mirror Marches.
Interface Spoiler: It mainly happens with certain opportunity cards. They'll have several options, and a number of them will be locked and will visibly tie in with plots much further down the road than you can currently access.
The Comtessa is apparently in love with a Clay Man.
Or, alternatively, the Clay Man was in love with her, and she was just off seeking excitement. It didn't end well.
The opportunity card "A deviless' serenade" has you help her write a song to her beloved, a Rubbery Man.
Another opportunity card involves a tomb-colonist gentleman commissioning love poetry with which to woo a human young lady. Mind you, tomb-colonists are technically human under the bandages, but it's still basically treated as this trope.
And a player can optionally take a Rubbery Man as their companion, and during the latest Valentine event, the options just got a lot wider and may lead to future things.
Jungle Japes: Losing your mind results in you going to the Mirror-Marshes, a beautiful (and hot) tropical island populated with perfect mirrors through the surface. Here, you can chase parrots, converse with tigers (oh my), and explore the ruins.
Karma Meter: Several opposing player qualities tend to work this way, including Austere/Hedonist, Magnanimous/Ruthless, and Heartless/Steadfast.
Like Mass Effect, however, the qualities are not mutually-exclusive, which means there's nothing stopping you from, for example, being Magnanimous in some situations and Ruthless in others, though you may still find storylets in which the two qualities conflict.
Entering the House of Chimes requires the player to claim some "exceptional" quality; one option involves having high Austere and Hedonist.
Knife Nut: Jack-of-Smiles, London's premier half-immortal mass murderer, favours those. It's not so bad if he just cuts your throat, as death isn't permanent in London, but he's still dangerous - if he slices you into chunks, you're not going to come back. In fact, Jack 'is' the knives. He's 'in' the knives. If you pick up one of his knives, you're going to become Jack.
You ALL Look Familiar: If you ask Mr. Wines to employ your maiden aunt, it will remark that 'She could almost be a sister to the delicious Mrs Gebrandt.' F.F. Gebrandt and your maiden aunt use the same character art.
Similarly, the Inhabiter of Wolves shares character art with the Eater of Chains...
It's that beast from your dreams! No, no it isn't. It looks d—ned similar though.
La Résistance: The revolutionaries, an underground faction in the underground city, plotting against the Masters of the Bazaar.
Lemony Narrator: Some of the flavor text for items and quirks have elements of this. In particular, the flavor text for the Seeking Mr Eaten's Name quest:
"Why? In God's name, why? What can you possibly hope to gain? Stop now. Before it's too late."
Lethal Joke Item: The Ridiculous Hat, Bottled Oblivion, and Talkative Rattus Faber all reduce your stats. Why would you want this? Because some storylets get locked off once your stats rise too high, and you may still find them useful at high levels. For example, Spite has a cheap, powerful way of reducing suspicion, while at high levels you have to pay for a smaller reduction in the Flit. Your stats also grow faster from failing difficult challenges than succeeding at trivial ones, and your item bonuses contribute to this difficulty. If you're going to be grinding a storylet to raise your stats, you might as well lower your chances to "almost impossible" to get the most benefit, though with that, you'll have to look for storylets that don't penalize on failure.
Recently, the Ridiculous Hat and Bottled Oblivion items have been changed from equipment to usable items that damage your stats, which means you can now lower your abilities to whatever level you want, though you'll have to grind back up afterwards. The Talkative Rattus-Faber still works like he always did, though his stat penalty has been quintupled.
Exile in the Tomb-Colonies has a challenge that you want to fail. Lowering your stats can make this much easier.
Loophole Abuse: There's a story that involves your foe ordering you to go alone to a location in the Flit to confront him. You do go alone as asked because your allies have all arrived there before you.
Losing Your Head: You can stumble across a counterfeit head of St. John The Baptist. (Don't think too hard about where it came from. Actually, they grow on a certain plant.) Yes, you can make horrible headless jokes with it. And yes, you can do the Salome thing, too. Neither of these go down all that well with the public, though.
Lost Forever: Most storylets will disappear once your qualities rise too high or you progress in the plot, though they're usually pointless to keep trying once they disappear anyway.
In particular are gold-coloured storylets, which can only be done once, period, no ifs, ands, or buts. This wouldn't be so much of a problem if not for the fact that they usually have multiple branches...
Fortunately, most allow the option of re-doing them for a price in Fate (often substantial, admittedly).
Low-Level Advantage: At higher levels (26 Watchful, 33 other stats), failing at most cards will raise a Menace.
Luck-Based Mission: Virtually everything, though you can alter the odds by adjusting your qualities. There are, however, certain challenges that are purely luck-based (most players regard them with disdain).
The Case of the Fidgeting Writer (essentially a long game of Double or Nothing).
MacGuffin: The Affair of the Box concerns a heavy iron box with seven locks. For the majority of the storyline, you have no idea what's in it, only that everyone wants it. As it turns out, the box was meant for everyone to chase, not open. Making this a perfect example of the trope.
Mark of the Beast: There is actually an entire storyline revolving around having one of these.
The Masters of the Bazaar go by names related to their primary trade good - Mr Pages trades in books, Mr Iron trades in weaponry, and so on.
The Clay Men Jasper and Lyme are named after minerals.
Mind Rape: The mysterious red honey, properly named Gaoler's Honey, works much the same as Prisoner's Honey - except that it transports the taster to the dreams of other people and allows them to rummage through their victims' minds. This is not in the least pleasant for the victims.
Money Grinding: You'll often need to do this if you want to buy equipment, since most of it is ludicrously expensive.
Mugged for Disguise: In the Light Fingers Ambition, you need to sneak into an asylum, so you get a uniform from a guard, either by bribing or mugging him. The success text will mention the clothing not fitting you, but it'll have to do.
Nameless Narrative: Not quite absolute, other than the Black Ribbon duelists, the Masters, the characters with Twitter feeds, and the Mahogany Hall magicians, names rarely, if ever, pop up.
Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Subverted. The various abominations' names tend more towards the weird than the scary. Eater-of-Chains. The Cantigaster. The King with a Hundred Hearts. Mr Eaten.
New Game+: Sort of. Currently, completing the "What the Thunder Said" dream storyline once will give you a special quality, "Stormy-Eyed", and reset your dream quality to zero. With Stormy-Eyed, you can go through the storyline again from the beginning, but use your Stormy-Eyed to interact with the dream in different ways and glean new information.
Nice Guy: Anyone with a high Magnanimous score becomes this, usually.
Nightmare Face/Slasher Smile/Fangs Are Evil: The Exceptional Rose is suggested to have this. A snippet on the sidebar reads, "It carries on top a remarkable bloom. This remains tightly in bud, except for a day in late winter, when the flower opens to reveal, nestling in gorgeous red petals, a little child's face. It looks very darling, until it smiles."
The calling card of Jack-of-Smiles is smearing his red smile across Wanted posters - then, later on, showing the victim the real thing as he stabs the shit out of them.
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Trying to take the "good" options in stories will often lead to the game punishing you, either immediately or later on.
Noodle Implements: During the Shadowy version of the Mysterious Benefactor story, you have to follow a spy. Apparently, at one point, "She nearly throws you off with a trick involving two hansoms, a Constable and a hurled umbrella." If you can figure out this trick, you've probably been playing too long.
References to incidents involving weasels are rather common.
Also, the University;
The University has a secret. Well, probably it has thousands. That business with the registrar and the cake, for instance.
Some reports about Neath snow.
The Neath's annual snowfall has been studied. The learned men of the Department of Chiropterochronometry have attempted to incorporate it into their theories of bat rotation. The microscope that was used still exists. It can be seen in the Museum of Mistakes to this very day. The brass is horribly corroded, but the lenses are essentially intact.
Should you invite your aunt down to the 'Neath and fail to sort out her salon opening, you have to stop sailors fighting and a bunch of drunks who'd been doing something...
Similarly, failing to rob the Bazaar will drive you insane instantly regardless of what your Nightmares stat was previously. Unless you have a Bejeweled Cane, Spiked Rosary, or Cheerful Goldfish and no nightmares, in which case the negative stat from the item will keep you sane. Don't un-equip it.
Also applies to the NPCs. There's not a lot of NPC portraits and they get recycled for various characters. Occasionally this is lampshaded, like when Mr Wines points out the resemblance between F. F. Gebrandt and your aunt.
Opium Den: The Honey Dens of Veilgarden bear a certain resemblance.
Orphanage of Fear: The mysterious institution, known only as The Orphanage, where agents of the Masters experiment on kidnapped orphans. High-level characters can open their own, and act as The Fagin to its residents.
Orphanage of Love: Alternately to the above, a nicer orphanage owner can dedicate their resources to supplying their charges with comfortable conditions and loving homes.
Souls are usually green, glowing amorphous things kept in bottles. You can buy or sell them at the Bazaar; although you're supposed to be licensed to deal in them, that stops precisely nobody. The unlicensed trade is called "spirifage" (and you had better really hope the devils don't catch you at it) but the word is usually reserved for people who steal souls without bothering to make contracts - taking them from the mouths of drowned people, stealing them from impoverished children, sneaking into hospitals to pull them out of invalids and so on.
Eight or nine percent, according to the Brass Embassy, of people in Fallen London are soulless. Tedious anarchist literature claims a figure as high as eleven.
Many people, especially in Society, are extremely keen to get theirs removed. They call the process "Abstraction."
Exactly to what extent being soulless impairs you is unclear, and it might be different for different people. There's clearly a number of people who want theirs back, but at the same time it's apparently a boon for lawyers. At least one inventor apparently thought the problem could be solved with a special surgical truss. The devils themselves put it like this: "The effects? Well, nothing one would really notice. A little depression of mood. A pleasing melancholy here and there. Perhaps a lessening in appreciation of beauty. But does not beauty cause so much of the world's difficulties?"
The landlord of one lodgings option (the Rooms Above a Bookshop) is suggested to be missing his soul, and he spends most of his time either moping or weeping.
You can sell or lose your soul at several points in the game. You even get your own infernal contract.
Oxbridge: The University, naturally - to some extent, Benthic and Summerset College are what you would get if you tried to squeeze Cambridge and Oxford, respectively, into a single campus.
Painful Rhyme: An in-universe example: in an early venture in which you write mushroom poetry, you may do field work on your subject. The success text reads, "The work advances. Are you actually going to rhyme 'mushroom' with 'room'? I mean actually?"
One of the Starveling Cat rhymes: "The Starveling Ket! The Staveling Ket! What did it find in the oubliette?"
"The Starveling Ket! The Starveling Ket! Mean when he's dry! Worse when he's wet!"
Pass the Popcorn: There are several opportunity cards or storylets that involve something terrible happening, such as a tentacled monster grabbing a child. The character has the option of being a hero or selling snacks or tickets or collecting bets among the crowd.
Pay Evil unto Evil: Sometimes, an Opportunity will have some thief you know of ask you to rob some down-on-his-luck bastard, like a Tomb-Colonist. You can pretend to steal from them, then steal a few more from him and give it to the Tomb-Colonist.
Jack-of-Smiles likes going after those on Wanted posters.
Perfectly Cromulent Word: Most of Mr Pages's dialogue. For example, he collects Proscribed Materials as part of his war on "pestilent and obstacudent literature". Some of his dialogue uses truly obscure English words, but some of it is (as far as research avails) entirely made up, but still with solid etymological roots. Also see its Twitter account, for more fantastic examples.
Pet the Dog/Kick the Dog: There's nothing stopping you from taking a nice or cruel action out of the blue. (Doing this must greatly confuse the populace of Fallen London if you're famous...)
Player Versus Player: Knife and Candle, the artful game of polite murder. Players are warned beforehand to become very Dangerous first before attempting this. Now making a comeback after being removed for a complete re-design.
Politically Correct History: The developers include a little bit of this on purpose, counterbalanced with some carefully picked Deliberate Values Dissonance, to make the game more welcoming to players whose gender, race, and/or sexuality would have caused problems for them in the actual 19th century. The Everyone Is Bi thing is a good example; nobody in Fallen London appears to care what gender of person you prefer to take to bed. Also, the Non Player Characters are more gender-balanced than in many games set in the present day or the future.
Power of Love: Played straight, subverted, inverted, turned on its head, torn to pieces, reassembled and played with. In the deepest matters of the Bazaar, look to love. Always.
Press X to Die: During an advanced point of the foolish quest to seek Mr. Eaten's Name, you can land in a twisted version of Mrs. Plenty's Carnival. There, by paying 50 Fate and 5 carnival tickets, you have the option to ride the wheel that normally takes you below the Neath all the way up to the surface. At which point, you die. Forever. That's all for your character, pal. The game warns of this in very plain terms, going so far as to say there isn't even any interesting flavor text for your trouble. And you can still do it. And people have done it. One player took the plunge, and somehow their character wasn't deleted. Hilariously, the player's reaction was to submit a polite bug report requesting this be remedied. The developers boggled a bit and then rewarded the player a unique Quality.
Seeking Mr. Eaten's name is effectively a long line of buttons that, should you press them, will make you repeatedly commit social, financial, spiritual and literal suicide over and over and over...
Pretentious Latin Motto: Above the gate at the Shuttered Palace. It reads "Omnis Traductor Traditor." Translation "Every translator is a traitor.
Professional Killers: Fallen London has its share of murderers-for-hire — many of which will even make sure their targets stay dead. The player can even become one!
And it also has its share of Hobbyist Killers, in the form of the Game of Knife And Candle, where participants murder each other with "strangely boyish" enthusiasm.
Pun: In a storylet involving a head, a counterfeit one your singular plant may give you, the success titles for two of the choices are "a head start" and "a heady sight".
Purely Aesthetic Gender: There isn't any change in gameplay whether the player chooses "Lady", "Gentleman", or "There are people walking around with the faces of squid - squid — and yet you have the nerve to waste our time with trifling and impertinent questions?" For those so inclined, it's possible to seduce NPCs of any gender, no matter which option one chooses. In addition, all clothing is unisex; gentlemen can wear corseted gowns and ladies dapper tailcoats without anyone taking notice.
Queen Vicky: The Traitor Empress is never explicitly named, but very strongly implied to be Victoria. Consider: her consort is stated to have been suffering from Typhoid prior to London's fall — in the real world, this was the disease that killed Prince Albert. Conveniently enough, he recovered after the Fall.
Reality Warper: If Dr Schlomo's theories are correct, the Correspondence can be used to do this.
The Iron Republic is free from all laws, up to and including the laws of physics.
Revolutionary: Mad as you like, but if you believe him, sometimes rain falls up and time runs backwards. Not even the tyranny of nature rules in the Iron Republic. Imagine that! True freedom for all!
Reduced to Ratburgers: Given the abundance of rats and shortage of conventional livestock in Fallen London, many people eat rats on a regular basis.
The Raggedy Men eat mostly rats, and can accordingly be bribed with sacks of dead rats.
When you journey across the Unterzee, you don't have to actually choose your destination until you reach it. Interestingly enough, this means you can set off on a long zee voyage from London to...London.
If you're in the Labyrinth of Tigers' breeding program, one of the ways to prepare your creature is to tame it, but none of the flavor text specifies which of the beasts you discipline (it's always "your beast", "monster", etc.). You then choose which one you have prepared when it's time to breed.
Shaggy Dog Story: If you agree to take in the Albino Rat at the end of the Plaster Face story, they tell you one of these: The Albino Rat was once a friend of the Watchmaker's Daughter, and they were happy — but then the Masters of the Bazaar started sending ominous messages, and the Watchmaker's Daughter felt that they wanted to own her. The Albino Rat tried to make a music box to soothe her friend, but she drowned herself to escapebefore the box was finished.
Of course, the Neath being what it is, there's a strong implication she's not dead, but simply hiding among the Drownies - and now there are clockwork toys and gadgets rising up in bloody rebellion, and the Watchmaker's Daughter is likely deeply involved.
Shaming the Mob: One opportunity card lets you do this in order to save a Rubbery Man from lynching. Success in another opportunity gives a murderess a fair trial instead of a lynching. While you're giving your heartfelt speech to the mob, she takes the opportunity to murder somebody else. But least it all stays civilised.
Schmuck Bait: Storylets with only negative consequences will carry bold warnings, such as Do not do this. Only pain and suffering will result. or This is undoubtedly a terrible idea. Most notably, Seeking Mr. Eaten's Name warns you nearly every step of the way.
To Blade Runner, in a challenge at Watchmaker's Hill: "'Do you make up these questions? Or do they write them down for you?' With the grudging agreement of the Constables, you interview a series of Clay Men, asking them ever more intimate and revealing questions about their 'lives', their work, their intentions, their emotions. Tortoises. That sort of thing." As an added bonus, Clay Men are constructs frowned upon on society for being little more than menial servants, some Clay Men want nothing more than more life, fucker, and the storylet is about sniffing out rogue Clay Men.
The Rubbery Men look suspiciously like humanoid Cthulhus, and are even referred to as "eldritch".
The sidebar text for the Vake obliquely references Batman: "They say it's not a monster at all. It's a man who dresses up as a bat. To, ah, prowl the city by night. But that would just be stupid."
All but one of the Recurring Dreams/Strange Dreams are named after the sections of T.S Eliot's "The Waste Land". Even before the newest Recurring Dream finished this off with "What the Thunder Said," that phrase was explicitly quoted in "A Game of Chess."
When investigating a tomb in the Forgotten Quarter, one of the headers reads "It is often a matter of snakes."
A card that can be drawn in the orphanage (an area for Light Fingers) is titled Room 101, and the descriptions suggest the character thinks it's related to the Room 101 from 1984. It's a broom closet.
A choice in a Christmas storylet in 2010 mentions a grue.
The London Magazine refuses to change its name:
"The Bazaar requires the London Magazine to change its name. The London Magazine has survived two centuries and one duel! It has published Keats, Shelley, De Quincey, Hazlitt! It will survive the translation of London to this d——d abyss, and the dictates of the Bazaar. We will continue to publish under the name, The Magazine Formerly Known As The London Magazine."
If you're Indulging A Less than Laudable Laudanum Habit, you can have a dream in which "your beloved dances in a graveyard," referencing Hector Berlioz's opium-inspired Symphonie Fantastique.
His Amused Lordship bears a passing resemblence to BRIAN BLESSED!
Failing a certain storylet causes a few agents from the Ministry of Public Decency to inquire about you. The headline for this is The Men From The Ministry.
There is an option in the "The Long Arm Of The Law" opportunity card, which allows you to reduce your Suspicion by laying a false trail. The text is something like "But what does it all mean? Why is "MONSTROUS ARE THOSE WHO WILL NOT WITHIN" written on the wall? And why all the folded paper swans?
It's not clear whether the Honey-Addled Detective got into that state via experimenting with drugs, or experimenting with bees. It could be both.
The venture in which you teach manners either to a devil or a clay man is called "Pygmalion". Some storylets reference the play as well (e.g. "The FOG in SPITE coils MAINLY in the NIGHT").
Several times, derivations of the phrase "an inordinate fondness for beetles" appear in the flavor text. The possibly apocryphal story goes that Scottish geneticist John Burdon Sanderson Haldane received a question about what designs he glimpsed in the mind of God through his research. His answer was, reportedly, "An inordinate fondness for beetles."
Smart People Play Chess: You can challenge other players to games of chess, which test the Watchful quality. Same goes for chess with the Boatman, although he'll up his game when you do, meaning that you have to very carefully manage your gear if you want to stand a chance.
Snicket Warning Label: Every step of Seeking Mr Eaten's Name warns you not to pursue your quest further; if you do keep going, it'll only bring misery, and if you're successful, it'll bring more misery.
One fate-locked part of the Mr.Eaten quest has the warning label break the fourth wall to tell you how foolish it is. Said option destroys your character forever, and the warning tells you that Failbetter's support staff can do nothing to help you if you're stupid enough to pick that option, and that there's not even any nice flavor text behind it. Even for SMEN, that's a pretty hefty warning.
Interestingly, some players decided to take the plunge anyway, and they discovered that, for once, the Snicket Warning Label is false. The branch does absolutely nothing. When it was first introduced the developers didn't think anyone would be stupid enough to try it, and while they changed this some time afterwards, at least for a while the feature that would reset your Fallen London character wasn't actually implemented. Although it would glitch up your social action menu.
Snowlems: The Noman seasonal storyline released in January 2014, no longer available for new players as of February 2014, and running for as long as you could keep your noman alive in the face of an unrelenting weekly melt-off. (No longer than a month, for most players.)
Socialization Bonus: Several stories are made quicker/easier/more interesting/more efficient if you have friends to ask for help.
In particular, the easiest way to cure your menaces is by asking another player to help. Also the best way of obtaining second chances, and some of the best ways to obtain certain qualities.
The Soulsaver: An optional subplot leads to your character becoming one of these, literally rescuing people's Soul Jars from devils.
Staking the Loved One: The Dangerous path for the Mysterious Benefactor story requires you to make this choice when Jack the Anarchist starts to become Jack-of-Smiles. Of course, since Death Is a Slap on the Wrist, you just make him just dead enough that the Tomb Colonists will accept him (and thus keep him out of Jack-of-Smiles's reach).
Starving Artist: They hang out at the Veilgarden. So you can sleep with them and learn their secrets.
If you're on a certain island while on a Voyage of Scientific Discovery and decide to face the crew whose leader wants to steal your work, failing will force you to hand some of your notes over, accompanied with the flavor text:
Orthos' men want you to share your work. Well, of course. Sharing academic information is nothing less than your duty. Those rifles they're holding don't come into it.
Maywell's Hattery at the Bazaar sells an item known as the "Exceptional Hat". The description of the hat contains the following text:
The Exceptional Hat has never been observed to consume the brains of its wearers.
Sweet Polly Oliver: There's a storylet that involves disguising as a butler to sneak into a study. If the player is female, it's an example of this trope. Later, player who is A Person of Some Importance can disguise as a devil to collect souls from gullible spirifers. This trope applies again. A third storylet has your character sneak into a gentleman's club using their collection of fake moustaches. Finally, if you choose the Persuasive route of a Mysterious Benefactor, your Benefactor turns out to be two small orphan girls disguised as a trenchcoated man.
At the beginning of a story, you get a standard I'm Dying, Please Take My MacGuffin. You could take it and flee, take it and sell it, or throw it into the river. However, since Death Is Cheap in Fallen London, you can just wait for the man to come back to life. (However, the guy's murderer is still around, so you need a very high Shadowy score to pull it off.)
A number of Opportunities have you choosing to help one faction or another. many of these also have a third option which is harder, takes multiple actions or require a certain quality. They are normally the most profitable of the options, though your actions doing so may displease both factions. Being a Survivor of the Affair of the Box opens up a set of fourth options in those Opportunities (or third for those who don't have one already), which only takes one action and allows you to advance in that story while you're not in Spite.
Take Your Time: Some storylets are presented with very urgent situations, such as being pursued by the police or facing a giant monster, but you're still free to Level Grind, rearrange your equipment, and pursue other side quests before you actually attempt them.
Talking Animal: A few, in addition to the regular sort. Rattus Faber are talking rats with a talent for smithing and mechanics, intelligent cats are involved in much of the intrigue of the Neath, and the late game introduces the Labyrinth of Tigers, kept by the tigers themselves.
Shopping Is A Free Action: Talking isn't, but buying and selling items at the Bazaar doesn't cost an action. Advanced transactions at the Bazaar Sidestreets, however, do. Sometimes more than one.
Tattooed Crook: Clathermont's Tattoo Parlor specializes in tattoos that contain hidden messages. And considering pretty much everyone down in the Neath is a criminal in some way or another, and all player characters start out in New Newgate Prison...
Tears of Blood: A common side effect of trying to read the Correspondence.
Most of the characters aren'tnamed and instead are called "the Adjective Job Title" (such as the Near-Sighted Horologist, Struggling Artist, Revolutionary Firebrand, Secular Missionary, and Dauntless Temperance Campaigner, to name a few). This may have stemmed from the Traitor Empress forbidding the use of her name, and thus, many people follow her convention. The magicians of Mahogany Hall do break the pattern with actual names, as do certain recurring characters.
The accommodations acquired through Opportunity Cards are all referred to as some kind of tower: the Lofty Tower for the Bazaar premises, the Tower of Sun and Moon for the reservation at the Royal Bethlehem, etc.
Too Good for This Sinful Earth: If you choose to lay a dead rat in your inventory to rest during a mass funeral for them, one of the mourners will console you by saying he was this. "E's best off quiet in the earth. Bein' eaten by beetles."
Too Important to Walk: As a Person of Some Importance, an opportunity card gives the player an option to defend a pair of Clay Men from prejudice, which leads to an opportunity in the sidestreets to purchase a Clay Sedan Chair, carried by those Clay Men.
Town with a Dark Secret: The village of Mutton Island, where the locals are friendly, the scenery is unusually lush, and the townsfolk perform sinister rituals around the well after dark.
The Trope Formerly Known as X: According to a sidebar blurb, at some point the Bazaar attempted to force the London Magazine to change its name. In defiance, the magazine changed its name to The Magazine Formerly Known As The London Magazine.
A passing Special Constable taps your shoulder and says, 'We normally write that one down as "Othassassass" - helps if you stay consistent.' He tips his black helmet at you and is on his way.
Vendor Trash: Before the Economy Update, Glim and Primordial Shrieks. Now, Rats-on-a-String, Nevercold Brass, Fourth City Relics, Rostygold, and Moon-pearls.
Was Once a Man: This sometimes happens to those who strike deals with the Powers That Be. Examples include the Cantigaster and the King with a Hundred Hearts.
Weakened by the Light: Almost anything that originates in the Neath will become useless upon exposure to sunlight. Glim will melt, Prisoner's Honey will become regular honey, and most pertinent to the player, the suspension on permanent death doesn't extend to the Surface. After you visit the boatman, you're in the Neath for good unless you somehow become truly immortal.
Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him?: In an opportunity card, a naive young man wants to kill you, a dangerous veteran. In one option, you confront him, and when he asks when the duel should be, you shoot him on the spot.
Wicked Weasel: Weasels are popular pets, as they're relatively easy to keep clean and happy underground. Weasel-fighting, whether with common animals or purebred Araby Fighting-Weasels, is a popular sport.