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Stake your claim. Fight to survive. Speak to storms. Murder a sun. Face judgement..

Sunless Skies is a 2D, top-down, story-led game of exploration, corruption, and jeopardy from Failbetter Games. It’s the sequel to Sunless Sea and Fallen London, but you don’t need to know Sunless Sea to play and enjoy Sunless Skies.

Sunless Skies tells the story of one possible future of the Fallen London Universe. Ten years have passed since Sunless Sea, and the Liberation of Night has begun. One by one, the Stars are dying out, and with them die the laws of reality. Amidst the growing chaos, Her Renewed Majesty has led an exodus from London to the heavens. There, a revitalised British Empire — ambitious and authoritarian — begins to expand across the skies.

Sunless Skies entered Steam Early Access and GOG Games in Development the 30th of August 2017.


This game contains examples of:

  • Absent-Minded Professor: The Royal Society's Chair for the Effulgent Sciences.
  • Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: Inverted by the trading system: by taking advantage of Bargains (opportunities to buy certain goods for significantly lowered prices in certain ports) and Prospects (quests which allow you to sell requested goods for much higher prices than normal), you can sell goods for up to five times what you paid for them. The random nature of these means it's entirely possible to aquire a Bargain for goods you need for a Prospect in the same town, meaning you can buy cheap goods and sell them at an inflated price without even leaving the city.
  • Alien Geometries: The High Wilderness is space, but not as we know it. Space in the actual zones you can visit is fairly normal, mostly because there's still some kind of light to set order in the area even if it's not much. What's around them in the utter darkness is fair game for any sort of strangeness, however, which is part of why Locomotives need a protective coating of Hours to travel between them with Relays.
  • All Issues Are Political Issues: Lacking any real power, Parliament is left pretty much exclusively with the incredibly trivial. When you first arrive, you are asked to take sides in a heated political debate over whether Parliament should rename Wednesday to "Victoria's Day" or rename Victoria sponge cake to "The People's Cake".
  • Almighty Janitor: The Prudent Secretary, who is the de facto head of the Windward Company's operations in New Winchester and therefore one of the most powerful people in the Reach.
  • Ambiguous Gender: In keeping with the series, there are numerous characters of mysterious and indistinct gender, including the Incautious Driver and the Prudent Secretary.
  • Antagonistic Governor: The Governor of the Brabazon Workworld, if you choose to support La Résistance.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Hours, the material form of time. While they can't be used for Time Travel, they can be used to create a Year Inside, Hour Outside effect, or as a Fountain of Youth. They're also used to protect locomotives during interstellar travel.
  • Arbitrary Maximum Range: Justified — the High Wilderness actually does have an atmosphere, albeit a very thin one, so it makes sense that weapons have a maximum range.
  • Arcadia: Port Avon, a small farming community on a fertile archipelago in the Reach.
  • Artistic License – Physics: Gravity, among others, works rather slyly. Particularly egregious in places like Traitor's Wood, where you land on a mountaintop campsite and hike to find a grave you probably flew *right past* to find the dock. It's alright though, because as written below, Space Is Magic.
  • Ascended Extra: The story places a lot of emphasis on Judgements, the Liberation of Night, and the Traitor Empress. All were important in Fallen London and Sunless Sea, but as lore material and background factions respectively. The Clockwork Sun may also be the Dawn Machine, but as the game is still in Early Access, it's still unclear.
  • Asteroid Miners: Since asteroids make up the majority of habitable ground in the High Wilderness, these make up the majority of miners. Lustrum in particular is absolutely full of them — with the twist that what they're mining isn't ore or minerals, but time itself in material form.
  • Asteroid Thicket: Asteroids in the High Wilderness tend to come in dense swarms and clusters, with vast gulfs of empty space separating each thicket but only narrow gaps standing between individual asteroids in each swarm. In general, most asteroids tend to be close enough to one another that the gaps between them are easily crossed by bridges or hanging vines. The Ormswold, in which the Royal Society is built, particularly stands out: flying through it is very perilous as the gaps between asteroids are very narrow and it covers a fifth of the Albion outer ring.
  • Authority in Name Only:
    • Parliament. The Empress hasn't given royal assent to a bill in years, and they're largely reduced to bickering over utter trivialities anyway.
    • Eleutheria's Cypress King is deliberately made into one, as "Authority" isn't something those who live in Eleutheria want much at all. The only thing the King gets to do is be a tiebreaker in anything that couldn't be settled in the much more powerful Forum.
  • Bee Afraid: Chorister Bees are swarms of giant, spacefaring bees, which produce music with their wings. Titania in particular has serious problems with them.
  • Beyond the Impossible: Getting to the High Wilderness was supposed to be this, meaning everything you do in the game is this Up to Eleven!
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: The Wilderness is not a vacuum. The air is breathable, though it is thin, occasionally toxic, and prone to strange winds.
  • Beleaguered Bureaucrat: The First Secretary, who winds up essentially drafting you into Parliament simply on the hopes that you'll actually be able to get something done.
  • Berserk Button: Eleutheria presents you with a Morton's Fork of these. Dousers are fanatically devoted to the Liberation of Night and will try to kill you if you so much as light your front lamp anywhere near them, and Grievers are trying to sleep and will try to put any lights out nearby even if it means taking the entire locomotive out along the way. Empyrean Outriders, of the Eagle's Empyrean, are trying to keep the dark at bay and will quickly get pissed off if you don't have your lamps on where they can see you.
  • Big, Friendly Dog: The Inadvisably Big Dog embodies this trope: he is one very large puppy oozing with affection and happiness, whose eagerness coupled with his gargantuan size tends to bring some property destruction around. It does help that his portrait is the cutest and happiest thing you've ever seen in a Failbetter Games game. As the game puts it, there are very few things in the High Wilderness that are so innocently happy.
  • Big Labyrinthine Building: Piranesi is this to its prisoners due to having lanterns chained to their wrists that cause them to either hallucinate or truly experience Alien Geometries within Piranesi, preventing them from escaping until their gaol-time is up. Langley Hall is, as far as anyone knows, just mundane Bizarrchitecture, being simply huge and maddeningly complicated, but it takes using crew and supplies to go on actual, lengthy expeditions to find specific rooms.
  • Boom Town: Lustrum, which has suddenly found itself absolutely full of prospectors hoping to strike it rich mining hours.
  • Brown Note: People who stare at the High Wilderness too long without proper Locomotive windows or the protection of being on a settlement will slowly lose their minds. Even milder places like the Reach have this problem, where many Marauders are afflicted, but in abandoned corners like Eleutheria entire crews of Star-maddened Explorers roam the dark trying to shoot everything that moves because the Wilderness eroded their minds to nothing.
  • Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp": Just like in Sunless Sea, the stats are not named conventionally, instead being named after Masters of the Bazaar: Iron, Hearts, Mirrors, and Veils stand for attack, healing/morale, observation/knowledge, and speed/stealth respectively. Also, the Hit Points are named Hull.
  • Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit":
    • The locomotives players explore the High Wilderness in look more like angular spaceships and aren't reliant on tracks. They're still referred to as locomotives. Likewise, the High Wilderness is mostly like space, though it has some notable differences that put it more in line with World in the Sky.
    • Worlebury-Juxta-Mare runs on this. It is, on paper, a perfect replica of British seaside resort, with a few minor exceptions, such as the "sea" being made of corrosive mist and the "fish" being things that are most definitely not fish.
    • It's even applied to the cardinal directions, as there is no North in space; just a particularly bright star, visible from London, that might as well be North.
  • Call-Back: In The House of Rods and Chains you can visit Mr. Barleycorn, servant of The Halved - The Judgement of Measurements. The servant can give you an eye tattoo and tells you his master once observed the Unterzee through a "wound". If you look at The Halved through the windows of the servants office or saw him on the way (he's a Horror Spectacle) you know he looks like a Giant eye - like black hole, and if you examine the altar in Barleycorn's office you are briefly sent to the bottom of the Unterzee. Also, one of the people you may meet at The House is a ex-zee captain with an extra eyeball somewhere on his body.
  • Cash Gate: The final step of the Wealth ambition is to amass a huge amount of money and retire from space-faring.
  • Close-Knit Community: Port Avon, in the Reach, is a quaint farming community reminiscent of rural England. They're normally not particularly welcoming to outsiders, but become accepting and welcoming quickly once bribed with tea and gossip.
  • Combat Tentacles: The Guests are eldritch monsters that nest inside train engines. At first glance they look like normal trains but when attacked they burst out of the hull and attack.
  • Company Town: Port Prosper, the stronghold of the Windward Company in the Reach. The Brabazon Workworld takes it to an even greater extreme.
  • Cool Gate: The Avid Horizon, the frozen gate that permits passage between the Neath and the High Wilderness. This time we can see the other end.
  • Cool Train: You brave the High Wilderness in a locomotive, and there are quite a few models to pick from. All of them capable of ferrying people and cargo across the stars, and all of them heavily armed.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: The stars themselves are dying, leaving empty holes that whisper strange things.
  • Crappy Carnival: Polmear and Plenty's Inconceivable Circus. The magician's props don't work, the clown can't do any of his best material because his pet geese won't cooperate, the strongwoman has nothing impressive to lift, and one of the acrobats has run off and left behind a twin who doesn't know how to do any solo acts. Fortunately, you can help fix these problems.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Worlebury-Juxta-Mare is an attempt to recreate The Great British Seaside in the High Wilderness, but not necessarily a very good one. It's difficult to ignore the fact that the "sea" is made of corrosive mist or that the "fish" have far too many tentacles. And that's before you get your first glimpse of the Off Season.
  • Crystal Skull: Prolonged exposure to the light of the Clockwork Sun turns bone into glass, which can produce this effect. In particular, if you choose to return the Unhappy Dead from the Boatman to London, one of them develops a glass skull en route.
  • Cyclops: The exclusive scout for Kickstarter backers is a Cyclopean Owl.
  • Defeating the Undefeatable: The Judgements are dying, the chain is broken. Humanity wasn't supposed to be able to even scratch beings higher up in the Chain of Being, let alone the ones at the top, and yet the first step in London's conquest of the stars was to murder our sun.
  • Derelict Graveyard:
    • The Flotilla, which can be visited near the Avid Horizon. This small town of decommissioned ships float on the Unterzee waters that spilled from the Horizon's gates when the Londoners breached through it.
    • Bully's Acres is a more literal example, as London has decided to give its poor the cheapest funeral they could think of — dumping their coffins in the High Wilderness in a large, floating debris field.
  • Deus Est Machina: London has built a fully-functioning artificial god to replace the one they seemingly murdered. And this clockwork god is quite well aware of its status, and is able to brainwash people into worshipping it.
    The Similarly-Dazzled Steward, after trying to fix the Clockwork Sun: "How could I have hoped to fix perfection? A sun cannot die. A god cannot break. There is no such thing as dusk."
  • The Devil Is a Loser: The colony of Devils living at the Well of the Wolf. The place is so horrible they're actually relatively selfless and helpful simply because they're to worn down by living there to be evil anymore. It's implied that Chorister Bees use Devils as a chrysalis (previous games implied Devils were akin to living beehives that migrated to Hell from the Mirror World Parabola, so it's par for the course); these Devils are the ones that the bees hatched from, which may contribute to their condition. Upon coming there, the Repentant Devil is visibly distraught over the witnessing of what his once powerful kin was reduced to after the Exodus.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: London has defeated a sun and replaced it with their own Clockwork Sun.
  • Drives Like Crazy: The Incautious Driver, as the name indicates. Your crew will complain whenever they take the wheel, and there is a special option for berating them if your hull's too low, which means they've been driving even more incautiously than usual. Some elements are retained when they develop into the Judicious Driver. Every risk is calculated, but sometimes they take it anyways for the hell of it, as they explain right before Tokyo-drifting through a debris field just to drive the point home.
  • The Edwardian Era: What the game would be set in if Queen Victoria wasn't still hanging on.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Too many to list. There are the stars themselves (including the Clockwork Sun) for starters, considering that they define what is; and then there are the Guests, the Aeginae, the Scorn-flukes, and many more.
  • Eldritch Location: The Avid Horizon, wefts in time, and the Clockwork Sun, to name just a few.
  • The Empire: The British Empire is expanding once more, this time across the stars.
  • Eternal Engine: The Workworlds of Albion, if only narratively. There is quite a lot of complex and very heavy machinery involved in the Workworlds, making them essentially little more than giant refineries. Emphasis on "eternal", too, since Hour refinement causes heavy temporal distortions around the area, so time passes much faster inside them which allows them to be extremely productive at the cost of greatly shortening the lives of the workers in respect to the rest of the universe.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Inverted by Piranesi. Due to the nature of its construction, the only way to leave is to repent for whatever crime landed you there in the first place.
  • Fantastic Drug: Apollonian Cinder, grown from rare plants found in the Leadbeater and Stainrod Nature Reserve, which apparently has effects similar to snuff. As it turns out, long-term use can also cause insanity. Prisoner's Honey also makes a few appearances. There's also a mention of people trying to find one as a substitute to tobacco, smoking just about any herb they could find in the High Wilderness, and finding nothing good; as a result, tobacco shops are still tobacco shops and they're usually fairly bad.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: Whether or not it's actually "faster than light" under the rather bizarre physics of the Fallen London universe is unclear, but traveling through the Avid Horizon or a Singh-Jenkins relay has much the same effect in practice.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Subverted on Lustrum. Mr Pennies helps the elders of his people stave off death with the mined hours, as even their half-life is better than having to face the consequences of their sins after they die. Apparently, bending the laws of death with the Red Science failed to work.
  • Festering Fungus: Invasive mushrooms eerily referred to as "children" coming from the fungus-heavy Hybras (spoken as the "children"'s "Mother) are responsible for the wrecking of the Parzifal, spreading through the ship, killing almost all of the crew and putting the locomotive out of commission near Traitor's Woods.
  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: The music that plays when approaching the Clockwork Sun features deep bells knelling ominously. It gets even creepier when in immediate proximity of this mechanical monstrosity since it adds ''Psycho'' Strings to the mix just like any other Horror Spectacles.
  • Fountain of Youth:
    • Hours can be used to achieve this effect, by using them to add extra time to your life.
    • The fungi of Hybras can also have this effect, and the purpose of the colony there is for the colonists to return to their youth.
  • Fragile Speedster: Tackety Scouts. They're not made to last, and their weapon isn't quite that impressive, but they are quite agile and will actually dodge shots with their lateral jets.
  • Fungus Humongous: The town of Hybras is located in an area of the Reach covered with titanic growths of fungus and mould. The enormous fronds and mushrooms easily dwarf your locomotive — some of the shelf mushrooms are as big as city blocks — and the great fungi that loom in the background are bigger still.
  • Gaslamp Fantasy: Goes with being a part of the Fallen London universe.
  • Generic Name: The Office of Works. Exactly what they do is unclear, but it apparently requires a variety of Noodle Implements.
  • Genre Savvy: Your captain can be this when boarding the wreck of the Boatman. If you have fifteen Tales of Terror, then your captain has read enough horror novels to know that the sealed-off cargo hold is probably the source of the problem.
  • Genuine Human Hide: The quest for the Incognito Princess gives us a rare non-malevolent version of this trope: after her wedding to the monstrous King of Choirs, she transforms into a giant bee monster, leaving behind her empty human skin. Said skin can be given to one of her two admirers who will be able to wear it and take the Princess' place in the crew.
  • Ghibli Hills: Much of the Reach is like this, what with being the starting area and a place where there has been less turmoil with reality than the other zones, and thus things are calmer and make more sense.
  • Gilded Cage: Perdurance, in Albion. The Empress rewards loyal courtiers by placing their children in a "Groundhog Day" Loop of "a single perfect day", where they enjoy eternal youth and comfort. They are not, however, permitted to leave.
  • God-Emperor: It's possible to fund the construction of a cathedral to Her Renewed Majesty, implying that at least some of the empire's population actually worship her, and as the master of the Clockwork Sun, she certainly has the power to back it up.
  • Government Procedural: The Parliamentary quests have you taking the role of a Parliamentarian, as the local head of the place essentially press-gangs you into it just to have enough outside perspective and motivation to get something done, and you roll with it.
  • Great Offscreen War: The early stages of the Winchester War, which established the current status quo in the Reach and left some very impressive debris fields.
  • Green Hill Zone: The Reach, which is largely unsettled and contains enormous free-floating plants, as well as asteroids covered in fields and forests.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Veterans of Sunless Sea, be glad to hear that eating your crew is an option once more!
  • Immortality Seeker: The London upper class seems to have become this.
  • Intrepid Merchant: Since the easiest ways of making a profit are quickly snapped up by Mega Corps like the Windward Company, making a living as a trader requires you to be one.
  • Ironic Hell: Some of the punishments at Carillon, such as forcing a habitual liar to copy out an entire encyclopaedia, word-for-word, and begin again from the start whenever they make and error, or having someone overly curious walk around wearing magnifying lenses.
  • Kaiju: The Aeginae are said to be as big as mountain ranges. And going by some of the Spectacles it's clear some of the famed star beasts only mentioned before in Fallen London and Sunless Sea are clearly big enough to qualify and not exaggerated in the least. Case in point, the Grave of the Silent Saint looks like the results of a Mutual Kill between a Bazaar-like star messenger crab and a Storm-like star dragon, and they're bloody huge, like one could found two whole cities on their corpses. The House of Rods and Chains takes the cake though, the port entrance is in the mouth the corpse of the same species of creature as the Bazaar, it's easily several screenlengths long.
  • Land of One City: Eagle's Empyrean in Eleutheria is the last remnant of the Khanate. However, due to power struggles with Albion in the region and the fact that the transit relay back to the Reach is under Empyreal control, the Khaganians seek to change this.
  • Language of Magic: The Correspondence, the language of the Bazaar and the Judgements.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: In Fallen London, the cosmology of the universe and the true nature of the stars was one of the game's deepest secrets. In Sunless Skies, it's part of the basic premise.
  • Light Is Not Good: Just like the Dawn Machine in Sunless Sea, you'll want to avoid the warm glow the Clockwork Sun pours over Albion. Not only is it just as addictive and madness-inducing as before, it also slowly turns the hapless people exposed to it into jagged glass. No wonder many describe this Sun as hateful and malevolent.
  • Lighter and Softer: Literally, to a certain extent. The High Wilderness is quite dangerous in its own right, but it's a much brighter and less foreboding place than the Unterzee. As soon as you enter Eleutheria, though...
  • Lightning/Fire Juxtaposition: A location-based example with the ongoing rivalry between London and the Khanate. Londoners work primarily with fire as their main source of energy, best exemplified in the old-fashioned Brabazon Workworld, with its huge furnaces pouring pitch-black smoke in the skies, while the Khaganates heavily use electricity: the Eagle's Empyrean, their stronghold in the High Wilderness, is continuously lit with bright neon lights and their self-made electrical Moon, and the Khan's Palace emits notable and threatening lightning bolts.
  • Loss of Identity: The Amenable Host of Magdalene's has changed himself into so many different people to cater toward his clientele that he no longer knows what his real identity is.
  • The Lost Woods: Traitor's Wood, a vast, dark, wild forest scattered across multiple asteroids, where the only signs of civilisation are strange ruins and a small archeological campsite. Exploring the Wood and discovering its secrets requires you to make multiple expeditions into the forest.
  • Lovecraft Lite: Sure you're a tiny bug barely worth notice, but you're a tiny bug who can kill a sun, and the suns probably are asking for it.
  • Mad Scientist: An occupational hazard in a world where scientists are expected to study Things Man Was Not Meant to Know. The player character will be this if you choose the Academic background and the "interlude in red and gold" facet (which means you actually went mad at some point and got dragged to the Royal Bethlehem Hotel; whether you made it back to sanity or just learned to pretend is your choice).
  • Madness Mantra: Remember the creepy "THE SUN THE SUN THE SUN THE SUN" one when nearing the Dawn Machine in Sunless Sea? Well, you'll be delighted to hear that it gloriously returns when nearing the Clockwork Sun in Albion!
  • Magitek: Some of the New British Empire's technology qualifies:
    • Hour-looms use conventional mechanical technology to use hours, the material form of time, to slow or accelerate the flow of time. They're used both to artificially extend people's lives and to increase the efficiency of factories.
    • Singh-Jenkins relays use hour-looms to coat a space-faring, coal-fired steam train in a protective coating of hours, then use the Correspondence to accelerate it to faster-than-light speeds.
    • The exact nature of the Clockwork Sun maybe a bit confusing, but it definitely incorporates both supernatural elements and, well, clockwork.
  • Master of Disguise: The attendants at Magdalene's, who disguise themselves as significant people from their client's lives in an attempt to help them come to terms with their past.
  • Mega-Corp: The Windward Company, which represents London's interests in the Reach.
  • Mighty Glacier: Any sort of Dreadnought that London sends. They're fairly slow to both move and turn, and they have no lateral jets so they can't really do a snap dodge and thus anything aimed at them will hit them. But they all have at least one heavy repeater with an automated turret to complement it, as well as heavy armor that'll make them harder to kill than most other enemies even under heavy fire.
  • Mind Screw: The nature of the setting as a Gaslamp Fantasy Lovecraft Lite Cosmic Horror Story naturally leads to these being a common occurrence.
  • Misery Builds Character: This is the basic working principle behind Carillon — you go there to have the flaws removed from your soul by suffering various horrible punishments. The facility is run by devils and to some degree acts like a purgatory for willing patients.
  • Mister Descriptor: In Lustrum you can meet a cloaked trader named Mister Pennies at The Hanged Man pub, and there's also a similarly cloaked Mister Menagerie traveling around several spots in the Reach, selling scouts. It doesn't take too much effort to figure out that both are part of the same species as the Masters, possibly the last of their kind after the events between the events of Sunless Sea and this game. There's also a Mr Pipes and a Mr Barleycorn, the last of which will send you on a quest to find the rest of his kin.
  • Moral Guardians: The Ministry of Public Decency, as one would expect. Literature they approve ends up terribly bland, deprived of both bite and humor.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: Were you a cunning street urchin, a condemned scientist, a starving poet, a zee-captain, a revolutionary or an auditor for the Ministry of Public Decency?
  • Mundane Luxury: Sensible Plumbing, which gives your locomotive regular hot and cold water, quieter pipes and toilets that actually flush, rather than whatever it is you had before. It raises crew capacity by six, even without any other changes, meaning that your crew will gladly face heavily cramped conditions if you simply have a bathroom that works decently.
  • Murder by Cremation: Attempted by the crew of the Boatman onto the newly revived dead bodies they were ferrying to their final resting place, to the understandable ire of the latters. Though to their credit, from their point of view, it looked like a Night of the Living Mooks and they fully freaked out as a result, not knowing the dead were in fact reunited with their minds and were as harmless as their living selves.
  • The Necrocracy: The Blue Kingdom is populated by the dead.
  • Negative Space Wedgie: Wefts of Unravelling Time will send you careening through a variety of possible futures and may pop you out months before you went in.
  • Nice Hat: The Tacketies refer to London loyalists as "Stovepipes" due to their choice in headgear. You can also wear one at Worlebury-Juxta-Mare.
  • Nightmarish Factory: The Brabazon Workworld. Imagine the worst excesses of Victorian industry, and then imagine them with the power to ensure that for every hour that passes outside the factory, an entire year passes for its workers.
  • Night of the Living Mooks: Rumoured to be what happened to the Boatman, a Necropolis-line ship ferrying corpses for burial. Subverted. The corpses did come back to life in a bizarre fit of Negative Space Wedgie-induced Mental Time Travel, but they're ultimately the same people they were in life, and they did hijack the ship from its crew, but only because the crew assumed this trope was happening and kept trying to incinerate them.
  • Noodle Implements: The Office of Works in London is willing to pay good money for these.
  • Noodle Incident: Officially, Albion Standard Time is dictated by the head of the Horological Office's own pocket watch. Except that one time he got drunk, which somehow resulted in the entirety of Albion losing two whole hours.
  • Phlebotinum-Induced Steampunk: The New British Empire can do some amazing things with coal-fired steam engines, but not without the help of hours and the Correspondence.
  • Pleasure Planet:
    • Inverted with Carillon, a spa run by Devils where visitors can have various horrible things inflicted on them in order to cleanse and refine their souls.
    • Magdalene's is a straighter example, as it offers people with regrets to relive past events to bring them some closure. This is one of the places where reducing Terror is the easiest.
    • Worlebury-Juxta-Mare is also an example, being an attempt to recreate The Great British Seaside in the High Wilderness. Albeit not a very good one.
  • Portal Network: The four main regions are connected by Singh-Jenkins Transit Relays, which use the Red Science to slingshot locomotives across vast interstellar distances.
  • Possessive Paradise: Langley Hall won't physically stop you from leaving, but you and your crew will suffer weird nightmares until you return.
  • Prospector: There are several in Lustrum, and you can attempt to stake an hour-mining claim yourself. The first one of them was Old Tom, who is said to have made a wish in a Well (actually a black hole), gone to Lustrum and dug up an entire century on the first try (when individual chunks are mere hours; this was a geode the size of a whale).
  • ''Psycho'' Strings: Disturbing Psycho Strings are heard when nearing Horror Spectacles, accompanied by a blood red, pulsating tint on the corners of the screen. As if most of these Spectacles (Faith's Fall and the Grave of the Silent Saint particularly come to mind) weren't gruesome enough...
  • Purpose-Driven Immortality: Those held captive in the Well of Wonders are forced to perform in and attend to a theatre play reenacting the story of a Prophet that tried to convince the Twin Kings of Eleutheria that a revolution was necessary. When at last the story managed to be told in its entirety thanks to your captain, they all crumbled instantly to dust, as they only had been kept alive and young to fulfil their role into reciting and hearing the complete story of the Exile Prophet. The sole exception was a little girl that became a very old woman as soon as the play ended, and died mere moments later.
  • Put on a Bus: The Echo Bazaar, the Masters, and a lot of the core locations and factions of the previous games don't make a clear appearance. Yet, anyways. And for many, the implications aren't good, so that absence is likely of the unpleasant sort.
  • Quest for Identity: The Amenable Host sends you on one, asking you to visit various ports across the Reach to try and see if anyone remembers him.
  • Rail Enthusiast: Considering spaceships are trains in this setting, it was only natural for trainspotters to be around. Their numbers are unclear, however; the New Gazette's "Trainspotter's Delight" segment, ostensibly there to give trainspotters in New Winchester a guide to particularly interesting locomotives, is actually a concealed bounty board run by the Windward Company and any engines featured in there are free game for company vessels.
  • Reality Warper: The Judgements. Through the use of the Red Science, it's possible to construct artificial Judgements, such as London's Clockwork Sun.
  • Really Royalty Reveal: When your captain first meets the Incognito Princess, one might think she is an incandescent young lady impersonating a princess. Then, when you speak to her to start her personal quest, she removes her tiara... and brings out and even fancier one, stating that she is the daughter of Her Renewed Majesty (probably the Captivating Princess from seen in Fallen London) travelling incognito.
  • Rebellious Princess: The Incognito Princess is hinted to be rather bothered by her status if we are to believe her answer to the question "Why are you travelling around the High Wilderness?":
    The Incognito Princess: "The ambition of any Princess worthy of the name is not to remain so."
  • La Résistance:
    • The Colonial Assembly, also known as the "Tacketies", a loose alliance of colonists fighting for the independence of New Winchester and the Reach.
    • The New Street Line in Albion is similarly fighting to liberate workers from the oppression of the Workworlds.
  • Revenant Zombie: A possible effect of exposing a corpse to a Weft of Unravelling Time is that the mind it had in life is reunited with the body.
  • Right on Queue: The line for Worlebury-Juxta-Mare is absurdly long. If you actually choose to wait in line instead of bribing your way past, it takes multiple days before you're admitted.
  • Rugged Scar: The Indurate Veteran has one all over the left side of her face, apparently caused by frostbite. One can conjecture it was earned during the first encounter between Stovepipes and Tacketies, and that a hole in the hull of her locomotive was to blame.
  • Sanity Meter: The Terror mechanic from Sunless Sea returns, though tweaked. Terror still rises as always, but when the meter tops out Condition rises by one, and the bar loops back to 0%. The higher it is, the creepier random events will get, and if it hits level 6 at any time that's it.
  • Sanity Slippage: High Condition levels will make it clear, through the random events accosting your locomotive as you traverse the High Wilderness, that you are starting to lose it, your grasp on reality is getting tenuous, and the things you're seeing and interacting are only making matters worse whether they're real or not.
  • Scenery Gorn: Spectacles that increase your terror are usually this, when they're not simply a place that's disturbing in and of itself.
  • Scenery Porn: Spectacles, a kind of terrain feature in the High Wilderness that float in the background and will either increase or decrease your Terror when you get near them depending on what kind of landmark it is, either are impressive to look at.
  • Sentient Stars: The stars and our sun are known as the Judgements, almighty gods that use their light to impose their laws upon everything they shine upon. Well, probably not for long, as they are all being killed.
  • Sequel Escalation: Players of Fallen London and Sunless Sea will be surprised to find how much the world has been shaken up in the Time Skip between Sea and Skies; the central premise of the plot focuses on the all-powerful, enigmatic Judgements being killed, when they previously seemed near-godlike.
  • Settling the Frontier: The Reach, a vast wilderness ripe to explore, to colonise, and to exploit. Here, the Empire is opposed by the environment and a growing movement of settlers determined to rule themselves.
  • Shoot 'em Up: Combat plays out in basically this style, with manually-aimed weapons that shoot avoidable projectiles in specific patterns.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The teashop owner Melusine Murgatroyd's name is a reference to Melusina, a mermaid with the tail of a serpent in Celtic mythology.
    • The Eleutherian prison of Piranesi is named after the Italian artist Giovani Battista Piranesi, who was known among other for his etchings of imaginary prisons, or "Carceri d'Invenzione". The shop found in the place is even named "Carceri" as a further reference.
  • Sinister Sentient Sun: While artificial, the Clockwork Sun on the ridge of Albion is a hateful and malevolent entity that bathes Albion in a toxic light that can turn the nearest people and environment into jagged glass, bringing them excruciating pain. The people operating it must wear a full-coverage suit in order to avoid those effects. Also, the Sun houses a prison that leaves its prisoners without any protecting gear, leaving most of them them to turn into glass and go utterly insane in the ordeal.
  • Soul Jar: The Heart-Catcher plants in Eleutheria are a variation, they can capture a death, preventing a person from dying in a specific way. As the Greenfingered Old Warhorse explains though, using this to gain immortality is highly impractical, In a place like the High Wilderness being killed by something that you expect, and therefore arranged a Heart-Catcher for is far less likely than getting killed in ways you didn't think possible or living through something you wish you didn't.
  • Sound-Coded for Your Convenience: All enemies will make you very aware of the fact they've targeted you, or someone else, through tell-tale sounds that act as a battle-cry of sorts. Whether it's the gurgling of a Cantankeri, the horn-blast of a Star-Maddened Explorer or the shrieking of a Scrive-Spinster, you'll know when you've become a target. Also useful in case of charging enemies, especially the aforementioned Explorers; you hear them, and it's time to get dodging.
  • Space Clouds: Nebulae in the High Wilderness are much denser in real life, and provide a safe source of natural light. Port Avon, for example, is lit by a golden nebula that interacts with its atmosphere to create an Earth-like blue sky. Often, they're also quite toxic to breathe.
  • Spot of Tea: Tea is more present in this game than its predecessors.
    Tea is always a good idea. In a universe of horrors, tea is never wrong.
  • Space Cold War: The Winchester War. The initial stages of the war were very hot indeed, but by the time the game starts a tentative and uneasy ceasefire seems to be in place. Emphasis on uneasy; even if there's no all-out war, there's a high chance that you'll hear the sounds of Tacketies and Stovepipes shooting at each other while docking at New Winchester.
  • Space Is Cold: Without proper insulated clothing, going out in the Wilderness will freeze you dead within fifteen minutes. It's also why running out of fuel is very immediately lethal; no fuel means no steam, and thus no heating inside the locomotive.
  • Space Is Magic: In the cosmology of the Fallen London universe, the laws of physics as we know them are actually the arbitrary decrees of the Judgements, enforced by sunlight. But the law is disappearing as the stars go out, and in the darkest parts of space the law never applied at all.
  • Space Madness: Staring into the stars for too long is bad for your mental health. Most ships have stained-glass windows in order to ameliorate this effect. Marauders, a relatively common enemy, are ships whose crews have partially succumbed to this with the captain often being crazy, and the Star-maddened Explorers of Albion have completely lost it and have filled the walls with constellations that don't exist while they hunted for things to shoot at.
  • Space Navy: The Royal Navy, which fields extremely powerful dreadnoughts.
  • Space Opera: It's a very, very unorthodox example, but an example nonetheless.
  • Space Whale: The Cantankeri "swimming" around in space look very much like small whales or porpoises and are generally peaceful so long as you don't come too close. When provoked into attacking, though, they reveal their multiple legs and the carcass is described to be more akin to an insects carapace. They're also grumpy enough that a group of Cantankeri is referred to as a "disgruntlement".
  • Starfish Aliens: All of them. There are very few aliens that are even remotely human-like, and even the few that are are generally the result of aliens that are distinctly not human-like using the Red Science to assume A Form You Are Comfortable With.
  • The Stars Are Going Out: The stars are being murdered en masse.
  • Star Killing: The poor Sun has been completely obliterated by Her Renewed Majesty's Unclear Bomb. It's cooling and ravaged remains can actually be seen from far away near the Most Serene Mausoleum, and the part above the wound caused by the bomb acts as a Horror Spectacle.
  • Steam Punk: Played absolutely straight compared to the game's predecessor titles. Being set in space means the steam-powered technologies have to be a lot more advanced than mere Victorian-era science in order to function.
  • Survival Sandbox: The game is basically a Wide Open Sandbox in a procedurally generated world, focused on resources management, and including permadeath.
  • Tick Tock Terror: A creepy, loud and distorted version of the iconic Big Ben chime will sometimes ring when flying in the desolate and ominous area surrounding the Floating Parliament. Justified since one of the spectacles found there is the Tower of Chimes — the remains of the actual Big Ben.
  • Time Master: The Traitor Empress rewards her favourites with months to prolong their lives, while those who displease her are condemned to the Midnight Cells, where every minute lasts a day.
  • Time Police: Officially, the Horological Office's job is just to make sure that every clock in the Empire shows the same time, but they occasionally lean towards being this.
  • Time Travel: Can be done using wefts in time.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: Rare instance of this being present even without Time Travel due to differences in the flow of time; although it's officially only been ten years since the events of Sunless Sea, the New British Empire has made such extensive use of mined hours that it'd be easy to be mistaken that centuries have passed (and for some, they have).
  • Towering Flower: Gigantic flowers are a fairly common feature in the the lush and fertile Reach.
    • To say that the flower on which Titania is built is giant is one big understatement: after all, a whole town has been built on it, with each district standing on a different petal. Unfortunately for the Titanians, this big flower attracts equally big bees.
    • There is also the verdant Leadbeater and Stainrod's Nature Reserve, which is built in a lush and verdant if threatening area of the Reach, which features among other giant tubular flowers larger than the locomotives players roam around in.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: It wouldn't be the Fallen London setting without them.
    • Worlebury-Juxta-Mare is, on the surface, an attempt to recreate the British seaside in space, and doing remarkably well, considering the fact that the ocean is made of corrosive mist and the fish have far too many tentacles. But there's something not quite right about the place. Then you find your way into the Off Season, and discover a cult using the Red Science to engage in some serious Body Horror.
    • Langley hall is seemingly a large, luxurious if somewhat difficult to navigate mansion where you can rest from your adventures, but you and your crew find themselves unwilling to leave and you have dreams of weird insectile creatures in the basement.
  • Turn Undead: Subverted in one possible option on the Wreck of the Boatman: upon discovering the undead passengers, you can attempt to turn them away with prayer. This results in them joining in, and then thanking the player for lifting their spirits after their recent ordeal.
  • Tree Top Town: The artists' colony of Titania, which is built on top of a giant flower.
  • United Space of America: There are striking similarities between the Colonial Assembly and the Continental Congress.
  • Unstable Equilibrium: The way Terror works, every time the bar is filled raises your Condition by one level. At 6, you instantly lose, and the higher it is the harder it is to keep your terror low thanks to random events besieging you; at high Condition levels your captain is losing their mind and the hallucinations and actual weird shit attracted to maddened minds visiting the locomotive do not help. By then, it's best to try and drop at Magdalene's even if the price is exorbitant.
  • The War of Earthly Aggression: Although Earth itself is not involved (London having relocated) the Winchester War has shades of this.
  • Warrior Poet: Titania, if you encourage them to build the Academy of the Bloody Arts and the Fortress of Apollo.
  • Weird Weather: Of the Weird Wind sort, but one often finds some harsh winds blowing through the High Wilderness that have strange effects on your vessel and its passengers/cargo. Most common are the Peacock Wind of the reach, that'll cause vegetables aboard to sprout and grow with edible, but unnerving nodules, and the Candlewind that'll rot away your supplies and starve all aboard, not to mention occasionally has a reverse push on your vessel than it'd seem (as in, going against the wind is faster). Both, naturally, cause your Terror to rise.
  • Wham Shot: The Albion launch trailer gives us the first look at the Clockwork Sun, and reveals that we'll be able to visit the other end of the Avid Horizon.
  • Wild Wilderness: The Reach, in comparison to more throughly settled areas such as Albion. By and large, it's is a wild and mostly unsettled frontier, where most settlements are small and relatively young villages and outposts separated from each other by vast stretches of wilderness, where life grows riotously and wild and where travellers are threatened by monsters and spacefaring outlaws. Some of the less-settled areas of the Reach, such as Traitor's Wood, give off this vibe even compared to the rest of the area.
  • Wolverine Claws: Scrive-spinsters can pry locomotives apart with their bronzewood fingers.
  • Vast Bureaucracy: The New British Empire's civil service. Branches include the Ministry of Public Decency, which serve as Moral Guardians and censors, the Horological Office, which tries to make sure that time is consistent throughout the Empire, the Home Office, which originally processed immigration through the Avid Horizon but now merely keeps an eye on the detainees stuck there, the Bureau of Entertainments, which runs Worlebury-Juxta-Mare, and the Office of Works, whose primary purpose appears to be purchasing Noodle Implements.
  • Wishing Well: Old Tom's Well is an extraordinarily unusual example. Found near the Leadbeater and Stainrod Nature Reserve in the Reach, it is said that a prospector had made a wish into it and soon after discovered countless veins of hours on the Mother of Mountains and became excessively wealthy. Since then, people from all over the Reach come to the well in order to have a wish granted. How is that unusual? Old Tom's Well is a black hole, and the small settlements built above it are cold as ice and ravaged by strong winds. Some deluded wishers still swear they saw gold at the bottom of it, though.
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside:
    • The Midnight Cells, where every minute lasts a day, and no one leaves until their hair is white and their bones are bent.
    • This also occurs on Workworlds, as a side effect of the hour-refining process.

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