This year we’ve completed the Ambition storylines in Fallen London, each of which represents a high point of your character’s journey in the Neath; the reason they came in the first place. For the players who’ve reached that resolution, what comes next?
One of the answers here, of course, is “build a railway.” That’s the route we’ve created for players who want to have a broad-ranging effect on life in London, and see their actions reshape the Neath. The Railway content focuses on the kind of effect the player can have when they reach a position of leadership – when their individual power is extended through communities, businesses, institutions and movements. While it’s possible to start a Railway without finishing an ambition, the content is tuned for advanced players, and many ambition outcomes help make Railway work easier.
But what about players who wanted a more personal conclusion to their arc?
In Fallen London, you’ve only ever been able to achieve an ending for your character, and an irreparably final one at that, through seeking Mr Eaten’s name. (Around 700 characters have reached the final endpoint of that story, of the many, many thousands in regular play.)
Completing the Ambition stories, while a vast task in itself, also led us to thinking more about endings. When it became possible to end your character via Seeking, we received feedback that people wanted other ways to retire their characters that weren’t so destructive; they didn’t want to say a firm and final goodbye to the game and the community, and destroy characters in whom they’ve invested lots of role-playing energy, time, and sometimes real-world money.
So we wanted to offer a conclusion mechanic that would
- Allow players other ways to write their character’s final chapter
- Tell a few stories of major change or transformation that wouldn’t fit elsewhere in Fallen London
- Explore possibilities that are already implied in existing content – things the player logically ought to be able to try, but that we’ve never made possible because the consequences would be so extreme
- Provide a fresh experience for veteran players who want to start a new character
- Allow players to pass on a legacy to that character, and even to develop the story of an entire sequence of related characters
- Let players who worked on four sequential characters experience all four Ambitions and gather reward items and companions from them
- Account for a few fun and interesting combinations (what would the Esurient Smith have to say about forging the Jaguar Blade?) that might result
We also had a few anti-goals. We wanted to make sure we did not
- Devalue the character who is being retired. We want this to be a chance for the player to do some final roleplaying and give a character a meaningful end
- Equate all endings with death
- Close off the possibility of other endings for a character besides the ones we’re writing now. Destinies are another way for players to put an ending on their character’s stories
- Make Metempsychosis so much stronger than the alternatives that it feels like the only option for serious players. (There’s more to say about this, so we’ll expand on it below)
- Excessively frustrate players who would like both to retain their current main character and see the new content associated with Metempsychosis.
What is Metempsychosis?
In short, Metempsychosis refers to the transmigration of the soul from one body to another at the point of death. It is an ending, and a beginning.
In Fallen London, it will be a way to tell a character story that has a definite conclusion. It’s also a way to replay the early game more efficiently than you could if starting from scratch, and to enjoy some additional lore and experiences depending on how your previous character ended up.
Finally, it’s a way to string together all four Ambitions into one, joined-up storyline. We can’t see a reasonable way to let a single character do all four Ambitions without restarting: the results would be both mechanically overpowered and fictionally very hard to support. But we can tell a story where all those Ambitions are completed by members of a single dynasty or legacy line.
A Little about the Mechanics
We have made the requirements for starting Metempsychosis lighter than they might have been – in particular, we don’t require players to have finished an Ambition first. The idea is that if someone wants to start a fresh character just for a Metempsychosis run, that should require some investment of time, but be reasonably doable.
Players who undergo Metempsychosis will have legacy items from their previous character, as well as some features that will allow them to move through the early game faster — meaning that they can get back to endgame status more quickly than another type of character would be able to.
However, we’re aiming to make the ultimate mechanical advantages roughly equivalent for players who invest in building up a new character with a legacy, or for players who spend the same amount of time earning rewards and stat gains for an existing endgame character.
Some players may find that they want a change from endgame content and would have more fun revisiting the early game; some players may prefer to stay at the level they’re at.
Other Futures for Your Character
All the Metempsychosis stories are inward-focused and personal, stories of individual change. We don’t often get to tell that kind of story about the player character. Many of our most personal narratives are about non-player characters, especially the ones at the focus of Exceptional Stories. The Nemesis Ambition is arguably the biggest exception in current content, and a number of players have told us they enjoyed it for exactly that reason.
We’re excited to write those – and we know they’re not a fit for every character. Some players are more interested in the effect they have on London as a whole, or the changes they can bring to the lives around them.
Taken all together, all of these elements – from Metempsychosis to the Railway – make more room for us to tell stories about change, and to let us continue adding to Fallen London sustainably in years to come.
What We Can Share Now
We’re not looking to introduce Metempsychosis before 2021. That is a bit later than we had initially expected, but we’re slowing things down to respond to changed development conditions this year.
There are quite a few things we’re still settling, including technical implementation details. But we expect the following to mostly hold true, with the possibility of some changes and additions as work continues and we hone in on the exact experience we’re looking to give:
- You will be clearly warned of what you will lose or retain before undergoing any of the Metempsychosis transformations
- Even if you start a Metempsychosis storyline, you will have a chance to back out any time before the very end of the process
- You’ll have the chance to create a conclusion for your current character, make some final role-playing decisions for them, and retain their final profile. Their story will be completed, not erased
- You’ll define a legacy for the character you play next. Your new character may need to do some work in game to access their legacy
- That legacy will include Ambition reward items and any permanently acquired Laboratory characters. We are still investigating exactly what other possessions it should be possible to pass on
- Any Exceptional Friend stories will be reset so that the new character can replay each of them once for free. This is a chance to reread old favourites you may not have seen for years, or to pick different endings and rewards that might be more suited to the new character you’re now playing
- Regarding Fate purchases: You will be able to inherit equippable Fate-locked items where these were the key element of the purchase – for instance, companions from the Feast of the Rose and the Christmas Incarnadine Robe items. You won’t inherit equipment received in the course of playing a premium story such as Flint, or purchases that only have a nominal Fate cost. We have something else in mind for items like the Heptagoat, for example
- You will uncover new early-game content that exists only for players who already know Fallen London well
- However, Metempsychosis players won’t be able to become extremely wealthy or overpowered through undergoing it multiple times
All of these elements are part of the ongoing improvements and additions to the game. Our ambition as a business is to have two projects running alongside Fallen London (more on the next of our projects in the coming months!). She’s a beautiful, strange old beast, and we have no plans to wind her down.
If you have any thoughts on Metempsychosis, particularly regarding what will happen to edge case items or qualities we haven’t specifically mentioned here, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.