“To Sail A Sunless Sea” will be a series of articles that is part Let’s Play, part fairy tale. I wanted to take the rich world presented in Failbetter Games “Sunless Sea” and do something a little more interesting than a review, or an impressions or a standard Let’s Play. The game works best in tandem with the player’s imagination, as described horrors take root in the mind and become real. As such, this takes the form of the Captains journal, his thoughts on the day-to-day happenings and what it is that drives him. Much of it is present in the game, many of his affections and motivations are placed there by me as I play the character in-game and take him on his journey across the Sunless Sea to his inevitable destination. It is part exploration of the game as it is presented, part exploration of the need of the gamer to invest their own efforts to truly get the most from any title. Even this first portion, derived from about an hour and a half of game time, has been fun to write and I look forward to bring you more. I hope you enjoy it. – Scanner
January 16th 1888
Last night I had the dream. Every night since I nearly died I have had the dream. The cold, salty water drags me down. I see the dark hulk of the ship sink into the inky black waters below me, and in my dream I hear the strangled cries and desperate scramble of my fellow crewmen as they are taken by Salt. I feel the weight of the Captains Bonds against my chest. It is my own greed that has doomed me. I could have been free and clear of the wrecked ship before she sank had I not gone for the bond. But greed had driven me and now greed had damned me.
My lungs feel like they are about to explode in my chest, my vision blurs, although it matters little in the dark cloying waters. In my desperation I beg Salt to let me live, to let me slip free of Death’s cold grip and have just one more day of life. I am not ready to die. I tell the god of the zee that I will be forever his and he may take me when he pleases, just give me one more turn of the clock. Suddenly my head breaks the water’s surface and as I gasp for air, its icy sharpness filling my lungs…I know that I am doomed.
January 17th 1888
Today we leave Fallen London. The crew is ready and my ill-gotten ship is as fit for the sea as she will ever be. I know that I have doomed myself and everyone who sails upon her yet I do not dare to break my bond to Salt. My life belongs to the sea now, and my life will end by its cold embrace. My first destination will be Hunter’s Keep, not far from the shores of Fallen London. I would seek audience from the Sisters there, if they would deign to meet me.
January 18th 1888
The sisters would not meet me, nor even pretend to want to. Cold indifference is all I found at Hunter’s Keep. The crew filed a port report and we left, back to the zee. Soon our mettle was tested as we were set upon by pirates. Their Steam-Pinnace was outmatched by our guns and we disabled her in Davie’s Bay. We looted her then scuttled the ship. More souls for Salt…I’d send a million down to him if it meant he never came for me.
January 20th 1888
We sailed past Carissa’s Point, the cold stone and eerily burning torches on its towers and parapets hulking off the bow like some ancient beast. We put into port at Venderbight, and there a man approached me. He wanted to take service upon my ship and he seemed confident in his abilities as a zeeman. I had lost no crew but saw no reason to leave him in port, if he failed to perform his duties he could simply be dropped off in the next one. Should he work hard and well he can stay on the ship and earn his wage or leave when he pleases.
He did approach me below the decks, as i passed his room, through the door i saw a shrine to the Salt and suddenly I felt a thrill. Perhaps it meant something, perhaps the god of the zee was giving me a favorable nod…another kindred spirit, another slave to promises made perhaps. I did not mention the shrine, merely complimented him on his work and went about my business. Cards left undealt are better than an empty hand.
Venderbight, and it’s stink and decay and shambling masses of bandaged dead, is not a place you stay longer than you need to. I met the rambling First Curator, he spoke of colors and his desire to have them. Bring him seven and the pay would be handsome. A mad man, driven to lunacy maybe. Or perhaps I am the lunatic, as I will seek what he asks.
We bought some more fuel and supplies as it is better to have them than not when times allow. The crew settles down now, with one on the deck to keep watch. I hear the Zeebat rattling in it’s cage. Tomorrow we set sail again. Maybe for the last time, for who knows what Salt may demand of me.