A Delicious Guide to Fallen London

Chapter 2a: Actions - Opportunities
Continued from: Chapter 1: Introduction
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In the previous Chapter, we talked about Main Qualities and Stat Challenges.
In this Chapter, we will discuss Actions and Opportunity cards.
While writing this Chapter, it became so long that I decided to split it into two parts. The second part will be Chapter 2b: Actions - Storylets.

This is the screen where we were left off at the end of the Introduction, after escaping from New Newgate Prison:

Contrary to the narrative there is no "Onwards" button, which is a typo. We will soon click on the "Go" button for the same effect.

Notice the number 0 next to the Go button:

0 actions consumed

The number 0 next to the action choice indicates that choosing this option will consume 0 actions. Normally, if there is no number attached, it is fair to assume that 1 action will be spent. Occasionally, there may be larger numbers, such as 5 or 7. These multiple actions required options will typically give larger rewards upon challenge success.

Finally, it's time to click on that "Go" button and - once again - attempt to proceed to Veilgarden:

At this point in time, I would love to be in my character's shoes. This urge may diminish later on.

This time, there are two things to highlight. Firstly, The Bazaar is the place where you can sell and buy stuff:

The Bazaar is THE most central place in all of Fallen London. Both for its utility, as well as for thematic reasons. But more about that in Chapter 5: The Bazaar.

Secondly, and of more immediate concern to us:

A Living Story will begin soon.

This notification indicates to us that a trigger condition has been met for a Living Story to activate. Living Stories are Storylets which will become available through your Messages tab after some time has passed after the trigger activation. The longest trigger delay I know of is 7 days; but most of them will take roughly either 1 hour or 1 day.

Typically, Living Stories are once-only Storylets which "progress the plot" in Fallen London (as far as there is a plot in FL, mind you). Anyhow, the Living Stories incorporate some of the most interesting NPCs in Fallen London, and give nice rewards for completing them. So we should definitely check out our Messages tab later. We will do this in Chapter 2b: Actions - Storylets.

In case you were wondering where the Messages tab is located, here it is:

We won't be entering the Messages tab until we have made it to Veilgarden first...wow, it's taking us ages to accomplish that, isn't it?


FINALLY, arrival in Veilgarden! And finally, my inability to take a single large screenshot instead of lumping two vertically on top of each other is useful for the Guide; rather than a hindrance.

Let's start explaining Actions, Opportunities and Storylets-related stuff starting from the top left corner of the screen.

Notice the long candle:

NOTE: The candle is 20 actions long in this Guide because at the time of writing, it's Christmas. At other times, the Candle will be 10 actions long with a possibility to buy an upgrade to make it 20 actions long.

The Candle tracks how many actions you can perform in FL. When the Candle is at 0, you are not able to perform any actions. 1 additional action will be gained to the candle roughly once every 10 minutes. The countdown timer for this will be visible on the screen. When the candle has reached its maximum size, it will not grow until you have spent some of the actions from the full Candle.

What are actions? And what does not consume an action? I hear you say.

Actions are typically either Opportunity card actions drawn from your Opportunity deck (this will be explained next), Storylet actions (briefly covered in Chapter 0; will be covered more in depth later in Chapter 2b) or in the Messages tab as either Living Story actions (as mentioned earlier in this Chapter; visuals will be included in Chapter 2b) or Social action requests (these will be covered in Chapter 4: Lodgings).

Let's examine all this Opportunity stuff next. Here is your opportunity deck, which is also referenced on the screen:

Opportunity deck

The Opportunity Deck consists of Opportunity Cards. The maximum number of cards in the deck is as low as 6. If the Opportunity Deck is not full, it will gain 1 additional card roughly once every 10 minutes. The countdown timer for this will be visible on the screen.

Next, let's take a look at the hand of cards, which is currently empty:

Space allocated for your hand.

In the picture, the hand is empty; and the maximum hand size is 1 card. Maximum hand size can be improved with better lodgings. 1 card hand is only for homeless people - like us at the moment.

Drawing cards from the deck into your hand is NOT AN ACTION. Let's do this by clicking on the deck:

After drawing 1 card, the hand has reached its maximum size. You can not draw cards if your hand is full; to draw another card, we need to deal with one of the cards (= the only card) in our hand.

Drawing cards includes a great deal of randomness and sorting algorithms. The cards you are able to receive are influenced by your main qualities (min and max stat requirements), your current location (most locations have some unique cards which can only be drawn there), your current Storyline progress (some stories feature a lot of cards which can be drawn only at a specific point in that storyline), the Season (e.g. at Christmas, there are special cards), your Pets, your Connections with the FL Factions and so on...you get the idea.

Drawing cards at random from a filtered pool of eligible card draws poses some problems for us. If we want to plow through cards quickly to find a specific card to advance a specific Storylet, we will need to be logged in quite a lot (and we will need to be able to deal with all the unwanted card draws as well). However, FL can be enjoyed at a more leisurely pace as well. For those in desperate need of a specific card, there is an opportunity to purchase Favorable Circumstances to make it appear into your hand through your Lodgings. However, this is quite costly, limiting its usefulness greatly. More about this in Chapter 4: Lodgings.

Some other players optimize their deck by eliminating, destroying and/or selling everything that gives them unwanted cards. The mouseover card text (see the yellow box in above image) will typically display what made you eligible to have that specific card in your deck in the first place. Eliminating the source of the card is usually - but not always - an effective method of ridding it from your deck.

In the early game, we are not really burdened with unwanted cards. But nevertheless, we should learn how to deal with a card without playing it. We will demonstrate that next. But only after we have examined the card.

Let's go inside the card by clicking on it:

Two challenges. Notice that one of them is Persuasive and one is Watchful: that's a common way for the game to give you an option between two alternatives.

My whimsical character decides he, she..it? does not like performing either of these challenges. The Stars Are Not Right, or something to that extent. At times of hesitation, it is nice to have the "<- Perhaps Not" button:

Perhaps Not

The Perhaps Not-button is one of your most important friends in Fallen London. It lets you back out of very difficult challenges (low success %), challenges you can not attempt (e.g. missing items required), or challenges you just do not wish to attempt (e.g. your character does not want to become connected with Urchins; or you misclicked a card open when you actually wanted to discard it).

Choosing Perhaps Not is NOT AN ACTION. It will not reduce your action Candle, and you can use it as often as you like without "cooldowns".

When using "<- Perhaps Not" inside a card, the card will remain in your hand (unless specified otherwise inside the card, which is quite rare).

After pressing Perhaps Not, we are back on the previous page with the same Urchins card still in our hand:

Due to laziness, I re-used the previous screenshot here and hoped you would not notice that or read this text.

You will have to keep each card in hand until you either play it; or throw it away by discarding it (this will be examined next).

Discarding a card is NOT AN ACTION. Not all cards can be discarded. These will say "CAN'T DISCARD" instead of "DISCARD". Most of the non-discardable cards are somehow harmful for you.

Let's try Discarding a card:

Click "Discard"...

...and the card is gone! No actions spent!

You can never have 2 identical cards in your hand; but you can draw the same card from the deck immediately after discarding it.

You can hold onto the cards in your hand as long as you like. The only exception to this is moving into a far away special place, such as departing Fallen London on a sea journey after you have become a Person of Some Importance, or moving to Shroom-Hopping Races by playing a specific Opportunity card which requires FATE. Upon departure from London proper, you will lose your current hand. These non-London locations have a special Opportunity deck consisting of special cards, which are different from all the other cards in the rest of the game.

Card borders
At the time of writing, there are five different card border colors in the game:

White Cards
The "regular" card color. Most of the cards and storylets in the game are white. These cards are common one-shot cards. Typically, the rewards obtained from white cards and storylets are much lower than Gold or Purple ones.

Bronze Cards
Advances a non-key Storylet. Bronze card storylets are typically recurring, which means that you will be able to play through them multiple times. There are some exceptions to this, I think.

(no image...yet)
Silver Cards
Silver cards advance your Ambition. Ambitions will be covered in the next chapter 2b: Actions - Storylets.

Gold Cards
Advances key Storylets. Golden cards and storylets are usually once-only, but there are some exceptions.
Some Golden cards contain opportunity to purchase additional content using FATE, the in-game currency. FATE will be examined more in depth in Chapter 5: The Bazaar.

Red Cards
Red cards activate as soon as you click on them. This consumes 1 action; and there is no "<- Perhaps Not" option available. At the time of writing, most of the Red Cards are associated with Nightmares. They will start to appear after you have had some recurring dreams, which are...both interesting and quite disturbing.

Black Cards
At the time of writing, Black Cards have only recently been introduced into the game, and they are extremely rare. Quote from the Help tab: "Black is not to be spoken of." In the picture is a seasonal Black card from Christmas 2013.

Purple Cards
At the time of writing, Purple Cards have been announced by the game developers, but as far as I know, no one has seen them yet. This may change in the future.
Quote from the Help tab: "Purple means a card that only appears occasionally."

Next, we will move to examine the bottom half of the screen, attempt to acquire ourselves some Lodgings, and check out the Living Storylet from our Messages tab in
Chapter 2b: Actions - Storylets