Codename: Sugarplum

by Chandler Groover profile and Failbetter Games

Episode 86 of Fallen London Exceptional Stories
Fantasy
2022

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A supernatural spy thriller, June 14, 2022
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 2 hours

This is an Exceptional Story for Fallen London, an extra piece of content that subscribers receive and which can also be purchased separately for additional costs.

In this story, you, a detective (as most characters in Fallen London become early on), are asked to track down a missing Dachshund. Your client is a newspaper reporter that covers the Bazaar (a Bazaarine Correspondent).

But soon you discover that you are entangled in a web of espionage. A lot of the story revolves around decrypting messages with seeds you find (this decryption is carried out automatically, rather than solving a cryptogram by hand). You find several people out to get you, and you soon get embroiled into a massive conspiracy with supernatural terrorism and several Masters.

I'm a fan of mysteries, and this game does a great job of setting up several curious and mysterious things that later get pulled back in satisfyingly and surprisingly by the story; kind of like Checkhov's machine gun instead of Chekhov's gun.

Descriptions are vivid, especially of people. The masters are painted vividly, the clay men are humorous, the new assailants and missing people are unusual and diverse, and the locations are creative (especially the sugar factory).

I think one thing that I enjoy about this story (and Chandler's others) is that the player is at the center. Many of the other stories, including recent ones, have you at the edges of some great conflict, where you observe for a while and then make some monumental choice at the end. It's like you're in someone else's novel, but you play the side character who gives good advice at the end and changes the tide.

But in this and other Groover stories, you yourself are the main story. You are the problem for other people, the main driving force of the plot, the center around which other things resolve. Your actions feel weighty. Some other stories by other authors do this, too, like the Icaran Cup or Flint.

Overall, I enjoyed this one.