The Wisp-Ways

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The Wisp-Ways
SS gleamgaz.png
Category Story Event
Type Story
Linked to SS generic portgaz.png Mangrove College
Data ID 159416

The Wisp-Ways is a Sunless Sea Story Event.

Trigger conditions[edit | edit source]

The Wisp-Ways is triggered when you do the Into the Wisp-Ways action in SS generic portgaz.png Mangrove College.

Story description[edit | edit source]

Narrow waterways and quaggy paths. Marsh-lights and mud. Now and then, parasynthetic mosses like shaggy curtains. Now and then, a questing tentacle.

Game note: Each event will take you further into the swamp. Go deep enough, and you'll find something interesting.

Interactions[edit | edit source]

Foxfire Candles are required to advance in The Wisp-Ways. Failing a challenge will consume 1 x Foxfire Candles without advancing as far. With high captain statistics and good luck, it is possible to successfully navigate the swamp on as few as two Foxfire Candles, but (nearly impossible) poor luck could require as many as 49.

Every time you unsuccessfully or successfully go deeper or go back, you will find an encounter based on your SS candlespringgreensmall.png Another Day: Navigating the Swamps level.

Actions Requirements Effects Notes

Enough is too much. You are more mud than flesh now.

    The roofs of the College

    Hours later, you squelch out into relative safety. You need a bath. How you need a bath. Thank God that a steamer is never short of hot water.

    Game note: The further into the swamps you are, the more Terror you may gain.

    A thrashing reptile rears from the swamp...twice! A head at each end!

    Failed event
    A smothered scream!

    You level your weapons and fire! The amphigator retreats, gouting dark blood, but not before one of its jaws snatches a crewman...

    Successful event
    Gunsmoke and shouting

    At last the amphigators retreat. None of you are hurt. Onwards, into more mist and further mud.

    Three skeletons on a hummock

    They sprawl companionably around a long-dead fire, as if they simply couldn't be bothered to get up.

    Skirting round

    Nothing remains of their clothes or possessions. They've been long-robbed of their purses as well as their flesh. Each carries only a sardonic grin and a robe of creepers...

    A mirror-surfaced pool

    The banks are too crowded with mangroves for you to pass. Wade through it cautiously.

    Failed event
    A disappearance

    Your zailors wade in, guns held above their heads. Ripples spread, intersect, travel on into darkness. Bats chirp with derision as you pass. All seems quiet: but when you leave the pool, a leech the colour of milky jade is clamped, pulsing, to your thigh. Its colour is shifting rapidly to a rosy pink. Already you feel weaker. Dispatch it!

    Successful event
    Safe passage

    Your zailors wade in, guns held above their heads. Ripples spread, intersect, travel on into darkness. Bats chirp with derision as you pass. You pick your way carefully, very aware of a watchful appetite waiting in the pool.

    Darkness between the trees

    “Come closer,” the wind says in the branches. “Here is peace.”

    There is peace

    In the dappled grey and black, nothing threatens you.

    Rare event (20%)
    One short

    Nothing troubles you as you pass. But when you count heads on the far side of the shadows, you're missing a zailor...

    A calamity of ants

    Shining bodies burst from the pitcher-plants around you. A thick mat of ants swarms in ambush. Flee!

    Failed event
    Falling behind

    One zailor trips, and the ants pour over him like oil. His screams pursue you through the trees.

    Successful event

    You leap and dash - you slap the horrid things from your calves - you suck bitten fingers and stare around, panting. You're out of danger.

    Follow gliding lights

    A knot of seven wisps weaves ahead, beckoning you to follow. “Seven is lucky,” a zailor mutters. “Except when it's unlucky seven.” That's helpful.


    The wisps illuminate a promising trail. Its promises are false.

    Rare event (68%)

    The light from the wisps touches glistening tree-bark, beetles in motionless, glossy clumps, bracket-fungus yellow as parchment, the eyes of marsh-rats. And here - a path.

    A shimmering web

    Half-material strands of blue-black light hang between the trees. Something strayed out of the realm of dreams to spin this. Its touch drinks life. Find a way around.

    Failed event
    A long way around

    You crash ill-temperedly through spined weeds and stinging mosses. Blue-furred apelings hoot mockingly. The mud bubbles like a dying soldier. Someone's missing. Someone's missing!

    Successful event
    A way around

    There! A narrow way between the thorn-cypresses. Ignore the pendulous bellies of the watch-grubs where they hang silent in the branches. Cut a path through the shadows.

    Ignore the lights

    You have your candles. Wisps are uncertain.

    Struggling on

    Islands, eh. Why can't they be made of water? If they can't be made of water, why does there have to be so much d__ned mud?

    An abandoned fort

    A half-fallen fortress of basalt blocks on a low hill. The creatures of the swamp have stayed clear: there is insufficient mud, perhaps.

    A respite

    You mount a guard on the walls - build a fire of stinking peat - upend your boots to evict sulky tadpoles. The swamps around you resound with sobbing whoops and screeching creaks - but nothing shows itself. Time passes.

    A fort infested

    Up ahead, a low hill and a half-fallen fortress of basalt blocks. It pullulates with pale blemmigans. Avoid.

    Failed event
    A swarm!

    You're almost out of sight when a boil of blemmigans leaps whistling from the rocks beside the path! It's only a hunting party, and you fight them off with the loss of one zailor. More are coming. Run!

    Successful event
    Safe and silent

    You skirt the fort, stealthy as cats. The lilac menaces remain unaware of your presence.

    A conversation between birds

    Birds are rare in the Neath, but the thickets here are full of feathered flutterings. These birds speak in human voices.


    They're imitating the voices of the scholars of the Mangrove College - familiar scratchy grumbles and rumbling complaints. You hear old crimes, new loves, hushed confessions of plagiarism...

    Rare event (50%)

    Your own voice echoes back from the low branches of a thorn-cypress. You're speaking poetry: a limping line about the still waters of the swamp. Or, rather, a black bird with fierce sad eyes is speaking poetry in your voice. You extend a hand: it hops calmly to land on your wrist, still declaiming.


    They're imitating the voices of the scholars of the Mangrove College - familiar scratchy grumbles and rumbling complaints. You hear old crimes, new loves, hushed confessions of plagiarism...

    Seething trees

    Branches thrash - leaves foam. The trees here writhe with fear.


    On through the laced shade of the groaning oaks. At the back, a zailor whimpers in fear. “They're dying,” someone says. “They're dying.” Then you're through.

    No-One's Orchard

    “...the bark was scarified with marks resembling writing. A lump of flint lay at the base of the tree...”


    “...was the flint a tool, or merely a rock? It was impossible to be certain. The solacefruit, too, which grew on the tree - they are parasitic, and they will grow wherever they choose, but their colours mimicked the bark. Perhaps this was their native tree. Impossible to be certain...”

    An Arbefaction

    “...limbs twined with vines - flesh already lignifying into dark wood. The corpse's mouth hung open. Where its face dissolved into the bark, its expression was stil visible...”


    “...rapture! Whatever had happened to this poor soul, whoever they had been, they had welcomed their end. Solacefruit hung in parasitic clusters from its woody torso. Had they occurred before, or after, the corpse's transformation? We found, too, a mask, one of those worn by the folk of Visage - a green-and-gold Livery Bird, one of the humble trapper-caste...”


    “...stuttering slivers of heaven-coloured light, as if the sky had stumbled... mysterious and glorious until we found the source, at which point my crew began to chuckle...”

    The Goat

    “A bleating billy with moss-matted fur staggered to and fro, eyes wide. A chain hung from its neck. The chain bore a lump of piercingly blue scintillack, the source of the stutters of light as the billy staggered along the path. We freed the billy and retrieved the Scintillack. A rare piece like this is valuable...”

    The Pillar of Riddles

    “...a sandstone pillar, engraved in a spiral. Atop it sat an animal of some kind. As we approached...”

    The Skull and the Spiral

    “! not a pale-fleshed beast, but a skull, grinning ruefully atop the pillar as if apologising for the quality of its welcome. We spent the afternoon deciphering the inscription, which had elements in common with Aramaic. I say 'deciphering' - it was a looped set of riddles which left us with as many questions as answers. It cryptically described the exploits of the woman whose skull remained atop the Pillar, and her progress into the East, far past Irem...”

    The Burial, Interrupted

    “...abandoned as if only moments before - but pale fungus had grown on the woollen cap where it remained by the grave-side, and the potted meat was a grail of putrescence. We peered over the grave's edge...”


    “...a coffin? A coffin, with an unusual stencilled label. Atop it rested a gauntlet of sorts, marvellously articulated in it scales, delicate as a lady's glove, of silvery metal. When I lifted it, it was ice-cold to the touch...”

    The Grove of Eyes

    “...huge willows. The grove was carpeted with moss. Where our feet crushed it, a sweet wild scent rose. The trees stirred...”

    A perilous treasure

    “...parasitic solacefruit, which grows on whatever tree takes its fancy. It clustered on their trunks like the primitive eyes of certain insects. We plucked it cautiously. Inside one fruit I found no stone, rather a diamond the size of the top joint of my little finger. But as I plucked it, the trees trembled again, and their roots began to rise from the mud! - be assured we did not remain...”

    Mangrove College story events
    The Wisp-Ways
    Story events
    A New RecruitInvitation to a BeheadingAn Inspection by the Ministry of Public DecencyReturning to LondonThe First ClueThe House of the QuestionThe Revenue MenThe Rose and TigerThe Trouble with Tomb-ColonistsThe Vengeance of JonahThe Venturer's PassageThe Web of StoneThe Wisp-WaysYour Father's Bones: A Cold Trail (event)Your Father's Bones: the Next Step