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Sunless Sea Wiki
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[]

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

Story description[]

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.


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.

    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?

    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.

    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...”


    The Mangrove College can generate directly adjacent to Adam's Way or Khan's Heart, which allows extremely fast resupplying between visits to The Wisp-Ways, only returning to London to refill Crew. Notably, almost all of the rewards are Curiosity items, meaning that Hold space is not a limiting factor at all!

    Due to the random nature of The Wisp-Ways, determining efficiency is difficult. At the two aforementioned ports, Supplies cost SS echosmall.png 25 x Echo and Foxfire Candles cost SS echosmall.png 30 x Echo per unit - thus, each run essentially costs SS echosmall.png 25+30x x Echo, where x is the number of Candles needed to complete it.

    Calculations below use the SS echosmall.png 50 x Echo sale price of Solacefruit in Fallen London - captains of a zubmarine may wish to look at #The Value of Solacefruit below for benefits from converting them to Secrets instead.

    • No-One's Orchard: Ambiguous Eolith is best spent at The Chapel of Lights, trading three for an Extraordinary Implication worth 250 Echoes to the Alarming Scholar or 1/5 of a Searing Enigma in Irem. To maximise Echoes, sell the Implication to the Scholar, getting a payoff of ~83.3 Echoes per Eolith. A trip that yields 3 Solacefruit thus sees 233.3 Echoes in revenue, which makes profit on up to 6 Candles used in exploration - with 4 Solacefruit, up to 8 Candles can be profitable.
    • An Arbefaction: Selling the Outlandish Artefact and single Solacefruit yields a meagre 150 Echoes - only profitable if you got here in 4 or fewer Candles. Using the Artefact to create a Monstrous Almanac and selling it in Venderbight slightly improves revenue - you make profit on 5 Candles, as long as you wanted to spend your Secrets on raising Pages.
    • Blue: It's hard to put a value on A Lump of Blue Scintillack - especially your first Lump, which is far more valuable sitting in your hold than on the open market. For later Lumps, though, there's two options: if you have access to The Temple of Mihir, it can be traded for 1500 Echoes worth of treasures; otherwise, the Alarming Scholar will take it off your hands for 800. Selling it in Varchas gives profit on 49 candles: that's right, even with the worst possible luck before Blue, you'll make profit here! The Scholar is profitable for up to 25, which is... still better than almost every other option.
    • The Pillar of Riddles: The Searing Enigma alone makes this arguably the best result - worth 1000 Echoes to the Alarming Scholar, and far more in the interactions it enables. Just the Enigma makes a profit on up to 32 Candles - the Lamentable Relics only enter into it if sold as part of an Anatomical Cabinet (profit on 33 Candles) or converted to Moves in the Great Game at Irem (profit on up to 36, but using two Something Awaits You).
    • The Burial, Interrupted: The Artefact and Long-Box are both worth 100 Echoes (to the Alarming Scholar and Station III respectively). Strategic Information on its own is worth 150, but is better sold packaged into Vital Intelligence in pairs along with a Zee-story, turning 310 Echoes worth of information into 350 (when sold to the Dark-Spectacled Admiral) or an average of 530 (sold to the Voracious Diplomat). Each Strategic Information makes up ~48% of the 310 Echo base price, so it can be scored as worth 169.4 Echoes to the Admiral or 256.5 to the Diplomat - making this run profitable on 11 Candles if you go to the Admiral, or 14 Candles if you're willing to sell to the Diplomat.
    • The Grove of Eyes: Straightforward after the earlier examples: a straightforward 1050 Echoes for one Treasure and one Solacefruit, for a profit on up to 34 Candles.

    The Value of Solacefruit[]

    Rather than selling their Solacefruit in Fallen London or elsewhere for Echoes, zubmarine captains can trade them for SS island2small.png 4 x Memory of Distant Shores at Aigul. Directly, this is a loss: selling the Memories at Venderbight would only net 48 Echoes to each fruit's 50. However, the Unpick the Mysteries of other Lands action at The Mangrove College can convert 7 Memories and 77 Fragments into a Secret - with a Secret being worth no less than 200 Fragments, this makes each Solacefruit worth at least ~35% of a Secret.

    It's difficult to put an exact monetary value on Secrets, but the cheapest direct conversion to Echoes requires Visage to control Pigmote Isle, and sells them for SS echosmall.png 900 x Echo - using this rate of conversion, each Solacefruit is worth at least 315 Echoes - more, if your Pages is lower or Pigmote is under different leadership. Needless to say, this greatly increases the value of exploring as long as you need Secrets - and it also provides Lamentable Relics and Outlandish Artefacts to raise Iron and Pages in Your Study.

    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