HomeGames Writing & DesignWho Heck Richard?TwitterE-Mail Me

Sunless Sea

Explore the Unterzee. Eat your crew. Die.

Thirty years ago, in the reign of Victoria, London was stolen by bats. Now it lies a mile below the surface. That’s not important. What’s important is the vast black sea beyond London; a sea which is yours to explore…

Sunless Sea is the standalone spin-off of the deliciously fantastical browser game Fallen London. I was brought on as a guest writer for one island, and then pretty much kept going. Each island is its own little adventure in the middle of a treacherous underwater ocean where Cthulhu type horrors meet charismatic demons to politely snub any concept that they are Steampunk. Making them involves writing all the text as well as doing the mechanical design (to a variably detailed brief), before unleashing players upon it. It’s a wonderful world for that, following in the steps of classic stories like Gulliver and the Odyssey, where each place can have its own voice and systems while still feeling a coherent part of a bigger, creepier world.

And lots of horrible deaths, of course.

The tagline really, really isn’t kidding about those.

Then about a year later came the expansion, Zubmariner. Darker. Deeper. More dangerous.

My Sunless Sea Stories

The Empire of Hands

Treasure and danger await on the quarantined isle of the Pentecost apes. Team up with the Delightful Adventuress to plunder their history, avoid being lunch for cannibals, and survive the mischief of their court.

The Merciless Modiste

Dressed to kill. Bored of her latest cruise/exile from society. The Merciless Modiste seeks a new outlet for her twin passions, murder and dressmaking. Do you dare inflict her on your crew?

In The Service Of Mr Sacks

The Crimson Beast of Winter lurks in your hold. Three deliveries of poison buy your release from its hunger. In the Neath, few good deeds go unpunished, but bad ones? They can be adequately compensated.

What Snow Might Become

New life born from cold and misery. A dream that shouldn’t be possible. A promise never to be made. A journey to the East in search of a Traveller. Every day, it melts a little more.

The Haunted Doctor

He’s a man with a Cause. Well, he’d like to be. He’s certainly had plenty of them, from sorrow-spiders to the Calendar Council. Amongst the anarchists of Khan’s Shadow, will he find himself again?

Saviour’s Rocks

For one day a year, the glumness of Saviour’s Rocks is broken by red and gold and the laughter of its grateful silk-traders praising their evil spider overlords. Behind the party though, dark ambitions are rising.

The Rise of Pigmote Isle

On your first trip (written by Amal El-Mohtar) you decided whether rats or guinea pigs would form a kingdom on this small island with a big treasure. Now, the eyes of the zee turn to Cavia/Murinia. Advise them.

The Pirate Poet

Landlubbers fear pirates. Pirates fear the Poet. Many tales are told of this clay corsair. Only one captain on the zee may prove her equal, forging a bond of friendship out of gunpowder and salt.


A rotting cathedral of ivory and decay. A savage society devoted to freedom at any costs, even if it means living in the maw of a great zee-beast. How much of its liberating waters can you endure?

The Gant Pole

Discover the solace that awaits the great beasts of the zee, and perhaps hurry a few to their final destination. Learn the arts of haruspicy. Find a moment’s peace in the depths that could last a lifetime.

Nice Things Said About Sunless Sea

“Indeed, one of the best things about Sunless Sea, apart from its beautifully crafted elder-horror stories, fantastically drawn artwork and generally creepy atmosphere, is the feeling that the decisions you make within the game are shaping the narrative, and that by playing, you are writing yourself into that story.”
The Guardian

“A game crafted by those with an irrepressible love, and possibly hunger, for words and tales.”

“The realm of possibilities seems endless, and every time I set sail I find something new.”


More Games Writing & Design

Fallen London
The Long Journey Home