Life At Court

The Empress' Court is accessible by the by trading in either Connected:the Duchess or Connected: Society at the Shuttered Palace. The payment must be made every time you visit Court.


Actions unlock from Persuasive 83, but it is very easy for a ingenue to be caught in a vicious Scandal loop - increasing Scandal forces you to unequip any Modish Bonnets, Scarlet Stockings or Brass Rings you may be wearing; doing so reduces your Persuasive, resulting in more failed actions and so more Scandal.
The damage can be spread amongst the other Menaces:
1) gaining Suspicion by trading in Connected:Society for London Street Signs provides much needed cash to buy new Persuasive-enhancing gear. (Trading Connected for Street Signs in Court is a better than trading it for Greyfields in the Palace, as one action here is worth 4 at the Palace, in return for the point of Suspicion).
2) Hunt! is good for those with many Confident Smiles - choose to Hunt Bats initially, and Hunt Lizards on your 2nd chance. This lets you build up your Persuasive while taking Wounds instead of Scandal.
3) A Sporing Bonnet is a cheap hat, so long as Nightmares haven't got out of control.

However, Romance is your true friend!

Romance at Court

Your first task is to build up Facinating… using the Attend to matters of romance storylet. The first 3 options provide 2 change points of Fascinating and an increasing reward in goods. The next 2 provide 3 change points, and 18 Stolen Correspondence. The final option was nerfed in a botched edit and should be avoided.
You can also gain Fascinating… via a rare reward of the "Discuss philosophy whilst taking the air" storylet, but as this brings no other rewards it is annoying.

Your first Romantic Conquest at Court should be the Butler, in 'disporting with the servantry'. Each Conquest reduces Scandal, allowing you to keep the Menace under control. The Cryptic Clues and Hedonist increase are a pleasant bonus.
The Cook reduces Wounds, the Parlour Maid provides Connected: Revolutionaries and may provide Confident Smiles. Increase your Hedonist to at least 7, and preferably 9, as this will unlock new resolutions to future conquests.
Although the Butler can control Scandal, don't completely remove this Menace just yet! It can be useful after your next conquests.

Pursuing either the Acclaimed Beauty or Barbed Wit is a major operation; you will need to complete 7 Fascinating… challenges to woo each. They initially dislike each other, so on every second Fascinating… challenge you will have the option to win favour with one by criticising the other. Of course, if you are wooing both, doing so will cost favour with the criticized paramour.
It is however easier, and a good choice when only pursuing one.
You can of course pursue one, and then begin the pursuit of the other before completing the seduction of the first; this allows you to build up favour with the first through criticism without any penalty.

Which to pursue? Largely this is depends on your favoured gender. However the Acclaimed Beauty can provide you with a piece of Warm Amber if you "Take a stroll yourself" in "A stroll with the Acclaimed Beauty".
This is useful if you lack a Persuasive-enhancing weapon or to open access to a Rubbery Man card.

Completing the conquest of the Acclaimed Beauty and/or Barbed Wit earns you a Momento of Passion - possessing one of these closes off the Romantic Options until it is auctioned off (click on the item in your equipment screen). The auction is a Scandal challenge, the higher the better: so equip your Modish Hat etc before the auction. Note that you can increase your Scandal above 8 so long as you don't enter the "Story" screen - equip everything, click on the Momento to auction it off, and then *Don't* hit 'onwards' - instead go straight to the "Me" screen and unequip your Scandal increasing gear.

You will, however, want to eliminate all Scandal before either having a threesome on the Empress' Throne, or Throwing [the Saturnine Physician] out of the window - both options banish you to the Tomb-colonies.

Fascinating… gained here can of course be used for storylets outside the Court; "Commission: A Royal Portrait" in the shuttered palace, or the various "Seduction" storylets in Veilgarden. Of course this means leaving Court; you will need to weigh up the cost of returning against the reward of the storylet.
Of course, you may need to leave - or worse, leave by mistake. Be particularly wary of the "Searching for the Secular Missionary's husband" & "The Ways of the Labyrinth of Tigers" opportunity cards as these will move you to other locations!

Carving out a Reputation at Court

From Persuasive 97, you can begin carving out a Reputation at Court, creating works of art in an attempt to win the title of Imperial Artist-in-Residence. (The brief mention of your predecessor should warn you how this will end, as will the text for the rare success on 'A city of culture'). You will end up creating at least 9 works (although Novels & Poems count 'double' being worth 2 points each).

What to create?

A Novel or Poem

Writing either a Novel or Poem requires increasing Inspired… to 34 (that is, 595 change points). Most of the "Carving out a reputation" options provide 10 change points for varying costs, however a few are notable:
The people's art provides 15 change points, at the cost of a point of Suspicion. It requires Connected: Revolutionaries 15 - this can be gained by flirting with the parlour maid or (better) writing an Allegorical Satire.
The Bohemians provides 15 change points, at a cost of 10 change points of Connected:Bohemian - except on a rare success, which provides 20 change points and 2 Appalling Secrets at no cost to your connections. This option requires Connected:Bohemian 5.
Mortification of the flesh! only provides 5 change points, and a point of Austere if that Quirk is lower than 8.
You have rivals provides 10 change points, and on a rare success also earns you 2 x Incendiary Gossip. It requires Connected: Society 50
Business at the Court and A city of culture provide 10 change points, except on a rare success which provides 20 change points. A city of culture requires Connected: Bohemian 20.

You'll note that 595 is not evenly divisible by either 10 or 15. As there is no advantage to increasing your Inspired above 34, you will want your last action to be different to those precending it. If you've been relying on You Have Rivals or Business at the Court, use Mortification if your Austere is lower than 8, The People's Art otherwise. The rare success from the Bohemians will also balance the change points.

Creating your work is a base 62 actions (1 What's Your Next Work? +59 You Have Rivals + 1 Mortification + 1 Your Poem/Novel Is Complete!) for a reward of 6000 Moon-Pearls or Nevercold Brass Slivers: so almost an Echo, plus the specific bonuses for the work (usually Connected: Bohemian and or another faction). A Gothic Romance grants 50 points of Fascinating; A Tragedy of Romance also does so but at the cost of some Scandal (that of course helps with the sale of your latest Momento of Passion).

Any of these works excepting "A Tale of the Future!" additionally allow you to avoid paying 2000 Foxfire Candles (once) when you are making friends Among God's Editors as A Person of Some Importance. "A Tale of the Future!" instead opens an option while building a zubmarine. As yet no other benefits have been gained for having written more Novels/Poems.

Write and stage a play

Writing a play (or any of the other options excepting Novels and Poems) requires increasing Inspired… to 24 (that is, 300 change points).

Writing a Play opens up new storylets, granting 10 change points each:

A gaggle of artistic temperaments grants 1 change point of Connected: Bohemians

The lead grants a point of (capped) Hedonism at the cost of a point of Austere.

a song, symphony or ballet

These options open up the The music of the tomb storylet (if you have Connected: Tomb Colonies 5). In addition to granting 10 change points this option grants a point of Melancholy.

Plays, Songs, Symphonies and Ballets all provide 3000 Moon-Pearls or Jade for 32 actions, so again nearly an Echo per action. "Somewhat challenging music" isn't worth it unless you've already exceeded the knowledge of the Correspondence available from the Solitary Glim Sculptor. Choosing between the others pretty much depends on which factions you wish to be Connected: to.
Note well that "A work of Barely-clad Decadence" will get you banished to the Tomb-colonies.

Farewelling the Court

Eventually at Carving out a Reputation at Court 4, the Veteran Privy Counsellor will commission a…singular work. Refusing him drops your Carving out a Reputation at Court to 3, allowing you to continue creating more works of art. Should you agree, then he will arrange the removal of all of your Scandal and Suspicion, so the work beforehand should rely heavily on The People's Art, and should probably grant Scandal ("An Allegorical Satire", "A Tragedy of Romance", "An exuberant cannonade", or "A work of romance and automata").
However, accepting his commission will result in your being permanently banished from Court! This is very, very bad, and should be avoided at all costs. If you misclick and accept the commision, still hold off as you should still have access to the romantic options and any Inspired.. you acquire can be used at the Palace.

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