War never changes.
Ages ago, they had the War to End All Wars. That was supposed to be the end of it. With that one, we as a species were supposed to end it wiser, safer, saner. With that, we knew the horrors of war, we knew what it did to people, and we knew we wanted no more of it.
Not even thirty years later, we did it again. Ironic, isn’t it? War never changes.
Our species grew with time. We grew in numbers, and we grew in technology. We were smarter, living better lives. You’d think we’d be above it all, after all that. But war never changes. As we grew, so too did our needs. There wasn’t enough to go around. It got to the point where we were making war for the same resource we were consuming in war.
War never changes, but war changes people. Three quarters of the way through the 21st century, October 21st, 2077, war changed the world forever. We don’t know how launched the first bombs. Or who launched the last bombs. Maybe it wasn’t even man at all. Maybe this was the act of an angry God, hitting the reset button on a humanity who by that point was just making war to get what they needed to sustain their war. Whoever it was, it doesn’t really matter by that point. That war came to an end, along with the rest of the world. Nuclear bombs impacting all over the place, both the blasts and the fallout changing it forever, scarring the world in ways few would survive.
At least, that’s what I’ve been told. To be honest, we don’t really know what’s out there. Whether there is anything out there. War never changes, but war hasn’t hit us, these past 84 years. My grandparents were some of the lucky few to make it into a vault. Vault 13, specifically. In Southern California, if that matters to anyone. Safe from the blasts, completely isolated from the outside world, or whatever’s left of it. Here, we had internal conflicts, but things were relatively peaceful. My grandparents lived out the rest of their lives here. My parents were born here, and have lived out their entire lives in the safety of the vault. That was the plan for me as well.
Until recently. Our enclosed, self-sustaining vault suddenly became not so self-sustaining. Our water chip, which was a vital part of the machine that recycled and purified Vault 13’s water, broke. It couldn’t be repaired. We had no replacement. Our cisterns hold months and months of water, but we still had another 120 years before it’d be safe to leave the vault and rehabitate the world. Our water would not last. We’d need a replacement.
Ed was the first to be sent out into the world, seeking salvation. He was a hard, hard man, a survivor, and one who kept up his skills and his edge even in a world that didn’t need them anymore. He was also the single closest person to me in the entirety of Vault 13. Months passed, and we didn’t hear from him again. Then, we sent out Talius. A bit of a somber fellow, but one who was gifted, showing a high level of competence at nearly everything he did. Again, months passed, and we never heard from him again.
It’s time to send someone else out, in search of a new water chip. We only have 150 days of water left. Things are getting desperate. And now, it’s my turn.
A part of me worries. Ed was one of the baddest men I knew, and he’s still vanished, like something’s happened to him. I’ve got the skills. My life, such as it is, has prepared me far beyond the cushy, soften bodies and minds of some of my fellows, but even so, not know what’s out there, aside from that its still in the aftershocks of nuclear bombardment, it’s fearsome.
It doesn’t matter. I have to go. The overseer is not giving me a choice in the matter, however much I want one. I have to find out what’s happened to Ed. I have to save our water supply.
Maybe it’s not so bad. Maybe the 84 years has been enough for most of the Fallout to pass over. Maybe the total bombardment has left whatever remains to wise, fearful, and sparse to pose any real danger. Maybe the world outside is now just as peaceful as the world inside.
War never changes.
Alright folks, so here’s the deal. You’ve been reading this blog, you know me. I’m a guy who does things. I make things happen. And yet, I’ve not really done much of a capital-t Thing lately. It’s time to change that. We’re jumping back into the Let’s Play game. Last time around, we went through a game I was completely unfamiliar with, and I don’t know about you, but I think it went really well! We’re going to shake things up a bit this time around.
Everyone has those games. Games that just mean more to them than they do everyone else. Games that they have lived, and breathed, and absorbed. Games that they have totally consumed, and still want more. Games that have become a part of who they are.
The original Fallout is one of those games for me. This game and I, we’ve got history. Quite a lot of it. In fact, the women of this world are very lucky that the U.S. Government does not allow for the marrying of inanimate objects, because if it were, Fallout would have me taken so hard. That said, it’s been a while since I’ve played it. I’m going to run through it again. And this time, I’d like to take you with me!
For those who don’t know, Fallout is a post-apocalyptic CRPG known for the strength of the world it’s built, for the level of humor and black comedy that has always been inconsistent between games but people assign a certain feel to the franchise anyways, for being one of the games paving the way for hordes of western RPGs coming after, and for the variety of ways you’re able to solve any given challenge. It’s very retro-futuristic, steeped in the ’50’s science fiction view of the future, although it also has a lot of 80’s pulp sci-fi and post-apocalyptic film elements. Essentially, the Fallout world froze culturally in the 1950s, and focused their technology on developing the understanding of the atom rather than on computers. So you get a lot of advanced sources of power right alongside reel-to-reel computers and clunky robots. Check out the real opening to the game, to get a good feel for it. It’s also, for being a franchise that got completely screwed by the way its original owners handled it before being sold to and revived by Bethesda. It’s a spiritual successor to the old 80’s CRPG Wasteland, and plays very similarly to a tabletop RPG. In fact, it was originally intended to use the GURPS tabletop mechanics, only for the creator of that system to get turned off by the level of gore in the game. Also, it’s good. I lurves it. I’m looking forward to this.
But I’m going to need your help. See, it’s not much of a Let’s Play if I’m doing all the driving, is it? The game has a lot of choices to make. Who you help, how you handle things, what you have available to you. I’m going to try to be as complete as I can, but some things are mutually exclusive, here. I’d like to get you involved in this playthrough. And that starts right here:
We need to get ourselves a dude. Or a dudette, whatever. We need a Vault Dweller. And I need your help getting them together. Who are we working with? Who will emerge from Vault 13 to try to save their people? You’re going to decide for me.
I need to get a name, two traits, and three tagged skills, from you. I’ll try to work the rest of the character around what you decide.
Starting from the end, we’ve got a selection of skills to choose from, and while we can use and grow any of them, the three we pick to focus on now will both get a significant bonus to start with, they’ll also be cheaper to develop as the game goes along, so those are the ones that are likely going to determine how we play the game.
The skills we have to pick from are:
Small guns: This is your bread and butter weapon style in this game. Covers everything you’re probably thinking of as a ‘gun’. Yep. Even that one. Guns of all types are a lot safer then melee ranged combat, and small guns are common and easy to secure. This skill will probably carry you through most of the game the easiest, but will be uncomfortably weak against enemies at the end of the game.
Big guns: Common Fallout knowledge says that Energy Weapons is the most useful combat skill, but this one is actually my preference. The weapons you get here are not quite as powerful as the Energy Weapons, but they can still cut through most foes easily enough and can usually hit multiple people at once. However, both these weapons and their ammo is rare, and we won’t be able to use it effectively until towards the end of the game.
Energy Weapons: These weapons have the most power in the game, but they’re only single shot, so you’ll only be able to target one foe at a time. Like big guns, they and their ammo are rare, and it’s going to take until the end of the game before we have enough of either to use them effectively.
Unarmed: Your ability to use your fists and fist-like weaponry. I haven’t actually used this skill very much, finding that it has the same functionality as Melee Weapons except you don’t get the piston-powered sledgehammer or the chainsaw knives. And that’s just no fun. If you want this, though, well, the rocket powers gloves aren’t too shabby. Doesn’t take ammo, so once you’ve got them, you don’t need to manage them, and you’ll always have at least your fists, but you still have to get within melee range to use it.
Melee Weapons: The stuff you hit people in their face with. Or, well, anywhere else you want. Like unarmed, there’s no worries about ammo here, and the more powerful weapons do often end with enemies on their backs, but you have to close to melee range to use them, which makes you rather vulnerable. Also, the strongest weapon in this category knocks enemies away from you, so it can be hard to follow attacks up.
Throwing: Grenades. Powerful, and able to take out clustered groups. On the flip side, your enemies probably outnumber the amount of grenades you have available to you. It’s not feasible to only use throwing weapons, this is best applied in conjunction with some other combat skill.
First Aid: Heals HP without using supplies. Objectively, it’s straight out not as useful as the doctor skill, but you start with a higher level in this.
Doctor: Heals HP without using supplies and recovers from crippled limbs. Handy to patch yourself up with after a rat has gnawed your spleen out.
Sneak: Your ability to move without being detected. Not so useful in a fight, but it can keep you from getting into one in the first place.
Lockpick: gets you into those places you’re not supposed to go. Even if we’re a good guy, still handy to have.
Steal: The ability to pick pockets, lift things off of shelves, and stick live grenades down people’s pants, all without anybody noticing.
Traps: Detects hidden traps, disarms explosives, sets explosives. If you’re creative, can also be used in place of the lockpick skill if you don’t care about what’s inside, it’s just a bit noisier.
Science: It works like the lockpick ability, except for computers instead of doors. Sometimes you can use those computers to open doors! What fun!
Repair: Fixes broken stuff. That’s… that’s it. Of course, pretty much everything’s broken in the post-apocalypse, so maybe we’ll get to exercise this skill.
Speech: Our ability to convince people to do what we want. Reeaaaaaaaally useful. In fact, all the main quests in this game and a lot of the side ones have a way to get through by just talking your way out of it. If only I had this skill in real life, I wouldn’t have to fight my way through every time I went out to get groceries.
Barter: Changes the prices of items you can buy. That’s all it does. Flat out.
Gambling: This gives us better chances of getting good results from clicking on slot machines over and over and over again. Kind of boring from a LP perspective, really.
Outdoorsman: This game has random encounters, although they’re a bit different than they are in most JRPGs you might be thinking of. The outdoorsman skill gives you a better chance of avoiding bad random encounters and decreases some of their negative impacts. Some have said it gives you a better chance of getting the good random encounters, but I’ve never noticed a difference. No, I have no idea how someone who has never been outside their entire lives would be a good outdoorsman.
So yeah, like I said, we’ll need three of the above to tag, which will likely be the focus of our development. Unless you guys pick the wrong ones.
Then, traits. The innate features of ourselves. With one exception, all of these offer both a positive and a negative, although those don’t always balance. We’ll need up to two of the following:
Fast metabolism: You heal over time in this game. This increases that rate by a small amount, but also lowers your natural resistance to poison and radiation to nothing. You run into poison and radiation very rarely this game, so this has a very limited effect either way.
Bruiser: Theoretically adds two points to strength, although we can put them towards any stat because the game CAN’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO! We’ll be able to do less actions every turn, though. That is a very bad thing.
Small Frame: Adds a point to agility, although again, we can stick that anywhere we want to. We’ll be able to carry less phat lootz though.
One Hander: Increases our accuracy with one handed weapons, decreases it with two handed weapons. Handy (haha! I am hilarious!) for a lot of melee and unarmed weapons. Limits us to part of the small gun reportoire, but still very workable. Will ruin big guns and energy weapons for us, though.
Finesse: Higher chance of criticals, but we do significantly less damage. I like damage. I’m not a fan of this one.
Kamikaze: Our turn’s more likely to come up first, but we lose any stat bonus to our armor class, so we’re easier to hit. If you combine this with melee weapons or unarmed, we are dead. Otherwise, will still make the early game a lot harder for us, although this will start to even out once we get some solid armor and more powerful weapons.
Heavy Handed: Do more melee damage, but our criticals do less damage. Nothing but a burden if combined with gun skills.
Fast Shot: Our attacks are faster, but we can’t target specific body parts. So we’ll be able to do more per turn, but we won’t be able to hit anyone in the groin with a sledgehammer.
Bloody Mess: Has no gameplay impact. We’re just more likely to see the more violent death animations for everyone.
Jinxed: Everyone gets more critical failures. This one is kind of an irritation, but maybe it can make for some good LP moments?
Good Natured: Get an immediate bonus to the medical skills, barter and speech, but take a penalty to the combat skills.
Chem Reliant: We’ll be taking some meds this game. But they have side effects. This trait reduces the length we’re impacted by those side effects, but we’re more likely to get addicted to them, which carries some negative penalties when we’re not taking them.
Chem Resistant: Less likely to get addicted, but our meds don’t last as long. Yes, you can take this with the above. I wonder about the bodily state of that character, though.
Night Person: Small stat bonuses at night, small stat penalties during the day. Largely evens out, but means we might want to time those tough battles. Given that we’re under a time limit to get water to our people, that’d give us something more to manage.
Skilled: Get a bonus to all skills, but we don’t get perks so often. Perks are awesome. This tends to lead to a stronger character at the beginning, but a weaker one at the end.
Gifted: Get a penalty to all skills, and get less skill points over all, but we get a bonus to our stats. However, that bonus to our stats also gets a bonus to our skills, and with the increased intelligence we get, we get more skill points, so the penalty to this trait is really nothing at all. It gives us a really powerful bonus that offsets it’s penalty. There’s a reason why this trait is considered broken.
So yeah, that’s that. Build me a character, then I’m going to get started on showing you all this game I love so much.
Here’s how we’ll do this, if you’re reading this words, leave a comment on this post. First three people who comment, choose one of those skills. To be honest, I’m going to have a much harder time showing off this game if you don’t choose a combat skill and/or speech, but we’ll work with whatever you’ve given me. First two people who comment, choose a trait in addition. Or you can choose no trait, those are optional. Then everyone, suggest a name, or agree with someone else’s name, or whatever.. We’ll have our character named as whomever you all agree on or who brings the most mirth to my cold and shallow heart.