Hey, we’re back. With this thing. You know, where we’re out in that whole post-apocalypse deal. Let’s pick up where we left off. You might recall, we just cleared out Vault 15, and found that the only hope for salvation that we knew about was completely obliterated and everyone we love was probably going to die of thirst. So what do we do now? A whole bunch of unrelated milling about in the middle of nowhere? That sounds like a great idea!
In any case, after plumbing the depths of Vault 15 for largely naught, we stump our depressed little heads back to the village of Shady Sands. I figure, if we can’t help our people, why not make the Wasteland a friendlier place by helping someone else’s?
First things first, we head to the farm side of town. After gawking a bit at the Brahmin, the big, unwieldy, two headed cows that make up livestock in the wasteland, we find ourselves chatting with a farmer. As with most of the NPCs we deal with, there’s nothing visually to tell he’s anything special, but if you’re meticulous about looking at all the villagers, well, a few of them do stand out in description.
In any case, we had pointedly avoided this guy before, because we have to do this sidequest the first time we talk to him, and it requires us to have a certain scientific capability that Athena didn’t have until she leveled up. You remember how school always made you dissect rats? I guess Athena’s been doing that. With bullets. And that taught her more about crop rotation, which she tells this guy about. This improves Shady Sands architecture and sets in motion events that will see the community grow and foster and give relative stability to the lives of thousands and build a single beacon of order in a world that truly lacks for it, but more importantly, it gives us a few hundred experience points.
Second, we head to the town doctor, Razlo, and give him the radscorpion tails Ian’s been carrying around in his pants. The doctor can synthesize an antivenom from the poison sacs therein, and gives us a free dose of antidote for every tail we bring him. We walk into the back of the doctor’s home, where he has Jarvis, Seth’s brother, resting there in treatment for the bad case of radscorpion poisoning he’s got. We administer one of our doses of antidote to him because Razlo apparently couldn’t be arsed, and Jarvis starts feeling better. Not well enough to be like jumping around and dancing or anything, but at least his life is out of danger. Again, we don’t get much of a concrete reward for this, but we do get a bunch of experience points for it. Enough to put us at level 3, in fact! We wait until night to take advantage of Athena’s Night Person nature, then level up. You know what time it is now? Time for some more audience participation! So every three levels, we’re going to get a new perk, and I need you guys to… oh hey. Already taken care of. Glad I remembered to get something done before my life turned all to crap.
In any case, the powers of democracy decided to give our Athena greater awareness. We’ll be able to see exactly how much ass we’re kicking just by looking at people now! I celebrate this monument to our ability by completely forgetting to use this perk for the rest of this play session.
After that, it’s time to take care of the town’s radscorpion problem. Still at night, so Athena gets a boosted perception, we talk to Seth, and have him lead us to the radscorpion caves. He doesn’t go in himself, because he is weak, but he’d just be holding us back anyways.
So, the radscorpion caves. The game really pushes this quest on you as soon as you get into Shady Sands, and lots of people will jump on this before they head out to Vault 15, then end the game soon afterwards in tears. This is the first bit of real challenge the game puts in front of you, and as low-level as you are at this point in time, you need to be prepared to take this down, and most of the things that make a difference to this quest are found in Vault 15. Basically, the deal is that there are nine radscorpions in here, in small clusters. We need to make sure that they don’t bother the village any more. There’s two ways to finish this quest, one of which is more obvious than the other.
In any case, first thing we do, is we go in the cave and kill all the radscorpions. It’s not exactly a big technical battle, although I do have a strategy for it. The most important thing is to make sure we’re only fighting one at a time. The radscorpions aren’t exactly the deadliest foes, but with nine of them to go through, there’s a good possibility they might last longer than our healing supplies. Taking on one at a time limits how long they have to act before we kill them, which makes the whole fight a lot safer. So here, we keep an eye out far ahead of us, and try to snipe enemies from as far away as we can. The first hit is intended more to draw their attention than to do any actual damage, making them rush at us while Ian and Athena take potshots at them. The handy thing about radscorpions is that their aggro all works individually. Getting one of them pissed off at you doesn’t draw the rest of the horde on you, leaving you free to pick them off at your leisure.
In the event that a scorpion does get close enough for melee range, Athena starts playing a game of hit and run. She’ll fire once at point blank range, then use the rest of her action points to put some distance between them. This means the radscorp has to spend a few action points to catch up, meaning it’s usually only able to attack her once or twice. If one of them were to attack Ian instead, we’d be in a bit more trouble, as he’s not necessarily that smart, but luckily, most of them respond to Athena’s aggression and careful positioning by going after her.
We do have the burst fire function on our SMG in case we need to up our damage output against these guys, which is something I’ve almost always had to resort to in other runs. Firing ten bullets at once, can’t complain about that. I’ve not had to use that this time around. Largely because of Ian. Athena’s damage output right now is, let’s say… limited. Outside of her burst fire abilities, she’s just hitting for a few hitpoints of damage at a time right now. Ian however, although his stats are a bit less optimized than Athena, and his weapon is the same level of quality as hers, is not only hitting for significantly more damage, he’s also able to fire his weapon more often. Not sure why the difference is coming up, but he’s doing the lion’s share of the damage against these guys. Honestly, with him at our side, we clear these beasties out with ease. We only have to use a few stimpaks, easily cut the scorps down one by one, the whole operation goes off without a hitch. Makes me feel bad about making him pay Athena to do her bidding.
After we clear all the radscorpions out, we go through and take all their tails. As is tradition, we stuff all of these down Ian’s pants. Then we head back to the entrance of the cave.
So this is a bit of an odd one. I mentioned earlier, there’s multiple ways to clear almost any challenge in Fallout. This sidequest is no different. We’ve got two options for taking care of the radscorpion problem; we could go through and play exterminator, like we did, or we can cause a cave-in at the entrance, blocking them all in.
I’m not sure whether this is deliberate or a glitch, but the game actually let’s us do both at the same time. So I make sure to save before doing this, because dealing with explosives when you’re not actually good with them is kind of a recipe for disaster. Athena identifies a weaker section of wall at the mouth of the cave, pulls out the bundle of dynamite she found in Vault 15, sets the timer for a minute, then places it and run. She screws up the handling of the explosives, so it goes off in about 20 seconds or so instead, but Athena is so smart that she already took into account that she doesn’t know how to work with explosives when she started playing with it, so she was already clear. The explosion shakes the weak wall of the cave and…
The whole wall caves in. That’s not a pun by the way. I just can’t think of a better way to call it. In any case, completing the quest twice means we get our bonus experience twice. Tactical. Genius.
We go back to town, afterwards. Seth, is super happy that we solved the radscorpion problem. Aradesh is super happy that we solved the radscorpion problem. Tandi is super… wait, something’s wrong there.
Hmm… maybe it just needs some more time for… things to happen. We go talk to Razlo, the doctor, to kill some time. Ian’s got a bunch of scorpion tails in his pants, and if we give him a couple of hours each, Razlo can turn those into antidotes. Razlo’s unwilling to work at night, though, the lazy punk. Fun fact, here. In the original versions of the game, there were children all over the place. Some countries, looking at you England, took issue with the fact that you could kill them, and required that they be removed from the game. For whatever reason, it seems that every re-released version of the game, including the GOG release I’m working with here, is based off of the British version, so we’re existing in a world completely childfree. As it turns out, the children were completely useless to the original Fallout, and their removal only changed two things. One was that you can no longer automatically get the entire world pissed off at you with a single bad decision. The second was that you no longer get trapped in here with Razlo all night long because some stupid kid waits directly outside his house all night long and won’t let you pass. Not like there’s much to do in the Shady Sands nightlife anyways, but still, I have to say, it’s a pretty positive change from staring blankly at Razlo and his wife all night long. So let’s hear it for getting rid of all the kids, aye?
In any case, we kill two days making antidotes, and Tandi’s still around. That’s not right. Seeking to trigger it, we go outside of town then immediately turn around and head back inside.
Oh no! In the ten seconds we weren’t looking, Tandi got kidnapped by raiders! Life is like a saturday morning cartoon, sometimes. Seth begs us to go save her. Apparently the big, tough guard captain is not anywhere near as reliable as some random woman who came into town and squished some bugs. I check in with Aradesh about it, and tries to help by giving me a pointy thing on a stick. Razlo is infinitely more useful by dropping us a couple of stimpaks, in case things get rowdy.
We know where the Raider’s Camp is from our conversations with Ian earlier, but if we didn’t get that, any number of Shady Sands residents could have pointed us there. It’s a few hours’ walk to the southeast.
The Raider’s Camp is a circle of tents surrounding on old ruined house, where we find the resident toughs of this section of the wastes, the Khans. We can talk to the Khans there, but they’re pretty boring. Don’t say anything much beyond how exciting they make life in Shady Sands. We just head straight for the house in the center of it all.
Inside, there’s two battered women who quietly beg me for help. Tandi’s locked up in some makeshift cells in the next room. We go up to the biggest, ugliest tough in the room and start a discussion with him.
This is the first quest in the game where the options for completing it really open up, rescuing Tandi from these raiders. We could go with the traditional violence route, which has not steered us wrong yet. We could stealth our way through, assuming we could take out a few of them silently which we can’t but other people could. If we were male and had the right equipment and stats, we could even convince all the Khans that we were the ghost of their dead leader, here to have our revenge. We could challenge the leader to a one-on-one boxing match for her freedom. Failing everything else, we could just buy her from the Khans.
We don’t do any of that. Instead, we just tell Garl here that we’ve got powers backing us that could squash his puny gang like bugs, and let our high speech skill and Athena’s natural charisma do the rest. Garl believes us, and lets us have Tandi back with no fuss, aside from a warning never to come here again.
If we were so inclined, we could have Tandi follow us around for the rest of the game. Show her the big city, the sights she’s been longing for outside of her quiet, simple hamlet. She kind of sucks as a party member, though, and there’s no benefit to doing so, given that the game didn’t intend for her to be with you aside from this brief moment. We take her back to Shady Sands. She takes a moment to express her gratitude, in which we could blow her small town little mind by hitting on her for a bit of fun, but Athena’s got more class than that. Aradesh has got a bit of money for us as a reward for saving his daughter.
And that’s pretty much everything Shady Sands has for us. With all the good work we’ve done here, we’ve actually set some things in motion that’s going to have ramifications well beyond our quest here. In fact, as Fallout 2 and New Vegas show, Shady Sands actually grows into one of the most successful communities in the Wastelands, with Aradesh founding and Tandi later leading the largest form of traditional government we’ve seen in the Fallout series in the New California Republic.
But we do have one more thing we could deal with. Those Khans are likely going to prove to be a thorn in the side of this infant community as it grows. And you saw they weren’t exactly kind to their slaves. Saving those slaves can be an actual quest. Now, to be frank, the Khans are stronger than what we can comfortably deal with right now. But, they’re right on this side of being possible to take down. I don’t usually bother, because there’s not a lot of reward to it and it’s likely going to take most of the ammo and healing supplies we have as well as a good bit of luck and reloading to see them out, but we will have the opportunity to restock before life gets rough again. I’ll leave it up to you guys. With all Athena’s seen of the Khans, what’s her move here? Does she lead the assault, or live and let live?