Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Fictional AltHistory Scenario #1: Fallout, Part One

If you have been reading this blog at all, you would most likely know that I'm a huge fan of Fallout. No, not the radioactive substance or one of the bajillion bands with the name. Though I'm sure some of them might be good, and, well, it did get the name from the former... But anyway, I'm taking Fallout: The Post Nuclear Role Playing Game, first released from Interplay in 1997, with the next instalment coming out on November 10.

So, in a slight change of pace from what I have been doing here, instead of doing an alternate history on a real historical event, I want to take a stab at writing an alternate history of a fictional universe. And better yet, since there are multiple canon games (Fallout, Fallout 2, Fallout 3, and Fallout: New Vegas), I can make at least four separate scenarios. Yay for another multi-part series!

Yeah... not even going to bother getting into the alternate history where these games were made...

Now, these scenarios will be a bit more limited than some of my other, globe spanning alternate history scenario, instead mostly focusing on the remains of post-apocalyptic America, as that is the setting and place where Fallout takes place. And what better place to start than with the first game, and ask "What if the Master's Plan succeeded?"

WARNING: Spoilers for a nearly 20 year old game are coming! So if you haven't played Fallout, but you want to, you might as well go close this. Maybe read my scenario for what happens if the USSR never get's the atomic bomb?

Either way, this song will fit. Of course.

Point of Divergence

For those of you who haven't played the original, turn based classic RPG yet, a brief summary of the plot of Fallout. You, a simple survivor of the nuclear war of 2077, are sent on a dangerous mission in 2161. The water chip that controls the machines to make clean water in your home, Vault 13, has malfunctioned, and the Overseer has chosen you to go find another one. However, a small problem cropped up when you start meeting big, massive, green skinned, super strong, minigun and plasma rifle wielding super-mutants, the result of a toxic, painful and unpredictable experiment from before the Nuclear war called the Forced Evolutionary Virus. Searching for the source of the super mutants, you find an even more evil plot to kill or enslave all of humanity, turning the best (i.e. non-irradiated, so mostly Vault dwellers) into more super mutants to take over the world. And all of this is lead by a horribly mutated creature known as "The Master," and his vision of "Unity," to end suffering and war... by causing suffering and war. Sure, he might be pretty smart, but I don't think he thought that through.

Ummm... that's The Master from Doctor Who, as played by John Simms. Not the right guy here...

Anyway, in order to win the game, you need to defeat both the Master, in his secret vault in the middle of the Boneyard, the ruins of Los Angeles, and bury the facility with the FEV that's commanded the Lieutenant, one of the smartest super mutants to come out of being "dipped." Do those things, and a winner is you!

However, Fallout is a notoriously brutal game, and it's not uncommon for your character to die, forcing you to replay a COUPLE HOURS OF THE GAME BECAUSE YOU FORGOT TO SAVE AND THIS IS WAS THE TIME BEFORE AUTO SAVE SO YOU HAVE TO GO BACK AND FIGHT THE GOD-DAMNED DEATHCLAWS AGAIN AND AHHHHHHHH!!!!!

Peek a boo!

So, that could easily be a POD: your character dies in the Wasteland, the Master wins, and that's that. But that's too easy for me. Instead, let's take door number two. Because while Fallout can be tough, it's designed not only for multiple playthroughs, but multiple styles of play: a sneaky thief character, a blunt, fist and heavy guns guy, or a smooth taking diplomat that only kills when his words fail. And right at the very end, it even offers you a choice: either kill the Master, or join him. So why don't we say the Vault Dweller joins the Master on his quest of Wasteland unification?

Immediate Consequences

Following the events as outlined in the cutscene at the end of Fallout that has Ron Pearlman narrate the ending as you left the Wasteland, things look pretty bleak. The ghoul city of Necropolis has been wiped out; the Followers of the Apocalypse and the entire Boneyard is destroyed and enslaved; Shady Sands, the future capital of the New California Republic, is razed; Junktown, another settlement, also destroyed; The Hub, a major trading post, is abandoned in the face of the mutants... and Vault 13 has been taken over, it's inhabitants taken to the Mariposa Military base and converted into super mutants.

Basically this. Everywhere.

This is achieved through the super mutant's healing ability, their tough skin, and competent leaders (as well as an aggressive, seemingly angry and hostile manner), which means that it would take more than a few mercenaries in a town, or a group of farmers with rusty guns or knifes, to take down a 10 foot tall, 800 pound, over muscled behemoth of a man, usually carrying a minigun, flamethrower, plasma or laser rifle.

In a cut mission, there is a traitor in the reclusive, technology obsessed Brotherhood of Steel that betrays the BoS to the Master. Since it wasn't part of the game, instead I'm going to say that the Brotherhood is about the only human faction that survives against the Super mutant hordes with their access to pre-war technology, including power armor, advanced weapons, and other tech, but eventually they would be overwhelmed and destroyed, though it would cost both sides dearly.

The Core Region wasteland (California, Nevada and the rest of the South-western US) is almost entirely occupied by the Master's army by 2180. The few humans to survive his wrath are no longer allowed to reproduce, meaning that this would be the last generation of human's in this part of the world. With his capital in the Cathedral in the middle of the Boneyard, the Master begins plotting his next moves; expansion, to bring Unity to the entire wasteland, moving east over the Rocky Mountains, sweeping everything before them. It seem's that the Master's plan is in full force.

Well, no, that's The Master, a 2012 movie I haven't seen...

Later Consequences

However, two major problems arise, which lead to the downfall of the Master's Empire. The first was another human faction that no one knows about, the Enclave. The remnants of the US government and Army after the Great War, they retreated to one of the last oil rigs, deep in the Pacific Ocean. For decades the Enclave slowly gathered strength, investing in new technologies including better weapons and power armor. Using the pre-war designed VOTL aircraft known as "Vertibirds," The Enclave begins scouting the wasteland, and the scouts are horrified at what they find.

With the super mutants now a huge threat (and with the first couple of teams sent to kill them in turn being killed or captured and dipped), and unable to access the FEV virus so they could reverse-engineer it, the Enclave instead retreats back to the rig. But they have learned a secret, one that in the end will allow the Enclave to emerge victorious.

And that secret can be found in the main game, and can even be used in the final confrontation with The Master, ending the battle in a peaceful manner.

The super mutants are infertile.

And he has such a good chance to going out with the high school prom queen...

The FEV virus does a lot of weird things to the human body, and it can be almost different between one person and another. While one person may get super strength, another may be killed. While some, like the Master and the Lieutenant had their intelligence increased, in most it reduces it. Some people are turned into terrifying centaurs, made up of Human and Canine limbs in some demented Kindergarten project. And some times, as in the case of Harold, it might not even turn people into Super Mutants, but completely unique mutations.

However, in all cases, it turns the resultant mutant is sterile. No matter the romantic candlelight or soft music, it just ain't happening.

I'd think The Master would learn this sooner or later. And that will be a huge blow to the Master. Sure, his creations could live in harsher conditions than humans, as well as live many times longer than the starving, de-hydrated, irradiated human inhabitants of the Wasteland, which, as part of the Master's plan, were all being sterilized as well. Basically the Master was not only relying on a flawed solider, but was actively destroying the only way to naturally reproduce humans to turn into super mutants. Basically... oops.

Uhhh... That's Master Chief from Halo. Even if he wanted to, we'll never see him making that face you get when you realize everything you had ever done was wrong. Stupid helmets.

Now, with The Master being a smart guy, I'd think he'd try to find a way around it. But by 2200, with limited facilities and few willing test subjects, he might see the plan as not only flawed but also impossible to rectify, as he does in the main game if you present him with the evidence of the Super Mutant sterility. Of course, in that time frame, he kills himself by blowing himself up with a nuclear weapon under the Cathedral, kinda a last resort option. Would he do that? Maybe in utter despair he would, especially as it's hard to stop a horde of angry, well armed giants that would be by now either at the Mississippi or over it and advancing even further east, spreading the Unity even further.

So, there are two possible scenarios: the Master kills himself, and throws his entire army into chaos, or presides over a doomed Empire that is constantly growing larger and larger. Since the game has his killing himself when he realizes the plan is flawed, I think he would cash out that way.

...I'm not really even trying anymore, am I?

So, the Master kills himself, the super mutant armies, mostly composed of un-intelligent soldiers with a few leaders that kept their smarts after being dipped, it's safe to say that the entire thing falls apart. Different factions come up, with some just wanting to stop fighting and others who want to continue the Master's plan and conquer the whole world, and everything in between. Civil War destroys the Unity. When it's super mutant fighting super mutant, it's fair to say that no one wins. The numbers of the super mutants plummet, turning them from a fierce and proud warrior race to a shadow of their former selves. However they still cause massive amounts of damage, possibly destroying what few human outposts survive in the East, such as the Capital Wasteland, the Pitt, and Point Lookout. The Commonwealth, briefly mentioned in Fallout 3 and where Fallout 4 will be taking place, might be in a good position to hold them off, with androids, robots, new weapons and a seemingly more organized civilization. Of course, I can't say much for certain until I play Fallout 4....

Time for the obligatory "OMG, CAN'T WAIT TO PLAY FALLOUT 4 COMMENT!" I always do in these articles...

And now the Enclave steps in. With humanity, mutant and non-mutant alike, on the West Coast nearly extinguished and wide open spaces open, the Enclave begins to resettle the Wasteland. Unfortuantly, another problem emerges, the fact that inbreeding is a major problem in a community that had been isolated for so long. You start to see the effects even when Fallout 2 happens, and it's fair to say that since there isn't many groups to "renew" the blood line, the Enclave might turn into something approaching a backwoods Louisiana hillbilly family. Basically humanity isn't going to be in good shape, at least as far as America is concerned. Maybe the rest of the world might get it's act together and start trying to unify the world. Or not. After all... War. War never changes.

At least on the bright side... there is no Caesar's Legion.

Because just screw these guys. Mr. House all the way!


Usually when I do Alternate History, I try not to go into the whole "Because this happened, therefore everything was better/worse!" that you usually see in certain alternate history stories. I feel that, while maybe some scenarios would leave the world in a worse place than what really happened, there are always a few trade offs. Heck, if Hitler won World War Two, at least their would be autobahns everywhere.

However, in a nuclear or post-apocalyptic scenario, no one wins. The vast majority of the world is dead, the few people left might as well be, and only a very few lucky people will get the chance to live out the nuclear winter in a fallout shelter that won't subject them to cruel and unusual social and environmental experiments. Radiation, ruins, the loss of technology and a few thousand years of cultural advancement gone in one big mushroom cloud. The only group that would win would be the cockroaches.

So, sometimes it's nice to look back, and see that, well, things may be bad but they can be a lot, lot worse. And in my opinion, the best place to do that would be in a video game. It's both real and isn't: a simulation of a world that could be ours, providing a bit of escapism, maybe some feel good moments along with cathartic pleasure, relaxation, and if you are downright cruel bastard, a place for you to toy with computer beings as a malevolent god.

And everyone that has played The Sims is a cruel, fickle god. That's just science.
However, there is always the part of my mind that enjoys a thought experiment like this. An alternate history of an alternate history. Maybe not quite a novel within a novel as you've seen some writers accomplish, but at the same time, it's fun, entertaining, and can help to answer those questions that game developers either didn't have the time, money, or desire to show case.

And now, if you excuse me, I got a Fallout fanfic to finish before the next game comes out.


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