Entropic Crusader

Home of sci-fi and fantasy author, Benjamin Matthews
Big town full of small problems.

With Little Lamplight mostly dealt with, it’s onto Big Town next. I… don’t really have anything much against Big Town itself, it’d make a fine settlement with some work and additional thought put into it. My first urge would be to simply decouple it from Little Lamplight entirely, forget the whole kids being kicked out thing. But eh… on the other hand, it could also form something of a symbiotic relationship with the cavernous kids. I’ll pontificate on that later.

So where do the main problems lie? Primarily, Bittercup. Need I say more? A Gothic, mopey, depressed character like this can work if handled carefully. But for the love of god, at least make her interesting, or batshit crazy, or amusingly suicidal. Something.

Bethesda has writers capable of this kind of writing, you only have to look at the Wild Bill dialogue in the Pitt DLC to see that. Though I do have to wonder if that writer had any hand in the main game… it feels like they probably didn’t, to be honest. It very much seems that the DLC packs are written and produced by another team, given the overall quality gap compared to the main game(s).

Fallout 4’s Preston Garvey suffers the same issue as Bittercup; he’s the most unapologetically boring character imaginable. The sad thing is that he actually has some interesting stuff going on, but how many people would stick around to discover that when they’re constantly being bombarded with ‘another settlement needs your help’?

Flash! Ah-aaah! Saviour of the universe!

Getting back to Big Town as a settlement (which, *sigh*, does in fact need your help, yes), I don’t honestly think it has too many problems. The usual food and water issues, yes, but it’s otherwise a defensible place with makeshift barricades around every edge of the town, and there’s plenty of space not only for people in the various houses, but for actually growing things inside the safety of the walls.

And with some additional effort on the part of settlers who’d like to stay alive, they could mount turrets on some of the houses for additional defensive ability. That said, it’s not difficult to tweak this place a bit.

First, add some farm space inside the walls of the town along with a source of water. This could be barrels traded from Rivet City or perhaps even Eighton (I’ll get to what Big Town can offer in a moment), or a water purifier in one corner, using a deep well so they wouldn’t have the salt water issue. I’d lean towards the well + purifier myself, just to give this place a bit of a different vibe, but perhaps they need some extra deliveries for the farms.

I said just above that I’d talk about what Big Town could offer, so let’s cover that. One of the things the world (as in the globe, Earth itself) effectively has no more of is oil and fuel for things like generators and big vehicles like Vertibirds (hey, Bethesda, maybe pay a bit more attention to major plot points from the older games, hmm?).

So how about we have Big Town be the one major location in the wastes experimenting with biofuels? The town would need to be increased in size to accommodate the space required for doing something like this, but beyond that it provides a couple of useful benefits to the settlement and gives this place something unique that the other settlements don’t have.

(Side note: a big advantage the old games had was not needing everything to be visible in the game world. For example, you can explore around Shady Sands and see large plots of land with crops being grown on them, and these plots clearly extend off-screen to where you, the player, can’t visit. What this does is give the impression that the farms are much larger than you can see, indicating that this settlement grows plenty and can potentially trade excess away for things they need. New Vegas attempts to show some of this with the Sharecropper Farms, but it’s limited due to the engine + the aforementioned need to show everything to the player in this 3D space. An immersive 3D world isn’t always the best choice for your game, in short.)

Water. Water never changes.

First up, trading. Big Town requires water? Or they have water, but not enough to sustain the whole population + farming? Trading biofuel to other settlements for use in generators solves this issue. It doesn’t even need to be huge amounts, a smallish quantity of biofuel for essential quality of life purposes in exchange for barrels of water seems fair.

As Rivet City is the main supplier of fresh purified water and they most likely need fuel for various purposes, that ties these two locations together quite nicely. Regular trade means they’re friendly with each other, and there can be some player quests involving people from both locations. Since fuel is so important, maybe Big Town even gets special rates on water that other settlements don’t, causing additional friction in the world.

There do of course exist things such as fission batteries, but alternate means of power generation are always a good plan; never put all your atomic eggs in one basket. Plus this could potentially lead to new mechanised caravans over time, making the routes faster and safer, and providing yet more player quests involving the Canterbury Commons folks.

A quest the player could help with where they’re trying to figure out how to make rubber (which ordinarily requires either the tree or oil, neither of which they’d have access to) for tires would also be good; let’s show that the world is trying to modernise again instead of staying stuck in the post-apoc mind set they have in the game right now.

Additionally, with their steady food supply from various grown vegetables and things like corn, they can trade surplus for additional supplies, and can potentially use some of that corn to create… anyone who’s played Fallout 4 knows where I’m going here: adhesive! Adhesives of one form or another are useful for a variety of reasons, so having a decent supply of this would give them yet another good to trade.

They were like this when we found them, guv, honest!

Perhaps this organic adhesive could even take the place of Wonder Glue in the kids’ preparation of mole rat wonder meat over at Little Lamplight? In return, the kids provide their magical fungus and good quality meat. Everyone wins! This could, of course, be a quest that the player engages in during gameplay once they’ve set the kids up with the wonder meat recipe in the first place.

And finally, that symbiotic relationship with Little Lamplight I mentioned. So the kids there hate adults for utterly insane reasons and throw out all the kids—kids, I will remind you, who are experienced in surviving and staying alive—as soon as they get old enough.

Okay, stupid, but whatever. Let’s assume this is still the case and they’re trading their cave fungus and meats, but dislike directly interacting with adults from the wastes. But Big Town is made up, at least partially, of kids from Lamplight Caverns, so they’d be less troublesome. This sets up a dynamic of these two locations trading directly with each other as a simple result of their familiarity, and indirectly with the rest of the wastes for essential items the kids need, but are hesitant to expose themselves to the outside world in order to obtain.

Hell, we could even say the area all around Big Town and its environs is rich in various animal stock from mole rats to Brahmin. Big Town therefore becomes the perfect location for a society of hunters, trading a wide variety of meats to the other settlements in addition to their experiments in biofuels.

Of course, if Big Town has plenty of meat as a result of being a hunter community (or rather, animal husbandry), that does reduce the value of the kids’ wonder meat. But as I’ve said a couple of times now, world building is a process, and sometimes a new idea might cause an older idea to no longer work. It happens.

A brief aside on the subject of fauna while I’m talking about this. Why couldn’t we have other mutated animals running around the place? Mutant seals living in the Potomac, maybe? Or giant Murderbirds based on things like the black heron? Some of these could have originated in the Smithsonian Zoo, others could simply be a result of weird mutations.

We already see plenty of good old Mirelurks, so let’s have us a little more variety in the fauna of the wastes, opening up not only new enemies to kill and be killed by, but additional sources of food for the wasteland’s settlements, providing some more logic and consistency, and making the world a bit less samey. Get rid of pointless big name actors and you’d have the budget for extra shit like this, Bethesda :/

This + radiation = woolly Deathclaw. A… Deathhorn? Radhorn? Bisonclaw? Murder Machine? All of the above?

Right, let’s ramble a bit about quests and the people of Big Town. When you first reach the town you’re told that people are being taken by super mutants and are never seen again (because Bethesda Muties think of humans as nothing more than mobile snacks and gore dressing… just like their raiders do; seriously, their lack of creativity is beyond tedious). If you head over to Germantown Police HQ you can rescue Red and Shorty, and take them on a brief jaunt back to Big Town.

At this point you have the option to stick around a while and help them defend the town. That’s good, it’s a nice little quest to kick things off and put you into a better standing with the populace. Even more than, you know, rescuing two of their people, one of whom is a medic.

And it even has a few ways to solve, one of the few examples in the game. Help them activate the trashed robots to protect them, train them to defend themselves, or simply murder the Muties yourself. Or wipe out Big Town if you’re bored, they’re all surprisingly mortal, probably because Big Town as it stands right now has basically no real relevance to anything much.

The place robots go to die.

Unfortunately, at this point that’s basically it for this town. Unless you want to have Bittercup as a companion, and no one wants that. You can help out in one or two minor ways, including patching up a wounded dude in one of the houses called Timebomb, but otherwise… Big Town is more or less done.

So how can we spice things up a bit? It’s mentioned by the people here that not only are the Muties a problem, so are the slavers from Paradise Falls. So let’s play with that. The first thing I need to mention involves factions and how I’ll be changing them. The Muties especially will be entirely overhauled. As a result, there will be new quests possible for various locations, including Big Town.

Quests for Big Town can therefore include: setting up new trade routes with locations not currently being traded with, including one or two new places I’ll ramble on about in a part soon, and leading a team—or going solo—to take out Super Mutant strongholds (or another faction since my Muties will be different). And no, I do not mean the Preston Method, no Radiant Rubbish™ here, thank you.

Likewise, if siding with the Muties (or whoever) you’d be playing this from the other direction, capturing people from Big Town for them, or even sabotaging key defences so the Muties can come in with minimal resistance. Capturing slaves for Paradise Falls, or liberating captured slaves for Big Town would also be a thing.

Options as far as the eye can see!

There can also be some more personal character-based quests for the Big Town residents. Think along the lines of some of the New Vegas side quests for places like Novac or Primm. Hell, Bittercup’s rampant edge-lord-ism could be a quest here; diagnose using your medicine skill, or if that’s not high enough, find psychology books in a similar vein to the quest in Bitter Springs from New Vegas.

Maybe she’s agoraphobic? She can’t leave the house you find her in, so you take her out once (using a speech and / or medicine check), then next day a little further outside, then into the waste a little way, and so on. Something personal, something to connect to her over, a reason to give a shit about this mopey ass Goth girl.

This could even be her companion hire quest, getting her over this condition and taking her out to the wastes so she can face her fears and overcome them. It’s not hard to come up with a personal, intimate quest like this if you care enough to put a little time into it.

All right, Underworld is up next since I mentioned them back in the Rivet City part. But I’ll also be introducing a second ghoul faction based in another location for a bit of variety.

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