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Spoilers for the loot at the end of the Silver Shroud storyline; lengthy digression into super mutant sex/gender and the possible wrongness of stripping corpses

Butch:

I have nothing. No games last night. Sigh.

As for poor, poor Kent, all I can think of is that you didn’t go right there. I decided to be all heroic and booked it right over to the place. Maybe you took too long and they killed him, and it just is telling you that when you get there.

But try again, cuz if Kent lives he keeps updating your shroud armor. I’m wearing it now. 75 against everything, and it only weighs like three pounds so you don’t even miss the pockets.

Feminina:

Siiiigh…poor Kent. Maybe I did wait too long. I didn’t do THAT much else before going there, but…way too much to go back and redo at this point. Plus I think I saved over the time right after I heard about his troubles.

Sorry, Kent. I WANTED to save you. I hope you died knowing the Shroud would avenge you. Because obviously I will.

I didn’t do much last night. Ran an errand for PAM. I’ve now got her, Desdemona AND Dr. Carrington giving me quests at the RR HQ. Thanks, guys! Just in case I get super bored!

Oh, but speaking of quests, something happened last night that I never thought would happen: I talked to Garvey and he DIDN’T GIVE ME ANOTHER QUEST!

It is possible to get to the end of Garvey’s quests! At least temporarily. I don’t know, he may start recycling them, but if I never speak to him again (and never go to the Castle or listen to Radio Freedom), I’ll never know! And my quest list will remain blissfully free of his troubled settlements!

I actually only have about 8 things on my list right now. It’s a little disconcerting. I probably need to go back and talk to PAM and Desdemona and Dr. Carrington.

Butch:

Give Kent one last try! Maybe the companion? I had Nick.

You will avenge him if you can’t save him. You just will be stuck with the same armor.

Hey, maybe that’s it! You get the baddie to not kill Kent cuz he’ll “See his hero die.” I was WEARING the shroud outfit at the time. Maybe if you’re in deep pockets that dialog choice can’t be an option so it goes right to fail. Were you wearing the outfit?

AIEE! Again errands for PAM? I’m sorta nervous of that now that I have this Amari thing.

Wow. I sorta figured Garvey wouldn’t quit until every icon on the map, plus some more, were settlements. There’s hope.

Maybe it’s time to move on with the story.

Nah. Go back to PAM. Or do some miscellaneous objectives. Or babysit the annoying BoS kid from King of the Hill……

At least I can fast travel to the edge of the Glowing Sea now, so there’s no chance of magpieing it. I don’t know who I should take. I’m leaning towards Nick….

Feminina:

Yeah, I’ll try again. I was wearing the Shroud gear, but I’ll be sure to do it that way again…maybe take Nick instead of Strong. I suppose Strong could make anyone feel threatened enough to immediately kill a hostage. Although it was kind of worth it in that he idolized me after we dealt with a couple of those Nurse Handies, so at least I got his perk out of it. (Not that I care about his perk, which is a bonus to melee if you’re at 25% or fewer hit points, but I want it for completeness. Because I WANT EVERYONE TO LOVE ME. I fill the hole in my heart not with objects, which I collect obsessively but only in order to dump them in settlements, but with the affection and esteem of the motley group of people who sometimes travel with me.)

Butch:

Ah, see, key difference. I only want the hotties to love me.

And Sanctuary, but that’s for the trophy.

On that, last time I played, weirdest thing: I was toodling around somewhere, I think I was trying to find university point, and I got one of those random XP pops. So I go into workshops to see if anything is amiss anywhere and holy fucking shit, Sanctuary is down to 62 happiness, and has ZERO WATER AND POWER! So I fast travel back ASAP only to find…..nothing out of place at all. All the pumps are working, the generators, everyone’s doing their thing. It was still at 62 % happiness, but the arrow was up, and by the time I finished playing it was back to 79.

The hell?

Feminina:

Yeah, I’ve seen settlements on the Workshops page suddenly appear to have zero of something, and then when I dash over they’re totally fine, all looking at me like “why so concerned? We’re good.”

I wonder if maybe they’ve just fended off an attack that I didn’t notice the alert about, or something? I don’t know. Settlements are weird.

Hot, not or lukewarm, EVERYONE MUST LOVE ME.

My determined cultivation of my own powerful charisma is a symptom of my insatiable need for the validation of others. I’m trying to replace the affection I no longer get from my lost husband and son with that of the people around me. It’s a problem, but there are no psychologists in the post-apocalypse to help me work through it, so I’ll just have to deal with it in my own way: by making everyone love me.

Butch:

Settlements sure are weird. Which is why I think that trophy’s gonna be dumb luck. I now have a restaurant, a beer bot, a clinic, I’m just building every damn thing that says “Makes settlements happier” and I’m gonna see what happens.

You have esteem issues.

Me, I don’t want to be pursued by a cannibalistic mutant.

Now that I think on it, is super mutants eating dudes cannibalism?

It’s true, though, shrinks are hard to come by. And I bet the insurance paperwork’s a bitch to boot.

Feminina:

Naw, I bet the paperwork’s way more straightforward than today. “I’ll trade you 50 Technical Documents for a session of talk therapy.”

Super mutants as cannibals…hm. This is a good question.

I’m going to go with ‘yes,’ because they did begin life as humans, and however mutated they are, they still probably count as members of the species since, as best I can tell, they ‘reproduce’ by continuing to expose other humans to the FEV, rather than by breeding among themselves or, I don’t know, budding off clones or something. Are there even any female super mutants? Possibly there are, but the sexes are indistinguishable and we read them all as male because of their highly muscular physical appearance and gruff voices? (Can’t miss a chance to bring gender into another discussion!)

I’m not sure something can technically be a species if it can’t reproduce on its own, so my take would be that super mutants are still a version of human, and hence, eating humans is cannibalism for them.

However, I could see arguments being made for the other side of the question.

Anyway, Strong doesn’t have a romance option (probably for the best), so he’s not actually ‘pursuing’ me, just thinking very, very highly of me…as he should. I bask in his platonic idolization.

Butch:

Yeah, but you try to get on the insurance website. I bet that needs, like, 8 power. And I’d have to disconnect the jukebox.

There’s gotta be female super mutants! Though the only two NPCs, or super mutants that I can think of that you can actually talk to in FO games were male. At least, I assume Marcus was. Didn’t see him shirtless.

I’ll go with the ‘not a separate species’ argument. They’re just sick humans. I think. Probably best that we don’t know. But then, they need love too, right?

I have this feeling that there was some stuff with Strong that got cut out of the game. The milk of human kindness must’ve had a mission at some point. And how cool would it have been if that mission was to cure FEV? That would’ve fit the themes and then some.

Feminina:

Good point. You can’t disconnect the jukebox! Happiness [down arrow] for sure.

It’s hard to think of a good reason that there WOULDN’T be female super mutants. I mean, if you’re dragging people into the virus sludge or whatever, why wouldn’t you take whatever people you could get?

But to my memory, none of the super mutants I’ve ever seen have been recognizably female, not the way some raiders or gunners or feral ghouls are (ghouls only in the sense that they sometimes wear dresses). And I could see the reason being that, well, the FEV just makes EVERYONE bulk up and become obscenely muscular and enormous so male, female, who can tell anymore? But I don’t know if that’s official, or just me making stuff up.

Well, there’s always the internet…someone says on a Reddit forum “From Fallout 1, FEV removes primary and secondary sexual characteristics and leaves at a minimum female super mutants sterile.”

So I WAS making things up, but what I made up matches what is at least suggested by previous games.

The thread starts with someone asking why there’s only one female super mutant, and the common explanation is that you really can’t tell, and the few you meet (one in FONV apparently, but I don’t remember it) who actively present as female are taking special care to do so.

So, yeah…they’re actually basically asexual, but we perceive them as male because they’re big and strong and have gruff voices.

Butch:

Plus, if I had a real jukebox, it would ALWAYS be plugged in.

I also think the ghouls were the same lingerie as their human counterparts. Didn’t Mr. O’ see that when outfitting one in armor? Eww. That’ll hurt happiness for sure.

The explanation for ‘no obviously female super mutants’ seems a bit much. I’m sure that was only that way to save animation assets. Now that we have fancy PS4s, I want a recount!

Though we could dovetail that discussion of gender and assumptions into KL-E-O. Our own assumptions! That and KL-E-O has a female sounding name, and maybe we equate “Strong” with a male one. Even though it’s not a name. You get it.

Feminina:

Yeah, it does seem like an animation-saving device. But I suppose it’s at least vaguely plausible, and has been consistently maintained, so I won’t hassle them about it too much.

And super mutants all being perceived as male does make an interesting contrast to how we perceive robots as sometimes male and sometimes female, based on body shape and voice…assaultrons are as deadly as super mutants, but we read them as female (unless they specifically challenge-while-confirming our assumptions, like KL-E-0) because they have slightly hourglass figures.

That’s true, the non-feral ghouls do wear the same underclothes as non-ghouls, which definitely gender them. I was more thinking of feral ghouls, whom I have not been able to strip to their underclothes (at some point I would have, looking for things to take back to settlements and scrap) but who sometimes are wearing dresses.

Butch:

Let’s be thankful you cannot accidentally strip feral ghouls. Very thankful. Bad enough it happens with the occasional raider.

Feminina:

Dude, you are weirdly uptight about naked corpses. Accidentally? Occasionally? I strip raiders on purpose all the time, at least when I have a new settlement to equip. How else am I supposed to upgrade their gear?

Not that it really seems to make much difference, but in my mind, settlers with better armor are better off, and they need things to wear under that armor, and where better to get clothes that go under armor than off bodies that used to be wearing armor?

As Strong says, “Dead not need things. We take!”

People know I’ve been through somewhere when they see the trail of underpants-clad bodies.

Butch:

I think we need our dear readers to comment upon the fucked-uppedness of the sentence “You are weirdly uptight about naked corpses.” That’s not a strange thing to be uptight about, methinks. Especially when you’ve blown off heads or legs or something. Headless naked corpses? Dude. Wrong. Wrong wrong wrong.

Thank god for sensible lingerie.

Feminina:

“Dead not need things. Even headless dead. Maybe more so, because headless dead definitely not need hats.”

If they’ve got usable gear on them, I’m taking it, and I stand by that. I’m sure you wouldn’t turn down Agatha’s Extra Special Dress (+5 Charisma!) if it existed and you found it on some dead ghoul.

But I’ll agree with you on the value of sensible lingerie.

Butch:

We could extend this into how a body with an exploded head can still have a usable sack hood, but eww.

Feminina:

I knew there was a reason I’m always picking up Abraxo Cleaner. Gets the anything out of everything!

Butch:

Dude, we’re not supposed to go this wrong this early.

On hoods though, you know what this game needs? What EVERY game needs as far as I’m concerned? The feature ME had where you could opt to hide headgear during dialog. I mean, hats, fine, but one of the issues I have with power armor is I can’t see myself or the NPC. I hate that. Part of the reason I refused to play DA with a helmet.

Feminina:

I concur! It’s distancing not to be able to see the face. We notice that in fact Danse doesn’t wear a helmet with his power armor…no doubt because he’s hard enough to get to like without having his face hidden behind an implacable mask. Seriously, just remove the helmets in conversation.

Butch:

At least let it be an option. I had Cait in power armor when she gave her “I’m addicted” emotional talk, and it sucked. Not only could I not see her, it was garbled by the armor. Shitty.

Also, I somehow took off Danse’s hood. He has FABULOUS hair.

Feminina:

Ooh, I am totally stealing Danse’s hood. I want to see fab hair!

The emotional moments do lose something in power armor. I was wearing it when Piper declared her esteem, and flirting in it was…weird.

I mean, look, we accept that we can somehow holster a giant weapon and have it disappear from view: just let us imagine that we take off our giant helmet to talk and it disappears from view as well. Not that complicated.

Butch:

Danse is all “I’m dedicated to the Brotherhood. And my hair.”

I know! If you can make weapons go away, make helmets go away. Bioware figured this out. Go for it.

You CAN remove the helmet from power armor, which I started doing, but you lose bonuses and stuff.

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