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Puncherson_64LadyBrain_64

Spoilers for the end of the Museum of Witchcraft story; lengthy discussion of game morals; Satan-hailing

Butch:

Ok, so….

Returned the deathclaw egg, did a babysit the brat mission for the BoS in the hope it would move the story along (it didn’t), shot some mutants at that junkyard for the RR hoping it would move the story along (it didn’t), decided the only way I WAS going to move the story along was to go to the Glowing Sea, so I went back and spruced up my power armor, and one for Nick, and called it a day. Soon. Next time.

But fear not, we got a starting point, cuz I returned the egg.

I start with an extreme callback (from yesterday). You said:

I thought about returning the egg/baby to the nest, I did, but then I thought “deathclaws invariably try to kill me. Deathclaws from this very location (Lynn Woods) tried to kill me not two weeks ago. Deathclaws do not appear to be an endangered species in this area. WHY would I take the egg back to grow into another deathclaw?”

So here’s what happens if you do that.

So I take the egg. There’s the nest, in a valley. I decide, “It may be prudent to sneak,” so I stealth boyed it up and sneaky, sneaky….but UH OH a DEATH CLAW ALPHA and shit better get the shotgun….but he didn’t attack. Sat there all [detected] looking at me. So slowly, I go up, put the egg in the nest and take a couple steps back. The thing rather carefully piles some dirt up over it, looks at me, and, I don’t THINK I misinterpreted this, nods. One parent to another Then just sits there watching the egg. I picked up a nice melee weapon sitting nearby, that was that. Quest over.

Let’s redo your quote with some revisions:

I thought about returning the egg/baby to the nest, I did, but then I thought “Frances invariably tries to kill me. Frances tried to kill me not two weeks ago. Humans do not appear to be an endangered species in this area. WHY would I take the child back to Frances to grow into another killing machine?”

Why, indeed?

Superimpose: Alpha’s spouse did what….died trying to protect the egg/child. Much like poor Nathan, right?

So what did you do? Sold it to someone who’s going to do…what?

Hmm.

Feminina:

Yeah, those “help with such-and-such” missions never advance the story, darn it. You don’t even get likes from anyone for doing them! Bah. XP, I suppose.

Awww…poor dejected deathclaw parent. Sniffle. Good thing you did that–I didn’t play last night, so I’ve got nothing, but we can at least compare deathclaw egg stories.

I’m a sucker for anything looking dejected. You’ll have to swing by the Lynn Woods area again sometime in the future and see if maybe you run into deathclaws that refrain from attacking you. That would be awesome, and would raise interesting questions about whether or not deathclaws are intelligent beings that we should be attempting to negotiate with rather than fighting.

Your question about why someone would return Shaun to me is perfectly legitimate. Indeed, if some raider (whom I’d invariably try to kill) were to find Shaun, I would totally not expect them to make any effort to give him back. I’m sure they would instead sell him to Wellington or Whittington (or whatever is the name of that snooty robot in the Diamond City restaurant) to be made into an omelet.

But TO BE FAIR, I don’t just go around attacking deathclaws for sport. They pretty much always come after me first, and then I shoot back, because I prefer not to be torn to shreds. And presumably they’re not attacking me for sport either, they probably want to eat me and we’ve all got to eat, but the point remains that despite my staggeringly high body count, I am rarely the aggressor in confrontations. It’s just that everything in the world comes after me first!

Ha–that sounds like a feeble excuse that would never hold up in court, but as you know, in the Waste it’s pretty much true. There are a few people I’ve attacked before they attacked me, like the Forged leader in the Ironworks, or sleeping feral ghouls, but for the most part if I’m in a fight, someone else started it.

Talk to me and I probably won’t try to kill you! I won’t even steal your stuff!

So “Frances invariably tries to kill me” is true, but only if I tried to kill Frances. Whereas “deathclaws invariably try to kill me” is true if I just happen to be walking by and there’s a deathclaw there.

And from a deathclaw’s point of view walking by is probably a declaration of war or of the desire to be eaten, and I respect that they have an interest in staying alive and protecting their territory, but if that comes into conflict with my own desire to stay alive and loot or whatever, I’m going to side with myself.

Nevertheless, I do feel a pang of sympathy for a sad parent missing a child, and feel slightly bad about selling the child to be made into an omelet. And “why should I help Frances get her kid back” remains a legitimate question for someone else to ask, just as “why should I help a deathclaw get its egg back” is a legitimate question for me to have asked.

Butch:

Yeah, I give up. Those quests are not even that hard. Blam blam, XP. At least I got to level 45. That’s something.

This deathclaw certainly DIDN’T attack. I SWEAR it nodded. It certainly left me alone after I put the egg back. It pretty much just wanted to sit there, watching it. I’m not sure there’s any reward past that, but ya never know.

Who was it that wanted the egg? I didn’t even check. DC? Which restaurant? The one upstairs, there?

And really? REEEEEEEALLLY? Everything attacks you first? Cuz I’ve attacked first before. I have a sniper rifle. Pretty much, nowadays, I fire first. Sure, there they are, all red, but I shoot first. And really, they shoot when I get close to their shit. Much like Sanctuary. Shit, Sanctuary has a turret every 50 feet, ready to blam away. Now you’re gonna say, “but they’re coming to attack!” and, perhaps, you’re right, but isn’t that what WE’RE doing? I mean, we can say, “hey, raiders, gunners, mutants, Sanctuary just wants to be left the fuck alone, and we’ll leave you be if you stay away,” to which the VAST majority of raiders, gunners and, yes, even mutants would say “Hey, pot meet kettle.” We’ve even talked on us pretty much horning in on synths. We’ve tramped into FAR more places where people are chilling than they’ve tramped in on us.

Maybe the deathclaws are just scared. Blame them?

“I’m going to side with myself.” Damn, you ARE a raider.

In a game about what it means to be American……. I’ll just let you re read the last few paragraphs and leave that metaphor hanging.

Feminina:

I’m not sure which one of us is the devil’s advocate here, but OK, I’ll mount a spirited defense of my own morality. Someone’s got to!

So…I’m supposed to side with the deathclaw in a “should this deathclaw eat me” contest? Is there something ethically dubious about siding with myself there? I mean, maybe if deathclaws were endangered and this one was starving, we could argue from a whole-earth ecological perspective that the survival of this magnificent and unique species is more important than my own puny human life, but under the circumstances as they actually pertain within the game?

Seriously: I don’t go looking for deathclaws to kill. If I see them in the distance and they don’t see me, I’m more than happy to just sneak by them. But when they come running over to try to kill me, I feel morally OK about trying to kill them back. “I side with myself in a life-or-death contest against something I didn’t choose to pick a fight with” doesn’t seem like a problematic statement to me.

And “Maybe deathclaws are scared”? Maybe, although they frequently defeat me and apparently most other people they meet so I don’t know why they would be, but if so, they could always try running away (which I not infrequently do). I sure as hell wouldn’t chase them. Or just, like, sit there and stare at me without attacking, I don’t care. I almost never kill radstags, even though they show up in red, because they almost never attack me. Leave me alone, I’ll leave you alone.

Or maybe I should consider giving a moral edge to the raiders and super mutants who, yeah, open fire on us when we walk into their buildings–arguably a legally allowable defense of territory against a trespasser, if there were a legal system–but who also open fire on us when we get anywhere near their buildings?

How many times have I been trying to get somewhere, minding my own business, when raiders or mutants or gunners started shooting at me and/or came running out after me as I was just trying to get past somewhere to somewhere else? Many, many times. I mean, I COULD just accept that they own that section of the city and blame myself for trying to walk down a once-public street (I was asking to get shot at, venturing there in the first place! It’s my fault, really!), but they only ‘own’ that section through force of arms: does that constitute a moral right that I ought to respect?

If I were a perfectly ethical being, would I owe it to raiders not to walk on the street outside their camp, even if I don’t have any plans to attack them, because that territory is legitimately theirs because guns, and I should respect that?

It’s true that we also ‘own’ our settlements through force of arms and we want people to respect that, but our settlements maintain gun turrets because they’re always getting freaking attacked: we’re not sending bands of settlers out to raid super mutant camps. We also don’t try to stop people from walking around nearby. If my settlements are next to a road, I don’t specifically tell people “make sure to kill anyone who walks by on this road,” which is apparently standard orders for raiders, mutants and Gunners. I frequently see traders and caravan operators in settlements, so I think peaceable passers-by are doing OK.

The settlers are, at base, trying to live peacefully in a spot, and I think “we just want to live here” is a better moral defense than “we base our raiding from here and we don’t like anybody to walk past.” So no, I don’t think Sanctuary is morally equivalent to a raider camp, primarily because it’s not the home of people who raid for a living (possibly like me, but I don’t actually live in any of the settlements). There’s a big difference between defensive and offensive use of violence.

And on defensive violence, I do freely admit that I walk into a LOT of places I wasn’t invited into, and one could argue the residents thereof have a right to try to get me to leave (they were there first, possession is all the 10ths of the law when there’s no law, etc.), but as we have repeatedly said in the past, if they would only TALK about it we’d be happy to work something out.

“I just need that thingie over there! I’ll trade you gourds and burnt trade magazines!” Or whatever. Sometimes I don’t even want a specific thingie, and in that case if the place is inhabited and the people don’t seem to want me there but don’t attack (generally settlements I’m not yet affiliated with), I glance around a bit and then leave. As I said, I don’t even steal their stuff. (Low bar, I know.)

Seriously, if I went into a building and a bunch of raiders stood there, captioned in red, looking threatening, and said “get the hell out or we’ll kill you” but didn’t actually start shooting (which they never do, because it would morally complicate things too much), I think I would go away. And if I needed a specific thingie there, I’d try to find some other way to get it…because I don’t prefer to kill things that aren’t trying to kill me.

Remember how I tried to sneak in and steal the drive Ironsides needed from those scavengers so I wouldn’t have to fight them? And when I couldn’t do it stealthily I grabbed it and ran off rather than fight, even though they were shooting at me, because I felt they had some reason to be shooting at me, and I didn’t want to kill them.

I mean, I’m not arguing I-as-Frances am a towering beacon of ethical behavior. By normal human standards, I’m horrifying. I’ve killed hundreds of people without remorse, sometimes with considerable glee, and sometimes, yes, from a distance and before they knew I was there (though, apparently unlike you, I don’t think this is my most common approach even though I also have a sniper rifle). I have an unseemly love for my wounding combat shotgun, and greatly enjoy using it to end the lives of my enemies, who in many cases need not have been specifically my enemies if I had not chosen to go poking around in various places. I make snap judgments about people based on their membership in groups like ‘raiders’ and ‘Gunners’ and ‘feral ghouls’. I freely loot the dead, and disrespectfully knock over the withered bodies of long-deceased innocents in restaurants and office buildings while collecting the desk fans and coffee cups that litter their makeshift tombs.

But in the terms of the game, I think I’m about as decent a character as it’s possible to be while actually playing the game, and I don’t think rooting for myself over a deathclaw WHILE ACTIVELY ENGAGED IN COMBAT WITH A DEATHCLAW (which was the context of the statement) changes that.

Or that it makes me a raider, whose goal generally seems to be “attack settlement/caravan, kill them, take their stuff…possibly decorate hideout with their dismembered bodies for funsies.” I do spend plenty of time killing people to get their stuff, in the case of all those “retrieve the such-and-such from wherever” missions, but I’d be perfectly happy to just pay them for the stuff I needed instead of killing them. In fact, if they told me flatly that they wanted to keep the stuff instead of trying to kill me before I even asked, I would probably either steal it and run off (not morally great, but not murder) or just say “these people have a point, screw the BoS and their haptic drives.”

In terms of death rate the results may be similar (though not in terms of the type of person killed, if that matters), but I don’t think going out wandering looking for people to kill and loot (raiding) is exactly the same as going out wandering looking for interesting stuff, and if you meet someone who wants to talk, talking, and if you meet someone who attacks you, fighting back and if you kill them, taking their stuff (me).

Talk to me, I will probably leave you alone. Attack me without talking or giving me any chance to talk, I will probably kill you (or, if you’re too tough, run away and come back to kill you later).

Attack me every time I see one of you for 7 straight days of playing time, and I’m likely to sell your egg for omelets instead of returning it. Sorry. (Now if the egg had hatched, and been a tiny baby deathclaw? No question, I would have kept it as a pet, until it ate me. A pet deathclaw would have been THE BEST.)

Butch:

Can’t we both be devil’s advocates?

True, maybe you don’t actively hunt deathclaws, but we DO go out looking for fights all the time. Indeed, I did, TWICE last night, and once was with the BoS who had no beef with those mutants except that the mutants were mutants.

Watch I’ll make you kill a radstag: If you kill one, and cook it, and eat it, you can carry an extra 25 pounds until you get back to a workshop.

And just like that, she unleashes radstag genocide.

Isn’t asserting a right to territory through force of arms what we’re doing in sanctuary? I mean, on what authority are we plopping down turrets and statues and shooting anything that won’t grow us gourds? Garvey? HAHA.

“We raid from here?” Where’d all those desk fans come from, hmm? You’ve spent most of the game going to a place, killing anything that moves, taking their junk of their dead bodies, then dumping it in a workshop despite the fact you’ve already gotten the 100% happiness trophy.

Damn, though. Overall, I got nothing. I stand and applaud your defense of your morality. Though, one could say, that if you felt the need to type something that long, then you are probably being haunted by mounting, egg stealing guilt.

But that might get you going again, so I won’t.

Feminina:

Fair enough, we will both be devil’s advocates. Hail Satan!

Here’s my final, most compelling defense of my morality: I’m aware of the awesome radstag-meat strength bonus, and while I like it (and liked it even more back in the days before I got all the Strong Back perks), I still don’t kill them if they’re not attacking me.

I rest my case.

Ha.

I am SO guilty about the egg, though. Mostly because I wonder if I could have left it in a comfy bed somewhere and gotten it to hatch. Now I will forever mourn the tiny baby deathclaw of my dreams. Which would probably have destroyed 10 settlements.

Butch:

I totally, TOTALLY do not believe you about the radstag meat.

Feminina:

It’s true! I happily cook radstag meat when I find it lying around (in super mutant meat bags or whatever), but I’ve only killed a couple of them the whole game. I feel kind of bad picking fights with something that’s just hanging out.

And that’s the definition of morality in Fallout.