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Spoilers for locations in the Glowing Sea, the finding Virgil story, and Harold the Ghoul’s storyline from Fallout 1-3


Played a little more! But didn’t do much. Settlement crap (had another one of those THERE ARE NO BEDS IN SANCTUARY oh wait there are beds), had to go defend a beach settlement, sold some technical documents, killed a couple raiders, cleared out hangman’s alley which means ANOTHER damn settlement, etc.

So mostly we got Virgil.


Virgil is enough to go on.

I have other stuff, because I actually went into the Institute! And…it’s interesting. Provides, as we would expect, a new take on the whole issue of who they are and what they want to do and so forth. I’m still unsure how sympathetic I am to them, compared to the other major factions in the game.

We’ll talk. Later.

But in the meantime, Virgil is plenty. Weren’t we talking a bit ago about how it would have been interesting to have someone who wanted a cure for the FEV? Well, here we are.

I kind of love the way Virgil is still trying to hold onto his geek identity even with his super mutant body, with the pens and the lens-less glasses and all. His refusal to let being a super mutant define his personality is kind of endearing. Obviously, I will keep an eye out in the Institute for the cure, although I haven’t seen it yet.

He’s another nice blurring of the us/them category: he’s them (super mutants) but was us (human) and doesn’t WANT to be them, so he’s trying to cross back over the border, and in the meantime is clinging to as many of the signifiers of us-ness as he can.

And yeah, I don’t know how the Children of Atom survive out there, but it’s a good thing they don’t have any means of communication with the rest of the world, or they probably would have been mad at me for killing off their colony at Kingsport Lighthouse.

Oh–and remember I said Garvey had run out of quests? Well, now he has a bunch of new ones. Probably added with the latest patch. Ha. Amusingly, at one point he actually said “as usual, there’s another settlement that needs our help…” Even HE is making fun of his constant quests at this point!

Also amusingly, it was Sanctuary: he’s like “a settlement needs our help,” and the mission tag popped up “help the settlers in Sanctuary Hills.” So…this settlement we’re standing in right now needs our help, that’s what you’re telling me?

Then the spokes-settler said something like “I wasn’t sure we could count on anyone to care!”…um, hello, I have only spent hundreds of hours here building this damn place, you’d think you’d remember my face by now. But whatever.

After I helped them, I could have sworn I saw a message pop up saying “Preston idolizes you,” but then I went to look up what his perk was and it didn’t show on my list, so maybe I imagined it. But it does at least suggest that if you help enough settlements he will eventually notice and appreciate it. He’d damn well better, man.

So, yeah. Virgil. Atom. Radiation (good for you not using any serum, although I don’t know what it’s really good for BESIDES the Sea). Mutants. Needy settlements.

All the topics of a good discussion.


Well, tell me this about the Institute: endgamey or 74 new quests?

Here we are indeed. Which is interesting. The other Mutant that we’ve met that’s intelligent/sympathetic in FO universe was a dude named Marcus who popped up in 2 and 3. He wanted everyone to live in peace, but never tried to change who HE was. He was happy being “other.” This dude is not.

(Interesting side fact, as we’ve talked on the racial overtones of this game: Marcus was voiced by Michael Dorn, who played Worf on Star Trek, and who is, in real life, African-American. Hmm.)

I will also look for Virgil’s cure, though see above.

He’s an interesting counter to the dynamic set with Winter and the Vault-Tec rep. There, one was “ghouled” on purpose and liked it, one wasn’t and didn’t and wanted to be better. Interesting that we felt more empathy with the dude who wanted to get “better,” who wanted to be “us” again. Why didn’t we feel ok saying “dude, there’s happy ghouls! Be a ghoul! Ghoul power!”

I haven’t been out to Kingsport Lighthouse yet. I wonder if this’ll come up later. There WAS a doomsday cult way back in the old games (the Church of the Mushroom Cloud) but they didn’t have superpowers or anything. They were just nuts.

Ha. Garvey you nut. Sanctuary. Uh….yeah, dude, this MIGHT be a good place for a settlement.

And hey! I figured something out re settlements/happiness: You can only a max of settlers equal to your charisma plus 10. BUT you can beef it up, apparel, drugs, whatever, SEND a bunch of people (or just chill there) and get more, then change back/sober up.

So people obviously say “Hey! That place is run by a druggie wearing a dress and a bigassed helmet! Let’s live THERE!” then they stick around tending bars and clinics (booze and drugs!) and getting happier.

The trophy. It WILL be mine.

Goddam right he should idolize me. I’ve stopped getting likes. Maybe you have to be WITH him, but fuck that. And I won’t flirt. I won’t.

I want the record to show I should stick to hotties. This game marked the first time I actually DID try to flirt with a dude (Danse) and I got rejected. I’m 0-1 with dudes. Back to hotties for me.

Well, in the Glowing Sea, did you find that evacuation shelter? With the synths? In the glowing sea? Interesting. And saved my bacon, it did.


Mr. O’ saw me going into the Institute and said “what level are you, anyway?” (64) He laughed and said “there’s so much game left, you’re going to be like 85 by the time you’re done.”

So probably more like 74 new quests.

You’re right, the contrast between Winter and Vault-Tec rep is interesting…and what about Hancock? He became a ghoul by accident long after the war because of some radiation drug, but “the high was totally worth it.” So he didn’t really seek it out, but it’s a side effect he can live with (so to speak), and he seems on the whole pretty content with his lot.

Ghoul power! I think I just felt bad for the Vault-Tec guy because he was unhappy, not specifically because he was a ghoul. And true, I guess I didn’t try to jolly him up with encouraging chit-chat about how amazing ghoulishness can be, but what do I know about it? I only just got here. Who am I to tell him it’s not as bad as it seems? Maybe it’s worse!

Although plenty of ghouls, like Daisy, seem to be basically OK with their lot, and I did kind of feel that maybe the Vault-Tec guy could have done more with his unlife than he did…I mean, once Vault-Tec’s gone with the rest of the world as we knew it, you’re theoretically free to re-invent your life as someone OTHER than a Vault-Tec rep, right? And yet that’s how he’s remained branded throughout eternity…we STILL don’t actually know his name. (Perhaps he himself has forgotten it.) This may be a case of someone who was always overly identified with his job.

I kind of feel like once you meet the Kingsport Lighthouse branch of the Children of Atom you may conclude that they, too, are more “just nuts” than super powered. But see what you think when you get there.

Good call on beefing up your settlement numbers while high and wearing nice clothes! Lure them in with chem-fueled glamour (ever so many fabulous parties, dahling!), and OBVIOUSLY people will stick around afterwards for the booze and drugs.

I don’t think I found an evacuation shelter with synths in the Glowing Sea. I tracked down every location that showed up as I wandered around, but I could have missed one. I found a military checkpoint or something with Protectrons, but no synths.

Well, I was thinking of going back anyway…


Aaaaaaaand there’s your answer. Many more levels.

Speaking of Mr. O, I have noticed that one thing I have not seen is “This Guy is playing Assassin’s Creed Syndicate.” Maybe that’s cuz I don’t play as late as he plays, but I certainly have not seen that as much as Fallout4 (when I know it’s not you). Not a vote of confidence for ol’ Ubisoft.

Ah yes. Forgot about Hancock. I haven’t been to Good Neighbor in some time. But yes, he seems cool with it.

Though he did say “do you know how hard it’s been these 200 years? Looking like this?” He didn’t seem exactly as zen with it as Winter and Hancock.

Which we’ve also talked on. He’s still hoping for those steak knives.

Reason number 7128875 I wish you had played the first three: Harold the ghoul. Harold the ghoul is one of the best metaphors in all of gaming ever. Hard to say exactly how if you haven’t played the games, but for purposes of this discussion I give you this:

Harold, in 1 and 2, is a comic character. He’s so cool with his ghoulness that he jokes about the tree that’s growing out of his head (he calls it Bob). Bad jokes, bad puns, he and Bob…together. Fast forward to FO3: Bob has grown. Bob has taken over. He is rooted to the ground now, the tree growing through him, and he’s unable to die. He asks you to kill him (and there’s RPG choice stuff). (I still remember the shock of it dawning on me he was THAT Harold.) But anyway, there you have a ghoul who’s perception of ghoulness changed a whole lot from cool with it to really, really not.

It’s interesting in this game where we see a whole lot of us/them we haven’t seen a “them” where their “otherness” is something that is really holding them back/causing them pain, a la poor Harold. Maybe they didn’t want to take that metaphor too far (Harold was a metaphor for other things in that game) because it would sting/maybe be seen as racist, but it’s something who’s absence is something to consider.

Though what we do see is angry. Did you read Virgil’s terminal? As he gets more mutanty you can see that he’s getting angrier. Angry seems to be something that is inherent to mutantness, to that particular brand of other. To be a mutant, to have skin that’s a different color, is to be angry.


My settlements are the best parties! I even have a beer bot! I’m like some sort of weird, post nuclear Warhol. Sequins for everyone!

This was a thing you got into through an “Abandoned Cottage” that was called “Abandoned Cottage.” It didn’t have much of note, save a covert operations book (nice) and a power armor station that I needed very badly at that juncture.

Speaking of map, did you have the moment of panic that the game was broken? Cuz Virgil’s cave showed up outside the boundaries of the map, and I had a hell of a time figuring out the way PAST the mountains and spent too long thinking “wait, it SPAWNED a place I can’t go?” That was not a good feeling.


Yeah, he has not been playing AC: Syndicate…I think not since he first loaded it up, actually. I agree this is not a ringing endorsement for the franchise. I get the sense he thought it was OK, but clearly, ‘OK’ is not enough to get him to actually, you know, put the disc in the machine and play it.

Which is kind of an important feature for a game. So based on this, I probably will not bother to even start it, myself. Oh well. COULD have been worth playing.

Harold the ghoul sounds like an interesting character/arc, all right. And kind of a weird one…are trees in ghouls’ heads common? I haven’t seen it happen to anyone in NV or this game. So maybe it was just a freak occurrence, even for a ghoul?

I forgot to look at Virgil’s terminal! (I did look at PAM’s, which is no longer in red for me, but it just says “access denied, have a nice day.”) Well, if I’m going back to the Glowing Sea anyway…

Anger being a part of super mutantness does seem about right. Makes it seem as if the FEV is in some ways sort of like a steroid–‘roid rage’ as side effect of muscle-building hormone treatments and all. You bulk up, your voice gets all growly, you start to experience this uncontrollable rage…you develop a fondness for meat as decor…wait, maybe that last one is unique to the virus.

I feel like I might have seen an Abandoned Cottage…maybe on my first, unsuccessful foray into the Sea. Maybe I saw it and ran off without exploring it, and then the second time saw it was already on the map and so didn’t bother to look at it. I’ll check my map next time.

Speaking of maps, I guess I didn’t look at the map at the right time to see Virgil’s cave appearing off it…I was just wandering in the direction of the marker, detouring to look at things that popped up along the way, and then suddenly I was at the cave. So no panic for me.


Indeed. “This is good, but not good enough to actually, you know, PLAY” is not high praise.

Probably for the best if they take a break (which they are finally doing) for a year or so. They need to break out of the mold. Good for them that their new IP (The Division) seems to be selling like hot cakes. Not our cup of tea (online shooter) but hey. Good for them.

I believe the head-tree was explicitly set up as a unique occurrence.

Virgil’s terminal has one of those dated log things. It starts with him saying it’s hard to type with big fingers (which is kind of a chuckle) but then it’s “have to go find a new keyboard” then it’s “This makes me SO ANGRY…have to control it.” Paraphrasing, but you get it. More typos each time, more angry.

Super mutants are an angry lot.

The abandoned cottage is due north of the Children of Atom crater, right on the western edge of the map.

Ah, see, I knew that the crater was in the very, very corner of the map, so when she said “Southwest” I said “huh?” and opened up the map, and panicked.

See? Better to be like you. Half listening, following the square….would you kindly find Virgil?


Yeah, maybe they’ll come back refreshed with a new AC that somehow is new and exciting but also recalls the glory of 2 (which in terms of sheer “I can’t wait to get back to playing this game” was still the high point for me).

I WOULD kindly find Virgil! I dutifully meander along, obeying my programming…hey, this proves it! I’m a synth for sure!


We’re all about throwbacks today!

Two didn’t have shanties. Hardly worth it.


Yeah, but Black Flag had pretty much shanties to recommend it, and that’s all. 2 was actually awesome to PLAY.

Which is harsh towards Black Flag, which I did after all play and mostly enjoy, but…it was no 2.


Yeah, but SHANTIES dude!

I mean, what would you rather have in your head? Lowlands away or sixty minute man?


Well, Lowlands Away, for sure. You’re right about that.


If your old man ain’t treatin’ ya right go up and see ol’ Dan…..

That and “It’s a man” are worse than Butcher Pete, as far as I’m concerned.


Oh lord, “It’s a Man” is so dreadful.

“If it’s the most obnoxious thing you can imagine, it’s a man, but if it asks you to marry it, don’t hesitate to say yes!” Way to make 50’s gender roles sound flattering and fun for everyone involved, song!

And one thing that’s always bothered me about 60 Minute Man is the schedule he lays out: 15 minutes of kissing (fine), 15 minutes teasing (OK), 15 minutes pleasing (great) and 15 minutes of “blowing my top” (what?). My primary association with the phrase “blowing [ones] top” is “losing ones temper.” And that’s…not very sexy?

Or is it a euphemism for…a thing? (The internet suggests yes.)

If so, why would I want that thing to continue for 15 full minutes of my allotted 60? Really? You need 15 minutes for that? 25% of the time you’re supposedly dedicating to ME?

How ’bout an extra 15 minutes of pleasing instead, Dan, and you can blow your top on your own time?


Oh shit are we going to go there? We’re going to go there. Shit.

Did you google that at work? Really?

There can’t be an extra 15 minutes of pleasing cuz that doesn’t fit the verse structure of the song.

I guess Frances would be more interested in the guy who sings Rocket 69.

To swing this conversation back to stuff that makes me less uncomfortable, I found out that, apparently, Lay that Pistol Down was my grandfather’s favorite song. I never knew.

That one is less ooky.


You brought it up! I can’t not complain about a legitimate concern!

I’m a librarian, I’m allowed to Google whatever the hell I want. Historical expressions! Research! Uh…medical issues!

Lay That Pistol Down always amuses me because it’ll come on when you’re about to fight something and I’m like “I’ll lay this pistol, by which I mean wounding combat shotgun, down when there aren’t 20 feral ghouls in the room, thanks.”


I brought up the SONG, you WENT there.

The ONE time you decide to analyze music…..

It’s good to be a librarian.

Exactly! No way I’m laying anything down!


Also, “lay that thing down before it goes off and hurts somebody.”

…now what would be the fun in that?


Every so often, you scare me.