Sigh. The course of true love ne’er did run smooth, and neither do Fallout quest lines.
I’ve been flirting with Piper because, you know, leather trenchcoat, and she finally admitted she has feeling for me. Granted, she did it in the middle of Railroad HQ.
But the fact that her reality only tangentially intersects the real one is half the reason I love her.
But now I’ve got a problem – since I’m at her highest “level of affinity”1 and have her Gift of Gab perk, I should really get a new companion. Which is kind of … awkward, considering we just got whatever the gaming equivalent of engaged is. Luckily we’re in a video game; it would probably be even worse if this were a love story. Titanic, for example:
“Hold me, Floyd – ”
What to do? What to do?
The best solution would be for her to go back to Diamond City and keep publishing Publick Occurrences, but Fallout 4 actually makes it incredibly difficult to send companions back to where you met them. I did manage to do it once, but I don’t remember how, because it was on dollar beer night at the casino. I suppose I’ll ask her to go back to Sanctuary, even though it’s already getting crowded and I need to plant more – I know! I’ll practice using the workshop by building her a house! A monument to our undying love, a Taj Mahal in the Wasteland. That way I won’t feel so guilty about dumping her on the sidelines while I go run around with a robot french maid.
Also, given my complete lack of mechanical aptitude both in-and-out of game, I’ll probably end up building her a one-room rattleshack with a dripping sink and a broken fan, and just calling it the Taj Mahal.2 We’re lucky I wasn’t tasked with builing the pyramids, or archaeologists today would be excavating a giant, single, uncarved stone block.
At least this solves one problem: I never remember what settlement needs what, so I never know where to store all my junk. I end up walking around with 30 pounds of assorted gears, oil, concrete, and wire, because I know one place needs a water pump and another needs a turret, but keeping it all straight requires less alcohol consumption than I’m willing to commit to. But now – it all goes to Sanctuary! Nothing is too good for Piper!
First things first – it’s time to clean up this joint. Let’s start scrapping:
I know some of the houses in Sanctuary are still usable, because I’ll find my followers sitting at a kitchen table, presumably drinking coffee and talking about current events. Fortunately, Fallout helpfully outlines junk in yellow and useful items in green:
It’s kind of fun, running around cleaning up the town … and certainly much easier than cleaning my actual house, especially after poker night.
I decided I’d build Piper’s house on the vacant slab behind the main house in Sanctuary – the one with the power armor docking station.
You know … actually … why is there a power armor station in what amounts to Levittown? Doesn’t a neighborhood watch normally suffice? I’m assuming it’s pre-War, since the entire Wasteland has pretty much gone downhill since then, but that leaves some serious implications about what the heck was going on in Sanctuary, back in the day.
I debated on wood vs. metal, and settled on wood; I thought it would feel cozier than cold metal walls, plus a lot of the metal pieces were curved; it would have felt like living in a pipe. Fortunately, I had a good supply of wood, since in my scavenging frenzy I’d deforested the entire town.
One thing I knew for certain was I didn’t wanna go with prefab. This would be custom-built for my love.
I chose a large-size corner piece, and kind of sort of managed to rotate it to fit the edge of the foundation, provided you understand that by “sort of” I mean “not at all.”
No matter how quick I clicked off the mouse button, it was either a little too far left or a little too far to the right. You know, they’ve had “snap to grid” features since I was in high school3, so I am assuming pure hatred of the end user is why they never include them in graphics programs. Allowing objects to free rotate is an invitation to permanent crippling OCD. I’m lucky they didn’t find me days later, still spinning that damn corner, murmuring the litany of madness to myself.
Maybe it would help if I laid down a foundation first. I’m not quite sure of the difference between a foundation and a floor, and if I need both, but I’m sure the tutorial will explain all of that.
I just thought I’d throw in a little zany humor there, because Bethesda really took it to heart about not hand-holding the player. I’m pretty sure the only reason you don’t have to build a time machine and go back to pre-War Boston and get building permits is because they ran out of time to program it.
Well – nothing’s too good for my Piper, so I’ll go with floor and foundation –
So, um, the floor doesn’t fit on the foundation. That seems suboptimal.
Now, while I appreciate Piper a great deal, all relationships are built on compromise, and in this case, the compromise is building a house in time for us to actually live in it before the game is over. I scrapped the floor and put some walls together:
The walls. Don’t fit the doors. I haven’t even pondered the non-Euclidean intricacies of “roofs” yet, and I can’t even get the walls to line up. I thought maybe I could extend it out by building an entrance foyer, but they didn’t line up either, and I saw myself building an endless labyrinth across Sanctuary, praying one of those endless iterations would magically result in something I could put a door on. Such is the stuff of nightmares.
I stood there, with my non-connecting house where all the boards looked like something not even a methed-up hillbilly would use, getting rained on ’cause I couldn’t build a roof, and thought back to those halcyon days when I thought I could build a pleasure palace for my love:
I didn’t want something from the back lot of Deliverance. I wanted a real, pre-War house, with that funky blue siding and maybe a mailbox. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. I finally gave up and decided on a prefab shack … I was looking at the wooden ones, but to be honest, she already had better than that in Diamond City.
I settled – ha ha – on a “large metal shack,” which basically is two pipes stuck together. I wasn’t sure about the wisdom of the whole idea, especially (as you will no doubt be surprised to learn) because it was kind of crooked compared to the foundation … but then, so’s Piper, so maybe she’d like it. I was reassured when she immediately came running in. I initiated dialogue. She gave me some bubblegum and said, “hey, dollface.”
OK … metal shack it is.
Next step – pimpin’ the crib.
I built a generator so we’d always have the homey stench of diesel fuel nearby, then slapped a power pylon down. Once I ran a wire to that I was able to put some lights up in Pipe # 1.
I decided on a fan both for the style and because we were basically living in a giant oven.
To my surprise, the lights didn’t come on in Pipe # 2, which was a problem as I had both a TV and a strobe light goin’ on in there:
I’m not sure if there’s a distance or device limit on the power pylon; I solved it by adding a second pylon by that section of pipe:
And all the little comforts of home:
I wanted to add some outside lighting, because I think a neighborhood feels more homey when there are porch lights on. I was hoping to give it a kind of outdoor-market feel, something upbeat and festive, to go with the disco ball, but that’s impossible to do on what amounts to a metal hot dog. Also, it takes a second generator:
When all was said an done, I sat with Piper and watched the sunset as crickets chirped in the background; I have to admit, it felt … peaceful. It was suburbia, of sorts. A suburbia filled with super mutants and psychotic robots, sure, but then again, isn’t that what we always imagined was lurking beneath the surface of that picket-fence paradise.
Finally, it was time for us to spend the first night in our new home:
Unlike the Skyrim version, where your partner spends the night either sitting in a chair or looming awkwardly over you, Fallout is prepared to admit that your romantic partner will most likely sleep in the same bed as you. She also yawns and says “wakey wakey” and a few other unique dialogue options.
“Hey, Piper,” I said, then selected the “talk” option.
She smiled and said “there’s no place I’d rather be.”
We were home.
A pack of mentats underneath the bough
A case of Whiskey, sum sugar bombs –and Thou
Beside me snarking in the wasteland —
Oh, the commonwealth were Paradise enow!
Come, fill the nuka cola bottle, and in the fire of Spring
Your leather trenchcoat of Repentance fling:
The bloatfly has but a little way
To fly–and lo! the vertibird is on the wing!