You gotta give this to the Dark Lords of the world – at least they believe in truth in advertising. You walk into a place called “Mordor” or “The Black Pit” or “Texas” and you pretty much know what to expect, but when you come across “Happy Valley” or “Sunny Acres Retirement Home,” you know it’s a whole ‘nuther level of messed up. It’s one thing to torture you with hot coals and knives, but it’s just plain sadistic to call it a “trust building exercise.” In gaming, never trust a name.
This is corollary I to Rule # 31 of gaming, that being: “The NPC is always lying.” Even if he’s telling most of the truth, such as “the treasure is in the cave yonder” he always leaves out the part about “guarded by a Great Wyrm Red Dragon Berserker Lich-King.”
It’s even worse when it comes to Biblical names. Your best bet then is probably just to nuke the place from orbit.
So when I got to the town of Covenant, I was already bringing my Paranoia A game. I wasn’t too surprised at their little quiz; I figured they wanted to make sure I had the perfect lobotomized Wonderbread 50’s mentality to not say anything when they drug the neighbors off in the middle of the night for a sacrifice to Great Cthulhu or, even worse, the HR Department.
Never has a man faced greater temptation – I so wanted to give the “wacky” answers2 but Fallout metagaming got in the way, ’cause even though I knew Floyd Winchester was gonna end up popping more caps than a Nigerian e-mail, I was still trying to get my companion’s perk, said companion being Curie the lovestruck android, and in the end, I decided she’d frown on the image of me booby-trapping toilets with a fragmentation grenade. Sigh.
And it didn’t really matter, ’cause when I went through the gate, I got the message “Curie disliked that.” I’m not sure what part of “going someplace” she disliked, unless maybe it was teleporting to some insane post-nuclear version of Pleasantville. I decided to let it pass, mostly because at that point she had an axe, and if I’ve learned one lesson in this life, it’s that axe-wielding French android girls should be given what they want.
This being the Fallout equivalent of Happy Days, of course the first guy I seek out is the chain-smoking mercenary named “Honest Dan,” who, as it turns out, is the one guy who actually lives up to his name.
Who tells me there’s something strange going on in this here town.
Nah, really? This your first rodeo, Honest Dan? The shopkeep over yonder’s grinning so hard I can hear her teeth grinding, and you think there’s something goin’ down?
I’m thinking maybe their big secret is they’re all recovering addicts, since everybody in town is chain-smoking like it’s Friday night at the casino. They even got a “designated smoking area” like we had at my old job, although they didn’t have one of those weird “cigarette bins” that you have to squish your butt through and that occasionally catch on fire.
I’m really working the “addict” angle, ’cause I found a bookcase full of books on psychology, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned in this life, it’s that people with addictions and mental disorders also tend to smoke like fiends3.
I thought maybe that was why Curie “disliked” me going there, what with her being a doctor-type and all, until I turn around and see:
So when I hack the terminal with all the e-mails about the “compound,” I figure that’s where they stash people until they detox. Maybe that’s why everyone’s grinning so hard – they’ve got mad hallucinations from all the methadone they’re on.
It also mentions they’ve had to skip a couple of runs due to this fisherman that’s always there.
Turned out they were actually paranoid about synths, and the test was designed to catch androids, even though we know from Blade Runner that it doesn’t work because Deckard was an android all along.
So in the end, I popped some caps, got some caps, and hit the trail with Curie, who didn’t mind mass murder nearly half so much as me going through a door without her.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I really need a smoke.
Rule 1: There is no kill like overkill.
Rule 2: There are no missed traps in a burning building.
I don’t think it would have mattered, which would have been the first clue that things were amiss in Levittown.
On a serious note, I am not making fun of mental disorders; I have anxiety and my best friend has bipolar, so when I make that observation, I am speaking from experience.