Fallout 4: Dead Mo … er … Far Harbor

I have a problem.  Well, I have a lot of problems, but I don’t want to talk about my incipient alcoholism today.  I wanna talk about pattern recognition, which I got from studying too much math, and is one reason I don’t have any friends – people don’t want to analyze everything, they just wanna watch sum lightsaber fights.  So they get upset when I explains why Star Wars: The Force Awakens really should have been called Star Wars: The First One Did Okay, So We Made It Again.  They also don’t want to hear how every Marvel super hero movie is just the same damn origin story told over and over again – I mean, we get it, Stan, great power = great responsibility, ok?

But I can’t help it … what has been seen cannot be unseen, at least not without massive quantities of Lost Coast Brewery’s Tangerine Dream.

So after I’d spent ten minutes wandering around Far Harbor, I sensed a certain … familiarity …


Sure is foggy on this island …

They’ll tell you in Far Harbor that the fog wasn’t always this bad.  But it was always radioactive.  Yeah, that red counter on my health bar?  Wasn’t there when I got here.

It’s not that terrible – you don’t need a power suit, as it’s less than a rad a turn or round or however they count time in the game.

Which is good, because your first missions take you to the far sides of the map.

Hope you like walking.


This is about as bright as it ever gets in Far Harbor.  Most of the time I had my Pip Boy light on, which was okay, because most of what you encounter (spoiler) are ghouls, and ghouls have better enemy detection sensors than frickin’ DARPA.

Partly it’s that the damn fog is everywhere, partly it’s that somehow, some way, it always seems to be night …

… well, I guess that kinda makes sense.  Fallout 4 is set near Halloween, and Far Harbor is farther north than Boston.  I know where I live, the sun sets at 4:30 PM in the winter, which is one reason re: alcoholism.

So maybe it’s just that there isn’t much daylight.  But not really.  Really it’s so that can have these:


What …what … is making this hellish glow?  It feels like I’ve wandered into the set of Blair Witch …


Ah.  OK … so, there is a fungus, that is literally called “blight” that glows hellfire red?  IS this the Steven King school of botany?  Between the dead trees, the poison mist, the endless darkness, and the ghouls …

oh, it’s not Blair Witch.  It’s Dead Money.  OK, OK.  Thank Bokrug, it’s not actually Dead Money, because Dead Money really, really, really sucked:

On Tue, Sep 9, 2014 at 7:20 PM, Donald Raymond wrote:
> I hate Fallout:Dead Money so much.  So very, very much.
> The Nazis were bad, yes, but not even they demanded you make a blind jump
> onto an invisible catwalk in a room filled with poisonous gas that causes
> auto-damage.  Nor did they put traps on time-limited pathways (ok, they
> might have done that).  Cruelty, thy name is Dead Money - but since it's
> about a woman, I guess that just makes sense.

Actually, I take that back.  Dead Money had some really good qualities – a complicated storyline, some fascinating characters, and phenomenally depressing ending that moved me to tears, plus that gut-wrenching slideshow music

… it just sucked as a game.  It was like they wanted to make a movie, then realized too late they were working for a game studio.

So no, from the roughly 5 hours of play I’ve put into it, Far Harbor isn’t anything like Dead Money.

But it is the Halloween episode of Fallout 4.

There’s that old pattern recognition ruining everything!

The DLC for New Vegas basically took a post-apocalyptic science fiction game and morphed it into other genres – Dead Money was survival horror, Honest Hearts was a western, and Old World Blues was cheesy 50’s SF comedy.  I don’t know what Lonesome Road was, since Old World Blues annoyed me enough to stop playing.  Srsly, the resource limiting in OWB, and DM, were frustrating beyond measure.  That’s really the problem with themed DLC – I had created a great character for the base game – a fast-talking scientist who specialized in energy weapons, and who was hopelessly useless in the more melee-oriented OWB, because every damn enemy in that game, including the food, had like +100 energy resistance.

Fallout 4 doesn’t seem to be following that trend – Automaton seemed to build on Wasteland Workshop’s concept of “you WILL experiment with our building minigames” but added a small adventure that did have a neat twist at the end.  (I should probably do a blog about that, but I’m lazy.)  And since their settlement mechanism is still hopelessly counterintuitive, time consuming, and vastly unrewarding (Look!  I spent two hours building a shack that looks so terrible even jet-addicted homeless ghouls wouldn’t sleep there!)

But Far Harbor is definitely bringing the creepy.  I mean, all of Fallout 4 is bringing the creepy, but Far Harbor … well, allow me to demonstrate:


This hulking monolithic granite tomb brooding beneath an eldritch sky … THIS

… turned out to be …


Aldersea Day Spa.

It’s a resort – For.  The.  Damned.

No, not really.  I mean, I don’t know.  I haven’t gone there yet.  That wasn’t my destination, it was just a distraction.

Along with this:


Glowing plants I could except.  Glowing skulls?  Now you’re not even trying to be reasonable.  This is the point in the horror movie where everyone knows the monster is real, and they’re all scrambling around for weapons and someone inevitably decides to go off alone and get help.

Speaking of being eaten by monsters, my actual destination for that mission turned out to be filled with


Which look like little glowy marsh lights but are actually attached to ginormous fish that erupt from the swamp and try to devour you.

So my advice while playing Far Harbor is to remain tense and nervous at all times.  Drink lots of caffeinated beverages and develop a nervous facial twitch, just to be on the safe side.  Ideally, you’ll reach a state of such extreme paranoia that even the trees will look like they’re out to get you:

It’s Bethesda.  They are.





Fallout 4: Fashion Police

I’m slow sometimes.  Personally, I think it’s because no one ever tells me anything.  Apparently, I never get invited to the “how to people” meetings.  Maybe there’s a comic shop or something all the rest of you go to?  Was this supposed to be covered in preschool?  ‘Cause I missed preschool.  Anyway, it’s the charitable interpretation, that no one ever tells me about stuff.  Like that time in 1st grade where I learned that it didn’t end at noon like kindergarten did, which I discovered while waiting for the bus like a moron when everyone else was inside.

But enough about my childhood emotional traumas.  The point is, I found a copy of La Coiffe!  I’ve been on the lookout for one, because it was the only way I was gonna get a beehive hairdo.  Since this blog’s thing seems to be “hair” – which frankly is so absolutely bizarre I’m pretty sure I’m on peyote right now.  IRL, my involvement with hair is that I get a buzzcut every month, unless I forget or get too busy or the barber is closed because he’s out elk hunting.  Also, sometimes I shave my head.  But heck, we all have to stretch our boundaries, and apparently my horizon is a hairstylist.  And since a beehive ‘doo is inexplicably not one of the starting options (neither are mohawks) I was thinking I’d probably have to pick up a Cosmo or something out there in the Wasteland.

Which was a problem, because while I’d found a half dozen Taboo Tattoo rags, and some Hot Rodders, and a whole crapton of Special Ops mags … hmm … you know, it’s kind of a Rorschach Test for your character, isn’t it?  I tend to prefer crawling around abandoned military bases and breaking into high security areas, which is where I find all my reading material.  I suppose it’s not surprising that the 140th Boston Power Armor regiment doesn’t stock back copies of Vogue.  And, while I won’t spoil where I found this one, it wasn’t the Revere Satellite Array.  (I’ll put the location in a footnote so I don’t spoil it for the actual competent players.1)

So now I faced a new conundrum: now that I’ve unlocked my new hair, how am I supposed to know what it is?  There’s just a vague laundry list of hair cut names, most of which aren’t particularly informative, so how was I to know what the one was?

Well, here’s a hint:


It’s called the Megaton.

Well – no one told me!  And copies of Picket Fences don’t show their new items on the cover.  (Neither did the Wasteland Workshop, which … ugh … that’s a whole other blog post.)

I headed down to Diamond City and plunked down 15 caps.

“Darling, make me look radiant.”

“Is that a pun?” he asked.

“No, I’m pretty sure the hair has to glow.”


It’s not a beehive, but … you know what?  I like it.  It’s completely fcking insane, and you’d have to be wacked out of your brain on Nuka Cold and rancid stimpaks to even consider dragging that thing through the Wasteland, but then … that’s kinda the whole point.

But it wasn’t long before I realized that as awesome as it looked, not only was I playing a first person shooter, but I also needed to put a helmet on:


’cause the first rule of fashion is, never suffer from head wounds after Labor Day.

It’s one of those times when I wish the game would allow for breaks from reality … I mean, beyond the “breaks from reality” that include super mutants and mirelurks.  I understand that I need armor, but that haircut freakin’ rocks, and I think it should come with some armor value so I don’t have to make these kinds of fashion decisions.  Damn you, style!

So I was feelin’ a little bummed out about my hair, and I decided, like many girls do when they’re feeling depressed, to go get a tattoo.  Well, and also I finally figured out that you could get them from a facial surgeon.  I’m slow sometimes.


Huh.  It’s nice and all, and one that totally works for a rockabilly princess, but right on the forehead?  That’s not a tattoo, that’s a cattle brand.

Ok, never mind.  Hey, what’s this?  Face paint?  Hmm  … could be interesting.


Oh.  Hell.  No.

I know we’re trying to bring back that 50’s motif, but …no.

Let’s try this again:


I thought about adding the tattoo with this, but in the end, I wasn’t playing Arkham Asylum.


Groucho Marx got nuthin’ on me!  Note to game designers: subtlety, guys.  Makeup shouldn’t be applied with anything you can buy at Home Depot.  How am I even writing these words?!?  Good thing I don’t live in North Carolina, or I wouldn’t be able to pee.


Ummm … okay.  Kind of ironic, considering we’re in Diamond City.  Also, I’m a girl!


How the hell is this lightning?!?  Personally, I’d go more for “Kabuki Actress Who Desperately Needs to Sneeze.”


Just in time for the “Edward Scissorhands” mod.


Why?!?  Just .. why?!?  


It’s only “tribal” if you’re a zebra.


We’re really working the Goth thing, aren’t we?  Are there that many gamers who hang out at Hot Topic.  I mean, it’s better than the “told her twice” black eyeshadow, but walking around with makeup that looks like a fatal injury just seems like tempting fate.

Hmm … maybe it’s because I selected black makeup.  I’m blonde; I’ve got to work with color to bring out my best features.  Let’s try red:



Good thing I’m gonna kill that guy later in the game.







It’s in Malden Center. Where I don’t recall. I did mention the “incompetent” thing, right?

Cthulhusattva: Tales of the Black Gnosis




The stars are right.

After eons of anticipation, I can announce that my short story We Three Kings will be published in Cthulhusattva: Tales of the Black Gnosis, by Martian Migraine Press.


The Bible says that Three Wise Men came from the East to pay worship to the Christ Child.  The real truth is far more terrible …



Pre-orders are available now at http://martianmigrainepress.com/Cthulhusattva-Pre-Order-Contest and any cultist who orders before May 23rd will also be entered into the Pre-Order Prize Contest of Utter Madness!  Ok, I made that name up, but the contest is real – see the link for details.  But that’s not all!  Just for my readers, I am revealing here, for the first (and only) time, that one lucky winner will receive, at no additional charge, a free story recital by me!  Provided, that is, you are willing to meet me at the Peppermill Casino in Reno and listen to the drunken ramblings of a half-mad poet.  It’ll be fun!

(Special offer for Alturas residents – the Casino bar here is also acceptable.  Please provide a pitchy of Icthyosaurus Pale Ale.)

So shamble on over to Martian Migraine Press and order sum unspeakable tomes of eldritch evil.  SAN loss guaranteed!

Also, some preparatory reading …








The Post is Dark and Full or Errors

Jon Snow is alive.  He was raised from the dead by Melisandre.

Called it.

Or at least, he’s still alive in the TV series; we’ll probably have to wait until the next Ice Age for a new book, but I think Martin will stick pretty closely to the show; after all, “science fiction storytelling in a fantasy world” is one of the main themes of the series.  The final conflict will come down to Caitlyn, Jon, and Daeryns or however you spell her name.  Eventually, the political posturing of the various houses will be meaningless against the power of magic.

Or … he could be building it up to appear that way, and then end by having political machinations and mob rule be more powerful even than the Old Magic.  That would turn GoT into a commentary on the strangulation of creativity by bureaucracy, and would subvert the genre as developed by Roger Zelazny.

“And those damn stupid barbarians with their damned stupid swords will win after all.”
— Larry Niven, The Magic Goes Away

It would also be seriously fcking depressing, and a miserable way to end a zillion-word story, so one I wouldn’t have bet on until I read Joe Abercrombie.  I’m still depressed about the First Law series.

I have to confess, I haven’t actually watched GoT, partly because I don’t have an actual television, and I haven’t read the books in years.  Given my alcohol and (former) tobacco consumption levels, once I hit 35, I decided not to get too involved in long running series.

Speaking of leaving things unfinished, I haven’t updated the blog in a while, and I figure it’s about time I do some work around here.  Hopefully I’ll start updating this thing regularly again, which of course is the last sentence written on every abandoned blog since Ancient Egypt.