Evergreen Mills, yet another location that could’ve been great but ended up being utterly squandered as usual.
Now, before I get to Evergreen Mills itself, I need to quickly cover one other, uh… I can’t say faction because it’s basically a faction of one, but certainly an important character who’ll have a prominent role in the world, even if he technically wants to remain hidden for the most part.
Remember that ghoul fella living in Northwest Seneca Station? Murphy? The one who wants to improve Jet and make a shitload of caps getting ghouls addicted because regular Jet doesn’t really have the same effect for them? Yeah, him. Let’s improve him and turn that quest into something a little more helpful (or the reverse depending how you decide to play it!).
Depending on the type of character you’re playing, Murphy’s general goals can have a number of effects on the Wasteland. You can help him improve the recipe using your own scientific knowledge, giving him an even better type of Jet than he had managed to so far create. This would then lead to something like the Khans quest in New Vegas where you can help create/improve a bunch of other recipes (Buffout, Psycho, etc.).
At this point you can help him establish more of a covert presence in the wastes, supplying improved chems to various factions – including especially the Raiders – for profit. This would make the raiders themselves substantially more dangerous as they’d be off their faces on superior chems during combat. But if you’re siding with them, that’s actually beneficial to you.
Alternatively, you can collude with him to cut various nasty items into the chems (Abraxo Cleaner and similar) in order to make more profit at the expense of an obscenely high morbidity rate for anyone using the chems. Again, this would affect the Raiders and potentially make them stronger because they’re on chems.
There’d also be, say, a 25% chance of them keeling over from a nasty reaction to the other chemicals in these drugs. So once again, you end up with a beneficial situation depending on how you’re playing.
Yes, they’re probably doing more damage, can take more hits, and may even have increased health and possibly the ability to breathe fire… but there’s also a one in four chance they’ll spontaneously drop dead or violently explode in a shower of gore.
We could always say that the player needs to have met the Dish Runners before they can distribute these new super chems to the raiders in general, but either way they’d find their way into the hands of the raiders, for good or ill. And finally, Murphy could also be persuaded to change his ways and use his scientific knowledge for good, sending him over to join the ghouls at the Wight House. Or even have him supply the ghouls. Or both.
That’s our basics sorted. Now for some additional details. First, why does Jet even exist on the east coast? Well, if we go way back in time to ancient China, we find something called The Silk Road, a massive trade route across vast swathes of Asia. Since my world is considerably more lively and logical, we could say there exists a similar trade route across the US, running back and forth maybe four times a year in huge trade caravans.
We could say that Jet is a relatively new thing and it was actually Murphy who brought it across from the west. Maybe he managed to steal the recipe, or paid someone else to do so. Either way, it gives us a slightly more plausible reason for that particular drug existing over the other side of the country. This would also allow for some hints as to the existence of the Legion to filter through in stories told by the caravans, setting up for New Vegas.
Murphy was an amateur chemist even before the war and he’s been tinkering ever since, so let’s have him be pretty good at this point; maybe he’s picked up new recipes on his trip across the country, perhaps he can be persuaded via a speech or barter check to tell a couple of stories (like Chief Hanlon) of his adventures, and additionally he’s created a bunch of new recipes of his own.
First, we can enlist his help with the Oasis quests. Making use of the beneficial sap from the Gestalt to create new, more potent healing items, for example. Next, he can provide a few quests to the player, maybe have them find particular facilities or laboratories in order to retrieve recipes or research he can use to create more chems.
And finally, he wants to expand his operations. He currently operates out of Seneca Station, which isn’t far north of Vault 106. If you remember when I talked about the Vaults, I mentioned having this Vault be an experiment based around free use of drugs. If you go to the Vault you’ll find the atmosphere is contaminated (like vanilla, only our version will be accidental via malfunctioning equipment or similar).
To clear the Vault you’ll need a radiation suit or power armour (or other similar item) equipped to avoid inhaling the noxious substances in the air. If your intelligence or perception are super low, we could also say you don’t even notice until it’s too late, at which point you start hallucinating like fuck. Kind of like it is in the base game, just totally off the wall crazy instead.
Upon clearing the Vault – via a terminal to activate some sort of air cycling system, or mechanical skill used to jury-rig whatever’s broken, something like that – you can head back to Murphy and escort him across. Also, since Brahmin crap is a required component of Jet, there’s a handy location right near this area that happens to have about a dozen Brahmin wandering around. Perfect, we’ll be bringing those across later.
At this point he’ll have access to a Vault that was dedicated to the production and supply of drugs, and… the rest will be history. Either you help the Wasteland by producing stimpacks etc., or you supply the raiders and others of their ilk, making life worse for everyone but you. Plus some nice lore, a few stories, and a tie-in to current events on the west coast.
Now that’s sorted, let’s delve into Evergreen Mills, since there’ll be quests here that will tie nicely into other factions, plus Murphy will also tie in here with his chems. As we know, this location is basically just Yet Another Generic Raider Haunt™, except this one has a Behemoth in a cage for… reasons.
For starters, this ain’t a Raider haunt any more. Instead, let’s tart it up a bit and make it into a real location with quests and a minor faction unique to this location for the player to deal with. Non-hostile, naturally, unless you honk them off. We’ll make this a morally questionable location similar to the SatCom array where the Dish Runners hang out, giving the evil or amoral characters another place to feel at home.
It’ll be a seedy den of iniquity surviving entirely on prostitution, booze, gambling, and drugs (Gizmo sends his regards). Not Raiders, though! This place runs as a business, not a free-for-all. Something similar to the Strip in New Vegas, basically, but way sleazier.
That pretty much makes up the inside area, which if you remember already has dancing stages, bars, and not so private rooms for this type of activity, not that Beth did anything with them; this is essentially the forerunner to the Combat Zone in Fallout 4, another squandered location.
Outside, we can turn this into the game’s arena area. Slaves and other unfortunates will be thrown into a ring with animals, mutated creatures, each other, and professional gladiators for the amusement of the paying patrons, with the player able to bet on the matches and take part, working through a whole championship to become the Everchamp (or something like that, lol).
I mentioned player housing back in Part 13 when I talked about the Dish Runners faction and the fringe benefits of supporting them (likewise for other settlements/factions). Winning these arena fights would be the unlock condition for the Evergreen Mills player home, a cushy pad with free booze and a stash of chems that gets replenished every three days.
As the faction running this place is pretty morally bankrupt, this location and its attendant goons – bar staff, dancers, whores, whoever – are effectively going to be entirely unbothered about the sort of shit they serve to customers. Mostly people aren’t even going to notice or care in a place like this as long as it’s cheap and plentiful.
You know that arena? With all the dead contestants cluttering up the place? You think we could serve them as meal items on the menu? I think we could! This will therefore also be the only settlement in the wastes that’ll willingly accept a cannibal player into their midst, and be happy to offer the other meat openly on the menu. Think of it like the absolute opposite of the Ultralux’s philosophy.
I’ll talk more about playing as a cannibal character when I start covering actual gameplay topics, but for now this location is effectively going to be a haven for players who want to play that type of character. Additionally, we can add quests involving the player being able to whore themselves out for caps and potentially loot (remember the quest in Fallout 2 where you become a porn star? Yeah, something similar to that, lol).
And because companions can be finicky about who they associate with, we’ll add in a follower here who’s batshit crazy and doesn’t give a rat’s ass what you get up to, so long as he/she can join in. I’ll cover followers/companions in detail a bit later, including this one.
I mentioned above that Murphy would work well for this faction, so what we’ll do there is say that the owners – let’s call them the Millers for convenience – want more/better quality drugs to serve, and you just so happen to know (or can investigate and find) Murphy, a guy working to create better drugs.
For morally questionable players, this would be the general route they’d probably want to go, helping hook Murphy up with the Millers in order to supply chems. We could have options to make it something of an exclusive deal, or we could have him supply both this faction and the Dish Runners, possibly others.
Additionally, the Millers would supply muscle to both protect Murphy at the Vault, and to round up Brahmin and other necessary tasks. Alternatively, we can do something like Arcade’s quests in NV and deliver Murphy himself to the Millers, where they’ll keep him captive in order to supply them with new drugs and the like. Naturally, this will make him hate you.
Last couple of things to wrap up. Remember the kids at Little Lamplight wanted strange meat because it’s what their fungus likes best? The player could obtain plentiful amounts of that here and use it to trade with the kids.
And finally, that lovely collapsed section you can make your way through, finding yourself in what appears to be a whore house, complete with an actual Madame, not that Beth bothered to do anything other than name the character. Again, this gives us a potential way to use the Mesmetron; capturing people to send to Evergreen Mills, either as arena fodder or brand new slaves/whores.
If we’re going to give the player the freedom to be absolutely awful, we might as well go all-in, right? So that’s that, Evergreen Mills has been turned into a useful and thriving hub a morally repugnant player character can visit and call home, and Murphy has been given a real purpose in the world.
I think it’s probably time to deal with the Super Mutants. I can’t keep putting that one off, so we’ll discuss how they might be improved next week!