Super Mutants! Regardless of how little sense this faction makes in Fallout 3, they remain the primary antagonistic force in the game for a considerable period until the Enclave shows up. Let’s see how they might be improved and fixed. My first thought was to remove the dumb second generation Vault 87 mutants entirely. But then I decided there is possibly a better way.
Instead, what I’m thinking is this: Marcus originally set out with a large number (comparatively, given there aren’t many left) of fellow mutants in order to find a place to call home. Because we now have our own version of the Silk Road, we can say they travelled with the merchant caravans, providing some additional muscle and protection until they decide to put down roots somewhere.
However, over time a secondary faction arose among the mutants that didn’t feel like sticking around the west coast region. While some mutants integrated into society, the new faction decided it wanted to leave this area behind and make a new life far to the east. (Note, Harold also goes along on this particular journey.)
Eventually, this second faction split entirely and made their way east, continuing on with the caravans. Marcus, the Nightkin, and the other mutants with him settled down at what would become known as Jacobstown, thus neatly tying into the later plot/location in New Vegas.
This leaves us with a large-ish group of first generation mutants heading east, where they eventually end up at the DC Wasteland, figuring that putting as much distance between them and anyone who might know who and what they are would be a very good idea. Certainly, the caravans would know, but the idea is that no one out here has been directly impacted by the mutants’ actions; it’s a fresh start.
They find an established level of civilisation unused to the presence of mutants like them, at least beyond basic ghouls, and therefore do what they can to remain low-key, leaving the caravans shortly before arriving at Eighton. Gradually, they find their way to a massively irradiated military facility similar to Mariposa (not a Vault, though it would be in the same location as Vault 87).
Here, they find the remnants of a genetics lab much like the one that created them, but with cloning facilities in addition to gene splicing and other fun pastimes. Understanding that their numbers are too few to go wasting them needlessly, the more intelligent among the mutants form a plan involving scouting the wastes for lowlifes no one will miss in order to experiment on them.
Snatching raiders and their general ilk, the mutants begin tinkering with the facilities, attempting to use their knowledge of the Master’s plans to do one very simple thing most sentient creatures take for granted; reproduce and ensure their own posterity.
With a cloning facility at their disposal, they attempt to create intentionally imperfect clones, trying to produce a new generation of mutants who aren’t simply carbon copies of the existing ones. Effectively their own form of reproduction creating new, distinct mutants with their own personalities. Naturally this would lead to abominations as they fail and fail again, potentially resulting in tensions as these monstrosities escape into the wastes.
This is roughly the point where the player would enter into events. So the mutants would be a faction the player can talk to, pick up some quests from, and help to perfect their research, thereby ensuring they don’t die out. The canon ending used for Fallout 4 would indicate they succeeded, produced more of their number, and slowly worked to gain the trust of the other factions in the area, eventually integrating into wider society.
You may remember me mentioning that the ghouls in the DC ruins would need trading partners. Well, here you go. The mutants are sending parties out, consisting partly of the originals from the west, and some of the newer ones (imperfect though their process currently is), in hopes of finding trade partners, thereby giving the ghouls a ready source of food and supplies beyond those traded with Rivet City, and the mutants their first real allies in the wastes.
The mutants themselves will have gathered together Brahmin and other animals, keeping them at a location away from the facility, both to retain secrecy and to avoid irradiated meat/livestock. Additionally, using knowledge learned from the caravaneers en-route to DC, they’ll have farms and things. You know, the usual question; what do they eat?
Since I’m all about integrating factions into the wider world, there’s one other thing we could do for the mutants to make them useful to the region and give them a very useful tradable good. If you’ve never heard of BioSteel before, have a quick look at this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BioSteel
Sounds both kind of terrifying (seriously, spidergoats? NOPE) and kind of awesome, right? So let’s have the mutants accidentally discover that they can actually create super high quality tensile steels and other materials by combining natural elements together via gene splicing. It’s a logical offshoot of their own origins, after all.
See how easy it is to come up with something similar to the idea of FEV without just lifting it wholesale? Especially when FEV was meant to be a localised thing and shouldn’t even exist on the east coast; the Master was the uh… Mastermind (oho) behind most of that, and it took him a lot of trial and error to figure out. Beth’s sheer laziness really does boggle the mind.
Oh, and the original purpose of the facility would’ve been something along the lines of clone soldiers, splicing together different creatures to make the ultimate fighting machine, that kind of dealie. This will actually tie heavily into my plans for Fallout 4’s Reconstructing series so I’ll cover it in detail there, but suffice to say this facility was the precursor to another, more important government experiment.
On a final note, the mutants would have quests tying them to other factions and settlements in various ways, like providing heavy lifting to Big Town (Eighton can use power armour for this, haha), tending to the Gestalt or providing food and other help, potentially helping the antagonists if given the right motivation (for players siding with them, obviously), and so on.
For the likes of Old Olney, this could present a problem for the mutants. With all that cultist business the Olney residents are likely to be pretty suspicious and untrusting, so we could potentially have a quest or two where we have the mutants help out in some way (improving their farming with better techniques, for example, something with real, tangible benefits to the community as a whole).
I know I’m probably harping on about this by now, but… the Mesmetron is again going to find another use. Seriously, if you’re going to have a neat device like that in the game, you should at least give it a decent purpose. So that’s what, four or five different locations I’ve now tied to potential Mesmetron functionality? In this case, the player can help the mutants by sending over Raiders and similar for experimentation.
And of course if you’re siding against the antagonists, the mutants will provide you with a small force of heavies as support during the final battle at Adams Airforce Base. Naturally, the antagonists themselves would be interested in the ability to mass produce cannon fodder troops… but I’ll cover that in a post later.
Effectively what I’m doing here is giving the mutants a proper ending, having them integrate into society and simply become another group trying to survive in a harsh world. They shouldn’t be excessively aggressive, they should be helpful and, if not intelligent, then certainly polite, and they deserve to stop being treated as generic cannon fodder.
Additionally, it provides a nice contrast to Jacobstown later on; in the west, they’re still distrusted and have a pretty hard time of things, though that’s improving thanks to Marcus’ efforts. In the east, they’ve found a new place to call home, leaving the unpleasantness of their old lives behind.
Beyond that, there’s also another nice contrast where Jacobstown is actually quite open, settled around a large lodge, albeit in the mountains. An open location for a faction who have to maintain a reasonably low-key presence, compared to a faction who’ll be pretty welcome overall but live in a dark, underground pre-war facility.
And remember Uncle Leo, the non-hostile mutant who wanders around the wastes and you can occasionally run into? We could still use him, just say he’s walking the world, meeting people, hoping to put a relatively friendly face on the mutants and introduce the people of this region to the idea of big, hulking green brutes who aren’t actually all that dangerous unless, you know, provoked. (Uncle Leo… what is it with Emil and family?)
That’s it for now. Next up, I’m going to talk about a faction used in a small role in Fallout 3 who were given a rather expanded role in 4. I’ll talk more about them in the series for 4 when I finally finish this one, but they’ll have a role to play in 3 as well. So next week… it’s the Children of Atom.