Hello everyone! This is actually my very first post on Reddit (I am usually a lurker), so I apologize in advance for any posting faux pas I may commit. To get down to business (with the Huns?), we're a roleplaying group who intend to be active in Fallout 76 itself. But how, you ask, when there's only voice chat? Well, we know how voice chat is suboptimal for RP. Luckily, for many years there has been a wonderful and dedicated modding community for Fallout games, and there is a mod which adds text chat. (I'm not sure what Reddit's or this community's policy is on 3rd party links, so PM me if you want the URL to the mod). It works fairly well and an update is coming eventually which will increase the character limit to 1,000. I personally play an initiate in the Brotherhood of Steel, and a Nukapedia contributor who leads our overall community plays a Paladin inspired by Elder Maxson's original broadcasts to Taggerdy's defunct BoS chapter in Appalachia. But it need not only be the BoS with us. You can be an independent character or a member of familiar Fallout factions formed immediately postwar if you so wish.
That does bring us to an important point: Fallout 76 is by far the earliest-set game in the series chronologically. Many of our favorite factions we have come to know and love simply do not exist yet, or are not active in Appalachia at this time. As you are most likely aware, the game is set only 25 (and soon 26) years after the Great War. You could even play an older survivor who lived prewar!
In the interest of being respectful to the setting of Fallout in general and FO76 specifically, we need to lay out common misconceptions and misunderstandings of the canon so far:
- X-01, or the prototype Advanced Power Armor which the Enclave is so well known for using, simply does not exist yet in any meaningful capacity. Even if it did, prototypes are notoriously unreliable, and the Enclave was documented as even losing personnel and resources to develop Power Armor more advanced than the top-tier prewar set: T-51b. It's in the game, but this is mostly a fun item for players to have rather than something characters would be able to use in a serious story.
- Speaking of the Enclave, our favorite genocidal maniacs are not yet active in the wasteland. They're too busy hiding on the Poseidon Oil Rig trying to figure out how to leave Earth and colonize another planet! It's not until many years later by the events of Fallout 2 that they give up on that and try to reassert control over the Wasteland. In Fallout 76 specifically, they're all dead, and at best a roleplayer who really wants to be a part of this faction would have to settle for being a spy or scout in the wastes relaying information to Poseidon and maybe an Enclave outpost in Chicago.
- The NCR doesn't exist yet. I know, I know. I love the NCR rangers and the Republic, but California is a mess just 25 years after the war. Nobody has emerged from the vaults yet to form the Republic (in 2186, to be precise) until after the Vault Dweller of Fallout 1 puts an end to the threat of the Master and his Super Mutant army in 2161.
- Washington D.C. is not yet overrun with Super Mutants. Although they were more or less a permanent feature of the Capital Wasteland, they did not organize and manage to overrun D.C. until around 2277.
- Rivet City, built out of the remains of an aircraft carrier beached on the Potomac river in DC, was not founded as a settlement until April 25th, 2239.
- The Institute, formed from the remnants of researchers and faculty in the Commonwealth Institute of Technology (CIT, known in our timeline as MIT), is still a burned out ruin, and its inhabitants are burrowing into and hiding in the subterranean cavern. The Institute itself is not founded as an organization until 2110.
- Speaking of our favorite eggheads, Synths do not exist yet either. The first generation of Synths would not be created until the 2180s, and convincing third generation Synths would not be created until 2227-2229.
- Many Brotherhood ranks seen in Fallout 3 and 4 do not yet exist either, such as Knight Captain, Sentinel, Star Paladin, Knight Sergeant and so on. They are also particular to the East Coast chapters of the Brotherhood. The West Coast chapter originally founded by Roger Maxson has the following ranks: Initiate, Senior Initiate, Apprentices, journeyman knights/scribes, Senior Knights/Scribes, Head Knights/Head Scribes, Junior Paladins, Paladins, head Paladins, and lastly Elders. Elders are very special and form the council of the BoS, the leader of whom is the High Elder, usually descended from the Maxson family.
- There are some gameplay elements that cannot be taken seriously in RP either: we can't outright build Power Armor from scratch in our CAMPs. This is fairly obvious, but the amount of industrial capacity, fine-tooling, expertise, and materials needed to build power armor eluded even the Enclave for a long time. Individual wastelanders would have no chance of making their own, and even Raider Power Armor is… iffy for this reason.
- We can't all get Senator Blackwell's ID card to enter the Congressional bunker. This sort of thing is a phenomenon common to many multiplayer RPGs. Not everyone can be the Soul Shriven in ESO, or the Jedi Knight in TOR, and so on. Suffices to say that it would not make any sense for thousands of these cards to be laying around for anyone to pick up.
- We can get Scorched. This may become irrelevant with the advent of Wastelanders and the end of the Scorched Plague, but for now we have to operate under the assumption that it is very possible to contract the Scorched Plague without a vaccine. Thankfully, the vaccine quest in-game seems to have been left open enough that anyone who needs to can try to synthesize their own vaccine. In fact, manufacturing more vaccine is one of our own objectives in BoS RP right now.
- We can't absorb bullets. This should also be fairly obvious, but people are often tempted to just… ignore really severe damage or the consequences of being shot or getting in conflict. Just because our characters in FO76 can mow down fifty Scorched by themselves and soak up ten times that many bullets, doesn't mean that it would make any sense in a real story. One-man armies are not a thing, nor should they be even if it were possible. This is my opinion now, but I will say that one thing which makes RP more compelling is real danger to a character, and having to come up with more clever solutions to being outnumbered or outgunned than just Rambo-ing everything. It's even better when you ask for help from other RPers.
To wrap up the status of lore with our group, we always put FO1 and FO2 first. There actually aren't that many outright contradictions in Bethesda/Obsidian/Black Isle lore, but minor stuff like T-60 being more advanced than T-51b as stated in FO4 tool tips, and so on is ruled in favor of the original games. Thankfully, I hear that some stuff from the original games is making a comeback in Wastelanders, so here's hoping!
So. Let's say you love Fallout, and you might be interested in RP with other fans. First off, don't worry about being inexperienced in RP or even in lore-knowledge. Just be open to learning, be respectful of a (mostly) consistent lore that places Fallout 1 and 2 first, and be nice with other people. The point is to have fun with Fallout as our setting for collaborative storytelling, and never to create more work, more drama, or more problems for other people.
There are some minimum RP basics everyone must be familiar with before starting, however. If you happen to be an experienced RPer, you can skip this part.
- If you are not, it's important to understand the notion of in-character versus out-of-character. In a nutshell, imagine you are an actor in a movie. When you are actively filming your part, you are acting in-character to depict the scene and construct a narrative. Conversely, when the take is over, you are out-of-character and going about the real world. So it is in RP. In-character is when you are actively telling a story in the world with all the constraints of that person's knowledge, ability, and so on in the narrative. Out-of-character would be you chatting and goofing around with your friends about the latest dank meme or cultural references which your narrative character could not possibly know.
- Speaking of what a character knows, we should talk about meta-gaming. Meta-gaming in a nutshell is you the player knowing things that your character could not know. Perhaps, as a Fallout fan, you know that the NCR will be formed in 2186, but your lil' wastelander in 2102 could not possibly predict the future. In smaller terms, perhaps another player tells you the plot of an upcoming event for feedback on the narrative, which you now know. Your character however would know nothing unless he or she found a way to know during the narrative.
- Godmodding. Going back to what I mentioned earlier about one-man armies, but applying that to interactions with other players. Look, we all love a power trip. It feels awesome to get in some Power Armor and blow away a bunch of baddies without breaking a sweat. However, roleplay is first and foremost collaborative storytelling, so consent is the operative word here. Let's say your character and Raider Bob (played by another human player) get into a spat. You really shouldn't do stuff like, "Hillbilly Joe shoots Raider Bob six times clean through the heart, instantly killing him." You don't give Raider Bob a chance to do anything and you dictate to him what is happening. Imagine if someone did that to you. "Raider Bob shoots his shotgun and blows off Hillbilly Joe's head, instantly killing him." Kind of a dick move, right? And extremely counterproductive. Don't be an asshole. Instead, do stuff like, "Hillbilly Joe shoots at Raider Bob with his 10mm pistol." That way, Raider Bob can decide if he gets shot or not. "Raider Bob is not prepared for the ambush, but instinctively ducks down into a ditch as bullets impact the dirt around him." Stuff like that. Now, of course, I suppose it could go 100% the other way where neither player is willing to concede anything, so Hillbilly Joe and Raider Bob get nothing done because neither want to get their characters hurt, but that comes down to what the players want to happen and agree to. Consent and communication are oh-so-necessary.
- Realism. This is subjective, of course, and obviously things cannot be 100% realistic since we're in a fictional universe where miniature nuclear fusion is a thing. However, this goes back to godmodding. What I mean is, in some cases it just doesn't really make sense for a random wastelander to have accumulated billions of caps, a full set of T-51b armor, 3,000,000 rounds of 5mm ammunition for his minigun, and so on. Maybe a BoS Paladin could have some of those things, but certainly not carry all of it at once. When you decide who your character is, what he owns, and what he can do, I'd say humility is a good start. Start small and work your way up. This is my opinion now, but it's way more interesting to start from very little and build yourself and your character up over time. Earn those skills and that experience that makes you a badass. Nothing turns people off like sauntering into some random-ass bar and declaring how you're the most unkillable, richest badass ever without proving any of it with history and experience.
- Have fun. Seriously. This might sound like a no-brainer, but don't take everything so seriously and get pissed when something doesn't go your way. Hopefully you don't feel the need to take something that happens in-character personally IRL, or to wave your metaphorical dick in everyone's faces because you have something to prove. Just try to have a good time with your friends and be forgiving. We all make mistakes, we're all only human, but have fun first and foremost and don't make everything stressful or grimdark for yourself or others, at least for your own sanity.
Alright. You've come this far. If you're still interested after all this reading, now I have a road map for how you'll get from this advertisement to our little group, which we run in the server app Discord. First, try your hand at writing a story and/or a background for a character you've made in Fallout, up to the current time in 2102/2103. Send it my way via private messages over Reddit, and I'll review it as soon as I find time to do so. If I think you're good to go, or at least willing to try to improve, I'll send you up the chain, so to speak, to my Nukapedia friend who will do a final review and then invite you to our server. Then… fun awaits! Crack open a nuka-cola, microwave a TV dinner, and sit back and relax. I look forward to meeting everyone interested!
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