Saturday, March 5, 2011

Fallout: New Vegas's Lousy Karma System

Traditionally, Fallout games keep track of a player's actions using Karma. For doing something good, like giving a thirsty beggar some water, asking for no reward for a service rendered, or seeing how many rounds of ammunition one mob boss's head can hold, you get Karma. For doing something bad, like selling your friends to slavers, blackmailing merchants, and setting off a dormant nuclear warhead in the middle of a busy town because a neighboring town leader thinks the place is an eyesore, you get negative Karma. Your Karma score would influence various things, mostly the way that NPCs would react to you, your available options for a few quests, whether bounty hunters or mercenaries will eventually start hunting you down, and most importantly, whether potential party members would join you, and if so, which ones. It's a nice little idea that enhances the game's enjoyment and gives extra emphasis to the idea that your actions in the game have consequences by giving your actions overall some long-term results to accompany whatever immediate effects you've caused.

Fallout: New Vegas introduces an accompanying system in its installment, that of Reputation. There are several groups of influence and power throughout the Mojave Wasteland in Fallout: New Vegas, and what you do for or to them affects how that faction as a whole sees you, which in turn determines how they react to you and what quests and rewards they're willing to give you.

I like the idea in theory. After all, not everyone on one side or the other of Good vs. Evil should have the same values. If you get a bunch of Negative Karma because you can't help stuffing people's pockets with live grenades, it follows that a bunch of chaotic, anarchistic, crazy drug-users might react well to you, but a company of organized slavers probably wouldn't be all that impressed, even if both groups are on the Bad side of Karma. Having individual Reputation scores for each faction provides a chance for more plot relevance for your actions, making things more realistic, and also emphasizing the importance of the different factions to the Mojave Wasteland setting. Good idea!

Bad idea: relegating EVERY major effect traditionally associated with the Karma system to the Reputation system for the factors. They left Karma in the game, but it's almost entirely irrelevant now. First of all, there's barely ANY result of really high or really low Karma. The companions who can join you are dependent on your Reputation; the only one that actually cares about you being a psychotic mass-murderer is Cass, and she can be talked out of leaving you for your baby-eating ways, anyway. NPCs' reactions to you only seem to significantly change from Reputation--whether angels sing in your presence or you kick puppies with lead boots on, all any given NCR official cares about is whether or not you've been helpful to his country previously. Few NPCs have any biases beyond those faction-related. What quests are available to you are the same way--if there's any discrimination going on for whether a quest is offered to you, it's based on what factions you're friendly with, not whether or not you're a trustworthy individual in general. With few exceptions, the Reputation system has made Karma irrelevant.

Second problem: at least half the NPCs in the game belong to a faction, so killing them only affects your Reputation, not your Karma rating. So, hey, if you're not a fan of the New California Republic and want to serve another faction, feel free to open fire on a squad of unsuspecting NCR soldiers sitting down to have lunch. Sure, the NCR won't like you gunning down defenseless peace-keepers...but it won't make you a bad person, apparently! Now the only people you have to worry about killing indiscriminately are independent NPCs (which will give you bad Karma) and gang members (which will give you good karma). So if you actually CARE about what your Karma score is, your options for affecting it the way you want to are much more limited than they used to be. And who you're shooting at isn't the only thing that doesn't work the way it used to regarding Karma--while it was frowned upon in Fallout 2, grave-robbing is apparently A-OK in Fallout: New Vegas. You'd think someone in the town of Goodsprings would care that you're violating their grandmother's corpse on the off-chance that she was buried with a Stimpack hidden in her coffin, but nope.

And y'know, getting back to the idea that faction-specific kills don't influence your reputation, there's one aspect of it that I really have to say is ridiculous. Now, in the example I gave, you're killing a bunch of soldiers for the New California Republic faction in cold blood. Now, that's a pretty immoral act that you'd expect negative Karma for, but I can almost understand why you might not have a Karma penalty applied. I mean, it's hard to argue that the NCR isn't at least partially good, but they're very imperialistic, and even if they're bringing about a far safer, better form of life for the people of the Wasteland, they ARE doing it through fairly standard imperialistic military methods. You could be a good person and still disagree with the NCR's way of doing things, and support another fairly good faction instead. So even if it SHOULD be an evil act to kill such soldiers if they're not attacking you, I guess I can accept that it's associated with the act of opposing a faction that you could object to while still being a good person.

But the same Karma problem is present with members of Caesar's Legion! Kill a Legion recruit, and you'll only be awarded negative Reputation for them, but your Karma won't be affected. Now seriously...why the HELL do you not get good Karma for killing a Legion NPC? Come on. Other factions may have aspects of moral ambiguity, but you can't honestly try to tell me that a morally decent person could support Caesar's Legion. This is a faction that burns, pillages, and murders everything in their path, destroying every male it can't make one of its own, and enslaving every female as a supposedly inferior being. Sure, they exemplify militaristic discipline and abhor the drugs that run rampant throughout the Wasteland...but that discipline is savage brainwashing, and they act on their hatred for chems by crucifying anyone they suspect of using them. In fact, the Legion just crucifies just about anyone it dislikes for any reason--they're big fans of horrible, tortuous public death. And hey, might I again mention, ENSLAVING HALF OF THE HUMAN RACE. Being sexist asswipes convinced of the inferiority of women in all things is bad enough as it is--using that philosophy to enslave all women to serve all their labor needs is amazingly evil. I'd say it's worse than just having normal slavery, but slavery is already the absolute polar end of the moral spectrum in my mind, so I guess it can't actually get worse.

So, essentially, Caesar's Legion is a group that combines the cruelties, barbaric violence, and dogged imperialism of Rome, the brainwashing power of the Third Reicht, the empire-built-off-slaves part of Ancient Egypt or the deep pre-Civil War US South, and the gender philosophies of...well, pick just about any society and go back a little ways to the point where women had absolutely, 100% no rights and were considered inferior in every way. Some cultures won't require you to turn too many pages of history back to find it.

Can someone PLEASE explain to me why feeding a Legion member a bullet breakfast does NOT give me positive Karma? Is there REALLY any moral ambiguity associated with this faction that could reasonably lead a good person to support them?

And when I ask for explanation, I mean a REAL one. Not the lame-ass failure of an excuse that's been going around, claiming that since Caesar's Legion is using all these terrible, evil acts toward the goal of creating, maintaining, and spreading a form of civilization, it falls into a neutral zone for morality to the Fallout universe. No. That is fucking stupid. Maybe if Caesar's Legion had been a faction existing early in the series, like within the first few decades following the world's destruction, that claim could be made, because at that point, there really wasn't anything anywhere resembling civilization that I know of, so perhaps seeing the Legion as the ONLY alternative to chaotic, violent, deranged anarchy would have been able to make it a "neutral" kind of choice. Maybe. But in the setting of Fallout: New Vegas, having the Legion be considered anything but brutal, heinous evil is, and I can't emphasize this enough, fucking stupid. Because by that time, that area of the Fallout wastelands has got the New California Republic as an option for civilization, and Mr. House, the New Vegas families, the surrounding towns, and the various smaller factions ALL present viable opportunities for civilization. You're not choosing between Caesar's idea of civilization or none at all. You're choosing between one legitimate form of civilization (the NCR), another conglomerate of legitimate civilizations (the towns and factions of New Vegas and the surrounding area as they already exist), or a form of civilization that finds honor in brutality, enslaves half its population for a condition they can't change under false claims that it's inferior, and delights in monstrous torment. So saying that Caesar's Legion could be considered a "neutral" moral choice in any way for the setting of New Vegas is so arrogantly short-sighted and reeking of idiocy that I wish I could hit each and every person who makes that claim in the mouth so hard that they'll look like a checkerboard the next time they grin.

Anyway...I think I've gotten a little off-topic. Back to business. There are many good innovations with Fallout: New Vegas, and the Reputation system works very nicely by itself, but they really just dropped the ball completely on properly incorporating the traditional Fallout Karma system for New Vegas. It's so totally insignificant to the game's entirety that it might as well not even be there, and the developers were so obsessed with making the faction Reputations a big deal that they created a separation between Reputation and Karma that at several times, like with the Legion somehow not being considered evil, seems outright stupid.

54 comments:

  1. good and evil arent black and white like you try and paint it, ask a muslim a REAL muslim about how we treat women in the west and he will think its wrong and disgusting so your the one that needs to stop being shot sighted. morality is subjective, and besides that legion are fucking bad arses only pussies are against them

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  2. I'm afraid that when it comes to the question of whether it's right or not to enslave another human being against their will, the issue actually IS black and white, kiddo. It's wrong. It's not right and it will never be right under any circumstances. While it's true that many issues of morality are somewhat subjective, this is simply not one of them. To enslave is to go against the natural order in any and every way, to hypocritically deny for no justifiable reason the rights and freedoms you desire, and to bring serious mental and often physical harm without cause to a fellow sapient creature, for an end that does not ultimately benefit society and usually stunts or harms it. There is no perspective in which slavery is not a dangerous moral evil, sport. Think a little more about the matter before you spout unconsidered grade-school philosophy at me.

    Also, if you believe the Legion are "fucking bad arses" (despite their being surprisingly ineffectual in practice), wouldn't that make anyone who is against them, anyone who can successfully oppose such an allegedly tough group, the exact opposite of a pussy? Again, you need to think more before you hit that Post Comment button.

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  3. good and evil is black and white. You don't need to be taught what is good or evil, everyone knows from birth. It's less-morally people that want you to believe that it's all just a "grey" area. Or evil ones just trying to spread lies.

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    1. You are a dumbass. It is always grey and there is always more than one side of the story. As an example, there are two countries, the reds and the blues. The blues invade the reds and pillage as they conquer the country of the reds killing many innocents, evil right? Well what is this was in retaliation the reds attacking the country and savagely killing most of the blues population after the blues refused to give them a resource they desperately need, but the blues were already giving much of that resource to one of their allies. This makes a grey area. People are taught from birth what is right and what is wrong, that is why there are fights, wars, and battles fought over different philosophies and cultures.

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  4. I can argue that Caesar's Legion could be the best choice for a post-apocalyptic world. One thing is to be understood..... None of the factions are "Good" or "Bad", and this is the reason:
    Each faction represents a certain time frame in human existence.
    1: Independence: You will keep the world as it is, with no guidance from any major figure the world will slump into chaos. This represents continuing the "time frame" set in the game.
    2: Mr. House: You will advance civilization to the post war tech, including reestablishing laws and weapons of mass destruction that were present in Mr. House's time. ( Some of those laws were fucked up.)
    3: NCR: You will establish the a "modern day" (1940s) America. Good Ol' money hungry, corporate favoring America. Oh, and did I mention that was the time frame the threat of Nuclear warfare was at it's peak? Rushing NCR nukes or House's extreme technologies into the sparsely populated world of post-apocalyptic America might not be the best choice for humanity as a whole.
    3: Caesar's Legion: Ahh Caesar, known for his benevolent and just rule east of the Colorado. Now, I'm with you when you say he's evil (present tense), but for long term human survival, I will argue that his is the best choice. Edward Sallow's (Caesar) goals I can believe are for his own benefit, but only for the present time. Long term Caesar will establish the pre-democratic Roman empire. This phase of Rome would be considered evil by many living today, however it had an impact so great, that about 55% of the words you and I speak derived from Latin ( We are a Germanic language by the way.)With the expansion of Rome came unity, with unity came education, with education came culture,with culture came religion.....so on. Oh, and you would effectively be setting humanity back 3000+ years from game time, before the time of weapons and technology that could devastate such a low population of humans, allowing them time to grow. After all, perhaps one of the only reasons humans survived the first fallout was because of population. If Caesar's successful in eradicating old world tech and re-establishes Old Rome, you just bought humanity a few thousand years to populate without threats of mass destruction. Yes, it will suck for those who aren't legion, yes it's cruel.....for now. But with this point of view it's easy to see "War never changes", but the scale of which it is waged can.....drastically.

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  5. So basically, your argument is that going backwards socially and choosing to forget anything humanity learned over the course of multiple thousands of years about personal liberties because it would stave off dangerous warfare technology for a longer time. It's okay to toss aside every scrap of intellectual progress made by a species, to completely ignore the past, and embrace bigotry, slavery, unfair laws, and brutal, legally-sanctioned executions, because there is less of a CHANCE that nuclear war would erupt again in the near future.

    So you're the "ends justify means" sort, then. Well, I'm afraid what's right and wrong, good and bad, isn't supposed to be justified by sketchy predictions of what COULD happen in the future. COULD there be more death overall from a society that has access to advanced weaponry than one that doesn't? Sure, completely possible (although the fact that the Legion is a society whose fundamentals are tied heavily with conquest and highly violent punishments is gonna even the death count out quite a bit, I would think). Does this chance--and that's ALL it is, speculation--that this potential large future period of human history where killing can't be done as efficiently would (somehow) be less death-filled than a society with better killing methods but whose foundations are considerably less tied with killing, justify harshly restricting half the population's human rights and potential and beating or CRUCIFYING violators of laws, plenty of which are immoral to begin with? And this is just accounting for the poor sods that actually have to live IN the Legion; the ones trampled under its heel will have even less fun a time of it.

    If that's the kind of society you think can be justified at all, let alone by the inventive assertion that there could be less chance for mass destruction than one of the other social options, then perhaps you shouldn't be arguing questions of morality.

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  6. I can respect your way of thinking a I see your point. Once you realize the real plague of the earth isn't dictatorship, and that it is people as a whole, morality is only a perception.
    Off topic: Do you eat meat? I do. Do you go to the supermarket and buy it in it's pretty little packaging and take for granted that some life form (no matter how small) has been killed so you can live? Or would you hunt, slit the animal's throat yourself, watch it bleed out in agony, kick around in pain, and gut it down the middle with no remorse. I have. I personally believe meat eaters should have to do that at least once. I never enjoy it, but that's how life operates. Most people wouldn't, after all, we pay people to kill our animals and call them MEAT. There are people whom believe "slavery" and consumption of "lesser" life is morally wrong....is it? I suppose it has to do with what consists of the definition for morality based on the individual. This is not a friendly place. Living must eat the living to survive. Pain
    is pain and life is life, all life feels pain.
    As far as the idea of an "Inventive assertion" or "sketchy predictions" on my behalf goes, I can't take all the credit for the creative train of thought, as that's EXACTLY the implication of the game itself. However, it's ALL speculation, isn't it? Is it that your speculations or "sketchy predictions" are somehow these other factions are going to offer salvation for humanity? That alone is a big "if". In fact, that is not the case at all. They are all guided by self interests.
    If you've played Honest Hearts, Joshua comments that Mr. House unified the tribes of Hover dam in not an entirely dissimilar fashion to that of Caesar and doesn't have a high opinion of NCR either.
    And, are you implying that an elite group of (mostly) melee based conquerors could amass the power to inflict a death toll and amount of devastation equivalent to that of nuclear or post-nuclear warfare? Have you seen the condition of the game's landscape? Such assumptions are far fetched at best.
    Oh, and please take note on how each faction wants to destroy the other. Realistically, Mr. House and the NCR could work together... but no. NCR, Mr. House, and Caesar ALL want total control....selfish greed paid in full at the idea of total domination. All factions are guilty of this. "Good" factions would work together, harmonize if you will, for the cause of a greater good. Morals and beliefs are established by groups, and differ by groups. No question IF Caesar is totally successful that technological regression would be man's best alternative (for the time being). Please keep in mind we were stupid enough to blow up the whole earth in the first place. Plus, history will repeat itself, the legion will fall over time just like Rome. And yes, you have me pegged. I am " if the ends justify the means" sort, and I know you may not see things completely in my favor, but I at least hope my argument is more substantial then those that qualify in your book as "fucking stupid". But in reality, I'd have to try to kick the shit out of the legion if I lived in that time frame....I'd join up with you and snipe a few of those fuckers (beer in hand, soda if you're a non-drinker)...cause it would suck living like that! But you probably see that I'm an opened minded neutral and give things a bit too much thought. I appreciate you time and response to my comment though. I noticed a lot of you response comments were not well thought
    out by the others which posted them. A person of your intellect deserves more of a challenge than that in which was provided by previous posts. Though you still disagree, I hope I have stepped up and exceeded your expectations of debate, at least in partial.

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  7. The best ending for me is Mojave independence. Sure it's chaotic and screwed up for many but for the people one group of people I respect the most in Fallout New Vegas, namely the town of Goodsprings, it's a great ending. The people of Goodsprings, especially doc Michell and Sunny Smiles, nurse the courier back to heath and train the courier to survive the cruel world of the Mojave. They ask for nothing in return. When Powder Gangers come to attack the town, sure they have the courier help them out but they are right there fighting by her(or him but my courier's are usually female) side. Most others say help us, go out and risk your ass while we sit on our butts. The only other faction I really respect is the Followers of the Apocalypse. They are a good faction that wants to help out world especially the less fortunate. NCR are a bunch of worthless bureaucrats that only help people on condition of running their lives and also only really put effort in something if they deem it an important resource. Basically the Strip, Hoover Dam, their bases, and Helios One are great while Freeside, Westside and independent towns in the Mojave are not worth their time. They can suck an egg. Mr. House I have a smidgen of respect for but not enough to side with him. He's a greedy bastard that tried to use the courier for his own ends. But he does have a vision of technology saving humanity and somewhat of a conscience. However, I think technology failed humanity already and it would again, his vision is crap and he's really just a greedy bastard. After these two crummy main factions you'd think their would be a better alternative faction but the reality is the other major faction, Caesar's Legion is by far the worst of the bunch. They are pure evil, no redeeming value whatsoever. Sure, the idea of a collective society without greed and shunning technology is not bad but their means to achieve this is so atrocious that any good character would have to destroy them in order to save the people of the Mojave. My Courier pretty much shoots Legion members on site, any legion member still alive is a threat to the lives of people in the Mojave. The story of Boone really seals it for me on the Legion, no good bastards. That only leaves independent Vegas and siding with the sleazy sycophant Yes Man because the Courier can control what he does.

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  8. To ReadysetTruth:

    Your utterly irrelevant sojourn into the question of meat morality doesn't warrant a response, but I'll be polite enough to give it. I have been attempting to take meat out of my diet as much as possible over the past 6 months, though that is more out of environmental concerns. Your idea to have people who eat meat have to do that is fine, and I'd be all for its social implementation, although it's somewhat funny that you think the meat industry has any semblance to personal animal slaughter--it's a quick, brutally efficient process, more factory than farm, so your idea wouldn't really do much to actually familiarize people with the process that provides them their food, which is arguably more offensive to the sensibilities than the regular killing you advocate. This has, however, nothing to do with this discussion. The questions of morality concerning treatment of animals and what food one eats has no connection with the discussion of the political system and life choices sentient beings should elect to follow. You're essentially just trying in a very vague way to say that there could be moral shades of gray in this issue by bringing up the fact that there are issues in existence where this is true. And posturing. Lots of that.

    The game doesn't imply that rebooting humanity back to BC times is a safer idea as a whole than letting any of the other options occur. You're right in that it's all speculation--but as that is the case, the question of the ultimate ends becomes less relevant than the means of getting there. If we do not KNOW, for a FACT, that the NCR, House, and/or Courier will more quickly lead to another doomsday, or will involve war-making with higher cost of death, then the more important question of the issue becomes HOW humanity should continue forward. And since there's evidence, not speculation, that the means by which the Legion sallies forth involves huge, baseless infringements on half the human race's natural and social rights, horrible and tortuous punishments, and expansion through violent conquest, that would make the Legion the morally wrong path all the more, because one cannot even argue its "ends justify means" stance on steady ground any more, once it's admitted that all ends are speculative.

    I've played the unimpressive Honest Hearts, yes. I don't see how proving House has strong-arming tendencies (which you don't need Joshua to tell you, frankly, given his interactions with the Courier in the game proper) pertains to this. My rant is not speculating on whether or not the Karma system should be adjusted for House's moral ambiguity (not much of anything to even do about that; there'd really only be 1 instance where it would be shown anyway). My rant is pointing out that the Karma system itself is improperly tuned in general, and specifically in regards to Caesar's Legion--and on that token, I'm more concerned with the quality of life, or rather severe lack thereof, that the Legion represents, more than its strategies for expansion and assimilation. Not to say that those aren't also filled with reasons for why the Legion are amoral asswipes, mind, but it's the female slavery and crucifixions that really send the Legion into the negative zone for moral Karma.

    CONTINUED BELOW

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  9. CONTINUED

    My implication was that weighing a violent conquering people's perhaps unchecked expansion over a long period of time is going to even the tables out regarding overall death count. The NCR expands through diplomacy and strong-arm tactics. Its goals are to assimilate without violence. Its history of expansion--its SHORT history, if your speculation winds up accurate--will be monumentally less death-filled than the Legion's, because the Legion's expansion is through killing all those who oppose them (and plenty of those who don't), and they will, by your speculative estimation, have plenty more time to make their wars and enforce their laws with fatal punishments. I daresay the gap between life lost in these potentialities is not as large as you think.

    Once again, you seem to be under the impression that I'm saying that NCR, House, and the Courier are all morally great options. They all have their moral deficiencies, House especially. Hell, I cover this in the rant. I can accept, with reservations, that one's Karma score is unaffected by killing NCR troops, given that the government has its morally questionable times and aims. This rant's point regarding Karma being unassociated with Faction kills is that killing the LEGION should be considered an act garnering good Karma. Just because the other powers that be aren't good guys doesn't mean that the Legion aren't bad guys. I mean, for God's sake, putting aside OUR morals, it's not even consistent with the FALLOUT morals, given that the series has always considered the act of killing organized slavers a "good" act, and that's a significant aspect of what the Legion is.

    You mention that there's no question we would blow ourselves up again given the opportunity. Yet before you said that all thoughts on how the future would roll out with any of the factions' victory was "ALL speculation." So make up your mind. And at any rate, the fact that a mistake was once made does not preclude the possibility of learning from it. Humans have the ability to learn. Societies have the ability to learn. Nearly all creatures learn from their mistakes, and human beings are capable of redemption given opportunities to be redeemed. And it's not right to let half a species be enslaved because of a "maybe."

    Annoyed though I am with some of your arguments, you DO provide a better mental challenge than those others so far, by a lot (you understand what a capital letter is, for starters). And even if they're disagreeing with me, I appreciate ANY reasonably decent comments here, given my low readership, so thanks.

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  10. no one is going to response if you are so rude.

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  11. Actually, this entry, where I've been "so rude," has the most responses to date. If anything, no one responds to me when I'm polite.

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  12. New Vegas is just a game that simulates the "what might happen" if the world gets blown to fuck.
    It doesnt matter what any of you say here or claim to believe and profess if you don't even stand on those principles today. Don't wait for a damn nuclear war to come for your true moral sensibilities to show. God Save the Queen

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  13. So...did you want to attach a point to your musings?

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  14. I'm not cannibal, but i disagree cannibals should lose karma for simply eating human meat(what happened before is another story) after all meat is meat doesn't matter the source. Oddly, in Fallout 3 they you lost karma when trying to invade their house to reveal their secrets...

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  15. Allow me to point out;
    IT'S A VIDEO GAME!
    The moral implications are interesting, the challenge, intriguing, and the gameplay downright addictive, but the fact remains it is a role playing game.
    Now a small side note, I challenge the author to actually play a legion play through. Listen to caesar's theory on thesis antithesis and synthesis. Talk to Siri, a female, downtrodden beaten slave, who is angry that the legion conquered her town, content in her life, and doesn't run because of the crucifixions, then talk to cass about trade routes in legion land.
    The legion is morally corrupt by modern standards, no question, but in a crazy chaotic post apocalytic timeframe, emulating imperial Rome and protecting its citizens as it does, makes sense short term. Eventually however, the empire would fall, and become something new, as Rome did, likely following the basis of democracy from its infancy without corruption and corporate greed to hamper it from the crib.

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  16. Dear Latest Anonymous:

    Your means of justifying the Legion by the time period it exists in was already covered in the rant itself. To quote:

    "And when I ask for explanation, I mean a REAL one. Not the lame-ass failure of an excuse that's been going around, claiming that since Caesar's Legion is using all these terrible, evil acts toward the goal of creating, maintaining, and spreading a form of civilization, it falls into a neutral zone for morality to the Fallout universe. No. That is fucking stupid. Maybe if Caesar's Legion had been a faction existing early in the series, like within the first few decades following the world's destruction, that claim could be made, because at that point, there really wasn't anything anywhere resembling civilization that I know of, so perhaps seeing the Legion as the ONLY alternative to chaotic, violent, deranged anarchy would have been able to make it a "neutral" kind of choice. Maybe. But in the setting of Fallout: New Vegas, having the Legion be considered anything but brutal, heinous evil is, and I can't emphasize this enough, fucking stupid. Because by that time, that area of the Fallout wastelands has got the New California Republic as an option for civilization, and Mr. House, the New Vegas families, the surrounding towns, and the various smaller factions ALL present viable opportunities for civilization. You're not choosing between Caesar's idea of civilization or none at all. You're choosing between one legitimate form of civilization (the NCR), another conglomerate of legitimate civilizations (the towns and factions of New Vegas and the surrounding area as they already exist), or a form of civilization that finds honor in brutality, enslaves half its population for a condition they can't change under false claims that it's inferior, and delights in monstrous torment. So saying that Caesar's Legion could be considered a "neutral" moral choice in any way for the setting of New Vegas is so arrogantly short-sighted and reeking of idiocy that I wish I could hit each and every person who makes that claim in the mouth so hard that they'll look like a checkerboard the next time they grin."

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  17. i agree with the anonymous above me.
    and as for people responding when your rude, would you rather a hundred comments calling you an idiot or ten thinking your a nice guy?
    im not so much bothered by your opinion, an opinion is a opinion, but the way you defend it is non sensical and only degrades your points. having attitude and insulting those who are calmly discussing their veiw on this topic is not the way to defend your position. perhaps before responding to any more posts you should go take a cold shower to cool off your attitude there and try speaking with reason instead of making yourself look like a fool.
    as for the game. the karma system was constructed in these almost 2 seperate forms to allow for easier play through. for example, if it was all one lumped into one bog, killing one faction would screw you over with all other factions too, which doesnt really support one of the main points of this game, the ability to chose sides, be as good or bad as you want, and accept the concenquences.

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  18. Don't really care about the first question you pose. If the only reason a hundred people comment is to fall back on a defense that I've already destroyed, then their unexamined opinions of me and my argument will be little more than mild amusement for me.

    So long as I continue to make my points with reasonable clarity, and defend them well with logic, my attitude doesn't lessen my arguments. The only individuals painting themselves as fools are the ones reciting the same groundless argument that was initially proven illogical in my rant.

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  19. wowwwwww.... ego trip. i think your heads too big for the internet XD your such a fail. your attitude definitly lessens the impact of your opinion. makes people laugh at you instead of take you seriously. and your rant is illogical because there is no right or wrong. thanks for making my day! this article is the biggest comedy page ive seen all day!

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  20. On the other hand, I make good arguments, have an understanding of the English language beyond that of a fifth grader's, don't try to pass off emoticons as viable expressions of thought, and aren't so laughably idiotic as to think there is no right or wrong, so imagine how many more laughs are being had on MY side of this issue.

    Your attempt to belittle someone for their rationality through an extremely forced attempt to dismiss them as being unintentionally funny is not exactly a unique approach, but good try all the same, sport.

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    1. It looks like having an opinion that differs from someone else's is a crime on the internet, from the comment section here.

      Anyway, this comment isn't meant to be about that, but more so about emoticons. What's wrong with them?

      I understand emoticons don't mean anything by themselves (and people may sometimes use them excessively), but they say the majority of one's communication occurs through body language, which is partly why sarcasm and jokes are harder to detect on the internet. I don't see a problem with people using them as long as it's not excessive.

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  21. I totally, 100% agree with the ^anonymous. You are really a close minded fuck. listen to people and experience before you criticize how the game really is. Don't attack peoples opinions, make yours stronger.

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  22. And yet, my opinions continue to be the only ones supported by evidence and logic not already debunked by the original rant. Obviously I have listened to people much like those commenting, as, once again, my rant already addresses and soundly invalidates the arguments they continue to bring forth. I'm inclined to think that the true "close minded fuck"(s) here would be individuals who find themselves incapable of adjusting their perspective even when confronted with the fact that all reasonable arguments made so far have been against it, so my feelings are not particularly hurt at your ineffectual groping for a relevant insult, kiddo. Insert a token and try again.

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  23. Going back to the original point (ie: that you should gain karma by killing Legion), I personally think it's ridiculous that you should gain karma for killing any generic NPC, be they fiends, Legion, Enclave, raiders etc...
    Moral sensibilities aside, the game has no way of knowing the players reason for killing a character. For instance, the player could go on a Legion killing spree because they want to liberate the wasteland from Eddie-baby's tyrannical grip... or they could just be interested in selling the Legion equipment on and making a monetary killing for themselves. This is why the fiends really annoy me - I get karma points for killing them, even when it's self defence! So if Josef Stalin had been attacked by fiends and shot a few of them, that would make him a wonderful human being would it? Killing should never award you Karma unless the only reason the player could have for killing a character is the benefit of humanity. Karma points for killing Clanden the New Vegas serial killer I can understand, but only when you know for a fact that if you don't shoot him in the face he'll carry on raping and killing people.
    Even so, I'd rather they get rid of the simplistic Karma system altogether and install one that differentiates between selfishness, altruism, cruelty and utilitarianism.

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  24. Further problem: am I eating this corpse because I'm hungry and am about to die (are plane crash survivors evil?), or because I'm a thrill-seeking psychopath(don't forget the chianti!), or maybe because before he died he was a great leader/warrior/intellect and I think if I eat this man's flesh I can absorb the qualities in him that made him strong in the first place (a genuine perk in New Vegas apparently)?
    I know it would spoil things if the game gave you a questionnaire to fill out after every 'moral' action but either they should fix this somehow or do away with karma altogether, at least the 1 dimensional good/evil axis.

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  25. You have a fair point regarding the killing thing, to a certain extent. Killing the Fiends of Fallout: New Vegas and various raiders in the previous titles can certainly be done for the sake of goodness, and it's certainly my incentive for making my character's carry weight about 100 grenades lighter when traveling through their territory, but when these individuals just attack on sight, it's not fair to a player going the evil route to make killing them an automatic Karma bonus. I haven't played an evil character since Fallout 2, but I always wondered how evil characters handled the raider attacks and Fiend encounters in these games. Do they turn around and run away, letting the pursuing projectiles knock half their HP off in the process, so as to avoid the positive Karma? Turning the other cheek doesn't seem like a particularly evil course of action, especially when the first one just got bludgeoned with a tire iron. The system's always had some kinks it never quite got ironed out. Still, as long as it is the way it is and killing any evil NPC is supposed to result in positive Karma, I think Legion kills should receive such a reward.

    As for the cannibalism question, I'm inclined to give the game the benefit of the doubt on this one. I mean, yes, what you say is reasonable, but the games have been designed in such a way that there are more than enough alternate sources of food that such an act would only be a necessity because the player didn't bother to take even minimal steps to keep/look for some other healing/food items. With this, it really is just the player's choice to go eating other people.

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  26. Hey, I started rapidly reading through your blog a few weeks ago (I can't say I have read everything, but everything I have read has been great).

    Anywho, I just wanted to chime in on this post that I feel kind of saddened that even a few internet commenters would think something like your description of Ceasar's Legion could be moral. It almost gives me that change in perspective I had when I learned that Ted Turner, creator of my beloved childhood cartoon Captain Planet, once commented that the population of the planet should be reduced to the neighborhood of like 4 million (can't quite recall exactly, but anyway, Captain Planet doesn't feel the same anymore even if some of Turner's more insane "rich and above you savior of the species" musings aren't actually reflected in the cartoon, though I could be wrong; Oh, and you first, Ted!).

    Second, I like to second the previous anonymous poster in saying that giving Karma points for killing is simplistic and retarded. The general idea of a morallity system is about the same IMHO. It's not much of a gameplay device as it's really only determining behind the scenes what content you see and what you don't, and it is intermeshed with the whole RPG player's need for verisimilitude.

    That last part might not be bad in its self, but people (notably the RPG Codex) use this for arguments of superior intelligence when they don't enjoy something like Mario or a game with a set-in-stone story or one with an anime/fantastical/idealized style. Back on point, the morality system needs a point not just being a background system. Ultima 4 (which I don't really want to play for whatever reason) is the only game that actually makes the morality system a true part of gameplay.

    Sorry, if I'm a bit incoherrant. It's late.

    (PS. I came over from The CRPG Addict. Been there before? I think you will be deeply satisfied given your interest in RPGs.)

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  27. Wow, a new reader. That certainly doesn't happen every day. Or any day, really. Welcome in, sir/madam, and I hope you enjoy reading! Thanks very much for commenting, too, it's very appreciated.

    Yes, the more I've been given reason to examine it, the more the idea of Karma points from random killings in the series seems flawed. In certain cases it seems reasonable, cases where there isn't much reason beyond your moral preference to go around guns-a-blazing, but just in general, it's seeming less and less accurate a system for keeping track of Karma the more I think about it. That said, as long as they keep it around, I'm still going to stand by my remarks that it's stupid not to count Legion deaths as good Karma.

    I haven't been to CRPG Addict before, but I just gave it a glance, and it does pique my interest. I'll be sure to properly check it out. Thanks!

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  28. I've only just come across this post, apologies for being so very late but I thought I should add my two cents to the karma debate.

    One of the joys of the Fallout series is the moral ambiguity of it, especially New Vegas which gives you almost total free rein.

    I could easily see how a good character could become seduced by the Legion and find it morally defensible. When the player first encounters them, they have just put to the sword an entire town who had betrayed their guests and sold them into slavery. Almost immediately afterwards the player deals with the Great Khan situation in Boulder City and sees the NCR refuse to negotiate for the safe release of their men. To a character who's dumb as a bag of rocks (as mine was with 1 intelligence) it might appear that the Legion was tough but fair, cruel but pure, wheras the NCR were slimy and manipulative.

    My stupid courier then sees the damage that corruption, drugs, and technology has done to humanity and hears Ceasar's big, clever speeches in favour of purifying the Mojave and it's easy to see how he could be convinced that helping the Legion is the best moral decision.

    That being said, just following the Legion's missions alone quickly results in giving you a 'scourge of the wastes' moral rating, especially when you start blowing up monorails and turning the White Gloves back into cannibals so it is fair to say that the game overall recognises the Legion as an 'evil' faction.

    Killing Legion soldiers randomly should not be considered 'good' as most of the Legion soldiers are brainwashed youths who would probably be fighting for a tribe/NCR if they had been born elsewhere. They have been conditioned from a young age and threatened with decimation if theyu fail the Legion.

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  29. This is all quite interesting, I was just looking up the karma thing because I was wondering why, on my second play through even though it is very early in the game and I haven't really upset anyone yet, Cass is trying to hunt me down and kill me. Yes, I've stolen a lot of stuff, because it was annoying starting the game with nothing after playing with my well developed character and I wanted me some guns, but other than that I haven't done anything very bad. My other character sided with the Legion in the end, and also helped out the Powder Gangers, the Omertas and other notionally "bad" groups, but still didn't seem to suffer from especially bad karma, it all working out about level. It's annoying, and will probably result in me shooting Cass in the middle of the face just out of annoyance, rather than letting the Van Graffs do it like I did last time (not so hidden subtext - that alcoholic bint annoys me and if I could have sold her to Caesar I would have). My first character I had decided would do some bad things, and she never suffered the consequences of bad karma, yet my new guy who simply nicked a few bloody empty whiskey bottles to make some money has that drunken ginger mess chasing him with a shotgun. No justice in the wasteland.

    Anyway, that's how I ended up here, because like you I see some problems with the karma thing in the game, however it is interesting to read the different debates you sparked by your views on the Legion. Personally, I sided with the Legion the first time through because I thought they were cool, you know, in the video game sense of being cool. Crucifixions would be horrible if say, Michele Bachmann started doing them on gay people or something, however arranging for Benny to die that way after my character showed him the night of his life was pretty damn awesome. As for Siri telling her the Legion guys had talked about having a go on her, my character thought that was hot. Essentially, I played with the Legion because I like being the "baddies" in a game because you know, it's fun. It was only after spending a lot of time on their arc and thinking about it a bit more that I can see a very good reason why working with the Legion could be considered morally neutral or even good. The Legion has some benefits to the way they want to run Vegas, but on the whole in your morality argument these are offset by the slavery and their treatment of women. Of course, you don't have to go back to the Roman Empire to see slavery and sexism in our own society, and this doesn't mean that society was immoral on the whole at these times, but that some elements had to change. They did, in many cases because of the actions of small groups of people or individuals. Therefore, my female courier, by siding with the Legion, could be seen to be trying to support the progress of the society in the game towards *some* Legion ideals - less advanced weapons, less crazed drug fueled violence etc., yet also trying to show the Legion that women can be valuable as more than slaves and begin a change. Caesar and Lanius let my Courier pretty much take control of everything, and it didn't take them long to stop sniping at her for being a woman. If there is a powerful force and you try and drive them in better directions from within, because you know you have influence with them, is that not *good*?

    Still though, the karma system is full of wrongness: I didn't get bad karma when I accidentally shot Snuffles - clearly the most innocent character in the game.

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  30. You suck dick faggot this game was awesome. You're just mad cause you have to walk around with that little baby dick you call a penis.

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    1. That's a fascinating theory and all, but anyone possessing the slightest familiarity with me knows that I thought Fallout: New Vegas, like most of its predecessors, was excellent. If you're going to parrot unimaginative insults which are so laughably crude that they make you seem worse than your target, at least be aware of whether they've actually done the thing you're insulting them for, kiddo.

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  31. What the hell happened here? Are people seriously channeling the logic of Mass Effect 3's ending to defend Caesar's Legion?

    As a first-time player with a whole 4 hours under my belt, I have opinions that are obviously more valid than everyone else's.

    The Karma system's heavily dumbed down and arbitrary, even compared to some choice moments in F3. As it is, I would even call it lousy. I'm mostly okay with this, if only because I'd rather see Karma suffer than the Reputation system. If I directly help people by say, instating a new sheriff in a own, bump me up a few points. But if I'm randomly killing bad guys, the game has no way of knowing my intentions. I massacred Raiders as a hobby in Fallout 3, more for the experience and loot more than any contribution to the Wasteland. While it can be fairly argued that I certainly contributed to the Wasteland by taking out 95% of all the Jet-addled rapist cannibal murderers in the D.C area, and with all the Raiders being pushed on the player, it would make playing anything other than a Messiah rather difficult.

    So, even if Caesar's Legion is a bad group (just got to Nipton, and...), I can see why Karma isn't a factor in killing them, because it would force moral contexts where they may not be sensible. I know, Caesar's Legion is fucked up. I realized that pretty quickly. But killing them doesn't automatically make me a good person, nor should it. I could very well be going after them as a sociopathic marauding bastard, or even a Neutral - does anyone even PLAY neutral besides me? - individual looking out for numero uno, and the last thing I want is the game giving me a high five and rep I don't want; I like the freedom of being an enemy of Caesar's Losers without being a stand-up citizen for doing so. I'll let my NCR and Goodsprings discounts speak for themselves, not the greater whole.

    At the same time, Karma still manages to interfere and produce nonsensical situations. If killing and looting your ass is A-O-K, why am I dinged for grabbing some dynamite from your table? The table I watched you get up from unprovoked to bust a cap in my ass? It's not exactly Tenpenny Towers, but it's irksome all the same. So, I can kinda see why it's not giving me points when I kill assholes, but it's STILL implemented poorly.


    ***And wtf at grave-robbing being neutral. That's the kind of shit karma systems exist for, not grabbing empty whiskey bottles in the lair of your sworn enemies. I can kill you and take your clothes, but not your empty bottles and scrap metal. Eh.***

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    1. Yeah, I guess this one rant must've been linked to on some popular website or forum or something, cuz it's gotten like 10 times more attention than any other rant I've done in the last 6 years. And yeah, unfortunately a lot of that attention is apparently from strikingly stupid people.

      I can see your point, though I do still really feel that killing Caesar's Legion should award positive Karma, if anything should. But that's the thing--maybe in a game where Reputation is supposed to be the be-all end-all, there shouldn't have been the Karma system at all. Your points are valid enough that I have to wonder now if Reputation and Karma are impossible to implement properly together--maybe, at least with Fallout: New Vegas's story, Karma should have been excluded, had to be, to make Reputation really work logically.

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    2. Indeed. NV's Karma system is a shoddy legacy feature that made logical would diminish the reputation system, and even on its own terms, it displays all the logic of a Sierra adventure game.

      Just something to get used to, I guess.

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    3. You're going to fucking die, you Retroller piece of shit.

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    4. That most likely will come to pass some day, yes. That's the downside of mortality, after all.

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  32. I adore Fallout and the Elder Scrolls. And yes, they "should" have fixed a lot of these issues before the game came out. At least they had the good sense to make their games mod-friendly, so if you don't like something, you can change it.

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    1. Amen to that. Hell, mods and console commands were practically necessary just to play the damn games on its release date, it had so many bugs and off parts.

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  33. The RPGenius, I've read mostly everything here. I just wanted to say, I love your debates lol. I agree with on all your stuff is stated with logic and facts. I don't think your rude at all, more like the better opponent. Just cause you answer someone with information they don't like, or in a way they don't like, doesn't make you rude haha.

    I would also like to point out ReadySetTruth had my mind going. I see exactly where he's coming from. I agree with him on the fact society itself will probably live on longer, but The RPGenius, has a point in the fact that as much killing would still be done that way as oppose to upgrading our technology now. The only thing I have to say about this is how fast the population will go down. Follow Legion's way and it might stay alive longer, with the same death cap. Follow House's way and we might only have a few years as oppose to a couple thousand. Legion is still bad, and if you look at history, his way didn't work before in the past before someone said enough is enough and then came about our time. So just go with the saying, history will repeat itself.

    On another note, I think you should gain/lose karma depending on who you kill. They implement karma based on obvious things, like stealing for example. It's bad, so you lose karma. Turning down a reward gives you karma. So I think it's safe to say that the game developers put in these factions that you can obviously tell are bad, neutral, and good. Legion being bad, so I think they should put in the obvious that it's a good thing to kill Legion members.

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    1. Thanks, Gino, that's very kind of you to say. I'm glad you like my arguments, heh. It's good to know I can amuse someone other than myself. And thanks for putting forth an opinion with some actual logic behind it, in a civilized way--apparently that's a rarity these days, looking above.

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  34. so nobody thinks girls turned into whores cause they were let being "free" and careless?

    i mean twerking is ok these days and fkin miley cyrus is what girls want to be. in my opinion there should be just one rule. if you do not respect yourself, no one should. cant cry rape when you fuck every night the other dude. you brought it on yourself.

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  35. You realize that reputation was already present in the original fallout ganes, it was not introduced in new vegas. Bethesda merely did not keep it for Fallout 3

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    1. The original town reputations are a significant departure from the New Vegas Reputation system. The original town reputations affected next to nothing and had no influence whatsoever on anyone or anything outside the city limits of that town. Additionally, the town reputation system did not supersede or inhibit the Karma system at all. You could, for example, justly argue that Vault City in Fallout 2 is a city of assholes and that their crappy, oppressive social structure should be opposed. But if you go on a city-wide killing spree, your town reputation for Vault City is not the only, or even major, thing to change--you'll first and foremost be taking a Negative Karma bath, which makes sense, as murder is an unjustifiably extreme action to take over such political differences. The town reputation system of the old days is a completely different beast than New Vegas's Reputation system, such that I have no qualms considering them entirely separate from one another.

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  36. The truth is for Fallout New Vegas is only discovered when you kill everybody, opposed to what you think mass genocide of everybody in the area, it gives you good karma, why? Because there world is fucked and the human race needed to be ended in the area, Seriously independence for Vegas with every human being dead is the best ending. Everybody is fucked

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  37. At the very beginning of the article guy noticed that karma system is basically useless in NV (just like it was in every Fallout game)... and then he wrote entire article about it.

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  38. Lol, Fallouts karma system has always been trash, ever since the original games. This is stupid and you sound like an immature child with your posts.

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  39. I realize I may just be chiming in along with what some others are saying, but I do agree that the New Vegas Karma system is a let down. I've not played the earlier Fallout games but I did notice a major difference when compared to Fallout 3.

    In Fallout 3, there was far more room to be evil. There were actually ways of completing quests, not just the quests themselves, that could grant someone negative Karma. For example, take the Tennpenny Tower quest. One could kill Roy Phillips for negative Karma. However, one could also convince the residents to allow Roy and the ghouls in, ultimately resulting in the deaths of all the inhabitants, still a bad thing.

    Most of the time in New Vegas, one does not earn negative Karma from completing quests. Sure crucifying Benny gives negative Karma and so does murdering random people, but there's not exactly a "side of evil" as far as the system is concerned. I agree that the Legion is evil, I do like their no drugs/booze mentality but that is not enough to make up for their other actions. However, the Karma system doesn't render working with them as evil and siding with their opposite, the NCR, as good.

    Everyone is entitled to an opinion, so perhaps the Karma system was dumbed down intentionally. However, it still added less impact to things when I would try to be evil, and, because of the blasted Fiends, I would have a "Very Good" Karma score.

    On the Fiends note, Corporal Betsy offers an interesting perspective, although it is fueled by sex. She mentions that the Fiends may be so drugged up that they may not know what they are doing. Granted, they do horrible things. However, the Fiends and the whores at Gomorrah are not that far apart in that respect, the former just has more freedom. That right there may place, at least some of, the Fiends into a gray area because the circumstances that they were in that led to their psychotic chem addition is not known.

    Getting back to the system itself, another way that it lacks is that fact that there is barely a sounding board for one's Karma related actions. I remember feeling so bad when the character's dad in Fallout 3 says he is very disappointed when I blew up Megaton. In New Vegas, no one really cares about the Courier or what he does, unless it benefits someone. Without that sounding board, the choices seem to lack the impact those in Fallout 3 did, at least on the Karma level. I do like the reputation system, but it buries the Karma choices when it is implemented. Just my two cents.

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  40. What the hell is going on here?!

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  41. I would say Dishonored 1 and 2 have this problem as well. They throw in the idea that killing guards is bad and sparing them is good, but most if not all of them want your character (Corvo in the first game, Emily/Corvo in the second game) dead. It's half baked morality that they tried shoehorning in to make you feel like you have some sort of 'impact' on the games world.

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