Bad Victoriam: I don't like BoS Canon

Hey I’m new to the forums, but I just need to get this off my chest… I don’t like what the newer games have done with the Brotherhood of Steel.

Background: I love Fallout 1 and the whole BoS plotline in that is great. And I thought it was great that in Fallout 2 the faction had lost steam, since it lacked a common enemy and its leader had died. I think the small splinter faction in FNV was the perfect epitaph for the faction. One last chance to help them hoard tech!

Just to point this out, obviously, Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel was an embarrassment for the franchise. But my real problem with them lies elsewhere.

Whyyyy did they keep putting Maxson’s techno cult into the games?? Why not a different militaristic remnant, something new like Caesar’s Legion or the Institute?

The fun of Fallout, for me, has always been exploring a strange new world of post apocalyptic America, discovering the weird people and societies they’ve built, and making your mark on them.

The idea that there’s an ideologically and socially consistent faction spread across the post-apocalyptic United States just seems insane to me. (And yes, I realize how insane the Fallout universe can be, but it still seems like too much.)

So for my game, the BoS is more of a metaphor.

Characters can still be “Brotherhood” in origin. But it means they are members of a faction created by soldiers, government officials, or their descendants. These factions have competing ideologies, but in general they hoard technology and often use a military style command structure.

I’m wondering what everybody else thinks. Do you stick to the canon, or do you launch a fat man at it?

Ad victoriam!

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The ‘why?’ is fairly evident; they’re a staple of the franchise to the extent that Bethesda clearly feel that they need to be at least present and featured to a lesser or greater extent in order to appeal to a wider audience. Brand recognition and all that. I don’t even think their presence is especially egregious in the ‘modern’ games. FO3 the decision was made to include them, probably as a very obvious tie to the previous entries when so much of that game was ‘new’ for the franchise. They’re central to the main plot and given how that game leaves them, it would be strange if they weren’t a factor in FO4.

FO76 is probably the one where it could be argued that their presence is dubious; the game certainly has to stretch the potential for their expansion from the West Coast pretty thin in order to get them to Appalachia so quickly after the bombs fall. That said, it goes out of its way to make it clear that it’s a small team sent out from the West to establish contact where it can and part of a wider effort to just find out what is happening elsewhere in the US. It’s broadly consistent with every other iteration of the Brotherhood in terms of how they operate; the only really questionable aspect is the timing and even that isn’t massively problematic.

The Enclave are right there?

Caesar’s Legion could certainly have spread even further depending on how FO:NV canonically ends but, realistically, they lack the inherent organisation to survive Caesar’s own death. They’re Raider tribes and I struggle to see a scenario in which they don’t fragment without that core cult of personality; that leadership is primed to tear itself to bits fighting over the scraps of the empire once Caesar himself is gone.

The Institute are already in the most ‘recent’ timeline entry and probably don’t even fit as part of FO76 (not ruling out an appearance at some point for a very early version).

With respect, I’m not sure why? They’ve had centuries to expand by the time of the modern games and even then it’s targeted, selective expansion into key areas by an organised, militant faction with a well defined command structure. Which isn’t even ideologically consistent (that’s kind of the whole point of contention between Lyon’s faction and the Outcasts in FO3). I’d honestly find it stranger if that manner of faction didn’t exist when the technology for long-range communication is clearly available. I’m not going to disagree that the Brotherhood are possibly a bit overused but, in-universe there’s very little about the extent to which they’re present I find problematic.

As @JimmyW notes, because Bethesda decided that Fallout wasn’t Fallout without them (and Supermutants, and a number of other things). Honestly, the lengths they go to in order to justify FEV creating supermutants everywhere is much more of an issue for me.

Are they consistent? FO3 introduces the Outcasts, a group that splits from Lyons’ East Coast group, which is in disagreement with the West Coast folks.

While it certainly does pull at suspension of disbelief that they’re everywhere, I think that there’s enough explanation that we can work with it. But even as early as Fallout 1’s endings, the BoS is an organization that spreads out, either as a “major research and development house” or the " Steel Plague" which “starts a Dark Age that could last a thousand years.”

(Both endings also foreshadow that zealotry and tech-hoarding of the BoS: even the good ending sees them as trying to maintain power over technology as they “slowly” reintroduce it, and the bad ending shows how quickly they become fanatics under poor leadership.)

Yes, it was a staple of the franchise, since Tactics and BoS were both about them. But there’s still no in-universe reason for the Brotherhood in F3 or F4. And the franchise is much more tied to power armor than to the Brotherhood of Steel itself.

F3 and F4 jumped through massive hoops to explain how the Brotherhood got so far East, part of which was setting the games hundreds of years after the bombs had fallen, creating all kinds of massive logic problems for the franchise. (e.g. 200 years after the bombs fall, we’re still finding un-eaten food on grocery store shelves, how is that possible?? even with massively reduced populations the stores would be the first thing getting looted)

“It would be strange if they weren’t a factor in FO4” that’s true, but only because they shoved them into F3.

I also see your point about militant factions, but is long-range communication “clearly” available? every Fallout game I played implies that long-range cross-country communication is not available. they use terrestrial radio, sure, but that wouldn’t cut it for communicating across the United States. (unless that’s what all those radio towers were for in F4, which opens up a whole other can of worms re: maintaining that infrastructure)

The Outcasts still see themselves as Brotherhood, still use the Paladin terminology, and still hoard technology. To me they seem more like Brotherhood fanatics than an actual offshoot.

To me, Fallout is about mutants, much more than anything else. We also need some explanation for how all these critters are running around without dying of radiation. So we actually need the FEV.

Obviously the Master was destroyed in F1, and everything in that game seemed to imply that the FEV was developed only in that area. So for my game, there are different strains of FEV, some developed to mutate creatures slowly and more predictably (ghouls), while some create rapid, unpredictable mutations (super mutants, centaurs), and still others have created sustainable changes to their host DNA, allowing those mutated creatures to reproduce (radroach, deathclaw, mirelurk, the rest).

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I disagree on this point; the Brotherhood are a faction obsessed with access to technology and self-appointed custodianship of dangerous pre-war systems. They’re very foundation comes from the notion of military authority and, beyond the Enclave who operate parallel to them, I can’t think of a faction who would have a greater interest in getting access to the old US federal infrastructure and the records that come with it. The Brotherhood’s earliest lore shows us that they’re very much aware of some of the shady research being undertaken by the government pre-war (and the associated monstrosities/doomsday devices) and that they want to be the ones who have primary access to it (or dispose of it). I’d argue that an expedition to the East Coast is a perfectly logical, even likely evolution of those aims; where is the majority of that infrastructure going to be located after all?

Presumably, given there’s an established line of communication between the West Cost Brotherhood and its offshoots, right up to Lyon’s gang in the Capital. Maybe it’s relayed through various outposts along the way but if the games tell us it exists then it’s hardly the most insurmountable lore quandary. It’s established that there’s transportation between the two coasts; secure enough at least to send a child to the opposite side of the country because the East is supposed to be a safer environment for little Arthur to be raised in.

I think that was apparent and @Felderburg wasn’t suggesting otherwise? Is that not the entire point? They are an offshoot of Lyon’s faction; they just view themselves as being true to the Brotherhood’s stated mission (ala the West Coast) and view Lyon’s interventionist approach as the deviation of those goals.

"I also see your point about militant factions, but is long-range communication “clearly” available? "

Ever heard of Short Wave Radio?
It can easily communicate across the US, just not reliably. Hardware would also be readily available assuming that FO universe had HAM radio. I would not expect to hold a real time conversation from coast to coast but the could send out short messages at regular timed intervals. A discussion may take weeks but could be done.

As for the BoS being present across the US.
In FO76 we find out that early on multiple military units were in communication with Maxon. Some may have even been communicating with him in the week or so before the bombs. Local branches may not be identical but likely share the same structure and basic mission.

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Alright Scribes, I’ve had some time to think on it and here’s my bigger problem:

New Players don’t know what the heck a Brotherhood of Steel is.

Most of Fallout, while outlandish, is easy to explain even to the completely uninitiated. I don’t need lore to explain how nuclear war destroyed the planet, or that there are strange mutants that now inhabit the world, or that there is cool advanced technology. Vault-tec? Well that’s the company that made the vaults, of course. Ghouls? Strange creepy mutants. Radscorpions? Mutated scorpions. Raiders? Fans of contact sports. Of course there’s deeper lore for everything I just listed, but that’s optional for Players who want to dig in and learn all the details.

But what is a Brotherhood of Steel?

The only way to explain the Brotherhood of Steel is with a dense backstory.
Are they just the military? Yes, and no, they were a small group within the military that decided to abandon the chain of command and instead form a technology-worshipping cult.
Are they all across the United States? Yes and no, they started out in just one base and eventually expanded farther and farther east that they’re essentially everywhere now.
Do they have a central command? Yes and no, every faction seems to have its own leader that claims to lead the entire Brotherhood, and yet they rarely fight with each other.
Are they always Brotherhoods, or are there Sisterhoods of Steel too?

I enjoy Fallout, not for its lore, but for its potential for storytelling. Fallout was and should be an open universe game, where your choices matter and you can make an impact even after your character’s story has ended.

Making this specific Brotherhood of Steel faction into a sort of Sacred Timeline that cannot be interrupted limits the narrative and it limits the franchise.

I’m not sure that argument holds up to be blunt. Or, rather, it’s certainly not a concern one could have exclusive to the Brotherhood; it would feasibly extend to basically any of the major factions. Enclave, NCR, Institute, Caesar’s Legion, Railroad etc. would all need more than a cursory description for a new player to satisfactorily know what on earth is going on. I’d also argue Vault-Tec would need far more context for a new player than you’ve given them here if we’re doing more than just being incredibly reductive. E.g. “the company that made the Vaults”, to which the response would probably be “ok cool…what are Vaults?” Even trying to understand the fairly core principles of the Fallout universe is going to lead down a hefty rabbit hole. If I were new to the franchise, personally I’d have thought by the time I even got to the Brotherhood content of any of the modern games (FO3 through 76), I’d have a LOT more questions that would necessitate further reading if I cared about that sort of thing. The Brotherhood are a drop in the ocean.

One could just as easily reduce the Brotherhood down to something like ‘military remnants obsessed with technology and use knightly naming conventions’ and it be no more or less satisfying an explanation than your other examples. The subsequent questions/answers you posed to provide context are the sort of thing you could apply to anything else you listed and it be just as essential in giving more information to a new player. To me, this is far, far from being a Brotherhood-centric ‘problem’ (if indeed there’s a problem at all).

Has this ever been the case? Even Lyon’s East Coast Brotherhood are fairly explicitly a splinter faction in Fallout 3, one ostracised by the original leadership in the West and Lyons makes no claim at all to lead the entire Brotherhood. Even Arthur Maxson in FO4 is only de-facto leader of the East Coast branch of the wider Brotherhood; he’s still only one facet of the entire command structure.

I’m not sure how the Brotherhood impact this sentiment more than any other feature in the Fallout world (beyond them being in all the games to some extent). Plenty of events and factions are given specific narrative ties and effects on the setting without it being raised as detrimental. It’s like arguing that the Battle of Hoover Dam or the existence of Talon Company limits narrative potential or player agency by their mere existence. Even FO3’s main plot, which could be argued to be the most linear example (outside of maybe FO1), and heavily features the Brotherhood, outright gives the player the option to screw over the Brotherhood and poison everyone. New Vegas and FO4? The player can ignore them, work with them, turn on them, use them for access to certain tech but still keep them at arms-length or just wipe them out without a single meaningful conversation. As they can with basically any other major faction in those games. That sounds like a perfectly reasonable scope of agency and narrative potential.

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This is one of the reasons why I consider FO3, FO4, and obviously FO 76 to be non-cannon. When Bethesda “acquired” Fallout as a whole they didn’t do the og lore and cannon justice; especially the idea of synths. They also didn’t understand fallout was about humanity crawling out of the ashes and rebuilding society. After 200+ years no one in 3 and 4 have cleaned up the trash, rebuilt walls, have more than a few lights on, fixed up and rebuild vehicles or made them into carts, and so on. They don’t feel established they just sort of exist in the world waiting for the PC to do something. In the other games things have happened and are happening without you and it feels like thing will go on in some way even if you do nothing. The brotherhood was a dying faction in FO2 and all but gone in FONV; same goes for the enclave. By now they should have been destroyed, absorbed completely by other factions, and or are simply a relatively small presence changing from what they were to something new with alliances and trade. Although it is possible that the brotherhood could make it further east after FO2 they had dwindling numbers and a lack of resources unlike in 3 and 4.

I try to stick with the og lore and cannon of FO, FO2, and FONV when I can. T60 power armor isn’t canon but I treat is as a version C of the T51. Also the laser musket is a really bad design and I ignore it completely much like the aliens being anything more than a joke. The world isn’t a dust bowl most of it would still be intact. In 1 and 2 the forests and deserts are much like they are today and would be growing back over time. It just seems like the world is a desert because that’s how it actually looks out west. The cities and large towns were hit, but the rest wouldn’t have been priority targets. Also unless the nukes hit the ground like at The Glow they would be no radiation left in most places due to air burst bombs. The biggest danger to other places would be shorts in power causing massive fires and the lack of power forcing most people south toward warmer weather and longer growing seasons (assuming they make it that far without proper survival skills, gear, meds, and food / water). There would be places with working vehicles after the bombs, but busted / congested roads, lack of communication, lack of working gas pumps and batteries for non-nuclear vehicles, and people fighting for scraps after the supplies ran out would hinder travel and vehicle use.

For places not burned by short caused fires the animals, collapsing infrastructure, falling trees, and general damage from wet and poor weather would damage homes. The further you get from target locations for the bombs the more likely you are to run into relatively intact places (baring what time and animals do to it), normal animals, and a lack of most people. In those locations molds and other hazards, weather, animals like bears and mountains lions, brush hidden danger like cliffs, and lack of support are the biggest problems. On the plus side fresh radiation free water (dirty water) would be easier to find without digging wells for clean water, and natural food in the form of tubers and the like along with animals such as deer and fish could be found. Depending on your location you should also be able to find normal cows and such as well. Still running to the deserts, plains, and swamps in the south would still be a necessity at times; especially in the winter for those who can’t survive on their own.

I have my own idea of how NV would end based on a slightly alternate House ending where you as house’s prodigy convince him to help / value freeside. The short story is that the brotherhood still exist in that they have been more or less absorbed by the rangers that broke from the NCR. Together they found and took in the elderly enclave member who helped at the second battle of hoover dam to acquire their knowledge. I’m not sure if I would call them Steel Rangers or something else, but they are still fairly small and take in new members only after strict vetting and tests. They focus mainly on securing the roads and land surrounding New Vegas, with the help of some of House’s Securitrons that are not stationed in and around the strip and freeside. They also no longer hunt down people and forcibly take technology, but they still seek it out and trade for it in some way.

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The widespread nature of the Brotherhood does not bother me as of 2277, they’ve had 200 years to cross Wasteland America with the clear goal of tapping the technological trove of D.C. With their gear, I don’t see any reason why they could not reach the east coast by the time of FO3, assuming their isolationist nature didn’t cause their extinction. Though, I don’t like the way they’re portrayed more as techno-fascists in FO4.

I do as well detest their current existence in FO76 as it is a mere 25 years after the Great War and I get the feeling Maxon and his followers would be more concerned with their situation on the West Coast and would be unlikely to have the resources to send a detachment of soliders over 2,500 miles. I think it would have been a better move to simply introduce a new militant faction.

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Eldritch, you’re speaking my language. Fallout was always about how humanity (or some new form of life) would rebuild and remake the world.

And yeah Enclave, I don’t understand this rigid attachment to one small piece of the Fallout canon. Here’s an idea for the game makers: introduce a new faction!

I think the main lesson for us running games is how to add to and play off of canon instead of just recycling it over and over.

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Yeah most of my ideas are for the western US; based off my ideas for how I could see NV ending and a few things from FO2. The only thing even remotely as in depth I thought of is what type of music you could use in different areas. The fallout bible has a few things that are iffy, but most of it works without needing to think to much about it. I also would like to use a number of things from Tactics. Even through they are not cannon there are good ideas in games like tactics, og ideas for fallout 3 / van buren, and even brotherhood of steel has good ideas like the area design. At the very least Fallout Brotherhood of Steel has a good soundtrack (Slipknot and Killswitch Engage being part of it helps too). The NCR moving from car trunks used as carts to some actual working vehicles is a great step in the world’s development, I also love the BOS / military vehicles, and even the raider cars have fun designs. I want to eventually set it up that there are sections of trainlines that are slowly becoming usable again like in van buren. Train gangs and custom trains / train cars would be fun; to bad the pilot skill doesn’t have any official vehicles to use with it; not even a bicycle.

All the new vegas endings except House’s ending seemed very unstable to me. Yesman / independent ending is chaotic and leave little room for any long term survival due to how there are no real allies to help you. Legion victory means the mojave doomed to fail when cesar dies of cancer, old age, or is killed. The in fighting and grabs for power will cause more short wars and feuds all throughout Legion territory as it breaks apart. Total NCR victory would be similar to the legion, but fueled by riots over higher taxes, lack of representation in the higher government, and over the NCR stretching itself to thin.

House actually has a plan to rebuild and set up more trade; the biggest flaw being his near blind focus on the strip rather than also freeside, and the current strong reliance on brahmin barons (a reason to be at least friendly with the NCR). An ending where house wins, but is convinced freeside is important means his plans are pushed back a bit but the mojave will flourish. Especially if the Rangers and NCR troops break away on relatively good terms to form there own faction helping to secure the area around NV. The rangers and troops are already getting almost nothing from the NCR as it is so there really is no loss other than having to work a little harder for supply money for a while until the new trade routes become more heavily traveled. Once the remnants of the BOS and enclave join them they’ll have some level of technical minds to help them survive. I can see the NCR preserving itself by breaking into states under the NCR banner to satiate the people looking for more representation and lower taxes. The lower taxes being something they can now actually give; after halting explanation following the second battle of hoover damn, getting a split of the new power between them and the strip, and allowing the break away troops to form a state of their own around NV (lowering war time costs further). House deeply respects the courier calling them his prodigy. With this in mind I don’t think it would be impossible to convince House to allow all this to take place when the loss is only a little time and some resources to help rebuild until new trade picks up.

When it comes to the fallout 2 ending the only thing not set in stone is where the 13 tribe builds using the GECK. Although it says Arroyo was resettled I’m not sure they would use the old Arroyo as their main city or capital. Considering where they are located, how aggressive the NCR could be back then and how the NCR was really starting to expand I have trouble believing that the 13 would stay at Arroyo. I have the main city set around the Summer Lake area (near the Fremont National Forest area in Oregon) with towns / forts along route 31, but old Arroyo is still under their control. Just cut those old signs in half and that 31 can become a 13. As I see it the 13 tribe would stay free of NCR control due to location and having a small, but slowly growing population of intelligent Deatclaws as part of the tribe. As much as I like Chris Avellone’s work he is really biased when it comes to the intelligent deathclaws because he doesn’t like them. I’ll take John Deiley (the guy who created most of the lore for them) at his word when he says the two survivors Xarn and Goris could over time repopulate intelligent death claws. After a time I can see Xarn taking part of the new generation with him and moving east due to having trouble getting over how the Enclave treated him. He wouldn’t hate humans and would still be a friend / ally to the 13 tribe, but would prefer to live away from people.

I assume the 13 tribe would start sending scout groups out shortly to look for more people and scavenge areas. Maybe Goris and others use this as an excuse to travel and see the world as they scout and scavenge. I also don’t have a problem making fan projects like nuka break cannon to my games if it fits as a prequel or extension of the lore, besides Goris being near New Vegas briefly to collect books isn’t that crazy anyway. These scout groups could be used to establish outposts and to some existent gain more territory. This is where I would add new things or things cut from fallout 2 like The Abbey of Lost Knowledge based on the abbey from the book A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr. Originally it was going to be set north of Gecko so I would place it near Alvord Lake maybe in the mountains or maybe closer to Steens Mountain.

Of the few things I could see using from Fallout 3, 4 and 76 it’s the environment. The problem is that it’s backwards; the 76 map should be from 50-200+ years later and the fallout 3 / 4 maps should be from right after the bombs drop. If I turned the super mutants into just a normal themed raider gang I could use them (maybe they use a lot of buffout). Factions like the minutemen aren’t bad, but the writing could be better. Even ignoring synths existing the Railroad could work as a smuggling group for goods and drugs with no allegiances if you actually made them smart. That said I can’t see myself ever using the institute or new enclave though. The former is just bad, and the ladder should have all moved west like the og lore said.

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