A couple of days ago Jon of Many A True Nerd uploaded a video on the trouble with the Speech skill in Fallout. There’s a lot to get into with that, and you should really watch that video, but the gist of it is: it’s either OP, or practically useless. The major illustration is what I’m going to talk about today: the final boss fight in New Vegas, against Legate Lanius. If you have Speech maxed out – and only Speech – you win the fight without even fighting (and thus the game). That’s pretty crazy – again, watch the video – and so Jon puts forth a few ideas that might fix this one particular issue, without going against the point of “winning without combat”:
- be a sufficiently good warrior that Lanius runs away (especially if you’ve already cleared out the Legion Camp) – this also involves revamping the rep system.
- have the previous fight for the Hoover Dam go so well for the NCR that Lanius doesn’t see the point of continuing a lost battle, and retreats – this again involves a rework of the rep system.
- be able to convince the Kahns to attack the Legion interior, which would force Lanius to retreat to take care of that threat – if you choose to tell him.
I thought that’s a pretty fun idea, so I’m going to propose some ideas of my own. As it stands presently in the game, you basically just say that continuing on is pointless, as the Legion can’t handle the logistics of holding the Dam and New Vegas. As pointed out, this is just a Speech check in the game (technically two, but if you can do one you can do the other, and it’s the only option for a peaceful ending here).
- The easiest option is just to have other checks available. New Vegas already does this a lot – persuasion events are skill checks for all sorts of skills. And not just skill checks, but SPECIAL checks as well. For example, if you had 10 STR you could try to intimidate Lanius with your physical prowess, or perhaps a PER check to let him know you see his limp. It would be best to have to chain these checks, and/or only have certain combinations work. So for the previous example, Lanius wouldn’t be impressed with your 10 STR by itself, but if you point out his limp with the PER check too, he might be convinced that fighting to his own inevitable death isn’t the best option at the present.
- Perhaps if Lanius could be convinced Caesar isn’t really serious about conquest or the Legion, he might quit the attack in disgust. Maybe you tell him about Caesar’s brain cancer – that Caesar isn’t fit to lead, and this whole action has been the farce of a fool. Or, if you’ve saved Caesar (and yet still fought against him at the end), you could say that Caesar plans to end the conquest here, with Vegas, which would of course annoy a conquerer like Lanius to no end (and what is a warrior without a war?).
- During the game you learn that the bulk of NCR forces are actually in the south (Baja), especially the Rangers. Perhaps this could be actual intel you could pick up, and you can show Lanius that continuing past the Colorado would be foolishness. Lanius comes of as a musclehead, but he’s actually pretty smart, and he could realize the implications. Especially if Caesar is dead.
- Actually that brings up a good point: during the whole game Lanius is portrayed as a brutal barbarian. His brains should be brought up too. After all, Caesar effectively made him his heir after getting rid of Joshua Graham), and Caesar wouldn’t give an idiot that position.
- If you have the DLC’s, any of them, it’d be nice if you could use that knowledge to convince Lanius that going back east would be the better part of valor:
- Say that Graham is leading a legion of tribals back against the Legion (after giving proof that Graham is still alive), and Lanius would definitely turn back – Graham is the only person that scares Lanius, and removing that ghost would be top priority.
- Reveal that the Cloud is spilling forth from the Sierra Madre into Legion territory at home, and that you’ll give Lanius a way to combat it (or at least prepare for it) if he leaves.
- Dazzle him with SCIENCE! from Big MT.
- Hold that nuke from the Divide over his head (that you totally didn’t launch already, right?).
I’m sure there’s a lot more that can be done here.