The Brotherhood of Steel: A theory on what makes them compelling

Discussion in 'General Fallout Discussion' started by Jogre, Feb 23, 2021.

  1. Jogre

    Jogre So Old I'm Losing Radiation Signs

    Oct 25, 2015
    A lot of discussion about Fallout and the flaws in nuFallout ultimately comes down to the Brotherhood of Steel. You'll often see people, at least here, criticising the Brotherhood of Fallout 3 as being too black and white, the good guy faction you have to side with who seem to have very few actual goals beyond helping people.

    This is technically explained in the lore: Lyons chapter is a breakaway chapter, but I think most people here realise that "It's written in a way to make sense" means very little in terms of maintaining consistent themes and ideas.

    Fallout 4 attempted to fix it, emphasis on attempted, they promised to add more moral ambiguity: The way they did it was by making the Brotherhood a bunch of fundementalists with pseudo-fascistic beliefs. Many praised it for being a more "ambigous" interpretation of the Brotherhood, but to my mind, it's still a fundemental misunderstanding.

    I'm hoping in this post to posit a theory on what makes the Brotherhood of Steel such a memorable and well-written group in Fallout 1. To start let me posit a question: What do the Brotherhood in Fallout 1 actually believe?

    Many have tried to answer this question when discussing Fallout 3's shortcomings: "They're isolationists", "They hoard technology for themselves", "They're interested in looking after their own and don't care about the outside". I would say each of these answers is either kinda inaccurate, or at least not the full story. I've seen some people describe them as a pseudo-religious organisation, and I would say this part is accurate.

    In order to answer the question of what the Brotherhood of Steel believes, I'm going to answer a question with another question: How do you learn what the Brotherhood Believe?
    How you learn about what the Brotherhood Believe
    If you wanted to learn what Caesar's Legion believe, the way you go about this is simple: you talk to Caesar to learn the underlying Philosophical Beliefs, and the Legionaries would teach you the pragmatic day to day aspects of what Legion believes.

    Fallout 1, interestingly enough is not like this. And I think this is incredibly intentional. To demonstrate what I mean, let's discuss briefly what each of the Talking Heads and the Holodiscs has to say about the basic belief system of the Brotherhood. For the time being I'll leave out Vree, because I have way more to say about her later.

    Cabbot:
    From Cabbot you learn that the Brotherhood has it's own mythologised version of history, based arround an event called "The Exodus" and that the majority of that history is stored in the Libraries, kept by the Scribes.
    You learn that the Brotherhood doesn't let anyone join their ranks, but they are willing to work with people who have proven themselves.

    Rhombus: Rhombus has a lot of respect and trust in John Maxson, who he considers a hero. He makes it clear however, that he's not interested in discussing ideology or history with an outsider, and that that's the job of Vree.

    John Maxson: From Elder Maxson you can learn that the Brotherhood has a mythologised past based on an event they call "The Exodus". They venerate Roger Maxson, their founder, who they consider a singular great leader who built the entire organisation from scratch.

    More interestingly, you learn both from Maxson (And later from Vree) that the role played by the Elders is less a direct leadership one. Rather, they're there mainly to settle disputes, and act as a Moral and Ideological core to the Brotherhood. One area where this is mentioned is in regards to The Hub: the militaristic factions wanted to burn the Hub to the ground as retaliation for weapon theft by the Water Merchants, but the Elders explicitly vetoed that decision on moral grounds.

    Holodiscs: There are Holodiscs about the Brotherhood's history both in Lost Hills and Maripsoa. Here's what you can learn from them.
    • Sophia's Holodisc mostly reinforces this mythologised view of their past: They view the Great Exodus as a defining moment, and it even refers to Maxson as a "Deliverer" and speaks ill of those who strayed from his words. This implies the Brotherhood's beliefs fundementally come from the moral example of Roger Maxson.
    • Maxson's logs fundementally establish the basic history of the Brotherhood, and how the fundemental merging of the Civilian and Military elements in to a single Military Heirarchy, reliant on strict Military Justice originated, explaining the origin of the Brotherhood's social structures, and suggesting they have a harsh, militaristic code of justice.
    • Maxson's Diary helps establish who Roger Maxson was as a person, implying him to have fundementally acted out of some kind of moral principles and ideological desires, with a lot of reflection on how his actions will be viewed by history. This implies that if the Brotherhood bases their basic morality on the example Maxson, it's not that of a dictator, but rather a conscientous figure.
    Now it seems like the mythology they've built around their own history and the life of Roger Maxson is core to the Brotherhood's identity. This is true, though more complicated than it may initially appear as we'll see later.

    One thing I would like to say is that the usage of a subjective history to determine moral lessons is actually really interesting, and something that I feel has a lot of grounding in reality: What is the Ideology of religious texts like say for instance, the Torah? A lot if it focuses more on a subjective interpretation of history, drawing the ethics from that history.

    Now, before I get in to the meat of the arguement, I would like to first clear up a few misconceptions about the Brotherhood of Steel.

    Firstly: the Brotherhood is not INHERENTLY isolationist. They are Isolationist due to current circumstances. They do have clear limits on who can and can't join their ranks, which feels both grounded in their history, and just pragmatic. They're a militaristic society that views all as having some utility to the ultimate purpose: this is rooted in the way Roger Maxson originally organised them as joint civilian and military efforts to ultimately serve a military hierarchy. Not every Wastelander is going to be fit for service in the Brotherhood.

    In addition a lot of their isolationism comes more from pragmatic concerns than genuine commitment to it as an ideology: not only have they learned the hard way, with their conflicts with the Water Merchants that not keeping a constant eye on outsiders will lead them to being robbed and exploited, but they also actually let a lot more people inside Lost Hills until very recently: Cabbot explicitly mentioned that the more hardline attitude of keeping outsiders out until they proved useful comes from the fact that they're currently having discussions on how to deal with the threat of the Mutants up north and they don't want to take any chances. A lot of their isolationism boils more down to temporary pragmatic concerns than strict ideological commitment.

    Secondly: the Brotherhood, as portrayed in Fallout 1 is not a selfish organisation that only cares about their own ranks : They show in one of their endings the ability to be altruistic and show genuine interest in the development and wellbeing of the outside world. Moreover, following the example of Roger Maxson, they do have a clear moral interest in human rights, even if it is thwarted by their harsh Military Justice. I'd say the biggest source of evidence of this is the fact that the Elders are explicitly mentioned to have intervened to stop a war with The Hub. Despite what the more hardline militarist factions might want, the Brotherhood is shown to consistently have an underlying code of honour that makes them often take the moral highground, and prefer not to commit acts of war when avoidable.

    With this in mind, I will adknowledge that the Brotherhood put a lot of stock in to protecting their own first and foremost: Unlike the Followers, they aren't naive moralists. They're willing to become more isolationist based on pragmatic neccesity. Moreover, HBomberguy in his Fallout 3 video describes them as a "True Brotherhood" always concerned about the missing paladins and about the loss of life of their own. In the cut content with Kendrick, the Brotherhood would be suspicious of accusations of treason, they've fought and lived besides Kendrick and don't believe one of their own would betray them. They do clearly put more stock in their own then the outside: as is natural for such a close-knit community, but this does not take away from the fact that, as per the portrayal in Fallout 1, they're consistently shown as being fairly altruistic, at least by Wasteland standards.

    The Role of the Scribes
    Now, I haven't discussed Scribe Vree up to this point, and that's because I think the role the Scribes play in the Brotherhood is interesting enough to warrant it's own section of discussion.

    The Scribes serve perhaps the most interesting role in the Brotherhood: It's explicitly mentioned by pretty much every single Brotherhood character that the Scribes serve three basic functions: Preserving Technology, Designing Weapons, and studying Brotherhood History.

    The Scribes however, serve another, more implied role. Most Brotherhood Characters will directly tell you to talk to Vree if you ask too many questions about the Brotherhood's philosophy. Therefore, interestingly the Scribes play an almost spiritual role, further reinforced by the fact that if you visit them at night, you find them practicing meditation, and asking not to be disturbed.

    The Scribes form almost a priestly or philosopher caste among the Brotherhood of Steel.

    Now, Vree as the Head Scribe is the character who, by far is the most idealistic of the Brotherhood members, and believes most strongly in their ideology, so lets take a few of the things that she says about them:

    On the Brotherhood: "The only salvation this tortured planet and its people have. Without us, humanity is sure to perish."
    On the role of the High Elder: "He makes sure the Brotherhood stays on the path of righteousness."
    On the Great War: "The Brotherhood is doing everything it can to restore that which was lost."


    Notice how this is still vague. I think the vagueness here is intentional: The Brotherhood has some underlying ideals and philosophy, but they're esoteric and need to be interpreted constantly by the Philosophers of their society. Either by formulating grand ideas for the future or by interpreting the past.

    Although, since they serve the role of Philosophers, Historians AND developers of new technology, this means that conflicts within the Scribes are way more interesting. Remember how I said earlier that the moral core of the Brotherhood comes from their mythologised view of their own history and veneration of Roger Maxson: well that's only half the story.

    Despite her knowledge of Brotherhood Philosophy and Ideology, Vree is far more interested in the future than she is in the past, she explicitly finds the development of new technologies far more promising than digging in to archives about Roger Maxson. She's a foward thinker who's far more interested in discussing how Brotherhood Ideology will be put in to practice in the new world.

    Many of the Scribes actively take issue with this: Sophia for instance, notices that some of the new initiates don't even know the history of Roger Maxson or what he did in his life. She believes Vree's incessant focus on the future takes away from the moral core of the Brotherhood.

    What I hope you take away from this section is that the Brotherhood, as portrayed in Fallout 1, despite being ultimately ethical and idealistic, still has an identity in a constant state of flux, where what being ethical or idealistic even mean is constantly challenged. This ultimately boils down to internal philosophical disagreements among the Brotherhood coming from two basic principles:

    1. The Brotherhood's identity is shaped by it's understanding of it's own history and ethical lessons it can learn from it
    2. The Brotherhood's identity is shaped by an investment in the future, and how they interpret their own place in the world and how to help it.

    This means that there's continuous debate between those obsessed with the Brotherhood's past, and those seeking to reform the Brotherhood for the future.

    This to me, feels incredibly realistic: Culture is a constantly changing thing, and the basic pressupositions of cultures can often be challenged. To me, this means that rather than the Brotherhood feeling like a consistent ideology which is strictly adhered to, it's a constantly changing force.

    Something about it feels incredibly human. The Brotherhood aren't just mouthpieces for their ideology, they're a culture: and like all cultures there isn't always a consistent definition on what being part of that culture means. It's a constant evolving thing based around their differing viewpoints.

    Conversations and Endings: what they can teach us
    Now ending this section, you might have two questions:
    1. Couldn't the Brotherhood's Ideology being vague be a sign that it's not fleshed out enough
    and
    2. If the Brotherhood's ideology is constantly in flux, doesn't that mean that Fallout 3's presentation of them is actually accurate?

    Both of these will kinda have the same answer, but in different ways. In response to the question of Fallout 3, I'm going to differ on popular opinion and say, Fallout 3 actually does understand the lore of Fallout. It consistently, and very often pays direct homage to the originals, and does show work by a team who clearly love Fallout. I think NMA has kinda lost it's way by denying that. The point is that they don't get it, not that they don't respect it.

    Moreover, a lot about Fallout 3's presentation of the Brotherhood is actually incredibly interesting. Fallout 3 I feel, actually cemented the conflict of "Should the Brotherhood be Isolationist, and how much should this effect their mission." In Fallout 1 and Fallout Tactics, the Brotherhood was always idealistic and wanting to help the outside world, but became isolationist due to circumstance, it was always more of a Pragmatism vs Idealism conflict.

    Moreover, the introduction of the Codex was an excellent choice in my opinion. Having an actual, semi-contradictory core text that the Brotherhood follows with all the vagueness of Fallout 1, actually fits a lot of the things I felt made them strong in the first place.

    Fallout 3's presentation actually lended a lot to the strengths of New Vegas's presentation. The problem isn't the inherent ideological conflict between Lyons and the Remnants. The conflict itself is actually very fitting with the themes of Fallout 1. The problem is that the way it's handled lacks any form of complexity or nuance.

    To briefly summarise my issues with Fallout 3's presentation: there never was a singular ideological conflict between "Help People" and "Scorn outsiders". There were certainly elements of that present, and it's not an inherently bad take on the Brotherhood, when handled well it can be done, but it's also a massively reductionist take: for two reasons: Firstly that even the conflict between the Scribes is a conflict between the Brotherhood defining itself by it's past, and the Brotherhood defining itself by it's visions for the future, which in itself means there were multiple ideological layers of disagreement between the Brotherhood.

    The second reason also ties in to my response to the first question: Could it be the Brotherhood aren't fleshed out enough?

    The answer to this is: you can tell where the priorities of the designers are by what they choose to focus on writing. Maxson doesn't talk much about ideology, but he gives a lot of detail he didn't necessarily need to about the day to day workings of the Brotherhood, and I feel like this shows a lot where the priorities in writing the Brotherhood were:

    See, Fallout 1, 2 and New Vegas (And even Tactics to a limited degree) have an added layer of complexity that a lot of other Fallout Games don't. See, these games are fundementally about ideas, but a big part of these ideas, and one that's consistently focused on, is the socio-political and socio-economic dimensions of these ideas.

    Take Broken Hills in Fallout 2 for instance: Broken Hillsis written fundementally as a town where Mutants and Humans put aside their differences and got along, but interestingly, the game spends a lot more time focusing on the economic advantages of co-operation. Broken Hills is a Uranium Mining town, and it's explicitly stated that the Mutants mine the Uranium, the Ghouls process it, and the humans trade it.

    Broken Hills is based around an ideology of co-operation, and this ideology of co-operation is exactly the only thing keeping it economically feasible due to the material constraints placed on it.

    The Brotherhood of Steel, as portrayed in Fallout 1, has it's identity shaped just as much by the Political Structures in place than by strict ideological commitment:

    Notice how in your conversations with John Maxson, he doesn't actually talk that much about ideology or try to convince you of the ideals of the Brotherhood: rather he actually spends a lot more time talking about internal politics. He'll tell you that his role as High Elder is to mediate conflicts between the Brotherhood especially among the Elders, he'll tell you that militaristic elements within the Brotherhood want to use violent retaliation against the outside and the Elders often have to reassert their moral authority to keep the Brotherhood on track.

    Perhaps most interestingly: Maxson knows the Supermutants are a threat and wants to rally Brotherhood Forces against them, but the other Elders disagree, and he needs the consent of the Council of Elders in order to actually do anything. Maxson even heavily implies that a lot of the reason the Brotherhood isn't being more helpful to the outside world is because he's constantly having to be in meetings with the Elders, who are often outright obstructionist, which is a major source of dissilusionment for him.

    A worse written game than Fallout 1 could have just made it so Maxson is skeptical of the existence of Mutants, and you need to prove to him so he can rally the troops. Fallout 1 did something far more interesting: Maxson actively wants to get involved and stop the threat, but you need to prove to the Elders that the Mutants are enough of a threat to get them to actually get them to do something. They chose to write the more complex but infinitely more interesting version of Maxson wanting to do something but needing to convince the other Elders to actually act on it.

    Moreover, the debate between the Scribes is all the more interesting in that it draws a direct parallel towards the actual functions of Scribes themselves. The game directly draws a parallel between the roles of interpreting history and inventing technology, as well as the traditionalism vs reformism debate within the Brotherhood of Steel. That's honestly brilliant.

    And as a final remark on the sociopolitical aspects of the Brotherhood, I'd like to return to a point I made earlier: I keep going back to this, but the Elders vetoed a decision by the hardline militarist factions to attack the Hub in retaliation for theft by the Water Merchants. Now why is this relevant?

    I've stated before that it's clearly stated in game that the role of the Elders is to be the moral core of the Brotherhood, to mediate disputes and take the moral highground.

    I'd like to tie this to the ending slides: there are two possible endings to achieve with the Brotherhood of Steel. Rhombus as a Paladin is quite often stated to be one of John Maxson's closest allies in the Brotherhood, being elevated to Head Paladin, so when Maxson dies, he's next in line to take over his project. With Rhombus in charge, the Brotherhood actually works towards implementing it's vision in the world: it starts reintroducing technology to the NCR slowly, and becomes a research and production house for new technologies.

    But as you all know this isn't the only ending: see remember how the Elders are the moral core keeping the Militarist factions in line. Without Rhombus as a moralising force in direct opposition to them, the militarists take over. They take a fundementalist approach, which involves waging violent warfare on the newly formed NCR for many years, sending humanity in to a new dark age due to the lack of technology.

    Unchecked by the Elders, the same militaristic attitude that would have destroyed the Hub comes to fruition, and results in the Brotherhood becoming nothing more than their worst impulses: a techno-religious group of conquerors.

    This is what Fallout 1 chose to focus on: the disputes were not solely ideological, but related to the internal socio-political structures of the Brotherhood itself. I believe this was a very intentional choice, and one of the choices that fundementally shapes everything about what Fallout should be.

    They made a very intentional choice for the focus on the Brotherhood to be more on internal disputes between the various political institutions instead of creating a clear set of ideological axioms they follow without question. The Ideology is ultimately secondary to the structure of the Brotherhood and how that determines their actions.

    This fundementally, is why the Brotherhood in Fallout 3 is dissapointing. The primary conflict between helping the outside versus isolationism isn't bad, but to quote Hbomberguy "Every character has a face but they don't have a personality between them"

    The Brotherhood in Fallout 3 lack a lot of the nuance in the conflict. Fallout 1 has various ideological disputes within the Brotherhood tied directly to the way they are structured: the militarism, the traditionalism vs reform, the relative isolationism. All of these are a direct result of internal politics, and the way it's structured.

    The way Fallout 3 treats these similar ideas is more akin to "This group believes this, this other group believes this". There's none of the sociopolitical nuances to how the Brotherhood operates, and the inherent flaws within it, Lyons and everyone below him is fairly uncomplicatedly on one side with very little if any ideological disputes between them, his opposition on the other, the war feels very little like something actually related to the leadership, structure or even feeling like a real material conflict: the Outcasts and Brotherhood were originally on completely opposite sides of the map. The entire conflict is boiled down to just being one of belief, with no nuance. The whole reason the Brotherhood abandoned their original mission ultimately comes down to "We wanted to fight Supermutants and help people."

    What made the Brotherhood so memorable in Fallout 1 was that the designers of Fallout 1 knew where to focus their resources to make them more interesting: the Brotherhood is their own culture, they have vague ideas and are seemingly ethical in their practice, but they weren't just a group of people with clear cut ideas: they were a society, with their own internal structures and politics directly related to how they were organised and how the various areas of their society functioned and the roles they played.

    The ambiguity came from the internal political structure and organisation of the Brotherhood, not from the ideas themselves.

    Really the main conflict within the Brotherhood was not between pure ideas, but with how the structures of their society maintains their ethical goals, the internal conflicts caused by people playing different roles in that society and what they view as important, and how easy this structure is to disintergrate when the moral core of their leadership dissapears. This is a level of nuance that I feel the originals and New Vegas have, that the other games can never really do justice to.
    The Brotherhood: Their strengths and flaws
    So hopefully I've convinced you that the Brotherhood of Steel, as per portrayed in Fallout 1 are not just an ideology, they are a society, a civilisation. They have ideological and ethical cores, but first and foremost they are people, not ideological mouthpieces, and like an actual society, they are prone to factionalist infighting and are structured by competing institutions.

    This is a strength of the original Fallout games, like the Hub didn't form because a bunch of people figured "Let's have a Plutocracy" but rather because of violent wars waged by the Water Merchants to seize power, the Brotherhood of Steel didn't form to be ideological mouthpieces, but as a militaristic society based around it's history as a pre-war US division, that has since created a moral and quasi-religious structure to keep it's militarism in line. It formed out of the actual political concerns involved in running a society like there's, not out of a singular ideological vision.

    People like to talk about the moral ambiguity of the Brothrhood in Fallout 1, and don't get me wrong it is there, but compared to a lot of societies, the Brotherhood of Steel is uniquely moral and altruistic.

    The ambiguity exists because of the various political structures of the Brotherhood of Steel:
    • Maxson wants to be more helpful to the outside world, but as High Elder is dissilusioned with the fact that he's constantly in meetings with often obstructionist Elders and doesn't have nearly as much power as he assumed the role would grant him
    • Vree, as the technology-minded Scribe, has a grand vision for the Brotherhood of Steel's future, which constantly puts her at odds with the other members of the Scribes, more concerned with preserving Brotherhood History, who believe focusing too much on the future will put them at odds with the morals they derive from the past
    • Rhombus is next in line to take over as Elder, and strongly believes in the vision of Maxson, however much of the Military side of the Brotherhood and their harsh wasteland justice means that without the moral core of an Elder like Rhombus, the militarism can take control of them, and they'll become violently retributionist.
    • The Brotherhood as a whole wants to be more helpful to the outside world, but outside threats, ranging from self-serving Water Merchants, to the potentially apocalyptic threat of the Master's Army, means they often have to turn to isolationism for pragmatic reasons.
    Fallout 1 thus does something unique with the Brotherhood of Steel: it creates moral ambiguity not as most games would, with just having a bunch of shadier actions, but rather something far more interesting:

    The moral ambiguity of the Brotherehood doesn't come from ideological flaws, but rather from the plasticity of it being a society of human beings means that it's easy malleable. This is it's strength as the Brotherhood can be a genuine force for good in the world if it stays true to it's values, but also it's greatest weakness:

    The Brotherhood, while currently a force for good, can easily fall prey to the various factions and institutions of it's society becoming dominant: It can become overly isolationist, it can become overly supremacist and militaristic, it can become overly traditionalist and focused on it's past. The ambiguity comes from the plasticity of dealing with an actual society of people, not with dealing with ideological mouthpieces.

    One thing I'll say about Fallout 1 is that, despite the overall dark tone of it's world, to my mind, it remains the game with the single most optimistic view of human nature. The game shows various Wasteland Ideologies developing, as well as various people who unambigously want the best for mankind: Even the Master shows a deep consideration for the ethics of his actions, and the ability to regret them, when shown his plan will not work. Even the idea of the NCR forming being thrown around as early as Fallout 1 is some extreme optimism.

    This however is, in my view, honestly historically contingent. It makes sense for the optimism to show in the part of the timeline Fallout 1 is set in: this is the time when people are likely to band toghether and have uncomplicated desires to restore what was lost. In the far more rebuilt world of Fallout 2 and New Vegas, the subterfuge of mass nation states becomes far more of an object.

    The presentation in Fallout 2 indicates the much more cynical attitude whereby there are no real "good guys" comes in to play. In fact, the Brotherhood's presentation throughout 1, 2 and New Vegas, I would argue, has a direct parallel to how the NCR is portrayed in those games: from an optimistic sense of rebuilding, to a mostly self-interested nation state, to outright hostility and expansionism.

    In Fallout 2 Matthew describes the Brotherhood of Steel in the following way:

    "At one time we were the sole bastions of technology left on the planet. We set ourselves up as what could best be called 'technology police.' We hoarded the old knowledge and only doled it out in small parcels. Of course, it was only to those who we felt deserved it and had the wisdom to properly use it"

    Despite being written in an incredibly on-the-nose way and lacking a lot of the nuanced way of speaking I'd expect, this actually serves as an interesting criticism of the Brotherhood of Steel, completely condensed into a single line. The Brotherhood as portrayed in Fallout 1, views themselves as a singular saviour organisation.

    This idea of the Brotherhood as being a 'technology police' who selectively use their technology based on their own fallible judgement is never made direct in Fallout 1's potrayal, however it's an interpretation, and one I find incredibly interesting. Fallout 2 effectively takes the structure of the Brotherhood: a single group of self-declared saviours, and adknowledges a flaw that's inherent in this attitude.

    Hopefully I've convinced you that the Brotherhood is far more nuanced than a lot of people give them credit for in a lot of really interesting ways, and that often the flaws and the strengths of the Brotherhood are interconnected in a lot of interesting and nuanced ways.

    Now before I finish my discussion of them, I'd like to cite another game that has an interesting portrayal of the Brotherhood, and it does this by being a synthesis between genuinely understanding of all the things that made the Brotherhood great in Fallout 1, as well as a lot of the new conflicts introduced in Fallout 3 that made them interesting, combining the two in a way that honestly strengthens both presentations.

    I'm talking of course, about Fallout New Vegas.
    New Vegas's Brotherhood Part 1: A History of Pragmatic Realities
    The way the Brotherhood is portrayed in Fallout New Vegas is significantly more cynical than in Fallout 1. Gone is a lot of the idealism and ethics the Brotherhood had in the first game: instead it's become a parody of the worst possible undercurrents of the Brotherhood of Steel: the isolationism, the militarism, the hyper-traditionalism, all blending together. The portrayal in New Vegas feels almost like a Parody of the Fallout 1 portryal, playing off all the little nits that exist in the background, and cranking up all the flaws to 11.

    I think this is genius.

    Now you might be thinking: "Wait, wasn't your whole point that the Brotherhood are Idealists who are often held back by pragmatic reality?, Why is a version stripped of the idealism a genius portrayal?"

    Here's why: Remember there are two points I made earlier
    • The Idealism that's part of Fallout 1 is Historically Contingent. People at that point in the timeline want to rebuild. As history goes forwards, the world becomes far more of a cynical place.
    • What makes the Brotherhood so strong is that it's based far more on the structural and historical aspects. They are a society, what the organisation of that society is a major part of how they operate.
    And this is where New Vegas's strength comes shining through: see, the moment in history Fallout New Vegas is set in, is one where they've had a destructive war with the NCR. They're spirits are broken, and fundementally they are back to square one: hiding in a Bunker, waiting for things to blow over.

    The only chance the Brotherhood had for the future lied with Father Elijah (who Veronica considered a mentor). Elijah was remarkable as far as High Elders go for multiple reasons: firstly that he was a Scribe, which the game explicitly remarks is odd for Elders, and secondly that he was one of the rare types of Scribes who focus far more on invention than preservation, which put him at odds with the more traditionalist members of the Brotherhood of Steel.

    Notice how similar this is to Vree in Fallout 1, just without the optimism and altruism: The Scribe, focused on the future rather than the past, being at odds with the traditionalism of the Brotherhood.

    However the debate was settled when Elijah led the Brotherhood to their defeat at Helios One, putting progress over the lives of his own. The Brotherhood now no longer has any hope, they are almost destroyed in a war, and any chance of reform has gone out of the frame of discussion.

    I'd like to briefly discuss the main leadership conflict in the Brotherhood of Steel: between Elder MacNamara and Head Paladin Hardin.

    "The hell of it is he's one of our most progressive members. If I can't get him to agree, it's hopeless." -Veronica on Elder MacNamara.

    MacNamara is a Brotherhood of Steel hardliner: isolationist, traditionalist, no intention of helping the outside world, however there's a faction opposing his grasp on the Brotherhood of Steel. This faction is lead by Hardin who's ideology can be described as isolationist, traditionalist and with no intention of helping the outside world.

    There's effectively a conflict within the Brotherhood of Steel between two members who fundementally ideologically agree on pretty much everything. So why is this a thing?

    As mentioned, they're defeated by the NCR. In response the Brotherhood of Steel have started hiding in the Hidden Valley Bunker. The main conflict isn't an ideological one, but a pragmatic one:

    MacNamara is willing to negotiate with the NCR, and doesn't want to put Brotherhood Paladins in harms way, so is continuing hiding in the bunker even as morale is low and resources are dwindling. Hardin is far more of a militarist and wants to reassert the Brotherhood's position in the Mojave, being far less likely to negotiate with the NCR.

    This is honestly a work of genius. New Vegas makes two figures who ideologically agree be the opposing sides in a debate for the future of the Brotherhood, based entirely on the pragmatic needs of the Brotherhood.

    Moreover, it shows what Veronica has to learn the hard way: The Brotherhood cannot fundementally be reformed. Despite her attempts, they're too stuck in their ways. The question is no longer about ideals, but about the pure pragmatic reality of how to handle their defeat at the hands of the NCR.

    "Ideological Purity and shiny power armour don't count for much when you're outnumbered 15 to 1" -Mr House
    New Vegas's Brotherhood Part 2: The Dialectic of the Brotherhood
    I'd like to discuss briefly what Caesar says about the Brotherhood of Steel.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MofSG-vLJ8
    Notice what he says about them

    "They don't care much for history. Some of the Brotherhood Scribes we captured further east didn't even know the name of their founder, Roger Maxson"

    This is a pretty direct reference to what the Scribe Sophia says in Fallout 1 about Vree: "She has forgotten that our history is a vital part of our lives. It has gotten so bad that many of the new initiates don't even know who Roger Maxson is or what exactly he did for us"

    "They say they're protecting these technologies but for what?, They have no vision, they offer no future, they're a dead end"

    Remember how earlier I discussed the ongoing debate between Vree and Sophia as to whether the Brotherhood should focus more resources on innovation or towards study of the history of Maxson.

    New Vegas saw the resolution of this dialectic in the worst way possible for the Brotherhood of Steel: they've lost touch with their vision for the future, and no longer have a full understanding of their past. This, you could argue, is the reason why the moral core of the Brotherhood is gone: they stand for nothing anymore, neither the morals of their past, nor their vision of the future.

    This is encapsulated in Veronica. Remember, Scribes are the interpretors of Brotherhood Ideals, and in a sense, the vision Veronica has for the Brotherhood is reclaiming something that was once lost: The Brotherhood has stagnated since their war with the NCR, but Veronica sees hope for them to genuinely change and get involved in the outside world. Her dissilusionment thus represents the fact that the Brotherhood can't change: MacNamara is the most progressive member of the Brotherhood, and even so he still cannot be convinced of change.

    I'd like to briefly discuss the implementation of Fallout 3 lore and it's effect of the portrayal of New Vegas: Fallout 3 took the Isolationism VS Altruism debate to be the main focus of the Brotherhood, and New Vegas does it too with Veronica and her issue with the Brotherhood. The difference is there's a far more nuanced perspective: Veronica wants things to change, but the Brotherhood is stuck in it's ways, stagnant, and fundementally can't change.

    Fallout 3 introduced the Codex as the text the Brotherhood of Steel follows, and New Vegas's interpretation of this is really quite interesting, as per Veronica(Note the annotations the developers left in the writing):

    "Ah, the Codex. If it's in there, we have to abide it, if it's not, it's not important. {She has a love-hate relationship with the Codex.} It documents our history, too. Part of what Scribes like me do is update it. Hmm... I wonder... Nah, they'd probably catch it if I rewrote the Founder's axioms."

    This line is honestly a brilliant take on Fallout 1, that really emphasies the role of the Scribes. The Codex acts as a book of laws and a book of history, and it has to be updated by the Scribes. It perfectly encapsulates the dual role of the Scribes established in Fallout 1 as both innovators and historians, both updating what the Brotherhood deems important and preserving the lessons of the past.

    Even the comment about "She has a love-hate relationship with the Codex" that the developers added really emphasises a lot about how she views her role as a Scribe, wanting to use her role to innovate on the basic belief systems of the Brotherhood while at the same time having dissilusionment with the traditionalism the Brotherhood has fallen prey to.

    I feel like all these points show a deep understanding of what made the Brotherhood strong in Fallout 1, as well as some new positive innovations upon them.
    Conclusion
    I see a lot of people try to understand what makes the Brotherhood of Steel good in Fallout 1. And hopefully I have answered it: The Brotherhood of Steel are a society, with a set of beliefs and their own mythologised history.

    Many people try and make reductionist statements about what make the Brotherhood of Steel good: the isolationism, the selfishness, the superiority. I feel these statements are all incorrect.

    What makes the Brotherhood of Steel good is that they are a society, and a society with multiple differing perspectives and institutions: the way the society is structured and the historical and pragmatic reality they live in often shapes their views and how their society operates.

    Hopefully I've convinced you of the ways in which I believe the Brotherhood of Steel as portrayed in Fallout 1 has an incredible nuance that can't be reduced to simple definitive statements about them, and this is what makes them feel morally ambigous, and more importantly this is what makes them feel human, and that the most important thing in writing the Brotherhood is having the same level of structural and socio-political nuances they had in the original.
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2021
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 11
  2. naossano

    naossano So Old I'm Losing Radiation Signs

    Oct 19, 2006
    I consider the BOS more like a nation than a faction. They ought to have fluctuations in their behavior over time. Although, some iterations are more fleshed out than others.
     
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 1
  3. Jogre

    Jogre So Old I'm Losing Radiation Signs

    Oct 25, 2015
    Absolutely. This is what makes classic Fallout so strong: it has an understanding that people aren't just mouthpieces for whatever ideology they espouse, or otherwise single one note characters existing for whatever wacky idea the devs had, they're people liiving in societies and act like them.
     
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 1
  4. Slaughter Manslaught

    Slaughter Manslaught Vault Senior Citizen

    Dec 11, 2006
    First off, @Jogre this is a fantastic post. I have even saved it for reference when I revamp the brotherhood in my own mod. I feel like opinion I make about it would pale. I shall try.

    I have been playing the original Fallout with Et Tu recently and I agree with you. The Brotherhood as despicted is indeed an ultimately moral organization. Some people seem to see them as armored fuddy-duddies who won't let people with tech, but I see them as I saw them the day I entered that bunker the first time - what a magical day it was, I remember how it went, even - as metal monks, preserving knowledge and guarding humanity from science run amok.

    They're not perfect, but who is?

    I agree with you on the thing with the Brotherhood - the Brotherhood is not an ideology, its a society, and societies are shaped by people and the institutions within them.

    Why nobody, even the writers themselves, seem to remember all the things the Brotherhood did for people back west? Protecting everyone from the rampaging mutant hordes, with minimal casualties on both sides. Uplifting New California's technological base gradually, with little disruption or chaos. They're the reason the West Coast is the most advanced part of the Fallout world we have seen so far, and the Brotherhood is a big reason why. I'm surprised the Brotherhood itself does not remark on that.

    I like the way you frame the isolationism of the Brotherhood. Its not a mere "Girls Outsiders Out!" boyclub-style isolationism. They simply had bad situations involving outsiders and thus prefer to keep to themselves. Its a pragmatic decision meant to keep them safe from bad actors and preserve their identity.

    I think the issue of morality within the Brotherhood is very important, because the Brotherhood was born from an act of revolt and sedition against the immoral use of science and knowledge. They have power, they have technology, they need to act morally and ethnically with the technological power they possess.

    Re: Scribes.

    I agree about the scribes and their philosophical-historical-scientific outlook. Reminds me of when I was in Uni, there was a lot of critique about how academia had the habit of every little discipline doing their thing, staying in their little cabinets, when they could do much to cooperate. The Brotherhood seems not to do that. Still, I think there's a clear issue there inside the Brotherhood due to their technological interests, making them more interested in hard sciences than the soft ones.

    Caesar remarks on it and criticizes them for it, which makes sense. Sallows is a soft sciences man, an anthropologist and linguist. To someone like him, a people forgetting their own history have no future.

    So the main issue is Future vs Past, in which the Brotherhood must think between its role in the world's future as preservers of knowledge vs its own history and traditions and the morals, ethics and lessons learned therein.

    It does seem like everyone lost. The Brotherhood is ignorant of its own past and cannot see any future for itself outside the East Coast.

    Scribes seem really overlooked in newer Fallouts to me. Too much focus on the cool guys in Power Armor, not enough on the scribes. Yet, its the Scribes who really sell the Brotherhood. To me, that's what the Brotherhood is about, the Metal Monks scribbing ancient designs of yore to preserve.

    Re: Outcasts vs Lyons' Brotherhood.

    Its weird. We're told pretty clearly that the Outcasts are a bunch of... honestly, douches. The way they treat wastelanders (namely, the Lone Wanderer) is kinda douchetastic. However, Defender Casdin came off as a pretty reasonable and polite individual. He is not the hardcore isolationist he is painted as, he is perfectly willing to work with outsiders and does so in The Outcast Collection Agent quest.

    Btw, I think that quest is actually a little genius piece of Brotherhood questing. The Outcasts get the player character to collect high tech and useful materials for them, in exchange for staple relatively low-tech rewards, like ammo, caps, grenades, rad-away and stims. It really makes a lot of sense, if you think about it - the Brotherhood is exchanging hi-tech items, high-maintenance items which outsiders are often not interested in, for more useful, easily-made and "staple" items which everyone needs - bullets, caps, stims.

    Therefore fulfilling their own quest of preserving technology while doing nothing much other than manufacturing stuff to trade. It even gives you bro points you can use to enter Fort Independence. Its a genius repeatable quest.

    Re: McNamara vs Hardin.

    I have a feeling that if given an acceptall cheat, McNamara would just call Veronica and tell her to speak her head out about what she thinks the Brotherhood should do and become.

    But McNamara does not have an acceptall cheat.

    Thing is, Elder McNamara is not a dictator. He can't just go "Get in the airship, losers. I'm reforming the Brotherhood." He is held back by over two centuries of traditions, precedent and all the hardcore "take the technology back from the primitives" types in his bunker. They're as bad as slaughtering an outpost of the Followers for pretty much no reason. Save assassinating every single hardcore type, which he would never do, it would be very hard to reform.

    McNamara was also named after a experiment on learned helplessness, wasn't he?

    Query: What do you think of Fallout 76's additions?

    I actually have a theory as to where I think the Brotherhood is going in the future, way I see the series moving. I could talk about it if you like.
     
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 1
  5. Jogre

    Jogre So Old I'm Losing Radiation Signs

    Oct 25, 2015
    Aww thank you, that's genuinely really made my day.
    Good points. You've made a lot of case for the nuance of the Outcasts, and honestly yeah it is a good idea to have tech traded for everyday items, makes a lot of sense for the Brotherhood.

    I feel like Fallout 3 is kinda a mixed bag in every way. It has small moments of brilliance, where it really gets it and does something original and cool, but it's held back by a lot of weirdness. It's ultimately subjective how much of the game you can tolerate.

    I'm kinda more on the "It doesn't feel real to me" side, but I can understand how someone who sees the good in the game could like it, and it's presentation of the Brotherhood of Steel has a lot of strengths
    I'm not up to date on the most recent expansion, but from the base game: I don't really think it does the faction any justice.

    My understanding is that a completely seperate military army group heard Roger Maxson on the radio and were so impressed by him that they immediately started waving his flag and converting to his new ideas. This is kinda bad for a lot of different reasons:

    Firstly, adopting the culture and ideals of a group halfway across the country feels like it's not something that should be utilised as a writing point on a whim: like Christianity had that kind of influence, with early sects appearing in China, but that's because they have a fleshed out theology and ideas of salvation. Roger Maxson should be, IMO, more akin to Moses, a figure who's revered for saving a particular group. I don't see that having much appeal in terms of evangelising.

    I also kinda like the progression of the early Fallout games where the Brotherhood, Mutants, Ghouls you encounter are directly relatd to their presentation in previous installments, and it feels like civilisations and cultures spreading across California, and having the Brotherhood thousands of miles away in the middle of a timeline where they were otherwise stuck in a single bunker feels, IDK, not Fallout to me.

    Go for it.
     
  6. Iprovidelittlepianos

    Iprovidelittlepianos Look, Ma! Two Heads!

    322
    May 12, 2020
    As far as 76 brotherhood lore goes, what I really take issue with is the idea the Roger Maxson decided that they should call themselves knights and paladins and scribes almost immediately after the war. Unless he and every other trooper under his command were huge medieval larpers, I really don’t see that happening. Case in point: the brotherhood soldier you find in the Glow refers to himself as a sergeant of the US military, not a freaking paladin or something.
     
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 1
  7. Slaughter Manslaught

    Slaughter Manslaught Vault Senior Citizen

    Dec 11, 2006
    Personally I'm not a big fan of Fallout 3 writing in general. Feels stilted, and often nonsensical.
    Haven't played for over a decade, but I remember having a pretty bad opinion.

    Indeed. Its just too much "Egoist, mean Outcasts" vs "Noble good aligned Lyons' BOS" to me.

    Also the whole reason for the rift is kinda strange. Fighting Super Mutants is not outside the Brotherhood's remit, they are a threat born from technology.

    Personally I feel it owns a lot to the depiction of the Brotherhood in Fallout Tactics, except I think Tactics developed the idea of a splinter group of the Brotherhood far better.

    I would like to see your take on FOT.

    Yeah, it just doesn't work. Maxson's entire concept of the Brotherhood is founded in what I see as twin creeds of preserving knowledge in the middle of the fall of civilization and preventing unleashed, immoral uses of science from causing that kind of destruction again. The latter only makes sense among the group which saw the horrors of Mariposa.

    Feels to me like it would have made a lot more sense if Taggerdy and co were just an allied, prospective group who could have joined up before they got killed. And the real Brotherhood presence there was the expedition, which actually makes sense because there's two things which always make the Brotherhood stand up and act:

    1. Shiny new tech.

    2. Technology running amok.

    Agreed.

    One thing I like in Fallout is that the villains never just "melt away", like in some stories and games where once you kill the Evil Overlord, everything is fine and all his giant army just disappears in thin air in a puff of smoke. There's weight, a inertia so to say, to these things. Super Mutants still being a thing in the Core Region by the time of Fallout 2, the Super Mutant Army of Fallout Tactics (who were super badass there, btw), the war in the Navarro between 2 and FNV, Enclave remnants in FNV, etc.

    I feel it makes the world more lived in, where even destroyed groups often splinter into new groups. Necropolis is gone, but there are still many ghouls from there.

    Ok... so, the Brotherhood narrative since FO2 is that its on the slow decay and its not longer as comparatively powerful as it used to be. Fallout Tactics is placed between 1 and 2 in the timeline, showing us the start of that decay and what happened to the ones who wanted to avert it - they were exiled. Van Buren was going to pick on the decay further, FO3 has a group going renegade and FNV's BOS is all about the fact the Brotherhood is a dying organization.

    Some interesting facts and thoughts:

    1. We know that California is mostly picked clean of good pre-war tech salvage, with very few exceptions like Big Mt. This is from the New Vegas official guide, and from some dialogues like Easy Pete's and such.

    2. We know the Brotherhood doesn't or very rarely recruits outsiders, it only grows naturally. We also know from Veronica, that the Brotherhood has a natalist culture, and that's why the Brotherhood is not very accepting of homosexual relationships.

    3. We don't know the Brotherhood's numbers in FO2, but in FO1 they are a relatively small organization. Say, 500-1000 members max. Pop those numbers here: https://calculator.academy/population-growth-calculator/#f1p1 and start doing some growth rate calculations. Its not very hard to get a Brotherhood that by the time of FO2 has dozens of thousands or even more, among its members. Seems very big, but that's peanuts compared to FO2's NCR (700k) and the NCR by FNV which likely surpassed a million.

    4. The Brotherhood is one of the groups in the Fallout universe with the best living standards. Excellent quality healthcare, everyone and his mother is heavily armed enough to fend off most dangers (literally, if your mother is not heavily armed, she is failing her motherly duties), fortified bunkers are impenetrable to anything that's not an actual army, they usually plenty of resources like food, energy, and tech. They're one of the wasteland's human apex predators.

    5. Combined with their natalist culture and their excellent living standards, the Brotherhood should have one of the best popullation growth rates in the Fallout universe. Somewhere between 2-4% seems reasonable to me.

    6. Therefore, the Brotherhood sending expeditions to the rest of the country makes perfect sense. They have a surplus popullation and not much to do back home (at least in the period between the war with the Enclave and the war with the NCR). Brotherhood chapters in D.C, the Mojave, Montana and the Southwest (inferred by Caesar in FNV, possibly the chapter from Van Buren), they make sense.

    7. Let us pull back and notice a thing. How does a group of Brotherhood, a force detached from the main one in Lost Hills, is called? Chapter. This is a term from the chivalric orders of the Middle Ages, especially the religious and crusading ones like the Hospitallers, Templars, Teutonic Knights, etc.

    8. Where else is the term "Chapter" used for a force of knightly elite warriors in Power Armor? Why, one of Fallout's inspirations, Warhammer 40.000 (its where Fallout got the term "Psyker" from). The Space Marine chapters are forces derived from the Space Marine Legions, of which there were eighteen (actually twenty but two of them were scrubbed out of history). They were once immense legions, but got divided into small chapters for reasons. Over time, these chapters started changing and drifting from each other and from their original legion culture.

    9. Another interesting term that actually seems to come from there: The Brotherhood has a Codex. The concept of a Codex is not original or anything, but it definitively seems somewhat derived of the Codex Astartes, which is pretty much the Manual of How to be an Adeptus Astartes, explaining doctrine, rules of engagement, tactics, strategy, conduct, etc. Not all chapters of the Space Marines follow the Codex, partially or entirely. Also, like the Brotherhood Codex, the Codex Astartes has the issue of being an ancient book written by long dead people, with serious interpretation issues due to the passage of time and issues with preservation of history.

    (well, the author of the Codex Astartesrecently returned and started amending things. Its complicated)

    10. FO3 and FO4 acknowledge the existence of the FOT Brotherhood as a "Chicago detachment" which went rogue. People say that Bethesda is pretty much ignoring FOT, but BIS was also pretty much ignoring FOT, I remember the Fallout Bible times. If anything, I would dare to say Bethesda put FOT from non-canon to semi-canon, likely because FOT is better seen nowadays than back when.

    11. FO3 has a chapter going rogue, althrough it later manages to unite with the the West again by the time of FO4. Althrough honestly, the East Coast Brotherhood is pretty different from the West Coast one, pretty much the main thing that ties it to the West is Arthur Maxson.

    Anyway... what is my point? I think the future of the Brotherhood is no longer to slowly decay and die, but to splinter. Like the Space Marine Legions, we will have one larger force splintering into different chapters, who diverge more and more from each other. Lost Hills will be the "Ultramarines" of the Brotherhood, the "Factory Settings" if you will. Its there for the others to contrast with. The East Coast chapter is more humane and progressive but hates mutants more, Mojave (if it survives in canon) will be either eternally doomed, friends with the NCR or become tech raiders, Chicago chapter will be the feudal-fascists who threw isolationism away, etc.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2021
  8. Jogre

    Jogre So Old I'm Losing Radiation Signs

    Oct 25, 2015
    I think I basically agree with you in that it's a much more nuanced take on what Fallout 3 tried to achieve.

    It introduces an "Isolationist VS opening up conflict" which the Brotherhood back west basically settled with isolationism, but the new Brotherhood in the Midwest have gone against. But it does so in a vastly more interesting way:

    I like how rather than there being a major schism like with Lyons it was more that they were originally deployed to fight the remnants of the Master's Army, but they realised that they couldn't do it with their original team, so kinda created a semi-feudal society where they ended up recruiting outsiders and forming a semi-feudal relationship, protecting towns in return for a fresh batch of new recruits.

    The reasons the Midwestern Brotherhood became what they did feel far less solely ideological, or solely about personality, and more about the realisation that in order to achieve their original goals, they have to create a semi-permanent society capable of reproducing itself, so there's an actual pragmatic reason why they become less insular. From that pragmatic reason, the Brotherhood in the Midwest has a lot of potential to change: the changes they're making are treated as a result of the blank slate they've become due to loss of contact with the West, not as the singular vision of one figur.

    It also takes the "Brotherhood hate mutants" but rather than turning them into a fascist "Ad Victoriam" parody of themselves, it's more a debate between progressives and hardliners. See, the Brotherhood hating mutants shouldn't, at least in my mind, be an irrational hatred or otherwise a deep seated part of their ideology. I like how with both of the Calculator endings, the Brotherhood start opening up to mutants a lot more, and in the destroying Calculator ending, it doesn't even mention mutants.

    It gives this sense that by default, the Brotherhood either realises the pragmatic advantages of intergrating mutants, or otherwise doesn't really care that much about them. The "Exterminate all mutants" side feels unnuanced, but that's not the default trajectory, because it's far more viable to just intergrate.

    I think it'd be a lot better if Barnaky wasn't an unambigous genocidal maniac, but just believed the Brotherhood should favour humans, but as it stands the mutant aspect is a lot more nuanced than Fallout 4's portrayal.

    I could talk forever about how the Supermutants are one of the most nuanced portrayals of Mutants in the franchise (Putting aside the weird "Gammorin" is a title that's passed down through trials by combat nonsense).

    Like, the main reason they're fighting the Brotherhood is that they want revenge for all the merciless killing they're doing of Mutants, and the main reason the Brotherhood are fighting the Mutants is because that's what they were sent there to do. It's very true to the "War Never Changes" where the Brotherhood and Mutants are almost stuck in this endless pantomine, endlessly fighting each other over a war that ended decades ago.

    I like how the game draws a direct parallel between the Mutants and the Brotherhood. The Mutants want to learn how to reproduce partially because they want to overcome the limitations of their Mutations, and partially because they want to replenish their numbers to keep fighting this endless war (Same reason the Brotherhood opened up). They're kinda just doing the same things for the same reason as the Brotherhood which makes the conflict even more arbritrary. Moreover, they just want the war to be over and achieve final victory over the Brotherhood, so they can get to fighting Calculator, which they recognise as the far bigger threat, which is the exact thing you're doing.

    I also love Latham as a character. Like, his whole backstory that he lived among the Supermutants and saw the violence they experienced and became convinced that the Brotherhood were actually the bad guys in this conflict.

    Like, this feared traitor considered a madman by the Brotherhood, was actually motivated by the realisation that the creatures he were fighting were people, and through that started believing the war was wrong, and instead seeking their victory. That's a brilliantly written "villain".
    I really like this. I like takes that take the way groups are potrayed throughout the franchise and creates an overarching metanarrative about them.

    It feels like you're interpreting the universe as a philosopher or historian within that universe would, which I feel is one of the great things about Fallout: the games often have enough of a complex narrative with multiple overarching factors that make them capable to bre analysed

    I also really like you're use of both the situation with tech in California and projections about the Brotherhood population to make this assertion, it feels like you've really thought through the pragmatics of how the Brotherhood could end up as they did.

    The splintering thing is also interesting. I feel like this could fit with a better written version of Fallout 4. Like, maybe the Brotherhood of Steel sees it's various divided chapters and kinda has a very messianic type view, where they're hoping some great figure will come along and unite the various splintered chapters in to a single group once again, like the Messiah is supposed to repair the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Maybe Maxson, for reconnecting with Lost Hills could be seen as that to the Brotherhood: reuniting the scattered tribes and bringing them back to where they're supposed to be.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2021
  9. Callahan96

    Callahan96 First time out of the vault

    14
    Feb 27, 2021
    Definitely. I always saw the use of ranks such as knights, paladins, and scribes as the result of being significantly disconnected from the pre-war military over time. I haven't really played 76, but from what I understand, that's the game where they retconned the whole history of ranks thing and said that Maxson established them not long after the Mariposa Rebellion. Correct me if I'm wrong. It's been ages since I played Fallout 1, so I can't remember if there's anything in there about when exactly the ranks were changed. Either way, I hate what 76 did to the Brotherhood lore. There really is no reason for a BoS presence in Appalachia, as much as Bethesda wanted to shoehorn it in.
     
    • [Rad] [Rad] x 1
  10. Atomic Postman

    Atomic Postman Mojave Express Employee of the Month

    Mar 16, 2013
    With regards to the splinter idea, I always liked the idea of the Midwestern Brotherhood by mid 23rd Century basically just being the Brotherhood in name only, used as a title to feign legitimacy or authority as a shorthand kind of like what people in real life have done with Roman iconography. Some local millitia in Kansas using a modified version of the Brotherhood wings because to tribals that once meant "authority" and "empire" but the Midwest BoS itself is long dead, killed by splintered evolution into dozens of tiny fragments.

    I also wonder narratively what you can do with the Brotherhood now, I think that after the Mojave BoS I'd like to see a West Coast splinter that have turned away from isolationism, but aren't as shallow in it as the Lyons Pride or as aggressively predatory as the Commonwealth BoS. I'd like to see a chapter that had to open up to survive and have gone pseudo-tribal as a result.
     
  11. Jogre

    Jogre So Old I'm Losing Radiation Signs

    Oct 25, 2015
    TBH, I liked the idea of the Midwestern Brotherhood of Steel as it's portrayed in Tactics: a rogue group in the Midwest that has needed to turn away from it's former self.

    I also liked how in the ending it's asked what the Brotherhood back West will think if they ever learn of the Midwestern Brotherhood's existence. Rather than it being unambigous that "This is against the original Brotherhood" it's portrayed more as a kinda new interpretation, and that contact with the original could go a number of ways.

    I feel having a fake Brotherhood as the heirs would kinda take away from that a bit.
     
  12. Atomic Postman

    Atomic Postman Mojave Express Employee of the Month

    Mar 16, 2013
    It's more that the Brotherhood having this big blob of an empire rubs me the wrong way, that combined with the east coast chapters makes them way too plentiful.
     
  13. Callahan96

    Callahan96 First time out of the vault

    14
    Feb 27, 2021
    Honestly, there's a part of me that feels like the addition of the Brotherhood in 4 and 76 had something to do with Bethesda Fallout fans and casual players (Bethesda really did try to pull casual, FPS guys in with 4 and 76) fawning over the aesthetics of the Brotherhood's armor. Which is lame since these people will not look at the Brotherhood's overarching existence through a philosophical/political lens. Bethesda fans don't go deep enough into the lore and casuals don't go into it at all.

    Besides the aesthetics element, it's fan service to the people who jerk it to Fallout 3.

    Whatever. The Enclave had the coolest looking armor anyway.
     
  14. Atomic Postman

    Atomic Postman Mojave Express Employee of the Month

    Mar 16, 2013
    It's particularly strange because they've become the Power Armor faction when there's no neccessary need for them to be - any US millitary descendant group or anyone who just gets their hands on advanced army gear will have similar uniforms.

    I'm also not a fan of the orange aesthetic they've given the BoS either.
     
  15. Iprovidelittlepianos

    Iprovidelittlepianos Look, Ma! Two Heads!

    322
    May 12, 2020
    They’re orange now?
     
  16. Hardboiled Android

    Hardboiled Android Water Chip? Been There, Done That

    843
    Jun 7, 2015
    If the BoS are essentially Jews with the Codex being the talmud, endlessly debated and redacted by wizened scribes, than the Midwestern BoS is the Khazarian Empire, and DC Maxson is a messianic figure in the vein of Bar Kochba or Sabbatai Zevi
     
  17. Atomic Postman

    Atomic Postman Mojave Express Employee of the Month

    Mar 16, 2013
    The F4 BoS has lots of organge highlights and patterns on it. Cool enough for a spin-off chapter, but in 76 the Lost Hills BoS also have this same colouration (as well as saying Ad VIctoriam) which means they are locking that down as the definitive BoS aesthetic.