The ballad of Cowardly Joe
Welcome back! I hope you’ve had a fantastic week of roleplaying and happiness. I wish I could say I have, but it would be a lie. You see, poor Cowardly Joe made his first excursion into the Nevada wasteland, and it didn’t go as well as I’d hoped.
As I mentioned last week, I decided to RP Fallout New Vegas with a few self-imposed restrictions. Firstly, I was playing the game on hardcore mode. Secondly, my character had no combat skills whatsoever and chose not to fight unless it was absolutely necessary. Thirdly, I was playing the game in one sitting and also with permadeath, so I only had one go at discovering where Chandler from Friends had gone off to after shooting me in the head. It was either going to be the single longest gaming session of my life, or I’d die horribly and without dignity.
Guess which one happened?
Things didn’t start particularly well during my play through, and soon went from bad to worse. I awoke in Doc Mitchell’s office in Goodsprings like every other hero in Fallout New Vegas, except I wasn’t a hero. I was Cowardly Joe – a charmer, smarty-pants and underwear-soiler extraordinaire. I decided that I wanted to attempt to follow the main quest while at the same time role-playing as a coward. So, I set off to meet Sunny Smiles to learn how to survive in the wastes. Needless to say, it went badly. She asked a man called Cowardly Joe to help her fight off geckos from the wells in her village, what did she expect? He hid behind a boulder while her and her dog, Cheyenne, did all the work. Sadly, without Joe’s help, Cheyenne died. RIP Cheyenne.
After this disaster, Cowardly Joe was ready for a lie down and some hot chocolate. Sadly, the wastes of Fallout New Vegas aren’t so kind on cowards. Sunny informed Cowardly Joe that Trudy (the would-be mother of the village of Goodsprings) wanted to meet him. As a charmer, he couldn’t pass up on an opportunity to flap his gums with a lady. So in he strutted, eyebrow cocked and moustache curled, only to find a terrifying thug threatening the whole town. After a quick change, Cowardly Joe finally got talking to Trudy. As it turned out, she needed help with the Powder Gangers who were threatening her. Cowardly Joe was torn – he always wanted to help a damsel in distress, but by god he was terrified. He ended up being roped in to help anyway.
I’d love to say that Cowardly Joe found his courage, fighting alongside those he’d convinced to stand up for Goodsprings – but I can’t. He actually hid behind some boxes and watched several villagers die trying to hold off the Powder Gangers. Somehow, in the chaos of battle, the villagers thought they’d seen Cowardly Joe slay the bandit leader himself, so they thanked him. Maybe things were looking up. After receiving several pats on the back, and being pointed in the right direction of his would-be killer, Cowardly Joe set off to Primm.
The journey to Primm was fairly uneventful, other than having to run away from a few geckos and scorpions. On arrival, Cowardly Joe discovered the small village in chaos. He had to dodge a few thugs before finding shelter in the casino. After catching his breath, he discovered that the only man who knew where his killer went was being held by the bandits in the Bison Steve hotel.
As the Casino was filled with bandits, Cowardly Joe didn’t know what to do. He ended up deciding to sneak in to find the man he needed. This somehow managed to work, and he found Deputy Beagle tied up. Using his skills as a charmer, he managed to convince him to give up the info without having to untie him. Leaving the screaming deputy to a terrible fate, Cowardly Joe went on his merry way, thankfully with no new holes.
Sadly, this is where Cowardly Joe’s journey took a turn for the worse. After passing through , and finding it burning at the hands of Caesar’s Legion (and showing off his skill as a professional pant-wetter as a consequence), he headed towards Novac. It was on this journey that the Viper Gang ambushed poor Joe, using grenade launchers and shotguns. They almost managed to blow him to bits, leaving him limping across the Mojave in terror. Sadly, due to his injuries, he was no match for the next group that came across him, and was sent screaming into the next world in a storm of bullets and terrified urine spray.
RIP Cowardly Joe.
Honestly, as ill-fated as my excursion into the desert of post-apocalyptic Nevada was, playing New Vegas as Cowardly Joe was the most fun I’ve had with a game in a long time. It was great to have the freedom to set my own objectives, and not just play the game as efficiently as possible, and it added an extra dimension to Obsidian’s flawed classic which totally changed my outlook on the game. I found myself laughing on several occasions as my fully-armored character ran from such terrifying beasts as baby geckos and giant mantises. Fallout: New Vegas is a great game even if you play it straight, but I highly recommend adding your own flavor to it by roleplaying a character. Perhaps a character not quite as cowardly as mine, though.
I set myself a challenge last week: to reach level 10. At the time, I thought I was perhaps being too modest. Well, I can confirm that I managed the great heights of… level 3.
C’est la vie.
In the comments on last week’s article I had a discussion with somebody who brought up a great point with me. He told me that his favorite type of game to roleplay is one that has a fully voiced protagonist. I would have thought the majority of people would have preferred to roleplay a silent protagonist – after all, a fully-voiced protagonist will always have something of the personality of the voice actor to them. This got me wondering – do the majority of RP’ers prefer a voiced or silent protagonist? I’d love it if you’d let me know in the comments.
In light of this, my challenge for next week is going to be playing as a voiced protagonist in Dragon Age Inquisition. I’ll be playing as a dwarf who’s heavily prejudiced towards magic users, having lost his entire family to an apostate. Again, I’ll be playing this in one session and with permadeath, just to fulfill my weekly quota of torturing myself. My objective will be reach level 10 again, and also decide whether or not I prefer RP’ing a silent or a voiced protagonist.
If any of you have any thoughts or stories of your own, please let me know in the comments section below (your points will probably feature in my next article).
Come roleplay with me again next time, and see how I get on in Thedas.