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Roleplaying a Synth in Fallout 4

  • Member
    March 21, 2016

    First off we'll need to address the elephant in the room that pops up as soon as you try to create a character that is anything other than a prewar "_________" that being the whole start of the game and its effect on the main questline. Naturally as I'll be talking about the events of the game anyone that is yet to play it or finish the main questline should be wary of any spoilers that will be part of this.

    Before I get into the details I'll be setting the foundations by listing a couple of things seen and heard in Fallout 4.

    • Memory manipulation as well as creation is possible, the best example of this being Doctor Amari.
    • Father is very fond of his experiments as mentioned by Kellogg and Father himself when he admits to being behind your release from Vault 111.

    Now for the details:

    The basic idea is that the Sole Survivor is part of one of Father's experiments, in this case to see how a Synth which believes it is a prewar human will be able to survive in the wasteland and possibly make its way back to the Institute. The events prior to the Sole Survivor stepping out of their stasis pod are a part of these false memories that Father has had implanted into their brain along with a couple of other things that I'll mention later.

    Our next obstacle is Codsworth the Sole Survivor's robot butler, this is simple enough to explain since the Institute is capable of creating Synthetic Humans it isn't hard to believe that they would be able to either build or reprogram a Mr Handy to have "memories" of the Sole Survivor and then leave it in Sanctuary to await the start of the experiment.

    Following this are the records of Nate and Nora's existence prewar that can be found around the ruins of Boston most of which are fairly easy to miss or avoid. Now there are two possibilities for why this may be and you can pick whichever you think is more reasonable.

    • Possibility One: Nate and Nora were a couple that existed before the bombs fell but died when it occurred and the Institute who have access to prewar information used them as the basis of the Sole Survivor's memories so as to make it all the more believable for the Synth when they come across any records of the couple.
    • Possibility Two: The Institute has similar to how they reprogrammed Codsworth gone around the wasteland and left these records on the off chance that the Sole Survivor finds them, even going so far as to make a Synth who believes it is a goulified Vault Tec. Representative. Again all to reinforce the memories that they have programmed the Sole Survivor to have.

    Post Vault 111

    After stepping out of Vault 111 you can choose to do as you wish since your character at this point is essentially no different from any other Sole Survivor. Naturally I have a suggestion perhaps after hearing of the Brotherhood of Steel or the Railroad you feel an unnaturally strong urge to seek them out and join almost as if it was something programmed into you.

    Should you follow the main questline and meet Father there are a couple of options for what happens next that I have thought of that you may take a liking to:

    • Option One: When talking to Father for the first time something he says acts as the activation code for a piece of programming buried within you causing you to betray your current faction and side with the Institute. Father continues to play the role of your son as your progress so far has intrigued him and he wants to see what you shall do next without the knowledge that you are a synth.
    • Option Two: At some point leading up to the meeting or even during or after it you come to the realisation that you are in fact a synth, how this occurs is up to you perhaps you notice a discrepancy between your own memories and the records that you come across throughout the wasteland. Once you realise this you return to you selected faction and integrate yourself fully either revealing or keeping your true nature a secret based on the faction and how well you think this would go over.

    Things to keep in mind:

    Basically the subtitle says it all, these are just a couple of questions and encounters/events that I feel it would be a good idea to put some thought into either before you start or encounter them.

    First off are a couple of fairly obvious questions:

    • How does your Sole Survivor feel about Synths prior to meeting Father?
    • Does your opinion of Synths change after meeting Father? And what does it become?

    Now for those encounters/events:

    • The first being Danse, if you're aware of your Synth nature do you try to spare him? or do you decide it's too much of a risk to your own cover and kill him?
    • Curie's companion quest, do you complete it and turn her into a Synth or do you not? for this choice your view on Synths is the biggest factor.
    • Covenant and it's related quest. For this one I think the most important question or thing to keep in mind is when you find the town and complete the quest, do you complete it before meeting Father or after? Have you realised that you are a Synth or not?
    • Mayor McDonough in "In Sheep's Clothing", Do your sympathies as a fellow synth cause you to let him go or does his attempted murder of Danny override these? Again have you realised your nature and how will this effect your decision?
    • And the one that intrigues me the most the random encounter with Art and Art, what do you value more the life of a Synth or the life of a Human? Should you know you yourself are a Synth who do you side with? Do you just walk away? 

    Well that's it for the base game, and now a warning. Only read past this point if 1) you have the Far Harbor DLC or 2) you don't care about spoilers.

    Far Harbor

    A quick note that from here on I will be talking about the events of Far Harbor so expect some heavy spoilers for the DLC. This section is also a work in progress and I will be adding to it as I play more of the DLC.

    The First Meeting

    Far Harbor introduces us to DiMA, a prototype Synth who has set up a Synth refuge, who provides some great support to the idea that the Sole Survivor is a Synth. During our first conversation with him, he will question us about our nature at which point we can outright admit to being a Synth, and about our memories and what the gaps may indicate.

    This provides us with countless opportunities as people roleplaying a Synth. How we respond to his questions is going to be effected by whether our character has realised that they are a Synth or if they have not.

    If they have yet to realise then maybe DiMA's questioning leads to the realisation of their true nature as a Synth, and this leads them to emprace the refuge. Or perhaps this idea scares your sole survivor so much that they refuse to think or talk about the possibility of it being the truth.

    You also have the option of telling DiMA that you are a member of either the Brotherhood of Steel or the Institute. At which point he will request that you keep the refuge's existance a secret and will also point out that if you are a member of the Institute, that this is your opportunity to study Synths living as humans. No matter what your answer is you will then have the option of telling either faction.

    When facing this choice it is important to keep in mind whether your character knows they are a Synth, their views on Synths and what faction they are most affiliated with. Below I've listed a couple of possibilities:

    • Do not know you are a Synth, Member of either Institute or Brotherhood: if this is the case then your character may choose to be a loyal member of either faction and report to them about the refuge's existence, or if they decided to spare Dance they may take pity on the Synths and choose not to reveal their existence. If you decide to agree with DiMA's point about studying the Synths then obviously your character would choose to keep their secret.
    • Do know you are a Synth, Member of the Brotherhood: if your character has realised they are a Synth and has decided to hide themselves amongst the Brotherhood, then you may decide that turning them in will help curry favor and help you maintain your cover as a loyal member.
    • Do/n't know you are a Synth, Member of the Railroad or Minutemen: As a member of either of these factions while you don't have the option to tell them about the Refuge or even tell DiMA about your affiliation with them. You can still choose to keep their existence a secret as it's in line with the Railroad's goals. Or as General of the Minutemen you may have decided that Synths are a danger that needs to be eliminated and choose to tell one of the other factions. Or you may have decided that it doesn't matter whether a citizen of the Commonwealth is a Synth or a Human and have chosen to protect them either way.

    DiMA's Secrets

    After completing a couple of quests DiMA will send you to retrieve some of his memories which contain some of the plans he has put in place to protect the Refuge and keep the peace on the island. Of these three plans one stands out as holding greater significance for a character that knows they are a Synth. The murder and replacement of Captain Avery, the leader of Far Harbor.

    Not only has he killed and replaced the human Captain Avery, but he has also effectively murdered the Synth who replaced her by wiping her memories, a fact he himself points out. When you discover this you have two options, you can choose to confront DiMA or go to the people of Far Harbor and reveal the truth to them.

    For a character that knows they are a Synth not only are you confronted with the dilemma of whether the safety of Acadia and peace on the island, justify a single woman's death. But also if they justify effectively killing a Synth through deleting her memories, a process you yourself could potentially undergo. Do you brush it aside as "what's done is done" and focus on protecting Acadia? Do you say agree with what DiMA did and decide continue helping him? Or do you turn away disgusted and tell the people of Far Harbor?

    So now I ask, do the results justify a woman's murder and that of a Synth, a being your own nature may provide you increased sympathy for?

    If the answer is yes, then DiMA has a request for you. Doing the same thing to someone else, that someone being High Confessor Tektus, the leader of the Children of Atom. Presented with the same Dilemma, but now with the added element of your own involvement. With this choice you cannot use the excuse of "what's done is done", you must make a choice, are you prepared to condemn these two people, a Synth and a Human to death, for peace?

    Kasumi Nakano

    As the reason behind your trip to Far Harbor, Kasumi provides use with a choice that may be a little close to home. She herself is going through the same thing as our Synth Sole Survivors, she is faced with the possibility she herself is a Synth. The choice we have to make is whether to agree with her or convince her that she is human. And then following your decision you have the choice of whether to leave her in Acadia or to tell her to return to her parents.

    As a character who knows they are a Synth, perhaps you sympathize with her and after discussing it with her come to agree that she is in fact a Synth. Or perhaps your sole survivor does not know and instead does their best to convince Kasumi she is human.

    For now that is all I have to say in relation to the Far Harbor DLC, I'm sure there is more as I've yet to play through the side quests or side with either the Children of Atom or Far Harbor. So until I've done that I bid you good luck in playing your own Synth Characters.

  • Member
    March 21, 2016
    Will keep this bookmarked for later.
  • Member
    March 21, 2016

    Goldie this is great, so subversive and inspiring to me. I was hyped thinking about what art you would come up with and I promise you did not disappoint on that score either! This really gets me thinking and when I next load up Fallout 4 this is how I will be playing it.

    See, I am not that familiar with the game, only played it once and had no time for Synths or the way the dilemmas were presented, but I think a character based on this guide will change all that for me. Two of those encounters are unknown to me so I will be making it a priority to see them,

    It could be that the character has an arc, that he/she exits the vault thinking they're human but slowly starting to come to realise the truth. It could be quite a conflicted character, repressing something he or she knows on a fundamental level. Whichever way I look at it I cannot help be excited by it.

    I'm also thinking about the character's stats, if there are any perks or weapons the character can make best use of to reflect an artificial intelligence. I know that may not be technically lore accurate but sod it, this is pure imagination and I love it. Well done Golden, great job!

  • Member
    March 21, 2016

    I know you haven't met the Arts, but how do you think that would play out?

  • March 21, 2016
    I'm actually trying to roleplay a character who is a cyborg so this is cool. The idea is that he was a solider in the war who was discharged after being very badly injured and the Institute built him a new body so now he works for them and I carry around Kellogg's augments in my inventory (ala Deus Ex). But now this makes me think what if my character has been a synth the whole time?
  • Member
    March 21, 2016

    While I was writing this I was struck by the realisation that this could make it possible to play so many types of characters even those ripped straight from books, movies or other games cause who's to say what the Institute programmed your character to believe/remember.

    Hmm I'd never thought of using Kellogg's implants like that, I mostly just sell them or forget I have them.

  • Member
    March 21, 2016

    Also which other one haven't you encountered?

  • Member
    March 21, 2016

    Tough to say about Art and Art, that could be a real dilemma - one of those pause the game and smoke a cigarette moments like when I first had to choose between Ash and Kaiden (my first Shep was Stoopid with a capital S). I am conflicted as to whether I should watch a vid of this encounter or remain spoiler free. Yet my instincts right now are that I might be tempted to save the Synth, like an unconscious urge or the like - a sort of radar??

    As for the second question, Mayor McDonough in "In Sheep's Clothing". I never really spent much time in Diamond City. I think the voice actress on my character really made me embrace the main story and so I just ploughed on like a rutting stag on a doe.

  • March 21, 2016

    "just ploughed on like a rutting stag on a doe."

    what a way to start my morning Phil

  • March 21, 2016

    This is a great little discussion. I think the greatest part of this is the whole memory reprogramming thing, which is pretty much what makes it all possible. I think the fact that the Institute can do that makes it almost possible to become a synth halfway through one's playthrough.

    Perhaps something like: Character "dies" fighting synths (or anyone really), character "wakes up" and slowly discovers they were abducted instead of slaughtered, and replaced with a synth. I think it's this sort emergent roleplay that makes for a  really dynamic and interesting character. 

    <peer pressure> Can't wait to (maybe) see more from you on this part of the Vault </peer pressure>