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Default Caesar's Legion in New Vegas: a very dark grey

November 25th, 2015, 23:15
Interesting long Tumblr post from Josh Sawyer about the writing of Caesar's Legion:

Originally Posted by JESawyer
lastboss-of-theinternet asked: Why, in a game thats trying to be more political and morally grey, did you make the Legion so irredeemable? Prejudiced, tyrannical, Luddite, brutal, cannibalistic, the list goes on. Their land is supposed to be peaceful and what not, but its safe to assume that wont outlast caesar.
Between the NCR, House, and an independent Vegas, I felt that the player had three “soft” grey choices. The NCR is a soupy mess because that’s how republics tend to be. There’s a lot of corruption, bureaucracy, political pandering, and petty abuses at high levels of authority, but those are things the Courier can steer like a big, awkward ship. You can influence how the NCR deals with various groups and get mostly the results you expect, but there are side effects because the NCR is still a soupy mess at the end of it.

With House, there’s not much negotiation. He knows exactly what he wants with very little margin for course-correction. You can go behind Colonel Moore’s back to ally NCR with the Brotherhood of Steel. There’s no going behind House’s back and staying on his good side. House is strong and stable within his small sphere of influence but dictatorial within that sphere. He leverages economic power and access to resources (water and electricity) to maintain control, as far as that goes.

The independent ending is “free” with all of the consequences that come with a weak/non-existent government. Each sub-faction within New Vegas is free to conduct themselves as they wish, often coming into conflict with other sub-factions. As there’s no higher governing or law enforcement body (exception: Securitrons), it’s pretty hard for things to run smoothly.

Caesar created the Legion through brutal means and he is only able to maintain the Legion through similar, in some cases even more severe, means. All of the tribes he conquered and incorporated into the Legion learned that this was “the way”. Caesar couldn’t allow members of the Legion to maintain their own languages and customs because it undermined solidarity. He couldn’t allow traditional families because it tied soldiers to people and places – people other than Caesar and fellow legionaries. He couldn’t allow rank and file recruits access to advanced weaponry or technology because it undermined fear of superiors and reliance on Caesar.

Of course, all of this only “functions” and continues to grow if the Legion continues to conquer and/or increases its slave population. But Caesar’s long-term dream is of the Legion watching over a civilian empire, which is why he’s so dead-set on New Vegas.

So, the Legion is the way it is because Caesar is a warlord who maintains control through his cult of personality and the fear of his disapproval (with severe consequences). The historical Caesar was known for being unusually merciful, but he was playing to societies that were much more accepting of mercy. Caesar taught the Legion mercilessness, so that is what they expect, what they consider strong.

There’s nothing really morally grey about Liberia’s Charles Taylor, but he’s a real guy who did astoundingly terrible things for the sake of maintaining power. In the context of F:NV, I don’t think Caesar and the Legion need to be thought of as “grey” like the player’s other options. I think they can be what they are, as they are, because the lie of their fiction is intended to provoke thoughts about truth, i.e. the nature of humans who rise to power in such circumstances. When we say “war never changes”, we’re talking about things like this.
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