#01 Author's Notes - Characters

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When creating the characters in Fallout 101, I had to ask myself, “What creates people, as we see them, in this world?” Is it circumstance? Genetics? Astrology? Pure happenstance?

Of course, it’s not the last one—that is, unless happenstance is met with uncanny coincide. It is entirely possible to predict certain things about a person based on their inherited genes: what color their eyes might be, how tall they will probably end up, what diseases they will be at higher risk for, and even some of their personality traits.

But it isn’t just genetics. Circumstance, or situation, has an observable effect as well. You might even say that circumstances carry more weight than do genetics: i.e. a person who grows up in a warlike society is likely to be warlike themselves, regardless of some latent genetic disposition towards peaceful behavior, as determined by evolutionary processes.

However, there is another perspective, that being that the actions that a person takes do not define them as a person; rather, who we are is much deeper than either what we say or what we do. From society’s point of view though, it makes sense to look upon a person as the sum of their actions—once categorized, the striking amount of variations observable in people are no longer overwhelming: children are sent to school, violent/corrupting people are sent to jail, affable-if-somewhat-morally-questionable people are sent to political office, and, according to conflicting religious views, eventually we are all sent to Hell.

By all appearances, it seems that within a functioning society, these labels are largely self-perpetuating; “once a politician, always a politician.” (Of course, this comes with respect to age and a variety of other, subtler factors.) But what if society breaks down? Then don’t the labels have to dissolve as well, thus revealing an essential human proclivity towards categorizing things out of fear rather than trying to understand them out of compassion?

Whether or not these questions have any relevance with respect to modern society, they are a good platform on which to develop characters who happen to be emerging from a social collapse. When we no longer have our beliefs to cling to, what do we have? Nothing more than ourselves, it seems, and for some that is incomparably frightening; for others it is a long sought liberation.

In the end though, stories are not made of “who people could be,” they are made of the things those people did and said. But without carrying respect for who those people could have been, they become their actions; and, thusly, one dimensional and shallow expressions, devoid of human heart.

See you on Sunday with a new chapter!

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