Editor's note: The following is the intro and rough notes for Circle Junction, a location created by Chris Avellone for the purposes of the role-playing campaign that formed the basis of Van Buren (Fallout 3)'s storyline. This location never materialized as an actual location for the game, as it was cut before development started proper.
Many, many years ago, the Iron Rivers tribals actually came from somewhere to the West or East, and they traveled many years, suffering many hardships until coming to the “Great Circle” where they have lived ever since. They were led here, following the path of a great roaring machine that disappeared. They believe it to be a sign that the old world is waking up.
They may have once been part of another tribe in the West, and are now ostracized from them. The players can get bonus XP by uniting the tribes.
Status of Circle Junction: Two days ago (before the player’s escape?), Caesar's Legion surrounded Circle Junction, on foot, in a force of about 50-60 men, and attacked the Iron Rivers Tribe. Some of the tribe managed to escape on foot through the trough, but many more were killed, and many more were captured.
Now, less than a day ago, right after the General broke free, and smashed right through the main slaver encampment along the center lines of Circle Junction (the slavers had set up a central camp in the center of the Junction for easy access). They parked the train in the turntable in the middle of town, and proceeded to turn the train. Once the slavers got over their stupor, they tried to attack the train, and were promptly shot or wounded trying to seize it. The train then left the Junction and rocketed northwest. The slavers reorganized, pissed off, and immediately went after the train on foot, leaving a handful of guards and their wounded behind to man the junction in case of another attack.
About an hour after the slavers left, El Loco plowed through Central Junction and derailed itself on all the wreckage there. The slavers and the tribals watched as a metallic spider emerged from the wreckage and began to head along the lines to the West. The slavers were too frightened to pursue the robot, and wanted word back from their leader.
Cinematic Fragment: (Read out loud to the players)
The Iron Rivers tribe fled southeast. When the children grew tired, the men carried them on their backs. They retreated to their former hunting grounds, a stretch of badlands many miles to the southeast. There, they met up with Long Walk, a tribal who had been able to gather many of the tribesmen and women and flee during the initial attack. The reunion was a joyous one, for both groups had feared for the death of the other.
Establishing a camp, they posted guards and talked worriedly amongst themselves. Many tears were shed for the fallen, and praise and wonder for the tribe of the 13 that had delivered them from slavery. Some talked of attacking the slavers and driving them from Circle Junction, but the two chiefs, Big Circle and his son, calmed the warriors. The men of the Caesar tribe would leave for the west soon enough, as they had in the past. They merely had to wait them out. The talk of fighting drifted back to more mundane matters, such as getting food and water, and reclaiming the brahmin that had been driven out of the Junction when the slavers were sighted.
The tribe posted many guards and kept their fires low, but it did not prevent them from being found.
When the stranger walked from the shadows and into the light of their campfire, they cried out and scrambled for their spears and bows. The figure raised his empty hands, and smiled.
Before the warriors could attack, however, Little Circle, the son of the chief, grabbed the spear of the first Iron Rives tribesman and tore it away from him.
"You shame us! How dare you raise your spear against those who have shed blood for us!" Little Circle turned back to the figure. "Forgive him, he did not see the colors and signs of the tribe of 13 upon you."
"You've seen others dressed like me?" The figure inquired, firelight dancing on his silhouette. "Do tell."
The member of the Vault 13 tribe left the camp at dawn. He thanked the tribesmen for the gifts of food, weapons, a good share of their remaining water, and of course, their hospitality. Friendly people. They had eagerly told him all that had transpired in Circle Junction, and they told him that the rest of his tribe had headed West upon the three great roads, toward their destiny.
He had almost laughed at that, but he turned it into a cough at the last moment.
Let the tribesmen have their religion, especially if he had a seat in the Pantheon. Plus, they'd need their religion if the other prisoners roaming through the desert were half as hungry and desperate as he was.
Before he left, the tribesmen warned him again of the slavers that were no doubt camped in Circle Junction, and they told him to give the place a wide berth.
"I will," he replied. "After all, what could slavers and I possibly have to talk about?"
He grinned, and after a second, the chief and his son nodded and smiled with him, a little uncertainly.
A half-mile outside of camp, he met up with a very hungry and very sun-burned Stimp, and the two of them began heading straight for Circle Junction.
- They [are] supposed to be a homage to the Wasteland rail nomads, although they’d be more primitive.
- Like the nomads, they’d make their homes in boxcars along the tracks and in huge switching stations like Circle Junction.
- They are excellent scouts and craftsmen using the Outdoorsman skill (Brahmin cloaks, doghide, etc.). They would help introduce the player to these mechanics – and if the player didn’t have the Outdoorsman skill, the companion you could gain here would, which would make them valuable.
- I took some inspiration from a short story called “Mary Margaret Roadgrader” for some of their naming and customs, and a way of taking vehicles and construction machinery and combining it with American Indian flavor.
- They were intended to inhabit one of the first locations you’d leave once you came from Leavenworth (Circle Juncton) – however, the railroad junction station they inhabited would have recently been attacked by Caesar’s Legion, gathering them for slaves back West.
- I’ve gathered some of the reference images used in the creation of “Circle Junction,” and the location map. A huge switching/loading station was in the middle of this camp, and at the start of the campaign, two of the trains from the prison had smashed right through the middle of the camp, scattering tribals and Legion slavers alike (the players would quickly discover that a huge bunch of slavers had headed off in search of the train’s path, so they’re not all there when the player arrives, but they’re in danger of coming back soon).
- You could gain one Iron Rivers companion there, Alkaya (she wasn’t going to make it into the computer game, because she was largely useless as we discovered in gameplay except for Outdoorsman and crafting). I can’t find her stats, unfortunately.
- They had a lot of American-Indian style legends about the region. (“Mad King Scorpion” that’s the father of the Radscorpions that fill the region, and the “Chain Walkers,” stories about old ghosts that walk the area, referring to old prisoners from history that still walked with manacles and handcuffs on their hands, now feral ghouls). I found a fragment where Alkaya describes Denver and the dogs:
Long Walk talked much about the world beyond the Circle, beyond home. Some of what he said made sense, much did not. We figured his eyes and his mouth could not agree on what to be said, so made up words.
One thing he had often said the world outside the Circle did not run smooth, and I have found these words he spoke are true. The tracks lead to bad places, fields of dead men, and into the skeleton tracks.
It has been difficult to find the track I must take, there are dogs everywhere in this place where the glass ladders touch the sky, tracks leading up, but never reaching the sky. The ladders must be angry for that, and for the dogs that always bite at their foundations.
- The idea is that they believed the great metal roads, the stitches in the earth, would lead them to hunting grounds. Because they’d mapped out the railroad paths, they could become valuable for reconnecting the railroad lines over the course of the game, and the player could gain considerable rep with them by restoring the train tracks and the trains.
- Since Denver and Boulder were close by, there would be ties between Circle Junction and these 2 locations (you could take tech from Boulder, manpower from Denver scavenger teams, and use that to fix the first “railroad” between the areas, and set up trade).
- The Iron Rivers tribe, if recruited and gain enough rep with them, could help you restore the tracks if you appeal to their religion as well.