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Fallout 76 fans are holding a trial against an actual raider

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The Vultures are being tried for crimes against the wasteland

A raider stands menacingly next to a floating robot. Bethesda / Zenimax via The Vultures

The wasteland is full of factions, from cannibals to bounty hunters, who are all fighting for survival. One popular type of role-play is the raider, which are antagonistic players who pillage and plunder without mercy. But just because the killing comes easy doesn’t mean violence is without consequence.

Right now, a role-play group known as the Fallout Five-0 are holding a public event unlike anything I’ve ever seen in a video game. The group, which acts as a helpful “first responder” type faction for the denizens of Appalachia, happened to stumble onto a raider camp governed by the Vultures, a sadistic gang that aims to terrorize Fallout 76. The encounter was unscripted—Five-0 treats Fallout 76 as something like a D&D game, where leaders develop quests for the rest of the group—but the outcome of that fight has blossomed into a story of its own. After defeating the Vultures, Five-0 took the leader of the group, Warlord, as a prisoner. Rather than killing him outright, Five-0 decided to let the community decide what happens next. The whole thing is a spectacle now.

According to Ray Middelthon, founder of Five-0, clan member Jermey Songer spent hours building a courthouse set to record a trial where Warlord will be tried for his crimes against other players. Everyone is going all out on this: there are lawyers, a judge, victims, and an audience, each with a role and purpose. The proceedings, which are being released via episodic videos, are still in their early stages. Follow-ups will be partially dictated by what onlookers encourage the participating players to do.

Trial of the Warlord Chapter One, "MEAT"

Appalachians, we present The Trial of the Warlord, Chapter One "MEAT." This is the first of a series of episodic movie shorts documenting the Trial as well as events in and around The FalloutFive0 quest, MODUS MUST FALL! It will be up to you, the Appalachian community to decide the ultimate fate of The Warlord. As you watch depositions, testimony, news events and more, we hope you will determine that Appalachia should be free from the tyranny of Raiders. The Five-0 New Responders wish for time of renewal and prosperity as we prepare to welcome back humanity. Become a part of the solution, not continued destruction... Commander Connor Johns

Posted by Fallout Five-0 on Monday, September 16, 2019

“By presenting a real trial of the Warlord with player testimony and then posting episode videos on Facebook, Twitter and our website for the greater community to see, we will allow people to vote at the conclusion of the trial for Warlord’s guilt or innocence,” Middelthon told Polygon via email. The results will have permanent consequences: While the game technically allows players to respawn, if you die in the player-created story, you can no longer use that character in the larger role-play. The player-enforced permadeath aspect could have huge ramifications for the future of the Vultures, which has nearly 200 members on Facebook.

“The Vultures are a true wasteland raider group,” Middelthon says. “They rob, steal, and terrorize workshops [as well as] players.”

The wider community has started to take notice and are participating in the larger event, whether by adopting roles in the trial or by submitting video evidence of the crimes committed by the Vultures. Five-0 are accepting depositions and testimonies from anybody who plays Fallout 76, but they’d particularly love those who have directly encountered the Vultures to throw their hat into the ring. This material will be used for future episodes of the trial, which will unfold weekly and is set to conclude by mid-October. Interested parties can follow along on Twitter, the official Five-0 website, or Facebook, where other player-created quests and events are also detailed.

Fallout 76 “has allowed us to meet various factions and interact on a level that is more than just taking photos or shooting each other up,” Middelthon says. “We build stories and lore with each other ... decisions players make and the results of player events create a story that no one knows the ending of until it’s played out.”