Narrative & Level Design
Sherf.jpg

Companion \\ Sherf

Hero of the People

Put yer hands in the sky! Er, reach fer yer . . .
hands? AAARR! NO TOUCH GUNS!
— Sherf
Concept by Christopher Means. Developed by Christopher Means and Jackie Izawa.

Recipe: 1/4 Lennie Small, 1/8 John Wayne, 1/8 Clint Eastwood, 1/4 Iron Giant,  and 1/4 Grizzly Bear

Sherf survived as a concession to Fallout itself. We’d done away with so many of the established factions and monsters of the east and west coast wastelands in an attempt to stay original and not brush against existing canon. I’d already killed off a Brotherhood of Steel scout, nicknamed “Fetch”, and I was willing to do it again, but there was a point where I had concerns I was being too much of a purist.

There was no reason to have super mutants in Texas. While I understood why Bethesda brought the FEV virus to the D.C. wasteland, doing it again in Texas seemed lazy. Having super mutants there because it’s expected in a Fallout game wasn’t a good enough reason. So it became more of a personal challenge to find a good reason to have them there. The simpler answer was to not have super mutants in Texas, but to have a super mutant in Texas. But if there was only going to be one, it really should be a companion. Otherwise, it would be a waste of a unique character.

SHERF STORY AM SAD TALE

The background I wrote for him was something of an Iron Giant story. I loved the super mutant allies of previous games: Marcus, Fawkes, Uncle Leo, Lily. They were the true natives of the wasteland, while humanity became invading settlers in their own land. These super mutants brought an interesting perspective to a harsh world where they didn’t have to struggle to survive.

There was also a convenient pattern with these characters I wanted to exploit. Aside from Marcus, a 1st Generation (more sapient) super mutant, the other super mutants had shed most of their characteristic rage by being separated from their kind. In reality, this kind of change isn’t far-fetched, but super mutants aren’t super detailed in terms of their society and motivations. Since it was established in the canon, it seemed fair game. He would keep the trademark super mutant violent tendencies, but somehow make them a good thing.

So, like the Iron Giant (and if you haven’t seen the Iron Giant, stop reading and go watch it, because spoilers are incoming) he would be separated from his human-hating kind. A very large fish-out-of-water, the exiled super mutant would wander the wasteland, unconsciously searching for purpose.

 Early Rough Concept Art, Christopher Means

Early Rough Concept Art, Christopher Means

PAST MYSTERY! OR AM IT?

When I passed the character to Jackie, I had the general idea of what he would become and why (which we’ll get into later), but little about who he was before or why he was exiled. Lily is an amazing character because she still has some of her past self clawing at her mutant mind as the memories of her grandchildren. Having a human past that informs the monster is far more interesting than leaving it to speculation.

Jackie came up with the idea that Sherf was a runt. Still large and monstrous, but just small enough to be considered weak by other super mutants. This was because Sherf was a child when he was forcibly exposed to the Forced Evolutionary Virus (FEV) by The Master. The idea was brilliant.

Suddenly, we have the mind of child mutated into the characteristically simple mind of a super mutant. The differences would be subtle, but they could explain a lot. The question we haven’t answered was would we ever tell the player or try to leave it as a logical explanation that we don’t confirm.

SHERF MOSEY ALONG...

Knowing more about his origins, we understood that he would be far more impressionable. He would have wandered east from the Core Region, occasionally being harassed by wastelanders who feared him. Wanting to belong, like a puppy, he wouldn’t have understood the reactions of those around him. As he moved into the Pass, the ruthless desert and harsh storms would provide cover in which to explore without being noticed. It was there, in the fringes of old El Paso, that he would find himself.

 Final Concept Art, Bogna Gawronska

Final Concept Art, Bogna Gawronska

SHERFS TELL HOW BE SHERF

While exploring, Sherf found a single-screen movie theater buried to the roof in the desert. He "found" it when the roof of the lobby couldn’t stand his weight and he fell into it. Unable to get out, he explored the theater. It hadn't been scavenged and everything, and everyone, was where they had been when the bombs fell.

His child mind was more adaptive and open to learning. A trait that once caused him to be exiled, was now helping him understand where he was and what the gadgets he’d found might do. Over a month went by as he fiddled with projectors and holotapes, surviving on massive bags of preserved, unpopped popcorn. When the projector finally kicked on, Sherf watched in awe as the entirety of the 1969 western classic Real Iron flickered onto the wall.

 Initial Render, Payton Quinn

Initial Render, Payton Quinn

THIS ONE SHERF’S FAVORITE!

Real Iron, 1969
"Sheriff John 'Hawk' Campbell, played by veteran western actor Marion Roberts, meets Matilda Darby, a recent widow who wants to bring the man who shot her husband at the wedding to justice. Reluctant to go on a manhunt, Hawk is spurred to action by Travis Morrison, a Texas Ranger sent from El Paso to see the killer hanged. Hawk and Morrison track down the killer in a competition to see which of them truly has real iron in their soul."

Sherf watched it 38 times before passing out with a belly full of hard, oiled corn.

AND THIS ONE! Also these!

For months, Sherf watched film after film. Desert Justice, Vengeance on the Rio Grande, Last Stand at Fort McGee, WANTED!!, Not Enough Bullets, the sequel Too Many Bullets, Showdown at River Canyon Gorge, and Jenny the Bullseye Kid. As he sat in front of the screen, he was unknowingly indoctrinating himself. When he finally emerged from the theater, he was a different person. On his chest, nailed right into his thick mutant hide, was a crude metal star with the word “SHERF” gouged into it.

TAKE THIS BAD GUYS!

With the romantic notion of western justice seared into the back of his brain, Sherf realized that he wasn’t alone. He was a loner. One Sherf, single-handedly taking on the outlaws of the wasteland. He was the gud guy and they were the bad guys. His purpose in life had never been so clear. Fitting a cowboy hat onto his giant head, he vanished into the desert.

 Final Render, Payton Quinn

Final Render, Payton Quinn


"If you have any information regarding a green, violent giant, please contact Confederate authorities. Do not attempt to confront this individual. IF FOUND, Retreat is advised."


 Final Render, Payton Quinn

Final Render, Payton Quinn

From the point of view of the wasteland, it was a very different experience.

At first, it was laughable tales told in illegal saloons. Frightened highway robbers ambushed by an unintelligible monster, their accomplices torn in half. The stories were easier to believe as whole raider camps were found splattered with the remains of their former inhabitants. The Confederacy believed they had a serial killer on their hands or a new wasteland horror.

The story began to change as more reports emerged. An ambushed caravan of innocent merchants saw an entire raiding party explode into red mist. As bits of raider fell from the sky, they turned and saw a giant figure standing dramatically against the night sky, holding a smoking rocket launcher.

A kidnapped women recalled a huge, green, meaty fist reach out from the darkness and grab her assailant by the head. Its fingers wrapped around the man’s entire skull and then dragged him into the darkness. She heard muffled screams and snapping bones, but then only silence. A strange voice in the shadows said “MA’AM!” and she ran.

Tha PEOPLEs HERO!

Sherf became something of a wasteland myth, but one most people knew was "really out there somewhere and you really shouldn’t fuck with him, but I heard he saved some roughnecks out near Bliss from a bunch of cannibals, so I guess he’s got a code or something. I don't know, this territory is really fucked up."

As a companion, Sherf would prefer melee weapons and explosives. When the player takes him into settlements, NPC’s will randomly comment on his presence, but only once per NPC. Some make hushed comments in fear or awe. Others would cheer openly, with phrases like Sherf’s personal favorite “The Peoples Hero!” (A phrase coined by a Facebook follower when we first announced Sherf.)

He has no qualms about following the Ranger, but if the player abandons Sherf’s code (which he will give you, in detail) too many times, then Sherf may leave the player and require a redemption quest be completed before rejoining.

PREFERRED COMPANION - SPECIAL LADY

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Sherf picked up many tropes through the films that reconditioned him. Some noble, some heroic, some... a bit old fashioned. When sharpshooter Rona Ransom joins the Ranger, Sherf identifies her as the "special lady" he's seen in all his movies, also known as the "damsel in distress". While Rona's arc focuses on her fight for respect and recognition, she, ironically, finds Sherf's attachment to her and his attempts to defend her honor quite endearing. Probably due to Sherf's simple mind and his not being human. Something like a giant green puppy who barks at strangers. Though, in this case "barking" is more akin to "crushing skulls", but you take what you can get in the wasteland.

If enemies attack Rona in combat, there is a chance for Sherf to go berserk. Sherf will switch to melee weapons and switch to the last target that attacked Rona, doing 30% more damage. He cannot be commanded until the target dies.