Fallout: Phil Vegas #3 -- Phil Jackson Saves Goodsprings

Posted on Tue 16 April 2013 in Fallout: Phil Vegas by Aaron McGuire

fallout phil vegas

philvegas catchup #2

"Alright, Starr. I'll play your little game. Call me Phil Jackson, savior of Los Angeles."


"I mean, Goodsprings. Sorry. Got caught in the moment there."

"Alright. Well, that's cool, didn't actually expect you to say that. Here's the situation. My caravan was attacked by the Powder Gangers. I fought back, but they killed my two associates and chased me around for a while. I was able to snipe two of them, but I ran out of ammo and had to hide out in this town. I'm 90% sure they're going to send someone to attack me at some point. Now, the people here have been really nice to me. I don't want the Powder Gangers to destroy their town. But I also don't want to die, and if I leave the town, I'll probably die. So I'm caught in a conundrum."

"If I help you eliminate these guys, will you tell me how to get to Las Vegas?"

"If you mean New Vegas, I mean..." Ringo paused, made to say something, then smiled. "Sure, I guess."

"It's a deal. What do I need to do?"

"Well, we need to round up a few people. Get Sunny Smiles in on the game, she's good at fighting. Try to get the barkeep in on it. Maybe the general store guy can provide us some armor, and maybe Doc Mitchell can provide us some chems. You never know, right? Anyway. You and Smiles come and see me when the Powder Gangers approach the town. I know they will. We'll kick their butts." Jackson nodded, and headed out towards the town_._

• • •

Although Jackson doubted that he had to talk to everyone Ringo mentioned, the completionist within him bid it so. He made a little mental list of the people he needed to talk to, and headed first to Doc Mitchell's place when he realized it was barely a stone's throw from the gas station. He entered the house, wandering aimlessly around looking for the doctor. As he wandered, he shortly pondered how weird it was that the doctor was letting him amble about his home aimlessly, and furthermore how odd it was that the doctor left all his valuables lying around. It was almost like he wanted them stolen... Finally, Jackson ran into the doctor in his kitchen, where the doctor was sitting at an empty table and staring at the wall. There was no food in the oven or on the stove.

"Hey, Doc. Uh... you OK, there?"

"How're you holdin' up?"

"Pretty well, I guess. Hey, can you help us out with some free medical supplies to fight the powder gangers?"

"Seems like wherever I go it's always the same. Folks just never leave each other alone."

"Wait, are you criticizing us or them or what?"

The doctor didn't answer, silently handing Phil several syringes filled with a darkish gray liquid. They said 'STIMPACK' on them. He shrugged and pocketed them. "Thanks. Hey, uh... are the objects in your house free to take?" Again, no answer. "It's definitely a yes if you don't tell me not to." The doctor stared impassively at our hero. "... alright, thanks for your patronage." Phil wandered around the house, taking a few guns, some ammo, and a few trinkets and baubles. He also took some cigarettes, just in case. Phil walked out of the doctor's house, his pack a bit heavier and his conscience more muddled.

From the doctor's office Phil ran the gauntlet -- he started with Sunny Smiles, who was seemingly more interested in killing off the Powder Gangers than Ringo was. She was in. Trudy took some convincing, but I mean... it's Phil Jackson we're talking about here, folks. He convinced Rodman to keep his lunacy off the basketball court for three years of his career. He's good at convincing people to help him out, and a barkeep named Trudy was well within his wheelhouse. She was in, and along with her the hastily cobbled together militia that Goodsprings called "protectors." From there Phil returned to the confusing and disturbingly emotionless husk of a man known as Easy Pete, where Phil pretended to know anything whatsoever about explosives to much success, easily convincing Easy Pete that he was an explosives mastermind who totally deserved five free sticks of dynamite. He then faced his last challenge -- convincing the shopkeeper to give them all free leather armor.

"Hey, Chet. Want to help us out and give us some free armor to fight the Powder Gangers?"

"This again? Like I said, I'm against taking on the Powder Gangers. My supplies aren't cheap, you know."

At this, Phil Jackson found himself uncharacteristically speechless. He'd easily convinced just about everyone else to give him aid -- this shopkeeper's blithe refusal took him off guard. "Uh... well... the Powder Gangers are really bad, man, and I'll totally give you a cigarette if you help us out, you know?" Phil Jackson pursed his lips. If I was him, I'd punch me right now. That was bad.

"... no. Make sure they know that if they kill you all I'll still do business with them, alright?"

"... why would I let them know that?"

"Good question. I don't know why I requested that. Anyway. Scram, unless you want to buy something."

Phil sifted through his pack, taking out a few things and asking prices. It took a while, but he was finally able to get around 100 bottle caps for some combination of gecko meat, cigarettes, gecko hide, and a flower he'd picked. While he had no idea if he'd sold those items at face value, that certainly seemed like a lot of currency for very little in the way of valuable material. I am the king of bartering. Time to try to get him to supply leather armor again...

"Hey, Chet. Want to help us out and give us some free armor to fight the Powder Gangers?"

"This again? Like I said, I'm against taking on the Powder Gangers. My supplies aren't cheap, you know."

"Yeah... well... if you ran the triangle offense, you'd make more money. Like Kurt Rambis did! Take that, jerk!"

At this, Phil Jackson nervously looked from side to side and fled the shop. Note to self: don't barter. Ever again. Wow.

• • •


Before heading back to Ringo, Phil Jackson decided to look into a claim that Trudy had mentioned was yet to be scavanged -- a safe in the Goodsprings schoolhouse, to be exact. She'd given him an issue of Lockpick Weekly, which struck Phil as quite possibly the least necessary weekly human interest publication on the face of the earth. Still. Jackson entered the abandoned schoolhouse, where he was immediately met by a giant mantis the size of a small toddler. Phil pondered. Why is everything larger after nuclear war? That doesn't even make sense.

He considered the thought as he quickly dispatched the unreasonably large mantis, abandoning it when he realized there was quite literally no way to sufficiently answer that question without a level of science expertise that Phil Jackson adamantly refused to have. Phil walked over to the safe. He sized it up, just like detectives do in detective movies. What would Indiana Jones do, though? Because I am now Indiana Jones. Phil thought on it, then without warning whipped out his pistol and shot the safe.

It remained closed.

That was a terrible idea.

Finally accepting that he was going to have to try and pick the lock, Jackson took out a bobby pin and kneeled down next to the lock. How do they do this in movies again? He got as close as he could to the lock and placed his ear on the safe, listening as he fiddled with the bobby pin. It quickly snapped. He threw it out and tried again, only to snap the next one. And the next one. And the next one. Phil closed his eyes in frustration and took out the magazine Trudy gave him earlier. He read through it cover-to-cover, quickly internalizing a lot of the ins and outs of lockpicking. The magazine may be completely and utterly useless as a weekly digest, but Phil could not deny its usefulness -- on his first try post-magazine, he unlocked the tumbler and opened the safe in less than 15 seconds. Inside there was a strange wrist device that looked like he could snap to the weird console on his left arm, as well as a few hundred bottle caps and a few magazines.


With his pockets full of change and his allies rallied, Jackson returned to Ringo's abandoned gas station. He explained to Ringo that he'd gotten the medical supplies, enlisted Trudy's aid, and gotten Sunny to agree to help out. Ringo nodded along, sharpening a machete and loading a gun while Phil explained the score. "Alright, then, Phil. Are you ready to take on the Powder Gangers?"

"Wait, don't we need to wait for them to show up? What if I say I'm ready?"

"Then they'll show up."

"And if I say I'm not ready yet?"

"Then they won't."

"That's awfully polite of them."

"I'll take your sass as you being ready. OY! SUNNY!"

As if on command, Sunny Smiles ran into the gas station. "Time to look alive. The Powder Gangers are here to play."


Phil stared at the two of them, completely befuddled. "... what?"

Ringo smiled. "How many are there, Sunny?"

"About six. Look mean, too. Joe Cobb's with them, he's no joke."

"Let's go, then."

The three left the gas station, taking their positions in front of the saloon. Indeed, six members of the gang were approaching from the north -- Joe Cobb had a shotgun, and was staring Ringo down from a distance. They weren't approaching very quickly. Phil leaned over and whispered to Ringo. "Hey, can we attack them at any time?"

He shrugged. "I'd assume so. All's fair in love and war, right?"

"Neat." Phil took out two sticks of dynamite, lighting them and tossing them at the Powder Gangers. They started fleeing, with half of them running into the desert (where they were stung by inordinately large scorpions and immediately killed) and half running into town, indiscriminately shooting at the townsfolk and Phil. "That's not very nice." Phil took out his pistol, cocking it and charging forward into the fray. He was flanked at his side by Sunny's dog Cheyenne, which was probably not for the best -- one of the Powder Gangers immediately caught Cheyenne in the face with a bullet, killing her instantly. "HEY! I like dogs!"

Jackson whipped out his shotgun and unloaded straight into the offending gang member's shoulder, reloading as Joe Cobb shot round after round into Phil's frame. He aimed out and shot Cobb in the head, satisfyingly ending Cobb's one-episode reign of terror over this particular episodic story. He approached the last Powder Ganger, throwing dynamite at the townspeople and generally looking like a jerk. "Are you gonna leave, or do I have to pretend I'm Michael Jordan?" The Powder Ganger made to slash Jackson with a machete, causing our hero to unload his last shotgun round straight into his chest.

"You reach, I teach."


The battle over, Phil walked over to Ringo in front of the saloon. Time seemed to stop, much as it had in Doctor Mitchell's house -- a weird pop-up dialog box covered his vision, telling him that he was now "vilified" by the Powder Gangers and would be attacked by any he subsequently met. Conversely, he was now "idolized" by Goodsprings. Nice. The screen faded as soon as he'd read it, and he stopped in front of Ringo. "Alright. Gonna be honest. I owe you a huge favor for this. Here -- these are technically Crimson Caravan funds, but I know they'll understand once I explain things. I'll give you a bit more if you meet me at the Caravan's outpost in New Vegas, but thanks for helping me out regardless"

"Not a problem, Best Beatle. But you agreed that you'd tell me one thing before I did this. How the hell do I get to Vegas?"

"Alright. So... I didn't want to tell you this until you'd helped me out, but... you know that thing on your left arm?"

"What, this giant bulky thing?"

"Yeah. That's got a map on it. It also organizes all of your items and stuff."


"... SONNOVAB... so I could've skipped all this and used the map at any time?"


"And you kept this from me just so I'd help you kill some crooks?"


"I hate you."

"Catch you in New Vegas, bud."

And so Ringo left Phil in the dust, as Phil narrowed his eyes at the console on his left arm. Jerk.

• • •

After taking a short nap and pondering the contents of his map, Phil decides he'd like to get a better real-life view of the road ahead. In so doing, he decides to go back to a place he left behind -- that is, the mountain where Barton Thorn's girlfriend was captured by geckos. If she's still alive, I'll save her, I guess? He also figured he'd find a few notable claims in the gecko's nest -- seemed that most people were afraid of the geckos, although they weren't that hard to dispatch. Jackson snuck past a sleeping Barton Thorn, making his way up the mountain and running into somewhere along the lines of 10-15 geckos along the way. They were aggressive, as was their wont, but they weren't really that hard to beat. A slice or two of Phil's machete seemed to do the trick, and his armor saved him from the bulk of their bites.

Phil Jackson reached the top relatively quickly, encountering the Gecko's nest. There was a half-eaten body of a girl around Barton's age, but it looked several days old. Given that Barton had asked him to save her yesterday, that struck Phil as odd. He made a mental note never to trust a man named Barton Thorn. There was also an inexplicably-still-working refrigerator, four incoherently well-placed red balls, a lookout table, a chair, the whole remains of a scavenging man, a few bear traps, and an old timey camera. Also a few boxes of ammunition, too!


Jackson sat down at the lookout table, staring into the distance. He was immediately struck by how utterly stupid of an idea it was to backtrack in an effort to see the road ahead -- instead of seeing Vegas, he just saw the cliffs and hills between Goodsprings and Vegas, with absolutely no better sense of where he was going. Smooth move, Ferguson. That said, looking at his personal map, he had a pretty good idea where he needed to go -- if he wanted to get to Vegas, he was going to have to go northeast through a mining town called Sloan (which, not coincidentally, was where Ringo's caravan had been robbed and murdered) and a patch of deserted highway.

Seemed pretty elementary to Mr. Jackson, if not a bit of a cop out. It didn't appear that there was anything remotely approaching a working car in the world as it is, but the distance didn't look like more than seven miles or so, which was absolutely doable. Probably even in one night, if he headed out now. Phil rose from his lookout, closing the dead scavenger's eyes and heading back down the mountain next to all the gecko corpses. Looking up, he noticed a scraggly haired man running up the mountain. Phil raised an eyebrow quizzically, quickly realizing it was Barton Thorn. Barton stopped.

"Your girlfriend had been dead for days. Why did you tell me to come up here?"

"Sorry I tricked you, but thanks for clearing out the Geckos. Now I can get to that stash up there... after I deal with you."

"... I just eliminated a gang. I think I can handle a guy named Barton."

"Take THIS, Phil Jackson!"

Barton whipped out his gun. Phil whipped out his machete.



Given how easily Barton was dispatched, Phil was surprised to find that he actually had quite a lot on his person. A few hundred caps, several suits of armor, three weapons, and a magazine. Nice. Taking an inventory of his outfits after looting Barton's remains, Phil quickly realized he had accumulated quite a few outfits. Enough so that he started to take them out, one by one, trying to figure out which one was the most Indiana Jones-esque for the road ahead.

• • •



Decide in the comments below, or on twitter -- mention Phil Vegas to @gothicginobili or use the hashtag #PhilVegas for all responses. Leave any format-type concerns/thoughts in the comments as well. This is, as you must have noticed, decidedly a work in progress.

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Fallout: Phil Vegas #2 -- "Howdy, I'm Easy Pete"

Posted on Fri 12 April 2013 in Fallout: Phil Vegas by Aaron McGuire

fallout phil vegas

philvegas catchup #1

"Please, mister, you have to save her!"

"Nah, that's alright. Go rescue her yourself. Waste not, want not."


Exactly. Phil Jackson parted from Barton Thorn, leaving the young man frustrated and annoyed. Jackson walked towards the main road, but stopped at an odd sight -- here, in the middle of the desert, he saw a beat-up rusted out refrigerator with a corpse inside. He leaned down to get a closer look and started cackling. The dessicated corpse was dressed in a semi-familiar archaeologist's outfit, with the tell-tale vest and the tell-tale hat. It was -- by all appearances -- Indiana Jones.


You know, when you think about it, this is exactly what would happen to anyone stupid enough to think that a lead-lined refrigerator would save them from a nuclear blast. Phil pondered. I mean, really -- the lead might protect you from a bit of the post-explosion radiation, but lead isn't some magical shield that keeps the explosion out. Why did Spielberg inspire kids to do that, anyway? Maybe this was Indiana Jones. But maybe this was some random kid pretending to be Indiana Jones, actions telegraphed by his favorite stupid movie. God. What a crock. Phil shook his head and made to leave, but he stopped for a moment. He'd always wanted to be Indiana Jones...


"This is the greatest moment of my life."

• • •

Walking along the road back to Goodsprings, Phil spied a small shack. Ever-curious, he ambled forwards -- it looked unlocked. Indeed, it was. But the sign on the door brought a pang of sadness as he walked through -- it said "Jean's Sky Diving." Jackson walked in, half-heartedly hoping that the interior of the shack would give him a sign. "Jeanie was here", perhaps? Or, better yet, "Jeanie Went There, You Can Go Find Her There, Just Go Get Her Phil." Alas, nothing but a locker full of rubbish, a few extra guns, and a strange blue-star bottle cap. Given the post-apocalyptic wasteland thing, Phil hadn't chanced upon some time to himself. He sat down and started considering his position.


On one hand, the situation didn't seem particularly grim. Goodsprings seemed like a relatively ramshackle town, but that wasn't a huge deal -- there appeared to be at least some vestige of a functioning economy, which naturally meant that there was some place in the world that was better off than Goodsprings. He'd find it eventually, and he'd make it his own -- his body felt younger and more limber than it used to, and he still had all that classic Phil Jackson guile that inspired fear into the hearts of men. He could use a few more luxuries, but he'd find those eventually. He'd make his bread. I'm an adaptable jerk. I'll be fine.

On the other hand...

Phil Jackson was not a man used to utter and complete confusion. Even in his lowest moments of coaching in the NBA, there was always some sense of broader order in his life. He had his friends, he had his love, he had his reputation. There wasn't much else a man needed in life, although the fifty-eight championship rings surely didn't hurt. He found himself in a situation lacking every single one of those essential staples. His friends were absent, and the only person he'd even vaguely recognized in this new world was -- somewhat ironically -- the man who had inexplicably shot him. And he didn't even get THAT good of a look at him, so it was hard to tell for sure whether it was Sager or not. His love was obviously gone -- perhaps she was somewhere in California, but he had his doubts. And his reputation? NOBODY KNOWS WHAT A BASKETBALL IS. There was a certain level of discomfort and dissatisfaction with each one of these realizations.

Phil Jackson had spent a long time cultivating each and every one of those staples. They were gone. He was alone, left to rely only on his own devices. And the more he thought about it, the more he felt he needed to track down Sager. It didn't really matter if Craig was the one who brought him to the Mojave Wastelands or not -- if there was anyone in this place who had the slightest idea what Phil was doing there, it'd be the first one he met and the one who shot him in the first place. Sager's a schlub, but he's not stupid. He had to have a reason to shoot me. There has to be SOME reason. In his irritation at the loss of his well-cultivated life, he'd shifted all the blame to the closest recepticle: the clowning sideline reporter who simply must have been tangentially related to his arrival.

And so, Phil Jackson was solidified in his plan. He would find his way to Vegas. First he needed a map, but he'd find that in due time. He would head out and find Craig Sager. And he would find his answers. First, though? Time to make some money.

• • •


Returning to Goodsprings, Phil saw a strange looking red man in front of the saloon. He'll know how to make money. He looks legitimate. Phil waved him down, which turned out to be completely unnecessary since the man was completely immobile in his chair. "Hello, sir. I'm Phil Jackson."


"Who are you?"

"The name's Easy Pete. What can Easy Pete do for you?"

"Why do they call you Easy Pete?"

"Because the name's Easy Pete."

"I'm starting to understand how sideline reporters felt when they interviewed me."


"OK, OK. Cease. What do you do?"

"I was a prospector. Now I ranch Brahmin."

"You were a prospector -- like digging for gold and silver?"

"Nah, nah -- means I poked through old buildings looking for old tech and such. Some people call it salvaging, but I don't. There's good money in it."

"Interesting. Did you ever find anything good?"

"Nope. Had a good claim once but got run out by raiders -- eventually got too old to go out."

"So... you can make good money salvaging, huh?"


"Do you make any money ranching? Is it enjoyable?"

"I was a prospector. Now I ranch Brahmin."

"... Alrighty then. Hey, any idea where I can get a map? I need to get to Vegas."

"Howdy. The name's Easy Pete. What can Easy Pete do for you?"

"... you know what, I'm gonna go now."


• • •

Phil entered the saloon, walking in on what seemed to be a very heated argument between a man dressed up in a prison uniform and the saloon's barkeep. He stepped back and watched the fireworks, ending when the prison man spat at the barkeep and stormed out, pushing Phil over on his way out the door. Phil dusted off his shirt and looked over at the barkeep, a woman named Trudy.

"What the hell was that?"

"Haven't gotten to meet you yet. Welcome to the town. Name's Trudy."

"Nice to meet you. I'm Phil Jackson."

"Cool. Anyhow, that's Joe Cobb. He's the head of them Powder Gangers."

"What's a Powder Ganger?"

"A punk, more like. They're a faction of ex-cons that go around the countryside throwing dynamite at people and scarin' the heck out of any old town they pass through. Broke out of the NCR prison a few lengths from here, then they stormed the prison and took it over. That's their base of operations now."

"The NCR?"

"New California Republic. You really aren't from around here, are you?"

"I'm not. Regardless, why was that one guy so annoyed?"

"Fools have been out putting pressure on Chet and myself to give them discounts and free drinks and stuff. Gotten rowdy with my patrons, gotten fresh, et cetera. They've been annoying, but it's only recently they've gotten violent and dangerous -- we've been helping a trader named Ringo hide out here, because apparently the Powder Gangers robbed and tried to kill him a while back. Ringo's good people, so we're bound to protect him, but it kinda looks like they're going to burn down the town to try and get to Ringo. Dunno if he's quite worth that, but we don't send people to slaughter, so we're in a bad position here."

"That's not good. Is that Ringo Starr from the Beatles?"

"No, it's not good at all. And I have no idea who they are. Still, if you could help Ringo escape, that'd be mighty nice of you. Or you could help us fight off the Powder Gangers. Or something. Also, can you fix my radio?"


"I have no idea what's wrong with it."

"... what does that have to do with anything? Why are you telling me this?"

"I love the radio."

"I don't understand the world. OK. Where's Ringo again? Also... do you have a map? I need to get to New Vegas."

"Gas station up the hill. And no maps here, kiddo."

"My hair is white."

Contrary to his better judgment, Phil booked it to the gas station atop the hill. He'd tried to get in earlier, but the place had been locked up tight. Ringo must have recently left. Phil walked inside to look for clues to Ringo's whereabouts, but stopped and raised his hands as soon as he walked through that door -- a man with black hair was pointing a gun at him. "OK, look. If you're with the Powder Gangers, I'm going to kill you. If not, you best state your business right quick. Or just stay silent and get the hell out of here. One or the other, I suppose. Really not in the mood for games, friend."

OK, yeah. That's definitely not Ringo Starr.


• • •






Decide in the comments below, or on twitter -- mention Phil Vegas to @gothicginobili or use the hashtag #PhilVegas for all responses. Leave any format-type concerns/thoughts in the comments as well. This is, as you must have noticed, decidedly a work in progress.

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Fallout: Phil Vegas #1 -- A Run of Bad Luck

Posted on Tue 09 April 2013 in Fallout: Phil Vegas by Aaron McGuire

fallout phil vegas

... What seemed like a simple delivery job has taken a turn for the worse. ...


"Guess who's wakin' up over here."

Phil Jackson blinked twice -- his hands were tied. He was kneeling in a graveyard on a dry, dark night. His head was pounding and his mouth was parched. Sore all over, like he'd been thrown around by a tornado for the last seventeen years. The pronounced aches of an old center's age were replaced by the more pressing aches of a man beaten to hell. He looked up, the blur in his vision fading. The confusion got worse. There was a young man in a strange suit with two weapon-clad bodyguards at his sides. The man looked at him. "Time to cash out." Phil blinked again. Is that a young Craig Sager? Before he could vocalize the thought, one of the armed guards jeered at the younger Sager. "Would you get it over with?"

"Maybe Khans kill people without lookin' em in the face, but I ain't a fink. Dig?" Phil stared blankly. OK. He's definitely talking like Craig Sager. "You've made your last delivery, kid." The man took out a silver poker chip, acting as though it would mean something to Jackson, then pocketed it. "Sorry you got twisted up in this scene. From where you're kneeling, must seem like an 18 carat run of bad luck. Truth is, the game was rigged from the start." The man who resembled Craig Sager whipped out a gun -- it had a picture of the Virgin Mary engraved into the handle. _Wait, for real? Craig Sager... kills people? With a stupidly ostentatious pistol? Is THAT where he gets the money for those suits? __Everything makes sense.___ The man pointed the gun at Phil's head. Phil opened his mouth -- partly in speech, partly in shock.

"Wait... Craig, really?" BANG. Phil Jackson's world went dark.

• • •


"You're awake. How about that?"

Phil Jackson awoke with a flash of light, sitting up in bed as though he'd been shot. (Funny story: he had.) At the chair beside him sat an old doctor, devoid of lab coat or identifying features. "Woah, easy there. Easy. You've been out cold a couple of days now. Why don't you just relax a second, get your bearings? Let's see what the damage is. What about your name? Can you tell me your name?"

"... name's Phil. Phil Jackson. You've probably heard of me."

"Can't say it's what I'd have picked for you, but if that's your name, that's your name."

"OK. First, that's a remarkably rude thing to say about a man's name. Second, stop playing dumb. I've won eleven rings. You know who I am, doc."

"I'm Doc Mitchell. Welcome to Goodsprings."

"Way to totally ignore what I just said. Look, I'm Phil Jackson. I used to coach the Lakers. Anything? The Bulls? Michael Jordan? Made a hilarious twitter account?"

"Now, I hope you don't mind, but I had to go rooting around there in your noggin to pull all the bits of lead out. I take pride in my needlework, but you'd better tell me if I left anything out of place." Doc Mitchell handed Phil a mirror. Jackson examined himself, scratching his beard. The Doctor said he'd only been out a few days, but Phil didn't know if he believed him; his beard was scraggly, like he'd been out for months on end. Otherwise, he looked about the same -- thinner, certainly, and (strangely enough) a bit younger. But he wasn't too worse for the wear. The Doctor did good work. That said, there was still the matter of Mitchell's responses -- the Doctor seemed to have little to no recognition of anything Phil was telling him, and his utter disregard for everything Phil said both bothered and intrigued him. He nodded, as though to approve of his surgeon's work. The doctor smiled. "Well, I got most everything right. No sense keeping you in bed anymore. Let's see if we can get you on your feet."

The doctor wrested Phil up from the bed, causing Jackson to wobble precariously at his bedside. "Are you SURE I was only out a few days?" After a few false starts, Phil finally got the hang of his legs. He quickly noticed that his gait -- once a bit awkward -- was now extremely regularized, each step virtually exactly like the one before. He had three speeds with no in-between: a slow walk, a brisk jog, and a breakneck sprint. After he jogged around Doc Mitchell's home a few times, toying with his new speed and his strangely regular gait, he realized that the doctor had been talking to him the entire time. Mitchell was pointing him towards an exceedingly odd contraption, a next-level version of one of those quarter machines you'd "test your strength" at in the 80s. Phil stepped up and put his hand on the lever.


His general confusion at the situation didn't abate with the strange machine -- if anything, it got more pronounced. As Phil adjusted the numbers, he could feel the edges of their impact on his frame as a whole -- as an experiment, he pushed Strength all the way to ten and felt his biceps ripple and bulge in a way they hadn't done since his New York days. As he raised his Charisma, he felt a calming trust fall over his countenance, as though he was becoming a new-age Ghandi. After playing around with the machine, Jackson settled on a set of numbers he felt allotted him the most reasonable facsimile of his day-to-day attitudes and skills: slightly lowered strength and agility, befitting his general age, but a high dose of luck and intelligence to counteract that. A touch of extra Charisma, Endurance, and Perception finished his work, allowing Jackson to step back and admire the statistics whose meaning he couldn't really understand.

As Phil turned off the machine, Doc Mitchell beckoned him into the next room, where there was a couch and a chair. He intimated that he was going to do a personality test -- Phil stared at him quizzically, made to refuse, then decided that it wasn't worth the effort. None of this makes any sense, but maybe if I play along I'll get out of here a little bit faster. Jackson sat down across from the doctor, who shuffled a few papers and took up his clipboard. "OK, Phil. I'm gonna say a word. Say the first thing that comes to mind. Let's start with... dog."

"Shep Smith."


"Player Piano."


"A one-armed bandit."

Doc Mitchell stared at him a few seconds, confused. "... Interesting. Now I've got a few pictures. Tell me what you think of when you see each one, Phil."


"Obviously that's the Larry O'Brien trophy... if you turned upside down and blew it up."


"The Triangle offense has gone horribly wrong."


"My 2009 championship ring placed upon an immaculate bed of velvet."

Phil Jackson sat, contented. The doctor nodded, jotted down a few notes, and then stared at Phil. Time seems to stop momentarily as a screen pops up, a screen that only Phil could see -- it had upon it a variety of skills and abilities. His screen explained that the skills came from his personality test, and that they show him to be skilled at energy weapons, explosives, and speech. After mulling it over for a minute, Jackson accepted the premise of the proficiencies. Energy Weapons is probably a thinly veiled critique of Sun Yue and Trevor Ariza, but I'll take it. Explosives makes a lot of sense -- I mean, Christ, I coached Ron Artest for two years, didn't I? As for speech, I'm not really sure about that. Doc must have a sense of humor. Maybe he HAS been listening to me. Whoops.

Phil nods, causing the screen to vanish and another to appear -- this one explains that Phil has a choice between a series of "perks", with the "Wild Wasteland" already selected. He scrolls through the screen, but it gets stuck on "skilled" -- the screen explains that Jackson will get two more skill points per level at the expense of 10% of all experience points going forward. Phil stares at the screen, completely at a loss as to what that means. He shrugs, accepts, and the screens leave him. The doctor escorts him out of the house, giving him "back" a bunch of personal effects that had been on Phil when he was brought into the doctor's office. Phil was surprised at the depth of his inventory -- he had (for whatever reason) a lot of bottle caps, a ton of guns, and a bunch of different variations on the concept of armor. After letting Phil pick out his clothing and put on his hat and his glasses, Doc Mitchell opened his door and sent him off, staring at his patient with a strangely vacant expression as Phil took his first steps forward into the Mojave Wasteland.

• • •

As Phil Jackson stepped into the barren Mojave, deja vu came over him. The world was familiar but unsettlingly different. Most of the houses in Goodsprings were boarded up, with a few of them completely obliterated. The mailboxes were all dusty with disuse and neglect, and nobody seemed to be bothered when Phil opened a few to examine the contents. Most of them had a strange assortment of junk -- one had a baseball glove, another a toy truck, another a flatiron. Occasionally, one would have a stack of money or a bunch of bottle caps. He pocketed the bottle caps, sensing in them some element of importance. He made his way up the hill behind the town, eventually stopping at the first place he remembered being -- the middle of the cemetery, right at the dug-up grave where he'd been shot.


Before he could examine the gravesite, Phil took out a machete and took on some obscenely disgusting creatures that were buzzing about -- giant toddler-sized flying roaches. Having quickly dispatched them, he sheathed his weapon and approached the gravesite, intently examining the area in hopes for one of those perfect moments where he'd suddenly remember everything that happened.

... yeah, no, that was a stupid idea.

Phil sighed, looking around. He closed his eyes and tried to think. Other than his general career as a basketball coach and as the world's most confusing motivational speaker, he couldn't really remember much of anything before he woke up with his hands tied at the gravesite. He supposed, on further examination, that such a response was to be expected -- his head still smarted a bit from the smack upside the head he'd taken at some point before this all began. That certainly wasn't going away for a while.

That said, he didn't necessarily need to know all that much more to know what he had to do. He vaguely remembered that the town of Goodsprings was in Nevada -- he'd visited Goodsprings long ago, with pals and peyote. He also vaguely remembered that it was reasonably close to Las Vegas, the only place on Earth that Craig Sager could escape into a crowd. In fact... that silver thing that Sager had flipped appeared to be a poker chip. So he's in Vegas. Impressed by his deductive reasoning, Jackson turned tail and headed for the town saloon -- perhaps they'd have a better idea of where he could find a car and make his way to Vegas. Perhaps if he was lucky, they'd even supply him some Absinthe!


As he entered the saloon, he noticed a lady leaving the saloon with an enormous, imposing dog. She was dressed in leather armor and bore a large varmint rifle, wistfully reminding Phil of Jeanie's short stint as the queen of a rogue biker gang. God, I miss Jeanie. I wonder where she is... He waved the lady down, explaining his situation to her. Her name was Sunny Smiles. As with Doc Mitchell, she had little to no idea who he was and hadn't seemed to have ever heard of "basketball" before. She laughed at the idea of a car, disturbing Phil -- how am I going to get to Vegas without one? Sunny was good people, though -- she offered to take Phil out to practice his shooting. As Phil hadn't shot a rifle in years, he accepted the offer.

They ran towards the town water supply, Sunny barking targeting orders and Phil trying to get everything straight in his head. Don't aim at the other person, kneel to steady your stance, "press V for VATS" ... wait, how do I press V? What does that even mean? Phil made to ask Sunny, but she shushed him -- they were crouched, now, sneaking up on a trio of giant geckos eating the piping at a well. Phil thought the flying roaches at the cemetary were big, but he was absolutely speechless at the size of the geckos -- they were 3-4 feet tall, with two rows of sharp, gnashing teeth and ghastly blackened claws. Their eyes were empty and soulless, and they looked like they'd tear anyone who met them to shreds. Jackson bit his lip and leaned over to Sunny.

"Are we... uh... are we sure we have to kill them?"

Sunny stared at him disapprovingly.

"OK, OK, fine."

Sunny shrugged, taking out her rifle. She aimed with her tongue out -- Jordan style! -- and pulled the trigger, letting off a perfectly aimed bead that caught one of the geckos straight in the face. The Gecko let out a piercing cry, causing all three of them to stop what they were doing and rush towards Phil and the gang. Phil crouched, aiming his gun carefully. He pulled the trigger and a similarly well-aimed shot hit another Gecko in the head -- it stumbled backwards. Phil shot again -- the Gecko's head exploded in a satisfying crack. Sunny and Phil continued, killing the lot of them without even needing to reload. The shooting over, Phil placed the rifle on the holster that adorned his back. Sunny punched him in the shoulder. "Good shootin', Phil!" Nothin to be scared of with these Geckos, you hear?"

"Yeah, yeah." Jackson shrugged, pretending he hadn't been mortified out of his wits just seconds earlier. Phil accompanied Sunny to another two wells, eliminating the Gecko problem and parting ways with a small payment for his services. The payment was in bottle caps, which confused Phil greatly, but not enough to ask any more questions.

Phil sat down to get his bearings, considering his options. It was almost night -- he'd been told he could sleep in one of the Goodsprings houses. Before he could decide, he was beckoned by a strange man by the name of Barton Thorn -- apparently, he needed Phil's help. "Mister, my girlfriend's trapped up on the old radio tower -- the geckos have trapped her up there. Please, mister, you have to save her!"

"The name's Phil Jackson. I won some rings. You've probably heard of me."

"Yeah, me too. I could really use some onion rings right now."

Phil stared.


• • •



Decide in the comments below, or on twitter -- mention Phil Vegas to @gothicginobili or use the hashtag #PhilVegas for all responses. Leave any format-type concerns/thoughts in the comments as well. This is, as you must have noticed, decidedly a work in progress.

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An Introduction to Fallout: Phil Vegas

Posted on Thu 04 April 2013 in Fallout: Phil Vegas by Aaron McGuire

fallout phil vegas

This part of the NBA season sucks.

No, really. It's awful. For the fans, players, media... everyone. Beat up and burnt out NBA teams with little left to play for don't make good television. They don't make compelling analysis, either -- at this point, most teams have cast their gaze to the barren playoffs, lying in wait as the games that REALLY matter beckon them forward. Players rest, teams tank, and the NBA product becomes trite and uninteresting.

Of course, this isn't news. People have known about the NBA's general March miasma for a while. Here at Gothic Ginobili, we've been lagging a bit. Partly due to our writers being astonishingly busy, partly due to the general lag in the NBA lately. I've always been a strong advocate of the idea that you should fix a period of lagging content and lacking inspiration by going completely off the wall and trying the weirdest idea that comes into your head. After all, I hired Dewey. So I took a few ideas into the back shed and came up with what I believe to be one of the alternatingly worst/best ideas I've ever scribed. Please join me in extending a warm welcome to GG's newest feature -- Fallout: Phil Vegas.

• • •

Let's start with the basics. In its simplest form, Fallout: Phil Vegas is going to involve a playthrough of Fallout: New Vegas. For those of you who aren't familiar with the game, here's your summary. The game centers around a post-apocalyptic world where the world's been utterly ravaged by nuclear war and taken over by several disparate ruling factions. You play the role of the Courier, tasked with delivering an unreasonably important item to an unreasonably important faction leader. Throughout the game you fight various radiation-mutated beasts in the Mojave Wasteland, gaining levels and experience as you find progressively more ridiculous weapons and armor. You eventually have to choose which faction to align with out of four entirely different choices. Fun times. This won't be any old vanilla playthrough of the game, though, and it won't be formatted in the same trite "let's play!" format that's common among video game playthroughs. That's too simple for me. The main conceit behind this particular playthrough of the game is three-fold.

First, the Courier -- the game's main character -- is familiar to our readers. It's Phil Jackson. This is what he looks like:

phil jackson fallout

Classy, Phil.

Second, I won't be taping the run and putting it on YouTube. I'll be playing the game, taking screenshots, and writing a story using the screenshots and the in-game dialogue as one side of a two-sided conversation. The second side -- Phil Jackson's thoughts, hopes, and dreams -- will be handled through text. Ever hear the old thought experiment about how Twilight was only produced so that someday Kanye West would someday be hired to play the role of one of the vampires without ever being given the script or the slightest idea what was going on? That's the goal here, with good ol' Phil. While the events of the game take root, Jackson serves as the completely confused (and fittingly bemused) straight man. "What am I doing here? What's going on? WHY ARE THESE GECKOS SO HUGE?!?"

The third side, as you may have surmised, is that there will be a certain amount of reader interaction. We'll be using a newly established @gothicginobili twitter account, the comment sections, and email. At the end of each post we'll have a set of reader-choice "next moves" for our bespectacled protagonist, and as I play through the game, I'll post the occasional question to Twitter asking readers to pick between several possible decision points. I'm not entirely sure how much reader interaction we'll be modeling into the playthrough -- I may realize early on that it's better to keep things surprising and axe the "reader choice" part of the deal. But I'd like to try it out, if nothing else; I'm not an experienced gamer whatsoever, and I'm positive we have readers with awesome ideas that could burnish this segment greatly.

Regardless. This whole idea could crash and burn on arrival. I realize that. It still seems really silly to me, but in a good way -- it's like a fun little throwback to the #RedDocRedemption saga where I played through Red Dead Redemption and vocalized my non-gamer confusion at everything that ever happened. That said, it's a strange series. It's weird, it's stupid, and although I'm trying to simplify it as much as possible, I can already tell it's going to be a bit complicated. I've started working on a rough order-of-operations for the game and some of the big "decision points" I can float out to you readers. I'm going to try to post one Fallout: Phil Vegas post every Tuesday and Thursday from now until the game ends or the overall segment becomes loathed by our readers. I see you, folks.

Until then, check back at Gothic Ginobili every Tuesday and Thursday to gradually answer the question that everyone's always wondered.

If Phil Jackson was tasked with saving the world in a post-apocalyptic Nevada... what would he do?

• • •


EPISODE #1: "A Run of Bad Luck" -- Phil Jackson wakes up in the Mojave Wasteland, shot in the head and confused about everything. Phil picks his stats, learns to shoot, and gets his bearings.

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