Autumn Leaves is a highly ambitious fan mod undertaking by Baron Von Chateau for the videogame Fallout: New Vegas. It boasts itself as being "DLC length", with professional voice acting, numerous resolutions to it's quests, and quality writing. The mod was inspired by Planescape: Torment and the original two Fallout games.
The story sees the Courier discovering a strange, unnumbered Vault known as Hypatia. After venturing inside, The Courier finds that it is an enormous library, cataloging hundreds upon hundreds of different Pre-War novels. The only ones still "living" inside are the automatons that the vault dweller- a man named Professor Cartwright- developed to keep him company after the bombs had fallen. Once inside, the Courier is given a room by the surly robot Rolland, and is asked by the kind, if slightly unhinged robot named James to search for the remnants of the humans that had previously visited the vault. So begins the Couriers quest into the depths of the library, and onto the trail of a hundreds-of-years old mystery that haunts its denizens to this day.
Notably, unlike many mods for New Vegas, there's absolutely no combat if the player chooses- none of the library's denizens are hostile, and the mod instead functions like a sort of detective mystery where the player must explore the library and follow visual clues to reach their destination. The quest compass is turned off for most of the mod, forcing players to rely on their critical thinking skills and conversational abilities in order to complete their objectives. As well, it's very open ended- while there is a main quest to follow, and it can be started without following James' quests, there are multiple optional objectives for the players to tackle.
Autumn Leaves contains examples of the following:
- Arc Words: The title, which is repeated multiple times within the main quest: see Title Drop for more information.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Soundly averted- while James is weird and Rolland is a dick, none of the robots are evil in any way. However, this is subverted- the Prof was killed after Arthur found a loophole in the robots programming (no human is more important than the library) to get James to kill the Professor for destroying books out of frustration. Arthur is the only one who is actually evil, and even then he acts out of a misguided sense of paranoia and distrust. Getting him to admit that he's just trying to convince himself that Humans Are Bastards out of said paranoia results in him requesting you to essentially lobotomize him.
- Anti-Villain: While James wanted to kill the professor, he couldn't act on it until Arthur found a loophole in their programming. Still, James administered Med-X to the Professor as he lay dying, easing the pain, as he felt sorry for him.
- Big Bad: Arthur, who manipulated James into killing the Professor out of resentment for him.
- Central Theme: A few.
- It continues the theme of the base game- the Old World was a shitty place, learn to let go.
- Knowledge versus survival- which is more important?
- Can unchecked artificial intelligence learn for itself?
- Circular Reasoning: Arthur believes that Humans Are Bastards because they kill to survive and are savages. Why are they savages? Because they have no knowledge or culture for themselves. If you ask him about the library being used to turn people into cultured human beings, Arthur states that the people of the Mojave don't deserve said knowledge because they are... well, savages. Pointing out this flawed reasoning actually fails the conversation- you're meant to prove that his paranoid personality core is the root of his problems.
- Cryptic Conversation: Arthur speaks in open-ended metaphor, and can only be asked open questions. It's an act.
- The Dragon: James, though not of his own free will. Arthur manipulated him into killing Cartwright, and if he's freed of his programming, is intensely remorseful of the act.
- Dialogue Tree: Holy hell. Some of the dialogue trees in this mod rival those of older CRPGS. Of special note is the final confrontation with Arthur, which has upwards of eight to ten different statements the player can make in certain branches.
- Double-Meaning Title: It refers to both the aged books of the library, which are literal "autumn leaves" (as in, aged pieces of paper), and also seems to be a metaphor for the mental decay of the residents of Hypatia.
- Downer Ending: Quite a few. Allowing Arthur to keep you captive for eternity, killing him in order to leave, or leaving without taking care of his paranoia result in some fairly depressing endings for both the Courier and the inhabitants of the library.
- Most of the tales of the people who used to live in the library end poorly, such as one who tried to rob the library for supplies to keep himself safe, and ended up getting killed by Nightstalkers in the middle of the night after he escaped, or the ghoul who OD'd on Med-x out of self-hatred.
- Foreshadowing: The fact that the Maintenance Bot can talk to you implies that it's more advanced than it's letting on.
- One of the questions James asks you is, essentially "what's it like to take a life"?
- You can learn that a group of raiders once attacked the library, and the Professor ordered his robots to kill them. But didn't James say that the robots aren't allowed to harm humans?
- Expy: The final conversation with Arthur is designed to be a mirror with the one had with The Master in the first Fallout. Both are hardlined extremists doing what they think is right at the cost of other peoples lives, and both are in control of a massive facility yet chained to their controls, unable to move for themselves. The player is forced to talk them down unless they want a fight, and both require no speech checks to be passed in order to be talked down. The Master must be shown evidence, while Arthur can be given an extended "The Reason You Suck" Speech from the Courier by pointing out that their paranoia is destroying them.
- Four-Philosophy Ensemble: Rolland is the Cynic, Helena the Optimist, James the Realist and Arthur the Apathetic. The Maintenance Bot is the Conflicted.
- Genre Throwback: To oldschool point and click RPG's like the first two Fallout games. No quest markers or compass guiders for you! Directions, examining the environment, and making decisions for yourself are the name of the game here.
- Golden Ending: Managing to talk Arthur down from keeping you inside by removing his personality module and completing each of the robots' personal quests will result in the best possible ending for the library.
- Jerkass: Rolland is thoroughly unpleasant, though Everybody Has Standards: tell him about Robson the ghoul killing himself, he seems genuinely remorseful. He also doesn't take the accusation that he's the murderer with his usual sarcasm, instead taking it very seriously if you choose to do so.
- RPGs Equal Combat: Defied. A large part of the influence from Planescape: Torment is manifested by the fact that the mod doesn't have much combat, instead focusing on the player conversations with the NPC's of Hypatia. It's possible to got the entire 5-7 hour mod without firing a single bullet.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: An optional conversation with Elena pokes fun at many Fallout conventions, such as the finicky karma system or how the protagonists are usually a Kleptomaniac Hero.
- Locked Room Mystery: It is impossible for any of the residents of Hypatia to have been able to harm the Professor, as they have protocols in their way- yet, as Cecelia points out, the bookshelves are too heavy for him to have been able to bring down.
- Murder Mystery: The death of Professor Cartwright, and whether or not it was an accident, are the major questions that hang over the rest of the mod and are the crux of the main quest.
- Nice Guy: Edgard, James and Elena are very personable, but James and Edgard are somewhat crazy in different ways.
- Shout-Out: At one point, James asks you if you have any regrets. If you're a male and have the LadyKiller perk, you can reply with "I've made some huge, tiny mistakes."
- Spot the Thread: Many objects ingame are meant to noticed by the player as the mod wants them to observe their surroundings carefully. Doing so often reaps rewards, such as the numerous Skill Magazines scattered about the library. There's a Red Herring in there too: Rolland's badge is meant to be a trick, as the real clue to how the Professor died is the broken Med-X needle next to his body.
- Title Drop: Several: the main quest, activated upon finding Cartwright's body in the Reserve Room, is titled "Autumn Leaves". The password to Cartwright's private quarters is Autumn Leaves. In addition, James notes that the pages that Cartwright tore out of the books he destroyed looked just like "falling Autumn Leaves''.
- The Reveal: The true murderer of Professor Cartwright is Arthur, who killed him because the professor was destroying the books in the library, as well as because of his own smug sense of superiority.
- Walking the Earth: Choosing to install the personality limiter overrides on James causes him to roam the wastes, seeking a better understanding of life.
- Wham Episode: Breaking into Professor Cartwright's private study and finding a plausible motive for James to murder him, implicating him in the crime.