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|“||Because I can, of course. I have total power here. I may do whatever I wish, and over these many years, I have found that I wish to see others suffer.||„|
|~ Braun, upon being asked for a reason for the torture|
Stanislaus Braun is a brilliant Vault-Tec scientist known for creating the Garden of Eden Creation Kit (G.E.C.K.), the current Overseer of Vault 112, and a minor antagonist in Fallout 3. Though he only appears in a single mission of the game, the integral role he played in Vault-Tec's work during the backstory - combined with his activities over the past few centuries - is enough to cement him as one of the most unpleasant characters in the entire series.
He is encountered during the mission "Tranquility Lane" towards the end of the Lone Wanderer's search for their father, who had sought out Braun for information concerning the G.E.C.K - only to end up being drawn into his sadistic game.
He is voiced by Dee Bradley Baker and Corrieanne Stein.
Before The War
Born in the small Bavarian town of Kronach, Stanislaus Braun quickly made a name for himself as a brilliant scientist, conducting many astonishing experiments over the course of his long and celebrated career. However, the most famous of these were his theories on preserving and propagating life, which ultimately got the attention of both the US Military and Vault-Tec: the former briefly contracted Braun to provide new methods for sustaining humanity in the wake of a nuclear war; the latter offered him a job, which he accepted - gaining national acclaim as Vault-Tec's "sorcerer-scientist."
During his employment by Vault-Tec, Braun created the Garden Of Eden Creation Kit, a highly-advanced terraforming device that could be used to transform lifeless post-nuclear wastelands into fertile, verdant landscapes - inadvertently creating one of the Fallout series' more prominent McGuffins in the process.
It was also during this time that the aging scientist was made a Director for Vault-Tec's Societal Preservation Program, allowing him an influential role in the creation of the infamous Vaults. Initially, he played a large role in planning the experiments assigned to the various Vaults; however, all this changed with the creation of Vault 112 and Braun's new assignment as Overseer. Over the course of the construction and preparation, Braun became less and less engaged with the concerns of the outside world, until he finally retreated into the role of Overseer for good. It is not known what Vault-Tec had hoped to learn from the experiments conducted in Vault 112, but given the fact that no experiments are registered in any of the local terminals, it is possible that Braun commissioned the entire Vault and all its contents as a retirement present for himself.
The last Vault constructed prior to the Great War, Vault 112 was equipped with a highly-sophisticated virtual reality simulator connected to the "Tranquility Loungers" in which the Vault's populace would stay: while the bodies of the inhabitants remained in suspended animation inside the loungers, their minds were interfaced with the simulator, allowing them to spend the duration of their stay in an almost infinite variety of settings, doing almost anything they pleased. Since the Vault itself was powered by geothermal energy and maintained by an army of specially-designed robobrain caretakers, the occupants would theoretically be able to live in this virtual heaven near-indefinitely, barring accidents.
Unfortunately, Braun was not interested in allowing a heaven; immediately enthralled by the idea of a virtual world in which he could indulge his sadistic fantasies, he quickly went about dismantling the mechanisms that would have allowed the other residents to control the simulation, to leave their loungers, or even remember who they were. Instead, as Overseer, he seized total administrative control over the simulation, ensuring that anyone unfortunate enough to be assigned to Vault 112 would find themselves imprisoned for a virtual eternity, subject to Braun's depraved whims.
However, Braun was farsighted enough to recognize that even with so many possibilities for entertainment, he might eventually grow bored with immortality. Simply leaving his Tranquility Lounger was not an option: though years of suspension would eventually render him too frail to survive for very long without the Lounger, the life-support safeguards were built to lock in long-term residents and prevent such suicide attempts. So, he commissioned a special training program from the US Military, one designed to simulate a Chinese invasion of the simulation - bypassing the safety measures that protected the inhabitants and killing everyone connected to the simulator. To his eventual dismay, Braun found that his status as Overseer came with additional safeguards: the program would kill everyone else in the Vault, but leave him alive. Disappointed, he kept the "Chinese Invasion Failsafe" well-hidden within his auxiliary command terminal.
When the air raid sirens finally sounded, Stannislaus Braun was greeted by the new residents of Vault 112, who obligingly donned their jumpsuits and took their seats in the Tranquility Loungers - unwittingly dooming themselves to an eternity of virtual hell as Braun's playthings.
Toucan Lagoons and Slalom Chalets
The inhabitants of Vault 112 were to spend the next two hundred years being tortured by Braun in a wide variety of ways; though most of them remain unknown even now, Braun's privileges as Overseer allowed him to alter himself, the virtual environment or the residents in any way he pleased, allowing him terrifying variety of methods for tormenting his captives. One way or the other, a pattern began to emerge: Braun would virtually murder everyone in the simulation, bring them back to life and erase their memories of the event, allowing him to repeat the pattern as many times as he pleased, enjoying the fear and pain of his victims as they "died" over and over again. Eventually, he would get bored with one particular scenario and switch over to the next one. Like most of Braun's virtual atrocities, most of these scenarios remain unrecorded and unknown, though two survive as entries on the auxiliary terminal.
One of these scenarios was Toucan Lagoon, presumably involving a tropical island of some sort: while playing here, Braun deliberately removed anything that could make the residents feel comfortable or safe, and assaulted them from all sides with virtual dangers. He drew particular delight from watching Martha Simpson slowly wasting away from scurvy and listening to the agonized screams of Timmy Neusbaum as he was eaten alive by a mako shark - over and over again. After several years of this, Braun grew tired of the scenario and decided to take a skiing holiday in the Swiss Alps by subjecting his playthings to the scenario "Slalom Chalet." Once again, Braun subjected the victims to as much horror and pain as he possibly could, from avalanches to frostbite: his terminal entries from this time mention his joy at watching Dithers slip up and accidentally impale herself on a wrought-iron fence. In the end, Braun lost interest again and moved onto the next scenario in line - Tranquility Lane.
A monochromatic suburban cul-de-sac reminiscent of 1950s television sitcoms, Tranquility Lane was Braun's favorite scenario: his playthings felt safe here, even at home, and perhaps for the first time since he'd started torturing them, Braun decided to exploit this false sense of security. In order to make them feel even more comfortable in the illusion of suburban life, he erased the memories of their pre-war lives and made them believe that they had always been residents of Tranquility Lane - all so he could relish the fear that ensued when the illusion was finally shattered by the inevitable torture.
At some point in the years leading up to the events of Fallout 3, Vault 112 received its first visitor in over two centuries: a scientist by the name of Horace Pinkerton was able to enter the vault and steal a memory chip from one of the Tranquility Loungers, later to be used in rebuilding the android known as Harkness. It is believed that this act of sabotage was what ultimately freed Dithers from the simulator's block on her memories: though she was still unable to escape the scenario, Braun was no longer able to erase or control her memories. Suddenly remembering that she was trapped in a virtual world, she attempted to warn the other inhabitants of what happened - to no avail: with nobody but her able to remember the truth, the neighbors dismissed "Old Lady Dithers" as senile and deluded. Of course, anyone who did believe her was quickly memory-wiped, usually over the course of the next massacre.
Some time after the game's prologue concludes, Vault 112 received its second visitor in the from of James, the father of the Lone Wanderer. Following his escape from Vault 101, James had tracked down Vault 112 during his quest to find a working G.E.C.K. (or some research on the subject) for Project Purity; however, he had not been expecting to find the legendary Stanislaus Braun alive and still active within the Vault. Believing that a scientist of Braun's stature would be more than capable of helping him purify the Capital Wasteland's water supply, James took a seat in an unoccupied Tranquility Lounger in the hope of interviewing Braun in person.
He's still there when the Lone Wanderer follows his trail to the Vault.
Having also escaped from Vault 101, the Lone Wanderer has been tracking James for most of the story up until this point, having followed the trail of clues all over the Capital Wasteland - from Megaton to Galaxy News Radio, from Rivet City to the Project Purity labs at the Jefferson Memorial. Having learned of James' mission to Vault 112 from the laboratory journey, the Wanderer continues the pursuit to the hidden location west of Evergreen Mills. However, upon entering the Vault, the player - believed to be a resident over two hundred years late - is greeted by one of the robobrain caretakers and asked to take a seat in one of the tranquility loungers. With James unresponsive and no way of extracting him from his own lounger, the Wander reluctantly complies.
Immediately, the Wanderer is stranded in Tranquility Lane, deprived of all gear and regressed to about ten years of age by the simulation. The residents greet the Wanderer as one of their neighbors and suggest having a word with "Betty," a girl known for hanging around Tranquility Lane's central gardens with a dog named "Doc."
Betty is very quickly revealed to be Stanislaus Braun's current avatar, having apparently taken the form of a little girl for the sake of novelty; furthermore, it's later revealed that "Doc" is actually James, having been transformed into a dog after presumably refusing to cooperate with the Overseer's demands. Fortunately, Braun is more amused by the Wanderer's intrusion, and offers to answer the questions put to him and even provide a way out of the program - on the condition that the Wanderer agrees to entertain him: after over two hundred years of conducting the torture himself, Braun has once again grown bored with the current pattern of things and now wants to watch someone else ruin the lives of his playthings.
From here, the player has two choices: the first and most difficult is to ignore Braun's requests for amusement and try to find another way out. Over the course of this option, the Wanderer can meet with Old Lady Dithers; though extremely distressed and barely lucid after decades of being killed in the simulation, she provides crucial information on the Chinese Invasion Failsafe and points the Wanderer towards the abandoned house where Braun "lives." There, the Wanderer is able to eventually unlock Braun's auxiliary terminal and activate the Failsafe: in the ensuing massacre, the residents of Vault 112 are killed once and for all, leaving only the Wanderer, James, and Braun. Enraged at having nobody left to play with, Braun bitterly explodes at the player for spoiling his fun. However, thanks to the override at the terminal, he is unable to stop James and the Wanderer from escaping - leaving him trapped alone in Tranquility Lane for the rest of eternity.
The second and easier of the two options is to comply with Braun and provide him with entertainment: he begins with the relatively simple task of making Timmy Neusbaum cry, which can be accomplished by tricking the child into believing that his parents are sending him to military school, convincing him that his parents are getting divorced because of him, murdering one or both of his parents, or simply beating him up. Then, after rewarding the player with information, Braun tasks the Wanderer with breaking up the Rockwells' marriage, which can be accomplished by fooling Mrs Rockwell into believing that her husband is either a crossdresser or cheating on her - or by murdering Mrs Simpson and convincing Mr Rockwell that his wife is guilty of the crime. Escalating further, Braun then has the Wanderer kill Mabel Henderson in a "creative" way - by dropping a chandelier on her, tripping her down the stairs with a roller-scate, rigging an oven to incinerate her, or simply arranging for her Mr Handy to kill her. Finally, Braun has the Wanderer dress up as a Pre-War serial killer known as the the Pint-Sized Slasher and kill every surviving resident in the simulation (with the exception of Timmy, who has been transmogrified into a garden gnome by this time).
With all the tasks completed, Braun congratulates the Wanderer for a good show, and allows both Wanderer and James to leave the simulation. Of course, Braun will inevitably bring the residents back to life for another session of brutal torture, just as he has countless times before and will no doubt continue to do for as long as the Vault's machinery can sustain him.
Regardless of what the player chooses, Stanislaus Braun will be left alive to continue his amusements - or his newfound prison sentence - for a virtual eternity.
Stannislaus Braun is in many ways a psychopath: grandiose, sadistic, egotistical, driven by an intense desire for stimulation and excitement, and lacking any form of empathy or remorse for his actions, Braun is easily one of the most reprehensible figures in the entire Fallout series. His adopted form of Betty is appropriate in this context, as it perfectly embodies the childish sense of entitlement and cruelty that Braun demonstrates, gleefully watching the massacres play out like a child frying ants with a magnifying glass. It's not known if he was always like this, or if the simulation merely gave him the freedom to indulge his darker impulses until he simply abandoned all restraint. However, given Vault-Tec's propensity for pointless and often sadistic experiments, the former may be likely.
Arguably, Braun's two most distinctive traits are his sadism and lack of empathy: quite apart from the fact that he can enact such brutal tortures and later wax rhapsodic on the sight of Mrs Dither's blood spraying across the snow, he never once acknowledges the fact that the victims of his games are anything other than his playthings, at one point musing that a death by failsafe is "more than they deserve." However, Braun is not delusional: he knows that the people trapped in his game are real and capable of experiencing real suffering - indeed, that's the whole point. In one log entry, he mentions that he could easily use the simulator to create realistic imitation humans for him to torture, but being driven by A.I. routines, they wouldn't be able to demonstrate the full range of behavior that real human beings would exhibit while suffering, and thus wouldn't be anywhere near as entertaining. With such mechanized substitutes too boring for Braun to stomach, live human subjects are the only viable candidates for his torture - hence the reason why James and the Wanderer were allowed into the simulation in the first place.
Powers And Skills
Along with his vast intellect and scientific knowledge, Braun has also adjusted the parameters of the simulation to give him total administrative control over everything and everyone currently interfaced with the program. As such, he not only has the power to change the virtual setting seemingly at will, but is also capable of altering himself and his captives in whichever way he pleases: having already taken on the form of Betty within Tranquility Lane, he also transforms James into a dog, regresses the Wanderer into a child, and even transfigures Timmy Neusbaum into a garden gnome after the Wanderer has finished making him cry. More disturbingly, it's not clear if any of the Tranquility Lane residents retain their original appearance after so many years of being toyed with: Old Lady Dithers and Timmy may have remained at their current ages for the last two centuries - or they could have been aged and regressed to to fit the specifications of Braun's sick games.
Thanks to the Tranquility Loungers' direct interface with the users' brains, Braun can also adjust the memories of his victims to a similar extent: the residents of Tranquility Lane are unaware that they are trapped in a simulation and unable to remember their lives prior to Vault 112; indeed, they are convinced that they've always lived in Tranquility Lane, suggesting that Braun actually has the ability to create false memories to replace ones he has erased - offering further possibilities for emotional torture. They don't even appear to notice the fact that their street is a closed loop, and that nobody ever appears to leave Tranquility Lane for any reason whatsoever, suggesting that he can even prevent them from percieving immersion-breaking elements in the simulation. The only resident immune to this treatment is Old Lady Dithers, who can not only remember who she was and where she is, but also the many occasions on which she's been "murdered."
Finally, Braun is effectively invincible within this simulation, and any attempts to attack him will result in the Wanderer being struck dead by a bolt of lightning.
- Lead designer Emil Pagliarulo has revealed that "Betty" was partly inspired by Anthony Fremont from the Twilight Zone episode "It's A Good Life."
- Braun himself shares notable similarities to AM from Harlan Elison's I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream: a supercomputer of seemingly infinite power and sadism, AM exists solely to torture the survivors of a nuclear apocalypse; most appropriately of all, both Braun and AM are thwarted by the threat of having their playthings killed. Not only that, they are both Pure Evil maniacs.
- It has been implied in Fallout: New Vegas that Braun was at least a temporary partner of Big MT's Think Tank: Higgs Village, the on-site housing for the Think Tank's executives while they were human, is virtually identical to Tranquility Lane. Additionally, both locations are involved in highly-unethical experiments by brilliant but unhinged scientists. However, it is not known if the Think Tank provided the scenario for Braun's simulation, or if Braun designed and deliberately modeled Tranquility Lane on Higgs.