They don’t make ’em like they used to. Of course, they don’t make much of anything anymore, but back before the war they built most things to last. Just about all of the robots puttering around the wasteland were constructed back in the twenty first century, and the amazing thing is, they’re still functional after two hundred years. Most of them were made by the General Atomics Corporation, but the Securitrons that are rolling around New Vegas? Those were made by a competing company called RobCo Industries. It’s no coincidence that New Vegas is crawling with RobCo robots, because the same man who founded the company back in the twenty first century is still calling the shots there today. He’s over two hundred and fifty years old by now, but time hasn’t slowed him down at all. He’s a real pre-war industrialist, and they don’t make ’em like that anymore.
Robert House was born in a time when men were only expected to live about a hundred years, let alone close to three hundred. There are a few other unusual individuals out there who’ve managed to stay alive for that long one way or another. No one’s actually seen Mr House, so some folk think he might have been one of the very first ghouls, gifted with long life, but cursed with a rotting radioactive body. Others think he might be a mutant – The Forced Evolutionary Virus grants indefinite life to mutants, but the first mutants didn’t appear in Vegas until decades after the war, and House would have probably died of old age by that time.
His associates in New Vegas say he’s just a resourceful man who preserved himself somehow – kept himself going all this time on the best life-support equipment that pre-war society had to offer. He set up shop inside one of the big casinos on the Vegas strip back before the war, and hasn’t set foot out since. He only communicates through computer screens, so as far as anyone knows he could be a brain in a jar, or just a sentient computer that thinks it’s a man.
We do know a lot about House’s life from before the war, thanks to history books. He was quite a flamboyant figure before the bombs fell, consorted with starlets, mingled with heads of state, and built robots for the military, so his exploits were gossiped about in books, magazines and holotapes.
He was born in New Vegas around 2020, back when it was called “Las” Vegas. He came from a wealthy family, but was orphaned at a young age, then cheated out of his family fortune. Mr. House didn’t need to inherit his family’s wealth however, because he inherited something far more precious; his father’s business acumen and knack for engineering. It didn’t take long for him to amass a fortune of his very own.
House founded RobCo in 2042 while he was barely in his twenties. Made a fortune building robots, including those clunky Protectron robots that are still clomping their way around the wasteland. Those bucket of bolts are slow and not too bright, but they’re durable and versatile enough that they’re used all over the country. Modified Protectrons have been turned into everything from a Sheriff to a Sexbot… for the more rugged technophiles that is.
The technophiles also love another product from RobCo. The PIP Boy “Personal Information Processor”. They were issued to everyone inside the Vaults, probably to make it easier for Vault-Tec to monitor how their little “Social Experiments” were progressing. But those little gadgets were built to last, and plenty of notable Vault Dwellers have used that old RobCo tech to make their way through the wasteland.
House and his company also had a hand in building Liberty Prime, the gigantic killing machine that the Brotherhood of Steel dug up out East. He seemed awfully smug about that one, even had a portrait commissioned of himself standing next to his monstrosity, like a proud father. He never actually got to see Liberty Prime running, though. House was smart enough to see the Great War on the horizon, and he turned his focus from national defense to keeping his home town Las Vegas safe.
Mr. House knew that an apocalyptic war was coming eventually, and in the years leading up to the war, he pulled every string he had to ensure that Vegas would make it through. He poured all of his resources to turn his Lucky 38 casino into a fortress with enough firepower and processing speed to shoot down or hack and disable any missiles that managed to make it near the city. Even built himself a personal army of Securitron robots that were vastly superior to the old Protectrons. Faster, smarter, with bigger weapons, and all of them under his personal control.
He sealed himself up inside the Lucky 38 and planed out his new world while waiting for the old one to end.
But something went wrong with his scheme. House and his army of robots were quiet for close to two centuries after the war. He saved the city from the bombs and missiles, then just disappeared. His tower fortress was nothing more than a lifeless concrete spire growing out of the middle of the desert.
Vegas itself deteriorated in the decades after the war; the roulette wheels stopped spinning, the slot machines ceased regurgitating coins, and the tourists were overwhelmed by savage tribals that invaded the Strip.
These tribes didn’t care about the once-great city they inhabited, and they took no notice of that impenetrable tower in the middle of the strip. They spent their days looting and murdering. Some of them even engaged in acts of cannibalism – in a town that once boasted “All You Can Eat” buffets on every corner.
Savages like them would have been exterminated by the New California Republic if they had lived further West, and they would have been assimilated by Caesar’s Legion if they were on the other side of the Colorado River. But in Vegas they maintained their ways for generations, even as civilization slowly spread through the wasteland around them.
There wasn’t much reason for Mister House to interact with the outside world when he was surrounded by these wild men. It took the arrival of NCR scouts to give him hope of rebuilding the world. At that first sign of civilization, New Vegas, a beacon that could be seen all over the Mojave, lit up.
When House’s robot army suddenly appeared the first thing it did was set about taming the tribals. The securitrons were useful minions, but House knew that he would need human hands to restore Vegas to its former glory, and draw the interest of the NCR. Under the threat of annihilation, the tribes either gave up their wild ways and allowed Mister House to remake them in the image of Vegas in its heyday or left.
One band of savages took on the airs of old-world entertainers from House’s youth. They shed their Gecko-hide clothes, tossed aside their spears, and began dressing in pre-war suits, and quoting long-dead singers. Maybe some of the other tribes thought they’d gone soft for living in a swanky casino, but these Chairmen cocked their hats and swaggered right to the top of House’s new strip.
House knew he’d also need a lower class of thug, so he also took in a tribe of brutes that could be counted on to perform the most unspeakable acts. The Omertas were dressed up in suits and ties, but they were no gentlemen. Their fortune was built on the worst form of slavery. They’re the flesh-peddlers and chem-pushers of the strip. Unfortunately, their services are in high demand and they have become an essential part of New Vegas’ economy.
Although the town is a magnet for the seedier denizens of the wasteland, House has also ensured that New Vegas has something to offer those with more refined sensibilities. The White Glove Society is House’s most successful attempt to recreate the splendor of the pre-war days. Once The White Glove Society was no more than a pack of wild animals doing whatever it took to survive, but now they operate the ritziest hotel in town, serving the most succulent steaks in the wasteland. Diners will need to put on their finest attire though, because The White Glove Society prefers patrons with marvelous fashion sense, if not particularly good taste.
These three families ensure that House is at the center of a thriving city. As former rivals these tribes endlessly plot against each other, but House’s securitrons ensure that there is no overt conflict and that the stores, brothels and casinos stay open. By the standards of the wasteland, New Vegas in a veritable utopia.
That’s why it has drawn the interest of both the New California Republic, and Caesar’s Legion. Each empire must continue expanding their territory, and New Vegas is the golden egg trapped right in the middle.
For now, House remains within his stronghold. Walls of steel separate him from the hedonistic paradise of his own city. Outside, two great armies prepare for a war that could crush New Vegas. House’s army of robots and tribals is hardly enough to fend off both the NCR and the Legion. Unless he has some secret weapon that hasn’t come into play yet. He waited in silence for two hundred years, could there be some missing linchpin needed for that scheme he began before the war? It wouldn’t be the first time someone in Vegas had an Ace up their sleeve.
No matter who holds the trump card in the war ahead, there’ll be plenty of innocent people who’ll cash out. Caesar views the soldiers in his Legion as expendable pawns who exist only to die in his name. The NCR’s leadership has committed mass slaughter of those who stand in the way of their noble, but misguided goals. And House’s minions have no mercy for the tribes that refuse to yield to his vision of New Vegas.
Trapped within this triangle are countless smaller settlements and tribes. Peoples and societies that are constantly in danger of being eradicated or assimilated. Of them, none have suffered greater struggle than the Great Khans, a once-proud band of raiders who, like the NCR, can trace their roots back to the opening of the first vaults. It can be difficult to feel pity for a gang of chem-dealing raiders, but the Khans have faced extinction time and time again proving to be one of the most resilient groups in the wasteland. That kind of resilience is something even Mr. House could respect.
But that- is a story for another day…