Note: There are no story spoilers in this piece, and I've been extremely vague about side-missions and characters.
Two armed thugs are demanding a woman repay a perceived debt. She's refusing, and they are threatening her. That's when my new Fallout 4 character, Chuck B. Lucky, strolls up and points his pistol at the two goons while desperately hoping he won't have to use it. Chuck doesn't have a problem with killing, it's just that he's terrible at it. When I created Chuck, I put all his points into Charisma and Luck, maxing out those two SPECIAL stats. I've also limited him to perks from those two stats, meaning I've got precious little in the way of combat skills.
There are other ways to get by.
The two goons see Chuck's drawn gun and immediately stop what they're doing. This is thanks to Intimidation, the 10-star Perk that was immediately available to me after maxing out Charisma. It gives me a chance to pacify human enemies who are lower level than I am. In fact, the goons are so intimidated that when I demand they give me their money, they immediately do. How does it feel, jerks?
These two goons aren't the only jerks present, however, because Chuck isn't really a hero. I have the option of telling the thugs to split, but something tells me there's more money to be made out of the situation. Rather than chasing them away, I offer to help them recover the money from the woman they've been threatening. My services don't come for free, however, and I demand payment for helping the goons, who somewhat sheepishly remind me that, you know, I just robbed them. Good point, goons! I make a deal instead: I'll recover the woman's debt and we'll split it. I talk to the woman, convince her to pay up (Charisma, again), and take my cut. Then I use her money to buy some extra ammo (from her), and I use the goons' money to buy Stimpacks (from the goons). It's a little weird, buying things from three people I just robbed, but this is Fallout 4. It's a weird world.
So, I've made some money, earned XP by talking people into things, and gotten some supplies, all without pulling the trigger. Chuck's day is turning out well after a rocky start. While on a rooftop in the last town, I was asked by faction members to strap on power armor and take on a swarm of enemies. That's not really Chuck's scene, so I just used the power armor as an elevator: I climbed into the armor, jumped off the roof (taking no fall damage), climbed out, and ran away. Look, Chuck's not a fighter, he's an opportunist, and when there's an opportunity to not die, he takes it.
On those occasions where combat is inevitable, I get some help from Luck. The level 10 Luck perk, Ricochet, means that very occasionally an enemy's bullet will miss me, bounce off something, and kill the attacker. It's rare, but in my last fight with raiders it happened twice. It's rather hilarious. There's a 'ka-ping' sound and the person firing at you suddenly slumps over dead. I've also intimidated people while in battle, which has been handy. A couple more raiders simply surrendered, allowing me to creep away. When the odds work out in my favor, half my enemies give up and the rest wind up shooting themselves.
That's a rarity though, and the deeper I slink into the wasteland the less often I encounter enemies I can threaten into submission. Luckily, I've found a new way to make ends meet: by talking people into things. As I move from town to town, people naturally offer me work. For instance, someone asks me to retrieve an item from a factory filled with supermutants, and offers me 50 caps to do so. I then ask for more money. They agree, raising the price to 100 caps. I point out that supermutants are exceedingly dangerous, and they then offer 200 caps. This item they want me to collect sounds very valuable as well, and when I point this out, the price goes up to 400 caps.
When I've raised my price to the limit, I promptly turn down the job because I have no intention of fighting mutants or monsters. That means I don't get the money, but that's fine: I'm not actually after their caps.
What I'm after is XP. Each time I talk someone into raising their reward, I earn a little XP. Best of all, I've got a Luck-based perk called Idiot Savant, which means every time I earn XP, there's a chance I'll get a 3x multiplier for it. What's more, the lower my Intelligence, the better the chance I'll get that multiplier, and my intelligence is rock-bottom so it happens a lot. It's literally dumb luck, and as I slither around camps and outposts, talking people into paying me more for jobs I have no intention of completing, I'm actually able to level up a couple times without doing any real, dangerous work.
Though I'm not great at picking locks, I am good at opening doors. A lot of the outposts I've been visiting are reluctant to let strangers in. At one location someone tries to get me to pay to enter: I quickly talk him out of it and get an apology. At another, I literally stand outside whining until they let me in. I like that having my Charisma maxed doesn't strictly mean I'm silver-tongued or intimidating: it can sometimes also mean I'm just annoying enough to get my way.
Chuck is also an equal opportunity sleazebag. I meet a sweet little girl who has lost her pet, and she asks me to find it. I treat her like every other client—by asking what she can pay. She offers her teddy bear. That's adorable! But seriously, what else you got, kid? She offers me a silver locket her mother gave her. Awww! But seriously, anything else? Yes, Chuck is slime, but on the other hand he does actually recover the kid's pet. Disappointingly, the kid only gives him her teddy bear. No locket! Either that's a bug or Chuck just got conned by the wasteland's smallest grifter.
Playing as Chuck is a lot of fun, and focusing so closely on luck and charm gives me some insight into him as a character as well. After finding a suit (and then a tux!), I quickly decided Chuck would always want to look his best. Clean, neat, untouched, as if the dust and grime of the wasteland simply didn't stick to him. This means no armor: I just can't imagine Chuck strapping dirty pieces of leather and metal to his arms and legs (and how I wish I could drop that awful, clunky Pip-boy by the side of the road). I also deplore these primitive pipe pistols and shotguns cobbled together from garbage. Only real guns for Chuck, like a drum-fed machine gun. This severely limits me as a fighter, naturally, but seeing as how I'm not interested in fighting it's not that big of a sacrifice.
Of course, major bouts of combat are unavoidable. Just about every single mission I've been offered thus far has promised a lot of fighting. Even one, that the quest-giver refused to give me details about (and thus gave me hope that it wouldn't involve shooting) wound up with me facing a bunch of mirelurks. Nope! Chuck might be the type to dine on shellfish, but he's not gonna fight it.
And that's kind of the issue. As much fun as I'm having with Chuck, I don't feel like I'll get much further with him. Charisma and Luck are great when they're maxed out, and there are some enjoyable perks, but they definitely need to be paired with combat or stealth. I'm just not finding enough situations that I can talk my way in and out of, and even maxed-out luck isn't enough to survive a real fight. More and more often as I play, the dapper Chuck is winding up on the ground covered in blood.
I know him. He'd hate that.