So, it's been complained idly that the Vault 1 merchants suck.
I knew this myself, and had toyed with the idea of doing something about it... but we had major navmeshing and companion issues to deal with.
Those are dealt with. Now I'm free to tinker, again.
I've been turning the idea around in my head, the last couple days. I don't want the Vault 1 merchants to just magically get stuff to sell. Being isolated as they are, it occurs that getting new stuff (other than what the player brings in) would be difficult.
What to do, though?
I considered altering the trade caravan routes... but if I do that, I create an instant and fatal incompatibility with every mod that changes the caravans. This includes CCCP, MMM, and Phalanx, just to name a few. That alienates a fair portion of the FO3 playing community right there. Add in FWE and FOOK2 - which I'd both wager modify the caravans, too - and I'd axe a solid half the potential players out there, including in all likelihood a decent portion of the players I already have.
I considered making my own caravan to add to the chain. This would stop immediate conflicts... but it leaves the player having to track them down to do any trading. That part about dealing with the vanilla traders always annoyed the holy living shit out of me.
Well, what about making a trader, but leaving him just stand around in Springvale? Could do that... but who in their right freaking mind would do that? Standing around as Raider-bait in the open, baking in the wasteland sun... not the way to a long and lucrative life.
I was thinking of a small quest. Convince a trader somewhere far off - like, a newcomer to Canterbury Commons, for example - to come help supply the vault. Use enable and disable commands to change one of the burned out houses into an open shop.
This has problems of its own. Because of its proximity to Vault 101, Springvale is a favorite of mods to place things. ttomwv's choice for where to locate Vault 1 is a prime example.
Then, it struck me. Again, I am being a dumbass, and not seeing the forest for the trees.
I just created a cell with a half dozen empty rooms, right next door to Vault 1, and with access points that lead out all over the wastes.
Convince the trader to come set up shop in the access tunnels. You're underground - no rads, some shelter from raiders, out of the sun, can tie into Vault 1's water supply.
Supplier, naturally, sees profit potential and agrees on the condition that either you provide security, or retrofit one of the tunnel rooms to board their security... I haven't decided which, yet. Mercenaries would be more in line with realism, but providing security from the Vault would give me an excuse to get Vault 1 guards out and patrolling the tunnels.
So... a half-dozen roving guards in those spiffy V1 guard uniforms that I loves so very much (yeah, I'm biased, but they DO look mighty good)... and another half dozen of the trader's private goons to be on station in the shop. Say, standard rotation... two on duty at any given time, eight hours on, sixteen off. Add in a few lackeys to have packages setup to run them to various townships to trade, and bring goodies back for the Vault 1 inhabitants...
Maybe even grant the trader and employees permission to R&R inside the Vault, for a few new faces now and again.
It is - as most things that fall into the category - beautiful in its simplicity. NPCs, scripting, packages, cell changes, quests... all well within my not-insubstantial abilities. It opens the door to further my evil schemes for Vault 1 later on, adds more variety, gets more gear to the player - AND a source of caps to sell lewtz - and best of all, it gives me an excuse to create a dozen plus new hotties.
Yeah, I'm a letch. You get used to it.
Problem is: adding a dozen NPCs, packages, and cell-clutter is going to increase system load, too. Would kind of nix that whole relaxing-for-your-PC-buffer-cell thing we've got going on now.
Still, though, it's a fairly simple cell. Even cluttered, it shouldn't be too much of a resource whore... you think?
One way to find out...