Hello all, welcome back to another discussion about NPCs. Today we’re talking about a character from the Borderlands series. Well to be fair we’re gonna talk about several, namely a few honorable mentions before we get into the main course. Also I’d like to add an important reminder/distinction. My NPCs posts won’t be discussing the villains, otherwise I’d be talking about Handsome Jack a lot here. I also again won’t be discussing playable characters, so even though Brick is great, he was a playable character in the first one. Also you should know by now but there will be HEAVY SPOILERS for Borderlands 2.
First honorable mention I have is Mister Torque (and maybe you thought he was the pick based on the title), but he’s great. He’s the face of the ‘Torque’ gun manufacturers that sell guns that shoot explosive rounds. His first prototype was just a rifle with some dynamite attached to it (which almost killed him), but after a few ‘minor’ adjustments he had something new to give the people. Quite literally, as he sold the rights for $12 and a high five, but they still hired him on as a PR figure. Mister Torque talks loudly all the time and has a really strange mixture of macho dude vibes, chivalry, in your face opinions and an extremely raunchy vocab. The character could easily be annoying rather than funny but the game makes sure he never overstays his welcome, not to mention the vocal performance by Chris Rager (fitting name). Best of all, all his curse words are censored. Not by his choice mind you, but it greatly pisses him off and is pretty comedic. Now for a couple quotes to show you exactly what I mean: “THE TORGUE SHAREHOLDERS WIRED MY VOICEBOX WITH A DIGITAL CENSOR SO I CAN’T SAY STUFF LIKE SH*T, C*CK, OR P*SSY-F*CKIN’ D*CKBALLS. THAT’S LIKE HALF MY F*CKIN’ VOCABULARY.”
“Right now, you’re ranked fifty in the badass leaderboards, which puts you behind my grandma but ahead of a guy she gummed to death. IT TOOK SEVERAL HOURS.“
My second honorable mention really encapsulates just what makes the Borderlands franchise so special and unique. “Face McShooty” is a friendly psycho you meet at ‘Thousand Cuts’ that gives out the quite possibly the easiest side-quest in video game history. Can you guess what it is? No? It’s really quite simple, so simple that he won’t stop talking about how easy it is. He wants you to shoot him.. in the face… That’s it. One shot from any gun will do the trick, and he won’t stop yelling at you to shoot him in the face until you do. It’s honestly an entire experience that’s hard to really do justice but here are a few quotes from his insane ramblings: “I NOTICE YOU HAVEN’T SHOT ME IN THE FACE! CURIOUS AS TO WHY! Maybe you’re weighing the moral pros and cons but let me assure you that OH MY GOD SHOOT ME IN THE GODDAMNED FACE!! WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR!?”. When shot somewhere other than the face one of his quotes is “MY FACE! THE THING SHOUTING AT YOU – SHOOT IT!“, and when you finally shoot him in the face he just shouts “THANK YOU!“. Much like with Torque it could easily be annoying rather than funny but the line delivery is perfect (VA – Chris Cason).
Now as you can tell by now the Borderlands franchise thrives on chaos and insanity. While both those NPCs made me laugh really hard, the character I’ve ultimately picked as my favorite NPC from Borderlands has a lot more than just comedic value. Tiny Tina is written beautifully with tons of weird traits/quirks, an accent and vocab that changes from little girl talk to standard American speech, to a fancy pretentious British accent, and then crazy speech. She also has a lazy eye that was originally a bug, but they liked it so much they made it canon and included it in future games.
She’s the best demolitionist on all of Pandora even at the young age of 13, and you’re introduced to her by Roland who calls her an old friend and praises her demolitions skills. You need help blowing up some train tracks and seek her out. Her ‘explosives’ are a couple of rabbits she has rigged up with a bunch of explosives, but some bandits stole the explosives from them and you have to go reclaim them. Or as she puts it, “This here’s Mushy Snugglebites, and this is Felicia Sexopants. These fiiiine-ass womens could stop that train for yas, but I’ma need their badonkadonks first, and they got stoled by the bandits a few days ago. Go get ’em!” followed immediately by “Naptime“, and she will instantaneously pass out on her bed. Honestly her whole introductory mission does a great job introducing you to the character, which is true of most characters in the Borderlands series.
After you jack up the train, she has some really important business that she asks for help with that gives you a better look at who Tina is and how she got this way. You’re given the side quest, ‘You’re Cordially Invited’ and tasked with gathering up her friends as well as the guest of honor for her tea party. First you ’emancipate’ Sir Reginald (An insect in a jar) from ‘Madame Von Bartlesby’ (a big mean bug). Then you’re tasked with gathering ‘Princess Fluffybutt’, a hand grenade wearing a dress (I mean what else would a princess wear?) as well as optionally picking up some crumpets. Last but most importantly of all you must get the guest of honor Flesh-Stick (FS)! You give him an invitation from “Lady Tina of Blowupyourfaceheim” and he chases you to a trap Tina has set up that paralyzes him with electricity and sucks him up into the ‘tea room’, restrained in a chair.
All the guests have a name card in front of them, with FS’ card being “Evil Bastard that killed my parents.” Afterwards you play ‘garçon’ for the tea party by killing bandits that attempt to rescue Flesh-Stick, all the while she has conversations with her unspeaking guests whilst FS screams to be let free and occasionally being zapped by Tina. At one point he exclaims “I’m glad you had to watch! Seeing your parents go like that made you STRONG! Like me!“, to which she calls him rude for interrupting Sir Reginald and zaps him again. FS apologizes for selling Tina and her parents out before she eventually disintegrates him, but this mission leaves you feeling a weird mix of emotions. Her lines are quite funny, but there’s also this hint of tragedy that lingers in the air that makes you feel conflicted.
You later find out that from voice logs that Flesh-Stick sold Tina and her parents to the main villain of the game where they had Slag Experiments conducted on them. Her parents died of horrific experiments that Tina was forced to watch. Tina managed to escape with a grenade her mother insisted she keep hidden in her dress (which likely lead to her obsession with explosives), and vowed revenge on Flesh-Stick for capturing/selling them. The voice logs you hear of her parents are genuinely heart-breaking, and it adds a really sad layer that explains alot about Tiny Tina. But this isn’t the last time Tiny Tina tugs at our heart strings.
In one of Borderlands 2‘s DLCs titled “Tiny Tina’s assault on Dragon Keep“, Tiny Tina GMs a game of “Bunkers and Badasses’ (D&D Equivalent) where Brick, Mordecai and Lilith all play as the vault hunters of the Borderlands 2 main game and go on a whacky Borderlands-2 style Dungeons and Dragons campaign. The DLC is great with Tina constantly retconning encounters you’re in the middle of and having an honestly quite accurate depiction of an inexperienced kid running a game of D&D. A major point of contention comes up over the course of the DLC though. In the main story of BL2 Roland is killed by Handsome Jack. Roland was friends with everyone and was also Lilith’s SO, and they all felt the loss deeply. Over the course of the DLC Tina mentions an awesome invincible White Knight that’s all badass and stuff, and when you eventually meet him… it’s Roland. This naturally causes a lot of conflict with Lilith but the others convince her to let it go for now and keep playing. However Roland shows up several times in the future and rather than talking like he normally does, he’s clearly talking exactly how Tina wishes he would. Eventually at the end of the DLC Lilith, when you defeat ‘the Handsome Sorcerer’, Tina has Roland show up and celebrate with the party, and everyone tells her to stop. That she needs to accept that Roland is dead, and this causes her to break down. She begin sobbing, saying. “I know!.. but it’s my story…“, and the others realize what this means for her and tell her ‘It’s okay, he doesn’t have to go, keep telling your story.’ In her version of the story another dead friend ‘Bloodwing’ (Mordecai’s beloved pet bird) saves Roland and everyone gets to live happily ever after. The DLC ends with her hugging a statue of Roland and saying goodbye, finally coming to terms with the fact that he’s gone. I’d be a liar if I said this ending didn’t come out of left field and punch me right in the gut, and it’s just another lair of feels they added to the amazing character that is Tiny Tina.
Thanks for reading guys! I hope you enjoyed, writing this has gotten me in the mood for another playthrough of Borderlands 2, so if you need to reach me you can find me on Pandora :). Picking a single NPC from the amazing cast of characters in Borderlands is a tall task, but Tiny Tina just offers so much more than comic relief that most other characters are stuck being. It’s easy to write off a lot of the horrible things that happen in Borderlands, but she helps us remember that these things are in fact serious. It’s tragic seeing how these events happened to a child and changed her forever. If you haven’t played Borderlands 2 I’d highly recommend it. You can get it on Steam as well as all major platforms, and the nice part is the game is set up so that you can play it without any knowledge of the other games and get a complete experience and story. Thanks for reading, tune in next week for our next event, and stay healthy!