Fallout III - Capital Punishment

Walls that no man thought would fall
The altars of the just
Dust... in the wind...

-Karn Evil 9 - 3rd Impression, Emerson, Lake and Palmer

Content Warning, apologies etc

Fallout 3 is 18-rated, so there is violence and swearing and making people's heads explode and stuff. If you don't want to see that, you should probably stop reading now.

For those wondering where the Fallout 4 page is, it won't yet run under WINE. Once that happens, I will play and hopefully write something for that. Until then I can't justify spending hundreds of pounds on the software/hardware combination needed to make it go, not when that money could go into the recording studio and commissioning starving artists.
Sorry about that - Skyrim ran out-of-the-box on day one, so this came as a rather disagreeable surprise.

While I'm busy apologising I suppose I should also mention that I had a bad case of writer's block trying to finish this page anyway - I had originally aimed to have it done by Easter 2016...

Thanks go out to Keaton, Ren, Sofox and Merlin for getting me to play it, proof-reading and other contributions.

Beginning the in

JM: I am stuck in this fucking hole in the ground, ten years old and apparently
    being forced to relive sucky parts of my childhood.  Please send help.
KJ: Am I like Lassie or something?
Where to begin? I suppose I should begin at the beginning, with the birth of my character, Aniz. He was named after a minor villain in a certain webcomic, with the expectation that his wicked deeds would be infamous throughout the land, but as Mr. Gabriel once said, things don't run the way I planned 'em.

JM: I have this moral compulsion to be a good little boy.
    I just can't be evil as a kid.  I think that's why I hate it so much.

Merlin: I like giving my fallout characters inappropriate biblical names.
        I always play a female, so it's usually some lady named Moses or
        Jesus (or my current New Vegas character, Job).
I picked a blonde, long-haired guy for Aniz, with the result that his father, James, became the spitting image of Colby in Dr. Who - Image of the Fendahl.

For some reason I have a fear of small children and the 10th birthday party scene, rather than having me bond with the cast in any way, shape or form, convinced me that playing the game at all was a Very Bad move.


About the only thing of note is my solution to the sweetroll problem, refusing to give it to Butch by means of eating it the moment it's been given to you. After that, I resolved to claw my way out of the Vault as quickly as was humanly possible.

JM: I didn't get the helmet this time, though.
KJ: Don't worry.
JM: I took Jonas' glasses, though.  Will they help protect my eyes from the
    sun, as it says you need to in the manual?
KJ: Uh, no
JM: Bollocks.
JM: And how else was I supposed to get the message Dad wanted me to hear?
    Okay, so I took them in memory of all the good things he did for me as
    a kid.  Happy?
Leaving the Vault didn't necessarily make things much better, despite my impending execution, since I immediately found myself in a shattered landscape filled with the ruins of a once-proud civilisation. Until I became immured to it, this was horribly depressing as I read far too many post-holocaust SF novels during my actual childhood... during the tail end of the Cold War when a nuclear holocaust was a very real possibility.
This, again, left me wondering why I was playing it at all.

Of the many things which irked me about this game, the one which even now pisses me off is the fact that in 125 years, our civilisation went - with no prior knowledge or experience - from horses and gas streetlamps to quantum encryption, ion drives and a global information network accessible via battery-powered supercomputers able to fit in your pocket.
In Fallout 3, the wastelanders - who are surrounded by working AIs, computers, instruction manuals and countless other high-tech artifacts - have spectacularly failed to restart civilisation, having done little more than sit on their asses for more than 200 years.


KJ: I hate navigating Megaton.  It took me god knows how long to find the fucking saloon, and then I was hopelessly lost.
JM: Oh, I found that easily enough.
KJ: FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF!  You jerk, it took me forever to find it
JM: It's called the saloon, anyway.  I haven't been in it yet.  Then I broke him.
KJ: What?
JM: He fell off one of the buildings and died.
Basically the first thing you come across after leaving the Vault is Megaton, a tiny hamlet thing which is built from a conglomeration of scrap metal, mostly sourced from airliners. At its centre, a small fission device is worshipped by a bunch of lunatics. You are not able to discuss phenomenology with the bomb.

You will, in the Saloon, get approached to help detonate the bomb for some crazy old man named Mr. 10p or something. The stated objection is that he can see the town from his tower, which is impossible since it's far outside of visual range.

Megaton, as seen from Tenpenny Tower. Or not, since it's completely invisible, even with a sniper scope.

Megaton is also the nearest place to the Vault where you will be able to buy medicines. Since merchants in this game exhaust their supply of money quickly and replenish it slowly, you will need access to as many trade locations as you can so that you can cycle through them. As such, it is advisable to keep the town around rather than evapourating it. Defusing the bomb as soon as your skill allows will also give you a handy place to stay and keep things in.

The principal drawback of defusing the bomb is that Mr.10p and/or his associates will not take kindly to your refusal, and hitmen will be sent to execute you in the form of the Talon Corporation. This is no bad thing, since they usually carry combat shotguns, and an individual found near the Arlington Library also has a sniper rifle. Since employees of the Talon Co. will respawn a few days later, this makes them a very good source of spare parts for both weapons.

JM: That... bastard... hitman got his hands on the Alien Weapon...
JM: I was by the crashed UFO.  I thought the alien had come back to life
JM: I thought there were three Talon people, but I only found two.
    The other one evidently raided the UFO because when I next went there,
    he was shooting me with an immensely powerful weapon that turned me to
    ice and destroyed me.  It was bizarre.  I was walking down the road,
    minding my own business when I was suddenly destroyed.
    This happened a number of times before I was able to pinpoint
    where the blast was coming from.

Getting Wasted

"I seem to have been roped into being a guinea pig for this mad woman in the shop."

One of the principal quests centring on Megaton is the Wasteland Survival Guide, which is a collaborative project with Moira. This is very handy for levelling up, gaining monies and reputation. Among other things, you will need to irradiate yourself, and then gather landmines.

The landmine quest was interesting and was about the time the game was starting to come together for me as something worth continuing with. To begin with, I decided to take a quick detour and followed the pylons trying to find a power station in an attempt to single-handedly restart the entire national power grid.

JM: I found a power plant.  Doesn't seem to have any generators in it, though.
KJ: I'm not quite sure what to do with those. You just find goodies in there, like skillbooks or Nuka-Cola Quantum...
JM: Actually it was full of things which nearly killed me.
KJ: What was in it?
JM: Things.
KJ: When you see your first Deathclaw, you are going to be SO unhappy.
JM: I was too busy running like hell to take note of what they were.
JM: I think one of them was glowing.  At a guess they were ghouls, but I'm not sure
KJ: Was probably a Glowing One, then.  They're bitches.
JM: Basically they seemed to be ex-humans who go around making gollum-like noises and trying to shred me.

KJ: Ghouls are severely irradiated humans.  Gob in the Saloon was one of those.
KJ: They have it rough because of discrimination. Everyone assumes that a Ghoul is going to be like their savage counterparts.
JM: Yes, that figures.  Currently Aniz is balanced on a windowledge while I work out what to do.
KJ: Moira wanted you to go inside the power plant?
JM: No, she wanted me to step on a landmine, I think.
Minefield is an interesting place. It is, believe it or not, full of mines.
However there is also one lone maniac with a sniper rifle, which gives you a quick path to one of the most kickass weapons in the game.

Minefield, as seen by lone maniacs with sniper rifles

One thing to bear in mind, though, is that weapons deteriorate, and the sniper rifle deteriorates very rapidly. To fix it, you have two choices - either finding another weapon of the same type for donor parts, or paying someone like Moira to fix it. Sadly it's not like Morrowind or Oblivion where you can fix things by smashing them repeatedly with a hammer.

The other aspect is that as you level up, the weapons will lose their effectiveness anyway, as with Oblivion.

The times have been, that, when the brains were out, the man would die, and there an end;
But now they rise again, with twenty mortal murders on their crowns,

JM: Shooting people point blank in the head doesn't seem to be working anymore.
KJ: Could be your weapon's power D:
JM: It's a fucking magnum .44.  Time to hit the sniper rifle again, see if that has what it takes to kill these raiders.
An interesting thing about Fallout 3 and New Vegas is rather messy death which a sniper rifle can inflict upon unsuspecting victims. At first I wrote it off as simple gratuitous violence, but by the time I'd completed the game it had proven to offer a number of amusements and also sound gameplay advantages.

For example, if you shoot someone in the head with a sufficiently powerful weapon, it will cause their head to rupture and cover the area with lots of horrible red wet bits. So far, so good.

When you come to loot the corpse, any chunk will do - much the same as with Skyrim. In particular, you can root through the grass until you find the pieces of your not-so-innocent victim's skull and open them up, allowing you to extract a rifle, bottletops, a full set of armour and with the right perks, a finger from a hemisphere of the deceased man's brain.

Where this really comes into its own is when dealing with snipers. All too often they will perch themselves on a flat surface with no way to get to it, which makes frisking the corpse very difficult, and you will want their gun for parts. Fortunately, a sniper round to the head will - as mentioned - tend to rain down a shower of cerebral matter which can then be looted to your heart's content.

But back to the matter at hand. As mentioned in the exchange above, Moira's addled plan involves gathering landmines and for an extra bonus, stepping on them so she can see how much damage it does to you.
If you have karma to burn, it is possible to complete this by bringing the mines home and stepping on them in front of her, which doesn't go down too well but does technically complete the mission. And to be honest, if she really wants to know about landmine injuries, best she learns first-hand, hmm?

After this, you'll be sent to forage for food in a disused supermarket by the insanely over-optimistic Moira. The supermarket, of course, has nothing to eat but is instead filled with maniacs who will try to eat you. The sniper rifle should help prevent this.
It was only at this point that I discovered that the game's currency of 'caps' actually referred to bottletops from Nuka Cola bottles, not caps as in ammunition. From this point on I made doubly sure to take all the bottletops I found.

JM: I left the supermarket.  The food supplies appeared to be limited to rusted-through bean tins.
JM: I was going to tell Moira that the supermarket thing was a bust because the raiders had eaten it all over the last 200 years.
KJ: Wait
JM: There were a couple of bottles of coke and some drugs, but no food that I could discover.
KJ: Open the refrigerator.
JM: All the freezer units had been emptied, I didn't see any refrigerators.
JM: I should have told her she was out of her fucking mind anyway.
KJ: You just open it like you open any other thing and grab up everything inside, then you find the pharmacy key which you probably did and steal all the precious drugs.
JM: Would you eat something that had been lying around for 200 years...?
KJ: I don't think she wanted to eat the food...
JM: That was the whole IDEA!  She wanted to find out if there was any food, I'm sure that was her excuse.
JM: If I can sneak around the evil death scorpion I can probably get back into the supermarket.
JM: I ran away like a little girl and it didn't kill me.


It is perhaps time to look at the perks before we get too far into the game. I am not going to outline all of them, but I will list some of the more useful ones.

Animal Friend

'Animal Friend' is dead handy. As many people will have guessed by now, I have a soft spot for animals (*). I am particularly fond of some of the ones which would happily dismember you and feed upon your remains, which presents a certain conflict of interest.

Fortunately, the Animal Friend perk comes in handy here. Not all animals are affected, but among others, the moles and Vicious Dogs will pay you no mind which is something of a boon.

One of the best parts of this perk is that it affects Raider's dogs as well, causing them to sit back and watch with supreme disinterest while you splatter the contents of their master's head over the nearest wall.

(*)Except for cows, the horrible, horrible two-headed abominations that should be executed on sight. Deathclaws aren't much fun either.

Nerd Rage

This allows you to carry more stuff when severely injured, though it seems to max out at 300. Which means that if you've got a character that's really strong already, it may do nothing at all.
Otherwise, it's extremely handy for looting and for this reason my characters usually run around half-dead just to be able to carry more shit.

Mysterious Stranger

When you are able to, get 'Mysterious Stranger'. When you're in VATS mode and fail to kill someone, this supernatural gunman will sometimes turn up out of nowhere and finish off your foes before disappearing again.

Side effects include the game occasionally playing a short tremolo guitar riff when you've killed someone, and the Stranger occasionally killing you by appearing in the middle of a minefield and blowing everything to Kingdom Come.

It is worth noting that the Stranger appears in bullet-time, and so everyone else stops moving a'la The Matrix or Radiohead's Street Spirit video.
This means that when fighting with energy weapons, an Enclave soldier will fire at you and the Stranger will casually walk through the laser beam in order to murder someone.

Putting the Strange into Mysterious Stranger

Part of the Mysterious Stranger implementation seems to involve him being spawned nearby, but invisible, so he can magically pop into existence if the game decides he should do something.
This means that if you're really, really, lucky (or unlucky?) you he will get in the way and end up with his head blown to pulp. Apparently this doesn't have a permanent effect, i.e. it is not possible to murder the Stranger, but even so I'm not sure I'd recommend saving afterwards. In my case, I was trying to slay a Deathclaw, which promptly ate me because the Stranger had selflessly taken the bullets intended to kill it.

"Are you saying we have a dead angel on our hands...?"

JM: I'm starting to call him the Mysterious Vulture, because apart from just now,
    when he did something actually useful, he mostly seems to turn up to finish
    off the job after I've virtually killed them myself.  It's like he's trying
    to steal the credit.


The 'Regulator' perk is an interesting one. It's a fairly high-level perk, but once obtained you'll gain the ability to cut off someone's finger. After they're dead, that is.

In principle you're supposed to visit a shack in the middle of nowhere and periodically turn in the fingers for a reward, but since you get just shy of fuck-all per finger and they don't actually weigh anything, it's far more amusing to simply carry them around as a keepsake.

As of this writing I have more than 700 fingers about my person.

Fun With Cows

"A cow is much more exposed to quarrels than a man." - President Eton

In Megaton, there is a Brahmin next to the clinic. Much fun can be had here by taking a plasma mine and throwing it out from the roof above. This should give the plasma device enough time to go into proximity mode before it falls in range of the beast, thereby converting the cow into several large chunks of roast beef. This will upset the locals, however.

Brahmin are also fun with the sniper rifle - I had originally hoped to shoot the beast in just one head to see if I could end up with a half-dead cow. Sadly this tends to result in both heads falling off the cow for no satisfactorily explained reason. Again, this will cause the inhabitants of Megaton to howl for your blood. And if you do succeed in exploding one of the cow's heads, the other skull will also burst into a shower of brains. Human brains, no less.

An interesting trick - with one of the aforementioned perks - is to find a vantage point where the cow is mostly obscured. Fire twice, reloading the game if you hit.

If you miss both shots and are very lucky, you'll hear some tremolo guitar and a vaguely angelic man in a white trenchcoat will turn up out of nowhere and blow the cow into pieces, apparently for shits and giggles.

It should be noted that the locals do not seem to be equipped to deal with divine retribution against their livestock, and the world will end mere moments after the inhabitants of Megaton have spotted the dead cow.

Dead City Radio and the New Gods of Supertown

Radio has changed our lives, and possibly saved our lives,

It took me a while to leave Megaton properly because I spent all of my time trying to buff Aniz up so that he wouldn't die the moment anyone looked at him funny. Once you're ready, there are a number of places you can go next.

If you follow the approximate plotline, you will be directed from Megaton to the DC ruins themselves, in quest of a radio station which James apparently went to visit for some reason.

There are several ways to get to the GNR building. Traditionally, this has involved me flailing around the metro, for example going to Vernon Square, and then entering the Dry Sewers through the basement of Our Lady Jyraneth hospital. From here you can go to Dupont Circle, Metro Junction, Chevy Chase and Mornington Crescent.

Another route from the west starts with the Tepid Sewers, and then goes via Georgetown, Soggy Bottom and from there to Dupont Circle, after which the last part of the above route completes the journey.

However, there is also a much shorter route. North of the DC complex, heading more-or-less straight East from the SuperDuperMart, you can find Friendship Heights station, which can take you directly to Chevy Chase and thence the GNR complex.

Things there take a bit of a downhill turn, but you do get a neat little tactical nuke launcher out of it.


The Brothahood won't let you into the building until the giant supermutant has been destroyed. After that, they'll unlock the complex. The person we're looking for is ThreeDog, the resident DJ of GNR which either stands for Galaxy News Radio or Guns 'N Roses, depending on your preference.

I was particularly keen to find him, not just because of the plot, but also for reasons of my own. I figured that someone able to broadcast in that manner had to be living in a shining, state-of-the-art complex, representing the cutting edge of those who were working to rebuild what had been lost. He turned out to live and work in a rather shabby broom cupboard.

DJ Dog, who is unfortunately neither canine nor in possession of any discs, was almost entirely useless and is memorable chiefly for telling me that the Brotherhood of Steel had saved my ass (immediately after I killed a giant supermutant almost single-handedly) and refusing to tell me anything about my father for no satisfactorily explained reason.
Sadly it is not possible to hit him with a baseball bat until he puts on some Les Paul/Mary Ford, Gershwin, Dave Brubeck or anything.

I am told by Merlin that if you actually murder him, the radio station will be voiced by the janitor, who you cannot kill. But I have not actually tried this since Mr. Dog has never annoyed me sufficiently, and besides, I assumed he was invulnerable.

Anyway. As a rule, Dog will send you off to fetch a satellite dish in order to repair his transmission relay. On the face of it this seems pretty weird, but what you're most likely doing is fixing the line-of-sight microwave link between the main transmitter and GNR HQ. Once this is done he will be able to broadcast clearly to the entire capital wasteland instead of just a few locations around Georgetown.

It is particularly interesting to note that if you cheat very slightly and repair the relay before being asked to, DJ Dog will take this very badly. It is perfectly feasible to obtain the dish beforehand, which he does have special dialogue for, but you can't normally enter the relay compound early unless you use TCL to break in.

If this happens, that you get the satellite dish, repair the relay and only then enter the GnR compound, Dog will fold his arms, deliver a completely blank dialogue...


...and then go into panic mode, running as far and as fast away from you as he possibly can.


20 mortal lashes of grotesque audio

While we're talking about GNR, it is worth pointing out that while the radio station has a fair amount of crackle until the relay is fixed, the transmissions are not supposed to jump and stutter, which happens on every platform except early versions of windows XP.

The problem appears to be caused by Bethesda relying on some unusual behaviour in Microsoft's MP3 decoder which was subsequently fixed in Vista (and remains fixed in Windows 7-10) and isn't present under Linux either. In Windows, it is possible to fix it by installing an alternative MP3 codec and disabling Microsoft's, which will then bring the game soundtrack back up to snuff. Playing under Linux, make sure to install l3codecx via winetricks.

The Actual Plot and All

Rivetting Stuff

All being well, Mr. Dog will send you off to Rivet City. I had heard tales of this, and indeed, in the first playthrough I went straight there, bypassing the GNR sequence entirely (which may account for Mr. Dog's general uselessness and utter refusal to speak about James once I found him).

Like the G'N'R studio, I had hoped that Rivet City would be the cradle of the New Civilisation, which it kind of is and kind of isn't.

It is interesting to note that when you first approach Rivet City, the bridge is closed. The stated reason for this is to protect the complex from supermutants and bandits. However, the real reason seems to be to keep you out, since they will never close it again after you have initially entered the place, despite the very real threat from nearby supermutants.

While it has a very useful ammo store, I came away from the city as a whole somewhat disappointed. This was exacerbated by my meeting Li Madisson, who lambasted me for having the gall to escape the Overseer's justice, apparently believing I should have stayed in the vault and meekly accepted my sentence of death by firing squad.

I did use the Alien Blaster on Zimmer's bodyguard when he got abusive and started threatening me. Unfortunately he seems to be essential, so he just lay there for a bit and got up again. Zimmer, Dr. Li etc ignored this entirely - apparently it's Just One Of Those Things.

One of the more interesting things about the rusting tub that makes up the city, is the Museum of American Tat. There, you can accept a quest to locate the Declaration of Independence, which will involve entering the ruins of one of the museums in a place known as 'The Mall', where you will encounter someone named Sydney who is after the same thing.

Inside the museum, I came across a generator that I needed to disable. For some reason it required 67 repair skill points, and at this point I only had 59.
I decided to go home and grab some mentats, because having him do maintenance on a running generator while high on drugs had this certain appeal to it, y'know? However, this meant battling my way out of the complex, which caused me to level up and suddenly I didn't need the drugs anymore.

That said, I still want to know why I need a repair skill of 67 to hit the EMERGENCY STOP button.

Way of the exploding head

Dogmeat is a dog found in a scrapyard, as many of you will already know.
You will encounter him fighting off a number of raiders, and on closer inspection you will also find his former master, a scavenger missing a head.

Curious, I used the RESURRECT command to see if the guy had any dialogue or would otherwise object to my stealing his faithful companion. The result was quite spectacular.

First he stood up.

Then his head spontaneously exploded for no reason.

Doolittle: What is your one purpose in life?
Bomb #20:  To explode, of course.
After trying this about five times, with Dogmeat making no visible reaction to his master exploding, I gave up and took the dog to my home in Megaton.


During my extended search for James, I hit upon vault 112, which is shiny and pretty-looking unlike basically every other vault in the game (the starting vault 101 being the only real exception).

112 is, unfortunately, another one of those areas where your suspension of disbelief starts to crack and you wonder whether the writers forgot that the game is supposed to be set 200 years after the war ended. You're let in by a team of servitor robots, who escort you into a VR chamber where James has gone in search of a 270-year-old professor who is apparently still alive for reasons never adequately explained.
(Or even inadequately. Though to be fair, James didn't expect this either and was only looking for his notes and recordings.)

When you enter the VR environment (in tasteful black and white), you find yourself trapped inside the body of a small boy in some kind of horrible 1950s suburban utopia thing.

In one scene from Neuromancer, the protagonist is pumped full of psychoactive drugs to try and break him out of his VR coma, unfortunately the same thing does not seem to work in Fallout 3. Turning into a meth addict prior to entering the sim does not seem to result in your cravings intruding on the simulation, which is probably for the best because you have no way to pop any more until after you leave.

Your companions include a psychotic little girl who blasts you with lightning if you hit her. This is a good clue that she is actually the Prof, and is one of the only instances of being able to kill a child in Fallout 3.
There is also a dog named 'Doc' and various other people, one of whom actually seems to know what is going on.

Struck by lighting! Struck by lighting!

The girl will order you to interact with the folks in increasingly bizarre ways that deplete your precious karma. I very, very quickly tired of this and restarted the scene from a previous savegame.

I had a nagging feeling from the very start that the dog was probably Dad (a combination of the name and the sheer perversity of it), but couldn't easily prove this so I figured it was time for a Census.

Initially I used my fists, punching the dog until he collapsed (which is actually pretty funny to watch). That he couldn't die basically sealed it for me, but to double-check, I switched into God mode and destroyed everyone I could find using the kill command. It was no great surprise to discover that only the dog and the girl were invulnerable to this and therefore plot-critical.

After that and my seeming inability to locate the Abandoned House - which is pristine-looking and not the sort of tumbledown ruin that an abandoned house quickly becomes, the rest fell into place. Unfortunately there is no way to guess from the get-go that James is the dog - which granted, would spoil it for people who didn't guess, but is kind of a limitation of the medium.

Merlin: I wonder if the doc doesn't exist in a weird state of being inside the simulation while simultaneously being outside of it.
        Because he will comment on a number of things you've done that he couldn't possibly know about (killing 3Dog disappoints
        the poor fellow). He's in the vault for the entire game, if you go there immediately you will always find him.
        And yet you can kill 3Dog at any time too... Schrodinger's dad.

Merlin: There's also that weird spookyvault were the ghost of your dad haunts you, hallucinations or something.
        It was not coded properly though, so if you are using a non-white character it's just some old white doctor in vault clothes,
        which is rather confusing and not actually spooky.

Homeward Bound

Once James was freed from his doggy prison, he lambasted me for leaving the vault, and once again "But they were gonna execute me!" isn't considered a valid reason to leave. Unpleasantries aside, we went on to one of the moments I found most heartwarming, a trek from Vault 112 to Rivet City.

Well, mostly. I tried to fast-travel at first, then discovered that James couldn't do that so I went back and accompanied him the whole way as an escort. Sure, he's invulnerable, but now that I'd finally reunited with him I figured we should spend the time together.

This, wandering through the wasteland and committing untold acts of murder together, was truly one of the most memorable and heartwarming parts of the game. In particular the point at which dear old Dad produced a rocket launcher and obliterated several people with it is one I will not soon forget.

Alas this reunion is all too short, though I suppose the voice acting for James must have cost a small fortune.

"I've been hearing good things about you, son. Fixing GNR's transmitter, defusing the bomb at Megaton... I've very proud of you."
"Thanks, Dad."
"However, I've also heard that you like running around Washington DC shooting black people in the head while listening to 1930s jazz. We might have to... talk about that later."
"They were bad people, Dad."
"Did you have to sift through their brains and chop their fingers off? I mean, call me old-fashioned but that's not the sort of thing I'd usually associate with the Saviour of the Wasteland."
"Well, what about your antics with the sledgehammer then, Dad? You ran up to the corpse of that guy I killed to save you, and splashed his head everywhere like an over-ripe melon! Is that virtuous?"
"I had to make sure he was dead. Besides, I'm not the Saviour of the Wasteland."

Stop. Hammertime.

"Son... if we get separated, just follow the mushroom clouds."

Jeeze Dad... what are you doing now...?

More children, and Meeting President Eton

Once the business at the Jefferson Airplane monument is concluded and you are left bereaved. Li Madisson takes command and orders you around like cattle. A reasonably good way to relieve your stress is to 'accidentally' shoot her in the back of the head with various deadly weapons since although she cannot die, it will annoy the hell out of her and besides, the old bag deserves it. I found it rather gratifying to see her have some kind of breakdown outside the Citadel.

One relatively big consolation is that the folks at the Citadel will train you in the use of power armour, which means that you can then dress up as an Enclave shock trooper. While the helmet reduces your charisma slightly, the stuff is pretty good and since the land is now crawling with Enclave troops, spare parts are readily available off-the-shelf.

JM: I now have nice Enclave armour.
KJ: How're you enjoying that?
JM: It looks evil and has dog-ears.  What's not to like?
Next you will sent off to retrieve the GECK, a device apparently made using the interstellar drive technology from the Von Braun in System Shock 2.

Unfortunately this can only be readily accessed via the Lamplit Mines, which are full of horrible horrible children. To rub salt into the wounds, the game will confiscate your weapons. Why I am not sure - if the little bastards are old enough to blow your head off, then they're old enough for me to turn theirs into plasma. Fair's fair.

One fit of the heebie-jeebies and several attempts at getting through the 3300 rad back entrance later, I bit the bullet and finally attempted to go via the caverns. A prerequisite was murdering enough people to gain a level and get the 'Child-At-Heart' perk, but it did cut out a lot of hassle.

Once again, it's not really explained how the Lamplit Caverns work. Like some cross between Lord of the Flies and a certain Star Trek storyline, the cavern is populated entirely by the under-16s.
This isn't a problem in and of itself, but keeping that situation stable for 200 years requires an act of God.
While the children are expelled from the caverns when they reach 16, the game does not explain where the new children come from, instead requiring us to assume that they either have some serious pre-teen pregnancy thing going, or to accept that lost children in their pre-teens periodically wander in past the Super Mutants, Deathclaws, Giant Radscorpions, 3300 rad hotspots and countless other hazards which are more than capable of taking down a healthy adult.

When you've got into the vault itself, you need to find the GECK. This is kept in a radiation chamber peaking around 500 Rads/sec. It is possible to go in and grab the thing by wearing a radiation suit and taking an obscene quantity of drugs, but it's probably better to get Fawkes to do this for you.

After this, you'll be captured and taken to finally meet President Eton.

The Prez

JM: I met President Eat'n by the way.
JM: He does not say 'Eden!' he says 'Eton!'
During his broadcasts, the President sounds pretty normal aside from his bizarre claims about being over 200 years old and suchlike. However, when you're actually in his home turf, his voice is suddenly full of high-frequency ringing and other digital artifacts, again for reasons never fully explained.

Once you're free to leave the cell, it's probably a good idea to slip into some Enclave armour since in my experience this seemed to confuse people and made them less likely to arrest or shoot me (as compared to the first attempt where I suddenly realised I was running around the base in my underpants).

After a lot of bumbling around and chiding from the Potus each time I got lost, I finally made it to the mainframe room by error and trial, there to finally meet President McDowell or whatever he wants to call himself.

I had already seen Dr. Who and the Green Death and was therefore pleasantly unsurprised when we came face-to-face. The Lone Wanderer pitched a fit, however, claiming that artificial intelligence wasn't possible, despite having grown up with a Mr. Handy.

"Steven... process."

Down the Dolce Vita

...all the while, his hand was on my shoulder
I was scared of being easy prey,
Gonna find a way
To make it alive....
--Down the Dolce Vita, Peter Gabriel

The chief downside to Fallout 3, at least in its stock version, is that it is not possible to actually win the game. The closest you can get is to lose it by varying degrees.

On my first attempt I spoke to the nice Mr. Eton, who convinced me that it was necessary to kill all the evil supermutants, ghouls and other nasty mutated shit in order to bring about the Second Coming and lead everyone to the Holy Land.

This seemed like a good idea at the time. After all, someone who's been around for over 200 years must be doing something right, yeah?

Realising that Fawkes might take exception to being exterminated, I ran like hell as soon as I left the complex before he could ask to join my party, and carried out the plan as best I could. Come the end of the game, I volunteered to go into the radiation chamber.
While this sounds suicidal, it only had a level of about 2 Rads/sec and I'd already proved in the 500-rad GECK area that I was reasonably radiation-proof given a decent suit and enough Rad-X to put the entire Capital Wasteland into a drug coma.

The plan looked pretty good on paper, but the net result involved me dying for no obvious reason and the entire wasteland being sterilised since, like in Paranoia, everyone is an illegal mutant.

Merlin: I just decided that I hated this wasteland and everyone in it and since the wastes
        were surrounded by those dang invisible walls I guess death was the only way out.

You guys are crazy!

On the second attempt I tried to convince Fawkes (who is radiation-proof) to go into the chamber in my stead, but the bastard refused. Dogmeat was also strangely uncooperative. Rather than allow that evil hag Madison to steal all the glory for Dad's wonderful creation, I opted for a System-Shock style viking funeral using a copious number of bottlecap mines.

The resulting blast not only turned me inside-out, but did the same to both Dogmeat and Fawkes causing the game to dock karma from my corpse and interrupt my spectacular demise with two popup messages informing me that my followers had also ceased to be.

He died as he had lived... headbutting anti-personnel mines.

JM: Fawkes told me it was my destiny and not his.  Dogmeat wouldn't go into the purifier either.
JM: Though fortunately he didn't say "No" or talk about destiny.  I simply couldn't ask him.

KJ: That's why it's best you avoided that and finish the ample stuff you have yet to complete.

JM: That doesn't matter.  As long as I don't enter the final room, nothing matters.
JM: Fuck, I ran away from the entire assault to rescue a lost dog from a scrapyard.  No-one cared.
JM: How many companions can I have, anyway?
    I want to bring them all into the final room at once.  Surely ONE of them will agree to commit suicide.

To make it alive

On the third attempt I compromised, not only forgetting to feed Eton's virus into the machine but also tripping up and 'accidentally' pushing Sarah into the radiation chamber in my place.

Look at it this way. I went slogging around the Wasteland doing hundreds of selfless good deeds and becoming the saviour of humanity, so I'm surely entitled to at least one or two acts of selfish evil.
It should also be remembered that the only thing Dad loved more than Project Purify was me, and my death, ending both his and mother's line can't possibly be what he wanted.

This course of action did resulted in my surviving, only to be airbrushed out of history by the narrator who promptly eulogised Sarah instead and pissed over all my triumphs.

If anyone can tell me where to find the stupidity bobble-head, please let me know.

Ends and Odds

The Unfortunate Demise of Mr. Tenpenny

A medium-sized side quest at Carol's Place in the Underworld is 'Shoot 'Em In The Head', where Crowley the ghoul offers you money to murder a number of people he doesn't like. It is necessary for you to kill them with a head-shot, since that's the cliche way of killing zombies.

One of my guilty pleasures in Fallout 3 is shooting people in he head with as large a calibre of weapon as is practical, so I figured I'd be good at this. Unfortunately, this was not the case.

It seems that to qualify, you have to shoot them in the head just a little bit and no more. Doing a proper job so that their skull bursts open doesn't seem to count where Crowley is concerned, and he will make comments like "Not very good at this, are you...?".

One of the targets is the notorious Mr. Tenpenny, who you may remember wants Megaton destroyed for no satisfactorily explained reason.

I spent some time trying to murder Mr.10p without actually entering the tower. This is difficult, probably impossible in the normal run of things.
My first approach was to use a missile launcher, but it seems that he's immune to such weapons while he's sitting in the chair, and sadly the splash damage isn't enough to make him get up (I did try multiple shots in succession).

The closest I've come is by using the DISABLE command to remove his balcony (this includes the entire facing wall of the building).
This alone doesn't help as he'll still be sitting in the chair, which is not affected by the pull of earth's gravity for some mysterious reason.

Next, you will have to DISABLE the chair. Again, Mr. Tenpenny will remain sitting in mid-air, but now you're in a position to take him down. Using a sniper rifle, shoot him in the foot or some other appendage and he'll get out of the chair, which will cause him to realise that he can't fly and send him tumbling down to earth.

Unhappily he doesn't splatter (as would be the case for a living person in Deus Ex) but he isn't very alive afterwards either.

It is worth noting that using DISABLE on other people's chairs while they're sitting in them (Herbert Dashwood for example) has some rather entertaining results.

Dashwood in particular tends to fall backwards, curl up on the floor and writhe around for about 15 seconds before picking himself up again. This is not something I recall seeing in Oblivion, though paralysing a Khajiit so that they land on their tail comes somewhat close.

Fun with the Enclave - pushups

Occasionally, after the Enclave has been unleashed upon the realm, you will come across a group of them training. Typically they do this in threes - an Enclave Officer watching while the two soldiers do push-ups.
This can happen in various locations, I've seen it occur in car-parks and also random locations in the wasteland where they have set up a presence.

Exactly why they do push-ups is unclear - given that they are wearing power-assisted armour - but nevermind. It makes for a really fun target.

For instance, if you can do a stealth shot to the Enclave Officer's head, the two men in training will usually fail to notice, and will stoically continue their push-ups forever since there is no-one to tell them to stop.

No brain... no gain.

For bonus points, a really fun game is to see if you can blow the soldier's brains out in mid push-up. I should also point out that the surviving soldier won't notice this either, even if pieces of brain land on him. Perhaps that's what usually happens to people who don't push fast enough and he's trying his best to ignore it.

Fun with the Enclave II - internal weapons

While happily wandering around the wasteland, brutally executing people I don't like, I came across a squad of Enclave troopers.
What made this encounter unusual was that they were completely unarmed and unarmoured.

The Enclave Officer barked orders, while his two soldiers ran up to me and started punching at my power armour with their fists - something which would in reality have broken their hands.

Lock and load your fists

This was so pathetic that I couldn't bring myself to kill them and just walked off to the nearest place of interest. Then things started to get freaky.

After dispatching the local raiders with Heavenly Force, I began looting the farm they had occupied. At this point, the ill-equipped Enclave soldiers reached the farm.
Only now, instead of fists, they were armed with built-in machine guns like the Nazi Zombie People in Wolfenstein 3D.


To make things even weirder, the Officer became invisible. Funnily enough I don't have a screenshot of that...

Fun with the Enclave III - Unhappy Landings

It is worth mentioning briefly that the Enclave will occasionally drop in troops via a Vertibird, a VTOL aircraft that appears to be some bastard child of a helicopter and the V22 Osprey.

A fun game is to quickly run up to the landing zone and drop a large quantity of bottlecap mines so that the shock troops explode the moment they leave the vehicle.

...it is also possible, given suitable equipment such as a missile launcher or tactical nuclear weaponry, to shoot down the vertibird before, during or after it touches down. On the other hand, given the post-apocalyptic nature of the game, destroying some of the few surviving technological artifacts strikes me as a pretty nasty thing to do.


JM: The kid in Greyditch or Greymarsh or whatever it was called, is his dad already dead or did I fuck up?
KJ: His dad's already dead.
JM: Can I just blow up the kid and pretend this whole quest never happened?
If you hang around the supermarket too long, a child will run up to you asking for salvation. The ruins he lives in have been invaded by giant, fire-breathing ants and he is trying to find his father.

The Greyditch Kid arrives

On a more recent playthrough, I actually did try blowing up the kid, shooting an abandoned car as he drew close to beg for help. As is usually the case with children, it's impossible for him to die, but it did cause him to flee and never bother me again.

The Greyditch Kid leaves. Rapidly.

KJ: I like this quest anyway.  You probably won't.  Especially when you have to kill the Fire Ant Queen.
JM: That's easy; I played Sim Ant.  All you have to do is take a rock and block her tunnel so she starves to death.
KJ: If you try casting a spell in Fallout 3, the Mirelurks will rape you.

Arlington Driver

...it's a good job the BoS don't seem to be able to hear your radio.

Radio: "The Brotherhood of Steel is nothing but a bunch of boy-scouts in antiquated power-armour!"


JM: How are you doing?
RG: Not bad.
JM: Up to much?
JM: Oh gods, that's horrible
RG: ?
JM: It really is horrible.
JM: One of the items in Fallout 3 is a blood pack, which you occasionally find in first aid boxes.
JM: I just used one to clear space in my inventory, and judging by the sound... he drank it.
RG: ._.
JM: I've got used to making people's heads explode messily and rooting through the bits.  For fun I arrange severed heads and limbs into piles.  But somehow the idea of him drinking blood makes me feel queasy.

Made with various text editory things. Thanks to Ren and especially Keats, who actually bought me the game to try and force me to finally play it.
Fallout 3 and all its works are the property of those who own it.

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