Mastepug's Guide to Creating Your Own Wasteland Settlement

#1masterpug53Posted 7/20/2009 7:08:06 AMmessage detail


This is a guide intended for experienced Fallout 3 players who have beaten the game at least once and are looking for something new and challenging outside the game’s normal parameters. As such, this guide will contain spoilers as to the game’s plot, and such individual instances will not be marked past this point. And as previously mentioned, this guide relies on a series of glitches that disrupt the normal parameters of the game; while I have yet to encounter a game-breaking bug as a result of these glitches, they are slightly unpredictable and, as with any Bethesda game, anything can happen, so…


*As a final side note, I recommend that you read the whole guide and then skim-read again to get the best of the information I’ve provided. This subject matter is difficult to describe (mostly thanks to Fallout 3’s unpredictable and often sloppy programming in certain areas, such as respawn times and rates), and I’ve organized it to the best of my abilities, but certain instructions lend themselves to others found earlier or later in the guide. Again, I apologize for the guide not being presented in perfect order, so I’ll advise you to read it twice if you’re having trouble putting all the pieces together.

- Introduction
- (1) What You Need to Begin
- (2) Choosing Where to Start Your Wasteland Settlement
- (3) How to Force Random Encounters
- (4) How to Get NPCs to Follow You to Your Settlement
- (5) Restrictions Involving Time and Respawning
- (6) NPCs Who Can Be Recruited For Your Settlement
- (7) Miscellaneous


Now, having gotten that out of the way, this is a guide for creating your own wasteland settlement, and namely the act of gathering a number of NPCs from across the Capital Wasteland to populate your new town. Unfortunately you can’t choose just anyone to live in your settlement – only certain NPCs, mostly garnered from Random Encounters, are scripted so that they can be moved somewhere and behave normally in their new area without leaving to return to their spawning points. Basically, these certain NPCs do not have schedules or unavoidable patrol scripting, and as such, they will remain in whatever area you lead them to. My personal settlement at Minefield boasts a population of 53 – this number does not include the two pack-brahmin and two sentry bots I have also acquired. By comparison, Megaton has a population of 39 and Rivet City has an estimated population of 41, which makes my settlement the largest in the wasteland. Also, by use of the Mesmetron, the inventories of most of these NPCs can be manipulated by mezzing them, which will let you arm and dress them in whatever combinations your heart desires. You can have all your residents dressed in Enclave Armor and roleplay it as your very own Enclave base; you can gather a bunch of ladies, dress them all in lingerie and start your own harem; or you can just lord over a settlement full of ragtag wasteland rejects who use whatever weapons and armor they can find. If you’ve ever had the burning desire to be the mayor, king or warlord of your own populated wasteland settlement, you’ve come to the right place.

Simple questions deserve long-winded answers that no one will bother to read.
#2masterpug53(Topic Creator)Posted 7/20/2009 7:09:08 AMmessage detail

- First, foremost and most importantly, you need to get in the habit of saving often and holding back saves in case something goes wrong. I’ve gone to great lengths to do all the mind-numbing playtesting for you, but still, anything can happen when you’re glitching, and if something goes amiss, you don’t want to have to kick your own ass because you didn’t keep a backup file. Here’s my personal strategy – keep two alternating backup files at various points on your playthrough (save at your new settlement, preferably in an interior location), and alternate between two other save files as you go. If you are moving an NPC across the wasteland heading towards your settlement, consider adding a third active save file – it is not unheard of for an enemy to spawn right on top of you when you are loading up a save out in the wastes.

- It is highly advisable that you begin a new character before attempting this. If you attempt to make a settlement with a pre-existing character (especially one at a high level), it is likely that you have already triggered most of the game’s random encounters and many of your potential settlers have wandered off or have been killed. Starting with a fresh slate will eliminate a lot of guesswork and potential frustration.

- Before striking out into the wasteland, familiarize yourself with as many of the game’s Random Encounter points as you can. The maps found in the official player’s guide are quite useful, especially in conjunction with the page dedicated to random encounters on the Fallout 3 wiki:
( )
Scroll down to the bottom of the wiki page for directions to all the known encounters, the correct approach to trigger them, and the type of encounter they will trigger. Sadly not every one of the directions described in the wiki works properly, but it is a good source most of the time (and forgive me for not having the time, motivation or space to post all the encounter locations myself). I’ll elaborate more on random encounters in a later section.

- You will need the Mesmetron, and lots of ammo for it. I went through nearly 1,000 rounds building my settlement, which cost me 20,000 caps. This may seem like a staggering amount to spend, but money is easy enough to get once the Enclave shows up and starts dropping laser and plasma weapons like candy. Just make sure that you’ve invested in all the traveling merchants so that they will have the maximum amount of caps with which to barter. To get more ammo for the Mesmetron, simply speak with Grouse at Paradise Falls (the same guy who gave you the Mesmetron, though I shouldn’t have to tell you that), who will sell you 10 rounds for 200 caps. It’s a tedious process to buy Mesmetron cells in bulk, so only buy enough so that you’re carrying 200-300 at a time and restock when needed.

Simple questions deserve long-winded answers that no one will bother to read.
#3masterpug53(Topic Creator)Posted 7/20/2009 7:11:07 AMmessage detail
- You will need to familiarize yourself with how the Mesmetron works, and be well prepared for the frustration it will cause. If you haven’t used it before, it will choose randomly from three potential effects upon being fired – these effects are mezz (50% probability on a mezz-able target), frenzy (30% on a mezz-able target, 80% otherwise), and head-explosion (20%). Mezz, of course, stuns the target NPC – talk to them while stunned and you are given dialogue options to either access their inventories, enslave them with a slave collar, or let them go un-enslaved. Frenzy causes even the most cowardly NPC to go into hostile mode, attacking anything and anyone in the vicinity – if the target is unarmed (or holding a melee weapon) and there are no other NPCs or enemies in the area, they will begin to chase after you in an attempt to attack you, which is how you will end up leading the bulk of your potential residents to your settlement. Frenzy has a duration of approximately 25-30 seconds – when it wears off, the target will either pause for a moment and continue to chase you, attempt to flee, or become friendly again – if the latter two occur then you will need to frenzy them again. Head-explosion shouldn’t require any explanation – needless to say, you never want this to happen (though it often will). Seeing as this is one of the most important pieces of advice I can give, I will spell it out as plain as I can:


You’ve most likely never had to fire the Mesmetron more than once or twice in a row up until this point, but now that it is necessary to do so in order to accomplish the goal of settlement-building, you will find very quickly that the Mesmetron more often than not does the exact opposite of what you want it to do. Always save before using it, and if it frenzies when you want it to mezz or vice versa, reload and try again. And if you’re one of the many who giggle like a schoolgirl every time the Mesmetron causes someone’s head to explode, you’ll be singing a different tune when it happens ten times in a row when you’re trying to move an NPC across the wasteland - by the time your settlement is finished, I’m sure you will agree that the Bethesda programmer who thought it would be fun to give the Mesmetron random effects deserves several swift kicks in the ass.
*SIDE NOTES – bear in mind that a frenzied target cannot be mezzed as long as they are frenzied – you will have to wait until the effect wears off before they can be mezzed.

Simple questions deserve long-winded answers that no one will bother to read.
#4masterpug53(Topic Creator)Posted 7/20/2009 7:12:32 AMmessage detail
- Become familiar with what I’ve currently dubbed the catch / release technique – I believe it was Midas357 who came up with this trick, or at least brought it to this board (I apologize if that is incorrect). Basically you mezz an NPC and choose to enslave them; before they can run off, talk to them again and select the dialogue options that let you remove the slave collar and free them. You will need a high science skill, at least 70 or 80, to do this successfully and reliably – always keep some mentats and Lesko’s Lab Coat handy if your skill is too low. Also bear in mind that you WILL get your slave collar back after doing this, so there will be no need to get a new one and you can repeat this process indefinitely. Once freed, the NPCs are added to a new faction, ‘freed slaves,’ and are never hostile to you – the only way to turn them hostile again is to frenzy them with the Mesmetron. Using the catch / release technique is not necessary on every NPC you acquire for your settlement, but it is necessary for some and it’s nice to have them all in the same faction – I will elaborate later on an individual basis whether or not a certain NPC needs to be caught / released. The only real downside to this technique is the massive karma loss it inflicts upon repeated use (you do not get a positive karma boost for freeing NPCs that you yourself enslaved), but there are plenty of ways in the game to boost your karma should you begin feeling a little too evil. Also, once ‘freed,’ an NPC loses all its normal dialogue options, replaced only with the floating text ‘You’ve saved me from those *******s, I’ll never forget it (no voice acting accompanies this dialogue).’ However, said NPC’s will still engage in non-direct dialogue with you and others, such as ‘good to see you’ or comments on your karma level. At any rate, most of the NPCs you can acquire rarely have anything nice to say (‘You don’t seem to take a hint – get out of my face!’ for example), so the silent praise that comes from catching / releasing them is preferable in my opinion.

Simple questions deserve long-winded answers that no one will bother to read.
#5masterpug53(Topic Creator)Posted 7/20/2009 7:13:15 AMmessage detail
- Always pack a regular Chinese pistol. This is the small gun that deals the least amount of damage, and you will need it to acquire certain NPCs who aren’t required to be frenzied.

- You will need either the Chinese Stealth Armor or a decent amount of Stealth Boys to properly acquire certain NPCs – basically you will need to hide from them in a cramped room long enough for them to stop being hostile to you, and entering stealth mode is essential for this. As usual, I will elaborate more on this in a later section.

- It is not necessary, but it is highly recommended that you have anything at your disposal to increase AP, as the Mesmetron consumes massive amounts of it when fired in V.A.T.s. Jet, Ultrajet, Ledoux’s Hockey Mask, and the Tribal Power Armor all serve this end well. As for character development, start off with reasonably high Agility (though this isn’t essential), and make sure to pick the Action Boy/Girl perk when able. Unless your target is standing perfectly still and at point-blank range, you will need to fire the Mesmetron while in V.A.T.s if you want to have any hope of hitting them.

- You will need a beefy weapon capable of neutralizing powerful enemies in a few hits. The Gauss Rifle, Blackhawk, and Terrible Shotgun / Metal Blaster are all good choices, and I recommend carrying all four and having them hotkeyed (as if you didn’t already). As you will be leading relatively weak NPCs across the wasteland, enemies are bound to come across your path and will almost always attack said NPCs before they attack you. Once Albino Radscorpions start showing up (provided you’ve installed ‘Broken Steel’), you will be in deep trouble unless you have the Gauss Rifle and its knockback power at your disposal (more on this later).

- Finally, a short list of don’ts, pertaining to perks. First and foremost, do NOT choose the Mysterious Stranger perk! The Mesmetron is frustrating enough with its random effects – you don’t need MS poking in and blowing your residents away half of the time. Also, avoid the Point Lookout perks Superior Defender and Ghoul Ecology. If you didn’t already know, neither functions properly, and in conjunction they give a 10-point damage boost to every weapon in your inventory. While this may seem like a good thing in most situations, by boosting the Mesmetron’s damage rating from 1 to freakin’ 11, these perks absolutely cripple your ability to create a wasteland settlement, as you will end up killing all or most of the NPCs you could normally recruit. Ghoul Ecology is entirely avoidable but Superior Defender is not, provided you want to do the Point Lookout main quest – as such, it is highly advisable that you hold off on doing the PL main quest until your wasteland settlement is completed.

Simple questions deserve long-winded answers that no one will bother to read.
#6masterpug53(Topic Creator)Posted 7/20/2009 7:14:29 AMmessage detail

Begin your settlement quest by choosing a suitable location to live. Ideally you want a location that isn’t surrounded by enemy spawns, has beds you can use and containers that won’t lose your items, and has interior cells that are accessible by pursuing NPCs (more on this in a moment). As you may already know, most containers in this game do not respawn, so it is safe to effectively live out of several locations across the wastes.

If you are going for a large number of settlers (30 or more), you will need a sizable location with multiple cells (i.e. rooms, houses) to spread out your population.
*For added definition, a ‘cell’ is basically just an area of the game – the outdoor Capital Wasteland is divided up into several different cells, and any single interior location, such as ‘Gibson House,’ or ‘Evergreen Mills Bazaar,’ is considered a cell.
Also, it helps to choose a location that is in close proximity to a number of random encounter points. As far as utilizing interior locations, pursuing NPCs will only follow you through doorways with short load times – these include most houses, drainage chambers, single-room sheds, shacks, and all of the power and relay stations save MDPL-13 (the big one north of Minefield, though you can still use the smaller station east of the plant). Keep in mind where all these NPC-accessible cells are throughout the wasteland, for even if you don’t plan on building a settlement at them, you may need them to house potential settlers temporarily.

Simple questions deserve long-winded answers that no one will bother to read.
#7masterpug53(Topic Creator)Posted 7/20/2009 7:15:16 AMmessage detail
While there are more places suitable throughout the Wasteland for a settlement, I’ve chosen to mention the top 5 places that will work for this guide, based on all the previously-mentioned criteria:

This one should be obvious, as it’s where I chose to set up my own massive settlement. Minefield has it all – a well-enclosed structure to keep stragglers from wandering too far, three livable houses (the Gillian house, sadly, has respawning radroaches) in which you can store items and sleep, and numerous type-1 and type-2 random encounter points in close proximity. While it may be a little out of the way for some, in comparison to most other choices it’s one of the most centralized locations on the map. Just make absolutely sure you take the time to clear out all those ****ing mines!!

Of course, only attempt to start a settlement here after completing ‘Those!’ and stay away for at least 4 days after so all the fire ant corpses can clear out. Grayditch has four livable houses (I’m pretty sure none of the houses respawn but you might want to playtest on your own), and it trumps Minefield in that it is a more secure and structured location – roaming NPCs will have a harder time wandering away. Grayditch’s one deterring factor is that it is not in close proximity to quite as many random encounters as Minefield.

This is the ideal place for someone wanting a smaller ‘settlement’ (I’d say no more than 20-25 NPCs). This is also the ideal pad for someone who wants to run with a ‘harem’ theme; kill Dukov and then catch / release Cherry and Fantasia to make them permanently friendly towards you (though they will lose their normal dialogue options). You may be able to get away with simply mezzing them to calm them down after you kill Dukov – I haven’t tested this myself so this is all educated guesswork. You won’t be able to use the beds but you should be able to use to containers other than the respawning liquor cabinet (again, I recommend playtesting for yourself). Also you should clear out as much of Dukov’s stuff as you can, but make sure you are hidden when you do so, or else his former party girls might turn on you.
Once the Enclave show up, a camp containing several soldiers and a modified Deathclaw appears very close to Dukov’s. You can catch / release the soldiers to make them friendly, but not the Deathclaw. If you kill them all, however, they shouldn’t respawn provided that you are visiting the area every 2-3 days. Still, it might be best if you make all your NPCs live indoors at this location.

This is a good example of how you can use this guide to bolster the population of a pre-existing settlement. It might be difficult to lure NPCs into the houses without having the entire town attack them; I’d recommend picking the ammo out of everyone’s pockets if you are going to attempt this. As far as I can remember, certain houses in big town have usable beds and safe containers, but if you are serious about turning Big Town into your wasteland settlement, you will need to playtest the safety of storage containers on your own.

Similar to Big Town, this is an example of boosting the population of an already populated area. Obviously you will need to catch / release all the raiders prior to settling down here, and their presence could be a big deterrent in getting the NPCs in this guide into the Mills, seeing as how they will still attack anyone pursuing you. Still, it could work, and you could potentially lead NPCs into the two outlying shacks (I doubt you could get NPCs to follow you into the actual mill).

In the end, where you choose to set up your settlement is up to you; these are just some examples to get you started. If anyone has any more creative ideas for a settlement location I would love to see them posted in this topic.

Simple questions deserve long-winded answers that no one will bother to read.
#8masterpug53(Topic Creator)Posted 7/20/2009 7:16:53 AMmessage detail

As was previously mentioned, most of your potential residents are gathered from various Random Encounters that can be triggered throughout the wasteland. These encounters are divided into two groups: first are type-1 encounters, which involve most of the game’s non-repeating encounters (such as finding the Firelance), and the encounter itself usually occurs at the trigger point and is fixed there. You can generally approach Type-1’s from multiple directions, and for the most part they not difficult to trigger. Type-2 encounters, on the other hand, require you to travel in a certain direction and hit them at just the right spot in order to trigger. Type-2’s generally involve traveling parties that meet you on a path, come around from behind a cliff, etc. Type-2 encounters involve most of the game’s repeating encounters, including the one that will net you most of your residents, which is the Slaver Escort encounter (more on that later). Note that the game is set up so that any given encounter point will only trigger one type of encounter – you won’t trigger a Type-1 encounter at a Type-2 point, and vice versa.
As I mentioned before, it is advisable for you to check out the wiki page on random encounters and familiarize yourself with their locations as best you can, as well as all the different types of encounters. When approaching an encounter point, save a good distance from it, and move forward to trigger it. If at first you don’t think you’ve triggered anything, check your compass for large masses of red or yellow blips, and traverse the entire immediate area looking for them – if nothing appears, reload and try again. When you finally do get the encounter to trigger reliably, keep reloading and trying again until you trigger the encounter you want.
Bear in mind that, when triggering type-2 encounters, oftentimes the encounter is scripted to appear BEHIND you, depending on your approach. Take the encounter south of Minefield near the unmarked power station, for instance, and say you were trying to trigger a Slaver Escort – if you are approaching the encounter moving east on the road, coming from Germantown, the slavers will appear in front of you, coming around from behind the cliff. However, if you travel from Minefield and head west through the point, the Slavers will appear behind you at the same spot. Whenever you are testing the waters on a new type-2 encounter point, make sure and check the whole area surrounding the trigger-point until you get a feel for exactly where the encounter-NPCs will spawn.

Simple questions deserve long-winded answers that no one will bother to read.
#9masterpug53(Topic Creator)Posted 7/20/2009 7:17:39 AMmessage detail
As you might have guessed, most of the encounters that yield potential residents are repeatable, and can be triggered later at a different encounter point. Repeatable encounters seem to work on a rotating roster after the first time they are triggered, so in order to get, for instance, a Slaver Escort encounter to appear a second, third or fourth time, you will effectively need to trigger all other type-2 encounters at various encounter points before the Slaver Escort can be made to appear again. After all encounters of a certain type have been triggered once (both repeating and non-repeating), the roster seems to hold 5-6 potential repeating encounters at a time, and if you trigger a certain encounter, it will then be put to the back of the roster.
Type-1 encounters, as usual, are less tricky because most Type-1’s are non-repeating, so once you get to the point where you are repeating them, the roster will be much smaller and you will be able to find the same encounters at a higher frequency. On the other hand, by the time you are repeating Type-1’s, you will have used up most of the available encounter points anyway, so it all balances out.
Please note that encounter points cannot be reused – once you trigger an encounter at a given point, you cannot come back later to trigger a different one. Certain respawning encounters, such as an Enclave squad battling a Talon squad, will resurface at the same point if allowed to respawn, but that’s about it.
*SIDE NOTE – it is recommended that you keep your karma at neutral when farming for encounters – this will eliminate the appearance of karma hit-squads, who will waste your time and unnecessarily use up valuable encounter points.

Simple questions deserve long-winded answers that no one will bother to read.
#10masterpug53(Topic Creator)Posted 7/20/2009 7:18:38 AMmessage detail

So you’ve triggered an encounter that has yielded a potential resident; now comes the grueling task of moving your resident all the way across the wastes to your new settlement. Gone are the carefree days of Oblivion, when all you needed was a decent dominate spell to lure people from one area to another. On the other hand, you didn’t have the ability to create a living, breathing settlement in Cyrodiil, so I guess we’ll just have to work with whatever faulty equipment happens to be at our disposal to get the job done. In this case, that faulty equipment is the Mesmetron.
If you hadn’t noticed, the only way to get a potential resident to your settlement without pushing them all the way there is to turn them hostile and get them to chase you across the wasteland. You can utilize a weak weapon (the Chinese pistol is perfect for this) or simply get caught pickpocketing from them, but for the most part you will be relying on the Mesmetron’s frenzy ability to turn normally non-combative NPCs aggressive.

Firstly, you need to know all the methods at your disposal for moving (or rather pushing) NPCs without turning them hostile – this is necessary if you need to separate a single NPC from a larger group without turning the group hostile. The simplest method is walking up to them and pushing them; it takes awhile to get the hang of it, but it is necessary to use later if you’re wanting to set up your settlement just how you want it (also note that human NPCs are easier to push in 1st-person POV). On the other hand, certain NPCs often need to be pushed who have roaming movement and will try to walk away from you as you are pushing them. If your target only has secondary floating dialogue (i.e. you don’t enter a face-to-face menu conversation with them), you can repeatedly tap the A button to talk to them while moving them – this will distract them indefinitely and they will not attempt to walk away. If you are able to engage your target in primary dialogue, then the previous technique will not work – you will need to mezz your target and push them while they are dazed. If your target cannot be mezzed, has roaming movement and can be engaged in primary dialogue, you are mostly out of luck – you will simply have to push them in the brief moments when they stop to give you a casual greeting (such as ‘How are you?’) and attempt to keep from losing ground as they walk past you. Fortunately no NPC in this guide falls into that last category – I only mentioned it in case you need to use that advice in other endeavors.

Simple questions deserve long-winded answers that no one will bother to read.