Masterpug's Wasteland Settlement-Building Guide, New Vegas Edition

#1masterpug53Posted 4/3/2012 5:06:49 PM

Sorry for putting off writing this for so long…I took a Skyrim in the knee.

… …

…all right, quit yer booing!


As usual, this is a guide for people who are experienced with this game and are looking for something to do after they’ve done everything. As such, it’s expected that you have a pretty good grasp of the game’s plot, events and characters, so from this point out, expect spoilaz!

For those of you not familiar with the Fallout 3 version of this guide, the following posts detail a grand exploit in which you are able to lure a number of particular NPCs to a location you chose in the Wasteland (your ‘settlement’) and populate it. These NPCs have no specific movement scripting, and when you move them, they will remain where you put them, allowing you to collect a number of individuals from across the wastes and gather them all in your settlement. Build up a militia…bring in merchants and doctors…dress everyone in power armor or prostitute outfits…it’s all up to you. This is purely an experience in Role-Playing, and has very little - if any - benefits / consequences for actual gameplay.

Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures currently of my Goodsprings settlement, but if you need a frame of reference to get your imagination going, here’s some pics from my Fallout 3 Minefield settlement:

For those of you who are familiar with the Fallout 3 guide, you might be doubting the possibilities of settlement-building in New Vegas, seeing as how the two biggest components of the exploit – Random Encounters and the Mesmetron – are absent. Well, it’s more than possible, and there are actually enough workable NPCs in New Vegas to rival your largest Fallout 3 settlement (well, not quite, but there really isn’t much of a numerical difference).

The downside over Fallout 3 is that you lose a fair amount of NPC customization without ol’ Mezzie. However, dressing your NPCs the way you want isn’t impossible, and I’ll elaborate on how to do so later in the guide.

The huge upside is that you no longer need to waste countless hours farming random encounters for NPCs – nearly every NPC that works for New Vegas Settlement-Building is ready to go as soon as you step out of Doc Mitchell’s house. You can honestly build a New Vegas settlement in a quarter of the time it would take you to build an equal-sized Fallout 3 settlement.

I could go on about the pros and cons for each, but that’s better left for later posts. So let’s dive right into it!

First off, the most important rule of the settlement-building guide:


I shouldn’t have to elaborate much. You are committing an exploit here, and Mr. Game won’t necessarily like it. When in doubt, save, and always keep a few backup files.

Oh, and one last thing to mention before we begin: since most of the workable NPCs in New Vegas are in the NCR faction, all you profligate-hatin’ Legion-lovers are pretty much **** out of luck if you want to have a massive settlement yet are vilified by the NCR. Sorry, but I wasn’t the one who programmed the Legion to be so damn active ;-)
Simple questions deserve long-winded answers that no one will bother to read.
#2masterpug53(Topic Creator)Posted 4/3/2012 5:08:08 PM

I guess the term ‘settlement’ isn’t quite as applicable as it was in Fallout 3, as many of your best locations are already inhabited to some degree. Goodsprings is / was my personal choice – it sure was nice to see the ghost town bustling with activity…or at least packed with bodies. Novac is another obvious choice, or Nipton, provided you want your settlement to feel a bit more grim. Jacobstown and Nellis AFB* are also possibilities, if you feel like doing a little extra hoofing.

*Unless the Boomers still shoot at other NPCs…never actually tried, myself.

Beauty part is that, thanks to a huge lessening of limited-use doorways in this game over Fallout 3, your options are a hell of a lot more open. In Fallout 3, you had to limit your settlements to locations containing small interior cells because the doorways to most larger cells would prevent hostile NPCs from following you through them, which kept you from building settlements inside. In New Vegas, on the other hand, most doorways are wide-open to let pursuing NPCs pass through them. You’ll have to test for yourself to see if your particular settlement choice will allow NPCs to pass into its interior locations, but its fair to say that the odds are in your favor.

After you’ve chosen your settlement, it would be very wise to do a fair bit of pre-planning before moving your first NPC into it; given the nature of this exploit, it can be very hard to change things up once they’re set.

Say you’re wanting to populate Goodsprings – you might want some NPCs hanging out in the Saloon, or in Doc Mitchell’s house, or in the Abandoned Schoolhouse, or in Victor’s Shack, or just hangin’ around outside. So make sure to scour over the list of usable NPCs later in the guide and make your decisions as to which NPCs you want to be where well in advance – it isn’t impossible to change these choices later on, but it can be difficult enough that you will kick yourself if you don’t plan ahead.

For several reasons, you want to lure your inside-dwelling NPCs to your settlement before your outside-dwelling ones. The first reason is that when you are moving new NPCs into the settlement, you’ll have to work your way through pre-moved settlement NPCs if you happen to have any hanging around outside. Obviously this will cause them to once again go hostile if they share a faction with the NPC you’re currently moving, but it might also cause an NPC to flee into a house you didn’t want them in, or follow you into the house you want to put your current NPC in. Once you’ve got several settlement NPCs packed into a tiny house, it can be very, very difficult to single one out and move him / her to a different cell.

The second reason is that the game can start to lag if you have too many NPCs hanging around outside – this is an exploit, after all, and the game isn’t exactly built to accommodate it. If you put too many NPCs outside first and then decide to bring in the indoor dwellers, you may find very quickly that the game builds up enough lag that NPCs will no longer follow you through doorways because the game’s memory can’t keep up with your demands. So, lead your indoor-dwelling NPCs to the settlement first, then the outdoor ones.

If for whatever reason you have to bring in a few outside-dwelling NPCs first, make sure and push them as far out of the way as you can, so they don’t interfere with you bringing in new NPCs – if, say, you still need to move people into Doc Mitchell’s house, then push them all over to the vicinity of Victor’s Shack.
Simple questions deserve long-winded answers that no one will bother to read.
#3masterpug53(Topic Creator)Posted 4/3/2012 5:09:46 PM

The method of luring NPCs to your settlement usually involves turning them hostile by attacking them or otherwise, getting them to chase you across the Mojave to your settlement, and then turning them un-hostile, after which they will stand around wherever you leave them indefinitely. This may sound simple enough, but it can become very frustrating very quickly if you don’t know the particulars.

And please, please note that only certain NPCs work for this exploit – you can’t just say ‘Hey I want Caesar to hang out in Doc Mitchell’s house’ and expect it to be so. The list of usable NPCs is in Part 3 of this guide, and these NPCs have little or no movement-scripting, which makes them stay in place if they’re moved somewhere. So if you get some other NPC to chase you back to your settlement and wonder why they aren’t staying put, you probably already have your answer.


First, you need to get a very weak weapon and lots of ammo for it. My personal recommendation is the BB gun. You will have to shoot your settlement NPCs a fair bit to move them to your settlement (more on this later), and obviously you don’t want to kill them. Some people also use 12-gauge bean bags rounds – personally I stick with the BBs because they are cheap and plentiful (Gun Runners reliably stock them by the hundreds, and I believe the Great Khan armorer does as well). Whatever you choose, it has to be a firearm, as you will need to reliably shoot your settlement NPCs from a distance; for the sake of ease, I’ll just assume that you’re using a BB gun from here on out.

Also, if you know in advance that you will have to move a particularly-weak NPC across a lot of terrain, you would be wise to reverse-pickpocket a few stimpaks into their inventories. They will stop to use them if their HP get around ˝ to 2/3rds (you can tell they’re using them because they will actually stop and inject them into their thighs).

And if you have any companions, make sure to either fire them or have them wait in a location that will be well-away from any path upon which you might be traveling – it should go without saying that your companions aren’t hip to your exploitin’ ways, and will gun down any NPCs you are luring back to your settlement in a heartbeat. However, it would be wise to keep ED-E as a follower and just have him wait somewhere, as his ability will allow you to see any enemies that might be in your road far in advance.

Finally, if you want to turn a faction member hostile without initially shooting them, you might want to pack an outfit of an opposing faction; most settlement-worthy NPCs are allied with the NCR, so Legion, Powder Ganger, Great Khan, and (I believe) Brotherhood of Steel outfits will turn them hostile in an instant.
Simple questions deserve long-winded answers that no one will bother to read.
#4masterpug53(Topic Creator)Posted 4/3/2012 5:10:57 PM

As I’ve mentioned before, most of the NPCs you will be using for settlement-building are fairly weak, and won’t last long against someone or something that is actively trying to kill them. Therefore it is essential that you first map out the route you are going to use to lure them back to your settlement, and clear said route of any and all hostile NPCs you can find; you’re going to have enough on your plate keeping track of the settlement NPCs chasing you that you don’t want to have to worry about any hostiles sucker-punching you when you aren’t looking.

Opening up the Long 15 near Sloan by clearing out the Deathclaws is highly recommended – the Deathclaws don’t respawn, which makes it a fairly safe route upon which to travel once the Deathclaws are gone.

Also be aware of where pockets of enemies spawn – by and large, roads are much safer than in Fallout 3, but in exchange, you often run into higher concentrations of enemies when you do get attacked. Also be aware that every enemy in a particular area might not all spawn at once, especially if you walked to said location on foot rather than fast-traveling. If you suspect that not every enemy has spawned properly, save, load a different save made in a different location, and reload – this usually forces any stragglers to spawn properly.

And be ABSOLUTELY SURE to pick up any and all firearms, ranged weapons, and ammunition you find on your path, especially from slain humanoid NPCs. If your settlement NPC finds any guns lying around, they will stop and use them against you, when can be a major pain.


First things first – it is essential that any settlement NPC you are about to have chase you does not have a firearm or ranged weapon equipped. So either pickpocket their ammo, or shoot the guns out of their hands when they go aggro (I’d recommend the former). Also make sure there aren’t any guns lying around for them to pick up once the fighting starts.

Then just take aim with your BB gun and hit them in the torso, or if they’re in a faction, just slap on your opposing faction armor.

Now it is highly likely that you will be surrounded by other faction NPCs who will also start attacking you. You can either pickpocket their ammo before the fight as well, or just soak up some bullets; they won’t follow you forever, though you can shake them a little quicker if they aren’t using a ranged weapon (more on that in a minute).

If you have the opportunity, you might consider bodily pushing your target NPC well-away from their spawn point before attacking them – this will ensure that his / her other faction members will be too far away to notice.

Similarly, you may find yourself in a situation where multiple settlement-worthy NPCs are in the same area – feel free to save yourself some time and lead them all to your settlement at once. However, don’t lead more than you can reliably hit all at once in VATs with a full AP bar; in other words, leading more than 3-4 NPCs at a time is pushing it.

One other thing to note: you will never lose faction rep simply for attacking a faction NPC; aside from quest choices, this only happens if you get caught stealing or murdering. And aside from the Boomers and possibly the Powder Gangers and Legion (who don’t really enter into any of this anyway), no faction will remain permanently hostile to you – most times an aggravated faction will be friendly again the next time you fast-travel back.
Simple questions deserve long-winded answers that no one will bother to read.
#5masterpug53(Topic Creator)Posted 4/3/2012 5:12:02 PM

So now the chase is on, and you’ve got your settlement NPC(s) and probably a few of his / her friends chasing / following you on the long road to your settlement. Things are going smoothly for a few hundred yards, when all of the sudden the NPC turns and starts running in the other direction for seemingly no reason at all.

This phenomenon, which I have dubbed the ‘threshold,’ is probably the most annoying thing you’ll encounter when attempting settlement-building. Every few hundred yards, an NPC who is chasing you will simply turn around and run in the other direction. Presumably it’s a bit of combat scripting intended to – ironically enough – keep a particularly-tough enemy from chasing your average cowardly Lone Wanderer / Courier all the way across the wastes. Backtracking to get the NPC’s attention doesn’t work – as soon as you hit the ‘threshold’ again, the NPC will turn right around again.

This is when your precious BB gun proves its true worth – during the chase, as soon as you see your settlement NPC turning to run in the opposite direction, target them in VATs and shoot them. This will re-grab the NPCs attention and interrupt the threshold mechanic, and the NPC will turn around and chase you normally.

Unfortunately, you will have to repeat this process every few hundred yards, all the way to your settlement. Make sure and backpedal as much as you can – NPCs are notorious for conveniently hitting their thresholds and turning to run whenever you happen to look away for even just a second.

If you have multiple settlement NPCs chasing you at once, you will have to do this process with each one of them. If you happened to turn them hostile all at the same time, you’ll have a higher likelihood of them hitting their thresholds at the same time, but by and large, you’ll just have to keep an eye on each one of them to hit it randomly.

The good news is that, once you hit that first threshold, all the unwanted NPCs chasing you will run off and be out of your hair, though as I said before, NPCs with firearms will chase you a bit longer before giving up.

Now VATs in this game can be a little screwy with hit detection, and the BB gun is no exception – if the hit doesn’t register and your target is still heading for the hills, re-target in VATs and try again. If your NPC gets too far away, just run after them and get their attention again; lead them back to the threshold, and try again.

Also, I said to aim for the torso because it is highly likely that you will end up doing enough damage on your trip to cripple a body part, and crippled limbs will never heal on most NPCs unless a stimpak is used (which they won’t do outside of combat). If you don’t want to cripple anything, alternate between different body parts when you target them.

Of course, having certain NPCs permanently hunched over with a gimpy leg might fit your particular Roleplaying tastes, so I’ll leave that up to you.

And note that you don’t necessarily need to use VATs to effectively interrupt the threshold mechanic…if you just happen to be that spectacular of a shot on your own.
Simple questions deserve long-winded answers that no one will bother to read.
#6masterpug53(Topic Creator)Posted 4/3/2012 5:13:14 PM

Here’s the other big frustration you’ll run into when trying to get your NPCs back to your settlement – with the exception of the Super Mutants and only the hardiest of NCR warriors, nearly every NPC that works for settlement-building will want to flee in terror after they’ve taken too much damage. Truth be told, this usually happens after the first time you shoot them. Fleeing NPCs will no longer chase you, and by God, if you thought anything about this process was frustrating, you haven’t lived until you’ve tried to herd a fleeing NPC in a specific direction.

Surprisingly, however, the solution to this is pretty simple. When you notice a settlement NPC trying to flee (it’s hard to miss – they’ll holster their weapons and usually cry out in fear), watch them and wait for them to stop; they will usually crouch down and put their hands over their heads. When this happens, take manual aim with your BB gun (make sure and stay far enough away that you don’t cause them to start running again), and shoot them. Ninety percent of the time this will snap them out of flee-mode, and they will start chasing you regularly again – if it doesn’t, just repeat the process. There isn’t a single NPC who works for settlement-building that is 100% cowardly, and doing this will usually prevent them from attempting to flee again, even all the way back to your settlement.

However, there are still things that can cause NPCs to try and flee even after you cure them of the initial burst. Getting attacked by other hostile NPCs or monsters can do this – another reason why it’s important to clear out your path beforehand. If you happen to switch weapons to something deadlier than a BB gun, it can also cause them to run in terror. Finally, if you happen to save in the middle of a chase, stop playing, and reload, the game will refresh the NPCs scripting and they will once again be at risk of fleeing. But in any of these cases, just repeat the shooting-them-from-afar-when-they-crouch-down trick and you’ll be back in business.
Simple questions deserve long-winded answers that no one will bother to read.
#7masterpug53(Topic Creator)Posted 4/3/2012 5:14:16 PM

So you’ve finally managed to get your target NPC back to your settlement; now you have to get them to stop chasing you and be friendly again.

Now is time to learn and memorize a simple yet effective trick that can actually help you in the regular game – in order to lose a pursuing NPC, enter a different cell (if you’re outside, then run inside a house, for example), and immediately load the auto-save upon entering. Ninety percent of the time this will interrupt the scripting of an NPC passing through a doorway, and your pursuer with remain outside; upon loading the auto-save, your sneak status will still read ‘Danger,’ but the NPC will not follow you inside. Hit the Wait button and wait for an hour, and the status will downgrade to ‘Hidden,’ and you should be in the clear; exit the cell, and the NPC(s) that was / were chasing you should be friendly once more.

If your target NPC was intended to dwell outdoors, then you’re done – just bodily nudge / push them to where you want them to stand and you’re all set. If you are leading an NPC to an interior cell, then just flip the process – enter the cell, make sure the NPC has visibly followed you inside, exit, and do the aforementioned exploit.

Now for whatever reason, this trick doesn’t always work – sometimes NPCs will remain hostile, and sometimes they’ll still follow you through the door even if you reload the auto-save. Other times you might have hostile faction members with you when you enter / exit the cell, preventing you from waiting. In these cases, you’ll have to stay in the same cell as the NPC and manually wait them out through hiding. If you’re working with an outdoor-dwelling NPC, find a nice rock to hide on top of – if you’re indoors trying to get an NPC un-hostile, find a shadowy nook on top of a bed or table where they can’t reach you and wait them out.

And if all else fails, a Stealth Boy is a fool-proof method of ceasing hostilities. I don’t know if this technique actually makes a difference, but be sure to activate it while standing, then immediately crouch when you exit the Pip-Boy menu. Boom! Immediate end to hostilities, every time.

Obviously Stealth Boys are normally in short supply, so I’d only recommend using one if none of the above tricks work. On the other hand, if you’re willing to do a little grinding, you get a Stealth Boy every time you complete the highest-level Stealth Suit training exercise at the X-13 Facility in Big Mountain (Old World Blues), so with a little patience you can build up as many of the little buggers as you need.

So, once your NPC has ceased hostilities, that’s it! You now have a permanent new addition to your settlement. Move them to where you want them to stand, arm them, outfit them, whatever! (More on arming / outfitting in a later section).
Simple questions deserve long-winded answers that no one will bother to read.
#8masterpug53(Topic Creator)Posted 4/3/2012 5:15:19 PM

First off, a special thanks to grand_bro and dwill2168 for helping me test for workable NPCs – this guide probably would’ve remained unwritten without your help!!

As I’ve said before, only certain NPCs work for this – they are individuals who don’t have set schedules or movement patterns, and either walk around randomly or stand permanently in whatever spot upon which they happen to be standing. To make the list as concise as possible, I’ve organized them by the areas in which they can be found.

These NPCs fall into two different categories: Stationary and Free-Roaming. Stationary NPCs just stand in one place, while Free-Roamers move around and use objects around them at random, such as chairs. You never have to worry about Free-Roamers walking out on you, though; unless they are attacked or forced to flee, they will never attempt to use the exit door and leave the cell.

DO BE WARNED, however, that Free-Roamers can and will devour any and all food items you leave in the cell with them, be they put out for decoration or left in the fridge. You do NOT want to leave any food items in a cell with a Free-Roaming NPC, as they will gobble them all up in a flash. So, you know…food for thought (pun intended) for when you’re doing your pre-planning as to which NPCs to put where in your settlement.

Bearing that in mind, however, it is still advisable to put Free-Roamers in interior locations; if they are left out in the open, their random movement will often lead to them wandering outside the boundaries of your settlement.

Also be warned that there are several merchants who work for settlement-building – while they all retain their buying / selling capabilities if moved to a different cell, many of them will no longer have access to their full inventories, and will only sell a fraction of their normal wares.
Simple questions deserve long-winded answers that no one will bother to read.
#9masterpug53(Topic Creator)Posted 4/3/2012 5:17:53 PM

- Doc Mitchell (Free-Roamer)

Surprisingly enough, ol’ Doc doesn’t have anywhere particular to be. Retains doctor abilities; not sure about inventory.


- Chomps Lewis (Stationary)
- Snuffles the Mole Rat (Free-Roamer)

Chomps is fairly straightforward, but Snuffles is a hard case – he hits thresholds more often than humanoid NPCs, and has much less health. So unless you want to bodily push him across the wastes, only consider Snuffles if you’re picking a settlement close to Sloan, like Goodsprings.


- Melissa (Stationary)
- Great Khan (Stationary)

The Asian Great Khan works for settlement-building, whereas the other generic one does not. Don’t take on / complete Melissa’s quest ‘Don’t Make a Beggar Out of Me,’ or else the workable generic Khan will be removed from the game a few days afterwards – it’s also possible that Melissa will get removed if you complete both this quest and ‘Oh My Papa’ (but that might be based on outdated info – please correct me if I’m wrong).

Also, be aware that these Khan-aligned NPCs CANNOT cohabitate with any NCR-aligned NPCs; they will attack them on sight (Melissa will even attack her own father Chomps Lewis based on faction) so either put them in separate cells, or far enough apart that there is no chance that they’ll notice each other.


- Great Khans (4) (Stationary)

These are the four Khans who are constantly practicing on dummies in the arena. Their swipes will actually cause you damage, and they will continue with this repetitive action even after you relocate them. And again, do not put these NPCs anywhere near NCR-aligned NPCs.


- Gourd (0-HP)

First off, an explanation about 0-HP NPCs – they’re oddballs that respawn with no HP, so any little aggressive action you take towards them will be fatal. Seriously, a BB will kill them instantly. They have free-roaming movement scripting, but they don’t actually interact with their surroundings (so they aren’t at risk of eating your food).

In the case of Gourd and other 0-HP NPCs, you will more than likely find him dead. To use him, you will have to carry his corpse all the way to your settlement, and then stay away long enough for him to respawn (at least 3 days). When he does, the only way to get him hostile / lead him into an interior cell without instantly killing him is to get caught trying to pickpocket; easiest thing to do is try and reverse-pickpocket a cheap item into his inventory until he catches you and turns hostile. Do this as close to the doorway of the cell you want to put him in as possible (you can effectively push him by constantly tapping the A button to trigger his floating dialogue, which will keep him from walking around while you’re pushing him), because he will probably flee after a few seconds, and again, you won’t be able to snap him out of his cowardice without killing him.
Simple questions deserve long-winded answers that no one will bother to read.
#10masterpug53(Topic Creator)Posted 4/3/2012 5:19:59 PM

- Keene (Stationary)
- Super Mutants (6) (Stationary)

First off, only take Keene away from Jacobstown after you’ve completed ‘Guess Who I Saw Today’ (presumably you’ll need to pass the speech check to convince Keene to give up on the Mark II Stealthboy – I haven’t completed the quest any other way, so I don’t know).

There are four Super Mutants in the outdoors of Jacobstown who work: two guarding the gate, one under the sign, and one to the right of the lodge entrance. But of course, when in doubt, look for the guys who aren’t moving around.

I’ve managed to get an extra two working Super Mutants to follow me out of the lodge when I got Keene to chase me – I am not sure which Mutants these are, unfortunately. If you want the two extra ones from inside (or maybe there’s more…?) you’ll have to run a little trial-and-error yourself…or just get lucky. If you get outside, pop a Stealth Boy to cease hostilities, and notice that a couple extras are hanging around with no place to go, then you’re in luck.

You’ll have to move these guys in a minimum of two trips. Super Mutants run much faster than regular humanoids, and when they hit their thresholds, they can be over the hills and gone before you know it; for this reason among others, I can only imagine what a nightmare it would be to lead seven Super Mutants across the wasteland at once.

And you will be well-served to try and briefly cease hostilities once you’ve lured Keene out of the lodge, because big bad Marcus will quickly and efficiently beat the living **** out of you if you let him. Either pop a Stealth Boy as soon as you see Keene and the other mutants appear outside the lodge, or try and duck into one of the smaller cabins to lose them. Once they’re friendly again, push them all well away from Jacobstown / Marcus, re-aggro them, and be on your way.

And in case you’re wondering, these Super Mutants can co-exist just fine with any other settlement NPCs (did not test Mutants with Great Khans, however).


- NCR Trooper (Stationary)

This guy is standing at the shack on the bridge opposite the town proper.


- Ranger Ghost (Stationary)
- Lacey (Stationary)
- Sgt. Kilborn (Free-Roaming)

This might be one of your trickier tasks, as plenty of troopers will start firing on you when you start hostilities. Go after Lacey first, but push Ghost down the ramp and out onto the road before turning everyone aggro to make things easier. This is one of those times where it would be beneficial to use a faction outfit to incite hostilities – if Lacey is going to turn and flee from you (and she probably will), it would be better for this to happen after you’ve put as much distance as you can between yourself and the Outpost. Also, it is very difficult to pickpocket Ghost’s ammo, so you may just want to shoot the gun out of her hand. Finally, you should be able to attract Kilborn’s attention when you’re leading the other two past the ranger statues, so I’d recommend leading all three to your settlement in one go.

I am pretty sure that Lacey actually keeps stocking her inventory if you move her.
Simple questions deserve long-winded answers that no one will bother to read.