Fallout 3 Character Building Guide
Written by Tungsten Monk
           (Brendan Kreyling)
Copyright 2008-2010 Brendan Kreyling

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                      Table of Contents
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

1 Introduction                             [10INT]
    1.1 Revision History                   [11REV]
2 Character Creation                       [20CHAR]
    2.1 S.P.E.C.I.A.L.                     [21ATT]
    2.2 The Skills                         [22SKL]
    2.3 Initial Skills/Tag Skills          [23INIT]
    2.4 Sample Character                   [24SAM]
3 Levelling Up                             [30LVL]
    3.1 Experience Points                  [31EXP]
    3.2 Skill Points                       [32SKP]
    3.3 Perks                              [33PERK]
4 Other Skill Boosts                       [40BST]
    4.1 Bobbleheads                        [41BBL]
    4.2 Skill Books                        [42BOK]
5 Character Optimization                   [50OPT]
    5.1 Suggested Tag Skills               [51TAG]
    5.2 Suggested Perks                    [52SPK]
    5.3 Sample Character                   [53SAM]
    5.4 Playing on Very Hard Mode          [54VHD]
6 Final Acknowledgments/Special Thanks     [60END]

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                      Introduction [10INT]
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This guide's sole purpose is to help in the understanding and mastering of the
character creation and levelling process of Fallout 3. Though fairly simple,
it deserves at least a few words somewhere. Section 2 contains information on
the literal character creation mechanics. Section 3 contains information on
levelling up, along with all of its benefits.

To navigate this guide, simply use your browser's find function to find the
bracketed guide phrase (e.g. [10INT] for the introduction) shown on the table
of contents. Don't forget to leave the brackets on when searching.

Questions, suggestions, or corrections can be sent to my personal email
address:
tungstenmonk AT gmail DOT com
Please only send questions relevant to this guide (don't ask me where to find
something, or how to complete a quest). Please read the guide carefully before
emailing me with a question, the answer's probably in here somewhere.

Feel free to check out my website:
http://literarydeviance.blogspot.com/
It's naught but some writing, some of which is Fallout 3 related, so only go
if you like writing.

Fallout 3 is intellectual  property of Bethesda Softworks LLC, a ZeniMax Media
company. Bethesda Softworks, Bethesda Game Studios, ZeniMax and related logos
are registered trademarks or trademarks of ZeniMax Media Inc. in the U.S.
and/or other countries. Fallout, Prepare for the Future and all related logos
are trademarks of Bethesda Softworks LLC in the U.S. and/or other countries.

We're past the legalese. Let's move on.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                   Revision History [11REV]
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

1.0: Everything I first intended to put in here is in here. Minor updates and
     corrections may yet follow.

1.01: Thanks to the appearance of some FAQs and the disappearance of others,
      I've updated the credit section accordingly.

1.10: Some GameFAQs contributors gave advice for revision of the Suggested
      Perks chapter, a new addition to the Sample Character section, a whole
      new section about playing on Very Hard mode, and some corrections to the
      Skills chapter. I have also added a very special note in the
      Acknowledgements, found at the bottom of the guide.

1.11: One minor correction concerning Here and Now. Check either Perks section
      for the details.

1.20: Finally update the guide to include DLC information. Sorry about the
      wait everyone, but I just recently got my hands on the Game of the Year
      Edition. Hope the new info helps!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                   Character Creation [20CHAR]
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Character creation literally starts with the birth of your post-apocalyptic
avatar. Dark silhouettes are all you really see of other characters as your
father introduces himself and shows you off to your mother. Decide on your
name, face, and hairstyle and let the story progress. Next you'll be one year
old, and discovering that you are S.P.E.C.I.A.L.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                     S.P.E.C.I.A.L. [21ATT]
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Fallout games have always revolved around the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system for
game mechanics. The name is an acronym of the seven attributes your character
possesses. When your avatar is one year old, he/she discovers a book ("You're
SPECIAL!") that tells him/her all about it. Find below an explanation of each
attribute. Beneath each explanation is a summary of important points: what
skills are governed by that attribute, what other traits are governed by that
attribute, and what perks require a minimum level of that attribute (followed
by a number indicating the minimum attribite level in parentheses).

    STRENGTH
    "S is for Strength, and that means I am strong! I can carry more toys and
    swing stuff all day long!"

Strength is the literal physical power of your character. Each point of
Strength you assign to your character provides an additional +2 bonus to the
Melee Weapons skill. In addition, each point of Strength increases carrying
capacity by 10 pounds (starting at 160 with 1 Strength) and melee damage.
GOVERNED SKILLS: Melee Weapons
GOVERNED TRAITS: Carry capacity, melee damage
REQUIRED FOR PERKS: Little Leaguer (4), Iron Fist (4), Strong Back (5)

    PERCEPTION
    "P is for Perception, a long funny word! It means what I tasted, smelled,
    saw and heard!"

Perception is the awareness level of your character. Each point of Perception
you assign to your character provides an additional +2 bonus to the Energy
Weapons, Explosives, and Lockpick skills. Higher Perceptions will also clue
you in to approaching enemies in the form of red marks on your compass at
greater distances, but this is more difficult to quantify.
GOVERNED SKILLS: Energy Weapons, Explosives, Lockpick
GOVERNED TRAITS: None
REQUIRED FOR PERKS: Thief (4), Sniper (6), Light Step (6), Contract Killer
    (6), Lawbringer (6), Better Criticals (6), Infiltrator (7)

    ENDURANCE
    "E is for Endurance, and that's how long I can play! I'm always really
    healthy, and have energy all day!"

Endurance represents the physical fortitude of your character. Each point of
Endurance you assign to your character provides an additional +2 bonus to the
Big Guns and Unarmed skills. Additionally, each point of Endurance increases
your resistance to poison by 5% (starting from 0 at Endurance 1) and your
radiation resistance by 2% (starting from 0 at Endurance 1). Finally,
Endurance increases your character intial health by 20 hit points per point of
Endurance (start with a base of 120 HP at Endurance 1).
GOVERNED SKILLS: Big Guns, Unarmed
GOVERNED TRAITS: Poison Resistance, Radiation Resistance, Hit Points
REQUIRED FOR PERKS: Toughness (5), Lead Belly (5), Strong Back (5), Rad
    Resistance (5), Size Matters (5), Life Giver (6), Solar Powered (7)

    CHARISMA
    "C is for Charisma, it's why people think I'm great! I make my friends
    laugh and smile, and never want to hate!"

Charisma represents the magnetic force of your character's personality. Each
point of Charisma you assign to your character provides an additional +2 bonus
to the Barter and Speech skills. Charisma also improves the disposition of
NPCs toward your character to a limited extent. Karma is also influential in
determining disposition.
GOVERNED SKILLS: Barter, Speech
GOVERNED TRAITS: Disposition
REQUIRED FOR PERKS: Scoundrel (4), Child at Heart (4), Impartial Mediation
    (5), Animal Friend (6), Master Trader (6)

    INTELLIGENCE
    "I is for Intelligence, it means I'm really smart! I use my brain for lots
    of stuff, like science, math and art!"

Intelligence is a measure of your character's smarts and mental agility. Each
point of Intelligence is worth 2 points of the Medicine, Repair and Science
skills. Intelligence, more importantly, is also what determines how many skill
points you gain at each level. Specifically, you gain 10+Intelligence skill
points per level, so a higher Intelligence right from the get-go behooves you.
GOVERNED SKILLS: Medicine, Repair, Science
GOVERNED TRAITS: Skill points per level
REQUIRED FOR PERKS: Swift Learner (4), Gun Nut (4), Daddy's Boy (4), Educated
    (4), Entomologist (4), Comprehension (4), Nerd Rage! (5), Computer Whiz(7)

    AGILITY
    "A is for Agility, that's how I get around! I move real fast and easy, and
    I never make a sound!"

Agility is the attribute that represents your character's speed and dexterity.
Each point in Agility boosts the Small Guns and Sneak skills by 2 points.
Agility also determines the number of Action Points you have available in
V.A.T.S. (Vault-tec Assisted Targeting System), the "turn-based" combat system
of Fallout 3. Starting with 67 Action Points at Agility 1, you gain 2 more
Action Points for each point in Agility. Increasing your Agility also slightly
increases your run speed.
GOVERNED SKILLS: Small Guns, Sneak
GOVERNED TRAITS: Action Points
REQUIRED FOR PERKS: Gun Nut (4), Thief (4), Silent Running (6), Sniper (6),
    Light Step (6), Action Boy (6)

    LUCK
    "L is for Luck, and it's simple, you see! It means that good things always
    happen to me!"

Luck is the jack-of-all trades attribute, and is rather self-explanatory. Your
percentage chance of getting a critical hit on any particular attack is equal
to your Luck score. In addition, every skill is increased by half of your
Luck score (rounded up).
GOVERNED SKILLS: All (sort of, see above)
GOVERNED TRAITS: Critical chance
REQUIRED FOR PERKS: Fortune Finder (5), Scrounger (5), Finesse (6), Mysterious
    Stranger (6), Better Criticals (6)

---------------------------------------------------------------
             S.P.E.C.I.A.L. at character creation
---------------------------------------------------------------

When you pick up the "You're SPECIAL!" book, you are allowed to assign your
attributes right then and there. All attributes are on a scale of 1 to 10, and
start at 5. You have 5 points to distribute, though you can decrease one
attribute to increase another, effectively trading points freely among the
attributes.

IN MY OPINION: Intelligence is easily your most important attribute. You
should have at least a 6 Intelligence, and I prefer having a 7 or higher. Luck
is your second-most important attribute, as it affects everything else. It's
particularly important if you'll be making a crit-fiend build. Strength isn't
so important and can safely be knocked down to a 4 unless you'll be playing a
melee character. The bobbleheads (see section 4) can increase your Strength to
a 5 later anyway, at which point you can pick up Strong Back if you need the
extra carry weight. Agility's only important if you'll be using Small Guns or
Sneak, since the Action Point boost you get per point of Agility is rather
low. Keep an Agility of 5, though, so that after you get the bobblehead you
have the option of taking the Action Boy perk. Perception and Charisma are
moderately important, only because of the skills they govern. Besides, no
skill in the game can get you out of tight spots like (or get you better
rewards than) Speech. Endurance should get a boost to at least 6, since the
extra hit points and resistances can likely be the difference between life and
death.

REMEMBER: These are just suggestions! You should tailor your attributes to the
sort of character you want to play. Also don't forget that you have ONE chance
to rearrange your attributes after assigning them at age one. Just before you
leave Vault 101 is the LAST CHANCE you have! After that, you CANNOT rearrange
them, so think carefully before you assign them!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                       The Skills [22SKL]
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Each skill is a powerful asset that can help you keep you alive or make you
richer in the Wasteland. Some are more useful than others, but each of them IS
useful. Find below a list of the skills, their uses, governing attribute, any
perks that require that skill (followed parenthetically by the value of the
skill required for that perk), and any perks which increase your rating in
that skill. Keep in mind that perk requirements (attribute and skill alike)
are based on your permanent score in that attribute or skill and that item
boosts are not take into account. Also note that for combat skills, I have
listed weapons that combat skill affects. I have not listed unique or named
weapons here, but they simply fall in with their more general weapon type.

    BARTER
Barter is, simply, how best to buy and sell items from merchant NPCs. The
higher your Barter skill, the lower the cost of items you buy, and the higher
the cost of items you sell. You'll also get a discount when paying for NPCs to
repair items.
GOVERNING ATTRIBUTE: Charisma
REQUIRED FOR PERKS: Master Trader (60%)
BOOSTED BY PERKS: Scoundrel

    BIG GUNS
Big Guns is self-explanatory. With this skill, you use really big guns. These
guns can throw teddy bears with enough force to make someone's head explode,
or can level entire blocks with mini-nukes. Levelling your Big Guns skill
increases your damage and accuracy with the Drone Cannon, Fat Man, Flamer,
Gatling Laser, Heavy Incinerator, Minigun, Missile Launcher, and Rock-It
Launcher.
GOVERNING ATTRIBUTE: Endurance
REQUIRED FOR PERKS: None
BOOSTED BY PERKS: Size Matters

    ENERGY WEAPONS
Energy Weapons is another easy-to-understand skill. This skill determines your
effectiveness with anything that shoots lasers or plasma instead of bullets
(the exception being the Gatling Laser, which is a "Big Gun"). This skill's
effectiveness was increased drastically with the Mothership Zeta DLC.
Increasing your Energy Weapons skill increases your damage and accuracy with
the Alien Atomizer, Alien Blaster, Alien Disintegrator, Laser Pistol, Laser
Rifle, Mesmetron, Plasma Pistol, Plasma Rifle, Tesla Cannon, and Tri-Beam
Laser Rifle.
GOVERNING ATTRIBUTE: Perception
REQUIRED FOR PERKS: Concentrated Fire (60%)
BOOSTED BY PERKS: Cyborg

    EXPLOSIVES
Explosives is yet another skill that speaks for itself. Weapons that rely on
this skill blow up. Increasing your explosive rating also increases your
accuracy and damage with all manner of mines and grenades. In some cases of
story event, you may also need a certain Explosives rating before doing
something like, say, disarming an unexploded nuclear bomb. Just as an example.
GOVERNING ATTRIBUTE: Perception
REQUIRED FOR PERKS: Demolition Expert (50%), Pyromaniac (60%)
BOOSTED BY PERKS: Little Leaguer

    LOCKPICK
Your lockpick skill will determine how difficult of a lock you can open
without having the key. The lockpick minigame is still dependent on your
ability to play said minigame, but your skill in lockpick is what determines
whether or not you get the option to pick the lock at all.

Difficulty        Required Lockpick Skill
Very Easy                     0
Easy                          25
Average                       50
Hard                          75
Very Hard                    100

To pick a lock, you must move the bobby pin around and then apply torque to
the lock with the screwdriver. Be careful to apply only a little torque at
first; if you torque too hard and the bobby pin is not in the right place,
you'll break the bobby pin. The closer you are to the correct placement of the
bobby pin, the more the lock will move before catching.
GOVERNING ATTRIBUTE: Perception
REQUIRED FOR PERKS: Infilitrator (70%)
BOOSTED BY PERKS: Thief

    MEDICINE
The medicine skill essentially determines the effectiveness of your medicinal
items (specifically Stimpaks, Rad-X, and RadAway). Your Medicine skill rating
represents the percentage boost you gain to the base effect of said items, so
at 100% Medicine their effects are doubled.
GOVERNING ATTRIBUTE: Intelligence
REQUIRED FOR PERKS: Chemist (60%), Cyborg (60%), Chem Resistant (60%)
BOOSTED BY PERKS: Daddy's Boy/Girl

    MELEE WEAPONS
If you're holding this weapon in your hand and hitting or cutting someone with
it, chances are it's a Melee Weapon. This skill can significantly increase
your damage output with close-combat weapons, in particular the Auto Axe,
Axe, Baseball Bat, Chinese Officer's Sword, Combat Knife, Knife, Lead Pipe,
Nail Board, Police Baton, Pool Cue, Repellent Stick, Ripper, Rolling Pin,
Shovel, Sledgehammer, Super Sledge, Shishkebab, Shock Baton, Steel Saw,
Switchblade, and Tire Iron.
GOVERNING ATTRIBUTE: Strength
REQUIRED FOR PERKS: Ninja (80%)
BOOSTED BY PERKS: Little Leaguer

    REPAIR
The Repair skill is essential to any scavenger who plans to be away from town
for extended periods. Using the Repair skill, you can sacrifice one weapon or
piece of armor to repair a similar weapon or piece of armor. The maximum
condition to which you can repair something is based on your Repair skill
rating, to a maximum of 100% item condition at 100% Repair. It does not,
however, scale in a linear fashion. At Repair 25% or so, the maximum condition
to which you can repair an item is more like 50%.
GOVERNING ATTRIBUTE: Intelligence
REQUIRED FOR PERKS: None
BOOSTED BY PERKS: Gun Nut

    SCIENCE
The Science skill is your ability to hack into computers for which you do not
know the password. Unlike the Lockpick skill, instead of simply being able to
hack harder terminals, the hacking minigame also becomes easier as you
increase your Science skill. The number of passwords decreases as you level
the skill and the number of hints (see below, in the description of the
minigame) increases (thanks go out to TheBromgrev for correcting me on this
one).

Difficulty      Required Science Skill
Very Easy                 0
Easy                      25
Average                   50
Hard                      75
Very Hard                100

The trick to this minigame is letter placement. Take a look at the password
options on your screen for similarities. Test the password with the most
common prefix or suffix. The computer will tell you how many of those
characters were correct; this refers to both the character itself and the
placement of it. Keep in mind that the characters that were correct are JUST
as important as the characters that were NOT correct. Check for strings of
random symbols inside paired brackets, such as (^ ~!@) or {_$#* @}. These
strings will often remove a dud password from the list, and will occasionally
give back an attempt. If you fail four times, you will be locked out of the
terminal, so my suggestion is quit the game when you've failed thrice. When
you try again, you will have all four attempts again, but the password will
have changed!
GOVERNING ATTRIBUTE: Intelligence
REQUIRED FOR PERKS: Entomologist (40%), Nerd Rage! (50%), Robotics Expert
        (60%), Cyborg (60%), Computer Whiz (70%)
BOOSTED BY PERKS: Daddy's Boy/Girl

    SMALL GUNS
The Small Guns skill is slightly misleading. In my honest opinion, a sniper
rifle is not a small gun, but I suppose it is by this game's standards. The
Small Guns skill rating increases your damage and accuracy with the .32
Pistol, 10mm Pistol, 10mm Submachine Gun, Assault Rifle, BB Gun, Chinese
Assault Rifle, Chinese Pistol, Combat Shotgun, Dart Gun, Double-Barrel
Shotgun, Hunting Rifle, Infiltrator, Lever-Action Rifle, Railway Rifle,
Sawed-Off Shotgun, Scoped .44 Magnum, and Sniper Rifle.
GOVERNING ATTRIBUTE: Agility
REQUIRED FOR PERKS: Concentrated Fire (60%)
BOOSTED BY PERKS: Gun Nut

    SNEAK
The Sneak skill can be used to move around, unseen and unheard, and destroy
enemies without alerting their friends. Your Sneak skill is extremely useful
in passing unheard, but keep in mind that the speed of your movement, the
light conditions you stand in, whether or not your Pip-Boy's light is on, and
the facing of your enemy ALL come into play when you're sneaking. You need to
be careful and skilled to not alert your foes. Also note that enemies don't
appear to be alerted by guns going off unless the bullet passes near them, and
that dead bodies similarly do not alert enemies. Attacking when hidden
produces an automatic critcal hit (a "sneak attack"). If [HIDDEN] is displayed
at the top of the screen, you cannot be seen. If [DETECTED] is dipslayed at
the top of the screen, a friendly unit knows where you are. If [CAUTION] is
displayed in red at the top, the enemy is searching for you and your first
attack will not be a sneak attack. If [DANGER] is displayed in red at the top,
the enemy has detected you and will begin attacking you.
GOVERNING ATTRIBUTE: Agility
REQUIRED FOR PERKS: Silent Running (50%), Mister Sandman (60%), Ninja (80%)
BOOSTED BY PERKS: Thief

    SPEECH
The Speech skill determines your ability to persuade NPCs. This can mean
giving you a piece of information you wouldn't have otherwise received,
convincing them not to kill you, or talking them into increasing your payment.
When presented with a Speech challenge, you will be able to tell by the tag
before the dialogue option. The tag appears in the format [Speech, x%], where
x is your likelihood of success.
GOVERNING ATTRIBUTE: Charisma
REQUIRED FOR PERKS: None
BOOSTED BY PERKS: Scoundrel

    UNARMED
The Unarmed skill simply determines how much damage you do with unarmed
attacks and with "unarmed" weapons. The weapons that are associated with this
skill are the Brass Knuckles, Spiked Knuckles, Power Fist, and Deathclaw
Gauntlet.
GOVERNING ATTRIBUTE: Endurance
REQUIRED FOR PERKS: Paralyzing Palm (70%)
BOOSTED BY PERKS: Iron Fist*
*NOTE: The Iron Fist perk does not actually boost your Unarmed skill rating.
       Instead, this perk simply increases damage done with unarmed attacks
       by 5 damage.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
             Initial Skills/Tag Skills [23INIT]
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Each of your skills start at an initial rating of
2+(Governing Attribute x 2)+(Luck/2). Here, I'll show you the list with the
breakdown and everything.

Barter                          2 + (Charisma x 2) + (Luck/2)
Big Guns                        2 + (Endurance x 2) + (Luck/2)
Energy Weapons                  2 + (Perception x 2) + (Luck/2)
Explosives                      2 + (Perception x 2) + (Luck/2)
Lockpick                        2 + (Perception x 2) + (Luck/2)
Medicine                        2 + (Intelligence x 2) + (Luck/2)
Melee Weapons                   2 + (Strength x 2) + (Luck/2)
Repair                          2 + (Intelligence x 2) + (Luck/2)
Science                         2 + (Intelligence x 2) + (Luck/2)
Small Guns                      2 + (Agility x 2) + (Luck/2)
Sneak                           2 + (Agility x 2) + (Luck/2)
Speech                          2 + (Charisma x 2) + (Luck/2)
Unarmed                         2 + (Endurance x 2) + (Luck/2)

With a 5 in each stat, you would end up with an initial rating of 15 in each
skill. Mind that each skill is rated on a scale of 1 to 100, so that's not
particularly great. Fortunately, your skills are also increased thanks to the
attributes you assigned. In addition, any time you boost any one of those
attributes (either with an item or with the Intense Training perk), the rating
of that skill will also increase proportionally.

The game skips you from 1 year old to 10 years old, where you are given your
Pip-Boy 3000. It skips again to sixteen, when you must take your G.O.A.T.
(Generalized Occupational Aptitude Test) in order to determine how the Vault
can best utilize your talents. In mechanical terms, the G.O.A.T. is meant to
automatically determine your play style and assign tag skills to you
appropriately. It's ten questions (all rather humorous), each with four
answers. The answers you give determine not only your career within the Vault
(ahem), but which skills become "tag skills."

"Tag skills" are those skills which are most essential to your character. You
are allowed three tag skills at character creation, each of which is given an
immediate and permanent +15 boost.

If you don't like the tag skills the G.O.A.T. generates, you are allowed to
change them (both immediately after turning in your test to your teacher and
immediately before leaving the Vault). Alternatively, you don't have to take
the G.O.A.T. at all. When you walk into your classroom, you can instead ask
your teacher if you "really have to take this stupid test." He assures you
that you do not and the tag skill dialogue pops open right then.

It is important to note that tag skills do not increase any faster than other
skills and are still beholden to the same general rules as other skills. The
ONLY thing that tagging a skill does is give you a +15 bonus in that skill.
That being said, the bonus you receive from tagging a skill is outstanding,
and as such you should only tag those skills that you consider to be integral
to your character.

IN MY OPINION: You should tag ONE combat skill, probably either Small Guns or
Energy Weapons if you're like most Fallout players. Energy Weapons tend to do
more damage, but ammo is more prevalent for Small Guns. An atypical character
may tag Unarmed or Melee Weapons instead, and those are legitimate gameplay
options. Tagging Big Guns at the start is impractical, since you don't receive
any big guns until much later in the game. Besides, the Size Matters perk can
give you a +15 bonus in Big Guns per rank, and that has 3 ranks, so tagging it
is simply unnecessary. You should also tag at least one of either Lockpick or
Science. A lot of this game is spent either picking your way through doors or
hacking into terminals to unlock doors and safes. Note that for MOST such
puzzles, both options are open to you, but not all. Keeping that in mind, you
should only tag one, but you should increase both. The third tag skill is
entirely up to you, but it should still be important to your character
concept.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                    Sample Character [24SAM]
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The sample character below (his name is Sam) is a fairly typical starting
character concept of Fallout 3. Sam prefers to sneak around unseen and shoot
people in the head from a distance with his big ol' sniper rifle. He's also
adept at picking locks, so as to gain entrance to better treasure and to
better sneak up on unsuspecting foes. His Strength was decreased to 4 so as to
give more flexibility in selecting other attributes. Intelligence and Agility,
being his two most important statistics, were increased to 7. Perception is
also important to Sam so that he can pick locks better and notice enemies
sneaking up on him, so it was increased to 6. Luck was also increased, to
ensure a boost in skills when the Luck bobblehead is found and to increase
critical chance. His tag skills are Lockpick, Small Guns, and Sneak.

Strength        4
Perception      6
Endurance       5
Charisma        5
Intelligence    7
Agility         7
Luck            6

Barter          15
Big Guns        15
Energy Weapons  17
Explosives      17
Lockpick        32
Medicine        19
Melee Weapons   13
Repair          19
Science         19
Small Guns      34
Sneak           34
Speech          15
Unarmed         15

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                     Levelling Up [30LVL]
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Levelling up is a magical experience. Few things in this life are quite as
satisfying as the sound this game makes when you pass enough experience points
to hit the next level. Besides, levelling up grants all sort of benefits to
your character.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                  Experience Points [31EXP]
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

To level up, you need to earn a certain number of experience points.
Experience points can be earned by completing quests, killing enemies, and
completing skill challenges (such as picking a lock, hacking a terminal, or
successfully using the Speech skill). Below is a table of the number of
experience points needed to level up. Keep in mind that this table IS
cumulative.

Level          Experience Required
  1                     0
  2                   200
  3                   550
  4                  1050
  5                  1700
  6                  2500
  7                  3450
  8                  4550
  9                  5800
  10                 7200
  11                 8750
  12                10450
  13                12300
  14                14300
  15                16450
  16                18750
  17                21200
  18                23800
  19                26550
  20                29450
  21                32500
  22                35700
  23                39050
  24                42550
  25                46200
  26                50000
  27                53950
  28                58050
  29                62300
  30                66700

Note that the Swift Learner perk can give you a +10% bonus to experience
points earned per rank (to a maximum of +30% at rank 3).

SIDE NERD NOTE: For those who are interested, this progression does follow a
formula. The amount of experience required to reach a level is given by the
expression XP = 75*L^2 - 25*L - 50, where XP is experience and L is level.

IN MY OPINION: The Swift Learner perk is a waste of time. There are so many
better perks available, and if you plan on doing side quests and exploring the
world, then you will be at no shortage of experience points. If you have no
intention of doing other quests or exploring and still want to hit level 20,
maybe you should consider the Swift Learner perk and another game.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                    Skill Points [32SKP]
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

At each level, you will gain a number of skill points equal to your
Intelligence score + 10. For example, if you have Intelligence 7, you will
receive 17 skill points at each level. Skill points increase the skills of
your choice on a one-to-one basis. If you're unsatisfied with the number of
skill points you are gaining at each level, you have two permanent solutions.
1) Take the Intense Training perk to increase your Intelligence, or
2) Take the Educated perk to gain +3 skill points per level.

IN MY OPINION: Everyone should take the Educated perk as soon as it becomes
available at level 4. It's a sound investment, and it provides the most
benefit when taken at the lowest level possible.

Technically, seeking out bobbleheads and skill books can also increase your
skills, and could therefore be considered increasing the number of skill
points available to your character. However, they take quite a bit of
scavenging to find, even for experienced players, without a guide to help.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                         Perks [33PERK]
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Starting at level 2 and every level thereafter, you may take a "perk" to
increase your character's abilities or provide unique benefits. Still other
perks are granted not by virtue of levelling, but by completing a quest in a
certain way. We'll start with level-based perks and deal with the other ones a
little later. Every level-based perk (obviously) has a level requirement. Some
also have an attribute or skill requirement, listed after the name of the
perk. The maximum number of ranks allowed in that perk is also shown.

---------------------------------------------------------------
                       Level-based Perks
---------------------------------------------------------------

                        AVAILABLE AT LEVEL 2

    DADDY'S BOY/GIRL
REQUIREMENTS: Intelligence 4
RANKS: 3
The Daddy's Boy (or Daddy's Girl if you're female) perk increases your
character's Science and Medicine skills by +5% per rank.

    GUN NUT
REQUIREMENTS: Agility 4, Intelligence 4
RANKS: 3
The Gun Nut perk increases your character's Repair and Small guns skills by
+5% per rank.

    INTENSE TRAINING
REQUIREMENTS: None
RANKS: 10
Each time you take a rank in Intense Training, you may increase one of your
attributes by a single point.

    LADY KILLER/BLACK WIDOW
REQUIREMENTS: None
RANKS: 1
The Lady Killer (or Black Widow if you're female) perk grants you an extra
+10% damage to the opposite sex in combat. In addition, certain unique
dialogue options are unlocked (and are distinguished by having the name of the
perk in brackets before the dialogue option).

    LITTLE LEAGUER
REQUIREMENTS: Strength 4
RANKS: 3
With each rank of the Little Leaguer perk, your Explosives and Melee Weapons
skills are increased by +5%.

    SWIFT LEARNER
REQUIREMENTS: Intelligence 4
RANKS: 3
Each rank of Swift Learner grants you a +10% boost to experience points any
time that experience points are awarded.

    THIEF
REQUIREMENTS: Agility 4, Perception 4
RANKS: 3
For each rank of Thief, your Lockpick and Sneak skills increase by +5%.

                        AVAILABLE AT LEVEL 4

    CHILD AT HEART
REQUIREMENTS: Charisma 4
RANKS: 1
When dealing with children, their disposition is usually improved, and unique
dialogue options are sometimes available.

    COMPREHENSION
REQUIREMENTS: Intelligence 4
RANKS: 1
With the Comprehension perk, every skill book you read is worth 2 skill points
rather than 1 point. In other words, this perk doubles the benefit you get
from skill books in this game.

    EDUCATED
REQUIREMENTS: Intelligence 4
RANKS: 1
With the Educated perk, you gain 3 additional skill points at each level.

    ENTOMOLOGIST
REQUIREMENTS: Intelligence 4, Science 40%
RANKS: 1
Each time you attack a mutated insect, such as a Radroach or a Fire Ant, you
deal an additional 50% damage.

    IRON FIST
REQUIREMENTS: Strength 4
RANKS: 3
Each rank of the Iron Fist perk grants an additional +5 damage when using
unarmed attacks.

    SCOUNDREL
REQUIREMENTS: Charisma 4
RANKS: 3
Every time you take a rank of the Scoundrel perk, you gain an additional +5
bonus to the Speech and Barter skills.

                        AVAILABLE AT LEVEL 6

    BLOODY MESS
REQUIREMENTS: None
RANKS: 1
You deal an additional 5% damage on all attacks, and any time you kill someone
they die in ludicrously horrible, violent ways.

    DEMOLITION EXPERT
REQUIREMENTS: Explosives 50%
RANKS: 3
All explosives (mines, grenades, missiles) deal an additional 20% damage per
rank in this perk.

    FORTUNE FINDER
REQUIREMENTS: Luck 5
RANKS: 1
Any time you would normally find Nuka-Cola bottle caps (that is, money), you
instead find more.

    GUNSLINGER
REQUIREMENTS: None
RANKS: 1
When using a pistol (or pistol-like one-handed gun), you are 1.25x as likely
to hit in V.A.T.S.

    LEAD BELLY
REQUIREMENTS: Endurance 5
RANKS: 1
When drinking from an irradiated water source (a sink, water fountain, or
something similar), you take 50% less radiation.

    TOUGHNESS
REQUIREMENTS: Endurance 5
RANKS: 1
The Toughness perk grants an inherent +10 Damage Resistance, to the normal
maximum of 85.

                        AVAILABLE AT LEVEL 8

    COMMANDO
REQUIREMENTS: None
RANKS: 1
When using a rifle (or rifle-like two-handed weapon), you are 1.25x as likely
to hit in V.A.T.S.

    IMPARTIAL MEDIATION
REQUIREMENTS: Charisma 5
RANKS: 1
You gain a 30% bonus to the Speech skill, with one important caveat: you must
maintain a neutral Karma to continue receiving the benefit of this perk.

    RAD RESISTANCE
REQUIREMENTS: Endurance 5
RANKS: 1
When you take this perk, you gain an inherent, permanent +25% bonus to your
Radiation Resistance.

    SCROUNGER
REQUIREMENTS: Luck 5
RANKS: 1
Any time you would find ammunition (in a desk, in an ammunition box, etc.),
you instead find more.

    SIZE MATTERS
REQUIREMENTS: Endurance 5
RANKS: 3
With each rank of the Size Matters perk, you gain a permanent +15 bonus to the
Big Guns skill.

    STRONG BACK
REQUIREMENTS: Strength 5, Endurance 5
RANKS: 1
Your carrying capacity increases by 50 pounds.

                        AVAILABLE AT LEVEL 10

    ANIMAL FRIEND
REQUIREMENTS: Charisma 6
RANKS: 2
This perk makes you a friend to all of animal kind (including Mole Rats, Yao
Guai, etc). At rank 1, you will never again be attacked by animals (unless you
attack them first, of course). At rank 2, animals will come to your defense
when you are attacked, unless you are being attacked by another animal.
Animals will never come to your defense when you are attacking another animal.

    FINESSE
REQUIREMENTS: Luck 6
RANKS: 1
Your critical chance increases by 5% with the Finesse perk.

    HERE AND NOW
REQUIREMENTS: None
RANKS: 1
You gain a level immediately, along with all of the benefits that entails.
NOTE: You CANNOT take this at Level 20 to get to Level 21. There IS NO Level
21!

    MISTER SANDMAN
REQUIREMENTS: Sneak 60%
RANKS: 1
Whenever you sneak up on a sleeping person undetected, you can kill them
instantly and gain bonus experience for doing so.

    MYSTERIOUS STRANGER
REQUIREMENTS: Luck 6
RANKS: 1
When in V.A.T.S., and attacking an enemy below 150 hit points, there is a 10%
chance that a mysterious stranger will show up and finish off your opponent.

    NERD RAGE!
REQUIREMENTS: Intelligence 5, Science 50%
RANKS: 1
Much like the ever-famous Banner, when you drop below 20% health, your
Strength increases to 10 and you gain +50% Damage Resistance.

    NIGHT PERSON
REQUIREMENTS: None
RANKS: 1
Whenever it is nighttime in game, your character gains +2 Intelligence and +2
Perception.

                        AVAILABLE AT LEVEL 12

    CANNIBAL
REQUIREMENTS: None
RANKS: 1
When you're sneaking, you can feed on the corpses of the dead. You lose karma
every time you do so, but you do gain health back. In addition, if anyone sees
you feed, they will become hostile toward you.

    FAST METABOLISM
REQUIREMENTS: None
RANKS: 1
Whenever you use a Stimpak, you gain 20% more health than you normally would.

    LIFE GIVER
REQUIREMENTS: Endurance 6
RANKS: 1
You gain an additional 30 health.

    PYROMANIAC
REUQIREMENTS: Explosives 60%
RANKS: 1
When using fire-based weapons (Flamer, Shiskebab, etc.) you do an additional
50% damage.

    ROBOTICS EXPERT
REQUIREMENTS: Science 50%
RANKS: 1
You do an additional 25% damage to any robot you attack. In addition, if you
sneak up on a robot undetected, you can "activate" it from behind and shut it
down permanently.

    SILENT RUNNING
REQUIREMENTS: Agility 6, Sneak 50%
RANKS: 1
You gain a permanent +10% bonus to Sneak. In addition, your movement speed no
longer factors into your sneaking (i.e., you can run while sneaking and will
not be any more likely to be detected).

    SNIPER
REQUIREMENTS: Perception 6, Agility 6
RANKS: 1
You are 1.25x more likely to get a headshot in V.A.T.S. mode.

                        AVAILABLE AT LEVEL 14

    ADAMANTIUM SKELETON
REQUIREMENTS: None
RANKS: 1
Your limbs take 50% of the damage that they ordinarily would from any attack.

    CHEMIST
REQUIREMENTS: Medicine 60%
RANKS: 1
Any chems you take (drugs, Rad-X, etc.) last twice as long as they normally
would.

    CONTRACT KILLER
REQUIREMENTS: None
RANKS: 1
Any time you kill a good NPC, you may take an ear from the corpse and turn it
in to an evil NPC (whose identity is revealed when you take this perk) for
negative Karma and a few caps.

    CYBORG
REQUIREMENTS: Medicine 60%, Science 60%
RANKS: 1
You gain a permanent +10% bonus to Damage Resistance, Poison Resistance,
Radiation Resistance, and the Energy Weapons skill, thanks to the cybernetic
enhancements you've made to your body.

    LAWBRINGER
REQUIREMENTS: None
RANKS: 1
Any time you kill an evil NPC, you may take a finger from the corpse. When you
take this perk, the name of a particular good NPC is revealed to you. You may
turn in the fingers to this NPC for positive Karma and for a few caps.

    LIGHT STEP
REQUIREMENTS: Perception 6, Agility 6
RANKS: 1
You will never set off floor-based traps.

    MASTER TRADER
REQUIREMENTS: Charisma 6, Barter 60%
RANKS: 1
Any time you purchase from a vendor, prices are reduced by an additional 25%.

                        AVAILABLE AT LEVEL 16

    ACTION BOY/GIRL
REQUIREMENTS: Agility 6
RANKS: 1
You gain 25 Action Points that you can use in V.A.T.S.

    BETTER CRITICALS
REQUIREMENTS: Perception 6, Luck 6
RANKS: 1
When you deal damage with a critical hit, it does an additional 50% damage.

    CHEM RESISTANT
REQUIREMENTS: Medicine 60%
RANKS: 1
You are 50% less likely to be come addicted to chems through repeated use.

    TAG!
REQUIREMENTS: None
RANKS: 1
You may pick a fourth skill (any skill other than your tag skills) and make it
a tag skill, giving it a permanent +15 bonus.

                        AVAILABLE AT LEVEL 18

        COMPUTER WHIZ
REQUIREMENTS: Intelligence 7, Science 70%
RANKS: 1
Whenever you are locked out of a computer by failing at all four password
attempts, you may attempt to hack it again.

    CONCENTRATED FIRE
REQUIREMENTS: Energy Weapons 60%, Small Guns 60%
RANKS: 1
You gain a bonus to attacking a particular limb when you target it in V.A.T.S.
mode repeatedly. The first time you target it, you gain no bonus. The second
time you gain +5%, the third time you gain +10%, et cetera.

    INFILTRATOR
REQUIREMENTS: Perception 7, Lockpick 70%
RANKS: 1
If you break a lock by trying to force it when picking it, you may attempt to
try picking it one more time.

    PARALYZING PALM
REQUIREMENTS: Unarmed 70%
RANKS: 1
When completely unarmed (i.e. not using "unarmed" weapons) and in V.A.T.S.
mode, you gain access to a special palm strike which has a chance of
paralyzing your opponent for 30 seconds.

                        AVAILABLE AT LEVEL 20

    EXPLORER
REQUIREMENTS: None
RANKS: 1
Every location on the world map is revealed. You cannot fast travel to these
locations until you have traveled to them in the usual way, but you are at the
least aware of their location.

    NINJA
REQUIREMENTS: Melee Weapons 80%, Sneak 80%
RANKS: 1
When attacking with Melee Weapons or Unarmed, you gain a +15% critical chance
and sneak attack criticals do an additional +25% damage.

    GRIM REAPER'S SPIRIT
REQUIREMENTS: None
RANKS: 1
When you kill an opponent in V.A.T.S. mode, all of your Action Points are
restored.

    SOLAR POWERED
REQUIREMENTS: Endurance 7
RANKS: 1
When standing outside during the day (and not in the shade), your Strength
increases by 2 points and you slowly regain health.

NOTE: You can only get up to Level 20 without the Broken Steel DLC. The rest
of these perks are for those with Broken Steel.

                        AVAILABLE AT LEVEL 22

    DEEP SLEEP
REQUIREMENTS: None
RANKS: 1
Sleeping in any bed will give you the Well-Rested condition for 8 hours.
NOTE: Normally, only sleeping in your bed at home (Megaton or Tenpenny Tower)
or in a rented bed will give you the Well-Rested condition, which increases
the amount of experience you receive.

    PUPPIES!
REQUIREMENTS: None
RANKS: 1
Should Dogmeat ever die, a new companion named "Dogmeat's Puppy" will appear
at Vault 101 with twice as much health as Dogmeat had. You can always find a
new puppy should your puppy die, but you can only have one puppy at a time.

    QUANTUM CHEMIST
REQUIREMENTS: Science 70
RANKS: 1
Anytime you have 10 Nuka-Colas (not counting the Ice Cold ones!) in your
inventory, they will be removed and replaced with a Nuka-Cola Quantum.

                        AVAILABLE AT LEVEL 24

    DEVIL'S HIGHWAY
REQUIREMENTS: Karma not at Very Evil
RANKS: 1
Your Karma becomes Very Evil.

    ESCALATOR TO HEAVEN
REQUIREMENTS: Karma not at Very Good
RANKS: 1
Your Karma becomes Very Good.

    KARMIC REBALANCE
REQUIREMENTS: Karma not Neutral
RANKS: 1
Your Karma becomes Neutral.

    NO WEAKNESS
REQUIREMENTS: None
RANKS: 1
All S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats lower than 5 are raised to 5.

                        AVAILABLE AT LEVEL 26
    NERVES OF STEEL
REQUIREMENTS: Agility 7
RANKS: 1
Your AP regeneration increases minutely.

    RAD TOLERANCE
REQUIREMENTS: Endurance 7
RANKS: 1
Having Minor Radiation Sickness no longer has any ill effects for you.

    WARMONGER
REQUIREMENTS: Intelligence 7
RANKS: 1
Whether or not you collected them, you now gain all schematics at level 3.

                        AVAILABLE AT LEVEL 28

    PARTY BOY/GIRL
REQUIREMENTS: None
RANKS: 1
You will no longer become an alcoholic, no matter how much you drink.

    RAD ABSORPTION
REQUIREMENTS: Endurance 7
RANKS: 1
Your radiation level will naturally decrease with time.

                        AVAILABLE AT LEVEL 30

    ALMOST PERFECT
REQUIREMENTS: None
RANKS: 1
All S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats are increased to 9.

    NUCLEAR ANOMALY
REQUIREMENTS: None
RANKS: 1
Whenever you drop to 20 health or less, you explode like a small nuke. You
suffer no damage from this explosion (which actually heals out a little and
resets your radiation to 0), but you might kill your friends, destroy your
armor, or cripple your limbs by exploding.

---------------------------------------------------------------
                         Quest Perks
---------------------------------------------------------------

Some quests (side quests) grant perks to you that are unobtainable otherwise.
Below is a list of these perks, organized by quest name.

                        WASTELAND SURVIVAL GUIDE
    DREAM CRUSHER
TO OBTAIN IT: Ask Moira about the guide at every opportunity, and when you get
              the opportunity, use the speech challenge to convince her to
              stop writing it.
BENEFITS: You are given a 30% discount when buying from Moira's shop. In
          addition, you are 50% less likely to be critically hit by enemies.

    RAD LIMB HEALING
TO OBTAIN IT: During the Wasteland Survival Guide, Moira will ask you to get
              radiation sickness. If you come back with advanced radiation
              sickness (600 or more), you will gain this perk.
BENEFITS: When suffering from advanced radiation sickness (600 or more), your
          limbs will automatically regenerate.

    JUNIOR SURVIVOR
TO OBTAIN IT: When doing the quest Wasteland Survival Guide, only complete
              a maximum of 5 bonus objectives (the "optional" objectives).
BENEFITS: You gain +2% Poison and Radiation Resistance. In addition, depending
          on how you answered Moira's questions, you will gain an additional
          bonus.
                  SIMPLE: +5 Health
                  SMART (Intelligence): +2 Medicine, +2 Science
                  AGGRESSIVE (Strength/Endurance): +2 Damage Resistance
                  QUICK-WITTED (Perception/Agility): +2 Sneak, +2 Speech
                  SNARKY: +1% Critical Chance

    SURVIVOR EXPERT
TO OBTAIN IT: When doing the quest Wasteland Survival Guide, complete between
              5 and 8 bonus objectives (the "optional" objectives).
BENEFITS: The same as for Junior Survivor, but doubled.

    SURVIVOR GURU
TO OBTAIN IT: When doing the quest Wasteland Survival Guide, complete all of
              the bonus objectives (the "optional" objectives).
BENEFITS: The same as for Junior Survivor, but tripled.

                        THOSE!
    ANT MIGHT
TO OBTAIN IT: Complete the quest "Those!" When presented with your choice of
              bioenhancers, choose this one.
BENEFITS: You gain a permanent +1 to Strength and 25% Fire Resistance.

    ANT SIGHT
TO OBTAIN IT: Complete the quest "Those!" When presented with your choice of
              bioenhancers, choose this one.
BENEFITS: You gain a permanent +1 to Perception and 25% Fire Resistance.

                        THE REPLICATED MAN
    WIRED REFLEXES
TO OBTAIN IT: During the quest "The Replicated Man," turn in the android A3-21
              to Doctor Zimmer in Rivet City.
BENEFIT: You are 1.1x as likely to hit an enemy in V.A.T.S.

                        BLOOD TIES
    HEMATOPHAGY
TO OBTAIN IT: During the quest "Blood Ties," ask Vance to learn the ways of
              the Family.
BENEFITS: Blood packs are now worth +20 HP, instead of +1 HP.

                        OASIS
    BARKSKIN
TO OBTAIN IT: When performing the quest "Oasis," choose to destroy Harold's
              heart, killing him.
BENEFIT: You gain +1 Endurance and +10% Damage Resistance.

NOTE: The rest of these perks come from DLC. I'll separate them by the DLC
they're from so that you can skip to what's useful to you.

              OPERATION: ANCHORAGE
    COVERT OPS
TO OBTAIN IT: Collect all 10 pieces of Intel scattered throughout Anchorage.
BENEFIT: You gain +3 to Science, Small Guns and Lockpick.

              THE PITT   
                        UNSAFE WORKING CONDITIONS
    AUTO AXPERT
TO OBTAIN IT: Collect 10 Steel Ingots while working in the Steelyard.
BENEFIT: Deal an additional 25% damage while wielding an Auto Axe.

    PITT FIGHTER
TO OBTAIN IT: Complete the fight in The Hole.
BENEFIT: You'll gain +3% Radiation and Damage Resistances.

                        FREE LABOR
    BOOSTER SHOT
TO OBTAIN IT: Complete the quest "Free Labor."
BENEFIT: +10% Radiation Resistance

              POINT LOOKOUT
                        PLIK'S SAFARI
    GHOUL ECOLOGY
TO OBTAIN IT: After finding Plik's little safari in the caves of Point
              Lookout, find his journal on a table next to a chessboard near
              the entrance and read it.
BENEFIT: +5 damage to Ghouls.
NOTE: The Benefit above is the INTENDED benefit. According to the Fallout
      Wikia, due to a glitch with this bug, the damage bonus actually applies
      to ALL enemies, making this an even better perk.

                        THE LOCAL FLAVOR
    SUPERIOR DEFENDER
TO OBTAIN IT: Complete "The Local Flavor" by helping Desmond clear Calvert
              Mansion of all Tribals.
BENEFIT: While standing still, you gain +5 damage and +10% Damage Resistance.

                        WALKING WITH SPIRITS
    PUNGA POWER!
TO OBTAIN IT: Complete "Walking with Spirits."
BENEFIT: You gain more health and lose more rads when you eat Punga fruits.

              MOTHERSHIP ZETA
    XENOTECH EXPERT
TO OBTAIN IT: Get into the Alien Weapon Lab and use the shooting range. Hit
              the far switch and kill whatever enemies pop up.
BENEFIT: Alien weapons do 20% more damage when you use them.

---------------------------------------------------------------
                        Other Perks
---------------------------------------------------------------

There is exactly one perk that does not come from levelling or as a quest
reward. That is the Power Armor Training perk.

        POWER ARMOR TRAINING
TO OBTAIN IT: While in the Citadel, speak to Elder Lyons about being trained
              with power armor. He will concede and send you to Paladin Gunny.
              Paladin Gunny will train you with power armor.
BENEFIT: You can wear power armor of all kinds.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                 Other Skill Boosts [40BST]
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Perks and skill points are not the only way to increase your skills. There are
several collectible items in the game world which are capable of increasing
skills. There are two ways, really: bobbleheads and skill books. This guide
will talk about the mechanical benefits of these devices rather than their
locations.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                    Bobbleheads [41BBL]
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Throughout the world are bobbleheads of the Pip-Boy logo, the little man with
the golden flip and the giant smile. There are 20 bobbleheads altogether,
one for each of the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. attributes and one for each of the skills.
The S.P.E.C.I.A.L. bobbleheads each increase the appropriate attribute by one.
The skills bobbleheads each permanently increase the appropriate skill by 10.
Again, these are permanent boosts, so they DO count toward requirements for
perks, et cetera. Keep in mind that these bobbleheads are not forever. It is
possible to not pick one up and therefore lose it for ever. The Strength
bobblehead, Energy Weapons bobblehead, and Medicine bobblehead (thanks to
SunsThirdStone for reminding me about this one) can all disappear forever if
you're not careful. So if you plan to collect these in order to properly
min/max your character, you'll want to get them as soon as possible.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                    Skill Books [42BOK]
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Skill books, on the other hand, tend to be harder to lose. There are 324 skill
books floating around the world. Each skill has 25 books associated with it in
the world, except for Barter which only has 24. Reading a skill book grants
the reader a permanent +1 bonus in that skill (again, permanent, so it counts
for perks and such). The exception to this rule is those with the
Comprehension perk. With the Comprehension perk, you gain 2 skill points per
book instead of one. In other words, instead of a potential 324 skill points
floating around the Capitol Wasteland, there are now 628. That being said, if
you do plan to use the Comprehension perk (as all those obssessed with
min/max-ing ought to), collect those skill books you find, but don't read them
until after you've reached level 5 and picked up Comprehension. I won't list
the locations of these books here, either. No guide has the complete listing
of available skill books, but CrionLord's guide here on GameFAQs (check the
credits at the bottom for the link) has most of them up. You can email him
suggestions for books he may have missed as well; the sooner we all chip in,
the sooner we'll have found all of them!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                Character Optimization [50OPT]
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Character optimization in Fallout 3 is actually remarkable simple. If you
don't feel like reading through the rest of this detailed, long-winded guide,
I'll summarize the important points here.
1) Have an Intelligence of at least 6 (maybe 7) at character creation.
2) Tag one combat skill, one of either Lockpick or Science, and one other.
3) Take the Educated perk at level 4, and Comprehension at level 5.
4) Increase all of your skills to 40 by levelling.
5) Use excess skill points to boost those skills most important to your
   character concept; commonly, these skills include any one of the combat
   skills, Barter, Lockpick, Science, or Speech.
6) Find ALL of the bobbleheads and skill books. This should get you to 100.

IN MY OPINION: You really don't need to min/max in this game. At level 30, you
can wreck most anything with even a halfway decent character. The point of
this guide is not primarily to aid in min/max-ing, but to promote an
understanding of Fallout 3's character system. Min/max if you want, it may
help on higher difficulties, but it's really unnecessary for the majority of
players. Just play a character you like and do whatever you feel like in the
game.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                 Suggested Tag Skills [51TAG]
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When tagging skills at the beginning, you have to consider first and foremost
how you'll be playing Fallout 3. Will you use guns or lasers to demolish your
foes? Would you rather talk your way out of situations, or bash people's faces
in? Would you rather pick a lock, or hack a terminal to open the door?
Obviously, here you're deciding between Small Guns/Energy Weapons,
Speech/Melee Weapons, and Lockpick/Science, but those aren't your only
options. Let's talk about the skills.

    BARTER
Barter doesn't make for a great tag skill. You can dump enough skill points
in it to get it up to 40, but beyond that don't worry too hard. You won't find
yourself buying much come endgame anyway, and most vendors probably already
can't afford what you're trying to sell them.
IN MY OPINION: Skip the tag.

    BIG GUNS
I don't think I could possibly be clearer on this: DO NOT TAG BIG GUNS. The
bonus won't help you early-game, since you won't be finding many big guns. If
you do end up using big guns later, pick up the Size Matters perk and dump
some skill points into it later.
IN MY OPINION: Worthwhile endgame, not at the beginning. Pass.

    ENERGY WEAPONS
Unlike previous incarnations of the series, Energy Weapons is not a bad choice
for a tag skill in Fallout 3. You can get a Laser Pistol as early as your trip
to Super-Duper Mart, and Energy Weapons do tend to be slightly more powerful
than Small Guns. Ammo is a little harder to find, but I assure you that that
won't be a problem by endgame.
IN MY OPINION: A solid tag skill, but don't take this and Small Guns. Pick
               one.

    EXPLOSIVES
This one could be one of the tag skills you take for flavor, but it's not an
essential. You can put enough points into it in the first couple of levels
so that you can disarm the bomb in Megaton (or not as you see fit), and
increasing it up to 40 will make you proficient enough with most explosives.
Grenades are pretty much hit or miss anyway, and it's hard to miss with mines.
IN MY OPINION: Pass on the tag skill, unless you're particularly invested in
               it as a character concept.

    LOCKPICK
This is one of those skills that I highly recommend tagging. However, tagging
this and Science tends to be redundant; most puzzles can be solved with one
or the other, and those what can't don't tend to be too difficult. Still, if
you don't tag this skill, I'd invest a significant number of your skill points
in it. Yeah, it's important.
IN MY OPINION: Tag this or Science, but not both.

    MEDICINE
This skill's important, I won't lie to you. Stimpaks are fairly plentiful in
the Wasteland; not so plentiful that you can't get away without Medicine, but
plentiful enough that it makes things more difficult. Increasing your points
in Medicine means spending less on Stimpaks to patch yourself up after
firefights. Tagging it isn't a bad idea.
IN MY OPINION: A decent tag, but you can get away without it if you like the
               sound of something else.

        MELEE WEAPONS
Melee weapons is not a great skill. You can get by in this game with this as
your primary combat skill (hell, I've done it), but that doesn't mean it's the
best choice. You can't target body parts with melee weapons in V.A.T.S.,
meaning that you can't get a lot of important and specific effects with them.
They still do damage to body parts, but only if you're out of V.A.T.S. and
swinging at them. Melee weapons are pretty powerful in this game, particularly
with a high Strength. You'd be surprised what you can bring down with a good
Melee Weapons skill and a Shishkebab.
IN MY OPINION: Only tag this if it's really important to your character
               concept. Otherwise, get Energy Weapons or Small Guns.

        REPAIR
Repair is important. In extended firefights, your weapon can degrade
surprisingly quickly. When your weapon degrades, it does less damage, which
means firefights only take longer. The higher your Repair skill, the more
parts you can jam into your gun and the longer you can keep it working.
However, this skill is not so important that I would recommend picking it up
as a tag skill unless you had no other ideas for your third tag. You'll find
plenty of Dean's Electronics (the Repair skill book) floating around, and
increasing it to 40 will make it so you can repair most anything over 50%
condition.
IN MY OPINION: Don't tag it unless you're out of ideas, but put some skill
               points into it.

        SCIENCE
Science is one of the three most important skills in this game (it's up there
with Lockpick and Speech). About 40% of the puzzles in this game are Science-
based, so either tag it or Lockpick.
IN MY OPINION: Tag this one or Lockpick, but not both. Put points into both of
               them, regardless.

        SMALL GUNS
Small guns are the most prevalent firearms in the Wasteland. Beyond that, they
have the most diverse and plentiful ammo sources (there are at least a
half-dozen varieties of ammo for Small Guns). However, most guns aren't that
damaging. Energy Weapons'll do more damage (unless you find one of the unique
Small Guns, which just kick so much ass), but you'll find more ammo for Small
Guns, so really it comes down to personal preference.
IN MY OPINION: Tag either this or Energy Weapons, but not both. That's just
               redundant.

        SNEAK
Sneak's a pretty badass skill. The AI in this game is a little sketchy when it
comes to the sneaking. You can shoot a gun without alerting anyone but the
person you narrowly missed, and bodies don't alert their friends to something
being amiss. That and sneak attacks make Sneak a very useful skill. That being
said, unless you're attached to the idea of sneak attacking EVERYTHING in this
game, Stealth Boys can get you through those rare occasions where you really
can't afford to be seen. There are plenty in the game world, so don't fret too
hard about coming across them.
IN MY OPINION: Another skill that you should only tag if it's deeply invested
               in your character concept. Useful, but not critical.

        SPEECH
Speech is one of the three most important skills in this game, in my honest
opinion. It can get you out of most anything, earn you more money, even skip
whole quest lines (if you're into speed runs). There's very little the Speech
skill can't do, especially since this is still a Bethesda game at heart. So if
you don't tag this, at least put points into it. You'll thank me later.
IN MY OPINION: Tag this unless you have something more important to your
               character concept to tag. If you don't tag it, invest in it.

        UNARMED
Unarmed is another one of those skills that you shouldn't pay any attention to
unless it's part of your character concept. Combined with the Iron Fist perk a
few times, it can be devastating. But the range you lose from not using a gun
or even a melee weapon can be fatal at times; there are simply some enemies
you do NOT want to get close to.
IN MY OPINION: One of the more powerful combat skills; tag it if you want to
               play a monk-ish or Ninja-ish character, but otherwise skip it.

In summary, the average character will probably want Small Guns (or Energy
Weapons), Lockpick (or Science), and Repair (or Medicine or Speech). You can
figure out which attributes will be most important to you based on what skills
you intend to tag. Or what skills you intend to tag based on what attributes
you buy up, whichever way makes more sense to you.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                   Suggested Perks [52SPK]
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

There are just so many perks, I really don't feel like listing them all again.
What say I just list the ones that are really good and the ones you should
really avoid, eh?

                         THE BEST
    INTENSE TRAINING
I don't recommend Intense Training because it's a really fantastic perk in and
of itself, but it does have a rather singular benefit. It can raise any one of
your S.P.E.C.I.A.L. attributes upon selecting it. On any dead level (and by
that I mean any level where you can't take a perk you really want), I
recommend picking up Intense Training to either increase one of your weak
attributes (like Strength typically is) or Intelligence (because you always
need more).

    EDUCATED
I don't really need to explain myself here. It's +3 skill points per level.
The earlier you take it, the more benefit you get out of it, so take it at 4th
level. I don't care what sort of character you're playing, it's always worth
it.

    COMPREHENSION
Another big one. This literally doubles the number of skill points you can get
from skill books. Get it at 5th level, and be sure not to read any skill books
until then. This is worth it.

    DADDY'S BOY (GIRL)/GUN NUT/SCOUNDREL....
The ellipsis is to indicate that I mean any perk in this vein. Any perk which
gives a +5% to two different skills can be very good, particularly if those
skills are important to you. If you're playing a character who shoots a lot of
guns at people, Gun Nut is great. If you're hacking terminals all the time,
Daddy's Boy/Girl is a good time. Obviously, don't go overboard on these. But
if you ever find yourself unenthusiastic about any of the other perk choices,
one of these or Intense Training is a really good bet.

    TOUGHNESS
This perk increases damage reduction, straight up. Especially if you're
playing a sneaky character and so can't afford the bulkiness of power armor,
this perk will drastically increase your survivability.

    STRONG BACK
Assuming you have the requisite Strength and Endurance, this perk gives a
permanent space boost to your inventory, which means more guns, more armor,
and more cool toys that you can use to make better guns. Who doesn't want
that?

    FINESSE
A +5% critical chance, just like that. It's like increasing your Luck by 5
points in a single perk (though without the skill boosts). This perk kicks
ass, and you will find your enemies gibbing a lot more frequently when you've
taken it.

    FAST METABOLISM
Remember what I was saying about the Medicine skill? How it let you use fewer
Stimpaks, and decreased the cost of surviving gunfights? This perk follows
that same vein, but with fewer skill points.

    LIGHT STEP
The prerequistes are kinda steep for Light Step, but there are plenty of
raider bases littered with mines and bear traps. This perk lets you not even
worry about them, just step right around them. Don't worry about it if you
don't have the requisite skills, though.

    ACTION BOY/GIRL
V.A.T.S. is better for combat about 75% of the time; unless you're using a
melee weapon or at great distances, V.A.T.S. will work out better in combat.
And having more Action Points means killing more people without getting shot
up yourself. The bonus from this perk is substantial, like 12.5 more points of
Agility.

    TAG!
If you find yourself running short of skill points and desparately need a
boost in something, Tag! is your best bet. A permanent +15 bonus to any skill
of your choice: that's just good business.

    GRIM REAPER'S SPRINT
Easily the most generally useful perk at level 20. Any time you kill something
in V.A.T.S. mode, you get ALL of your action points back. That spells out hot
death for your enemies, and cool drinks for you afterward.

    PUPPIES!
Don't worry about reloading every time Dogmeat runs into a shotgun blast to
save your sorry hide; with Puppies! you effectively have an infinite number of
Dogmeats, and even better, the puppies are harder to kill!

    QUANTUM CHEMIST
I love this perk very much. Nuka-Grenades are easily one of the most damaging
weapons in the game and with this perk, you no longer have to worry about
there being a finite number of Quantum in the world. Since merchants restock
Nuka-Cola indefinitely, you can have a theoretically infinite number of
Quantum and therefore an infinite number of grenades to cause fruity,
radioactive death.

    ALMOST PERFECT
The thing about this perk is that it makes ALL of your stats 9. I almost want
to recommend never picking up stat bobbleheads until you have this perk. Since
this perk doesn't become available until level 30, you unfortunately can't
take it and follow it up with Intense Training to make your stats all 10, but
this can happen with bobbleheads! So keep that in mind (unless you plan to
blow up Megaton, since you can easily lose the Strength bobblehead that way).

Not every perk is for everyone. Some perks are really good, but only in
relatively narrow circumstances. So, I present the list of those perks which a
select few can really appreciate. They are known as

                          THE CIRCUMSTANTIAL
    CHILD AT HEART
If you're not much good at Speech, this perk can be of some help to you, at
the very least in Little Lamplight. It gains you access to some treasures you
would otherwise have to break an arm and a leg for, but not so frequently that
everyone should get it. It can be cute, though.

    IRON FIST
Iron Fist drastically increases damage potential with Unarmed attacks. But
most characters won't be using Unarmed attacks, most characters will be
shooting bad guys up with guns. So unless you're attached to the Monk concept,
skip it.

    DEMOLITION EXPERT
Again, this can drastically increase damage with a limited range of weaponry
which, frankly, already does a ton of damage. This can be a devastating perk,
but only if you've invested yourself in Explosives and Big Guns anyway.

    GUNSLINGER
If you're not hitting enough in V.A.T.S. with your pistol-like weapon, take
this. For the rest of you, just get closer and try again.

    COMMANDO
Same deal as above, but for rifles.

    IMPARTIAL MEDIATION
A +30 is a tremendous boost in a skill. However, the requirement to this is
pretty steep; it's difficult to maintain a neutral Karma in this game. If you
feel up to the task and were planning for it anyway, this perk is definitely
worth your while. For those of us who would just rather lay into someone with
a shotgun once in a while, skip it.

    SCROUNGER
You'll find substantially more ammo with this perk, no argument, and it can be
particularly useful for users of Small Guns (with the wide variety of ammo
available), but most people will regret taking this by endgame when they're
sitting on a pile of ammo and nothing to do with it.

    SIZE MATTERS
If you want to pick up Big Guns, take this perk at level 8 rather than tagging
the skill. Bethesda did this intentionally; big guns become more plentiful
about this level, and suddenly you can huge boosts in Big Guns. Important if
you care about Miniguns and Missile Launchers (and who doesn't?), but pass
otherwise.

    ANIMAL FRIEND
Animals aren't that much of a pain. This perk is only worth it if you can pick
up both ranks (though, don't get me wrong, not getting pounced by mutated
black bears can be a tremendous relief) and have animals actually fight for
you. Even then, most animals will just get owned by a raider with a submachine
gun, so this one is purely your discretion.

    NERD RAGE!
This is a cute concept, and the DR boost is nice, but you still cap out at 85%
damage resistance, so you will frequently find yourself squandering the
entirety of the 50% boost. The Strength boost is completely unimportant unless
you're using some sort of melee attack. If you're for some reason playing a
non-sneaky character without power armor, take this, but skip it otherwise.

    LIFE GIVER
You need a substantial amount of Endurance to take this anyway, so chances are
you'll have a pretty high HP total before this perk. Still, 30 health is
nothing to scoff at, and if you find yourself in the line of fire a lot, take
it.

    PYROMANIAC
It has been suggested (by themousemaster, specifically, and I thank him for
his contribution) that I was unfairly harsh on this perk. And it is true that
I dismissed it, due to a real lack of "fire" weapons; honestly, could you
think of one off of the top of your head, other than the Flamer? Well,
themousemaster could: the Shishkebab. The Shishkebab is probably the most
powerful Melee Weapon in the game, and with the addition of Pyromaniac and
some Power Armor, it can be a truly awesome weapon (in the classical sense of
the term). However, this is ONLY applicable to those people using the Melee
Weaons skill AND the Shishkebab, so it has been upgraded to "circumstantial"
status, and I have no intention of raising it further.

    SILENT RUNNING
This only matters if you're playing a sneaky character. But if you are, it's
great and you should definitely take it. Who doesn't love a free skill boost?
And besides, sneaking was too slow before, now you can run around while
stealthed.

    SNIPER
This perk can be pretty useful, but you should only take it if you find
yourself at a loss for other perks (which should seldom happen). The benefit
is not so high that you can't do without.

    CYBORG
This perk has great flavor. I just wish it would change your appearance. Most
of the benefits from this are great for everyone: bonus to DR, PR, and RR (the
resistances, I mean), but not everyone can get the same benefit from the
Energy Weapons boost, and the requirements are kinda steep. If you like lasers
and meet the prerequisites, definitely do it. No one else will lose sleep over
it.

    CONCENTRATED FIRE
This perk can actually be quite useful... if it takes you more than two or
three shots to take someone's head off. Since it likely won't, this perk isn't
that great. You should take it if you like picking off people's limbs and
watching them limp along.

    PARALYZING PALM
Another important perk to the "monk" character. You can't be wearing even an
"Unarmed weapon," so it's a little tricky to get the hang of, but it paralyzes
your opponent long enough to do basically whatever you want to them. Take it
if you plan on beating people up.

    EXPLORER
If you're like me, this game is all about the exploration. This makes
everything (I mean EVERYTHING) show up on the map, and so makes it easier to
get from place to place. You can't fast travel at first, but you know what to
look for. I recommend it highly for those who care more about exploration than
optimization.

    NINJA
If you're playing a sneaky character with melee weapons, this perk kicks ass.
But that's a narrow margin of characters, so this is highly selective.

    DEVIL'S HIGHWAY/ESCALATOR TO HEAVEN/KARMIC REBALANCE
If you ever wanted to be someone completely different, take one of these
perks. Karmic Rebalance is the best of these when combined with Impartial
Mediation, since Neutral karma is the hardest to maintain.

    NO WEAKNESSES
If you went with a dump stat or two at character creation to min/max properly,
this perk can help you catch up. But honestly, you're better off waiting until
level 30 and picking up Almost Perfect.

    WARMONGER
If you're having difficulty finding the schematics, take this perk. The
weapons you can make yourself are some of the best in the game, and this perk
lets you have the fully upgraded versions of them.

    PARTY BOY/GIRL
Alcohol can be a very powerful tool for people playing a "berserker" concept
(imagine a drunken viking swinging a sledgehammer around, and you'll know what
I mean). Addiction is a little bothersome, however, when you're away from home
and can't detox whenever you feel like it. For those people, this perk can be
useful.

That takes care of most of the perks. However, there are some perks which just
should NOT be taken. I call those perks

                               THE WORST
    LADY KILLER
This is a particularly useless perk. The number of female NPCs in this game
who are also combatants is remarkably low, and you don't find many uses for
the unique dialogue options. Don't bother with this perk.

    BLACK WIDOW
A few people now (Chrissy Kenney and SunsThirdStone, notably) have suggested
that the Black Widow perk can be highly beneficial for low-level characters
running short on ammo, thanks to the +10% damage boost. I agree that it ismore
useful than Lady Killer, thanks to the ratio of men to women in this
game, but this is still not a useful perk. The 10% damage boost is really just
to make the perk worth being a perk at all. Often, at low levels, the boost to
damage can be less than one extra point. Chrissy does note, however, that on
an unarmed character, this perk could mean "the difference between Grim
Reaper's Sprint firing off and not against Enclave soldiers in full armor."

    SWIFT LEARNER
There's plenty of experience to be had in this game. I mean, PLENTY. You don't
need the boost unless you want to rush to 20, and if you do, you're playing
the wrong game.

    ENTOMOLOGIST
Bugs are neither common enough nor problem enough to justify this perk. Just
do the Grayditch quest ("Those!") later in the game and spend your perks
elsewhere.

    BLOODY MESS
I actually really like this perk. It's endlessly entertaining. But we're
talking about optimization here. The bonus this perk gives is just not
substantial enough to justify for a min/max-ed character.

    FORTUNE FINDER
Caps are plentiful. You don't need to waste a perk to scrounge up a few more.
Besides, the majority of your cash will come from selling guns.

    RAD RESISTANCE
Rad-X and RadAway are everywhere. You will not run short of them. Perks are
too rare to waste on this throwaway of a perk.

    HERE AND NOW
Remember what I said above, about plenty of experience? It still applies.
NOTE: I've received an awful lot of emails about this, so I want to be very
clear. You CANNOT take Here and Now at Level 20 to get to 21. At Level 20, the
Here and Now perk is not available. Bethesda anticipated your contrived
attempts at breaking their level system. There is no Level 21. You cannot get
to Level 21. Stop it.

    NIGHT PERSON
It's very difficult to travel at night. There is just not enough lighting.
That being said, this doesn't really benefit you too terribly much. You may
disagree and take it anyway, but it's a perk I will never take.

    ROBOTICS EXPERT
Robots are another example of opponents that are not frequent enough to bother
getting a perk to kill them. Unless you really hated the RobCo plant. Or the
Nuka-Cola plant.

    ADAMANTIUM SKELETON
You probably won't run short of Stimpaks. If you've followed my advice and
bought up Medicine and Fast Metabolism, you DEFINITELY won't be running short
of Stimpaks by the time you could take this perk. So just stick a Stimpak in
your face and get over it.

    MASTER TRADER
Things aren't that expensive, and by this level you'll have lots of money.
Don't fret so much.

    COMPUTER WHIZ
If you're cancelling out of a terminal before your fourth attempt like a
sensible person, you won't ever need this.

    INFILTRATOR
This is even more ridiculous than Computer Whiz. There is NO REASON to ever be
forcing a lock. The minigame is so ridiculously easy that this is just a crazy
idea. Just pick the lock.

    DEEP SLEEP
You'll get to level 30 eventually. Just slow down for a minute there, guys.
Well Rested is an unimportant status condition, especially by level 22, making
this perk practically useless.

    RAD TOLERANCE
I'm sorry, were there not enough Rad-X and RadAway in the wasteland for you?
You shouldn't be wanting for radiation meds, so the fact that you don't suffer
ill effects from minor rad sickness is pointless.

    NERVES OF STEEL
I thought this perk would be good, but you recover AP at such a low rate that
you may as well not be getting it back. It's like 1 AP every 10 seconds.
You're better off getting Grim Reaper's Sprint.

    RAD ABSORPTION
Okay, in this perks' defense, it's better than stuff like Rad Tolerance. But
there are still plenty of anti-rad meds floating around, if you have your eyes
open. Not only that, but the recovery rate is very low, so you may as well
just down some more medication.

    NUCLEAR ANOMALY    
What? Your health dropped below 20? Did you not have hundreds of stimpaks
ready to go? Did you forgot to hotkey the stimpaks? Well, that's too bad,
because that nuke just killed your follower in addition to all the badguys.
That having been said, it is pretty damn entertaining. I might cheat to get it
(then get rid of it), but it will never be one I choose permanently.


IF YOU DIDN'T SEE A PERK IN THE ABOVE LIST then I either don't know that much
about it, or I just don't have any strong feelings about it. A lot of perks
(like Contract Killer or Lawbringer) are very interesting perks that you
should take at least once, but they don't provide a significant in-game
benefit (there are plenty of Karma batteries around). You can probably skip
them, but I consider them an integral part of the game experience.

Remember that you'll be picking up bobbleheads and skill books! If you get
each skill to at least 40, then get all the bobbleheads and skill books (with
Comprehension, of course) you'll easily hit 100% in each skill.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                    Sample Character [53SAM]
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Remember Sam, from up top? Well, we're gonna show what he looks like, all
growed up! Below you'll find the character sheet for Sam at level 20 (and
again at 30!), along with a levelling guide of what perks were taken when and
what skills were boosted when. Below that, I'll briefly explain my reasoning.
This sheet doesn't take into account bobbleheads or skill books at all, so
your average character will be far better than Sam here.

Strength        5
Perception      6
Endurance       5
Charisma        5
Intelligence    7
Agility         7
Luck            6

Barter          40
Big Guns        40
Energy Weapons  40
Explosives      40
Lockpick        100
Medicine        50
Melee Weapons   22
Repair          50
Science         75
Small Guns      100
Sneak           100
Speech          55
Unarmed         15

LEVEL 2: +6 Small Guns, +5 Barter, +6 Speech
        PERK: Thief
LEVEL 3: +11 Science, +6 Repair
        PERK: Intense Training (Strength)
LEVEL 4: +3 Lockpick, +4 Speech, +10 Medicine
        PERK: Educated
LEVEL 5: +1 Sneak, +10 Science, +9 Speech
        PERK: Comprehension
LEVEL 6: +6 Speech, +14 Repair
        PERK: Gun Nut
LEVEL 7: +1 Repair, +11 Medicine, +8 Barter
        PERK: Toughness
LEVEL 8: +12 Barter, +8 Lockpick
        PERK: Strong Back
LEVEL 9: +2 Lockpick, +5 Science, +13 Explosives
        PERK: Daddy's Boy
LEVEL 10: +10 Small Guns, +10 Explosives
        PERK: Finesse
LEVEL 11: +10 Small Guns, +10 Sneak
        PERK: Size Matters
LEVEL 12: +15 Sneak, +5 Small Guns
        PERK: Silent Running
LEVEL 13: +5 Sneak, +15 Lockpick
        PERK: Sniper
LEVEL 14: +10 Lockpick, +10 Big Guns
        PERK: Light Step
LEVEL 15: +13 Energy Weapons, +7 Melee Weapons
        PERK: Cyborg
LEVEL 16: +15 Lockpick, +5 Small Guns
        PERK: Action Boy
LEVEL 17: +10 Lockpick, +10 Science
        PERK: Tag! (Science)
LEVEL 18: +15 Small Guns, +5 Sneak
        PERK: Better Criticals
LEVEL 19: +5 Small Guns, +10 Sneak, +5 Medicine
        PERK: Gun Nut
LEVEL 20: +5 Sneak, +15 Speech
        PERK: Grim Reaper's Sprint

Sam spends the first few levels fleshing out all of his skills in an effort to
level everything up to 40 as quickly as possible. He neglects certain skills
that have little value to him, particularly Melee Weapons or Unarmed. At
higher levels, as skill points start becoming more of a commodity, Sam focuses
more on those skills which are most crucial to him; Lockpick, Small Guns, and
Sneak are all staples of his build. He makes sure to level Lockpick to 100,
not trusting in luck to bring bobbleheads and skill books his way. He also
levels Science to 75, even going so far as to tag it as well at higher levels,
so that he can open Very Hard locks and up to Hard terminals, which take care
of nearly all obstacles. Educated and Comprehension are bought as soon as
possible, in that order, and other perks either focus on boosting skills or
giving Sam much-needed accuracy with his favored guns (since he spends much of
his combat time sniping someone in the head while sneaking). He even buys some
low-level perks at higher levels, being unimpressed with the level 18 perks.
Finesse and Better Criticals are also particularly crucial to this build,
since he sometimes fails at sneaking. In those rare occasions, he wants to be
able to put down threats quickly and with a minimum of fuss.

BONUS: Sam got Broken Steel! See what he did with his newfound levels!

LEVEL 21: +5 Medicine, +5 Repair, +10 Science
        PERK: Intense Training (Endurance)
LEVEL 22: +5 Repair, +15 Science
        PERK: Quantum Chemist
LEVEL 23: +10 Medicine, +10 Repair
        PERK: Puppies!
LEVEL 24: +10 Medicine, +5 Repair, +5 Speech
        PERK: Intense Training (Endurance)
LEVEL 25: +15 Medicine, +5 Repair
        PERK: Solar Powered
LEVEL 26: +10 Medicine, +10 Repair
        PERK: Fast Metabolism
LEVEL 27: +15 Repair, +5 Speech
        PERK: Robotics Expert
LEVEL 28: +20 Speech
        PERK: Party Boy
LEVEL 29: +5 Barter, +15 Speech
        PERK: Adamantium Skeleton
LEVEL 30: +20 Barter
        PERK: Almost Perfect

The result:

Strength        9
Perception      9
Endurance       9
Charisma        9
Intelligence    9
Agility         9
Luck            9

Barter          65
Big Guns        40
Energy Weapons  40
Explosives      40
Lockpick        100
Medicine        100
Melee Weapons   22
Repair          100
Science         100
Small Guns      100
Sneak           100
Speech          100
Unarmed         15

As you can see, Sam is now an unstoppable monster. With full ranks in
Medicine, Repair, Science and Speech, there is no challenge that Sam cannot
handle. He gains back 108 hit points every time he injects a Stimpak, has 9
stats across the board, regens in the sun, almost never has crippled limbs,
and he can rest assured that Dogmeat will never really die. Now he just has to
worry about those Overlords... and Albino radscorpions... and Reavers.

Themousemaster has noted that this build only really works for those who make
extensive use of the VATS system, and he is absolutely correct. For those of
you who prefer to play through without VATS, skip Sniper and Grim Reaper's
Sprint. Instead, you should probably take something like Toughness at level 13
to try and bring up your survivability. You could also consider Intense
Training (Endurance), to bring your Endurance up to 6. With the bobblehead,
you could pick up Solar-Powered by the time you hit 20, which also increases
your chances for survival.

TheBromgrev of GameFAQs has this alternative initial setup to suggest for a
sneaky/sniper character:

"S: 4
P: 6
E: 4
C: 4
I: 9
A: 8
L: 1

for a sneaking, sniper character.

Because using the Intense Training Perk, Bobble head, and the character
Time-Bomb's lucky 8-ball to bring Luck to 6, the average player will be able
to make the best use of the Better Criticals perk. These choices reflect the
needs of the low-level character. Str, End, and Cha are at 4 in order to carry
"needed" equipment, survive, and make the necessary skill checks at low levels.
Luck is at one, because at low-levels VATS usage will require the player to get
really close to the enemy to hit with a gun. In such a situation, critical hit
chance doesn't really matter as much as chance to hit.  A medium Per is used
for the skill bonuses as well as enemy detection bonuses.  The high Int aids in
gaining skill points early, and the high Agl helps the low-level character to
survive with the additional AP."

While I disagree with Mr. Bromgrev, his choices make for an interesting
alternate opinion. However, as SunsThirdStone and I tend to think, dropping an
attribute to 1 severely cripples it. I'll warn you that I haven't personally
tried Mr. Bromgrev's build in-game personally, his logic seems solid. Other
than the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. setup and his choice of Intense Training selections, I
don't believe we had any significant differences in build.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
              Playing on Very Hard Mode [54VHD]
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

First of all, thanks to a contributor for his advice and inspiration to write
this section at all. He prefers to simply go by "a mysterious stranger" (heh),
but without him this wouldn't be here. Please remember that this section is a
work in progress. If you have suggestions, email me at the address in the
intro.

His suggestions to me went as follows:
"I had one comment regarding perks like Explosives Expert and Concentrated
Fire which you said were overkill. That's definitely true at most difficulty
levels. But Very Hard is a different story. I have a character with 75 in
small guns, 100 in energy weapons, and 90 in explosives. Sniper rifle and
laser rifle in near-perfect condition. Yet on Very Hard I still can't one-shot
a super-mutant brute in the head, and before I got lvl 3 Explosives Expert I
couldn't one-shot super mutant masters with bottlecap mines. It still takes 1x
nuka grenade plus 2x pulse grenade to kill a sentry bot.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, on Very Hard there's no such thing as
overkill."

And he is absolutely correct. Explosives, Big Guns, and perks like Explosives
Expert, Pyromaniac, Concentrated Fire, Commando, Gunslinger, and Sniper can
make all the difference in the world. It will be harder to hit things and
harder yet to kill them in Very Hard mode, so be sure to hit hard and hit
often. Beyond that, criticals will be your friend, and any perk that increases
your survivability (like Life Giver, Toughness, and Fast Metabolism) will be
your friends.

                           BUT HOW IS IT DIFFERENT?

Sure, the extremely violent side in all of us wants us to believe there's no
such thing as overkill (there is; don't waste mini nukes on Raiders) no matter
what difficulty you play on. So what's really different about gameplay? With
almost no personal experience to go on, I had to rely on the advice of the
same Mysterious Stranger as above. Rather than paraphrase him and ruin his
sagacious advice, I'll just quote him on this (with the exception of some
stylistic editing; all the words are his own).

BEFORE: I could kill weaker enemies like raiders and normal super
    mutants with a single stealthed critical headshot from a laser rifle.
AFTER: I can hardly one-shot the raiders. I relied heavily on the
    stealthy sniper approach before, but on very hard can only soften up
    enemies before they engage.

BEFORE: Chinese Assault Rifle was my weapon of choice for medium-range
    engagements.
AFTER: I have to reload several times to kill a Super Mutant Brute, which in
    my mind makes the laser rifle superior. Avoid weapons with small clips!
    Having to reload several times during a firefight reduces your damage
    output by at least 20%. And isn't very badass.

BEFORE: Combat Shotgun at close range rocks.
AFTER: Even better relative to alternatives. Stealthed shotgun headshot at
    close range can still kill a number of enemies in one shot. In a standup
    fight shotgun provides good damage per second and excellent damage per
    clip.

BEFORE: Stealthed frag mine can kill many enemies.
AFTER: Can't kill diddly and barely scratches Super Mutant Brutes. Frag mines
    are nice for softening people up before a fight, but no longer turn the
    tables in your favor. I find it's not worth putting too much effort into
    setting them up anymore.

BEFORE: Frag grenades do 50%+ damage to most enemies.
AFTER: Frag grenades still rock. It takes several to kill someone, but the
    rate of fire in VATS is pretty absurd.

BEFORE: Stealthed bottlecap mines kill pretty much anything.
AFTER: They kill or maim pretty much anything. I save these for Super Mutant
    Masters.

Based on the above here is my basic strategy:

1.) If I can sneak close, sneak up and start shotgunning.
2.) If I have a good firebase, open up with laser rifle (headshots against
    gunners, start with leg shots against brawlers)
3.) If it's something really nasty like Super Mutant Master, sneak up and lay
    bottlecap mine.
4.) If it's something really nasty and you can't sneak up, go into VATS and
    start lobbing frag grenades.
5.) If it's something really nasty and they jump you: pop some medx, drop
    bottlecap mine, pop some medx, and run like hell.
6.) Bottlecap mines are key. Collect plenty of lunch boxes and cherry bombs,
    and don't build any until you have all three schematics. Lv3 schematic = 3
    mines per build.
7.) Repair is absolutely critical. Obviously you run through weapons much
    quicker."

He also makes a note that ammo was not a concern for him, but he switched to
Very Hard mode near endgame, so he already had a decent stockpile. You may
have a different experience.

So what does this mean? It means that high-damage explosives are your BEST
FRIEND! Bottlecap mines (and I will substitute Nuka-Grenades for frag grenades
thanks to the increased damage potential) positively SHRED enemies. In
addition, your balls-to-the-wall all-or-nothing style of playing (and mine, as
a matter of fact) will not work here. Even if you're not playing a sneaky
character, you'll want to think about luring enemies down narrow corridors and
trying to lure multiple baddies onto a single mine if possible. Positioning is
key here, so think before you engage multiple baddies.

Thanks again to our Mysterious Stranger! If you have any questions for him,
you can email me, I'll be assisting in filtering out those questions that
don't require his expertise (for the sake of his inbox).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
         Final Acknowledgments/Special Thanks [60END]
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I'd like to once again thank the following sources for being both an
inspiration and valuable source of information. Check out these sources for
more information on Fallout 3.

ShadowsDieAway's guide on GameFAQs:
Has disappeared. If it pops up again, I'll update this section.

CrionLord's Skill Book guide on GameFAQs:
http://www.gamefaqs.com/console/xbox360/file/939933/54789

The SuperGuide on MyCheats:
http://mycheats.1up.com/view/superguide/2010007/fallout_3_/pc

Special thanks also go out to my roommate, Jay, who owns the Xbox and the
game.

A very big thanks goes out to all of those who have contributed to this guide.
Together we make it better, guys! I would also like to thank anyone who has
sent me advice or commentary, even if I have not added their advice to this
guide. You guys are the reason I wrote this guide, and it's good to know that
someone is reading.

This guide may not be reposted, in whole or in part, without my express
permission. For permission, send an email to the address above (in the intro).

I hope this guide enriched your knowledge and brought you much enjoyment
through a better understanding of this wonderfully rich game!