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This is part 1 of the Boulder design document for Van Buren, the canceled Fallout 3 by Black Isle Studios.


1 Main page of document
2 Part 1
Document start icon.png The following is the original document or a transcript thereof.


Boulder/Dome City/Stone City
Version 1.0
9/19/2003 08:16:00 PM
  • Chad would like scripting specific text in these documents to be in a different font (lucida sans Unicode - like in FR6). This wouldn't be for descriptive text, but for very specific actions that scripts must do. For example, "When the player examines the pile of junk, SetGlobal( "abc", 1 )." It helps to set the text apart. If you'd prefer a different text or highlight color, that's fine too. Just something that says, "this is technical shiz."


Boulder Dome is a scientific research facility designed to withstand a nuclear attack. All around it is the blasted remains of the city of Boulder, poisoned by radiation and toxic waste. Inside the dome is a desperate team of scientists infected with a strange disease and trying to keep their ZAX unit from cannibalizing it memory to such an extent that it stops working. Beset by glowing ghouls and a large pack of cannibal primitives, the dome faces extinction.


Boulder was long a place where advanced scientific research took place. The University of Colorado, IBM, and Ball Aerospace were located here. Supported by money from Denver's industry and an active military presence, Boulder scientists made advances in medicine (bio-med gel was invented here), alternate energy sources, robotics, and even developed a power armor prototype. Unfortunately, leakage from the Rocky Mountain Arsenal (a nearby toxic waste dump/weapons storage location) caused a poisonous cloud that killed a lot of people in Denver. As an apology, the military funded a program to create a self-sustaining research dome, capable of withstanding a nuclear attack. This "city of the future" was to be a prototype for settlements on the moon and other planets.

Then the war with China began. The USA annexed Canada. Boulder became a hotbed of political activity, as most of the scientists were naturally suspect of the military, and they, their families, and friends staged public protests about the situation, which got much of the city population up in arms. Some of the protests turned into riots, and the riot police were called in to suppress the riots. That squelched it but left everyone at a low simmer. When reports of plague outbreaks in Denver surfaced, many in Boulder feared that an exodus from that city would come here and infect them; they fled north. When the bombs fell, Cheyenne Mountain (a military facility, home of NORAD) was a primary target. A huge section of the mountains became a great radioactive smoking crater. Coupled with attacks on Denver and the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, Boulder became the center of a triangle of hellish death.

Fast forward 170 years. An NCR scientist named Goddard and his military escort travels through the region, establishing power generators and noting the locations of old-world power facilities. His report to NCR is noticed by Presper, who sends him out again to investigate certain areas in the old America's southwest. After Goddard returns, Presper and a small team of soldiers investigate Boulder dome, finding it in need of repair but containing excellent labs and a fully-functioning ZAX unit. Over the next few years Presper invites or sends scientists and students to the Boulder Dome, where he explains his idea to remake civilization. Those who refuse are put in cold sleep, using technology the original Dome scientists developed to aid space travel. Presper knows he can use the CODE (Challenge, Opportunity, Discipline, Ethics) technology developed there to convince them to help him when the time is right.

Four years ago, when things start to fall apart out in NCR, Presper sent out his last team of scientists and grad students. Agnes, a fellow NCR scientist and frequent diplomat from the scientific community to the government, is the leader of the expedition. Using her skills and a "diplomatic immunity" pass she carried, she makes her way to Hoover Dam. Two days later, the NCR Congress building is destroyed, presumably in a conflict with the BOS.

The destruction of the congressional building is a severe upset to NCR and travel becomes difficult. Only by circuitous routes and careful display of her pass is Agnes' expedition able to reach Hoover Dam a year later. She runs into Goddard, a former colleague (they were both scientific advisors to NCR at one point). Goddard knows Eddie Galenski, a long-haul trucker with an armored vehicle, and together the large group makes its way to Boulder Dome. The group includes Agnes and the grad students, Goddard and his military escort, Galenski, his wife Helen, and their children. Though they lose a few students along the way, they eventually reach Boulder Dome and enter using the passcodes Presper gave them. In a strange accident the scientists and grad students are infected with a form of the New Plague and are forced to quarantine themselves from Goddard's soldiers and the trucker family; after two months trying to fight the disease, the scientists realize that they're stuck with it for now and have to live in protective suits whenever they want to interact with the rest of the Dome population.

As of two years ago, things had stabilized. Everyone had a routine, mainly around constantly repairing problems with the dome (mainly from wear and neglect). There's enough to do that it keeps everyone from going crazy. The scientists worry that the soldiers and truckers might leave them, and if that happens, they're probably doomed. One of the grad students (Paul) discovers the Sleepers in a deep level of the facility – the scientists Presper sent here and put to sleep to help with his new world order. Xian starts her "hikes" and discovers ZAX.

A year ago, the first glowing ghoul showed up on the north end of town, collapses, and dies. The scientists mark the body with radioactive warnings, debate how to dispose of it (like dumping cement on it). Paul finds that ZAX is almost out of storage space at the rate he's going. With no storage space, ZAX won't be able to run the dome and will start doing damage. They need to get other storage media to hold info. (Holodisks/holotapes/holodisk tapes, all the same thing). If no solution, ZAX will have to start cannibalizing his own memory storage, eating Boulder research as he does so.

They start hearing some broadcasts from Denver, but don't answer because they fear being attacked (esp. from diseased people).

8 months before the PC arrives: Two glowing ghouls show up within a three-day period. The soldiers start getting paranoid, thinking they're in ghoul territory. Sgt Larsen, going stir-crazy, wants to take some Rad-Away, find the ghoul colony, and kill them all. Goddard says no, but Agnes suggests he consider it to let them "let off some steam."

6 months ago: Galenski is told they need storage (by now they basically need a "datacan", though holodisks will help stave it off). He makes a run west to find some but fails. While out he runs into a pack of Jackals, kills all but one, and heads home. The lone Jackal runs to his tribe and tells them about the truck, the man, and where he went. The Jackals stop fighting among their own tribes and move out in search of this new food source. Jimmy T the super mutant (found later at Denver) is with them.

Another glowbug shows up. Larsen's team is given RadAway and start doing patrols. Agnes says taking RadAway for too long is dangerous. Larsen realizes that means they won't be giving it to them any more, so he starts exaggerating how many ghouls they find so they can justify getting more RadAway to deal with them.

Jimmy T leaves the Jackals because he knows the Daughter of Hecate probably doesn't want him around and he doesn't want to be a sacrifice.

5 months ago: Jimmy T asks Helen and Galenski and asks them to ship him south. The soldiers say no, but Helen and Galenski allow it because Jimmy once healed one of their kids when he was sick.

Wagner (the ghoul from Denver) shows up in Boulder, scouting around the outskirts, but is driven off by shots from the soldiers who assume he's a glowbug. Wagner realizes things are hostile toward ghouls here. He scouts further south (and checks out Rocky Mountain Arsenal on the way to Boulder).

A few more Jackals start showing up.

4 months ago: Galenski makes a run to Denver in response to the radio transmissions. Surprised, he finds the salvagers have a lot of good stuff. He trades them ammo, minor tools, and medical supplies in exchange for dog meat, computer chips, and holodisks. On the way back he faces some Jackals but fails to kill any of them.

Problems continue between the scientists and the soldiers. Larsen and his men succumb to addiction and their addiction is apparent.

3 months ago: Jackals organize in strength in this region. Though they originally try attacking the dome, they quickly realize the truck is an easier target.

2 months ago: Problems with the soldiers get worse. Patrols become erratic. Larsen becomes paranoid. When another ghoul wanders in, the scientists accuse the soldiers of not doing enough, or anything at all. Larsen pulls a gun on a scientist and tells them to surrender their med supplies for "one last patrol." Goddard aggress, and secretly decides to close them outside to starve and die. He only tells Agnes about this "exile" ... the others just think they haven't returned.

1 month ago: The soldiers return to find the dome sealed up. At first they think it's a mistake, then they realize it's not. They pull out of Boulder to avoid the Jackals, and end up in a guerrilla state in the nearby mountains, looking for tunnels into the Dome. After two weeks the soldiers are starving. One of them freaks out, and Larsen shoots him, then offers the body to the Jackals. The soldiers and the tribes became allies, both wanting to get into the dome. Soon after, the soldiers use the last of their RadAway, and by the time the PC shows up they're in their 7th day of withdrawal.

5 days ago: Presper and his men arrive, shoot some jackals, hide in the truck, slip into the Quarantine Center, and sieze Helen, Galenski, and the kids. There's a big fight with Pierce and Helen, as they recognize each other (they used to be lovers, and he's the father of at least one of her kids).

4 days ago: Presper realizes his datacan is of the wrong type, or can't be used to save ZAX without destroying all the data on it, which he's not ready to do yet. He starts to run some other calculations and waits around for those to finish. It's during this time (in Part 1) that the PC would arrive; if the PC doesn't arrive until Part 2, Presper & Co. are gone and things are sorta back to normal, at least normal for here.

When the inner dome got shut down, Xian was trapped outside. The scientists are pissed because they don't know how to get her back in. When the PCs meet her, she's almost out of oxygen but she won't open her suit. Why? Because she doesn't want to contaminate the PC.

Coleridge agreed to come here (1) because Presper told him it was a safehouse just in case NCR & BOS went to war, and (2) he needed the satellite if he wanted to wage war on NCR.

The NCR guys spotted Galenski's truck, used it as a Trojan Horse, used it to enter the quarantine center and capture Galenski. Helen thought they were going to kill Galenski so she pretended to throw in with them. Once inside they took control of the outer perimeter, and Presper was able to talk everyone into a conference via video monitor. Presper finds out that some scientists didn't make it to Boulder and realizes he's short on the number of people he needs.

Goddard is keeping stuff secret from Presper: the research, the presence of Larsen outside. He knows Presper wants the PCs dead He doesn't trust Presper and suspects that Coleridge may have been responsible for the attack on NCR congress.

In the Near Future

If it's part 1 and you're wandering around, ZAX is also trying to shield himself/you from ODYSSEUS' signals to direct the robobrain to attack you. He's also trying to stop ODYSSEUS from getting access to the control center of Denver. If the robobrains are activated, many try to do their old programs from before the war, but many are rewritten to combat mode. If they capture you, they try to extract your brain. They may already be trying it on the scientists they capture. If the attack occurs, Presper and his guys make their escape. If they escape on their own timeline.

ZAX finishes the calculation that Presper needed, reports to Presper, who deletes it, then makes his exit. A hacker can track down some of what he was looking for and maybe the coordinates of where he's going (a pointer toward Bloomfield). When Coleridge leaves, he points out that for about 24 hours after they leave, the Jackals will be distracted by the NCR train leaving, which might make it easier for the PC to leave. When Presper leaves, he makes sure to take as many stimpacks as he can, plus food and nutrient paste.

48 hours after Presper leaves, his reprogrammed robobrains attack the PCs and Goddard (because Presper considers Goddard responsible for

Random quests:

- We need X holodisks.
- We need X mechanics (use NPC drafting as part of the random fetch quests)
- We need X electricians (use NPC drafting as part of the random fetch quests)
- We need X PIPBoys.
- We need X pieces of junk.
- We need information from Y terminals.
- We need X computer parts.
- We need soil and seed samples.
- We need X chemicals.
- We need X schematics.
- We need X fusion cells.
- We need X energy cells.
- We need X doors fixed.
- We need X terminals fixed.
- Repair/Upgrade X terminals.
- Destroy X terminals.
- We need you to scout out X small buildings in Boulder, take soil readings.
- We need samples of X glowing ghouls.
- We need soil samples of every sector north of Boulder to determine extent of contamination.
- Set up perimeter cameras to replace the ones that the soldiers smashed.

Truck in Denver

The stuff below is information on the truck when it arrives in Denver.

The truck's exterior is covered with bullet holes - (Small Arms check) 10mm shells, .223 ammo shells, crossbow bolts (Alkaya[sic] may find it). It looks like she had a hell of a time getting here.

Mechanics: Ben: The vehicles, designed and tested at Sandia labs, are mobile vaults. They are built to withstand head-on collisions at 60 miles per hour without their cargoes so much as shifting, and to endure an 1,850 degree fire for half an hour (the equivalent of a crash with a gasoline tanker) without raising the temperature inside. Their metal linings are designed to resist drills, blow torches, and explosive charges.

Purpose of this Area

Army of the sleepers. Presper's scientists he wants to preserve for his new world order.

ZAX: Here to answer questions, show initially that ODYSSEUS' purpose is not just a prison and not entirely benign.

Information on CODE: Explains how CODE works so you understand it better in other parts of the game where it is used.

Location of several PipBoy games.

Knowledge that the Nursery will be safe from the nuclear attack, in theory because of Presper's desire to use it but in actuality because Diana won't let the satellite's be launched at it.

Playground for ScienceBoy characters.

Brain-extractor tech info for the robobrains.

NCR soldiers are here and they're not nice; hints at their role in the endgame.

Jackals, and show how degenerate they have become, like many wastelanders

Danger from the glowing ghouls coming in from the north

Hints on the US space program

Nutrient paste and how it keeps plague victims alive and their symptoms dormant. Keeps the PC from infecting new areas if it's taken at regular intervals.

Timeline once the PCs arrive

Get in

If in Part 1

Find Presper and the NCR guys here
Have a bit of a firefight, maybe, if they refuse to come in and help repair stuff
Repair some stuff on Presper's orders. He's running stuff from the main Robotics lab.
Presper leaves
48 hours later, Presper's reprogrammed robobrains attack the PC and Goddard

If in Part 2

Scientists explain their situation
PC can try to save ZAX, or not.
PC can learn things or go to town using the labs

Monsters In This Area

Glowing ghouls (glowbugs)


NCR soldiers (Presper's team)

NCR soldiers (Larsen's team)


Map area Transition Map name Map size Complexity
1: Boulder Dome Lev 1 Full Party BD001 Large Wasteland, metatile, vault
2: Boulder Dome Lev 2 Full Party BD002 Large vault
3: Boulder Dome Lev 3 Full Party BD003 Large vault
4: Train Station Full Party BD004 Medium Ruined City
5: Jackals Camp Full Party BD005 Medium wasteland
6: Baggers Camp Full Party BD006 Small wasteland
7: Secret Tunnel Entrance Full Party BD007 Small wasteland
8: Dead Ghoul Graveyard Full Party BD008 Small wasteland
9: Dome Tunnels Full Party BD009 Large Vault?
10: ZAX Mainframe Full Party BD010 Large Vault

1: Boulder Dome Level 1: A huge cement/concrete geodesic dome submerged mostly in the ground. Within it is a scientific research facility. Exterior will be handled by 3 metatiles representing the entrances to the dome (the entire surface of the dome is probably never displayed in-game, or at least I'm setting it up that way). Interiors are standard tiled maps.

2: Boulder Dome Level 2: More of the dome interior. Research and living quarters.

3: Boulder Dome Level 3: More of the dome interior. Research and living quarters. This may be consolidated into Boulder Dome Lev 2 if space permits.

4: Train Station: A wrecked train station with an intact line of tracks leading to the south. There may or may not be a one-car military train here (it'll have to be a dynamic object).

5: Jackals Camp: An open plain with pits dug in the ground where the Jackals live. These guys live like animals.

6: Baggers Camp: A typical military campsite on an open field, though the military guys that made it are deserters, drug addicts, and guys with radiation sickness, so things are kinda haphazard.

7: Secret Tunnel Entrance: A secret, non-quarantined tunnel access point into the tunnels under boulder. Basically a heavy manhole in the ground in the middle of a blasted open field.

8: Dead Ghoul Graveyard: An open plain that has a number of dead glowing ghoul bodies on it.

9: Dome Tunnels: A series of hot, muggy tunnels deep under the dome, patrolled by robobrains. Connects to some secret labs and eventually the ZAX mainframe.

10: ZAX Mainframe: Rows and rows of computer memory banks, deep underground, with the ZAX mainframe computer at the center.

Map Flowchart for Boulder

VB DD03 map Boulder flowchart.jpg

Up: Boulder design documentNext: Part 2