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We live in an age of poverty, greed, violence, destruction. Indeed, the very seat of the federal government, Washington D.C., has been reduced to what is now known as the "Capital Wasteland." The Capital Wasteland... How did it come to this, America?John Henry Eden

The Capital Wasteland is a loosely defined geographic region, spanning areas of Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania[1] and the District of Columbia surrounding the Potomac River from (roughly) Harpers Ferry to the Potomac tidal basin. The term was coined at the turn of the 21st century and by the 23rd entered common parlance.[2][3][4][5]

A once verdant and populated area of the U.S, the capital was nearly obliterated with nuclear weapons,[6] during the Great War. As of 2277, the area is little more than a scorching, barren desert where life for its inhabitants is a constant struggle for survival. It stretches from Raven Rock in the northwest to Rivet City in the southeast, with what's left of the Potomac River dividing it roughly in two. It serves as the game-world for Fallout 3.



The city of Washington and the surrounding environs were the heart of the pre-War United States and, as a result, a prime strategic target for the People's Republic of China. As the Sino-American War drew to a conclusion, the city was increasingly fortified against a nuclear attack. Buildings were reinforced with armored layers to deflect the blast wave and preserve their structural integrity and safeguard the legacy of the American nation,[Non-game 1] while infrastructure was upgraded and modified to become fully automated and capable of working even after centuries of no maintenance.[7] The last monument to be erected within the city is the Anchorage War Memorial, situated on FDR Island in the Potomac River it was constructed after the conclusion of the Battle of Anchorage.[Non-game 2]

By March 2077, in the light of the recent advances by the American military against the Chinese, key military, civilian, and corporate leaders abandoned Washington and the United States, expecting a retaliatory nuclear strike.[Non-game 3] The situation came to pass in October, when the American offensive pushed deep towards Beijing. National Guard units and their auxiliaries were mobilized and deployed throughout the nation. The most highly trained units were dedicated to Washington, D.C., to assist and evacuate the civilian population. Most servicemen were not briefed on the imminent threat.[8] When nuclear weapons began to land on American soil, the West Coast was struck first. Its disappearance from the grid acted as an early warning, allowing civilians to get to shelter, and the armed forces to mobilize. In the end, it did not make much of a difference, as the future Capital Wasteland was saturated with nuclear weapons, coming in multiple waves.[9] The densely urbanized center of Washington was spared most of the direct impact.[10]

The intense thermal radiation from the bombardment set much of downtown Washington on fire. The conflagration lasted for weeks, perhaps even months. The National Mall was one of the few areas mostly spared from the fire. Some survivors used the Museums surrounding it for shelter. Others lost their mind after witnessing so much devastation, causing an already chaotic situation to degenerate further.[11] Outside the city the situation was hardly better. What remained of the military joined remnants of the auxiliary units and civilian authorities, trying to establish a semblance of order and begin cleanup operations.[12] However, the situation rapidly deteriorated. The absence of top level leadership resulted in a power vacuum and inability to coordinate relief efforts. While what remained of the authorities did its best to contain the situation and reclaim the devastated landscape (removing irradiated soil and dumping it in makeshift hazmat areas,[13] cordoning off irradiated areas like the Metro.[14] and setting up a network of military checkpoints on roads to control the flow of refugees[15]), their efforts were too little to turn the tide. The desertion rate was high,[16] increased by the high mortality rate among refugees exposed to radiation,[17] and the ever decreasing ability of the remaining authorities to properly care for them.[18] Many of the servicemen and their auxiliaries also suffered from radiation poisoning.[19] In the face of a total collapse of society and the relief effort, the remaining authorities collapsed, leaving the wasteland in a state of chaos.[20] A peculiar monument to this collapsed state was created when a dry docked aircraft carrier at the Washington Naval Yard attempted to exit the yard, but wound up beaching itself.[Non-game 4]


Survivors of the war took shelter in every sewer, Metro, and purpose-built shelter they could throughout the region.[21] Those that emerged would settle where they could. Those that could not settle themselves, either because of lack of knowledge or materiel, would soon perish or become the region's raiders. One of the first settlements of the region was established a generation after the war.[Non-game 5] Wastelanders seeking entrance to Vault 101 took shelter in what amounted to a large hole and eventually founded Megaton, which became the first regional trade hub within a generation. A stable source of water thanks to the water purifier, a central location, and a population ready to take up arms in its defense at a moment's notice.

Many who could help the region recover, particularly various anti-government groups who retreated into remote rural locations and formed private militias promising to one day take back the government for the people, were absent. Most were killed by the nuclear blasts or perished in the chaos that followed, with only a handful surviving the worst of the first decades after the Great War. Those who did were incapable of effecting change on a larger scale.[Non-game 5] As a result, small communities flared up only to be extinguished by the uncaring wasteland in one way or another.[22]

Despite this hostile nature, many of the Ghouls of Appalachia chose to migrate to the Capital Wasteland to avoid persecution, perhaps hoping the radiation would act as a buffer between them and humans.

In 2103, a number of survivors would emigrate to Appalachia from the Capital Wasteland, joined by a group coming from the Pitt and parts of Pennsylvania, taking a train from union station out of the region, going on to form the settlement of Foundation. Some such settlers describe the Capital Wasteland as "hell on Earth." Others would come not from settler backgrounds, but as raider gangs and slavers, such as Sargento's gang.[2]

23rd century[]

Around 2237, remnants of the Naval Research Institute under the leadership of Horace Pinkerton established the Rivet Station Science Outpost within the derelict aircraft carrier at the terminus of the Anacostia River. For years to come they would use the intact science bay as the nucleus of their science efforts.[23] By April 2239, a burgeoning civilian settlement sprung up around the station on the carrier. As a result, on April 25, Rivet City was formally established by Horace Pinkerton, Annette Holmes and Brad Danvers to better protect and organize this growing community.[24] Governance of the City was delegated to a three person Council, staffed by one representative of each "caste" on board the ship: Scientists, civilians, and security personnel. Rivet City would eventually grow to become one of the largest and most prosperous settlements in the desolate Capital Wasteland.[25]

Another major change occurred when Paladin Owyn Lyons and his detachment arrived in the Capital Wasteland in 2255, establishing a base of operations within Pentagon in the first few months.[26] Though the Pentagon was largely destroyed, its sub-levels remained, for the most part, intact and its surviving stockpiles contained undisturbed pre-War technology and weaponry to sustain their operations. The crown jewel though was Liberty Prime.[27] The discovery of Liberty Prime earned Paladin Lyons a battlefield promotion to Elder, and a new directive from his superiors in Southern California – to establish a new, permanent Brotherhood base in the Capital Wasteland, and continue the search for any other advanced technology hidden in the former capital city's ruins.

Shortly after their arrival, Lyons' scouts have identified a new threat in the area: a peculiar breed of super mutants, infesting the nearly deserted ruins of downtown D.C. Concerned by their presence and convinced that they are the primary threat to the Wasteland, Lyons initiated a protracted campaign of aggression to eradicate them that would last over two decades, claiming men and materiel for no appreciable return on the investment.[28] Around the same time, they lent assistance to James and Catherine, a pair of scientists attempting to build a mass-scale purifier, intending to supply the wasteland with a virtually inexhaustible source of fresh, purified water, reducing their dependence on local purification methods. Ultimately, Project Purity failed to take off, despite the Brotherhood's involvement. Frustrated, Lyons withdrew his forces, leaving the Project to fend for itself. Project Purity died shortly after, together with Catherine, James' wife.[29]

Still, between Rivet City's stable supply of food and the Brotherhood's aggressive pursuit of mutants, the Capital Wasteland caught a breather, allowing human settlement to increase. This included the development of existing settlements, like Megaton, the survivalist forerunners to the Republic of Dave,[Non-game 5] as well as founding of new settlements. The most notable is Canterbury Commons, founded in 2258 by Ernest Roe and his sister, Daisy Roe, which became the nucleus of a fledgling trading network between isolated human settlements..[30][Non-game 6] Another notable settlement attempts were Arefu,[Non-game 7] on a partially collapsed overpass, and Grayditch, founded by drifters from as far as New California.[31]

However, the proliferation of humans also brought with it an increase in violence. Slavers of Paradise Falls could count on an increased number of transients and travelers to enslave and deliver to their clients. The emboldened flesh traders would start attacking weaker settlements to gather stock in bulk. At least two fell prey to them: Rockopolis and what became known as Minefield. Other settlements were consumed by the wasteland, like the wasteland gypsy village founded in an area lacking in potable water, food, or defenses, or Girdershade, whose homesteaders died at the hands of wasteland horrors.[31]

Despite the challenges of the wasteland, the Capital Wastes slowly developed. New trails were created on a regular basis, as roads, rails, and highways were steadily taken apart for salvage or ruined by wear and tear. Ironically enough, much of this expansion would be the result of raider activities. By 2277, raiders would control large parts of the wasteland, though divided into petty, quarreling warbands. The largest raider settlement would emerge at Evergreen Mills, becoming a partner for Paradise Falls' slaving operation.[32] Smaller groups of raiders would lay claim to a variety of locations, primarily as staging bases for attacks on wastelanders and their communities. Many raiders would also revert to cannibalism due to constant food shortages, literally preying on their fellow man.[33]

Enclave reemergence[]

Main article: Purifier Conflict

The Brotherhood chapter was unable to prevent the expansion of raiding or slaving due to its focus on fighting super mutants and attrition that forced Lyons to withdraw protection from much of the wasteland. Once occupying territory as far as the MDPL mass relay station and regularly patrolling the wasteland, Lyons' Brotherhood began 2277 as a diminished, weakened force, suffering from a shortage of qualified combat personnel and severely depleted stocks of weapons and equipment, along with a greatly reduced ability to project power. Outside the Citadel, the Brotherhood held only a handful of reinforced outposts scattered across the District of Columbia metropolitan area.[34][35][36][37]

Elder Lyons' charisma kept his people together, though the split with the Brotherhood Outcasts of 2276 marked a low point for his command ability. Having lost them and a significant amount of materiel, Lyons was forced to step up his recruiting efforts and press barely trained initiates into combat. The attrition rate was tremendous: Without proper training, many died rapidly, despite being issued military-grade weapons and armor, up to and including T-45d powered armor. It is in this weakened state that the Brotherhood was forced to face the Enclave. The purifier they once abandoned has been reactivated by its former head researcher, James, with assistance from his child, known now only as the Lone Wanderer. The seizure of the purifier by the Enclave and the arrival of Dr. Madison Li at the Citadel with information that the Purifier can be made functional, despite previous data to the contrary, forced Elder Lyons to make a decision. The Elder decided that having the Enclave in control of the wasteland could not be allowed. To this end, he began to muster what little forces he had and gear them up for a campaign against the Enclave.[38]

Despite numerous complications, including the capture of the Wanderer by the Enclave, Lyons' forces prevailed thanks to the reactivation of Liberty Prime thanks to Madison Li. The Enclave's concentration of forces at the Purifier turned out to be a grave miscalculation, as Liberty Prime carved a swath and inflicted terrible casualties on the faction on top of securing the Purifier for Lyons' chapter. Although it would later be destroyed in an ambush, the robot paved the way for a reversal of fortune in the Capital Wasteland, allowing the Brotherhood to use the active Purifier as a reliable source of water for the wasteland. Although the operation was badly organized and initially formulated as a pure charity, it was a step in the right direction, especially when coupled with the fall of Adams AFB.


Though Lyons would pass away within a year of the Enclave's defeat, with his daughter and successor killed in action shortly after assuming the mantle of Elder, the Capital Wasteland would soon see change. Though characterized as ineffectual, subsequent Elders oversaw the construction of The Prydwen, the very first airship constructed after the Great War, steady expansion of Brotherhood's control across the wasteland, and restoration of human civilization.[38]

The Brotherhood leveraged its greatly expanded arsenal to forge strong relations with local communities, particularly merchant companies. The sight of a Vertibird swooping in to defend a caravan against a raider attack or particularly aggressive wildlife guaranteed their support for the Brotherhood - and the best prices.[39] By 2287, the Brotherhood established firm control over the Capital Wasteland, in a dramatic reversal of the seemingly irreversible course charted in early 2277.[40] The Capital Wasteland became an exporter of water, technology, and the Children of Atom.[41]

However, the stability brought by the Brotherhood's rule also meant that opportunities for hired guns quickly disappeared off the market, forcing mercenaries to either change their job or find opportunities elsewhere.[42]


Fo3 Nuclear Defence - Structure Reinforcement

A building reinforced with armored screens to increase its survival chance against a nuclear attack.[Non-game 1]

The region known as the Capital Wasteland has been severely warped by the apocalypse. Although it was a lush temperate region before the war, the climate shift caused by the unprecedented scale of nuclear warfare unleashed on the world has led to desertification. Once made fertile by the Potomac, the Capital Wasteland turned increasingly desolate as the river dried up over the years. By 2277, the once-mighty river is little more than a swamp, with wastelanders able to cross it with dry feet in most places above roughly the neighborhood of Foggy Bottom. The drying up of the watershed has impacted the ecosystem and agricultural prospects in the region, with most plants unable to thrive in these conditions and the population of animals falling down accordingly.[43]

The situation changes in the more urbanized areas of the region. Washington, D.C. weathered the nuclear storm but sustained severe wounds in the process. Much of the downtown area of the city has been reduced to rubble, its buildings but shells containing hundreds of tons of rubble. Certain neighborhoods evaded complete destruction and remain in better shape, although that's not saying much. Curiously, the automated infrastructure has survived intact, with automated power stations continuing to provide power, allowing capable survivalists to benefit from the technology of the ancients.[44]

The adjoining territories of the pre-War states of Maryland and Virginia are home not only to derelict villages and townships, but also remnants of the pre-War grandeur of the United States: the grand Fort Bannister and the mysterious Fort Constantine, the crumbling Wheaton Armory and National Guard depot, and what remains of its industry; the Corvega factory and the Nuka-Cola plant, as well as the extensive pre-War power line and monorail networks of Virginia and Maryland are but a few examples.


Compared to the rest of the United States mainland, the Capital Wasteland appears to suffer from severe contamination. Even two centuries after the war, the remaining radiation continues to interfere with agriculture, with all but the hardiest mutated plants able to take root in the contaminated soil.[45] Most cities cannot support regular agriculture and trade for the necessary food. A fine example is Megaton, which has its own water treatment plant, but lacks agriculture and buys its food from traders.[46]


Much of the wildlife inhabiting what is now called the Capital Wasteland died out. While the ecosystem has been severely damaged, some species survived and adapted to the changing circumstances. For instance the mirelurks are pre-War crab and turtle species that inhabited the Potomac, which has adapted to survive in the radioactive waters of the semi-dried upriver.[47][48] Yao guai are also fierce, mutated bears indigenous to the region, whose natural lethality and resilience were only enhanced by radiation-induced mutations. radscorpions are also a common sight, evolved in much the same way as their cousins in the west. Their smaller insectoid siblings, bloatflies, have also increased in size, though are relatively harmless – and a good source of protein for hunters.[49]

The relatively stable, even natural ecosystem that emerged in the Capital Wasteland is disturbed by a unique type of wildlife, endemic to the border areas of Virginia: super mutants. These giant, yellow-green beasts have a rudimentary level of intelligence and are capable of constructing simple structures and clothing, as well as operating tools of varying complexity. A fixture of the Wasteland since 2078, they became a permanent nuisance, dragging away people to be turned into super mutants, but never achieving major success due to their brain damage and lack of organization. Unlike other animals, super mutants are seen largely as pests and culled appropriately when practical.[Non-game 8]


In general, the economy of the Capital Wasteland for much of its existence was predominantly focused on subsistence and scavenging. The depopulation through nuclear fire has ensured that vast amounts of wealth remain untapped within the ruins, for those brave enough to enter them and scavenge. Slavery was a particularly lucrative business, though with a limited clientele. However, certain locales, such as The Pitt and Paradise Falls, have a high demand for slaves.[Non-game 9] Hunters could also expect to make a good living in the wasteland, as the changed ecosystem still produced prey that can make for a fine source of meat – even if that prey moved on two legs.[50] The only settlement with a major agricultural output was Rivet City, the primary supplier of edible, non-irradiated food in the Capital Wasteland, trading foodstuffs grown in its hydroponic bays for essential raw materials with other communities.[25]

Despite the harsh realities of the wasteland, a caravan route was set up by Canterbury Commons' "Uncle" Ernest Roe, providing one of the few reliable links between existing settlements. It was maintained by four merchants with modest protection and provided much needed economic exchange between the isolated settlements in the wasteland.[51] Another trade route led as far as Point Lookout, operated by Tobar, who exchanged punga fruit and other goods produced in the region for salvage and other necessities produced by the Capital Wasteland.[52]

Two weeks after the activation of Project Purity, water merchant caravans could be found, transporting Aqua Pura to denizens all across the wastes, though some took advantage of the opportunity by selecting certain clientele and selling them snake oil.

By 2287, with the activation of Project Purity and the Brotherhood's rapid recovery, the situation stabilized greatly. The Capital Wasteland became a major exporter of water and salvaged technology, enabled by the Brotherhood's firepower and Vertibirds.[41]



Compared to the developed lands of the West Coast, the Capital Wasteland lived up to its name after two centuries. The individual settlements were few and far in between, with the heavy presence of wild animals and especially human raiders, as well as the absence of viable farmland or stable sources of water heavily inhibiting the ability to recover. The largest settlement and de facto hegemon of the Wasteland was Rivet City, the primary supplier of edible, non-irradiated food in the Capital Wasteland, trading it for essential raw materials with other communities.[25] Its scientific prowess was thanks to its aggressive reclamation efforts: anything useful was snatched up and brought to the City.[53] However, it refrained from recruiting scientists from outside settlements, such as the Underworld or Tenpenny Tower, as the vote proposing such an initiative failed in the council.[25] The city also had the fourth most powerful military force in the wastelands, right after the Enclave, Lyons' Brotherhood of Steel, and Talon Company. Although named as a simple security force, combat training was provided by wasteland veterans (Lana Danvers and Harkness) and each trooper was equipped with military-grade Army combat armor and automatic weapons.[25]

The Brotherhood's presence was eventually limited to the Citadel and only a handful of reinforced outposts scattered across the District of Columbia metropolitan area.[34][54][55][56][57] The legacy of the war with the mutants was amplified by the Schism and the formation of the Brotherhood Outcasts in 2276. A year after the split, the Outcasts expanded into the wasteland with regular patrols scouring the wasteland for technology and began to excavate several locations, including the Virtual Strategic Simulations facility, in order to complete their original mission objectives. Ultimately, they planned to regroup with loyalist chapters in the West, though that plan was put off due to the need to protect Fort Independence and their considerable stockpile of powerful technology.[58] However, the Enclave's defeat brought a much-needed injection of ordinance and technology, allowing Lyons' chapter to make a dramatic return within the next decade.

Beyond the three organizations, the largest active group was the Talon Company. Rumors circulated that an unknown client has hired it to instigate a campaign of terror, preventing any meaningful recovery from taking place.[Non-game 10] Slavers of Paradise Falls, a major supplier of slaves to The Pitt and clients throughout the Capital Wastes, were disinterested in power plays and focused on enslaving the weak for the benefit of the strong – and their own coffers.[Non-game 9]

There were plenty of other, smaller settlements in the Capital Wasteland of 2277, existing outside the rudimentary power structures. The most unique of these was the Underworld, a haven for ghouls set up in the Museum of History. As it lies in the center of an active war zone, it was fortified to defend against all but the most persistent of attackers.[Non-game 11]


Following the disastrous conflict with the Enclave, the Brotherhood enjoyed a stable, but hardly unrivaled position. Suffering from severely depleted stockpiles and shortage of manpower at the beginning of the conflict, casualties taken during the fight with the Enclave and the loss of their most important military asset, Liberty Prime, made the future uncertain. Occupied by its research into the Enclave technology and the amount of gear and weapons it recovered, the Brotherhood slowly regained strength as it slowly chipped away at the years-long process.[59][60] One of the greatest achievements of the Brotherhood of this time was starting the construction of The Prydwen, an armored airship greatly increasing the Brotherhood's ability to project power.[61]

The biggest setback suffered by the chapter was the death of Elder Owyn Lyons circa 2278 and the loss of his successor, Elder Sarah Lyons, later that same year. With the seat of power emptied, the remaining Brotherhood members elected multiple ineffectual leaders, while the adolescent Squire Arthur Maxson matured into a capable warrior and tactician, eventually securing a victory over Shepherd, the new warboss of the Capital Wasteland super mutants, in 2282. This feat earned him a provisional leadership position. In fact, this position was bestowed by West Coast Elders, who revealed that they still monitored their errant brethren. Maxson's position solidified in 2283, when he negotiated a treaty with the Brotherhood Outcasts, bringing them back into the fold and reforming the entire organization, merging Lyons' Doctrine with salvageable elements of traditional doctrines. Lyons' Brotherhood became a distant memory as Maxson took the united Brotherhood forces into a new direction. While some members found this distasteful and deserted,[62] many more remained, proud to serve a refocused Brotherhood.[63]

As a result, the Brotherhood became the single most powerful organization in the Capital Wasteland, exercising firm control over the region out of the imposing Citadel[64] and Adams AFB.[65][66] Under its control, the wasteland is a stable place, exporting goods and giving wastelanders a chance at a life beyond mere subsistence.[41]


The Capital Wasteland is the setting of Fallout 3, and is expanded upon in its add-ons. A map of the Capital Wasteland appears in HELIOS One in Fallout: New Vegas. It is visited in Fallout Shelter Online after its main campaign is complete. It is also mentioned in Fallout 4, its add-on Far Harbor,[67] Fallout 76, and its update Wastelanders.

Behind the scenes[]

The downtown D.C. area in Fallout 3 was over twice the size at one point, with 26 enclosed areas rather than final game's 12. The team decided it was too large and confusing and cut over half the zones.[Non-game 12]

Developer quotes[]

On the setting of the D.C. area:

The setting has always been important. It's one of the first things we do when we talk about this. 'What is the setting, where is it gonna be?' And for us, y'know, we're a studio on the East Coast. We're a studio right outside of Washington, D.C. And at that time, there were no games - this is 2008, Fallout 3 came out, so this is around 2005, 2006, we're having these conversations - there was no major video game at that time that had been set in Washington, D.C. So it was ripe for us to use. And we knew that Fallout had these strong Americana vibes, there was really strong stuff with the Enclave and the American government. And so we saw the real opportunity to use D.C. We know it, we love it. Whereas we're not as familiar with the West, and that's been done a million times. Because whenever you think of a post-apocalyptic wasteland, you think of Mad Max, or the classic Fallouts and a wide open wasteland. And so we wanted to try a different take.Emil Pagliarulo, pixel.tv (9:09)

On the size of the map:

Fast forward nearly two years. We’re in alpha, and for the first time, we’re meeting Fallout 3. Up until this point, the game has been a collection of assets, tasks, code and lots of teamwork. The game is beginning to feel complete as everything comes together. We realized, however, that wandering the wasteland didn’t feel right. Something was off about that experience. What we realized was that the world felt pushed together. We simply had too much stuff, too close together.

This is because we were using the same POI density that had served us well for Oblivion. There’s no secret playbook at Bethesda that tells us what to do. We simply learn from what we’ve done before. POI density wasn’t something we really had a name for back then.

The trouble was that Oblivion and Fallout 3 are very different games. The sightlines in Fallout 3 are much larger, and you don’t have the major visual blockers of Oblivion’s forests and hilly terrain. Aside from all that, it’s a game where you’re supposed to occasionally feel lonely, and we weren’t achieving the tone we wanted.

So we made a decision. We could have pared back, but we decided to add a significant amount of new area to the North and West ends of the map. Remember that we were in alpha, and a lot of this work was supposed to be done. If you’re a producer, you should be squirming in your seat right now. This took our entire environment art and level design teams offline for the better part of two months. It was a painful decision, but we felt it was the best option to make the game what we wanted it to be.
Joel Burgess' blog



  1. Boston Bugle building terminal entries; Article 4
    Note: This terminal entry specifically mentions Raven Rock.
  2. 2.0 2.1 A Vault Dweller: "How'd you get to be a guard here?"
    Glenn: "Funny story. I ran into Sargento and his gang out in the Capital Wasteland. I was just a scrappy kid at the time, and I stole cans of food from them. Got caught, and wound up in a fist-fight with the boss-man himself. I decked him hard with a sucker punch, but he laughed it off, and offered me a job as a caravan guard. When we settled here, I just kept at it. Only now, instead of keeping jerks away, I keep them in."
    (Glenn's dialogue)
  3. A Vault Dweller: "Where did you all come from?"
    Jen: "Oh, I joined up with them north of here a while back. They seem to be from all over this region. My family used to live in what's now the Capital Wasteland."
    (Jen's dialogue)
  4. A Vault Dweller: "If your parents were spies, how do I know you're not a spy?"
    Jen: "I honestly have no idea. I was born here sometime after the war and I've lived here my whole life. Mostly in the Capital Wasteland. My parents didn't talk about it much. I know they didn't want to go back, that they weren't supposed to have me or fall in love with each other. We were just a normal family of survivors, except sometimes my parents had to go do things. Then one day my mom just never came home."
    (Jen's dialogue)
  5. Jen's goodbye
  6. Cambridge Police Station terminal entries; Scribe Haylen's terminal, Entry A3-A1004: "The Commonwealth is an amazing place. Unlike the Capital Wasteland, which was nearly obliterated by nuclear weapons, this place has areas that are virtually untouched by time and brimming with technological artifacts. I think I've cataloged more in my short time here than in my entire tour at the Citadel. I don't know if I'm imagining things, but I'm pretty sure Proctor Quinlan sounds a bit jealous when I've been radioing in my reports."
  7. SatCom Array NW-05a terminal entries; terminal, Log Entry #002
  8. Germantown police HQ terminal entries; terminal, Log Entry #001
  9. Germantown police HQ terminal entries; terminal, Log Entry #002
  10. The Lone Wanderer: "No, Carol. I'd love to hear your story."
    Carol: "Well, okay... but it's nothing special. I was born in 2051, so yes, that makes me a pre-war Ghoul."
    The Lone Wanderer: "Do you remember the day the war started?"
    Carol: "I do... I was in a shelter with my father when the bombs hit. In DC, we had the luxury of getting a warning after the west coast was... gone... I was just a little girl then. We couldn't afford a space in one of the Vaults. I remember filing down into that shelter, my father rushing me in. He stopped to help this one family, and I looked up and called his name... there was a flash of light, brighter than anything you can imagine. I woke up a few hours later. The first thing I did was run up to where my father had been. He... he was gone. But the strangest thing... There was his shadow, burned into the wall, so crisp and clear like he was standing next to me. The heat had burned it into the concrete..."
    (Carol's dialogue)
  11. The Lone Wanderer: "What was the Wasteland like after the war?"
    Carol: "The city was on fire for weeks... maybe months, I don't know. I hid down here in the museum... it was the closest building to the shelter I was in. But I could hear what was happening above. People howling like animals. Chaos. Looting, killing, it's like every foul thing inside of them came out. It was a nightmare... I... I don't want to talk about it."
    (Carol's dialogue)
  12. Germantown police HQ terminal entries; Terminal, Log Entry #003
  13. Hazmat disposal site L5
  14. All Metro stations are cordoned off with chain link fences declaring them unsafe, while there are special contamination warning signs erected in key areas.
  15. Extant military checkpoints found throughout the game.
  16. Germantown police HQ terminal entries; terminal, Log Entry #004
  17. Germantown police HQ terminal entries; terminal, Log Entry #005
  18. Germantown police HQ terminal entries; terminal, Log Entry #006
  19. Germantown police HQ terminal entries; terminal, Log Entry #007
  20. Germantown police HQ terminal entries; terminal, Log Entry #008
  21. The vast amount of the remains of shelters in practically every sewer and Metro. Other prominent examples include Hamilton's hideaway, the shelter and the Anchorage War Memorial.
  22. Areas such as the clifftop shacks, overrun by hostiles in-game
  23. The Lone Wanderer: "Setting the record straight is exactly my goal."
    Horace Pinkerton: "For that, you have to go all the way back to when remnants of the Naval Research Institute cleared the Mirelurks off this wreck about 40 years ago. We were looking for new lab-space, and this bucket of bolts just happened to have a well-preserved science bay on it. Everything else just grew up around that lab once we got it up and running. The science team was led by one "H. Pinkerton.""
    (Horace Pinkerton's dialogue)
  24. Rivet City historical record
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 25.3 25.4 Rivet City terminal entries; Bannon's Terminal, Council Meeting Minutes
    Rivet City terminal entries; Doctor Li's Terminal, Council Meeting Minutes
  26. The Lone Wanderer: "How long have you been here?"
    Reginald Rothchild: "We arrived here in '55. Established ourselves in the Citadel within the first few months. The Elder has kept us busy since then."
    (Reginald Rothchild's dialogue)
  27. The Lone Wanderer: "What kind of changes?"
    Reginald Rothchild: "We were dispatched with a specific mission. We were sent to locate and secure any technology remaining from before the war. Like our robotic monstrosity. That was our greatest find. Damn thing still doesn't work, but at least it's ours. But those damned Super Mutants... They changed things. Lyons changed. He decided they were a threat. Not just to us, but to everyone. And so he altered the mission. Finding the source of the mutants and putting a stop to them was his goal. Our original mission became an afterthought. We've failed both."
    (Reginald Rothchild's dialogue)
  28. The Lone Wanderer: "How long have you been here?"
    Owyn Lyons: "It's been over twenty years since we arrived. And we've been struggling to contain and eradicate the Super Mutants for nearly as long. With the arrival of the Enclave, I have a terrible feeling the Super Mutants are the least of our worries."
    (Owyn Lyons' dialogue)
  29. The Lone Wanderer: "What about the Brotherhood's history in this area?"
    Elizabeth Jameson: "We first arrived in the Capital Wasteland in 2255. In those first couple of years, we discovered the Citadel, Super Mutants, and Project Purity! Ah, the purifier. What an undertaking. The work your father and his team did was... amazing. The Brotherhood helped protect them, you know. At least for a little while. But we were stretched thin as it was, even back then. We had to pull our forces out. When we did, the place was overrun. I imagine that's when your father left. I... I'm sorry, I wish things had turned out differently."
    (Elizabeth Jameson's dialogue)
  30. The Lone Wanderer: "Why do the traders come here?"
    Ernest Roe: "Because I asked them to, I suspect. I grew up in these trade caravans; known most of them my whole life. I founded this place with my sister Daisy, back in the day. Perfect stop along the caravan circuit."
    (Ernest Roe's dialogue)
  31. 31.0 31.1 See respective articles for references.
  32. Slaves are present at Paradise Falls.
  33. Eg. the slaughterhouse at offices of the Bethesda ruins.
  34. 34.0 34.1 The Lone Wanderer: "Anything you can tell me about the Super Mutants?"
    Owyn Lyons: "Would you believe... "no"? It's pathetic, really, considering we've been fighting those abominations for nearly twenty years. In all that time, all we've managed to do is contain the threat. Hold them back, so they don't overrun every blasted settlement out here. But we don't really "know" anything. Where they're from, why they've infested the D.C. ruins. And now here we are, holed up in our Citadel. Low on resources, low on troops. It's enough to make an old man so very... tired."
    (Owyn Lyons' dialogue)
  35. The Lone Wanderer: "Those sound like pretty good changes to me."
    Reginald Rothchild: "You're an outsider. I don't expect you to understand. We live and die by our dedication to the Brotherhood. To go against orders... It's not something that's done. I appreciate that Lyons believes he is doing what is right, but he should never have disobeyed orders. And now look where it's gotten us. Forces dwindled, Super Mutants on one side, Enclave on the other. We can barely take care of ourselves."
    (Reginald Rothchild's dialogue)
  36. The Lone Wanderer: "What does the Brotherhood believe?"
    Elizabeth Jameson: "We believe in technology, in the triumph of the creations of the ancients over the horrors and evils of the Wasteland. We believe in trust. Trust in technology. Trust in our fellow Brothers. Trust in our Elders. Ah, and we believe in victory. Our forces have dwindled, but still we fight on. Super Mutant, Enclave, it matters not. Surrender is not an option."
    (Elizabeth Jameson's dialogue)
  37. The Lone Wanderer: "You must see a lot of things. What's been going on?"
    Artemis: "What's been going on? Well, let's see. For years, we've been draining our resources defending the ungrateful residents of this no man's land. Most of my best friends have either been ripped apart by Super Mutants or left to join the Outcasts. And now an enemy we faced more than thirty years ago has resurfaced, and their tech is still better than ours. What's been going on with you?"
    (Artemis' dialogue)
  38. 38.0 38.1 See Brotherhood of Steel (East Coast) for details.
  39. The Prydwen terminal entries; Captain Kell's Terminal, Teagan TG-477PR CP-39
  40. The Prydwen terminal entries; Proctor Quinlan's Terminal, The Rise of Elder Maxson
  41. 41.0 41.1 41.2 Deacon: "Capital Wasteland. Exports: purified water, some decent tech, oh, and an insane suicidal cult that worships radiation. Thanks, guys."
    (Deacon's dialogue)
  42. The Sole Survivor: "Pretty brave, a bunch of kids living alone like that."
    Robert MacCready: "I don't know. Looking back on the whole thing, I think we were just lucky. Anyway, when I hit sixteen, I ended up wandering the Capital Wasteland for a while. I took the odd job here and there, but things were pretty hot with the Brotherhood of Steel running the show. So I hitched a ride with a caravan and made my way north until I ended up here. Made a pretty decent name for myself before I heard that the Gunners needed some sharpshooters. Biggest mistake of my life. They were animals. Killed anything that moved if it got in their way. I went with it for a while, because the caps were good. But, I dunno, I guess it started to catch up with me... so I quit. Which pretty much brings us to now. So there you have it, my whole life in a nutshell."
    (Robert MacCready's dialogue)
  43. The environment of the Capital Wasteland as portrayed in Fallout 3.
  44. SatCom Array NW-05a terminal entries; terminal, Log Entry #002
  45. The Lone Wanderer: "Okay, I'll get irradiated. Just be ready to fix me up when I get back."
    Moira Brown: "Oh, you're a peach! Or, at least, some sort of hardy fruit that grows in the savagely irradiated mockery of agriculture we have nowadays. Now, 200 rads should be enough for basic sickness, but if you can get 600 or more rads, my tests will be even more accurate. Just make sure you can get back here, and I'll see to it that you're well taken care of!"
    (Moira Brown's dialogue)
  46. The Lone Wanderer: "I encountered some Raiders, but they were easily outsmarted."
    Moira Brown: "Guess I wasn't the first to think of checking out a food store for storing food. Huh? Well, keep what you got. Just traded for a big food shipment, myself. Here, take a bit, my treat - the taste kind of grates after a while."
    (Moira Brown's dialogue)
  47. The Lone Wanderer: "They're pretty much crab-based humanoids."
    Moira Brown: "Hrm. That's not a lot more than I knew already. But it's interesting that they're adapted for the radioactive water. I wish we could have gotten more information, but this'll have to do for the book. Here's your pay. Maybe they'll help you be sneakier next time."
    (Moira Brown's dialogue)
  48. The Lone Wanderer: "They descended from local crabs. I'd call them "Scylla Serrata Horrendus.""
    Moira Brown: "That's very scientific of you! Personally, I wasn't sure if they were crabs or if they came from some sort of brine shrimp, perhaps. Some of these observations about their armor and camouflage gave me an idea for reinforced, neutral-colored headgear. Here, consider it thanks for not interfering with them. Oh, speaking of which, take these. So you can continue to avoid them in the future."
    (Moira Brown's dialogue)
  49. Individual animal appearances.
  50. The various Fallout 3 hunter random encounters.
  51. The events of the quest Merchant Empire in Fallout 3.
  52. See Tobar's article for details.
  53. The Lone Wanderer: "You know who might have a Lipoplasticator or Micro Dermal Graftilizer?"
    Church: "Probably down at Rivet City. Anything that has any use out here, they snatch up for themselves. That damn Pinkerton don't share nothin'."
    (Doc Church's dialogue)
  54. The Lone Wanderer: "Those sound like pretty good changes to me."
    Reginald Rothchild: "You're an outsider. I don't expect you to understand. We live and die by our dedication to the Brotherhood. To go against orders... It's not something that's done. I appreciate that Lyons believes he is doing what is right, but he should never have disobeyed orders. And now look where it's gotten us. Forces dwindled, Super Mutants on one side, Enclave on the other. We can barely take care of ourselves."
    (Reginald Rothchild's dialogue)
  55. The Lone Wanderer: "What does the Brotherhood believe?"
    Elizabeth Jameson: "We believe in technology, in the triumph of the creations of the ancients over the horrors and evils of the Wasteland. We believe in trust. Trust in technology. Trust in our fellow Brothers. Trust in our Elders. Ah, and we believe in victory. Our forces have dwindled, but still we fight on. Super Mutant, Enclave, it matters not. Surrender is not an option."
    (Elizabeth Jameson's dialogue)
  56. The Lone Wanderer: "You must see a lot of things. What's been going on?"
    Artemis: "What's been going on? Well, let's see. For years, we've been draining our resources defending the ungrateful residents of this no man's land. Most of my best friends have either been ripped apart by Super Mutants or left to join the Outcasts. And now an enemy we faced more than thirty years ago has resurfaced, and their tech is still better than ours. What's been going on with you?"
    (Artemis' dialogue)
  57. Elder Owyn Lyons -- Personal Log 2
  58. The Lone Wanderer: "Tell me about the Outcasts."
    Anne Marie Morgan: "We collect technology, and most people want what we've collected. Right now, we're pretty much stuck defending this Fort, but that won't be forever. Once we regroup, we'll continue our work and keep moving back west."
    (Anne Marie Morgan's dialogue)
  59. The Lone Wanderer: "So, what happens to the Brotherhood now?"
    Reginald Rothchild: "I've been amazingly busy ever since we began clashing with the Enclave. All their technology is amazing. It's going to take me years to sift through the wreckage of their mobile platform alone. I suppose we have you to thank for that."
    (Reginald Rothchild's dialogue)
  60. The Lone Wanderer: "So, what happens to the Brotherhood now?"
    Vallincourt: "Now? Now the real work begins. I've got just piles and piles of Enclave technology to take apart and put back together. Who do you think got our captured Vertibird flying? Now let me get back to work before Rothchild assigns me trash detail."
    (Vallincourt's dialogue)
  61. See the The Prydwen article for details.
  62. The Sole Survivor: "What's your story?"
    The Scribe: "I was once a Scribe in the Brotherhood of Steel. Back when that was something to be proud of. Back when we used our knowledge to help people, rather than simply hoarding it for our own power. When Squire Maxson took over... well, I didn't like the changes he made to the Brotherhood. Some said it was a return to our ancient traditions. Maybe so. But things are not necessarily better simply because they are ancient. So, I left. Since then, I've been walking up and down in the world... until I found myself here."
    (The Scribe's dialogue)
  63. Brotherhood soldier: "I'm proud to be serving under Elder Maxson. I had enough of Lyons and his foolish ways."
  64. The Sole Survivor: "Why establish an outpost at the police station?"
    Danse: "Given the nature of the facility, we felt it would be tactically advantageous to search it for weapons and ammunition. The radio tower on the roof was an unexpected boon, but it obviously has its shortcomings that need to be rectified. It might not be as imposing as the Citadel back in the Capital Wasteland, but it suits our purposes. That's all I'm willing to divulge at this point. Are you ready to proceed with the mission?"
    (Danse's dialogue)
  65. The Sole Survivor: "Where was the Prydwen constructed?"
    Kells: "She was constructed at Adam's Air Force Base just outside of Washington D.C. There was a vast amount of scrap metal and salvageable components there after we defeated the Enclave. We spent the first two years alone gathering the parts. The rest was spent assembling. It was worth the effort. With the Prydwen in our arsenal, we can mobilize our entire division... sending her anywhere that Elder Maxson wishes her to go. Her presence in the Commonwealth ensures that our mission to defeat the Institute will end in victory."
    (Kells' dialogue)
  66. The Sole Survivor: "You sure Ingram knows what she's doing?"
    Arthur Maxson: "Proctor Ingram's managed to keep a 40,000 ton airship aloft for the past five years. I'd say that earns her the benefit of the doubt."
    (Arthur Maxson's dialogue)
  67. Fisherman: "The family legend has it we hail from Yorkshire. Not entirely sure where that is. Capital Wasteland, maybe?"
    (Fisherman's dialogue)


  1. 1.0 1.1 Pentagon concept art: "Armor clad corners in case of attack
    -Used as sign marquee-Bottom half civic hardware (traffic lights, street lights, etc.)-Top used for communication, surveillance, air raid sirens/spotlights.-Used especially to protect historic monuments..."
    (Pentagon concept 5 and Pentagon concept 4)
  2. Fallout 3 Official Game Guide Game of the Year Edition p.43: "Chinese Army (Simulated)
    U.S. Army (Simulated)
    With conditions deteriorating between the United States and China, a military presence in Alaska was established to prevent a possible invasion across the Bering Strait. With increasingly scarce oil reserves, a last deep-sea deposit below the Pacific Ocean was claimed by China before allegedly being sabotaged by American special operatives. Strained relationships spiraled downward into conflict as China marched on Alaska, and the Sino-American War of 2066—2077 erupted. Under the command of General Jingwei, the Chinese Army usurped control of Alaska's oil pipeline and reserves. In response, the Americans began what came to be called "The Alaskan Reclamation Operation" (2067—2077).
    Under the leadership of General Constantine Chase, the U.S. Army battled fiercely to the front lines of the conflict before Chase began deploying specialized Power Armor units that began pushing the Chinese back. Future Power Armor suits were further refined as the conflict dragged on, and the Trans-Alaska Pipeline was reclaimed. With resources flowing through Canada, strained diplomatic tensions between Canada and the United States becoming problematic, and Canadian forces attacking the pipeline, the country was annexed.
    A combination of inclement weather, constant American bombardment and trench warfare, and U.S. Powered Armor unit attacks sweeping through mainline China, the Chinese supply lines weakened and finally broke down completely. By the beginning of 2077, the city of Anchorage was finally liberated, the Chinese eradicated, and the operation deemed a success. A commemorative memorial was erected in Washington, D.C., in honor of the soldiers who fought and perished for the greater American good. Violence between America and pockets of Canadian freedom fighters continued throughout 2077, until the Great War obliterated almost all infrastructure, commerce, and human life."
    (Fallout 3 Official Game Guide faction profiles)
  3. Fallout Bible 0: "2077 March Prepared for a nuclear or biological attack from China, the president and the Enclave retreats to remote sections around the globe and make contingency plans for continuing the war."
  4. Fallout 3 Official Game Guide Game of the Year Edition p.408: "9.15: RIVET CITY (LAT 18/LONG -17)
    General Notes
    Rivet City is a massive, dry-docked aircraft carrier, now the largest wastelander residence around and home to a large number of odd, interesting, friendly, and strange characters. Access Rivet City from the rusting platform on the north, using the intercom to request the drawbridge. Inspect the deck for some items and a rather impressive Plasma Rifle that Security Chief Harkness is carrying. You'll need to figure out his secret to retrieve it."
    (Fallout 3 Game of the Year Edition Tour of the Capital Wasteland)
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Fallout 3 Official Game Guide Game of the Year Edition p.330: "General Notes
    In the years shortly before the bombs fell, a large number of citizens believed that the U.S. government had become hopelessly corrupt and that the country was in grave danger from anarchists, liberals, and communists. These individuals relocated to remove rural locations, established private militias, and promised that they would one day take back the government for the people. They never got the chance. The bombs fell, shattering all world governments. Most of these separatists were killed in the war or the chaos that followed. However, a few dug in deep enough and survived the worst of the first few decades. Over the past two centuries, this tiny plot of land has been known as the Kingdom of Larry; the Republic of Stevie-Ray; Billsylvania; the New Republic of Stevie-Ray; and, most recently, the Nation of Tom, after Dave's father. Now that Dave has complete autonomy over his subjects, he rules his hamlet with an iron fist but wishes to be seen as benevolent."
    (Fallout 3 Game of the Year Edition Tour of the Capital Wasteland)
  6. Fallout 3 Official Game Guide Game of the Year Edition pp.71-72: "Ernest "Uncle" Roe
    Ernest Roe is 39 and was raised on a trade caravan. By the time he was 12, he could turn 5 Caps into 50 with just a few cleaver trades. When he was 20, he set out to make his mark, using his sizable investments to found the trading post of Canterbury Commons with his sister Daisy. Nowadays, the Commons have become a regular stop for caravans in the Capital Wasteland. "Uncle Roe" makes sure that everyone gets enough from the caravans to eat a good meal every night. He's lost his sister, but he cares for his nephew as well as he can. With a bit of luck and a whole lot of Caps, he hopes to eventually turn Canterbury Commons into a settlement to rival Rivet City."
    (Fallout 3 Official Game Guide Game of the Year Edition Wasteland Census)
  7. Fallout 3 Official Game Guide Game of the Year Edition p.350: "5.07: AREFU (LAT -11/LONG 06)
    General Notes
    Arefu is a modest settlement perched atop an old freeway bridge spanning the Potomac River. The residents of Arefu destroyed the north ramp leading to Northwest Seneca Station to better protect themselves from Slavers. Arefu is the last stop on most trade caravan routes traveling from Megaton. The only approach is from the south, up the ramp."
    (Fallout 3 Game of the Year Edition Tour of the Capital Wasteland)
  8. Fallout 3 Official Game Guide Game of the Year Edition p.42: "Super Mutants"
    "The Super Mutants that infest the urban ruin of Washington D.C. originated in Vault 87. Those unlucky enough to have reserved space in Vault 87 soon found themselves forcefully taken to a secure part of the vault, where they were locked in airtight chambers and exposed to a concentrated form of the F.E.V. The Overseer and his security force had no real idea what to expect; they were simply following the "plan." When the exposed vault dwellers started transforming into Super Mutants, nearly the entire vault population had been exposed. Those who hadn't yet metamorphosed knew what was coming, and, well...it didn't end well for humanity.
    The dwellers of Vault 87 were turned into Super Mutants in 2078, and have been a presence in the Capital Wasteland ever since. Most of those original Super Mutants have long since been killed. But whether it's because of the nature of the F.E.V. they were exposed to, or a simple underlying human instinct, the Super Mutants of the Capital Wasteland are obsessed with the preservation of their own species. Super Mutants are asexual and incapable of procreation, so their only way of reproducing is to kidnap other humans, drag them back to the Vault 87 chambers, and infect them with F.E.V. And so they have done, for nearly 200 years.
    Super Mutant society is loosely hierarchical, with the weaker (most recently transformed) Super Mutants generally giving way to the stronger. The Super Mutant hierarchy, as defined by the Capital Wasteland contingent of the Brotherhood of Steel, is as follows: Grunt, Brute, Master, and Behemoth. Generally speaking, the Super Mutants of the Capital Wasteland get bigger, stronger, and dumber as they age. The Behemoths are so strong and savage that they’re the only thing feared by the other Super Mutants."
    (Fallout 3 Official Game Guide faction profiles)
  9. 9.0 9.1 Fallout 3 Official Game Guide Game of the Year Edition pp.42-43: "Slavers
    The Slavers of the Capital Wasteland are headquartered at the compound of Paradise Falls and led by the charismatic and ruthless Eulogy Jones. Slavery has nothing to do with race, and everything to do with the subjugation of the weak for profit. The Slavers have a pretty limited clientele, and sell mostly to their return customers, the Raiders. Other customers are residents of the Wasteland, including Alistair Tenpenny, creator of Tenpenny Tower."
    (Fallout 3 Official Game Guide faction profiles)
  10. Fallout 3 Official Game Guide Game of the Year Edition p.41: "Talon Company Mercenaries
    The Talon Company is the largest of the mercenary groups in the Wasteland. They can be found almost anywhere. They put cash and loot ahead of almost anything, and will attack most groups on sight in the hopes of taking their stuff. Currently an unknown benefactor has hired the Talon Company to hunt down do-gooders. The reasons for this are unknown, but the effect is to keep the Wasteland a lawless place where the guys with the biggest guns make the rules. The Talon Company frequently has the biggest guns."
    (Fallout 3 Official Game Guide faction profiles)
  11. Fallout 3 Official Game Guide Game of the Year Edition p.43: "Underworld Ghouls (Non Feral)
    The Underworld Ghouls are a group of refugees who have taken up residence in the remains in the Museum of American History. They mostly keep to themselves, doing their best not to draw attention from the outside world and its prejudices. They are known to welcome visitors, so long as those visitors behave themselves. But even as they welcome newcomers, the Ghouls of Underworld are cautious and wary of strangers. Each was subject to abuses by humans in the past, and as a result, their trust is easily revoked."
    (Fallout 3 Official Game Guide faction profiles)
  12. GDC 2009: Fallout 3 lead opens game design vault