Coursers are Institute synths, designed for one purpose. They're hunters. Operations go wrong, a synth goes missing, and a Courser is dispatched. They're very good at what they do.Brian Virgil

Coursers are elite synth hunters and operatives designated to carry out specific surface missions from the Institute. They operate around the Commonwealth in 2287.


The Coursers are designed to be elite killing machines, unlike other synth models. They are noted by the Railroad and the Institute to be exceptional even for synths, as they possess exceptional strength, combat prowess, awareness and endurance. They are widely feared by the Railroad, as their first instinct when they see a Courser is to cease all operations and remain low.

It is stated by several members of the Railroad as well as Justin Ayo that Coursers are designed to be smarter, faster, stronger and more perceptive than the average combat synth. They are equipped with the best equipment the Institute has to offer and often lead earlier model synths into battle. Other times, however, they can serve as spies in big cities or small settlements and oftentimes when operating in this manner they work with other Coursers, who then funnel the gathered intelligence back to the Synth Retention Bureau.

While the training program that Coursers are put through is not described in detail, Justin Ayo claims that Coursers are taught armed and unarmed combat, disguise, infiltration and mechanical skills. It is implied to be strenuous both physically and mentally, as Ayo himself states that most synths who are considered eligible for the program drop out within the first few days due to the physical costs of the program. In addition, the fact that Coursers have been spotted standing around dozens of dead bodies without any signs of emotion implies that Coursers are stripped of their emotion in order to effectively carry out orders without question from their SRB masters. However, the Sole Survivor can travel with a Courser, X6-88, and after gaining max affinity with him, he seems to have a sense of sarcastic humor and admiration for his master, implying that they can relearn the emotion that the Courser program denied them if they remain on the surface for too long.

While for the most part, the Coursers work as either a synth retrieval unit or a squad leader, they have also been known to operate as a type of "hitman" for the Institute. While observing Conrad Kellogg's memories, X6-88 can be seen giving Kellogg information on Brian Virgil, which implies runaway scientists and other former non-synth Institute personnel are assassinated by Coursers or those under the watch of the SRB, as it can be seen with Kellogg. Brian Virgil even states although he ran away from the Institute some time ago, he fears sooner or later, a Courser will find him and he has thus prepared using a defense system of turrets and a Protectron unit, even though he's right in the middle of the Glowing Sea. He's exceptionally afraid of them, simply stating about Coursers that "they're very good at what they do."

Coursers typically fight under the cover of Stealth Boys, which can confuse the opponent and make the Courser harder to fight. They use stimpaks to heal themselves if injured.

Some, but not all Coursers, have a stern look on their face with a monotone voice. With the exception of Chase, all coursers encountered are male, though with different facial styles.

The Synth Retention Bureau is the main organization that the Coursers work for. They are the ones who assign Coursers their missions and provide access to the surface via relay from their courser chip, a form of teleportation. The SRB primarily uses Coursers to retrieve and reset escaped synths, with deadly efficiency.

According to Justin Ayo, Coursers are trained from Generation 3 Synths, though not all trainee Coursers pass. Those who pass will be inducted and enhanced as Coursers, while those who fail will have their memory about the training wiped and reassigned.

Interactions with the player characterEdit

Interactions overviewEdit

General Services Quests
Essential: Icon check
  • Only X6-88 is essential.
Companion: Icon cross
Perk: Icon cross
Merchant: Icon cross
Doctor: Icon cross
Rents bed/room: Icon cross
Starts quests: Icon cross
Involved in quests: Icon check
Synth Retention
Rogue Courser
Defend the Castle
The Battle of Bunker Hill
Variable Removal


Notable coursersEdit


  • A Courser may call in synth reinforcements during combat, which will appear in the form of three randomly armed first-generation synths. Killing a Courser before initiating combat (e.g sneak attacks) will still spawn these synths.
  • During the first visit to the Institute during Institutionalized, a random Courser can be observed talking to a nameless third-generation synth about accessing a prohibited terminal, threatening her with a memory wipe. The Courser will be convinced of the synth's explanation, however.
  • If the player character completes the mission at Libertalia for the Institute, random Coursers in the Institute will comment on how X6-88 admires the player character's combat skills, suggesting that Coursers socially communicate with each other or that Coursers keep and publish reports of their missions.
  • Coursers appear to possess an even more advanced AI than the newest generation synths. This can be observed during the final affinity dialogue with X6-88, in which he states that he had tremendous doubts about the player character's abilities. Through a miscellaneous dialogue with Justin Ayo, the player character is hinted that Coursers are heavily brainwashed and altered when compared to the normal synths.
  • While female synths are encountered in the base game, all Coursers encountered in the Commonwealth are male. The Far Harbor add-on, however, introduces the first female Courser: Chase.
  • The origins of Coursers remains somewhat unclear due to contradicting information. According to Justin Ayo, Coursers are normal Gen 3 synths who are superior to their peers who are inducted. However, a large amount of other sources claim that Coursers are built specifically for the purpose of synth retrieval. Even Justin Ayo makes reference to modifying the line when the player character speaks with him about defeating a Courser.
  • As the Sole Survivor makes their way through Greenetech Genetics in the quest Hunter/Hunted they will see first hand how dangerous a Courser is against well trained and heavily armed forces such as the Gunners.
  • There is a binary sequence printed on each Courser's rear neck. The sequence reads "01110011 01111001 01101110 01110100 01101000" and means "synth" in ASCII encoding.


Coursers appear in Fallout 4.

Behind the scenesEdit

The term "Courser" was not used until the Institute was fleshed out in Fallout 4, although Harkness (A3-21) from Fallout 3 performed a role similar to a Courser.


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