Random encounters in Fallout 3 take the form of unique situations, friendly and/or hostile encounters, or small tasks for the player to perform which are randomly drawn from a broad list of possibilities, and occur in various predetermined encounter areas across the Capital Wasteland. They should not be confused with scripted events that only occur in certain pre-defined locations. Once a random encounter has been activated in a particular area, no other random event will occur in that area. The game can be saved before entering a triggering area, allowing the player to reload the prior save if an activated encounter occurs that is less than desirable.
Random encounter locations are divided into two groups. Some encounters occur only in one group of locations (A in the location table's "Group" column); others occur only in the second group of locations (B in the location table's "Group" column). Very few encounters are available in all locations.
'Type A' encounters, in practical terms, have only one spawn point in the area they can appear, and will usually not leave the immediate area around it unless drawn or forced away from it. The few 'Type A' encounters not set to stay near their spawning point will eventually move to predetermined destinations or patrol routes far across the map. Such movement, however, is often limited to the player being within the same map cell, resulting in the encounter being lost or misplaced when the player leaves the area.
'Type B' encounters are slightly more complex. Though Type B encounters always follow a predetermined patrol route at an encounter location, they have multiple, sometimes less than apparent, spawning points. They can also cover the distance of up to two full-sized map squares (as seen in one's Pipboy). Additionally, due to terrain features, the AI pathing between spawning points (which are also way-points) can create a broad and sometime elaborate patrol route.
The location information provided in this article is by no means the sole triggering method for the listed encounters. Trigger zones can be as far reaching as the distance between spawning points, which can result in accidentally and unknowingly triggering and locking an encounter. Most spawn points for encounters are positioned in such a way as to have the encounter appear from around blind corners so as not have the encounter appear out of thin air, and to have opposing factions appear at the farthest spawn points from one another. Using the wait feature along an encounter's patrol route within view of a spawn point can cause an encounter to be seen appearing abruptly as it moves to where the player is.
The encounters are grouped by living characters or creatures they contain. There are no duplicate listings; if you are looking for an encounter which involves multiple parties, make sure to check all potentially relevant sections.
There are encounters not described below which involve the Talon Company, the Enclave, raiders, and super mutants which are scripted events occurring at specific locations. These encounters are not random. See individual location pages for encounters outside of what is listed below.
Note: if the Lone Wanderer happens to have changed their Karma orientation during the game (either by losing Karma when Karma was positive, or by accomplishing positive acts while Karma was negative), it is possible, although rare, to be attacked by both Regulators and Talon Company mercs, and sometimes even both at the same time.
Trouble on the Homefront (after completion forcing the residents out of home): Amata being questioned by two hostile Enclave soldiers and a non hostile Enclave officer; they will ask her where she obtained her Pip-Boy, and then ask for the location of her vault. After telling them, however, the Officer will simply tell the troops to open fire, killing her; you can save her for no reward or dialogue options, but she will only say "Stay away from me, this is all your fault".
Stealing Independence (after completion): Sydney and her friend Emaline attack the player. Occurs if Sydney is still alive and the player did not team with her or double-crossed her.
Escape from Grayditch
Those! (before starting): A wastelander fleeing from Grayditch (Giving you the location of Grayditch)
Oasis (before starting): Two to four wastelanders wearing merc outfits and carrying mid-level weapons, who are planning to raid Oasis. If you approach and ask them what they're discussing, they will accidentally reveal the location of Oasis and turn hostile. If you act like it's none of your business, they'll brush you off and you can no longer initiate conversation with them; they will then remain in that location indefinitely. Killing them before they turn hostile results in negative Karma.
The Nuka-Cola Challenge: A scavenger seemingly on his way to Girdershade accompanied by a pack brahmin and/or a dog or trained yao guai will, upon first meeting, offer to sell the player a Nuka-Cola Quantum, which, through a successful Speech challenge, can be reduced in price. He also provides the location of Girdershade. If the player does not buy the Quantum when first encountered, the scavenger paces a short patrol route near where he is spawned and will no longer offer to sell it. If the player does buy it, the scavenger will walk back to the original spawn point for the encounter and remain there until death. The scavenger does not respawn if killed; however, his pack brahmin and pet do respawn if killed. The scavenger will never actually go to Girdershade regardless of the player's actions.
The Superhuman Gambit (after completion): A child will walk up to you and ask for your signature. Occurs when wearing either one of the superheroes' armor.
Survival Guide Review
The Wasteland Survival Guide (after completion): A wastelander hunting a mole rat or mirelurk with varying success. He has different dialogue options depending on whether or not the player character completed all bonus objectives given by Moira and partially depending on chance (different wastelanders may say slightly different things). If the player character says he or she has helped with the book, a congratulatory or a mocking response is received. If the player character says he or she has never heard of the guide, the wastelander will provide them with a copy of the book. If the Lone Wanderer kills the wastelander and searches him or her, the player character will find the Wasteland Survival Guide in their misc items list in their Pip-Boy 3000 with the picture of a pre-War book and it cannot be used. If dropped, it will look like the wasteland survival guide.
Oasis (before starting): Player encounters the Wasteland Merchant. After talking about about the Great One, he'll collapse and die. You'll find a Wasteland merchant note on his body about him going to Oasis the next day. You may find him already dead as well.
The Superhuman Gambit (after completion): The AntAgonizer and 3 giant worker ants attacking 2-3 wastelanders with another one cowering nearby. Though the AntAgonizer may not be otherwise hostile, her ants are. She will attack any person or creature that she sees her ants in combat with.
Three hunters chasing and attacking a wastelander. Killing the hunters results in positive Karma, and they carry strange meat, indicating they are roaming cannibals. These are the same hunters as in the unique encounter "Hunting the Most Delicious Flesh of All", i.e. if you kill one (or more) of them in the unique encounter, they will not be present in this one.
The Human Bomb
A running wastelander tells you that raiders have strapped a bomb to them. Talking to the wastelander after this will allow you to attempt to disarm them, requiring an Explosives skill of 75, but even then there is a chance of failure. If not disarmed, the wastelander explodes 10 seconds later. 3 raiders, including one armed with a heavy weapon, follow the wastelander.
Four Slavers seeking to eliminate you as competition because you have made them look bad - if you capture a large number of slaves (three or more).
Kill the Slaver
A Hitman ambush, composed of wastelanders instead of Talon Company mercs, who call you "slaver scum" and attack you to avenge their friends. This encounter only occurs if the player has enslaved non-player characters using the Mesmetron.
Three slavers looking for escaped slaves. You can lie for positive Karma, or you can charge them for information and they'll give you 50 caps. However, they will become hostile no matter the dialogue if they have to give you caps. Killing these Slavers will not turn Paradise Falls hostile.
A few escaped slaves who have a few dialogue options if you talk with them: if you know where the Temple of the Union is, you can give them the correct directions for some positive Karma, or lie to them for negative Karma, or just say goodbye.
Three slavers with three slaves. Freeing the Slaves (using high Science or Explosives skill to disable their collars) earns you positive Karma, but makes the Slavers hostile towards you.
A scavenger with his malfunctioning Mister Handy. If you repair it, the scavenger will give you two energy cells; with a speech check you can convince him to give you 100 caps as well. Another option is to destroy the robot (no reward), or with a speech check convince the scavenger it was about to explode (for reward and experience). After fixing his robot, he will begin to travel the same route as the traders until he is killed. However, unlike the caravan merchants and Ben Canning, the Mister Handy scavenger will only travel if the player is in the same active map cell. Otherwise, the Mister Handy scavenger will remain frozen in his map cell. Waiting an hour while in the same active map cell as the Mister Handy scavenger will cause him to instantly travel to the next "trading stop" on the Caravan route (i.e. in front of Megaton, Rivet City, Agatha's house, etc.)
A group of wastelanders fleeing from a deathclaw with a crippled leg. When you speak to a non-player character after killing the deathclaw he/she gives you the location of Rock Creek Caverns. The "map" he gives you is listed in the "Notes" of your Pip-Boy with the description: "mirelurk king's treasure chamber!"
Two wastelanders pondering an Enclave eyebot that hovers around them consistently (as opposed to a long patrol like most). There is no dialogue possible with them, but they nevertheless hold a long dialogue with one another, discussing the eyebot.
Four ghoul wastelanders encountered around a burning barrel. Engaging any of them in conversation will result in them telling you they were headed for Underworld but couldn't make it because of super mutants (this contradicts Willow's statement that super mutants don't attack ghouls, unless these ghouls simply don't know that the mutants will leave them alone). They will tell you how to get to Underworld and mark it on your map if you ask them about it. Other speech options are to threaten them and "I don't have time for this now." Their numbers may decline as they fall afoul of various dangers.
Mauled by Mole Rats
A wastelander attacked by mole rat. If you save him/her, he/she will give you a small number of caps.
A scavenger (possibly with pet) heading towards a car which he then guards.
Radscorpion Guarding Refrigerator
A group of Wasteland wanderers who are trying to get water from a refrigerator guarded by an abnormally large giant radscorpion. If the player kills the giant radscorpion, the wasteland wanderers will allow the player to take the water. Killing the wasteland wanderers will result in negative Karma.
A scavenger and his pet (either dog or yao guai) around a dead random robot (usually a protectron or robobrain). He will tell you to stay away from his loot and will attack if you persist on "stealing" from him. Even pointing your sights too long at the dead robot may make him hostile. The robot spawns alive but weakened and usually is quickly killed by the scavenger before you arrive. Even if you kill the robot before the scavenger can, he will claim it and become hostile if you loot it. Speak to him before he becomes hostile to get the vendor options. Killing him while he is hostile will result in negative Karma, regardless of his reason for going hostile.
A normal scavenger roaming the Wasteland with his/her pack brahmin and possibly a pet (dog, robot, or yao guai). He/she has no unique dialogue, and instead has the standard scavenger dialogue tree (offering to sell from his random inventory, or to repair the player's items).
A scavenger in camp. A scavenger spawns standing stationary near a burning oil barrel. There is usually a nearby pack brahmin and pet (either dog or yao guai). He usually has a limited number of items and small cash reserves. The inventory is randomized in each encounter.
Wasteland doctor who provides medical services and sells medical Aid items. After appearing he/she will immediately begin wandering the wastes, and will not usually be seen again where they first appeared.
Water, Water, Nowhere
Two wasteland settlers and two escaped slaves fighting over a refrigerator of 10 purified water. Opening the refrigerator will turn them hostile to the player, but sometimes just standing near it for too long can make them attack you. You can also convince them with a Speech check to share the water.
Brotherhood Outcasts, Enclave and Talon CompanyEdit
Three Brotherhood Outcasts (or two Outcasts and a robot) patrolling the Wasteland. This squad will leave the encounter area never to return, exploring the Capital Wasteland on a wide ranging patrol. These characters are the same as those that spawn at predetermined Outcast spawn points.
Brotherhood Outcast Patrol
Three Brotherhood Outcasts (or two Outcasts and a robot) patrolling the Wasteland. In contrast to the other patrol, these non-player characters will remain within the random encounter patrol zone.
A friendly giant radscorpion fighting 1-4 giant worker ants. It will become hostile if you get too close to it. Dogmeat will attack it even while it is friendly. This encounter is almost guaranteed to occur just outside Vault 106.
Attack of the Ant Giant!
One to four giant ants around a toxic barrel with one being bigger than the others.
Five frag mines placed in a square shape, with one in the center. Initially they cannot be disarmed but after fast traveling away and coming back you can disarm them.
Five raiders with four of them beating the fifth one (with melee weapons), who is in undergarments. It seems to be an initiation. If the player gets close enough to the party while remaining undetected, the raiders can be heard saying "You think you're good enough to run with us?", "Pain is your friend.", "Don't flinch, you coward!" etc. This dialogue will loop indefinitely.
West of the building there is a radioactive pool. North of it there is a canyon which can be accessed only from the pool. You must approach it on the road from the building, jumping down the cliffs will not trigger.
North of it there is a radioactive pool, the event is there. You must approach it on the lower canyon road. Going simply north then jumping off the cliffs will not trigger, so jump down the suspension bridge then go north.
Head west then north on the road for MDPL-13 power station. Quicksave just before reaching the pylon on the left. The event is at the water tower. Alternate approaches exist from the east and north of the tower.
Right in front of it. Approaching from Farragut West Metro Station will not trigger. Best approach: from southwest direction. There is a fence at the back of the Super-Duper Mart. Quicksave at the southernmost point of the fence then go northeast.
Locate the water tower in front of National Guard depot and head exactly north from there passing the car wreck under the highway until you are halfway between the highway and elevated railroad lines (should be a whirlwind there). From there go exactly northeast. If successfully triggered, the event is under the railroad gap, exactly north.
There is a wood shack up in the rocks. Head west from the campground for the brain fungus, then you should be able to climb up at the southern part of the rocky wall. Quicksave before start climbing. The shack is N-NW from there.
Follow the elevated railroad line northwest until you find the gap right after the train. From the gap go south to the top of the hill. The event is downwards, southwest of the highest point of the hill.
Go Northeast and before you get to the top of the hill, go North-Northwest. Go towards the pylon in the distance and save before you go up the hill. Right before you get to the pylon, turn left. The encounter will spawn by the destroyed pylon.
The event spawns North-Northeast, but you need to go East and around the Bomb Storage buildings. Make your way up the cliffs and go West to the middle of the border of coordinates X:5, Y:17 and X:6, Y:17.
Go southwest where the road turns by the water near the pond. Cross between the pond and the water, then head W-SW under the highway, go up a bit then turn back, the event is between the pond and the highway.
Fast-travel to the place and turn 90-degrees to your right towards the parking lot. From there, take the road to the North. At the crossing, turn left and the event will be at the bottom of the road next to the destroyed building on the right.
Go the E wall of the building where the blue truck and car is. From the car go S to the white truck under the railway. Follow the road; the event is behind the destroyed building right of another blue car.
East of the fast travel arrival point. Head east up the road to the south edge of the fence around the water tower. The encounter will spawn on the east side of the car dealership and proceed east toward the scavenger's bridge. (If coming from Grayditch, a separate encounter will spawn nearer the Red Rocket.)
Proceed south out of Grayditch to the scavenger's bridge. Head west across the bridge toward the car dealership. The encounter will spawn between the dealership and the Red Rocket station(nearer to the Red Rocket). It will advance north to the ruined house.(If coming from the Fairfax ruins, a separate encounter will spawn at the dealership, then proceed east.)
Go exactly S for a long time until you find a rad pool with shacks and a lot of car wrecks. N-NE of it there is a crater-like place with a tree in the center, go there. The event is upwards at the cliffs, in northwest.
Go to the East side of the Power Plant, overlooking the Wasteland and align yourself with the center smokestack. Go East and around the rock formation. Continue East until you're just about between the coordinates X:12, Y:13 and X:13, Y:13. Head Northeast ( there should be a rock formation on your left and two thin trees on your right ) and the event will spawn below.
Head west by southwest, until you find a lot of car wrecks near the water. Then go northwest by the water until the boat. Then enter the canyon under the highway N-NE, the event is at the wrecked train.
Go the northern bounds of Paradise Falls, where a road leads to North. Follow it. After the crossing, keep going north, following the rut north, northwest directions and stop when it turns west. Turn back and go exactly in southeast direction, the event is around at the second tree.
Head exactly north until you'll see a fallen tree. Go just as much as you have came since the HQ. You are in position, if there is a large rocky hill in front of you and another fallen tree near northeast. Go to there and north upwards. Event is just up.
From the drive-in's fast travel arrival point, go exactly southeast toward the powerline tower, drop into the shallow ravine, from there proceed clockwise around the southwest perimeter of the drive-in. The encouter will spawn between the big screen and Faded Pomp Estates.
Go W-NW by the northern fence, then up the hill a bit. There should be some enemy around. Then you can go back for the event, as it is around the rocks looking like a cavern / vault entrance (without the door) east from you, north from the broken parts of the fence.
Random encounters may not spawn all members of an included faction when there are already large numbers of creatures/characters in the same map cell. This is normal, and occurs to prevent the game from suffering graphical slow downs due to excessive world objects being present.
Enslaving random encounter characters can cause a serious glitch where the game may freeze when attempting to use dialogue with them to either add or remove a slave collar given to you in Paradise Falls.
Type B encounters may lose track of assigned patrol routes when they cross another patrol route. They will begin following the waypoints from the other route. Most often seen with Outcast patrols as there are several static Outcast patrol routes that overlap Type B encounter waypoints. Any patrolling encounter can have this happen where random encounter waypoints exist in close proximity.