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For an overview of trap devices, see Trap.

Traps in Fallout 3 can be found all over the Capital Wasteland.

Types of traps

Cars and motorcycles

Though more an obstacle to avoid than a trap, a large number of decaying vehicles can be found around the Capital Wasteland. These nuclear-powered vehicles, suffering from two centuries of neglect, will catch fire and explode if sufficiently damaged. When a vehicle takes enough damage, it will release a small explosion and catch fire, burning for several seconds before exploding. The explosion can be hastened by firing upon the flaming wreck.

An exploding car can be deadly to anything nearby. Anything standing on or next to the car will more than likely be killed instantly. In addition, the explosion may set off other nearby cars. In areas like parking lots, this can result in up to a dozen simultaneous nuclear explosions. NPCs and enemies will move away from cars that have caught fire and will eventually explode, but typically do not flee quickly enough unless they were already far enough away from the vehicle. Any splash damage counts as damage you inflict on NPCs and can make them hostile. If the splash damage kills a target, no XP is awarded.


Hidden frag mine in the raider's outpost

Main article: Frag mine (Fallout 3)

Frag mines are commonly laid in areas occupied by hostile forces. They have a very sensitive motion sensor that registers nearby movements on the ground, and when the vibration exceeds a certain level, it detonates. Followers will trigger them. The length of the fuse is based on the one's Explosives skill; the greater the skill number, the longer the fuse. They require an explosives skill of 1 to disarm, meaning anyone can disarm it. They can be picked up after being disarmed. If any enemy or follower steps directly on one there is a chance of them being killed instantly. The Preacher in Seward Square sets off a minefield remotely.

Bear trap

Bear trap.png

Bear traps are a spring-operated pair of spiked jaws that snap shut on one's leg should the pressure switch in the middle be triggered. This can cripple the limb at lower levels. A Repair skill of 25 is required to disarm them. Shooting the switch or dropping an object on it also works. Bear traps can be reset, but this requires a Repair skill of 55.

Swinging object

Swing trap.png

Swinging objects consist of heavy objects (often a girder, automotive engine, or rotting brahmin body parts) chained to the ceiling and held up by a trip wire. When the wire is broken, the object swings down and impacts the individual for a minor amount of damage. The trip wire requires a Repair skill of 25 to disarm, or the object itself can be grabbed and manually moved to a safe "down" position without any required skill, or shot down. Because of the nature of the trap, it can remain dangerous even after the initial trigger. At certain angles, especially if walked into, it will cause damage, often several times in quick succession. It can also cause damage when manually moved by the grab action.

Grenade bouquet

Grenade bouquet

The grenade bouquet is a cluster of three frag grenades hung from the ceiling. When triggered, either by walking into it, shooting it, or hitting the nearby trip wire/pressure plate, the pins are pulled and the three grenades will fall to the ground, exploding after a few seconds. Both the tripping mechanism and the grenades themselves can be disarmed, the latter of which requires an Explosives skill of 30. Doing the latter adds the three grenades to one's inventory. If one lacks the required skill to disarm the trap, they may be able to shoot the rope holding up the grenades to make them fall and detonate. This trap is extremely dangerous, as the combined force of three grenades can be deadly depending on the proximity to the blast. They make a tell-tale rattle noise when they fall, serving as an alert if one does not notice the trap beforehand, but their vector does not appear on the HUD like thrown grenades.

Trapped pipe

Beware - two of these ducts are trapped

Similar to the grenade bouquet trap, some ventilation pipes have a grenade bouquet installed inside them, the payload of which is primed and deployed by the activation of a nearby pressure plate or tripwire. This trap is uncommon, but can be found in locations such as the ruins of Fairfax, just outside of Madame Jealle's in L'Enfant Plaza, Arlington Library or the steelyard of The Pitt. They cannot be disarmed, though the trip wire or pressure plate can. When activated you will hear the sound of the grenade bouncing through the pipe and dropping onto the floor shortly before exploding.

Pitching machine

Pitching machine.png

Inside buildings, pre-War pitching machines have been set up as weak traps. A nearby pressure plate or trip wire triggers the machine, which fires about ten baseballs before exhausting its supply. Either part can be disarmed. Any nearby enemies will be alerted by the noise it makes when in operation. An example of this trap can be found in the Arlington Library; in addition to the danger of flying baseballs in the choke point, the noise from the trap attracts raiders. There is also a modification of this trap in the add-on Point Lookout. A pitching machine there shoots eight baseballs and two frag grenades.

Gas leak

Gas explosion.jpg

Gas leaks are areas that have filled with natural gases that ignite if any sort of combustion occurs within the area of the leak. They are usually found in tunnels and can be visually detected by noting a wavering distortion in the air. When a gas leak is ignited, anything in the immediate vicinity takes a small amount of damage, is set on fire, and is knocked down for a few seconds. Guns will set off a gas leak if fired within a cloud but not from outside. Energy weapons, such as the laser pistol, will set off the leak if the shot intersects the cloud at any point (this is noted by a user manual for the laser pistol found in the Metro-Central station. Energy weapons from add-ons do not seem to do this). The detonation of any kind of explosive, such as a frag grenade, within the cloud will also set off the leak. Finally, any item with an open flame, such as the flamer, heavy incinerator, or Shishkebab, will ignite the gas if it comes into contact with the cloud, regardless of whether or not they are actually fired since the pilot light used to ignite them is active. Holstering them will prevent this. To safely remove gas leaks, ignite them from a safe distance. Pinkerton uses the gas in combination with the grenade bouquet: by triggering the tripwire, the grenades will drop, and the explosion will ignite the gas.

Radiation trap

Radiation traps are added with the Broken Steel add-on. They release intense radiation when active. They require a Repair skill of 60 to disarm. Only two locations in the game feature them: Holy Light Monastery, where they can only be activated manually; and Olney Powerworks, where they are triggered as a security measure before one gets near them and must be shut down using a nearby terminal.

Rigged shotgun

Rigged shotgun.png

The rigged shotgun is a simple but dangerous trap consisting of a combat shotgun wired to a pressure plate or a trip wire. When triggered, it fires a single blast at the position of the trigger. A Repair skill of 45 is required to disarm the gun itself. Disarming the gun rewards one with a combat shotgun in poor condition, four shotgun shells and 10 microfusion cells. Unlike traps such as grenade bouquets, rigged combat shotguns can be disarmed after having been triggered.

Rigged baby carriage

Rigged baby carriage

A particularly devious and complicated trap, the rigged baby carriage consists of a pram containing a toy baby head with a bomb and several frag mines strapped to it. Upon approaching the carriage, the toy will emit a crying sound and detonate shortly thereafter. It requires an Explosives skill of 60 to disarm, and unlike most explosive traps its frag mines cannot be salvaged. Once disarmed, it can be rearmed as a time bomb or a proximity bomb. This trap can also be grabbed and moved to a more useful position before re-arming. The bomb explodes when shot. This trap can be found in the Meresti service tunnel, Hubris Comics, and in the Point Lookout add-on four can be found in a warehouse full of normal prams within Pilgrim's Landing.

Rigged mailbox

Rigged mailbox.png

Similar to the baby carriage, the rigged mailbox is an ordinary pre-War mailbox rigged to explode if anything ventures too close. If disarmed (with an Explosive skill of 45), the explosive is added to the inventory. It can then be rearmed on either a timer or a proximity fuse. All rigged mailboxes have a small metallic antenna poking out of the top of some part of the letter receptacle, which helps in distinguishing them in good lighting conditions. One can find some just to the south of the raid shack. Only small mailboxes in front of houses can be found with this trap, which are rare. The large blue United States Postal Service mail dropboxes are never trapped in this manner.

Rigged terminal

See: Trapped terminal
Trapped terminal.png

Another variation of the deadly ordinary objects theme rigged computer terminals can be found in certain locations. Attempting to use the terminal triggers the trap, causing a slight electrical shock followed by the detonation of the main frag grenade inside. It can be recognized by the antenna on the back and the warped rear panel. The trap can be deactivated by defusing the back panel. Disarming the trap will move the grenade into the inventory. The terminal can then be rearmed with any type of grenade in the player character's inventory, however, this is of limited utility as NPCs aren't able to trigger this type of trap. An example of this trap can be found in the drainage chamber near Jocko's Pop & Gas Stop (the source of Signal Sierra Victor) or near the entrance to Pinkerton's hideout in Rivet City. Note that the terminal is just a trap and does not actually contain an interface; attempting to use it after it is disarmed only displays a dialog box explaining that it must be rearmed to function, which must be done using the rear panel.

Toilet trap

A toilet trap

The toilet trap is a simple electrical trap designed to shock anyone who decides to use the toilet, and can be disarmed by standing on the bowl of the toilet and removing the microfusion cells from the tank. Thirty-five microfusion cells are in the tank which provides the charge and are added to one's inventory if the trap is disarmed. Two wires leading from the tank to the bowl indicate a rigged toilet, and they disappear once the trap is disarmed. One example of this trap is found in the Tenleytown/Friendship station's bathroom nearest the Chevy Chase North exit. A skeleton lying near the bowl serves to warn the player of the danger. Others can be found in the Robot repair center, National Archives, the Museum of Technology, and the Statesman Hotel.

Firing mechanisms and initiating actions

Trip wire

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Trip wires are thin, easily broken wires suspended a few inches off the floor, usually just behind doors so one won't see the posts it is tied to. Opening the door doesn't trigger it. They require a Repair skill of 25 to disarm. Without the Light Step perk, one must interact with the posts to disarm it, as the wire is intangible.

Laser trip wire

Fallout 3 laser tripwire

Found only in Raven Rock, laser trip wires function by detecting when the beam is interrupted, and respond after a one-second delay with a puff of flammable gas, and a burst of flame to ignite it. The tripwire itself is not a weapons-grade laser beam and will not deal damage nor ignite the gas. The laser tripwire emitter can be disarmed with a Repair skill of 85 or a Science skill of 67.

Pressure plate

Pressure plate

Pressure plates are weight-activated mechanisms set off when it senses pressure from the player stepping on it, thus triggering the associated trap, a common example being a rigged shotgun. Bear traps have built-in pressure plates. The Light Step perk will allow one to avoid triggering either variety. Pressure plates require a Repair skill of 25 to disarm. The bear trap version can be triggered with a direct gunshot or an object.

Proximity fuse

All mines, including the rigged mailbox and baby carriage, work on a proximity fuse. The Light Step perk will negate ordinary mine fuses but not the fuses of rigged carriages or mailboxes. One must disarm the explosive before it detonates, avoid it, or fire directly upon it with a gun or explosive.


Rigged equipment such as computer terminals are triggered by any attempt to use them. A separate area on the object must be interacted with to disarm it.

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