The Fallout Bible is a collection of documents containing background material for the first Fallout games. They were compiled, written, and released by Chris Avellone in 2002 on Black Isle's homepage on a semi-regular basis, as a collection of "background material and hijinks". A compiled version of the Bible is included with a purchase of Fallout, Fallout 2, and Fallout Tactics on GoG and includes a foreword by Chris Avellone.
Emil Pagliarulo spoke about the Bible's status within canon in August 2020. He stated that the writers of Bethesda's Fallout games often use the Bible as a supplementary source, secondary to the games themselves. Writers investigate the Bible after they look at what is in the games first. However, they do not assume that everything in the Bible is canon; instead, they take it step-by-step to include what makes sense. In his own words, "it's a judgment call."
The idea, initially elaborated by community veteran Dan Wood, was to create a document that would serve as a total guide to Fallout: the history of the setting, the elements that compose it, the things that define it, and the rules that guide it. It would also serve to tie off loose ends left by the games and to provide details on questions previously raised, important due to the prospect of someone who wasn't Black Isle making Fallout games grew ever more real.
However, instead of being a definitive, unambiguous guide to Fallout, Avellone's Fallout Bible became a sort of long question and answer session with fans emailing a multitude of queries to him and receiving answers. Avellone would frequently toss in interesting bits of information about the games and original design documents, including the official Fallout timeline. Avellone made some mistakes here and there, many of which were corrected in later issues of the Bible thanks to fan feedback. The whole project was cut short when Avellone left Black Isle.
There are nine main installments of the Fallout Bible and Fallout Bible 0, a compilation of the first three with various corrections.
- Fallout Bible 0 (released March 8, 2002)
- Fallout Bible 4 (released February 25, 2002)
- Fallout Bible 5 (released March 11, 2002)
- Fallout Bible 6 (released July 10, 2002)
- Fallout Bible 7 (released July 29, 2002)
- Fallout Bible 8 (released October 2, 2002)
- Fallout Bible 9 (released November 7, 2002)
Behind the scenes
- Chris Avellone refers to it as non-canon, i.e. not binding for Bethesda Game Studios.
- The Fallout Bible on blackisle.com (archived)
- Welcome Back to Fallout: "Obviously we had the old games to look at, and Fallout 1 became our main model and inspiration. I always preferred the tone of it, and it's the one we focused our time on dissecting. We also went through all the original source material, as well as the "Fallout Bible," put together by Chris Avellone, whose work is always fantastic. But one of my favorite sources, when we received everything (yes, everything) from Interplay, is the original "Fallout Vision Statement", back when it was called "Fallout: A GURPS Post Nuclear Adventure.""
- Fallout 76: Would the Fallout bible be considered canon or not?:
Emil Pagliarulo: "So, there's actually different versions of the Bible, too. A lot of the stuff from the Bible is on- public on the Fallout Wiki, online, and you can look at that stuff. For us, it's always... for us, canon always starts with what is in the games. And so... it's what is in Fallout 1, Fallout 2... even some of like, Fallout Tactics is- there's some stuff from canon from Fallout Tactics as well. And our Fallout games. So, we always look at what's in the games first, and then we go to the Fallout Bible and look at the stuff. So, some of the stuff that is in Fallout 3 that is now canon came from the Fallout Bible, some of that fiction. And so... it depends. We look at the Fallout Bible and some of the lore that really... was written, y'know, back in the day. It makes sense and we use that and put it in our games. We don't just assume that everything in the Bible is canon. We have to take it step-by-step inside. It's a judgement call."
Note: This video is an excerpt from a longer interview at Gamescom 2020.