|This is an overview article, listing content appearing across multiple games.|
Feral ghouls (also known as mindless zombies, ghoul crazies, feral necrotic post-humans, zombies or simply ferals) are ghouls that have lost their ability to reason and have become aggressive. Much prejudice from ordinary humans against ghouls who retain their mental faculties is due to the widespread assumption that this feral state is the inevitable condition of every ghoul.
The degeneration into a feral state (referred to as ferocious post-necrotic dystrophy) is not fully understood. It is known that it is a result of a degeneration of the brain (which is not affected by the regenerative mutation of the spinal cord) and emerges following the atrophy of higher brain functions, accompanied by an increased level of aggression and appetite. When the loss of capacity for thought is complete, a ghoul is considered feral. The factors that may cause a ghoul to enter this state are unclear, but anti-social or isolated ghouls are more susceptible to it. Exposure to intense radiation may also be a factor; feral ghouls have no body heat and emit lethal levels of radiation, indicating that feral ghouls are for all intents and purposes dead, their functions sustained only by their high irradiation. This allows them to survive for centuries, relying only on the energy provided by radiation, at the expense of a horrifying, emaciated appearance. The process is irreversible.
Feral ghouls have lost all capacity to reason and are essentially wild animals. They are driven purely by what remains of their survival instincts, clustering in groups and attacking whatever disturbs them with relentless fury. When provoked, they all rush the source of the disturbance, usually a living creature from the wasteland, and try to attack using their limbs. The degeneration of the central nervous system means they cannot use tools (unless recently ghoulified) though it also means they will attack with full force, without the natural human limiters on muscle use. Ghouls will call out to other ferals with a screech, typically causing the entire pack to swarm the target.
Feral ghouls often cluster together in dark, cool environments, like sub-basement-levels or underground areas, only occasionally leaving their normal hunting grounds. However, the myth that ferals fear light is false. Occasionally, one or two ferals may be encountered out in the open.
Frequently, ferals of all types will wander from place to place, occasionally suffering from clonic seizures and stopping at fallen prey to feed, but will immediately attack any and all non-ghoul creatures they come across. On occasion, they have even been known to attack non-feral ghouls. They will often sniff, screech or lash out at other ferals. Upon detecting a non-ghoul, most ferals will make a high-pitched gurgle or screech, setting out to search the area. Upon sighting prey, they will often scream once more, alerting any nearby ghouls and attack. There is no rank or pecking order to these attacks; all attack at the same time in a rampant onslaught. Because of this, in enclosed areas like Vault 34, it is very easy to get overwhelmed. Feral ghouls mainly attack with their hands, slashing and smashing in an insane fury. Some feral ghouls can be seen to use weapons, such as the trooper ghouls in Camp Searchlight, likely indicating that they have only gone feral recently.
Ferals have also been shown to possess a sense of self-preservation, as one known occasion they actively fled a Brotherhood of Steel onslaught. In the same locale, a cluster of ferals was kept relatively docile when fed regularly. Otherwise, they always attack aggressively without regard to personal injury.
One interesting note on ferals is that they seem to be fooled by very rudimentary means. The ghoul mask, seemingly nothing more than the hollowed-out head of a ghoul or several pieces of a human/ghoul head sutured together, still seems to deter ferals from attacking.
When wearing the ghoul mask (or using a Stealth Boy) the player character can observe relaxed feral ghouls' actions, including twitching, bending down, having fits or sniffing the air. If one is wearing the ghoul mask, ferals will often turn their head to the side and stretch their necks when nearing them, as if they are confused.
Roy Phillips, who originally possesses the mask, states if one gets too close to the ghouls, they will "sniff" the player character out and attack, even with the mask on. Regardless of this advice, the ghouls will not attack unless one removes the mask or provokes them with hostile action.
Feral ghouls (also known as mindless ghouls, ghoul crazies or zombies) are the basic feral ghoul variant, wearing only a pair of tattered shorts and noticeably weaker than standard human opponents, they are easily dispatched with one or two headshots from any decent weapon or a solid hit from a decent melee or unarmed weapon. Despite their shrill noise and remarkable speed, they are only truly a threat when they have the advantage of numbers, or when the player character is at a low level. Some feral ghouls come in different colors as well as different types. The colors are different depending on how the human looked before turning into a feral ghoul.
Feral ghoul roamer
Some feral ghoul roamers in the Capital Wasteland wear what appears to be the remains of old combat armor, and are somewhat tougher than standard feral ghouls, requiring more damage to be dealt to put them down. However, in the Mojave Wasteland, ghoul roamers appear no different than the standard feral ghoul. They are not very common but can be found in groups of up to five in places containing lots of ghouls, like the Museum of History.
Feral ghoul reaver
Feral ghoul reavers appear in the Fallout 3 add-ons Broken Steel and Point Lookout and also can be found in Fallout: New Vegas in the Mojave Wasteland. They are much more combat-worthy than other ghouls and wear what appears to be the remnants of metal armor. They also have the ability to rip radioactive gore out of themselves and hurl it like a grenade. Aside from the damage they can inflict, they also have great endurance and boast one of the highest HP totals in the game, being able to survive even attacks from the Fat Man. Their lunge attacks (much like a deathclaw) can send anyone a good distance back, and can even cripple or kill a high-level player character very quickly.
In Fallout: New Vegas, reavers are simply a tougher and more aggressive variant of feral ghouls, having somewhat higher Hit Points than a glowing one. They have also lost their ability to throw radioactive gore, and their damage is not nearly as high as it was in Fallout 3, they can be killed as if they were any other feral ghoul.
Charred feral ghoul
One of the strongest variants of feral ghouls, this ghoul is covered by a thick layer of rust, giving it a natural armor and drastically increasing its resistance to damage.
Glowing ones or luminous necrotic post-humans are ghouls who absorbed so much radiation that they glow in the dark, becoming living conduits of radiation. In daylight, they simply appear to be incredibly pale feral ghouls, but in the darkness, they glow with a vivid yellow-green hue, their opaque skeletons clearly visible as in an X-ray. Approaching a fallen glowing one can cause minor exposure to radiation, so they can still be dangerous to humans even after their death.
They are often considered outsiders even by other (non-feral) ghouls, they are also one of the rarest of the feral ghouls. While there are many glowing ones that kept their normal human intellectual abilities in New California, it seems that nearly all of them in the Capital Wasteland and the Mojave Wasteland have become feral.
The Capital Wasteland and some Mojave Wasteland glowing ones can also emit an incandescent wave of radiation at will from their bodies, which they use to heal themselves and any surrounding ghouls while damaging their enemies. Even though being considered outcasts, other feral ghouls seem to follow them, as they are attracted to the lethal doses of radiation the glowing ones emit from their bodies.
|The following is based on information from Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel.|
In Los, the glowing ghouls are among the members of the Church of the Lost, a ghoul cult dedicated to the protection of the Secret Vault. They are less affected by radiation than their comrades from the Capital Wasteland and New California.
|End of information based on information from Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel|
Swamp ghouls are feral ghouls that exclusively inhabit the swamps of Point Lookout. Swamp ghouls wear tattered shorts similar to those commonly worn by tribals. They are found in large numbers in and around the Turtledove Detention Camp. They exhibit characteristics similar to those of normal feral ghouls, but their skin's general appearance is more of a gray color and they are also considerably weaker. However, the swamp ghouls tend to appear in greater numbers than their Capital Wasteland counterparts.
This variant of ghoul only found on the Island and mutated as a result of the Island's radioactive fog. Fog ghouls are much paler than their more common brethren found in the Commonwealth, with black burns on certain parts of their skin and fishing nets draped over their chest. Their eye sockets are quite large, with the eyes sunken in, and their teeth are permanently gritted, exposing the gums, which seem inflamed, and the teeth sunk in as well. Black soot is also smeared across their faces.
|The following is based on information from Van Buren design documents and is not canon.|
The Endless Walk is the punishment in which a ghoul from the Reservation is stripped of every worldly possession, including clothing, and sent marching into the wasteland. No ghoul has ever come back from the Endless Walk (after being exiled from the Reservation, Otto Stead was saved by Governor Dodge at Hoover Dam). Another source of endless walkers in the Boulder area is the crater, the remains of what was once NORAD.
Not all endless walkers end up radscorpion food, at least not at first. On those rare occasions when one survives more than one year in the wasteland, they turn into wandering, voracious creatures on an endless quest for flesh. Due to their prolonged, open exposure to the scorching desert sun, high radiation and other hardships of the wasteland, these ghouls, who were banished naked from the Reservation, look like walking, sun-bleached chunks of beef jerky. Their constant exposure to the hot sun and high levels of radiation has caused their skin to toughen into natural, hardened leather, but at the same time, their ability to reason has been completely lost.
|End of information based on information from Van Buren design documents|
Notable feral ghouls
|Notable feral ghouls|
|Mother Curie III||Sun of Atom|
|Fallout: New Vegas|
|Bob Stanson||Bradley Ramone||First mate|
|John Hatfield||Jon Elwood||Tim Shoots|
|Wayne Gorski||Pre-War Sanctuary residents||Frederick Gibbons|
|Patrick Gibbons||Steven Gibbons||Victoria Gibbons|
|Security chief Andersen||Julian||Johnny Morton|
|Rod Stoddard||Roy Ward Baker||Wally Mack|
|Agent Kensington||Freddie Lang||Harvey Tinley|
- In-game name in Fallout. (PRO CRIT.MSG (Fallout))
- In-game name in Fallout 2. (PRO CRIT.MSG (Fallout 2))
- Doctor Barrows terminal entry in Fallout 3.
- Fallout 4 loading screens: "While they can easily be mistaken for zombies, Feral Ghouls are actually horribly irradiated humans whose brains have rotted away, causing madness."
- Tenpenny Tower terminals; Exploration Database, Feral Ghouls
- Underworld terminals; research terminal, Study Of Ferocious Post-Necrotic Dystrophy
- The Lone Wanderer: "I need more details... What's the breach all about?"
M.A.R.Go.T.: "Internal visual sensing equipment is detecting numerous unidentified persons in the southeast tunnels area. The individuals have damaged metro equipment and refused dialogue with our security units. In accordance with U.S. Security Statute A567/B, the use of deadly force has been authorized."
The Lone Wanderer: "Can you tell me more about these unidentified persons?"
M.A.R.Go.T.: "My apologies. My sensing equipment in that area must be damaged. My equipment indicates the persons possess no internal body heat and are emitting lethal levels of radiation."
- Little Yangtze terminals; Little Yangtze Log Terminal, Elijah's Journal - Day 2
- Camp Searchlight ghouls
- Gabe (Fallout 4)
- Three Dog: "Those Feral Ghouls that prefer the dark, dank underground? They ARE basically mindless zombies. So kill as many as you damn well please."
(Three Dog on GNR)
- Diamond City security officer: "Feral Ghouls like to hide in the dark. Makes night patrol a real fright-fest."
(Diamond City security; Exterior dialogue)