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Warning: Radiation has been detected by the filtration system. No leaks are detected within this facility please investigate external causes to correct this issue.— East pump station terminal.

Hard Luck Blues is a side quest in Fallout: New Vegas.

Quick walkthrough

Quest: Hard Luck Blues
(Optional) Speak to Morgan Blake at the NCR sharecropper farms.
Go to the East pump station or West pump station and enter it.
Activate the terminal and restore the network connection.
Go to Vault 34 and enter it.
Find the terminal in the reactor room.
Choose whether to help the Sharecropper farms or the trapped vault dwellers.
200-250 XP and NCR fame

Detailed walkthrough

Go to the NCR sharecropper farms and speak to Morgan Blake. If she is not tending crops on the farm, she may be in the sharecropper barracks. She says that crops are faring poorly, and thinks there may be something in the water. Blake will ask the Courier to investigate the East pump station to find the source of the contamination. Agreeing to help her begins the quest. Another way to begin the quest is by directly going to the pump station or the main terminal below the overseer's office of Vault 34 and reading the SOS entry.

Travel east along the pipe to the East pump station. Enter the larger building (the door marked "East Pump Station" rather than "East Cistern") and activate the terminal on the desk. It has a damaged network connection which must be restored (50 Science skill required) before it will activate properly. Once the terminal has been repaired and activated, read the message marked "Warning". The message tells the player about a problem the pumping station is having with radiation contaminating the pipes. If one has not already visited the farms and received this quest, reading this message will cause it to start.

Before proceeding to Vault 34 it is wise to make adequate preparations. The vault, as well as the area directly in front of it, is saturated with radiation; large amounts of Rad-X and RadAway will be necessary. Alternatively, as most of the enemies inside do not respawn, one may periodically go to a doctor to have radiation removed. However, one must keep an eye on the Rad gauge at the top right of the screen, making sure one is out before its maximum is reached. There is an Average-locked safe with about a dozen Rad-X and RadAway inside the vault clinic. Note that even with high radiation resistance, the Courier will frequently be taking a minimum of +1 rad/sec, as Rad Resistance is capped at 85%.

The vault is full of feral ghouls, and the corridors are constricted. Some areas are underwater. Armor with a high Damage Threshold and/or radiation resistance is strongly recommended. New enemies will frequently spawn or otherwise appear behind the Courier from areas already traversed.

Head east towards the Vault 34 map marker. Right before the main cave entrance lies a truck with many radioactive barrels surrounded by a group of golden geckos.

The Vault 34 cave has an alternative entrance at the summit of the bluffs. Unlike most cave entrances, the summit entrance is situated vertically, slightly recessed into the rockface. This entrance is labelled simply as "Enter Cave". This short, circuitous cave has a few golden geckos and minor loot. Deep within the cave lies Vault 34's open vault door. The vault population has been transformed into feral ghouls, and the security officers have become glowing ones.

Vault 34 had severe problems with overpopulation, compounded by an overstocked armory. To access (and loot) the armory, the Vault 34 security terminal, the Vault 34 utility terminal, and the overseer's terminal must be accessed. If one has insufficient Science skill to hack the Very Hard terminals, the first two passwords can be found on the ghoulified corpses of vault technicians that lay underwater, trapped beneath desks, in two separate but nearby locations. Both locations have stairs that go down into radioactive water, and each location is marked with a stream of water falling from the ceiling. Neither location needs to be drained to loot the glowing one technicians for the passwords (security terminal password and utility terminal password). The rebreather is very useful here.

The overseer's door is unlocked through the terminal in the security room. To access the security room, activate the terminal in the utility room, located next to the entrance to the armory, and select Activate Pump to drain the flooded level. The clinic (first door before the overseer's room) has an Average-locked wall safe containing 11 Rad-X and eight RadAway. These supplies can prove useful as there is a lot of radiation in the next rooms. Exiting the utility room, the security room lies to the right; this door is underwater and inaccessible until the pump is activated. Past this door lies the terminal to unlock the overseer's room.

Head back to the overseer's door, and kill the overseer waiting inside.

The overseer is a boss-type creature, with very high health. As soon as the door to his room is opened, he will engage, together with two Vault-Tec turrets in his room. The door to the small corridor leading up to the overseer's office will close momentarily. At least two hostile ghouls will spawn behind it and engage the player from behind. Space is very tight and companions will likely obstruct the player's maneuverability. The overseer's pathing sometimes gets caught momentarily on his platform, affording the player a few seconds to unload freely. Note that like all turrets, the Vault-Tec turrets explode when destroyed; they should be the player's first target as they do a great deal of damage across their field of fire encompassing the entire room, and the explosion from destroying them will also damage the overseer.

The terminal at the back of the overseer's office accepts the password he drops to unlock the armory door. The armory has lots of useful equipment. Several suits of Vault 34 security armor and helmets, a combat knife, 10mm pistol, many 10mm SMGs, a sniper rifle, an assault carbine, the All-American, a Marksman carbine, a minigun, a riot shotgun, a missile launcher, missiles, 2 grenade launchers, a few C-4 plastic explosives, and the pulse gun (inside a Very Hard locked chest, can be opened with a key found in Pearl's barracks).

Descend beneath the overseer's desk to the reactor room. Past the dripping corridors, there is a room with half-flooded stairs. In the back, to the left of the stairs, there is a large, red-and-gray mainframe terminal. The terminal gives information about opening a reactor door, closing the exterior vents and rerouting vault control. Reading the SOS message makes the alternative quest ending available as well as starting the quest if one has skipped the above steps.

Open the reactor door to the left of the terminal that unlocks it. There are two vault technicians transformed into glowing ones in the room. Kill them and access the computer terminal in the room (the key to unlock this terminal can be found on the overseer's body). It presents the final choice as to how to end the quest.

Human vault dwellers are trapped in the (unreachable) underwater side of the vault. Either disable the reactor, removing the radiation contaminating the NCR sharecropper farms, or reroute control of the computer system to the vault dwellers. Enter the command first through the terminal in the reactor room, then backtrack to the mainframe terminal in the previous room to confirm the command. After one of two resolutions is chosen, no further commands can be entered through the terminal.

Neither decision gives the player character Karma, but choosing to help the sharecroppers will result in a reputation gain with the New California Republic and 100 XP. If one chooses to help the dwellers, they will earn 150 XP.

The rescued Vault 34 dwellers, led by Horowitz, will travel to the Aerotech Office Park east of Camp McCarran, taking up residence at Suite 300. It takes them about a day or two to make their way there after being freed by the player. Dialogue with Horowitz offers the option to request a "Vault trinket" but normally no item is added to the player's inventory. Occasionally a food sanitizer may be added to the player's inventory when this option is selected.

Quest stages

10 Investigate the Pump Station.
20 Find the source of the Radiation.
30 Shut down Vault 34's Reactor to help the Sharecropper Farms.
40Quest finished(Optional) Save Vault 34's trapped dwellers by leaving its Reactor intact, dooming the Sharecropper Farms.


  • There is a second corpse that contains the password on the opposite end of the floor (also underwater), making it possible to access the armory before swimming down for the utility terminal password.
  • It is possible to activate this quest by going directly to the East pump station and activating the terminal (Science 50 required) without having been to the sharecroppers.
  • It is also possible to activate this quest by going directly to the reactor room in Vault 34. Upon activating the computer terminal in the reactor room (or the terminal just outside the room) and reading the "SOS" message, the quest will begin.
  • If the player failed to speak with Victor after initially talking to him at Goodsprings, it is possible for him to show up in the tunnels on the way to the wasteland from the vault.
  • If the quest is failed (by killing Morgan Blake), the option to save either the vault dwellers or the NCR sharecropper farms will still be available, including the rewards such as NCR fame.

Behind the scenes

"Hard Luck Blues" is a blues song first recorded in 1950 by blues/soul artist Roy Brown, for whom it achieved a No.1 on the R&B chart. The lyrics speak of a vagrant with a life very similar to that of the Lone Wanderer.


  • PCPC Xbox 360Xbox 360 If you have a human follower die near Vault 34 (Boone in the example experienced) and have ED-E as companion waiting elsewhere, it can sometimes cause ED-E to fast travel to you once you are in Vault 34. ED-E will also frequently ignore wait commands. [verified]
  • PCPC Playstation 3Playstation 3 Xbox 360Xbox 360 If you choose to save the trapped vault dwellers from Vault 34 and meet them at "Aerotech Office Park" the player will have an option to ask for a reward "Vault trinket", which doesn't actually add anything to player's inventory. Furthermore, dialogues appear to be looped and bugged. The vault dwellers might not appear at Suite 300 at all despite the quest being finished and your Pip-Boy entry showing that you saved them.[verified]
    • Sometimes after waiting 3–4 days and returning to the office park the vault dwellers will appear.
  • PCPC Playstation 3Playstation 3 Xbox 360Xbox 360 The terminal in the East Pump Station may be accessible even without the required Science skill of 50; the terminal will turn on and the "WARNING" message will still be readable. This also happens with West Pump Station sometimes. [verified]
  • PCPC Playstation 3Playstation 3 Xbox 360Xbox 360 Two feral ghouls come through the broken glass near the reactor and attack you, they have no names and allow no searching of their bodies after being killed. [verified]
  • Xbox 360Xbox 360 After choosing to save the trapped vault dwellers, one may encounter a docile glowing one. Sadly, the player cannot engage it in dialogue. It is marked as an ally, both in V.A.T.S. and as a tick mark on the mini-map. Like the unnamed feral ghouls, the glowing one has no name and nothing in its inventory. [verified]
  • PCPC Playstation 3Playstation 3 Xbox 360Xbox 360 Sometimes the terminal in the reactor room will be locked with the message "terminal locked please contact an administrator" with no way of activating it and not being able to finish the quest. Ensure the player grabs the overseer's password from the overseer's corpse beforehand. [verified]
  • Xbox 360Xbox 360 Upon entering the overseer's office, he will be dead and no feral ghouls will swarm you. [verified]
  • PCPC Playstation 3Playstation 3 Upon entering the overseer's office and destroying the turrets, he will not attack the Courier and will stand behind his desk until killed. [verified]
  • PCPC Xbox 360Xbox 360 The vault dwellers will not be found in Aerotech suite 300. [verified]
  • PCPC Xbox 360Xbox 360 Entering Vault 34 with ED-E as a companion may trigger a glitch causing him to become trapped within a corridor ceiling rendering him unplayable. [verified]
    • PCPC Xbox 360Xbox 360 Possible workaround: Ask ED-E to move back using the companion wheel to unstick. [verified]
    • Xbox 360Xbox 360 Workaround: use Gun Runners' terminal to dismiss ED-E, then retrieve him in Primm.
Main quests
Act 1Ain't That a Kick in the Head · Back in the Saddle · By a Campfire on the Trail · They Went That-a-Way · Ring-a-Ding-Ding!
Act 2Wild Card (Wild Card: Ace in the Hole, Change in Management, You and What Army?, Side Bets, Finishing Touches) · The House Always Wins (I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII) · Render Unto Caesar · Et Tumor, Brute? · Things That Go Boom · Kings' Gambit · For the Republic, Part 2 · You'll Know It When It Happens/Arizona Killer
Act 3No Gods, No Masters · All or Nothing · Veni, Vidi, Vici · Eureka!
Side quests
New California RepublicAnywhere I Wander · Back in Your Own Backyard · Bitter Springs Infirmary Blues · Boulder City Showdown · Can You Find it in Your Heart? · Climb Ev'ry Mountain · Don't Tread on the Bear! · Emergency Radio · Eye for an Eye · Flags of Our Foul-Ups · Hard Luck Blues · I Don't Hurt Anymore · I Put a Spell on You · Keep Your Eyes on the Prize · Medical Mystery · No, Not Much · Pressing Matters · Restoring Hope · Return to Sender · That Lucky Old Sun · The White Wash · There Stands the Grass · Three-Card Bounty · We Will All Go Together · You Can Depend on Me
Caesar's LegionBeware the Wrath of Caesar! · Caesar's Favor · Caesar's Foe · Caesar's Hire · Cold, Cold Heart · I Hear You Knocking · The Finger of Suspicion · We Are Legion
The StripBeyond the Beef · Bye Bye Love · Classic Inspiration · How Little We Know · Pheeble Will · Talent Pool · The House Has Gone Bust! · The Moon Comes Over the Tower
Freeside & Outer VegasBirds of a Feather · Bleed Me Dry · Debt Collector · G.I. Blues · High Times · Someone to Watch Over Me · The Coyotes · Wang Dang Atomic Tango
BoomersAnt Misbehavin' · Sunshine Boogie · Volare! · Young Hearts
Great KhansAba Daba Honeymoon · Cry Me a River · Don't Make a Beggar of Me · Oh My Papa
Powder GangBooted · I Fought the Law · Run Goodsprings Run · Why Can't We Be Friends?
Brotherhood of SteelEyesight to the Blind · Still in the Dark · Tend to Your Business
OtherCome Fly With Me · Crazy, Crazy, Crazy · Ghost Town Gunfight · Guess Who I Saw Today · Left My Heart · My Kind of Town · The Legend of the Star and A Valuable Lesson · Unfriendly Persuasion · Wheel of Fortune
Companion questsED-E My Love · For Auld Lang Syne · Heartache by the Number · I Could Make You Care · I Forgot to Remember to Forget · Nothin' But a Hound Dog · One for My Baby
Unmarked questsA Bit of Slap and Tickle · A Final Plan for Esteban · Access Powers · All Fired Up! · An Ear to the Ground · Andy and Charlie · Arachnophobia · Arizona Scavenger · Barton the Fink · Bear Necessities · Big Winner (Atomic Wrangler, The Gomorrah, The Tops, Ultra-Luxe, Vikki & Vance) · Bounty Killer (I, II) · Brotherhood Bond (I, II) · Caching in at the Cove · Cajoling a Cudgel · Claws Mended · Claws Out · Dealing with Contreras · Defacing the Humble Stone · Democracy Inaction · Don't Poke at the Bear! · Eddie's Emissary · Exhumin' Nature · Fight Night · Flogging a Dead Corpse · Friend of the Followers · Gland for Some Home Cooking · Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger · Hat's Entertainment · Help for Halford · Hidden Valley computer virus · Highway to the Danger Zone (I, II) · Honorary Rocketeer · I Love Bananas · Iron and Stealing · Keith's Caravan Charade · Laurifer Gladiator · Lenk's Bad Debts · Lily and Leo · Long-Term Care · Malleable Mini Boomer Minds · Maud's Muggers · Meeting an Equal · Missing a Few Missiles · Most Wanted · Not Worth a Hill of Corn and Beans · Old School Ghoul · A Pair of Dead Desperados (I, II) · Papers, Please · Pistol Packing · Playing on the Old Joana · Poor Meat Never Makes Good Soup · Powder to the People · Power to the People · Razzle Dazzle! · Reach for the Sky, Mister! · Rest and Resupply · Ringo's Caravan Rules · Rotface's Loose Lips · Saving (or Savaging) Sergeant Teddy · The Screams of Brahmin · Silus Treatment · Short-Term Treatment · Smooth-Talking Criminal · The Star Showdown · Strategic Nuclear Moose · Straus Calls · Strip Search · Suits You, Sarah · Tags of Our Fallen · A Team of Moronic Mercenaries · Thought for the Day · Tourist Traipse · Trudy's Radio Repair · A Trusted Aide · Useless Baubles or Fancy Trinkets? · We Must Stop Beating Like This · We Must Stop Meeting Like This · Wind-Brahmin Wrangler · You Gotta Break Out a Few Eggs · You Make Me Feel Like a Woman
Add-on quests
Dead MoneySierra Madre Grand Opening! · Find Collars (8: "Dog", 12: Christine, 14: Dean Domino) · Fires in the Sky · Strike Up the Band · Mixed Signals · Trigger the Gala Event · Put the Beast Down · Last Luxuries · Curtain Call at the Tampico · Heist of the Centuries · Big Winner, Sierra Madre
Honest HeartsA Family Affair · Arrival at Zion · Bighorners of the Eastern Virgin · Chaos in Zion · Civilized Man's Burden · Crush the White Legs · Deliverer of Sorrows  · Departing Paradise · Flight from Zion · Gathering Storms · Gone Fishin' · Happy Trails Expedition · Prisoners of War · Retake the Bridge · River Monsters · Rite of Passage · Roadside Attraction · Sanctity of the Dead · The Advance Scouts  · The Treacherous Road · The Grand Staircase · Tourist Trap
Old World BluesAll My Friends Have Off Switches · A Brain's Best Friend · Coming Out of Her Shell · Field Research · He Came... And Went · Influencing People · Midnight Science Fiction Feature! · Old World Blues · On the Same Wavelength · Picking Your Brains · Project X-13 · Sonic Emitter Upgrade · Welcome to the Big Empty · What's in a Name? · When Visitors Attack! · X-2: Strange Transmissions! · X-8 Data Retrieval Test · X-8: High School Horror! · X-13: Attack of the Infiltrator!
Lonesome RoadThe Reunion · The Silo · The Job · The Launch · The Tunnelers · The Divide · The Courier · The End · The Apocalypse