|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|
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 you 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 you about a problem the pumping station is having with radiation contaminating the pipes. If you have 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 is saturated with radiation; large amounts of Rad-X and RadAway will be necessary, alternatively as inside there's little respawn one may periodically go to a doctor to have it removed however one must keep an eye on the Rad gauge (by default at top-right in red) making sure one is out before its maximum is reached (there's also some rad right in front of the vault). There is an Average locked safe with about a dozen Rad-X and RadAway inside the vault clinic. Note that you will frequently be taking a minimum of +1 RAD/sec even with high radiation resistance as Rad Resistance is capped at 85%.
The Vault is full of feral ghouls with high health and strong melee, and the corridors are badly constricted. Some areas are underwater. High DT armor, preferably with Rad Resist, 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 two entrances - the second is 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 you have insufficient Science skill to hack the Very Hard terminals, the first two passwords can be found on glowing one corpses (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 wall safe containing eleven Rad-X and eight RadAway. You will need these supplies 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, the Overseer 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 SMG, 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 some vague 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 you have skipped the above steps.
Open the reactor door - it is just 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 (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 you Karma, but if you choose to help the Sharecroppers you will get a faction boost with New California Republic and 100 XP. If you choose to help the dwellers, you 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.
- There's 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.
- 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. As well, ED-E will frequently ignore wait commands, with little rhyme or reason. [verified]
- If you choose to save 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 - dialogs appear to be looped and bugged. The vault dwellers might not appear at Suite 300 at all despite the quest being finished and your Pipboy entry showing that you saved them. Note: Sometimes after waiting 3–4 days and returning to the office park they will appear. [verified]
- 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]
- 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]
- After choosing to save the trapped vault dwellers, one may encounter a docile glowing one. Sadly, the player cannot engage it in dialogue. It's 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]
- 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]
- Upon entering the overseer's office, he will be dead and no feral ghouls will swarm you. [verified]
- 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]
- Aerotech suite 300. [verified] The vault dwellers will not be found in
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]
- Possible workaround: Ask ED-E to move back using companion wheel to unstick. [verified]
- Workaround: use Gun Runners' terminal to dismiss ED-E, then retrieve him in Primm