Radiation is a gameplay mechanic and story element throughout the Fallout series.
Described as tasteless and odorless, radiation or the "phantom death" is a lingering danger present in the environment caused by the detonation of nuclear missiles and toxic waste. Measured in units known as "rads" or "sieverts," sensors outside of vaults monitors for changes in the radiation levels as a prerequisite for entry or exit and the results of sensors placed inside are announced to inhabitants.
Comprised of Gamma rays, living creatures that absorb too much of these ionizing rays may experience blood pooling in the gums, nausea, vomiting, anemia, diarrhea, and fatigue. Symptoms may also include loss of hair, teeth, and skin. In serious cases of radiation sickness and poisoning, living creatures will suffer from gastrointestinal bleeding, violent hemorrhaging, and death, but some life forms have adapted to the radiation in the environment.
Medical treatment to alleviate damage by radiation includes care provided by Auto-Doc, Sympto-matic, makeshift archways, inoculations, decontamination arches, and system flushes. Radiation levels are measured with Geiger counters built into Pip-Boys as well as Wattz Electronics C-Radz Geiger counters. Radiation suits are utilized to mitigate the effects of exposure, with varying efficacy.
Radiation also affects weather systems, producing radstorms. These storms are weather phenomena that occur throughout the Commonwealth and in Appalachia. Radstorms result in green overcast skies and audible winds. Over the course of the storm, lightning periodically flashes and causes a brief spike of radiation in the area, inflicting 5 rads per lightning flash. Radstorms are capable of producing vortexes that are strong enough to lift people off the ground.
Centuries after the Great War, some areas such as the Glow and the Glowing Sea, are still highly irradiated. Radioactive hotspots appear near places that were struck directly by nuclear weapons, and regions varied in how long radiation persisted, ranging from clearing shortly after the war to remaining hundreds of years later. Some groups have developed religious followings revolving around radiation, such as the Children of Atom.
Exposure to background radiation can also lead to mutations at a genetic level. It can also lead to sterility. Radiation also causes mutations in creatures, leading to the emergence of large versions of pre-War species such as radscorpions, geckos, spore plants, and brahmin. Radiation can also cause some humans to turn into ghouls or feral ghouls, immune to the negative effects of radiation. Some emit radiation and have no body heat.
Highly irradiated locations
|Toxic waste dump||NA||Fallout 2|
|Gecko's nuclear power plant||NA||Fallout 2|
|Vault 87||Up to 3933 rads/second||Fallout 3|
|The Pitt river||Up to 2,665 rads/second||Fallout 3|
|Camp Searchlight||28 rads/second||New Vegas|
|The Devil's Throat||6 rads/second||New Vegas|
|Old nuclear test site||20 rads/second||New Vegas|
|Long 15||20 rads/second||New Vegas|
|Dry Wells||250 rads/second||New Vegas|
|The Courier's Mile||25 rads/second||New Vegas|
|Glowing Sea||300 rads/second||Fallout 4|
|County crossing reactors||57 rads/second||Fallout 4|
|Swan's Pond shed/gazebo||40/70 rads/second||Fallout 4|
|Mass Fusion building||153 rads/second||Fallout 4|
|Hugo's Hole||60 rads/second||Fallout 4|
|Mass Fusion containment shed||67 rads/second||Fallout 4|
|Institute reactor||90 rads/second||Fallout 4|
|Blast zone||-||Fallout 76|
|Emmett Mountain disposal site||-||Fallout 76|
|Crater near monorail elevator||-||Fallout 76|
|Federal Disposal Field HZ-21||-||Fallout 76|
|Fissure sites||-||Fallout 76|
|Fallout, Fallout 2, Fallout Tactics|
The character has a hidden radiation ("Rad") count that can be checked with a Geiger counter. This rad count causes the effect of "radiated" to appear. As the count increases, further radiation poisoning occurs. Merely being "radiated" incurs no penalty. If the rad count gets high enough, SPECIAL stats begin to drop, and if any of these drop to zero due to poisoning, the character dies. Also, should the character survive to maximum irradiation (1000 rads) (as in their stats do not reach zero), the character has 24 hours to use enough RadAway to get themselves below 1000 rads or they will die. Radiation can be healed by RadAway and Rad-X and Vault City Inoculations can modify Radiation Resistance.
Eating and drinking most food items or entering an irradiated zone gives the Lone Wanderer rads. S.P.E.C.I.A.L. attributes drop at certain thresholds, and radiation poisoning kills the Wanderer at 1000 rads. Radiation does not directly affect hit points, through penalties affecting Endurance, Maximum Health may be lowered.
The Pip-Boy 3000's dosimeter will appear in the upper right during exposure. There are five major ticks (200, 400, 600, 800, and 1000 rads), with minor ticks at multiples of 66.67, e.g., 67, 133, 200, 267, 333, 400, etc. The rad status can also be checked in the Pip-Boy to see rad resistance and rad level. There is also a dial in the upper-left of the Pip-Boy that shows the approximate radiation level.Rad exposure is usually limited; only very rarely will zones be so irradiated that venturing into them results in a quick death. One needs to stand in +1 rad water for a significant time and more generally it is possible to move through radioactive water dozens of times before reaching the 200 rad threshold. Rads can be flushed by:
Radiation can be resisted by equipping certain types of apparel, such as radiation suits or power armor. A dose of the chem Rad-X also grants the player character radiation resistance based on their Medicine skill, but the effects do not stack. This resistance is applied to all sources of radiation, from the external environment to irradiated consumables.
The Lead Belly perk halves the rads taken from any irradiated water drank while the Rad Resistance and Cyborg perks raise the overall radiation resistance. Also, if completed the 'contract radiation sickness' part of Wasteland Survival Guide with a reading of 600 rads or more (the optional objective), the Rad Regeneration perk is given.
All non-player characters are immune to radiation. This explains why non-player characters like Confessor Cromwell (who stand in irradiated water at almost all times) do not die from radiation poisoning. Certain enemies, such as glowing ones or centaurs, have radiation-based attacks that can give the player character rads. Nearly any puddle of filth-infested liquid will contain at least some rads per second, while most of these similar puddles in Fallout: New Vegas do not contain any rads at all.
Accessing the Pip-Boy to eat or drink anything that will make the rad level cross the 1001-Rad death threshold will trigger a notification that will mention being affected by "fatal rad poisoning." At this instant, it will not kill but exiting the Pip-Boy without using any item that would lower the radiation below 1001 will be instantly fatal.
The add-on The Pitt introduces the most irradiated food item in the game, Slop, having 25 rads per serving. Eating 40 servings of Slop, without some form of rad-cleansing in-between meals, is lethal to the consumer.
|Fallout: New Vegas|
Fallout: New Vegas uses the same radiation mechanics as Fallout 3, keeping some perks, such as Lead Belly, Rad Resistance and Rad Absorption, while adding two new perks, Rad Child and Atomic. Ways to remove radiation poisoning include:
Radiation decreases max health as radiation poisoning rises. The rate is 1% of HP per 10 rads; this means that 1000 is still the fatal level as in previous games. In addition,Fallout 4 features radiation damage as a damage type that can appear on weapons. This is actually composed of two different types of radiation damage, one of which will be referred to here as "poisoning" and the other as "damage" for clarity.
Radiation poisoning is the more common type; for example, it is the effect on all "irradiated" legendary weapon prefixes and the gamma gun. This functions exactly like environmental radiation in Fallout 4: 10 points of radiation poisoning will reduce max health by 1%. This gets reflected as actual damage, even if a character is at full health. Since this directly affects maximum health, this is damage that can't be healed. Even legendary enemy mutations or the resethealth console command will restore health only up to any limits from radiation poisoning.
Health loss from radiation poisoning as well as the radiation poisoning itself is unaffected by difficulty settings. This has the side effect that radiation damage on weapons becomes much more useful on Very Hard or Survival (since normally weapons will only do half damage, but health loss from radiation and the radiation poisoning itself is still at full effect) and less useful on Very Easy (since the base damage of a weapon will likely dwarf whatever the radiation poisoning can do). Radiation poisoning is not influenced by damage bonuses (such as from taking Psycho). Only Nuclear Physicist appears to increase radiation poisoning.
The game distinguishes between the radiation immunity super mutants have and the resistance feral ghouls have. Some weapons do pure radiation damage that ignores radiation immunity. These weapons are still affected by radiation resistance, so they will do more damage to an "immune" target than one with high resistance. Groups such as the Children of Atom have weaponized radiation to create traps and even handheld weapons ranging from improvised pistols to automatic rifles and grenades.
Pure radiation damage is rare. For example, Lorenzo's Artifact has a radiation damage component that does pure damage. It never will inflict radiation poisoning on the enemy. Ways to remove radiation poisoning:
Main article: Fallout 76 mutations
The mutation system results in the more irradiated the player character is, the higher chance they have of getting a mutation.
|Fallout: The Roleplaying Game|
Similar to Fallout 4's radiation mechanics, radiation damage in Fallout: The Roleplaying Game decreases the total maximum HP pool of the character when they have taken radiation damage. If a character's maximum HP is reduced below their current HP total, then their current HP is reduced as well. Radiation damage also cannot heal naturally and does not reduce over time.
Reaching 0 HP with radiation damage means the character is dying from radiation poisoning and cannot be stabilized until radiation damage is removed. RadAway (or another chem that reduces radiation damage) must be applied using the First Aid action first before anything else can be done. Food items or beverages that reduce radiation damage cannot be applied using First Aid.
Radiation damage inflicted by weapons can be reduced by locational radiation damage resistance. For environmental radiation damage that would affect the whole body, the lowest locational radiation DR is used to reduce the damage. Radiation damage inflicted by food or drink cannot be reduced by location DR. If a weapon applies radiation damage and another type of damage (such as with the Radioactive damage effect), resolve the other type of damage first and then resolve radiation damage. All human origins start with 0 radiation DR and some origins, such as super mutants, ghouls, and robots, are completely immune to radiation damage. Ghouls are also uniquely healed by radiation damage.
Ways to prevent/remove radiation poisoning include:
Dwellers automatically accumulate radiation over time if the player character's water supply dips low or if they are exploring the wasteland/questing, and will do so until their water is replenished or they return from the wasteland/a quest. Being attacked by radscorpions and ghouls will also inflict radiation damage. RadAway will remove all radiation from the player character instantly, while a steady supply of clean water will reduce it over time.
Radiation is represented as a red bar on one's HP bar, going from right to left. Radiation damage cannot be healed by normal methods of HP recovery, but cannot kill a player character, and thus acts as a limiting factor to their max HP until healed.
|Fallout: The Board Game|
When passing through a radioactive zone, or being attacked by an enemy with a radiation attack, the players can obtain rads, except for The Ghoul who instead heals HP equal to Rad damage. The Super Mutant works differently also, as he gains 1 XP per point of radiation he takes, but still takes the rad damage. When a player's Rad's damage is higher than the player's current HP, the player is dead. Radioactive zones deal 1 Rad damage upon entering the space, and enemies with radioactive damage will deal rad damage times their level.
Radiation appears in all Fallout games.
Behind the scenes
According to Wikipedia, radiation in-game is greatly intensified when compared to the real world, as a fatal dose amounts to several tens of thousands of rads.