The Scorched Plague is a devastating mutagenic infection that ravaged Appalachia between 2085 and 2102, wiping out nearly all human life in the region save for those sheltered within Vault 76. By 2103, the plague's inoculation had been distributed to nearly all Appalachians, both settlers and raiders, by the Resident of Vault 76, stopping the spread of the disease.
The origins of the Scorched are tied directly to scorchbeasts created by the Enclave's biochemical experiments around 2083. The vicious mutation that turned the bats into ferocious, gigantic predators has also resulted in them secreting a virulent plague that turns certain other living or deceased creatures into their thralls. Those that come into contact with a scorchbeast may begin to mutate if the Plague takes hold; beginning with the victim's skin turning dark, almost black, with the smell of ash. The process culminates in lesions that burn with intense heat begin to form on the victim's body. The affected creature appears to be covered in smoldering embers. In the case of humans, higher mental function eventually disappears, replaced by extreme, almost animalistic aggression.
The Responders attempted to create a vaccine against the Plague at the Morgantown Airport, under the lead of Dr. Claire Hudson. Using the AVR Medical Center equipment, the Responders attempted to counter the disease and even reverse it. There is no alternative, however, as the Scorched are lethal. They are nothing less than an existential threat and the Responders fully expected that if they could not find a way to defeat them, or at the very least contain them, they would spread far and wide, transforming or destroying everything in their path.
Worse, individual Scorched humans are savage and deadly. While their ability to speak is limited, they are mainly constrained by their primitive hive mind mentality. They retain enough intelligence and memory to use guns (but not heavy weapons such as miniguns) and other weapons, and they are hostile to everything they perceive as a potential threat.
As of 2103, the Vault 76 overseer and a Vault 76 Resident built off of the Responders' attempts to create a vaccination, and created a variant of Nuka-Cola at the Kanawha Nuka-Cola plant containing antibodies from their blood to easily inoculate the newly arrived settlers and raiders against the Scorched Plague. Later in the year, word of this inoculation would spread via caravans.
A scorched is created when a human, or other creature, comes in contact with a scorchbeast, as the mutated fungus-like plague called the Scorched Plague that it carries mutates those infected. The skin goes through a rapid change from a charred black to blood red lesions as if they have been flayed alive. Complete loss of hair and cataracts of the eyes also occurs and green ultracite crystals begin to protrude randomly from the skin. As well as affecting the appearance, those infected also succumb to complete degeneration of mental faculties. The infection of the Scorched Plague essentially creates a hive mind that connects all scorched to the scorchbeast queen. The Queen can then command these scorched at will. The only instincts left for those infected are violent aggression towards everything but other scorched.
Wandering, Statue, PetrificationEdit
When not acting violently or being directly controlled, a scorched will enter its wandering state. This state is simply that, the scorched wanders mindlessly around any given area unless either ordered directly by the queen, it finds a non-scorched, or until it enters its statue state. The statue state is the beginning of the end for an infected scorched as the scorched will stay in their statue position they are stuck in until they petrify from the inside out leaving only a radioactive, petrified corpse. The petrified corpse is the delicate remains of any scorched who has stayed in their statue state for too long. The corpse itself is ash like with prominent veins of green ultracite visibly cover the petrified corpses, along with the remaining protrusions of ultracite crystals. The petrification process also destroys the clothing and weapons they had, but occasionally some possessions may survive the petrification.
This means that all scorched have a set lifespan until they inevitably succumb to their disease. The petrification process can take longer depending on the activity around any given area, as any disruption to a scorched while going through petrification will awaken the scorched and revert them back to their wandering state. Even in death though, a scorched's petrified corpse is a strong source of radiation to any unwise enough to disturb it.
While the wandering state is universal among infected scorched, the statue and petrification process for the scorched is entirely unique to the human species as no other infected species leaves behind a petrified corpse. It is unknown why the statue and the petrification process only affects humans.
The Scorched Plague is a highly contagious mutagenic pathogen that infected almost all of West Virginia's human population that survived the Great War, turning them into the Scorched; beings similar to feral ghouls that retain enough presence of mind to wield weapons and wear armor to assault any uninfected humans unfortunate enough to cross their path. Creatures infected with the Plague will not be hostile towards other infected creatures, regardless of species or race.
The Plague is also responsible for mutating the local pygmy bat population into scorchbeasts; giant bat creatures who, having overpopulated the underground caverns they lived in, spread the Plague to the surface. It seems to have become symbiotic with the scorchbeasts because these beasts retain their individuality while other infected creatures become part of a hive mind, connecting them to the beasts and giving the beasts the ability to control other infected beings to some extent.
The Plague also infected other species of local wildlife. A few species such as mole rats, wolves and feral ghouls are noted to have a particularly strong resistance to, if not complete immunity from, the plague.
At least in humans, the Scorched Plague continues to grow inside of the infected, causing ultracite growths to cut through their skin, eventually overtaking the host and killing them. This internal lacing with ultracite also makes plague victims vulnerable to ammunition made from depleted ultracite, due to the negative reaction that occurs when normal and depleted ultracite are brought together. This weakness was leveraged by the Responders' Fire Breathers division, who laced munitions with depleted ultracite crystals, and the Brotherhood of Steel who created laser weaponry with ultracite crystal focus arrays, dealing extra damage against infected creatures.
These ultracite growths also allow for easy tracking of infected creatures, as ultracite gives off a distinctive radiation signature. In addition, scorchbeasts have been observed guarding ultracite deposits and consuming raw ultracite ore, suggesting that consuming ultracite strengthens them somehow.
While the Responders, Free States, and Brotherhood were all independently developing an inoculation/cure for the Scorched Plague, there are some creatures with a natural resistance to the disease:
- ¹ Super mutant behemoths may become scorched, but the standard super mutant cannot. There are unfinished textures for a Scorched Super Mutant, so the in-game immunity may be an omission rather than lore.
- Scorchbeasts (infectors)
- Mole miners
- Super mutant behemoths
- Mega sloths
- Mole rats
- Mutant hounds
- Yao guais
- Cave crickets
- Fog crawlers
- Hermit crabs
- Honey beasts
- Mirelurk hunters
- Mirelurk kings
- Mirelurk queens
- Mirelurk spawn
- Grafton monsters
- An Arktos Pharma experiment also produced symptoms similar to that of the plague.
- While extremely virulent, gameplay-wise, the player character cannot contract the infection, even before being inoculated to it. Instead, if one is exposed to the disease, they may contract the Blight, which lowers all SPECIAL stats by 1.
The Scorched Plague appears only in Fallout 76.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Morgantown Airport terminal entries; Scorched research
- ↑ Events of The New Arrivals
- ↑ Watoga Towers terminal entries#day 20 - inoculation
- ↑ Fallout 76 loading screens: "The Scorched are human beings afflicted by a strange condition known as the Scorched Plague, and are now controlled by a violent hive mind. But what is the Plague's source? And can it be stopped?"
- ↑ Fallout 76 loading screens: "A Scorchbeast Queen and her army of mind-controlled minions are terrorizing the area. Stop them if you can!"
- ↑ Appearance of the Scorched
- ↑ Appearance of the petrified corpses
- ↑ Searching petrified corpses occasionally reward random loot
- ↑ Ella Ames' bunker terminal entries; Group Recognition?
- ↑ Message from Hank Madigan
- ↑ Test log 9-23-77-A10
- ↑ Test log 3-12-78-A14