The Scorched Plague is a devastating mutagenic infection that ravaged Appalachia between 2085 and 2103, wiping out nearly all human life in the region save for those sheltered within Vault 76. By 2103, through the efforts of the Vault Dwellers of Vault 76, the plague's inoculation had been distributed to nearly all Appalachians, including settlers, raiders and the Brotherhood of Steel, halting the spread of the disease to humans.
The origins of the Scorched Plague begins with the Scorchbeast; originally, what was once a typical bat was grotesquely mutated via the machinations of the Appalachian Enclave's biochemical experiments around 2083, deep below the Cranberry Bog. While containment of these creatures was far from successful, it would not be until 2086 that the megalomaniac aspirations of then-Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Eckhart unleashed the Scorchbeasts entirely on an unsuspecting Appalachia.
In the early stages of these experiments, the bats appeared to have an uncanny ability to attract other animals, but the biochemical experiments were considered a failure. It was not until the bats were accidentally exposed to both biochemical agents and radiation that the Scorched Plague came to be. From a naturally-secreted particulate falling from their wings, the Scorchbeasts spread this infection wherever they reached.
Regardless if it were a human, animal, or mutant, the Scorched Plague is able to infect nearly every living thing it touches, with few exceptions. The plague starts with a series of intense physical changes in its victims. At first, the victim's skin will darken, and smell of ash. Eventually, intense burning lesions begin to form all over the infected body, which would appear to be smoldering. After some time, the victim's skin will split open, exposing their reddish-pink flesh and the strange presence of green ultracite crystals that break up from beneath their skin. At this point, the infection has fully taken hold of its victim, transforming it into a member of the Scorched.
Coupled with these physical changes is the degradation of the victim's mental faculties, moreso if they are human. Most importantly, however, is their assimilation into the Scorchbeast's hive mind. As a Scorched, the victim is completely enthralled to the will of the hive mind, hostile to everything that is not already infected. In the case of Scorched humans, the assimilation into the hive mind is not completely absolute, as infected humans may demonstrate some awareness as to what state they're in. Physically, however, they have little to no ability to go against the greater whims.
Every Scorched is a vector for greater infection, a purpose with which they are compelled to fulfill until they totally succumb to the disease within them and are left as nothing more a petrified, ashen husk.
Scorched humans make up the breadth of the Scorched Plague's victims. Most human Scorched are able to effectively utilize weaponry, including firearms. Fighting carriers of the Scorched Plague in and of itself was extremely dangerous, as transmission is a great risk, coupled with the then-lack of any form of inoculation. Specialized groups within the factions of Appalachia, such as the Responder's elite Fire Breathers, were specifically organized as a means to combat Scorched threats, and a variety of tactics to be used when combating the Scorched became part of the Responder's training regimen. One thing was clear: do not let them get close.
Initial scorchbeast sightings were often dismissed as rumors or hallucinations, but soon the various factions of Appalachia would be forced to assess the severity of the unstoppable Plague. Many scrambled to develop means with which to combat the spread of the disease, developing a variety of countermeasures in an effort to destroy, contain, or even cure the plague. Tragically, divisions and hostility would set in; some dismissed the severity of the plague, others simply underestimated the threat and were too late to make a difference, or squabbling politics and mutual distrust between organizations would lead to the downfall of every major playing in the region.
In the end, despite the organized research capabilities of the Responders, militarist might of the Brotherhood of Steel, survivalist pragmatism of the Free States, and reckless brutality of the Raiders, each of these once-powerful factions would be snuffed out and destroyed, one by one, until all of Appalachia fell silent. Some were fortunate enough to flee the region before every human in Appalachia was either dead or Scorched by the year 2103 - that is, excluding the Vault Dwellers of Vault 76.
The Responders at Morgantown Airport would first receive word of the Scorched threat from the Brotherhood of Steel, and were able to rapidly develop an assortment of countermeasure against the plague. The formation of the Fire Breathers, along with the discovery of depleted ultracite munitions, allowed the Responders to maintain a degree of control over the plague. Most important of the Responder's research efforts under Dr. Claire Hudson was the early stages of a vaccination against the plague; tragically, circumstances halted the inoculation project just short of a successful vaccine.
The Free States, a tight-knit coalition of anarchist survivalists operating within the Mire, suffered the loss of Harpers Ferry to the Scorchbeasts in the earliest stages of the Plague in 2086, though the environment of The Mire and decentralized nature of the Free States allowed them some reprieve as they developed anti-Scorched technology such as the Scorched Detection System and the Scorchbeast Lures. These technologies first enabled the Free States to track the presence of Scorchbeasts, and then effectively neutralize them.
By spring of 2097, all of the major factions in Appalachia were destroyed, and the presence of any human life in the area soon followed with it.
In 2102, Vault 76 would finally open after 25 years. The residents of the Vault re-entered an Appalachia that has been devoid of all human life for years. Following the trail of their estranged Overseer, the Dwellers would discover what became of the region's factions, and eventually were able to finish what the divided groups had started. Finalizing the vaccine and inoculating themselves against the Plague, the residents' efforts would culminate in utilizing the region's ICBM silos to launch a nuclear strike against Fissure Site Prime and subsequently destroying the Scorchbeast Queen. Ironically, the Appalachian Enclave - rather, what remained of it - would be instrumental in the destruction of the Scorchbeast threat, as navigating the automated promotion systems from within the Whitespring bunker are what enabled the Vault Dwellers to access the region's nuclear payloads in the first place.
A year later, in 2103, the Vault 76 overseer and the Dwellers began to manufacture vaccination for the Plague after Settlers, Raiders, and other groups began to return to the region. Later in the year, word of this inoculation would spread beyond Appalachia via caravans. Upon arrival in Appalachia, the Brotherhood First Expeditionary Force took the inoculation as well.
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, Petrification
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 following the Great War, turning them into the Scorched; beings similar to feral ghouls that retain enough presence of mind to employ weapons against any uninfected unfortunate enough to cross their path. Although the Plague infected many species of local wildlife, the feral ghoul possesses a particularly strong resistance, if not complete immunity.
The Plague is also responsible for mutating the local bat population into scorchbeasts; giant creatures who spread the Plague from the skies. It seems to have formed a symbiotic relationship with the scorchbeasts, granting them shared consciousness and dominion over nearby infected creatures. While the scorchbeast queen and alpha scorchbeasts are physically affected by the Plague, the younger scorchbeasts are not. Having overpopulated the underground caverns they lived in, they delay their transformation by spreading it along the surface.
Ultracite forms inside the bodies of infected humans, slowly overtaking the host and leaving them petrified. These tell-tale growths allow for easy tracking of infected creatures, as ultracite gives off a distinctive radiation signature. Scorchbeasts, which also glow with stored ultracite, have been observed guarding the mineral and consuming raw ore, suggesting that ultracite somehow strengthens them. These internal ultracite deposits become volatile when coming into contact with depleted ultracite. This weakness was exploited by the Fire Breathers the Appalachian Brotherhood of Steel, who created specialized ballistic and laser weaponry for extra leverage against the Scorched.
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 (or gameplay) resistance to the disease:
- 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.
- disease contracted from Scorchbeasts. This exists in the game files as both Scorched Plague and Scorched Fever. Completing the An Ounce of Prevention quest would have rendered the Vault Dwellers immune to contracting the disease again. It is unclear why the disease was removed in favor of the Blight. Player characters with the disease would have taken +5% damage from Scorched enemies. The Scorched Plague was originally intended to be a
Behind the scenes
|The following is based on unverified behind the scenes information and is speculative and may not be accurate.|
The Scorched Plague appears to be inspired by real world fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans, which destroys an animal's soft tissue, causing death during hiberation. The fungus has destroyed a large portion of the tricolored bat (Pipistrellus subflavus) population, from which Scorchbeasts are possibly descended, as noted by Ella Ames.
|End of information based on unverified behind the scenes information.|
The Scorched Plague appears only in Fallout 76.
- Whitespring surveillance recording 5.4.8
- Morgantown Airport terminal entries; Terminal, Scorched research
- Morgantown Airport terminal entries; Responders laboratory terminal, Anti-Scorched Tactics
- Events of The New Arrivals
- Watoga Towers terminal entries; Terminal, day 20 - inoculation
- Vault Dweller: "Everyone here needs to get inoculated, or else you'll turn into Scorched."
Paladin Rahmani: "All of us here have taken the inoculation. But thank you for inquiring. It means a lot to me that the people of Appalachia care for the well-being of others."
(Leila Rahmani's dialogue)
- 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
- Feral ghoul blood sample, An Ounce of Prevention
Note: The quest was changed, removing the wolf and mole rat blood samples. These creatures no longer directly conflict with what players see in the game.
- Overseer's log - Morgantown
- Ella Ames' bunker terminal entries; Group Recognition?
- ScorchbeastAlpha1.bgsm, ScorchbeastAlpha2.bgsm & ScorchbeastAlpha3.bgsm texture filenames
- Regular scorchbeast
- Message from Hank Madigan
- The only creature confirmed to be immune to the Scorched Plague. Scorched Deadly Glowing One is a possible spawn, however.
- Super mutant behemoths may become scorched, but the standard super mutant cannot. There is an unused Scorched Super Mutant variant in the files.
- Only the scorchbeast queen and the deceased bats in the glassed cavern
- Nuclear Winter only
- Test log 9-23-77-A10
- Test log 3-12-78-A14
- Ella Ames' bunker terminal entries; Ella's terminal, Scorchbeasts: "The Scorchbeasts have definitely won the title of apex predator in Appalachia. There's no doubt they've evolved from some species of bat which makes them quite fascinating creatures due to their size. I'd like to think it was one of those cute pygmy bats we used to chase out of the caves when I was little... Daddy always said they'd have their revenge!"
Note: Pygmy bat is a common name for the tricolored bat, formerly named eastern pipistrelle.