Skill points are points awarded to the player character when reaching a new level of experience. The points can then be allocated to whatever skills they feel are in need of improvement. Certain books, traits, and perks give the player character a skill point bonus for a specific skill as well.
Fallout 1 and Fallout 2
The number of attainable skill points (without any skill books, perks, or Broken Steel) varies depending on your Intelligence stat. It can be as low as 209 with 1 INT and can be as high as 380 with 10 INT. Combined with the Comprehension perk, Educated perk, every Vault-Tec bobblehead, and at least 20 of every skill book (excluding Speech), one can achieve a 100% stat in all 13 skills.
An Intelligence of 10 means 20 skill points per level-up, multiplied by 19 for the amount of levels you can allocate skill points equals, at maximum, 380 skill points.
The Broken Steel add-on raises the level cap to 30, and therefore adds a potential 200 extra skill points (20 skill points per level for 10 levels) to the game, for a total of 580 skill points at 10 INT.
The maximum amount of skill points for each INT level are as follows:
*Numbers in parentheses indicate the maximum amount of skill points with Broken Steel
1 INT = 209 (319)
2 INT = 228 (348)
3 INT = 247 (377)
4 INT = 266 (406)
5 INT = 285 (435)
6 INT = 304 (464)
7 INT = 323 (493)
8 INT = 342 (522)
9 INT = 361 (551)
10 INT = 380 (580)
- While the Pip-Boy displays the maximum number of attainable skill points per skill is 100, it also factors in hypothetical skill points. In other words, if a player character has 98 skill points for Explosives, and then obtains the respective bobblehead, the game engine reads the total skill points as 108. The extra points do not have any effect on the skill itself or weapon damage in this case, but the 'hypothetical' points can counteract negative effects from adorned clothing/armor, or from addictions. Since skill points cannot be added to a maxed skill via point distribution at level-ups, the only way to get the extra points is from reading skill books or collecting bobbleheads.
- It was actually possible to kill your game when assigning skill points, especially with Broken Steel. It is very possible to make a player character that, when level 30, has 100 skill points assigned in all 13 skills, which at one time would make it impossible to distribute any more, subsequently keeping the player character at the "level up menu" permanently. This was fixed in a post-release patch, however.
Fallout: New Vegas
Note that 0.5's on odd Intelligence level gains are saved for the next level. For example, with 9 Intelligence, the first level up nets 14 points. The next level up will net 15 points. In reality, the player character gains 14.5 points then 14.5 points.
Skill books will also permanently increase skills.
The perk Educated, available at level 4, adds an extra 2 points per level up. This yields an extra 52 points if taken at level 4. Add-ons increase level-cap, further increasing the number of extra skill points by 10 per add-on.
The maximum obtainable amount of skill points (without add-ons) is 502. This requires creating a character with 10 Intelligence and taking the Educated perk at level 4. It is also possible to get the maximum skill points with a starting Intelligence of 9, by getting the Intense Training perk or Intelligence Implant before reaching level 3. With the add-ons' extra 20 levels, there is a maximum of 827 points available. Also through the use of an exploit involving the Skilled trait and Intelligence of seven or eight, it is possible to gain 100 in every skill by levels in the upper 40s (this still requires most skill books, but does not require the Comprehension perk).