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So Dez wants me to make you a "tourist". That's what we call someone who helps out with the odd job here and there. What a waste. I'm just going to come out and say this: the Railroad needs you.Deacon

Tradecraft is a Railroad main quest in Fallout 4.

Quick walkthrough

Railroad Main Quest: Tradecraft
Talk with Deacon.
Meet Deacon at the Old Highway.
Follow Deacon and find "The Tourist".
Talk to Deacon.
Get inside the escape tunnel.
(Optional) Enter the base through the main entrance.
Get Carrington's prototype.
Leave The Switchboard.
Meet Deacon at the Old North Church.
Talk to Desdemona.
Follow Desdemona.
Reward: 300+ XP
Membership in The Railroad
Deliverer gun
Deacon as a companion
Leads to: Boston After Dark
Underground Undercover

Detailed walkthrough

The quest begins immediately after completing Road to Freedom unless the player character has already started the quest The Molecular Level. This gives the player character the option to go inside Railroad HQ without joining the Railroad and starting this quest. Going to the Railroad through The Molecular Level will change Deacon's dialogue and refer to the player character as the "Courser Killer". No matter what the player character says to Desdemona and how she responds to them, Deacon forces her to let the Sole Survivor inside HQ.

The conversation with Deacon will change depending on the answer to Desdemona's question in the previous quest regarding whether the Sole Survivor would risk their life for a synth.

  • If the Sole Survivor answered yes, Deacon will joke about "considering it a close personal favor" if the Sole Survivor did not sell them out to the Institute, after which he will provide details on the job.
  • If answered no, Deacon will ask if the player character would at least help take the fight to the Institute for their crimes against the Commonwealth. Saying yes to this will lead to Deacon providing details on the job.

Either way, Deacon has an angle for getting past the usual, year-long procedure of becoming a Railroad agent, suggesting a two-man mission to the Railroad's former hideout in Lexington. Meet him on the city's outskirts to continue the mission.

Outside Lexington, Deacon provides more details on the job, introduces the Sole Survivor to a few railsigns, and tells them the active Railroad countersign ("Mine is in the shop") to use with Ricky Dalton, a tourist they are about to meet. They rendezvous with Ricky, who greets them with the Railroad's sign "Do you have a geiger counter?", to which the player character can choose whether or not to use the countersign. Ricky will then explain that the Slocum's Joe which served as the Railroad's former headquarters is crawling with Gen-1 synths.

After receiving this information, the Sole Survivor has the opportunity to persuade Ricky to provide them with assistance in the upcoming mission via Charisma checks of varying difficulty. Assistance can take the form of extra supplies (Easy), sniper fire when the violence starts (Medium) or an explosive distraction (Hard). Ricky notes that the distraction will likely kill him, at which point the player character can still tell him not to do it and he will resort to providing sniper fire instead. Failing any persuasion attempt will cut off all others, and passing the medium or hard before the easy check will cut off that option as well. If persuaded to do create an explosive distraction, Ricky will walk to near the Slocum's Joe and sit on a large rock and do nothing more. He is highly likely to be attacked by mongrel dogs or Gunners on the way and die.

After speaking to Ricky, Deacon will speak to the Sole Survivor and outline the two options for retaking the Slocum's Joe - a frontal assault or a rear assault via the escape tunnel.

Option 1: Frontal assault

Proceed to the Slocum's Joe front entrance and begin a frontal assault. There is a large field of frag mines at the front of the shop which will first need to be circumvented or disarmed. Once inside, Deacon will give the Sole Survivor the location of the hidden elevator only to realize it has been powered down, forcing the player character to use Option 2, sneaking in through the escape tunnel. (Before update 1.4 it was still possible to enter this way by opening the elevator doors, jumping down the shaft, entering the elevator box via the hatch at its top, and opening the doors at the bottom.)

Option 2: Escape tunnel

The escape tunnel will be marked on the map, in a sewer tunnel covered by a thick drape of moss. Upon entering the tunnel, Deacon will give the Sole Survivor more information about the Railroad and the target. After the talk, Deacon will unlock the security door using a terminal and a few passwords he remembers.

Past the door, Deacon will point out a railsign signifying that there is a cache nearby. It is in the back of the tube directly behind the sign. Around here, Deacon will warn the Sole Survivor that they should just run if they ever meet a Courser (provided the player character has not previously fought one in the Hunter/Hunted quest). Ahead, there will be an unlocked terminal, which one can use to turn off the spotlights and turrets in this area. Below is a group of synths that need to be passed or killed. If the group is sneaked past, one can turn on the defenses that will start firing immediately against the next group of synths. Shortly after that, the Sole Survivor will discover that the Railroad was using an old Defense Intelligence Agency site as their HQ.

The terminal next to the door leading out of this office area can turn off the tripwires in the next room. Before leaving, grab the fusion core in the room left of where the Sole Survivor first entered and a U.S. Covert Operations Manual on a desk in the room up the stairs. A terminal in this room controls access to two locked areas containing minor loot.

Once entering the last room before the quest marker, Deacon will open the vault and inspect a dead body. There are two hazmat suits and a bottlecap mine in the room before the vault, opposite a weapons workbench. After the inspection, he will offer the "hand cannon" the dead man used and will not take no for an answer. Grab Carrington's prototype from the vault and head towards the elevator. This area has two Stealth Boys, a mini nuke and fusion core which can be looted.

If the Sole Survivor has not yet done so, there are synths and turrets topside which will need to be destroyed. If Ricky is helping, there is a good chance he will be killed providing sniper fire, although he can be saved, but guaranteed to die with the explosive mini-nuke distraction, which wipes out most of the synths. Deacon will suggest that the Sole Survivor and him split up and meet back at the Old North Church.

When the Sole Survivor reaches the church, they find Deacon embellishing their exploits to Desdemona. There is the option to tell Desdemona the truth or pass an easy persuasion check to go along with the lie. Either way, Desdemona is impressed with the Sole Survivor's resourcefulness and extends an invitation for them to join the Railroad. Refusing leaves the offer open, but accepting leads to selecting a code name (or letting Desdemona pick 'Wanderer' after refusing a name twice) and completion of the quest, with Deacon becoming available as a companion.

Quest stages

Quest stages
StageStatusDescriptionLog Entry
50 Talk to DeaconIf I want to have more dealings with the Railroad, I should talk with Deacon. He's the mysterious man who vouched for me when I met with Desdemona, the Railroad's leader.
150 Meet Deacon at the old highwayDeacon wants to help me join the Railroad. In order to join, I have to help him on a mission. He said he'd meet me by the old freeway outside Lexington.
250 Follow Deacon and find the touristThe Railroad's old base is near Lexington. Before we go inside, Deacon wants to get information from someone who's helping the Railroad - a "tourist." So it's time to follow Deacon.
400 Get inside the escape tunnelThe Railroad's old base is crawling with older model Synths. Deacon suggests we use the back entrance to get inside and complete this mysterious errand we're on.
410 (optional) Enter base through front entrance
550 Find Carrington's prototypeSomewhere inside the Railroad's old base is a prototype that a Doctor Carrington needs. Deacon says we can expect serious resistance from "Gen 1" and "Gen 2" Synths.
725 Leave The SwitchboardNow that we've recovered the prototype from the Switchboard, it's time to return it to Desdemona. She'll be at the meeting place underneath the Old North Church.
750 Meet Deacon at the Old North Church
800 Talk to DesdemonaI impressed Desdemona enough with my actions at Switchboard that she asked me to join the Railroad.
900Quest finishedFollow Desdemona - Quest Complete
1100Quest failedQuest failed

Companion reactions

  • Curie likes it if the player character declines the gun (the player character will still receive the gun). Cait dislikes declining the gun.
  • Curie likes it when the player character thanks Ricky for the information. This ends the conversation, though you can talk to him again for the cover-fire speech checks. You can elicit another like from Curie by convincing Ricky to provide explosive support, then telling him not to do it.
  • Deacon loves it when the Sole Survivor joins the Railroad.
  • Piper, Nick Valentine, and Curie like it when joining the Railroad.
  • Danse hates it when joining the Railroad.
  • Cait and MacCready like it if the player character goes along with Deacon's lie. Piper, Preston Garvey, Nick Valentine, Codsworth and Curie dislike this.
  • Nick Valentine and Curie like telling Desdemona the truth. MacCready dislikes this.
  • Piper and Hancock will dislike telling Ricky to make the distraction.


  • Going to the Railroad through the quest The Molecular Level will prevent this quest from automatically starting as the player character enters HQ without joining the Railroad. Decoding the Courser Chip at Railroad HQ and progressing that quest allows the player character to start Tradecraft by talking to Desdemona at Railroad HQ.
  • Completing this quest makes the Institute quest Plugging a Leak unavailable.
  • If deciding to take the frontal assault method, when finally reaching the basement area, the Pip-Boy will update the quest log for the frontal assault as "failed."
  • There is a Nuka-Cola Quantum near the dead driver in the bus on the way to meet Ricky Dalton.
  • At high levels, a behemoth may attack the synths at the Slocum's Joe.
  • After Ricky explains that the distraction is a suicide mission for him, one can tell him to not do it and he will instead snipe. Codsworth, Piper, Nick Valentine, Hancock, Curie, and Strong will like this. Though Danse will like it if the Sole Survivor insists he proceed with the distraction.
  • Ricky is not mentioned at all by the Railroad members, even if he dies for the mission.
  • The list of code names are: Wanderer (Desdemona's choice), Fixer, Professor, Bullseye, Charmer and Whisper. In order to get Wanderer, select "no code name" during the initial choice dialogue, and then select "Desdemona's choice" (which replaces the phrase "no code name" on the right side of the dialogue square).
  • Deacon becomes available as a companion immediately after agreeing to join and choosing any code name, immediately "loving" the decision and getting the requisite Affinity boost.
  • The password used to open the vault where Carrington's prototype is secured is "salus aegroti suprema lex." (This can be read if the subtitles are on while Deacon opens the vault.) It means "the health of the patient is the highest law" and represents beneficence as one of the four guiding moral principles of the approach to medical ethics advocated by Tom Beauchamp and James Childress in Principles of Biomedical Ethics.
  • Starting the Institute quest Institutionalized while this quest is active will fail Tradecraft. If Tradecraft is assigned, but never started (i.e. you never speak to Deacon to begin the quest), the player character will be able to return to Railroad HQ, but Deacon will only repeat the same line of dialogue: "And here I was thinking we'd become pen pals." Speaking to Desdemona will prompt her to say that she has heard disturbing rumors that the Sole Survivor has sided with the Institute; despite being given the option to say you want to help the Railroad, or that the rumors aren't true, Desdemona says it's now too much of a risk to trust you, or that your desire to help is "far too little, far too late." You will not be allowed to join the Railroad, but you remain free to walk around the headquarters and Railroad NPCs do not immediately turn hostile; however, they express their disgust at your actions and their surprise that Desdemona is allowing you to walk out alive.
    • During End of the Line, there will be no option to warn Desdemona. Telling her that the Institute has ordered the Sole Survivor to eliminate the Railroad will make her say to leave the Railroad HQ.
  • It is possible, with the third rank of the Hacker perk, to unlock the Master-locked terminal and its security gate just inside the escape tunnel. From there, the player character can explore and clear out the entirety of the tunnel and Switchboard, except for the vault containing the prototype, before the mission is given.
    • Even if the Switchboard has been explored and the elevator powered up, the power will be cut as soon as the player character talks to Ricky and decides on a plan of attack. This will happen even if the Switchboard was explored immediately prior.
  • The charred remains within the vault can be interacted with, prompting Deacon to comment that Tommy burned whatever sensitive documents were in the room before asphyxiating in the smoke. During this comment, he will refer to Tommy as "Johnny."


  • PCPC Playstation 4Playstation 4 Xbox OneXbox One Upon reaching the stop under the Old Highway near Lexington, Deacon might get bugged and repeat the same lines and will not allow for dialogue to progress the quest. To resolve this, simply reload a save or dying can allow him to initiate the proper response.[verified]
  • PCPC Playstation 4Playstation 4 Xbox OneXbox One Deacon might stall in the hallway outside the room containing the locked vault and the inaccessible terminal. This can be prevented by following and clearing the dialogue tree at the start of the tunnel. To resolve the issue:
    • Save and reload the game, and optionally attack and down Deacon before doing so.[verified]
    • Use disable followed by enable on Deacon and he may proceed to the terminal.[verified]
    • Exit the Switchboard via the elevator and exit to the Commonwealth, upon re-entering the Switchboard via the elevator the vault should now be accessible.[verified]
    • While facing the door use console command to unlock the door: 000b9cc7.unlock
    • Using the command setstage 0006fa37 610 should make Deacon walk over and use the vault terminal, continuing the quest from there.
  • PCPC Deacon might stall upon first entering the Switchboard, failing to move upstairs to access the terminal and unlock the double-doors (an issue if the player character does not have the Hacker perk). Open the console and left-click Deacon. Close the console and go stand directly in front of the locked doors. Open the console and type moveto player. The door should automatically open once Deacon is within proximity.[verified]
  • PCPC Xbox OneXbox One When approaching The Old North Church to meet Deacon after getting Carrington's prototype, Deacon may suddenly move to the middle of the map making it impossible to meet with him. Loading a save game from the 'Get Carrington's prototype' step may solve this. Returning to the Switchboard to find and speak to Deacon there may also solve this.[verified]
    • Using recycleactor on Deacon may also fix this issue.
  • PCPC Playstation 4Playstation 4 The prototype may not be removed from the inventory after handing it over to Carrington. Talking to him a second time or, on PC, using player.removeitem 754e4 1 may fix this issue.[verified]
  • PCPC Deacon might get stuck in mid air, unable to speak or move, after the player character has talked to him under the old highway. A way to fix this would be to target him, open the console, and type recycleactor. This will fix Deacon floating around. [verified]
  • PCPC Xbox OneXbox One If one did not talk to Deacon after entering the back entrance and only speaking to him after obtaining Carrington's prototype, the quest log will prompt the player character get the prototype even when it is already in their inventory. And the quest log will not update even after the completion.[verified]