The Vipers are a band of raider-tribals with a profound shamanistic nature originating from Vault 15 in New California with two other raider groups (Khans and Jackals). They were later driven into the Mojave Wasteland in the late 23rd century.
Background[edit | edit source]
Origins[edit | edit source]
In 2097, Jonathan Faust, leading a group of two hundred people, left the overcrowded Vault 15 to brave the horrors of the wasteland. The group made it through the desert, eventually locating a small oasis that emerged around a large, crater-like pit. Shortly after making camp, Faust fell into the pit, after a member of the expedition startled him. After a nearly forty feet (twelve meter) fall, he discovered that the pit was a nest of vipers. They surrounded Faust, who let out one loud scream heard above, then disappeared. None of the three people who followed him inside ever returned, leaving two hundred people without leadership and with supplies on the verge of exhaustion. Worse, over one fourth of the people at the oasis suffered from radiation poisoning. Some of those who had the strength left the camp, while others remained for a week after Faust's disappearance, trying to come up with a plan, discussing reunification with other groups from the Vault or even going back to Vault 15.
After that fateful week, as the group was preparing to move away from the oasis, Faust returned. Pale, emaciated, and with a feverish gleam in his eyes, Faust explained what happened in the pit, that he was visited by a god and learned of the True Way. The Way required sacrificing people to the Gods of the Pit in return for wealth and happiness. When the group expressed skepticism, Faust unleashed two giant pit vipers on the group and laughed as they attacked both him and the others. By the next dawn, the pit vipers were dead by Faust's hand, with a hundred people dead, the rest of them on the verge of dying. By the afternoon, just a fifth of the two hundred dwellers remained alive, maddened by the effect of the mutated venom. Faust helped them through the fever and hallucinations, forming the nucleus of the Vipers, in what came to be known as the Great Awakening. The Vipers built a shrine around the Pit, preying on the blasphemous wastelanders who rejected the Winding Way of the Great Snake.
Near-extermination[edit | edit source]
In 2125, they attempted to raid the Hub, a settlement in its formative years. However, thanks to a coordinated effort led by its leader Angus, they were defeated. The surviving members retreated to the north, roaming the wastes for many, many years, occasionally attacking caravans and small settlements. Despite their defeat, the Vipers continued to thrive, rebuilding their strength from slaves captured in the wasteland. They settled into the badlands north of Hub and south of Lost Hills, intensifying their raids to provide for their greater numbers. High Priest Asp, crowned after Jonathan or the Great Snakekeeper grew too old and infirm to rule, was aggressive and confident. His string of successes against frontier settlements and Hub caravans attracted the attention of the Brotherhood, who decided that the raiders would make excellent fodder for training exercises. However, they underestimated the religious fervor of the Vipers. John Maxson's elderly father led a squad of trainees in power armor against the Vipers, confident that the armored shells would be impervious to their weapons. He was correct, up until he removed his helmet and was nicked by a poisoned arrow. His death galvanized the Brotherhood. Head Paladin Rhombus retaliated with a merciless extermination campaign. The relentless attacks have destroyed the raider clan in the span of a single month, driving the few survivors into the mountains. Most fled California entirely, with only isolated warbands taking their chances. By 2162 they were almost all gone.
Hounds of Hecate[edit | edit source]
Some of those who fled East joined the zealots of Hecate, becoming her Hounds and fierce foes of any she directed them against, excepting well-armed and armored caravans out of Denver. They became notorious not just for their ferocity, but also the pet two-headed rattlesnakes they raised.
|The following is based on Van Buren and has not been confirmed by canon sources.|
Some of the Vipers who fled to the east eventually "settled" in the American southwest, and became a part of the fanatical tribal army of Hecate, a mad tribal goddess. The "Hounds of Hecate", as they were now called, served as Hecate's fist against the other tribal and raider clans in the area. They had, however, learned a lesson through the Brotherhood of Steel about not entering combat with forces much more powerful than them, and so didn't attack caravans heading between Denver and Hoover Dam, despite Hecate's wishes. They also had pet two-headed rattlesnakes which they raised in the canyons. Once the snakes were old enough, they were released into the wild.
|End of information based on Van Buren.|
The campaign served to open trade relations between the Brotherhood and the Hub, after the order sent scouts and emissaries to root out Vipers in the populations. The merchants welcomed this new era and regular caravans soon started coursing between the city and the bunker, when previously they only made the occasional trip.
Mojave Wasteland[edit | edit source]
Although the Vipers ferociously clung to existence, they never again rose to prominence. Any warbands that tried to return to New California were driven off, acting as practice targets for talented Army officers. Routinely brutalized by the NCR, they have been returned to opportunistic, petty raiders who forgot their heritage, skulking in the mountains of the Mojave and ambushing merchant caravans to replenish their supplies.
Society[edit | edit source]
Before their near-extermination and loss of culture, the Vipers followed a unique religion created by Jonathan Faust, inspired greatly by the pit vipers they worshiped. Raiding primarily at night, Vipers preferred stealth to brute force, using a variety of melee weapons made from bone and laced with paralytic pit viper venom to incapacitate their victims, robbing them and taking the captives back to sacrifice them to the Gods of the Pit. They were known to use bone armor, crafted from bone strips wrapped tightly in leather and worn around the body.
All Vipers answered to the Great Snakekeeper and their priests, obeying orders unto death. The Great Snakekeeper was distinguished by a viper skull helmet adorned with feathers and a snakeskin cape. The leaders of the Vipers presided over ceremonies and affairs of the tribe, clad in the same kind of armor as the rest of them. Immediately below them were the Crimson Tongues, the elite warriors. All Viper members also wore tattoos and exotic piercings.
Special rituals included the monthly trance, when the tribesmen ingested a mixture of alcohol and venom, falling into a coma. It's virtually identical to the ritual of passage into adulthood that all Vipers had to undertake. Those who died or failed to awake from the coma in seven days were fed to the snakes in the Pit (called Children of the Great Snake). Those who survived were anointed as Warriors of the Snake or Chosen Ones. Priests underwent a separate ritual, taking small quantities of undiluted venom to suffer delirium and bizarre dreams. They claimed afterwards that the Great Snake came to them in their dreams, which gave the ritual its name, Time of the Summoning.
Sacrifices were frequent, with prisoners hurled into the Pit at midnight to appease the gods. Those prisoners who survived their encounter with the Pit Vipers were given the chance to avoid being sacrificed and join the clan. In return for this chance, they were expected to complete a task for the tribe, such as robbing a caravan or settlement for supplies, clearing a radscorpion nest or retaking a water spring from a foe. Succeeding would make the victim a part of the clan and grant their undying respect.
Interactions[edit | edit source]
In Fallout: New Vegas, the Vipers lost their distinct culture, forced to prey on wastelanders and caravans. They usually wear scavenged merc outfits, with a few wearing stolen metal armor, and fight with poorly maintained small arms, with the odd gunslinger brandishing half-broken grenade rifles. They are found in makeshift camps at the Horowitz farmstead, the highway 95 Viper's encampment and the raided farmstead, with several ambushes along major roads, like State Road 164 out of Nipton towards Searchlight or the road that branches off north, past Ranger station Charlie to Novac. Another camp is found southeast of hidden supply cave.
Appearances[edit | edit source]
The Vipers were one of several raider clans planned for Fallout, but were eventually cut. Several characters mention them, these include Aradesh, Ian and Killian Darkwater. Before its cancelation, Vipers were also supposed to appear in Van Buren, the canceled "Fallout 3" project by Black Isle Studios.
Behind the scenes[edit | edit source]
- Most of the background lore concerning Vipers was published in the Fallout Bible, although Chris Avellone erroneously claimed that the remaining Vipers fled to the mountains, never to be heard from again. Again, they were mentioned in Fallout by several characters.
- The Vipers' camp location in Fallout's game files (accessible by CTRL-R function) consists of only 3 tents.
Gallery[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- Vipers design document, background: "64 years ago, a man named Jonathan Faust led his group of about 200 people from the overcrowded Vault into the wastes of the outside. It was there that his small band came to a small oasis in the middle of the desert. In the middle of this oasis was a large pit, almost like a crater. While resting and setting up camp, Faust decided to look into the pit. Darkness greeted him.
When a member of the band called out to him, Faust turned, startled, and slipped into the Pit. He slid down twenty feet and then fell another 20 and broke his leg in the process. As he lay there dazed, a half dozen gigantic Pit Vipers slithered toward him. Not knowing what these things were, Faust was terrified. The group above heard one loud scream and then nothing. Three others went to look for him, but never came out.
The small band, leaderless and stuck in the desert with no food and water, decided to stay at the oasis, at least for a little while. They covered the pit with a tarp and nailed spikes around it to keep whatever horror lived there encased there. They then set up their camp as far from the Pit as possible. Whatever was down in the Pit never bothered them. Days passed. The more influential of the group argued about what they were to do. There was talk of joining up with others from the Vault. There was talk about going back to the Vault."
- Vipers design document, background: "During these four days, almost ¼ of the group was either dying or already dead. Those who survived the radiation poisoning were too weak to travel, while those who survived either left or stayed and helped defend the little settlement against the desert creatures.
Finally, after a week, the remaining members of the group decided to move on. They started to pack their belongings when an almost spectral figure emerged from the shadows. It was Faust, except this was not the strong leader they remembered. He was wan, pale, and emaciated, and there was a feverish gleam in his eyes. He told them that when he was down in the pit, a god visited him and told him the True Way. They would make sacrifices to the Gods of the Pit, and wealth and happiness would be theirs.
Of course, everyone was skeptical. Some were even violently rebellious, saying that Faust was crazy. After Faust patiently listened to them, he then whistled, and from behind him, came two very large Pit Vipers. Without warning, they struck. They attacked everyone in the group, including Faust, but he just laughed as they bit his flesh.
As the sun rose the next day, the two snakes lay dead by Faust's hands. Half of his people were dead, the other half were on the brink of death as the Pit Venom started to sink into their systems. By that afternoon most would be dead, but the forty or so survivors of the venom were half crazy with the aftereffects of the venom. Faust, himself immune to the venom, helped the remaining few through this time, which has come to be known as the Great Awakening. He whispered things to them, told them how the Great Snake has spared their lives, so that they would fight for His mighty cause.
And thus the Viper clan was born. They decided to make the Pit their Shrine, and to go out into the wastes and take what they needed from those blasphemers that did not follow the Winding Way of the Great Snake."
- Fallout Bible 6, The Vipers: [...] "The Vipers left Southern California after two incidents:
1. Defeat at the Hub in 2125: Their failed attempt to raid the Hub during the Hub's formative years, stopped almost solely by Angus, the founder of the Hub. Angus' defense caused the Vipers to retreat north, and they roamed the wastes for many, many years, occasionally attacking caravans and small settlements. Around the early 2150s, however, the Vipers had grown to their former strength from captured slaves and caravan drivers and had begun to establish a power base in the badlands to the North of the Hub (and south of the Lost Hills Bunker). Driven by a religious frenzy (and the need to provide for their much larger numbers of soldiers and disciples), they began raiding more frequently than before, attracting the attention of the Brotherhood of Steel. The Brotherhood sent out a few squads of scouts to track the raiders down - it was more of a training exercise conducted by John Maxson's father, as the Brotherhood was convinced that small detachment of troops in Power Armor would be sufficient to deal with a group of raiders, no matter how large.
2. Near Extermination by the Brotherhood of Steel in 2155: One Brotherhood squad found the Vipers, and during the firefight, John Maxson's father (who was leading the squad) was killed with a poisoned arrow. The response from the Brotherhood was immediate. The Paladins, now led by Rhombus, began a full scale campaign against the Vipers, tracking them down and wiping out almost all of their members within the span of a month. A handful of Vipers were able to flee north and east into the mountain range, but they were never heard from again. During the campaign, the Brotherhood sent a few scouts and emissaries to the Hub to track down Vipers members, and from these beginnings, the Hub and the Brotherhood began full trade relations (caravans had delivered to the Brotherhood before, but not long after the destruction of the Vipers, caravan trains ran directly from the Hub to the Brotherhood on a regular basis). So some good did come out of the Vipers' presence in the wastes, for what it's worth. [...]"
- The Courier: "Colonel Moore's "way"?"
Hanlon: "The colonel is an effective commander - one of the best - but she sharpened her claws on the Vipers and the old Jackals. Did four tours against the Brotherhood, too. She used to be ranger until an injury took her out of action. Happens to a lot of us, unfortunately. She's better at making graves than making friends. Bring in Moore and the earth will be razed. Fields will be salted."
(Chief Hanlon's dialogue)
- Fallout: New Vegas loading screen hints: "Brutalized by the NCR, the once-legendary Vipers and Jackals gangs have become little more than opportunistic, petty raiders."
- Vipers design document, raiders in general: "The second clan, the Vipers, are mysterious followers of an ancient religion (or so they claim). They usually only come out at night to hunt for food or to conduct raids. They are very ruthless when it comes to combat. They prefer stealth to strength. They usually carry bone knives dipped in Pit Viper venom. This poison, when in the blood stream, paralyzes the victim. Most victims captured in this way are taken back to their hideout."
- Vipers design document, overview: "The leader of the Vipers, Asp, conducts their ceremonies and administers duties. The members of the clan will follow his orders even if it meant death. Asp is usually in the same type of bone armor as the others, save he wears a snake skull as a helmet adorned with feathers and snakeskin as a cape."
- Vipers design document, rituals: "Once a month, the Vipers fall into a deep trance through a dangerous mixture of alcohol and snake venom (anyone who doesn't awake is considered to have been found unworthy by the Great Snake). When the Vipers reach manhood, they are given a special mixture of the Pit Viper venom. Those who die (or are in a coma for more than seven nights) are given as sacrifices to the Children. (The snakes in the Pit are officially called the Children of the Great Snake.) Those who survive the week-long delirium become Warriors of the Snake (also called Chosen Ones). There is also a monthly ritual, where the Venom is taken by the High Priests and Priestesses of the tribe in small quantities, which causes bizarre dreams. This is called the Time of the Summoning, because many claim to see the Great Snake come to them in their dreams. When it is time for a captured prisoner to be sacrificed, he is typically hurled into the Pit at midnight."
- No Mutants Allowed, The Origins of Fallout - Part 3, Page 2 by Scott Campbell
- Citadel terminal entries; Maxson archive terminal, Maxson II
- Citadel terminal entries; Maxson archive terminal, John Maxson