Skills in Fallout 3 are a primary attribute of the player character that determine the player's effectiveness in a variety of situations.


As in the previous games, the player chooses three Tag Skills out of thirteen to be the character's specialties. Unlike previous games, tagging a skill only grants the player a 15 point bonus to that skill. Five skills have been cut from the game. (Fallout and Fallout 2 had 18 skills.)


Skill Associated Stat Skill Book Notable Increase Methods
Barter Charisma Tales of a Junktown Jerky Vendor Roving Trader Outfit, Roving Trader Hat, Button's Wig
Big Guns Endurance U.S. Army: 30 Handy Flamethrower Recipes Linden's Outcast Power Armor, Torcher's Mask, Lag-Bolt's Combat Armor, Bombshell Armor
Energy Weapons Perception Nikola Tesla and You Tesla Power Armor, Enclave Officer Hat, Colonel Autumn's Uniform, Metal Master Armor
Explosives Perception Duck and Cover! Raider Blastmaster Helmet, Takoma Park Little Leaguer Cap, Bombshell Armor, Desmond's Eyeglasses
Lockpick Perception Tumblers Today Vault 101 Utility Jumpsuit, Dad's Wasteland Outfit, Lag-Bolt's Shades
Medicine Intelligence D.C. Journal of Internal Medicine The Surgeon's Lab Coat, Wasteland Surgeon Outfit
Melee Weapons Strength Grognak the Barbarian Vault 77 Jumpsuit, Takoma Park Little Leaguer Cap, Tribal Power Armor
Repair Intelligence Dean's Electronics Vault 101 Utility Jumpsuit, RobCo Jumpsuit, Red Racer Jumpsuit
Science Intelligence Big Book of Science Lesko's Lab Coat, Vault Lab Uniform, The Surgeon's Lab Coat
Small Guns Agility Guns and Bullets Ranger Battle Armor, Vance's Longcoat Outfit, Hat of the People, Desmond's Eyeglasses
Sneak Agility Chinese Army: Special Ops Training Manual Chinese Stealth Armor, Poplar's Hood, Shady Hat
Speech Charisma Lying, Congressional Style Button's Wig, Lincoln's Hat, Naughty Nightwear, Yew's Bear Charm
Unarmed Endurance Pugilism Illustrated Vault 77 Jumpsuit, Hockey Mask, Metal Master Armor


The initial value of each skill is based on a character's value in the relevant attribute plus a bonus determined by their Luck attribute.

  • Formula: 2 + (Stat * 2) + Luck/2 (rounded up).
    • Example: A starting Endurance of 5 and a starting Luck of 5 will give you an initial Unarmed skill of 15. 2+(5*2)+5/2=14.5≈15
  • Initial values also function as base value, meaning any later change to the SPECIAL stat would also have similar change to the respective skill.

At level up, the character will distribute 10(13 with the perk Educated) skill points plus a number equal to their Intelligence. With a IN of 10, you can distribute up to 23 skill points when leveling up.


Improving and Maximizing Skills

Improving Skills

Temporarily Improving Methods
  • By wearing certain armor and clothing that offer skill modifiers.
  • By using chems that alter their base stats, thus increasing the related skills.
  • Carrying the Lucky 8 Ball from Timebomb. (The Luck increase raises all skills slightly, but is lost if the item is removed from inventory.)
Permanently Improving Methods
  • Reading a skill book increases the relevant skill by one point, or two if the character has the Comprehension perk.
  • The Intense Training perk will raise the skills governed by the stat chosen (or all for Luck), as will the Ant Sight(Perception) or Ant Might(Strength) quest perks.
  • By increasing a base stat by picking up a stat Bobblehead.
  • Picking up a skill Bobblehead will increase the corresponding skill by ten points.
  • Receiving Yew's Bear Charm will give you a permanent ten point increase to your Speech skill. (Not lost if the charm is removed from inventory)
  • Certain perks offer a skill increase.

Maximizing Skills

  • In order to reach the maximum number of points available in all skills, you only need to train all skills to 40. This is because most skills have 25 skill books, which will give 50 points in all with the Comprehension perk, and then ten more points can be acquired through a bobblehead. Additionally, a bug with two skill books gives the player an opportunity to max the two related skills without ever putting points into it; see Glitches/Exploitable Bugs for details. One other caveat -- since the Yew's Bear Charm acts like a second Speech bobblehead, one only needs to increase Speech to 30.)
  • It isn't possible to raise a skill above one hundred points, but the game keeps track of increases past 100 just in case a skill is lowered (By something such as radiation poisoning or Power Armor), so you may want to raise some skills to (theoretically) 102 or 104.

Glitches/Exploitable Bugs

It is possible to never have to put points into certain skills to max them out. In particular, certain skill books are on respawning NPCs - merely waiting 73 hours after killing will result in a new copy being created.

  • Big Guns - U.S. Army: 30 Handy Flamethrower Recipes: It is possible to obtain infinite copies of this book in Bethesda Offices East. A Raider with a Flamer normally on the top floor has this book in his inventory. When killed he'll respawn in 73 hours with another copy of the book in his inventory.
  • Science - Big Book of Science: It is possible to obtain infinite copies of this book in Shalebridge Tunnels. An Ant Researcher at this location has the book in his inventory. When killed he'll respawn in 73 hours with another copy of the book in his inventory. (This method is very glitchy and can end making you never able to enter Shalebridge Tunnels again.)