In Fallout, Outdoorsman is used in random encounters that involve dehydration and rockfalls, to see how many hours it takes (dehydration only) and how much damage is given, if any (dehydration and rockfalls).
In Fallout 2, the Outdoorsman skill's job is to decrease the effects of bad random encounters with the possibility of increasing the odds of special encounters. A successful Outdoorsman check will give the choice of whether or not to have an encounter at all. This does not apply for special encounters however, as they force entering the scene.
In Fallout 2, if a companion has a higher Outdoorsman value than the player character, it will be used automatically while traveling. Sulik is the only companion to have a significant Outdoorsman skill which reaches 80% at his highest level (90% if using the Restoration Patch).
In Fallout 2, carrying a motion sensor gives a +20% bonus to the Outdoorsman skill when traveling on the world map. The +20% bonus is applied to the party member with the highest Outdoorsman skill. A motion sensor does nothing in the inventory of a companion.
It seems that the effective Outdoorsman skill (chance of success before negative modifiers are applied) cannot exceed 95%, meaning there is no point in raising the skill beyond that point, or carrying a motion sensor if one is already at that skill level.
Ways to increase
- Read a Scout Handbook. They increase Outdoorsman skill depending on current skill level, ranging from 6-7 points at low skill levels (20-30%) to 1-2 points at high skill levels (70-90%). Double the amount if the skill is tagged. A maximum skill of 91% can be reached this way.
- (Fallout 2) Talk with Slim Picket. Depending on Barter skill, 5% worth of Outdoorsman can be bought for $100 or $50.
- (Fallout 2) Save Smiley the trapper. Once he is returned to Klamath, he can give a 1% to 6% increase in Outdoorsman skills.
- (Fallout) Talk to Tycho about his life.
Behind the scenes
- The icon is most probably a reference to the Looney Tunes, as the Vault Boy is dressed as Elmer Fudd and is hunting a mutated version of Bugs Bunny.
- The Fallout scripts contain two other uses for Outdoorsman, however, neither are used in the game. The first is a message displayed when discovering a mutated fruit. The other is for generating messages about where the radscorpions came from in random encounters.