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Due to disagreements over how technology should be controlled in the wasteland, the Brotherhood of Steel waged a long and bloody war against the NCR. Despite superior equipment and training, the Brotherhood went into retreat.Fallout: New Vegas loading screen

The NCR-Brotherhood War, and often referred to simply as the Brotherhood War by members of the republic,[2] is a major conflict between the Brotherhood of Steel and the New California Republic that has thoroughly affected New California as well as areas around it, shifting its fragile balance of power.


The roots of the war lie in the decline of the Brotherhood of Steel between the eldership of Rhombus and the emergence of the New California Republic as the dominant power in New California.[8] Confronted with an expanding nation state, the Brotherhood adopted a reactionary policy, attempting to position itself as a technology police, limiting and controlling access to military technologies throughout the region, particularly energy weapons.[9]

The republic refused to accept the policy the Brotherhood attempted to impose on it, which resulted in a military confrontation.[3] Although the NCR tolerated Brotherhood presence as late as 2241,[10] by the late 2250s or early 2260s, military clashes between the Republic and the Brotherhood were already commonplace and consuming lives.[1]

Course of the war

Gray paragraphs are based on Van Buren and were not confirmed by primary sources The rise of Jeremy Maxson to the position of High Elder in 2231 represented a change in the Brotherhood's course. As his term continued, Maxson gradually adopted a more direct, confrontational policy of wrestling technology from the hands of wastelanders (the "lesser people"), in a bid to restore the Brotherhood's privileged position in the wasteland.[11] The deterioration in relations between the Brotherhood and the republic was gradual, but it eventually devolved into war and by the late 2250s/early 2260s the Brotherhood clashed with the republic over technology.[1]

This gave way to a long and bloody war that took a considerable toll on the NCR Army and the republic itself as well as the Brotherhood. During the early years of the war the Brotherhood was able to inflict tremendous losses on the NCR, almost winning the war and avoiding a protracted conflict altogether. However, despite enjoying a huge advantage in individual training and equipment, the Brotherhood was unable to match the New California Republic's manpower and ability to replace losses, and the tactical and strategic flexibility it provided. Eventually, the Brotherhood was forced into retreat and hiding.[3] At least six chapter bunkers were wiped out by the republic, four destroyed by the Brotherhood in a last-ditch attempt to deny them to the NCR.[6]

Economic hardship

The republic suffered primarily on the economic front. When the Brotherhood could not counter the republic's military advantage, it attacked the gold reserves that backed the New Californian dollar. As the raids intensified and gold became unavailable, destroyed or rendered useless by Brotherhood operations, NCR citizens panicked and rushed to reclaim the listed face value of currency from NCR's remaining gold reserves. Since the NCR was unable to realize these withdrawals, particularly towards the frontier, faith in their currency considerably dropped. To protect against actual economic collapse, the NCR government abandoned the gold standard and established fiat currency, not payable in specie. Since then many wastelanders lost faith in it as a medium of worth, both as a result of it not being backed by anything but the government's word and the inevitable inflation. In response to the loss of faith, merchant consortiums of the Hub established their own currency, the venerable bottle cap, backing it with water (exchanging a standardized measure of water for caps). The merchants conspired to reintroduce the bottle cap as a currency out of frustration stemming from NCR's ineptitude in handling the currency crisis.[12][13][14][15]

Eastern front

Although hostilities continued in New California,[16] the republic recovered and focused its efforts on expanding eastwards, into the Mojave Wasteland and Hoover Dam. Unexpectedly, the occupation of the Dam in 2273 brought it in conflict with the Mojave chapter of the Brotherhood, which operated unrestricted in the region for years. After two years of guerrilla skirmishes instigated by the Brotherhood, the republic launched Operation: Sunburst to neutralize the chapter in a single, pitched battle at HELIOS One. The indefensible nature of the solar power plant, limited manpower, and poor tactical decisions made by Elder Elijah were ruthlessly exploited by the republic and its commanders. Concentrating a force that outnumbered the Brotherhood defense by a factor of between 15[17] and 20 to 1,[18] the Operation was a tremendous success. The Brotherhood was routed, losing half its manpower, including over a half of its veteran Knights and Paladins. The survivors retreated to Hidden Valley through the McCullough Mountains and enacted a strict lockdown.[19] And as they hid, the republic increased its military presence in the Mojave fivefold.[20]

Notable battles

  • Operation: Sunburst, a pitched battle where the Mojave chapter lost control of HELIOS One and suffered crippling casualties amonting to half the chapter and half its Knights and Paladins.
  • Colonel Cassandra Moore is a veteran of four tours against the Brotherhood of Steel in New California.[21]


The war is currently still ongoing. Colonel Cassandra Moore states that she recently returned from a tour against the Brotherhood and has now been deployed to the Mojave. However, the state of affairs is largely in the NCR’s favor. The Brotherhood has been forced into hiding by retreating into their bunkers. Veterans of the Brotherhood War can be seen leading the republic's efforts against its other enemies. The most prominent of those is Colonel Moore, with four tours to her name and a sizable reputation among the troops.[21] Meanwhile, the Brotherhood is dying out, in hiding,[7] with some of its most talented members going rogue instead of aiding the Brotherhood.[22]

However, victory came at a significant cost in men and materiel, especially during bunker assaults, when platoons of troops were lost to eliminate a stronghold.[23] Despite that fact, the NCR is willing to continue its pursuit and elimination of the Brotherhood, although it is not above forming alliances with surviving chapters, provided they are not at crossed purposes.[24]

By 2277, the status of the Brotherhood out West is largely unknown. However, with terminals stating that the west has started operations hunting down cultists worshipping Maxson, it seems like they are at least starting some semblance of operation on the surface once more.


Many years have passed since the events of Fallout 1 and in the time between F2 and F:NV, the western Brotherhood has suffered very heavy losses. Because they are, by nature, insular, replacing their fallen veterans is difficult. Most of the Mojave chapter's paladins are relatively inexperienced. There isn't an army of Rhombuses down there.J.E. Sawyer



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 The Courier: "Do you have any other family in the Brotherhood?"
    Veronica Santangelo: "Just my parents, but they haven't been around for a long time. Dad was a Paladin, Mom was a Scribe. They died in the same battle trying to hold off the NCR from... something. I don't remember what it was. Guess it seemed important at the time."

    The Courier: "Who was this Father Elijah to you?"
    Veronica Santangelo: "I would say he was my tutor, but that doesn't cover it. After my parents passed, he looked after me. The whole Brotherhood brought me up, really, but he made sure of it. I never had a grandfather - not that I knew, anyway - but Elijah was in some ways what I'd imagine a grandfather to be."
    (Veronica Santangelo's dialogue) Note: Veronica was born in 2254 and states she was brought up by the Brotherhood, indicating they passed in her early childhood, which pins the earliest known instance of NCR-Brotherhood hostility in the 2250s/2260s range.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Aaron Kimball: "Thank you, Colonel Moore. And thank you, my fellow Californians, who have come so far to answer the call to service put forth by the republic. It is for you that I have come here, and it is because of you that I am able to do so. We enjoy our privileges because you take the greatest of risks and are prepared to make the most noble of sacrifices. It is because of men and women like Private First Class Jeremy Watson that Nevada and the New California Republic remain free and secure.
    Born in a tin shack on the outskirts of One Pine, Jeremy Watson never had it easy. His father worked as a caravan guard on the Short Loop, and his mother, like many Californians, braved the ruins of the Old World as a prospector. They suffered through water shortages, raider attacks, and the Brotherhood War. Like our mighty Sierra Nevadas, they endured. But the time came when they could no longer shoulder the burden alone. Twelve years ago, they called out for help, and the republic heard them.
    Troopers and rangers, just like you, answered the clarion call. Men and women stepped forward to say, "I will carry the weight." And at Owen's Lake, we made true on our promise, driving out the raider tribes to establish a lasting peace in the eastern Sierra Nevadas. We carried the weight, and though we left behind many of our brothers and sisters on that battlefield, it did not break us.
    Ten years ago, Chief Elise met with representatives of the Desert Rangers to discuss terms of what would become the Ranger Unification Treaty. The treaty was more than a resolution to welcome the Desert Rangers into the republic. It was a covenant to protect southern Nevada against Caesar's Legion and the tyranny of his regime.
    There are some back home who ask me, "But who are we protecting? What is Nevada to us?" Sometimes we forget that the light of our society shines beyond our borders. Sometimes we take those privileges for granted that our forebears fought so hard to achieve. We must always remember that wherever Californians stand, we carry our principles with us: equal respect, representation, and protection under the laws of a just republic. This was the same fire that burned in the heart of the Old World that preceded us. We are the heirs of that civilization, torchbearers eastward of the Pacific, into the darkness of this wasted land.
    When the republic called on the men and women of California to carry that fire across the Mojave, Jeremy Watson answered. You answered. Together, you carried the weight. And when PFC Watson's platoon came under attack at Forlorn Hope, he took the greatest risk, not only for his fellow Californians, but for California itself. He was prepared to make the most noble of sacrifices, to defend the principles of our republic, even here, on Nevada soil.
    His actions are a beacon to all of us who stand here today in tribute to his valor. Private First Class Jeremy Watson, on behalf of the senate and people of the New California Republic, it is my honor to present you with the Star of Sierra Madre.
    Not far from this spot, a monument stands as a tribute to the sacrifice made by those who came before us, the men and women who fulfilled the promise we made to the Desert Rangers. Its back is inscribed with the names of the troopers and rangers who carried the weight. And because they made the most noble of sacrifices, it did not break us.
    Four years ago, we held this dam. Four years ago, we carried the weight. Four years ago, we drew a line through the Mojave as clear as the Colorado River, a line that Caesar cannot cross. Today, you stand here with our brothers and sisters to hold that line. Today, you honor all Californians by carrying that weight. Today, you are the waves of the Pacific, pushing ever eastward. You are the sequoias rising from the Sierra Nevadas, defiant and enduring. You are the great western light of California, torchbearers in the darkness, living reminders of all that is best in our republic.
    Thank you. Thank you.
    Okay, let's get the fuck out of here. What the hell are you waiting for – do you think I want to get shot? Let's go."
    (Aaron Kimball's dialogue)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Fallout: New Vegas loading screen hints: "Due to disagreements over how technology should be controlled in the wasteland, the Brotherhood of Steel waged a long and bloody war against the NCR. Despite superior equipment and training, the Brotherhood eventually went into retreat."
  4. See below for references.
  5. The Courier: "If it's worked for this long, there must be something redeemable about their beliefs. Have faith."
    Veronica Santangelo: "Wow, you sound like Elder McNamara. I know I should. Hell, it's what I signed up for when I chose to stay into adulthood. I know there's something worth saving in there. But we're in decline. Our membership is... decimated. There's got to be something we can do."
    (Veronica Santangelo's dialogue)
  6. 6.0 6.1 The Courier: "Any recommendations on how to complete the mission?"
    Robert House: "From time to time, the NCR has assaulted Brotherhood bunkers. In four of the six incidents I know of, the bunkers self-destructed. I surmise it's standard practice for the Brotherhood to install a self-destruct system. It's consistent with their uncompromising nature. You might use that against them. Or kill them another way, it's up to you. Return when it's done."
    (Robert House's dialogue)
  7. 7.0 7.1 Nolan McNamara: "Veronica. I hope-"
    Veronica: "I brought you a present."
    Veronica Santangelo: "We unlocked the secret of HELIOS One."
    Nolan McNamara: "What? Wonderful news!"
    Veronica Santangelo: "No. It's not. ARCHIMEDES II is an orbital laser. Effective only outdoors in a limited radius and requiring a long recharge."
    Nolan McNamara: "In the hands of the enemy-"
    Veronica Santangelo: "They'd be marginally more effective. We lost most of the chapter defending glorified artillery."
    Nolan McNamara: "We couldn't have known. We fought for what we believed in."
    Veronica Santangelo: "And nearly died for it. Tomorrow you'd do it all over again, having learned nothing."
    Nolan McNamara: "Are you trying to shame me?"
    Veronica Santangelo: "I'm trying to open your eyes. We need to engage the outside world. We can't win without new recruits."
    Nolan McNamara: "What does the Codex say?"
    Veronica Santangelo: "A bunch of closed-minded bullshit."
    Nolan McNamara: "We do not help them, or let them in."
    Veronica Santangelo: "But-"
    Nolan McNamara: "We keep knowledge they must never have."
    Veronica Santangelo: "Give it a chance. For me. I can't stay here and watch us waste away."
    Nolan McNamara: "I'm sorry."
    Veronica Santangelo: "We'll die out."
    Nolan McNamara: "<Sighs> I know."
    Veronica Santangelo: "Come on. I can't listen to this anymore."
    (Veronica Santangelo's and Nolan McNamara's dialogue) Note: This is the conversation at the end of I Could Make You Care taking the path of discovering what was important about HELIOS One.
  8. The Chosen One: "{131}{}{Before we go any further, why tell me all this now?}"
    Matthew: "{132}{}{(sigh) The Enclave has developed vertibird technology, flying machines that allow them to move deeply into surrounding territories. Without similar technology to counter this threat, the Brotherhood would be unable to stop an invasion launched by the Enclave. We need to have vertibird technology, or a viable counter to it, for ourselves.} {133}{}{Now, recently the Enclave established a base north of here called Navarro. It's used as a stopover point for the maintenance and refueling of vertibirds. It's my belief that such a base may have complete technical plans of the vertibirds. All I need is for someone to infiltrate the base, steal the plans, and bring them here to me.}"
    The Chosen One: "{135}{}{Let me guess. You want me to infiltrate this base for you.}"
    Matthew: "{136}{}{Let me be frank with you,} {137}{}{. The Brotherhood of Steel is not the power that we once were. We believed ourselves to be the sole source of technology left to mankind. Secure in this belief we have let our order decline over the years. Now we don't have the resources at our disposal to deal with the Enclave. We need your help.}"
  9. GTtv interview with Josh Sawyer
  10. The presence of a Brotherhood outpost in the NCR capital at that date.
  11. Maxson Bunker design document
  12. "And this is discussed in-game: BoS raided NCR's gold reserves until NCR could no longer generate gold coinage nor back their paper money. They abandoned the gold standard and established fiat currency, which is why its value is inflated over both caps and (especially) Legion coinage. (...) People in eastern NCR and the Mojave Wasteland lost faith in the NCR government's a) ability to back the listed value of paper money and b) stability overall. If you're living in Bakersfield, staring at a piece of paper that says "redeemable for value in gold" and you have no faith in the government's ability or willingness to do that -- or if you see that the government has changed the currency to say that it is not able to be exchanged for a backed good -- you may very well listen to the strong consortium of local merchants offering to exchange that paper note for currency backed by water." --J.E. Sawyer src
  13. "Traders from the Mojave travel the Short Loop into NCR, which means that they have to go through a few hundred miles of solid desert. Carrying enough water to travel from New Vegas to the Boneyard (or vice versa) would undercut cargo capacity significantly. Even the communities around the Mojave Wasteland (other than New Vegas itself) have water brought in and stored in local towers. Of course, the Colorado River is nearby as long as you don't mind walking through an active war zone." --J.E. Sawyer, src
  14. "How does the Hub 'back' caps? Can you exchange a certain number of caps for a standard measure of water? Yes." J.E. Sawyer src
  15. "It happened during the BoS-NCR war. I believe Alice McLafferty mentions it, but I'm not positive. She doesn't detail the events in this much detail, but here they are: The attacks caused NCR citizens (and others who held NCR currency) to panic, resulting in a rush to reclaim the listed face value of currency from NCR's gold reserves. Inability to do this at several locations (especially near the periphery of NCR territory where reserves were normally low) caused a loss of faith in NCR's ability to back their currency. Though NCR eventually stopped the BoS attacks, they decided to protect against future problems by switching to fiat currency. While this meant that BoS could no longer attack a) reserves or b) the source of production (all NCR bills are made in the Boneyard), some people felt more uneasy about their money not having any "real" (backed) value. This loss of confidence increased with NCR inflation, an ever-looming spectre of fiat currency. Because the Hub links NCR with the Mojave Wasteland and beyond, the merchants there grew frustrated with NCR's handling of the currency crisis. They conspired to re-introduce the bottle cap as a water-backed currency that could "bridge the gap" between NCR and Legion territory. In the time leading up to the re-introduction, they did the footwork to position themselves properly. If some old-timer had a chest full of caps, they didn't care (in fact, they thought that was great, since the old-timers would enthusiastically embrace the return of the cap), but they did seek to control or destroy production facilities and truly large volumes of caps (e.g. Typhon's treasure) whenever possible." --J.E. Sawyer src
  16. Fallout: New Vegas endings
  17. The Courier: "Why do you hate the Brotherhood so much?"
    Robert House: "Because they're ridiculous! Because they galavant around the Mojave pretending to be Knights of Yore. Or did, until the NCR showed them that ideological purity and shiny power armor don't count for much when you're outnumbered 15:1. The world has no use for emotionally unstable techno-fetishists. Just wipe them out, will you?"
    (Robert House's dialogue)
  18. The Courier: "Why was the Brotherhood of Steel here?"
    Lt. Haggerty: "Damned if I know. Put up a hell of a fight, though. We had them outnumbered, I don't know, twenty to one, maybe. They held out as long as they could. Lost most of their force before they retreated. Gave us a little parting gift, too. They had some of the plant running, but they shut it all down. Enabled an old security system, too, to keep us away from the controls. Jerkoffs."
    (Haggerty's dialogue)
  19. Fallout: New Vegas Official Game Guide Collector's Edition p.43: "Brotherhood of Steel"
    "The Brotherhood of Steel is a militant organization devoted to the preservation of pre-war technology and human knowledge. Their professed mission is to preserve pre-war technology and human knowledge for the benefit of future generations. In practice, its definition of technology is strangely selective, ignoring basic but potentially useful technologies (genetic modification of crops and civil engineering, for example) in favor of combat technology such as energy weapons and power armor: and even now, nearly two centuries after the Great War, the Brotherhood zealously restricts the use and knowledge of such technologies to its own membership.
    The Mojave Brotherhood operated freely amid the Vegas wastes for several years, carrying out many reclamation missions without serious opposition. The balance of power shifted in 2251, when a large contingent of NCR troops entered the region and occupied Hoover Dam. Conflict was inevitable. Nearly two years of guerilla skirmishes culminated in a pitched battle at HELIOS One, a solar energy plant the Brotherhood had been refurbishing for several months with the goals of bringing it back online and activating its hidden offensive capabilities (the ARCHIMEDES II death ray). The battle for HELIOS One (Operation: Sunburst) proved a disaster for the Mojave Brotherhood. More than half its Paladins and Knights were killed. The chapter's leader, Elder Elijah, disappeared without a trace. The Brotherhood was driven from the facility, which suffered extensive damage. Survivors retreated to Hidden Valley.
    Since that defeat, the chapter's leader, Elder McNamara, has restricted activity outside the bunker to occasional reconnaissance missions and high-value raids. All operations take place at night, and engagement of NCR forces is strictly forbidden. Though the Brotherhood's ascetic lifestyle has prepared its members for a sequestered existence better than most, the passivity of their current situation has proved highly stressful."
    (Fallout: New Vegas Official Game Guide faction profiles) Note: The date of the NCR occupying Hoover Dam is wrong, as the first NCR Rangers scouted Hover Dam in 2273, with the deployment following in 2274; article dates have been corrected to match.
  20. The Courier: "Tell me about the lockdown."
    Nolan McNamara: "It's a protective measure that was enacted after our defeat at HELIOS. The NCR was hot on our heels, and we wouldn't have survived another encounter. It was decided that we would stay quiet for a time, heal the wounded, and try to come up with a new strategy. However, after we had fully recuperated, our first scouting measures showed that the NCR's presence in this region had only increased in our absence. There are now more than five times the number of NCR troops in the area as when we fought them, and we have half the number we did at HELIOS. And so the lockdown has been extended. To go outside would be the death of us all."
    (Nolan McNamara's dialogue)
  21. 21.0 21.1 The Courier: "Colonel Moore's "way"?"
    Chief 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."
    (Hanlon's dialogue)
  22. Elder Elijah's departure after Operation: Sunburst and one of potential fates of Veronica Santangelo at the end of I Could Make You Care.
  23. The Courier: "The Brotherhood of Steel has been wiped out."
    Robert House: "Singlehandedly destroying a Brotherhood of Steel bunker is quite an accomplishment. Platoons of NCR troops have died, trying to do the same. This welcome news comes just in time, as events in the wider world are coming to a head..."
    (Robert House's dialogue)
  24. For the Republic, Part 2 and its two possible outcomes.
File:Stroken BoS Emblem.png