Questions and thoughts about Fallout Universe
General questions and observations
Known Fallout timeline as collected on fallout.wikia.com citing sources such as Fallout Bible essentially contains no events between 1945 and 2000. The world would make far more sense if the date of the Great War was not 2077, but 1977 — then it would match known retro-fiction.
As it is, it leaves a very unpleasant feeling of a hole in time when nothing happened while it should have. In particular, a very passive USSR is hard to imagine knowing anything about the history of USSR.
Nuclear Winter vs. Nuclear Summer question.
The rationale behind nuclear winter scenario is that air bursts of multi-megaton charges over large cities and forests create large fires sending enough non-transparent particle matter into stratosphere to shield lower atmosphere from the Sun, causing a temperature drop.
The rationale behind nuclear summer scenario is that ground bursts of sub-megaton charges in the same locations do not result in non-transparent particle matter in the stratosphere, but generate enough CO2 to amplify greenhouse effects to raise average temperatures globally for years. This in particular happens when the number of submarine blasts is high.
Both scenarios are well supported by research. Capital Wasteland shows some evidence of Nuclear Summer, namely, drying out of the rivers, but no evidence of nuclear winter. Yet, the effect would actually be global, which means that few multi-megaton bombs were dropped at all. Just which kind of bombs actually fell and where?
The half-life of weaponized plutonium-239 is 24000 years, but in every kind of nuclear blast, 5%-40% of it is immediately used up, depending on bomb design, and the rest is very dispersed. As a result, radiation levels are immediately deadly only immediately after the nuclear blast, as the remaining 60% produce elevated, but not exactly deadly radiation in the fallout zone, as no matter whether the burst is ground or air, the fallout zone over 24 hours after the burst is spread over hundreds of square kilometers.
After 10000 days, which is only 27 years, the radiation from any bomb is no different from that of Chernobyl disaster, which, while still dangerous, is not immediately lethal anywhere with the exception of inside the sarcophagus where pieces of actual reactor fuel rods reside. Yet, in Fallout 1-2 games, numerous areas which are inexplicably highly radioactive are present. In Fallout 3, there are only a few inexplicably radioactive areas, and most areas that are radioactive coincide instead with the large amounts of barrels marked as ‘radioactive waste’.
It follows that most, if not all of the known contamination actually results from seeping of that radioactive waste into ground waters, rather than the bombing itself. Due to the way nuclear waste is dumped in Fallout 3 in open air dumping grounds for barrels,1 it may be concluded that it actually wasn’t particularly clean even before the bombing! Which would probably explain Rad-X and RadAway being found in quantity inside office buildings which are very likely to have never been accessible before…
The Megaton Bomb questions
Carol of Underworld reports as an eyewitness that they had 30 minutes warning before bombardment occurred, which implies that West Coast has been bombed 30-40 minutes prior to East Coast.
The bomb in Megaton is identical to the bombs in Fort Constantine bomb storage, which implies that it is of US make.
That would imply it fell out of a strategic bomber, since no smaller aircraft can possibly carry it. Why did it happen here and not somewhere else, when strategic bombers are supposed to have been in the air 30 minutes prior to bombs landing on the East Coast — immediately after the first bombs hit on the West Coast?
The size of the plane that Megaton is built with is consistent with either a commercial liner or a strategic bomber.
But neither of these options explain why the bomb lies in what appears to be a huge crater un-exploded, as a plane crash could not result in one on its own.
The Megaton bomb, even assuming a fizzle if it is exploded two hundred years after its intended time, is consistent in size with megaton-range nuclear devices. While it is reminiscent in shape of the Fat Man plutonium bomb, which had 21kT to it, it is at least two times bigger in length and diameter, which is likely to bring the yield into whole-megaton range. The destruction patterns seen throughout Capital Wasteland are not consistent with the use of multi-megaton bursts, which would leave essentially no ruins.
So what exactly was used in DC?
Miscellaneous oddities particular to Fallout 3
The aircraft carrier that is Rivet City is about 300m long.
All the known aircraft carriers in the world of comparable size have at least 7 meters draft, and more in river waters. The Essex class, which the Rivet City carrier is supposedly modeled on, has sea water draft at 9 meters. The depth of Potomac river at the place it’s docked is only 4-6m according to 1992 navigational maps. Judging by the shape of the banks, 2-3m of that depth is lost due to the river drying out, and the rest is mostly as it was.
That would imply that the river has always been a few meters too shallow for the carrier to pass at all. How the hell did it end up there, then?
Dukov has a Russian accent and is implied to be Russian all over, in name and, I believe, in dialogue. This would imply him growing up in a community where Russian was the main spoken language, since accents are not hereditary.
There is no such community in the accessible parts of the Wastes, the closest possible one might be somewhere in New York, and even that is highly unlikely. Where is he from really?
The main door of Vault 87 exists and is reachable, but inexplicably radioactive4 in excess of 3500 rads in the immediate vicinity. There are only three known entry and exit points into Vault 87 — two in Lamplight Caverns, and the main door. The only way a player can survive it is by boosting rad resistance to the maximum possible and constantly keeping pumping RadAway in, which requires a mountain of RadAway and very fast hopping in and out.
Super Mutants of East Coast are known to exit Vault 87 and enter it at will, and tests show that they indeed suffer no ill effects in the vicinity of the main door, so as long as the main door is not actually blocked by a cave-in (which is unclear as the map just ends where the cave passage would be supposed to start) they should have no problems coming and going.
However, how exactly did Enclave soldiers in power armor and Colonel Autumn in a coat (!) enter Vault 87 when the player can’t do it? Coming through Little Lamplight is not plausible without a major firefight that would leave a lot of the children dead, which is known not to be the case. Coming through the main door would involve unknown anti-radiation chems which are not available. As a side note, how did Fawkes leave Vault 87, when he is known to die in front of the main door?
Fact #1: The destruction patterns seen in Capital Wasteland area are actually consistent with the use of orbital based tactical nuclear platforms seen in Fallout 3 twice — once in the main game (Highwater Trousers launch) and once in Broken Steel. These launch numerous sub-kiloton and kiloton range warheads that actually explode on the ground, which is consistent with the nuclear summer scenario.
Fact #2: All launched and not exploded nuclear weapons seen in Fallout 3 were made in the USA, which includes the Megaton bomb and a crashed Delta IX rocket. Should the 30 minute delay between coasts be true, and there’s no reason to suppose it is not, there is no reason why the Megaton bomb or the rocket would be there in the first place since by then they would have to be somewhere above the Pacific Ocean.
Fact #3: Fallout Bible mentions the use of power armor for quelling civil unrest immediately prior to the war.
Fact #4: Large amounts of Chinese forces in Capital Wasteland includes a surprising quantity of actual ghoulified Chinese soldiers,5 and huge quantities of Chinese-made weapons, either produced locally or otherwise available. Earlier Fallout games also frequently feature AK-lineage weapons, which are unlikely to have been produced locally.
Fact #5: East Coast areas outside Capital Wasteland (Pittsburgh, Point Lookout in Maryland) have apparently suffered no direct strikes at all.
Fact #6: General Chase’s winter coat can be found on board Mothership Zeta. There is a recording of the voice of General Chase listing that he has 38 ICBMs ready to launch at all times which implies he might have given up the launch codes to the aliens. If it is indeed General Chase, it implies that he was abducted days or even hours before the bombs fell on the West Coast, as he was known to have been active in Washington immediately before that from the Anchorage simulation terminals.
This, as well as the inconsistent 30 minute delay between coasts, implies that the US government or some faction thereof actually nuked its own capital for an uncertain reason, using mostly tactical orbital-based warheads. Possible reasons include Chinese activity, actual rebellion, nefarious Enclave plot, alien involvement, or a bizarre combination of all of the above.
There are two marked sites in Capital Wasteland alone! ↩︎
The warning time should have been about half that. ↩︎
An air raid would aim to bomb all possible targets at once, from two directions if at all possible, to avoid anti-aircraft defenses. ↩︎
No, a bomb crater wouldn’t show that much after 200 years, so the source of the radiation remains completely unexplained. ↩︎
Which implies far more did not get ghoulified in the first place and died. ↩︎