Level 1 – Your initial stats
When you create your character inside Vault 101, you are able to distribute your S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats however you see fit, and tag three skills (which increases their initial values).
Tip: Grab everything you can on your way out of the vault. Seriously - junk, weapons, clothes, armor - take it all! You'll be glad you did when you sell it all later. And don't miss the Medicine Bobblehead on your dad's desk!
As a general rule for your S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats – make sure your intelligence is high. It affects the number of Skill Points you receive when you level up, and you want as many as you can get. Don't worry too much if some of your other stats are a bit low - they can be increased later using the Intense Training perk.
When tagging your three skills, make sure you tag at least one primary combat method – this can be Small Guns, Energy Weapons, Melee, or Unarmed. You may choose Big Guns or Explosives as a secondary combat method, but don't get too caught up in them right away, they aren't nearly as practical as the others.
Lockpick is very practical, especially early on when you'll be searching for ammo. Repair is practically essential, unless you plan on being a rich opportunist who can pay for all of his repairs (in which case, think about dropping some points into Barter later). Science and Medicine are also viable options for your tagged skills, though you should have grabbed the Medicine Bobblehead in the vault, making it less important.
Note: Even if you don't tag Repair, expect to dump a lot of skill points into it later.
The following basic archetypes can be used as a general guideline for your point distribution.
If you intend to primarily use guns, your most important stats (aside from Intelligence) are Agility, Perception, and Luck. These will give you bonuses to Energy Weapons, Small Guns, Explosives, and Lockpick (useful for finding ammo), and will increase your available Action Points and the chance you will score Critical Hits. While some will warn you against lowering your Strength and Endurance, it's my feeling that a skilled gunslinger can afford the hits, because melee combat should be rare, and you can avoid damage by keeping your distance and using cover. For a more balanced character, drop your Perception and Luck a bit and bump up your Strength and Endurance.
Example: Str 2, Per 6, End 4, Cha 3, Int 9, Agi 9, Luck 7
When tagging skills for this character, I chose Repair, Lockpick, and Small Guns. Just stay away from stuff that your low Strength and Endurance makes impractical, like Unarmed or Big Guns. If you really want to, tag Small Guns and Energy Weapons, and your gun prowess will be formidable.
If you intend to fight with your hands, melee weapons, big guns, explosives, and the like, focus on Strength, Endurance, and Luck. This will increase the amount of damage you can take, the amount of damage you can deal in close combat, and your chance of a critical hit.
Example: Str 9, Per 2, End 7, Cha 2, Int 8, Agi 5, Luck 7
When tagging my skills for this character, I chose Melee Weapons, Unarmed, and Repair.
For a slower, more ninja-like approach, focus on Strength, Agility, and Luck, but don't drop your Endurance (to take damage in close combat) or Perception (to identify enemies before they see you, and to assist in lockpicking) below 5. If you must sacrifice some Intelligence to balance this character, make up for it by using the Intense Training perk as you level up.
Example: Str 7, Per 5, End 5, Cha 1, Int 7, Agi 8, Luck 8
You don’t have to be quite as unlikable as I was with a Charisma of 1, so fiddle with the numbers a bit until you feel you've got a good balance. If you'd like to make a high Charisma character, you'll have to make sacrifices across the board.
When tagging my skills, I chose Lockpick, Melee Weapons, and Sneak.
Tip: Make sure you have a save game just before leaving the vault, this way you can go back and muck around with your character as much as you like without having to relive childhood.
On the next page: Escape from the Vault!