Fallout TV show appears to canonize unofficial map that New Vegas director Josh Sawyer drew 20 years ago for his canceled Fallout TTRPG

Fallout nuke
(Image credit: Bethesda)

The Fallout TV show may have canonized an unofficial map of the post-apocalyptic United States that was drawn as part of a canceled Fallout TTRPG - by the man who would go on to direct Fallout: New Vegas.

In the first episode of the series, a weather forecaster stands in front of a map of the US. To many, that map may have simply appeared to be a map of the country's states, but eagle-eyed fans spotted that it actually appeared to divide the USA up into the 13 'Commonwealths' that were part of the series' original creation.

Looking even further, some fans realized that they'd seen this particular map before. Back in 2004, developer Josh Sawyer - who would eventually go on to lead developer on Fallout: New Vegas - published his efforts to create a Fallout tabletop RPG. Those efforts were never finished and had to be archived when the wiki they were originally published on was taken down. In addition, Sawyer himself notes that the game system was "not finished, not professional," and also says "the author makes no claims that it is great or even good."

Regardless, at least one enduring feature came out of Sawyer's Fallout TTRPG - its map. Each Bethesda Fallout game tends to focus on a very narrow corridor of the US - the areas around Washington DC, Las Vegas, and Boston. As a result, it's rare that we see a map of the entire country, but Sawyer came up with one for his game. Dividing the country up into the 13 Commonwealths dreamed up by the series' original creators, that map groups states together, the idea being that areas of the country with similar concerns would be linked together.

It's not always the cleanest set of cuts, and Sawyer himself notes that it's a little odd, in places. Returning to his map 20 years after its initial drawing, he jokingly asks, "What fuckin' dipshit drew this up?"

Dipshit or not, however, it now seems that the Fallout TV has locked this particular map into enduring Fallout canon. It's not the first time that the Amazon Prime show has made that kind of deep-cut commitment to canon - two Fallout 4 endings might have become 'official' due to the existence of a specific Brotherhood of Steel ship, while elsewhere, easter eggs are casting back to Fallout 1 in their pursuit of accuracy.

The Fallout TV show has been renewed for Season 2.

Ali Jones
News Editor

I'm GamesRadar's news editor, working with the team to deliver breaking news from across the industry. I started my journalistic career while getting my degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick, where I also worked as Games Editor on the student newspaper, The Boar. Since then, I've run the news sections at PCGamesN and Kotaku UK, and also regularly contributed to PC Gamer. As you might be able to tell, PC is my platform of choice, so you can regularly find me playing League of Legends or Steam's latest indie hit.