The noob's guide to Fallout: New Vegas factions – how to tell allies from enemies

History: Sometime before the Great War of 2077, the United States government surmised that nuclear war with communist China would be inevitable (or not worth avoiding). As such, it set about a three-step program to ensure the Union would not fall even in Post-Apocalyptia.

First, there was the development of the “Forced Evolutionary Virus”. Second, the construction of a grand space-faring vessel, that we might spread our culture to the stars and leave the Earth to rot (what happened to it is never made clear, suffice it to say the option was rendered untenable sometime after [or perhaps as a result of] the Great War). Third was the Vault program. The Vaults actually held a dual purpose; while some “control” vaults were genuinely meant to preserve slices of American culture and genetic diversity, others were cruel social experiments meant to give the government a controlled glimpse into various environmental and social variables that may be factors in space travel or post-apocalyptic survival. For example, one vault was left deliberately under-shielded from the radiation of nuclear war.

Because of these variables, the personalities, beliefs, and even appearances of a vault’s inhabitants may vary greatly from vault to vault. By-and-large, however, the majority of intact Vaults as of 2277 are home to particularly xenophobic residents, spawning only the occasional adventurer. They are aligned – at least officially – with the Enclave. However, this allegiance is usually only known to the Vault overseer (given that, more often than not, the residents are actually subjects of severely unethical experiments).

Above: What? That’s just how his vault shakes hands

Role in Fallout NewVegas: Unknown. However, given how important the Vaults are to Fallout lore (and given the amount of money lying around Las Vegas before the Great War), it can be assumed that there will be at least brief contact with Vault Dwellers.

History: Founded by Roger Maxson, a former US Army Captain who deserted the Army after learning of the governments FEV experiments on live subjects, the Brotherhood is comprised of some of the best and brightest the wastes have to offer. While the order spans from sea to glowing radioactive sea, each individual chapter is comparatively small – usually no bigger than a few score of troops and support staff. As a quasi-knightly order, each Brotherhood chapter typically holds itself ‘above’ the petty politics of the knavish factions in the wastes. Instead, it devotes its energies to the study of pre-war technologies, though arguments have developed within its ranks on whether these studies should be for the sake of humanity’s betterment or study only for the betterment of the Brotherhood.

Given that the Brotherhood’s attitude is largely exclusionary, most wastelanders view the Brotherhood with indifference at best. The Brotherhood rarely intervenes in the lives of the average Joe (unless that average Joe happens to have a plasma blaster), and does a pretty good job of keeping the super mutant population in check, so they at least don’t make post-apocalyptic life any harder. Brotherhood soldiers are well-armed and battle-hardened, so little could be gained by attacking them, and they are usually amenable to trading rather than simply taking what they want outright. However, the Brotherhood simply will not abide ghouls or super mutants at all and will even go out of its way to eradicate them.

This provides some insight on how the NCR and the Brotherhood, ostensibly like-minded factions, would go to war. Given that the NCR has an all-inclusive policy towards citizenship (ghouls and super mutants included), the Brotherhood views the NCR as willfully spreading something akin to the plague. Also, because the Enclave represents the attitudes of the old US government, the Brotherhood holds the Enclave with a very particular disdain.

Role in Fallout New Vegas: Very little has been revealed about the Brotherhood’s role in New Vegas other than the presence of a small contingent. However, given that the Mojave region is controlled by the NCR and Caesar’s Legion – both of whom the Brotherhood absolutely disdains – the Brotherhood may feel that its back is against the wall… and desperate people do desperate things.

History: The Forced Evolutionary Virus (FEV) program was designed to help humans cope more easily with the hardships of a post-nuclear wasteland. While it does do... that, those exposed to super-concentrated amounts of the virus transform into Super Mutants – hulking, genderless brutes barely capable of authoring a coherent thought other than “Gaaaah! Kill!”

There are exceptions, however. In the early 22nd century, a severely mutated... uh... ”man” known only as the “Master” began experimenting with highly concentrated quantities of FEV on human and other subjects. While the majority of the human experiments emerged as the slavering savages we’ve come to know and love, a few – just a few - emerged with much of their original intelligence intact. These either became officers or Nightkin in The Master’s army. The Nightkin were actually quite skilled in the art of ambush, often using stealthboys (active camouflage devices) to great effect.

When the Master was defeated in 2161, the super mutants dispersed, creating roving gangs throughout the Southwest. Before his utter destruction, however, the Master imprinted his attributes in several “talented” super mutants. To one called Attis, he gave his genius level intelligence. To Melchior, his Psionic abilities. And to Tabitha (leader of the remaining Nightkin), he gave his multiple personalities.

Above: Tremble before the mighty leader of the Nightkin!

Role in Fallout New Vegas: One of the dangers of prolonged use of a stealthboy is heightened paranoia, delusions, and eventual schizophrenia. And Super Mutants were never known for being totally stable, no matter what intellect remained intact. So a Super Mutant who now suffers from paranoid delusions cannot be good for anyone.