In Fallout, the decisions made when creating your character have a major impact on your options and survivability.
Below, I show the steps for creating a character, and my recommendations. There are a few minor spoilers included
in the text below, though nothing major (in my opinion, of course).
First off, never set a stat above 9 - every stat (even Charisma and Luck) can be increased by a point during
the course of the game. Agility is your most important stat, followed by Intelligence. Between the two, they determine
character growth, dialogue options, and the majority of your combat capability. In my opinion, the least important
stats are Strength and Charisma. Between items and stat increase, your Strength is likely to rise four points during
the course of the game. Charisma can be compensated for by reputation and high Speech/Bargain skills. The importance
of the other stats is very dependent on your type of character.
Tag skills are the toughest part of the character creation process. The player needs to decide whether they
are more interested in short-term survival or long-term effectiveness. While the particular ones you choose are
dependent on your type of character, I have found that there are several that stand out (both good and bad).
- Small Guns - If you're interested in short-term survival, this skill is a necessity. The only type of
weapons you'll find for the first part of the game are small-caliber firearms. To conserve ammo and get quick kills,
you'll want a high skill to perform targeted shots. However, also see below, under 'Not Recommended'.
- Energy Weapons - The skill for those interested in long-term combat effectiveness. Though you won't
get an energy weapon for a while, this skill will pay off as soon as you get one. By default, energy weapon skill
is very low, so the 2 for 1 break on skill points will be needed to bring this skill to a decent level.
The best weapon in the game (the Turbo Plasma Rifle) uses this skill.
- Speech - Nearly all character interaction uses this skill. Even those who prefer blowing things up will
need to get information from an NPC once in a while.
- Sneak - With a high enough Sneak, your character will be able to avoid fights, or start them on his
or her own terms. Don't forget about the 'Silent Running' perk. Since Sneak is rolled each minute, Silent Running
means you can bypass monsters with less Sneak rolls - which means less risk.
- Steal - With a high enough Steal, the skill of Barter becomes secondary. Plus, you can do nasty things
such as planting an armed explosive on an enemy. Consider the 'Pickpocket' perk if you choose this skill.
- Small Guns - There is a good reason why Small Guns is on both lists. Though great for short-term survival,
it's not very practical for the long term. With a good Perception, at the ranges combat normally occurs, a skill
of around 100% is sufficient. A higher skill may be desired by combat-oriented characters...but remember that you're
likely to switch to Big Guns or Energy Weapons later in the game. And both of those skills are very low at the
start of the game, requiring more points to raise to acceptable levels. Plus, the Guns and Bullets magazines available
during the course of the game can let you raise your skill to 90%+ without ever putting a point into it.
- Unarmed/Melee Weapons - Both of these skills start off at decent levels, which means you won't get as
much out of the Tag skills. And, unless you really want to push towards a character effective in HTH combat, ranged
combat is a better option. Choose these only if you plan to take the following perks: Bonus HTH Damage, Bonus HTH
Attacks, Better Criticals, Slayer.
- Throwing - Thrown weapons are simply too bulky to be a good choice for a Tag skill. Furthermore, their
range is dependent on Strength, and the most damaging ones (Grenades) have a high cost per shot.
- Barter/Gambling - While Barter is a decent short-term skill, you'll be rolling in bottle caps later
in the game. Avoid choosing this as a Tag skill, though you may want to buy it up some if you're having serious
money problems in the early part of the game. Gambling has one non-money use late in the game, but your default
skill and a few tries will be sufficient.
- Outdoorsman/First Aid/Science/Repair - These skills can all be improved to 90%+ by visiting the Librarian
at the Hub. Furthermore, I've yet to be significantly hampered by a low Outdoorsman or First Aid skill. 90% is
sufficient for all four of these skills.
While the manual states that traits have a mix of good and bad impact, there is one that seems to be the exception
- Gifted. Gifted effectively gives you 7 extra points of stats at the cost of 10 points from each skill and 5 less
skill points per level. The former can be overcome by a good selection of Tag skills, while the latter can be fixed
by moving 3 of the 7 points into Intelligence. Three extra points of Intelligence gives +6 skill points/level,
more than compensating for the skill point penalty. A must-have! The other notable traits are listed below.
- Small Frame - This is a decent choice, though you should have plenty of points for stats already if
you chose Gifted. The only problem is that your carrying capacity will hinder you in the latter half of the game.
Lots of big weapons (and ammo!) will be lying about, and you probably won't have NPC's to help carry the loot.
- Kamikaze - If you believe the best defense is a good offense, this is a good choice. In the latter half
of the game, with perks such as Bonus Rate of Fire and Attack Boy, you may be able to kill off your opponents before
they can return file. And, your Armor Class adjustment is minimal when you're facing things like Gatling Lasers...armor
makes a much bigger difference.
- Fast Shot - Since the best weapon in the game has a base AP cost of 4 (2 with Bonus Rate of Fire and
Fast Shot), Fast Shot can be a good long-term choice. However, your shots won't be as effective if they're not
targeted, and buying your skill much higher than 100% is pointless. Targeted shots are a good way to kill creatures
with a minimal use of ammo.
- Good-Natured - If you want a character with good short-term effectiveness, choosing this perk can help.
Pick Small Guns as a Tag skill, and don't choose Doctor, Speech, or Barter as Tag skills. Good-Natured will
make them decent enough to be useful without the Tag bonus.
- Chem Resistant - Since Fallout is played in real-time unless you're in combat or take time-dependent
actions, the limited duration of chems won't come into play. This is a good choice for those who like using drugs
such as Psycho. Make sure you take a few extra Rad-X and Rad-Away into the Glow, just in case your initial dose
- Skilled - At first glance the loss of perks isn't worth the skill bonus. However, since the low-level
perks aren't that useful, this is a feasible choice. Make sure to time your choices if taking this perk. Choose
your first perk only after you reach 6th level, your second at 9th level, and your fourth at 18th level.
Below is the character I chose to play. I prefer characters that focus on long-term effectiveness, so my choices
were made with that in mind.
Kestrel, Age 35 Male
For this character, I've taken (or plan to take) the following perks: Awareness, Silent Running, Bonus Rate
of Fire, Lifegiver, Better Criticals, Sniper.
Final Notes (some spoilers):
Since the effectiveness of these choices is partially determined by your actions during the game, I have a few
tips for gameplay. My chosen character bypassed most of Shady Sands (right after getting Ian) to go straight to
Vault 15 and get the SMG. The SMG compensates nicely for a low Small Guns skill, though Burst Fire should be used
sparingly to avoid running out of ammo.
My goal was to get the money for 4 doses of Rad-X and a rope as soon as possible, so I could complete the Brotherhood
mission and become an initiate. The rest of the game goes much easier once you have a good set of armor. This does
mean that you run the risk of having the Vault 13 water supply run out. You can delay this by going to the water
merchants, if you have the money to pay them.
Once I became an initiate, I had two primary goals. First, getting the water chip, so I wouldn't be operating
under a time limit. Then, returning to the Brotherhood with enough cash to pay the doctor for multiple operations
(particularly the brain operation). Once this is done, the rest of the game involved going back over the earlier
areas, and then going through the various quests at my leisure.
©1998 Casey McGirt