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Character Creation Guide by evilbob65535

Version: 1.02 | Updated: 12/10/08

Fallout 3:
Character Building, Leveling, and S.P.E.C.I.A.L. Guide to the Wasteland

Written by Jason Long (evilbob)
Copyright (c)2008 Jason Long.  All rights reserved.

This guide may not be reposted, in whole or in part, without my written 
permission.  The only website that has permission to display this FAQ is 
gameFAQs.com.  For questions contact me at evilbob65535 at yahoo dot com.

      Searchable Table of Contents

Copy, Control+F, and Paste the codes in [] to search for something quickly.

1. What This Guide Does              [1WTGD]

2. S.P.E.C.I.A.L.                    [2SPEC]
  2a. S.P.E.C.I.A.L. Notes           [2SPNO]

3. Skills                            [3SKLL]
  3a. Skill Notes                    [3SKNO]
  3b. What to Tag                    [3WTOT]
  3c. Do Energy Weapons Really Suck? [3DEWS]

4. Perks                             [4PERK]
  4a. Level 2                        [4PE02]
  4b. Level 4                        [4PE04]
  4c. Level 6                        [4PE06]
  4d. Level 8                        [4PE08]
  4e. Level 10                       [4PE10]
  4f. Level 12                       [4PE12]
  4g. Level 14                       [4PE14]
  4h. Level 16                       [4PE16]
  4i. Level 18                       [4PE18]
  4j. Level 20                       [4PE20]
  4k. Perk Notes                     [4PENO]

5. General Advice                    [5GEAD]
  5a. Things You Should Keep         [5TYSK]

          What This Guide Does

I'm going to assume you can read the descriptions of the stats, skills, perks, 
etc. yourself, so they will not be included here.  Instead, this guide will 
offer advice on which stats, skills, and perks are most useful, why they are 
useful, and how you can create a very effective character with very little 
time/energy invested.  This is not about min/maxing to grab every book and 
boost all your skills to 100:  this is for someone who'd like to use the most 
useful weapons and increase the most useful skills and grab the most useful 
perks, but doesn't want to spend a lot of time thinking about it or trying too 
hard to find hidden items.

Also worth noting:  this game has been released on multiple platforms, but 
this guide is good for any of them.  There should be no difference between 
platforms for the advice contained herein.

What this guide does not do:  answer quest-related questions, give spoilers, 
or help you figure out how the game is played.

Along the way I have included lots of advice that is geared toward what I 
believe is the most effective character build for someone who hasn't played 
through the game already.  I have also included why I think certain choices 
are better and what might be a good choice for a different type of build.  
However, please remember that all of this advice is subjective.  In truth, 
this game is very well-balanced and many of the possible character choices are 
quite viable.

After each section is a "notes" section that gives more general advice.  
Across the board, this FAQ is designed to give helpful information that would 
be useful to know at the beginning of the game, while minimizing spoilers as 
much as possible.


- Useful for melee combat, and to a lesser extent, carrying things.  You can 
carry 150 lbs + 10 x Strength, so each point of Strength only gains you 10 lbs 
- not really a big deal, but every little bit helps.  There are no Strength 
requirements for weapons or armor in this game, so that's nice.  One useful 
perk (Strong Back) has a Strength requirement of 5, but that's it.  Unless you 
plan to use Melee Weapons, starting with a 4 or 5 is fine.
- It should also be noted that since you can gain +1 strength from a quest 
early on and it's very easy to grab the Strength Bobblehead even sooner, you 
really don't need to start with more than a 6 in Strength.  This is because 
Power Armor boosts you an additional 2 later in the game, for a total (max) of 
- Recommended starting value:  4 or 5, but not more than 6

- Perception is hard to really quantify.  The bonus to seeing enemies from far 
away doesn't materialize all that often in practical terms, because enemies 
can often see (and shoot) you from much farther away than you can see or 
reliably shoot them.  Having a 10 in perception will generally allow you to 
notice enemies before they notice you, but in cramped quarters this isn't much 
of an advantage.  It also gives you a bonus to lockpick, but it's only 2 skill 
points per point.  Three good perks require a 6 (Better Criticals, Light Step, 
Sniper), and one useless perk requires 7 (Infiltrator).  A 6 is probably fine.
- Recommended starting value:  5 or 6

- Endurance is surprisingly useful.  You get 100 Hit Points + 20 x Endurance, 
which means each point gives you 20 more HP - not too shabby.  It also factors 
into the nearly useless poison and radiation resistances, and boosts two 
skills you likely won't use.  But it's required for a large number of decent 
perks, and some useless radiation-based ones.  The highest you'll need for a 
perk is 6, but having more HP is always good.  Starting with 6 is a good idea.
- Recommended starting value:  6

- No one really knows what this does anymore.  Your followers are pretty much 
maxed at 1 ever (usually) and Dogmeat will follow you no matter what (like in 
previous games), so all you're left with are small bonuses to decent skills, 
some NPC reactions you can typically change anyway, and a bunch of perks that 
you will not be getting your first time through the game.  All the Charisma-
related perks are really meant for 2nd or 3rd times through, or they aren't 
very useful at all.  The only other effect it seems to have is on costs, but 
you'll be swimming in caps before too long, so who cares?  You could easily 
start with a 2 in this stat.
- Recommended starting value:  2 to 4

- Good for some of your more decent skills, but also important because you 
gain 10 + Intelligence skill points per level.  Granted, that means you only 
get 1 extra skill point per level for each point in Intelligence, but each 
point helps, so long as you boost this early.  Late-gate Intelligence boosting 
is pretty worthless.  A minimum of 4 is also useful for several perks, but 
honestly you'll want more than that.  This is one of the better skills to 
boost at the beginning, so starting with a 6 or higher is recommended.
- Recommended starting value:  6 or 7

- Also one of the best stats due to its influence on very important skills, 
action points, and perks.  You get 65 + 2 x Agility action points, so that 
means you'll only gain 2 action points per point in Agility, but every little 
bit helps.  Sadly, higher action point totals don't replenish any faster (that 
I can tell anyway), so this is more useful for initial bursts than sustained 
combat.  You'll want at least 6 points for some really useful perks.  Higher 
than that also can't hurt.  Agility also seems to affect your running speed, 
but like the other stats, a one point change is barely noticeable (your armor 
will make much more of a difference).
- Recommended starting value:  6 or 7

- The "affects everything" skill is back, but at least this time it also adds 
a small amount to every skill you have, which is nice.  It also is your 
critical hit chance, although a 1% difference is extremely hard to notice 
either way.  You'll need a 6 in Luck for Better Criticals (and the less useful 
Mysterious Stranger), so it's probably best to either start with a 5 and plan 
to grab the Bobblehead, or just take it down to 4 or 3 if you need points for 
something else and ignore the perk.  In previous games it also affected loot 
drops in containers, and I am unsure if it does in this game as well, but it's 
a safe guess.
- Recommended starting value:  5

S.P.E.C.I.A.L. Notes

- Since 10 is the max you can get in any stat and NOTHING will take you above 
that (stat gains, clothing, etc.), and since you will likely find items that 
can boost stats or at least clothing that can help, it is strongly recommended 
you do not start above a 9 in any stat.

- On the contrary, you will not be severely penalized for starting any stat 
with a very low score, although some parts may be slightly more annoying.  So 
dumping one stat isn't going to kill you, either.

Ways to boost stats:
- clothing/armor
- Intense Training perk (1 point into any stat)
- Bobbleheads (1 point into that specific stat)
- Ant Might (+1 Strength) / Ant Sight (+1 Perception) quest reward 
perk (Greyditch; you can only choose one)
- Barkskin (+1 Endurance) quest reward perk (Oasis)


- At the beginning of the game - when all your skills are low - getting caps 
is difficult.  It quickly ceases to be.  I wouldn't leave this under 20, but 
you seriously don't need to raise it much higher.  You'll be rolling in cash 
regardless.  Even the barter-raising pieces of clothing aren't that necessary.
- Recommend maximum:  20

Big Guns
- Sadly:  mostly useless.  Big Guns are somewhat rare, heavy, and they are 
hard to maintain and find enough ammo to feed.  That said, they do stupid 
amounts of damage, especially if you invest points in the skill.  However, 
other than the novelty of exploding everything you meet or using some of the 
more interesting weapons (Rock-It Launcher, Fat Man), it's really just a 
novelty skill better saved for a 2nd playthrough.  Save your points for Small 
- Recommend maximum:  0

Energy Weapons
- Even more sadly:  completely useless.  Until you get close to the end of the 
game, Energy Weapons are rarer and even harder to maintain and feed ammo to 
than Big Guns, and that's really saying something.  But the big disappointment 
is that they do less damage than comparable-level Small Guns (see below).  And 
they cost a lot more, so they're great for selling and hard to repair.  Why 
would you use one?  Technically, they seem to do more damage to robots (like 
in previous games - maybe they haven't collapsed all DR into one?), and if you 
run through the story very quickly, they become common toward the end... so if 
you're swarmed with robots and plasma rifles are everywhere, then they're a 
decent alternative.  But when rated for overall usefulness for the majority of 
the game, they simply cannot compare to the far superior Small Guns.  Worse 
than a novelty, Energy Weapons aren't even that useful on repeat playthroughs, 
unless you're just dying to turn everyone you meet into a pile of dust.  
Avoid.  The Enclave are idiots.
- Recommend maximum:  0

- Can be very useful or very un-useful based on your level of patience.  
Grenades are extremely hard to aim and don't do much damage; they also don't 
seem to take advantage of sneak attacks.  (Check out Sneak for a better use of 
stealth with grenades.)  Mines are much more useful, but you have to be 
willing to set them up and lead enemies into them (I've never seen an enemy 
avoid one, so this can be relatively easy).  The main issue is:  if you're 
close enough to set up a mine, why aren't you just shooting the enemy?  Or:  
why haven't they killed you yet?  Mostly these come in handy for baiting 
creatures with tons of HP.  Also, you want to pretty much avoid the standard 
mines/grenades and go for the homemade Nuka Grenades and Bottlecap Mines, 
which do about 5x the damage.  Potentially devastating, but like Big Guns, not 
very useful in the long run.  Also helps with disarming/avoiding others' 
explosives as you'll have more time before they blow up, which can be useful 
(but you still need to physically see them first, which can be extremely 
- Recommend maximum:  40 or 50 if you're going to fool with them, otherwise 
just 30 for quest options and to give yourself a fighting chance to avoid 
mines before you step on them

- Easily the most important skill in the game, next to Small Guns.  You will 
encounter hundreds of locks throughout the wasteland.  Besides the fact that 
they are all small fountains of XP, you will get access to lots of good and 
valuable loot, or the ability to bypass large, annoying, or difficult areas of 
the game.  Most "access puzzles" you come across will have either a Science or 
a Lockpick solution, but the ones that have only one solution will almost 
always be Lockpicks.  Additionally, even if you have both options, the 
Lockpick solution is faster and easier because the Lockpick minigame is faster 
and easier.
- The most important thing to note about Lockpick is that only multiples of 25 
matter.  Unlike Science, which can occasionally get you a perk or a dialog 
option for other amounts, the only values to worry about for Lockpick are 25, 
50, 75, and 100.  Except they are really 20, 45, 70, and 95, because you can 
find a Vault 101 Utility Jumpsuit at the beginning of the game (it should be 
in the dresser in your room in Vault 101; there's also one on the body of a 
guy named Floyd on your way out - don't leave home without it!).  This 
clothing item gives a +5 to Repair and Lockpick and only weighs 1 lb, and you 
should never, ever put it down.
- Recommend maximum:  95 (or 100 if you don't want to carry around one 1 lb 

- Boosts stim packs and RadAways.  RadAways will always heal far more than you 
need no matter what your skill level, so don't worry about them.  Not a bad 
skill to have up to a decent level, just because you'll only find a couple 
hundred stim packs (although you can technically purchase a infinite number) 
and based on your play style this will either be equivalent to infinity or 
just what you needed.  Not horribly important, but nice to have in the middle 
of battles when you can't take one hour to sleep.  There are also a couple of 
related quest options and dialog options, but not many.  A few perks that 
aren't very useful and one that is ok (Cyborg) require 60.  Be sure to grab 
the Bobblehead at the beginning and you'll be fine for a while with this one.  
Also reportedly doubles stim pack healing if you take it to 100... but it's 
certainly not worth worrying with that much.
- Recommend maximum:  30 or 40

Melee Weapons
- The other viable weapon option.  Melee can be fun and even practical (you 
don't run out of nailboard) but it honestly pales in comparison to Small Guns 
(and frankly, you won't run out of bullets, either).  The lack of VATS 
specialized targeting just cannot compete.  There are also just too many times 
when running up to something that can shoot you isn't a very good idea.  Even 
if you do boost this skill, you should probably keep Small Guns high as well 
and have a couple around just in case.  You'll also want to boost your 
Strength and Endurance to "lots" as soon as you can, or at least boost your 
Strength to 8 so you can wear Power Armor and have it at 10.  You should also 
look for the Shishkebob schematic as soon as possible, which - interestingly 
enough - suddenly makes the Pyromaniac perk go from completely useless to oh 
my GOD!  Lastly, the Ninja perk is worth taking as well, and you might want to 
invest in a Life Giver or Toughness perk, just because you will be taking more 
damage than your ranged counterparts.
- Recommend raising to:  0 or 100, depending on your play style

- Surprisingly useful, especially since it is a great compliment to Small Guns 
- although it's useful for melee and other weapon types, too.  With Repair, so 
long as you have an item in your inventory like the one you'd like to repair, 
you can sacrifice one item to fix the other.  This also works on named weapons 
and armor (using a Chinese Assault Rifle to fix the Xuanlong Assault Rifle, 
for example), although some items (like hats and Ranger Battle Armor) don't 
have a whole lot of similar items you can find.  The nice thing is that this 
also can reduce your weight total while giving you a good return on the value 
of an item.  And once you get above 50 or so, you can easily repair your own 
stuff better than the shopkeepers.  It can even be used in a few quests - 
what's not to like?
- Recommend raising to:  at least 50 or 60, but 95 is a good idea (or
100 if you won't carry that Jumpsuit around)

- The other "access puzzle" skill, Science solutions tend to reveal more story 
than Lockpick solutions, simply because computers tend to have more on them 
other than just "open the door."  The only downside is that the Science 
minigame is harder to do (or at least, it takes longer).  It is also generally 
important to keep multiples of 25 in mind like the Lockpick skill, since 
Science also works on the 25, 50, 75, 100 scale - except again, it's really 
20, 45, 70, and 95, since you can leave Vault 101 with a +5 science clothing 
item that only weighs 1 lb (you will run past someone who no longer needs it 
in a lab).  It's also used in a couple of perks that aren't all that important 
(Cyborg, Robotics Expert) and those require up to 60.  A few quest and dialog 
options use it, too.  Honestly everyone should get this to at least 45, and 70 
isn't a bad place to be either, even if you do have a Lockpick of 100.  There 
are VERY few terminals that require 100.
- Recommend raising to:  45, 70, or 95 (no other values are that useful); add 
5 if you hate switching outfits

Small Guns
- Ah yes.  THE skill.  It is best to sum it up thusly:  Fallout 3 is about, 
for the most part, combat.  Small Guns are the most plentiful, do great damage 
pound-for-pound, and have tons of ammo everywhere.  Take it to 100, period.  
This is the minimum you should shoot for and it pays to get there early 
(although you don't need to rush past 80; see below).
- Recommend raising to:  100

- Sneak is an interesting mixed bag.  First, it's an extremely viable option:  
sneak attack criticals can and will take down any enemy of your level or lower 
in one hit if you have a good weapon and aim for the head.  Enemies also tend 
to not be aggro'ed when you sneak-crit someone, unless they are close by, 
regardless of the loudness of the weapon used.  It's also a GREAT way to avoid 
combat altogether, and can actually make traveling in the wastes -faster- even 
though you're moving -slower-, simply because you're avoiding those pesky 
raiders that somehow pop up every 30 yards.  However, you WILL be moving 
slower.  MUCH slower.  And at low skill levels (under 30), enemies can still 
pretty much see you without any trouble.  Sneak doesn't really get useful 
until you push past 50, and even then it doesn't REALLY shine until you're 
over 90 and have the Silent Running perk - which is an absolute MUST if you're 
investing in Sneak.  Also, there really aren't any places in the game where 
sneaking is required, and even for those places where it would just be 
extremely useful:  they're called "stealth boy."  (You'll find at least a 
dozen of these things.)  So ultimately it depends on your play style.  If you 
like not taking much damage, constantly exploding heads, but taking hours to 
complete each dungeon:  then Sneak.  If you're a run-and-gunner or want to 
play quickly, don't bother.  Also worth noting:  Dogmeat does not sneak.  So 
if you want to use him long-term, you might as well run-and-gun.
- Two extra tidbits:  while crouching, you'll be both sneaking and get a small 
bonus to your accuracy with ranged weapons.  Nice!  Also, Sneak has a 
surprisingly awesome synergy with Explosives.  Not only is it good for laying 
mines, but you can pickpocket someone and place a grenade on them, which will 
then explode!
- Recommend raising to:  0 or 100, but 100 is recommended

- The third most important skill after Small Guns and Lockpick or Science, 
Speech is used quite frequently throughout the game.  It helps gain access to 
lots of dialog options that are incredibly useful.  You can often skip 
difficult parts or sometimes entire quest lines (in fact, sometimes you might 
not want to take the Speech option).  It's great for getting more money for 
rewards, or making factions warm up to you that normally might not.  Speech 
also does a good job of replacing the function of many other perks that offer 
"unique dialog options," like Black Widow/Lady Killer.  For the most part, 
unless you plan on just beating your way through the game, it pays to push 
Speech up as high as you can.  (Although I found that there seemed to be a 
point of diminishing returns...  The difference between about 80 and 100 was 
not very noticeable, since by then most Speech options are 100% - except for 
the ones that aren't, which will never get that high.)
- Recommend raising to:  80 or 90, as you can wear clothing that gives you a 

- Fun but kitschy, Unarmed has all the drawbacks of Melee but without the 
powerful weapons to support it.  Using the Deathclaw Guantlet might be a good 
tactic since it ignores DR, but good luck finding the schematic.  Related 
perks are:  Iron Fist at level 4 - which you will need; Ninja - which requires 
an 80 in Melee Weapons and Sneak; and Paralyzing Palm - which requires level 
18.  Do you really want to wait until level 18 to be viable in combat?  Seems 
like a fun secondary at best.  Still a good idea to raise Small Guns.
- Recommend raising to:  0

Skill Notes

- Recommended maximums include all skill boosts, including quest rewards, 
books, and bobbleheads.  You don't really need to raise any skill too far 
above 80 at the beginning of the game because you will probably find enough 
books or a bobblehead to cover the rest, and extra boosts are wasted.  Jumping 
Small Guns and Lockpick or Science up first is never a bad idea, but try not 
to overspecialize.

- Many pieces of clothing or armor give skill boosts - keep these around and 
use them!  You can switch clothing at any time for no cost, so feel free to 
swap around things for tiny boosts that could help here or there.  In 
particular, clothing that boosts Science, Lockpick, and Repair are great to 
have around.

- For any ultra-completists, note that if you get all skills up to 100 and 
then level up, at this time it will effectively break your game since you will 
not be able to skip the skill point screen until you distribute all skill 
points.  Then again, if you're in danger of hitting this limit, this guide 
really isn't for you.

- [3WTOT] What to Tag:  At the beginning of the game, you're asked to tag 
three skills.  All this does is give you a 15 point boost to that skill; 
there's no difference when leveling between tagged and untagged skills.  So, 
in general, unless you tag something like Unarmed and never use it again, you 
can't really go wrong no matter what you pick - it just might take a little 
longer to get where you'd like to be.  That said, the first answer to "what 
would you like to tag" is Small Guns.  After that, Lockpick or Science are 
good choices (Lockpick is probably slightly better).  After that, the only 
skills that might serve you well by getting them off to a good head start are 
Science or Lockpick (whichever you didn't take for tag #2), Speech (although 
you need to get past 30 or 40 before it starts really helping), Sneak (same as 
Speech), Repair, and surprisingly enough, Explosives - if you wish to pursue 
them (since that is a key skill for one of the first big quests and you can 
need about 30 depending on your choice).  You don't need to tag medicine since 
you have no excuse to miss the Bobblehead, but it's the only other skill that 
is nice to get up to 30 early (for stim packs).
- Another way to look at this is:  how do you solve most problems in the game?  
There's usually a straight-forward way (Small Guns), a sneaky/thinky way 
(Lockpick/Science), or a talking way (Speech).  There are sometimes other 
options, but keeping your brute force, smart, and dialog options open is a 
good way to have all the best tools at your disposal for tackling any problem 
in the game.
- Recommended tag skills:  Small Guns, Lockpick, Speech

A Note on Weapons
For maximum effectiveness, you really want to pick one weapon type (Small 
Guns, Big Guns, Energy Weapons, Melee, Unarmed) and stick with it.  Raising 
multiple weapon types is unnecessary and frankly not useful since whatever 
weapon type you choose will pretty much always be available.  That said, if 
you insist on trying one of the less optimal types (i.e. anything other than 
Small Guns), that's fine - but it is highly recommended that you raise Small 
Guns as well, at least to 80.  This will give you something more viable to 
fall back on for any situation in which you might get stuck.

Do Energy Weapons Really Suck?
In truth, Energy Weapons - just like Big Guns - are something you can complete 
the game with.  But compared across the board, they simply cannot stack up to 
Small Guns.  Amazingly, Fallout 3 bucks the previous Fallouts' trend of having 
energy weapons do more damage than small arms (except apparently to a limited 
group of enemies), although they do generally use less AP.  However, initial 
damage is really the most important statistic, since dropping enemies quickly 
is more important that prolonged shoot-outs, and it is absolutely vital for 
stealth builds (you always want to hit as hard as possible from stealth to 
maximize your sneak attack).  Here are some maximum damage values for a better 
comparison (taken from a Fallout 3 Wikia guide):  
- Laser Pistol - 12
- Laser Rifle - 23
- Plasma Rifle - 45
Compared to equivalent-level small guns:
- 10mm SMG - 37
- Hunting Rifle - 25
- Chinese Assault Rifle - 51
Add to this the fact that energy weapon ammo is scarce during the early part 
of the game while small gun ammo is plentiful forever, and you just don't have 
a very good friend in Energy Weapons.  Just boost Small Guns and enjoy selling 
this very high-valued junk.

Ways to boost skills:
- leveling up
- reading books (1 point per book, or 2 with the Comprehension perk)
- taking perks
- Bobbleheads (10 points in that skill)
- clothing/armor


Level 2

Daddy's Boy/Girl
- Not a bad +5/+5, but not particularly good, either.  Science is fine but you 
don't need Medicine that badly.  At least you're going to have 4 Intelligence 
- Rating:  2 of 5

Gun Nut
- The best +5/+5 perk.  Both are useful and you can't have enough of either.  
Gaining 10 skill points isn't really awe inspiring but if nothing else suits 
you it's not a bad move, either.  Plus, you can take it multiple times.
- Rating:  4 of 5

Intense Training
- Interestingly enough, this perk - while it seems good at first - is often 
eclipsed by other perks.  Strong Back is like getting +5 Strength (without the 
Melee bonus).  Life Giver gives more HP than adding 1 Endurance (and the 
resistances associated with Endurance are useless).  Educated gives +3 skill 
points per level; each point in Intelligence only gives 1.  Action Boy/Girl is 
worth 12.5 Agility boosts.  And you don't really need to raise most of the 
other stats, so long as they are at least average and you can take the perks 
you want.  It's not a bad pick if there's nothing else that suits you, and you 
might feel like it's a good way to game the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. system, but 
honestly you're not going to gain much from this perk.  Even the +5/+5 perks 
are typically better.
- Rating:  2 of 5

Lady Killer/Black Widow
- Pretty much useless from a "dialog" perspective.  There are less than half a 
dozen places in the game where these are useful, and all of them have Speech 
solutions or other ways to solve them.  So, we're left with +10% damage to the 
opposite sex.  Since no creatures have a sex (or mutants or feral ghouls) and 
almost all enemies that are human/ghoul are male, Lady Killer is basically 
useless.  Black Widow is less bad, and it might be fun to have an oddball 
dialog option once or twice, but it's still not great.  Overall:  
- Lady Killer Rating:  0 of 5
- Black Widow Rating:  2 of 5

Little Leaguer
- Decent for specialty types who are focusing in these two areas, but 
otherwise don't bother.  These don't synergize as well as you might think.
- Rating:  2 of 5

Swift Learner
- What a deceptively un-useful perk.  It's easy to get way more XP than you 
need to hit level 20.  You can also just rest in your own bed once you own a 
home and get a similar bonus any time you want (although I believe that would 
stack with this perk).  Possibly useful if you're trying to speed your way 
through the game, but really...  just skip it.
- Rating:  0 of 5

- The other good +5/+5.  Lockpicking is always good and Sneak is useful if 
you're pursuing that route; it's a good way to boost both early, especially if 
you didn't tag them.  Also see:  Gun Nut.
- Rating:  4 of 5

Level 4

Child at Heart
- Unsure as to how many options this gives, but it can't be many, because 
there aren't a lot of kids in the game.  Probably not as much Speech overlap 
as Lady Killer/Black Widow, though.  Fun side-bar, but far from necessary.
- Rating:  2 of 5

- Highly recommended; there are hundreds of books in the game and this perk 
doubles their effectiveness.  Granted, it's not like picking a +5/+5 where the 
skill points are going where you want, but it can help you be more well-
rounded for very little cost.  Ultimately can be worth dozens (or hundreds) of 
skill points, depending on how you play.  Great to take at level 5 - just be 
sure to save your books until then.
- Rating:  5 of 5

- This is the skill you take at level 4.  Period.  Skill points are very 
important:  this gives you 48 more of them to spend however you want if you 
take at level 4 - which you will.
- Rating:  5* of 5

- Not all that useful.  There aren't that many insects in the game and most 
are low-level types.  This will help a lot with the Greyditch quest and giant 
scorpions toward the end of the game - but not much else.  It also might be 
hard to get Science that high by level 4.  (Possibly gives some unique dialog 
- Rating:  2 of 5

Iron Fist
- Seems like if you're going the Unarmed route, you have to have it.  
Otherwise:  completely useless.
- Rating:  0 of 5 (or 5* of 5 if Unarmed... but you probably aren't)

- A level 4 +5/+5; how odd.  Well, Speech is useful but Barter sure isn't.  
- Rating:  1 of 5

Level 6

Bloody Mess
- Ah yes.  What can I say:  you'll either love it, or love it for a short 
while and then hate it.  Technically, it's pretty much useless.  Even the +5% 
damage doesn't really help.  Only really good for making sure you can loot 
someone you can't reach because they exploded all over the place.  Great for a 
2nd runthrough, or freaking out non-gamers.
- Rating:  1 of 5

Demolition Expert
- Well, mines do a crap-ton of damage already.  And planting a grenade on 
someone always works.  Not sure why you'd need this one...  And REALLY not 
sure why you'd need 3 ranks of it (on a normal playthrough, anyway).  I guess 
adding 20% to 500 is still 600, but that's like saying 20% of WAY TOO MUCH is 
still WAY TOO MUCH.  Possibly more efficient than raising explosives by skill 
points (although you don't get the other benefits of the skill), but the 
requirement is already pretty steep, and probably not worth attaining.  Much 
like this perk.
- Rating:  1 of 5

Fortune Finder
- Money is everywhere already, disguised as raiders carrying guns.  Why would 
you need more?  This perk seems like it was designed to make a "no-" or "very 
little-combat" build more viable.  Too bad the game all but forces you to 
fight a lot.
- Rating:  1 of 5

- Bethesda's definition of "significantly increased" and mine must differ.  
All the same, not a bad perk so long as you're still using pistols and SMGs - 
which you are at level 6.  But late game it'll be less useful since you'll 
have moved on to two-handed guns.  Still, not bad, especially since VATS is 
the ranged fighter's bread-and-butter.  Also, obviously not useful for melee 
- Rating:  4 of 5

Lead Belly
- All radiation perks are worthless.  You never have to really deal with a lot 
of radiation, you can easily carry around outfits and pills that help, and 
you'll always have more RadAway than you need.  If stim packs were less 
plentiful and irradiated water more so, this would be useful.  They're not, so 
it's not.
- Rating:  0 of 5

- Not really sure I noticed a big difference between 10% more DR and where I 
was before.  But technically it should make light armor wearers as tough as 
power armor wearers, and make power armor wearers into tanks.  There must be 
some reason you can only take one rank of it...
- Rating:  3 of 5

Level 8

- Ah, now this is what Gunslinger aspires to be.  If you can wait two levels 
you might not even need Gunslinger.  Again, there's not what I would call a 
"significant" increase, but anything that helps you hit things at range in 
VATS is a huge plus.  And you'll pretty much be using two-handed ranged 
weapons from now on.
- Rating:  5* of 5

Impartial Mediation
- Requires a steep 5 Charisma, which is high considering you don't need it for 
hardly anything else.  But otherwise this perk is incredibly useful for 
exactly ONE type of build:  someone trying to stay true neutral.  This is 
actually more difficult than you think, and it's much more likely you'll be 
jumping to one side a lot and then back-and-forthing it since karma 
gains/losses tend to be either tiny or huge... which means you'll likely not 
have the benefit of this perk some of the time.  So, it's a risk:  a HUGE gain 
for a very narrow margin of error, or nothing.  Unless neutral is your goal, 
it's worthless.
- Rating:  0 of 5, or 4 of 5 for very certain builds

Rad Resistance
- See Lead Belly.  Without getting into spoiler-land, there's just never a 
point in the game where you're forced to actually deal with radiation.
- Rating:  0 of 5

- See Fortune Finder.  Ammo is everywhere:  it's just that other people are 
holding it for you.  I am guessing this perk was included to make run-and-
gunners who ignore VATS a viable play option, since shooting something outside 
of VATS will often waste gobs of ammo.  Just use VATS instead.
- Rating:  1 of 5

Size Matters
- Interesting that they included a low-level "Tag!" for just one skill.  
However, this perk ultimately suffers from the same fate as putting points 
into the Big Guns skill:  it's just not that useful.  Still, if you REALLY 
want to pursue this path, this is the quickest and best way, especially since 
you start seeing more Big Guns around this level.  Very few other perks give 
you 15 skill points.
Rating:  1 of 5

Strong Back
- A VERY useful perk.  You can always use more carrying capacity!  It might 
even be worth taking twice.  A good reason to start the game with at least 5 
Endurance and getting 5 Strength as soon as possible.
- Rating:  5 of 5

Level 10

Animal Friend
- The incredibly steep requirement of 6 Charisma makes this one annoying to 
qualify for, and as we go up in level you'll see more and more perks that have 
tough requirements.  Seems like a good idea on paper - 1 rank does, anyway - 
but in practice you can generally slaughter any animal you meet and they make 
horrible battle buddies for the same reason.  This is really only useful for 
the Yao Guai, and frankly you won't see very many of them, and typically 
they're loners.  Maybe if you're a non-combat build - but even still it only 
helps a tiny percentage of the time.  There's one or two spots in the game 
where this does make your life much easier (and it might even have a few 
dialog options along with it), but a stealth boy can pretty much do the same 
thing and it doesn't cost a perk.
- Rating:  2 of 5

- A great perk, although technically not as good for sneakier builds, since 
this only ups your chance for a crit and sneak attacks have a 100% crit rate 
already.  But still good for all other combat - even melee!  And while you 
won't notice a 1% increase in your crit rate, a 5% increase does seem to make 
a difference.  The only remaining question is whether or not this is a flat 5% 
increase, or like the description implies, gives you an increase up to 10% max 
(since Luck maxes at 10).  If that's the case, high Luck builds need not 
Rating:  5 of 5

Here and Now
- One of the worst perks in the game, and with all the 0 of 5 ratings I've 
handed out so far, that's saying something.  It's bad for the same reason 
Swift Learner is bad.  The only good thing is that if you took it at level 19 
you could get to level 20 in one second - which isn't really horrible, 
especially if you're at the end of the game and don't think you'll make 
another level and would REALLY like a level 20 perk.  But I cannot imagine 
another way this is useful.  And frankly, it's not even that useful then.
- Rating:  0 of 5

Mister Sandman
- Another specialized perk that gives you options you'll probably never use.  
The bonus XP was just a ploy to help beef up this otherwise unremarkable perk.  
The main issue:  you almost never catch anyone sleeping.  And if you do, you 
probably don't want to kill them.  Maybe if you're trying to be evil you could 
go through the towns at night or something, but generally sneaking up and 
putting a bullet in someone's head is just as effective (and you won't really 
be starved for XP to the point that this perk will make a difference anyway).
(Note:  There is also currently a well-documented infinite XP trick based 
around this perk.  However, even if you are in to that sort of thing, on one 
hand this could be patched at any time, and on the other hand there are other 
infinite XP tricks that are better, available earlier, and don't require a 
perk - so it still isn't worth it.)
- Rating:  1 of 5 (even for cheaters)

Mysterious Stranger
- I've heard you have a 10% chance for this guy to show up when something is 
low on health and help you finish it off.  Considering that I've come across 
several instances where I just couldn't quite finish a creature off in VATS, I 
wouldn't have minded someone showing up 10% of the time and helping.  Then 
again, if you sneak attack people in the head all day long, this probably 
isn't very useful.  Also clearly not useful for anyone who avoids VATS.  A 
funny idea that might be helpful occasionally, but probably isn't that 
practical due to the random chance (if you could call him 10% of the time, 
that'd be much more powerful).  Also, 6 Luck is nothing to sneeze at, although 
if you're already aiming for Better Criticals, you might already have it.
- Rating:  2 of 5

Nerd Rage!
- So you have to wait until you're almost dead and then suddenly you become an 
awesome... melee fighter?  How many things wrong can you count in that idea?  
Just use a stim pack and go back to shooting them in the head.  Sadly, this 
isn't really even useful for melee types either, because you've probably 
already got a 10 in Strength.  The DR isn't bad, but you really don't want to 
be walking around with less than 20% health to take advantage of it, 
especially since healing takes no time and you can do it as much as you'd 
like.  If it were hard to get to your Pip Boy then it might be a lifesaver, 
but... it's not.  The only other use I can come up with is if you were 
strapped for carrying capacity and could easily injure yourself:  suddenly, 
poof!  You can carry more until you heal up!  Still doesn't make this a good 
perk, though.  Just use Buffout instead.
- Rating:  0 of 5

Night Person
- Unless the bonus Intelligence counted toward bonus skill points when 
leveling up (which I would be very doubtful that it would), you really have 
almost no other reason to boost these two skills.  It might save you 4 points 
in Science or Lockpick (just wait till dark, THEN hack the computer/pick the 
safe), but that's rather situational, and you've always got those skill-
boosting clothing items anyway, right?  The Perception boost for seeing 
enemies is likely to go unnoticed (although it might help the player, since 
things are physically harder to notice at night), and I can't think of any 
other good reason to boost Intelligence.  Also, since most towns only have 
people to trade with during the day, it's not always useful to run around at 
- Rating:  0 of 5

Level 12

- Gives you a dialog option at one point, if you can believe it.  Probably not 
a bad way to gain health in dungeons or anywhere else you can't sleep and 
can't fast travel, if you're going the evil path.  Might also help keep you 
neutral if you're trying to stay even but doing lots of quests nicely.  Then 
again... stim packs aren't THAT hard to come by and I'm not sure why you'd 
really need another way to heal yourself.  Might be fun on a second time 
through, but otherwise not worth a perk.
- Rating:  1 of 5

Fast Metabolism
- If you hate sneaking, hiding, or getting out of the way, this could be 
useful.  If you bothered to take Medicine up to 100 it apparently doubles your 
stim pack healing power, so this would be an excellent perk at that point 
since you're getting double the value here as well (and since you took 
Medicine all the way to 100 you clearly need the help).  Not bad for a melee 
character or anyone who found that hundreds of stim packs were "just enough;" 
everyone else should skip it.
- Rating:  2 of 5

Life Giver
- Not a bad perk.  30 HP is nothing to sneeze at and the 6 Endurance 
requirement is fairly reasonable since you'll likely not be skimping in that 
department anyway.  You can only take it once, but it seems like a good 
investment if you can't think of anything else and don't need bonus skill 
points.  Then again, your other options are healing yourself more and dodging, 
both of which are good ideas anyway.  Much more valuable to melee-types.  Not 
useful if you sneak around and crit everything you come across.  Still trumps 
+1 Endurance from the Intense Training perk.
- Rating:  3 of 5

- Completely useless unless you use Big Guns (not a good idea) or Melee 
Weapons (not a horrible idea).  And it's not really useful to Big Guns because 
the Flamer is not very common (although it will take your damage from "plenty" 
to "laughable"), nor is its ammo.  But it is AWESOME for Melee Weapons, since 
it adds +50% damage to the best melee weapon in the game (Shishkebab)!  An 
absolute must if you plan to follow this route.
- Rating:  0 of 5 or 5* of 5 if you use Melee Weapons

Robotics Expert
- Gives a surprising amount of dialog options (surprising in that it is more 
than zero, but probably not even as many as Lady Killer/Black Widow), and 
allows you to skip the difficult part of one quest entirely - which is funny, 
since that's the one quest where this perk could be particularly useful (the 
robotics part of the Wasteland Survival Guide).  Just prior to level 12 you'll 
start to have several robot random encounters, and there are a couple of 
quests that lead you through robot-infested dungeons...  But that's really 
about it.  This is situational to each playthrough, but it feels like it isn't 
long after level 12 that you really won't run into many robots again, which is 
disappointing.  The seemingly high damage increase - 25% - should clue you in 
to whether or not this is useful:  if it seems high, that's probably because 
you won't use it as much as you think.  The sneak-up-and-shutdown feature is 
nice since robots don't often have obvious "heads" that you can take advantage 
of, but it is also not that practical unless you're really good at sneaking.  
Still, you'll run into more robots than you will ants, and it's better than a 
10% bonus.  Good for anyone trying to collect scrap metal.
- Rating:  3 of 5

Silent Running
- An absolute must if you plan on sneaking; otherwise it's pretty much 
useless.  The stealth speed increase alone is worth a perk, and getting 10 
free skill points on top of that is really just gravy - it's almost like 
getting two perks in one.  This ability pretty much changes the usefulness of 
Sneak from an "ok" option to a superior one.  It's also especially good for 
console players and joystick users since it's almost impossible to gauge 
whether or not you are "running" while crouched using a directional stick.
- Rating:  5* of 5, or 0 of 5 if you're ignoring Sneak (note:  don't ignore 

- Once again I'm not sure what "significantly increased" means, but if you use 
VATS targeting at all this is a great perk.  You want to shoot things in the 
head as much as possible because that's where you do the most damage, and this 
makes it easier:  what's not to like?  Unless you're going Melee (and 
therefore can't target the head), this is a solid pick.  The only downside is 
that you'll eventually get bored of watching heads fly off/explode in slow 
motion (or not...).
- Rating:  5 of 5

Level 14

Adamantium Skeleton
- Nice reference, but otherwise a pretty useless perk.  Your limbs are pretty 
much never targeted by enemy attacks, and you rarely take location-specific 
damage except for catastrophic area damage.  This typically comes from 
exploding objects... most of which are mines.  Take Light Step instead:  avoid 
the damage, avoid other traps, and save the healing for your limbs.  Might be 
useful when combined with lots of armor and other sources of DR, but frankly 
enemies pretty much always aim for your torso.
- Rating:  0 of 5

- There are two main schools of thought on drug use in this game:  you can 
completely avoid it (and treat drugs like money), or you can go nuts with 'em, 
and occasionally fix the slightly inconvenient addiction.  There are big 
advantages to either approach, and while this might not be the place to go 
into it at length, I recommend avoiding the hassle of keeping up with drugs 
(although this attitude may be heavily influenced from the earlier games, 
where drugs had a consequence).  It's worth keeping a few Buffout on hand if 
you're under 10 Strength and need to pick up some heavy stuff for a while, and 
if you find combat difficult then Jet and Psycho will change that in a hurry, 
but overall it's easier to ignore them and just trade them for caps (although 
by this point in the game, caps shouldn't be hard to come by).  Might also be 
useful for the effect on Rad-X, but there are so few times when you actually 
have to deal with radiation, it's nowhere near worth a perk.
- Rating:  1 of 5, or 4 of 5 if you really like to party

Contract Killer
- Sounds awesome - until you realize how few "good" characters there are in 
the game (and how many you've likely already killed), how by level 14 caps (or 
negative karma) are really not that much of a problem, and how strikingly 
little you actually get of each (15 caps per ear).  Might be fun on a second 
runthrough just for laughs, but not nearly worth a perk.
- Rating:  0 of 5

- 10% DR is pretty nice, but the other advantages are pretty worthless - so 
basically this perk could be called "Toughness 2 - Now With Higher 
Requirements!"  If you're using Energy Weapons - and you shouldn't be - then 
it's a nice payoff for you bothering to get your Medicine up so high.  Not a 
bad choice for a pacifist character, and might even be worth it for Melee, but 
all others should ignore it.  (Also, your character doesn't change appearance.  
Boo.)  Not sure if this offers any dialog options.
- Rating:  2 of 5

- Also see:  Contract Killer.  Except that it's technically better because 
there are WAY more evil characters in this game (practically everyone outside 
of towns), but you only get 10 caps instead of 15 to help make up the 
difference.  Again, if caps or positive karma were really that hard to come 
by, then it might be worth it... but it's not.
- Rating:  1 of 5

Light Step
- Personally, I love this perk just for the annoyance factor that mines are.  
However, it's technically unnecessary if you just save a lot.  There are some 
wickedly cruel trap placements in the game, often done unexpectedly, and 
disarming traps is a tiny but decent source of XP (which is extremely 
difficult without this perk or a very high Explosives).  Incredibly worth it 
if you don't save every 5 minutes, and probably still worth it if you do.  A 
great perk to grab before heading to Minefield, although you'll likely have 
finished that quest long before level 14, but still useful in late-game subway 
systems and raider hangouts.  The requirements are relatively high, but 
honestly you're going to want those stats to be a minimum of 6 anyway.
- Rating:  5 of 5

Master Trader
- If you manage the meet the requirements of this perk, it's highly unlikely 
that you'd need to take it.  Caps are plentiful late in the game even if your 
Barter is crap, and this really only makes a huge difference for a very small 
number of big-ticket items like schematics and room decorations.  The former 
you can sometimes find or earn, and the latter is completely unnecessary and 
just for fun.  Not worthwhile.
- Rating:  0 of 5

Level 16

Action Boy/Girl
- Worth 12.5 Agility, this perk's benefit is huge.  Still doesn't cause your 
AP to come back any faster, but an extra 25 AP is great for finishing a battle 
the moment it starts.  This perk is technically more useful than using Jet 
because it's "always on," at least for the beginning of battle, even if it 
gives a slightly lower benefit (but an argument can be made for just keeping 
Jet - or UltraJet - handy instead).  Highly recommended.
- Rating:  5 of 5

Better Criticals
- 6 Luck is pretty steep, but the benefits of this perk are pretty awesome.  
Useful for just about any character type, this perk can really turn the tide 
of battles late-game.  Absolutely required for Sneak-based characters, as all 
sneak attacks are auto-crits and this will help you kill even most super 
mutants in one hit (to the head).  Best combined with Finesse for complete 
combat superiority.  A very good perk.
- Rating:  5 of 5

Chem Resistant
- Also see:  Chemist.  If you took Chemist, you'll probably want to take this 
as well.  If you didn't, you're likely not messing with drugs very often, so 
don't bother.  Not to mention the laughably easy fix for addiction - which 
makes this perk even less useful.
- Rating:  0 of 5, or 3 of 5 if you like to party

- Not nearly as required as in previous games since the skill system is all 1-
for-1, Tag! just adds 15 points to any skill.  You can't choose a skill you 
tagged at character creation and it can only be taken once.  Still, it's a 
good purchase late game if you can't find anything else to take, and strictly 
better than the +5/+5 perks from earlier.  Good to boost that skill you 
figured out you actually use all the time but never bothered to put a lot of 
points into earlier, like Science or Speech.  Or Repair.
- Rating:  4 of 5

Level 18

Computer Whiz
- Wow, how worthless.  Not only can you simply SAVE before any hack attempt, 
you can actually QUIT in the middle of any attempt to reset the puzzle and 
reset the number of tries you have left.  In other words:  you should never, 
ever need this perk.  Easily gives Infiltrator a run for its money as the 
worst perk in the game.
- Rating:  Don't ever take this perk.

Concentrated Fire
- Not a bad idea if you're a shooter and don't already have a 95% chance to 
hit things in the head all day long.  However, this perk will not give you 
more than a 95% chance to hit, and it seems to reset every time you go out of 
VATS, so if you don't have much trouble anyway, it's not really worth it.  
Then again, it applies to every body part equally and it does give you a 
measurable increase, and if you use VATS and aren't using Melee then every 
increase helps.
- Rating:  3 of 5

- Probably the worst perk in the game.  Why would you ever force a lock, 
unless you just absolutely hate the still-better-than-Science minigame?  And 
even if you do, you can always just SAVE the game before trying it!  Why would 
anyone take this perk?
- Rating:  Don't ever take this perk, either.

Paralyzing Palm
- Unarmed's saving grace!  Seriously, if you somehow took Unarmed up real high 
and enjoy using it for some reason, then take the perk and watch your world 
suddenly suck much less.  Otherwise, it's completely useless, just like 
Unarmed fighting.
- Rating:  0 of 5 or 5* of 5 if you somehow enjoy Unarmed fighting

Level 20

- I know, I know:  it's called "the internet," right?  Anyone with web access 
can technically find a map any time to any location in the game.  But that 
still doesn't keep this perk from being pretty awesome.  Not only does it 
reveal everything on the map, but it allows you to fast travel there as well.  
Finally, you can avoid running into raider camps (ok, at this point Enclave 
patrols) every 30 yards!  Certainly a time-saver and one of the two good level 
20 perks.
- Rating:  4 of 5

Grim Reaper's Sprirt
- Ah, now THAT'S a level 20 perk!  Combine with Action Boy/Girl for maximum 
effectiveness, this perk suddenly allows you to kill over and over and over.  
Finally, you can take out an entire town in a matter of seconds.  Incredibly 
useful for sneak attacking a target in a group, as your first kill effectively 
doesn't count against your AP total.  Probably the best level 20 perk for any 
- Rating:  5 of 5

- Finally Melee users get some love!  Well, if the Grim Reaper perk wasn't 
just as good for you, too.  In fact, considering it has no requirements and 
this one is extremely steep, you'll probably just buy it instead, just like 
your Small Guns comrades.  Still, this perk should make a big difference, 
especially if you combine it with Finesse and Better Criticals, as you'll have 
at least a 25% chance for a crit on each hit and crits will do crazy amounts 
of damage.  Not too bad for specialty-based builds, but seriously, just get 
the Grim Reaper one.
- Rating:  2 of 5

Solar Powered
- Wait, what?  You're kidding me.  +2 Strength and crappy regen only in 
certain circumstances?  I mean, if it were 100% of the time, this perk might 
compete with Grim Reaper - maybe.  But with this strict limitation it falls to 
the bottom of the level 20 pile in a hurry.  This perk isn't really worth it 
even if it were available at level 14 or so, and the high Endurance 
requirement will take it off lots of people's lists, anyway.  Sad.
- Rating:  0 of 5

*This denotes perks you absolutely should take (sometimes given certain 
circumstances; these are explained).

Perk Notes

- The +5/+5s are good early on when there's not much else to pick.
- Educated and Comprehension are great choices for level 4 and 5, 
- Anything that improves your chance to hit in VATS is good - Gunslinger at 6, 
Commando at 8, Sniper at 12 - although Gunslinger is the weakest.  This falls 
into the "Don'ts" category for Melee builds.
- Strong Back is a good level 8 or 9 choice - you can always use more carrying 
- Boosting crits is never a bad idea, and several perks work well in 
combination to achieve this.
- Several perks have associated skills they work best with, and some can 
negate the usefulness of other skills.  It's best to know what you'd like to 
be good at before picking your perks, and keep that in mind while you level 

- Perks that give extra dialog options never really come up much and a high 
Speech will have you covered more often than not.
- Perks that help you gain money in some way are generally not worthwhile.
- Anything to do with poison/radiation is worthless.
- Perks that give you extra XP are also generally not worth it.
- Just Say No to drugs - and their related perks.
- Infiltrator and Computer Whiz:  NO, NO, NO!

Ways to Gain Perks
- While you get 1 perk per level (except at level 1), there are several more 
perks in the game, obtainable through quests which you can complete at any 
level.  Several of them are very much worth getting (the Greyditch quest) and 
others are not really useful (the Family quest).  Other guides and 
walkthroughs can point you in the best direction to obtain these perks, but 
two quick things to remember are to complete the Wasteland Survival Guide 
quest to the best of your ability, and swing by Greyditch and complete that 
quest as well.  You'll also obtain the ability to wear power armor as part of 
the main quest.

              General Advice

There are several guides online that will help you find them, and I would 
recommend looking for at least a few of them - but several aren't worth the 
hassle.  Some are tricky as hell, but a few of them you'll practically trip 
over while doing the main quest.  Here are the ones you have no excuse to 
miss, in order of when you'll probably encounter them:
- Medicine
- Strength
- Intelligence
- Speech (although this can be tricky based on your karma)
- Energy Weapons (late game)

Here are the ones that are easy to grab while you're close by doing other 
things or on certain quests:
- Perception
- Luck
- Lockpick
- Repair

Most of the others will only be encountered on some of the rarer quests, or 
you'll just have to make a seriously special trip out to the middle of nowhere 
to pick them up.  Good luck with Endurance!

Karma affects a lot of things in the game, but honestly it's less important 
than you'd think.  That said, the very first choice you make in the vault - 
about whether or not to help a friend or insult her - gains/loses a HUGE 
amount of Karma.  If you're trying to trend your character in one direction, 
it's extremely difficult to be evil after the positive boost and extremely 
hard to be good after the negative hit from this one interaction, and it will 
be a little while before you can make another choice this big.  Keep that in 

On the other hand, there are enough opportunities later in this game to 
maximize your Karmic direction about 5 times over.  Quests give/take huge 
amounts, and there are many places to gain/lose small amounts just about 
everywhere.  It's really not that hard to go from hated to loved and back 
again, but it will just take a little while.

Poison and radiation resistance are generally useless because you don't run 
into them very often.  Very few enemies in the game poison you (and it doesn't 
require anything special to deal with), and radiation is extremely easy to 
deal with due to the abundance of RadAway and even Rad-X.  The only times 
throughout the game you'll be forced to deal with radiation you'll also be 
given ways to avoid it.  So for a game about radiation, it's not really a big 

What to Loot
Hit every first aid kit you see.  They are an important source of stim packs 
and bobby pins, both of which weigh nothing.  Hit every ammo box (and gun 
cabinet) you see.  Ammo weighs nothing:  why not exploit- er, I mean carry all 
you can get?  You should never leave ammo behind, except to sell off useless 
types (flamer, looking at you...).  All other containers:  take 'em or leave 
'em.  Grenade and mine boxes are not particularly helpful (see Explosives, 
above), except that these items have a very good weight-to-value ratio.  Metal 
boxes and tool boxes are really only useful when you're trying to build 
something.  Lockers sometimes have armor if they have anything (I found power 
armor in an old vault once; thanks, random generator!), and desks often have a 
few caps and some ammo or just junk.

Weight is Important
Always evaluate the weight-to-value ratio.  At the beginning of the game when 
you don't have heavy armor or many weapons, gathering up lots of junk to sell 
can be useful, if tedious.  Pretty soon you will be ignoring everything that 
doesn't have at LEAST a 1:20 weight-to-value ratio, because it just isn't 
worth hauling that other junk around.

Things You Should Keep
There are several items that are worth stockpiling as you go along that don't 
look valuable otherwise.  It's worth holding onto these things because you'll 
likely be able to trade them for some serious caps/other stuff later on 
(depending on your choices), or they're good for building things.  (Note:  
don't keep them on your person, but storing them in your house is a good 
- scrap metal
- pre-war book
- brotherhood holotag
- nuka quantum
- power armor (each piece is heavy, but it's useful for repairs later)
- lunch box, cherry bomb, sensor module - if you like explosives, keep a 
quantity of all 3
- tin can, turpintine, abraxo cleaner, to go along with those nuka quantums - 
also if you like explosives, keep some number of these (although they are 
easier to find)
- motorcycle gas tank, motorcycle hand brake, lawnmower blade - if you like 
melee weapons, get one of each (they're hard to find when you want one)
You can also keep mutilated body parts, but honestly if you find a bunch of 
Super Mutants you're going to find some.  Plenty, in fact.

Fallout 3:
Character Building, Leveling, and S.P.E.C.I.A.L. Guide to the Wasteland
Copyright (c)2008 Jason Long.  All rights reserved.
Version 1.02.  Last Updated 12-10-2008

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