The Vault-Tec corporation is perhaps the single element of the Fallout lore that allows the games to even exist. All surviving humans in the Fallout universe either came from a vault or have ancestors that did.
It’s hard to forget the feeling of leaving one for the first time in either Fallout 3 or the original. The desolate waste sprawling in front of you as far as the eye can see. And then stumbling upon a decayed and desolate vault, its mystery waiting for you to unpack it.
Some of the lore (the FEV in the primer, for example) mentioned in this article refers back to the previous parts of this series. Links to previous parts for the lazy: primer: plague, oil crisis, and the Great War; part two: Weapons and Robots; part three: SPACE!
As I stated in part one, the Fallout wiki and the Fallout Bible are thorough resources for all who seek a more comprehensive explanation than what I am about to outline. In preparation for Fallout 4 this November, I present the shortened history of Fallout, Chapter four: Vault-Tec.
In short, Valut-Tec corporation worked with the government to offer refuge in case of nuclear holocaust.
This is what the public believed anyway. In reality, the years leading up to the Great War pressured every corporation to seek government contracts for the opportunity to create huge corporate wealth that is often associated with war.
In doing so, Vault-Tec offered their services as test facilities for either social or scientific experimentation that would make Josef Mengele mad with desire.
We’re still accepting applications for the panther experiment…
Because of the imminent nuclear threat, many vaults practiced drills for their inhabitants ad-nauseum. The result of these excessive drills caused many vaults to lock without any inhabitants (who later learned the hard way that it wasn’t a drill after all). These empty vaults often housed spare water-chips and G.E.C.K.s raided by outsiders hundreds of years later.
Most vaults planned to house around 1,000 inhabitants, although a few had special orders. Vault 112, for example, only housed 85. It experimented in cryogenics and virtual reality. Instead of serving as a “temporary” shelter until the “all clear” signal, Vault-Tec meant for 112 to last indefinitely, with the 85 inhabitants in a controlled stasis.
Vault 77 intended to house only one man (AKA Puppet man) in an experiment on isolation, and well, what he does with crates full of puppets.
The seemingly normal vaults, such as 8 and 13, served as control groups to the other, more insidious ones. Vault 101 is another example of the false normalcy. Vault-Tec intended 101 to be sealed forever, even after other vaults received the “all-clear” signal. This experiment would test genetics and the effects of breeding among a small population over several generations.
Most vaults were to last about 900 years although some vaults were designed to fail in the radioactive fallout. Vault 87, the home of the supermutants, is one of these cases. Unaware of the FEV leaking into the vault, the overseer blindly followed orders, causing mutations almost immediately. For the next 200 years, the mutants kidnaped wastelanders to expose to the FEV to create a mutant army. This eventually ended when the FEV ran dry, forcing the mutants to migrate in search of more.
Vault 108 (my personal favorite) studied “conflict for leadership” and provided a large armory without any entertainment in a vault meant to last only 20 years. Therefore, it is the most decrepit and dirtiest vault without working computers. The story of 108 is unclear, however, the only survivors are clones of the original inhabitant, Gary!
Gary. Gary? Gary!
Many housed social observations:
- Vault 11 – the psychological toll of sacrificing fellow inhabitants
- Vault 19 – study of paranoia and the segregation of dwellers based on arbitrary colors
- Vault 68 – 999 men, 1 woman
- Vault 42 – dim lighting
- Vault 43 – a panther is thrown into the mix
While others housed scientific experiments:
- Vault 22 – growing and surviving from plants grown exclusively in the vault
- Vault 106 – the effects of hallucinogenic drugs on mass population
- Vault 92 – study of white noise (under the guise of musical preservation) to better understand hypnosis for soldiers
- Vault 12 – the effects of radiation leaking in from a malfunctioning door (leading to ghoul mutation)
Out of 122 vaults, the Fallout Wiki lists 31 that Vault-Tec purposely sabotages to experiment on “survivors.” Even more exist outside of the canon. With their twisted agenda, it’s a wonder how anyone survived.
Thanks again for checking it out! Next time, Fallout history 101 part five: Important people and places. It’s more interesting than it sounds.