Fallout Critique: Brotherhood is Dead

Note: This post was originally made in response to a rather ridiculous idea about a war between the Lyons' Brotherhood from Fallout 3 and factions from the West. Compared to the original posting, this version has been revised and updated.

Before we start, let me state one thing: in no way is the Brotherhood necessary in a Fallout game. Yes, it is iconic, but until it was brought to the center stage by Fallout: Tactics it remained an entirely optional faction. In Fallout they can be safely ignored, and in fact, they actually want the wasteland to ignore it. In Fallout 2 their isolationism weakened them to the point where they couldn't compete at any level with the Enclave. They were a footnote. Tactics might very well be the biggest cause of problems in the Fallout franchise, as it remade the Brotherhood from a high tech, reclusive faction of isolationists into a powerful organization that can send large numbers of people on missions across the United States. Likely, they also caused the travesty that is Lyons' Brotherhood to appear in Fallout 3.

To summarize: a Fallout game can do without the Brotherhood. Wait, no, correction, a Fallout game set after 2281 should not feature any Brotherhood at all.

Now, before I begin, let's estabilish some facts. First of all, the Brotherhood is failing. Not just one branch, but the entire network of Brotherhood chapters. The Mojave Chapter has lost the war against the NCR and was forced into hiding; the Lost Hills Brotherhood is doomed to destruction in the near future, as they are unable to compete with the NCR's industrial capability and sheer numbers. The only faction that's in a more or less decent state is the rogue Lyons' chapter; however, even they do not have access to any industrial-grade facilities capable of creating new weapons and ammunition. They rely on scavenged goods. Even the midwest Brotherhood is relatively small, a feudal kingdom where loyal subjects in controlled villages work to support the elite - Brotherhood higher ups.

Many forget that the Brotherhood is a small, monastic order and work on the false assumption that they are a large organization capable of fielding entire armies. However, the opposite is true: while they have training and technology, but there are too few of them to compete with other factions. The Brotherhood is isolationist, shunning outsiders. The Brotherhood is not going to develop: it will wither and die eventually, if not due to isolationism and xenophobia, then to incompetent leadership, eg. Owyn Lyons.

However, given that the reasons for the Brotherhood failing on the West Coast are well explained in Fallout, Fallout 2 and Fallout: New Vegas, let's focus on Owyn Lyons and his renegades.

The trump card of Lyons' Brotherhood, Liberty Prime, cannot be reconstructed, Scribe Rothschild's plan is a pipe dream. Why is that? Consider the fact that Prime represented the apex of pre-War technology, designed and built by two of the biggest US corporations, who had access to practically unlimited resources. What does Lyons have? Scrap and salvage. The chapter doesn't have any steel mills to supply high quality steel and alloys to reforge the chassis. They have no high tech workshops to rebuild and reprogram the electronics. They don't even have the ability to construct high-explosive charges that are an integral element of Liberty Prime's weapon systems.

Some may mention the Pitt as a source of steel. But how would Lyons' men be able to take the Pitt? Sure, they might have scourged the city once and may have a handful of Vertibirds, but they won't use them to bomb the city, if they want the steel mill to stay intact. And on the ground, Ashur's raiders are more than a match for them. What they lack in power armour and heavy weapons, they more than make up for with knowledge of the city, flexibility and Ashur's knowledge Brotherhood's tactics and Owyn Lyons\ mindset. The Brotherhood forces would be routed and destroyed, assuming they'd even have the resources to reach the Pitt and estabilish a stable supply line to the Capital Wasteland.

Second, Adams Air Force Base is mentioned a lot as a powerbase. However, Adams is a burned-out husk. The bulk of the Enclave ordnance was located on the mobile base crawler, which is destroyed at the end of Broken Steel. The scraps of tech that are lying around the base are not nearly enough to supply Lyons for a long term.

I'd like to dispel another myth: Vault 112 is not usable as a VR simulator by the Brotherhood. It's proprietary technology of Stanislaus Braun, reprogrammed repeatedly over two centuries to suit his sadism. As such, it's pretty much unusable, particularly because Lyons does not have a scribe able to operate and maintain VR systems at his disposal. Cracking an Enclave deathclaw control crown is one thing, programming military scenarios and environments for a system that does not support that (the Chinese invasion simulation is lethal, remember) is another.

Yes, Lyons' forces control the purifier, but water alone is not going to provide any high tech required to maintain their level of technology, let alone create new weapons. The Brotherhood may temporarily become a powerhouse in the Capital Wasteland, but since Owyn Lyons is in charge, they are not going to capitalize on it. Lyons is both idealistic and incompetent, which is a recipe for disaster. Examples of his incompetence are easy to come by. Lyons is responsible for ordering the Brotherhood to hunt his white whale (V87 supermutants) in downtown DC, instead of focusing on real threats to the wasteland, such as slavers, Little Lamplight or Talon Company. Furthermore, Lyons insisted on fighting with the Enclave on the grounds that it isn't right for them to control the Purifier, rather than attempting to find a peaceful solution. And finally, he's a guy who thought that bringing an underage child on a cross-country trip to DC was a good idea.

However, even if Lyons' Brotherhood suddenly became competent and able to somehow create an industry, it is incapable of creating a stable government. How is it going to create a stable government if they have problems with transportation and lack the necessary engineering knowledge to improve the situation? Creating fortifications is one thing, building roads and cities is another. As I've also outlined above, they do not have the resources necessary to create an army, much less maintain it. Where would they get the food? Ammunition? Manpower? Spare parts? Energy cells and spare batteries? The NCR is qualified to fight a war because they have a massive industrial and agricultural base. Where is it in the Capital Wasteland?

One of the silliest ideas I ever read proposed a Brotherhood civil war between chapters in the west and the east? Really? They are miniature organizations compared to the vast New California Republic or the mighty Caesar's Legion. It's likely that the Institute is also a force to reckon with, as is the Pitt, both of which likely have access to vast stockpiles of weapons and ammunition, far more than anything the Brotherhood could muster. Furthermore, the West Coast Brotherhood is all but dead. They aren't going to get back up.

For Lyons, I've enumerated above why a civil war scenario is impossible, but let's restate the key points:
Liberty Prime is not going to be rebuilt. Rothschild's pipe dream is hampered by lack of technology and industrial capacity to rebuild the machine.
Lyons has no industrial capability, no available factories to build weapons and ammunition at, no stable source of food, nothing. The Pitt would not be occupied, for reasons stated above.
Adams Air Force Base is a scavenged husk with little usable ordnance. What stockpiles they had went up with the crawler.
Vault 112 is unusable; its software has been altered by Braun repeatedly; it's not suited for combat scenarios, as those are outright lethal to the occupants.
Lyons' Brotherhood is a mlitary outfit; they lack people and knowledge necessary to create a functioning government and cities

Now, some points that may be raised. Yes, the West Coast might have some Vertibirds. However, since the Brotherhood does not have any apparent large scale industrial capacity to build such vehicles from scratch, they likely do not have any available units. The only faction that's confirmed to have some V's is the NCR and even it uses them exclusively for transportation.

Going on, there are claims that the East Coast Brotherhood has access to "so much", namely factories etc.

Why should any of the factories be in a salvageable state? Many don't seem to grasp the concept of "two centuries of neglect". Factories, particularly automated ones, are very precise instruments that require constant maintenance and a stready stream of replacement parts to function. If a factory has been left unattended for two hundred years, without maintenance, it's going to be rusted through, corroded beyond recognition. You don't just go in and press a button to start everything again - Lyons' men would have to replace entire machines, not just single parts. That's just impossible, seeing how the industry has been dead for the past two centuries. Our modern world's industries are interconnected, they need each other to survive. Building a car is far more than just putting metals together - you need fresh aluminium, fresh steel, electronics, rubber for wheels (which i made from oil and oil is in very short supply) etc. There's a good reason for the lack of vehicles on the West Coast. As Chris Avellone stated, the problem isn't with their availability. Spare parts are the problem - tires, cables, electronics etc. Since there is no available source of them on the east coast, beyond scavenging, restarting a factory would be impossible. Especially a factory such as RobCo. or Corvega. Robots and cars are very intricate machines - where would Lyons find the technology and materials to manufacture new lamps, control chips, chassis, plasma guns etc.?

A very amusing claim I saw concerned "jets". Someone proposed that Lyons could easily procure jet fighters by repairing fighters from the Rivet City fighters. This claim is outlandish and very ridiculous, even more than the Brotherhood civil war idea. For starters, jet fighters require massive amounts of specialized fuel to function. Where would the Brotherhood obtain the oil necessary to produce it and the facilities to refine it? That's assuming that any of the jets on Rivet City are in operational condition. Each jet in Rivet City was left out to the elements and rusted for about two hundred years. And a fighter jet is just as complicated as a robot - where'd Lyons get the supplies necessary to rebuild them, assuming his forces have the blueprints (which is unlikely, given the state of Adams)?

Finally, nearly every Brotherhood fan forgets about the scale. An army requires massive amounts of food, ammunition and basic amenities to function. Tell me, where would Lyons find brass, lead and necessary supplies to produce ammunition on an industrial scale? We're talking about millions of bullets of varying caliber, necessary to supply soldiers for training and actual combat. That's completely ignoring issues such as having a reliable food supply and/or armour and spare parts. The word "epic" gets thrown around a lot. The point of Fallout is that it's not epic. Factions do not battle across multiple states, they battle on relatively small frontlines estabilished in single states or across their borders. The largest factions in the Fallout universe, the NCR and the Legion, control, at best, the equivalent of two states, if you put together their holdings outside Arizona and California. Yet some will claim that the Brotherhood will be able to build an army large enough to control half of the United States landmass.

And last, the Midwest Brotherhood is not as powerful or large as some might think. First of all, they are fascists who forcefully estabilish their control over villages, demanding a tribute of men and supplies in exchange for protection (which isn't even that good, as evidenced by the fact that your second mission in Tactics concerns the rescue of a tribal elder kidnapped by raiders from a village you just brought under the Brotherhood's protection). They don't treat supermutants, ghouls and deathclaws as equals; hell, their military leader, Barnaky, was a declared specieist, who loathed "lesser" races, such as the aforementioned mutants, even if the Elder council saw their usefulness in combat. They operate internment camps and brutally press those they conquer into service (ever heard of inquisitors?). And in the end, they aren't a big organization. They control a decent stretch of land, but they do it through brutal force, not any kind of refinement. The attrition rate among initiates is horrifying, they are treated like cannon fodder, no, scratch that, they are cannon fodder. And to finally confirm my point, they operate in squads. Not platoons, not battalions, squads. Squads of six. They are a miniature, elitist faction organized more like a kingdom (with a king (General), his council (Elders), nobility (Paladins and high ranking Scribes and Knights) and subjects working and dying so that the elite can continue to stay in power. Hell, even the people under their control hate them (recall Coldwater?).

That is all. The BoS is dead. Long dead.


  1. Hey, great article, but I have a question. You mentioned factories undergoing over 2 centuries of neglect, and (obviously) machinery, etc needs constant maintenance. Here's the thing: we've seen evidence of factories still functioning thanks to the constant, never ending vigilance of the service robots (repairs and crafting new items). It's entirely possible that some factories still exist in good condition and still producing. Being that we only saw a portion of the D.C. metropolis, if the Brotherhood was able to somehow get to the more dense and "untouched" parts (as in, the rubble prevented Super-Mutants, gouls, and human survivors from entering certain areas) could they then not have fully functioning facilities at their disposal? I'm not arguing against your point, but I didn't see this addressed (maybe I just missed it, I am sleep deprived).

    Since the D.C. metropolis mapped is placed at the far right corner, it clearly extends beyond the map. In fact, much of the subway system and roads are blocked because of the rubble, but breaking through may reveal "pockets" of "untouched" areas and/or buildings, as seen in the city (such as Takoma Industrial Park). It's possible that a factory or facility exists that wasn't directly damaged from the bombing. The robots, which can run and maintain themselves creating a lasting "life span", are still running and repairing the machines. Additionally, inside the machines there may be schematics and other helpful items in good conditions.

    Now of course the issue would be how to gain access. They would have difficulty getting through the rubble, or navigating the subways (which still deal with blocked passages). Then when they got to the facilities, they have to deal with whatever security forces are in place.

    I'm curious to your thoughts about all this.

    1. That fragment of the blog post was aimed primarily at the rather ridiculous notion that the Corvega factory that's been used as a nest by giant ants, not to mention subjected to years of wear, tear and other unpleasantries (the reception area roof caved in!), could be reactivated with just a bit of spit and shine and used for weapons manufacturing. In the Fallout games a majority of industrial and military facilities, those that weren't targetted during the Great War, have been cannibalized by survivors or fell prey to the elements and entropy. However, as you correctly point out, robot-maintained factories would indeed be an incredible boon to anyone who discovers them and can correctly utilize their potential.

      Such a scenario has been presented in Fallout 2, with the Sierra Army Depot, where the Wrights sought to use the enormous power an intact, robot-maintained military base has. A slightly different scenario took place on the East Coast, where Ashur reactivated more-or-less working Pittsburgh steel mills, carving out a city from an irradiated hellhole.

      That said, I very much doubt Lyons would correctly interpret the meaning of this discovery. Given his completely misguided priorities, particularly the focus on supermutants, rather than real, immediate threats to the wasteland, such as raiders, slavers or Little Lamplight, I believe he'd more or less ignore it, rather than exploit its full potential. Just look at the water caravans in Broken Steel and how hard it is for Bigsley to just keep them functioning, after Lyons ordained that water must be free for all.

      I'd much sooner expect the Outcasts to discover such a facility and use it for their cause (which would actually be really good for the wastes, given the amount of good work their patrols do).

  2. By your logic Caesar's Legion isn't a faction, nor is anybody else except for the NCR. Hopefully you remember that the NCR used to be a small town that could easily be knocked down by a few raiders and turned into the well populated group it is now, well that could apply to any group including the Brotherhood of Steel and all variants of it.

    1. Well, the logic isn't anything special, it's just being rational. Yes, NCR had humble beginnings, but they had a logistical base upon which to begin building the Republic. That base is what I'm referring to: the bigger the faction, the bigger its needs. The Legion, which is a marauding army, is supported by its subject lands in the East (relative to the Mojave).

      However, in order to actually respond, please explain what logic do you think I use, otherwise, it'll be hard to formulate any response.

    2. Caesar's Legion controls mutliple states. They ARE a faction.

  3. You made many a point i agreed with. i've never considered the BoS able to revive the country. id really like to talk to you about thing like this. derrick.high.1 thats my skype

  4. I agree with this man. I just couldn't keep playing Fallout 3. The BoS there were just...

    In my opinion, the faction should have ended after Fallout 2. There could then be remnants or references to them in New Vegas, sort of like the Enclave.

    If the Brotherhood appears in the next Fallout game, then I'll likely refuse to buy it.

    - John


Comments, opinions and consults welcome.