So many chems! Such varieties!”— Mobius
Chem (a truncation of "chemical") is post-apocalyptic slang for "drug". A chem is any chemical, medicinal or otherwise, used to cause changes in a person's behavior or biological systems.
Types of Chems
Various chems exist in the wasteland, some more beneficial than others. Each chem has an individual profile, allowing players to "stack" chems to provide a larger bonus than either does individually. Chems may have 4 or 5 simultaneous effects, usually with some kind of balance—it might lower one stat while raising another. Abusing chems results in addiction. Addiction to a chem will cause withdrawal symptoms when the chem wears off, resulting in lowered stats unless you continue to take the drug, or seek cure.
Chems are divided into two groups: addictive, and non-addictive.
- After Burner gum
- Ant nectar
- Fire ant nectar (in Fallout: New Vegas)
- Coyote tobacco chew
- Nuka-Cola (in Fallout and Fallout 2)
- RadAway (in Fallout, Fallout 2 and Fallout Tactics)
- Most types of alcoholic beverage (absinthe, Battle brew, beer, Booze, Dixon's whiskey, Gamma Gulp beer, Irradiated Scotch, Irradiated whiskey, Jake Juice, large wasteland tequila, moonshine, Ol' Flakey, Roentgen rum, Rot gut, Scotch, Sierra Madre martini, vodka, Wasteland tequila, whiskey, wine and XXXXXBeer).
- Alien biogel
- Ant queen pheromones
- Atomic cocktail
- Berry Mentats
- Black blood sausage
- Blood sausage
- Blood shield
- Cave fungus
- Datura hide
- Elixir of Life
- Fire ant nectar (in Fallout 3)
- Ghost Sight
- Grape Mentats
- Healing poultice
- Healing powder
- Jet Antidote
- Mississippi Quantum pie
- Monument chunk
- Mushroom cloud
- Mutated toe
- Nightstalker squeezin's
- Nukalurk meat
- Nuka-Cola (in Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas)
- Orange Mentats
- RadAway (in Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas)
- Refined punga fruit
- Rushing water
- Sacred datura root
- Snakebite tourniquet
- Sugar Bombs
- Sunset Sarsaparilla
- Thick red paste
- Thin red paste
- Trail mix
- Trauma Pack
- Weapon binding ritual
- Wild punga fruit
- Yao guai meat
Chems can be found laying about individually or inside containers. They can also be purchased from Wasteland vendors. While nearly every vendor will have at least a few stimpaks for sale, some chems will need to purchased from one of the vendors who specializes in chems.
There are several ways to resist addiction.
- Don't take chems. You can't get addicted if you never take them, right?
- Select the Chem Resistant perk or trait. This perk confers a 50% resistance to the addictive effect of individual chems. Chems which normally have a 10% addiction rate will be reduced to a 5% rate. If the trait is taken however, chems will only last half as long.
- Take a chem antidote. Only the dangerous jet has an antidote, though. Fixer is a viable solution too, although only temporary.
- Fallout New Vegas has the Logan's Loophole trait which prevent addiction entirely at the cost of limiting the player to level 30.
- Certain Perks in Fallout New Vegas such as Chem Resistant, Brainless and Old World Gourmet reduce addiction chance.
Curing an addiction
Once addicted to a chem, the player has to either continue taking the chem or suffer withdrawal effects specific to the addiction. It is eventually desirable (if not necessary) to cure the addiction. To cure an addiction, the player has several choices.
- Wait it out. Quitting cold turkey will eventually purge your system of the chem. However, Jet Addiction cannot be shaken this way, nor can tobacco.
- Seek out a Wasteland doctor and pay them a fee to alleviate the addiction.
- Use My First Laboratory, after being purchased by the player for either their Megaton Home or their Tenpenny Tower Suite. Likewise, a trip to the autodoc in The Sink will cure addiction.
- Load a previous save. Then, re-administer the drug.
Behind the scenes
In the release of Fallout 3 in Australia, the game was banned for including references to real drugs. A report was released by the OFLC on why it banned the game. The following is a part of report that was released:
"The game contains the option to take a variety of "chems" using a device which is connected to the character's arm. Upon selection of the device a menu selection screen is displayed. Upon this screen is a list of "chems" that the player can take, by means of selection. These "chems" have positive effects and some negative effects (lowering of Intelligence, or the character may become addicted to the "chem"). The positive effects include increase in Strength, stamina, resistance to damage, Agility and hit points.
Corresponding with the list of various "chems" are small visual representation of the drugs, these include syringes, tablets, pill bottles, a crack-type pipe and blister packs. In the Board's view these realistic visual representations of drugs and their delivery method bring the "science-fiction" drugs in line with "real-world" drugs."
One of the reasons for the ban was of the opiate painkiller, morphine being one of the chems that would have been available to use by the player. As a result of the ban Bethesda decided to have morphine renamed to Med-X. Evidence of this last minute change is the fact Med-X's editor ID is still "Morphine" and Med-X addiction's editor ID is "WithdrawalMorphine".