Denver design document/1

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Gametitle-VBThe following is based on Van Buren and has not been confirmed by canon sources.

This is part 1 of the Denver design document for Van Buren, the canceled Fallout 3 by Black Isle Studios.


1 Main page of document
2 Part 1
Document start icon The following is the original document or a transcript thereof.


Denver/Dog City
Version 1.0
  • Chad would like scripting specific text in these documents to be in a different font (lucida sans Unicode - like in FR6). This wouldn't be for descriptive text, but for very specific actions that scripts must do. For example, "When the player examines the pile of junk, SetGlobal( "abc", 1 )." It helps to set the text apart. If you'd prefer a different text or highlight color, that's fine too. Just something that says, "this is technical shiz."


Denver is a pre-War city that was being rebuilt when the War started; prisoners on work release salvage what they can from the city while evading huge packs of hungry dogs that roam the streets.

The city consists of 3-4 large maps, with 10-15 smaller maps or floorplans (covering various buildings and high-rise floors). The salvagers are about 20 NCR former prisoners on a special work release program, salvaging stuff for NCR in exchange for their eventual freedom. The dogs are the now-feral descendents of local pets and specially-bred police dogs. Rats, giant cockroaches, mutant bats, and climbing lizards are common hazards, as well as robot police dogs sent to enforce the "quarantine" on the PC.

The salvagers were forced out of their original camp by the dogs and now are struggling to get by in their new, temporary camp. Tensions are high because the dog threat is constant, they've heard nothing from NCR in quite some time, and basically the only thing for them to eat is dog meat. There's also a rival group of salvages trying to steal claims, and a mysterious group of military guys here as well. The salvagers live in the partially-constructed buildings of Denver, several stories up and clear of the dogs (who can't climb).

Special Art Need: We're going to need to deal with the skyscraper-ness of the city with skyboxing and fog effects in order to handle the horizon.

Denver has its own world map, from which you can access multiple local maps. In addition to the areas below, it can also be flagged with the claim areas of the various salvagers (so you know if you're in another salvager's territory and thus shouldn't take things, or if you can take stuff because it's free for the taking).

The area is composed of 11 primary maps and 11 child maps of those maps, plus random blasted city maps.

Map area Transition Map name Map size Description
Old Salvager Camp   0201_Old_Salvager_Camp Medium Blasted City
Old Salvager Camp 2nd   020101_Old_Camp_2nd    
New Salvager Camp   0202_New_Salvager_Camp Medium Blasted City
New Salvager Camp 2nd   020201_New_Camp_2nd    
Union Station   0203_Union_Station Medium Blasted City
Police HQ   0204_Police_City_Hall_Mint Large Blasted City
Police Basement   020401_Police_Basement    
Police 2nd   020402_Police_2nd    
Police Chief's Fallout Shelter   0205_Chiefs_Fallout_Shelter Med Fallout Shelter
Bombay Jack's Canyon   0206_Bombay_Jacks_Canyon Small Blasted City
Bombay 2nd   020601_Bombay_Jacks_2nd    
The Box   0207_The_Box Medium Robot Factory
Box 2nd   020702_The_Box_2nd    
Box 3rd   020703_The_Box_3rd    
Box 4th   020704_The_Box_4th    
Caesar's Legion Camp   0208_Caesars_Legion_Camp Medium Blasted City
Caesar's 2nd   020801_Caesars_Legion_2nd    
Caesar's 3rd   020802_Caesars_Legion_3rd    
Lowry Hospital/City Park   0209_Hospital_Park Large Blasted City/Park
Lowry 2nd   0209_Hospital_Park_2nd    
Boardwalk Brewery   0211_Boardwalk_Brewery Medium Blasted City
Rival Salvager Camp   0212_Rival_Salvager_Camp Medium Blasted City
Random city maps   Large Blasted City

Old Salvager Camp (Medium Map): This is in the western part of the city. Some structures built under a freeway overpass, surrounded by walls of chain link fence and stacked tires.

New Salvager Camp (Medium Map): Two fortified buildings. The salvagers live in the upper floors, connected by a catwalk. The ground floor is surrounded by chainlink fence.

Union Station (Medium Map): A station building, sets of train tracks, a road, and some blasted buildings nearby.

Police HQ/Mint/City Hall (Med): Three multistory buildings with a park nearby and some ruined buildings, too.

Bombay Jack's Canyon (Small): A multistory building surrounded by open lots and rubble. Heavily trapped with explosives.

The Box (Medium): Fortified robot factory within the shell of a normal factory. Surrounded by ruins.

Caesar's Legion Camp (Med): An old roadside hotel (like a Motel 6), just off the freeway. Building, parking lot, safety ditch, freeway.

Lowry Hospital/City Park (Large): Multilevel hospital adjacent to a park. Has a large parking area.

Washington Park (Large): A large park with two small lakes, overrun with dogs.

Boardwalk Brewing (Small): A small brew pub/restaurant (a la Rock Bottom), with some ruined buildings nearby.

Rival Salvager Camp (Med): A partially-ruined but well-fortified building surrounded by rubble and ruins.

Random City Maps (Med): Various ground and skyscraper-levels of buildings, some more complete than others.

South Denver (Medium Map): This is the southern part of the city. Cherry Creek (from the Lodo map) continues here. Has a small park (more dogs!), short buildings, medium buildings, and some skyscrapers.

Police Chief's Fallout Shelter (Small Map): This is a secret location. You have to find records of the shelter elsewhere in Denver before you can find this travel trigger (unless you're really lucky, in which case you can stumble upon it). Has a stash of weapons and supplies.

Map Flowchart for Denver

Note: This Denver map is actually a smaller "world map" of Denver. There will actually be smaller areas maps within each of these regions (a couple or more city blocks) that you can actually walk on that have set geomety, and going outside of those areas will just drop you into random maps of ruined cities with random encounters, just like wandering into a ruined city in FO or FO2.

VB DD02 map Denver flowchart

Area Background

Game Tie-In: Denver is a place that is rich in resources, they're just hard to acquire. There's a lot of looting to be done but it's spread over much of the town, other people have claims on parts of it, and vicious dogs are everywhere so it's not safe.

Story/Plot Foreshadowing: Denver is also the location of an outbreak of the New Plague in the War era, so the PC can find some clues about plague, its spread, and what was done to contain it (not the BOMB at this point, just standard quarantine).

History: Denver is a wreck. It was in the middle of a building boom shortly before the war, as many new jobs were opening there are the city was swollen to bursting. Most of the construction was housing for these immigrants. When the war with China started, resource rationing occurred and suddenly the construction workers didn't have anything to build with and weren't getting paid. Union riots and strikes occurred because the city couldn't pay and the federal government wouldn't step in to help. When Mexico and the Midwest started to suffer food shortages [FYI, I will be breaking up the pre-war U.S. into its thirteen distinct "zones". One of these zones is the Great Midwest Commonwealth, which was responsible for the majority of pre-war agriculture across the country. However, the U.S. as portrayed in my fakey history will be slightly more economically libertarian, so it's conceivable that the GMC actually had food to trade, but was being stingy with it/jacking up prices in the southwest. – Josh], Denver was hit hard because of its high population. Food rationing began. Food riots started because of the rationing, and some buildings were set on fire. The National Guard was called in to contain the rioting, using InstaPens (aka "bullpens") to contain and imprison rioters. Some people deliberately attacked police and National Guard troops so they would be imprisoned and fed. Rioters, National Guard personnel who disobeyed orders, and other military folk who refused to help contain the riots were sent west and east. Then an outbreak of the New Plague hit the city. Rioters burned down large parts of the city in their fear of contamination and anger at their treatment. Many panicked and fled the city by car, clogging the freeways when they ran out of gas and trapping everyone behind them. And then the bombs fell, destroying some of what was left and killing everyone who had managed to live through everything else.

Post-War, Denver has been abandoned by civilized folk, mainly because of lingering radiation (which is gone by the time FO3 starts) and huge packs of wild dogs that have taken over the town. Small groups of scavengers have holed up here from time to time or tried to loot some of the buildings but it has never been a concerted effort until now. Recently a bunch of work-release NCR prisoners have come here to salvage stuff as a way to buy off their sentences, and some slavers from Caesar's Legion are waiting out the midwest's seasonal huge radioactive duststorms keeping them from getting home. And there's another gang of salvagers that have moved in and have been raiding claims from the NCR salvagers.

Critical Path:

PC visits area

meets with NCR salvagers

explores the area

deals with the dogs

gets some loot

finds out about the plague outbreak

finds out about Boulder

makes a foray into Boulder

finds out about Presper/NCR expatriates/sleeping scientists

uses Denver as a source of supplies for later stuff in the game (building a rail, using the salvagers as workers in New Canaan, etc.)

Economy: The salvages have a lot of supplies to trade. If they get the brewery up & running they'll have beer, too. They desperately need some variety in their food, and could use some good medical upkeep too. They'd be happy to trade their stockpiled supplies (or sell claims in the city) for nonperishable food and medical supplies or the services of a medic or doctor.

Relationships with other Communities: The salvagers are prisoners from NCR on work-release, and they were treated badly by the administration while in prison, so they're not too friendly to NCR and thus not likely to befriend the folks at Hoover Dam. They don't care one way or the other about the tribals, though the Hangdogs (of the Blackfoots) would be happy to come here and trade for some dogs (which the salvagers would be happy to do, since to them the dogs are pests at best and dangerous predators at worst). They could strike up a deal with the BOS as long as they didn't try to claim any cool tech for themselves. They're used to work and would probably get along fine with the people of New Canaan as long as they were treated well. They could also move to Fort Abandon with their loot and set themselves up as rich folks there, which would strengthen FA but leave Denver open to others. The timing of this will need to be careful, as the arrival of the NCR soldiers will screw them up.

Notes on the Salvagers:

The scavengers in Denver are like a tribe of blue-collar workers, working 40, 50, 60 hours a week for little or no reward, desperately trying to crank out a life for themselves and their families back West. It's like a blue-collar colony, and everything in the camp is designed to reinforce this, including the bus that takes them to and from their claims.

They may have only 2-3 really good Mechanics, and the rest are just good builders, scavengers, demolishers, and laborers. And there may not be a good electrician among them (except for Wagner, and he's not very good).

Make sure the PC knows why the salvagers stay. They're not really skilled, most of them are just laborers, so it's not like they can go anywhere else and make a good living for themselves. Plus, they've been here for 2 years or more and have a financial investment in what they've been doing. To leave now means throwing away 2 years of their lives and two years of work.

Salvagers get their power from various confiscated generators. They get water from underground tanks, and from the river through Denver, run through several filters, and even boiled with various purification tablets. Even though they are sick of dog, the dogs in Denver are a ready source of food. The scavengers in Denver have to make do with dog meat (of which there is plenty, but cook it well) and canned food, if they can find it (which is rarer than they thought). As for trading, the salvagers used to trade with no one until Galenski and his truck made his way south and struck a deal with them.

The Denver salvagers haven't seen a woman in a very long time, so any females that show up are going to have some trouble. Porter may even assign a guard to watch over the female, maybe Jimmy, since no one in their right mind would fight him, and he might as well not have a dick.

Some salvager sites have a stash of ammo and supplies in case they get trapped there – and one salvager gives up the location of some of them in exchange for info.

The Denver scavengers talk about what the best buildings to scavenge are – hotels aren't worth shit, but hospitals and some office buildings with high computer connections are great. The following areas are gold mines: post office, construction building, manufacturing building, police station, gun stores, sporting good stores.

It's impolite to talk about past crimes or inquire too deeply into a character's history in Denver. And you really can't do without a high Speech skill. (Same as in Black Canyon itself.)

Salvagers do not like to be called scavengers – that's what ghouls are, they're parasites; we're doing good work here. Calling someone a "scav" is fighting words in the camp. "Digger" as an acceptable term.

"Building Crawling." As a joke, might want the scavengers to say that "we're doing a basement crawl, a subway crawl, a skyscraper crawl," basically scav talk for a "dungeon crawl."

Slang: When solidifying a deal, they may say, "Will you guarantee it?" (Which reinforces the idea of "claims" in Denver)

They often call Denver "Dog Town"

What happened at the old campsite? "Well, one moment, we'd just gotten off our shifts, when suddenly, there were dogs all over the 25 tier of the campsite. They were fucking insane - we must have shot dozens of them, but they didn't stop to tear up their own dead, like they usually do. So we had to ditch the crane and the generator. We lost one of our crew getting out (Dogbody), figure he's dog food, and a bunch of us took some nasty wounds - Jimmy patched us up. Thing is, even after we fled, they kept coming, and coming, some of them even jumped off the freeway to get after us, and they ain't never been that rabid. We lit the tires on fire, threw grenades, and nothing fucking scared them off. Now, we're just holed up here."

What do you know about Boulder? "We didn't even know there was anyone at Boulder until a couple of months back, when Jimmy T came rolling and was dumped off by Galenski. No idea what he done up there. Galenski told us that we wouldn't be welcome in Boulder. Boulder claims it's a genetic free zone, and the people there are really antsy about anyone who's been spending time in Denver... says we're all diseased. They've agreed to trade with us, but they've threatened to shoot any scavenger who shows up within the borders... so for now, we just let things lie. As long as the shipments keep coming, no worries. What do you know about Galenski? He somehow got a huge truck working, so we're able to send him supplies of material north in exchange for some new food, medical supplies, and other shit we need to survive."


Many new jobs in Denver for industrial and scientific work.

Building boom in Denver to make offices, labs, and housing

War with China begins. Resource rationing occurs in Denver, and riots happen because of that.

Midwest USA and Mexico start having food shortages and can't supply Denver with the food it needs. Food riots occur. National Guard called in.

Plague outbreak in Denver. Massive fires.

The War. A bomb ravages Denver.

-5 years: Back in the West, "the 370 Raid" occurs. Foreman Porter's group try to rob the NCR Storehouse and Bank to sieze the payroll to pay his men. They were caught by NCR and ended up "blowing" the vault and totally ruining the future ability to settle the payment problems in the area (exact circumstances are unknown, Porter's group didn't actually steal the money, but it's gone nonetheless). Captured, sold out by Spineless Stan Lowery (a man in the 370 team who didn't participate in the raid because he was afraid they'd be killed trying). Porter still feels guilty about his role in the collapse of the eastern part of NCR, since his actions blew any chance of the economy stabilizing. Porter and his gang arrested and imprisoned in Black Canyon.

-4 years: Member's from Porter's team escape many times, though there's nowhere to run and they are caught or surrender. At least once escape was planned by NCR Lt. Gov Dodge (Dodge hoped that Porter will loop back to pick up the money from the blown vault, but the escape he arranged only resulted in the 308th getting free, not the 370th, and since Porter didn't steal the vault money anyway he wouldn't know where to find it).

-3 years: Porter's gang (the 370th) and the 308th put on work-release to Denver. The work-release also made more room in the prison for some more dangerous prisoners, as the place was getting overcrowded. The prisoners travel with hobos, dodge tribals, lose about half their numbers (from clashes with slavers, tribals, radscorpions, and other monsters), and finally....

-2 years, 1 month: Porter's gang reaches Denver. Goals: Once there, they were to see about scavenging as many building supplies as possible, establishing a track outpost, and pave the way for NCR occupation. They make camp.

-2 years: Dogs overrun the old camp.

-5 weeks: glowing ghouls start wandering in from Boulder

-3 weeks: Subgroup discovers the Box and plan to sieze it for themselves.

-2 weeks: In response some comments from Hardin, Bombay Jack flips out and goes off on his own, seizing a nearby claim and guarding it with explosives.

PC arrives in Denver.

Emotional Porn


Tensions between the salvager "factions," the mysterious rival group of salvagers, the Caesar's legion guys, and the small military group that went north to Boulder.

The play can try to end the growing schism between the salvagers, or split them further apart.

These guys have been screwed by NCR and were punished for trying to do something (illegal) about it. You can help them out (and hurt NCR) or treat them like criminals (yet you're a former prisoner yourself, are you just perpetuating a criminal stereotype?

There's the rival gang of salvagers, more likely to kill you than to talk to you. What's their beef?

The guys from Caesar's legion are a mystery. What are they up to? If you're allied with the Blackfoots you have an in with them, but they mainly want to keep away from the "primitives and assholes" who live in this part of the continent. You can find out a little bit about them and get some hints about the direction of the next game in the series.

The frequent use of radios by the salvagers mean that radio communication and updates are pretty common. You might even be able to do dialogues over the radio. However, ARGOS sends updates to ODYSSEUS via radio, so if ARGOS is nearby you'll hear an occasional thrumming (like the space signal in Contact) that gets louder the closer he gets to you.

The damn dogs, they're everywhere. And then you meet the cyberdogs. If you're lucky, you can reprogram them (such as to drive the other dogs out of the city). If not, fight or run. They're the toughest things in this city and they've been reprogrammed to use lethal force to stop you, Mr. Prisoner. The PC should see the cyberdogs as the smart super-mutants of the dog world, a smaller-scale but similar threat as ARGOS.

Then there's Bombay Jack, who's crazy but not an evil guy. As long as you leave him alone, he'll probably leave you alone.

Then there's Dogbody, who's confused and sides with the dogs. Anyone who hurts the dogs is going to have a human-intelligence creature plotting revenge against them.

And there's always the chance that you'll run into some of Presper's flunkies from Boulder who have their own agenda in Denver. If they feel the PC is getting in the way, they might actually use a radio to call ARGOS to their current location, then flee, leaving the PC to either fight ARGOS or flee as well.

NPC Ally Drama

Bringing a female human to Denver will make the salvagers go crazy, as they haven't been around a woman in quite some time. A female ally of the PC willing to spend some intimate time with the salvagers would earn the PC a lot of brownie points.

A super mutant ally might be able to make friends with Jimmy T.

The salvagers have a low opinion of NCR folks and wouldn't react well to any obviously-NCR NPC.

Salvagers might want to buy a robot NPC to salvage it for parts (or, if it had combat capability, use it to guard them and their camp from dogs), or simply steal it from the PC and scrap it for parts.

Bringing a ghoul to Denver may make the salvagers suspicious that he's about to turn into a glowing ghoul, or is allied with them (since glowing ghouls have been migrating in from the north recently). It took them a while to trust Wagner (the only ghoul in the group) and if the PC can get Wagner to vouch for them the rest will grudgingly accept him (as much as they accept any outsider).

Bringing Arcade Gannon (an Enclave Guy guy who's been hanging out with the FoA in Hoover, and thus comes of as an NCR associate) with you makes the salvagers really suspicious.

Measles will question Wagner about what he's been up to, since Willem sent Wagner out here to see what's going on and Wagner didn't report back.

Other Role-Playing Tests and Epithets

Claim Jumper: Much of the city is marked off in various claims belonging to the salvagers. If you wander into another salvager's claim and take stuff, you're a claim jumper. Plus they'll be pissed at you.

Ties to Overall Game Themes

Civilization vs. Anarchy: Denver is a remnant of the old civilization. The salvagers are a remnant of NCR, the new (but dying) civilization. By sifting through the refuse of the past, the salvagers are helping maintain the present civilization, though in the end their efforts are doomed.

Optimism vs Pessimism vs Pragmatism: How can you have a positive outlook amid such horror - or is the solution simply to be practical at all times?

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