| ||This is an overview article which contains background information and cross-game comparisons. For game-specific information and stats, see the articles linked on the right.|
Big! Big! The size of three men! Claws as long as my forearm! Ripped apart! Ripped apart!”— Trent Barrister, Fallout
Deathclaws are a large, agile and strong species of mutant Jackson's Chameleon created through genetic engineering, with the addition of DNA of various other species. However, due to mutation, they have lost their color-changing ability.
The deathclaws were originally created before the Great War by the government to replace humans during close-combat search-and-destroy missions. They were derived from mixed animal stock, primarily build off of the very popular Jackson Chameleon. They were then refined by the Master, using genetic manipulation and the FEV virus. The resulting creature is almost unbelievably fast and powerful.
Around 2161, deathclaws were still mysterious and legendary creatures to many inhabitants of southern California. They could only be found in the Boneyard at the warehouse, with a mother living there, one in a former deathclaw's nest and around the Hub, sometimes attacking caravans or travelers. Later, as the deathclaw population grew and really spread across the continent, the deathclaws stopped being perceived as legendary beasts, and started to be seen just as another dangerous creature.
Deathclaws have a hunchbacked, bipedal reptilian build with long humanoid arms. They stand roughly nine to ten feet tall, with a thick and resilient hide, powerful muscles, and twelve-inch-long, razor-sharp claws that can kill almost any other creature in only a few swipes; hence their name. They have an excellent sense of smell and hearing, though their eyesight is poor. Their build gives them incredible speed, agility and strength in close combat, making them an extreme threat. Though they were originally mutated chameleons, they have lost the ability to camouflage themselves.
Deathclaws are very aggressive, territorial, and carnivorous. They typically live in small packs of around eight to twenty members led by an alpha male, who is the only one allowed to mate with the females. Deathclaws are oviparous, with the eggs typically laid in dark, sheltered locations and fiercely guarded by their mother. Young deathclaws reach maturity under the care of their parents, following them closely until they are old enough to fend for themselves.
Although they do not have vocal cords, they can growl and shout, and some seem to be able to mimic human speech much the same as a parrot does. However, normal deathclaws aren't intelligent enough to be capable of real speech.
Interestingly, deathclaws do not sharpen their claws on nearby objects, instead preferring their own nails to do the sharpening. The Lone Wanderer or Courier can witness this behavior while sneaking up on a deathclaw.
The most common type of deathclaw, these exist throughout the Wasteland, and they are feared throughout. As mentioned above, they are highly difficult to defeat, due to high health, high movement speed and lethal melee attacks. Ironically, their social nature adds to their lethal image: it's not uncommon to encounter regular deathclaws in groups of three or four.
Female deathclaws, also called mothers or matriarchs, are fewer in numbers. Only one female is the pack mother at a given time, with another female taking her place when she dies. Mother deathclaws can be distinguished from males by their dark blue color, barbed tails and back swept horns. They also seem to have a bloated abdomen, presumably from eggs, and are generally larger in size than normal deathclaws. If her young are killed, she will go into an uncontrollable rage, killing anything nearby, excluding other deathclaws.
Baby deathclaws are the smallest and weakest form of deathclaws. They will tend to stay close to and follow their mother, and protect her when she is either threatened or attacked. If the mother is killed, the baby deathclaws will surround her body and attempt to protect her. If the babies are killed the Mother will go into a frenzy and kill everything near her, with the exception of other deathclaws.
In 2235, the Enclave captured many deathclaws and exposed them to FEV. This boosted their intelligence, giving them the ability to talk with varying degrees of erudition and articulation. This subspecies was highly intelligent, about the equivalent of an eight-year-old, with some even being on par with average adult humans. Their learning capacity was very high and they were capable of abstract thought and reasoning. Although they did not have vocal cords, the deathclaws seemed to mimic human speech in the same way a parrot does. Socially, they had a rigidly hierarchical, peaceful, pack-based ethical code. They were extremely loyal to the pack as a whole, treating it as a family unit rather than having individual families. Fights within a pack are unheard of, and the pack's leader controls many aspects of life, such as choosing and matching female and male deathclaws for reproduction. Oddly enough, deathclaws are not subject to sterility from FEV exposure; this trait is not explained.
An extremely rare deathclaw, that only one of this variant has been seen in the Wastelands. The albinism is due to a different mutation with FEV, his hide is completely dark gray instead of earth-tone colors like other normal deathclaw and his eyes are red. This variant also seems to have a sensitive hide, because he always wears his robe and will only remove it during combat. He also has a telepathic sense connecting him with his brothers, as seen when the Enclave attack Vault 13.
These deathclaws are equipped with mind-control headgear that allows Enclave soldiers to mind-control who the Deathclaw targets. If the player cripples their headgear, the deathclaw will frenzy. They will attack any non-Enclave personnel, including other deathclaws. They can, however, be temporarily controlled with the deathclaw control scrambler, which can be obtained after installing Broken Steel. They are frequently found in cages near Enclave patrols in the Capital Wasteland, and are often released if the patrol is engaged in battle. Enclave deathclaws may sometimes even respawn after their Enclave masters have been killed. An Enclave deathclaw that is in a cage will be set loose by nearest Enclave officer if under attack.
The younger variation of deathclaw is slightly larger and tougher than the baby deathclaw, but much smaller than the normal deathclaw. They can mainly be found amongst larger groups of deathclaws, and will often stay close to an older deathclaw.
Blind deathclaws are a variant found in the Mojave Wasteland, and appear in both adult and baby form. Although not able to see, they have superb hearing, actually having a higher perception than normal deathclaws, which makes approaching them unnoticed very hard, if not impossible.
Deathclaw alpha male
The alpha deathclaw is the strongest of all the deathclaws, after the legendary deathclaw. The deathclaw alpha is much different in appearance, being darker in color and having large horns.
The legendary deathclaw is the biggest and most lethal deathclaw in the Mojave Wasteland. It is somewhat larger than normal deathclaws, and also has grayer skin, expanded horns, and fangs. It is located in the final area of Dead Wind cavern, home to many other deathclaws. It and the other deathclaws located in Dead Wind cavern have ammassed quite a collection of loot from would-be hunters, including Mercy, a unique grenade machinegun, found near the legendary deathclaw on a dead Brotherhood of Steel paladin.
|The following is based on Fallout Tactics and some details might contradict canon.|
A deathclaw subspecies living in the area of the former states of Illinois, Missouri and Kansas developed patches of fur to better cope with the colder climate. (However, since reptiles are cold-blooded and produce very little of their own body heat, a real-world reptile with fur would actually freeze to death.) Furthermore, some of them were noted to be capable of speech as early as in 2197, which means that they probably developed speech through spontaneous mutation, or were experimented on by someone other than the Enclave. Another possibility that they were designed to have an intellect and ability to speak before the Great War.
The hairy deathclaws are more matriarchal than their New California, Capital Wasteland and Mojave Wasteland counterparts, with packs being led by Matriarch. While infant, these deathclaws are less hairy and seems to be absolutely unintelligent, behaving like an animal or simply following the adults. They presumably become self-aware when they grow up.
|The following is based on Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel and has not been confirmed by canon sources.|
In the Secret Vault, a Vault-Tec installation which served as the company's ticket to a life after the apocalypse, aside from many scientific projects that were to insure the company's power, some research with radioactive materials and FEV took place. When the Brotherhood of Steel Initiate visited the Vault, he encountered unique variants of the beast known all over the wastes.
The Vault-Tec scientists apparently obtained a sample of the deathclaw bioweapon and tried to improve it using the FEV, radiation and technology. The resulting new species became larger, stronger, gaining extra muscle mass and a type of exoskeleton with many protruding spikes. However, the mutation led them to become blind, leaving the deathclaws to rely on their other senses. The longer they live, the bigger they become, so their mutation and the FEV effect could be very similar to that of Capital Wasteland super mutants. The eggs of these deathclaws are also unique, as they appear more like a pile of flesh nearly the same size as a human.
Experimental baby deathclaw
Weakest variant of the experimental deathclaw. They are dark brown, small, their claws are weak and their skin still has no exoskeleton.
Experimental elder deathclaw
Experimental chameleon deathclaw
Chameleon deathclaw are slightly more evolved than the standard variety. Their adaptive hides help them blend in with their surroundings, rendering them invisible in dark passages. It's weaker than the Elder variety but is much harder to locate and faster.
Experimental adolescent deathclaw
A prototype variant of an experimental deathclaw. This particular young deathclaw was a subject of an experiment that made him a living colossus. He is the biggest of all the deathclaws, even bigger than a super mutant behemoth. It's presumed that FEV made him to become such a threat. It looks exactly like the standard version but three times bigger and stronger than the latter.
Experimental mother deathclaw
The Experimental mother deathclaw is also grey and big like the normal mother deathclaw, but has a highly developed exoskeleton. Her head is protected by a natural crown and she has a lot of spikes coming out from her back. She also has a strange ability to regenerate from radioactive pools found in her den, which is probably the result of modified FEV's regenerative features.
Behind the scenes
The deathclaws are a reference to the Shadowclaws in Wasteland. In Scott Campbell's original concept art (see: gallery), deathclaws were mammals covered with fur. The reason it lost the hair from concept to production was a technical limitation of the rendering software, which couldn't get all the hair to move properly. The hairy deathclaw in Fallout Tactics was inspired by the original concept.
According to the Fallout Bible, after a Dungeons & Dragons computer game made by Interplay was canceled, deathclaws were modelled (visually) on the Tarrasques of the D&D canon, as a Tarrasque clay model was already made. However, according to Chris Taylor, while they do look Tarrasque-like, it was not intentional and the clay model was supposed to be a deathclaw from the start.
Fallout and Fallout 2
Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas
Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel
- ↑ Joseph (Ocjoseph.msg) in Fallout 2 says:
- "Well, let's see... Deathclaws appear to be mutated Jackson's ChameleonsIn-game spelling, punctuation and/or grammar, the horned variety. There are a lot of similarities still present, but an even greater number of differences. The mutation factor is quite high. This species is highly intelligent, about the equivalent of an eight-year-old, with some individuals reaching human normal level. Their learning capacity is very high and they are capable of abstract thought and reasoning."
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Deathclaws being genetically engineered before the Great War and later refined by the Master is mentioned in the Fallout 2 Official Strategies & Secrets strategy guide, written by Fallout 2 lead designer, Matt Norton, as well as in Fallout Tactics. It is unknown why the Master would genetically manipulate the deathclaws and then not use them at all for his purposes.
- ↑ Fallout Bible
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Chris Taylor at No Mutants Allowed forum
- ↑ Fallout Bible 8