This guide is intended to help out anyone who is confused or just trying to find out more. If you have any questions just message me. Enjoy. ==


Your character’s face is 100% your choice and has absolutely no bearing on anything else. Although the game leads you to think that you will never get a chance to change the way you look, this is wrong. You have the opportunity to change your hairstyle in many areas of the game. Megaton, Underworld, Little Lamplight and Vault 101 all have barbers who are more than happy to cut and color your hair for free. I’m sure there are more barbers around , but those are the ones I can think of right now. You can also change the way your face looks by talking to Pinkerton in the bow of the aircraft carrier Rivet City rests on. There are two entrances to the bow. The first is a very hard locked door on the side and the other is a door, underwater, where the ship broke.


These are your characters core stats. They determine many things about your base character and are important for several reasons. 1. They determine things like how much you can carry, hit points and how far away you spot enemies. 2. They are required to be a certain level to choose some perks. For the most part they have to be at six, but for two perks either you intelligence or perception must be at 7. 3. They can only be raised by four things; reading your S.P.E.C.I.A.L. book when you’re a baby, the Intense Training perk, the Ant Perks, and bobbleheads. In the end, the way you distribute your S.P.E.C.I.A.L. is up to you. Just be sure you’ve planned for what perks you want before you assign them.


There are thirteen skills in all, some of which you may not need depending on your character type. Your skills have a few ways of being raised: 1. In the beginning of the game you have the ability to tag three skills. Unlike in Oblivion, the tagged skills in this game do not raise faster. Instead, tagging a skill in this game simply adds 15 points to it. 2. When you level up you will have around 15-25 skill points to assign to any skill you want. 3. Some perks raise certain skills for you from 5 points up to 30 points. 4. Scattered across the wasteland you will find books that raise a certain skill by one point by simply reading it. 5. Bobbleheads for a certain skill will raise that skill by 10 points when you collect it. Below is a quick synopsis of my opinion of each skill:

  • Barter – I did not invest any points into this skill. Between skill books and the bobblehead, I did not feel it was necessary to put anymore points into it. I just felt I’d rather be able to snipe a guy from a longer distance than get 5 extra caps for selling a carton of cigarettes.
  • Big Guns – Once again I did not put many points into this skill, and only after the skills I relied on were maxed out. Big guns, although fun, are harder to find ammo for and aren’t as easily found as energy weapons and small guns. Plus, several energy weapons and small guns do as much or more damage than some big guns.
  • Energy Weapons – I maxed out this skill to 100. Energy weapons make an appearance later in the game, and for most people become the primary weapons used. The plasma rifle is a must have if you intend on being able to kill enemies in the later stages of the game.
  • Explosives – Not a really important skill to have. I would suggest getting this skill to 25 so you can disarm the bomb in Megaton. Past that, I think you’re better off investing your skill points elsewhere.
  • Lockpick – This is an essential skill to max out. Without it, you will be unable to open many of the containers scattered throughout the wasteland, thus denying yourself and pretty substantial pile of loot.
  • Medicine – One of those skills that can go either way. Personally I got my medicine skill up so I could get the cyborg perk. However, it is possible to go through the game with a lower medicine score if you simply sleep in every bed available to you. Just be aware that stimpacks will not be as effective.
  • Melee Weapons – For those of you playing a melee character this is essential. However, my personal problem with melee in this game is that 75% of your enemies have ranged weapons. This means that you take quite a lickin’ before you get a chance to bash in your enemy’s face.
  • Repair – Another skill to max out. Not only will maxing this out save you tons of caps, but it will also allow you to consolidate your inventory when you are over encumbered. Plus, who doesn’t want more damage for their weapons and more resistance for their armor? As a side note, you'll want this skill at 30 in order to complete the early quest in Megaton for fixing all of the leaks in the water pipes for Walter.
  • Science – I suggest maxing this skill out as well. Having access to any computer terminal will allow you to turn off turrets, unlock safes, activate guard robots and open doors that would normally stay locked.
  • Small Guns – Most of the weapons you come across in the game will fall in this category. As such, I suggest maxing out this skill. Being more proficient with small guns will allow you to kill enemies much quicker and also save you ammo.
  • Sneak – Another useful skill that can you can choose to ignore. Having a high sneak skill will allow you to get closer to enemies to get critical hits and make picking someone’s pocket or stealing items much easier. Some may want this at least 60 for the Mister Sandman perk.
  • Speech – Although you may not want to max this out it is pretty essential. In almost half of your interactions with characters you will get a speech option with a percentage by it. The higher your speech, the higher the percentage for success. Successful speech options will grant you a wide variety of awards from caps and experience to items and access to blocked areas.
  • Unarmed – Just like with the melee weapons skill, if you’re not making a pure melee fighter, then invest nothing into this skill.


Perks are added bonuses to your character that raise certain stats or grant special abilities. Choosing the right perks is one of the most difficult and important choices in character development. The biggest thing to remember about perks is knowing which ones you want, what level they are available and what requirements there are to receive them. You can only choose one perk per level (total of 19) so planning is key. Overall, I usually prefer special abilities over added skill points. In addition to the perks you choose for leveling up, there are other perks that can be gained from quests. These perks can be extremely useful and only require you to finish a quest in a certain way. The following is a brief description of my opinion of each perk:


  • Black Widow/Lady Killer – Although not an essential, this one could be picked if you’re playing the game for a second time or want some interesting dialogue options.
  • Daddy’s Boy/Daddy’s Girl – Science and Medicine are two very useful skills, but 5 points to each may not be enough to warrant a pick.
  • Gun Nut – Personally, I maxed out Small Guns and Repair, so if I had to pick an early perk that raises skills it would be this one.
  • Intense Training – If you need another S.P.E.C.I.A.L. point to meet a certain perk’s requirement then this perk will help out tremendously. Keep in mind that there are bobbleheads out there though too.
  • Little Leaguer – Like I’ve said before, I really don’t like melee in this game and explosives is a pretty easy skill to avoid. All in all, I wouldn’t pick this perk.
  • Swift Learner – Although this perk may seem very tempting, in the end it makes your character weaker for two reasons. First, you miss out on raising stats or getting a special ability at the cost of getting more experience, which is easy enough to get as it is. Second, it may level you up too quickly and not allow you time to gather bobbleheads and books you wanted to get before raising your level.
  • Thief – Once again, I don’t prefer perks that only raise skills. Plus, although lockpicking is an essential skill, sneak is not.


  • Child at Heart – Much like Black Widow/Lady Killer, this perk isn’t really necessary unless you’re playing for a second time and want some new dialogue.
  • Comprehension – A must have for anyone. Overall there are more than 300 skill books out there that you can find. This skill takes that 300+ skill points and doubles it to more than 600!
  • Educated – The first must have. Pick this up at level 4. Doing so will grant you an extra 48 total skill points to distribute as you please.
  • Entomologist – As annoying as some insects like Radscorpions and fire ants are, this perk really isn’t that important or useful.
  • Iron Fist – 5 measly skill points into unarmed, that’s it? Avoid this unless you think unarmed combat in this game is the greatest.
  • Scoundrel – What do you know another perk that only adds skill points? Once again, unless you really need these skills high, don’t pick this one.


  • Bloody Mess – Perhaps one of the more fun perks in the game. The added 5% damage isn’t really noticeable, but your enemies exploding and leaving their limbs all over the battlefield can be quite satisfying.
  • Demolition Expert – Unless you plan on using a lot of explosives then avoid this perk. Things like the fat man and nuka grenade are already powerful enough.
  • Fortune Finder – If you’re spending caps like Paris Hilton in Beverly Hills then this may be a worthy pick. Overall, I never found myself so short of caps that I wished I had this perk.
  • Gunslinger – Personally, I’m a religious user of V.A.T.S. so any perk that increases my chance to hit in that system is immediately picked.
  • Lead Belly – Worthless. Overall there are enough stimpacks and beds available that you shouldn’t ever have to drink from a contaminated water source. Plus, even if you do, there is RadAway everywhere.
  • Toughness – This perk is useful to everyone, especially melee fighters. If you have an empty slot this perk won’t leave you with regret for picking it.


  • Commando – Most of the firearms you’ll be using later in the game are two handed. Being able to have more accuracy with those weapons is a must. Definitely pick this.
  • Impartial Meditation – Although 30 points to speech is a great bonus, having to stay neutral in karma makes this perk very localized to those players who can stay in the middle throughout the whole game.
  • Rad Resistance – Another worthless perk. Avoiding rad exposure is pretty easy as it is. Toss in the fact that if you can’t avoid it that you just take a RadX and then some RadAway and this perk is completely meaningless.
  • Scrounger – If you’re throwing away bullets like they are free then this perk may be very useful. Personally I found that using V.A.T.S. conserved a lot of ammo. Plus if I was ever low on ammo, I just traded a bunch of cigarettes for ammo at the local trader’s.
  • Size Matters – For those of you who are using big guns a lot then this is an essential. For the majority of you that aren’t, then this perk loses it usefulness.
  • Strong Back – Time in the game has no meaning. If you’re overloaded, drop some stuff fast travel and sell/store it, then fast travel back to where you were. If this is too annoying for you to do, then by all means grab this and continue to clutter you inventory with empty bottles and scrap metal.


  • Animal Friend - I originally thought this perk would be more helpful than it really was. Since animals constitute only around 25% of the enemies that attack you while you’re exploring, choosing this perk is only slightly helpful.
  • Finesse – Criticals are perhaps the most important combat multiplier you have. Anything that increases the frequency of criticals or their damage is a must have for any character type.
  • Here and Now – Yet another perk that weakens your overall character. Unless you’re aching to get to level 20, why would you trade a useful perk for this one? The only real use for this perk is to save time while you're trying to get the Karma achievements and don't want to wait to make the jump from level 19 to 20.
  • Mister Sandman – An essential perk for the experience glitch. For details CLICK HERE. Other than that, you not going to catch a whole lot of enemies sleeping. Innocent bystanders on the other hand…..
  • Mysterious Stranger – This perk was a little bit of a let down. When the stranger does appear he is incredibly useful. The problem is when he appears; it’s complete luck. Often times he’ll appear and help me kill and mole rat, but when I’m fighting Super Mutants he’s nowhere to be found.
  • Nerd Rage! – If you’re playing on a harder setting or a melee character, then being able to resist damage and dish it out at critical health is a nice backup.
  • Night Person – Kind of like night vision. The added two points to perception will allow you to notice enemies much better at night, but overall I didn’t find this perk too useful.


  • Cannibal – A great perk for evil characters. This perk will save on stimpacks and help your karma plummet to the evil side. Just don’t get caught eating the flesh in front of others.
  • Fast Metabolism – If you didn’t spend enough points in the medicine skill and aren’t getting as much out Stimpacks as you’d like, check this perk out. If you’re not using a lot of stimpacks then leave this perk on the shelf.
  • Life Giver – Personally I found this to be a waste. Why not use Intense Training and pick endurance? You may get a little less HP, but you gain resistances and skill points.
  • Pyromaniac – I personally didn’t use flame weapons that much because I like watching heads explode more. If you’re a fan of the flamed based weapons, then obviously this will increase you fun.
  • Robotics Expert – Much like the Entomologist, this perk isn’t too helpful. Plus, I had more robots sneak up on me than vice versa.
  • Silent Running – If you can afford it, this is a very nice perk to grab. Not only can you sneak much quicker, but the added 10 points will help too. Plus, sneak criticals do massive damage. Sniper – Another perk that increases your accuracy in V.A.T.S. Not to mention that it increases the accuracy on the body part you want to hit the most often. A must grab.


  • Adamantium Skeleton – More often than not your limbs are only crippled after big explosions (mines, missiles, etc) or falls from extended heights. Personally I was able to avoid crippling injuries for the most part, but when I couldn’t, a stimpack on that limb fixed the problem quickly.
  • Chemist – I didn’t use chems all that much and when I did I didn’t sit there wishing that they had worked longer.
  • Contract Killer – Although this perk does not make your character stronger, it may be fun for those evil characters that want to spice things up, or want some new material for a second playthrough.
  • Cyborg – I personally think this is a must have. The added resistances and increased skill will definitely make your character tougher to take down.
  • Lawbringer – This is the same as Contract Killer, only for good characters.
  • Light Step – There are only a few places in the wastelands that are laden with traps and mines. Although they may be annoying, spending a perk so that you don’t ever get surprised is completely up to you.
  • Master Trader - Much like Fast Metabolism but for bartering. If you’re finding that you can’t afford anything vendors are selling and you don’t want to waste points into the barter skill, then this perk may be right for you.


  • Action Boy – This perk is essentially like taking a permanent shot of jet. A must have in my opinion.
  • Better Criticals – Like I said before, criticals are your best friend. I would highly suggest this perk.
  • Chem Resistant - I never really used chems so getting addicted was never really a problem for me, but if it is then maybe you should get this perk to keep you out of the halfway house.
  • Tag! – If you have a perk to spend, but don’t know what to get, this perk should be high on the list. Adding 15 points to any skill (maybe one you have neglected?) could be very helpful at this later level.


  • Concentrated Fire – Yet another perk that makes you more effective in V.A.T.S. This is especially helpful in increasing your odds of hitting enemies at a distance. Get this one.
  • Computer Whiz – Worthless. There is absolutely no excuse to get locked out of a computer terminal. If you haven’t gotten it after three guesses, back out and try again.
  • Infiltrator – Also worthless. Lockpicking isn’t that hard. Also given that you can save before trying to force a lock you should never have a need for this perk.
  • Paralyzing Palm – If you’re a melee character then this is a must have. Being able to make an opponent docile for 30 seconds will really help you when things get difficult.


  • Explorer – Don’t get this. There are enough maps posted on the site and on other sites to make having every location on your in game map unnecessary.
  • Grim Reaper’s Sprint – My personal recommendation. This perk will allow you to unload all your action points into one enemy to kill them and be ready to do the same to the next enemy right away. No more hiding while action points recharge.
  • Ninja – If you’re a melee character, then this is important. Having a better chance to do criticals is always nice.
  • Solar Powered – Not recommended. Since you can only choose one level 20 perk, this perk does not compare well to Ninja or Grim Reaper’s Sprint.


There are three possibilities for your character's karma, evil, neutral and good. Karma is necessary for all of the "certain karma at a certain level achievements." Overall its better to go through the game with good Karma as it is harder to get than evil Karma. I suggest saving before you hit levels 8, 14, and 20 and then gaining those levels with each of the three karma choices. The sandman trick or the Pappy speech trick are great ways of gaining those levels fast. Below is a brief descriptions of each karma choice. Good: Good karma is for those of you who like to be loved by all and doing the greater good. Having good karma will trigger locals to give you random gifts for being such a beacon of light. Some methods to get good karma are to give purified water to the wastelanders outside Megaton and Rivet City, freeing slaves, donating to the church of atom and picking the good choice in quests. Neutral: There is no such thing as gaining neutral karma. To have neutral karma you simply must not gain too much evil or good karma. Some perks even reward you for staying neutral. This is a good karma choice for those of you who are self serving and want to make whatever choice you want. Evil: Evil karma is for those of you who enjoy causing suffering, serving only your needs and causing havoc in general. Some easy ways to get evil karma are to take items, hack computers or picklocks that appear red in your HUD, killing good or innocent people and/or eating their bodies with the cannibal perk and gathering slaves for Paradise Falls.


In order to level up, you must gain a certain amount of experience. Experience progress can be checked two ways. First in your Pip Boy in the top right corner of the “stats” menus and with the progress bar that appears on your HUD whenever you get experience. Virtually everything in this game gives you experience. From discovering new locations and completing quests to killing enemies and disarming mines/traps it is very hard not to level up. Overall, it is best not to figure in skill books and bobbleheads into your character’s core design because you may end up leveling faster than your design anticipated. Also, when you level up you must use all skill points and choose a perk. In other words, you can’t save a perk so you can pick two at a higher level. The following is what perks I would pick to make a very strong, V.A.T.S. using, firearms user:

  • 2 – Intense Training or Black Widow/Lady Killer
  • 3 – Intense Training
  • 4 – Educated
  • 5– Comprehension
  • '6' – Gunslinger
  • '7' – Toughness
  • '8' – Commando
  • '9' – Bloody Mess
  • '10' – Finesse
  • '11' – Any level 10 perk you want the most
  • '12' – Sniper
  • '13 – Silent Running or Cannibal '
  • ''''14' – Cyborg
  • ''''15' – Whatever perk you need/want most
  • ''''16' – Action Boy
  • ''''17' – Better Criticals
  • ''''18' – Concentrated Fire
  • ''''19 – Whatever perk you need/want most ''''
  • '''''''20' – Grim Reaper’s Sprint

Last but not least, garbfink has created a character spreadsheet so that you can further help yourself plan your character. The spreadsheet can be found by visiting here: You MUST have Microsoft Excel to be able to use the spreadsheet.

Hope this helps you out. Thanks!

Zexalin 05:03, February 22, 2010 (UTC)