Appalachia is the name given to an expanse within the pre-War state of West Virginia. The comprised stretch, of which there are several different regional names, serves as the game world of Fallout 76.
The infrastructure was spared from complete destruction during the Great War, but the surviving population perished over the following years due to the Scorched Plague. In 2102, Vault Dwellers emerged into Appalachia after 25 years of isolation inside Vault 76 and began to reclaim the wilderness. In 2103, survivors from the surrounding regions arrived in Appalachia and began to resettle it.
Appalachia's history is associated with the mining industry. In 1907, an explosion occurred at Monongah Mine, killing hundreds. This event served as a precursor to similar events that would occur centuries later, before the Great War.
Appalachia's political and economic landscape shifted away from its frontier roots and mining but remained plagued by many of the same problems. Although mining remained a major part of its economy, West Virginia experienced a boom in other sectors, including tourism, cutting-edge robots, defense, and many more. However, the pressures of the resource crisis and the rise of powerful megacorporations like Poseidon Energy, West Tek, Atomic Mining Services and RobCo Industries ensured the economic boom continued despite the Resource Wars, benefitting only the wealthy.
The United States government and the military used the situation as an opportunity to expand the network of military facilities across Appalachia, especially the central part of the Appalachian mountains. These developments included the Whitespring Congressional Bunker constructed using funds embezzled from the Department of Agriculture, the Sugar Grove Naval Intelligence Station, National Isolated Radio Array, and three fully automated missile silos. These silos, part of the Appalachian Automated Launch System, possessed robotic construction systems, which allowed them to restock their supply of nuclear payloads in just a few hours, with the ultimate goal of the United States retaining nuclear strike capability in a doomsday scenario. Many other prototype technologies were developed and tested in Appalachia, including the unmanned Cargobots, which were introduced by the U.S. military in 2060 for reconnaissance purposes and to provide supply drops even under hostile conditions.
Major companies also began to exert influence in Appalachia during the 21st century, the first of which was the Vault-Tec Corporation, which took over Morgantown's local college and renamed it to Vault-Tec University in 2031. Many professors were fired as the curriculum changed to focus on Vault-Tec specialized classes. Grafton Steel caused extensive environmental damage in the northern part of Appalachia (later known as the Toxic Valley), leading to the deaths of many from the "poison" that their steel mill pumped out. The Hornwright Industrial Mining Company created similar damage in the south (later known as the Ash Heap). The Rockhound, a massive bucket-wheel excavator developed by Hornwright, extracted resources from Mount Blair, with the company advertising it as a "revolution" in the mining industry. An old ghost town was built over[Pub 1] to make way for Watoga, the "City of the Future," founded in 2042. Atomic Mining Services tore through the Cranberry Bog with underground nuclear tests to retrieve the powerful ore known as ultracite.
As early as 2061, the area was inhabited by newly impoverished workers struggling to make ends meet and provide for their families. Workers lost their jobs to rapid automation, many of whom had been working in the mines. RobCo Industries was a key player in the region's automation efforts. Its wide range of robots was ostensibly meant to replace human workers in jobs deemed too dangerous, but many people in Appalachia rightly saw them as a threat to their jobs. They replaced miners with the aptly-named Auto-Miners, and even public servants such as the police and security were phased out in favor of Protectron equivalents. These automation efforts also extended to the military presence in Appalachia, with Camp McClintock being led by a Master Sergeant Gutsy, as well as town mayorships with the MAIA Project.
The Free States was one of the few well-organized groups in Appalachia that fought against this trend. Deeply suspicious of the motives of the government, military, and big money, they were vilified as political agitators and traitors. Persecution by the United States military and accusations of treason culminated in the Free States openly seceding from the nation and retreating to fortified bunkers erected across the bogs of the northeast.
The frenzied campaign of automation culminated with Ballot Measure 6. Set for a vote in November, the measure would issue a $2.6 billion bond to begin the process of replacing all human workers in the Appalachian government with automated systems, with the goal of complete automation by 2087. Although it was touted as a way to eliminate unwanted bureaucracy, this boasting was pushed by a source with lots of money, while the Charleston Herald sought proof that it was none other than Hornwright Industrial. Among the many opponents of the measure, Senator Sam Blackwell was the most notable, advocating against what he described as a "slow-moving disaster" that would leave the people with nothing but pink slips and empty bellies. Blackwell's reputation was later tarnished and he resigned after it was revealed he had close ties to the Free States movement and its leader, Raleigh Clay. Behind the scenes, Hornwright Industries CEO Daniel Hornwright had a hand in intimidating Blackwell and his family.
The unrest boiled over in early October 2077. When families were forced out of the town of Welch by Atomic Mining Services, the locals of Appalachia began to fight back, resulting in full-scale riots beginning on October 3. On Mount Blair, miners seized the Rockhound owned by Hornwright Industrial, in an operation led by Mick Flanagan, and caused damages that the company estimated to be in the tens of millions. However, by October 12, the National Guard cleared out the last of the rioters by force and returned control of the Rockhound to Hornwright. Another group of rioters, led by O'Conner, bombed the Mega Mansions in Bramwell that were owned by the mining companies. They used stolen blasting explosives to topple one of the Mega Mansions, killing two and wounding several.
A highly publicized mining contest between the automation-focused Hornwright Industrial and the more worker-friendly Garrahan Mining Company also took place. In a race that captured the media's attention, Hornwright deployed its Auto-Miner units, while Garrahan fielded their tenacious Excavator power armor to settle once and for all, whether it was man or machine who reigned supreme. Both effortlessly chewed through the rock at their designated sites, and at the end of the day, Hornwright had the edge winning by a mere margin of 1.85 tons. Although victorious and poised to implement its plans for Appalachia on a great scale, the victory was short-lived, thanks to the Great War.
A nuclear detonation was felt near mine site Kittery in the region later known as the Ash Heap. An undetermined amount also detonated in the general vicinity of Grafton. The South Mountain nuke crater is an irradiated area that provides another example of the damage of the Great War, and is also the site of a Vertibird crash.[Pub 2] Another nuclear detonation was witnessed by a man named Adam from his house at Johnson's Acre, located on the south-central edge of Appalachia.
Although government officials made it to the Whitespring Congressional Bunker, the shadow government known as the Enclave led purges that eliminated unaffiliated members. Appalachia was left to fend for itself as Thomas Eckhart, the leader of the Enclave, focused his attention on covertly continuing the war against China.
In Charleston, abandoned by Governor Evans and his supporters, the Appalachian Territory officials organized an emergency government, working in conjunction with the Responders, a group of Appalachian first responders helping people in the aftermath of the war. Charleston became an oasis of stability amidst the devastation and chaos. Taggerdy's Thunder and other military units were lost without contact with command and decided to sit tight, waiting for orders. The fate of civilians outside Charleston depended largely on where they wound up. Watogans fared the worst, forced out of their city by a virus attack that hit it shortly before the bombs dropped. Morgantown was torn apart by rival cliques formed by the students of Vault-Tec University. Harpers Ferry struggled to survive and were forced to ask the Free States for help, even though they had shunned them before.
Affluent vacationers in the elegant resorts that dotted the Appalachians were snowed in and isolated from the rest of the region. Their money, power, and influence turned out to be meaningless when the food supplies ran out part-way through the winter and they turned on one another, fighting over scraps just to survive. The experience of the winter of 2078 broke many of them, leading to the violent establishment of the raiders.
In the following years, the Responders steadily expanded their sphere of influence from Charleston, while Camp Venture served as the nucleus of a new chapter of the Brotherhood of Steel under Paladin Elizabeth Taggerdy (though they later relocated to Fort Defiance). The Free States also left their bunkers in 2079, helping re-establish Harpers Ferry. They also controlled the Thunder Mountain Power Plant before Taggerdy's soldiers wrestled control of it from them.
As the region entered the 2080s, President Thomas Eckhart, in a bid to raise the DEFCON level for Appalachia, monitored by automated security, started unleashing horrors on the region, beginning with the Chinese Liberators secured at Fujiniya Intelligence Base, a covert intelligence facility established to monitor the region's "factory cities" and later missile silos. The raiders grew in strength and clashed with the Responders. On Christmas Day 2082, after losing a patrol to Charleston and with it, his lover, Rosalynn Jeffries, David Thorpe, the leader of the Pleasant Valley Raiders, blew up the Summersville Dam with mini nukes stolen from the Brotherhood, wiping Charleston out.
This attracted the attention of the elusive Order of Mysteries, which started a campaign of covert operations against the raiders, buying time for the Responders to rebuild at Morgantown. In addition, the move solidified relations between the Responders and the Brotherhood, as well as opened relations with the Free States. The Responders and the Brotherhood fought together at Huntersville against Super Mutants unleashed from behind the scenes by Eckhart and the Enclave in January 2086.
Meanwhile, desperate to trick the DEFCON system, Eckhart released the scorchbeasts in the Cranberry Bog, a project he kept secret even from his officers. As the Enclave descended into an ultimately lethal civil war between his loyalists and those too disgusted to follow the president's orders, the monsters wrought havoc on the region, steadily spreading out. The Scorched Plague was ultimately the death-knell for Appalachia's original survivors, as it created hordes of dangerous creatures known as the Scorched, a hivemind created by the plague completely overtaking its hosts. Harpers Ferry was destroyed in 2086, ending a seven year long project and forcing the Free States back to square one. Meanwhile, the Brotherhood focused on eliminating the threat, relying on the Responders for a good part of their logistics. However, the relations between the two groups slowly soured, as the Brotherhood demanded more resources and supplies from the Responders, to the point of intimidation. The raiders, once suppressed by the war, reemerged in the Divide, taking territory once more and destroying the Order thanks to a defector from the Orders' ranks.
The next decade was marked by a steadily disintegrating social order across Appalachia, as each faction focused on itself and its goals, instead of working together. The Free States struggled to come up with a response and their plans for an Appalachia-wide Scorched Detection System were hamstrung by the isolation and the mountains filled with raiders. The Brotherhood fought a desperate campaign to contain the threat in the Bog, with dwindling support from the Responders. The Responders, in turn, struggled to cope with the increasing number of clashes with the raiders and the influx of Scorched coming over the mountains.
By 2095, the Brotherhood was on its last legs. After pulling out from all outlying positions and rallying at Fort Defiance and the Thunder Mountain Power Plant, they launched Operation Touchdown in January 2095 but lost their most veteran members, including Paladin Taggerdy. Although she succeeded in temporarily holding the scorchbeasts back, the communications breakdown prevented them from building on this success and as the scorchbeasts re-emerged, the Brotherhood fell in August 2095.
As the magnitude of the Scorched threat grew, the Responders attempted to counterattack by coming up with a vaccine for the Scorched Plague and launching surgical strikes against locations like Big Bend Tunnel, to stem the tide. However, it was too little, too late. By November 2096, the scorchbeasts threat descended on Morgantown Airport and destroyed the last major stronghold of humanity in Appalachia. Although some pockets of survivors managed to hold out until at least 2097, they, too, succumbed to the Scorched.
Poised to become an extinction-level event for humanity if left unchecked, the scorchbeasts continued to multiply and spread, using fissures below the earth as nests. In the background, the automated robots in Appalachia continued on as normal. It was not until 2102 and the opening of Vault 76 that humanity returned to Appalachia and the Vault Dwellers, confronted with the hostile world, took upon themselves the burden of saving humanity.
In 2103, survivors began to return to Appalachia and resettle the region. Although the Vault Dwellers did not fully exterminate the scorchbeast threat, they were able to mitigate the threat by widely distributing an inoculation in the form of Nuka-Cola Vaccinated to the new arrivals. Two main groups were the first to establish their claims in the region. The Settlers broke ground at what was once known as Spruce Knob, creating the settlement of Foundation. They are primarily descended from those fleeing Pennsylvania and are led by Paige, the former head of a Construction Workers Union in Washington, D.C.[Ext 1] The second large group are Raiders who built their base on the remains of the crashed space station Valiant-1, now known as the Crater. They are led by Meg Groberg, a former Diehards gang member. Both groups have an uneasy stalemate with one another, at least until the knowledge of Vault 79 and its Gold Bullion becomes known.
Later in the year, the remaining three official Brotherhood First Expeditionary Force members arrived at ATLAS Observatory, renaming it Fort Atlas, along with various initiates and hopefuls, to salvage technology in the facility, re-establish communications with High Elder Roger Maxson, and to determine the fate of the Appalachian Brotherhood, along with sorting out multiple occurrences in the region.
Radioactive fallout from other areas of the former United States has mutated much of the local wildlife, unchecked coal mine fires have blanketed an area centered around Mount Blair in ash, factories and industrial sites around Clarksburg started churning out pollutants cloaking the area in a white powder, and a G.E.C.K. in Vault 94 was destroyed by a group of wastelanders, causing heavily mutated plant life in the northeast.
Of particular concern is the Scorched Plague, caused by a hazardous, mutagenic plague indigenous to the vast caverns beneath Appalachia. It is spread by scorchbeasts, which periodically breach the surface and terrorize the countryside.
Appalachia is divided into six regions in Fallout 76.
Bounded by the Ohio River to the west and the Allegheny Mountains to the east, the Forest is a loosely defined geographic area known for its diverse fauna and flora. Home to a wide range of industries before the Great War, including logging, agriculture, tourism, and even high technology sectors spurred by Vault-Tec in Morgantown and Hornwright Industrial in Charleston, the region became a haven for survivors, thanks to its rich plant and animal life, and ample supply of food and water.
The Forest was controlled predominantly by the Responders, who leveraged the intact infrastructure and resources in their attempt to rebuild Appalachia. A quarter of a century later, the region is still rich in both and effectively a springboard for rebuilding human civilization. However, although relatively untouched by the bombs, the Forest region of Appalachia is still home to the mutated beasts that now roam the countryside.
Sitting on the southern edge of the Forest, beyond Charleston, the Ash Heap is a descriptive term used to refer to the polluted areas surrounding Mount Blair. Historically a center of Appalachian mining thanks to rich deposits of coal and numerous metals, the Ash Heap gained its name after liberal exploitation of the resources and especially strip-mining the mountaintop resulted in incredible amounts of pollution, turning the ground, water, and air into poison.
Surrounding the city of Grafton, the Toxic Valley is a term referring to a stretch of land surrounding the city, and the Grafton Steel Mill served as the center of economic development in the area but likewise contributed to pollution. The company's irresponsible environmental practices coupled with industrial sabotage caused by Darius Angler turned a previous lush region into one largely devoid of life. The lake and other polluted waters of the Toxic Valley region are home to all manner of mutated, aquatic beasts, while the announcements of an AI - the current mayor of Grafton - are still heard throughout the town.
The Appalachians bisecting West Virginia were a popular vacationing spot, including numerous natural parks and extensive infrastructure to support the burgeoning tourist industry. Ski resorts, bed and breakfasts, cabins, and countless hiking trails were popular with Americans seeking refuge from the challenges of everyday life. The remoteness and isolation of the mountains also made the region popular with the military, which heavily invested in classified military bases and infrastructure to bolster the war effort abroad and quell dissent on domestic soil, such as Sugar Grove, the converted munitions factory, the National Isolated Radio Array, and the missile silos belonging to the Appalachian Automated Launch System.
Numerous landmarks dot the region's rocky landscape, referred to as the Savage Divide by survivors. These include The Top of the World, an enormous ski lift station, complete with shops and restaurants at its peak, the Palace of the Winding Path with its unique architecture, and the historic Whitespring Resort.
A loosely defined marsh region east of the Appalachians, centered around Harpers Ferry, the Mire is a densely forested area with numerous swamp areas. The Mire was most known in the 21st century for the center of the Free States movement that heavily invested in private nuclear shelters, skeptical of the government's efforts and intentions for its citizenry.
The explosion of the Vault 94 G.E.C.K. created a rapidly mutating, expanding bog together with a number of unique mutations like anglers and numerous plant species. The strangler plant, entirely unique to the Mire, has largely grown unabated after the Great War and is a common sight in the Mire constricting around buildings, trees, and even unearthing swaths of land and into the air.
Occupying the southeastern corner of Appalachia, the Cranberry Bog took its name from the colorful red florae endemic to the area. The advanced city of Watoga was founded in the region in 2042. Over 35 years of logging, expansion, and underground nuclear tests performed by AMS culminated in a vast expanse of unsteady and cracked earth, with Watogan high-rises towering above the surroundings. Those who lived outside the city were steadily pushed out by encroaching AMS interests, right up until the Great War, when a virus released by a saboteur turned the city's robotic custodians against its human inhabitants.
After the nuclear war erased the United States, the Bog became one of the least popular destinations among survivors. The deteriorated natural environment including carnivorous plants and hostile robots contributed to this aversion. The remoteness and isolation of the Bog made it perfect for the Enclave's experiments. President Thomas Eckhart used the region to hide the scorchbeasts until 2085 when he unleashed them on Appalachia. The Bog became a stronghold of the monstrosities, which managed to destroy their handlers and even the Appalachian Brotherhood of Steel that tried to stem the tide using a ring of fortifications established on the Bog's perimeter.
Government and politics
Appalachia was represented by the Senator of the Appalachia Territories. Samuel Blackwell was its last senator prior to resigning in 2077, and elections were set for November the 2nd. The last governor of the Appalachian Territories was Governor Evans.
Appalachia is referred to by different regional names, such as the plural "Appalachian Territories," the singular "Appalachia Territory" and "Appalachian Territory," the "Territory of Appalachia," the "Greater Appalachia Region," and the "Appalachian State." West Virginia was one of the regions in Appalachia, and Watoga is mentioned as being a part of an unnamed commonwealth. There are also references to the state of West Virginia and mentions of specific counties.
In the aftermath of the Great War, a number of factions formed among the survivors, including continuations of pre-War groups like the Enclave and the Free States, along with post-War organizations such as the Brotherhood of Steel, raiders, and Responders. These groups were all wiped out prior to 2102 by the Scorched, though there are some remnants such as the Enclave's Artificial Intelligence, MODUS. By 2103, humans began to resettle, with the two major factions emerging being the new Raiders at the Crater, as well as the Settlers in Foundation. The Brotherhood First Expeditionary Force, sent from Lost Hills in California, arrived later in the year, setting up Fort Atlas.
- Old Appalachia brand bourbon can be found around the Commonwealth.
- Appalachia is also mentioned in the Creation Club content "Capital Wasteland Mercenaries."
- Some characters comment that Appalachia fared better compared to other locations. Isela Mejia from Virginia comments, "There's a lot more hot zones that way. And the few spots that're livable, well, they got picked clean fast. I mean Appalachia's dangerous, really dangerous, but it's better than where we've been." Frida Madani comments, "The coast is bad. Very bad. It was hit a lot harder than home was." A patron of the Wayward comments, "The Capital... it's... it's.. hell on Earth. No way I'm going back there."
Behind the scenes
- The name Appalachia refers to an extensive cultural region in the Eastern United States stretching across mountainous portions of the country, including the state of West Virginia, and surrounding areas.
- Ferret Baudoin, lead designer on Fallout 76, stated, "West Virginia was lightly nuked compared to-was less heavily nuked compared to some places, and so, this was a chance for humanity to really, you know, sort of try to have a resurgence, to try to come back."[Dev 1]
- According to Ferret Baudoin, some of the nukes dropped on Appalachia were pure airbursts and left no craters.[Dev 2]
- The outline of several real world U.S. states appear as the backdrop of the special election poster for "Senator of the Appalachia Territories," including West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
Marked map used by the Responders
- Fallout 76 Vault Dweller's Survival Guide p. 492: "28. WATOGA
This area was built at the site of an old ghost town. The titans of industry and robotics crafted this shining new center of commerce to be the jewel of southeast Appalachia—a fully autonomous city, where robots catered to your every whim. As the more cynical detractors pointed out at the time, there was likely to be a downside if these robots were to ever malfunction. Now Watoga is abandoned aside from a sizable mechanical population. Exercise extreme caution as you explore the rusting towers of the Cranberry Bog Capital; emotionless automatons and extremely long drops are just the start of the threats that abound in these parts!"
(Fallout 76 Vault Dweller's Survival Guide/Atlas of Appalachia)
- Fallout 76 Vault Dweller's Survival Guide p. 449: "Savage Divide (Zone C) - Secondary Locations
134. Vertibird Crash Site (South Mountain Nuke Crater): A vertibird has crashed on the rim of a huge crater, which took out a building, according to the debris you'll be wading through."
(Fallout 76 Vault Dweller's Survival Guide/Atlas of Appalachia)
- Ferret Baudoin - 12/16/2020 Fallout for Hope - CHAD: A Fallout 76 Story Podcast Twitch stream 1
- Ferret Baudoin - 12/16/2020 Fallout for Hope - CHAD: A Fallout 76 Story Podcast Twitch stream 2: "Mind you, there are some (nukes) which were pure airbursts… you aren't going to see a crater for those, but it was overall pretty light compared to other places. I think players post launch have nuked Appalachia more…"