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Big Trouble in Big Town

Skulk up toward German Town, near the police station. They always come from that direction.Dusty when asked where the Super Mutants come from

Big Trouble in Big Town is a side quest in Fallout 3.

Quick walkthrough

Side Quest: Big Trouble in Big Town
Speak to Sticky at Little Lamplight. Head to Big town, with or without Sticky.
Locate Big Town.
Speak to Red at Germantown.
Speak to the residents of Big Town about their captured friends.
Free Red and Shorty (optional) from Germantown Police HQ.
Red survives the escape.
Red and Shorty survive the escape.
Neither Red nor Shorty survive the escape.
Speak to Red.
Speak to Pappy.
Reward: 300 XP, 300 or 500 Caps and good Karma.
Reward: 200 Caps.
Super Mutants attack.
Repel the attack. (optional) Use Science to reprogram the town's robots; use Explosives to show the residents how to plant mines; use Sneak to teach the residents to hide; or use Small Guns to train the residents to shoot.
Ignore the attack.
Reward: Healing services (Red), repair services (Pappy) and medical supplies.

Detailed walkthrough

Big Town residents have been attacked by Super Mutants, who capture residents and have recently taken them to Germantown Police HQ, including Red, the town doctor. The quest can be started by speaking with any of the town's residents, speaking with Sticky in Little Lamplight, or if the player character talks to Red in Germantown police HQ.


Germantown police HQ has two possible entrances: the first is using the higher door on the north side. If the player character has 100 Lockpick, the lower door on the west side may also be entered and puts them very close to Red's location. If the former is chosen, some hallways of super mutants and the occasional trap need to be traversed.

Red is located in a jail cell on the ground floor. The cell door can either be picked, opened with a terminal (accessible with a holotape located upstairs) or opened with the Germantown jailors key, found on the toughest super mutant in the station. Beware, as with Broken Steel installed, the toughest super mutant in the station is an overlord armed with a Tri-beam Laser Rifle or a Gatling Laser. When spoken to, Red thanks the player character for rescuing her, granting good Karma and tells the player about her friend Shorty, in the kitchen downstairs. As an optional objective, the player character may go through the basement in order to rescue him. He will be found in the kitchen, in conversation with a super mutant who wishes to eat him. If the conversation goes on long enough (usually only 10–20 seconds), the mutant will start shooting Shorty. Saving him will provide the player character with more good Karma. Note that the type of mutant that Shorty is talking to varies depending on the player character's level, and can be anything from a regular super mutant to an overlord if Broken Steel is installed; however, it will still be labeled "super mutant" in-game.

If Red Dies

If Red dies at any point during the quest, it will not immediately fail. The objectives will update to tell the player character to go to Big Town to explain her death. When the player character speaks with any of the residents and tells them about their friend's demise, they will give the player 200 caps, stating that the town will not be needing it anymore. The quest will fail at this point.

The Attack

Shorty still in a pickle

Once Red (and Shorty, if the player character chose to help him) have been rescued, return to Big Town and speak to Red to be thanked. One can refuse a reward for good Karma, or request one to receive 300 bottle caps. 200 more can be obtained through a Speech check with accompanying bad Karma. The caps can be returned afterward to gain the Karma back.

While the quest is technically over at this point, Red will immediately warn the player character that super mutants plan to attack the town yet again. Lacking substantial combative skills, Red asks for the player character's help in the town's defense (choose the "I can help you defend yourselves" chat option). Depending on the player character's skill levels, the townspeople may be taught one of a variety of countermeasures in the town's scrapyard, or in the case of mine-laying, by the bridge entrance.

  • With at least 50 in the Small Guns skill, they may be taught how to use conventional firearms, and a makeshift shooting range of bottles and cans appears that the player must shoot at.
  • With at least 50 in the Sneak skill, they may be taught how to effectively hide from the mutants. The player character must go into sneak mode and let the villagers follow them in sneak mode for some time.
  • With at least 50 in the Science skill, they may be taught how to build robots to use as bodyguards. The player must interact with the Sentry Bot and Protectron there to reactivate them. If only one is reactivated, residents will reactivate the other robot themselves. Note that there are a few bugs associated with this option, such as the Protectron not being there at all and/or flying out of the sky to land in random places.
  • With at least 50 in the Explosives skill, they may be taught how to make a minefield. Demonstrate by throwing a mine on the bridge. Note that there is a bug associated with this option.
  • With the Lawbringer perk, they may be told that the Regulators are on the way to help.

Alternatively, the player character may not teach them anything, and either leave them to their fate, or help fight the mutants anyway. Although the residents are weak, weapons, ammunition and armor can be reverse pick-pocketed into their inventories to give them a better chance (especially if the Small Guns option was not chosen). Forcing a loading screen, such as by entering or leaving a building with an interior cell, or fast traveling from and to Big Town is required to get them to equip their new items.

The super mutants, arriving in pairs, are usually armed with anything from Nail Boards to Miniguns, depending on the player character's level.

Shortly after preparations are made, a number of super mutants (this varies depending on the player's actions as explained below) will attack. If sneak was not chosen, the super mutants must be defeated to complete it. However, if sneak was chosen, two super mutants will enter trying to find the townspeople, and if uninterrupted, eventually leave. They then follow the road north between Hallowed Moors Cemetery and Meresti trainyard back to the Germantown police HQ.

Healing Timebomb

Upon arriving in Big Town, Timebomb can be found wounded inside Red's Clinic. He can be healed with a Medicine skill of at least 40. If the player character heals him, then speaks to him after successfully repelling the super mutant attack on Big Town, he will give the player character the Lucky 8-ball.


If Red survives


  • 500 caps + bad Karma by passing a Speech check
  • With either option, Red will still offer healing services and Pappy will offer repair services.

If Red dies

  • 200 caps

Timebomb healed / super mutant attack repelled

Quest stages

10 Ask the people of Big Town about their captured friends.
20 Rescue the Big Town captives from the Super Mutants.
25 Rescue Red.
30 Escort Red safely back to Big Town.
40 [Optional] Rescue Shorty.
45 Escort Shorty safely back to Big Town.
49Quest finishedExplain Red's death to the people of Big Town.
50Quest finishedSpeak to Red about your reward.


  • Sometimes after the player character rescues Red and Shorty, some super mutants will respawn. If Broken Steel is installed, an overlord may spawn in front of the exit. Most mutant encounters are related to the Lone Wanderer's level.
  • If Red is enslaved as part of the Strictly Business quest before she is returned to Big Town and this quest completed, it will not be able to be completed until Red is either killed, or her slave collar removed.
  • While the hostages mention they don't know what the super mutants intend to do with them, Uncle Leo suggests the hostages are used to make more super mutants. This is supported by a super mutant if the sneak option is chosen; if the player character listens in on the conversation undetected, one of the mutants asks the villagers to come out, with the offer, "Don't you want to be like us?"
  • Player characters with the Light Step perk need to pay close attention to the ground when escorting Red and Shorty out of the police station. There are Frag Mines littered throughout the building, and although you won't trigger them, your new traveling companions will. One or two explosions is enough to kill either of the Big Towners.
  • If the village is defended with one of the special options above, the townspeople will start buying supplies to continue what you've taught them. A random encounter with a Scavenger may have him or her mentioning it is a good place to make money selling said supplies.
  • The village may also be wiped out in a super mutant attack, which is much more likely to happen if the player character doesn't teach the town any means to defend themselves. If this happens, a lone super mutant will be seen wandering around the now uninhabited town. The aforementioned scavenger will mention the town's demise in his dialogue, and say he/she is going there to loot. Upon entering the Big Town, the corpses of its residents will be scattered around big town.
  • If the player character taught the Big Towners to use guns and equipped them with armor/guns (reverse-pickpocketing), then it is likely that every time one fast travels later, a random raider/super mutant (usually one irrespective of the player character's level) shall spawn in front of you, drawing fire from the Towners and your companions alike.
  • The town's residents may be attacked and killed, by either nearby Raiders or Enclave soldiers who may appear upon your arrival, before one can start the quest. If Timebomb is left alive, the quest may still be started and can be completed if Red and/or Shorty reach the town and survive the super mutant attack.
  • After preparing for the imminent super mutant attack, the quest may appear to complete itself. This is due to the super mutants being killed by a group of slavers north of the town.
  • Having Fawkes as a companion allows the player character to suggest to use the explosives way to defend the town as they prepare for the super mutant attack. This will result in frag mines spawning around Fawkes every few seconds.
  • If one of the robots is missing from the scrapyard it may be outside the town, in which case Kimba will go out and fix it.
  • Depending on the player character's level, a radscorpion or giant radscorpion may sometimes spawn inside the town, usually resulting in the deaths of most of Big Town's population.
  • To help defend Big Town, it is possible to give Sticky, Red, and Shorty additional armor and weapons (such as power armor and any weapon type as long as ammo is also provided). However, if these items are not taken back before the quest ends, there will be no option to re-obtain them through conversation.
  • If Red is killed while being escorted, once the player character arrives at Big Town a group of raiders will kill most of Big Town's population.

Behind the scenes

  • The title of this quest pays homage to the 1986 film Big Trouble in Little China.


  • PCPC Playstation 3Playstation 3 Xbox 360Xbox 360 When presented with the option to defend the town by repairing the damaged robots, the robots will not be in the town, due to the flying creatures and items glitch. This renders this section of the quest unable to be completed. On the PC, entering the console and typing PRID 2d934, kill, resurrect, disable, enable, PRID 2c11b, kill, resurrect, disable, enable should restore the bots. If they fail to appear, you may need to enter one more command: "moveto player". Also, by chance if you walk out of Big town and fast travel back and wait a couple of hours the Protectron MAY appear back, repaired. A party of one or more town residents may leave town to find and repair a missing robot. Some party members may return to town before finding the robot. Not all party members may return to town before the first wave of the mutants' attack. The robot will slowly follow the party back to town and may arrive too late to help against the mutants.
  • PCPC Playstation 3Playstation 3 Xbox 360Xbox 360 If the sentry bot appears but the Protectron does not, the quest can complete at the stage of speaking to Red about your reward - though with no XP. The Big Towners will still speak to you as if the mutant attack is imminent, but it will never arrive. Waiting (tried up to 48hrs) does not help, and the Protectron does not appear. If you then leave Big Town and return, you will find the sentry bot still wandering around, but all the Big Towners will have gone leaving no bodies.
  • PCPC Playstation 3Playstation 3 Xbox 360Xbox 360 If the quest is completed without looking for Shorty in the Germantown police HQ, the player can later return and find Shorty still alive in the basement with 1 super mutant. After killing the super mutant, Shorty will converse with you normally, but no option to cut his bonds and set him free will be presented, forcing the player to walk out, leaving Shorty kneeling on the floor with his hands tied for the remainder of the game.
  • Playstation 3Playstation 3 Xbox 360Xbox 360 For an unknown reason when leaving the building after saving Red from the super mutants, & freeing her from the cell, she disappears completely. Fast traveling to Big Town will fix this.
  • PCPC Playstation 3Playstation 3 Xbox 360Xbox 360 When returning to Big Town after the rescue is completed, moving items in or out of Red or Shorty's inventory may cause them to stop following you altogether and remain standing still, despite being prompted to follow you. Fast-traveling to a different location and returning to where you left them will cause them to disappear completely, leaving the quest impossible to complete.
    • Playstation 3Playstation 3 Xbox 360Xbox 360 One possible fix for the missing Protectron problem is to just activate the sentry bot. Once this is done, a resident will be dispatched to activate the Protectron (to practice what you just taught them), and they will hunt it down wherever it may have flown to. Use the Wait option and wait for a few hours, and the Protectron should appear back in town, safe and sound, along with whoever went to look for it. Be careful when waiting: this can also cause the mutants to spawn in the middle of town! Try it one hour at a time to be safe.
    • Playstation 3Playstation 3 Xbox 360Xbox 360 Another posible fix is that the Protectron is flung to the south east side of Big Town in front of a house that is boarded up.
  • PCPC Xbox 360Xbox 360 When the quest is completed, Three Dog will have a segment on you about Big Town, stating that you 'could have helped, but didn't' and calling you an asshole, even if you did complete the quest.
  • Playstation 3Playstation 3 When talking to Sticky, sometimes it does not activate the quest.
    • The Lone Wanderer can talk to someone in Big Town to activate the quest.
  • PCPC Playstation 3Playstation 3 Xbox 360Xbox 360 After finishing Big Trouble in Big Town and activating the robots to protect the town after rescuing Shorty and Red, when the player returns to Big Town later, all residents are gone, but the robots remain. Also, Sticky will not be found anywhere in the game.
    • It is possible that the residents have left and you have saved the residents as Three Dog will continue to say the report as if they have been saved. Additionally, the scavenger will report that the Big Towners have made a shipment of robots.
  • Xbox 360Xbox 360 Choosing to teach the Big Towners anything at all may cause the game to freeze almost immediately, thus, players will need to choose to protect the town themselves. Rebooting the console may not prevent it from happening again. Saving before speaking to Red is advisable. It appears it is bound to happen if Sticky and Timebomb are active in town at the same time.
  • Xbox 360Xbox 360 Despite having the required 50 sneak skill and choosing to teach them to hide. The Big Towners will sometimes comment about the player character not teaching them anything, and go back to their routines. Even if they actually followed the player character in sneak mode.
  • Xbox 360Xbox 360 Even if you have Red and Shorty waiting somewhere else (like the Megaton Home or Tenpenny Tower Suite) the quest may say you have returned them to Big Town if you get too near the town cell. It will definitely happen if you get close to the super mutants in the trailer to the northwest of the town.