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Some call it the Phantom Death, 'cause that's what it is. You can't see it, you can't hear it, you can't even smell it. It basically builds up in your system. You never feel it until it's too late.Jake, Fallout

Radiation is a gameplay mechanic throughout the Fallout Series.



Described as tasteless and odorless, radiation or the "phantom death" is a lingering danger present in the environment caused by the detonation of nuclear missiles and toxic waste.[1] Measured in units known as "rads" or "sieverts," sensors outside of Vaults monitors for changes in the radiation levels as a prerequisite for entry or exit and the results of sensors placed inside are announced to inhabitants.[2][3][4]

Comprised of Gamma rays, living creatures that absorb too much of these ionizing rays may experience blood pooling in the gums, nausea, vomiting, anemia, diarrhea, and fatigue.[5] Symptoms may also include loss of hair, teeth, and skin.[6] In serious cases of radiation sickness and poisoning, living creatures will suffer from gastrointestinal bleeding, violent hemorrhaging, and death, but some life forms have adapted to the radiation in the environment.[7][8]

Medical treatment to alleviate damage by radiation includes care provided by Auto-Doc, Sympto-matic, makeshift archways, inoculations, decontamination arches, and system flushes.[9] Radiation levels are measured with Geiger counters built into Pip-Boys as well as Wattz Electronics C-Radz Geiger counters.[10][11][12] Radiation suits are utilized to mitigate the effects of exposure, with varying efficacy.[13]

Radiation messages

Transcribed from MISC.MSG (Fallout 2)

{1000}{}{You feel very nauseous.}
{1001}{}{You feel very nauseous, and after some mild vomiting, slightly fatigued.}
{1002}{}{You are very fatigued, the vomiting does not stop, and your recovery time is impaired.}
{1003}{}{You are hemorrhaging violently. You are very sick, and your hair is falling out.}
{1004}{}{You are hemorrhaging violently and continuously. The vomitus is stained red from your blood. Your skin is falling off of your bones.}
{1005}{}{There is bleeding from your intestines and you have severe diarrhea. You feel bloated and are in intense agony.}
{1006}{}{You have died from radiation sickness.}
{1007}{}{You have received a large dose of radiation.}
{1008}{}{The geiger counter is clicking.}
{1009}{}{The geiger counter is clicking wildly.}


FO76 081120 Radstorm fin 2.png

Radiation also affects weather systems, producing radstorms. These storms are weather phenomena that occur throughout the Commonwealth and in Appalachia. Radstorms result in green overcast skies and audible winds. Over the course of the storm, lightning periodically flashes and causes a brief spike of radiation in the area, inflicting 5 rads per lightning flash.[14][15] Radstorms are capable of producing vortexes that are strong enough to lift people off the ground.[16][17]


Main article: Mutations

Exposure to background radiation can also lead to mutations at a genetic level.[18][19] It can also lead to sterility.[20][21] Radiation also causes mutations in creatures, leading to the emergence of large versions of pre-War species such as radscorpions, geckos, spore plants, and brahmin.[22][23] Radiation can also cause some humans to turn into ghouls or feral ghouls, immune to the negative effects of radiation.[24] Some emit radiation and have no body heat.[25]


Centuries after the Great War, some areas such as the Glow and the Glowing Sea, are still highly irradiated. Radioactive hotspots appear near places that were struck directly by nuclear weapons,[26] and regions varied in how long radiation persisted, ranging from clearing shortly after the war to remaining hundreds of years later.[27][10] Some groups have developed religious followings revolving around radiation, such as the Children of Atom.

Name Level Game
The Glow NA Fallout
Toxic waste dump NA Fallout 2
Gecko's nuclear power plant NA Fallout 2
Vault 87 Up to 3933 rads/second Fallout 3
The Pitt river Up to 2,665 rads/second Fallout 3
Camp Searchlight 28 rads/second New Vegas
The Devil's Throat 6 rads/second New Vegas
Old Nuclear Test Site 20 rads/second New Vegas
Long 15 20 rads/second New Vegas
Dry Wells 250 rads/second New Vegas
The Courier's Mile 25 rads/second New Vegas
Glowing Sea 300 rads/second Fallout 4
County crossing reactors 57 rads/second Fallout 4
Swan's Pond shed/gazebo 40/70 rads/second Fallout 4
Mass Fusion Building 153 rads/second Fallout 4
Hugo's Hole 60 rads/second Fallout 4
Mass Fusion containment shed 67 rads/second Fallout 4
Institute reactor 90 rads/second Fallout 4
Blast zone - Fallout 76
Emmett Mountain disposal site - Fallout 76
Crater near monorail elevator - Fallout 76
Federal Disposal Field HZ-21 - Fallout 76
Fissure sites - Fallout 76

By Game

Fallout: The Roleplaying Game

Similar to Fallout 4s radiation mechanics, radiation damage in Fallout: The Roleplaying Game decreases the total maximum HP pool of the character when they have taken radiation damage. If a character's maximum HP is reduced below their current HP total, then their current HP is reduced as well. Radiation damage also cannot heal naturally and does not reduce over time.

Reaching 0 HP with radiation damage means the character is dying from radiation poisoning and cannot be stabilized until radiation damage is removed. RadAway (or another chem that reduces radiation damage) must be applied using the First Aid action first before anything else can be done. Food items or beverages that reduce radiation damage cannot be applied using First Aid.

Radiation damage inflicted by weapons can be reduced by locational radiation damage resistance. For environmental radiation damage that would affect the whole body, the lowest locational radiation DR is used to reduce the damage. Radiation damage inflicted by food or drink cannot be reduced by location DR. If a weapon applies radiation damage and another type of damage (such as with the Radioactive damage effect), resolve the other type of damage first and then resolve radiation damage. All human origins start with 0 radiation DR and some origins, such as super mutants, ghouls, and robots, are completely immune to radiation damage. Ghouls are also uniquely healed by radiation damage. Ways to prevent/remove radiation poisoning include:
  • Aquagirl/Aquaboy: Rank 1 prevents radiation damage from irradiated water.
  • Lead Belly: Rank 1 re-rolls radiation damage from ingested food and water. Rank 2 prevents radiation damage entirely.
  • Rad Resistance: +1 Radiation DR to all hit locations per rank.
  • Solar Powered: Removes 1 point of radiation damage for every hour spent in the sun.
  • Astoundingly Awesome Tales - Giant Insects Invade!: +2 Radiation DR
  • Baked Bloatfly: +2 Radiation DR
  • Brahmin milk: Heals 2 radiation damage
  • Glowing Blood Pack: +5 Radiation DR
  • Mutant Hound Chops: Heals 2 radiation damage
  • Rad-X: +6 Radiation DR
  • Rad-X (diluted): +3 Radiation DR
  • RadAway: Heals 4 radiation dmage
  • RadAway (diluted): Heals 2 radiation damage
  • Refreshing Beverage: Heal 10 radiation damage
  • Vegetable soup: +2 Radiation DR until end of scene
  • Armor mods (Treated, Resistant, Protective, Shielded) offer increasing Radiation DR.
Fallout Shelter

Dwellers automatically accumulate radiation over time if the player character's water supply dips low or if they are exploring the wasteland/questing, and will do so until their water is replenished or they return from the wasteland/a quest. Being attacked by radscorpions and ghouls will also inflict radiation damage. RadAway will remove all radiation from the player character instantly, while a steady supply of clean water will reduce it over time.

Radiation is represented as a red bar on one's HP bar, going from right to left. Radiation damage cannot be healed by normal methods of HP recovery, but cannot kill a player character, and thus acts as a limiting factor to their max HP until healed.

Fallout: The Board Game

When passing through a radioactive zone, or being attacked by an enemy with a radiation attack, the players can obtain rads, except for The Ghoul who instead heals HP equal to Rad damage. The Super Mutant works differently also, as he gains 1 XP per point of radiation he takes, but still takes the rad damage. When a player's Rad's damage is higher than the player's current HP, the player is dead. Radioactive zones deal 1 Rad damage upon entering the space, and enemies with radioactive damage will deal rad damage times their level.


Radiation appears in all Fallout games.



  1. Jake: "Some call it the Phantom Death, 'cause that's what it is. You can't see it, you can't hear it, you can't even smell it. It basically builds up in your system. You never feel it until it's too late."
  2. Vault 101 PA System: "Current radiation level - 0 rads, as always."
  3. Nick Valentine: "Unless you're looking to suck down some sieverts, I recommend we move out."
    (Nick Valentine's dialogue)
  4. Vault 94 terminal entries; reception desk terminal, security log - 10/23/77
  5. Fallout and Fallout 2 radiation poisoning descriptions: "{1000}{}{You feel very nauseous.}"
    "{1001}{}{You feel very nauseous, and after some mild vomiting, slightly fatigued.}"
    "{1002}{}{You are very fatigued, the vomiting does not stop, and your recovery time is impaired.}"
    "{1003}{}{You are hemorrhaging violently. You are very sick, and your hair is falling out.}"
    "{1004}{}{You are hemorrhaging violently and continuously. The vomitus is stained red from your blood. Your skin is falling off of your bones.}"
    "{1005}{}{There is bleeding from your intestines and you have severe diarrhea. You feel bloated and are in intense agony.}"
    "{1006}{}{You have died from radiation sickness.}"
    (MISC.MSG (Fallout) and MISC.MSG (Fallout 2))
  6. Generic doctors in Fallout 4: "{seeing signs of radiation sickness} Blood pooling in the gums. Signs of anemia. Yeah. We better clean you up."
  7. Sole Survivor: "Sure. Sounds fun."
    Duff: "Yes! Love that enthusiasm. Now we all talk about radiation like it's a single thing, but it's actually a term referring to dozens of different ionizing rays. You have X-Rays, Beta Rays, Gamma Rays... But which one are we most worried about? The one most associated with the big, old bombs 200 years ago?"
    The Sole Survivor: "Gamma rays?"
    Duff: "That's right! Now. Gamma rays are bad. Really bad. If your body absorbs too much of that kind of radiation, you'll suffer from fatigue, anemia, even death. But some life forms have been living with Gamma radiation exposure for two centuries now, and they've adapted. Neat, huh?"
    (Duff's dialogue)
  8. Loxley: "{1112}{LOX_78}{About three years ago, one of the merchants went way down south looking for other towns. He came back all hair and teeth falling out, babbling about some huge span of radiation. Who knows, maybe something special down there before the war.}"
    (Loxley's dialogue)
  9. Vault City Inoculations
  10. 10.0 10.1 Vault Dweller: "{125}{}{What would I need a Geiger counter for?}"
    Jake: "{127}{}{What do you need a Gieger counter for!? [Laughs] Though it's been 80 years or so since the bombs fell, there's still radiation around, you goof. You can't see it, never could, but it's there. Heck I'm willin' to bet you got some counts on you now. Everyone that lives in the wastes has a few RAD counts.}"
  11. Fallout and Fallout 2 item description: "{5200}{}{Geiger Counter}"
    "{5201}{}{A Wattz Electronics C-Radz model Geiger Counter. Detects the presence and strength of radiation fields.}"
    (PRO ITEM.MSG (Fallout), PRO ITEM.MSG (Fallout 2))
  12. Generic doctors in Fallout 4: "{seeing signs of radiation sickness} All right. Let's flush your system."
  13. Mr. RADical's journal
  14. Fallout 76 storm record: 001C5E7B
  15. Fallout 4 loading screens: "The Commonwealth is occasionally plagued by radiation storms that blow in from the Glowing Sea, far to the southwest."
  16. Employee tunnels terminal entries; Refugee terminal, Radiation Storms
  17. Employee tunnels terminal entries; Pump control system, Why is this happening
  18. The Chosen One: "You're so damn sure of yourself, aren't you?"
    Charles Curling: "{153}{}{Shouldn't I be? Our research on the villagers clearly shows changes to their DNA. It's a natural result of all the background radiation.}"
  19. Fallout 2 endings: "Over the next few years, the background radiation from Gecko's power plant began to cause mutations in the Vault City population, forcing the Citizens to relocate to NCR."
  20. The Chosen One: "{252}{}{You know, background radiation might be resulting in sterility or even worse, chromosomal damage. Might be worth checking out.}"
    Phyllis: "{255}{}{You know, I was thinking the same thing. Maybe I should mention it to Dr. Troy. He's been too busy to look into it recently, but the next pregnancy cycle IS coming up, so...}"
    The Chosen One: "{257}{}{Mentioning it to Dr. Troy would be a good idea. Good luck.}"
  21. Myron: "{411}{}{I need some Rad-away before the radiation eats my Gnads-away.}"
  22. Brahmin creature description: "{101}{}{The brahmin's extra head is probably the result of a regular cow being exposed too soon to radiation.}"
  23. Vault Dweller: "{145}{}{What do you know about Radscorpions?}"
    Razlo: "{153}{}{Not too much. They seem to be extremely large versions of the north American Emperor scorpion. Contrary to my medical knowledge, their poison has grown more potent, not diluted, as I would expect. Seth has been hunting them, which helps some of my tests.}"
    Razlo: "{154}{}{And how such a large creature can even be possible by natural evolution, or even radiation induced mutation is beyond me.}"
    (Razlo's dialogue)
  24. The Chosen One: "Tell me about this place."
    Wooz: "Not much to tell, really. Just a bunch of ghouls clinging tenaciously to the ass-end of life."
    The Chosen One: "No, I meant tell me about this bar."
    Wooz: "Well, the Harp’s named after a favorite hangout that I used to have before the war. I guess it’s just a reminder of times past. Sort of a joke on the only way we’re going to get a better deal, too."
    The Chosen One: "Before the war? But that was a long time ago."
    Wooz: "It sure was a long time ago. How do you think ghouls are made? You think some of us just got up one fine day and said to ourselves: "Gee, I wonder what it’d be like to have my flesh rotting off my fucking body?""
    The Chosen One: "Well, no, I didn’t. Say, how do you make a ghoul?"
    Wooz: "With silver-bells and cockleshells and… Boy, you are dumb, aren’t you? Severe radiation. That’s how. How do you think? You know, many bombs go boom, flash of light and heat, flesh burns off, but you don’t-quite-die-type severe radiation?"
    The Chosen One: "Uh well, I mean…"
    Wooz: "Well, I didn’t think so. Fuck you very much for bringing back all those intensely painful memories. Asshole. We’re a town of fucking leftovers -— slightly overcooked leftovers."
    The Chosen One: "I prefer medium-rare myself. Hey, let me ask you something else."
    (Wooz's dialogue)
  25. Lone Wanderer: "Can you tell me more about these unidentified persons?"
    M.A.R.Go.T.: "My apologies. My sensing equipment in that area must be damaged. My equipment indicates the persons possess no internal body heat and are emitting lethal levels of radiation."
    (M.A.R.Go.T.'s dialogue)
  26. Tycho: "{154}{}{Watch out for radioactive hot spots. This place obviously sustained a direct nuclear strike, and secondary cascade radiation may be bad. I'd recommend avoiding this place completely if we can.}"
    (Tycho's dialogue)
  27. Randall Clark terminal entries; Fallen Rock Cave terminal; Year 2078