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“Keep Walkin’, Smoothskin” – A Guide to ‘Fallout’s Ghouls

3 Minute Read
Mar 20 2024

Grab your favorite sunscreen and take a look at the irradiated denizens of the Wasteland: Fallout‘s ghouls.

Welcome in, Wasteland Wanderers! The Wasteland can be a dangerous place when you first venture out of your vault. From deadly raiders and Roman slavers to irradiated creatures, a lot is standing in your way. However, the thing you really need to look out for is the Ghouls. Whether they’re just survivors like you or feral monsters out for blood, they’re as iconic to the Fallout Wasteland as Super Mutants and Radscorpions. But who are these scarred creatures, and are they friend or foe? That entirely depends on which ones you run into.

What are the Ghouls?

Ghouls are what happens when a human is subjected to massive amounts of radiation over a long period of time. The intense radiation causes their skin to take on a necrotic look, giving them a zombie-like appearance. The luckiest of these retain their humanity, and carry on a relatively normal life. They are usually shunned by human society, but they can maintain a mostly standard life. The damage to their bodies also usually extends to their vocal cords, giving their voice a raspy quality. This is not always the case, especially not early in the transformation process, but it is an iconic part of near-human ghouls.

The unlucky have their brains permanently altered by the ghoulification process. They revert to their feral tendencies and have given rise to an almost universal hatred of ghouls. It is believed that all ghouls will eventually devolve into “Ferals”, as they are called, but one thing that no one denies is that there’s no way back. Whether or not that’s true, it has led to a prejudice against the ghouls. The Ferals patrol the darker places of the world, attacking any who wander into their territory with ruthless prejudice. They fight with teeth and claws rather than weapons and are prone to cannibalism after they slay their enemies.

The most dangerous type of ghouls are the Glowing Ones, so called because they literally glow with green light. These ghouls have been subjected to so much radiation that they give off pale light, and the area around them is just as deadly as their attacks. The ghouls themselves are immune to the irradiated aura of the Glowing Ones, but unwary wanderers will find themselves poisoned by the mere presence of a Glowing One.

A Few Famous Ghouls from Fallout

Hancock, the estranged younger brother of Diamond City’s mayor, runs Goodneighbor in the events of Fallout 4. He became a ghoul by choice, after attempting to rescue the ghouls of Diamond City from his brother’s draconian anti-ghoul regime. He is also a drug addict, having taken to Jet after his attempts to save the ghouls failed. However, the people of Goodneighbor love him, and he is happy. He does caution his followers not to get too comfortable, but his depression never gets the best of him.

Jason Bright, one of the only known sentient Glowing Ones, is a prophet who fought in the Great War and believes he’s seen the promised land. Taking his cues from an entity he calls “the Creator”, he has foreseen a world where ghouls can live in peace, free from the tyranny of non-ghoul humans. He plans to take his flock there in reclaimed rockets. Unfortunately, a troop of Nightkin Supermutants that Bright refers to as “demons” keep stopping him.

Author: Clint Lienau
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