This is a dangerous place, human - especially for your kind! I suggest you turn back. There's nothing good waiting for you further on.”— Neil, Fallout: New Vegas
Black Mountain is a pre-War communications hub in the northern McCullough mountains. Operated by a defense contractor before the war, it became an irradiated haven for supermutants in the 23rd century, first a settlement led by Marcus, then the deranged State of Utobitha. It is located at the tip of the eponymous Black Mountain east of Sloan. Neil's shack is located at the bottom of the road leading to the summit.
Before the Great War, Black Mountain was a communications center operated by Hermes Communications, Inc. The facility was responsible for monitoring Chinese satellites, leading to a natural buildup of tension as the Sino-American War dragged on endlessly. As a prime military target, the facility was attacked with nuclear weapons and was one of the unfortunate few targets in the Mojave that weren't spared nuclear devastation, as the Chinese warheads managed to punch through Mr. House's missile defense matrix. The blast destroyed about half of the facility, with the upper terrace shielded by the mountain. Unfortunately, the same couldn't be said for the radiation. Nuclear fallout was particularly intense. With no shelter to hide in, the crew manning Black Mountain succumbed to radiation poisoning.
Unoccupied for over a century after the Great War, Black Mountain was hellishly irradiated, deterring scavengers and regular humans, despite the valuable salvage found in the buildings. The fall of the Unity in 2162 scattered the super mutants in New California to the winds, with the facility at Black Mountain becoming a haven for first generation mutants moving east. The remoteness and radiation kept humans at bay, while the surviving facilities proved comfortable enough to support long term habitation. Settling in, the super mutants slowly returned parts of the facility to habitable shape. However, it only started to prosper after Marcus arrived. The former sheriff of Broken Hills went east into the Rockies after accompanying the Chosen One around 2242, looking for other mutants like himself. After arriving, he and his people cleaned out the remaining corpses at the summit and restored it to full functionality. They started to broadcast a signal to attract mutants to their refuge, with Marcus welcoming everyone who came - a costly mistake in hindsight. Nightkin and second generation mutants that trickled into Black Mountain.
However, he overestimated his management skills. Problems started when Tabitha, a former Unity captain and nightkin, arrived at Black Mountain around 2275. Although her Stealth Boy-induced dissociative personality disorder was kept stable by Rhonda, the Mr Handy suffered catastrophic damage at Black Mountain and went into hibernation mode. Her state deteriorated over time. Marcus attempted to distract her with a journal project, however, the plan backfired when Tabitha realized the terminal was part of the radio station at Black Mountain and would allow her to broadcast her own words on the airwaves. Within a week of fixing the radio and entering the radio business, her personality split into Tabitha and ersatz-Rhonda, convincing the second-generation super mutants she was a prophet. Gentle attempts to coax her out of the radio building failed.
The situation only deteriorated from there. As the nightkin and second-generation mutants clashed with Marcus' fellow first generation super mutants, he found himself unable to broker a peace. Rather than aggravate the conflict, he chose to leave and found another community in 2279. This left Tabitha free to implement her utopian project: The State of Utobitha, complete with its own radio station, broadcasting a rather peculiar (insane and rambling) radio message throughout the wasteland, once the radio transmitter that Marcus smashed on his way out was repaired. Raul Tejada was instrumental in restoring the radio. The ghoul mechanic from Mexico was captured by the nightkin and used as a slave to repair anything and everything around the complex, under the constant threat of execution. Of course, it was always delayed by 24 hours in order to have him fix up whatever was broken at the time.
Of course, it would be too easy to dismiss the super mutants at Black Mountain as insane and carry on. The nightkin harassed travelers and merchants on the I-15 for supplies and food. Although the victims reported the matter to NCR Rangers, they were unable to divert men and resources to take care of the problem.
Access to Black Mountain is gained through a series of switchbacks. There are three blockades in addition to patrols beginning at Neil's shack. It leads to the Black Mountain crater, surrounded by devastated buildings. Super mutants call this place the village, as they camp out in the surrounding ruins and inside a makeshift dwelling established under a collapsed satellite dish. This dwelling also holds three chests that contain several hundred caps and good loot. A transceiver can be used to disrupt the broadcast and annoy Tabitha.
The broadcast complex is located at the summit, with three buildings surrounding the primary broadcast antenna (manned by a nightkin sniper with Annabelle. The closest one to the gate is the prison building, holding Raul Tejada, a potential follower of the Courier. The next building is the storage building.
Tabitha's residence is located in the two story building with the satellite dish on top. The lower level holds the technical center and infrastructure, while the upper level is where Tabitha broadcasts to the State of Utobitha (or, as others say, rants).
- Cuddles' toy car: An unique toy car is located on the desk next to the terminal in the prison building. Spawns after reading the terminal entries.
- Annabelle: The nightkin sniper on the broadcast tower platform holds this unique rocket launcher.
- Nuka-Cola Victory: In the storage building.
- intact garden gnome: In the storage building.
- Sunset Sarsaparilla star bottle cap: In the storage building.
- 3 C-4 plastic explosive bricks: : In the storage building.
- Sheet music book: In Tabitha's room.
Behind the scenes
- Black Mountain was one of areas laid out by J.E. Sawyer in his vision document. However, it seems there are several discrepancies in the backstory - Neil, the terminals, and the survival guide all contradict each other - suggesting the story went through several revisions and some parts of the game weren't updated to match.
- For some reason about 50% of the enemies here are disabled. There were supposed to be several Nightkin ambushes (as referenced in the cut note BMNCRTrooperNote) on the way up, as well as patrols of Super Mutants with Centaurs in a guard dog role. These were all disabled, possibly for balance reasons. Of particular note, the big pile of barrels all stacked up found halfway up was for a neat effect where a cloaked Nightkin would burst out of them and attack the player. In the final game this never happens.
- There are also several Black Mountain Radio topics that are blank. These are leftovers from the original plotline for Black Mountain, as detailed below. All the radio dialogue here was prototyped using message boxes (presumably as it hadn't been recorded yet, and radio transmissions don't have subtitles). As such the existing in game dialogue can be seen in these messages, as well as lots of cut lines. The complete original radio script is included in these messages, and is mostly completely different to what was used in the final game. BMRadioSegmentxxx is the complete script.
- Message boxes and commented out script elements show that originally there was a sequence where if the player tried to use the terminal to open Raul's cell and failed to do so, Tabitha would taunt them over the radio. She'd tell the player the door had a code they'd never guess (BMPrisonLockedMsg), and then Raul would chime in to say that there was only a "1 in 739452466138 chance of guessing it" (BMGivePasswordMsg). The joke here being that this number in fact IS the password, which an astounded Tabitha would then mention (BMNotDumbMsg). This would allow the player to get inside if they failed the hacking check. At some point this was abandoned. Interestingly, Tabitha is identified as "Leader" in these messages, suggesting her name hadn't been finalized at this point in development. BMPrisonTerminalScript has commented out code to play these messages over the radio. The script actually has no meaningful use in the final game as despite being lengthy, none of it runs. The original radio dialogue topics exist, but are blank. Possibly RadioBMGetRightOnIt would come after this sequence as well (it's just Raul sighing).
- It seems the radio equipment in the wrecked hut that the player can use to talk to Tabitha had a different purpose. There is a full script and message boxes to let the player use the radio to send false orders to the Super Mutants to make them move to different parts of the area, to let the player sneak past the large crowd of them at the summit. The script in the final game still has comments at the top that describe this entire process, when the actual code below it has been rewritten and merely lets the player talk to Tabitha. This distraction idea was then repurposed to Neil, who in the final game cab be told to distract the nightkin/super mutants to make them move on somewhere else in the exact same way.
- A cut pipboy note (BMRaulNote), suggests at some point in development the player would explicitly be told to go and save Raul after hearing him speak on Black Mountain Radio. This was likely cut as it's impossible to know if the player is listening to a radio station or not, so the note would have been given even if the player wasn't listening to the station but the talking activator played those lines. A similar oversight happens in the final game where the player can hear the sting for the Wild Wasteland lines on emergency radio during the NCR endgame even if they don't have the radio on.
- There are prototype dialogue messages for a situation where Tabitha can confront the player (possibly for messing with the otherwise useless dish alignment controls?) over the radio system, in which she threatens to blow up the entire base to stop the player tampering with her equipment. BMRadioBMStation1Msg - 4 and BMRadioBMDish1Msg - 4. Even more interestingly, one of the radar dishes is indeed rigged to explode! If triggered (which cannot happen in the vanilla game), the dish would completely shear off and embed itself in the ground just in front of Black Rock Cave. This effects sequence was been abandoned at some point - the dish that falls has actually been moved straight down under ground to hide it, and it has been replaced by a different static object that is not used by the explosion script. Therefore if the explosion script is somehow triggered (which again, is impossible in the vanilla game), the dish remains in place, and an additional one just appears below. The original dialogue topics for this sequence exist in the game files, but are unfortunately blank. It's rumored that originally there was going to be some kind of main quest stage where Black Mountain's radar dishes would need to be wrestled from Tabitha's clutches (the NCR apparently wanting it to expand their radio range, the Legion to use it to jam the NCR) so possibly this is a leftover of that idea.
- There are a large number of markers arranged in a semi circle outside the room you find Rhonda in. It seems originally Tabitha would ambush the player flanked with a huge number of nightkin after repairing Rhonda, but this was altered to it just being Tabitha alone in the final game.
- There is code in VERT3CentaurBMCodeHolder to make the Centaurs in the radioactive pit respawn after 14 days, but this is dummied out.
- There's also a bit of terrain that has clearly been altered at one point. There is a pile of debris including a dead brahmin in a location that has since had a cliff face stuck on top of it.
- There's a practically blank unused note called BMMarcusNote that was obviously going to be a message from Marcus about Black Mountain.
- There are other dead NCR troopers who were clearly supposed to be here (as mentioned in the dead NCR trooper's cut note). However, oddly their npcs are repurposed for random dead NCR troopers elsewhere, most notably in the Legate's tent in the endgame. (BMNCRTrooper1Dead)
Black Mountain appears only in Fallout: New Vegas.
Behind the scenes
- City of the Dead will play at this location.
- Black Mountain terminals; Terminal, Log 672: "We've been picking up a lot of activity from China's satellite network. The tension is pretty high around here. Frank's been talking about securing a place in one of those vaults for himself and his family, and when he didn't show up to work yesterday, I think we all knew where he went."
- Black Mountain terminals; Terminal, Log 674: "Oh my god. It's actually happening. We have readings across the board of launches happening everywhere. They must've thrown everything they had, and it looks like we didn't hold back either. The computer says we have 2 minutes until the first missile drops."
- Black Mountain terminals; Terminal, Log 675: "I can bsrely type. The mountian shielded us from the wost or the blasd but thr's too mucsd radiattttttttttttttttttttttttttttttt"
- Black Mountain terminals; Terminal, Log 676: "Wow, I can't believe these old machines still work. This place looks pretty defensible, and the radiation should keep the majority of people away. Looks like we've found a home, at least for now. First things first, though. We've got to get these corpses out of here. Poor bastards.
- The Courier: "How did Tabitha end up in control?"
Neil: "For years, Black Mountain was a peaceful community. Its leader, Marcus, broadcast an invitation to Mutants throughout the wasteland. That's how I found Black Mountain. So did others, most of them second generation Mutants. Marcus welcomed everyone - that was his mistake. The community ended up being mostly second gen - not very bright, but easy to influence. Fine, until the Nightkin came along, led by Tabitha... In a week she had most of the second-gens thinking she was some kind of prophet - and that she should be broadcasting her "truth," not Marcus. Marcus saw what was coming and decided to leave before things got out of hand. He smashed the radio and left to found Jacobstown."
- Fallout: New Vegas Official Game Guide Collector's Edition p.44: "Super Mutants'
Jacobstown sits at the same general location as the pre-war settlement of Mount Charleston, a small alpine community high in the mountains west of the Las Vegas Valley. Post-war, the area was of little interest to travelers and scavengers due to its remote location and lack of salvageable material. It was not until the past twenty years that it became a permanent settlement for any group. Marcus, the mild-mannered Super Mutant sheriff of a settlement named Broken Hills, took it upon himself to find a refuge for the "broken-minded" of his kind—low-intelligence Super Mutants and schizophrenic Nightkin. It proved to be more difficult than holding on to Broken Hills, but he eventually discovered Mount Charleston and decided it was a good spot to set up a community.
Unfortunately for Marcus, not all of the Nightkin were content to live under his rules. Davidson (who currently talks to a Brahmin Skull named Antler in the bowels of the REPCONN Test Site) and Tabitha (who broadcasts her particular brand of insanity from Black Mountain) broke off on their own, eventually winding up with their own dysfunctional Super Mutant communities. Though Marcus is disappointed at how things turned out, he does the best he can to take care of Lily and the other Super Mutants and Nightkin a Jacobstown."
(Fallout: New Vegas Official Game Guide faction profiles)
- Fallout: New Vegas Official Game Guide Collector's Edition p.399-401: "[5.07] Black Mountain
A slightly unhinged Super Mutant named Tabatha (and also Rhonda) has installed herself (with the indentured help of a Ghoul named Raul) in this mountain-top radar installation, and is broadcasting her particular brand of insanity throughout much of the Wasteland. There are two ways to reach her lair; both of which are covered in the Side Quest.
This was once a collection of radio masts and monitoring stations. Now it is dominated by a giant crater, and badly erected shanty huts, which are empty. Keep a look-out for more Muties (expect at least three). There's a Campfire and bedding to use once the coast is clear.
In addition to being a radio personality, Tabitha is a hoarder, and this chamber is proof of it. Although the main prizes are what's contained within the two trunks (that can only be unlocked with Tabitha's Key), there's other items to scavenge beforehand, including a Star Cap on the bottom shelf with the bottles. On a table, there's Rhonda, a deactivated Mister Handy that you can reactivate [Science] for Tabitha, for a happier Quest ending."
(Fallout: New Vegas Official Game Guide Collector's Edition Tour of the Mojave Wasteland)
- The Courier: "Sure, follow me."
Rhonda: "Thank you very much. My internal clock says it's been 6 years, 52 days, 40 minutes, and 13 seconds since I last spoke to her. I hope she hasn't gotten lonely."
- Black Mountain terminals; Terminal, Marcus made me type this!: "The leader of this community, Marcus, said I should start keeping a journal to get my mind off of Rhonda. He also said I might find something interesting inside this stupid old building. What could possibly be interesting here? The only think that works in here is this junky old terminal."
- Black Mountain terminals; Terminal, It's a radio station!: "It's amazing! This place is a radio station! If we can get it repaired, we can broadcast music across the wastes, just like Rhonda and I used to listen to. Ah Rhonda, how I wish you hadn't gone away. I asked all of the mutants here for help, but none of them could do anything for you. Which makes me doubt they can fix this place..."
- Black Mountain terminals; Terminal, One the air!: "The radio station is fixed, and we've begun sending our message out into the desert. Marcus thinks I spend too much time in here, but what does a first gen know? Rhonda says they're just one step up from dumb dumbs, and I agree."
- Black Mountain terminals; Terminal, The elite!: "There was a fight in the yard today between some of us and the first gens. Marcus made a speech about how we need to work together, but why should we? We were the master's favorites! We don't need their help. Rhonda says we'd be better off without them."
- The Courier: "What makes this a "dangerous place?""
Neil: "You must've heard her radio broadcasts? Though why a human would follow her invitation here is beyond me... unless you didn't listen very closely. The voice on the radio belongs to Tabitha, the "supreme commander" of Black Mountain - or, as she calls it, the "State of Utobitha." She took control of this place almost two years ago. The Super Mutants here do whatever she says - and she says humans are to be killed on sight."
- Black Mountain terminals; Terminal, Alone at last!: "Marcus and the others left today. Finally, we have the whole place to ourselves! No more listening to lectures about what we can and can't say on the air. The airwaves will be free!
Now Rhonda and I can host our own radio show like we've been planning. I don't know why Marcus always refused to let us do it before. He always started getting real nervous when I told him what Rhonda thought about things. Rhonda says he was afraid she was too smart to control.
Anyway, this is the start of a new era! The only downside is most of the dumb dumbs chose to stay."
- Black Mountain terminals; Terminal, Safe!: "I finally got Raul to finish installing the security measures on my door. Now I can have all the privacy I want.
Just in case I have a dumb dumb moment, I've placed the spare key under the stairs behind my building. No one ever goes back there, so it should be safe from discovery."
- Black Mountain terminals; Terminal, Lucky!: "Great news! A ghoul entered our camp today who has experience fixing machines! He seems to really like it here, so I hope he can stay long enough to fix Rhonda.
Weird, Rhonda just asked me why she would need fixing. She has a point. What was I thinking?"
- The Courier: "You say Marcus smashed the radio. Not very well, apparently?"
Neil: "Heh. There's a sad story behind that. Marcus smashed it just fine, but while we were gone some Ghoul named Raul came along. Tabitha turned him into her personal mechanic. A slave, really. See, if I'd been standing down here, I could've warned him before it was too late."
- New Vegas Radio: "The Black Mountain radio signal is back after a long absence. Listeners say the new programming is, quote, less for outcasts, more for weirdos."
- Fallout: New Vegas loading screen hints: "Travelers along the Long 15 have complained to NCR rangers that caravans have been harassed and attacked by fearsome Super Mutants living in the irradiated ruins of Black Mountain."
- The Courier: "What sort of trouble should I expect if I head up?"
Neil: "The road is a series of switchbacks up to the peak. There are three blockades, plus patrols. Sneaking past them would be... difficult. Just before the peak is a kind of shanty village. More second-gens there. And then there's Tabitha's compound - heavily guarded by her Nightkin."