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Burham Springs design document/1
VB design document.png
AuthorJ.E. Sawyer
PublisherInterplay (leaked internal document)
Release DateNovember 25, 2005
Downloadsee main page of document
Burham Springs design document
Part 2
Gametitle-VB.pngThe following is based on Van Buren and has not been confirmed by canon sources.

This is part 1 of the Burham Springs design document for Van Buren, the cancelled Fallout 3 by Black Isle Studios.


1 Main page of document
2 Part 1
3 Part 2
4 Part 3
Document start icon.png The following is the original document or a transcript thereof.


11 Burham Springs
Version 1.0
VB DD11 loc Burham Springs.gif
7/31/2003 08:00:00 PM

But fix thine eyes below; for draweth near
The river of blood, within which boiling is
Whoe'er by violence doth injure others.
O blind cupidity, O wrath insane,
That spurs us onward so in our short life,
And in the eternal then so badly steeps us!

Dante Alighieri, The Inferno
(Canto XII, The Violent Against Neighbors)

Burham Springs is a horrible wreck of a pre-war mining community that has been burning for decades. Only a tiny handful of people continue to linger in the dreadful place. The constant threat of death by fire, smoke, radiation, and horrible monstrosities keep the rest of the world away. The smoldering coal mines contain a wealth of technology, but the risk is too great for most people to bother.

The area consists of three maps: AR0001 Burham Springs (simple), AR000101 Burham Mines (complex), and AR000102 Toxic Caves (complex).

Map area Transition Map name Map size Complexity
1: Burham Springs Full Party AR0001 Small Desert Plain and Cliffs, 3-6 Buildings
2: Burham Mines Full Party AR000101 Medium Basic Mines
3: Toxic Caves Full Party AR000102 Medium Basic Caverns, Mines, and Vault

AR0001 is the exterior town map for Burham Springs. It is fairly small, consisting of only three standing buildings and six other burned down building foundations. The ground is cracked and/or blackened almost everywhere. Smoke issues forth in several places and small flames continue to burst forth at haphazard locations across the map. All three of the building interiors are single story. The west and south edges of the map take the player to the World Map (party required). At the northeast corner of the town in a cliff face is the entrance to AR000101 Burham Mines (party required).

AR0000101 is a maze of mining tunnels with collapsed dead ends, lingering fires, and a constant haze of smoke. Horrible creatures called gehennas roam the corridors in search of prey and flammable items. A number of ladders lead down to the toxic caves (party required) and an exit in the west leads back to AR0001 Burham Springs.

AR0000102 contains fewer mine corridors and more open caverns. Unfortunately, it is chock-full of radioactive material and even more gehennas. The southeast section of the map contains a lowered basin that can be drained for access to a robot laboratory (same map, no transition required). Several ladders lead up to AR000101 Burham Mines (party required), but there are no other exits from the map.

Though the geometry on these maps does not necessarily change, the dynamic "water" in the Toxic Caves will need to be lowered so the player can access the AGRICOLA lab. If/when the fires at Burham Springs are extinguished, the flames and smoke will mostly disappear from the exterior maps. This may change overall lighting of several levels, but dynamic lights and/or fakey sprite lighting could simply be removed to achieve the same overall effect.

The overall goals in the area include: exploration of the mines, the destruction of all gehenna mutations, and either the destruction of all AGRICOLA robots or their employment in the extinguishing of Burham Springs. Unless the player chooses to engage the three squatters "living" in town, the only foes he or she faces here are gehenna mutants and AGRICOLA robots.

Between exploring the mines, dealing with the NPCs on the surface, and figuring out the AGRICOLA lab, the player should spend between 2 and 4 hours at this location.

VB DD11 map Burham Springs flowchart.gif

Area Background

The town of Burham Springs was established fifteen years ago by Trent Burham, a wealthy NCR mine merchant. The community was given a charter by Lt. Gov. Dodge to excavate the existing mines in the region for the production of valuable coal resources. Burham's men and women struck black gold, NCR tea. A small community quickly grew up around the mines in the shells of the old mining town. With the NCR railroad project moving through the area, everything was safe and secure. The NCR ignored the lower caves, as pre-war toxic waste had been dumped here by the government.

Everything went well at Burham Springs until the NCR presence pulled out. The railways were completed, and civil discontent was brewing back west. NCR recommended that the citizens of Burham Springs pack up their things and return with them. Many of the stubborn miners refused to give up what had become a very profitable and familiar way of life. Several were ex-criminals, or "integrated" tribals with no future in the rest of NCR. With no one to protect the community, it became vulnerable to attack by the powder gangs of the wasteland (the powder gangs were old railway workers left jobless and helpless by NCR).

After a powder gang attack between Burham Springs and Hoover Dam left several important NCR political figures dead, the 5th Engineering Company was deployed to track down the responsible gang. The gang, finally afraid of NCR's focused might, retreated to Burham Springs. The NCR's firepower forced the gang to retreat into the mines. The commanding NCR officer, Maj. Robert "Border" Briggs, hastily ordered his men to plant explosives around the mine and detonate them. The massive explosions reached all the way down the mineshafts and hit the powder stockpiles of the gang. A chain reaction occurred. Flames erupted from every mineshaft that didn't collapse. The oil and coal dust on top of the local creek and pond were lit ablaze. A number of partially-tapped veins of coal also ignited, starting an unstoppable blaze that burns and smolders to this day.

To make matters worse, the explosion didn't kill everyone. At least a few dozen townsfolk and power gang members were horribly burned and exposed to the radiation leaking from the ruptured containment barrels in the lower caverns. Through mysterious 50s sci-fi-esque pseudo-science, the anthracite coal, fire, and radioactive elements combined to create a bizarre mutated monstrosity that the nearby Canaanites call "Gehennas".

Though a few extraordinarily hardy miners still pluck small amounts of coal and gang-stolen technology from the caverns, everyone else has abandoned the area out of fear. NCR doesn't even bother posting warnings or trying to keep people out. As far as they're concerned, if you walk into a city that's been burning for over a decade, you're on your own.

The three residents of the town's surface, Phil, Sparky, and Frank, collect bits of coal and small pieces of technology to trade with various merchants and roving packs of tribals. To date, only three tribal groups have tried to attack the strange trio. They were not successful. The two men and one ghoul are tough bastards, and clever enough to see trouble coming. They typically trade for food, weapons, and ammunition to defend themselves,

When entering the area, the first area the player will see is the burning village itself. He will most likely encounter Phil, Sparky, and Frank as soon as he or she walks down the central street in town. The PC can trade with these characters and learn about the background of Burham Springs as well as the horrible dangers that lie just inside the cave mouth. Phil and Frank will more than adequately warn the PC that the mine is extremely dangerous -- dangerous enough that NCR didn't think it was worth saving. Phil has a map of the traps on the first floor of the mine and Frank has a map of the extra toxic areas in the lower caves. Neither is willing to part with either unless the payoff is significant. Near the mine entrance, they will pass a water pump on the surface that will prove important in the toxic caves.

Inside the mines, the player will find roving packs of gehennas, fire and smoke hazards and bits of technology stashed here and there. There are six ladders going down into the caves below. Though the player will encounter two a short distance into the mines, they could explore the whole level before descending.

The toxic caves are uneven caverns with barrels and small pools of radioactive waste. The player will encounter more gehennas and more badly mutated gehennas in this area. The worst of the gehennas are huge abominations called molechs. In addition to these monstrosities and more tech, the player will encounter the end of a hose for a radioactive pool. The system is broken, but can be fixed on the surface and in the mines with a replacement part from Hoover Dam or through use of the Mechanics skill. When the pool is drained, a door is revealed and opens. Inside, the PC will find the AGRICOLA lab and the waiting AGRICOLA robots. The player will deal with the robots, search through the holodiscs in the archives, and learn about the hazard suppression system that the robots are set up to perform. The player can then help organize the robots and set them on their way, effectively extinguishing the Burham Springs flames and removing a great deal of the toxic waste. The day is saved and dogs and cats live together in harmony.

Inspirational movies for this film: High Plains Drifter, Warning Sign

Inspirational books for this film: Graveyard Shift (short story, part of Stephen King's Night Shift)

Year Event
2039 Prometheus Coal, a division of Poseidon Energy, opens a coal mine in central Utah. A small village opens up nearby. It is called Eagle Rock.
2066 With more important things to spend their money on, Poseidon Energy closes the inefficient and dangerous Eagle's Rock mine complex and sells it to the U.S. government.
2074 Government decision makers order the dumping of radioactive waste into Eagle Rock's lower mines. Enclave politicos help secure a contract for Poseidon Energy to develop and use their AGRICOLA mining robots in the operation of the dumping ground. Not surprisingly, the AGRICOLA lab turns out to be a pretty good bunker as well.
2077 Bombs drop. Two Poseidon scientists are still trapped in the lab. After four years, one dies of natural illness. After one more year, the other commits suicide.
2238 NCR explorers discover Eagle Rock and quickly realize that it is a source of energy and some water -- albeit a dangerous source. Within the year, NCR miners are there, and more come shortly thereafter. Many of them are dregs/outcasts from other communities.
2245 NCR halts production on the railroad lines. The need for coal diminishes and the powder gangs rise up.
2247 NCR 5th Engineering Division blows up Burham Mines, causing incredible fires to break out all over the area, even in veins of coal encased in rock. Many die. Many become gehennas. NCR abandons Burham Springs.
2248 Twelve daring people, including Phil, Sparky, and Frank LaFrancis, drift into Burham Springs to start salvaging. Two years after the end of this influx, all are dead except Phil, Sparky, and Frank.
2250 The Blackfoots try to take out Phil, Sparky and Frank twice. Between those attacks, the Vipers attempt the same. Both groups fail.
2253, October 23 "The Prisoner" escapes from Leavenworth, dooming the world and creating a holocaust of epic proportions. F3 Begins

Emotional Porn

This section sets up all the emotional role-playing opportunities present in the location – as well as whatever feelings you're trying to spark in the player playing the game (fear, foreshadowing, survival, sympathy for the location or NPCs there, or whatever).


All three of the salvagers are wary of the PC, but not afraid. Upon first entering town, they will encounter a population sign that reads: EAGLE ROCK, POP. 160. Of course, EAGLE ROCK has been crossed out and replaced with BURHAM SPRINGS, and the 160 has been crossed out and replaced a number of times. The bottom number reads "3". Under the sign is a makeshift painted board that reads KEEP OUT! Around the sides and backs of the houses are more makeshift signs that say WARNING: KEEP OUT OF MARKED AREAS.

The player is supposed to get the impression that Burham Springs is a fucked up place, and they should tread lightly to avoid being blown up by traps and/or shot in the face by its three dangerous residents.

The presentation of the gehenna and their history could also make the player feel a little sad, since they were once humans, and are now just messed up abominations without any higher thought processes.

NPC Ally Drama

  • Kurisu might comment that the land at Burham Springs is cursed. Messed up for all natural lifeforms, and only fit for crazy people.
  • Ashley might comment that the entrance to the AGRICOLA Lab looks like a pre-war vault.
  • Arcade might comment on the presence of Poseidon Energy logos, since PE and the Enclave were closely related.
  • Upon entering Burham Springs, the Hanged Man might quote 2 Chronicles 28, "... and he burned incense in the valley of the son of Hinnom, and burned his sons as an offering..." or something similar.
  • The Hanged Man will laughingly refuse to drop his weapons if commanded to by Phil, and it may be very difficult for the Protagonist to defuse the situation.

Moral Dilemmas

  • Extinguishing the fires of Burham Springs helps NCR gain back some valuable energy resources, but it effectively ends the salvaging of Phil, Sparky, and Frank. It also kills all of the gehennas, which could be considered good or bad.
  • Recovering shitloads of technology from the mines and caves is useful to the player, but can piss off the Brotherhood of Steel.
  • Blowing up the rest of the Burham Mines and/or turning over a bunch of tech to the BoS makes them happy, but ultimately screws Phil, Sparky, and Frank. Blowing the mines definitely hurts NCR, as well.

Other Role-Playing Tests and Epithets

If the player kills Phil, Sparky, and Frank, he will get the title Desolator.

Ties to Overall Game Themes

  • Civilization vs. Anarchy - Phil, Sparky, and Frank make a living doing horrible work, but harm no one. They govern themselves and don't need anyone to tell them what to do or when they should do it. If NCR comes back into the picture, their livelihood disappears.
  • Optimism vs. Pessimism vs. Pragmatism - The trio are ultimately very pragmatic. They can't do much else, so living in hell on earth is better than trying to eek out a living in the big cities.
  • Means Justify the Ends vs. Ends Justify the Means - Briggs and the 5th Engineering Company blew up Burham Springs to decisively deal with a powerful powder gangs. They're dead, but the town is wrecked.

NPC Companion Uses

  • A high Science character like Arcade can finish the fire suppression software in the Agricola Lab.
  • A high Mechanics character like Arcade, Ashley, or Battery can fix the Water Pump, the Pump Hose, or perform the fire suppression manual override on the Agricola MRs.
  • A high Traps character like Battery can prevent the character from being blown up by all the mines in Burham Springs.


Burham Springs Map

VB DD11 map Burham Springs.gif

Burham Springs Map Key

  1. Phil and Sparky's Place: This is where Phil and Sparky, two of the three scavengers in Burham Springs, live. It is a single-story building with two rooms. The front room is where the pair live and sleep. The side room is where they store most of their recovered loot.
  2. Frank's Place: This is where Frank LaFrancis, a ghoul scavenger, lives. Frank has armed radio-detonated bombs near the entrance, and is generally on the defense with visitors. He has a small bed in the corner, and his goods are on tables around the room.
  3. Burned Out Building: These buildings are standing and have all of their walls, but are pretty badly damaged and are generally filled with junk.
  4. Building Foundations: These buildings have burned to the ground. Only the remnants of walls and foundations remain.
  5. Water Pump: This water pump is used to draw water out of the mines and into the pool.
  6. Mine Entrance: Entrance to the Burham Springs Mines. Also the location of the two support pillars that can collapse the mine if destroyed.
  7. Pool: A pool of awful standing water that is blackish-green with an oily film on the surface. Flames burn on the surface in various points. Gehennas can be found here.
  8. Desert Ground: Most of the ground on the map is simply desert.
  9. Desert Road: The remnants of the roads leading into Burham Springs. This specific location is also where the PC's car is parked.
  10. Cliff Face: This is a sheer cliff face rising up from the floor of Burham Springs.
  11. Blasted Ground: These areas look like they have been blasted by explosions. They often contain landmines.
  12. Sign: This is a sign that has the population of Burham Springs written on it.

Mines Map

VB DD11 map Mines.gif

Mines Map Key

  1. Mine Entrance: This is the entrance to the mine. It leads back to the Burham Springs exterior.
  2. Water Pump Hose: This is the hose for the water pump that leads down into the Toxic Caves. At the section towards the east side of the map, the hose is ruptured and must be repaired.
  3. Cart Tracks: These tracks were once used to carry ore out of the mines. They are broken in places and generally scattered.
  4. Lift: Used for moving things up and down between the levels of the mine. Does not work. Cannot work. It is busted.
  5. Ladders Down: These ladders all lead down to the Toxic Caves.

Toxic Caves Map

VB DD11 map Toxic Caves.gif

Toxic Caves Map Key

  1. Mine Ladders: These are ladders from the mines down to the Toxic Caves. Each ladder has a corresponding ladder down from the level above.
  2. Lift: This lift used to carry carts from the second floor to the top. It is non-functional.
  3. Shallow Toxic Waste: This is a thigh-deep pool of toxic waste leaked out of barrels. This pool disappears if the water pump is fixed.
  4. Deep Toxic Waste: This is an extremely deep pool of toxic waste that becomes "only" head-deep after the water pump is fixed. After the water pump and the hose are fixed, this drains away completely and reveals the entrance to the Agricola Lab.
  5. Robot Recharging Bays: This is the room/hallway where the Agricola MRs sit in their recharging bays.
  6. Computer Room: This is where all of the computer and maintenance equipment for the Agricola MR scientists is kept. One of these computers (the biggest) is the central computer. It can be used for a wide variety of informational and robot control purposes. The room also contains a hard copy of instructions for activating the Agricola MRs' fire suppression routine.
  7. Scientist's Bedroom: This is a small bedroom with bunk beds, a shower, and a bathroom. There is also a hatch for an incinerator on one wall. The skeleton of a man in a decomposed lab coat lies up against one wall with a knife next to him.

Storage Room: This room was used for food storage. It contains dozens of cans of powdered liquids and otherwise preserved food. Many shelves, however, are empty. All of the food expired several decades ago.

Art Requirements

  • Tilesets - Burham Springs will use the Junktown and Blasted City tilesets. The Mines will use the Mines tileset. The Toxic Caves will use the Caves tileset. The Agricola Lab will use the Vault tileset.
  • Meta-Tiles/Props - The Agricola Lab entrance will have to be a custom piece that bridges the Cave tileset with the Vault tileset. The Blasted Ground on the desert floor around Burham Springs may need to be created specifically for this location. The Pump Hose winding from Burham Springs, through the Mines, and into the Toxic Caves, needs to be made.
  • Dynamics - The Water Pump will require its own art, possibly with moving parts when it is running. The Pool may need a special water texture with effects. The Pump Hose will need a damaged section that can be replaced/repaired with another dynamic piece. The Toxic Goo in the caves will need to be able to exist at multiple (changing) heights as things get fixed. The Robot Recharging Bays (possibly used elsewhere) are needed for the Agricola Lab.
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