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They serve the Master. They bring the pain of healing to the world. Angels in the Night, who redeem the world by bloodshed. Curiosity is a foolhardy emotion, but doubly so when it comes to the Nightkin. That is your only warning. I have much to do now. Away with you.”— Lasher
Nightkin are the apex of super mutant development and an example of what Forced Evolutionary Virus II is capable of achieving given the right subjects and conditions. Their history and background are an inseparable part of the broader history of Mariposa super mutants.
The nightkin are special super mutants, representing the Master's vision of a new man (sterility aside, of course). They are the toughest, fastest, and most intelligent super mutants created in the vats of the Mariposa Military Base. They were provided with the best in weapons, armor, and training that the Unity could provide.
In humans, phenotypical changes brought upon by the Mariposa strain are substantial, accomplished by recursive growth patterns integrated in FEV. In order for the mutation to succeed, the subject needs to have a low level of radiation-induced damage and should not have been exposed to the mutated FEV in the wasteland. Subjects that do not meet these criteria will suffer a massive overhaul of the body's systems, leading to organ failure and an extremely painful death.
The average super mutant is 3.2 meters tall and weighs in excess of 350 kilograms. Muscle accounts for over 75% of body mass, while bone and tissue are 10% each. Fat mass is exceedingly low, accounting for between 3-5% of body mass. The increased muscle and body mass lead to a change in posture: FEV super mutants have a characteristic, hunched stance. The skin tone changes substantially and becomes gray with tints of light green, though as the mutant ages, it may become more green or even olive. The skin becomes much thicker and resistant to trauma, including cuts, bruises and damage from fire, acid or even gunfire. Despite this resistance to trauma, completely destroyed tissues cannot be regrown, and will result in permanent scarring or organ loss.
These changes are uniform across mutants, due to the aforementioned growth patterns and pre-programmed DNA loaded into the virus. This also has the effect of removing secondary sexual statistics, in favor of a pre-programmed masculine body shape. Primary sexual characteristics, such as the penis and testicles in males and the uterus and ovaries in females are unaffected. However, super mutants are sterile, as FEV perceives gametes as damaged DNA and corrects them, resulting in sterility.
Increased size of neural transmitters and synaptic receivers in the body give super mutants acute reflexes and heightened senses. However, these changes are usually not accompanied by a similar rise in intellect. The FEV strain in Mariposa has a chance of modifying intelligence: while most people retain their pre-dipping intellect, a majority of the remaining group experiences a loss (typically by 30%), while the remaining minority of exceptional individuals may even experience an increase. The loss is the result of damage caused by recursive growth and increase in brain mass, which may be accompanied by disfigurement and damage to existing neural patterns, causing loss of memory.
The most stunning effect is practical immortality. Although theorized to only bring an approximate 10% increase in life expectancy, the FEV strain in Mariposa results in a cell regeneration rate that exceeds cell death rate and prevents DNA degeneration through aging. The Hayflick limit is believed to have been completely overcome. This allows a super mutant to live for centuries, though if care is not given to exercising one's intellect, elder mutants may suffer from onset of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Death is made even more unlikely by the fact that super mutants are immune to common diseases and radiation.
The nightkin share all of these characteristics with their brothers. They differ in that they are the perfect fulfillment of the mutation, with the highest level of strength, resiliency, and their intelligence retained or even enhanced by the process. Subsequent alterations to their biology were caused by prolonged use of Stealth Boy technology. The stealth field caused permanent recoloration of their skin pigment, to a gray blue color. More importantly, it has caused neuro-chemical changes to occur in their brains, leading to mental instability and disorders, including schizophrenia, delusions, and even split personalities.
Their personality is an interesting element. Their superiority resulted in the development of an arrogant, borderline chauvinist streak in many, not helped by the preferential treatment they received. As nightkin developed their mental disorders, however, their personality slowly changed. They slowly started to lose tolerance for being seen, relying increasingly on their Stealth Boy to remain invisible to the naked eye, fueling a vicious cycle of cumulative mental damage.
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The nightkin are the top level enemy super mutants found in the game. They are encountered as enemies on the upper levels of the Cathedral and within the Los Angeles Vault. Many also patrol the wastes around the Mariposa Military Base. The ones within the Cathedral are notable for being equipped with the aforementioned Stealth Boys (whose effect is purely cosmetic).
The nightkin don't appear in the game under the name, but roving groups of die hard super mutant marauders, remnants of the Master's Army, are encountered in the wastelands of the Central Valley, commonly shouting phrases associated with the nightkin.
Fallout: New Vegas
For the first time, nightkin appear as distinct characters with their own unique look and armor. Hostile nightkin are commonly found wielding rebar clubs, miniguns, incinerators, super sledges or, in the case of nightkin masters, and bumper swords. Notable nightkin include:
- Tabitha, Supreme Commander of the State of Utobitha.
- Davison, leader of a rogue group of nightkin who attacked REPCONN test site and the Bright Brotherhood, and is the focal point of Come Fly With Me.
- Keene, leader of the Jacobstown nightkin looking for a cure for their condition.
- Lily Bowen, a former assassin working as a goat herder in the mountain refuge.
- Dog and God, a split personality nightkin and key to Elijah's plans.
- Chupacabra nightkin, a rogue mutant attacking Dusty McBride's brahmin.
- Brooks Tumbleweed Ranch nightkin, selling wind brahmin.
- Black Rock cavern nightkin, with seemingly precognitive powers.
Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel
Nightkin formed the core of Attis' army and the primary executors of his plan to reestablish the Unity and continue the Master's plans. They were equipped with next generation stealth suits, offering them the same capabilities as Stealth Boys.
Behind the scenes
- The mutant commando advanced character class from Fallout d20 was based on the nightkin role in the Master's Army.
- Nightkin have an obsession with the brahmin, manifesting as worshiping a skull (Davison), killing them to stop their mooing (the Chupacabra), and a lone nightkin attempting to sell "wind brahmin" (tumbleweeds) near a tumbleweed ranch.
- Joshua Sawyer conceived of the Nightkin becoming schizophrenic from Stealthboys and was directly inspired by The Invisible Man and his progression into insanity by taking an invisibility drug.
- Some nightkin can bug out and become untargetable. They can only be damaged through collateral damage or by NPCs.
Fallout: New Vegas
- The shaders can bug out and cause the nightkin to remain invisible even after they reactivate their Stealth Boys.
- If the Chupacabra is killed, the player may encounter a separate nightkin master in the middle of Novac, an erroneous respawn of the Chupacabra.
A nightkin, barely visible in the Cathedral in Fallout
A nightkin without his Stealth Boy, as they appeared in Fallout 2
A group of nightkin with stealth armor in Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel
Nightkin in an early build of Fallout: New Vegas
The nightkin class in Fallout d20.
Nightkin appear in Fallout in the Cathedral and the Mariposa Military Base, in Fallout 2 as a hostile encounter on the world map, in the Secret Vault in Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel, and make a comeback in Fallout: New Vegas and the add-on Dead Money. "Nightkin" also occasionally appear in the password list when hacking a terminal in Fallout 3.