Rivet City is a settlement established inside a derelict aircraft carrier in the Capital Wasteland. It's the largest, most developed and scientifically-advanced settlement in this region. Its inhabitants live in individual rooms and enjoy the safety and security provided by the massive hull.
Before the war, the ship that ultimately became Rivet City was a massive aircraft carrier, placed in dry-dock at the Washington Naval Yard. The vessel employed a CATOBAR (Catapult Assisted Take-Off But Arrested Recovery) system for launching and recovering navalized fighter jets. Starboard aircraft elevators allowed for easy stowage and deployment of these aircraft from the sizable hangar located below the deck. In addition to a sizable fleet of fighters, the carrier was also equipped with a nuclear reactor, desalinization facilities, and on-board hydroponic farms in the aft sections, allowing it to function independently for extended amounts of time. However, the ship was abandoned in the wake of the Great War, most likely after it was beached following a collision with the peninsula south of the naval yard. The impact resulted in the bow section snapping off, allowing the mutated mirelurks to infest the ship's lower sections.
The vessel waited decades for its chance to come again. Around 2237, remnants of the Naval Research Institute under the lead of Horace Pinkerton were looking for new lab space and found the ship, establishing the Rivet Station Science Outpost after clearing out the mirelurks. For years to come they would use the intact science bay as the nucleus of their science efforts. By April 2239, a burgeoning civilian settlement sprung up around the station on the carrier. As a result, on April 25, Rivet City was formally established by Pinkerton, Annette Holmes and Brad Danvers to better protect and organize this growing community. Governance of the City was relegated to a three person Council, staffed by one representative of each "caste" on board the ship: Scientists, civilians, and security personnel.
The settlement prospered and Pinkerton held his seat on the council as science officer until 2258, when Madison Li and her science team arrived at Rivet City after abandoning Project Purity, after the man in charge abandoned the project. Li quickly took over Pinkerton's science teams, with the prospect of reactivating Project Purity as incentive. Furious, Pinkerton left the city into self-imposed exile in the broken-off bow. What made him particularly angry was the fact that the shift in focus prevented work on more meaningful project, like defensive systems or even making the carrier seaworthy. Eventually, he abandoned the "treacherous bastards" altogether and went into self-imposed exile in the front bow.
By the time of the Purifier Conflict, Rivet City is the largest settlement in the Capital Wasteland and is the primary supplier of edible, non-irradiated food in the Capital Wasteland, trading it for essential raw materials with other communities. Its scientific prowess is thanks to its aggressive reclamation efforts: anything useful is snatched up and brought to the City. However, it refrains from recruiting scientists from outside settlements, such as the Underworld or Tenpenny Tower, as the vote proposed failed. Anyone trying to pick a fight with Rivet City over this would soon realize his mistake, given that the city has the fourth most powerful military force in the wastelands, right after the Enclave and Lyons' Brotherhood of Steel and Talon Company. Although named as a simple security force, it is trained in combat by veterans (Lana Danvers and Harkness) and equipped with military-grade Army combat armor alongside reliable automatic weapons.
Although it was the most powerful city in the wasteland at this stage, it was not free from problems. The biggest challenges included the fact that it's set up in a derelict aircraft carrier, with ever-present rust causing constant tetanus infections and respiratory ailments among city residents. The city also had to expend resources constantly on maintaining the crumbling structure of the carrier and culling the mirelurk population that lives in the decks below. Even the crown jewel of the city, its science lab and hydroponic farms, caused major problems due to the need for constant oversight and maintenance.
Class divisions were another problem: The society of the City was sharply divided into two classes: the impoverished Hangar Deck denizens and the wealthy Upper Deck citizens, the upper class. The distinction was far from cosmetic: Lower deck residents were especially prone to catching red lung, caused by inhalation of rust particles prevalent in the derelict lower decks, and had to accept poorer accommodations than those in the upper decks. Since they also lived close to Mirelurk-infested decks, they were under the constant risk of being killed by rampaging monsters, should the security team lapse in their culling efforts. Still, the lower deck citizens were safer and letter better lives than wastelanders at large, and could always count on the ever-popular Chief Harkness who treated every citizen equally.
Attempts at instituting a bridge tax or exploiting their position by raising prices on exports (eg. fresh produce, by as much as 50%) were repeatedly voted down, keeping the city open to traders and outsiders and fostering a healthy population level. As such, Lyons' Brotherhood of Steel frequently made recruitment runs at Rivet City. The most notable of these recruits was Danse, who rose to the rank of Paladin and became one of Elder Arthur Maxson's confidantes.
Life alongside the Brotherhood of Steel
Following the conclusion of the Conflict and the activation of Project Purity, Rivet City gained prominence as Lyons' first trading partner. In return for a share of weapons and other technology salvaged from the Enclave, the Rivet City police force provided protection for water caravans the Brotherhood could not protect themselves. The exchange was mutually beneficial at first, but the increased number of caravans eventually stretched Rivet City's military power to its limits, especially as raider attacks became more organized due to the leadership of Split Jack. The situation got so bad that eventually only one in four caravans made it back intact, draining Rivet city's resources and ranks of veteran security officers at an alarming rate. The losses caused by the raider attacks have led to officers in charge questioning Lyons' policy of giving the water out for free, instead of selling it so that caravan drivers can use the markup to pay for protection.
As the Capital Wasteland fell under the control of the resurgent Brotherhood, these problems ceased.
Rivet City is located in the south-eastern corner of the Capital Wasteland, near Jefferson Memorial and Anacostia. It is only accessible via a retractable bridge, connecting to a small steel platform erected on the shore (also inhabited by Carlos the beggar). Once Harkness clears the newcomer, they are granted access into the city proper. From the bridge gate one can access the Rivet City marketplace (purple), located in a converted aircraft hangar, and the stairwell, connecting the four main districts of the carrier.
The city is divided roughly across the decks of the carrier, which make up the aforementioned districts. The topmost is the bridge tower (blue), sitting on the flight deck, which is the headquarters of the Rivet City police force and thus the military district. Below it lies the affluent upper deck (green), with the Weatherly Hotel.
Further below is the midship deck (yellow), where the bulk of the city's inhabitants live, and which hosts the Capitol Preservation Society, and Saint Monica's Church. Further down is the lower deck, occupied entirely by The Muddy Rudder, a rough place where the least well-off live and spend their time.
A special mention has to go to the Rivet City science lab, located in the aft hangar of the carrier. It is the heart of the scientific endeavors of the city, including hydroponic farming, water purification, and energy research. It can be accessed from both the upper deck and the midship deck.
The broken-off carrier bow is thought to be a mirelurk-infested ruin. However, it is more than that. Horace Pinkerton, one of the original founders of Rivet City, has retired to it in self-imposed exile. Heavily trapped corridors bar the way to the genius' laboratory and his secrets.
Rivet City is one of the most populous settlements in the wastes, with a large security force. It guards wears black security uniforms with police helmets and are armed with 10mm submachine gun. They are responsible for enforcing the law on board the carrier and protect the settlement from stray raiders, super mutants, mirelurks and other undesirables.
- Merchants. All trader's stores are re-stocked on Monday's and Thursday's.
- Angela Staley and Gary Staley, food and other consumables
- Bannon, council member and tailor
- Belle Bonny, bartender
- Cindy Cantelli, drugs
- Flak and Shrapnel, weapons
- Dr. Preston , medical supplies and care
- Seagrave Holmes, junk and crafting components
- Vera Weatherly, motel proprietress
- Quest characters
- Abraham Washington, head of the museum
- Harkness, security chief
- Horace Pinkerton, genius in exile. After completion of the Replicated Man quest, Pinkerton will not be essential.
- Officer Lepelletier, water caravans manager
- Mister Lopez, suicidal elder
- Dr. Madison Li, head of the science lab
- Mei Wong, escaped slave
- Sister, slaver
- Tammy Hargrave, deadbeat mother
- Ted Strayer, addict
- Trinnie, prostitute
- Victoria Watts, Railroad
- Dr. Zimmer and Armitage, The Institute
- Other characters
- Anna Holt, science lab researcher
- Brock, Muddy Rudder bouncer
- Bryan Wilks, can be brought to Rivet City after saving him at Grayditch
- Butch DeLoria, companion available after Trouble on the Homefront.
- Carlos, water beggar
- Cherry, prostitute that will appear here if she's rescued from Dukov
- Diego, church acolyte
- Lana Danvers, security commander
- Father Clifford, local priest
- Garza, science lab assistant
- James Hargrave, abused son
- Janice Kaplinski, science lab researcher
- Private Jones, custom Mr Gutsy
- Mister Buckingham, Mr Handy concierge
- Paulie Cantelli, deadbeat husband and addict
- Water caravan driver
- Christie Young, Henry Young, C.J. Young
- Bobblehead - Intelligence: On the table in the science lab.
- Rock-It Launcher schematics: In the armory, behind a Very Hard locked door.
- Weatherly Hotel offer player housing at the measly price of 120 caps for the entire game.
- Rivet City residents will react to the destruction of Raven Rock and the player's mischief inside the city.
- Rivet City is one of the Bradley-Hercules potential targets, but due to the satellite's malfunctioning engines, the trajectory needed to fire on the carrier cannot be reached.
- Killing Rivet City citizens will result in an extra slide being displayed during the ending, though it will be overriden by either blowing up Megaton or burning Harold.
- The ending where FEV is installed in the Purifier implies a widespread contagion on the carrier, killing off most of its population. In Broken Steel, two weeks after the FEV-contaminated purifier is activated, people mention being sick.
Behind the scenes
Craig Mullins' concept art published on May 15, 2007 shows a city with ruined skyscrapers and an aircraft carrier which has run ashore and is connected to one of them by a rudimentary bridge. The aircraft carrier appears to be the USS Oriskany although the image is mirrored thus placing the island on the wrong side of the ship. The picture that was used for reference is located on a website devoted to naval vessels.
- It is possible to fall through the ship in certain places, such as in one of the corners in the inlet with the first aid box and the two ammunition boxes.
- "Doctor Li's Terminal" does not appear in game, it is not on the desk it should be on. Nor is the chemistry set.
Caravan stop with Broken Steel
- Fallout 3 Official Game Guide Game of the Year Edition p.408: "9.15: RIVET CITY (LAT 18/LONG -17)
Rivet City is a massive, dry-docked aircraft carrier, now the largest wastelander residence around and home to a large number of odd, interesting, friendly, and strange characters. Access Rivet City from the rusting platform on the north, using the intercom to request the drawbridge. Inspect the deck for some items and a rather impressive Plasma Rifle that Security Chief Harkness is carrying. You'll need to figure out his secret to retrieve it."
(Fallout 3 Game of the Year Edition Tour of the Capital Wasteland)
- The ship's bow is embedded in the peninsula, with fighters scattered around; the only possible scenario is that the ship attempted to exit the port, but ended up driving into the peninsula, the resulting stress causing the bow to break apart. Furthermore, the damage to the built-up peninsula is only possible with plenty of force applied.
- The Lone Wanderer: "Setting the record straight is exactly my goal."
Horace Pinkerton: "For that, you have to go all the way back to when remnants of the Naval Research Institute cleared the Mirelurks off this wreck about 40 years ago. We were looking for new lab-space, and this bucket of bolts just happened to have a well-preserved science bay on it. Everything else just grew up around that lab once we got it up and running. The science team was led by one "H. Pinkerton.""
(Horace Pinkerton's dialogue)
- Rivet City historical record
- Rivet City terminals; Bannon's Terminal, Council Meeting Minutes
Rivet City terminals; Doctor Li's Terminal, Council Meeting Minutes
- The Lone Wanderer: "So, you used to be in charge? How did you end up here?"
Horace Pinkerton: "That lasted until 'bout 18 years ago, when those ambitious backbiters like Li and her little team showed up. She came in with her big "Purity Project" pipe dream, and my whole staff started working with her, those traitors! She even took my seat on the council. By then, I was glad to leave it behind. But hell if I'm leaving the city I made great!"
(Horace Pinkerton's dialogue)
- The Lone Wanderer: "What do you know about Project Purity?"
Horace Pinkerton: "Who cares? It's some hydroponics pipe dream that Li's been working on forever. Waste of time and effort, I say. Apparently, though, my teams cared more about it than they did about little things like defense systems or making this ship float again. Treacherous bastards, all of them."
(Horace Pinkerton's dialogue)
- Rivet City terminals; Bannon's Terminal, Council Meeting Minutes
Rivet City terminals; Doctor Li's Terminal, Council Meeting Minutes
- The Lone Wanderer: "You know who might have a Lipoplasticator or Micro Dermal Graftilizer?"
Church: "Probably down at Rivet City. Anything that has any use out here, they snatch up for themselves. That damn Pinkerton don't share nothin'."
(Church's dialogue (Fallout 3))
- Rivet City terminals; Rivet City Clinic Patient Data System, Regional Health Hazards
- Fallout 3 Official Game Guide Game of the Year Edition p.76: "Harkness
Rivet City's hard-nosed security chief, 35-year old Harkness is a good guy and a good friend, despite his demeanor. What he doesn't know is that he isn't even human; he's a sentient humanoid robot who escaped from his creators and had his mind wiped. Harkness is extremely fair-minded. He treats Hangar Deck citizens with the same regard as Upper Deck citizens. As a result, he is very well liked by the Hangar Deck residents."
(Fallout 3 Official Game Guide Game of the Year Edition Wasteland Census)
- Danse: "Would it be possible to speak... off the record for a moment?"
The Sole Survivor: ""Off the record?" That's not like you, Danse."
Danse: "Which is why this is going to be difficult to say, so I'd appreciate it if you bear with me. When you were first placed under my sponsorship, I had some serious reservations about it. Despite all that, this has turned out to be a rewarding experience... for both of us. At this point, honestly, I don't feel like there's anything else I could teach you about being a Brotherhood soldier that you don't already know. It's apparent from your attitude and your actions that you intend to keep those ideals close to your heart."
The Sole Survivor: "You're beating around the bush. Is there something you're trying to tell me?"
Danse: "Is it that obvious? I've... never been very good at these things. Let me start at the beginning. I grew up alone in the Capital Wasteland. Spent most of my childhood picking through the ruins and selling scrap. When I was a bit older, and had a few caps to my name, I moved into Rivet City and opened a junk stand. While I was there, I met a guy named Cutler. We got along pretty well, watched each other's backs and kept each other out of trouble. When the Brotherhood came through on a recruiting run, we felt like it was the best way out of our nowhere lives, so we joined up."
- The Lone Wanderer: "So you guys have something set up on the side?"
Bigsley: "We do what we can. Take, for example, this ghoul Griffon. He wanted to PURCHASE a bunch of water. What the hell does that droopy irradiated fool need with pure water? Thinks he can sell it in Underworld. Moron. But, he's the only one who's offered to PAY for water, in caps AND technology. pleased, letting player in on a little secret And what Lyons doesn't know won't hurt him. There's plenty of water to go around."
- The Lone Wanderer: "I thought Rivet City security was a police force, not a military organization."
Lepelletier: "Heh. Tell me about it. It's enough trouble just keeping the miscreants on that leaky boat under control. But the Brotherhood needs help delivering all that water. But I'm not getting the support I need. There's been an increase in attacks on the caravan. And they don't seem random any more. To make matters worse, I'm running out of resources and I'm down to my greenest men."
- The Lone Wanderer: "You're not trying to stiff me, are you?"
Lepelletier: "Nothing of the sort! How dare you even suggest such a thing. Look around for Godsake. Do you see a mountain of bottle caps? A stash of weapons? Only a quarter of the escorts have returned! Those poor boys are likely dead, and sadly for you, they took the last of our resources with them. No. You will just have to pry a reward from the Brotherhood. Speak with Bigsley at Project Purity. I'm sure he'll be able to offer you a reward. Now, if you'll excuse me..."
(Lepelletier's dialogue) Note: This line can be attained only at the conclusion of quest Protecting the Water Way.
- The Lone Wanderer: "What's Rivet City getting out of helping the Brotherhood?"
Lepelletier: "At first it was a win-win. They paid us and shared their technology with us. The spoils of their war with the Enclave were particularly enticing. However, with all the recent attacks, the "extra" resources end up being used just protecting the caravans from being exterminated."
- The Lone Wanderer: "I still don't understand why the Brotherhood isn't just selling the water."
Lepelletier: "You'd think that'd be the smart thing, right? Then the caravan drivers could use the markup to simply pay for their own security. Wouldn't need us. Maybe it's an indirect marketing campaign for the Brotherhood. Considering the war with the Enclave, they might need new recruits. Whatever the case, as long as they keep paying us in caps and tech, we'll keep escorting the water."
- Prydwen terminals; Proctor Quinlan's Terminal, The Rise of Elder Maxson