Fallout: New Vegas locations project
Vault 11 has been abandoned for decades, though few people know the story of its terrible past.”— Fallout: New Vegas loading screen hints
As with most other Vaults, Vault 11 was a social experiment. In the experiment, its inhabitants were told that they must sacrifice one of their fellow Vault dwellers each year, and that, should they refuse, the Vault's life support systems would be permanently shut down. In actuality, should the residents refuse, an "automated solution response" would be played. It stated that by choosing not to select one of their own as a sacrifice, they were "a shining example to humanity," and that none of them would be killed, as well as that they would then able to come and go from the Vault freely. By the time the residents refused to continue sacrificing their residents, only five survivors remained.
'Elections' and the Overseer's role
Evidence gathered from computer terminals throughout the vault attests that the vault residents were required to select an annual sacrifice from among their members. Therefore, at the end of the Overseer's term of office, the Overseer was required to enter a chamber below the Overseer's office to be executed by the vault's computers. The computer did not require that the sacrifice should be the Overseer, but if a sacrifice was not selected, the computer controlling the vault would execute the entire population. Of the original residents, only the Overseer had entered the vault knowing about the yearly sacrifice. The residents of the vault, in their shock and anger at discovering this after having already been sealed inside the vault, selected the original Overseer (whom they viewed as having betrayed them) as the first sacrifice. This decision would marry the positions of Overseer and Sacrifice until the end.
In this vault, several voting blocs emerged to exercise power and influence over other vault residents. Prior to the final election, Roy Gottlieb, leader of the most powerful of the voting blocs (the Justice Bloc) confronted Katherine Stone, threatening that, if she did not perform sexual favors for the members of their bloc, they would nominate her husband, Nathan Stone, for Overseer (it is hinted that he may have made enemies of the Justice Bloc because of an unusual winning streak during the poker games he attended). Katherine, fearing for her husband, complied. Much to the shock of the Stone family, the Justice Bloc nominated Nathan for Overseer regardless. Because candidates were typically people who had outraged the community, they were usually nominated by several blocs; in Nathan's case, his nomination was backed only by the Justice Bloc.
Fearing for the fate of her husband, Katherine decided that she had to save him using the only method she felt left available to her: she began to stalk and kill the members of the Justice Bloc, which held a very narrow majority. Upon her capture, she confessed to her crimes immediately, explaining not only her plan but also her reasoning: as a murderer, she was sure the voters would elect her in her husband's stead, because it was a choice "they could live with".
Katherine Stone's first act as Overseer, "Overseer Order 745", dissolved the election process and decreed that the position of Overseer would be chosen using the vault's computer systems and a random number generator. The Justice Bloc, aghast that they were going to lose the ability to control vault life by means of election threats, not only feared that one of their own members would be selected, but also worried that the damage to the vault's social structure would be so severe that they would have permanently lost power by the time one of their own members was elected and could reverse the Order. They decided to stage an armed coup to force Katherine to reverse Overseer Order 745. The fighting that ensued killed nearly all of the remaining vault dwellers population, and in the end only five people survived.
The Final Sacrifice
The first audio log discovered by the player as they enter the vault records the fate of the final survivors. In an act of suicide they defied the vault computer and refused to send any more sacrifices, only to discover that their defiance was exactly what the vault computer wanted. They were given the freedom to leave the vault and congratulated for their selflessness.
After learning the awful truth about the vault experiment, the five survivors decide to commit suicide to punish themselves for the events that happened in the vault, and to prevent the outside world from learning about their shameful behavior. They were not unanimous in their decision. In the audio log, there is an argument among five people: a man referred to as "Voice 1", apparently the same person who gave the message to the vault computer, is having second thoughts and tries to convince the other four (three males and a female) to leave the Vault. Voices 2 (female), 3 (referred to as Harry), 4 and 5 want to commit suicide after finding out about the vault's experiment, while Voice 1 tells them that they should instead spread the word about what happened in Vault 11. At the end of the audio log, four gunshots are heard, followed by Voice 1 sighing deeply and the sound of someone dropping a gun.
In 2281 the reactor and the water purification system of Vault 11 has been damaged by age and the destruction from a civil war among the dwellers. Radioactivity, and especially radioactive water, are some of the hazards of the vault. Other than the radiation on the lower levels, the only enemies you will encounter inside the vault are giant mantises, giant rats and two bark scorpions just inside the entrance from the Mojave Wasteland.
The entire vault has been plastered with propaganda for an election for a new Overseer, but each candidate is expressing outrage at having been nominated and trying to point out not only their innocence but why the other candidates deserve to be Overseer for their sins. Deeper in the vault, sandbag barricades and traps indicate that there has been armed fighting at some point.
After going through the vault door at the end of a long tunnel, four skeletons lie on the floor here. A terminal on the table near the door holds an audio log with some information about the fate of the vault. The next room can split into three hallways. On the left is a hallway with a class room, which has a public terminal on the front desk, and a cigar lounge before leading to a dead end. Straight ahead is the vault clinic which branches to the hallway to the right. On the right is a hallway with bathrooms and stairs on either end that lead downstairs.
The stairs nearest the entrance hall lead to a floor containing a lab, and more stairs down. The stairs on the opposite end lead to a floor containing a computer room. One of the computers is booby-trapped, and will explode if you try to access it. Further down the hallway/stairs is a door leading to the living quarters.
The set of stairs leading down leads to a common room with some mantises and giant rats. The common room holds little of note scattered around some filing cabinets and shelves. On the same side as the stairs is the entrance to the male dorm and opposite that are the female dorms. Between the dorm entrances to the west is the administration wing. The female dorms consist of several rooms; the second room on the right contains a copy of Pugilism Illustrated. The male dorm contains the personal terminal of Roy Gottlieb, detailing the rebellion in reaction to Overseer Order 745. The password to the terminal is in a footlocker in the same room.
The administration section splits to the security office to the south and the lower levels containing the Overseer's office. The security office has some ammunition boxes, various low caliber weapons and a terminal recording an interrogation with Katherine Stone and her predicament. Between the split and security office, a locked door (hard) with a wall mounted terminal (hard) nearby holds some more ammunition and supplies, including a mini nuke.
Down the hall, the first room encountered is the Overseer's office. The hallway splits leading to a dead end and another hallway leading south. Along the way is the utility sector on the right; this room is submerged ankle deep in irradiated water and the site of the rebellion in response to Overseer order 745. Several ammunition boxes and skeletons litter the expansive room. Continuing down the hall, there is an area submerged with water with just enough to get a breath at the ceiling. Random loot is housed underwater, with the differential pressure controller in a locker in the second room.
The not-submerged area leads through the reactor. The reactor is still submerged in ankle deep water and has many giant rats running around. The reactor also has an area completely submerged in water which can be used as a moderately quick shortcut to the cafeteria (which one can still get to by continuing down the hallway, albeit through an Average-locked door). The submerged area also contains minimal random loot. Once passing the cafeteria, the hall leads to the atrium. Both a holotape, the Prepared Speech of Gus Olson, Ombudsman, for the Annual Overseer Election, and a terminal in the atrium reveals the password to unlock the Overseer's terminal and unlock the entrance to the sacrificial chamber.
The Overseer's desk opens to a long tunnel. At this point, a pre-programmed voice begins to speak, urging the player toward the light. At the end of the tunnel is a room with a single chair in the center, along with a projector. The voice instructs you to sit in the chair to start the presentation. The exit door locks as soon as the presentation starts. Pleasant scenes are shown while a voice reassures the overseer that they lived a good life and their next one will be better yet.
At the conclusion of the presentation, wall panels on both sides of the room slide back, and one sentry bot, two Protectrons, a robobrain and eight turrets will simultaneously attack the player. Once the automatons are dealt with, the player can then access a small room with the vault mainframe computer inside. This computer unlocks the door and reveals the true purpose of the vault as a test of self-preservation versus morality.
- Mini nuke behind the hard locked door in the living quarters (Security section)
- Pugilism Illustrated inside the living quarters, in female dorm second door on the right, by the fallen dresser
- There might be a Stealth Boy in one of the ammunition boxes in the room next to the security office
- Around 16 to 25 Vault 11 jumpsuits in dressers in the dorms.
- When facing the door to the Mojave Wasteland from the entrance tunnel, the direction is exactly south, but when you exit the Vault, the door actually faces southeast.
- Vault 11 is in the opening cinematic of Fallout: New Vegas.
- When closed, the vault number on the main door doesn't light up like the rest of the Vault doors.
- If you can listen carefully you can distinctly hear eerie whispers while inside the vault.
Vault 11 appears only in Fallout: New Vegas.
Behind the scenes
- Vault 11 was designed by Eric Fenstermaker.
- The vault may be a variation on the Milgram experiment on obedience to authority figures. The experiment involved assessing to what extent participants (vault dwellers) would violate their own morals when given an order from an authority figure (the vault itself).
- The actions that took place in Vault 11 may also be inspired by the short story The Lottery by Shirley Jackson. In the story, a lottery is held annually, and the person who "wins" is stoned to death. The stoning is also to ensure the prosperity of the community.
- The sacrifice sequence in the vault is very similar to the euthanasia scene in the film Soylent Green.
- The poster with the slogan "I Hate Nate" is a reference to U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower's "I Like Ike" campaign.
- Once completing the suicide chamber it is possible to fail the mission "The House Always Wins VI" quest leaving your aid to Mr. House at a dead end. This bug occurs when you have companions with you, so it's best to have them wait in the tunnel before entering the suicide chamber.
- The sacrifice chamber causes the game to crash.
- There is a dresser in the center north area of the male dorm which does not show as empty, but which contains nothing.
- You can obtain infinite XP by interacting with the computer in the sacrificial chamber and choosing the last option repeatedly. This will not work after logging off of the terminal.(patched)
- The giant mantis appear to be extremely large here, to the point where they get stuck on the terrain and furniture.
- It is possible for ED-E to be knocked unconscious and disappear, but still appear on the world map as if in the vault.
- When saving inside the vault, reloading that save may make companions disappear.
- The game overwrites a save file after opening sacrificial chamber.
- Saving after beginning the descent down the stairs to the sacrifice chamber causes the quest to stop responding when you reload that saved game. The first time the quest will trigger and finish, upon loading the saved game, you can walk all the way to the end of the hallway, but the movie will not start and there will not be a blinding light as you enter the final room. (Have not checked by exiting and reentering the Vault. That may reset it entirely).
Pugilism Illustrated skill book location
- Automated solution response: "Congratulations, citizens of Vault 11! You have made the decision not to sacrifice one of your own. You can walk with your head held high knowing that your commitment to human life is a shining example to us all. And to make that feeling of pride even sweeter, I have some exciting news. Despite what you were led to believe, the population of Vault 11 is not going to be exterminated for its disobedience. Instead, the mechanism to open the main vault door has now been enabled, and you can come and go at your leisure. But not so fast! Be sure to check with your overseer to find out if it's safe to leave. Here at Vault-Tec, your safety is our number one priority."'
- System recording: Vault 11 front entrance
- Justice Bloc HQ security tapes
- Prepared speech of Gus Olson, ombudsman, for the annual overseer election
- System recording: Vault 11 solution
- Automated solution response
- Vault 11 terminals; Public Terminal, Vault 11 Election Guide
- Vault 11 terminals; Public Terminal, Notice of Postponement
- Vault 11 terminals; Public Terminal, Overseer Order 745
- Vault 11 terminals; Security Terminal, Deposition
- Vault 11 terminals; Atrium Terminal, Prepared Speech of Gus Olson, Ombudsman
- Fallout: New Vegas Official Game Guide Collector's Edition p.397-399: "[5.04] Vault 11
Vault 11 was a social experiment vault to see if the residents would periodically select and kill a fellow vault dweller to avoid the threat of total vault extermination. Each year, the vault computer informed the residents that one currently living member of the vault had to be placed in a special chamber, where they would be "terminated" for the good of the vault. Failure to comply, the computer said, would result in a total and irrevocable shutdown of the vault's life support. The vault dwellers followed the instructions for decades, picking victims through numerous methods. But eventually, something changed...
An old wooden door, in close proximity to a Hollowed-Out Rock, greets those who dare enter this rocky tomb."
(Fallout: New Vegas Official Game Guide Collector's Edition Tour of the Mojave Wasteland)
- Joshua E. Sawyer on Formspring