War for the Commonwealth

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War for the Commonwealth
Date2287 - ?
Involved parties
Brotherhood of SteelBoS logo.png Brotherhood of Steel
*Fo4 Eastern Division BoS Flag.png East Coast
Institute flag.png The InstituteFo4 Minutemen Flag.png Commonwealth MinutemenFo4 Railroad Flag.png The Railroad
Elder Arthur MaxsonDirector ShaunNew General
Preston Garvey
Full contingent of Brotherhood soldiers on board the Prydwen, supported by a fleet of VB-01 VertibirdsSRB security force, including second generation synth soldiers and CoursersFive survivors of the Quincy Massacre (initially)Survivors of the Switchboard massacre (initially)
Connected events
Purifier Conflict

The War for the Commonwealth was a major armed conflict in the former Commonwealth of Massachusetts, where the forces of the East Coast chapter of the Brotherhood of Steel clashed with the Institute, while the Commonwealth Minutemen attempted to restore and unify the region, with the secretive Railroad pursued its own agenda.


The War is tied directly to the single most powerful polity in the Commonwealth, the Institute. The Institute formed out of the ashes of what was once known as the Commonwealth Institute of Technology (CIT). While the college itself was completely destroyed in the flames of the Great War in 2077,[1][2] the science staff took refuge in the underground of the Institute and carved out a subterranean habitat for themselves. The Institute was formally founded in 2110, as the children of the original survivors dug into the earth and built increasingly sophisticated habitats and laboratories, starting an ongoing process of expanding the Institute's facilities and infrastructure.[3]

Isolated from the outside world, the scientists continued their work, disregarding the mayhem and destruction occurring outside of its grounds. As they worked on creating synths, they attempted to work peacefully with the people of the Commonwealth using first generation synths, but mutual mistrust ended that relationship quickly and they returned to isolation.[4] The creation of the molecular relay (teleporter) in the 2180s[5] allowed the Institute to seal itself off from the surface permanently,[6] while major strides made in robotics allowed them to usher in the second generation synths. For decades, the first and second generation synths were the most visible part of the Institute's operations, scavenging for materials and performing experiments on the surface, while the scientists lived their lives in comfort and safety, sheltered within the utopian Institute.[7][8]

To overcome the mechanical limitations of second generation synths, the Institute dedicated nearly 50 years to creating an organic replacement, using FEV and captured wastelanders as basis. Due to radiation-induced changes in the genetic code of all post-War humans, they hit a brick wall until the acquisition of Shaun in 2277. A pre-War infant kept in stasis at Vault 111, Shaun's DNA became the basis of the third generation synths.[9] The infant Shaun became Father to a whole family of engineered super-beings. Of course, tests were not without setbacks - in 2229, a defective 3rd generation infiltrator caused the Broken Mask Incident, permanently vilifying the Institute in the eyes of the Commonwealth,[10] and causing no small amount of internal problems for the Institute, as he was sent out without proper testing or approval.[11]

Since then, the Institute continued developing technologies and pushing back the boundaries of science, using their technological superiority and industrial capacity to operate uncontested. The only potential opposition, the Commonwealth Minutemen, have declined due to internal disputes and politicking, with the fall of The Castle in the 2240s only hastening their demise.[12] As such, the Institute was free to exploit the Commonwealth as a source of raw materials, salvage, and technology. What could not be salvaged or stripped apart, would be used in experiments ranging from agriculture[13] to bioweapons.[14] Any settlement that refused to hand over anything the Institute was interested in faced destruction,[15] with those that did cooperate still at risk of extermination should they be used in any Institute experiment.[13] Everyone else is also at risk of being targeted, as the Institute abducts humans and replaces them with infiltrators to keep an eye on the surface or sow discord and disorder - as was the case when they captured a Diamond City resident and engineered a campaign to install him as mayor of the City. His first decree resulted in a pogrom of ghoul citizens.[16]

Railroad opposition

An organization of unknown provenance, the Railroad was the only Commonwealth organization directly fighting the Institute, at least since the introduction of third generation synths shortly after 2227.[17] Repeatedly destroyed by the Institute, the Railroad always managed to come back, reorganized and stronger after it escaped oblivion yet again. The latest incarnation was reformed in 2266, after failures in maintaining operational security revealed the location of their headquarters to the Institute. Over the next twenty years, the Railroad rebuilt, implementing lessons paid for with blood, surviving two more leaders until Desdemona came to the fore around 2277. She introduced major changes to maintain operational security and acquired two of the most important assets in its history: Tinker Tom and P.A.M. Tom's technical genius coupled with P.A.M.'s predictive logic and analysis capabilities allowed it to expand its operations and intensify operations - and even survive another crackdown in 2281. Although the loss of Switchboard was a heavy blow, the Railroad did not fall apart. The emergence of an Institute insider in 2283, code-named Patriot, and the subsequent decoding of his messages supercharged the Railroad, allowing it to rescue synths on a large scale - over thirty between 2283 and 2286.[18][18]

Brotherhood of Steel involvement

Between 2280 and 2287, the Brotherhood sent three recon missions into the Commonwealth. The first scout team was overwhelmingly successful: They brought back crates full of pre-War technology and documents and the first post-war reconnaissance of the area.[19]

The second mission in 2284 was carried out by Recon squad Artemis under Paladin Brandis. It was Artemis was not so fortunate with their problems beginning at their drop-off point in Malden. Ambushed straight off the Vertibird, the team was forced to scuttle their armor, losing four Knights. The survivors made their way to the National Guard training yard to regroup, but were forced to retreat due to feral ghouls, losing another Knight. Paladin Brandis and his Scribe left to investigate the pre-War Revere satellite array, but super mutants present on site overwhelmed them and claimed the Scribe. Brandis was the only survivor, retreating to recon bunker Theta and trying to survive until relief arrived.[20][19]

Three years later, Recon Squad Gladius, under the command of Paladin Danse, deployed to the Commonwealth under the same orders as Artemis, with the added objective of investigating the previous squad's disappearance, if possible. As with Artemis, they encountered a substantial amount of resistance from raiders, resulting in the loss of four knights. Over the course of several weeks, they managed to secure a base of operations at the Cambridge police station. Upon discovering advanced signals originating from the Institute, Danse sent an emergency signal to the Brotherhood requesting reinforcements.[21] The Brotherhood responded by rapidly mobilizing the chapter and sending the Prydwen to the Commonwealth. The airship arrived just as the Sole Survivor dealt with Conrad Kellogg, passing over Fort Hagen and Boston under Vertibird escort, sending a message to the Commonwealth and the Institute. The Brotherhood established a permanent foothold at the Boston Airport and bolstered Gladius' position at the police station. The campaign to destroy the Institute and the threat it posed to humanity began.[22]

Orders of battle

Course of the war

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  1. Fallout 4 loading screen hints: "According to local history, the Institute formed from the remains of C.I.T., the Commonwealth Institute of Technology. But the college itself has lain in ruins for more than two centuries."
  2. A tragedy has befallen all mankind
  3. The Sole Survivor: "Who built this place, originally? Has it been here long?" Allie Filmore: "The construction of the Institute is the work of generations of scientists. The original survivors of the war, our progenitors, took refuge in the basement of the old Commonwealth Institute of Technology. Over time, their sons and daughters dug deeper into the earth and built increasingly sophisticated habitats and laboratories. It's a process that's still going on today. Even now, we're digging out tunnels for new facilities and infrastructure. Just think what this place will look like a hundred years from now. I hope I'm there to see it." (Allie Filmore's dialogue)
  4. Fallout 4 loading screen hints: "Long ago, when the Institute created their first synths, they attempted to work peacefully with the people of the Commonwealth. Mutual mistrust ended that relationship quickly."
  5. Fallout 4 loading screen hints: "The Advanced Systems division is responsible for developing the original Molecular Relay, nearly one hundred years ago."
  6. Fallout 4 loading screen hints: "After developing the Molecular Relay, an advanced teleportation device, the Institute sealed off access to the surface and began their campaign of underground expansion."
  7. Fallout 4 loading screen hints: "The Institute often sends its synths to the surface to scavenge for usable materials. The affect this has on the Commonwealth, or its people, is not a priority..."
  8. Fallout 4 loading screen hints: "Institute scientists rarely leave the safety and comfort of their underground utopia. If there are experiments to be conducted on the surface, they are generally carried out by synths."
  9. The Sole Survivor: "Human synths? Really?" Shaun: "Human-like synths. A great distinction. The Institute endeavored to create synthetic organics. The most logical starting point, of course, was human DNA. Plenty of that was available, of course, but it had all become corrupted. In this... wasteland... radiation affected everyone. Even in their attempts to shield themselves from the world above, members of the Institute had been exposed. Another source was necessary. But then the Institute found me, after discovering records from Vault 111. An infant, frozen in time, protected from the radiation-induced mutations that had crept into every other human cell in the Commonwealth. I was exactly what they needed. And so it was my DNA that became the basis of the synthetic organics used to create every human-like synth you see today. I am their Father. Through Science, we are family. The synths, me... and you." (Shaun's dialogue)
  10. Fear the Future?
  11. Director's recordings
  12. See Commonwealth Minutemen for sources.
  13. 13.0 13.1 The Institute terminals; BioScience Terminal, Warwick Homestead Initiative, Project Implementation: "Stage 1: Using genetic manipulation, we will develop a unique breed of Cucurbitaceae with similar characteristics to those commonly farmed in the Commonwealth. Stage 2: Acquire Roger Warwick, patriarch of Warwick Homestead, and conduct a series of intensive interrogation sessions to learn all we can about his life and family. Stage 3: With the intelligence gathered in Stage 2, create a synth replica of Roger Warwick and embed the unit on-site at Warwick Homestead to oversee the operation directly. SRB will handle logistics of this aspect of the initiative. Stage 4: Begin covert deliveries of prototype seed batches for planting. Stage 5: Collect observational data from embedded unit. Stage 6: When sufficient data has been collected, retrieve synth unit and specimens for lab study. Purge all surface evidence of the initiative."
  14. Sole Survivor: "What harm has the Institute actually done to people?"
    Desdemona: "Starting with ancient history, they tried to take over the Commonwealth. Came a hair away from succeeding with their synth army. So there's that. But in the "what have you done for me lately" category - kidnappings, wiped out a settlement or two, and nasty bioengineering experiments. Diseases, FEV, the usual. So you willing to fight them?"
  15. See University Point for details.
  16. See McDonough for references.
  17. The synth-centric ideology of the Railroad is impossible without third generation synths to fight for.
  18. 18.0 18.1 See Railroad for references.
  19. 19.0 19.1 Danse: "It might surprise you to learn that my recon team isn't the first to visit the Commonwealth. Over the last seven years, two other teams were sent here by the Brotherhood to gather technology. The first team's mission was a huge success. They came back with crates full of pre-war artifacts and historical documents. The second wasn't so fortunate. Shortly after they arrived, we lost contact with them and they haven't been heard from since. As far as my team goes, we've lost four good men to this godforsaken wasteland. We've been a target from the moment we arrived. But despite our setbacks, I don't intend to give up and head home... or end up missing."
    (Danse's dialogue) Note: This is an excerpt from the escort to AcrJet Systems during the quest Call to Arms.
  20. The Lost Patrol
  21. Danse: "I'm Paladin Danse, Brotherhood of Steel. Over there is Scribe Haylen and Knight Rhys. We're on recon duty, but I'm down a man and our supplies are running low. I've been trying to send a distress call to my superiors, but the signal's too weak to reach them."
    Haylen: "Sir, if I may?"
    Danse: "Proceed, Haylen."
    Haylen: "I've modified the radio tower on the roof of the police station, but I'm afraid it just isn't enough. What we need is something that will boost the signal."
    Danse: "Our target is ArcJet Systems, and it contains the technology we need... the Deep Range Transmitter. We infiltrate the facility, secure the transmitter and bring it back here. So, what do you say? You willing to lend the Brotherhood of Steel a hand?"
    (Danse's and Haylen's dialogue)
  22. Arthur Maxson's speech at the Prydwen bridge.