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Fallout 4 Comprehensive Guide to Settlement Mechanics + Tips & Tricks

This guide will cover all the basic and advanced strategies and neat tricks to settlement building in Fallout 4 - Mainly for regular gamers who just wants to reap the main benefits from settlements, especially if they bring back Hardcore. However, this guide won't be talking about how to build beautiful 4 story houses and interior designs.


Settlement building is a very rewarding process that can yield many benefits and if nothing else, they are a fun little distraction. Here, This guide will tackle topics about the various mechanics, tips, and generally how things work.

The Basics

First we need to make sure all the basic necessities are in order:

Recruiting Settlers - In order to start a settlement you will need to setup a recruitment beacon. Find this under power -> Misc. After which you will need to power it by pushing space in workshop mode to connect a wire between a generator and the signal tower. Once that is done settlers will continue to populate your settlement as long as you can maintain the basic resources up to a limit of 10 + your Charisma.

Tips: Wearing charisma equipment will also allow you to increase your population. For the most part, you can wear your suit to look cool even in survival mode (you can run a OHKO sneak build) and my capital grew to an astounding 19 when I had only 6 charisma normally without gear. The Normal upper limit for Charisma is 11, with this method you can even have a population up to 38! if you stack various chems, drink alcohol and wear various Charisma clothing such as the Black Suit, fashionable glasses and formal hat then send settlers from another village to the village you want to overpopulate.

Assigning Jobs - After you put down that recruiting beacon and the settlers start coming in, you will need to send them to work. Hold V to get into the workshop menu and select the Settler with E and then send them to various jobs. 

Tips: 1. To find out what jobs your settlers are doing, mouse over them and both the settler and whatever they are working on will have a green outline. Alternatively, I dress up my Settlers for their different roles, like lab coat for my doctors, dirty clothing for my farmers, postman outfit for my provisioners. To do this, do a trade with them, send them a piece of clothing then use T to equip him/her. 

2. Unemployed / idle settlers tend to just sit around in chairs, hanging around the bar or busy hammering at a wall for no reason at all. Though some exceptions apply, like Jun Long, he seems to enjoy looking like he is not doing any work at all.

Food - Food in settlements seems to all be grown vegetables and fruits, you can find them in various farms and markets of the world, simply bring them back to your workshop and start planting them. New settlers appears to automatically become farmers if there are crops available for them to work on. In terms of simple food efficiency, Mutfruits are the best food in the game, providing the most food for each Settler, allowing you to use less manpower to provide for the settlement - Harvest these and multiply them early. The Graygarden ran by the Robots also has a field full of them.

Tips: Farmers will stash some harvested food into the Workshop passively based on whatever they are harvesting. This has two purpose: For one, if you have established a supply line to new settlements they will be able to farm whatever crops you have right away. And two, different fruits are used in different cooking recipes and Starch (Mutfruit, Tato, Corn, Purified Water) at the cooking station, becoming a renewable source of adhesive. Having farmers working on a good mix of various crops is never a bad idea.

Water - You can easily get these by building water pumps, but water purifiers are where the real deal is at: You will get a constant supply of purified water sent to your Workshop based on how much water you pump - a renewable source of healing item. Purified water even stacks with stimpacks for a faster healing rate (Though it could just be my imagination) and if you have too much, sell them for caps. A very useful early source of income.

Power - In general, settlements can get by without any power. But if you are looking to make your settlement more advanced you will need to start looking at this. For one thing your recruitment tower uses power, and advanced structures like water purifiers or high grade defenses will also use power.

Besides a direct connection to an object using wires (Push space on a generator to wire), you can connect your wires to pylons and conductors to help extend your power grid, these structures also have the added benefit of powering all the things that you can't connect with a wire (Such as lights and TVs) within a radius of about a few feet. There are also specific power switches that powers a mechanism after a certain condition is met (Like time delay, trip wire, floor plate, etc.) that are more used for traps or cool lightbox animations. There's also a terminal you can use to manage these things, but that's mainly just for show.

Defense - Raiders and creatures will attack a settlement based on the ratio of food/water and defense. Getting a raider attack during a dungeon is rather annoying, and if you don't help your settlement could get cleared out, so make sure you have that covered. Though it doesn't matter where you put your towers and traps in terms of defense value, everyone must be creative as to where you put down your defenses in the event of an actual attack.

Beds - The type of bed doesn't seem to matter much, just slap them somewhere with a roof over and having enough for your population cap and you are good.

Happiness - Happiness seems to affect population growth and work speed. The happier colonies can possibly generate more income and resources and are generally more populated. Lower happiness may cause settlers to leave. You can raise happiness by having basic demands met and by building various shops in the settlement.


Supply - The Supply Line is the most important tool for empire building. With a supply line established you can develope new settlements much easier and generate passive resource gain for crafting, modding, or whatever.

You can create a supply line by entering the workshop menu, selecting a settler and hit Q. You will know that it worked when their name changes from Settler to Provisioner. Once assigned, the settler will establish a two-way supply link between two different settlements you own. This supply route is for raw materials and plants for building ONLY. You won't actually see the items appear in the workshop at the destination, but they will count when you build buildings. This means that you will need to travel to different settlements directly if you want to pick up processed materials such as Purified water or income from shops. This trade route also shares food and water who needs it, but might not display it properly.

Every settlement within a supply line will collectively share their materials so you don't have to worry about opening multiple routes to different settlements unless you are really worried that your supply route could get cut off for whatever reason. For example: You can connect town A to B and then from B to C. Town C will still gain the resources that town A has.

Tips: The Supply unit will travel on their route regularly and can come under attack. You can either choose an already explored route or gear your transporters sufficiently. Alternatively the best way to prevent a route from being lost is by assigning one of your named followers as transporters, they have the essential flag and will not die in battle. This means that companion supply units also have the added "benefit" of having an additional follower to fight for you on the world map if you happen to say ooooh run into a horrible random event involving 5 Deathclaws or something while traveling near their trade route.


There are 6 types of Shops you can build in your settlement. They each come in 3 different sizes, the bigger they are the more things they carry, have more gold, and generate more happiness and money for your settlement. The greater the population, the more caps you will gain. The caps you earned from shops are gained over real life time and can be found in the Workshop under Misc.

Trade - These stores sells an array of junk that you can break down for resources or add little details to your settlement if you so wish. Bigger shops sells rarer items.

Armor - These stores sells personal armor (haven't seen any power armor yet). Bigger shops have stronger armor and more mods.

Weapons - These stores sells a number of weapons, and at higher levels they start selling rare items like Fusion Core or mini-nuke and weapons with quite a number of mods. For this reason, they are considered to be the best shop to have.

Food & Drinks - These stores are very good for those who has the Party Boy perk: Doubles benefits from drinks, Party Boy is also a Charisma Perk, so they have perfect synergy. Bigger stores sells better food & drinks. This store is also a favored location for NPCs at the end of the work day, you will often see a crowd at night (It's practically a bell every night!), your companions will also order drinks from your bar as well and will comment on it.

Clinic - These stores are absolutely amazing. With this you will have easy access to cure radiation and addictions for a small fee. Bigger stores sells more rarer chems.

Clothing - These stores sells different types of clothing, clothing are good for their stat boosts when equipped and you will love them to dress up settlers so you can tell what they are actually doing. Bigger stores sells more clothes.

Level 4 Vendors - These unique NPCs will sell rarer items if you recruit them and send them to work at an emporium. Be wary of their requirements as they mostly appear randomly, don't miss the chance to recruit them!

Defending your settlements

Sometimes raiders and other enemies attacks your settlements if you have a low defense or are simply unlucky, when this happens you will get a prompt on the top left of your screen informing you that your settlement is under attack. If you are able to make it there, be sure to take extra care to scan the area for hostiles, because if you leave without actually clearing all the attackers it will count as your failing the mission even if you were kicking their ♥♥♥. Wait for the all-clear before leaving the settlement.

Settlement defense is where your creativity with tower defense come in handy. Be wary that some attackers will carry missiles and other heavier firepower, don't leave it up to chance and take them out ASAP. Be aware that sometimes synths will infiltrate your settlement so don't hesistate to go all Big Brother and build your turrets pointing INWARD to deal with that and other threats that might make it in town for one reason or another.

In terms of settlement casualties, if you abandon them your settlers will die off-screen. Meanwhile, during an active attack, notice that Settlers that have taken too much damage take a knee and the enemy ignores them for anyone else still in the fight just like Skyrim. After the battle they return to the settlement clutching their stomach and limped back, but are otherwise ok. Make sure to repair all the defensive structures after a battle before going back to whatever you were doing!

Update: I had a settler or two die, but it's from friendly fire due to my stupid melee perk that attacks everyone in front of me. I also learned that Settlers pick up weapons dropped from enemies and use it for themselves!


Scavenging Stations (found under resources -> misc.) allows your settlers to gather different raw materials for your empire so you don't have to do all the trash picking yourself. Based on my experience, if you focus on a resource to search for (You can do this by hitting X when you are building something but don't have the resources) your settlers will help track them down for you.

Specialist Towns - Just like with individual settlers, try making towns with different purposes! For example, specific towns for farming different types of crops, scavenging loot, trade hub for all your supply routes, commercial towns generating caps and so on. I highly recommend doing this especially for caps and purified water because their income is not shared between workshops and you will need to drop by to pick them up, having only a few drop points will save you time.

Gathering People - For doing a head count or whatever, there is a few way, one is the use of town bells, this causes settlers to walk SLOWLY towards the bell. A tip, place a chair next to your town bell, ring it and then wait 1 hour then the settlers will come teleporting to you. You can do this if you like the idea of sitting on a throne and gathering my subjects, turns out it works for the settlers too.

You can also start an alarm and the settlers will come running, don't worry they won't build up a "Cry wolf" resistance over time, they're just dumb settlers!

Lastly, bars and restaraunts tends to gather people at night, so you can drop by then and check on them without doing anything fancy.

Dogmeat - lives in a Doghouse when he is not your current active companion. The problem is, places like Sanctuary has a couple dog houses, with some completely out of the way, destroying those and leaving only a select few near you is a good way to keep track of Dogmeat when you want to take him with you again (or simply just to see him)

Mama Murphy - becomes a freeloader if you build her that chair. So if you don't want to have any idle hands, don't build her that chair. Once you spoil her she will never work again.

That said, some NPCs are weird when it comes to shops. For example: Jun Long seems to enjoy wandering around, sulking and hammering at a wall for no reason at all. If you assign him to work at a shop, you will need to track him down to get him to sell things to you Another example: Preston will not sell you anything if you haven't done his quests, he would instead just talk to you about these quests. For your sanity, better to just have generic settlers do those types of jobs, they even greet you like regular merchants. Though I have heard there are specific named NPCs that vendors even more valuable stuff.

Flare Gun - Summons minutemen to your side if you have enough coverage by having many settlements, the minutemen deployed are unnamed minutemen NPCs and doesn't appear to be your settlers.

TV - There is a bug with TVs right now that causes settlements to lose happiness and resources. It's been scientifically proven that TVs and Computer games makes people as unproductive as Mama Murphy. Either way, if you have that problem try deleting the TV, if not, just ignore this section. 

Update: I got that problem with a Jukebox myself, after I removed it the town went back to normal.

That's about it for now. If you take care of your settlements your settlements will take care of you. 

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Credits: Special thanks to Lu Bu for this guide.