The addition of settlements to the Fallout series potentially shifts the entire focus of post-apocalyptic America from surviving to thriving. An important part of a rehabilitated Commonwealth is a properly networked array of safe havens, which can be accomplished with the first tier of the local leader perk. This perk allows the Lone Survivor to create supply lines between the various integrated settlements. Unfortunately, the details of this feature, as provided both in the game and on the Internet, are both confusing, contradictory and decentralized. The goal of this guide is to establish a one-stop shop of information and clear any misconceptions regarding the effects of this perk.
How to Create a Supply Line
Supply lines require the first tier of the local leader perk. This requires six points in the charisma SPECIAL attribute.
The next step is to assign a settler to work the supply line, known in the game as a provisioner. To do this, select a settler in one of the two settlements to be connected to each other. A button prompt should appear at the bottom of the screen allowing you to assign the settler to a supply line. You will then be prompted to choose the other settlement to be connected, as your provisioner will always have his/her home settlement be one of the two nodes. After this step, the settler should become a provisioner, and the supply line should be established.
About the Provisioner
A settler assigned to a supply line becomes relabeled as "provisioner." To date, I do not know of any way this label can be removed to set the name back to "settler." If you care about that sort of thing, choose your provisioner wisely.
The provisioner will now be accompanied by a pack brahmin and travel between the settlements of his/her supply line. The pack brahmin does nothing but run after its master, making finding provisioners in a settlement or along the trail a little easier.
The Commonwealth is a dangerous place, and provisioners have proven to be veritable magnets for trouble. Luckily, I do not think they can be slain by enemies, and I have yet to see one of their pack brahmins suffer a grisly fate.
By their ambivalent nature, an assigned provisioner may be difficult to locate. A proven method is to wait in one hour increments at one of the supplied settlements until the desired provisioner appears. The aforementioned pack brahmin should aid in differentiating the provisioner from settlers.
Provisioners can be armed just like settlers. Make them easier to track with mining helmets, or add a touch of panache by outfitting them with postman uniforms.
Viewing Supply Lines
Keeping track of supply lines can become quite the challenge. Luckily, the map section of the Pip-Boy offers an option for showing supply lines. All icons except settlements that can have settlers (so no Home Plate) will be removed, and settlements connected with a supply line will show, well, a line connecting them. It isn't that complicated.
What a Supply Line Actually Does
This is the part of the guide you are probably looking for. I will try to be as accurate and definite as I can be.
First, we need to establish what a workshop is in a distributing sense. All crafting stations will have resources pooled with the workshop in what I will now call a settlement workshop inventory, or SWI. This allows you to create items in a settlement using resources anywhere in that settlement's SWI. For example, if you store all of your adhesive in the workshop and try making a weapon modification at a nearby weapons station, you will be able to use that adhesive as if it were in your inventory. It is also worth noting that surpluses of food and water will go into the SWI.
Now this is where supply lines come in. Supply lines effectively combine SWI's into a regional workshop inventory, or RWI. This is where things really get confusing. When you physically access a workshop via the transfer menu, you will only see the SWI. However, whenever you build using workshop mode or craft using a crafting station, components will be available from the RWI.
Let's demonstrate using another example: Imagine you have a supply line between settlement "A" and settlement "B." Neither of the settlements has anything in their SWI's. Suppose you dumped a bunch of radroach meat in A's workshop.
The following is now true:
- You can cook the radroach meat at any cooking station in settlement A (resource shared in the SWI).
- You can cook the radroach meat at any cooking station in settlement B (resource shared in the RWI).
- You CANNOT remove uncooked radroach meat from the workshop in settlement B (resources shared in the RWI but not SWI can only be interfaced via crafting)
But what happens if you stored a weapon or armor modification in the workshop at A? Then, my inquisitive reader, it is treated exactly like the radroach meat (except you can't cook it):
- You can attach the modification at any relevant station in settlement A.
-You can attach the modification at any relevant station in settlement B.
- You CANNOT remove the modification directly from the B's SWI. You still need a crafting interface to access what is included in the RWI but not the SWI.
That second example should have made you ♥♥♥♥ yourself if you didn't already know it. Using supply lines and crafting station, you can share modifications across an RWI. And the RWI doesn't have to include only two settlements. All settlements (except Home Plate) can be assimilated into a single RWI. Furthermore, the transitive property of equality holds true in the network topology. That is, if settlement A is connected to settlement B, and settlement B is connected to settlement C, then settlement A, B, and C all share the same RWI. This allows you to re-outfit yourself with mission-specific equipment at a moment's notice, provided there is a connected settlement nearby with the relevant workstations.
But wait, there's more! Food and water surpluses are also shared in the RWI. This means you can connect a settlement with a massive farm and no water to a settlement with no food but an industrial water purifier and thereby meet the needs of both settlements simultaneously. Now specialized settlements actually mean something. Your farm doesn't need a water purifier. Your water treatment plant doesn't need a farm in it. Sanctuary Hills doesn't need either. Even those small outposts like Hangman's Alley, which are terrible at getting either resource, are now useful as central nodes for provisioners (so you don't have to waste the population at a resourceful settlement on supply lines).
I should note that I have no idea how supply line distribution priorities are set. For example, if a settlement has a surplus of resources, but not enough to meet the shortages of the connected settlements, how is that distributed? Feel free explain experiment results in the comments (and include your methodology).
Problems Worth Noting
Currently, the game ranges from ambiguous to downright awful when it comes to showing the effects of supply lines, particularly with regards to food and water. If settlement A has a shortage of food and connected to settlement B, which has a surplus of food, the number of food units at A won't increase. It just won't be marked in red to indicate it's critical. Settlers at A might even complain about starvation even though they should have plenty. I know they are actually getting the food because the happiness is still high at A despite their bellyaching.
The Pip-Boy workshop menu is sometimes just wrong with numbers. Sometimes it says a settlement has no beds and is thereby dropping in happiness. However, when I go to the settlement, the beds number in workshop mode is the same as it was before, and the happiness is returning to the equilibrium.
I'm reasonably certain these are all glitches that will hopefully be patched by Bethesda. Failing that, kindly create some mod to fix this.
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Credits: Special thanks to YourPetRock for this guide.