Cities Surviving Multiple ICBMs?

Discussion in 'General Fallout Discussion' started by The-Artist-64, Jul 23, 2015.

  1. The-Artist-64

    The-Artist-64 "Set Phasers to Fun."

    239
    Jul 19, 2015
    So, I'm writing a Fallout story taking place in Michigan. There's a lot of radiation to the east, however, explained to be because of an area mentioned as the 'Detroit Crater'. Designing it got me to thinking about the other games and how the cities included turned out.

    Salt Lake City was hit by 13 ICBMs, and by the end it was only a bunch of craters and twisted steel girders (not even those would be left really) according to the Survivalist. Apparently, Bakersfield and Los Angeles were hit even harder...and yet they weren't craters in the ground?

    I understand why this is done, because the game would be boring without these city ruins. It still makes no sense in-universe though, as I seriously doubt Salt Lake City is exactly a high priority target. Especially regarding the fact that this is a war between at least twelve nations who have been building nuclear stockpiles for over a century, this is a blatant error. Vegas was targeted with 77 nuclear weapons, imagine how many were launched at Los Angeles! It could have been hundreds!

    The weapons used weren't fat man bombs either (Fallout 3 and 4 are very non-canon, they're so awful I'm not even counting them), they were ICBMs. Not just regular ones either, ICBMs that have been refined for 130 years. Think: potentially hundreds of megatons.
     
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2015
  2. Stone Cold Robert House

    Stone Cold Robert House Mojave Rattlesnake

    157
    Jul 6, 2015
    Fallout nukes have very low yields compared to real life bombs. There are several possible reasons why this is the case. Some say it's part of the flair of the series which isn't 100% realistic: much like the way mutations work, the mechanics of nuclear war are much closer to what the average 1950s citizen believed a nuke would work than how our nuclear weapons actually work. I prefer the story-based reason, in that because of the rapidly-progressing arms-race, most of the nuclear weapons amassed were small-yield, high-radiation "dirty bombs". With resources becoming increasingly slim, it's more practical to stockpile a huge amount of "weak" nukes than a small amount of high-yield bombs. That way you could hit more locations and thus cripple your enemy's structure completely, as opposed to making more powerful nukes but hitting less targets. This is supported by all the examples we have of nuclear weapons detonating: the bombs we see are small yield and relatively weak, but a mass of them causes serious damage.
     
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  3. Vault Maker

    Vault Maker Vault-Tec Cartographer

    149
    Jun 27, 2006
    I've never liked "Fifties" as a reason for large or small bombs, since a wide range of yields existed by 1960. Lots of small bombs would be inefficient for resources. Most of what goes into a 1 megaton bomb goes into a 300 kiloton bomb.

    Lots of small bombs make sense for a few reasons:

    * Mushroom clouds from bombs over about 200-400 kilotons are so tall that fallout is reduced due to "stratospheric injection". Once the stuff leaves the troposhere (where most of the "weather" happens) it stays aloft for long periods. Anything in the stratosphere is decaying while it's up there, spreads all over the hemisphere, and re-enters the troposhere very slowly. If you want to create large amounts of fallout on enemy territory, you would keep yields toward the lower end of the spectrum.
    * Granularity. If you have a lot of things in a city that you want to destroy, you may need to drop multiple bombs to get close enough to all the targets. If government buildings have basement shelters, and factories have some hardened areas (such as stockpiles of extra machinery or something), you might need to have 30-50 psi overpressure on each target. If homes have shelters and you want to damage those, that takes still more effort.
    * Important targets might have two+ bombs launched at them, in case one fails to arrive (say 10-25% chance of failure per bomb).

    All that psi mumbo jumbo will make more sense if you play around with Nukemap. While there, try setting a bomb off as a groundburst, and see what "cratering" is like (pretty small actually).

    Technology in Fallout is always a difficult subject, but as for ICBM improvement, I'd suggest mechanical reliability and accuracy. More accurate delivery also allows you to use smaller bombs, since you don't have to make up for being a few hundred (or thousand) meters off with larger yields.

    The New Vegas figure of 77 bombs given by Mr House seems realistic to me. Curious, where do you get the 13 figure for Salt Lake City? NV DLC or Van Buren I'm guessing.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2015
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  4. The-Artist-64

    The-Artist-64 "Set Phasers to Fun."

    239
    Jul 19, 2015
    I believe that the Survivalist, a character mentioned in the New Vegas Honest Hearts DLC, said he counted thirteen flashes from Salt Lake City in one of his diaries.
     
  5. SnapSlav

    SnapSlav NMA's local DotA fanatic

    Jul 1, 2012
    This thought is very much a double-edged sword. You can't just look at one thing and determine it to make little sense. Worse if you don't apply that to your own thoughts.

    For instance, you opined that, due to the number of bombs which flew at Las Vegas, Los Angeles must therefore have been hit by many times this amount. Not at all. L.A., after all, is not a special target. It's just any old high population center. Unlike West Tek or other high value targets, L.A. is just a city. A very BIG city, but it's not special. Vegas, meanwhile, was the headquarters of one of the most powerful men in the world, and arguably the most powerful industrialist at the time of the Great War. So naturally, on top of being a highly trafficked, populated city, it had high value targets to take out.

    Another thought to be wary of the "makes no sense" argument is that Bakersfield shouldn't have been standing. It was a pile of rubble by the time the Vault Dweller traversed the streets of Bakersfield, so simply because he was ABLE to cross 3 maps of streets doesn't mean the city wasn't just a heaping mess of ruins; it was.

    There is more than one way to approach every little detail. So simply excessively criticizing one single detail and using that as your cause to label an entire thing an impossibility is very reckless, and sure to lead you to error.
     
  6. The-Artist-64

    The-Artist-64 "Set Phasers to Fun."

    239
    Jul 19, 2015
    Thanks for the aggressive approach. Los Angeles was home to Vault-Tec's own national headquarters, a naval complex and undoubtedly many, many important businessmen lived there. It had likely become the largest city in the country before the war, because it is mentioned that it became too crowded and former citizens had moved to Bakersfield and Hopeville. Even the Vault Dweller mentions the size of the ruins in his memoirs. I bet I'm missing even more important details!

    Of course, the military bases would go first, but really? Vegas was home to only one important businessman and has no military bases that I'm aware of. I seriously doubt that the Reds would try and take it out first, it's low priority. This is coming from a Nevadan, I KNOW that Las Vegas isn't that special. Would you choose to bomb Houston first just because Howard Hughes lived there?

    Besides, the Chinese weren't even aware of exactly how much power he had. The securitron vault and the device that disarmed the missiles were both secrets.
     
  7. Vault Maker

    Vault Maker Vault-Tec Cartographer

    149
    Jun 27, 2006
    As far as assuming things from what you see in-game, even a genocidal nuclear attack is going to leave something standing in a city. It may be on the periphery, or be sheltered by a small hill. Some bombs won't arrive or detonate. Some are lost to fratricide, when one goes off and knocks another out of the sky. Accounts from people seeing blast damage from air raids, artillery barrages, etc. often note that blast damage does some weird things, leaving seemingly random things less damaged while everything around is wiped out.

    It will be more likely to see things relatively intact out toward the edges of an attacked area, since the attacks will start raging firestorms that will burn most things up. The heat those generate can even cause concrete and brick construction to fall apart, due to heat expansion.

    To flesh out the setting, you shouldn't hesitate to use real places, but think about what would be attacked heavily *cough*DC*cough*. One thing the old games get right is that when they show a city, they avoid having iconic buildings or locations. What you get to see could be anywhere. Probably out in the suburbs, but that's ok too, since 'burbs were really popular in the fifties. Many believed that after nuclear war, the suburbanites would inherit the earth.

    I disagree about LA being attacked minimally, since it is loaded with good targets. Military bases, ports, powerplants, and lots of industry. Much of the industry is military related, especially aircraft. A good rule of thumb for whether a place is targeted, without detailed info, would be to assume Population = Industry (and government, communications, energy production...most everything but mining, farming, and forestry). I don't think you could get Fallout-level population loss without deliberately targeting population.

    Industry in Vegas was always a bit sparse, though because of when it was built out (World War 2 and Cold War) it was disproportionately related to the military and the Test Site.
     
  8. The-Artist-64

    The-Artist-64 "Set Phasers to Fun."

    239
    Jul 19, 2015
    I actually took the route the original games did and stuck with more low-key locations. It's southwestern Michigan, no one vacations there to see a city. The settlements that are built on old world towns in the region have new names too. Never liked how everything kept its name in Bethesdaland. Only reason Detroit was hit very badly was because it was in the middle of a huge economic boom and it was where the last cars on Earth were still being made. In other words, it was a big, rich and prosperous city. Y'know, irony.

    Just out of curiosity, I wonder how NYC fared through the war. Maybe Bethesda will say it was bombed heavily, and yet show that all of the important/historical buildings will still be standing! *Eyeroll*
     
  9. zegh8578

    zegh8578 Keeper of the trout Orderite

    Mar 11, 2012
    As a kid, I had a "war atlas", I miss that book, it was obviously very focused on the cold war (where the hell did I even put it... I can remember the book being broken, actually bent between items, after being stored away for long, I felt terrible... I really like that book!)

    one of the world map panels, was of supposed American nuclear targets - and the world was *littered* with targets! Not just enemies of America - but everybody - probably "just-in-case"-types of targets, but I noticed that my own humble city of Trondheim were given TWO targets! :D I didn't know wether to feel terrified, betrayed or totally proud that we're worth TWO flashing blasts. In all I counted a bit over 20 dots for Norway
     
  10. Vault Maker

    Vault Maker Vault-Tec Cartographer

    149
    Jun 27, 2006
    Here's my vote for LESS OF THAT. At least New Vegas had a fairly convincing explanation for being intact, although going unnoticed for so long, including by NCR, seems like a stretch. I chalk that up to the "200 years after the war" constraint on the new games.

    As a map geek, I kind of like some real names on the map, but having fictional or renamed places is an important part of the setting. Creating a backstory for the names ot fictional/renamed places could make an interesting addition.

    For your setting, if the area has steel plants, those are likely high-priority targets. Car manufacturing might be too, since the companies would be likely to pursue military contracts during the war, especially as the civillian economy went over a cliff.
     
  11. The-Artist-64

    The-Artist-64 "Set Phasers to Fun."

    239
    Jul 19, 2015
    Yep, that's the idea. :D
     
  12. The Dutch Ghost

    The Dutch Ghost Grouchy old man of NMA Moderator

    Jan 11, 2004
    I imagined Detroit sort of having a World War 2 style recovery, basically this place had once again become the 'arsenal of freedom'. Weapons and munitions would be manufactured here as well as combat vehicles, and eventually even power armor for the front lines.
    I could imagine that it would also be home to one of the few car manufacturers that produced fusion powered cars.
     
  13. The-Artist-64

    The-Artist-64 "Set Phasers to Fun."

    239
    Jul 19, 2015
    First off, sorry for commenting so much on this thread. Believe me, I'm not trying to monopolize the conversation.

    I actually mentioned in the story that Detroit was home to Chryslus Motors, one of the only car producers left on Earth because they produced fusion powered cars. Of course, the cars were unpopular due to many incidents of terrible accidents, but still the only way to get around on your own.

    http://the-artist-64.deviantart.com/art/Chryslus-Sponsors-Detroit-537700579 I made this advertisement for the city. It's pretty much showing that it surpassed Chicago in terms of economic opportunity, so of course it would be bombed into oblivion.
     
  14. Vault Maker

    Vault Maker Vault-Tec Cartographer

    149
    Jun 27, 2006
    Well it is your thread, and some of us do go on and on.

    Nice. You might be interested in this site I saw a while back, but haven't poked around on much: Michigan Civil Defense Museum. It has some great old photos.

    I thought of it because Battle Creek and Fort Custer were important Civil Defense sites for a while. A national level facility called "Low Point" (the FEMA Mount Weather facility is "High Point") was there in the 50s. Later it was downgraded to a Regional HQ. At some point when Regions were reorganized the HQ moved to Chicago, but some functions remained around Battle Creek. Lots of Fort Custer sites are labeled on Wikimapia.
     
  15. SnapSlav

    SnapSlav NMA's local DotA fanatic

    Jul 1, 2012
    Well no, not really. Vegas wasn't "intact" for almost 200 years as much as it simply hadn't been destroyed by direct bomb impacts. The city was still cleansed of all inhabitants by the spreading radiation and fallout that blanketed the globe, and many decades later became inhabited by roving tribals and raiders who simply took shelter in the large structures. If any of them KNEW what the casinos even were, they probably had no interest in doing anything outside of scrapping things for parts because a thriving gambling culture couldn't exist in the harsh wasteland (yet). House was too busy making due with a critically buggy software that prevented him from properly executing any tasks for many decades, and even sent him into a coma for many years, before restoring his systems to an older, more stable version of the OS.

    House didn't really organize Vegas until he detected signs of civilization on the outskirts of the Mojave at which point he knew it was time to make a move. New Vegas's form was largely a facade more than anything else, because as House very openly expresses, had NCR just come and taken the Strip by force, they easily could have. But he made it look developed enough and played his cards cleverly enough that he got THEM to serve HIS ends. From then on, he used the industry of the city he recreated to serve his purposes and fun his goals, which allowed him to resume his search for the Platinum Chip, culminating in the events that began Fallout: New Vegas as we know it! Before House sent out the Securitrons for the first time in almost 2 centuries and forced out the unwanted "squatters" and recruited the tribes that would become the Families, Vegas was just a shell. It was "intact" buildings that had fallen to pieces out of centuries of disrepair and wear and tear. But it was not a living city. Getting the casinos up and running was the combined effort of House's directions and the Families' labor to prepare the city to look as pristine and functional as possible by the time travelers and settlers from out West would begin visiting.
     
  16. Walpknut

    Walpknut This ghoul has seen it all

    Dec 30, 2010
    Fallout 3's treatment of the timeline has made people assume automatically that New Vegas is doing the same, with the 200 year old small towns and such, but the game ver yclearly states that the structure of the region as the player finds it is actually rather recent, all the towns were built to take advantage of the NCR's campaign for good or bad,most of the towns in New Vegas aren't even 10 years old by the time the game starts, not even the emponymous Strip. Not to mention that the NCR has spent most of their time in the region getting the Dam to actually work.
     
  17. Vault Maker

    Vault Maker Vault-Tec Cartographer

    149
    Jun 27, 2006
    The discussion above was focused on damage from nuclear weapons, from which we can say that DC, Vegas, and (soon) Boston are improbably intact. That shouldn't be a controversial statement. Reread the thread from the start.

    The compaint that the Bethesda games are set in largely undamaged cities is hardly novel. Among the grognard class of fans, in which I count myself, it's pretty common. New Vegas presented a convincing explanation for why it was not heavily damaged by nukes, i.e. the ABM system House had built.

    I'm not sure why you would conclude that my observation was lumping NV in with FO3 and 4. I want to see almost all of my Fallout cities as ruins, or rebuilt after the fact. If they weren't ruined in the war, there should be a good reason, and that doesn't mean coming up with a new "good reason" every time a new game comes out.

    All the description of House, some robots, and a bunch of tribals isn't really relevant to that. But the buildings on the Vegas strip in 2274, when House's restoration of Vegas began, had to still be in very good condition. 193 years of vandalism, fighting, people lighting fires inside buildings to cook or keep warm, and all the other indignities visited upon abandoned places, even in modern-day, still-populated cities, would do a great deal of damage. How many large sheets of glass, slabs of thin-cut granite, and curtain-wall sandwich panels could robots and tribals install in all those high-rise casinos? That's (generously) assuming Mr House had stockpiled all that somewhere.

    Vegas is a special place in Fallout. It might be a little too special for 200 years after the war, but we've all got a soft spot for Special. Or even Acelips.
     
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  18. Walpknut

    Walpknut This ghoul has seen it all

    Dec 30, 2010
    And the Vegas strip was rebuilt after the war, so I see no problem there. The walsl are even made out of junk, and there are still a lot of bits of destroyed sturctures even in the semi pristine strip. House put all of his resources on making the Strip presentable, but as Snap said it's just a shell, it's also a very young settlement.
    I mean everything right outside of it is basically a ruin, only a few buildings stand and most are abandoned because they are obviously not habitable (the people of Westside and North Sqaure actually sleep in the sewers, most of those buldings are just full of debri), westside is very slowly developing and rebuilding by themselves with the help of the Follower guy and their farm, while the people of North Square are just scum for the most part. The only real towns are NCR settlements and outposts and the trading centers that formed around the road. That's rebuilding.
     
  19. Cistern Logic

    Cistern Logic Assistant to Dr. Mobius

    72
    Jul 21, 2015

    Dude, that is a really cool app! Thanks for posting that.

    Yikes! Chinese bombs are DIRTY. Miles and miles of fallout.


    I know the former USSR had some 10MT ICBM's.


    This video chronicles the Chernobyl Disaster of 1986:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elmVJE5M_mw


    About half way through it one of their chief scientists talks about the risk they had of ANOTHER chain reaction and 10MT explosion that would have razed Minsk. I'm no quantum physicist but razed means flattened in my dictionary. Minsk is a really long way from Kiev. Very scary stuff!
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2015
  20. Oppen

    Oppen FIXT n°1 fan

    Dec 26, 2011
    I'm not sure if the video is to be considered an argument for the previous statement, but if that's so, you should keep in mind that 10MT explosion has nothing to do with nuclear weapons. Chernobyl was a reactor, not a weapon factory.