Eight Vaults: Stories Of The Magic Fallout Commander Sagas

The iconic Vaults of Fallout became Sagas in Fallout Commander. Chase Carroll shares the stories behind the cards and explains their quirky illustrations.

Vault 101: Birthday Party (detail)
Vault 101: Birthday Party (detail), illustrated by Andrea Piparo

When we learned that our next stop in the Universes Beyond tour would be Fallout, I was ecstatic. I absolutely adore the lore behind Fallout, especially the lore behind the Vaults themselves. I’m the kind of weirdo who used to fall asleep to Fallout lore video essays.

It’s okay. I’m well-adjusted.

Well, Fallout Commander launches on March 8th, and we have received eight Vault cards in the form of Sagas. Truthfully, I expected more, but with how rich and deep (and dark) the lore is, we can’t expect them all. If you are unfamiliar with the IP, here’s a crash course on these Vaults and the deep, dark secrets that lie within them. Unmarked spoilers ahead!

Vault 11: Voter’s Dilemma

Vault 11: Voter's Dilemma

Starting in numerical order, we have Vault 11. Originating in Fallout: New Vegas, this is one of Fallout’s most iconic vaults due to the nature of its experiment and the supposed ultimate outcome.

Once a year, the inhabitants were told to sacrifice one of their own. If they didn’t, the Vault’s computer would kill everyone. The person chosen would serve as Overseer until it was time to die. Then the dwellers would hold a sort of manipulative political election, asking dwellers to vote for the least-liked inhabitant. The Saga’s art depicts this election through posters.

As a player, when you reach the end of Vault 11, you hear a message commending the inhabitants for refusing to take a human life. Nothing would have happened to the inhabitants if they didn’t choose an overseer…but they didn’t know it. A rather melancholic end that, at the end of the day, shows the true nature of man.

Vault 12: The Necropolis

Vault 12: The Necropolis

It only gets more depressing from here. Vault 12 was built under Bakersfield, California, and was hallmarked as being built to last with healthy and safe residents in mind. Only that was not the case. Vault-Tec, maker of the Vault, left the doors unsealed deliberately. The purpose? To study the effects of radiation on the inhabitants, thus creating ghouls. Eventually some members left their irradiated home, whereas others stayed and developed The Necropolis over the remains of the once-happy town. This is one of the more heartbreaking vaults, as people flocked to it for the promised safety. They received mutilation and radiation instead. 

Vault 13: Dweller’s Journey

Vault 13: Dweller's Journey

Vault 13 is an interesting Vault, as it doesn’t seem particularly sinister compared to the others on the list. It was a control Vault, designed to keep the inhabitants sealed inside until the Vaults’ controllers needed them. So why depict it as a card?

Well, this Vault is the spawn of your gameplay experience in the original Fallout game. A water chip has malfunctioned, endangering the Vault’s pure water supply. You, as the player, leave to explore the wastelands to find a replacement. This was the start of it all, so of course it had to be its own Magic card. 

Vault 21: House Gambit

Vault 21: House Gambit

Let’s slide into another New Vegas Vault, specifically one of the few Vaults that actually kept its inhabitants safe: Vault 21. The experiment behind this Vault was to fill it with gamblers and have them settle their disputes through gambling. Weirdly enough, this actually worked until Mr. House won in a game of blackjack, opening the vault to the outside world, which led to sealing off parts of it and running the rest as a hotel. The art represents this perfectly, featuring playing cards, a postcard, and concrete. It’s truly wild to be writing about one of the vaults that worked…until it didn’t, that is.

Vault 75: Middle School

Vault 75: Middle School

It’s time to go back to school in Vault 75. Unfortunately, it is not as lighthearted as it sounds. Vault-Tec advertised Vault 75 as a safe vault for children. It was anything but. When the bombs fell, the parents were separated from their children and executed, and the remaining children were experimented on in an attempt to refine their genetics. They were lied to about the outside world and trained to be incredibly smart and strong so that they may help those outside the vault upon their graduation.

Graduation never came; those who were the smartest and strongest were harvested to continue genetic experimentation, wile those who did not meet the Vault’s high standards were killed after their eighteenth birthday. It makes all of those little frowning faces on the Saga all the more heartbreaking. 

Vault 87: Forced Evolution

Vault 87: Forced Evolution

Things aren’t much more cheerful in Vault 87. Sorry to break it to you.

Vault 87 was originally outfitted with the best of equipment, but was unfortunately switched last-minute to a different experiment. It was there that scientists would study the Forced Evolutionary Virus and its effects on the Vault’s occupants. This experimentation turned the people into mutants, giving them incredible strength and low intelligence. They aren’t kind, either, as they desire to kidnap people and turn them into mutants as well.

This Saga is an incredible flavor win, as it steals a creature, turns it into a Mutant, and allows you to draw cards equal to the greatest power among Mutants you control. The flavor win and design helps distract from the awful experimentation and acts of genetic warfare…right?

Vault 101: Birthday Party

Vault 101: Birthday Party

Let’s talk about the weirdness of Vault 101. The original experiment stated that the Vault was to stay sealed forever. The inhabitants were lied to and told that the outside world was incredibly irradiated and uninhabitable. However, as time passed, inhabitants were able to leave the Vault and explore the world they never knew.

The inside of the vault is incredibly normal. People have bake-offs, play hide and seek, and celebrate holidays. Eventually, the Vault became infested with radroaches, hence the roach in the Saga art. But why call it Birthday Party? Well, I recommend reading the creepy Birthday Poem. After all, we are born in the Vault, we live in the Vault, and we die in the Vault.

Vault 112: Sadistic Simulation

Vault 112: Sadistic Simulation

Lastly, we have one of the most jarring vaults in Fallout history. The lore behind Vault 112 is incredibly dark and terrifying. The vault’s purpose was to suspend their inhabitants in a virtual reality world indefinitely, creating a perfect and safe life for those inside. The inhabitants, unfortunately, were unable to leave the virtual reality on their own accord. However, as time passed, the sadistic overseer grew bored and began to torture and kill the dwellers inside the simulation. But they weren’t really dead. The overseer would resurrect them in their virtual reality world and wipe their memories, all so he could torture them again. 

Cracking the Vault

These Vaults only scratch the surface of the rich and often terrifying lore of the Fallout IP. As someone incredibly interested in the macabre, I quickly became invested in the weird and often gruesome results of these incredibly messed-up experiments. There are numerous Vaults, and yet we only got eight of them in card form. I can understand why, but how insane would it be to see Vaults 114, 68/69, and 77? They were long shots, as they are some of the weirder ones, but who knows? Maybe we will return!