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So many chems! Such varieties!”— Mobius
Chem (a truncation of "chemical") is another term for "drug" and is any chemical, medicinal or otherwise, used to effect changes in a person's behavior or biological systems.
Types of chems
Various chems exist in the wasteland, some more beneficial than others. Each chem has an individual profile, allowing players to "stack" chems to provide a larger bonus than either does individually. Chems may have four or five simultaneous effects, usually with some kind of balance – it might lower one stat while raising another. Abusing chems results in addiction. Addiction to a chem will cause withdrawal symptoms when the chem wears off, resulting in lowered stats unless you continue to take the drug, or seek cure.
Chems are divided into two groups: addictive, and non-addictive.
- After Burner gum
- Ant nectar
- Berry Mentats
- Calmex silk
- Cherry Nuka-Cola
- Classic Nuka-Cola
- Coyote tobacco chew
- Day Tripper
- Fire ant nectar
- Fusion Nuka-Cola
- Grape Mentats
- Jet Fuel
- Nuka-Cola (in Fallout and Fallout 2)
- Nuka-Cola Quantum
- Orange Mentats
- Party Time Mentats
- Psycho Jet
- RadAway (in Fallout, Fallout 2 and Fallout Tactics)
- Any type of alcoholic beverage (absinthe, beer, Booze, bourbon, Gamma Gulp beer, large wasteland tequila, moonshine, Ol' Flakey, Roentgen rum, Rot gut, Scotch, vodka, whiskey, wine and XXXXXBeer).
- Adapted biogel
- Alien biogel
- Ant queen pheromones
- Elixir of Life
- Fire ant nectar
- Glowing blood pack
- Healing powder
- Ice cold Nuka-Cola
- Jet Antidote
- Mississippi Quantum pie
- Monument chunk
- Mutated toe
- Nukalurk meat
- Nuka-Cola (in Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas)
- RadAway (in Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas)
- Refined punga fruit
- Skeeto Spit
- Super stimpak
- Trauma Pack
- Ultra stimpak
- Wild punga fruit
- X-111 compound
- Yao guai meat
Chems can be found laying about individually or inside containers. They can also be purchased from Wasteland vendors. While nearly every vendor will have at least a few stimpaks for sale, some chems will need to purchased from one of the vendors who specializes in chems.
There are several ways to resist addiction.
- Don't take chems. You can't get addicted if you never take them, right?
- Select the Chem Resistant perk or trait. This perk confers a 50% resistance to the addictive effect of individual chems. Chems which normally have a 10% addiction rate will be reduced to a 5% rate. If the trait is taken however, chems will only last half as long.
- Take a chem antidote. Only the dangerous jet has an antidote, though. Fixer is a viable solution too, although only temporary.
Curing an addiction
Once addicted to a chem, the player has to either continue taking the chem or suffer withdrawal effects specific to the addiction. It is eventually desirable (if not necessary) to cure the addiction. To cure an addiction, the player has several choices.
- Wait it out. Quitting cold turkey will eventually purge your system of the chem. However, Jet Addiction cannot be shaken this way, nor can Tobacco.
- Seek out a Wasteland doctor and pay them a fee to alleviate the addiction.
- Use the My First Laboratory, after being purchased by the player for either their Megaton Home or their Tenpenny Tower Suite. Likewise, a trip to the autodoc in The Sink will cure addiction.
- Load a previous save. Then, readminister the drug.
Behind the scenes
In the release of Fallout 3 in Australia, the game was banned for including references to real drugs. A report was released by the OFLC on why it banned the game. The following is a part of report that was released:
"The game contains the option to take a variety of "chems" using a device which is connected to the character's arm. Upon selection of the device a menu selection screen is displayed. Upon this screen is a list of "chems" that the player can take, by means of selection. These "chems" have positive effects and some negative effects (lowering of Intelligence, or the character may become addicted to the "chem"). The positive effects include increase in Strength, stamina, resistance to damage, Agility and hit points.
Corresponding with the list of various "chems" are small visual representation of the drugs, these include syringes, tablets, pill bottles, a crack-type pipe and blister packs. In the Board's view these realistic visual representations of drugs and their delivery method bring the "science-fiction" drugs in line with "real-world" drugs."
One of the reasons for the ban was of the opiate painkiller, morphine being one of the chems that would have been available to use by the player. As a result of the ban Bethesda decided to have morphine renamed to Med-X. Evidence of this last minute change is the fact Med-X's editor ID is still "Morphine" and Med-X addiction's editor ID is "WithdrawalMorphine".