Glowing one (Fallout 76)
The degeneration into a feral state (referred to as ferocious post-necrotic dystrophy) is not fully understood. It is known that it is a result of a degeneration of the brain (which is not affected by the regenerative mutation of the spinal cord) and emerges following the atrophy of higher brain functions, accompanied by an increased level of aggression and appetite. When the loss of capacity for thought is complete, a ghoul is considered feral. The factors that may cause a ghoul to enter this state are unclear, but anti-social or isolated ghouls are more susceptible to it. Exposure to intense radiation may also be a factor – feral ghouls have no body heat and emit lethal levels of radiation, indicating that feral ghouls are for all intents and purposes dead, their functions sustained only by their high irradiation. This allows them to survive for centuries, relying only on the energy provided by radiation – at the expense of a horrifying, emaciated appearance. Understandably, the process is irreversible.
The transformation of a ghoul into a luminous necrotic post-human (Glowing One), which occurs when the organism of a ghoul ceases filtering radioactive particles from the blood, resulting in bioaccumulation and the gradual appearance of bioluminescence as a result. Luminescent ghouls are usually heavily irradiated, due to the accumulation of radiation in their bodies and some can even violently discharge the accumulated radiation in what is termed a "radiation blast" by wastelanders. Luminous ghouls are usually feral, due to the damage to their nervous system and the time it takes to accumulate the radiation, though ghouls uncommonly develop luminescence before degenerating into a beast-like state, like the glowing ones of Necropolis, the Gecko reactor, Jason Bright, Oswald Oppenheimer, and Hank.
These long gone, decaying sacks of flesh run the gamut, from being little more than a nuisance to a hardy and stalwart opponent. Ferals are typically found anywhere that is abandoned, including metro stations, office buildings, factories, and town ruins.
Feral ghouls are encountered in three distinct ways: simply wandering around, camouflaged among the rubble as they sleep, and by occasionally falling out of cracks in the walls and foundations of buildings. Once disturbed however, they growl and scream to alert other ghouls in the vicinity, causing them to attack in packs, viciously rushing and pursuing whomever or whatever disturbs them. The ability to crawl out of the walls allows them to quite easily flank and outmaneuver their targets.
The most important feature is that feral ghouls will reflexively duck and dodge incoming fire while closing distance, making automatic weapons or explosives a preferred method of dealing with them. Furthermore, ferals will not be stopped if they lose a limb or two. If they lose their arms, they just keep on coming to slam their bodies into and bash their skulls against the attacker. The only way to kill them is to deplete their hit points, but they can be immobilized by stripping the legs off.
These variants now and emit low-level radiation, harming living entities near them, and even healing other nearby ghouls. In battle, glowing ones have the unique ability to let out the radiation building up within them as a burst of energy, which will bring any nearby and deceased ghouls back to life, regardless of removed limbs.
- Fallout 4 loading screen hints: "While they can easily be mistaken for zombies, Feral Ghouls are actually horribly irradiated humans whose brains have rotted away, causing madness."
- Tenpenny Tower terminals; Exploration Database, Feral Ghouls
- Underworld terminals; Research Terminal, Study Of Ferocious Post-Necrotic Dystrophy
- The Lone Wanderer: "I need more details... What's the breach all about?"
M.A.R.Go.T.: "Internal visual sensing equipment is detecting numerous unidentified persons in the southeast tunnels area. The individuals have damaged metro equipment and refused dialogue with our security units. In accordance with U.S. Security Statute A567/B, the use of deadly force has been authorized."
The Lone Wanderer: "Can you tell me more about these unidentified persons?"
M.A.R.Go.T.: "My apologies. My sensing equipment in that area must be damaged. My equipment indicates the persons possess no internal body heat and are emitting lethal levels of radiation."
- Little Yangtze terminals; Little Yangtze Log Terminal, Elijah's Journal - Day 2
- Underworld terminals; Research Terminal, Neurology of Luminous Necrotic Post-Humans
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- Fallout Official Survival Guide p.107: "Glowing Ones"
"These are ghouls that have been irradiated so badly they actually glow. You may find some of these living incandescent bulbs in the sewers beneath the Necropolis, or in cages, as light sources, in Set's palace. If they get too close to you, you can take hits from radiation."
- Feral glowing ones' behavior in Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas.
- Behavior and appearance of these characters in their respective games.