- “[...] You didn't believe me. No one believed me. But now they're here.[...]”
- —He Was Right
They are quadrupedal reptilian predators native to the Divide who have since invaded the Mojave Wasteland.
There are many theories as to the origins of the Tunnelers, with some stating that they are human test subjects for Pre-War biological experiments, underground settlers who evolved over time or another species altogether that was mutated by radiation and environmental factors. All these theories are pure speculation and are not particularly important. Tunnelers were not known to humanity until 2277, when the atomic warheads of Hopeville detonated in their silos, revealing to these creatures a new source of prey. As the survivors of the Divide began to consolidate and establish a fledgling tribal civilization, the tunnelers were driven from the Divide by hunting parties accompanied by trained Deathclaws. This had the unintended consequence of driving the creatures into the Mojave Wasteland concurrent with the Fall.
Tunnelers are reptilian humanoids with thick scaly skin and bio-luminescent eyes and spikes/feelers. Their claws are razor sharp for tunneling through rock formations. Due to their large eyes, tunnelers are extremely photosensitive and will not venture outside under normal conditions. Unfortunately, the SM-5 Cloud blotting out the sun over the Mojave has mitigated this weakness, though the creatures can still be deterred by flash-bang grenades and flame weapons.
While their behavioural patterns are largely similar to that of other aggressively hostile creatures, Tunnelers expose a singular feature: Survivors trying to avoid their attention by keeping a low profile, as is a proven strategy against all other inhabitants of the wastes, will rather increase the chances of getting detected and subsequently attacked by them.
It is speculated, that due to the similarity in statue between a Tunneler and a crouched human, Tunnelers interpret crouching as territorial intrusion by rival Tunnelers and thus are overly sensitive to attempts at avoiding detection through crouching.
Even without the other maladies plaguing the Mojave, a Tunneler invasion would still be disastrous. Under the inclement conditions, it has proven downright apocalyptic. Tunnelers have a concentrated presence on all major supply routes leading into the Mojave Wasteland, preventing all but the hardiest of traders from even attempting an expedition. Beyond this, their ability to tunnel underground has precluded any attempt to establish agricultural settlements. Livestock rearing and sustenance hunting have proven equally nonviable as the tunnelers have hunted the Mojave bighorner and gecko species to virtual extinction. This combination of factors is indirectly responsible for the extreme rates of cannibalism which now exist in the Mojave Wasteland, an occurrence which is itself all the more detrimental to the reestablishment of any kind of civilization in the area.
Tunnelers are the most common variety of the species, appearing in hunting packs alongside most other biological variations. They have no distinctive characteristics among the species, but are ferocious enough to bring down even Deathclaws if in a pack.
Venomous Tunnelers are the smallest of the variants and posses a slightly faster movement rate. As their name implies, these Tunnelers possess a deadly venom which overwhelms the central nervous system of their prey. A large dose can kill in seconds or disorient the target long enough for the rest of the pack to bring them down.
Hulking Tunnelers are the largest of the commonly encountered Tunneler variants and by dint of this also the slowest. Due to their size, a single blow can knock a survivor off their feet, leaving them completely helpless.
The second largest of the Tunneler species, Tunneler Queens are relatively rare but can be reliably encountered in any area which has a large concentration of the creatures. Tunneler queens are larger, stronger and more resilient than any of the other variants and can kill an unarmored survivor in a single blow.
The rarest variant species and one unique to the Mojave Wasteland, Monstrous Tunnelers can only be found inside subterranean Tunneler nests. Because this entails actively seeking Tunneler populations out, few in the Mojave have ever encountered these beasts and fewer still have lived to tell about it.
Due to their rapid reproduction, Tunnelers have become ubiquitous in the Mojave Wasteland in a relatively short period of time. Outside of the Vegas ruins proper, almost no location in the Mojave is safe from their predation, save for those already occupied by Deathclaws, Feral Ghouls and Cazadores who have had moderate success repulsing Tunneler incursions into their territory. Even in these cases, it is believed to only be a matter of time before the unchecked tunneler population becomes so large that it will overwhelm any other natural force that would stand against it.
Once a pack of tunnelers has detected prey, they will all fall upon it at once, swarming the target and tearing it apart. While horrifying, this single mindedness can be used against them. Tunnelers have proven poor climbers so a beleaguered victim who is able to reach high ground can often pick off a pack of marauding tunnelers at leisure. Besides this, the creatures photo-sensitivity makes them vulnerable to flame weapons as well as flash bangs. Travelers through the Mojave wasteland are advised to carry flareguns, molotov cocktails and/or other incendiary devices at all times as a last resort.
While Tunnelers are amongst the most feared creatures, they, as many other creatures, have no damage threshold, and will not pose a substantial risk to properly armed and armored Survivors, unless being able to swarm them.
- A potential bug actually increases the chances of being detected by Tunnelers when sneaking. The Known Bugs pages provides a workaround for this.
Behind the Scenes
DUST replaces the Geckos of the basegame with Tunnelers. As a consequence, players will encounter at least one non-hostile Tunneler in the vicinity of Goodsprings Source. This is the friendly Gecko the developers of Fallout: New Vegas placed in the basegame for familiarizing players with these creatures. It will become hostile, if attacked.