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From The Vault

Picking up the Trail

Vault 87's highly irradiated surface entrance
location: Citadel
Little Lamplight
end location: Vault 87
given by: Owyn Lyons
reward: 800 XP
previous: The Waters of Life
leads to: Rescue from Paradise
Finding the Garden of Eden
base id: 00014E8C
Picking up the Trail

requirements: Complete Picking up the Trail
gamerscore: 20
trophy type: Bronze

Picking up the Trail is a Fallout 3 quest. It is also a Xbox 360/PC achievement and a PlayStation 3 Trophy.



Picking up the Trail consists of finding and gaining entrance to Vault 87.

Objectives and Walkthrough


Talk to Scribe Rothchild

Scribe Rothchild can usually be found in the laboratory area of the Citadel; once met, he will reveal the location of the Citadel's Vault-Tec terminal. Alternatively, you can bypass this conversation by going straight to the computer.

Once you've consulted the terminal, Rothchild reveals the location of Vault 87 and briefs you on the difficulties involved in accessing it, suggesting you explore a possible entrance within Lamplight Caverns.

Lamplight Caverns

See also: Little Lamplight, Rescue from Paradise

Once you've arrived at Lamplight Caverns, Mayor MacCready will stop you at the gates of Little Lamplight. You can convince the mayor to let you in with a Speech challenge or with the Child At Heart perk. Failing that, the only way into Little Lamplight is to complete the Rescue from Paradise side quest.

Once in Little Lamplight, there are two ways to get to Vault 87:

  1. Passing through Super Mutant infested Murder Pass; if you chose this option, you must first speak with Mayor MacCready or Princess to get the gate to Murder Pass open.
  2. Asking Mayor MacCready about alternate paths will reveal a locked back door to Vault 87. You must ask Joseph to restore power to the computer terminal before you can use it. The door and terminal (average difficulty) are located in the Great Chamber.


  • Both methods of entering Vault 87 lead you to the exact same room. The back door allows you to save ammo, medicine, and weapon condition, which is advisable for the next quest (but gives you less experience and loot).
  • Do NOT Console-unlock your way into Vault 87 without doing the main quests that lead up to it. This will bug the main quest and you'll have to load an older save in order to complete the game.
  • If you force MacCready to hand over his fungus share by means of a speech challenge he will not be willing to open the gate for you.
  • If you are curious, Do NOT try going through the main entrance of Vault 87 in The Capital Wasteland. Even if you were to bypass the immense radiation, the door will not open.


  • If Princess is located near Murder Pass when you convince MacCready to open the gate, there is a chance that she will become stuck in the closed gate, preventing MacCready from opening it. If this happens, exit the area (go into the great chamber) and come back. She will have moved and the gate should be open. Otherwise the only way to continue is to take the alternate route through Joseph.
  • It's possible that this quest will be considered "completed" and move you onto the next quest before you get into Vault 87. This can be a problem if this occurs before you ask MacCready to open the gate to Murder Pass and/or Joseph to restore power to the computer console, as the dialog options that prompt them to perform these tasks are no longer available after the quest is "completed." Thus there is no way into Vault 87 at this point by "playing by the game's rules." In the PC version, however, one can use the console command "tcl" to switch off collisions, which will allow you to simply walk through the gate blocking the way to Murder Pass. Once on the other side of the gate, use the "tcl" command again to re-engage collisions and then proceed on into Murder Pass.
  • Scribe Rothchild may disappear from the Citadel, preventing the player from being briefed and advancing the quest. This can be fixed by using the console command 'player.placeleveledactoratme 000156ea'.
  • Rothchild disappearing on the console versions of the game is more problematic but can be solved. If Rothchild has vanished, his quest marker will be located above Springvale School. To reach him, you must glitch your way through the Cidatel walls by crouching and walking through the wall beneath a small staircase in the southeast of the courtyard. This will lead you to a large desert area, which will span the entire map. You can run across it until you reach Rothchild. Once there, you need to make him follow you back either by provoking him and chasing him back to the Cidatel, or by knocking him out repeatedly and dragging him there.
  • If you do reach Rothchild outside of the map, make sure not to speak to him, or he will remain frozen in place even after you get back to the Cidatel, again breaking the quest.
  • Talking to Rothchild when he is in the A Wing instead of the Laboratory may result in a bugged and broken quest. Making him unconcious by shooting him can sometimes fix this.( Confirmed Xbox 360 )
  • If you get into the Citadel (through the underground Glitch) you can start this without even doing ANY OTHER QUESTS by Going to the archives in the citadel and looking at vault 87's Information.
  • In some instances Rothchild will tell you to follow him then make no effort to move, even under duress. Reload and approach Rothchild at a different time of the day--preferably when an NPC is talking to him and his back is turned--then begin the dialogue again. (PS3,Xbox 360 confirmed). This can be fixed however, by dragging Rothchild's body to the desired location by knocking him unconcious. This problem may happen in the PC version too, and in this case the fastest solution is to disable Scribe Rothchild using the console and enabling him soon after. When enabled again, he will proceed normally.
  • [Broken Steel] If you complete Finding the GECK before using the Terminal to locate it and go on with the Main Quest and get to the Two Weeks Later when talking to Rothchild you will not be able to ask him for orders and If you attempt to complete picking up the trail and ask him to help you in finding Vault 87 he will say "Follow me" if you click use on him but he does not go to the map. The Main Quest may be uncompleteable if this happens.

YouTube Videos

Fallout 3 Quest Picking up the Trail
Quests in Fallout 3
The Citadel
Little Lamplight

This article uses material from the "Picking up the Trail" article on the Fallout wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


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